Clay Claiborne on the Daily Kos

Syria is bleeding

Ammar Abduhamid wrote Wednesday on the Syrian Revolution Digest:

Nothing impresses anymore: killing entire families by smashing their skulls or slashing their throats, pounding residential neighborhood with tanks, missiles, choppers and heavy artillery, burning people alive, commanding snipers to target children… nothing! The world remains indifferent to our suffering. After all, it’s nothing people haven’t seen before. Just another dictator torturing and killing his people, so what! So what!

As of this morning, the ceasefire is said to be "relatively holding," which is to say that the killing of Syrians by the murderous Assad regime has slowed to a trickle. While the snipers continue to be a big problem, the heavy guns and rockets have been silent.

But they remain in place. Assad has not withdrawn his tanks and heavy weapons. His security forces have replaced the army in places were they have withdrawn and his gunmen still shoot protesters.

While it would be delightful to think the current lull represents a serious turn for the better, the history of the Assad regime does not encourage that. If he truly allows peaceful political protests, as the UN resolution requires, the streets all across Syria will soon be filled with millions of Syrians demanding not only his ouster but also his prosecution.

He can't allow that, so it is likely that he will soon find some excuse to return the killing to the levels of the past month.

Last August, I wrote about Syria and the left in my Daily Kos diary entry: CCDS Statement on Libya - a Critique. I printed my entire statement here at the Daily Kos precisely because CCDS deleted this and two other opening paragraphs from the version they published on their website. When I wrote this, the protesters were still trying to make non-violence work:

This Sunday I am told that 142 Syrians in Hama were slaughtered by Assad's tanks. It is estimated that as many as 1700 peaceful protesters have been massacred by Assad since the Syrian people welcomed the Arab Spring. I find it absolutely shameful that much of the left, including CCDS remain silent in the face of the Syrian people's cries for international support. I think we can do a lot better than that.

With CCDS, as with most of US left, the shameful silence on the plight of the Syrian people continues.

As I prepare to publish this I see that a UN Observer mission is going to Syria. They had better get their fast. I just received this tweet:

SaMo #Syria #Homs: Shelling on the nieghbourhoods of Homs is renewed by the tanks stationed at Souq al-Hal roundabout near the Masabigh
8:56 AM - 13 Apr 12

Warning!! This is a video of Assad's victims being burned alive in Syria. You do not want to watch this.

Michael Neumann has written an important essay on the Syrian situation, actually, it is the reason for this diary:

Getting Kofi Annan for Free*

There are two live options in Syria. The first is (at least) arming the FSA. The second is letting Assad continue to torture and murder. Since only the first option will stop Assad, there are no other choices.

Of course, no one thinks of themselves as backing the second option. They call it by many different names. Some are just slogans that don't sound like an option at all. "Don't trust the imperialists and neoliberals!" "We support the Syrian people in their nonviolent struggle." "Let negotiations take their course." "Libya was a disaster!" "There will be civil war!" "The opposition has committed human rights violations!" "The West is hypocritical!" "The Gulf States are hypocritical!" "We don't know who the opposition is!" "This may lead to a Sunni-Shia bloodbath!" "Don't fall for the warmongering press; remember Iraq!"

Some of these statements are reasonable, but that changes nothing. If you're against arming the FSA, you're for letting Assad torture and murder. You may not want to admit it, least of all to yourself, but that's what you favor. In leftist jargon, you 'objectively' support Assad. Your slogans are just excuses.

The excuses come in roughly three categories. Some deny the realities. Some fantasize about solutions. Some raise spectres.

Denying realities

Denying realities comes in two varieties, crazy and sleazy.

James Petras exemplifies crazy:

There is clear and overwhelming evidence that the uprising to overthrow President Assad of Syria is a violent, power grab led by foreign-supported fighters who have killed and wounded thousands of Syrian soldiers, police and civilians, partisans of the government and its peaceful opposition.

"Clear and overwhelming evidence"? Petras provides not one single reference to anything at all. He probably just takes the Russian newspapers as authoritative and everything else as entirely valueless. Before the internet, this might have worked. It was easy to say "nothing to see here!" when Pol Pot was in power. It's harder today, when the opposition in Syria has uploaded 190,000 (not a misprint) videos of what's happening, and journalists do manage to report from the scene.

Sleazy, as you'd expect, looks much better. Here is Matt Carr, writing for Stop the War Coalition:

[Western reporters] have, for the most part, accepted a fairytale version of the Syrian conflict in which a) an utterly evil dictator is slaughtering a peaceful and unarmed opposition that represents the 'Syrian people' in its entirety, b) crimes and atrocities are only committed by one side and c) the interests of the 'international community' in Syria are entirely driven by a humanitarian desire to 'stop the violence.'

To say that this narrative does not fully encapsulate the complexities of the conflict would be an understatement. It isn't surprising that governments whose essential goal in Syria is regime change should be peddling this version of the conflict. But the fact that so many journalists and media outlets are uncritically and unquestioningly peddling the same mythologies, is a depressing reminder that press freedom and the absence of censorship is not always synonymous with independent thought or even basic journalist [sic] standards.

The advantage of this stylish gesturing is that no questions of evidence even arise. Yes, Matt, media tend to be slanted and not to tell the whole story. Does that mean Assad is not an utterly evil dictator, or that the opposition's atrocities were on a par with his own? Human Rights Watch, talking about him, must be another one of those mainstream dummies:

The level of torture is not comparable to any other conflict I've worked on," said Anna Neistat, associate director for Program and Emergencies at Human Rights Watch, who has worked for more than a decade in crises from Chechnya to Zimbabwe to Sri Lanka.

"There are a disproportionate number of children trapped in this system. Children are tortured alongside adults and are even subject to more brutal torture as interrogators believe children could crack faster and give them names."

What's so sleazy is the suggestion that somehow, hidden facts are going to tip the balance in favor of letting Assad torture and murder some more. Hidden facts about what? In World War II, the allies had some hidden agendas and committed many atrocities. This would not have been justification for backing Hitler, or for claiming the two sides were equally bad.

Fantasy solutions

more ...

BREAKING: Coup topples pro-Qaddafi Regime in Guinea Bissau

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The regime that famously told Libya's Mummar Qaddafi what he was welcome to flee to Guinea Bissau in September has apparently been overthrown in a military coup as another African country feels the winds of change that are following the Libyan revolution. Reuters is reporting:

BISSAU (Reuters)- - Heavy weapons fire echoed through the capital of Guinea-Bissau on Thursday, witnesses said, and soldiers surrounded the residence of former Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior, the frontrunner in a presidential election in the small West African state.

The reason for the military action and Gomes Junior's whereabouts were not immediately known. Armed soldiers stopped journalists from approaching the residence, which is located almost opposite the Angolan embassy in the capital Bissau.

Witnesses said the firing later subsided.

Guinea-Bissau has not been your most stable African countries and has a long history of coups.

From the Washington Post:

The West African regional bloc known as ECOWAS said it “formally condemns any attempt at a coup d’etat,” said Daniel Kablan Duncan, president of the body’s Council on Mediation and Security.

The violence comes just weeks before the country’s presidential runoff vote, which Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Jr. was favored to win. There have been fears of a coup ever since Guinea-Bissau’s president died of complications from diabetes in January, leaving an interim leader in charge of the chronically unstable country known for cocaine trafficking.

On September 10, 2011 Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior of Guinea Bissau said on Radio Diffusion Portuguese (RDP):

"If Gaddafi asks to come to Guinea Bissau we will welcome him with open arms and we will ensure his security,"

Earlier, in August, as the siege of Tripoli was being launched, he said,

"Gaddafi and Libya are friends of Guinea Bissau. If the Libyan leader wants to come to Guinea Bissau we will receive him with open arms."

Guinea-Bissau is not a member of the International Criminal Court and so Qaddafi would have been beyond the court's reach there.

According to Al Jazeera English, some had good reason to welcome Qaddafi:

The west African nation had strong ties with Gaddafi's regime, which invested widely in hotels, agriculture and cashew nuts - the country's main export.

Gaddafi visited the country in 2009, and provided support to the presidential campaign of President Malam Bacai Sanha. He has also provided uniforms to the Bissau Guinea army and renovated several of its military barracks.

This coup d’etat is only hours old as I write this and it is far to early for me to have an opinion as to who these actors are or what are their motivations. I also know little about the Guinea-Bissau Qaddafi connection, but at first Google there is one and a very strong one at that. Already we can see he was involved with both the civilian politicians and the military, buying uniform, building barracks, and now the military has overthrown the president.

However is does fit the pattern of much needed political upheaval, I expected in Africa if Mummar Qaddafi were overthrown. What has surprised me most is how rapidly these have been coming.

It is already clear that Qaddafi had his fingers deep into little Guinea-Bissau, so watch this diary for updates on the situation in Guinea-Bissau and we'll see what happens next.

My other recent writings on Africa:
Post-Qaddafi Malawi gets new president
People flex power in three African Countries.
BREAKING: Wade defeated in Senegal & other Africa Updates
Mali Coup is latest post-Qaddafi fallout
What the PSL got right & wrong about KONY 2012
African Spring continues in Senegal
Occupy Nigeria - 1st African fruits of Qaddafi gone?
Racism in Libya
Helter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure

Syria: Ceasefire faltering as mass protests breakout

Just a little over an hour ago I posted this diary with the hopeful title "Syria: Cease fire takes hold as mass protests breakout", now that ceasefire appears to be faltering as new reports start streaming in of new attacks by the Assad regime on peaceful protesters in Syria.

From Al Jazeera Live Blog:

12:04pm pst - Syria Activists have uploaded a number of videos which appear to show that the government has not complied with the demand to withdraw troops and heavy weaponry from residential areas. This footage is from the centre of the city of Homs.

11:40am pst Syria - This video appears to show students being arrested in the city of Aleppo.

About 9:17am pst we received this from Al Arabiya English:

#BreakingNews: Syrian army forces fire on protesters outside the parliament in Damascus: Local Coordinating Committees #Syria

This live stream from Ahrarsy2, purporting to show Syrian forces firing on peaceful protesters in Syria went dead.

From the International Business Times we have this:

Syria Ceasefire Violations Reported in Homs, Idlib and Hama

Activists in Syria have said that Bashar al-Assad’s troops were violating conditions of a ceasefire in major cities, although no major attacks have been reported.

The Syrian government said it had agreed to fully withdraw troops and tanks from city centres and was committed to ending the violence as part of Kofi Annan’s peace plan, which came into effect at 3am GMT.

While no major attacks have been reported, activists reported violations in Homs, Idlib, Hama and Zabadan.

Witnesses reported shelling in Homs, near the Jouret Shiyah and Khaldiyeh neighbourhoods, in the Hama neighbourhood of Jabal Shahshabo-Qalaat Al Madiq and in the Al Zalah area of Zabadan. Heavy gunfire was also reported in Idlib.

“Security forces are still here, the snipers are still here, the tanks are still here. Nothing has changed and the shelling is continuing”, a Syrian activist for the Syrian Network for Human Rights told IBTimes UK from Homs.

Although the Syrian Army has failed to remove its army and heavy weapons as called for by Kofy Annan's peace plan, they do appear to be honoring the ceasefire that started at 6:00am Syria time. Activist plan to test the ceasefire by calling mass protests in many areas of the country. These are expected to build towards the time after Friday prays, the traditional time of protests. Already mass protests have been reported in four areas. Armed conflicted began in Syria only after the regime had been firing upon peaceful protesters for months.

Here is your basic AP story from the Huffington Post:

Syria Ceasefire Deadline Observed, Assad Regime Forces Remain In Place

BEIRUT — A fragile cease-fire brokered by the U.N. took hold in Syria on Thursday with regime forces apparently halting widespread attacks on the opposition. But there were reports of scattered violence and the government defied demands to pull troops back to barracks.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the onus was on President Bashar Assad's regime to keep the peace.

"As of this moment, the situation looks calmer," he told reporters in Geneva. But the cease-fire is "very fragile" and a single gunshot could derail the process, he added.

Ban will now ask the U.N. Security Council for speedy deployment of an observer mission, said special envoy Kofi Annan, who brokered the truce.

In the hours after the 6 a.m. deadline, a civilian was reported killed and the state-run news agency said "terrorist groups" launched a roadside bomb that killed a soldier. But there was no sign of the heavy shelling, rocket attacks and sniper fire that have become routine.

If the truce holds, it would be the first time the regime has observed an internationally brokered cease-fire since Assad's regime launched a brutal crackdown 13 months ago on mass protests calling for his ouster.

Here is a livestream that shows anti-regime protest rally in Deir ez-Zour. It is active as I publish this. It is coming from an Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S:

Meanwhile there are many more deflections from the Syrian Army. Both of these videos were posted to YouTube yesterday:

There have been massive deflections from the Syrain army in countryside of Aleppo. Does the ceasefire mean that Assad has to stop shooting his own troops?

These soldiers are from the city of Deraa:

From the New Syria: #Bayyadah‪ ‬#Homs‪ ‬#Al‪ Assad thugs killed a mother with her baby after the announcement of the cease-fire!!!

In Damascus tonight....

More later.....

More from Libya:

Libya has its ceasefires too, and it is reported that as of this morning fragile peaces negotiated by the NTC in Sabha and Zawara continue to hold. Ismael reports that the Libyan army just secured Qatrun and Traghen, two of the most remote southern towns in Libya, after the recent Sabha clashes and that there have been no clashes or problems have occurred in Sabha or the south since the Libya army deployment but the situation is still tense with reconciliation efforts on going. As for Zawara, the Rigdalin council is taking good steps towards reconciliation and talks are still ongoing between sides to solve old issues.

Also in this morning's mail I found this piece by Lindsey Hilsum on the role of women in the Libyan Revolution:

ON THE face of it, Libya’s was a very male revolution. Covering the armed rebellion in the east of the country, I came across thousands of young men firing their Kalashnikovs into the air and talking excitedly about the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafi. Their sisters, they told me, were at home. The National Transitional Council, the political body which formed itself in March 2011 to represent the rebels internationally, was composed almost entirely of men. Yet, when I returned to Libya last September to research my new book Sandstorm: Libya in the Time of Revolution, I learnt that behind the scenes, women had been playing a crucial and largely unreported role.

Enas Dokali, a twenty-six-year-old computer programmer in the government mapping department, had loathed Gaddafi since, as a little girl, she was taken to visit her uncle in the notorious Abu Salim prison. Alongside more than 1200 other political prisoners, he was killed in a prison massacre in 1996, the signature atrocity of the Gaddafi regime. Most of those killed were Islamist opponents to the regime. Coming from a devout family, Enas’s appearance made her an effective spy for the rebels. In her long coat and headscarf she could walk around town drawing little attention. She noted where military units were based and spotted important regime members going in and out of buildings. The sister of a friend was travelling backwards and forwards to Tunisia taking the information to friends working with the rebels. Enas collected money and clothes to send to the fighters and coordinated shipments of weapons. She and her friends had no secure communications, so they used the mobile phone network and talked in code: an important person was “Mr Chips”; weapons and ammunition were “sandwiches”; videos were “underwear.”

In July, as the uprising reached its final stages, Enas was caught. She spent the last month before Gaddafi was ousted in prison, enduring not only confinement but also sexual abuse, narrowly avoiding rape. She ended up in Abu Salim, where her uncle had been murdered, and was liberated by the rebels as they took the prison. Afterwards, with the support of her family, she decided to go public about her experiences in prison, giving interviews to Arabic TV stations, only to find that for every person who sympathised with her experience there was another who blamed her. “Some people say I took money to go on TV, and that I’m running after fame. Others don’t believe I wasn’t raped,” she said. “But just because you’re arrested you shouldn’t feel shame. Even women who were raped should say so, they shouldn’t be ashamed.”

Read more...

If you want to own slaves, then you'd better arm yourself.

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"If you want to own slaves, then you'd better arm yourself."

This is the one truth that ties America's perchance for gun violence to its history of racial slavery and racism. It is no accident that Trayvon Martin and the five black people shot in Oklahoma were attacked in the former Confederate States or allied territories.

Certainly, the hundred year push west against an often hostile indigenous people was another reason Americans became a uniquely armed people but that was mainly done by bodies of armed men, militias, and mainly at the frontier.

Maintaining slavery required a much finer integration of fire arms into the society, essentially, they aways had to be as close at hand as the slaves were.

I have to go now and really tend to business or else I may become another one of those homeless old black men that America is so good at creating. I can't do my usual in-depth dairy on this or be around for responses. I just wanted to follow up on what I said in an update to yesterday's diary, which I will repeat below the fold, with one example.

I don't have time to do the research and present you with the facts but I'll bet if you look into it [Google is your friend] you will find all things guns, # owned, # of deaths, etc. concentrated in the Ole Confederacy.

From Racist killers arrested in Tulsa

I'm going down to the beach now. Easter and Venice Beach is in it's glorious. Eighty degrees and the Venice Drum Orchestra is playing in front of the Venice Bistro. I badly need this right now so I won't pass it up.

But before I take my leave I want to apologize. I think I was a little too hard on Horace. He broke the story here in the middle of the night, that's the main thing.

I just think racism side must not be ignored. IMHO, more than any other single question. I believe that this whole enterprise known as the United States of America, succeeds or fails depending on how we resolve this question. To me that means, and to this extent I am an American exceptionalist, that this whole experiment known as humanity on the planet Earth, hangs in the balance.

The reason for that has mainly to do with slavery, by which I mean the most primitive form of human exploitation incorporated into the foundations of the most advanced capitalist country in the world. Racism is the whole social, political, cultural and most importantly ideological product of that economic engine.

Anyone who thinks that we have somehow put this question behind us is a fool.

BBL

Post-Qaddafi Malawi gets new president

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Yesterday, prominent women rights activist Joyce Banda became the first female head of state in Southern Africa. Bulawayo24 wrote:

Malawian Vice-President Joyce Banda took over the running of the country on Saturday after the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika, and fears of a succession struggle receded as state institutions backed the constitutional handover.

The government only officially confirmed 78-year-old Mutharika's death earlier on Saturday, two days after he had died following a heart attack.

His body had been flown to a military hospital in South Africa.

The delay in the announcement had raised worries about a political crisis because Banda had been expelled from Mutharika's ruling DPP party in 2010 after an argument about the succession, though she retained her state position.

Many Malawians believed that Mutharika, who's rule had become increasingly dictatorial in recent years, was grooming is son to take over, which would have been a complete violation of the constitutional process.

Last July, protests over high prices, devolving foreign relations and poor governance left 18 people dead and 44 others injured by gun shot wounds as Mutharika started emulating his old African Union rival, Mummar Qaddafi, in methods of protest suppression.

Because of this history, before she was sworn in there was great concern that the constitutional process would be upstaged by something like a coup. The Guardian reported earlier:

The Malawian government's prolonged silence on the president's condition raised fears of an attempt to subvert the constitution in the southern African country, said to be sliding towards tyranny and economic disaster on Mutharika's watch.

"Malawi's constitution lays out a clear path for succession and we expect it to be observed. We are concerned about the delay in the transfer of power," the US state department said in a statement. "We trust that the vice president who is next in line will be sworn in shortly."

Joyce Banda, vice-president since 2009, is first in line to take over and become Malawi's first female president. The award-winning gender activist, who turns 62 next week, founded the National Association of Business Women of Malawi. Married to retired chief justice Richard Banda, she went into politics in 1999. As foreign minister she oversaw the severing of relations with Taiwan after 41 years to switch to China for "economic benefits".

But Banda was expelled from the ruling Democratic Progressive party in 2010 in a row over succession. She set up her own People's party and recently told the BBC she had not spoken to Mutharika for more than a year.

This tiny land-locked southern African country of 16 million is one of the poorest in the world. The economy is heavily based in agriculture, with a largely rural population. Far from the social media that helped spark the Arab Spring, less than 2% of the population has computers and only 6% even have electricity. From Wikipedia:

In 2007, Malawi established diplomatic ties with China, and Chinese investment in the country has continued to increase since then, despite concerns regarding treatment of workers by Chinese companies and competition of Chinese business with local companies. In 2011, relations between Malawi and the United Kingdom was damaged when a document was released in which the British ambassador to Malawi criticized President Mutharika. Mutharika expelled the ambassador from Malawi, and in July 2011, the UK announced that it was suspending all budgetary aid because of Mutharika's lack of response to criticisms of his government and economic mismanagement. On July 26, 2011, the United States followed suit, freezing a US$350 million grant, citing concerns regarding the government's suppression and intimidation of demonstrators and civic groups, as well as restriction of the press and police violence


Mummar Qaddafi's Influence

Yet even here, they have not been free of the detrimental influence of Libya's Colonel Qaddafi. After an earlier president who favored Qaddafi, Bakili Muluzi, established diplomatic relations with Libya in 2001, Qaddafi began building a string of roadside mosques. He had even promised to build a hospital but this project was stalled when Muluzi left office in 2004 and Mutharika, a former World Bank economist, took over and proved to be less enthusiastic about Qaddafi. That may be why, according to Nyasa Times:

There has been jubilation amongst Malawians after reports trickled in that Libya’s deposed dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi died after being captured with many people seeing it as a good omen for a hopeful Malawi which is undeniably reverting to dictatorship.
...
Malawians over the cyber sphere are eager to see what this means for Malawi. Already Zimbabweans are tweeting that Robert Mugabe should be next and some Malawians are saying that its president Bingu wa Mutharika should also be deposed since he has become a ‘mad dog’ of some reputation.

“It shows that the world is running out safe heavens for dictators. We have one in Malawi,” said Jimmy Kainja, a passionate academician and blogger.

“Gaddafi reportedly captured, Malawi’s Bingu wa Mutharika change your agenda for dictatorship or change will change you,” tweeted Nyasa Times editor Thom Chiumia from UK where he is coordinator of Malawi Diaspora Forum.

Former Malawi Defence Force brigadier Marcel Chirwa commented: “One by one dictators on the continent are being removed.”

There is good reason to believe that Malawi's succession would not have gone as smoothly as it did if Mummar Qaddafi was still in power because his record of interference with the internal politics of countries in Africa is well known.

It has been reported that the first president of Malawi, Hasting Banda, who established one party rule and is no relation to the current President Banda, once received $100,000 in a brown paper bag from Qaddafi.

Col. Gadhafi plotted coups and countercoups all over sub-Saharan Africa. Armed with petrodollars, he established himself as Africa's supremo. One great news photo shows him looking bored and reading a newspaper on a large couch in Tripoli with four African heads of state — two on each side — sitting with him,

writes Arnaud de Borchgrave, who interview Qaddafi six times in the past four decades.

They didn't always feel that way about the Colonel. In 2002, he flew to Malawi with a large entourage and several bullet proof vehicles on two 747s. As the Guardian reported:

As part of a bizarre, cross-continental crusade to promote his dream of a United States of Africa, the Libyan leader, in a 100-vehicle convoy, traversed the pot-holed roads of Malawi greeted by an estimated half a million peasants. His reception was described by officials as ecstatic.

The delight of the impoverished Malawian population, some cynics suggested, may have had more to do with the fact that Gaddafi's armed entourage was hurling bundles of US dollar bills from the windows of the bullet-proofed limousines than a desire to share his vision of leadership of a one-nation Africa.

Because of Qaddafi's dream of being crowned "King of all African Kings." A struggle broke out between Mutharika and Qaddafi when the time came for the later to relinquish the presidency of the AU.

The BBC wrote in 2010:

Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi has failed in his bid to stay on as president of the African Union for another year.

At the annual AU summit in Ethiopia, leaders from 53 African countries chose the president of Malawi, Bingu wa Mutharika, to take his place.

A BBC correspondent at the summit says Col Gaddafi was very reluctant to stand down, causing considerable resentment.
...
Libya has chaired the AU for the past year, and under the system of rotating regional blocs, the job was due to go to a southern African leader.

However, Mr Gaddafi wanted to extend the term. He had the support of Tunisia, and is said to have won over some smaller countries by paying their AU membership dues.

Mutharika was so strongly supported to replace Qaddafi because the other leaders were tired of Qaddafi pushing for them to adopt his United States of Africa plan immediately. After he replaced Qaddaf,i he said:

“Why should we create one Africa when in our countries and our regional groupings we are not united? Libya is pushing these matters too much,” said Mutharika when briefing the press upon arrival from the AU meeting in Ethiopia yesterday.

This follows Gaddafi’s call at the meeting for Africa to unite soon.

He added, “We all know why Gaddafi wants the formation of OAU now, it is because he wants to be the first leader. Some of us don’t like other things but we choose to be silent deliberately. We just look at other things when we know they are nonsense,”

This April, Malawi cut diplomatic ties with Qaddafi, expressing concerns about “the prevailing hostilities and armed violence in Libya which have caused grave loss of civilian life”.

The people of Malawi and it's new president, still have a great many hurdles to rise above to improve the situation in their country but with Mummar Qaddafi gone, they have a big boulder removed from their path.

My other recent writings on Africa:
People flex power in three African Countries.
BREAKING: Wade defeated in Senegal & other Africa Updates
Mali Coup is latest post-Qaddafi fallout
What the PSL got right & wrong about KONY 2012
African Spring continues in Senegal
Occupy Nigeria - 1st African fruits of Qaddafi gone?
Racism in Libya
Helter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure

Racist killers arrested in Tulsa

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Two white men in Tulsa, have been arrest for a shooting spree in the black neighborhoods of Tulsa that have left three black people dead and two others wounded.

Horace Boothroyd III wrote a diary about this earlier this morning however he failed to note these extremely important facts.

According to Al Jazeera English [on TV minutes ago, not in the web piece quoted below] there are other reason for believing these killings were racially motivated.

THOSE THAT FAILED TO ARREST TRAYVON MARTIN'S KILLER BEAR A RESPONSIBILITY FOR THESE MURDERS!

Please Recommend and Tweet!

My dairy on Malawi was schedule to publish @ 9:30 this morning. It will have to wait. [or not] I didn't know I could publish two diaries in one day.

According to Reuters:

(Reuters) - Police acting on a tip arrested two white men on Sunday for a shooting spree in Tulsa that left three dead, two wounded and rattled the predominantly black neighborhood.

Tulsa police spokesman Jason Willingham said police were not prepared to label the shootings racially motivated hate crimes after the arrest of Jake England, 19, and Alvin Watts, 32, on murder charges just before 2 a.m. (0600 GMT) Sunday.

"At this point we don't have a motive," Willingham said. "Obviously there's still a lot of investigation to do. Hopefully in the coming days we'll be more clear on what exactly the reason was."

In response to a tip, police put the suspects under surveillance and they were arrested at a home north of Tulsa, Willingham said. England and Watts were charged with three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of shooting with intent to kill, police said.

The shootings early Friday set the predominantly black north side of Tulsa on edge after a victim told police the gunman was a white man in a pickup truck who stopped and asked for directions before opening fire.

FBI and U.S. marshals joined the manhunt, swelling the task force to 30 officers, Willingham said.

"It's been a long 48 hours but we're glad we were able to get them into custody. It's been an all hands on deck type situation to get these guys in custody," he said.

From Al Jazeera:

Federal authorities are helping Oklahoma police investigate the shootings of five of African-Americans, three of whom were killed, within a few hours.

Three men and one woman were shot within 1.6km of each other in north Tulsa at around 1am local time on Friday morning, police and community members said.

Police said that a fifth victim, 31-year-old William Allen, whose body was discovered outside a nearby funeral home around 8am on Friday, was likely shot at about the same time as the others.

Each of the victims were African-American, but Chuck Jordan, Tulsa police chief, said it was too early to know whether the shootings were racially motivated, and police have not yet been able to prove forensically that the shootings are linked.
...
As investigators searched for the killer, the attacks sparked anxiety among Tulsa's black community, leaving many people worried that the shooter, or a copy-cat criminal, will continue the assault.

"People are fearful ... . They are afraid they can't walk down the street," said Jack Henderson, Tulsa city councilman who represents the district in which the shootings took place.

Authorities asked people to come forward with any information on the shootings.

"All citizens of Tulsa understand the significance of this event," Dewey Bartlett, Tulsa's mayor, said.

But the Reverend Warren Blakney Sr, the local chapter president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, a civil rights organisation, said "avid distrust" between the black community and the police department had raised concerns that the shootings would not be fully investigated.

"We have to handle this because there are a number of African-American males who are not going to allow this to happen in their neighborhood," he said.

"We're trying to quell the feeling of `let's get someone' and we will make as certain as we can that this isn't pushed under the rug."

More, later....

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center:

Men Arrested in Tulsa Shooting Spree Posted Racist Material to Facebook

According to his Facebook page, Jake England’s father Carl was shot and killed two years ago. Oklahoma press are reporting that his death was the result of a domestic dispute. On Thursday, England posted this racist message about his father’s death, “Today is two years that my dad has been gone shot by a fucking nigger.” Another grim posting from Thursday reads, “I hate to say it like that but I’m done if something does happen tonite be ready for another funeral later.”

England and Watts were friends on Facebook and Watts posted a sympathetic reply to England’s message about his father’s death. “I kno i miss them 2. My last memories were great ones of them. Its nt goodbye its c u later,” read his post. Watts, who hasn’t put anything on his Facebook page since April 13, refers to some of his friends as “haterz.” Another post read, “O.b.a.m.a. Let me define. One big ass mistake america!”

The racists have already labeled this the "Tulsa Revenge Killings." From a website that displays the Confederate flag on the front page they say:

The shooter has been arrested … and, lo and behold, this was an entirely predictable retaliatory strike against the Black Undertow:

"Today is two years ago that my dad has been gone shot by fucking niggers"

Note: The shooter appears to be of American Indian ancestry. The African-American who shot and killed his father is serving a six year sentence.

2:28 PM PT: I'm going down to the beach now. Easter and Venice Beach is in it's glorious. Eighty degrees and the Venice Drum Orchestra is playing in front of the Venice Bistro. I badly need this right now so I won't pass it up.

But before I take my leave I want to apologize. I think I was a little too hard on Horace. He broke the story here in the middle of the night, that's the main thing.

I just think racism side must not be ignored. IMHO, more than any other single question. I believe that this whole enterprise known as the United States of America, succeeds or fails depending on how we resolve this question. To me that means, and to this extent I am an American exceptionalist, that this whole experiment known as humanity on the planet Earth, hangs in the balance.

The reason for that has mainly to do with slavery, by which I mean the most primitive form of human exploitation incorporated into the foundations of the most advanced capitalist country in the world. Racism is the whole social, political, cultural and most importantly ideological product of that economic engine.

Anyone who thinks that we have somehow put this question behind us is a fool.

BBL

Why the US didn't find WMD in Iraq and what it means

The short answer to why the US didn't find Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq is, of course, that there were no WMD in Iraq. The search had an unlimited budget and it turned up zip.

The further question is, given the enormous political stakes, both for the Bush administration and US imperialism as a whole, why no WMD were planted in Iraq, when it became clear that the search would not pan out.

Anyone familiar with my writing already knows that my answer does not rely on the integrity either of the Pentagon or the Bush Administration.

I think the answer is that things like that really aren't all that easy to fake and the political consequence of being caught in that lie would have been much worst than finding no WMD at all.

In the first place any "found" WMD has to have a creditable "legend." It had to be made somewhere with materials obtained by Iraq and manufactured by people in Iraq and that legend makes it much more difficult than simply planting a load of poison in a warehouse because it will be subjected to exhaustive tests also, not just the WMD. And then there are so many people that would have to be in the loop, the chances are great that somebody would spill the beans.

I only bring this up because many people on the left seem to favor elaborate conspiracy theories to explain everything from the Arab Spring and the Libyan Revolution to the collapse of the twin towers. If ever a situation cried out for the people in power to put the fix in, it was the failure of the Bush administration to find WMD in Iraq.

Just a cautionary tale that came to mind while watching the Green Zone...

Libya's Amazigh celebrate spring festival

On Libya & Glenn Greenwald: Are the anti-interventionists becoming counter-revolutionaries?


Anybody that has ever been in an abusive relationship or supported someone in an abusive relationship may find that the period immediately after ending the relationship can be a most dangerous one. This is a truth that it well known to homicide detectives.

Even though I know this, I'd nevertheless curse the advisors that would counsel staying in an abusive relationship because of the hazards that may attend ending it. Likewise, I will call out those 'left' anti-interventionists that are now promoting counter-revolution in Libya because for years they harbored certain western 'left' mis-conceptions about Mummar Qaddafi.

For example Glenn Greenwald wrote five years ago:It is not, of course, actually fair to compare the torture to which the prisoners in Libya were subjected to the treatment which detainees in American custody receive. After all, there is no indication that the torture of the prisoners in Libya included even a fraction of the torture which Jane Mayer, in a truly superb article in The New Yorker this week, documented was practiced by the American government under the Bush presidency in the CIA’s secret camps, i.e., “black sites,” established beyond the reach of lawWith Qaddafi gone, they are now finding mass grave after mass grave in Libya. I fear they will for many years to come. Take for example, this article yesterday in the newly established Libya Herald:Tripoli, April 2: Another mass grave has been found today, Tuesday, this time in the wadi just outside Qaddafi’s Bab Al-Aziziya barracks.

We now know that not only did Qaddafi subject his citizens to an incredible regime of torture, murdering 1270 prisoners in a matter of hours in one case, some of those self-same Bush presidency CIA "black sites" in which Greenwald thought the torture much worst than anything in Qaddafi's Libya were, in fact, being run by Qaddafi in Libya.

I think Glenn Greenwald has always harbored certain illusions about Qaddafi. That is why all last year as thousands of Libyans were fighting and dying to overthrow the Qaddafi regime, he generally spoke of regime change as something to oppose. As Bill Weinberg wrote:This touches on a deeper contradiction in Greenwald's (and the left's) general position on Libya. From his opening paragraph, Greenwald writes as if "regime change" in Libya would be a bad thing. Entirely apart from whether "we" (what's with this use of the first-person plural to describe the US government?) have the moral credibility to bring it about, Libyans are fighting and dying for "regime change" at the moment, and Greenwald might want to offer them some encouragement, rather than implicitly loaning comfort to the dictator by dissing "regime change." And what makes it particularly tricky is that (as previously noted) there is clear rank-and-file support from the rebels—and the populace of Bengahzi, at the very least—for military intervention (see AlJazeera, March 18; SMH, March 11). Whatever US motives may be, the bombardment does seem to have saved Benghazi from a general slaughter back in March—or at least that is how it is pretty evidently and universally perceived on the ground in eastern Libya.Clearly, Greenwald is only concerned with US motives and while he makes a strong case that Obama's actions were illegal sans congressional approval, if he could have had his way, Benghazi and Misrata would have suffered a fate similar to many Syria cities today while the world watches what a dictator can do to his people with tanks, aircraft and artillery that aren't effectively opposed.

Like just about everyone else on the left that opposed NATO intervention in the Libyan war, his point-of-view is not that of a Libyan or even what's best for Libya, his point of view is that of an American anti-imperialist that puts the US at the center of everything. Like Carl Davidson of CCDS, and many others in the anti-interventionist camp, he saw the NATO war against Libya as a remake of the Iraq War and so many other imperial adventures.

Writing about the Libyan revolution right after the liberation of Tripoli, he hearkened back to "the very first time I wrote about a possible war in Libya" and links to a piece written on March 19, 2011. By stating this he reveals two things: 1) He didn't write about the civil war in Libya until after NATO got involved, and 2) as late as August, he was not willing to acknowledge that a war was already in progress before NATO got involved.

He didn't follow the opposition before they won NATO support, so to him they will forever remain the "NATO-backed" rebels. The tag is meant to be an attack on the revolution against Qaddafi and those Libyans who made it. Even in his most recent piece on Libya, he speaks of Libya and Iraq as parallel situations:Obviously, the Gadaffi and Saddam regimes were horrible human rights abusers. But the point is that one cannot celebrate a human rights success based merely on the invasion and overthrow of a bad regime; it is necessary to know what one has replaced them with.Actually I think one can and should celebrate the ending of any abusive relationship even if it is unclear what the future may bring. To hear Greenwald tell it, the Libya's shouldn't have overthrown a murderous tyrant and his police state unless they knew, for sure, that everything would be peachy-keen afterwards.

Except he doesn't think it was the Libyans, who lost thousands of brave thuwar in the war and suffered many hardships to defeat Quaddafi. It was the NATO invaders, who flew a few thousand "strike soties", dropped ordinance on less than half of them, and lost no lives, that beat Qaddafi. He writes:NATO succeeded in defeating the Mighty Libyan ArmyClearly the US invaded Iraq, they had hundred's of thousands of soldiers there for many years. Just what Greenwald considers the "invasion" of Libya not very clear unless he is referring to the invasion of Libyan air space. What is clear is that for him, in both cases the same actor, namely NATO, or the US, is the force behind the overthrow of both regimes. The revolutionary struggle of the Libya people play no role in his narrative, and even when he refers to "those who are the loudest advocates for these wars," he links to a NYTimes article by A.M. Slaughter. Well, the Libyan opposition was loudly advocating international support for their war, more than a month before Greenwald started writing about it, but he wasn't listening.

Like most in the anti-interventionist camp, Greewald probably thought that the air strikes were just a prelude to the NATO "boots on the ground" he was sure would be necessary to finish the job. Well, the Marines never landed on the shores of Tripoli this go round, but that won't stop the anti-interventionists from insisting that not only were they secretly there, but they were actually responsible for running the whole show. The Libyans were just pawns in their game.

They believed Qaddafi when he said they had captured 17 foreign special forces in Sirte, including a number of Frenchmen and Brits, video to follow. It never came. They believed the British PM when he sought to claimed credit for the Libyan victory. Although they never comment on SAS operations and offered no proof in this case, he was believed by the anti-interventionists because that is what they wanted to hear. In January, Cynthia McKinney announced that 12,000 US troops were in Malta and about to descend on Libya. It never happened.

This Monday, Mahmoud Jabril gave an interview in Benghazi and said categorically:"we never had any foreign advisors.."The anti-interventionists require no proof to brand him a lying Arab because what he said doesn't fit their narrative. They prefer to believe PM Cameron and the "Lawrence of Arabia" mythology about the Libya revolution. For them it was really the Rambo types that beat Qaddafi so that western oil interests could triumph, the Libya opposition, those that aren't paid agents, are just dupes.

The problem with this mythology is that Libya is a free country now. Anyone can go pretty much where they please, hundred of newspapers have sprung up, the Internet is not shut down, and a great many Libya's are strongly opposed to any foreign attempts to hijack their revolution. Remember when, early in the war, the Brits try to send in an SAS team to make contact and the thuwar arrested them? So it is very hard to believe a handful of western 'advisors' are really running the show and no Libyans are loudly complaining.

Although nobody but Cynthia McKinney is claiming that thousands of US troops are in or heading for Libya, I find it amazing the levels to which the anti-interventions will sink to "prove" that their predictions of NATO "boots on the ground" have come to pass after all. They simply can't bring themselves to say they were wrong.

While most fall back on the secret special forces theory, one commentator argued it this way:Yes, we don't have any infantry in Benghazi. But we did have US Pilots crash landing in Libya, and their boots were indeed on the ground. Is that what Greenwald was talking about when he talks about "invasion?" Is he one of those guys?

Since Libyan victory, Greenwald has taken the tact of reporting only negative developments from Libya and warning of dire consequents to follow because Qaddafi was overthrown:There is nothing noble about invading and bombing a country into regime change if what one ushers in is mass instability along with tyranny and abuse by a different regime: typically one that is much more sympathetic to the invading regime-changers.You see, in Greenwald's narrative, the Libyan regime changers are the invaders, namely NATO. So what are the Libyan revolutionaries? Chopped liver? And the NTC puppets of NATO, pure and simple?

What is the MSM saying?

Lately we have seen a flurry of articles on Libya from the main stream media that the anti-interventionist will find delightful reading because they support their counter-revolutionary position. Take, for example Derek Henry Flood's recent article in Asia Times, Arab Spring bleeds deeper into Africa, in which he blames the Libyan revolution for the current troubles in Mali, except like other anti-interventionists, he thinks NATO is the real force behind events.

You know those Qaddafi mercenaries from sub-Saharan Africa that the thuwar complained about and the anti-interventionists insisted didn't exist? Well, now that they have been defeated, forced out of Libya and returned to Mali flush with Russian weapons supplied by Qaddafi, Flood puts the blame for what is now happening in Mali of those that put an end to their killing in Libya.

Flood excuses the earlier denials of African mercenary involvement, saying:the place of sub-Saharan Africans in the Libyan war seemed more propaganda than fact at many points because of the rebel claims were most often impossible to independently verify.
They seemed more "propaganda than fact" earlier, because they didn't fit the anti-interventionist narrative. Then he goes on to accuse the NTC of mental illness because their reality was different from his beliefs:The NTC ran a schizophrenic propaganda campaign emphasizing their fight as a colorblind one that did observably entail Libyans of all hues while constantly denouncing, in terms that seemed to stray into racism at certain points, their enemies’ exploitation of African soldiers.Then he goes on to blame the revolution for the troubles in Mali:Weapons, material and men move easily across porous borders, poorly thought out regime-change scenarios are imposed from outside, and assorted strong men fall throughout the developing world.
...
Colonel Gaddafi did have foreign nationals fighting alongside his troops to be sure, but their role in the war is far from clearly understood.
Understood by who? Would that be as understood by Derek Henry Flood? As understood by the by "the left"? Or as understood by the Libyan revolutionaries which as he correctly pointed out "that did observably entail Libyans of all hues?"Gaddafi deftly positioned himself as the solution to many of Africa’s persistently unstable regions whilst often stoking these very same disputes with arms and boilerplate rhetoric about perennial Third World revolution.Because Qaddafi had a record of "stoking.. disputes" and also pumping arms into them based on some sham ideology, he most certainly was not what he claimed to be, in fact, I would say that he had an abusive relationship with Africa.Libya’s North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Gulf Cooperation Council-backed revolution threatens to destroy or at least bifurcate the wobbly Republic of Mali,The long title he has chosen for the Libyan revolution is designed to be an attack on that revolution and clearly puts him in the camp of the counter-revolutionaries. You might counter, "well, its true." I'd say yes, but as I have already said, I think "NATO backed" deserves a * due to the two-faced, back stabbing manner in which they "supported" the revolution. That aspect of the struggle isn't even on this writer's radar. He didn't bring NATO into the description to attack NATO, he brought NATO into the description, and spelled it out, to attack the revolution.

I would also add that a great many international forces "backed" the anti-Qaddafi forces. One could just as correctly refer to Libya's Egyptian and Tunisian backed revolution, Libya's Anonymous and WikiLeaks backed revolution, and so on.

The rest of the sentence is even more of a gem, because the writer, having already gone to considerable efforts to cast doubts on the Libya opposition's claims about the number of foreign mercenaries in Libya, seeks to blame the Libyans for what these mercenaries have done since they were forced out. Its like you got yourself out of an abusive relationship and now they are going to blame you for what your ex did to someone else after they left you.

This week both the NY Times and the Washington Post have piled on with articles highlighting only negative results of the revolution. The lesson to the masses: Don't go there.

On Monday, the Washington Post published a piece saying In Libya, Despot is gone but Chaos Reigns.

In this, they focus on the struggle around Tripoli's trash problems. As usual, their main concern is the armed workers:At the entrance to Tripoli’s main landfill, Mustafa al-Sepany stands in combat fatigues, wearing an expression that says no trash trucks will get past him. For four months, none has, leaving the country’s capital city wallowing in uncollected garbage.

Sepany is one of thousands of still-armed rebel fighters who ousted Libyan despot Moammar Gaddafi in last year’s bloody uprising. Now he is one of the residents near the landfill who are exercising their newfound freedoms by declaring they don’t want Tripoli’s trash. Anywhere but here, they say. And in post-revolution Libya, not-in-my-backyard fights come with automatic weapons.Clearly the WashPost is more comfortable with the usual situation were only the state has the firepower and they put the dump in whatever poor part of town suites them and the residents be damned. This is what Qaddafi did.The old landfill — built by Gaddafi 11 years ago — generated complaints among residents that it polluted waterways and bred disease.

Today, the NY Times published an article in which they worried: Libyan Militias Turn to Politics, a Volatile Mix

They are concerned that the military leaders are getting into politics:The militia leader from Zintan who controls the airport here in the capital has exchanged his uniform for a suit and tie and now talks about running for office — with his 1,200 armed men at his back. The head of Tripoli’s military council is starting a political party, and the military council in Benghazi is preparing its own slate of candidates for local office. The complaint about military leaders running for political office is certainly a strange one coming from an American source. Anyone remember Washington, Jackson, Grant, Eisenhower, even McCain's recent attempt?

They cite a bourgeois source, Ali Tarhuni, a former interim oil minister and deputy prime minister, who is opposed to this trend:“We are very clearly saying we don’t want to be part of that, but down the road, what can we do?” Then they go on to cite an Oxford University survey that concludes:42 percent said they hoped Libya would be governed by a new strongmanThe bottomline message from the MSM is that revolution is futile. That is why there is no mention of this survey:Libyans increasingly confident about the future: survey

The survey reveals that Libyans expect to be increasingly confident about all four subject areas over time. While approximately 20 percent of respondents were confident or very confident at present, this rises to over 60 percent when asked about the next 12 months.

Levels of confidence in the longer term of 12 months were highest in regard to the economy and security. Only 25 percent of respondents were unsure about their confidence levels over the long term of 12 months, with respondents most unsure about transparency and politics.Nor did they find the space to mention these items that may give a more balanced picture of what is going on in Libya:Eight thousand Sirte homes assessed for compensation

Sirte, April 2: Some 8,000 homes in Sirte damaged or destroyed during the fighting last year have now been assessed for compensation. The head of the Supreme Committee for Damage Assessment in Sirte, Dr Khalifa Shawish, said on Monday that the committee had completed an inventory and assessed costs.or this one:Revolutionaries protecting oil fields turn professional

Tripoli, April 1: The Libyan Ministry of Defense has announced more than eight thousand revolutionaries (thuwar) have been registered to be trained as border and vital strategic locations protection guards, These positive stories are coming out of Libya everyday but you won't hear about them from the MSM of the anti-interventionist turned counter-revolutionary because it doesn't fit their narrative.

What would Karl Marx think?

Now examining the current situation in Libya from a Marxist perspective, meaning the state includes "bodies of armed men," the state exercises a monopoly of violence, political power grows out of the barrel of a gun, and so on. Taking all that on board:

At a minimum, I should think that we can all agree on some basic facts about the Libyan situation: 1.) The old regime and organs of state power have been completely overthrown, including its armed forces.[unlike Tunisia & Egypt] 2.) The new state, i.e. the NTC is very weak and in its formative stages.[ it does not exercise a monopoly of violence] 3.) Large and diverse sections of the Libyan working class are well armed and organized into what they call 'revolutionary brigades'. This is already what I would call a revolutionary situation. Libya has, in fact, emerged as the leading edge of the historic social/political phenomenon we call the Arab Spring.

It is the place where the struggle between the revolutionaries and the regime went over to armed struggle to the point of civil war first. It is the place where the old regime was defeated by a people's army and all the old institutions of state power have been completely abolished and must be recreated anew.

I've already answered those, like Greenwald, that would give the military victory to NATO. They are just showing their cynical inclinations and lack of understanding of revolutionary war or war in general. Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist has just published an excellent piece on this question: Who made Libya’s revolution?

Wars still aren't won from the air. If they were, then certainly the US would be ruling Vietnam today. Besides the NATO 'effort' in Libya was particularly pathetic. I don't believe they ever got above a 20%-50% dropped ordinance rate on what they euphemistically called "strike sorties", a fact never noted by the "left" sources that like to cite thousands of NATO "strike sorties" as "proof" that NATO was carpet bombing Libya.

Could the Libyans have won without NATO support? I don't know. Could the Americans of 1776 have won without French support? I don't know. I refuse to play those games. History is what history is. NATO had its reasons for supporting the uprising against Mummar Qaddafi just as I'm sure the French had their reasons for supporting the American Revolution. Ho Chi Minh accepted arms and training from the OSS. Revolutions require such "compromises" and they also require accepting support from non-revolutionary and even counter-revolutionary sources. Those that refuse such compromise "on principal" are dilettantes not revolutionaries.

By now, it should be clear to all that the Libyan revolutionaries made a very wise compromise when they accepted NATO air cover, but refused NATO ground troops. NATO air support stopped Benghazi and Misrata from becoming scenes of mass murder like those we are presently witnessing in Homs and Idlib. Of course the dilettantes believe they should have gone it alone no matter how many Arab lives it would have cost, "if they were really serious", but then they didn't stand to lose anyone they loved in Benghazi.

As far as the effects of the NATO air war on the civilian population of Libya is concerned, we now have some credible numbers and I feel entirely acquitted in my support for their intervention. The NYTimes was the first to publish in that area and they found that between 40 and 70 civilians had been killed by NATO. The UN did the most through report. They found 60 killed and 55 wounded. Most recently, Amnesty International claimed 55 civilians killed by NATO. These are incredibly low numbers for a war that took over 30,000 lives and in which NATO carried out more than nine thousand strike mission.

Of course, anyone is free to challenge these figures. All they have to do is document some civilians killed by NATO bombs that are not covered by these reports. Then they can overthrow these reports and make news.

And the Libyans did it with no NATO boots on the ground, in spite of NATO's best efforts to "at least" let them have Forward Air Controllers. They steadfastly refused. And there is a whole history of "friendly fire" incidents and NATO's withholding of support that the left should be writing about as far as NATO's true crimes are concerned. They won't do that because they don't even see that.

Today's NY Times article ends on a ominous note that things will end up they same anyway, i.e. revolution is futile. Look for this to be quoted by the anti-interventionists:Former Qaddafi officials, who are also talking about forming a political party, say they hear an echo of the past. “They are speaking the same language we did,” said one former Qaddafi adviser, speaking on condition of anonymity for his safety. “We used force. They are using force. Nothing has changed but the flag and the national anthem.” Yes, political power till grows out of the barrow of a gun. That hasn't changed and that won't change. What has changed is which class holds the gun, and the proof of it is that former Qaddafi officials have the freedom to form a political party so soon after they spent 42 years denying that right to their fellow Libyans.

Libya rallies against federalism, division March 9, 2012

For more background on the Libyan Revolution and links to lots of information see my other writings at the DailyKos and WikiLeaks Central:
UN: NATO killed 60 civilians in Libya
Libya in the news today
Amnesty International on Libya again
The Current Situation in Libya
Democracy Now & Amy Goodman gets it wrong again.
Why is Chris Hedges calling for "boots on the ground" in Libya?
The Worm Has Turned: Good Film on Libyan Revolution from PressTV
Why NATO's mission in Libya isn't over yet
Libya's Freedom Fighters: How They Won
Racism in Libya
Abdul Rahman Gave his Eyes to See the End of Qaddafi
BREAKING: Secret files reveal Dennis Kucinich talks with Qaddafi Regime
BREAKING: Libyan TNC won't extradite Lockerbie bomber
Who really beat Qaddafi?
#Feb17: @NATO Please help MEDEVAC wounded from #Libya
What should those that opposed NATO's intervention in Libya demand now?
BREAKING: Qaddafi's Tripoli Compound Falls!
Does PDA Support Qaddafi?
BREAKING: Operation Mermaid Dawn, the Battle to Liberate Tripoli is Joined
Helter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure
Qaddafi's Long Arm
SCOOP: My Lai or Qaddafi Lie? More on the 85 Civilians presumed killed by NATO
Did NATO kill 85 Libyan Villagers As Qaddafi Regime Contends?
CCDS Statement on Libya - a Critique
The Assassination of General Abdul Fattah Younis
NATO over Tripoli - Air Strikes in the Age of Twitter
How Many Libyans has NATO Killed?
Qaddafi Terror Files Start to Trickle Out!
Have Libyan Rebels Committed Human Rights Abuses?
Tripoli Green Square Reality Check
Behind the Green Curtain: Libya Today
Gilbert Achcar on the Libyan situation and the Left
NATO slammed for Libya civilian deaths NOT!
2011-07-01 Qaddafi's Million Man March
NATO's Game Plan in Libya
February 21st - Tripoli's Long Night
Did Qaddafi Bomb Peaceful Protesters?
Tripoli Burn Notice
Libyans, Palestinians & Israelis
'Brother' Qaddafi Indicted plus Libya & Syria: Dueling Rally Photofinishs
An Open Letter to ANSWER
ANSWER answers me
2011-06-22 No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum
Are they throwing babies out of incubators yet?
Continuing Discussion with a Gaddafi Supporter
Boston Globe oped supports Gaddafi with fraudulent journalism
2011-04-13 Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Current Events in Libya
Amonpour Plays Softball with Gaddafi
Arming Gaddfi
North African Revolution Continues
Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation

People flex power in three African Countries.

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In Senegal Sunday night they were dancing in the streets as the election results came in. Very much in line with its 164 year democratic history, the president of twelve years, Abdoulaye Wade was unseated in what by most accounts was a fair and peaceful reelection. Wade who was 85 and running for a third term in spite of a two term limit, and attempting to position his son to succeed him, insisted on clinking to power in the face of widespread opposition.

At least six people were killed in the violence that accompanied mass protests in the earlier election in which Wade faced 12 opponents. For the run off, all of the opposition united around Macky Sall who received 65% of the vote to Wade's 35%. While the new president faces many challenges like high food prices and high unemployment, this was a day for the Senegalese, who took to the streets in protest a month ago, with some being martyred, to celebrate the fact they they have been able to chose new leadership.

In Mali, just next door, the story was quite different, on Monday people were out in the streets demanding that the military coup be ended and power returned to the civilian government. They were scheduled to have elections in a month but since elements of the army seized power last week, the future of the whole country has been put in doubt. The Atlanta Constitution reports:

BAMAKO, Mali — Demonstrators in Mali's capital are demanding a return to constitutional order days after mutinous soldiers claimed power in a coup.

About a thousand people, including members of youth movements and political parties, gathered Monday in central Bamako.

Some of the youth groups threatened to march on state TV and radio headquarters, which are under the junta's control.

Junta spokesman Lt. Amadou Konare on Sunday warned demonstrators to "exercise prudence" on Monday, which marks the 21-year anniversary of the last coup.

In Libya, a struggle is building up around garbage, as trash fills the streets of Tripoli. It seems that garbage has not been picked up in Libya's capital for more than a month now, the situation is becoming intolerable. Naturally, most Libyans blame the revolutionary government which is tasked with reinventing virtually all of civilian society, but the problem is more complicated than just organizing the workers and equipment to pickup the trash.

The people that live in the communities around Tripoli are flexing their revolutionary muscles as well. They feel that they have been unfairly dumped on by the city of Tripoli in the old regime and they are demanding a change. Like many communities in Libya now, they are armed and they have blockaded the dump.

From the Tripoli Post:

The Cleaning Up Tripoli team (The Cleaning Revolution), a concerned group of Tripoli residents, will be holding a demonstration in front of the government building (Prime Minister's office) in Triq al Sika at 11.00am until 2.00pm.

The demonstration will demand that the government takes drastic action to solve the garbage problem that has caused an environmental disaster in Tripoli, and call on the people to be aware of the size of the disaster that's threatening the capital and Libya in general.

Along with organising such demonstration on Saturday, the group is also interested in tackling the growing trash crises in the city. It has set up a team to combat the ever accumulating environmental issues in the city through social media, the traditional media, cleaning campaigns and other mediums to raise awareness for proper trash disposal and conservative energy use.

The group is calling on all activists to review the Facebook event invitation at: http://www.facebook.com/events/145825295540733/

They're on Twitter @CleanUpTripoli. Maybe the revolution hasn't solved yet the trash problem but at least now they can demonstrate about it without being shot at!

They were shooting in southern Libya. An armed clash between rival militias over a disputed car left 20 dead and 40 wounded in what may be the worst of such clashes since the defeat of Qaddafi. Al Jazeera reports:

Clashes between rival militias in southern Libya have killed 20 people, a doctor at a regional hospital said, highlighting the challenge the government faces in imposing its authority months after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.

A local doctor, Ibrahim Misbah, said on Monday that 20 fighters died of gunshot wounds and more than 40 people were wounded.

Local council member Ahmed Abdelkadir said clashes first broke out on Sunday between former rebel fighters from Sabha, Libya's fourth largest city, and gunmen from the Tibu tribe after a Sabha man was killed in a dispute over a car.

So far armed clashes of this type have been relatively rare but this is a very serious example of what everyone fears can become a persistent problem with so many armed groups in revolutionary Libya. The article continues:

Last month dozens of people were killed in days of clashes between tribes in the far southeastern province of Al Kufra.
Government security forces eventually intervened to stop the fighting in a rare example of the Tripoli bureaucracy imposing its authority.

Abdul-Jalil said incompetent ministers may be dismissed in the coming months, but he gave no specifics.

A 200-member assembly to be elected in June has the job of appointing new cabinet ministers.

My other recent writings on Africa:
BREAKING: Wade defeated in Senegal & other Africa Updates
Mali Coup is latest post-Qaddafi fallout Fri Mar 23
What the PSL got right & wrong about KONY 2012 Sat Mar 10
African Spring continues in Senegal Mon Feb 27
Occupy Nigeria - 1st African fruits of Qaddafi gone? Tue Jan 10

BREAKING: Wade defeated in Senegal & other Africa Updates

BREAKING News: Senegalese president for 12 years Abdoulaye Wade has conceded defeat to Macky Sall in today's run off election. See more below:
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There are a bunch of things happening this weekend with some of the stories from Africa that I have been covering lately and I need to update these diaries but I didn't want them to get lost at the end of past diaries, so I thought that I would also gather them up here. The diaries that I'm updating are:

Mali Coup is latest post-Qaddafi fallout Fri Mar 23
What the PSL got right & wrong about KONY 2012 Sat Mar 10
African Spring continues in Senegal Mon Feb 27
Occupy Nigeria - 1st African fruits of Qaddafi gone? Tue Jan 10

Mali: Mali Coup is latest post-Qaddafi fallout

The self-declared leader of the military coup Army Captain Amadou Sanogo appeal for calm and denied reports that his soldiers were looting petrol stations and state buildings. The whereabouts of President Amadou Toumani Toure are still unknown but he is rumored to be hiding on a Red Beret Army base and under the protection of loyal troops. Rumors of an imminent counter-coup are also being heard.

A joint mission of the AU and the West African regional bloc ECOWAS arrived in Bamako on Friday for negotiations with the rebels, Paul Lolo, the chairman of the Peace and Security Council, told Al Jazeera on Saturday.

"[The mission] is in negotiations with the rebels and it is our hope that they will listen to reason and return Mali to constitutional order without delay," he said.

"This [coup] has been an insurgency, a seizure of power by force. There was a legitimate government in Mali. That government is still legitimate in our view because that is the government we know according to our instruments."

Meanwhile the Tuareg are using of this disorder to make military gains in the north. They have launched a new offensive and could soon be marching on Timbuktu if not opposed.

Uganda: What the PSL got right & wrong about KONY 2012

The KONY2012 video has been viewed more than 85 million times and now the African Union is deploying a military force of 5,000 to hunt down Joseph Kony in Uganda. Like the special team tasked with tracking down Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid they have announced that they will be there for as long as it takes to capture or kill Kony. Kony is believed to be in the Central African Republic. The US already has a hundred special forces soldiers hunting Kony and the US will also be strongly supporting this AU effort. See BCC: African Union force steps up hunt for Joseph Kony for more.

The push is on big time to bag Kony before November IMHO.

Senegal: African Spring continues in Senegal

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

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).

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.

Nigeria: Occupy Nigeria - 1st African fruits of Qaddafi gone?

In the north, the struggle against Boko Haram is getting fiercer. This was just yesterday:

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — An hours-long gun battle raged Saturday in a northern Nigerian city that's the spiritual home of a radical Islamist sect, and a car bomb exploded during a gun fight with members of the group in another city in the restive region, authorities said. At least six people were killed.

Recently the sect rejected efforts to began indirect talks with the government and now the government is pressing its military campaign against them with renewed vigor.

Meanwhile the Occupy Nigeria movement, like the occupy movement everywhere, continues its growth outside of the lime light, as example by this article two days ago:Occupy Nigeria: Nneka on the "Vagabonds in Power"
or this one from five days ago: Occupy Yourself, Occupy Nigeria By Malcolm Fabiyi

Mali Coup is latest post-Qaddafi fallout

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A military coup that overthrew the elected government of Mali on Thrusday became the latest repercussion of the Libyan revolution and the fall of Mummar Qaddafi to rock the continent of Africa.

Friday, Mali's coup leaders ordered soldiers to return to barracks and imposed a 6am to 6pm curfew in Barnako, the capital. All the country's borders were also closed according to Lieutenant Amadou Konare, spokesman for the National Committee for the Recovery of Democracy and the Restoration of the State, said yesterday on state television.

According to Bloomberg:

Army officers yesterday said they had toppled President Amadou Toure’s government and suspended the constitution over the state’s handling of a Touareg rebellion in northern Mali. The military formed a transitional council that will organize elections and plans to restore power to a democratically elected leader, Konare said. Mali vies with Tanzania to be Africa’s third-biggest gold producer, after South Africa and Ghana.
...
Soldiers in Mali have complained about their lack of preparation and resources in a campaign to quash a two-month uprising by the Touareg separatists who are seeking autonomous rule in northern Mali. Hundreds of soldiers’ wives last month marched on the presidential palace to protest the danger their husbands are being exposed to in the military campaign.

The coup has been widely condemned in the international community. The African Union has been joined by the UN, the US and a host of other nations in opposing it. On Friday, the AU suspended Mali's membership and former colonial power France said it was suspending cooperation with Mali. As William G Moseley, who lived in Mali for a number of years points out in his Al Jazeera opinion piece Mali's coup must be widely condemned:

While this is a Malian problem that must be resolved by the Malian people, the international community (including the Arab League, African Union and UN) must condemn the recent coup in no uncertain terms. This is not the Arab Spring moving south, but a serious backwards step for democracy in the region. Captain Sanogo and his band of thugs must be made to step aside, ATT (if he is still alive) allowed to serve out his remaining month in office, and democratic elections kept on schedule to occur in late April.

The main support for the coup appears to becoming from junior army officers that have been in the thick of the fighting against Tuareg rebels in northern Mali. The Mali army has suffered both a lost of territory and a heavy lost of life in carrying out the government's campaign against the northern rebellion and they blame the president and his government for ordering the strategy and then failing to adequately support it.

In the latest report at this hour [1:09 PST] , the Tuareg are reporting that they have just take a northern Mali town.

The Tuareg are a desert people that span parts of Mali, Niger, Chad, Libya and Algeria. They are renown as warriors and Mummar Qaddafi built a special relationship with them. In the 1980's he recruited many under the banner of the Islamic Legion and when that failed, he brought some directly into the Libyan army where a few obtained very high rank. He also used many as mercenaries.

They fought for him in his frequent wars on the African continent including in Chad, Niger, Sudan, Mali, Sudan even Lebanon and more recently they fought for him in Libya. Tuareg mercenaries were among those shooting down unarmed protesters in Benghazi in the first days of the February 17th uprising, they looted and raped and murdered in Misrata and they were among his most loyal and steadfast fighters till the end.

They took a real shellacking from NATO planes out there in the desert and now they have been relieved of service, you might say. Since September, thousands have been coming home from the fight in Libya, many of them well armed. Heavy weapons have made the journey too.

Many have joined the Tuareg struggle for self determination already in progress in that region and they have greatly energized it. This has lead to the army setbacks that have in turn now precipitated this coup. As Moseley told it:

Sadly, it was Gaddafi's guns, more than anything else, that rekindled a movement aimed at creating an independent Tuareg state known as Azawad. A pivotal moment occurred on January 24 when Tuareg rebels completely overran a Malian military base at Aguelhok, in which it was widely reported in the Malian media that all of the remaining soldiers were slaughtered after they ran out of ammunition to defend themselves. This led to a huge public outcry and, sadly, reprisals against innocent Tuareg civilians. The army also began to publically grumble that they did not have the funds they needed to fight the war in the north.

More on the Tuareg and Qaddafi

August 31, 2011, the Atlantic published a rare interview with one of Qaddafi's returning Tuareg mercenaries. The writer describes his introduction this way:

I learned about him when a Tuareg elder told me that in recent weeks more than 200 Tuareg fighters had returned from Libya to Timbuktu and the surrounding villages. He said that hundreds more had returned to other towns in eastern Mali. Local leaders were worried, he said, that these men could be the leading edge of a large wave of mercenaries returning from the fighting in Libya and that they could set a match to northern Mali’s own brittle mixture of ethnic rivalries.
....
To prove he had been in Libya he produced a document — with a passport photo attached and a stamp from the Malian consulate in Tamanrasset — identifying him as a refugee from Libya. He said that that he went to Libya in 2007 with his wife and children. They were given short-term residence papers in exchange for his enlistment in the Libyan army. He was assigned to a Tuareg brigade in the southern town of Awbari.

He remembered the beginning of the uprising, before the peaceful protests gave way to armed struggle:

When the protests began in Tripoli, his unit was attached to the infamous 32nd brigade, led by Qaddafi’s son Khamis, and was sent to disperse the unarmed marchers. “That was easy,” he said with startling nonchalance. “We would kill three or four in the front of the crowd and they all ran away. It was very easy.”

He fought throughout the revolution and said many Tuaregs were forced to fight for Qaddafi:

After Tripoli, he and his fellow Tuareg mercenaries fought in several battles east of the capital city along the coast, including at Misrata. As the fighting intensified, Libyan officials began rounding up Tuareg living in Libya, threatening to imprison them and their families if they didn’t join the fight, though many had no military training. Some deserted and joined the rebels, but most stayed with the forces loyal to Qaddafi.

While they were fierce with unarmed civilians, they were no match for NATO air power:

Abdullah’s unit moved on to Brega and then to the outskirts of Benghazi. “We were six kilometers [about four miles] from Benghazi when the first NATO bombs hit us.” First, a missile hit a vehicle carrying an artillery piece near his position and killed eight men. “We never heard it or saw it. The men just blew up.” He and his fellow soldiers were spooked. They were well trained to fight on the ground, he said. “None of us was good at shooting down airplanes."

He also confirmed Qaddafi's intention to do to Benghazi what Assad is currently doing in Homs, Idlib and many other Syria cities:

I asked about Qaddafi’s February speech, in which he pledged to hunt down protesters house by house and what his men were ordered to do if they encountered civilians. He paused before answering, “To be honest, it is true. We believed what Qaddafi told us. We believed we would go there and kill everyone.”

I asked if he had seen any civilians killed. In Misrata, he says, “We tried to find everyone there. One half of the city was cleaned.”

“What do you mean ‘cleaned?’” I asked.

“The people were killed. Women, children, everyone there.”

Now the Tuareg are worried about their future. According to Nina Intallou, representing the Kidal region on the Mali national advisory council and a Tuareg rebel and writing before Qaddafi was killed:

“The south of Libya is Touareg territory. They’re obliged to hold on to what is theirs because if Gaddafi goes, they fear what will happen to them. There’s a risk of total destabilisation in the region. Many people in Libya detest the Touareg. Before Gaddafi came to power they weren’t allowed to go to Benghazi, for example, without a special pass. So if Gaddafi’s enemies are given power, we’re really asking what will become of us. We may even face the complete disappearance of the Touareg as a people.”

Andy Morgan wrote about the Tuareg last March, in the early days of the Libyan revolution:

Gaddafi has been buying the affections and fighting skills of the nomadic tribes of the Sahara for a long time. His vision of a borderless desert, an Islamic republic of the Sahara, has often found favour with the Touareg, who have been fighting their own struggle for political self-determination and cultural recognition against the governments of Mali and Niger since independence back in 1960. Gaddafi invited young Touareg immigrants in Libya to join his Islamic Legion in the early 1980s before sending them off to fight wars in Chad, the Sudan and the Lebanon. The same Touareg soldiers then unleashed their own rebellions against Mali and Niger in the 1990s. Despite widespread suspicion that Gaddafi only ever helped the Touareg to further his own territorial schemes, many Touareg fear the consequences of his fall from power.

And he wrote prophetically a year ago:

Other Touareg leaders cite the severe political and social strain that could result from the fall of the Gaddafi regime and the consequent return of thousands of exiled Touareg from Libya to their homelands in Mali and Niger. Many of these returnees will probably be impoverished, disaffected and, what’s worse, heavily armed. Such an influx would pose a severe challenge to the already tenuous peace that exists between the Touareg and the central government of Mali in Bamako.

Qaddafi has long played on both sides of the street in Mali and he has done so to foment instability, a pattern he repeated throughout Africa:

Ironically, Gaddafi has also been investing heavily in agriculture, water infrastructure, hotels and other sectors in southern Mali, where the Touareg are seen as the enemy. Amadou Toumani Touré, the current President of Mali, was the first of many African leaders to call Gaddafi and express his support after the rebellion broke out in Libya.

At the same time:

The Libyan leader has often given financial support to ... Ibrahim Ag Bahanga, the hard line Touareg rebel leader who has refused to make peace with the Malian government, blaming Mali’s intransigence and broken promises for his uncompromising stance.

Not all Tuareg supported Qaddafi and his struggle against the revolution, according to Sheika last March:

"About 200 Touareg have been killed here because they refused to obey orders to shoot innocent protestors. And now the Touareg youth have joined the revolution against the regime…”

Morgan sums up Qaddafi' relationship with the Tuareg this way:

On the international stage, Gaddafi has often proclaimed his great affinity to the Touareg as a people. He is said to have inherited some Touareg blood from his mother, and he sees the Touareg as natural allies in his overriding ambition to create a Sahara without borders, unified by Arab culture and Islam. However, Gaddafi’s international pronouncements are in stark contrast with the way in which he has treated the Touareg and their culture in his own country. In a speech he gave in 1985, he famously claimed that mothers who taught their children Tamazight, the language of the Touareg, were injecting them with poison.

Akli Sheika, a Libyan Touareg living in exile in Britain, was imprisoned for teaching Tifinarh, the ancient Touareg alphabet, in Libyan schools. “I consider Gaddafi to be the enemy number one of the Touareg people,” he told me. “Most of the Touareg in Libya want Gaddafi to leave. Gaddafi is recruiting the Touareg by force and threatening them with violence if they don’t fight with the protestors. Many Touareg from Ghat and Ubari in the south have actually fled to Djanet in Algeria.”

The fall of Qaddafi is both good news and bad news for the people sub-Sahran Africa. They are getting the bad news first in the form of a flood of returning mercenaries and migrant workers. They are also feeling the effects of a multitude of weapons that were formerly locked up in Qaddafi's armory. This has lead to this unfortunate coup in Mali.

The good news is that they will no longer have Mummar Qaddafi first aggravating and then militarizing every conflict on the continent. Although his cachet of weapons may now be flooding Africa, they will dry up and he will no longer be a constant stream of arms, sometimes even to both sides of a conflict

With Qaddafi gone, the wick has stopped for a variety of guerrilla groups and "liberation" movements in Africa. In the short term they may feel the need to breakout with fresh offensives before the Qaddafi supplied reserves have dried up, especially if they are flush with new fighters and weapons just in from Libya. This appears to be the case in northern Nigeria and northern Mali.

But in the longer term, the removal of Qaddafi's meddling in the internal affairs, his spending of billions in Libyan petro dollars on money and arms to advance his vision, as expressed in his Green Book that:

Contemporary national liberation movements are themselves social movements; they will not come to an end before every group is liberated from the domination of another group.

And an end to his continual attempts to split African countries up in a scheme to re-unite them under his rule, is bound to lead to greater progress and liberation in Africa.

For related writing by me see also:
What the PSL got right & wrong about KONY 2012
African Spring continues in Senegal
Occupy Nigeria - 1st African fruits of Qaddafi gone?
BREAKING: Libyan's NTC pledges not to discriminate against black Africans
Racism in Libya
Helter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure

Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 10:04 PM PT: The self-declared leader of the military coup Army Captain Amadou Sanogo appeal for calm and denied reports that his soldiers were looting petrol stations and state buildings. The whereabouts of President Amadou Toumani Toure are still unknown but he is rumored to be hiding on a Red Beret Army base and under the protection of loyal troops. Rumors of an imminent counter-coup are also being heard.

A joint mission of the AU and the West African regional bloc ECOWAS arrived in Bamako on Friday for negotiations with the rebels, Paul Lolo, the chairman of the Peace and Security Council, told Al Jazeera on Saturday.

"[The mission] is in negotiations with the rebels and it is our hope that they will listen to reason and return Mali to constitutional order without delay," he said.

"This [coup] has been an insurgency, a seizure of power by force. There was a legitimate government in Mali. That government is still legitimate in our view because that is the government we know according to our instruments."

Meanwhile the Tuareg are using of this disorder to make military gains in the north. They have launched a new offensive and could soon be marching on Timbuktu if not opposed.

My Best Tweets

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I really didn't pay much attention to Twitter until the Arab Spring broke out and forced me to take it seriously. Now I find it the most vital of all the social media services.

I signed up for Facebook MySpace and Twitter all on the same day at some time in the distance past because I had decided it was time to do the social media thing. I spent a lot of time customizing my MySpace page because it could do html and so could I, then I let it fall by the wayside.

Facebook became my social media center. In addition to my own wall, I built a Vietnam: American Holocaust movie page and eventually made over two thousand "friends."

For years, about the only thing I did with Twitter was to use the button that appeared above my posts here at the Daily Kos to tweet out each new diary to my 30 or so followers but in the course of following the quickly unfolding events in North Africa last year I found Twitter to be the most important source of information and the most vital form of communication.

I also found it to be a challenging format to write for. Just 140 characters, 20 less if you include a link and the challenge is to say something with meaning and elegance in that small space. I compose a tweet as though I am writing a 21th century haiku, and on this rainy Saturday in Venice Beach, I thought I'd share what I consider some of my best tweets from the last year with my readers here who are use to me going on ad nauseam about a subject. This is one I just send this morning:

#Assad's soldiers murder women & children in #Syria because for them its a case of kill or be killed <- from behind.

Find more beneath the fold.

1st they burnt the books, then they burnt the bodies. The US in #Afghanistan or ??

#Idlib, #Syria is what #Benghazi, #Libya would have been if the anti-interventionists could have ruled the day

According to #UN, #NATO killed 60 civilians in #Libya during the war, now #Assad kills that many in #Syria everyday. #BloodOnTheirHands

Yes, #KCAL News, 16 is "more than a dozen" but why the discount? Is it because the killer is a US soldier & the victims #Afghanistan?

if Kofi Annan saw a bear attacking a child he would say "You two stop fighting!" #Syria #BloodOnTheirHands

Are #Assad's soldiers killing with knives because he is afraid to give them ammunition? #Syria #BooldOnHisHands

Syrious BS: RT shows pix of passports of alleged foreign fighters in #Syria. Why no pictures? Why not open the passports and show who?

#Russia, If a bear attacks a kid, naturally the kid will fight back, but would you describe it as a fight between a bear and a kid? #Syria

#Assad will allow the Red Cross to enter #BabaAmr as soon as there are no civilians left there to help #BloodOnHisHands #Syria

When woman yells "No War on #Iran" #Obama responds "You're jumping the gun a little bit." Now what does that mean???

#SoCalledSocialists: You don't present the working class if you will suffer in silence any part of it murdered by its ruling class. #Syria

In #Santorum World: Church schools need no Earthquake retrofit if clergy says Lord is their Earthquake protection. #thisweek

"Pres has 12,000 US troops in Malta about to make their descent into #Libya." It's been over a month #CynthiaMcKinney What's up with that?

Whenever u find ppl fighting 4 freedom you'll find CIA&MI6 just like feas on lions but it's ridulous 2 credit the fleas 4 feats of the lion.

#Russian tanks, #Russian guns & #Russian shells, some most likely recently delivered are doing #Assad 's killing in #Homs #Syria

Artilley bombing of #Homs reportly resumes as #Assad applies #Russia tactics: Why send a solider where a shell could go? #BloodOnTheirHands

I feel a grt disturbance in the Force as if 1000s of voices cried out & were suddenly silenced. Something terrible is happening #Homs #Syria

#China doesn't want to see a repeat of #Libya in #Syria (were regime tanks were prevented from entering the city & killing house to house.)

#NATO lacks appetite for intervention in #Syria because they didn't get what they wanted from intervention in #Libya #Feb17

What the anti-interventionists wanted for Benghazi, #Libya, we are now seeing in Homs, #Syria #BloodOnTheirHands #BloodySunday

#Syria 150 ppl/day murdered by own govt while world sits on its hands. Shameful! Absolutely Shameful!

Anti-interventionists, remember when MLK Jr. et al cheered martial law in Montegomery? But you were opposed, weren't you?

#BlackBloc as a tactic is like a lap. Stand up, your lap disappears the way any "tactic" applied w/o regard to reality ceases to be a tactic

#Windows is an OS created by a corporation for profit. #Linux is an OS created by a community for service.

Shouldn't they be kettling the Tea Party and not the #Occupy movement?

The courage of the Syrian people is incredible. The silent support for #Assad from the US left is disgusting. #Syria

"What happened in #Tunisia most likely will stay in Tunisia" James Zogby 22/01/11 Oops!

Many species were lost forever because God ordered Noah to load only 2 of each aboard the ark and not all of God's creatures are fertile :-)

Supicious bombs explode in Damascus prove Assad's point as Arab League arrive in Syria. Like 911, AQ is blamed minutes later. Cui Bono

#VictoriaSecrets say child labor cotton is only used in a "small portion" of its clothing but VS only makes clothing in small portions

17/12/10 -17/9/11 #OWS was born precisely 9 months after Mohamed Bouazizi felt the fire while planting the seed. He is the father of #Occupy

We tried to do a GA in jail, but when we said we were going to breakout groups, they put us on lockdown. [joke] #OccupyLA #OccupyWallSt

When Lenin said "nobody can discredit the communists if they don't discredit themselves" was he talking about Stalin or Trotsky or both?

Marketing #OWS, Any day now I expect the 99cent only store to change its name to #99% only store, And start raising its prices #OccupyLA

Have solution to contenious General Assembly problem. Talked with Keeping it Real Party about setting up the Hard Block Cafe @ #OccupyLA

Some "leftists" use historic Libyan racism as a weapon against the revolution, I see the revolution as a weapon against racism #Libya #Feb17

#ANSWER says "oppose the demonization campaigns underway against #Syria" Does that mean they favor the shelling of civilians?

Jeff Goldblum to #FF "Be sure to scrape that 'War Is Not The Answer' sticker off the bumper before mounting the rockets in the bed"

ANSWER, CCDS and other anti-interventionists: Here is a complete list of anti-NATO protests in Arab or Muslim countries - "" #Feb17 #Libyan

Russia is now recognizing "armed gangs" as the legit representatives of the Libyan people. The times they are a'changing #Feb17 #Libya

#NATO u did a good thing. Don't blow it by sticking around and making mischief. Thank You. Good Bye. #feb17 #Libya

Now that there are no more dragons to slay, there is really nothing for NATO to do but fly off into the sunset.

I'm so sick of hearing about #Libya "stalemate." Have u noticed that this "stalemate" keeps inching closer to Tripoli all the time! #Feb17

They're a lot of chess metaphors in #Feb17 but 'stalemate' ain't one of them. Qaddafi thinks he's the king & treats ppl like pawns #Feb17

stalemate? #Gharyan check! #Tawargha check #Zawiya check! #Garyan check! stalemate? I don't see any stalemate #Libya #Feb17

#FF the word on the tweet is that #Qaddafi has a surprise waiting for you in #Tripoli tomorrow. Be aware #Feb17 #Libya

#Libya loses Younes, #Tahrir loses unity. Revolution is a messy business but reports of the death of the Arab Spring are premature

#Libya - Where some see naked imperialist aggression, I see a slick imperialist response to revolutionary upsurge #feb17

Does NATO want to force key members of old regime on the revolution? Is that what they mean by "negotiated settlement?" #Libya #feb17

#France's Catch 22: Civilians have a right to self-defence but once they are armed they cease to be civilians. #Libya #Feb17 #Nafusa

Is NATO using Qaddafi to discipline the freedom fighters because they will not be co-opted? Just a question #Libya #Feb17

#Japan fishrman, We've good news & bad news. Good news is ur boat survived the tsunami. Bad news is u can't use it cause we nuked the fish

They said my radiation exposure was less than a chest xray. I said "how so?" They said a chest xray cost $$$, the rads cost me nothing!

The keyboard is mightier than the Kalashnikov - update to an old truth #Libya #Egypt #Tunisia #feb17 #jan25 #Anonymous

US UK & EU are hoping Gaddfi will restore the status quo and the oil flow. That's why they take no action. Count on it! #Libya #feb17

Why did that Libyan pilot eject? Is Gaddfi making sure they don't have fuel for Malta now? #Libya #feb17

What is Obama waiting for? He's waiting for Gaddfi to succeed. If the flowing blood keeps the oil flowing, he's for it. #Libya #Feb17

"If it takes a bloodbath to silence the demonstrators, let's get it over with." Who said this? hint M. Gaddfi likes Reagan #Libya #Feb17

If all the UN is going to go is 'fact finding' They should wait till Gaddfi is done killing and avoid the need for a recount. #Libya #feb17

The longer they rule, the faster they fall. #Tunisia Ben Ali 23 yrs & 28 days, #Egypt Mubarak 30 yrs & 18 days, #Libya Gaddfi 42yrs & ? days

What the PSL got right & wrong about KONY 2012

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The Party for Socialism and Liberation has come out with an anti-imperialist position about this whole KONY 2012 campaign, which with its first class promotion, I will assume "needs no introduction."

The PSL position isn't wrong, as far as it goes. The problem is that it doesn't go very far. It is over simplistic whereas the real world is much more nuanced. They hear "oil" and they think "That's it!" and they don't look much beyond that when there is so much more than that involved.

Their refusal to comprehend just what is going on in Syria now means they don't get the obvious contradiction that while Assad is presently killing hundreds a day, he just started shelling a second Syrian city and there are reports that he is now using helicopter gunships, a worldwide campaign to bring to justice another war criminal, but one that hasn't been in Uganda for 6 years, is stealing all the headlines.

Also their faulty view of Mummar Qaddafi and his role in Africa and their failure to understand what is happening in Libya have not helped them understand why US Special Forces landed in Uganda just about the time Qaddafi was being killed.

PSL claims to be a Marxist organization so I will begin by looking at their statement and its limitations before giving my own Marxist views on the phenomenon known as KONY 2012 because I don't believe Marxists can give good guidance to the struggle with simple "one size fits all" answers. We must be able to understand and explain things in detail and from all sides.

From the PSL's
What's behind Kony 2012?

A little-known but not insignificant factor at play in the region is the discovery of oil in Uganda in recent years. “One of the most spectacular recent finds has been in Uganda. The reserves of the Albertine rift, which takes in the Ugandan and Congolese shores of Lake Albert ..., are said to need $10 billion for development. All being well, Uganda will soon become a mid-sized producer, alongside countries such as Mexico. Foreign investment in Uganda may nearly double this year to $3 billion. The country expects to earn $2 billion a year from oil by 2015.” (The Economist, May 31, 2010)

Could it be that a desire to get access to this bonanza is a significant factor behind imperialist interests in intervening in the region's conflicts? To ask the question is to answer it.

It goes without saying that imperialist harbor a predatory interest in any country that has oil. That is not rocket science nor does it do grace to Karl Marx. It is also a long, long way from explaining why we are suddenly all talking about KONY 2012.

To be fair, PSL then goes on to say:

Oil, of course, is not the whole story, as Uganda is a key U.S. ally in a number of geostrategic endeavors. There is much to be said on this topic...

But then they jump to conclusions like:

U.S. imperialist interests and humanitarian interests are mutually exclusive.

This mechanistic view also shaped their "line" on Libya. It is based on their emotional attitude towards the US and has nothing to do with Libya or Uganda or the concrete conditions of the situation in either case.

Still, I agree with most of what they had to say in this piece. I particularly liked:

The journal Foreign Affairs writes that IC “manipulates facts for strategic purposes, exaggerating the scale of LRA abductions and murders and emphasizing the LRA’s use of innocent children as soldiers, and portraying Kony—a brutal man, to be sure—as uniquely awful, a Kurtz-like embodiment of evil,” (referring to a fictional character in Joseph Conrad's novella “Heart of Darkness”).

And what they had to say about the campaign's promoter, Invisible Childern:

Chris Blattman, a political scientist at Yale, has written on the topic of IC’s programming: “There’s also something inherently misleading, naive, maybe even dangerous, about the idea of rescuing children or saving of Africa. […] It hints uncomfortably of the White Man’s Burden."

But overall I think they fail to explain what is happening now and why, and they fall far short of what should pass as a reasonable Marxist analysis. But I agree with them that "There is much to be said on this topic" so let me begin were they left off by telling you, from a Marxist perspective, what I think is going on with KONY 2012 and why.

Obama re-election ploy?

While oil and other imperialist concerns play a role, I think the main driving force behind KONY 2012 is Barack Obama's need to be re-elected in 2012. That is why Joseph Kony, a war criminal and mass murderer who has been on the loose for 26 years suddenly needs to be "brought to justice" in 2012.

What makes KONY 2012 have any real chance of success in its stated goal is the hundred US Special Forces deployed to Uganda in October 2011 and only Obama had the power to order that mission.

PSL and many of the other "anti-interventionist" that campaigned against US intervention in Libya are now vigorously campaigning against US intervention in Syria and this time I think they will be successful because I don't think Obama has any intention of doing anything substantial to stop Assad's bloodletting.

I don't think he plans to start a war with Iran either, or sanction one started by Israel, at least not until after the election. The blow back, both in economic and human terms just might be too high and upset his chances of being re-elected. To quote a famous line I heard somewhere "He wants what every first term president wants, he wants a second term." This too is the imperialist way.

At this point it time, getting re-elected is foremost in Obama's mind that you can bet, that has a lot more to do with why he ordered 100 USSF into Uganda now than any long term imperialist interest in more oil.

So while Obama probably isn't planning any big military actions between now and the election, as those could be too iffy from the re-election standpoint, and even though he has Bin Laden's scalp under his belt, he probably needs the insurance of something like an "October surprise" on the military front to shore up his "right flank" as he faces the Republican challenge in the fall. Something like another Ben Laden take down that he could pull out of his hat would be nice.

Joseph Kony has a history of atrocities that goes back 26 years and is one man that seems to have no redeeming qualities. He was the first person ever indicted by the ICC and he hasn't been in Uganda for 6 years but he is still in the region. His child army, which once number 3000 is now down to less that 300 children so a 100 well equip US Special Forces should be able to defeat them easily. The deployment to Uganda probably satisfied a pentagon desire to see US "boots on the ground" in Africa after they couldn't get their eggs hatched in Libya, but the decision to send them there was the president's.

The problem with this plan is that nobody knew who Joseph Kony was and you just can't get much political mileage out of taking down a nobody. What was needed, after the troops had been sent to get him, was a campaign to make him world famous. They needed to fatten him up before the kill, so to speak...

That must be the force behind this new KONY 2012 campaign and why it must be done this year. It certainly isn't, as the filmmakers argue in the video because:
"Unless the government knows the people care, the mission will be canceled."

That is the laugh line in an otherwise very serious video. Since when did the US military cancel a mission because of a lack of public support? Where was the mass outpouring of public support for Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan?

Although they come from what could be called a "white, liberal do-good perspective", Invisible Children seems sincere in their desire to rid the world of Kony. They have been at it since 2004, here is article about them from the Nation in 2006. They are principally filmmakers that see films about Kony as their major tool. Accordingly, most of the money they have collected has gone to equipment, travel, salaries and other expenses, with only about a third going to people in Uganda.

The video itself is certainly no amateur activist effort. It is highly polished and represents the best production values Hollywood has to offer. A Reuters article today gives us a clue as to its pedigree:

Filmmaker Jason Russell's nonprofit group, Invisible Children, tapped 12 influential policy makers and 20 celebrities with popular Twitter accounts, including Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie, to spread the video. Since then, the company owned by powerful producer Harvey Weinstein has contacted Russell to buy the film.

Want to venture a guess who all these people will be supporting in the 2012 election?

Angelino, defending the KONY 2012 campaign in the pro-Democratic DailyKos, without however seeing the military aspect I am predicting, says:

Regardless of whether you agree with the campaign's content, do you think there might be something to learn from their methods? Would you like to have another 26 million people turn out to vote Democratic in November?

Not to make too fine a point.

The Reuters article also make some criticisms of the video:

The phenomenal success of the video, including the savvy media campaign with tweets about Kony, has been hailed for inspiring young people to activism, but has suffered some criticism including that it oversimplified a long-standing human rights crisis.
...
Mixed reactions in Uganda include criticism that the attention has come too late, that much of the armed conflict in the area has subsided and the film leaves out that the Ugandan military is often accused of committing the same atrocities as Kony's fighters.

In addition, Kony is believed to have long since fled Uganda and now only commands a few hundred followers.

I would also add to this the observations of Teddy Ruge on AJE that this is a US organization that is calling for US military intervention in Africa, that it has no African voices, that these atrocities aren't news in Uganda, Kony hasn't been there for six year and now people have largely put this in the past and are about getting on with their lives.

There are, of course, other reasons behind this KONY 2012 campaign. The atrocities being committed by Assad in Syria is one. Assad has five times the air defense Qaddafi had and a lot less oil so the Syrian people are just SOL when it comes to NATO "humanitarian" intervention. Still it is embarrassing for the self-proclaimed "cops of the world" to appear powerless in the face of Assad's murderous rampages.

The KONY 2012 campaign shifts the publics attention to a war criminal that can more easily be handled. I was surprise to see that on NBC Nightly News, Friday, Kony's past war crimes received a lot more air time than Assad's current and on-going ones. They said they were going to broadcast from Uganda on Monday, so expect this to continue for a while.

Another very important reason for this KONY 2012 campaign and the US military intervention it supports is the need for the imperialist to exercise their muscles in Africa more directly now that they no longer have Mummar Qaddafi creating chaos on the continent and helping to keep the people there down.

Just as the imperialists have tolerated billions in oil profits flowing to the Saudi king because he rebates much of it back to the US by buying treasury bonds, they tolerated Qaddafi because he footed much of the bill for keeping Africa in turmoil. I have written before about Qaddafi's role in Africa, especially in Helter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure, I will call upon Yoweri Museveni, the current president of Uganda, for a little history of Qaddafi's mischief in Uganda:

By the time Muammar Gaddaffi came to power in 1969, I was a third year university student at Dar-es-Salaam. We welcomed him because he was in the tradition of Col. Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt who had a nationalist and pan-Arabist position.

Soon, however, problems cropped up with Col. Gaddafi as far as Uganda and Black Africa were concerned:

Idi Amin came to power with the support of Britain and Israel because they thought he was uneducated enough to be used by them. Amin, however, turned against his sponsors when they refused to sell him guns to fight Tanzania. Unfortunately, Col. Muammar Gaddafi, without getting enough information about Uganda, jumped in to support Idi Amin.
...
Amin killed a lot of people extra-judiciary and Gaddafi was identified with these mistakes. In 1972 and 1979, Gaddafi sent Libyan troops to defend Idi Amin when we attacked him. I remember a Libyan Tupolev 22 bomber trying to bomb us in Mbarara in 1979.
...
Many Libyan militias were captured and repatriated to Libya by Tanzania. This was a big mistake by Gaddafi and a direct aggression against the people of Uganda and East Africa.

The second big mistake by Gaddafi was his position vis-à-vis the African Union (AU) Continental Government “now”. Since 1999, he has been pushing this position.
...
We should, instead, aim at the Economic Community of Africa and, where possible, also aim at Regional Federations. Col. Gaddafi would not relent. He would not respect the rules of the AU.

Something that has been covered by previous meetings would be resurrected by Gaddafi. He would ‘overrule’ a decision taken by all other African Heads of State. Some of us were forced to come out and oppose his wrong position and, working with others, we repeatedly defeated his illogical position.

The third mistake has been the tendency by Col. Gaddafi to interfere in the internal affairs of many African countries using the little money Libya has compared to those countries. One blatant example was his involvement with cultural leaders of Black Africa – kings, chiefs, etc. Since the political leaders of Africa had refused to back his project of an African Government, Gaddafi, incredibly, thought that he could by-pass them and work with these kings to implement his wishes. I warned Gaddafi in Addis Ababa that action would be taken against any Ugandan king that involved himself in politics because it was against our Constitution.

You see, now that they don't have Qaddafi to kick Africa around for them, they will have to take a much more active and direct role in "managing" Africa themselves.

So you see, the success of the Libyan revolution is likely to result in more NATO "boots on the ground" in Africa, as the anti-interventionists predicted, just not in Libya, as the anti-interventionists predicted.

For related writing by me see also:
African Spring continues in Senegal
Occupy Nigeria - 1st African fruits of Qaddafi gone?
BREAKING: Libyan's NTC pledges not to discriminate against black Africans
Racism in Libya
Helter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure

Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 7:48 AM PT: Apparently Ugandans are not happy about this viral video about them either. According to this news resport:

The non-profit organization Invisible Children and its viral video Kony 2012, which has become an international sensation in the past couple of weeks, is continuing to stir controversy. Not only have critics raised questions surrounding Invisible Children and its methodologies, but numerous reports are now verifying that local Ugandans too are in fact angry about the campaign.

The non-profit African Youth Initiative Network (AYINET), which calls itself an organization to help rehabilitate victims of war, organized a public screening in the town of Lira in northern Uganda on Tuesday night. Northern Uganda was one of the regions worst affected by Joseph Kony's rebel group, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). While the Kony 2012 film has become the most viral video in history, this was the first time that most Ugandans in Uganda — the majority of whom have no access to the internet — saw the film firsthand.

The reactions featured in this video report on the screening are a far cry from the outburst of support that pummeled through Western nations. One local Ugandan featured in the video, an LRA survivor who only had one arm due to the other being blown off in a land mine, seemed pained at some of Invisible Children's campaign strategies. "If people in those countries care about us, they will not wear t-shirts of Joseph Kony for any reason," he said. "That would celebrate our suffering."

Another local Ugandan stated, "We wanted to see our local people who are killed. So these are all white men, different from northern Uganda."

"What has angered people is that the video is about a white person, not about the victims," said Emmy Okello, a radio journalist in Lira featured in another report. "All of them came here hoping to see video that tells their story."

These sentiments echo other crowd-sourced views surfacing from Uganda.

According to reports, the reactions in Lira erupted into stone-throwing. As a result of this aggresion, AYINET has postponed further screenings of the video in Uganda indefinitely.

Meanwhile, Invisible Children has not been indifferent to the Kony 2012 backlash. Earlier this week, the organization released a video responding to its critics. But while it defends its marketing and financial tactics, it doesn't address the resentment of Ugandans at seeing "white people" tell their story. Indeed, like the original Kony 2012 video, it's told from a Western, rather than Ugandan, perspective.

What do you think of these latest developments in the Kony 2012 controversy? Should Ugandan reactions prompt another video response from Invisible Children? Let us know in the comments.

Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 10:06 PM PT: The KONY2012 video has been viewed more than 85 million times and now the African Union is deploying a military force of 5,000 to hunt down Joseph Kony in Uganda. Like the special team tasked with tracking down Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid they have announced that they will be there for as long as it takes to capture or kill Kony. Kony is believed to be in the Central African Republic. The US already has a hundred special forces soldiers hunting Kony and the US will also be strongly supporting this AU effort. See BCC: African Union force steps up hunt for Joseph Kony for more.

The push is on big time to bag Kony before November IMHO.

What are these RMT Alerts?

Earlier this month my Motorola Droid X smartphone started acting badly. Sometimes it would simply refuse to do what I asked of it, other times it would shut down or start appls for no apparent reason. Recently I watch an important call ring and ring until it went to voice mail as I was watching it because it refused to answer.

At the same time, I started receiving these strange RMT Alerts almost every day and sometimes every 3 of 4 hours. The RMT Alerts carried a very troubling message:

RMT alert
NETWORK TEST Wireless Emergency Alerting System
Message information:

Alert type: RMT alert
Severity: Severe (Significant threat to life or property)
Urgency: Expected (Responsive action should be taken soon - within the next hour)
Alert response type: Reserved
Alert category: Other (Other events)
Certainty: Likely (Likely, Probability >-50%)
Expiration: 2012-03-06, 03:09 pm

Being told by your phone every day or more that you should take action in the next hour because of a significant threat to life or property, without being given a clue as what action to take, can be a little unnerving and I am far from the only one that has had these troubling alerts. Thanks to smokahontas, we have screenshots of what this looks like:

Well, I did some Googling around and discovered that RMT stands for "Required Monthly Tests" and that this program is part of the national Emergency Alert System that has been beefed up greatly since 9/11.

The system for cell phones and mobile devices, Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS), also known as the Personal Localized Alerting Network (PLAN), was funded by congress in 2006, was tested in NYC and DC on AT&T, Sprint and Verizon late in 2011 and went nationwide in 2012. Hence, my recent problems.

The system does not use the normal cell phone or text message communications facilities. It requires a special chip, which is currently only in a few advanced smart phones such as the Droid X and iPhone but is mandatory for all phones by 2014. The program is being run at the state level but is under the control the DHS department of the FCC, which causes me to question which agency is in charge here.

According to engadget.com:

The secure messaging network will likely display messages as notifications, rather than texts, and will push to all compatible devices within an affected area based on the phone's physical location, not just its mobile number. Local, state and federal officials will send notifications in response to disasters and other public safety threats, presidential announcements, and Amber Alerts.

The press release issued by Mayor Bloomberg emphasized:

No Opt-In Necessary, Any Enabled Mobile Device Located in the Affected Area at Time of Emergency Will Receive a Message

Free Messages Will Be Sent from Local Cellular Towers to Avoid User Traffic and Will Appear As Text Messages on Enabled Devices

What it didn't say is that no "Opt-Out" is possible.

But I wasn't receiving these alerts once a month, but several times a day, and after I discovered that it involved a mandatory chip in my brain, oops, I mean my phone, I began to suspect that the frequent alerts were somehow related to the other problems I was having with my phone. Thus began a two hour talk with Verizon tech support.

Part of the reason the call took so long was that I had to go through two levels of tech support before I was talking to someone at Verizon that had even heard of RMT Alerts. When I did finally reach someone who had heard of it, that's about all he could tell me, yes, he'd heard of it, but he couldn't tell me anything about it and claimed that Verizon really had nothing to do with it. I ended up educating three Verizon tech support people as to what I had found out about this system.

The other reason the call took so long was that the tech's solution to my problems was to completely reset my phone, which cleared all my setting, apps, contacts (which I saved), pictures, videos and all. It also meant that I had to read and agree to the Motorola license again. We are forever being confronted with software and other license agreements that we have to agree to and are far too long to read as a practical matter. This is pet peeve of mine, so on this occasion, I took the time to actually read it, with the Verizon tech listening. This took an hour even with me reading as fast as I could!

The next day, I received a surprising follow up call from Verizon tech support. (surprising because if you ask them to call you back, they say they can't.) Patty, the Verizon rep, wanted to see if the phone was fix and if the frequent RMT Alerts had ceased. They both had, which furthers my belief that they were connected.

She again insisted that these alerts had nothing to do with Verizon and they could do nothing about them, nor could she tell me who in the government I could talk to about them. She suggested that I call a local news channel, because maybe they would know something. I kid you not, the Verizon rep suggested that I call the news about a problem I was having with my Verizon phone! Go figure.

While I can see the need for a national emergency alert system, the whole way this program is being rolled out, the lack of information and that lack of accountability gives me a very bad feeling about it.

I already know that I carry a surveillance device in my pocket and I'm not happy about that. As doppler pointed out to someone who said they would just turn their phone off to avoid this:

BTW, unless you remove the battery Big Brother knows where you are. They can even turn the phone on for you. Or just listen in and not change a thing.

In a comment on DSLReports.com Blackbird summed it up this way:

"There is nothing wrong with your cell phone. Do not attempt to adjust the images. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity. From now on, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: there is nothing wrong with your cell phone. You are about to participate in a great expansion of governmental power. You are about to experience the full effects of Big Brother's control and manipulation which reaches from inside the Beltway to... Your Inner Mind." (With my humblest apologies to Leslie Stevens...)

My Droid X is barely a year old but I've got the feeling that it was made in 1984.

#Anonymous #Lulzsec "Sabu" was an #FBI agent

From statement by AnonOps Communications on Sabu's treachery:

99% don´t worry. There is Anonymous for a long time.
Anonymous is an idea, not a group. There is no leader, there is no head. It will survive, before, during, and after this time.

This is a follow up to Radical Def's diary yesterday Sabu Busted, Turned...Anonymous Stunned.

The statement from AnonOps also said:

Last week Anonymous were arrested in Argentina, Chile, Columbia and Spain by the Interpol. Yesterday we released that Sabu was an FBI agent and betrayed several partners. One in Chicago, two in Britain and two in Ireland.

After what happened, this communication team met to talk. We decided we will continue reporting news about the Anonymous´s activities.

Anonymous will continue fighting for freedom in the world, but we also understand that people around the world should stand up and claimed by what is right.

We think that it is also important to start removing the old power structures that oppress people. The FBI does work for politicians after all, who are kept in office by the campaign donations of Corporations. No longer represent the people. It is time for a change.

Suggestion to the FBI: Maybe you should spend a little less time pursuing Anonymous and put more effort into bringing to justice the white-collar criminals who crashed the economy in 2008 and 2011. Maybe in this way people begin to believe in you. Stop working for the 1%.

Sabu was "flipped" by the FBI last summer and according to DJ Pangburn it didn't take long before some Anons became suspicious:

There has been a widespread belief that Sabu was a rat for quite some time within the hacking community—an August 2011 chat between Sabu and Virus, for instance. Virus quite prophetically wrote in that infamous chat: “I’m absolutely positive, you already got raided, and are setting your friends up and when they’re done draining you for information and arrests they’ll sentence you and it’ll make nose.”

From Inside the hacking of Stratfor: the FBI's case against Antisec member Anarchaos Sean Gallagher fills in some details about the FBI operation:

On December 6, 2011, a hacker using the handle "sup_g" private-messaged Hector Xavier Monsegur, otherwise known as "Sabu," on Anonymous's IRC server to tell him of a server he had gained access to. But "sup_g"—alleged by the government to be Jeremy Hammond—didn't know that the whole conversation was being logged by the FBI, and that Monsegur had turned confidential informant. "Yo, you round? working on this new target."

The target was the server of Stratfor, the Austin-based global intelligence company that would soon become synonymous with the hacker phrase, "pwned." Over the course of the Anonymous cell Antisec's hacking and exploiting of the company's IT infrastructure, the group of hackers would expose credit card and other personal information of over 60,000 Stratfor customers and a vast archive of e-mail correspondence between the company's employees and customers in the private and government sectors. And it all started with a control panel hack.

According to the FBI, Hammond, also more widely known by the handle "Anarchaos," sent Monsegur a link on a TOR network hidden server to a screenshot of Stratfor's administrative panel for its website. Antisec has used panel hacks to exploit a number of other sites, including the Federal Trade Commission's sites hosted on Media Temple.

Using SQL injection exploits against interfaces to the Web administration application, hackers have been able to gain low-level control over sites and do with them what they will. But in the process of exploiting the control panel, Hammond found there was potential for more than just a simple Web defacement in the Stratfor site. "This site is a paid membership where they gain access to articles," he messaged Monsegur . "It stores billing as well - cards. It's encrypted though. I think I can reverse it though but the encryption keys are store[d] on their server (which we can use mysql to read)."

Hammond said that once he found the keys, he could write a script to export the data "en mass[e]."

As it turns out, the credit card numbers were not encrypted, but stored in plaintext in Stratfor's MySQL database. So once Hammond gained access to the database, he and others were able to export all of the data. Next, he turned to the e-mail system and other server applications running Stratfor's intranet—all of which ran within the same hosting service at Austin-based Core NAP.

By December 14, according to the FBI's investigation, Hammond had managed to "root" Stratfor's mail server as well. In a chat on an IRC channel named #lulzxmas, he told another Anonymous member, "we in business baby…time to feast upon their spools."

Gallagher also tells how the FBI was able to ID Anarchaos as Jeremy Hammond:

The FBI tracked down Hammond with information he had shared in IRC logs from different aliases, and by tying those aliases together with the help of Monsegur. Hammond gave away his location by revealing last August that friends of his had been arrested at the "Midwest Rising" protest in St. Louis on August 15. In another chat, he revealed that he had been arrested in New York City in 2004 during the Republican National Convention. And he also revealed information that indicated he had served time in a federal prison.

Using federal criminal records and other data, FBI investigators were able to narrow the field of suspects rapidly. The FBI had dealt with Hammond before—he had been arrested in March of 2005 for hacking into the site of Protest Warrior, a conservative political activist group, and stealing its database, including credit card information. He served two years in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release.

Alastair Stevenson, writing in International Business Times AntiSec Will Survive OpAntiSec's Demise:

Questions regarding the future of Operation AntiSec erupted across the internet immediately after the initial Fox News article emerged reporting Sabu as an FBI rat on Tuesday.

"This news certainly looks like the endgame for the splinter group known as LulzSec and possibly AntiSec too. It should certainly be expected that law enforcement have gathered all evidence they feel is necessary to proceed effectively against those individuals they are currently charging. Sabu was certainly not their only source of intelligence, but undoubtedly their most important," read one statement by Trend Micro's director of security research and communications, Rik Ferguson.

Speaking to the International Business Times UK, other analysts have since argued that while LulzSec's specific version of AntiSec may die, the older, 1990s born Anti Security movement (AntiSec) will likely survive.

"They aren't the same. And to me, the AntiSec movement is something that's worth an academic debate. But #OpAntiSec never made much sense to me, nor did Sabu's vocalization of the OpAntiSec ideal - but I guess we now know why..." commented F-Secure security expert Sean Sullivan.

I know this is quick and dirty but I only have a little time before I have to leave for another occupy meeting and I wanted to add to the info presented yesterday with these tidbits. This is still very much a fast developing story so look for more on this topic. One of the things that now needs a close second look is the much vaulted unity last summer between Anonymous and LulzSec. Sabu started LulzSec and now that we know that he was turned by the FBI, that whole episode needs another look.

More, later.

UN: NATO killed 60 civilians in Libya

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The whole basis of the UN mandate for the NATO air campaign over Libya last year was that it was necessary to protect civilian lives and since it was clear to everybody from the beginning that any such air campaign would inadvertently take civilians lives, the question of just how many civilians NATO killed while protecting them has been hotly debated.

During the war, the Qaddafi regime tried to make it sound as though they were suffering under the type of massive assaults we have seen on civilians in Vietnam and other earlier wars. This view was echoed here by many in the anti-interventionist and pro-Qaddafi left as they protested the "massive civilian causalities" caused by NATO "saturation bombing."

The NATO campaign over Libya started on March 19, 2011 with a French strike on a column of Qaddafi tanks just as they were entering Benghazi. Now in Homs, Syria, the world is seeing what happens when the it fails to act and there are no air strikes against a dictator's artillery as he decides to turn them against his civilian population. So the release, March 2, 2012, of the UN International Commission of Inquiry on Libya Report, is a very timely one.

I have already discussed a NY Times study that put the number of civilians killed by NATO in Libya at between 40 and 70 and how they and Democracy Now tried to spin that. And while this UN report deals with many topics that I may have occasion to write about later, in this dairy I want to focus on NATO bombs, so let's just cut to the "money shot" on this question of Libyan civilian causalities caused by NATO.

611. The Commission documented five airstrikes leading to a total of 60 civilians killed and 55 injured.908 The Commission also investigated two NATO airstrikes which damaged civilian infrastructure and where no military target could be identified

They also talked about some of the steps NATO apparently took to avoid civilian casualties in this conflict:

The vast majority of NATO airstrikes did not result in civilian casualties or collateral damage to civilian objects, even where there was a significant potential for civilian harm. 609. For example, from 24-25 May 2011 NATO aircraft struck the Bab-al-Aziziyah facility, a large military compound and barracks in central Tripoli used by Qadhafi as a residence and headquarters. Numerous multi-story buildings used by Qadhafi's security forces were destroyed. The collapsed buildings show damage consistent with 2000lb bombs using delayed fuses: some of the buildings show clear entry holes extending through multiple floors, indicating an aerial bomb with a delayed fuse had exploded inside or underground, collapsing the buildings upon themselves and thus minimizing collateral damage. Several of the security buildings destroyed were less than 300 meters from civilian apartment buildings, close enough to be at risk of collateral damage from the strikes. While civilian apartment buildings were well within the collateral damage radius of the attack, not even the glass on these apartment buildings was broken. Weapons appeared to impact at angles pointing away from civilian housing to ensure flying debris did not impact them. Finally, many strikes were at night. This meant fewer civilians would be on the street and reduced the likelihood of civilian casualties.

About the methods used to compile this study, the report said:

the Commission's military expert, a former head of high-value targeting with a NATO member state government, investigated a total of 20 NATO airstrikes in Libya. This included a visual inspection of each site; detailed crater analysis; analysis of ejecta (material thrown out by the blast); and, where available, examination of the remnants of the munition itself. The Commission also looked for military signatures, in other words evidence that the site had been used for a military purpose. This might include, for example, the remains of weapons stored there, or military equipment such as communications aerials. The Commission also conducted 34 interviews with victims and witnesses. p.161

On the inflated claims of civilian causalities reported by the Qaddafi regime, the report said:

Findings i. Libyan Government claims 617. During the first visit of the Commission to Tripoli in April 2011, the Commission met with a Government health official who stated that 64 civilians had been killed by NATO bombardments. The Commission also received written reports from the Libyan authorities stating that strikes had resulted in the death of 500 civilians and 2,000 injured and that NATO had targeted schools, universities, mosques, and others civilian locations. According to the same sources, 56 schools and three universities were directly hit by these strikes. Furthermore, it was claimed that NATO airstrikes had resulted in the closure of 3,204 schools, leaving 437,787 students without access to education.910 The authorities did not provide any evidence of this at the time and the Commission was not in a position to assess the veracity of the information received.911 As stated in its first report, the Commission had not seen evidence either to suggest that civilian areas had been intentionally targeted by NATO forces, nor that it had engaged in indiscriminate attacks on civilians. 618. The Commission took account of subsequent claims by the Government in regard to civilian casualties, but testimony from former Government members and others, as well as its own interviews at the sites, confirmed to the Commission that the Government deliberately misstated the extent of civilian casualties.912 In some cases the Commission found the Libyan government claimed civilian casualties in airstrikes in areas where there had been no attacks at all. In one case, the Commission received a credible report of Libyan forces removing the bodies of children from a hospital morgue and took them to the site of a NATO airstrike.913

On August 8, at the height of the Libyan revolution, and the NATO air campaign in support of it, the Qaddafi regime made the claim that NATO planes had killed 85 civilians in the town of Majer. If true, it would have been the biggest such NATO mishap of the war. At the time I spent not one, but two, diaries casting doubt on the claims of the Qaddafi regime about this because they were being widely repeated by the anti-interventionist and pro-Qaddafi left.

Did NATO kill 85 Libyan Villagers As Qaddafi Regime Contends?
SCOOP: My Lai or Qaddafi Lie? More on the 85 Civilians presumed killed by NATO

According to the UN report, this air strike on civilians did, in fact, take place, but the number killed was 34, not 85 as the Qaddafi regime claimed:

Cases i. Majer 619. The single largest case of civilian casualties from a NATO airstrike took place in the town of Majer in the area of Al Huwayjat on 8 August 2011. On August 9 2011, Libyan state media claimed 85 civilians had been killed.914 620. The Commission found that at approximately11:30pm six buildings were struck. Four of the buildings were unoccupied. However, five women and seven children were killed in one building. Moments later, four men were killed in a second building. Neighbours and family members from the area, some who were attending evening Ramadan prayers at the local mosque, arrived at the site to evacuate wounded. After the rescuers arrived and had removed the four bodies from the second residential dwelling, another bomb struck, killing 18 rescuers. Victims estimated the time between initial strikes and the final restrike that killed rescuers as between 10 and 15 minutes. It is not clear whether the second strike was a restrike (a strike made shortly after the first in order to target military forces moving in) or simply a second strike to hit targets missed in the first. 621. The Commission conducted a site survey on 4 December 2011. It was able to identify bomb fragments from multiple GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bombs, as well as the guidance section for at least one GBU-12. There was no sign of the type of weapon debris or military signatures in the ejecta which might suggest the buildings were weapons storage facilities, communications hubs, or had any military function. The buildings struck appeared to have been residential dwellings. The Commission examined the remains of the vehicles driven by the rescuers and confirmed they were civilian-type vehicles with no provision for weapon mounts. The Commission conducted interviews of witnesses and survivors of the attack and reviewed hospital records of those killed and wounded in the strike. The Commission documented a total of 34 civilians killed and 38 wounded.915 622.

Sixty civilian deaths is a relatively low number for an air campaign that involved thousands of strike missions in a war that took 30,000 lives on all sides. Now with Assad's bloody assault on Homs and other Syrian cities showing us what happens to civilians when a ruthless dictator applies tanks and artillery to a dissident population and there is no air cover, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the NATO mission over Libya resulted in saving many civilian lives.

Still, over half of those 60 tragic deaths were the 34 killed in this one strike, and even though there is no evidence that NATO specifically targeted them or any civilians, the UN did find evidence that their deaths were the result of the usual imperialist lack of concern for human life and capitalist willingness to cut corners so as to maximize profits:

Bomb remnants show that the guidance system on at least one of the bombs used in this attack was more than five years past its warranty date (October 2005).


For more background on the Libyan Revolution and links to lots of information see my other writings at the DailyKos and WikiLeaks Central:
Libya in the news today
Amnesty International on Libya again
The Current Situation in Libya
Democracy Now & Amy Goodman gets it wrong again.
Why is Chris Hedges calling for "boots on the ground" in Libya?
The Worm Has Turned: Good Film on Libyan Revolution from PressTV
Why NATO's mission in Libya isn't over yet
Libya's Freedom Fighters: How They Won
Racism in Libya
Abdul Rahman Gave his Eyes to See the End of Qaddafi
BREAKING: Secret files reveal Dennis Kucinich talks with Qaddafi Regime
BREAKING: Libyan TNC won't extradite Lockerbie bomber
Who really beat Qaddafi?
#Feb17: @NATO Please help MEDEVAC wounded from #Libya
What should those that opposed NATO's intervention in Libya demand now?
BREAKING: Qaddafi's Tripoli Compound Falls!
Does PDA Support Qaddafi?
BREAKING: Operation Mermaid Dawn, the Battle to Liberate Tripoli is Joined
Helter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure
Qaddafi's Long Arm
SCOOP: My Lai or Qaddafi Lie? More on the 85 Civilians presumed killed by NATO
Did NATO kill 85 Libyan Villagers As Qaddafi Regime Contends?
CCDS Statement on Libya - a Critique
The Assassination of General Abdul Fattah Younis
NATO over Tripoli - Air Strikes in the Age of Twitter
How Many Libyans has NATO Killed?
Qaddafi Terror Files Start to Trickle Out!
Have Libyan Rebels Committed Human Rights Abuses?
Tripoli Green Square Reality Check
Behind the Green Curtain: Libya Today
Gilbert Achcar on the Libyan situation and the Left
NATO slammed for Libya civilian deaths NOT!
2011-07-01 Qaddafi's Million Man March
NATO's Game Plan in Libya
February 21st - Tripoli's Long Night
Did Qaddafi Bomb Peaceful Protesters?
Tripoli Burn Notice
Libyans, Palestinians & Israelis
'Brother' Qaddafi Indicted plus Libya & Syria: Dueling Rally Photofinishs
An Open Letter to ANSWER
ANSWER answers me
2011-06-22 No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum
Are they throwing babies out of incubators yet?
Continuing Discussion with a Gaddafi Supporter
Boston Globe oped supports Gaddafi with fraudulent journalism
2011-04-13 Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Current Events in Libya
Amonpour Plays Softball with Gaddafi
Arming Gaddfi
North African Revolution Continues
Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation

Libya in the news today

"We will never let the country fall back into the hands of 'climbers'", he adds, using a word that has come to refer to profiteers and opportunists, people whose allegiance during the revolution was dubious.

"On behalf of all the former rebel forces, I say we will crush with an iron fist anyone who tries to destroy the revolution."

- Abdel Hakim Sheibi, a commander of the Zintan Revolutionary Brigades.

I saw two segments on the morning news that I think gives a true flavor of what is happening in Libya today and for that reason I wanted to bring them to your attention.

The first was a segment by Gabriel Gatehouse on the BBC on the militia groups that still control Tripoli's International Airport, and the second was an Al Jareeza segment on the way education is changing in revolutionary Libya.

The Gabriel Gatehouse piece concerns the Monday deadline that the Libyan interim government has given for militia groups to relinquish control of the country's border crossing. Here are some excerpts from that piece:

Battle of wills over control of Libya's border crossings
2 March 2012 Last updated at 08:32 ET

Many of Libya's international gateways are still controlled by brigades of former rebel fighters.

A spokesman for the interior ministry told the BBC they must all be in government hands by Monday.

The issue is becoming part of a battle of wills between Libya's politicians and the young men you fought the revolution.

It is the latter who have the upper hand.

Tripoli International airport is getting busier every day, as Libya emerges from civil war.

When Tripoli fell to rebel forces in August 2011, it was fighters from the small town of Zintan, south-west of the capital, who rushed in to secure the airport.

Six months later, they are still here.
....
The government is trying to assert itself. But it lacks authority. It wants former rebel fighters to join a national defence force.

But Abdel Hakim and his men simply don't trust the government. Not yet.

They believe they are still needed to prevent Libya's international gateway from falling into the wrong hands.

"We will hand over control of everything once the country is back on its feet, but not before," he says.
...
Zintan's various brigades control more than just Tripoli airport.

They control security for at least one bank and an Islamic centre in the capital, as well as several oilfields in the southwest of the country.

Nestled in the foothills of the Nefusa mountains, with a population of no more than 50,000, Zintan has become a force to be reckoned with.
...
Ask Zintanis about their town and they will quickly tell you about the colonial period, when their forefathers fought against the Italians.

But it was during last year's revolt against Col Gaddafi that Zintan gained its current fearsome reputation.

Ibrahim al-Madani lost his father in the revolution. He is now one of the town's most respected commanders.

"It's a small town," he said, "but [fighting] is in our blood."

"Even our grandfathers fought until the end. When you give your blood for Libya and Libyan people, I am happy for that."

The power that men like Ibrahim al-Madani now enjoy is forcing even global players to take note.

So while everybody from the governments of the US, China, Russia and Britain to Amnesty International complain that the revolutionary brigades are "out of control" one thing that is missing from this article, and is missing from most reports coming out of Libya are any hard facts to substantiate those claims. The fact is that incidents of armed clashes between the militias are rare, and those leading to deaths, even rarer. Even Amnesty International had to say "Militias have established sometimes fluid networks of co-operation."

Also we know that Tripoli International Airport is now functioning well under the control of the Zintan Brigades, with more international and domestic flights coming and going everyday and no reports of bribery or thuggery getting in the way.

So it sounds like the revolutionary brigades are carrying out an armed occupation of their own country, very much in the spirit of the worldwide occupation movement, with the aim of assuring that the revolution won by their blood is not lost by "their"politicians. To this I say "Right On!"

The second piece New chapter for Libyan education is a short 2 minute video that talks about how education is changing in Libya, and for the better. I was surprised to find that under Qaddafi, every student had to pass four courses on Qaddafi's little Green Book to get a college degree. Four courses? It's only 33 pages long! At the end one student complains that her studies are much hard now. I guess! Probably have to read more...

I note the black students in the class only because it would appear to contradict the picture of genocide and racist pogroms being painted of race relations in revolutionary Libya by some anti-interventionists and pro-Qaddafi supporters in the US left.

It sounds to me that Libya is doing just fine considering what they just came through.

This is about Rick Santorum, so I'll be brief

Speaking about the burning of Korans by the US military in Afghanistan, Rick Santorum said on ABCNews ThisWeek:

This is unacceptable. The idea that a mistake was made, clearly a mistake, which we should not have apologized for --
...to apologize for something that was not an intentional act is something that the President of the United States, in my opinion, should not have done.

Don't expect any grace from this guy if he bumps you in the corridor or steps on your toes in the subway. He only apologizes for things he intended to do!

And on the question of the independence of the church from the state, he said this:

the president, someone who is now trying to tell people of faith that you will do what the government says, we are going to impose our values on you

So, I assume that under President Santorum, church schools will be exempt from Earthquake retrofitting if the clergy says the good Lord is their Earthquake protection.

My main question is: Who are the people who take this guy seriously?

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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.

Updated: The Big Lockerbie Bomber Lie

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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?

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!

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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.

Amnesty International on Libya again

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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


For more background on the Libyan Revolution and links to lots of information see my other writings at the DailyKos and WikiLeaks Central:
The Current Situation in Libya
Why is Chris Hedges calling for "boots on the ground" in Libya?
The Worm Has Turned: Good Film on Libyan Revolution from PressTV
Why NATO's mission in Libya isn't over yet
Libya's Freedom Fighters: How They Won
Racism in Libya
Abdul Rahman Gave his Eyes to See the End of Qaddafi
BREAKING: Secret files reveal Dennis Kucinich talks with Qaddafi Regime
BREAKING: Libyan TNC won't extradite Lockerbie bomber
Who really beat Qaddafi?
#Feb17: @NATO Please help MEDEVAC wounded from #Libya
What should those that opposed NATO's intervention in Libya demand now?
BREAKING: Qaddafi's Tripoli Compound Falls!
Does PDA Support Qaddafi?
BREAKING: Operation Mermaid Dawn, the Battle to Liberate Tripoli is Joined
Helter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure
Qaddafi's Long Arm
SCOOP: My Lai or Qaddafi Lie? More on the 85 Civilians presumed killed by NATO
Did NATO kill 85 Libyan Villagers As Qaddafi Regime Contends?
CCDS Statement on Libya - a Critique
The Assassination of General Abdul Fattah Younis
NATO over Tripoli - Air Strikes in the Age of Twitter
How Many Libyans has NATO Killed?
Qaddafi Terror Files Start to Trickle Out!
Have Libyan Rebels Committed Human Rights Abuses?
Tripoli Green Square Reality Check
Behind the Green Curtain: Libya Today
Gilbert Achcar on the Libyan situation and the Left
NATO slammed for Libya civilian deaths NOT!
2011-07-01 Qaddafi's Million Man March
NATO's Game Plan in Libya
February 21st - Tripoli's Long Night
Did Qaddafi Bomb Peaceful Protesters?
Tripoli Burn Notice
Libyans, Palestinians & Israelis
'Brother' Qaddafi Indicted plus Libya & Syria: Dueling Rally Photofinishs
An Open Letter to ANSWER
ANSWER answers me
2011-06-22 No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum
Are they throwing babies out of incubators yet?
Continuing Discussion with a Gaddafi Supporter
Boston Globe oped supports Gaddafi with fraudulent journalism
2011-04-13 Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Current Events in Libya
Amonpour Plays Softball with Gaddafi
Arming Gaddfi
North African Revolution Continues
Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation

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 /səˈvi(ə)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.

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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

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(Việt lai).
(birth father Western / birth mother Việt) I identify myself as Vietnamese only.)
I was adopted by my Grandfather, in a Communist village of the Việt Cộng.
All people are created equal, so I was well cared for, & loved by my Việt Cộng peoples.

I am a Vietnamese survivor of the American Holocaust in Việt 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.

Haditha shows USMC is a criminal enterprise

On November 19, 2005 members of the United States Marine Corps entered civilian homes in Haditha, Iraq and murdered 24 Iraqi civilians including seven children, a toddler, three women and a 76-year-old man in a wheelchair.

This is a much bigger problem than a squad from Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion 1st Marines going berserk. The culpability of the USMC for these murders flows not only from the fact that it taught these young men to kill, supplied the weapons, put them in-country, and gave them license to kill, but even more so that after they killed innocent civilians in a murderous rage, the USMC, as an organisation, clearly acted as accessories after the fact.

We now know that no Marines will serve any time in jail for these murders. That is the final outcome of six years of Marine Corps cover-up, prosecution and military justice. Of the eight Marines charged with the killings, six had the charges dropped and one was acquitted in a civilian court. Last week, the remaining defendant, Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, 31, who sanctioned the killings when he told his men to "shoot first and ask questions later" in Haditha was given a plea deal that allowed him to avoid any jail time. Upon hearing of this outcome, a teacher from Haditha who witnessed the massacre was quoted in the LA Times:

“The Americans killed children who were hiding inside the cupboards or under the beds. Was this Marine charged with dereliction of duty because he didn’t kill more? Is Iraqi blood so cheap?”

When all the facts surrounding the Haditha massacre are examined it should be clear to anyone that this is much more than a problem of a few bad apples, this is a problem of a bad apple farm. Retired USMC Major General Smedley D. Butler told us in 1935 that War is a Racket. I say more. I say the United States Marine Corps is a criminal enterprise.

Before proceeding, perhaps the best way to refresh your memory about what actually happened in that Iraqi town a little over six years ago is to watch this 3 minute eyewitness report made by ITN after the massacre:

This video already exposes the first two cover stories released by the Marines to explain these deaths. First that they were killed by shrapnel from the a road side bomb that killed a Marine and set off the rampage, and when that wouldn't fly, that the civilians were outside and got caught in a crossfire. These and the false stories that followed show that the USMC was far more interested in covering up a crime than they were in getting at the truth.

While we still have WikiPedia:

An initial Marine Corps communiqué reported that 15 civilians were killed by the bomb's blast and eight insurgents were subsequently killed when the Marines returned fire against those attacking the convoy. However, other evidence uncovered by the media contradicted the Marines' account.[3] A Time magazine reporter's questions prompted the United States military to open an investigation into the incident. The investigation claimed it found evidence that "supports accusations that U.S. Marines deliberately shot civilians, including unarmed men, women and children", according to an anonymous Pentagon official.[4] On December 21, 2006, eight Marines from 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines were charged in connection with the incident.[5][6] As of June 2008, charges against seven of the eight Marines had been dropped.[7]

Here is the Al Jazeera report:

In December 2006 this was "breaking news" only in the west. Iraqi sources reported on the Haditha massacre the day after it happened. This is what Uriknet [information from occupied Iraq] had to say:

November 20, 2005

Informed sources affirmed today that the blood thirsty US murderers execute in cold blood Iraqi civilians in the streets of Iraqi towns and villages.

The same sources ascertained that following the explosion of an IED near the Iraqi farmers town of Haditha, west of Iraq, the US thugs sent their war jets to bomb and destroy tranquil Iraqi houses on the heads of their inhabitants in a blind and hysterical revengeful act.

The sources and witnesses indicated also that after bombing Iraqi homes in the mentioned town, the US bloodthirsty gangsters raided three Iraqi homes and took their families out in the street and there the US thugs executed at gun point and in cold blood, the members of the whole three families, including elderly, women and children.

When the story broke in December 2006, I remember going back to see if uruknet.info reported on it at the time and they did, but even there it was unremarkable. It was just one more in a long list of atrocities committed by United States forces that week.

A Criminal Culture

There are many other indicators that a criminal culture that condones murder is alive and well in the US military. There is for example "Hadji Girl" a song about killing Iraqis written before Haditha and performed by a US Marine Corporal while he was at the Al-Asad Air Base in Iraq. It became popular among the troops after Haditha and was widely associated with that incident. It goes something like this:

So I grabbed her little sister, and pulled her in front of me.

As the bullets began to fly
The blood sprayed from between her eyes
And then I laughed maniacally

Then I hid behind the TV
And I locked and loaded my M-16
And I blew those little f*ckers to eternity.

And I said…
Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad
Sherpa Sherpa Bak Allah
They should have known they were f*ckin’ with a Marine.

YouTube removed the video from their site and rejected all subsequent uploads as a violation of site policy, however, it can be found here, on Google Video. Google owns YouTube so go figure.

That song is reminiscent of other songs sung by Marines in this and other wars, such as "Strafe the Town and Kill the People", a traditional Marine hymn, first heard in Korea but sung in Vietnam [mp3] and Iraq as well:

Strafe the town and kill the people
Let's declare a massacre.
Lay napalm in the square,
So you'll know that Jake was there

Drop the candy in the courtyard,
Let the kiddies gather 'round.
Crank your twenty-millimeter,
Gun the little bastards down.

Come 'round early Sunday morning,
Catch the village unaware.
Drop a bunch of cluster bomblets,
Get 'em while they kneel in prayer.

And there is that ever popular number from the Vietnam War, "Napalm Sticks to Kids."

We shoot the sick, the young, the lame,
We do our best to maim,
Because the kills all count the same,
Napalm sticks to kids.

Napalm, son, is lots of fun,
Dropped in a bomb or shot from a gun,
It gets the gooks when on the run,
Napalm sticks to kids.

In Korea and Vietnam, the racist dehumanisation that made murder easy was that they were all "gooks", today it's because they are all "hadjis"

Wars for conquest and occupation are criminal enterprizes

The truth is that the Iraq War was a composite of such atrocities. Four months after the Haditha murders, a 14 year old small town Iraqi girl was raped and murdered, along with her family, in Al-Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad. Raed Jarrar told the Baltimore Chronicle:

Omar Al-Janabi, a neighbor and relative, was informed by Abir's mother that the young girl was being harassed by U.S. soldiers stationed in a nearby checkpoint. That is why Abir was sent to spend the night in her neighbor's home. The next day, Omar Al-Janabi was among the first people who found Abir, with her 34-year-old mother Fakhriyah, her 45-year-old father Qasim, and her 7-year-old sister Hadil, murdered in their home. Abir was raped, killed by a bullet in her head, and then burned on March 12, five months before her fifteenth birthday.

Muhammad Al-Janabi, Abir's uncle, reached the house shortly after the attack as well. Iraqi police and army officers informed him and other angry relatives that an "armed terrorist group" was responsible for the horrifying attack. This is exactly what the angry relatives of the 24 Iraqi civilians killed in Haditha four months before this incident had been told as well.

These two revelations raises serious questions about all those reports we've heard about Iraqis killing each other in terrorist attacks in the past eight years. One thing that is clear is that there are a lot of Iraqis that have been killed by Americans, including hundreds of thousands of civilians, that have gone unreported in the United States.

Civilian Deaths "Just A Cost of Doing Business."

Thanks to some recent dumpster diving by the NYTimes, they now have the once secret testimony of the Marines involved in the Haditha. The most remarkable thing that this testimony reveals is just how unremarkable the killing of large numbers of civilians by the U.S. military had become in Iraq. We are talking about Haditha because it drew the gold ring of media publicity, not because it wasn't part and partial of how the Marines conducted the war:

When the initial reports arrived saying more than 20 civilians had been killed in Haditha, the Marines receiving them said they were not surprised by the high civilian death toll.

Chief Warrant Officer K. R. Norwood, who received reports from the field on the day of the killings and briefed commanders on them, testified that 20 dead civilians was not unusual.

“I meant, it wasn’t remarkable, based off of the area I wouldn’t say remarkable, sir,” Mr. Norwood said. “And that is just my definition. Not that I think one life is not remarkable, it’s just —”

An investigator asked the officer: “I mean remarkable or noteworthy in terms of something that would have caught your attention where you would have immediately said, ‘Got to have more information on that. That is a lot of casualties.’ ”

“Not at the time, sir,” the officer testified.

General Johnson, the commander of American forces in Anbar Province, said he did not feel compelled to go back and examine the events because they were part of a continuing pattern of civilian deaths.

“It happened all the time, not necessarily in MNF-West all the time, but throughout the whole country,” General Johnson testified, using a military abbreviation for allied forces in western Iraq.

“So, you know, maybe — I guess maybe if I was sitting here at Quantico and heard that 15 civilians were killed I would have been surprised and shocked and gone — done more to look into it,” he testified, referring to Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia. “But at that point in time, I felt that was — had been, for whatever reason, part of that engagement and felt that it was just a cost of doing business on that particular engagement.”

The USMC sees a high civilian death toll as "just a cost of doing business." This, more than anything else, marks it as a criminal enterprise. One is reminded of the drug gangster Sollozzo that tried to assassinate Don Corleone in the Godfather, "I don't like violence, Tom. I'm a businessman. Blood is a big expense."

My recent related diaries:
The Sordid Truth about the United States Marine Corps
Itzcoatl Ocampo: Ex-Marine Corps Serial Killer

Follow clayclai on Twitter

What Really Happened at Occupy Oakland on Jan. 28

This very informative report on the struggles of Occupy Oakland comes from The North Star and is reprinted here with their complete permission. This is a website you should bookmark and visit often:

For the internet, here’s a first-hand account of Occupy Oakland on Jan. 28, 2012, because the news never tells the full story. I’ll tell you about the street battle, the 300+ arrests, the vandalism, the flag burning, all in the context of my experience today. This is deeper than the headlines. No major news source can do that for you.

The stated goal for the day was to “move-in” to a large, abandoned, building to turn it into a social and political center. It is a long vacant convention center –- the only people ever near there are the homeless who use the space outside the building as a bed. The building occupation also draws attention to the large number of abandoned and unused buildings in Oakland.

The day started with a rally and a march to the proposed building. The police knew which building was the target, surrounded it, and used highly mobile units to try and divert the protest. After avoiding police lines, the group made it to one side of the building. Now, this is a very large building, and we were on a road with construction fences on both sides, and a large ditch separating us from the cops. The police fired smoke grenades into the crowd as the group neared a small path around the ditch, towards the building. They declared an unlawful assembly, and this is when the crowd broke down the construction fence. A few people broke fences to escape the situation, others because they were pissed. A couple more fences were taken down then necessary, but no valuable equipment was destroyed. They only things broken were fences.

The crowd decided to continue moving, and walked up the block to a more regular street. We decided to turn left up the street, and a police line formed to stop the march. They again declared an unlawful assembly. The protesters challenged the line, marching towards the police with our own shields in front. The shields, some small and black and a few large metal sheets. The police fired teargas as the group approached, and shot less-than-lethal rounds at the crowd. The protesters returned one volley of firecrackers, small projectiles, and funny things like balloons. A very weak attack, three officers may have been hit by something but none of them got injured. Tear gas forced many people back. The protesters quickly regrouped, and pressed the line again. This time the police opened fire with flash-grenades, tear gas, paint-filled beanbag shotguns, and rubber bullets.

After the police fired heavily on the protesters, they pushed their line forward and made a few arrests. The protesters regrouped down the block and began to march the other way (followed by police), back to Oscar Grant Plaza.

All of this occurred during the day, but it was that street battle that set the tone for the police response later in the evening. After taking a break in Oscar Grant Plaza, feeding everyone and resting, the group headed out for their evening march. Around 5 p.m., the group took to the street at 14th and Broadway and began a First-Amendment sanctioned march around the city. The police response was very aggressive.

About 15 minutes into the march, the police attempted to kettle the protesters. This march was entirely non-violent; nobody threw shit at the cops and an unlawful assembly was never declared. This is a very important detail. The march was 1,000+ strong, conservatively. The police were very mobile, using 25+ rented 10-seater vans to bring the ‘troops’ to the march.

For their first attempt at a kettle, the cops charged the group with police lines from the front and back. They ran towards us aggressively. Us being 1,000+ peaceful marching protesters. The group was forced to move up a side street. The police moved quickly to surround the entire area; they formed a line on every street that the side street connected to. Police state status: very efficient. They kettled almost the entire protest in the park near the Fox theater. AFTERWARDS, as in after they surrounded everyone, they declared it to be an unlawful assembly BUT OFFERED NO EXIT ROUTE. Gas was used, could of been tear or smoke gas.

The crowd then broke down a fence that was on one side of the kettle, and 1,000 people ran across a field escaping a police kettle and embarrassing the entire police force. It was literally a massive jailbreak from a kettle. The group retook Telegraph ave. and left the police way behind.

At this point, I was on edge because I knew the police were not fucking around tonight. Because of the incident earlier in the day, I realized they were effectively treating the peaceful march as a riot. There was not rioting, or intentions to riot, just dancing, optimism, hope, and walking. But clearly the police thought differently, and I knew they would try to trap us again without warning. From the moment I saw riot police running towards are march from both directions, I knew the Constitution would not apply in Oakland tonight. The police made that very clear. My friends thought differently, thinking that they would not be arrested for marching. They are currently in jail.

The second, and successful, kettle occurred as the protest was headed back up Broadway, at Broadway and 24th. Again, the police appeared quickly in front of the crowd, as well as a line behind the crowd. This time there was no side street. A few people attempted to escape into the YMCA; some misinformed news reports claim that the YMCA got ‘occupied’. Around 300 people were trapped, mostly young people. At this point I had fallen behind the line of riot police in back of the crowd, and when the kettle was sprung I was on the other side of the police line. I have a policy of avoiding arrest, but I feel like I’ve been striped of some dignity. I’ve seen some shit go down in Oaktown, but I’ve always avoided arrest because it was easy. Most mass arrests occur when people choose to break the law (like occupying Bank of America in downtown San Francisco and pitching a tent to send a statement to UC Regent Monica Lozano on BofA’s board – respect). At “unlawful assemblies,” people are usually extracted by a quick attack of 5+ cops on their “targets” (previously identified and profiled protesters). If the crowd is too large, they use teargas.

Tonight was different. When I fell behind the group, I knew they were going to arrest a very large number of peaceful protesters without declaring an unlawful assembly at the location. And then they did. I thought this shit was reserved for G20s and World Trade Organization meetings. I felt shame for being intimidated away from my rights. “Unlawful assemblies” feel like a boot stomp on the first amendment, but this was like them wiping their ass with the constitution and force feeding it to me.

300+ were arrested, corralled below the YMCA at 23rd and Broadway. The only announcement that was made was one I’ve never heard before:

“You are under arrest. Submit to your arrest.”

The 300 protesters were then arrested, one by one. They were zip-tied and sat in rows while they waited to be processed. The Oakland Police Department set up an entire processing station behind police lines, where they searched and identified every protester. They were slowly loaded onto buses, including local public AC transit buses. This took about 4 or 5 hours.

Outside the police lines, things were still happening. A group that escaped the trap decided to head back to Oscar Grant Plaza. I do not know how, but they opened the front door to city hall and occupied the building. Opened, as in no window smashing. The move was not meant to be an occupation but more of a show of solidarity to the 300 arrested protesters down the street. When all the people being arrested heard the news, they let out a big cheer.

At this point I ran to Oscar Grant Plaza. When I arrived there were only eight riot cops guarding the open front door, but more arrived very quickly. No one was inside the building anymore, but many had gathered in the Plaza. Someone burned an American Flag in front of City Hall. I’ve seen the same guy do it before; frankly he’s weird and it’s kind of his thing. One thing to note is the police arrested to wrong part of the protest. Most people arrested were young peaceful types. Aggressive protesters, and anyone with a record, are usually very good at avoiding arrest. Point being, back at the plaza opportunists began their work. I saw some young “jugalos” spray-painting a wall with “jugalos for life” shit and then take photos next to it. They were just young and stupid kids; some good protesters cleaned it up later in the night. Some CBS and FOX news crews forced to leave the scene, with people spanking their van. They had already gotten the footage of someone burning an American flag in front of City Hall, so their work was done. The crowd was angry about what happened, and milling around the plaza and downtown area. At one point, the first of the 9 busloads of protesters drove past 14th and Broadway. People cheered for the ones inside, and chased it down, slamming on the sides of the bus. None of the other buses came past the plaza. There is about 30 police in the immediate area, 20 in front of city hall, and 10 near 14th and Broadway. Clearly they were stretched thin and did not expect the City Hall incident. Mutual aid been called it; I saw cops from Oakland, Alameda County Sheriff, Pleasanton, and Berkeley.

I walked back down to the 300 arrests in progress to try and get some information or spot my friends, but all I could do was wait and watch from behind the police line. My phone died. Not much happened, a lot of waiting and talking with people who also had friends on the other side. People included one French women who talked about how in France this would never be tolerated, and a teacher of one of Oakland’s 10 schools being closed who was out on his birthday “for the kids.” Eventually, I decided I needed to charge my phone, get on the internet, and figure out where and when my friends will be released. Siting down on BART was great after a long day of walking.

I got home and viewed OakfoSho and PunkboyinSF on Ustream to stay posted. OakFoSho filmed the entire arrest from above, I was able to look for my friends from his stream. All props to that guy. I saw that with the new development at Oscar Grant Plaza, they had to call in mutual aid from San Francisco, Marin, and San Mateo. They declared the 14th and Broadway an unlawful assembly and slowly dispersed the dwindling crowd. No tear gas this time!

Now that this incident is on-record, I’m gonna get a little sleep, then go pick up my friends from jail.

If you only remember one detail be it this: Tonight’s mass arrest occurred without a dispersal order. No law was broken. The only order given was: “You are under arrest. Submit to your arrest.” 300 peaceful protesters walking down a street were trapped and arrested unlawfully.

A note about police militarization: I saw some big guns and scary gear tonight. Alameda County Sheriff seems to have an endless budget for that shit. But tonight I saw something much scarier, that I’ve never seen before. First, I saw that the police have a printed profile books of protesters. I saw a cop flipping through pictures with descriptions, talking about who on their list they’ve seen today. When resting in Oscar Grant Plaza, a cop was filming the plaza from a rooftop in an adjacent building. They’re always filming, some have cameras on their bodies now, but this was clear spying and sophisticated intelligence gathering and analysis. Second, a very large tank on wheels, with a water cannon on top, rolled on scene. Someone said it was called a “grizzly”, but I can’t find a photo anywhere. Help? It was massive, and I stood right next to it before they brought it behind police lines. It was a hardcore, modern urban tank. The police are funded and prepared to use a water cannon on protesters, if need be. Know that.

The thing about Occupy, and especially Occupy Oakland, is it refuses to exclude. We are the 99%, and we mean it. The homeless and disenfranchised were welcome in the camp from day 1. The crime rate in Downtown Oakland went down, and some people finally had a safe place to sleep. Idealistic youth, Google techies, students, teachers, parents, children, poor, homeless, workers, all coming together. It rekindled hope for a lot of people. Occupy changed the conversation. The idea is more important than any one protest. An idea cannot be stopped. It is no longer about occupations; instead, it’s about bringing people together. The 99%, all with their own problems and concerns, have brought their collective attention to the root of the forces preventing them from making a better world.

A lot of the people arrested today were my peers — a lot of young people and students. For us, the Occupy movement can’t be diminished or co-opted — it’s bigger than Occupy. I will seek the changes I marched for tonight until I win or die. It is the task of my generation, worldwide, to return power to the people. Governments around the world are quickly realizing that our generation will not back down. This is bigger than ‘occupy’, this is bigger than one country, one problem, or one protest. The people want their world back. We are fighting for our future, and we are winning..

Edit: Forgot to add this context – The Oakland Police Department will soon be taken over by the Feds because of their poor conduct and inability to change: http://www.baycitizen.org/policing/story/judge-strips-power-oakland-police/

Originally posted here: http://redd.it/p1m34

A number of comrades from Occupy Los Angeles were arrest that day in Oakland and yesterday on "Solidarity Sunday" there were support rallies for Occupy Oakland in Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Philadelphia and many other cities. Check back for future updates.

Itzcoatl Ocampo: Ex-Marine Corps Serial Killer

This dairy is basically an informational update of The Sordid Truth about the United States Marine Corps now that some significant details are available on the suspected serial killer.

In the MarineCorpsTimes today we have this:

SANTA ANA, Calif. — A 23-year-old Iraq war veteran charged with the stabbing deaths of four homeless men in a rampage that terrorized Southern California had selected additional victims, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Former Marine Itzcoatl Ocampo chose the final victim because the man appeared in a news article about police warning homeless men to be careful, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said.

His father, Refugio Ocampo was homeless and living on the street. His son, Itzcoatl Ocampo, visited him just a few days before he was arrested. “He was very worried about me,” Refugio Ocampo said. “I told him, ‘Don’t worry. I’m a survivor. Nothing will happen to me.’”

Also from Marine Corps Times we have these additional details:

Itzcoatl Ocampo was a fun-loving teen who liked to hit on girls when he joined the military. But after he was discharged and returned home he kept to himself, trusted no one and drank a lot, they said in interviews with The Associated Press.

“He came back from the war and was never the same,” said Brian Doyle, 23, a friend from high school.

Ocampo’s little brother, Mixcoatl, 17, said investigators who came to the family home seized his own computer — his brother did not have one. They also took the gift his brother gave him for Christmas, a DVD box set of the 2008 HBO series “Generation Kill,” the story of a reporter embedded with a Marine battalion during the invasion of Iraq.

Itzcoatl Ocampo was arrested Friday night after a locally known homeless man, John Berry, 64, was stabbed to death outside an Anaheim fast-food restaurant. Bystanders gave chase, and a police officer who was part of a perimeter set up in response to 911 calls made the arrest.

Anaheim police Chief John Welter has said investigators are confident they have the man responsible for the string of murders that struck fear into Orange County’s homeless since Dec. 20. Prosecutors have yet to file charges, and authorities have provided no information on evidence against Ocampo, or a possible motive.
...
Mixcoatl Ocampo said his brother followed a friend into the Marine Corps in 2006 and went to Iraq, where he apparently was not involved in combat, and was honorably discharged in June 2010.

That same month, Itzcoatl Ocampo’s friend Cpl. Claudio Patino IV, 22, of Yorba Linda, was killed in combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

“He took that really hard,” said Mixcoatl Ocampo. “Once he received the news, he was never the same.”

Mixcoatl Ocampo said his brother visited Patino’s grave twice a week.

Doyle had difficulty describing the change he saw in his friend from high school.

“He went from being a tall, geeky kid, really fun-loving ... ” he said, trailing off.

Doyle said he once offered his friend a self-help book based on Eastern philosophy that he had found useful but Itzcoatl Ocampo rejected it.

Doyle said he tried to find out what was going on with his friend but didn’t press it, never imagining something like the serial killings.

“Everyone’s got their issues, you know?” he said.

In addition to Berry, James Patrick McGillivray, 53, was killed near a shopping center in Placentia on Dec. 20; Lloyd Middaugh, 42, was found near a riverbed trail in Anaheim on Dec. 28; and Paulus Smit, 57, was killed outside a Yorba Linda library on Dec. 30.

Really to its credit, Marine Corps Times is giving this case the best coverage out there:

Just months after he was deployed to Iraq in 2008, a Marine veteran now suspected in the deaths of four homeless men in Southern California sent his family a short, upbeat video greeting.

The video, which was mostly in Spanish, showed Itzcoatl Ocampo wishing his father a happy Father’s Day and reading an excerpt from Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham” to his then 10-year-old sister.

The former Marine’s 17-year-old brother, Mixcoatl Ocampo, recalled how happy his family members were when they got the video in the mail that summer. They all gathered around the television in the living room to watch Itzcoatl Ocampo, who appeared in fatigues and talked against the backdrop of an American flag.

“We hadn’t seen my brother since he got deployed,” he said. “Dad saw the video, and when he first saw it he was thrilled.”

According to friends and family, a much darker Ocampo returned home after he was discharged in 2010. His parents separated, and his father eventually became homeless.

Now, Ocampo’s family is left trying to reconcile the smiling, slightly nervous-sounding Marine in the video greeting friends and family with the blankly staring man in the police mug shot accused of murder.
...
Ocampo’s father, 49-year-old Refugio Ocampo, said his son came back a changed man after serving in Iraq, expressing disillusionment and becoming ever darker as his family life frayed and he struggled to find his way as a civilian.

The father said he lost his job and home, and ended up living under a bridge before finding shelter in the cab of a broken-down big-rig he is helping repair.
...
The son followed a friend into the Marine Corps right out of high school in 2006 instead of going to college as his father had hoped. Itzcoatl Ocampo was discharged in 2010 and returned home to find his family in disarray, his father said.

The same month, one of Itzcoatl Ocampo’s friends, 22-year-old Cpl. Claudio Patino IV of Yorba Linda, was killed in combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

“Once he received the news, he was never the same,” Mixcoatl Ocampo said. He said his brother visited Patino’s grave twice a week.

Refugio and Mixcoatl both described a physical condition Itzcoatl suffered in which his hands shook and he suffered headaches. Medical treatments helped until he started drinking heavily, both said.

“He started drinking like crazy — too much, way too much,” the father said.

A neighbor who is a Vietnam veteran and the father both tried to push Itzcoatl to get treatment at a Veterans hospital, but he refused. Refugio Ocampo said he wanted his son to get psychological treatment as well.

Occupy Nigeria Hollywood Protest

Follow clayclai on Twitter Follow #OccupyNigeria on twitter for the latest news.

There was a small protest rally in Hollywood on Saturday of Southern California Nigerians and other supporters of Occupy Nigeria, the Nigerian General Strike demanding the reinstatement of fuel subsidies recently dropped at the behest of the International Monetary Fuel. I shot some video and photos with my DroidX. This is the video I made:
Occupy Nigeria Hollywood Protest. January 14, 2012

Nigerians in Southern California (NISC) held a rally on Saturday, January 14 at 10 A.M @ 6430 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028-7906 (Near CNN Building) to decry the oil subsidy removal by the government of President Goodluck Jonathan.

In a statement the group sent a specific message to Mr. Jonathan, reminding him that

“A leader who demands loyalty, but offers nothing in return builds tyranny; and tyranny offers nothing but failure. Empower every citizen, and you will gain strength. Offer security and justice in the form of liberty, allowing every citizen to be safe from conviction without cause or prison without charge - to work, eat, and live on the sweat of his or her own brow – and you will be great. Not only will you receive the loyalty of your people, but their love as well. GEJ, this is your chance to be great - don't waste it. Lead from the heart.”

The statement further said:

Describing the hardship that removal of the oil subsidy removal will
bring to the average

Nigerian, NISC said the government should:

  • Revamp all the refineries and build new ones;
  • Provide regular power supply;
  • Provide public transportation systems such as railways;
  • Repair the roads;
  • Eliminate the corruption associated with supply and distribution
    of petroleum products in
  • the downstream sector of the oil industry;
  • Trim excess wages and entitlements allocated to high government
    officials;
  • Adhere to the rule of law;
  • Be transparent;
  • Be accountable;
  • Govern well; and
  • Lead by example

Here are a couple more videos of this event.

FACEBBOOK VIDEO OF OCCUPY NIGERIA..LOS ANGELES SOLIDARITY RALLY

See also: Occupy Nigeria - 1st African fruits of Qaddafi gone?

8:16 PM PT: This just in. From Al Jazeera:

Nigerian unions call off national strike

Union leaders in Nigeria have called off a week-long nationwide strike that has been paralysing the country's economy, following a decision by President Goodluck Jonathan to roll back fuel-price increases.

Jonathan announced on Monday that he would reduce fuel prices in response to protests and strikes that sprang up after his government withdrew fuel subsidies at the beginning of January.

But his announcement failed to quell all of the protests, and soldiers reportedly used force to shut down demonstrations in Lagos, the country's commercial capital.

Under Goodluck's new plan, the Nigerian government will reduce fuel prices by 30 per cent, to around $2.75 per gallon, by restoring some of the subsidies. That price is still considerably higher than the roughly $1.70 per gallon Nigerians paid before the subsidies were removed.

The Sordid Truth about the United States Marine Corps

The United States Marine Corps made the news twice this week. First there was the international scandal in which four Marines stationed in Afghanistan came under suspicion of pissing on the dead bodies of their enemies, who, it seems, were Afghans fighting a foreign invader in Afghanistan.

And now a former US Marine who also served in Afghanistan has been charged with killing four homeless men in Orange county, CA with a knife. So among the questions this case raises is: Where exactly did he learn to kill with a knife? I'll wager one answer; The United States Marine Corp.

I'll admit that I don't think it necessarily needs a lot of training. While physically and psychologically harder than killing with a gun, I still think pretty much anybody could do it given the right circumstances. Anyway I think I could. I know technically what needs to be done. I know if you slit someone's throat, they will die. I know that if you stab them in the heart or other vital organs, they will die. I know that if you stab them in enough places period, they will die, and this is apparently how these homeless men were killed.

Whether I could mentally bring myself to take another person's life, that is a different question. I'm pretty sure I could in defense of my own life or someone I loved. I like to think I can in defense of an innocent about to fall prey to the murderous intentions of another. I hope never because my government told me they wanted to make their country communist or Islamic or whatever.

I have in fact "been trained" to kill with my bare hands, which is to say I got as far as a green belt in karate. And I have been trained to kill with a firearm, at least I was trained how to shoot a rifle. That was in the Wash U. ROTC Army rifle range in the engineering building attic. I was not in ROTC, I was a campus radical but the kind sergeant allowed me and a girlfriend to shoot there and he trained us. I attained Marksmen status, but Vivian was the best. She beat all the ROTC cadets, much to their chagrin, but I digress.

I can say that I was "trained" on how to not kill with a knife. This was after I got out of jail for protesting the war in 1970 and was paroled to New Jersey. He was a Vietnam vet, ex-special forces type. He lived in the woods near Vineland, NJ. He hunted his own meat. He knew too much about killing and he liked to live alone. In spite of this, we became friends. He taught me this rather humane knife fighting technique, which I will now pass on to you, for what its worth. He suggested you go for a horizontal slash across the forehead. He said it would make a nasty cut, but there was little chance of inflicting a lethal wound because of the bone behind it, and the profuse bleeding into your opponents eyes would likely put a quick end to the fight.

Anyway given the relatively limited sources for extended training in how to kill with a knife, I'm willing to bet that this OC serial killer, like so many before him, was trained to kill by our government.

More to the point: Where did he learn to piss on human life like that? Again, I'm willing to wager, the United States Marine Corps. After all, that's what they do. They take ordinary human beings and they turn them into serial killers. They also teach them to kill people they don't even know and they teach them to kill for the most insane reasons.

And that's the real trick of military training because, frankly, the actual techniques of killing with a knife, much less with a gun, ain't that hard, I mean, its not like killing with rocket science. Getting young people to kill people they don't even know on command, that's a whole 'noher matter because humans don't normally operate that way. There's a not so well publicize aspect of the military sciences that addresses this problem. It is called killology. From the Wikipedia article:

Grossman's theory, based on the World War II research of S.L.A. Marshall, is that most of the population deeply resists killing another human...

As a result of Marshall's work, modern military training was modified to attempt to override this instinct, by:

using man-shaped targets instead of bullseye targets in marksmanship practice
practicing and drilling how soldiers would actually fight
dispersing responsibility for the killing throughout the group
displacing responsibility for the killing onto an authority figure, i.e., the commanding officer and the military hierarchy (See the Milgram experiment)

By the time of the United States involvement in the Vietnam War, says Grossman, 90% of U.S. soldiers would fire their weapons at other people.

In this powerful 10 minute talk, Ryan Endicott relates how our Marines are brutalized and dehumanized in today's US military:

Meet Scott Camil












Scott Camil was a US Marine who served two tours in Vietnam. In the course of making Vietnam: American Holocaust, he became a friend of mine. I won't use the well worn phrase "highly decorated." Scott has a WikiPedia page, so I can just go ahead and list them:

He served with the Marines from 1965 to 1969, earning two Purple Hearts, Combat Action Ribbon, two Presidential Unit Citations, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with three stars, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Leaf, and Vietnam Campaign Medal during two tours in Vietnam. With Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division, he acted as a forward observer for artillery. He was a sergeant when honorably discharged.

He was also a serial killer that liked to kill with a knife. He described one such murder in my documentary [transcript] What follows is from his 1971 Winter Soldier testimony:

Another time I had a friend of mind killed and I was very upset and I asked this Vietnamese for his ID card and he says "cum beck" which means 'I don't understand' in Vietnamese and he just pissed me off so I pulled out my knife and I killed him and it didn't bother me at all. I just called it in and I said "One VC killed." and they said "How do you know he's a VC?" and I said "because he's dead" and they laughed and said "okay" you know.

He also described one of the "fun" things he participated in as a forward artillery spotter:

The calling in of artillery for games, the way it was worked would be the mortar forward observers would pick out certain houses in villages, friendly villages, and the mortar forward observers would call in mortars until they destroyed that house and then the artillery forward observer would call in artillery until he destroyed another house and whoever used the least amount of artillery, they won. And when we got back someone would have to buy someone else beers.

And he graphically described the murderous culture our government created in Vietnam:

And It got to be where it was like someone says okay "You come stay on my farm and you can go hunting everyday for free and I'll give you all the ammo you want and you can hunt and there's no limit and you can go and all go out together and just hunt." It was like a hunting trip. The more people we killed the happier our officers were, you know. It got to be like a game. The object was to see who could kill the most people and the different ways you could prove how many people you had killed would be like cutting off ears. Now if you brought back someone's ears, pretty likely you'd have to kill them to get them. And people would, whoever had the most ears they would get the most beers. You'd trade your ears for beers. And it got to be like a game.

In Afghanistan, American soldiers collect fingers, not ears.

There were hundreds of My Lais that never made the newspapers, Scott Camil described one he was involved in this way:

In Operation Stone we were sitting up on the rail road trestle with a river on each side. There's another company behind each river. And like the people were running around inside. And we were just shooting them and the newspaper said Operation Stone like World War Two movie. We just sat up there and wiped them out, women, children, everything. Two hundred nine-one of them

Rape was common the the treatment of women disgusting. Scott relates:

I saw one case where a woman was shot by a sniper, one of our snipers. When we got up to her she was asking for water. And the Lt. said to kill her. So he ripped off her clothes, they stabbed her in both breasts, they spread-eagled her and shoved an E- tool up her vagina, an entrenching tool, and she was still asking for water. And then they took that out and they used a tree limb and then she was shot.

Snipers are trained to kill individuals they are looking at. That is a special skill. The Marines accused of pissing on the dead Afghans are snipers. I don't know what the Marines taught the OC serial killer but I do know that as long as our government spends billions of dollars taking earnest young men, and now women, and turning them into serial killers, this problem will continue to haunt us. What goes around, comes around.

Scott is doing much better these days. After he left the Marine Corps, he joined Vietnam Veterans Against the War, became an anti-war activist and has been so for more that 40 years. He is currently the president of the Gainsville, FL chapter of Veterans for Peace. This is an interview I did with him at the Winter Solider: Iraq and Afghanistan hearing held by Iraq Veterans Against the War in 2008:

One of the people this ex-Marine in OC murdered was a homeless Vietnam vet. Now how sick is that? If I may be allowed the liberty of stereotyping this individual, I would guess he might have been in his mid 60's and he was homeless because that war left him with such demons that he couldn't live with other people, or hold down a job, and he didn't have a woods to hide in like my friend.

The Current Situation in Libya

I have been planning forever to do a follow up diary on Libya. If you have been following me here you know that no sooner than the Libyan revolution was moving into the clean-up phase of the military campaign, that I found my focus dramatically driven to downtown Los Angeles. Even the death of Mummar Qaddafi became a footnote to events.

I had already done all that I knew to support their revolution from afar, and while, in the age of the Internet, not all politics is local, most of it still is. Occupy Los Angeles became my new beat. Anyway, it seemed that the longer I waited to do this diary, the better and more solid the news became. Then today an interview with Ali Ahmida came out and it is absolutely the best summation I've heard on the current situation in Libya. More about that below the fold.

I never entirely lost track of events in Libya and mostly I have been very pleased with what is happening and the progress they have been making.

Even the question of the armed militias that is the big bugaboo that most commentators of the left and right, not to mention the present Libya government and the TNC, seem to worry so much about, doesn't bother me that much. Certainly it can be a major problem if they start fighting among themselves, and that is why everyone wants them gone. You beat Qaddafi. Good. Thanks. Go home. Get a regular job.

On the other hand, they made this revolution, they truly are a people's army and many of them say they are not ready to lay down their arms until they can be sure they get the government they have been fighting for. I support that position, as long as they don't start fighting among themselves.

So I have had a close ear to the ground, as have most Libya watchers, for signs of conflict. I saw a tweet "Gun fire, not celebratory, many areas of Tripoli" in mid November, but could find no corroboration. There was another incident, not widely publicize, on December 11, between a Zintan militias and the Libyan army over control of the Tripoli airport in which four people were killed and this more recent incident in Tripoli in which five people were killed. I heard three different stories about that. One said someone from Tawergha assaulted someone from Misrata, was arrested by the Tripoli brigade, then the Misrata brigade tried to take custody and a fight broke out. Another story also called it a fight between those two brigades but for a different reason. And the third story was that it was simply a robbery gone wrong and the robbers shot it out with the Tripoli brigade.

That is all I've heard about since October, nine people killed in inter-militias fighting in this country of 7 million in this immediate post military phase. I think that is pretty damn good; which is to say I think it compares very favorably with the number of people killed in inter-gang warfare in Los Angeles in the same period. So I don't worry too much about the militias because the militias, they call themselves brigades, seem to be handling things very well to this point.

I also think their decision to accept air support from NATO, and consequently, my support for that decision, has been proven correct. According to a recent NY Times study spotlighted on Democracy Now, NATO killed between 40 and 70 civilians in its Libyan campaign. Those sources tried to make the most of that, describing the deaths of some of those in passionate detail, but I think that is remarkable. The number could be double that and my conclusions would still be the same. 30,000 Libyans died in that war. The vast majority were killed by Qaddafi's forces, many while in his custody. Certainly, NATO killed thousands of Qaddafi soldiers, but those soldiers were killing other Libyans, mostly civilians, so by doing that they almost certainly saved many Libyan lives and shortened the war.

So there were no massive civilian causalities from NATO bombs as the anti-interventionists predicted, and there were no NATO boots on the ground, as the anti-interventionists predicted.

I know, I know. There may have been spooks. There was a CIA station there even before Feb17, I'm sure they never left. Special forces? A lot of speculation but very short on proof. Even Qaddafi claimed to have captured 17 foreign special forces in Sirte, video to follow. It never showed up. Besides that's not what the anti-interventions were talking about in the beginning. That just became their fall back position because the Marines never made it back to the shores of Tripoli.

Libya just had $87 billion unfrozen by the EU and oil production is already coming back on line, so I think their financial problems will quickly be resolved. Not many countries can say that these days.

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.

And I was personally very please to find that my mention of Racism in Libya at the end of my recent diary on Occupy Nigeria led to a new round that that article being retweeted among Libyans.

So I think things are shaping up nicely in Libya. I don't even worry about the Islamic Brotherhood or other Islamic forces coming to power, not in Libya or anywhere else in MENA. That is part of democracy and maybe that is something they have to go through so that they can grow out of it. How long will we have to suffer the Republicans?

Still there is all the minutia of building a new revolutionary Libya, and for more on that, I turn the floor over to Ali Ahmida.

Today my worlds come together. At 10:30am I go back to Africa. There is an Occupy Nigeria protest in Hollywood organized by Nigerians of Southern California. Then at 1:00pm there is a Southern California Occupy Meet Up in Long Beach. It'll be a busy day.

Current Political Situation in Libya: An Interview with Ali Ahmida

Libya is back in the news with increasing tensions among various militia groups and political factions struggling for power, sometimes through street battles.

Three months have passed since the regime of Muammar Qaddafi was dislodged in Libya. So what is happening in Libya today? What forces are in play, and what has become of the revolutionary militias? And what about the issue of outside influence in today's Libya, given the crucial role played by NATO forces as well as governments such as Qatar in bringing an end to Qaddafi's autocracy.

Khalil Bendib spoke with University of New England political science professor Ali Ahmida, who just returned from Libya.

Current Political Situation in Libya: An Interview with Ali Ahmida by Jadaliyya


For more background on the Libyan Revolution and links to lots of information see my other writings at the DailyKos and WikiLeaks Central:
Why is Chris Hedges calling for "boots on the ground" in Libya?
The Worm Has Turned: Good Film on Libyan Revolution from PressTV
Why NATO's mission in Libya isn't over yet
Libya's Freedom Fighters: How They Won
Racism in Libya
Abdul Rahman Gave his Eyes to See the End of Qaddafi
BREAKING: Secret files reveal Dennis Kucinich talks with Qaddafi Regime
BREAKING: Libyan TNC won't extradite Lockerbie bomber
Who really beat Qaddafi?
#Feb17: @NATO Please help MEDEVAC wounded from #Libya
What should those that opposed NATO's intervention in Libya demand now?
BREAKING: Qaddafi's Tripoli Compound Falls!
Does PDA Support Qaddafi?
BREAKING: Operation Mermaid Dawn, the Battle to Liberate Tripoli is Joined
Helter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure
Qaddafi's Long Arm
SCOOP: My Lai or Qaddafi Lie? More on the 85 Civilians presumed killed by NATO
Did NATO kill 85 Libyan Villagers As Qaddafi Regime Contends?
CCDS Statement on Libya - a Critique
The Assassination of General Abdul Fattah Younis
NATO over Tripoli - Air Strikes in the Age of Twitter
How Many Libyans has NATO Killed?
Qaddafi Terror Files Start to Trickle Out!
Have Libyan Rebels Committed Human Rights Abuses?
Tripoli Green Square Reality Check
Behind the Green Curtain: Libya Today
Gilbert Achcar on the Libyan situation and the Left
NATO slammed for Libya civilian deaths NOT!
2011-07-01 Qaddafi's Million Man March
NATO's Game Plan in Libya
February 21st - Tripoli's Long Night
Did Qaddafi Bomb Peaceful Protesters?
Tripoli Burn Notice
Libyans, Palestinians & Israelis
'Brother' Qaddafi Indicted plus Libya & Syria: Dueling Rally Photofinishs
An Open Letter to ANSWER
ANSWER answers me
2011-06-22 No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum
Are they throwing babies out of incubators yet?
Continuing Discussion with a Gaddafi Supporter
Boston Globe oped supports Gaddafi with fraudulent journalism
2011-04-13 Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Current Events in Libya
Amonpour Plays Softball with Gaddafi
Arming Gaddfi
North African Revolution Continues
Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation

Occupy Nigeria - 1st African fruits of Qaddafi gone?

Follow clayclai on TwitterFollow #OccupyNigeria on twitter for the latest news.

Uploaded by AnonymousNigeria on January 9, 2012

”Out of Africa always comes something new” wrote the Roman historian Pliny, (23-79 A.D.) With Mummar Qaddafi gone from Libyan, this old adage will almost certainly gain new meaning because Qaddafi was not only the dictator who ruled Libya with the whip for 40 years, he was a major power in African affairs. He sought to unify Africa under his leadership and saw himself as "King of all the African tribes." Well, with the kickoff of Occupy Nigeria, we are seeing something new in Africa today.

Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, 160 million people or 1 in 6 Africans live in Nigeria, so any movement there is bound to have a big impact on the whole continent. Could this have anything to do with Qaddafi's recent demise and the success of the revolution in Libya? These are the main questions I wish to touch upon in this article. But first a quick update for those that have not been glued to news out of Africa all day.

3 people were killed and at least another 20 were injured as Nigerian state security used tear gas and rubber bullets and finally resorted to live ammunition in attempts to suppress mass protests in Lagos and other major cities in Nigeria. Except for the rallies, the streets were eerily empty, and shops and businesses closed as most of the country was brought to a grinding halt by a nationwide general strike which its organizers have named "Occupy Nigeria."

This nationwide general strike was sparked by the government's decision to discontinue fuel subsidies. This resulted in a more than doubling of gasoline prices overnight. Nigeria exports more crude oil than any other African country, but only has refinery capacity for 25% of its own needs. It must import, at great expense, most of the gasoline it uses and the government subsidies make the cost bearable in a country where most people live on less than $2 a day. In fact, most Nigerians see the fuel subsidy as the only benefit of being an oil rich nation that trickles down to ordinary people.

Al Jazeera English has been giving good coverage to this story. For more details and background I would recommend Nigerian fuel protests turn deadly

Here are two YouTube Videos of today's action

It is so symbolic of the way this movement has circled the globe in one year that they have named it Occupy Nigeria because this is an obvious nod to Occupy Wall St. and the occupy movement which got its impulse from the Arab Spring which began in another African country, Tunisia, just north of Nigeria.

It was also just about a year ago, on Jan. 2, 2011 that the hacker group Anonymous launched OpTunisia in support of the people's struggles in Tunisia. On Jan. 5, 2012, The Naija Cyber Hactivists in conjunction with the allied forces of Anonymous announced Op Nigeria, which had been running since at leat May 2011, was moving in support of Occupy Nigeria by defacing the website of the Federal Ministry Of Transport. Over the weekend more Nigerian government websites were defaced by NCH including the National Insurance Commission [owned], National Information Technology Development Agency [owned] and MNNA [owned]

It is very significant that Occupy Nigeria is taking place all across the country and has been able to unite people across tribal, ethnic and religious lines. Nigeria has a long history of religious strife that has threatened to tear the country apart. Most recently Nigeria was in the news because of the Christmas bombings of Christian churches by the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram. Those terrorist attacks killed dozens of Nigerians.

For historical reasons Nigeria has been pretty evenly divided between Muslims and Christians with the Muslims concentrated in the North and the Christians concentrated in the South. This religious difference has been the main locus of conflict in Nigeria with most of the North states implementing Sharia law and the indigenous Salafist group, Boko Haram trying to be the Taliban of Nigeria.

The demise of Qaddafi and the events in Libya almost certainly have something to do with this recent upsurge in activity by Boko Haram. Mummar Qaddafi may have been for uniting all of Africa but he was also for the break up of Nigeria. From his position as president of the African Union, he advocated the division of Nigeria into separate Muslim and Christian states and at the same time he worked to unite all of Africa into one Muslim state. It is now very clear that he did much more that just speak in favor of the break up of Nigeria. He put his money, meaning Libya's national treasure, were his mouth was. Kingsley Omonobi of Abuja, Nigeria wrote on the Vanguard website days after Qaddafi was killed:

Slain Libyan leader, Col. Muammar Gaddafi was a major sponsor of terrorism activities and religious fundamentalism in the country, resulting in his supply of arms and ammunition to sectarian groups during religious uprisings, terrorist attacks and even the post elections violence that rocked the nation soon after the 2011 presidential elections, Saturday Vanguard has learnt.

Security sources disclosed that they had been aware of the intention of Col. Gaddafi to instigate the destabilization of Nigeria with a view to bringing to fruition, his proclamation early this year, that Nigeria would disintegrate into several parts unless the country was divided into two, with North going their own way and the South forming their own country.

Saturday Vanguard was told that it was in his bid to make this happen, that Col Gaddafi massively funded the construction of Mosques and other Islamic Centers of worship in Kano and other cities of the North. He was also said to have embarked on several humanitarian donations and visits to Kano and these other Northern states, most times unannounced, after which he would journey back to his country.

“There were also several visits by several top and influential Northerners, especially those of the Islamic faith to Libya ostensibly on the invitation of the late Libyan leader when he was alive and held sway in Tripoli before the revolution against him started which security agencies were aware of and we closely monitored these persons”, the source said.

It is against this backdrop and that of several well documented destabilization plots, allegedly sponsored or supported by the late Libyan leader, Saturday Vanguard gathered, that Nigeria moved swiftly in recognizing the National Transition Council after Gaddafi had fled Tripoli...

Asked to give an example of how and when the security agencies discovered Gaddafi’s plan against Nigeria, the source said, “As far back as 2003 and 2004, some armed bandits who had been terrorizing Adamawa, Yobe, Kano states, were caught with about 40 double barrels, lethal rifles, machine guns and ammunition.

After investigations, and coupled with confessions from the suspects, the weapons and ammunition were found to have a special Gaddafi insignia on them.”

So why did Nigeria keep quiet all these years till Gaddafi had problems with his people? The source said he was not in a position to explain, adding that such answer can only come from the federal government.

One example: Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, head of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force was one such Qaddafi trained Nigerian separatist. For many years he led a violent campaign to turn Nigeria's oil rich Niger Delta into an independent republic. He was born a Christian but converted to Islam. He was trained in Libya in 1990 and 1991. He told AFP

"I was invited by the Libyan government and given a scholarship to go study Islam," he said. "When I arrived in Libya, they thought that I had revolutionary ideas, so I became close to the leadership and I started talking to them."

He talked to Gaddafi as late as 2010 and has acknowledged receiving money from him but now that Qaddafi is dead he says his movement is on "sabbatical."

Another Nigerian commentator saw it this way:

Gaddhafi was the chief sponsor of terrorist activities in the Niger Delta and in the North. Listen to Asari Dokubo and you will see reasons. Now he's gone, no more funds for them to carry out terrorist attacks against the state of Nigeria.

As might be expected of one who fashioned himself king of all Africans, Mummar Qaddafi had a long history of cultivating close ties with Africa's most populous state and while Nigeria doesn't share a common boundary with Libya, it is very easy to travel overland between the two without much government interference. The countries in between, Niger, Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso and Northern Sudan all are weak states with little or no control of their international boundaries. Nigeria, for example has over a thousand border entry points but only 25 of those are peopled!

Nigerian immigrants regularly made the perilous journey to Libya in search of work. Some of that work ended up being fighting in Qaddafi's mercenary army. According to Agaju Madugba in September:

"More than 200 Nigerians were arrested in Libya by the TNC, while about 20 were executed last week on allegations of supporting Gaddafi, as mercenaries."

Three are known to have died in his service. More have returned to Nigeria now that the fighting has ended, along with thousands of Nigerian immigrant laborers displaced by the upheaval in Libya.

There has also been a problem with Libyan weapons showing up in Nigeria now that they are being used less in Libya, and more significantly, some of Qaddafi's senior leadership is said to have fled to Nigeria.

All of this has no doubt had a destabilizing effect on Nigeria, but it is mostly a short term effect. Even the recent carnage created by Boko Haram can probably best be seen as a rather desperate explosion by a movement that just lost a major sponsor and knows that it will soon be weaker.

These immediate problems will be quickly overcome in the face of the unity being expressed in Occupy Nigeria. The important thing is that with Qaddafi gone, a major opponent of Nigerian unity has been removed. That is why Ochereome Nnanna could speak of,

the unbridled sense of euphoria sweeping Libya and even Nigeria at the fall of a man who dominated his country – and to some extent, the continent – for 42 years.

and why yesterday Emmanuel Iduma titled his blog on Black Looks:

See, The Nigerian Revolution Has Begun


Uploaded by AnonymousNigeria on January 4, 2012

My other pieces related to this story:
Helter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure
Racism in Libya

Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 10:08 PM PT: In the north, the struggle against Boko Haram is getting fiercer. This was just yesterday:

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — An hours-long gun battle raged Saturday in a northern Nigerian city that's the spiritual home of a radical Islamist sect, and a car bomb exploded during a gun fight with members of the group in another city in the restive region, authorities said. At least six people were killed.

Recently the sect rejected efforts to began indirect talks with the government and now the government is pressing its military campaign against them with renewed vigor.

Meanwhile the Occupy Nigeria movement, like the occupy movement everywhere, continues its growth outside of the lime light, as example by this article two days ago: Occupy Nigeria: Nneka on the "Vagabonds in Power"

or this one from five days ago:

Occupy Yourself, Occupy Nigeria By Malcolm Fabiyi


The Year in Review: They should have left that street vendor alone!

Operation Tunisia: recruiting starts 2nd January 20112011 actually started on December 17, 2010 although none of us knew it at the time. On that provident day a fruit peddler in Tunisia decided that he was mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. In the year since then, his sentiment has been echoed by millions around the globe in the greatest show of people power that we have seen in more than 40 years.

Mohamed Bouazizi, who could find no other work and took to selling fruits and vegetables, had grown tired of the police harassment. When his complaints to city hall went unanswered, he doused himself with gasoline and lit a fire that is blazing still.

Had his act of defiance happened in any earlier epoch, it most likely would have gained little notice outside of word of mouth, but we now live in an age when word of mouth spans the globe. We have the technology, even in North Africa.

So news of his defiance spread throughout Tunisia in a flash and the people rose up to demand justice from the government. Then, via WikiLeaks, the Tunisian people found out just how corrupt their government really was and started to demand an end to the 20 year rule of Ben Ali. When they did this, their struggle took a revolutionary turn.

The source of that revelation was an unlikely one. A group of hackers, computer nerds, that made it their business to make government and corporate secrets public, with the aid of another hacker inside the digital pentagon, released the US State Department Tunis Embassy cables that gave details supporting what everybody already suspected about the president-dictator. Then on the 2nd day of the new year, the hacker activist group Anonymous, led by its Tunisian members, organized international support for this uprising with #OpTunisia, mainly by spreading the word, keeping the people's lines of communications up while disrupting government PR efforts and gathering Intel.

By the middle of January, Ben Ali was getting out of Dodge and protests were breaking out in Libya and Algeria. By the end of January, Egypt was fully involved and the world knew that it would be an Arab Spring. The global activist network in support of these struggles was also rapidly developing. A dense network of websites, YouTube pages, facebooks pages, Twitter accounts and other Internet resources had to be managed. The technology progressed within the year too. Cell phone cameras and YouTube were the weapons of choice from Tunisia through Libya but by Occupy Wall St., smart phones and live streaming video were coming into their own. Twitter was everywhere. The lessons of the struggle spread rapidly. In Egypt, Anonymous responded with #OpEgypt and when Mubarak tried to cut the Internet, Google came up with Speech-to-Tweet.

Before February 2011 was half over, a second dictator, Egypt's Mubarak was forced to end his 30 year rule. More protests sprung up in Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan, Palestine & Syria. Things were moving very fast. #OpLibya and #OpAlgeria were actually discussed in Anonymous before #OpEgypt demanded their attention. I think most in the global activist network that grew up to support the Arab Spring thought Libya or Algeria would be next, Egypt was the big enchilada and would be much later, but things were already moving at lighting speed. I made my contribution mainly in agitprop work, writing in the DailyKos and then joining the staff of WikiLeaks Central, where my beat was Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria and Libya. Libya became my longest self-assignment and so far, the toughest dictator to crack.

In Libya, the Arab Spring finally met a dictator that had an army that would massacre its own people when ordered to, something the armies in Tunisia and Egypt had refused to do. Because of this, the Libyan people were forced to make their revolution the old fashion way, by armed struggle. They built a true people's army, the Libyan working class - armed, and with some help from above by western interests keen to get the oil flowing again, they vanquished a brutal dictator that had savaged Libya for more than 40 years. The new government estimates that the civil war cost some 30,000 Libyan lives and, according the Democracy Now and the NY Times last week, less than a hundred of those were civilians killed by NATO. The Libyans won their liberation at the greatest cost of any in the Arab Spring, but they also won the most thoroughgoing revolution of them all, the only one in which the old army and all institutions of the old regime have been abolished.

With Qaddafi leading the charge, the response of regimes in Yemen, Bahrain and Syria veered toward the use of live fire and military power on peaceful protests. Rivers of the people's blood watered the Earth in 2011 as a result, but nowhere did the people back down or let up. More than 5,000 protesters have been murdered by the monster Assad in Syria this year and still they keep coming. 70,000 protested in Homs Tuesday and 40 more were killed.

As the year progressed, the struggle exampled by the people of North Africa began to be taken up all over the world. When they went to the streets in Belgium, they spoke of Tahrir Square. In Greece and Spain, massive numbers took to the streets to protest austerity measures. In Chile, and London students went on strike. In Bolivia, they took the protest on the road. I even saw a Guy Fawkes mask in a Moscow demonstration this week.

Twitter became the communications tool of choice for activists all over the planet. Facebook played an important role too, but so did chat, piratepad and other less well known means of digital collaboration. For a while an innocuous Egyptian dating site was a place beneath the radar where a lot of revolutionary "hook-ups" took place. Google brushed up their Arabic translation capabilities a little more than a year ago as in anticipation, and again in Libya they provided that important Speech-to-Tweet service when Qaddafi tried to cut the cord.

During the long Libyan struggle this global support network of information activists began discussions and planning to bring the Arab Spring home. WikiLeaks Central initiated the US Days or Rage campaign in March. Anonymous also started making plans, AdBusters started a campaign and the Occupy Wall Street movement was born out of this network just as the Libyan struggle was being brought to a successful conclusion, Occupy Los Angeles started on October 1st, and together with hundreds of similar occupations all over the planet, Occupy Venice started soon afterwards. The Arab Spring had come home.
Occupy Los Angeles, Day 8

Tasks of the Coming Year

Abraham Lincoln once called the United States the "Last Best Hope of Earth." He was wrong. He was exaggerating. While ending slavery was important and even preserving the union had some progressive value, it was still too early to speak of last chances. The Earth was still a little too young then but things have change greatly in the 150 years since he made his claim and 2011 has shown us something else, it has shown us how desperate the plight of the planet now is.

From Japan we learned what a disaster nuclear power is, all across the planet thousands lost their lives and livelihood as global warming flooded some areas while drying up others. Imperialist wars expanded in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In the so-called advance countries, millions of people went unemployed and homeless while the bankers fiddled and the world economy burned. It is no longer a question of hyperbole to speak of last chances for the planet because we are all staring into the abyss.

But in 2011 we also saw this revolutionary spirit, which really is the "Last Best Hope of Earth" come clear around the globe and into our backyards. Let us all work to make 2012 a year of even greater triumph for the people's movement, 2011 was only the beginning. This planet can only be saved if world finance capital is overthrown and the home of finance capital is still the United States. We are still in the belly of the beast. Let's make 2012 the year of the American Spring.

Happy New Years,
now get busy.

Clay



Follow clayclai on Twitter


If you are in Southern California, I hope to see you at Occupy the Rose Parade on January 1st and 2nd.

Occupy the Rose Parade

Democracy Now & Amy Goodman gets it wrong again.

The leading segment on Thursday's Democracy Now [12/22/2011] carried the headline:
NATO Forced to Admit Air Strikes Killed Dozens of Libyan Civilians, Contradicting Initial Denials
The report begin:

JUAN GONZALEZ: NATO is admitting for the first time Libyan civilians were killed and injured during its seven-month bombing campaign that led to the ouster and death of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. NATO made the acknowledgment after a New York Times investigation revealed at least 40 civilians, and perhaps more than 70, were killed by the bombing raids. The New York Times reports the victims include at least 29 women or children, who often had been asleep in homes when the ordnance hit. Others were killed when NATO warplanes bombed ambulance crews and civilians who were attempting to aid the wounded from earlier strikes.

The segment featured two heavy hitters from the NY Times that had just done a story on the same subject. They both repeat the point that NATO had failed to take responsibility for civilian deaths before this:

ERIC SCHMITT: Well, the principal findings, as your introduction has suggested, was that initially NATO had said, and the Secretary General of NATO had said, that throughout the seven-month air campaign, they knew of no confirmed civilian casualties on the ground as a result of NATO air strikes.

and

C.J. CHIVERS: NATO has withheld details on most of the errors and labored to portray its role in the war as all but flawless. Until this month, it insisted it had not confirmed the killing or wounding of a single civilian.

There is a problem with this retelling of history. It is wrong on the facts.

NATO had already publicly acknowledged responsibility for civilian deaths caused by an air strike in Tripoli in late June. The Guardian ran the story on Sunday 19 June 2011:

Libya: Nato admits civilian deaths in Tripoli air raid

Nato has admitted it was responsible for an air strike that killed civilians in Tripoli over the weekend.

"A military missile site was the intended target of air strikes in Tripoli last night," a statement said. "However, it appears that one weapon did not strike the intended target; there may have been a weapons system failure which may have caused a number of civilian casualties."

Earlier the Libyan government had said that a Nato missile had struck a house in a residential area of the Libyan capital, killing at least nine civilians, including two children.

The attack is the biggest mistake by coalition forces during the four-month campaign, at a time when Nato has been trying to increase the tempo of operations against the Libyan leader.

"Nato regrets the loss of innocent civilian lives and takes great care in conducting strikes against a regime determined to use violence against its own citizens," said Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, commander of Operation Unified Protector. "Although we are still determining the specifics of this event, indications are that a weapons system failure may have caused this incident," he added.

There may have been other such reports from NATO but I remember this story because I used it in one of my diaries about Libya at the time, so Thursday the more that I heard them repeat that "NATO is admitting for the first time Libyan civilians were killed", the more I thought it important to correct this error before it gets repeated so often that it becomes legend.

At the NATO press briefing after the tragic June 19th attack, NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu said:

Clearly, the main issue for NATO over the weekend and yesterday are the allegations of civilian casualties. Mike will provide more operational information, but it's important that we put those allegations in context of the NATO mission.

Each and every civilian death is a tragedy. On Sunday, due to a technical failure, one of our weapons did not strike the intended military target, which was a missile site. We deeply regret this tragic accident.

Speaking to the media yesterday the Secretary General personally conveyed his condolences to the families of all those who may have been involved, and I would like to do that again today.

To booster the DN claims on Thursday, Juan Gonzalez, even quotes "Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Secretary General of NATO, speaking in June.":

We have carried out this operation very carefully, without confirmed civilian casualties.

But this was a quote from June, no doubt before this tragic, but admitted, accident.

And in fact, the day after the accident, the NATO Secretary General was all over the media apologizing in person, this report was typical:

Nato boss regret at loss of life in Tripoli - Channel 4 News
Monday 20 June 2011
Nato's Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen tells Channel 4 News he regrets the "tragic loss of life" following an off-target air strike in Tripoli, but says the mission is meeting its objectives.

Even Democracy Now reported on it at the time, making Amy's current amnesia even more remarkable:

NATO Bombs Libyan Home, Killing Nine Civilians, Including Two Babies

NATO warplanes have bombed a home in a residential section of Tripoli, killing nine civilians, including two babies. Libyan officials said another 18 people were injured. NATO admitted to carrying out the strike but blamed the bombing on a "weapons systems failure." A Libyan government spokesperson described the NATO strike as a "pathetic attempt to break the spirit of the people of Tripoli."

So, Amy, just how do you square the DN claim in June that "NATO admitted to carrying out the strike" that killed nine civilians with the current DN claim that "NATO has admitted for the first time Libyan civilians were killed and injured during its seven-month bombing campaign?"

The claim that the NY Times investigation finally forced NATO to admit something it has never admitted before became the headline, because if the truth be told, the finding that NATO killed as many as 70 civilians, and possibly more, is hardly the indictment of NATO they were looking for.

While every single civilian death is a tragedy and each individual story, some of which were told on the DN segment, is heart rending, 70 civilians killed by NATO means that the overall NATO effort saved civilian lives when it is considered that Qaddafi killed more than 10 times that number of unarmed civilians in a single night in Tripoli and the revolutionary Libya government put the total war dead at over 30,000.

Now I know that certain factions in the US left took the early approach to the Libyan revolution that if NATO supported it they were against it. Their singular focus in this struggle was patriotic opposition to NATO, veering on support for Qaddafi. They predicted massive civilian causalities as a result of NATO bombing. They also expected that it would lead to NATO troops in Libya and the complete domination of post-Qaddafi Libya by the western powers. None of this has happened.

Now we see attempts to remember the story in such a way that it supports the views they had all along, and while they are entitled to their own opinion, they are not entitled to their own set of facts.

Orwellian re-writing of history, which is what Democracy Now engaged in on Thursday's show, must be strongly opposed whether it is done by the right or the left.

5 of 5 essays: How Occupy LA got itself evicted

A week ago I published a series of essays to the Occupy Los Angeles list serv about our eviction from the Los Angeles city Hall Park on November 30th. They evoked a lively discussion on the list. My plan is to use this material in a larger piece designed for a more distant readership. However with the holidays fast approaching and the press of other matters, it is not clear when that piece will get done and I have been convinced that there is some value in publishing them here now in this more raw form.

Hopefully my earlier reporting here about Occupy LA as well as material from OccupyLosAngeles.org, OccupyLA.org, LosAngelesGA.net and @OccupyLA can provide enough context.

So I will publish them here as I did to the list serv, one a day for the next five days:
Monday: Did 1st Amendment protect OLA encampment @ City Hall Park?
Tuesday: Was DHS behind the eviction of Occupy LA?
Wednesday: What's the real reason Villaraigosa kicked us out?
Thursday: The Demonization of Mario
Friday: How Occupy LA got itself evicted

As I heard the Occupy LA Code of Conduct being read before the local news TV cameras at the General Assembly "The community will respect the individual's right to use drugs and alcohol," I realized that the encampment at city hall would probably be shut down soon, for while the standards of allowable conduct for the community that had become the Occupy LA encampment at city hall may have been okay with drug and alcohol use in public parks, the larger community that represents 99% of Los Angeles was not. As I had said before, ours is not a military occupation, it is a non-violent occupation. We don't hold city hall park by force of arms, we hold it with our moral authority and popular support. When we lose those, we will lose the encampment.

This eviction happened because the city let us have enough rope to hang ourselves with and we greedily took it. Many occupiers knew there were serious problems with drugs, alcohol and more at the encampment. We also knew that we did not introduce these problems to downtown Los Angeles. But just as the encampment became a refuge for many in our society seeking shelter from the cold, it became a "liberated" zone for unlawful activities that in many cases, we did not even try to control.

The city and police knew what was going on too and these problems were discussed more or less openly in a number of city liaison meetings I attended. These were meetings between reps from the mayor and LAPD and self-appointed or selected occupiers that volunteered for this necessary but ultimately thankless task. There were also phone calls, a select group of numbers some commanders at LAPD had to call whenever they had a problem or a question.

I think the city liaison work developed in a non-transparent, non GA approved way, like much of our work, not because of any sinister intentions, but because of the "fly by the seat of the pants" nature in which almost everything associated with Occupy LA developed in the early days. I got involved because I received a call from Alarcon's office about Occupy LA support for responsible banking even before the occupation began.

They called me because they found my name associated with Occupy LA somewhere in the biosphere and they didn't know shit about bringing a proposal to the GA. And I guess it can be fairly argued that when I used the term "we" and asked for his help modifying the LAPD position that we couldn't camp out at city hall, I was representing Occupy LA to a city or police official in a non-transparent way without either GA approval or GA report back, and that was only the first time. I initiated other calls on behalf of Occupy LA to other city and police officials even that same day.

After the initial efforts. in which the city council support resolution was secured and the practical right to keep tents on the grass, have porta potties, and amplified sound, etc. were gained, I think the most important function these meetings and phone calls served was to give the city a way to complain. For those doing this work, it was mostly about taking the heat and putting out the fires. We were trying to maintain a relationship with the city govt because that was the only basis upon which the occupation of city hall park was viable now. In my experience, relationships work better if you feel you have someone to talk to and the other party is actually listening. Even if little or no real progress is being made with regards to your "issues", you're likely to continue the relationship as long as you feel they are being "addressed." The quickest way to end the relationship is to suddenly cut lines of communications.

And I must now admit that I did often consciously miss-represent Occupy LA to city and police officials. I think others did too but they have to speak for themselves. For example, when the above mentioned problems would come up, as they often did. I would always seek to minimize them, put them even below levels that I knew to be true. I would say that we were as concerned about drug and alcohol abuse as they were, blah, blah, blah. I would play up our efforts to address these problems and consciously under-represent views at Occupy LA that were okay with drug and alcohol use in the park.

I think I was a good candidate for city liaison because on these issues I could tell these officials in earnest what they wanted to hear. I could do that because I always opposed drug and alcohol use at the encampment. But I also knew that the GA had a resolution that condoned it. Why I wasn't there to hard block that is another question, apparently consensus is only 100% if everyone can be there for every decision, but that is besides the point. I miss-presented Occupy LA, I told then that we were doing more to address these problems than we were doing, when in fact I knew that many at Occupy LA didn't see open drug and alcohol use in the city park as a problem at all. I did this both because I really did think we shouldn't allow drug and alcohol use in the encampment and because I knew that the position embodied in that code of conduct was incompatible with the city's continued support for the encampment in the city hall park.

As I saw it, that was the main job of city liaison, to give them somebody to bitch and complain to, and to give them some private channels to do that in and us some idea about what was on their mind. Yes, much of this was on the qt, very 'hush-hush', non-transparent, not for public consumption or broadcast. Anyone who has ever been involved in talks of this kind, like talks with an enemy to end a war or maintain a peace, knows that transparency is not so much a friend of that mission as confidentiality is.

Also I would have to say that as a whole the city liaison team did not fairly represent Occupy LA in that it represented only those that believed in working with the police and the city, that thought we should ask for permission before we acted without it, thought city government had a legitimate role in coordinating and regulating the use of public resources, and wanted a climate of peace with the city and the LAPD so that we could focus on the fight against Wall St. Until that very last city liaison meeting, after which we were evicted, it did not represent those occupiers that opposed any discussions with the city, opposed any request for permits or thought from the very beginning that the main issue was stopping police brutality at Occupy LA.

But in spite of those weaknesses, or perhaps, because of them, the city liaison team seemed to be doing an excellent job, at least from the point of view of someone who wanted to see the encampment at city hall continue through the winter and play the vital role that it could have played for the whole Occupy Wall St. movement in this period. While the City wanted us off the lawn of city hall sooner or later, for a whole variety of reasons, before this "transparency" row, they were offering us buildings and farm land and floating January 31st as an agreeable end date for the last of the encampment.

The city liaison team was not agreeing, we were extending the talks, and with them the occupation. As far as I'm concerned, what we were doing was still working, as it had for seven weeks. If instead, you want the LAPD to come down to the GA and publicly air their issues with Occupy LA while the cameras are rolling, you will get what we got.

IN SUMMATION

The encampment at Los Angeles City Hall that started on October 1st and ended with our eviction on November 30th was a tremendously important groundbreaking for Occupy Los Angeles. For two months we held the ground at city hall. From the beginning it was very diverse in it's representation of all the various black, white, Latino, Asian and indigenous peoples of Los Angeles. We got a lot of support from community groups and labor. With over 400 tents and 500 overnight occupiers staying on city hall lawn, and many more 'day trippers' like myself, we build what was probably the largest encampment in the United States, and with creations like the People's Collective University, the Print Shop, the Bike Repair Shop & community bike pool, the Kids Center, not to mention the welcome tent, the media tent, security, medical and of course the food tent, probably one of the ones most sophisticated in it's organization.

With the encampment at city hall as our base camp we were able to host numerous events that drew thousands, the LAPD reported 15 thousand for the march on October 15th, and carry forward a constant stream of protests against the banks and other seats of power in downtown LA. We were able to make our voice heard inside city hall too, as it proved convenient for occupiers to attend city council and committee meetings in city hall and weigh in on "business as usual" as never before.

I could go on and on about the accomplishments of Occupy Los Angeles to date because they are not easy to minimize, but quite obviously, that is not the point of these essays. Besides there are many writers who will uncritically sing the praises of the movement. My intention here is to shine a bright light on our problems so that we can correct them and move forward. I will continue to say nobody can defeat this movement if we don't defeat ourselves. Strength comes from within, but so does weakness. Nothing lasts forever and while the encampment at city hall had to end sooner or later, it could have ended later and on much more favorable terms. I hope I have shown that the conditions that led to the eviction of Occupy LA from the city hall park in this instant were internal to the movement and, as such, things that we should have been able to control directly. I hope that some lessons can be learned.

As to the future, I think the eviction has actually had a liberating effect on Occupy Los Angeles. After two months, the sheer logistics of maintaining the camp, even without all the internal camp problems that were cropping up, was draining the energy of far too many activists. Now we are free to organize wide ranging campaigns all over Los Angeles.

The General Assembly continues to meet on the west steps of city hall nightly @ 7:30p.
Yesterday, there was a bold action to shutdown the westcoast ports.
On December 15th we will Occupy I.C.E. to stop deportations and raids.
Occupy Los Angeles is just beginning. Occupy 2.0 is now being launched.

Expect Us!

4 of 5 essays on the eviction: The Demonization of Mario

A week ago I published a series of essays to the Occupy Los Angeles list serv about our eviction from the Los Angeles city Hall Park on November 30th. They evoked a lively discussion on the list. My plan is to use this material in a larger piece designed for a more distant readership. However with the holidays fast approaching and the press of other matters, it is not clear when that piece will get done and I have been convinced that there is some value in publishing them here now in this more raw form.

Hopefully my earlier reporting here about Occupy LA as well as material from OccupyLosAngeles.org, OccupyLA.org, LosAngelesGA.net and @OccupyLA can provide enough context.

So I will publish them here as I did to the list serv, one a day for the next five days:
Monday: Did 1st Amendment protect OLA encampment @ City Hall Park?
Tuesday: Was DHS behind the eviction of Occupy LA?
Wednesday: What's the real reason Villaraigosa kicked us out?
Thursday: The Demonization of Mario
Friday: How Occupy LA got itself evicted

It doesn't matter that much who negotiates what, as long as they're not authorized to make any decisions. Whatever they come up with would have to be presented to and voted on by the GA.
- comment in DailyKos by Pilkington on Tue Nov 22, 2011 about "transparency" question at Occupy LA

If we take a look at the Statement from DeColonize LA, published on the website UnPermittedLA, and we cut away the wood, as I have done below, It is clear that the concept of Occupy Los Angeles as a movement with its focus on the fight against Wall St. has been under siege from day one by an organized faction that has sought to shift its focus to the fight against the LAPD.

While the original leadership of Occupy Los Angeles had the strategic approach of taking the fight directly to the banks and the capitalists, and avoiding struggles with the city and the police whenever they didn't hinder our main work, these self-proclaimed radicals reasoned that the police are the hired thugs of the capitalists, so rather than avoid the thugs as much as possible in our non-violent struggle against capitalism, they seek to take the fight first and foremost to the hired thugs. Wall St. would like nothing better than for this movement to be taken in the direction these people have been taking it.

But on to the statement. In the first paragraph, this group of activists "with previous working relationships as organizers" indicate they haven't been involved with Occupy LA before October 1st, not only because they refer to that as "the first day", but because it took them a while realized that there was already some organization and some leadership in place.

Our first impression was that the “occupation” resembled a carnival and that it was disorganized. What we eventually realized, however, was that the “occupation” was, in fact, very carefully organized, but for objectives we did not anticipate.

I don't know what they anticipated based on Occupy Wall St. but from the beginning the objectives of this movement were different from what they wanted and they have sought to change it by organizing a faction for their cause.

On the first day, we convened discussion circles which dozens of people gradually joined. We called for these circles because we felt we needed to hear from each other, as attendees of the Occupation, prior to the General Assembly.

They had a problem with the people who had put together Occupy Los Angeles from the very beginning and in spite of good relations between the city and the encampment and the lack of any abuse or harassment of Occupy LA at that time by the LAPD they formed "End Police Brutality at Occupy LA" as a closed facebook group with a very public web page. When I used a screenshot of this public page in a flier, they said of me:

If this individual isn’t actively working for the police, he has definitely helped them through his actions.

However, apparently it is not a problem that their names and pictures continue to be publicly listed on their webpage months later.

They did just about everything they could to make sure the General Assembly spent a lot of time discussing what they thought the movement should be about.

During the General Assemblies on the first and second day of occupation, we witnessed fundamental breakdowns in the consensus process, resulting in undemocratic decision-making. This was complemented by deception, coercion, and fear-mongering by the leadership to get their way. We were troubled by actions of those in leadership positions and/or facilitators of various committees who sought to control the direction of the occupation through non-democratic decision-making regarding the relationship with the Los Angeles Police Department. Any discussions or proposals at the GA criticizing or objecting to collaboration with the police are immediately shouted down by the leadership.

From day one, this is a faction that has been opposed to any discussions or cooperation with the city or the police, no matter how transparent, as they consider anything like that "collaboration." They opposed any talks with the police, any cooperation with the city. They opposed getting permits for events or equipment and they believed in "taking the streets" from the drivers, even when our numbers are small and no pre-planning for the traffic disruption was possible because of our lack of notice.

They considered that the original organizers of Occupy Los Angeles, that represented a decidedly different approach, collaborators and police agents, in short, the enemy. According to them, the city liaison team is acting without General Assembly approval because it was designed to be temporary:

Mario kept bleating that he'd been "elected". No one's been "elected" to anything. He knows, as well as anyone, that a city liaison was tried in the planning stages before the encampment ever happened and was meant to be temporary.

Memo
From: Councilmember Richard Alarcon
To: Hon. Carmen Trutanich, City Attorney
Chief Charlie Beck, Los Angeles Police Department
Tony Royster, General Manager, General Services Department
CC: Mario Brito, "Occupy Los Angeles"
Date: Friday, September 30th, 2011
Re: Providing Occupy LA Event - Tomorrow Saturday, Oct. 1st at City Hall- with
Reasonable Accommodations to Peacefully Exercise 1st Amendment Rights
...
I'm writing to urge you to provide a reasonable accommodation to "Occupy Los Angeles" in order to both protect the City's interests and to allow this group to peacefully exercise it's First Amendment rights.
>
It will benefit neither the City nor "Occupy Los Angeles" if peaceful protesters are arrested at or near City Hall tomorrow night...It would be unwise for our City to be overly aggressive and change the story from what it is--a protest against financial institutions--into a story about the City being inhospitable to peaceful demonstrations of civil rights.
...
I recommend that "Occupy Los Angeles" demonstrators be allowed to sleep near City Hall tomorrow night...

CC: Mario Brito, "Occupy Los Angeles"Ten years ago he was organizing meat packing employees in Ventura County. More recently he is a Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Council member and endorsed the call of Latinos for Peace. Early on he got involved in building Occupy Los Angeles and it became the focus of his work. After the encampment began he slept there almost every night.

The demonization campaign against Mario first came to the notice of many with this posting by Nevada on Thu, 10/20/2011 - 11:57am to OccupyLosAngeles.org

Mario Brito: Union Rep.? Communist?? Occupy City Liaison???

Mario Brito: Labor Relations Rep., Community Outreach organizer for the Laborers Union, Communist Party supporter and Occupy Los Angeles City Liaison??? We must have these questions answered

Kylene W. remembers still having faith in Mario at that time in one recent posts [Dec 4, 2011 at 12:30 PM]:

I remember the first two weeks of the encampment, there was a woman named Nevada. She kept trying to warn everyone about Mario. We were so new and weren't ready to hear it.

I've also been the one who, since day one, has advocated coming down on Mario like a ton of bricks.
and in the same posts reveals that she has been keeping him off the live stream:

Just so that you know we are on the same page, Craig. I blocked Mario over two weeks ago for a reason. I actually think he's quite dangerous.

Your "free speech rights" within Occupy LA can be very shaky, as I myself have learned. Craig T. responds [12/04/2011 04:29 PM] that he also opposed Mario from the very beginning:

Furthermore, I knew Mario's past experience just by looking at him, studying his mannerisms, and listening to him within the first day of the actual occupation.

And these are the people concerned about "transparency."

After the Nevada post, attacking Mario became an undercurrent in how certain people dealt with Occupy Los Angeles, whether it be on committees, in the General Assembly or on the email list. Take a look at selections from one day's traffic on the Occupy LA list serv and see the high idealogical level at which this struggle played out.

November 17th was our biggest day of action so far. It began with a march with SEIU and Good Jobs LA in which 23 protesters were arrested for an act of civil disobedience that blocked Figueroa Ave. and ended with the occupation of the Bank of America Plaza on Flower and 3rd at which 42 occupiers, including myself were arrested.

By then the campaign to demonize Mario Brito was in full swing and those involved weren't going to let the fact that so many of our people were in jail stand in the way of it, as this sampling shows. This discussion was sparked because Chief Beck had been quoted in the L.A. Daily News as saying that the occupiers will likely move. This was false information but that didn't stop some people from assuming that the real source was Mario Brito and the city liaison group. On Nov 16, 2011, at 9:00 PM, Anthony C. wrote:

If this is true it is the most nefarious betrayal of our movement I've yet read about it. REAL REVOLUTIONARIES ORGANIZE YOURSELF AGAINST THESE UNILATERAL ATTEMPTS TO NEGOTIATE WITH POLICE!

Notice how he asks is it true?, offers no proof, then assumes its true all in one breath? Early on November 17th at 12:26 AM, Kylene W. wrote:

What's the deal with that? Why do they think it's okay to go behind everyone's back like that? Who are they? So many questions! I don't like this at all.

At 1:06 AM Jon M. wrote

I think that it's the ultimate in political naivete (not to mention stupid) to assume that things are what has been claimed up to this point, including tonight, INADEQUATELY represented by those who claim they have been in contact, liason and/or negotiating with the city and the LAPD.

Later that morning, as Occupy LA and SEIU protesters were marching from Figueroa back to city hall at 10:36 AM, pj d. wrote:

We take action at Occupy LA if the GA approves and not a minute sooner. We exit City Hall if the GA approves and not a minute sooner. If someone thinks they speak for the GA without asking the GA and reporting back to the GA, then they are wasting their time and the LAPDs. Why do we bother worrying about this subject... someone speaking without GA authority is simply a person talking out of their ass and offering their own opinions. That person does not determine our future- the GA does and the LAPD knows that fact too. City Hall & LAPD play dumb to press. They know the GA is the voice of Occupy LA.

two minutes later Kylene W. was calling for members of the city liaison team to be expelled:

I still think all those that participated in talks with the LAPD and the City, claiming to represent us, should be asked to leave the movement.

Strong words. I was staring down troops with fixed bayonets on the steps of the Pentagon in 1967, which is another way of saying I've been in the movement for a hell of a long time, and Kylene thinks I should be asked to leave? At 10:52 AM, Javier R. supports expulsion and wants the call for expulsions to be published tomorrow as part of a more general response to Chief Beck:

At this moment the expulsion of the individuals is secondary, the imperative public media response to Beck is primary. Please don't get sidetracked, and you could include this highly strong sentiment of expulsion of the back door negotiators on the statement/letter which if submitted now, even as an individual OLA member, will be published tomorrow.

While these people were griping online, others were out in the streets protesting the banks and Wall St., many through acts of civil disobedience. Mario Brito was with us on the Bank of America Plaza, helping to co-ordinate the protest. He got his shoulder knocked out of joint by a cop. That evening he was at the jail, trying to get me and others out. At 10:42 PM, he posted this to the list:

We are in the process of bailing people out. We need help.

Meanwhile, others were still busy sending their hate mail. Ten minutes later Stephen A. responded:

Snitch and fake-tivist. All the bailouts in the world will not clean your soul.

And Ruth F. added:

Let's do a prisoner swap. One Mario brito for 42 occupiers.

Which caused Heidi S. to write:

Dear friends,
While we are in the midst of actions and trying to work together can we please refrain from personal attacks, vitriol, and name-calling? How are you moving the movement forward with that language? Let's focus on our comrades in jail, please, and how best to support them.

Leslie R. asked some important questions:

What do you need? Can you be specific? How many people? Cash/credit cards, transportation, phone calls, bail bondsmen, coffee?

And Mario responded:

We have about 30 people $100 each for bail.

At 10:55 Bethania P.M. also complained about the vitriol on the list:

Hey, can we let these people get bailed out? If I had chosen to get arrested tonight I wouldn't want to be spending the night and coming days in jail. Let's keep this focused on getting our friends home.

To which Stephen A. responded:

Sorry not snitch. Collaborator.

Which cause Butt R. to write at 11:02 PM:

This list is filled with children

Then 8 minutes later she added:

And if you don't care about bailing people out if Mario is associated with, then go to where they are held, find out what needs to happen, then organize it yourself. Unless you have to wait until the next GA Friday night before doing anything.

Which prompted Anthony C. to chime in @ 11:18 PM:

Yeah do everything yourself. Screw democracy. Screw GA.

I agree we shouldnt call names (twat, asshole, I've heard it all on this list). But snitch isn't name calling. It's sociology. It's like saying calling someone who steals a thief is name calling. Its just the truth.

Meanwhile Mario was stilled focused on getting folks out of jail. At 11:23 PM, he wrote:

We are here at the jail. And we believe we got most of the women out. we are working on getting folks out. So if you can come to the jail and bring bail. Temple and Los Angeles Ave.

Five minutes later Diana V. tried to show Anthony the error of his ways:

Anthony,
A snitch is a person who tells on someone. Mario meets with people you consider the other side but you don't know that he told on anyone. Please give the snitch thing a rest. It's important for everyone to keep our organization focused on facts not rumors.

At 11:33 PM, Laurel S. summed up the situation this way:
T

his what I do know : Mario is at the jail. None of us is and we all watched it go down.

Did you not see how MSM swept 30000 under the rug and off air? Mario is not the enemy! I am not the enemy. Cheryl is not the enemy! Anthony is not the enemy! THE 1% ARE THE ENEMY!

get it fucking straight

Is there anyway to make a PayPal or credit pymt to jail?

At 12:59 AM, Cheryl A. responded to another "where's Mario?"Mario has been up since early this morning. He went on the first protest. He went on the 2nd protest. He went to go help people in jail.

After a 19-hour day, I am going to guess that his phone is probably dead or dying and he's probably in a lot of pain because his shoulder was disconnected today during a fall after a cop pushed him. I am going to guess he's laying down now.
Also from the list serv:

"consistent, sustained, secretive, exploitative, solidarity-jeopardizing behavior.""willful disregard for collectivism", Mario isn't a "member of the General Assembly", "his snake like qualities", "no comparison in level of treachery""fuck you Mario, you fetid piece of human waste"

When the hue and cry went up about "transparency""mis-representation"Associated Press as "spokeswoman for the Committee to End Police Brutality at Occupy LA", or a mid-night protest led by the Committee to End Police Brutality at Occupy LA that was very heavy in ANSWER and PSL signs [YouTube], It was about some rumored deal that Mario and the city liaison team were cooking up in secret meetings, deals that in any case would require GA approval to be implemented.

When the fraction that had wanted to make this much more about police brutality from day one, and had been opposed to Mario and much of the original leadership from day one found that the charge of a "lack of transparency" and "secret deals" with city hall had traction it became a full court press. And they pressed it to the point that the people from Occupy LA that had been talking to the city were disavowed, new people oppose to the discussions were brought in and the city was told to come to the GA if they wanted to talk to us. The effect on the mayor was to conclude that discussions with Occupy LA were futile, our group could not make decisions and stand by them, and the conclusion he drew was that with talks at an end, it was time to close the encampment.

3 of 5 essays: What's the real reason Villaraigosa kicked us out?

A week ago I published a series of essays to the Occupy Los Angeles list serv about our eviction from the Los Angeles city Hall Park on November 30th. They evoked a lively discussion on the list. My plan is to use this material in a larger piece designed for a more distant readership. However with the holidays fast approaching and the press of other matters, it is not clear when that piece will get done and I have been convinced that there is some value in publishing them here now in this more raw form.

Hopefully my earlier reporting here about Occupy LA as well as material from OccupyLosAngeles.org, OccupyLA.org, LosAngelesGA.net and @OccupyLA can provide enough context.

So I will publish them here as I did to the list serv, one a day for the next five days:
Monday: Did 1st Amendment protect OLA encampment @ City Hall Park?
Tuesday: Was DHS behind the eviction of Occupy LA?
Wednesday: What's the real reason Villaraigosa kicked us out?
Thursday: The Demonization of Mario
Friday: How Occupy LA got itself evicted

On November 23rd, it fell to Matt Szabo, Deputy Mayor and Villaraigosa's rep to city liaison meetings taking place between the city, the LAPD and members of Occupy LA, to deliver the mayor's decision to close the encampment at city hall. He spoke to a greatly expanded Occupy LA liaison team at what became the last of such meetings before we were evicted on November 29th. His words were unscripted and he was clearly uncomfortable with the news we had to deliver because he knew it would be very unpopular with our side of the table. His sentences ran on, and his thoughts jumped from thing to thing. Thanks to Mark Lipmann, who recorded the meeting, we have a YouTube [02:10 - 04:09] posting.

The reason I have transcribed his comments below is precisely because they are unrehearsed, precisely because he has just come back from a meeting with the mayor and he stumbles over his words, they provide a unique window into the real reasons Occupy Los Angeles was evicted from city hall park after almost two months of city tolerance. This is what he said:

I don't know how much discussion would be required. I'd be happy to engage in whatever you would like, but, I did just come from a meeting with my boss and we've had a number of discussions about a number of issues over a period of time. ah

Probably the majority of you are new to the table, at least since I've been a part of it. ah, and you know it is, there are some clear difficulties,
I think, to the extent, this is clearly an unusual situation, to refer to this as a negotiation is really a bit of a misnomer.

We're trying to work together to, to, you know, best manage as a city a situation where we would value your 1st amendment rights and we were trying to work together to see how we could move this forward in what I believe most of us understood as an unsustainable situation, at least for the long term, on city hall park.

For a variety of reasons, and I don't assign any blame here, I think I did, I tried to do the best that I could, I know that folks around the table were only acting out of the best interests of what they thought would be the best interests of the movement, ah the decision making process and the governing process is a bit cumbersome, I guess you might say.

I've learned quite a bit over the past couple of days, ah, so, ah, The bottom line is that the mayor is going to close the park next week and I do not know and can not tell you when that will be. I will tell you that you will receive notice, appropriate notice but the park shall close at some point next week.

That is how the news of the eviction was first delivered. When Matt complains that "to refer to this as a negotiation is really a bit of a misnomer," what is he talking about? Who is he speaking to?

Perhaps he is referring to the internal, but very public, dialogue within Occupy LA about the lack of transparency with regards to the discussions between the city liaison team and city officials.

By the second week of November when Cody James and others opposed to the talks with the city submitted to the General Assembly "RESOLUTION TO PREVENT DELIBERATE MISREPRESENTATION OF OCCUPY LOS ANGELES", that dialogue had turned into an open struggle to overthrow some of the original organizers of Occupy LA, chief among them, Mario Brito. This struggle against "Mario and his minions" was conducted by a group that opposed any talks with city officials or police. They opposed getting permits for marches or the seeking of any co-operation or support from the city for the occupation.

On the very first night of the occupation, October 1st, they were a handful of occupiers that wanted to keep tents on the lawn after 10:30pm in violation of police orders to move them to the sidewalk. Even after the GA decided we should comply with the order that night, they asserted their "autonomous right" to keep their tents on the lawn. They favored making the struggle with the police primary over the struggle against Wall St. from that first day. Many of us told them it was a question of tactics. That as soon as our numbers swelled we could fail to move the tents and make it stick. Ten nights later that was the way it was, but not that first night.

After the security team and other occupiers "twisted their arm" to comply and move the tents, they railed. They accused the security team of "acting like police", of doing the police bidding, etc. They said we don't need police in the movement and called for the disbanding of the security team. They railed again at an early metro rally when people chanted to the transit cops, who were friendly and did nothing to stop us from passing out leaflets, "You are the 99%." They made clear to everyone who would listen, that they did not consider the police to be part of the 99% and then they formed a closed group "End Police Brutality at Occupy LA" even though there was none at the time.

One occupier that was not of like mind, Paul Jenvey, tried to join this group. This is what he wrote when the occupation was only 4 days old:

I would like to make everyone aware of my encounter with this facebook group. I joined their group and attempted to engage in a dialogue with them and they censored me and banned me, I this is quite indicative of the fact that they have ulterior motives and are trying to push an agenda that does not work with the non-violence that the GA has already voted to adhere to.

Some of this trend or faction also put up the website UnPermittedLA - "There's no permit for revolution." The very title tells you what their stand is on working with the city while building the protest movement. They don't believe in getting permits or talking to cops no matter how transparent the discussions.

On the front page of this website is a description of how on day one of the city hall occupation, a number of people with prior working relationships as activists discovered that Occupy LA had not precipitated out of thin air in response to a call from Occupy Wall St., but was the work of a group of dedicated activists that had been building the event and setting the stage in the weeks before. Part of that work had been establishing liaison with the city and the LAPD, which is why things went so smoothly that day and the police weren't waking people up with orders to move that first night.

On October first, hundreds of people from around Los Angeles answered the call from Occupy Wall Street to start claiming public spaces to meet and decide together what to do to build an economy that meets the needs of the people in the place of capitalism. As the day progressed, a group of people with previous working relationships as organizers in various communities in Los Angeles and trusted allies gathered to collectively share thoughts and ideas about what we were witnessing and taking part in. Our first impression was that the “occupation” resembled a carnival and that it was was disorganized. What we eventually realized, however, was that the “occupation” was, in fact, very carefully organized [ thank you ], but for objectives we did not anticipate. Crouched under the banner of “leaderlessness” was a small circle of organizers unaware of and unapologetic for their own privileges, and fiercely intent on maintaining their grasp on power and ownership over Occupy LA.

In telling us that they first thought it disorganize and then found out differently, they were telling us they weren't involved in the planning or organizing for Occupy LA prior to that, but that didn't stop them from coming to the conclusion, on their first day, that the organizers were "a small circle of organizers unaware of and unapologetic for their own privileges" and so of course, they formed a faction that has been fiercely intent on taking over ownership of Occupy LA ever since. These occupiers think of themselves as much more radical than most of the older, more experienced activists. When members of this group were accused of bullying others on the list serv recently. On 12/5/ 2011, Bethania P. describe the struggle this way:

To put it in context, the vast majority of strife on this listserve and at OLA in general has been caused by the fact that most of us are more radical thinking than the people who have stepped in and appointed themselves to speak for us are. To call this bullying is inaccurate. What it is, is frustration that is starting to coalesce and come to a head.

To make a long story, short, this faction tried a lot of different approaches to selling themselves and their story but nothing really gained traction until they hit on the question of transparency. They weren't concerned about "transparency" with regards to the website where some people were being banned or censored without notice or process, and they weren't concerned about "transparency" with regards to the "Resources Committee" after several thousand dollars turned up missing, or the many other aspects of Occupy LA that could use more transparency. They were concerned about "transparency" with regard to the one area that seemed to be running smoothly, city liaison. Of course that was only true if one desired the forbearance of the city and the LAPD for the encampment and these people always preferred confrontation over compromise. From their POV, city liaison was doing a terrible job because there had as yet been no reason to "End Police Brutality at Occupy LA."

The truth that much of what the city liaison team did and even its composition had developed in an organic, ad hoc way with very little in the way of General Assembly approval or monitoring was an argument that was easy to win. Then on top of that they added suspicion without evidence or even detailed theory that something very nefarious was going on and somehow these people were making nice with the police to line there own pockets.

The first major vehicle for the "transparency" argument was the above named resolution. It stated "this resolution shall serve a warning to would-be opportunists that we will not tolerate usurpation (by supposed allies) of what we are building." The resolution called for the following two paragraphs be sent to the city and the LAPD:

Occupy Los Angeles hereby asserts that the only line of communication with Occupy Los Angeles is the General Assembly and our committee meetings. Unless they have full knowledge and support of the General Assembly, no person or group shall participate in any formal meeting with established authorities intended to shape or inform official policies towards Occupy Los Angeles. This includes meetings containing significant discussions of Occupy Los Angeles logistics, communications, group dynamics and politics, strategies for managing our activities, our demands.

If it is demonstrated that any person or organization deliberately entered or participated in such a meeting without the fully informed consent of the General Assembly, Occupy Los Angeles will issue a public statement and press release containing our evidence and details of their actions, disavowing any connection between that individual (and any groups they were representing) and Occupy Los Angeles, condemning their unprincipled behaviour, and discouraging supporters from future collaboration with individuals and groups involved in the meeting.

This resolution attempts to dictate who can meet with who whether or not they claim to represent Occupy LA. When they couldn't get this resolution passed because about 40% of the General Assembly was hard blocking it, it got replace by this proposal:

Proposal: Nov. 15, 2011 Install a OccupyLA Roundtable Council of Committee Representatives to Insure Transparency & Accountability and select Spokespersons/Negotiators.

...to select our official spokespersons or negotiators elected by us/the Roundtable, and not self-appointed individuals with hidden agendas, making deals without our Occupy Los Angeles movements knowledge. This is the reality that currently exists when we have a "shadow leadership" not accountable to OLA's movement.
...
we can select 5 to 7 Negotiators or OLA Bargaining Team to work with the mayor, LA City Council, and police and other important departments. These selected spokespersons, will be accountable to the body and can be removed at our discretion. These negotiators/spokespersons will be chosen from the Roundtable council. Currently, we have no official spokenspersons and we urgently need them to represent our demand and officially representing OLA and accountable to us. No more secret meetings, or opportunists with personal agendas negotiating without OLA's approval.
...

Goals: The ultimate goal is to itemize Demands:
1. So we can officially negotiate with o\political city representatives
2. So we can demand a building for our movement.
3. So we can demand 100,000 jobs in Los Angeles- (Millions of dollars for Jobs.)
4. Demand affordable Low cost Housing. (Millions of dollars)
5. Provide affordable healthy & organic food for everyone. (millions of dollars)
6. Demand health care, including dental care, for everyone. (millions of dollars)
...
8....

We know that they have been keeping up with our internal affairs, so most likely it was these Occupy LA discussions and documents the mayor's deputy was addressing when he said "to refer to this as a negotiation is really a bit of a misnomer."

From the point of view of the mayor, there never was any question about his legal power to close the park. And with the LAPD at his Beck [sorry, can't resist the pun] and call, there was never any question about his practical power to do it. He could never afford to be seen negotiating about that. Even when city council pasted the resolution of support, it was clear to them and to everyone else that they could only appeal to Villaraigosa to allow us to camp in the park.

In fact, the only real question on the limit of Villaraigosa's power to regulate the park was whether he really had the legal authority to wave laws prohibiting camping in the park, which he probably did not have if anyone wanted to press the point, which nobody did because after a brief internal struggle on the city's side, the LAPD was on board, the City Attorney was on board and all but two members of the city council were on board with this peaceful approach and even they weren't voting no. But since the mayor was probably doing something he really didn't have the right to do, allowing us to sleep in the park, he had his own problems with transparency. He couldn't afford to have it being said publicly that he was negotiating with some nebulous, "leaderless" group about a matter of city law.

The day the order to close the park went into effect, the LA Times published an interview with the mayor in which he said children living at Occupy L.A. sparked eviction order

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he decided it was time to evict Occupy L.A. protesters from the City Hall lawn after learning that there were children staying there.

Given the smattering of assaults and other incidents reported at the camp, “the chaos out there could produce something awful,” he said in an interview with The Times.

As the protest wore on, Villaraigosa said it became increasingly clear that the city would not be able to negotiate an end to the demonstration with protesters because “the process for them to reach an agreement made it impossible.” At Occupy L.A., decisions are made by 100% consensus at a nightly General Assembly meeting.When it was revealed last week that several from their ranks had been meeting with police and an official from the mayor’s office in private talks, outrage spread through the camp
At that city liaison meeting at which he gave us the eviction notice, Matt Szabo noted all the new occupiers at the table and also gave as the reason for the mayor decision their pessimism that they could ever reach a peaceful agreement, a "negoitiated" settlement, if you will, with Occupy LA. [You Tube 09:11-09:36]

It is clear to me that there was and is very little ability, given the constructs of the decision making body at your end of the table to reach consensus about anything..

On the day of the raid, Mayor Villaraigosa again gave this reason while being interviewed on KTLA [Video here 03:50-04:15]:

"What we said is that we wanted to provide [Occupy LA] with an alternate site, camping at city hall was not sustainable. It was clear however, that we couldn't get, they have a 90% threshold to build consensus. It was clear we weren't going to get that with any proposal, and once that became clear we thought it was time to close the park."

This makes it pretty clear that the eviction notice was a direct response to the whole dust-up around the "transparency" resolution, the overthrow of Mario & other people doing city liaison and keeping the peace, and the resulting break in discussions with the city, just as I warned two weeks ago when I wrote to this list:

So what is a likely response from the LAPD when they receive "Resolution to Prevent Deliberate Misrepresentation of Occupy LA?" I think that they are likely to think that the occupiers at the GA are saying or implying that the people they have been talking to from Occupy LA are not supported by Occupy LA and Occupy LA is trying to distance themselves from those efforts.

They may feel deceived and frustrated. They may conclude that they have no one to talk to from Occupy LA or that their contact people are being disavowed because a different approach to police relations is being launched. Besides this resolution arrogantly informs them that "Occupy Los Angeles hereby asserts that the only line of communication with Occupy Los Angeles is the General Assembly and our committee meetings."

While they have shown a willingness to meet with people from Occupy LA in their offices. I don't believe they will come to our meetings and submit proposals. So I think that there is a real danger that the practical result of passing this resolution could the that they show it's framers that another "line of communication with Occupy Los Angeles" is the police bullhorn telling us to get out or face arrest.

Next: More on Mario

2 of 5 essays: Was DHS behind the eviction of Occupy LA?

A week ago I published a series of essays to the Occupy Los Angeles list serv about our eviction from the Los Angeles city Hall Park on November 30th. They evoked a lively discussion on the list. My plan is to use this material in a larger piece designed for a more distant readership. However with the holidays fast approaching and the press of other matters, it is not clear when that piece will get done and I have been convinced that there is some value in publishing them here now in this more raw form.

Hopefully my earlier reporting here about Occupy LA as well as material from OccupyLosAngeles.org, OccupyLA.org, LosAngelesGA.net and @OccupyLA can provide enough context.

So I will publish them here as I did to the list serv, one a day for the next five days:
Monday: Did 1st Amendment protect OLA encampment @ City Hall Park?
Tuesday: Was DHS behind the eviction of Occupy LA?
Wednesday: What's the real reason Villaraigosa kicked us out?
Thursday: The Demonization of Mario
Friday: How Occupy LA got itself evicted

Cities have been shutting down occupation encampments all across the country. After shutting down Occupy Oakland, Mayor Quan spoke of a conference call involving 18 big city mayors to discussion the various occupations and how to deal with them. Some people believe there is a nationwide mandate to shut down all the occupations that is being driven by Department of Homeland Security or some other federal agency and Occupy LA was shut down as part of that effort. When Matt Szabo of the LA mayor's office was asked about these conference calls, he swore Los Angeles had not been involved.

Naomi Wolf has emerged has one of the leading proponents of the theory that the federal government has been behind the raid on the occupations. In her November 25th article in the Guardian, The shocking truth about the crackdown on Occupy, she says:

The violent police assaults across the US are no coincidence.
...
US citizens of all political persuasions are still reeling from images of unparallelled police brutality in a coordinated crackdown against peaceful OWS protesters in cities across the nation this past week.
...
But just when Americans thought we had the picture – was this crazy police and mayoral overkill, on a municipal level, in many different cities? – the picture darkened.
...
The picture darkened still further when Wonkette and Washingtonsblog.com reported that the Mayor of Oakland acknowledged that the Department of Homeland Security had participated in an 18-city mayor conference call advising mayors on "how to suppress" Occupy protests.
...
I noticed that rightwing pundits and politicians on the TV shows on which I was appearing were all on-message against OWS. Journalist Chris Hayes reported on a leaked memo that revealed lobbyists vying for an $850,000 contract to smear Occupy. Message coordination of this kind is impossible without a full-court press at the top. This was clearly not simply a case of a freaked-out mayors', city-by-city municipal overreaction against mess in the parks and cranky campers. As the puzzle pieces fit together, they began to show coordination against OWS at the highest national levels.
...
For the terrible insight to take away from news that the Department of Homeland Security coordinated a violent crackdown is that the DHS does not freelance.
...
In other words, for the DHS to be on a call with mayors, the logic of its chain of command and accountability implies that congressional overseers, with the blessing of the White House, told the DHS to authorise mayors to order their police forces – pumped up with millions of dollars of hardware and training from the DHS – to make war on peaceful citizens.

For the DHS connection Wolf links to Allison Kilkenny's November 16th article Did Mayors, DHS Coordinate Occupy Attacks? which says:

In addition to conferring with their fellow mayors, it appears city leadership also received an assist from the Department of Homeland Security, according to journalist Rick Ellis at the Examiner. Ellis spoke with a Justice official, who claims each of the Occupy raid actions were coordinated with help from Homeland Security, the FBI, and other federal police agencies.

The official, who spoke on background to me late Monday evening, said that while local police agencies had received tactical and planning advice from national agencies, the ultimate decision on how each jurisdiction handles the Occupy protests ultimately rests with local law enforcement.

Critics have pointed out that Wolf's conclusion, that the local crackdowns on Occupy movements have been ordered at a Federal level is not supported by the facts known so far. Even the Guardian, in its follow up reporting on Wolf's article, which went viral, said:

Several of these external critics alluded to the fact that Rick Ellis of the Examiner, who had reported DHS involvement in coordinating Occupy policing, had revised his story substantially. Wolf, they said, seemed to have over-relied on his initial report, ignored his subsequent qualification, and then built a larger conspiracy theory on top of that.

Probably the best critque of the article is Joshua Holland's Naomi Wolf’s ‘Shocking Truth’ About the ‘Occupy Crackdowns’ Is Anything But True

The difference between local officials talking to each other — or federal law enforcement agencies advising them on what they see as “best practices” for evicting local occupations — and some unseen hand directing, incentivizing or coercing municipalities to do so when they would not otherwise be so inclined is not a minor one. It’s not a matter of semantics or a distinction without difference. As I wrote recently, “if federal authorities were ordering cities to crack down on their local occupations in a concerted effort to wipe out a movement that has spread like wildfire across the country, that would indeed be a huge, and hugely troubling story. In the United States, policing protests is a local matter, and law enforcement agencies must remain accountable for their actions to local officials. Local government’s autonomy in this regard is an important principle.”

But there has not been a single report offered by any media outlet suggesting that anyone – federal officials or police organizations – is directing or in any way exerting pressure on cities to crack down on their occupations. Instead, there have been a lot of dark ruminations that such an effort is underway – notably by Naomi Wolf in an error-filled blog-post and a somewhat bizarre column for The Guardian in which Wolf takes an enormous leap away from any known facts to suggest that Congress is ordering cities to smash the Occupy Movement in order to preserve their own economic privilege.

What we do know about national co-ordination of the occupy crackdowns is this:

1. Five major occupations were evicted in different cities in a span of less than a week. Many more have been evicted since, including Occupy LA.
2. A police membership organization called the Police Executive Research Forum, PERF, organized two conference calls between local law enforcement officials to share information on OWS groups, including, presumably, how best to evict them.
3. The US Conference of Mayors organized two conference calls between various city officials to discuss the same issues.
4. DHS vehicles were spotted near the eviction in Portland. Occupy Portland involved Federal property.

This is a long ways from showing that there has been anything like a Federally mandated crackdown on the occupy movement. AngryBlacklady summed it up:

"The bottom line is this: Irrespective of Ellis's lingering questions, Naomi Wolf assumed "violent federal coordination of crackdowns" as fact, and then spun a web of conspiratorial acts and nefarious deeds by individuals at the highest levels of the government. And based on what? NOTHING.

There has yet to be revealed anything like a shred of evidence that the eviction from city hall lawn of Occupy Los Angeles was ordered by anyone above the level of mayor. If anyone has any such evidence, I am all ears. Other than that, I won't go there. I live in a fact-based world and all the facts appear to support the conclusion that the decision to evict Occupy Los Angeles from the city hall lawn was made by the mayor.

In the next essay I will examine the motivations of Mayor Villaraigosa.

1 of 5 essays on the eviction: Did 1st Amendment protect OLA encampment @ City Hall Park?

A week ago I published a series of essays to the Occupy Los Angeles list serv about our eviction from the Los Angeles city Hall Park on November 30th. They evoked a lively discussion on the list. My plan is to use this material in a larger piece designed for a more distant readership. However with the holidays fast approaching and the press of other matters, it is not clear when that piece will get done and I have been convinced that there is some value in publishing them here now in this more raw form.

Hopefully my earlier reporting here about Occupy LA as well as material from OccupyLosAngeles.org, OccupyLA.org, LosAngelesGA.net and @OccupyLA can provide enough context.

So I will publish them here as I did to the list serv, one a day for the next five days:
Monday: Did 1st Amendment protect OLA encampment @ City Hall Park?
Tuesday: Was DHS behind the eviction of Occupy LA?
Wednesday: What's the real reason Villaraigosa kicked us out?
Thursday: The Demonization of Mario
Friday: How Occupy LA got itself evicted

Before the encampment at city hall was evicted, a paper on 1st amendment rights was widely circulated at a number of Occupy Los Angeles General Assemblies. Although it is unsigned, It is useful to us because it reflected the view widely held among occupiers that the right to camp out on the lawn at city hall was protected by the first amendment. It began:

From the Constitution of the United States: "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United Sates shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution of laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding." In other worlds, a city or state ordinance or statute cannot lawfully restrict the exercise of Constitutionally protected rights such as the right to assemble, the right to free speech, the right to religious expression, etc. Park rules cannot restrict the exercise of Constitutionally protected rights, even when such rules are posted on signs in the park.

Presumably, according to this interpretation of the law. You have the right to play KPFK, or any other radio station for that matter, as loud as you want, in the library, since telling you to turn it down or off would be a restriction of protected rights. There is nothing that can be done legally about drumming, loud music or amplified speech anywhere, and at all hours if free speech is claimed. Party all night because the neighbors can't call the cops! Even that old adage about not having the right to shout fire in a crowded theater would seem to be wrong.

This is a very child like view of what was really protected by the first amendment with regards to our occupation of city hall park and whether or not the city government has any say in it. Of course we do have a right to use public property, including city parks, for free speech activities, but so do others. Filmmakers and farmers market vendors can also claim free speech rights to use city hall park. This is no stretch for me because I am a filmmaker, all my films have been overtly political and they have in fact been sold at various farmers markets around Southern California.

If I now wanted to do a film about corruption in the mayor's office and the brutality of the LAPD, and found that I was being denied a permit to shoot at city hall because some democratic party group had put their banners all over city hall park and planned to leave them up indefinitely, that would be a scandal. If it were to be revealed that Villaraigosa let us stay on city hall park as long as he did because it held up production of a film that was going to be particularly damaging to his career and then kicked us off the week after the filmmaker ran out of funds and declared bankruptcy, that would be an even bigger scandal. I'm not trying to start another unfounded rumor here, just making a point.

This raises the very adult question of how are the conflicting uses of the park by various parties, all of whom have rights, to be regulated and who is to do the regulating? As to how it should be regulated, I won't dive into those stick details except to say that public facilities should be shared. While the whole point of regulations and permits is to guarantee one party a planned monopoly of use of a park or auditorium for a given length of time, no party should be given a monopoly of use indefinitely. As to who should do the regulating? I think it should be in the hands of local government.

Laws that certainly don't take into account the needs of the homeless, don't allow overnight camping in city parks. This is not a violation of the 1st amendment. Because of the very strong popular support for our movement in the beginning, the mayor, with the city council's blessing, overlooked those laws for a period.

Our occupation of city hall park was not an armed occupation. It was a non-violent occupation. We did not hold it by force of arms. We held it by our moral authority and our popular support. Once we allowed those to become sufficiently weakened, we lost the occupation.

In the next four essays I will discuss the details.

#OccupyLA - Day 60: The Eviction

Occupy Los Angeles was raided last night by the LAPD. By the time of the General Assembly at 7:30pm everyone knew that the promised eviction of the encampment around Los Angeles City Hall was coming that night.. Even during the GA and after city cops circulated among the occupiers and their supporters, over a thousand people had responded to the call to come out and support the occupation. Many voiced their willingness to be arrested.

The protesters moved out into the streets around city hall, as they had done Sunday night, as the police blocked off the streets and formed a encirclement of city hall designed to keep move arriving protesters from joining those already there. Twitter and the [occupy la] listserv were alive with information about alternate routes still open to city hall, such as thorough little Tokyo, or an alley near Temple.

The encirclement of the protesters deepened as hundreds of cops in riot gear arrive on buses from their staging area at Dodger Stadium but the raid began in earnest in a move that surprised everyone. Hundred of cops in riot gear that must have been prepositioned , or moved in via the tunnels connecting city hall to neighboring buildings`, came storming out of city hall and down the steps.

As they came storming down the south stairs, were most of the people were, they were confronted by a photographer who refused to move. He was wrestled to the ground and arrested. That may have been the first of hundreds of arrests to take place that morning.

At first the cops seemed more interested in dispersing the protesters rather than arresting them. Up to a certain point they allowed protesters to leave city hall, the police encirclement and escape arrest. Then they stop letting people leave and arrested the remaining protesters and cops in hazmat suits started kicking down the tents.

After the the order to disperse was given around mid-night, the LA Times described what happened this way:

Hundreds of police officers in riot gear swarmed out of Los Angeles City Hall early Wednesday, batons across their chests, surprising and engulfing the Occupy L.A. protesters who had been camped in the surrounding park for two months.

"Shame on you!" protesters shouted, as the officers ran to pre-assigned spots, instantly dividing the park into small, easily controlled segments. "Get back!" police shouted to those who came too close.

"We are peaceful!" protesters yelled.

The operation began at 12:13 a.m., on orders from Deputy Chief Jose Perez, watching from the steps of Los Angeles police headquarters across the street.

Two minutes later, it was effectively over.

Although police spent hours more arresting protesters and clearing the area, there was never a fight for control of the park. Police made sure that was not really a question. And although a few protesters threw rocks or otherwise resisted, most kept their cool and urged their compatriots to do the same.

Through a combination of effective tactics, daunting numbers and — significantly — restraint by both sides, police managed to bring the encampment to a largely peaceful end, avoiding the melees that marred the eviction of protesters from similar camps in Oakland, New York and elsewhere.

In the process, the LAPD took a major step toward shedding a reputation earned over decades for heavy-handed crowd control.

Two local L.A. Television stations, KCAL channel 9 and KTLA channel 5 gave continuous coverage from about 8pm till 1:00am and 2:00am respectively. After enduring months of coverage on the Murray trial and the usual trivial, it was nice to see these local stations cover an important story with such vigor.

Apparently the LAPD didn't always play so nice after the TV cameras were gone or they were out of sight. There are a number of reported incidents of beating with clubs that need to be investigated and I personally saw a wound on one young demonstrator that I tend to believe was made by a Foam Baton.

Over 200 protesters were arrested. Most for unlawful assembly and most held on $5,000 bail. We don't have anything like that in the bail fund (My own bail was $100 for what we now refer to as N17.) but we are told that the will be release on OR after arraignment tomorrow.

FYI, there was an attempt to get a TRO. The outcome and the reason for it are explained in an email I received this morning:

The suit for Injunction filed by the NLG (Carol Sobel) on Monday was denied today as moot.

This is exactly what the Order says:

On November 29, 2011, at 8:06 p.m., Plaintiffs e-filed this Exparte Application for a Temporary Restraining Order ("Application"), requesting that we enjoin the removal of participants in Occupy Los Angeles from City Hall Park. Plaintiffs did not inform us yesterday that a TRO Application would be forthcoming, nor did Plaintiffs contact the Court last night to inform us htat the Application had been e-filed. As a result, it did not come to our attention until 8:00 this morning that the Application had been e-filed. In the interim, all participants in Occupy Los Angeles were removed form City Hall Park by the Los Angeles Police Department.

Given last night's events, Plaintiffs' requested relief is no longer applicable. Accordingly, Plaintiffs' Application is hereby DENIED as moot.

IT IS SO ORDERED.
GEORGE H. KING, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

Help Stop the Eviction of Occupy Los Angeles on Monday!

Mayor Villaraigosa & Police Chief Charlie Beck announced today at a afternoon press conference that the LAPD would forcefully throw Occupy Los Angeles off of the park areas surrounding Los Angeles City Hall Monday, November 28th at 12:01am. This move is being made although there have been no major incidents to marred the record of 56 consecutive days of peaceful protests at City Hall since the encampment first started on October 1st.

It is being done in spite of the vote by City Council in October to:

ADOPT the accompanying RESOLUTION to SUPPORT the continuation of the peaceful and vibrant exercise in First Amendment Rights carried out by "Occupy Los Angeles"

At the time City Council President Eric Garcetti told the campers on the city hall front lawn "Stay as long as you need, we're here to support you," Now it would seem that the city's tune has changed.

To it's credit both the City of LA and the LAPD have taken a decidedly different approach to the occupy movement compared with other major cities, including New York, Chicago, Oakland and Portland where the movement was faced with eviction and police violence almost from the beginning of those encampments. Until now, the City of Los Angeles has allowed the encampment at city hall to establish itself and to grow with a minimum of police and city interference.

This approach had undoubtedly worked well for all involved. This negotiated peace between the City and Occupy Los Angeles has no doubt resulted in much lower policing costs than those seen by other cities. Police violence is very expensive, keeping people out of parks is very expensive. Whereas the LAPD has had to task very few extra officers to Occupy LA except for when we have held marches, rallies or other special activities. I am afraid that this will now change.

For our part, it has allowed Occupy LA to grow to be the largest occupy encampment in the United States with over 400 tents pitched on the green spaces around city hall. The stability of the occupation has allowed it to develop organization in depth, a strong committee and affinity group structure that is the result of more that 50 consecutive General Assemblies at the same location, as well as physical institutions on site like the Library, Media tent, bike repair shop, print shop and People's University.

In this winter of our discontent., I believe the survival of the Occupy Los Angeles encampment at City Hall is vital for the whole occupation movement nationwide While many of the encampments are being shutdown by police, many others will see their survival threaten by winter in coming months. So far, Occupy LA has avoided both of these frustrations. Already many occupiers from Wall St. are talking about flying west for the winter, some have already arrived. We get activist visitors from all over the world at Occupy LA and under the current, peaceful conditions, Occupy LA is the ideal base camp for many of the institutions that glue the occupy movement together. The role of Occupy LA in helping the entire occupy movement survive the winter and turn the next season into an American Spring can not be underestimated.

But now there is a nationwide reactionary movement among big city mayors to shut down the occupy encampments. Oakland's Mayor Quan spoken of a conference call of eighteen big city majors on this very subject. This indicates some level of national co-ordination. Now it would appear that Los Angeles is being pressured to join this reactionary movement. We need you to supply the counter pressure.

Please contact the Los Angeles City elected representatives and tell them not to shut down the Occupy Los Angeles encampment at city hall.

Tell them to continue their support and cooperation with Occupy Los Angeles.

Tell them we will not go quietly into that good night.

Tell them them, if they think they have budget deficients now, tell them that if they evict Occupy Los Angeles, they will have hell to pay.

In Solidarity,

Clay Claiborne

Emails of the Mayor & Council Members:
mayor@lacity.org
councilmember.Krekorian@lacity.org
councilmember.zine@lacity.org
councilmember.Labonge@lacity.org
paul.koretz@lacity.org
councilmember.cardenas@lacity.org
councilmember.alarcon@lacity.org
councilmember.parks@lacity.org
Jan.Perry@lacity.org
councilmember.wesson@lacity.org
councilman.rosendahl@lacity.org
councilmember.englander@lacity.org
councilmember.garcetti@lacity.org
councilmember.huizar@lacity.org

Here is some more contact info you can use:

Mayor's Office: (213)978-0600 or (213)978-0721 fax- (213)978-0655 @villaraigosa on twitter
City Hall: (213)473-3231 email 311@lacity.org
LAPD: 1-877-275-5273 email lapdonline@gmail.com

Arrests & Renewal #OccupyLA Day 48

I just got out of jail a few hours ago. I was one of 300 people arrested Thursday in Occupy Wall St. protests across the United States. In Los Angeles, a total of 67 people were arrested from Occupy Los Angeles, SEIU and Good Jobs LA which combined forces for two back-to-back protests, both of which had as there centerpieces acts of civil disobedience that brought important sections of downtown to a complete standstill as the biggest occupation in the nation took to the streets.

The first was a march that started at 7:00am to the 4th St. bridge, that brought Figueroa Ave, which at 30 miles, is the longest street in LA, to a complete standstill in the middle of the morning rush hour. This also pretty much shutdown freeway access to downtown, Figueroa is that important. 23 protesters, mostly SEIU members, were arrested in a very orderly, non-violent fashion after the protesters set up tents in the street.

I arrived at the first protest near its end. I knew better than to try to approach via the freeways but even surface streets came to a standstill once I got to Figueroa so I settled for a parking lot on 8th, west of Figueroa. Knowing that I might be arrested, I picked a lot that never closed and walked into the action between 3rd and 4th. From there I returned with the occupiers to city hall. The next march was to start from there at noon.

This day's activities had been carefully planned for weeks. We intended make a major expansion and create a new occupation at the Bank of America Plaza on Flower between 3rd and 4th. It became clear that the protest we did several weeks ago in which we set up tents in the Hope St. Bank of America lobby was a dry run for this. The whole afternoon had been planned as a beehive of protest activity in downtown Los Angeles with three marches by different groups headed for different locations in the financial district. Few people knew the final objective before that morning and that was obscured by all the published activity.

The LAPD had sensed the wind and knew that an expansion or move was planned, but they didn't know where. This left them trying to protect every open space. On our way back to Occupy LA, some of us noticed that the cops had closed the nearby dog park with yellow tape and a detail was guarding it. We laughed. We asked them "What are the dogs going to do?" and "Do you really think we're going to occupy a dog park?"

When the marches diverted from their published paths to converge on the Bank of America Plaza, the one with the orange Picasso, I couldn't believe it. It had been left virtually unguarded with only a few rent-a-cops and LAPD as we took the plaza.

While SEIU members flooded the streets and marched around the plaza, a group of occupiers took the high grassy ground in the center. A couple of cadre emerge from their hiding place with pre-positioned tents and supplies, and in a matter of minutes, before the LAPD showed up in large numbers, we had more than a dozen tents up and encircled by more than a hundred activists from Occupy LA, and outside of that, around the orange Picasso sculpture and other section of the Plaza were hundreds more activists and supporters.

For the afternoon rush hour, it was the LAPD's turn to block the streets as they turned Hope St., in front of the Plaza, into a parking lot for police cars and a space to form up squads in riot gear. The standoff began. It was a little after 2:00pm. Most of the union members were starting to leave but other activists were coming to support this new occupation as cell phones sent the message back to base camp at city hall and throughout the region.

The media team built a mobile rig for this and I'm told that more than 10,000 people ended up watching the unfolding events on the Internet LiveStream. There was also a lot of other media of all types. The local TV news, knew it was going to be a big day and so they were covering the unfolding Occupy LA events starting live with the 6am morning news.

While the LAPD moved to encircle the occupiers with the tents in the center grass covered square, the first move was made by the B of A management. They turned on the sprinklers! As if.

As if activists that were willing to face off with cops in riot gear armed with guns that shot a 37mm Foam Baton Round were going to be run off by a little water! One innovative occupier came up with the solution. We used the tent pole bags to cover the pop-up sprinklers. This still left a lawn that soon became a muddy mess and because of B of A's little stunt, more damage has done to sections of their lawn in hours than had been done to the lawn at city all in as many weeks. Eventually we did find the sprinkler water valves in the Plaza and shut them down completely.

The LAPD, however, was a different matter. They kept building their forces. My favorite question for them was a quote from the Usual Suspects, "Sure you brought enough guys?" It was interesting to find that because of the city budget crisis, they weren't paid overtime for the extra duty. This was also true in the jail and it became one of our best talking points with them.

It wasn't all conversation but the standoff lasted for hours. We knew that a lot of pressure was being placed on Mayor Villaraigosa to leave us be. Union leaders, community leaders and others were keeping his private lines lit up. Meanwhile, on the Plaza, a group of religious leaders, Christian, Muslim and Jewish joined us for moral support. However, they did not stay to get arrested.

Eventually it was the Plaza's owner that forced the police to act. The Bank of America Plaza is owned by the same people that own Zucotti Park were Occupy Wall St. is. That was one of the main reasons for choosing that target, as a show of solidarity with Occupy Wall St.

At 3:55 the LAPD brass with bull horns announced that we had 5 minutes to take down our tents and vacate the premises. Seeing little compliance, they gave us an automatic extension to 4:10 pm. That time came and went. By then we had reformed our lines as locked arms encircled around a few of the tents. For the next hour that was the standoff. They even took to loading there riot guns in an effort to intimidate us. In anticipation of a tear gas attack, we distributed face masks and vinegar for soaking bandannas in. They were hoping that the number willing to face arrest would dwindle and for a while it did. Then it stabilized. We still had about 50 people that weren't going anywhere, so around 5pm they moved forward and arrested us one by one.

We were locked arms in a tight circle as the cops in riot gear closed in. The commander suggested that things would go better if we just sat down while still locked arms. We considered our options then and there and decided to remain standing. When the commander asked what was going on. Someone explained to him that we were a democratic assembly and we always made decisions democratically. I then asked if someone wanted to take stack.

When they arrested us they used the tie wrap handcuffs and of course they put them on way too tight. One occupier was sitting next to me for hours and his cuffs were on so tight that he couldn't move the fingers of this left hand and it was getting cold. After a bit of agitation by us, he got some relief. Another, at 80, the oldest of the "custodies" came away from the experience with bloody wrists.

My Prisoner's Receipt says that it was a citizens arrest for trespass by one Dave Thompson, citizen. Bail $100. That's the way it was for all of the 42?? occupiers that were arrested and taken to booking in two vans and a bus, a second wave followed later.

The booking process was a very slow one that involved an occasional action with a lot of sitting around in hand cuffs. I told them I had hypertension and they sent me to the MT. Another delay. He took my blood pressure. I told them I had a two day supply of medication in my wallet but they threw it away anyway.

Finally we were put in a pod with cots, it must have been around midnight. At 3am they woke us for breakfast. I've had better. There were about a 18 occupiers in my pod. My name was called with two others about 4:30 am and a little while after that we were walking out of jail and into the cool morning air to be greeted by a group of occupier with hot coffee. Most of them had just been bailed out themselves. Then I found out about the furious effort that had been going on to raise the money to bail people out. As of this hour, four people remain to be bailed out. One has a high bail because she is charged with assaulting an officer, one has +$500 in tickets and two are refusing to identify themselves. Go figure.

I dodge another bullet by getting back to my car slightly before 6am. It had a note on the windshield saying they were going to tow it and the small print at the bottom of the stub gave them the right to do it at the owners expense if it was parked overnight.

This is what the LA Times reported:

Los Angeles police began arresting dozens of Occupy Los Angeles protesters who refused to leave Bank of America Plaza in in the financial district Thursday afternoon in the second major protest of the day.

Police ordered the protesters to disperse at 4:10 p.m., a request that was greeted with chants of "Shame on you."

The protesters began taking over the plaza about 1 p.m. after a march from City Hall. They set up tents on a grassy area and locked arms, where they faced down police. But the property owner informed the LAPD that it was closing the park, which is private property, and requested that anybody who remained be arrested for trespassing.

The arrests came after 23 other protesters were taken into custody Thursday morning after they erected tents in the middle of a downtown street.

The second march was organized by the Service Employees International Union and included janitors, security officers, airport workers and other service workers, along with protesters from Occupy L.A. After the march, many union members left, but said they supported Occupy L.A.'s continued efforts.

Mike Garcia, president of the SEIU United Services Workers West, issued a statement in support of the expanded protest.

"We call on Mayor Villaraigosa to support and protect their right to peacefully protest within our great city," he said.

"Across the country, workers, unemployed people, parents, students, veterans and people of all ages are speaking out to say that Wall Street banks wrecked our economy and they are responsible for fixing it.

"Occupy L.A. has taken that message to the doorstep of one of the nation's biggest banks, Bank of America, with a new occupation in front of the Bank of America building in downtown Los Angeles. We stand in solidarity with them."

The mayor's office issued a statement saying that the plaza is private property and the city attorney's office was looking into the legal issues.

The day's activities were among the boldest yet taken by Occupy Los Angeles. Although we were unable to defend and maintain this new occupation, it served as a warning shot that we will be expanding beyond city hall and sprouting new occupations across the city. It also served to shift our focus away from the internal dynamics that have been eating away at the movement and back to the struggle against finance capital.

Most importantly, a lot of unity was forged in the course of these events and a lot of productive discussions took place. Hell, we were even planning to hold a General Assembly in jail a little latter that morning. Maybe that's why they finally sprung us.

Bandits of America & their fees lately

Tomorrow is "Bank Transfer Day." Thousands of customers will leave Bank of America and the other major banks. Each of those customers has a story. This is mine.
Follow clayclai on Twitter
I hate paying those draconian credit card late fees just about more than anything. Therefore I am extremely careful to make sure my credit card bills are always paid in a timely manner.

Apparently, that's not good enough, not for Bank of America anyway. For example, last month my BoA Visa card had a minimum payment due of $57.00 on October 1, 2011, so I scheduled an automatic payment from my BoA checking account to my BoA credit card account, using the Bank of America Bill Pay service. All very "in-house", all very proper. Scheduled it a week in advance on September 26, 2011 and plenty of money in the checking account. See below. So no problem right?

So imagine my surprise when I received my November bill and found that I had been charged a $25.00 late fee together with an additional buck fifty in interest for a total of $26.50.

Why? According to their own statement, they received my $57.00 on October 1st, from my BoA checking account, through their electronic payment system, but they didn't post it until 2 days later on October 3rd. See details from my statement below:

So apparently I have been charged $26.50 because they posted the payment late??? Can this be legal?

Naturally I called BofA to ask them what the story was. That was on October 14th, 10:20 in the morning. I was on the phone for more than 8 minutes. I explained my complaint and they pulled the records, which agreed with mine. When I asked the nice lady on the other end what was taking so long, she said that she was trying to see if they could "waive" the late fee.

I explained that I wasn't asking them to "waive" the late fee. Waiving the fee is what you ask them to do once they've caught you in an error. I just wanted them to correct their error. I asked her to call me back when they had figured it out. She said she couldn't call back. I said I couldn't stay on the phone any longer and hung up.

Now I'll send my complaint via snail-mail, they love that, file a formal complaint with the controller of the currency, and possible also sue them in small claims court. I will recover my $26.50, but what really bothers me is that they regularly skim from their customers with tricks like this. For those that catch the ploy on their bank statements and spend the time on the phone to correct it, they may "forgive" the fee, for the rest, it's all good money for the BoA.It may add up to millions stolen from the bank's customers and nobody ever goes to jail for this type of bank robbery.

Coincidently I also saw last month that Bank of America was reporting an upswing in customer late fees. From HuffPost Business on October 18, 2011 we have:

BofA Reports First Increase In Customer Late Payments In A Year

NEW YORK (AP) -- Bank of America Corp. on Monday reported a small increase in customer late payments for September.

It was the first increase Bank of America reported for delinquencies, as they are known in the industry, in a year, and echoed similar increases reported by other major card issuers.

Delinquencies are an important indicator of future default.

Now I'm wondering if my personal experience is related to this report. Is Bank of America fabricatin­g late payment figures for their own creepy reasons?

All Night, All Day Occupy L.A!

Trouble at the Hard Block Cafe - Day 26 @ #OccupyLA

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Let me say at the outset that from what I have seen of the occupation movement, it has becomes so dynamic, so energized and been met with such wide support among the people that nothing can defeat it if it doesn't defeat itself.

However I fear that it is on the verge of doing just that. There is big trouble in the Hard Block Cafe!

Hard Rock Cafe, concept by Clay Claiborne, graphic by Mike SteeleThe Occupy Los Angeles General Assembly split into dueling factions Wednesday evening as a large number of occupiers who felt alienated by the highly structured, long and boring, but largely irrelevant GA , came in and took over the mike, overthrew the process, and made it an open mike session. The GA had been led by a facilitation committee that was far more concerned with process than content. This is a facilitation committee lead by a new core group. The original core group of facilitators that used the process to create Occupy Los Angeles have moved on to other areas. This may be "billed" as a leaderless movement but not only is there something to be said for leadership, there are a lot of advantages to consistent leadership, IMHO.

The original Wednesday GA started on the south side of city hall with the solar stage. After it was overthrown, the facilitators, for a while, reconvened their GA on north stairs before returning to the open mike crowd on the south stairs in the spirit of unity.

That there was a split at all is a sign of the deep divisions and serious problems that have cropped up at Occupy Los Angeles. About the same time this was going on, diagonally across First & Main from city hall in the LA Times building, they were posting this to their website:

Even in Los Angeles, where city leaders have greeted the demonstrators warmly, there are signs of protest fatigue and increasing anxiety about what happens next.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who earlier this month had ponchos distributed to rain-soaked Occupy L.A. protesters, said Wednesday that the encampment next to City Hall "cannot continue indefinitely."

Villaraigosa has instructed city officials to draft a plan for another location for the demonstration. He decided the camp could not stay after Los Angeles County health inspectors expressed worries about the cleanliness of the camp, and because of concerns about the condition of the lawn and trees.


After seeing the occupation grow to fill every green space around city hall as it approaches its one month anniversary, it is not surprising that the city and police are starting to look for reasons to evict the occupiers. That is not a problem. That is expected behavior. The problem is that more recently Occupy Los Angeles has allowed some real substance to creep into those charges and that endangers the public supports that are the barricades of this occupation.

In an occupation, a group holds a space against an opposing force. Militarily speaking, the LAPD is a thousand times stronger than the protesters but this is not a military occupation. This is a non-violence occupation and it draws its strength from its moral authority and its public support. If it allows those pillars to be undermined, the occupation may be fatally weakened.

Since it was established almost a month ago, the peace and publicity that have been created around Occupy Los Angeles has allowed it to attract a much wider audience than the activists that originally started it. Many are becoming politically active for the first time and most have contributed positively to the movement. But not all. Some have been attracted by the music, free food and festival atmosphere that has accompanied an encampment that hasn't felt the need to gird itself for a police attack.

The problems that have developed in the past week include intimidation of women and others, drug and alcohol use, stealing, defecating in inappropriate places and making noise late at night. These rogue elements have been allowed a free reign because many of the occupiers don't believe in any rules or form of government and they don't believe in excluding anybody that is part of the 99%. Added to that is the consensus model decision making process where a single "hard block" can veto a decision.

Occupy LA has also become the home of a strong party element that likes to play music and drums at all hours. Many of these occupiers aren't involved with the committees or other work of the occupation and less than half of the occupiers have been attending the general assembles. Part of the reason for that is the GA has failed to address the main problems facing the community.

For example, the major discussion of the GA on Tuesday evening was an individual's proposal that Occupy LA reject work with the major political parties, a proposal that had already been discussed at three previous GA's. It is still not clear whether the point of that resolution is to make PDA or Ron Paul supporters feel unwelcome or to stake out a position in preparation for the next election, but that discussion went on for more than an hour, and the very serious problems Occupy LA now faces, and threaten it's very existence, were hardly mentioned. Neither were the events in Oakland that should serve as a reality check for those on the LA facilitation committee that have spent hours debating whether to allow three days to resolve a hard block, or four.

The police took down Occupy Oakland Tuesday morning in a very brutal fashion. Hundreds of cops came in riot gear gear at 5am using tear gas and stun grenades, torn down the tents and arrested 85 occupiers. Wednesday, while the Los Angeles general assembly was dividing in two, Oakland occupiers were again being arrested. In Oakland, they are also using "safety and sanitation" as an excuse to end the occupation. Three hours after they raided the encampment, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan issued this statement:

Many Oaklanders support the goals of the national Occupy Wall Street movement. We maintained daily communication with the protesters in Oakland.

However, over the last week it was apparent that neither the demonstrators nor the City could maintain safe or sanitary conditions, or control the ongoing vandalism. Frank Ogawa Plaza will continue to be open as a free speech area from 6 am to 10 pm.

I don't know if there is any substance to the complaint that "neither the demonstrators nor the City could maintain safe or sanitary conditions." I am not in Oakland nor have I been paying attention. If there was some substance to them, then the demonstrators themselves have given the city the opportunity, no more, the obligation, to take back control of the space.

I am in Los Angeles and I do know that the problem of "maintaining safe and sanitary conditions", along with problems associated with drug and alcohol use and excessive noise are gnawing problems for Occupy Los Angeles. If they are not controlled by the occupiers, the city council will come to regret their resolution of support, the LAPD will revert back to normal form as they gear up to clear the grounds around city hall, and the Committee to End Police Brutality at Occupy LA will get what they have longed for from the very beginning but so far have lacked, a real justification for their name.

Some activist from Occupy LA don't believe in any rules at all. They respect neither city laws nor the consensus of Occupy Los Angeles as expressed by the general assembly. They are completely opposed to getting permits and even talking to the police. Some of their views are expressed on the website Unpermitted LA. There they complain about "the leadership of Occupy LA, especially concerning their collaboration with police" and similar concerns.

They also call for the "Immediate dissolution of the Security Committee and recall of the current Police Liaisons." They see the Security Committee as acting as the police for Occupy LA and extensions of the LAPD, saying "The police liaisons currently are acting in the interests of the police rather than the movement and are not acting transparently." They cite an example "in one instance [security] went into the tents of comrades who intended to defy police and SC orders to move to the sidewalk, without their consent."

This refers to what happened the very first night of Occupy Los Angeles on October 1st. The deal we had then negotiated with the LAPD and the GSPD, that controls the ground around city hall, was that we would not be arrested for being on the grass till 10:30pm but between then and 5am or so, we would have to move to the sidewalk or face sprinklers and arrest.

That first night we had a limited number of tents, maybe 60, so a hundred or so campers staying overnight. I argued, as did others, that it was important that we comply with the police order at that time, not as a matter of principle but as a matter of tactics. I said that when we had a thousand occupiers here, we could refuse to move the tents off the grass and make it stick, but if we refused to move them that first night, well, the morning news would have been all about the arrests, and possibly violence, and that would be a big set back.

It's been almost two weeks now that we stopped moving the tents off the grass, just about the time the number of tents pasted two hundred, although the official police stance on this has not changed. During the second week of Occupy Los Angeles, the city council pasted a formal resolution of support, a very rare thing among the occupations. We have gone more than three weeks with no arrests at Occupy LA and no real problems about tents on the grass 24/7 except for the growing mummers above the costs of resowing the lawn.

All of this has allowing for the tremendous growth and growing regional influence of Occupy Los Angeles but I believe all of this would have been jeopardize had protesters stayed on the grass that first night. I argued that we weren't here to protest park hours. We had bigger fish to fry. Fortunately the general assembly supported that view on the first night and the decision was made that we should end the meeting and move to the sidewalk by 10:30pm.

However some individual anarchists disagreed and having failed to win the GA to their position, decided they would go rogue and defy everybody and keep their tents on the grass anyway. They stood on their individual "right" to refuse all governess and do whatever they could get away with. They were itching for confrontation with police and didn't mind destroying Occupy LA to get it.

Whether these anarchist elements admit it or not, their views have come to support these rogue and party people that threat much of what has been accomplished so far. The fatal problem for the occupy movement is the view that no one can be excluded, even people who don't agree to follow the rules.

If the main functional demand of the occupy movement is seen as the "right" to create lawless spaces in our cities, then they will lose most popular support and then they will be rolled up.

On Sunday this email was forwarded to the Occupy LA facilitation committee together with the note above it by a supportive neighbor:

FYI NEIGHBORS COMPLAINING ABOUT NOISE FROM THE SOUTH LAWN

This email was posted to the Higgins Building (Second & Main) list serve today, and I wanted to make you guys aware of it. We live on the south side of the building, so don't hear the stage from our unit, but others might and might call, as suggested.

Curious as to whether it is true that the amplified stage is "rogue," and whether there is any way to control the level of sound so that it is more resident-friendly.

Thanks for all that you are doing for all of us.

Subject: [higginsbuilding] Noise 411 of Occupy (but not Occupy - more the Solar Stage)

Hey all - I know no one wants to be like "omg Occupy noise indefinitely?"

Welp - I am and have learned a new thing through my research and talking to folks.
There is a solar powered stage, the "noise/trouble makers" of Occupy - who Occupy LA actually do not align themselves with. And there apparently is tension and controversy about this rouge illegal stage.

I've asked both Occupy and the Solar Stage to move thier stuff to Temple St.. OLA complied but Solar Stage has met with illogical and militant resistance.

#1 it is illegal for any loud PA much less music and yelling over speakers - or even without a speaker system.

#2 The Solar Stage are doing a disservice to the actual movement.

So let's do this. Call the non-emergency number 877 275-5273 and tell them you are tired of hearing the Solar Panel "Power of Green LA" stage all day and night. Tell them it's a stage that Occupy has - in print - disassociated itself from. Tell them you know full well that their noise is against several city ordinances and that (whether you either support, or don't support the protest) - that Solar Power stage is illegal and a hostile stage and really needs to move to Temple St. or just get shut down.

More power in numbers folks. Whether you support or don't support what's going on across the street. The OLA group wants to be good neighbors and are unable to deal with some pinkertons in their camp who don't want to be good neighbors.

Occupy Los Angeles can't govern itself, through the general assembly or any other process, whether based on consensus or not, as long it accepts people who refuse any government at all, even self-government. And if Occupy Los Angeles can't govern itself, it will be dissolved by the capitalist government just waiting it's chance to end our occupation of this space.

Occupy Wall Street faces a similar dilemma. They also have a problem with drummers. This is how Time described the Occupy Wall St. general assembly process in the critical hours before the police were expected to move on their encampment last week:

Ten hours before uniformed police officers had pledged to clear Zuccotti Park, Occupy Wall Street's home since its founding a few weeks ago, the demonstrators debated, discussed, voted on, blocked, formed consensus, blocked again, and then again formed consensus — about playing drums.

This, the night before what many thought would be a defining moment for Occupy Wall Street and the protesters' attempts at a modern-day revolution, and hours before the 7 a.m. NYPD mandate to wipe Zuccotti Park clean of the movement's tents and signs and its pamphlets and purple-arm-banded protesters. But for 45 minutes, the most important issue was a proposal to limit drum circles.

It seemed trivial. It seemed silly. It seemed like a waste of time, time that could be used to prepare for what seemed inevitable as the sun rose: mass arrests, chaos, possible violence, injuries. While the city eventually called off the “cleaning” early this morning, nobody knew that last night.
...
While discussion of the impending police action on the movement's unofficial home did take place, most of debate revolved around what seemed to be a crucial decision about drum circles, even though it wasn't clear they'd have anywhere to drum the following day. When I left, after the General Assembly was adjourned, it was still unclear when they were going to drum.

A few days ago it looked like this issue was about to put an end to Occupy Wall St. This was being circulated:

October 24, 2011
End of #OccupyWallStreet: conflict over drummers
this just in (from folks working with community relations):

OWS is over after Tuesday:

Friends, mediation with the drummers has been called off. It has gone on for more than 2 weeks and it has reached a dead end. The drummers formed a working group called Pulse and agreed to 2 hrs/day at times during the mediation, and more recently that changed to 4 hrs/day. It's my feeling that we may have a fighting chance with the community board if we could indeed limit drumming and loud instrumentation to 12-2pm and 4-6pm, however that isn't what's happening.

Last night the drumming was near continuous until 10:30pm at night. Today it began again at 11am. The drummers are fighting amongst themselves, there is no cohesive group. There is one assemblage called Pulse that organized most of the drummers into a group and went to GA for formal recognition and with a proposal.

Unfortunately there is one individual who is NOT a drummer but who claims to speak for the drummers who has been a deeply disruptive force, attacking the drumming rep during the GA and derailing his proposal, disrupting the community board meeting, as well as the OWS community relations meeting. She has also created strife and divisions within the POC caucus, calling many members who are not 'on her side' "Uncle Tom", "the 1%", "Barbie" "not Palestinian enough" "Wall Street politicians" "not black enough" "sell-outs", etc. People have been documenting her disruptions, and her campaign of misinformation, and instigations. She also has a documented history online of defamatory, divisive and disruptive behavior within the LGBT (esp. transgender) communities. Her disruptions have made it hard to have constructive conversations and productive resolutions to conflicts in a variety of forums in the past several days.

At this point we have lost the support of allies in the Community Board, and the State Senator and city electeds who have been fighting the city to stave off our eviction, get us toilets, etc. On Tuesday is a Community Board vote, which will be packed with media cameras and community members with real grievances. We have sadly demonstrated to them that we are unable to collectively 1) keep our space and surrounding areas clean and sanitary, 2) keep the park safe, 3) deal with internal conflict and enforce the Good Neighbor Policy that was passed by the General Assembly.

Whether or not you personally feel that the support of the community board and local residents and their reps is needed to maintain our occupation, many of us believe that maintaining Liberty Square (aka Zuccotti Park) as a flagship and nerve center for our movement right now is in fact critical to our efforts that are much bigger picture, longer term, more revolutionary than the internal conflicts that are consuming too much energy right now.

We need to take this seriously, and be clear that if we can't deal with conflict and self-organizing then we are facing eviction very soon (this week), and the allies that helped turn out mass numbers at the last one will not be around this time, nor will the press be supportive. Additionally, Bloomberg released a statement a few days ago that said that he / the City plans to crack down on any violations as of this week. Once we lose community and ally support at Tuesday's vote, the door is wide open for an eviction.

What to do? We need an all hands-on-deck clean-up and everyone sharing responsibility for the Good Neighbor Policy, including enforcement of 12-2pm and 4-6pm drumming hours. (While recognizing that the community board has been firm that they can only support 2 hrs/day of drumming). We should also start serious conversations internally about what this movement might I look like without Zuccotti Park / Liberty Square. How can we set ourselves up for continued organizing and momentum without an active occupation? I don't write this to be dramatic, it's a serious question. If so much of our organizing time currently (for many of us, 20 hrs a day) is going to putting out fires and maintaining the space, what does it look like if we lose the space?

That same night the call went out "supporters needed at Zuccotti Park to enforce Good Neighbor Policy" saying they desperately needed people to come and help them stop the drummers. At the Occupy Wall St. general assembly that night, the group of drummer-protesters organized as Pulse agreed to limit their drumming to four hours a day. The community board had been asking for a two hour limit. On Wednesday night, an open conflict with the community board was adverted that might have given the NYPD the excuse they need, when the CB agreed to settle for the four hour limit.

The problem for Occupy Wall St. now is that many of the drummers are not with Pulse, don't come to GA's, and don't recognize any limits. If the occupations can't find better ways to control what is done under its banner, it they will meet with an untimely end.

However, there is reason for optimism. In L.A., a wonderful thing happen with the drummers Saturday night.

Friday night, when we showed the first film in our Occupy LA film series, the drummers were so loud it was hard to hear the movie. That, plus the fact that the GA ended so late, was the reason we put off showing my film Vietnam: American Holocaust, until Saturday after the GA.

Saturday the GA ended on time, but still there was the problem with the drummers so Tyrone had the movie volume turned up loud so that we could hear. Then the drummers seemed to get louder so Tyrone turned up the volume more. For a while it felt like a struggle between the movie and the drum circle which called into question the ability to even show films or do anything that required relative quiet.

Then about 30 minutes into the movie, the drum circle got quiet. They had moved down to the corner. As far as I know, nobody talked to them (from the movie), they just resolved the conflict by moving the drum circle. Obviously moving the movie would have been extremely difficult once it had already started.

And in spite of these and other "growing pains," the occupation movement in Southern California continues to expand with OccupyUSC, Occupy LAUSD, Occupy Venice, Occupy Longbeach, Occupy Riverside, Occupy San Diego, Occupy Pasadena and Occupy OC all coming to life in the past few weeks.

Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 12:45 AM PT: There was a raid on Occupy Portland on October 30, 2011. As has been threaten elsewhere noise complaints was used as the excuse:

Portland Police officers arrested 27 people early this morning in Jamison Square Park in Northwest Portland. 25 people were charged with Interfering with a Police Officer, Criminal Trespass in the Second Degree and Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree

20-year-old Benjamin Anderson Harris and 28-year-old Benjamin Burson were charged with Criminal Trespass in the Second Degree and Interfering with a Police Officer. They were arrested prior to the arrest of the 25 people seated in Jamison Square.

The 25 people peacefully arrested sitting in Jamison Square Park were charged with Interfering with a Police Officer, Criminal Trespass in the Second Degree and Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree.

Numerous noise complaints from area residents were called into the Bureau of Emergency Communications (BOEC) throughout the evening.

The arrests were made after the 25 refused to leave the park after several instructions to leave the park were given by police and Park Rangers. Jamison Square Park closes at 12:00 a.m.

In Los Angeles, things are getting better. The disruption and turmoil surrounding the recent general assemblies have served to bring the some important contradiction to the force so now they are being worked on from all sides.

On Monday, the general assembly was finally able to gain consensus for a procedure change that allows proposals to be passed with a 90% vote. This was hard to get because it required a 100% vote but now that it is in place, it should go a long way towards mitigating the "hard block" problem.

A new occupier's march and general assembly has been organized which combines an 8:00am local march and protest with a 9:00am occupiers general assembly designed to deal with some of the practical and most pressing problems of the encampment. The first thing they are considering is a code of conduct and methods of enforcement.

Steven and the occupiers with the Keeping It Real Affinity Group have started their own "People's Assembly" in which they are experimenting with a more informal format. While their efforts are largely in revolt against the general assembly, the continue to participate in the GA and discussions continue on how to unify the efforts.

Training and planning for what to do when the police come in is starting to move although the LAPD and the city are saying they have no plans to move us anytime soon.

Sirte falls, Mummar Qaddafi captured

Follow clayclai on TwitterAs the last pockets of resistance have been put down in Sirte and Libya is finally freed of his 42 year rule, Libyan TV is reporting that Mummar Qaddafi has been capture in a car leaving Sirte.

Mussa Ibrahim, Ahmed Ibrahim and Ali Alzubeidy Altawerghy were also caught in Sirte.

Horns are blowing all over Tripoli as we now await an official report from the NTC.

18-year-old Ahmed Shabani is reported to have killed Qaddafi. [Picture]Video from Al Jazeera Arabic

Watch live TV from Misrata here

WSJ Live Blog: NATO will soon declare end to mission.

More later..


For more background on the Libyan Revolution and links to lots of information see my other writings at the DailyKos and WikiLeaks Central:
Why is Chris Hedges calling for "boots on the ground" in Libya?
The Worm Has Turned: Good Film on Libyan Revolution from PressTV
Why NATO's mission in Libya isn't over yet
Libya's Freedom Fighters: How They Won
Racism in Libya
Abdul Rahman Gave his Eyes to See the End of Qaddafi
BREAKING: Secret files reveal Dennis Kucinich talks with Qaddafi Regime
BREAKING: Libyan TNC won't extradite Lockerbie bomber
Who really beat Qaddafi?
#Feb17: @NATO Please help MEDEVAC wounded from #Libya
What should those that opposed NATO's intervention in Libya demand now?
BREAKING: Qaddafi's Tripoli Compound Falls!
Does PDA Support Qaddafi?
BREAKING: Operation Mermaid Dawn, the Battle to Liberate Tripoli is Joined
Helter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure
Qaddafi's Long Arm
SCOOP: My Lai or Qaddafi Lie? More on the 85 Civilians presumed killed by NATO
Did NATO kill 85 Libyan Villagers As Qaddafi Regime Contends?
CCDS Statement on Libya - a Critique
The Assassination of General Abdul Fattah Younis
NATO over Tripoli - Air Strikes in the Age of Twitter
How Many Libyans has NATO Killed?
Qaddafi Terror Files Start to Trickle Out!
Have Libyan Rebels Committed Human Rights Abuses?
Tripoli Green Square Reality Check
Behind the Green Curtain: Libya Today
Gilbert Achcar on the Libyan situation and the Left
NATO slammed for Libya civilian deaths NOT!
2011-07-01 Qaddafi's Million Man March
NATO's Game Plan in Libya
February 21st - Tripoli's Long Night
Did Qaddafi Bomb Peaceful Protesters?
Tripoli Burn Notice
Libyans, Palestinians & Israelis
'Brother' Qaddafi Indicted plus Libya & Syria: Dueling Rally Photofinishs
An Open Letter to ANSWER
ANSWER answers me
2011-06-22 No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum
Are they throwing babies out of incubators yet?
Continuing Discussion with a Gaddafi Supporter
Boston Globe oped supports Gaddafi with fraudulent journalism
2011-04-13 Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Current Events in Libya
Amonpour Plays Softball with Gaddafi
Arming Gaddfi
North African Revolution Continues
Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation

Ten Thousand March with #OccupyLA

Saurday was the biggest day yet at Occupy Los Angeles as it began its third week. Around noon, between 10,000 – 15,000 people, according to official LAPD estimates, marched from Pershing Sq. through the financial district and then to the occupation site at city hall. With so many protesters, the police closed the streets for the march, which was very spirited with people from all over Southern California and what is more important a mix of people that was incredibly representative of South California. As this is not radio, I will let the 14 pictures in the slideshow below the fold speak for themselves.

The march ended at Occupy Los Angeles which now involves over 300 tents occupying almost of the grassy areas around city hall. Thousand of people stayed around for the celebration, dancing music, committee meetings, film screenings, yoga and more.

As city hall is closed on Saturday, we had the run of the place. The north, west and south stairs operated as three stages all afternoon and into the night. For the afternoon, Spring St. on the west side of city hall was blocked off to traffic so that people could rally there. A portable stage and sound system was set up in the middle of the street and that was the main forum for post march speakers and musicians.

Many people came to Occupy LA this Saturday apart from those that came for the march. Word of mouth is really building support for Occupy LA as people come to visit and tell their friends or come back with their families. The effects of this could really be seen this weekend. This driving force has been multiplied by the good local TV coverage it has received from the beginning.

OLA has been a regular item for the local TV news for a week now. Some of the local news people like the 99% concept and they have learned that they can come to city hall at any hour night or day and do a live spot with great visuals and interesting people to talk to. Tonight I saw the guy with the "No War But Class War" sign in the background of the live spot for two channels tonight. He gets around.

The General Assembly on Saturday night was one of the biggest so far and must have had more than 600 people in attendance, with many more thinking of better things to do on a Saturday night. Thousands of people were still at Occupy LA late into the night.

While a small ultra-left element disagrees strongly, most occupiers see the police people as a part of the 99% to we have consciously cultivated good rapport with the beat cops. With the city bureaucrats and the LAPD brass there are still some issues but those are not likely to break the peace in the immediate future because the bigger it gets and the longer it has been seen to operate peacefully, the hard it will be for them to take down Occupy Los Angeles by force.

LAPD continues to say that the occupiers must move the tents to the sidewalk each night and the campers have not complied in the past week although they did move tents to make room for the farmers market on Thursday. So while they continue to press that issue with the OLA city liaison committee they have so far not threatened to use force in an attempt to enforce that and so for now relations with the LAPD remain good. They stopped traffic for the march and they blocked off Spring St. for the crowds but there was no "show of force" and no arrests.

Occupy LA may not have any "leaders" but it does have a solid core of people that are working damn hard to see that things get done.

There has also been sharp political struggle going on underneath all of this that I hope to have occasion to write about latter because, as usual, the greatest danger to Occupy Los Angeles comes from within. If you want to get a clue as to what I am talking about, I would refer you to the facebook page formally known as "End Police Brutality at Occupy LA" now renamed, and the unrepentant unpermitedla. The people would like to do an "Italian Job" on Occupy LA but that ain't going to happen.

Los Angeles City Council votes support for #OccupyLA

Follow clayclai on Twitter
Contradicting the trend in New York, Boston, Washington, DC and other cities where the growing occupation movement has been met by official hostility and police violence, today, on the twelfth day of the people's encampment at Los Angeles city hall in opposition to the domination of the big banks and in support of Occupy Wall St., the Los Angeles City Council passed a resolution to promote responsible banking by the City of Los Angeles and in support of Occupy Los Angeles.

The resolution with the title "First Amendment Rights / Occupy Los Angeles / Responsible Banking Measure" was sponsored by Richard Alarcon and Bill Rosendahl and was seconded by five other councilpersons, virtually assuring it of passage.

The agenda item for this read as follows:

09-0234-S1

CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION (ALARCON - ROSENDAHL - ET AL.) relative to the City's position to support the First Amendment Rights carried out by “Occupy Los Angeles” and addressing concerns regarding the Responsible Banking measure.

Recommendation for Council action, SUBJECT TO THE CONCURRENCE OF THE MAYOR: ADOPT the accompanying RESOLUTION to SUPPORT the continuation of the peaceful and vibrant exercise in First Amendment Rights carried out by "Occupy Los Angeles" and URGE the City Departments responsible for completing the implementation plan associated with the Responsible Banking measure (Council file No. 09-0234) that was approved by the Council on March 5, 2010, which would address some of the concerns of the "Occupy Los Angeles" demonstrators by demanding accountability and results from the Banks we invest taxpayer dollars in, to bring the Responsible Banking measure for a final vote to the Council by October 28, 2011

After dozens of public comments by members of Occupy LA including me and other citizens, the endorsement of many City Counclpersons, and the haggling over the date for the final vote on the banking measure, the council passed the resolution by a vote of 11 to 0 with a couple members abstaining.


Occupy Los Angeles has been rather unique in that as compare to the other big city occupations, it was won a high degree of acceptance by the city and hasn't been plagued by the hostility of the LAPD. This has allowed the encampment to develop as a peaceful place where a certain level of permanency and organization has been able to develop.

Occupy Los Angeles now takes up all the lawns of city hall, north, south and west, although we will free up the south lawn for the farmers market on Thursday, and we no longer move from the lawn to the sidewalk at night. The last time we did that we occupied all the sidewalk on four sides of city hall and then some. Now with 300 tents and counting, it's simply impossible.

This permanency has allowed a certain order to merge. On the inside north lawn, the food tent, welcome tent, donations tent and library stand where they have been for a week. On the other side of the stairs you'll find the medic's tent, and the media tents, and the generators buzzing behind are being replace by solar panels. The north stairs is where we used to hold general assemblies. Now those have moved to the larger south stairs with the bigger PA system. This is where Danny Glover spoke and Tom Morello played last week. But the north stairs now has it's own PA and operates as a kind of auxiliary stage with music and free speech all day. There is also a lunchtime speaker series. Today it was NY Times best selling author Marianne Williamson. The north lawn is crowded and somewhat chaotic. It already has the character of an older community. The south lawn is like the suburbs, more ordered and with room for a couple hundred more tents.

In spite of this resolution's passage today, some senior officers of the LAPD are rumored to be uncomfortable with the current arrangement, so while this peace with the city may not be a permanent peace, it is good while it lasts because that plus the mainstream media coverage Occupy LA has received from day one has furthered an incredible growth of the occupation movement in Los Angeles.

When Sarah Brennan from Richard Alarcon's office first contacted me on September 30th, the day before the occupation began, it was to promote his responsible banking measure. They called me because they didn't know anyone else with Occupy LA. I don't know how they knew me but I had been writing about it.

I told them that the responsible banking measure sounded fine but that where we really needed his support was with the LAPD. At that time the police were saying that we couldn't sleep on the grass and we couldn't sleep on the sidewalk. I said Saturday night we are going to have 300 plus people with tents and sleeping bags planning to sleep somewhere and none of us can do anything about that now.

I told them our fight was with Wall St. not city hall or the LAPD and to please don't make it about that. Please find a safe way we can exercise or first amendment rights and camp out at city hall. Then I called my own Councilperson, Bill Rosendahl, talked to Arturo Pina in his office and gave him the same pitch. I also put both offices in touch with Mario Britok and Cheryl and others from Occupy Los Angeles who were already at city council that morning talking to members.

A meeting between the LAPD, the city attorney and city council staff went very late that Friday but the result was a "legal" occupation in which we have been able to march and stay on city property even though initially we had no permit to do so. While there have been several dozen arrests for civil disobedience at our actions, in the 12 days since then we began, there have been no arrests at Occupy LA.

Today the city council resolution put a kind of official seal on what we have already established on the ground.

I have been explaining the advantages of this situation to some of the younger revolutionaries among us who can't wait for action with the police by using the example of the phenomenon of "legal" Marxism that V.I. Lenin spoke of in turn of the century Russia. One of the best things about Occupy LA is that there is a lot of time to talk.

More pictures from Los Angeles City Council:

Mario Britok speaks to City Council

Councilmen Alarcon and Parks confer. Parks ultimately abstained.

Banking Industry representative looks unhappy with the vote.

#OccupyLA - Day 8

It is sunny and mild, mid 70's with a slight breeze. In other words, a typical Southern California day. What is not typical is what is going on around city hall. Hundreds of tents have been set up on both sides of city hall. In the morning work shops were meeting at various locations in the city hall park, musicians were playing at different locations and someone was leading an exercise group. Over 300 protesters stayed in the Occupy Los Angeles encampment last night to support their brothers and sisters in Occupy Wall St. and today many hundreds more are wandering around, most making their first visit to Occupy LA. It always feels like Spring in Los Angeles but lately, it's been feeling like the Arab Spring.


Saturday was a huge day here as Occupy Los Angeles enters it's second week. It began last Saturday with a spirited march of over a thousand people from Pershing Sq. to City Hall. At city hall they pitched tents on the larger south lawn and held the first General Assembly of the occupation. As last weekend moved into the week days they were obliged to move from the south lawn to the smaller north lawn to make room for a movie shoot followed by a farmers market. This actually proved to be fortuitous because the small area made it look like more people than it did in the larger space but by Friday the north lawn was crowded with more than 120 tents and the occupation was running out of room. On Saturday they knew that they could move back to the north lawn but that didn't mean giving up the south lawn so now they have city hall surrounded with more than 60 tents already on the north lawn with no apparent diminution of the number on the north lawn.

Occupy Los Angeles made the news on on the very first day because the tactic of stonewalling Occupy Wall St. was running out of time and the bust of seven hundred protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge gave them a story they could run with, but that meant they also had to cover Occupy LA locally from the beginning. After that there has been a steady stream of reporters and TV crews at the encampment.

It has almost gotten to the point where a segment on Occupy LA was required for a comprehensive local news broadcast and national news has also been obliged to cover the protest. This has meant that the movement has gotten a lot of exposure in the greater Los Angeles area, and the response from the public has been amazing. City hall sit among four heavily traveled intersections and the honking of horns in support has been none stop. Around 5:30, when many committees have scheduled meetings it can reach a level that makes the meetings all but impossible.

For many working people this Saturday is the first time they have been able to visit what the whole city has been talking about and the occupiers have planned quite a day for them. Saturday is also the first day that the protest is permitted. The lack of permit hasn't stopped us from camping on the grass or using a PA system to expedite the larger meeting but they have moved to the sidewalk at night as requested by the police, but the permit does allow them to get serious about amplified sound and music.

That allowed for musical concerts on the south steps of city hall in the afternoon, the highlight of which was a concert by Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine.

Before that Margret Prescott of KPFK introduced Danny Glover and friends.

Danny Glover gave a rousing speech that had the crowd cheering, a crowd that had grown to several thousands by then.

But the biggest event of this Saturday was the biggest General Assembly that Occupy Los Angeles has had to date. The result of all the work and struggle that has gone to refining the process in the last twelve Gas was tested tonight.

#OccupyLA - Day 7

Friday was the tenth anniversary of the U.S. war on Afghanistan and in the morning the Interfaith Communities United for Peace and Justice led a big march against the war endorsed by almost fifty progressive organizations in Southern California, including VFP, PDA, ANSWER, NLG, AFL-CIO, & Code Pink. ICUPJ was formed right after 9/11/01 and is just about as old as the war.

The demands of the march were to stop the wars and fund jobs. They asked that all troops and private contractors be removed from Iraq and Afghanistan this year, that torture be stopped both at home and abroad and they called for an end to drone attacks targeting civilians in Pakistan and elsewhere.

The march started with interfaith prays and gathering at La Placita Church, 535 N. Main St. and proceeded to the downtown Federal Building where a rally and planned civil disobedience were held. On their way, the marchers passed city hall where Occupy Los Angeles joined them. Then hundreds of people from Occupy Los Angeles and ICUPJ rallied in front of the federal building on Main St.


The speakers included actors Mike Farrell and Mimi Kennedy and Professor Cornell West as well as representatives of the organizations supporting the rally. Tavis Smiley and Cornell West paid a visit to Occupy Los Angeles latter in the day. Keith Olbermann was expected but never did show up.


At the end of the rally 14 members of ICUPJ were arrested in a well orchestrated act of civil disobedience. There were far more police at this rally than had been around the city hall encampment because they had been notified of the plans, but they hung back through most of the rally. When the time came, they moved forward and told everyone who didn't want to get arrested to move to the sidewalk. Those that planned to be arrested formed a line across the street and linked hands. Then the police video teams moved forward to record each arrest as the protester was informed of her or his rights, placed plastic tie-wrap handcuffs and led to one of two waiting police vans. Jim Lafferty from the National Lawyers Guild observed everything to make sure no ones rights were violated.

All night all day, occupy LA; All night all day, occupy LA; All night all day, occupy LA

We are the 99%; We are the 99%; We are the 99%

All night all day, occupy LA; All night all day, occupy LA; All night all day, occupy LA


Journalist from around the world are beginning to show up. Cindy Sheehan and Camp Casey were so successful, in part, because there were a lot of bored reporters that had to be in Crawford, TX anyway to cover Bush on vacation and it hasn't hurt OccupyLA one bit that it is about a block south of the international satellite truck parking lot that is covering the trial of Michael Jackson's doctor.

Finally, there are lots of meetings. The General Assembly meets at 7:30pm every night and usually go to 9:30 - 10:30pm.

Breaking out of third person for a bit, I have a facilitators meeting at 5:30p and then the GA @ 7:30p which lasted till 9:30-10p, then a brief facilitators summation after that. That's my standard drill. A number of other committees have meetings at 5p or so. There are a lot of committees and most people are on one but the meeting times vary.

About 300 occupiers in 120 tents are spending the night these days but I'm not one of them. The Metro 733 bus has a stop two blocks from my place in Venice and has another stop at city hall and I make use of it. When I get home I finish my diary and sleep. I want to finish this one before 2am.

Wednesday night I was in a very important meeting that didn't break up until after 1am and I missed the last bus. Fortunately a comrade drove me back to Venice. But that meeting went a very long to resolving some contradictions that had been boiling under the surface of every previous occupation GA.

As a result the last two GAs have gone much smoother and gotten more real work done in less time. This is important because our 7:30p GA is more and more being attended by new people and the media and so we want them to be spirited, interesting, efficient and as tension free as possible. We want these meetings to example our best and invite the 99% in. The more sticky problems can be taken up by the people most concerned at other times, at 1am if necessary.

We are all operating on very little sleep and a lot of energy. Occupy LA is developing at an incredible rate, in every sense of the word. I can't even keep track of the unions that are supporting us. Supplies are coming in from all over the place. We got another 4G account and are setting up public wireless. More and different workshops are going on or being planned. I plan to lead one on Linux, probably next week. Today I heard Sony is letting us use a 40ft. editing trailer and someone else is setting up satellite downlink so we can see ourselves on the news at Occupy LA.

And we have already planned actions out to October 16th. We plan to be here for a while.

Be sure to visit the Occupy LA website for daily up dates and more. Today is Saturday and it's going to be huge. I'd better get some sleep. I've got to be back there in six hours.

#OccupyLA - Day 6

President Obama's Press Conference couldn't seem to stay way from the subject of Occupy Wall St. It came up time and again. Obama mentioned it and then Jay Taper of ABC News brought it up again. MSNBC is running interviews of people at the various occupations including Occupy Los Angeles. Fox News 11 was live at Occupy Los Angeles just before the noon march on an undisclosed bank with SEIU. It's beginning to feel like the story the major media wouldn't cover is becoming the story they can't stop talking about.

Occupy Los Angeles was once again bathed in sun light as the rain cleared up and the camp dried out. More and more occupies have been arriving everyday to the point that the north lawn is getting crowded with tents. Tomorrow the film shoot and the farmer's market will be over and the occupation moves back to the more spacious south lawn.

While the move from the north lawn had been forced by circumstances and the city, it turned out to be another thing that worked well for Occupy Los Angeles. Anyone who has ever held a small event in a large hall, knows how that can convey the feeling that not many people showed up even through turn out was greater that expected. The north yard was actually more suitable for their numbers in the beginning, now it is bursting at the seams with occupiers and tents. It's very crowded and that makes for good visuals. The move tomorrow will allow them to spread out a bit and make room for new occupiers. If the present rate of growth continues, both lawns will be packed by the end of October.

The renowned actress Rosanna Arquette toured Occupy Los Angeles in the morning, was interviewed on the live stream, did photo ops with some of the occupiers and told them why she was there, "Greed is not the American way."


Food contributions are backing up a the donations keep coming. Hot meals are being prepared by the food committee and served several times a day. Somebody really knows how to cook because the meals are delicious. There is also a medical tent and while no one has mentioned any injuries or sickness, a lot of campers are losing their voices.

The media team is making sure they are well covered by uploading new pictures and videos on an hourly basis. Their equipment and capabilities are also improving as they are also starting to receive donations. The are a lot of media people around all day now, and most are not part of the media team or OccupyLA. A realization is developing that what is happening here is historic and part of a transformative movement so now it seems that everyone wants to get the story, alternative and major media alike.

There is also an on-site print shop that not only does the usual flyers and signs can silk screen T-shirts and just about anything else that is brought to them.

More and interesting facilities are being created every day. The lending library keeps growing with contributed books, a bike repair depot was setup and today a bike share program for occupiers has been established with a half dozen donated bike.

Today KPFK, the Los Angeles Pacifica Radio affiliate also setup a tent and Margret Prescott did a live broadcast from Occupy LA.

On advantage of the city hall location is that it sees a lot of traffic all day long. Some protesters are always standing on the curb with signs. The honking of cars, trucks and buses to now becoming so constant that most are growing use to it. Clearly Occupy LA has hit a responsive cord among the people.

Workshops and affinity groups are being established for a wide variety of interests.

Local actions are at the heart of what Occupy LA is about and today they had a spirited march at noon with about 800 SEIU members and occupiers from city hall to the bank on 7th and Figueora. There was a spirited rally outside the bank. Eight protesters went into the bank and set up a tent. They were arrested.

Last night some people met into the morning to work out some differences and deal with some bad feelings. This afternoon the facilitation committee met as usual before the General Assemblies and learning from the experiences of the first five GAs. The result was one of the most successful General Assemblies ever.

UPDATED: RIP Steve Jobs #OccupyLA - Day 5

Rest In Peace Steve Jobs

It never rains in Southern California but it is raining today, another test for Occupy Los Angeles. It rained off and on all night and is expected to be rainy for the next few days with tomorrow being the worst. It should be clearing up about the same time the permit for amplified sound and full use of the city hall park comes into effect. Also by then, the film shoot on the larger south lawn will be over and they can move back there. That will be good. They need the space, protesters keep arriving and Occupy LA is already outgrowing the smaller north lawn. Soon they will need both.

The whole occupation movement is growing here in Southern California as it is elsewhere. Visitors from the new Occupy Orange County came here yesterday, as did some people planning Occupy Longbeach and at noon today, students walked out of classes to begin Occupy USC.


But today it's water, water, everywhere. Fortunately there is plenty of coffee to drink. Everything is wet. Tents, sleeping bags, clothes, signs. It's enough effort just keeping electronic equipment dry.

Everybody is wet, holding meetings under the shelter of the larger tents or huddling inside the smaller ones. So the city council meeting turned out to be a bit of lucky timing. Normally it's hard to look forward to sitting on a hard, but dry bench in the city council chamber. Today it might have been a good idea even if Occupy LA wasn't on the agenda.

The choice of city hall for the Los Angeles version of Occupy Wall St. initially was a controversial one because their chief target is not the city, but now most occupiers think it perfect. It is in the heart of downtown Los Angeles and so pretty much equal distance from everybody. The financial center on Grand is only a few blocks west with Wells Fargo, First City National, Deloitte and Touche and two Bank of Americas as handy action targets. To the east is the county jail and the Federal building and just down Spring a block south is the county courthouse, complete with the Michael Jackson international press corp and satellite truck round up. They've even discovered a CVS pharmacy and a bunch of fast food places in the underground shopping center across from city hall.

On Monday, "In a strongly worded declaration, the L.A. county AFL-CIO has endorsed the “Occupy” protests that began in New York and have spread to Los Angeles and other cities." according to the Hollywood Reporter that went on to explain, "The group -- the L.A. County Federation of Labor -- is an umbrella group of AFL-CIO locals and other unions. Among its affiliates are AFTRA, SAG, Teamsters and Los Angeles based IATSE locals."

The big event Wednesday was a City Council resolution in support of Occupy Los Angeles being sponsored by Councilpersons Richard Alarcon, Eric Garcetti and Billy Rosendahl. Rumor had it that Jan Perry and Bernard Parks would oppose as payback to Alarcon for his vote on an unrelated matter

Occupy Los Angeles members filled the council chambers till some were standing in the rear. Many signed speakers cards and were able to speak. They generally made very good comments in the two minutes allowed to each speaker.

While people were speaking, someone from the city started passing out copies of the resolution signed by 7 out of the 13 councilpersons, which told us it would pass, now the only question was by how much.

It didn't actually pass today because the council never votes on a resolution at the same meeting at which it is introduced but the vote to set put it on Tuesday's agenda passed unanimously, which is a good indication of how things will go.

The city council has also sent a request to the mayor asking him to issue an executive decree allowing us to stay camped on the lawn 24/7 instead of having to move to the sidewalks every night.

These decisions indicate that cooperation they have so far received from the city and the LAPD will continue, at least for now. The lack of conflict and intimidation has made it a place were people feel safe in visiting even with their families and the overall atmosphere means that they get hooked on the first visit. The coverage from the local media, and even the crews nearby covering the Jackson doctor's trial, means that word is going out much wider than it could by relying on alternate media alone. So the people are coming to join them in increasing numbers as are the food and supplies from the community that will sustain them.

The stars seem to be aligned for Occupy LA even if they can't see them tonight because of the rain clouds.

Excerpts from the city council resolution appear below and the entire thing in image format can be found here. A link to the text if promised and will be posted here when we get it:

Whereas, in cognizance that one of the factors spurring recent violent revolutionary protests in the Middle East is high income inequality, though the sobering reality is that income inequality in the United States is even higher than that of some of the countries torn asunder by violent revolution; for instance, according to the C.I.A. World Fact Book, the United States Gini coefficient, which is used to measure inequality, is higher than that of Egypt’s pre-Revolution.

#OccupyLA - Day 4

After the struggle following the first Occupy LA General Assembly in which a small group of protesters balked at the police demand, insisted upon by the Occupy LA Security Committee, that all tents be moved to the sidewalk after 10:30pm, this group congealed into what they begin calling themselves the “Police Brutality Committee.” They did this without seeking or receiving approval of the GA.

On Sunday, the 2nd day of the occupation, this group met together the better part of the day in preparation for the evening GA. When they met as the Police Brutality Committee, they resolved to call for the disbanding of the Security Committee, which they said acted like police and took orders from the police.

Even through the LAPD has so far been exceptionally helpful and courteous, this group wants Occupy LA to refuse any cooperation with them. For example, Sunday a single police car monitored the the protest camp at city hall from across the street that at times had close to a thousand people in it. There have been no arrests and no reported incidents. When people marched on a bank Monday and went into the lobby and passed out flyers, the police didn't try to stop them. When asked why they were there by one protester, she was told they were just there to make sure the protesters didn't do something like writing on the wall. I wish I had been there. I would have told him the writing was already on the wall and that's why we are camped out on the city hall lawn.

In more personal conversations many have expressed support for our cause. This is quite understandable because the economic crisis effects them doubly. First, the impoverishment of the people means doing their job on the streets is all the harder and more dangerous. This is true whether you call it “suppressing the masses for the Man” or by any other name. Secondly, the cut backs in city budgets puts them in danger of losing even that job.

In spite of this real world situation, members of this self-appointed committee stated frankly that they didn't consider police to be part of the 99% and they wanted to be more confrontational with the police. Although their stated purpose was to raise awareness about police brutality, they have been spoiling for a fight with the police.

They were particularly steamed that protesters didn't “confront” the police when the protesters went to Occupy Metro. At the metro station the cops were also very supportive. The members of the “Police Brutality Committee” objected to the the chant “You are the 99%” being directed at the police. At their meeting many said they never would have gone if they knew it was going to be a “police love feast.”

Some of these same people dominated the facilitators meeting that set the agenda and choose the chairs for the third occupation GA. It would also appear they had influence on picking the stackers because some people had undo trouble getting on the speakers list, But when they got to the part of the agenda they had been waiting for, the report of the “Police Brutality Committee” there was such strong opposition to their proposals that they quickly tabled them without allowing discussion.

Afternoon General Assembly - Day 4

The next day, at the General Assembly, they pushed a much more limited agenda, but then they didn't have the control of the process that they had the day before. Also, someone pointed out that this committee had never been sanctioned by the General Assembly and they were forced to petition for approval. There was much opposition to approval and the matter was tabled again.

They also put up a facebook page with the misleading title “End Police Brutality at Occupy LA.” That was also met with growing opposition, so more struggle around this issue was expected at this evening's General Assembly. But that GA was facilitated by an entirely new group and with many first time attendees both from the public and the media, it wasn't dealt with then either. It is planned to work on that issue at a quieter time Wednesday.

Occupy Los Angeles with SEIU Janitors

Also Tuesday, Occupy LA did a joint demonstration with members of SEIU janitors local. About a hundred union members and an equal number from Occupy LA members marched in front of the post office on Temple Ave several blocks from city hall for about an hour. On the way back to city hall, they stopped at Michael Jackson's doctor's trial and serenaded the media camped out there with chants. Local media coverage has been growing in the past few days with TV trucks parked near the encampment most of the time. This is addition to the army of satellite trucks at the Murray trial. This local news coverage is bringing a growing number of Angelenos out to the protest.

Occupy LA protesting with the Janitors Union

Two Los Angeles councilmen, Eric Garcetti and Bill Rosendahl came out of the building to talk to the protesters and hold press conferences, naturally. Tomorrow they are joining Richard Alarcon in introducing a support resolution for Occupy Los Angeles in the city council on Wednesday. The protesters plan to pack the chamber.

Also Tuesday, a representative from LA Union, the LA County AFL-CIO came by to ask our support for a joint protest of energy giant SEMPRA on October 13th. A General Assembly was called on the spot and the action was endorsed. Thursday they have another labor action planned with SEIU.

Only four days into Occupy Los Angeles and they already have gotten great labor support and significant major media coverage. The outpouring of support from the Los Angeles community has been incredible. They have not lacked for food or water or anything as so much is being sent to them by the public, everything from tents and sleeping bags to baby wipes. They received no less than three pizzas deliveries today, one was about three dozen pizzas. One protester/journalist tweeted that they had better plan a lot more actions or he was going to start gaining weight.

More and more people are joining Occupy Los Angeles everyday and this makes the growing pains like those associated with the Police Brutality committee a relatively minor concern.

It always feels like spring in Los Angeles, but this is starting to feel like an "Arab Spring."

#OccupyLA – Day 3

Rain is promised later in the week but today is a another beautiful Southern California day. Today should be especially interesting because it is the first regular week day for Occupy Los Angeles. City hall will be working, downtown will be bustling and the banks will be open.

The trial of Micheal Jackson's doctor also resumes today with all the international media coverage that befits a Hollywood show trial. Satellite trucks are parked all up and down the street just a few blocks from city hall and Monday's first action, at 6:00am was a march and rally in front of the courthouse. It was very effective. The Occupy Los Angeles story stole the lead from Jackson in the local morning news cycle.

Also Monday the protest camp was obliged to move from the south lawn to the north lawn so that a film production that has scheduled a permitted shoot on the south side of city hall you proceed on schedule. This is Los Angeles after all and they have their priorities.

This afternoon. a head of the evening General Assembly, Occupy Together is leading a march through the financial district to show solidarity with the protesters arrested on Wall St. Fortunately for us, the LAPD is determined not to repeat the mistakes on the NYPD and as a result many cops already see themselves as part of the 99%.

Occupy Los Angeles is relocated to North Lawn of City Hall
Occupy Los Angeles is relocated to North Lawn of City Hall

The Newest Library in Down Town LA
The Newest Library in Down Town LA

People Hanging Out
People Hanging Out

Power to the People
Power to the People

The Sign Depot
The Sign Depot

Even the 1% is coming by to visit and help out
Even the 1% is coming by to visit and help ou

#OccupyLA Day 2

328 people spent their first night camped out at Los Angeles City Hall last night. At the General Assembly on Saturday evening there was a long discussion, that got quite heated at times, about whether to camp out on the grass or to move to the sidewalk as requested, under threat of arrest by the police. In the end almost everyone moved to the sidewalk last night but they are back in the City Hall park today.

In the end, the threatened police crackdown never materialized. As it turned out, the LAPD had bigger fish to fry. The entire department was put on a citywide tactical alert Saturday night but that had nothing to do with Occupy Los Angeles. Two undercover narcotics cops got shot in a drug deal gone bad in Korea Town. As of this afternoon, the suspects were still at large so the police presence at city hall has been relatively light.

Actually so far, the LAPD has been very accommodating to the march. Although they had no permit for the march Saturday and they marched on the sidewalk, the police stopped traffic at every intersection so that the eight minute procession could be out of everyone's way as much as possible. They could have made them bunch up at every red light and written tickets for anyone that missed the cue. A single police car was posted on the street across from the protest all day Sunday but apart from the fact that it happened to be parked in front of the LAPD headquarters, which is also across the street from the city hall, there wasn't much of a police presence. No cops were even seen to be patrolling the grounds surrounding city hall. Those familiar with the LAPD's response to mass protests in the past knows that this has not always been the case.
Morning, day two, Occupy Los Angeles

Sunday was a most pleasant day at Los Angeles City Hall. Sunny and in the mid 70's with a slight breeze. There was coffee in the morning and various kinds of food all day. Either in the morning or sometimes doing the night, everyone who had pitched tents, moved then from the sidewalk back to the grassy part.

There are many committees, too many to name in a short article, and there were meetings all day preparing for the General Assembly in the evening. There was food preparation and distribution, others distributed water, making sure dehydration wasn't a problem in the sun, although most people stayed under the ample shade of the trees there. In the morning someone gave CPR training, complete with dummies and certification. There were generators brought in for power Sunday and the media team kept the live streaming webcam going all day. Internet access was also better today.

The porta potties were the best ever seen at a protest, not the usual plastic blue jobs that reek of chemicals and what they are trying to disguise. These were the type used on film sets with light, air, soap, regular toilets, wash basins and art work on the walls. One protester was heard to remark "We may sleep like we're on skidrow but we pee like we're in Beverly Hills."

An information and welcome tent was setup for the constant stream of newcomers that came to visit or stay. A lost and found was established and a place around the block made its restrooms available to the protesters 24/7. People came from as far way as Ojia and Orange County. In the space of 48 hours a new Los Angeles community was taking shape in the park surrounding city hall.

Unlike Occupy Wall St. or most of the occupy everywhere movements, the one in Los Angeles got major TV coverage on the first day, KABC came out late Sunday night and interviewed some of the people camping out. They ran those with the morning news cycle. This and other reports assured them of many new vistors.

Once again the Los Angeles movement showed its superb sense of timing. The major US media had boycotted Occupy Wall St. for two weeks already and was nearing the limit of that tactic. The bust of 700 on the Brooklyn bridge Saturday gave them the kind of story they could run with but that also meant they could not avoid covering the local protest also. These events cause this writer to tweet "#OccupyLA 1st day & night, no arrests. Did #OccupyWallSt go a bridge too far?"

In the morning a group from OccupyLA noticed a parade or march nearby and went to investigate. They found it was a group doing some good works but sponsored by Bank of Amerca. When this procession arrive at its rally point, the OccupyLA group started leading anti BoA chants and most of the neighborhood people BoA was sponsoring joined in on. That was not a schedule action.

Occupy Metro, on the other hand, was a scheduled action in which a lot of protesters rode the metro from city hall and back, all the while agitating for OccupyLA and Occupy Wall St. The transit cops also seemed to be sympathetic and helpful. Many of the protesters told them they were part of the 99% and should be in the park with them.

Others, however didn't agree. They saw all police, even all transit cops as simply agents of the capitalist state without a dual character, i.e., without a human side, without an identity as workers. They had sharp difference with those that thanked the transit cops for their consideration.

They also objected to the security team's strong suggests the night before that all those staying the night move to the sidewalk to avoid the arrests the LAPD had promised for those insisting on sleeping on the grass.

This is a relatively small group of less than a hundred young people in their twenties, many with a preference for dark clothes and faces hidden behind bandannas that see the need for a conflict with the police. They also insist upon their individual right to take whatever actions they think appropriate, either legal or illegal, regardless of whether it is sanctioned by the larger group.

They have been allied by some members of a much more sophisticated left group that have not been a part of the creation of OccupyLA but now want "in" to what is probably the most important movement in the past decades in Los Angeles. They see a way to build a following by appealing the the "militancy" of these youth.

All day the coalition met, first one place, then another. First in the "facilitation committee", then as the self-created "police abuse or brutality committee" to discuss their grievances with the police, the security committee and the larger group as a whole. They accused the security committee of acting like police and taking orders from the police. They were of a mind to disband the security committee and make security the task of everyone.

Although they generally expressed a freedom to ignore group decisions even if arrived at democratically, they felt that the group process had been very undemocratic and had many suggests on how to fix that, such as having breakout sessions before votes on most questions.

When one veteran activist, who was a named plaintiff in the 1984 ACLU/LAPD police spying case and spent his first months in jail for anti-war protests more than four decades ago, joined one of these discussions, he was told by a member of the "left" group that this wasn't a discussion for those that loved the police. This same activist was told the by his "stack keeper" that the facilitators "probably wouldn't let him speak" the second time he asked to be listed to comment at the evening General Assembly even though his first comments to the GA were met with strong applause. There were many other problems with the way this meeting was conducted.

So Sunday with the bright Los Angeles sun beaming down on them, some dark clouds also formed over occupy LA. Some of those that had provided the most leadership to this "leaderless" group and done the most in the last week to make this thing happen weren't at or active in this meeting, possibly because of other obligations or perhaps shear exhaustion.

Others, with an agenda that may not even be clear to themselves have stepped to the fore and are attempting to utilized the leaderless nature of this movement to enforce there own. They would like to see a confrontation with the police even though the police have been on their best behavior and they hold in their hands the power to destroy Occupy Los Angeles.

Occupy Los Angeles

UPDATED w' Pixs & Video: The Arab Spring Comes to Los Angeles! #OccupyLA

Thousands of people marched from Pershing Sq to the Los Angeles City Hall this afternoon. The shear numbers have forced the LAPD to backoff of their hardline attitude and allow us to occupy both the lawn and the sidewalk on all sides of city hall. Even the march was made without a city permit, the police stopped traffic so that the march could move efficiently through the downtown city streets. At the General Assembly last night the decision had been made to march down Broadway, normally filled with shoppers on a Saturday, rather than the normally empty financial district. The reception of the shoppers on Broadway was fantastic and the honking of passing cars has never stopped since we arrive at city hall hours ago.

Since the marchers arrived at city hall, it has been one grand celebration. Many more have joined their ranks. Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic spoke and so did Marcy Winograd and many others. Dozens of pizzas where delivered and passed around as many ate their first meal of the occupation. Water was declared the official soft drink of the revolution. Anons in Guy Fawkes masks carried a sign with saying “No Wat but Class War.” Now folks are gathering on the South lawn listening to poetry readings as a trumpet plays softly in the background. Soon they will be having the first General Assembly.

The city council is now said to be “99%” in support of Occupy Los Angeles but it remains to be seen how the LAPD responses after scheduled activities end at 10:30pm and people begin to bed down because nothing has been set for sleeping arrangements.

So stay tuned for updates.

Saturday morning, people gather in Pershing Sq.

It took more than seven minutes for marchers to leave Pershing Sq.


Occupy LA - day 1, marchers arrive at City Hall

Occupy LA - day 1, marchers arrive at City Hall

Occupy Los Angeles, day 1 South Lawn of City Hall
Occupy Los Angeles, day 1

Sitting on the South Lawn

Sitting on the South Lawn

Occupy Los Angeles, day 1 North Lawn of City Hall
Occupy Los Angeles, day 1 North Lawn of City Hall

Occupy Los Angeles, day 1 Poetry Reading
Occupy Los Angeles, day 1 Poetry Reading

Occupy Los Angeles @ City Hall
Occupy Los Angeles @ City Hall


Anonymous @ Occupy LA

Anonymous @ Occupy LA

Piggie speaks at Occupy Los Angeles
Piggie speaks at Occupy Los Angeles

Night falls on Day One of Occupy LA
Night falls on Day One of Occupy LA

UPDATED: Occupy Los Angeles Starts Tomorrow!

There was a spirited 3 hour meeting Thursday evening in Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles that was attended by about 200 activist to plan Occupy Los Angeles which will begin 10:00am Saturday morning, October 1st with a peaceful occupation at the Los Angeles City Hall. This was the latest in a series of planning General Assemblies that have been meeting in the park regularly at 7:00PM to plan the Los Angeles movement in solidarity with the Occupy Wall St. action against corporate greed and the many other occupations that are taking place around the world that also include Occupy Boston, Occupy Chicago, Occupy Denver and dozens of others right here in the United States. Minutes for the four previous GAs can be read here. The last pre-occupation General Assembly will take place at Pershing Sq. Friday, September 30th and all who are interested are invited to attend.
Occupy Los Angeles General Assembly 9-29-11

This is the official Occupy Los Angeles website. Look here for all kinds of info about the protest in LA. Staring Saturday morning you will be able to see streaming video of the protest at City Hall here also. You may follow Occupy Los Angeles on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube and Delicious.

Unions Join Wall Street Protests!

As the action nears the start of its third week, unions and community groups are eager to jump on board. They are motivated perhaps by a sense of solidarity and a desire to tap into its growing success, but undoubtedly by something else too-embarrassment that a group of young people using Twitter and Facebook have been able to draw attention to progressive causes in a way they haven't been able to in years. [...]

Some of the biggest players in organized labor are actively involved in planning for Wednesday's demonstration, either directly or through coalitions that they are a part of. The United Federation of Teachers, 32BJ SEIU, 1199 SEIU, Workers United and Transport Workers Union Local 100 are all expected to participate. The Working Families Party is helping to organize the protest and MoveOn.org is expected to mobilize its extensive online regional networks to drum up support for the effort.
"We're getting involved because the crisis was caused by the excesses of Wall Street and the consequences have fallen hardest on workers," a spokesman for TWU Local 100 said.

Community groups like Make the Road New York, the Coalition for the Homeless, the Alliance for Quality Education and Community Voices Heard are also organizing for Wednesday's action, and the labor/community coalitions United New York and Strong Economy For All are pitching in as well.

The Huffington Post also has a good piece on the growing union support for Occupy Wall St.

NYC Transit Union Joins Occupy Wall Street

New York City labor unions are preparing to back the unwieldy grassroots band occupying a park in Lower Manhattan, in a move that could mark a significant shift in the tenor of the anti-corporate Occupy Wall Street protests and send thousands more people into the streets.

The Transit Workers Union Local 100's executive committee, which oversees the organization of subway and bus workers, voted unanimously Wednesday night to support the protesters. The union claims 38,000 members. A union-backed organizing coalition, which orchestrated a large May 12 march on Wall Street before the protests, is planning a rally on Oct. 5 in explicit support. And SEIU 32BJ, which represents doormen, security guards and maintenance workers, is using its Oct. 12 rally to express solidarity with the Zuccotti Park protesters.

UPDATE 2:38PM PST: In the face of the LAPD's apparent refusal to make a legal place for the occupation, a number of people from Occupy Los Angeles have been in contact with members of the city council in an effort to remove barriers to a peaceful protests. It was raised at the city council meeting earlier today and as I write this we are awaiting the outcome of an inter-Departmental meeting between the LAPD, General Services and the City Attorney's office to see what accommodation the City of Los Angeles will make for its citizens.

Much earlier today Sarah Brennan from Councilmember Richard Alarcon's office called me asking how the Councilmember could show his support. I said the best thing he could do now would be to help us secure the legal right to peacefully protest at city hall. I have just received a copy of the letter below which makes me very happy and frankly, it's not often that I am happy with a Los Angeles City Councilmember.

However, we await the outcome of the meeting.

Memo of support for OccupyLA from Los Angeles Councilman Richard Alarcon

Check back for more stuff later.

Occupy Los Angeles on October 1st! - An #OccupyWallStreet Diary

Follow clayclai on Twitter
Monday I received the following post from Barbara Peck for our venice@LinuxBeach.net community mail list:

I just got out of a meeting with 100 organizers in downtown and we've got a huge action coming up next Saturday, October 1st. In solidarity with the building movement against corporate greed and actions taking place in NY and other cities across the country, we are going to be occupying Los Angeles (at L.A. City Hall). We'll be doing an encampment of the lawn and hits on the financial district.

Please let me know asap if can participate in this.

Also, please help get people out for this - to camp out - and hold our government accountable - this is what we've been working for and it's finally here.

Onward and upward.

OCCUPY LA

Mark Lipman

Obama Protest Rally in West Hollywood 26/09/2011
Like a preview of coming attractions, several hundred people showed up to "welcome" President Obama to Los Angeles on Monday and tell him what we thought. A General Assembly of Occupy LA took place after the rally.

VFP member mike chickey made this video OBAMA VISITS WEST HOLLYWOOD.

LA Activists Protest the Obama fundraisers outside the House of Blues, on the Sunset Strip and the Fig and Olive restaurant near Melrose in West Hollywood / Monday Sept. 26th 2011

Music: Talking Heads
"Burning Down the House (Live)" on: iTunes, AmazonMP3

For Your Information:

This is the Anonymous Operations website with lots of info and videos from Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Chicago among other things.

While Anonymous has come down from cyberspace to lead and support this struggle in the streets, they have continued to promote the struggle on the Internet as well. Yesterday they exposed the identity and history of the cop who sprayed pepper spray into the eyes of four women who were peacefully protesting on Wall Street:

The Anonymous activist collective today released personal information about a New York police officer who is believed to have sprayed pepper spray on women protesters on Wall Street.

The group released a phone number, addresses, names of relatives, and other personal data for a New York police officer that numerous Web sites identified as Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna, as well as photos that appear to show him at the protest and a close-up of his badge.

Bologna was identified as the officer in a slow-motion video who sprayed pepper spray directly in the faces of a handful of women who had been penned in behind police netting at Wall Street protests on Saturday. The video shows no evidence of provocation on the part of the sequestered protesters.

Anonymous also release a statement about the incident:

"As we watched your officers kettle innocent women, we observed you barbarically pepper spray wildly into the group of kettled women. We were shocked and disgusted by your behavior. You know who the innocent women were, now they will have the chance to know who you are. Before you commit atrocities against innocent people, think twice. WE ARE WATCHING!!! Expect Us!"

This gave the NY Times something to report about Occupy Wall St.

On Tuesday, they did more than occupy Wall St, they cracked Wall St. cybersecurity and released personal data on Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein:

The document, posted to the Pastebin Web site, includes the CEO's age, recent addresses, details of litigation he has been involved in, as well as registration information for businesses, but no sensitive information such as financial data.

WLCentral is another website that I write for and it is another important source of breaking news on the 'occupation.' In fact, WLCentral has been building this event since March when it was called US Day of Rage. [USDOR]

This is the official Occupy Los Angeles website. Look here for all kinds of info about the protest in LA. Staring Saturday morning you will be able to see streaming video of the protest at City Hall here also.

One thing that Occupy Wall St. has already accomplished is showing the bankruptcy of the major media in the United States again. For the first week of the protest they have imposed a virtual news blackout on the protest. The best coverage has come from the foriegn press, like this piece from the Guardian. Keith Olbermann slammed this media blackout on Countdown.

The MSM may be ignoring the Wall St. occupation but state security isn't. @anonymousIRC tweets "FBI surveillance of OWS run from 26 Federal Plaza, overseen by courts at 500 Pearl St, with detention cells at 150 Park Row."

Glenn Greenwald has a great article in today's Salon:

What's behind the scorn for the Wall Street protests?

It's unsurprising that establishment media outlets have been condescending, dismissive and scornful of the ongoing protests on Wall Street. Any entity that declares itself an adversary of prevailing institutional power is going to be viewed with hostility by establishment-serving institutions and their loyalists. That's just the nature of protests that take place outside approved channels, an inevitable by-product of disruptive dissent: those who are most vested in safeguarding and legitimizing establishment prerogatives (which, by definition, includes establishment media outlets) are going to be hostile to those challenges. As the virtually universal disdain in these same circles for WikiLeaks (and, before that, for the Iraq War protests) demonstrated: the more effectively adversarial it is, the more establishment hostility it's going to provoke.

Also today, Politics and Computers reports that journalist John Farley was arrested after trying to interview protesters on Wall St:

The actions of the NYPD in policing the Occupy Wall Street protests have again been called into question, after journalist John Farley claimed he was arrested when he tried to talk to female protesters who had been maced.

In a Metro Focus post titled Observations of a jailed journalist, Farley recounts how he was arrested while trying to conduct the interview, despite wearing a ‘WNET – New York Public Media’ badge.

But the #OccupyEveryTownUSA movement is continuing to grow and gain traction in spite of the police repression and media blackout. MikeElk tweets "seems like tide is turning on prog support for #occupywallstreet a lot of progressive starting to speak up in support." and Michael Moore, who visited Occup Wall St. Monday night said:

"This is literally an uprising of people who have had it," Moore says. "It has already started to spread across the country in other cities. It will continue to spread. ... It will be tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of people ... Their work ahead is not as difficult as other movements in the past ... The majority of Americans are really upset at Wall Street ... So you have already got an army of Americans who are just waiting for somebody to do something, and something has started."

Join us starting Saturday, October 1st @ Los Angeles City Hall. It has a nice lawn and we aim to make use of it!

Kasama Project: Marxists are not cynics!

Follow clayclai on Twitter
IMHO opinion communists have a lot to learn from Anonymous and these other youth groups before they are in a position to provide any badly needed idealogical leadership. I wrote what follows in response to some of the comments posted to Occupy Wall Street! on Sept. 19th. Since it remains unpublished I've decided to run it here. apparently they don't just moderated comments for spam or obscenity but also to avoid criticism. Hardly the intellectual courage that befits Marxists.

I apologize if my tone is a little acid but the attitude and arrogance of some people that call themselves Marxists but have done little or nothing to support the great revolutionary movements taking place in MENA in 2011 is really starting to piss me off.

Marxists are not cynics!

If you people are going to call yourselves "communists", will you please find out something about what you are talking about before you commit thoughts to print because as Lenin once said, nobody can discredit the communists if they don't do it to themselves.

Here we have a group of youth protesting capitalism on Wall St. and described by a Business Insider Board Room commentator as typically "wearing a Che shirt and spouting off Marxist slogan." You might think such a gathering would be welcomed by groups like the little known website Kasama Project that has been described "as a communist project that fights (in theory and practice) for the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions." But judging by the comments here, that is not the case.

Saturday night Adbusters and Anonymous brought out about 5,000 people, according to Forbes and what I see here are the most disparaging remarks and mostly disrespect.

I find statements like:

Anonymous, and their subsequent overall influence, is limited to digital communities occupied mostly by White males.

go uncontradicted.

Well allow me to educate you. Did you know Tunisia had 35% broadband Internet access, an extraordinary level of service, the highest of any North African country? Did you know Anonymous had Tunisian members before the uprising? Did you know that Anonymous initiated OpTunisia on January 2nd? Anonymous played a much bigger role in supporting and promoting the "Arab Spring" than you people know.

Anonymous was already discussing OpLibya in mid-January when Libyan protesters were taking over housing projects, and play a very important role in events in Egypt with their OpEgypt.

There is a relationship between Anonymous, WikiLeaks and things like Google's speech-to-tweet service that was hastily put together for Egypt and then Libya that I don't think you are aware of.

If you don't think these hackers played a critical role in the revolutions that have swept North Africa in 2011, remember that in none of those countries were the regimes ever completely successful in cutting off Internet access. Now think of how things might have worked out differently if they had.

Frankly, there is a lot going on the revolutionary road in the 21st century that you are obviously not aware of so please try to have a little humility. Try to learn more about what you are talking about and try not to give communism a bad name.

Another great video from the Libyan Revolution:

Uploaded by libr817 on Sep 10, 2011

The revolution isn't over, but with the liberation of Tripoli the biggest part of the battle is complete.

This is in honor of families who grew up outside of their country. Of fathers and mothers who persevered through difficult times raising their children in a foreign country. For the thuwar who fought and continue to fight until the end. And so importantly, those who gave up their lives for this. Kulhum shaheed inshallah.

For more background on the Libyan Revolution and links to lots of information see my other writings at the DailyKos and WikiLeaks Central:
Why is Chris Hedges calling for "boots on the ground" in Libya?
The Worm Has Turned: Good Film on Libyan Revolution from PressTV
Why NATO's mission in Libya isn't over yet
Libya's Freedom Fighters: How They Won
Racism in Libya
Abdul Rahman Gave his Eyes to See the End of Qaddafi
BREAKING: Secret files reveal Dennis Kucinich talks with Qaddafi Regime
BREAKING: Libyan TNC won't extradite Lockerbie bomber
Who really beat Qaddafi?
#Feb17: @NATO Please help MEDEVAC wounded from #Libya
What should those that opposed NATO's intervention in Libya demand now?
BREAKING: Qaddafi's Tripoli Compound Falls!
Does PDA Support Qaddafi?
BREAKING: Operation Mermaid Dawn, the Battle to Liberate Tripoli is JoinedHelter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure
Qaddafi's Long Arm
SCOOP: My Lai or Qaddafi Lie? More on the 85 Civilians presumed killed by NATO
Did NATO kill 85 Libyan Villagers As Qaddafi Regime Contends?
CCDS Statement on Libya - a Critique
The Assassination of General Abdul Fattah Younis
NATO over Tripoli - Air Strikes in the Age of Twitter
How Many Libyans has NATO Killed?
Qaddafi Terror Files Start to Trickle Out!
Have Libyan Rebels Committed Human Rights Abuses?
Tripoli Green Square Reality Check
Behind the Green Curtain: Libya Today
Gilbert Achcar on the Libyan situation and the Left
NATO slammed for Libya civilian deaths NOT!
2011-07-01 Qaddafi's Million Man March
NATO's Game Plan in Libya
February 21st - Tripoli's Long Night
Did Qaddafi Bomb Peaceful Protesters?
Tripoli Burn Notice
Libyans, Palestinians & Israelis
'Brother' Qaddafi Indicted plus Libya & Syria: Dueling Rally Photofinishs
An Open Letter to ANSWER
ANSWER answers me
2011-06-22 No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum
Are they throwing babies out of incubators yet?
Continuing Discussion with a Gaddafi Supporter
Boston Globe oped supports Gaddafi with fraudulent journalism
2011-04-13 Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Current Events in Libya
Amonpour Plays Softball with Gaddafi
Arming Gaddfi
North African Revolution Continues
Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation

Fri Jan 20, 2012 at 9:46 AM PT: The charge that I made in the introduction to this dairy that I had been banned from the Kasama Project was wrong. I apologize for the misunderstanding.

On 01/18/2012 12:57 PM, mike ely wrote me:

We never ban anyone for their views.

So I plan to post some stuff there in the future.

BREAKING: Libyan's NTC pledges not to discriminate against black Africans

"We do not make any distinction among people on grounds of colour. And we do not discriminate against our brothers from African countries."

Follow clayclai on Twitter
September 19, 2011, From Reuters:

GENEVA (Reuters) - Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) pledged on Monday to treat foreigners accused of fighting for ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi well, and denied that anti-Gaddafi fighters had committed systematic abuse of Africans.
...
Mohammed al-Alagi, identified as the minister of justice and human rights of the NTC, told the U.N. Human Rights Council that Gaddafi had used mercenaries to kill Libyans, but that any who were captured would be treated fairly.

"The Gaddafi regime declared war on the Libyan people, and used foreign mercenaries," al-Alagi said. "But when captured they will still have the right to an appropriate trial before an ordinary judge and according to international law."

He added: "We do not make any distinction among people on grounds of colour. And we do not discriminate against our brothers from African countries."
...
Al-Alagi said that the NTC would investigate fully any violations of human rights committed by its fighters.

"There have been no war crimes (by anti-Gaddafi forces)," he said. "If anything illegal has happened, it was individual acts by revolutionaries who were not acting under instructions from the NTC. We have called on the revolutionaries to treat prisoners according to Islamic Shariah and international law."

There is something that I have been meaning to point out about the the Qaddafi mercenaries that is important for every one to remember: Most of them are victims too.

I'm not talking here about the black African immigrants that have been mistaken for mercenaries. They are already twice victimized. First as the abused and second as the accused. I'm talking about the one's who really were fighting against the revolution, the one's who took lives and committed atrocities.

While a handful fit the "Soldier of Fortune" image we have been taught to associate with mercenaries, and some fought out of a confused idealogical loyalty to Qaddafi, many became mercenaries pretty much the same way British seamen in a certain period became sailors, in a word, they were Shanghaied.

If you have been following this uprising for the past 8 months you've heard the stories. Africans who were lured by a "free" plane ride to Tripoli, only when they got there they found a gun in their hands and one at their back, marching them off to war. Others were told that they were needed to fight against atrocities committed against innocent people, or to fight al Qaeda and other terrorists. A tale that is also used to lure high school students in the US to their deaths.

Still others, faced with starving children at home and no job prospects, found it impossible to refuse the chance to earn an illusionary $1000/week for doing this good work. The Qaddafi regime has spent more than four decades cultivating it's skills at luring Africans to war. I will post more on that latter.

I hope that all involved will remember this and treat even the genuine mercenaries with compassion and mercy. As criminals they should be tried and punished according to law. As defeated and captured soldiers they should be objects of our pity, not our vengeance.

As one blogger for the African Herald Express wrote about:

how many are conscripted by Gadhafi and forced to defend themselves or die facing Gadhafi’s opponents and defectors. It is a no win situation for these poor Africans that went to Libya for fortune or were working there when civil war broke out.

If the NTC and the Libyan people do this they will stand high among the nations. They will show to an increasingly violent world, that even though a people sometimes must resort to violence to win their freedom, they will not be ruled by it.

This is the next great lesson you need to teach the world.

Mummar Qaddafi has been especially careful to cultivate loyalty among the Tuaregs, a black African tribe spread over southern Libya, Niger and Algeria. Suggested reading for more background on that relationship should probably include this:

GADDAFI AND THE TOUAREG: Love, hate and petro-dollars

Touareg attitudes to Gaddafi vary wildly, depending on country of origin and history (First published by Monocle Magazine - Online only, March 2011)

Here is the story of one of Qaddafi's Tuaregs mercenaries:

Former Qaddafi Mercenaries Describe Fighting in Libyan War

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of ethnic Tuaregs left Mali to fight for Muammar Qaddafi. Now, some are returning home to tell their story

TIMBUKTU, Mali — Last month at a guesthouse within sight of the rolling dunes of the open Sahara, I sat down to await one of Muammar Qaddafi’s mercenaries. Through an intermediary he agreed to meet and explain why the Tuareg — an ancient Saharan people who inhabit large desert swathes of Libya, Mali, Niger, and Algeria — would help the Libyan leader crush the democracy protests — including unarmed civilians, women, and children — and eventually join in all-out war against the ensuing rebellion

read more here...

See especially,
Racism in Libya
and
Helter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure
for more on this question.


For more background on the Libyan Revolution and links to lots of information see my other writings at the DailyKos and WikiLeaks Central:
Why is Chris Hedges calling for "boots on the ground" in Libya?
The Worm Has Turned: Good Film on Libyan Revolution from PressTV
Why NATO's mission in Libya isn't over yet
Libya's Freedom Fighters: How They Won
Racism in Libya
Abdul Rahman Gave his Eyes to See the End of Qaddafi
BREAKING: Secret files reveal Dennis Kucinich talks with Qaddafi Regime
BREAKING: Libyan TNC won't extradite Lockerbie bomber
Who really beat Qaddafi?
#Feb17: @NATO Please help MEDEVAC wounded from #Libya
What should those that opposed NATO's intervention in Libya demand now?
BREAKING: Qaddafi's Tripoli Compound Falls!
Does PDA Support Qaddafi?
BREAKING: Operation Mermaid Dawn, the Battle to Liberate Tripoli is Joined
Helter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure
Qaddafi's Long Arm
SCOOP: My Lai or Qaddafi Lie? More on the 85 Civilians presumed killed by NATO
Did NATO kill 85 Libyan Villagers As Qaddafi Regime Contends?
CCDS Statement on Libya - a Critique
The Assassination of General Abdul Fattah Younis
NATO over Tripoli - Air Strikes in the Age of Twitter
How Many Libyans has NATO Killed?
Qaddafi Terror Files Start to Trickle Out!
Have Libyan Rebels Committed Human Rights Abuses?
Tripoli Green Square Reality Check
Behind the Green Curtain: Libya Today
Gilbert Achcar on the Libyan situation and the Left
NATO slammed for Libya civilian deaths NOT!
2011-07-01 Qaddafi's Million Man March
NATO's Game Plan in Libya
February 21st - Tripoli's Long Night
Did Qaddafi Bomb Peaceful Protesters?
Tripoli Burn Notice
Libyans, Palestinians & Israelis
'Brother' Qaddafi Indicted plus Libya & Syria: Dueling Rally Photofinishs
An Open Letter to ANSWER
ANSWER answers me
2011-06-22 No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum
Are they throwing babies out of incubators yet?
Continuing Discussion with a Gaddafi Supporter
Boston Globe oped supports Gaddafi with fraudulent journalism
2011-04-13 Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Current Events in Libya
Amonpour Plays Softball with Gaddafi
Arming Gaddfi
North African Revolution Continues
Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation

Why is Chris Hedges calling for "boots on the ground" in Libya?

Follow clayclai on Twitter
On September 5th, Chris Hedges wrote a very pessimistic article on Truthdig titled Libya: Here We Go Again. His title reflects the very common view among many on the left in the US that whatever happens in Libya, as with the rest of the world, it's all about the United States. This is also the view held by CCDS and numerous other "left" groups that Libya is just like Iraq [from the US POV] and "we've been through this movie before." In other words, same old stuff, nothing new to see here. Nothing to learn. Whatever the Libyans may have accomplished or are trying to accomplish is not nearly so important as what Hedges thinks the US government wants, and therefore will get, out of the Libyan revolution.

To understand why Hedges is promoting such a pessimistic outlook on the future of Libya, we must, for the moment, skip over the garbage that constitutes the body of his article and "cut to the chase" in the last paragraph where he calls for foreign "boots on the ground", which we will review in full:

The vendettas in Libya have already begun. Government buildings in Tripoli have been looted, although not on the scale seen in Baghdad.

And we might add to that, not even on the scale recently seen in London. As @libya20 tweeted on August 26, "Looting in #Tripoli was much less than that in #London despite there is no police in Tripoli and a lot of them in London" While Qaddafi's luxury villa may have been ransacked and looted and the western media has been throwing up a scare about suspected looting of arms depots, there has been almost no looting of the type that is common in western cities as soon as law and order breaks down. Did Hedges call for a UN "peacekeeping" force to be dispatched to London?

Poor black sub-Saharan African immigrant workers have been beaten and killed.

Although there have been exaggerations in the pro-Qaddafi press, this has been a real problem which the NTC is starting to deal with but as I noted in Racism in Libya, it's not exactly a problem that is new in Libya. Did Hedges call for a UN "peacekeeping" force when 150 black Africans were slaughtered in Tripoli in 2001 and hundreds of thousands were interned in Qaddafi's desert detention camps?

Suspected Gadhafi loyalists or spies have been tortured and assassinated. These eye-for-an-eye killings will, I fear, get worse.

While excesses and atrocities can be found on every side in every war, there is no widespread evidence of "torture and assassination" among those captured by the revolutionary forces. Al Jazeera reported on the same day Hedges published his piece:

In recent days, fighters said they had conducted sweeps through the capital and acted on informants' tips to carry out the targeted arrests of ex-regime members.

The arrests of confirmed Gaddafi loyalists, however, have been limited. Some former high-ranking officials claimed they turned themselves in, including Abdelati Obeidi, former foreign minister, and Jibril Kadiki, former deputy commander of Gaddafi's air defence forces.

Imagine that! Qaddafi loyalists turning themselves in to be "tortured and assassinated." Too bad they didn't check with Truthdig before they made that fatal error. I'm surprised Obeidi is still among the living.

As to Chris Hedges' "fear," I will address that shortly and show that it has absolutely nothing to do with the current situation in Libya.

The National Transitional Council has announced that it opposes the presence in Libya of U.N. military observers and police, despite widespread atrocities committed by Gadhafi loyalists.

Yes, the NTC has very wisely refused any UN or NATO "boots on the ground" and with a little help from NATO and Qatari air power, they have in six months reduced the area in which Qaddafi loyalists are free to commit atrocities to three small and surrounded areas, and there is no reason to believe they can't now finish the job in a month or so without foreign "boots on the ground."

The observers and police have been offered to help quell the chaos,

September 17th started another school year in Libya..
Children starting school today in LibyaThe chaos which seems to exist only in the minds of those that need it as an excuse for sending in the marines. Imagine the courage of the stream of international heads of state and other dignitaries who have braved the "chaos" to visit Libya's liberated capital, not to mention the courage of ordinary Tripolians who are starting to get back to their normal lives. Yesterday September 17th, was the first day of the school year in Libya and at least some schools started on schedule.

train new security forces and provide independent verification of what is happening inside Libya.

Because now that Qaddafi is gone, Libyans obviously can't be trusted to run their own country. Clearly from this we can see that Hedges doesn't think the Libyan forces that won the civil war can secure the peace but by what logic does the "socialist" and "anti-imperialist" Hedges conclude that a UN force would be "independent?" Independent, perhaps, of the will of the Libyan people, but certainly not independent of the machinations of the NATO imperialists.

But just as Gadhafi preferred to do dirty work in secret, so will the new regime.

What exactly is the basic of this charge? Is the Internet still being blocked? Have there been any restrictions to freedom of the press in liberated Libya? By most accounts the people of Libya and the press have been enjoying a freedom there that they have not known for 42 years. If anything, I think they need to tighten up on the "freedom of the press" a little because while I was very pleased to see the work product of the Qaddafi-era documents that an Al Jazeera reporter smuggled out of the state security building showing the close relationship between the Dennis Kucinich and the Qaddafi regime, I thought it bad that they had been left unguarded and available for the taking. Perhaps that is the 'looting of government buildings' to which Hedges is referring?

He ends his piece with a final shot of cynicism, indicating that he, with his infinite experience in world affairs, doesn't think anything will change or can change.

It is an old truism, one I witnessed repeatedly in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and the Balkans, that yesterday's victims rapidly become today's victimizers.

Well Chris, you have never witnessed a revolution like this before!

So the bottomline is that Chris Hedges is pushing for UN forces on the ground in Libya. He must now be a little embarrassed that a week after he called for them in Libya, UN "peacekeepers" have been charged with rape in Haiti. He should also know, given his extensive experience in the 3rd world, that a UN "peacekeeping" force will in reality do little to keep the peace. Witness the bang up job they did in the Cote d'Ivoire. What they really represent is an opportunity for the great powers, which control the UN and will determine the composition and real agenda of any UN mission to get imperialist "boots on the ground" because as has been point out by a US defense analysts "it may be difficult to cement any victory in Libya without ground troops."

I will not critique the body of his article in the same way. You see how tedious it has been to set right just this last paragraph. However, I will run through a few of the main points so you will understand that I am not being mean when I call it garbage.

If Hedges knew as much about Libya as he claimed, he wouldn't be "waiting for a trucked-in crowd to rejoice." On February 20th Libyan's went to what is now known as Martyrs Square to protest the Qaddafi regime peacefully and in large numbers, about 800 of them were murdered. The people rejoicing there as Hedges penned that line represented the freed people of Tripoli in their tens of thousands and they didn't have to be "trucked in." There is no "occupation" of Tripoli. The uprising from within the city led its liberation on August 20th.

He thinks he knows Libya, but he has only known Libya under the dictatorship Mummar Qaddafi, a man that even Hedges calls "insane" so he has no sound basis for now predicting "chaos and bloodletting." He supported "stopping Gadhafi forces from entering Benghazi." but apparent thinks nothing should have been done to stop him from entering Misrata. He is clearly opposed to NATO having any role in protecting civilians in Sirte now, where Qaddafi may be holding as many and 60,000 people as human shields. Because of that, NATO really can't do much, which why it is turning into a house-to-house slug feast.

He claims the NTC has put the number of Libyan's killed in the civil war at 50,000 whereas their official number is 30,000 according to the interim health minister. The 50,000 figure was given by a colonel according to PressTV.

For a guy that came from Harvard and use to work for the NY Times, to produce work of that quality is to produce garbage. Besides which, it is this last paragraph that contains what we call in filmmaking "the money shot", or in comedy "the punchline", or more appropriately in this case, what we call in business "the bottomline."

And the bottomline is that the "socialist" and "anti-imperialist" Chris Hedges is joining the chorus of voices led by NATO, that now include Russia and China, that are demanding UN intervention, not in the war in Libya but in the peace. Every paragraph that proceeds this is just more garbage heaped on top of garbage in the hopes that by the time you reach what we call in the protest movement "the demand", you won't notice that what he is demanding is the capitulation of the revolution to imperialism.

Beside which, the thinking behind Hedges' dismal outlook for the Libyan revolution really has nothing to do with Libya or the facts on the ground there. If we want to understand what is going on in Chris Hedges' head, rather than spending more time on this piece he recently wrote about Libya, we would be better served by looking at a piece he wrote almost a year before the February 17th uprising. That piece is Zero Point of Systemic Collapse, and although it doesn't even mention Libya, I think we will find a better explanation for his views on Libya there than anything in the more recent piece that we have been examining. Here he sums up his worldview:

We stand on the cusp of one of the bleakest periods in human history when the bright lights of a civilization blink out and we will descend for decades, if not centuries, into barbarity. The elites have successfully convinced us that we no longer have the capacity to understand the revealed truths presented before us or to fight back against the chaos caused by economic and environmental catastrophe. As long as the mass of bewildered and frightened people, fed images that permit them to perpetually hallucinate, exist in this state of barbarism, they may periodically strike out with a blind fury against increased state repression, widespread poverty and food shortages. But they will lack the ability and self-confidence to challenge in big and small ways the structures of control. The fantasy of widespread popular revolts and mass movements breaking the hegemony of the corporate state is just that a fantasy.

So even before it happens, the possibility that the Arab Spring, or any other mass movement could result in any revolutionary, or even long lasting progressive change, is completely denied. Believing this, how could he possibly see a way the Libyan revolution could succeed? More gems from this piece include:

We have undergone, as John Ralston Saul writes, a coup d'etat in slow motion. And the coup is over. They won. We lost.
and
We will begin a period in human history when there will be only masters and serfs.

So you see that the possibility that the Libyan uprising could create anything substantially better that Libya under Qaddafi is completely denied before it even begins. He doesn't need to call on his vast experience in the 3rd world or Libya at all to reach his conclusion, that's just to convince you he knows what he is talking about. And his conclusion is that the Libyan revolutionaries, if there really are any, were beaten before they begin and just don't know it yet.

In other words, Resistance is Futile. Not that Hedges thinks that we should stop resisting:

The increasingly overt uses of force by the elites to maintain control should not end acts of resistance. Acts of resistance are moral acts. They begin because people of conscience understand the moral imperative to challenge systems of abuse and despotism. They should be carried out not because they are effective but because they are right. Those who begin these acts are always few in number and dismissed by those who hide their cowardice behind their cynicism.

If resistance is purely a moral act, with no practical possibility of success, then any compromise to enhance that success can also be denied.

We must continue to resist, but do so now with the discomforting realization that significant change will probably never occur in our lifetime.

This is not a theory for building a popular revolutionary movement.

Chris Hedges thinks that the best thing progressives can do is find a quiet, secure place, perhaps in Canada, to weather the coming storm. I think that is exactly what he should do, or maybe he should go back to the NY Times, if they will have him. That is his proper place. The bourgeois press is already home for many petty-bourgeois cynics. But he should stop spreading his cynicism and pessimism and he should stop calling himself a progressive. Progressive are people with an optimistic outlook and great faith in what humanity can accomplish and he should certainly stop calling himself a socialist because socialists are revolutionaries that not only wish for a better world and are willing to fight for it, but also have a clear and confident vision of how it can be achieved.

In short, he should get out of the way, go write a long novel or something.


For more background on the Libyan Revolution and links to lots of information see my other writings at the DailyKos and WikiLeaks Central:
The Worm Has Turned: Good Film on Libyan Revolution from PressTV
Why NATO's mission in Libya isn't over yet
Libya's Freedom Fighters: How They Won
Racism in Libya
Abdul Rahman Gave his Eyes to See the End of Qaddafi
BREAKING: Secret files reveal Dennis Kucinich talks with Qaddafi Regime
BREAKING: Libyan TNC won't extradite Lockerbie bomber
Who really beat Qaddafi?
#Feb17: @NATO Please help MEDEVAC wounded from #Libya
What should those that opposed NATO's intervention in Libya demand now?
BREAKING: Qaddafi's Tripoli Compound Falls!
Does PDA Support Qaddafi?
BREAKING: Operation Mermaid Dawn, the Battle to Liberate Tripoli is Joined
Helter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure
Qaddafi's Long Arm
SCOOP: My Lai or Qaddafi Lie? More on the 85 Civilians presumed killed by NATO
Did NATO kill 85 Libyan Villagers As Qaddafi Regime Contends?
CCDS Statement on Libya - a Critique
The Assassination of General Abdul Fattah Younis
NATO over Tripoli - Air Strikes in the Age of Twitter
How Many Libyans has NATO Killed?
Qaddafi Terror Files Start to Trickle Out!
Have Libyan Rebels Committed Human Rights Abuses?
Tripoli Green Square Reality Check
Behind the Green Curtain: Libya Today
Gilbert Achcar on the Libyan situation and the Left
NATO slammed for Libya civilian deaths NOT!
2011-07-01 Qaddafi's Million Man March
NATO's Game Plan in Libya
February 21st - Tripoli's Long Night
Did Qaddafi Bomb Peaceful Protesters?
Tripoli Burn Notice
Libyans, Palestinians & Israelis
'Brother' Qaddafi Indicted plus Libya & Syria: Dueling Rally Photofinishs
An Open Letter to ANSWER
ANSWER answers me
2011-06-22 No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum
Are they throwing babies out of incubators yet?
Continuing Discussion with a Gaddafi Supporter
Boston Globe oped supports Gaddafi with fraudulent journalism
2011-04-13 Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Current Events in Libya
Amonpour Plays Softball with Gaddafi
Arming Gaddfi
North African Revolution Continues
Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation

The Worm Has Turned: Good Film on Libyan Revolution from PressTV

This is one of the best films on the Libyan Revolution I have seen anywhere. It starts with the great legacy of Omar Mukhtar. It goes through the 1969 Qaddafi coup, has a good segment on the 1996 prison massacre and shows how that lead to the uprising in February. It shows how the peaceful protesters in Benghazi were attacked by Qaddafi's mercenaries and shows graphically they why they were forced to go over to armed struggle and ends with the story of Mehdi Ziu who gave his life to blast a hole in the Qaddafi fort that helped the people of Benghazi to take it and create the first liberated area in eastern Libya. I highly recommended this 23 minute documentary as a basic introduction to the Libyan revolution.

The film is by British documentary filmmaker Hassan Alkatib. What is most interesting is that it is brought to us by PressTV.

If you don't know who Omar Mukhtar, Hassan Alkatib and Mehdi Ziu are, you need to watch this short film.
Benghazi: The Uprising

BREAKING NEWS: NATO shouldn't be trusted by Libyans!

Follow clayclai on Twitter
Today British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy were in Tripoli to bask in the glory of a successful campaign to remove the murderous dictator Mummar Qaddafi from power.

For once, they did a good deed in stopping Qaddafi from using his air force, navy and heavy weapons to massacre the people of Benghazi, Misrata and Tripoli and they claim that their actions were motivated only by humanitarian concerns. This is certainly not the case.

The US, UK and EU countries made peace with Qaddafi some time ago and had already brought him fully into the imperialist fold before the uprising. He had joined the IMF, established military-to-military relations with the pentagon and, we now know from documents found in Tripoli since it's liberation, the CIA was even using his torture dungeons for "special renditions."

They were happy to keep paying him for Libya's oil no matter how many people he slaughtered to maintain his dictatorship. That is why they made no substantive moves to stay his murderous suppression of the uprising until it had survived it's first month, gone over to armed struggle, and was starting to show that it had staying power.

Today when Sarkozy said "This was a just cause," he told the truth, but when he said there was "no hidden agenda," he lied.

While they were already getting Libya's oil, due to the current world economic crisis, it was critical for them to maintain that supply, and once civil war was looking like it might be settling in for a very long and bloody fight, it was critical that they act to minimize the disruption to "their" oil supply.

In this regards, the world economic crisis served the Libyan revolution in two ways. First NATO countries, unlike with Iraq, which happened at another time under different economic circumstance, couldn't afford years of sanctions against Qaddafi either before or after a massacre and were forced to support the Thuwwar so as to shorten the war and the disruption of the oil supply. Second, they couldn't afford to use the war to create lucrative rebuilding contracts by devastating Libya's infrastructure like they did in Iraq.

The short story is that the capitalist crisis has so weakened the imperialist powers that their options in dealing with the Libyan situation were somewhat limited. This is why the NTC could cut a deal for air support without also accepting NATO boots on the ground. Some, including the NATO leaders themselves, will argue that they are fresh out of boots anyway, but that hardly undercuts my argument that the Libyan revolutionaries benefited from a weaken NATO.

So while today's speeches were full of flowery words about "democracy" and "freedom", what they really want is at least as much influence over Libya as they had under Qaddafi, if not more.

So when Cameron said:

"Let us be clear: This is not finished, this is not done, this is not over."

He no doubt had in mind more than catching Qaddafi and clearing out the remaining pockets of resistance, which the NTC now believes will take another two weeks of siege because their strategy is to avoid bloodshed as much as possible and Qaddafi is holding civilians hostage and using them as human shields in the few areas he still controls.

We are given a clue as to what else NATO may have in mind to complete their mission by a piece that came out in the Christian Science Monitor today:

some US defense analysts warn that it may be difficult to cement any victory in Libya without ground troops.

According to Dr. Nora Bensahel, senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security:

“Without some sort of troops on the ground, the risks go up that this will not be a quick or easy transition.”

The Thuwwar have come this far without NATO boots on the ground and the remaining Qaddafi loyalist seem relatively well contained. I'm sure Qaddafi would have loved nothing better than to pop Cameron and Sarkozy in Tripoli so I'm sure they felt it was well secured before their visit.

Civil society is returning to Tripoli at lightening speed and has been up and running in Benghazi for months. Hell, this evening I'm even seeing tweets that say they have already restored water and electricity to the parts Bani Walid they have just liberated and even Qaddafi's birthplace in Sirte has fallen.

Given all this, it would seem to be a strange time to be talking about boots on the ground but not only NATO but now the Russians and the Chinese have been calling for some sort of international "peace keeping force" now that the war has ended. Everybody wants an opportunity to get their spooks on the ground so that they can "influence" Libya's future.

IMHO, Libya's answer should be "thanks, but no thanks," Libya is for the Libyans now and so is their oil.

In a related story, documents captured in Tripoli and revealed yesterday, show just how close NATO was to Qaddafi before the uprising began. Britain was posed to upgrade the T-72 tanks of the feared and hated Khamis Brigade just before the Libya uprising started according to Public Service Europe:

Documents captured in Tripoli show just how close Britain came to enhancing the capabilities of Gaddafi's elite forces

Just days before the Libyan revolution commenced, General Dynamics UK - a subsidiary of General Dynamics US - was poised to commence with an £85m contract to upgrade Colonel Gaddafi's military. This deal was signed three years ago with the then Labour Government's blessing. After former Prime Minister Tony Blair brought Gaddafi back in from the cold, British defence manufacturers were given free rein to offer Libya their products.

In total, Blair helped secure some £350m worth of defence contracts. As well as the General Dynamics UK agreement, this also included an MBDA deal for £147million - for the supply of anti-tank missiles and £112m for a communications system. Other deals for air-to-air missiles and patrol vessels worth a further £600m never came to fruition. General Dynamics UK supplies the Bowman tactical communications and data system to the British Army, and has exported it to the Netherlands and Romania.
...
Documents unearthed in the barracks of Gaddafi's elite Khamis Brigade show that the Libyans were preparing to have 22 vehicles, including T-72 tanks and other armoured vehicles upgraded with new communications equipment on the eve of the uprising.

Note that the company doing the upgrade, General Dynamics, is one of the biggest defense contractors in the US, but this deal was done by it's UK subsidiarity to skirt the US prohibition on selling weapons to Qaddafi.

It is quite likely that the tanks to be upgrade were among those used against Libyan civilians and subsequently destroyed by NATO air strikes.

Since it is unlikely that NATO countries were upgrading Qaddafi's tanks so that he could use them against Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, and certainly not Israel, it would seem that they should have foreseen that they most likely would be used against the Libyan people. Especially since he had done it before.

ATTENTION CYNTHIA MCKINNEY: Did you know that your "Brother Qaddafi" was friends with, and financially supported a white supremacist group in Canada?

For more background on the Libyan Revolution and links to lots of information see my other writings at the DailyKos and WikiLeaks Central:
Why NATO's mission in Libya isn't over yet
Libya's Freedom Fighters: How They Won
Racism in Libya
Abdul Rahman Gave his Eyes to See the End of Qaddafi
BREAKING: Secret files reveal Dennis Kucinich talks with Qaddafi Regime
BREAKING: Libyan TNC won't extradite Lockerbie bomber
Who really beat Qaddafi?
#Feb17: @NATO Please help MEDEVAC wounded from #Libya
What should those that opposed NATO's intervention in Libya demand now?
BREAKING: Qaddafi's Tripoli Compound Falls!
Does PDA Support Qaddafi?
BREAKING: Operation Mermaid Dawn, the Battle to Liberate Tripoli is Joined
Helter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure
Qaddafi's Long Arm
SCOOP: My Lai or Qaddafi Lie? More on the 85 Civilians presumed killed by NATO
Did NATO kill 85 Libyan Villagers As Qaddafi Regime Contends?
CCDS Statement on Libya - a Critique
The Assassination of General Abdul Fattah Younis
NATO over Tripoli - Air Strikes in the Age of Twitter
How Many Libyans has NATO Killed?
Qaddafi Terror Files Start to Trickle Out!
Have Libyan Rebels Committed Human Rights Abuses?
Tripoli Green Square Reality Check
Behind the Green Curtain: Libya Today
Gilbert Achcar on the Libyan situation and the Left
NATO slammed for Libya civilian deaths NOT!
2011-07-01 Qaddafi's Million Man March
NATO's Game Plan in Libya
February 21st - Tripoli's Long Night
Did Qaddafi Bomb Peaceful Protesters?
Tripoli Burn Notice
Libyans, Palestinians & Israelis
'Brother' Qaddafi Indicted plus Libya & Syria: Dueling Rally Photofinishs
An Open Letter to ANSWER
ANSWER answers me
2011-06-22 No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum
Are they throwing babies out of incubators yet?
Continuing Discussion with a Gaddafi Supporter
Boston Globe oped supports Gaddafi with fraudulent journalism
2011-04-13 Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Current Events in Libya
Amonpour Plays Softball with Gaddafi
Arming Gaddfi
North African Revolution Continues
Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation

Why NATO's mission in Libya isn't over yet

Follow clayclai on Twitter
The pro-Qaddafi activists that claim NATO has long ago overstepped it's stated mission of protecting civilians and have really been engaged in "regime change" have one big problem, Qaddafi, from before UN resolution 1973 was passed until even today, has never stopped endangering and wantonly killing civilians.

Not for one day! Not for one hour in the past 7 months. To wit, we have this report from McClatchy:

BENGHAZI, Libya — Libyan rebels have broken off their assault on a key city south of Tripoli after discovering that forces loyal to ousted dictator Moammar Gadhafi there had placed Russian-made Grad rockets and mortars on the roofs of houses filled with civilians, the rebels' military spokesman said Sunday.

Col. Ahmed Omar Bani said the decision to halt the rebel offensive on Bani Walid, where Gadhafi's son Saif al Islam is believed to be hiding, made it unlikely the rebels would have full control of the country before the end of September.

Bani said the rebels would maintain their siege of Bani Walid, a town of 70,000 about 100 miles south of Tripoli, while waiting for supporters inside the city to mount operations that would change the situation.

"NATO can do nothing," Bani said of the North Atlantic alliance's airpower, which has proved decisive in the rebels' advances since they began their revolution Feb. 17.

Bani accused the loyalists of shooting Bani Walid residents who try to escape. "Instead of killing 70,000 in Bani Walid, we prefer...to surround the town," he said.
...
Rebel spokesmen also have accused Gadhafi loyalists of using prisoners as human shields in Sirte.

Mummar Qaddafi is a mass murderer and serial killer that won't stop until he is dead or in prison.

Since Qaddafi has chosen that road, since he has persisted in killing civilians to the very end, he has made NATO's legal mission of protecting civilians synonymous with ending his regime.

Had he at any time targeted his fire only at the freedom fighters these Qaddafi supporters may have been able to argue NATO was overstepping it's bounds and just backing one side in a civil war. But he has not, even in his last days, he has given NATO only two choices, either abandon their mission of protecting civilians or prosecute the war until Qaddafi is put out of their misery.

NATO's mission isn't over until Qaddafi is dead or in prison.


But while the final battle has been delayed, the reconstitution of civil society is moving full speed ahead:

LIBYA: Civil society breaks through
BENGHAZI, 16 August 2011 (IRIN) - Sidelined under Muammar Gaddafi, Libyan civil society organizations are beginning to assume an important role in helping the most vulnerable in “liberated” areas.

"After 42 years of doing the wrong things, people are now doing the right things,” said Khaled Ben-Ali, head of the Libyan Committee for Humanitarian Aid & Relief (LibyanAid).

Speaking from Benghazi Ben-Ali said he had been overwhelmed by ordinary Libyans’ ability to mobilize and organize, starting new organizations from scratch.

International NGOs, too, speak with admiration of the “volunteering spirit” shown in Benghazi and other areas administered by the rebel Transitional Council. “I have seen this in other conflicts, but never with this kind of dimension,” a senior health official who preferred anonymity told IRIN.

“Even if we wanted to put on a children’s fair, we had to associate it with something political, related to one of Gaddafi’s claimed achievements,” said Amina Megheirbi, looking back at the attempts by fledgling Libyan civil society organizations to get their own activities off the ground prior to the events of 2011.

After an academic career in the USA and United Arab Emirates (UAE), Megheirbi now works as an English lecturer at Benghazi’s Garyounis University. But she has long combined academic duties with community work, trying to identify needs and provide assistance to the more vulnerable members of society.

Trying to operate independently under Gaddafi meant dealing with a heavily centralized system, in which Gaddafi’s own famous Green Book was meant to be a sacred text and principal point of reference.

Even the Scouts, active in Libya since the 1950s, had to tread carefully, said scouting veteran Tarek Alzletny, noting that it was Gaddafi’s own organizations that had the state’s support.

Megheirbi and others endured lengthy battles to get registered by the authorities, and a climate of suspicion where individuals were constantly being vetted and quizzed on their intentions. Why did they want to help impoverished communities in a society “where there were officially no poor people”? A low profile was often essential. There was constant pressure on new groups to work under the umbrella of organizations created by the state or members of the ruling family, notably the Waatasemu Charity Association established by Gaddafi’s daughter, Ayesha.


For more background on the Libyan Revolution and links to lots of information see my other writings at the DailyKos and WikiLeaks Central:
Libya's Freedom Fighters: How They Won
Racism in Libya
Abdul Rahman Gave his Eyes to See the End of Qaddafi
BREAKING: Secret files reveal Dennis Kucinich talks with Qaddafi Regime
BREAKING: Libyan TNC won't extradite Lockerbie bomber
Who really beat Qaddafi?
#Feb17: @NATO Please help MEDEVAC wounded from #Libya
What should those that opposed NATO's intervention in Libya demand now?
BREAKING: Qaddafi's Tripoli Compound Falls!
Does PDA Support Qaddafi?
BREAKING: Operation Mermaid Dawn, the Battle to Liberate Tripoli is Joined
Helter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure
Qaddafi's Long Arm
SCOOP: My Lai or Qaddafi Lie? More on the 85 Civilians presumed killed by NATO
Did NATO kill 85 Libyan Villagers As Qaddafi Regime Contends?
CCDS Statement on Libya - a Critique
The Assassination of General Abdul Fattah Younis
NATO over Tripoli - Air Strikes in the Age of Twitter
How Many Libyans has NATO Killed?
Qaddafi Terror Files Start to Trickle Out!
Have Libyan Rebels Committed Human Rights Abuses?
Tripoli Green Square Reality Check
Behind the Green Curtain: Libya Today
Gilbert Achcar on the Libyan situation and the Left
NATO slammed for Libya civilian deaths NOT!
2011-07-01 Qaddafi's Million Man March
NATO's Game Plan in Libya
February 21st - Tripoli's Long Night
Did Qaddafi Bomb Peaceful Protesters?
Tripoli Burn Notice
Libyans, Palestinians & Israelis
'Brother' Qaddafi Indicted plus Libya & Syria: Dueling Rally Photofinishs
An Open Letter to ANSWER
ANSWER answers me
2011-06-22 No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum
Are they throwing babies out of incubators yet?
Continuing Discussion with a Gaddafi Supporter
Boston Globe oped supports Gaddafi with fraudulent journalism
2011-04-13 Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Current Events in Libya
Amonpour Plays Softball with Gaddafi
Arming Gaddfi
North African Revolution Continues
Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation

Libya's Freedom Fighters: How They Won

Follow clayclai on Twitter
Now that Tripoli is more or less secure, more stories are coming out that help us understand how the Libyan freedom fighters were able to achieve such a rapid victory over Mummar Qaddafi in his capital of 42 years. I want to use today's diary to share with you some of the more enlightening material I have found.

Nicolas Pelham has a very good piece in the New York Review of Books, August 29 2011, that gives us a good overview of the planning and perpetration that went into the assault:

Hatched in capitals across Europe and the Arab world, as well as in rebel operation rooms secretly organized in Libya itself, the military campaign took four months of planning. In May, exiled opposition leaders abandoned their jobs as lecturers in American colleges and established an intelligence-gathering bureau on Djerba, the Tunisian island across the border from Libya. Led by Abdel Majid Biuk, an urbane mathematics teacher from Tampa, Florida, the team interviewed four hundred Qaddafi security officers who defected following the loyalist defeat in Misrata; using Google Earth, they analyzed the colonel’s defenses. “We went through the whole city building by building to ascertain its fortifications,” Biuk told me on his arrival in Tripoli.

He passed the data on to a military operations room elsewhere on Djerba whose staff included representatives of NATO and Gulf allies as well as Libyan army veterans who had defected to the US and formed the National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL), an opposition group that led a series of aborted coups in the 1980s and 1990s, before branching into website campaigns. Under the eyes of Tunisian customs officials, they smuggled satellite phones, which are banned in Tunisia, in ambulances across the border into Libya, and set about supplying the rebels. Chevrons were daubed on a straight stretch of road at Rahebat in the Nafusa Mountains, turning it into a landing strip. Military supplies began arriving by the planeload, including 23-caliber tank-piercing bullets.

Tunisia provided a conduit for fighters as well as arms. With Qaddafi’s continued control of the center of the country blocking access over land, Benghazi volunteers took a circuitous route, flying from Egypt to Tunis, before crossing the border at the Tunisian town of Dehiba into the Nafusa Mountains. By mid-August they had established five brigades each with its own mountain training base, and together formed a two-thousand-man battalion under Hisham Buhajiar’s command as well as that of Abdel Karim Bel Haj, a Libyan veteran of the Afghan jihad. Trainers included NFSL veterans. Younger Libyans raised in the US, including the son of a Muslim Brotherhood activist from a US-based company, provided close protection. As they prepared the final stages of their assault, a host of Berber irregulars drawn from towns across the mountains jumped on board. Meanwhile, a collection of local traders, engineers, students, and the jobless from Misrata, battle-hardened by their seventy-day defense of their city, reassembled their brigades and prepared to join the attack on Tripoli from the east, by both road and sea.

Finally, the planners on Djerba divided Tripoli into thirty-seven sectors, and appointed local security coordinators to recruit, train, and arm local cells, using Muslim Brotherhood leaders to bless an armed uprising. “Our first slogan was ‘no’ to the militarization of the intifada,” says Ali al-Salabi, a Muslim Brotherhood politician in exile who worked with the planners, and who was among the first to arrive in Tripoli after Qaddafi’s inner sanctum fell. “But after protesters were gunned down, we realized armed revolution was the only way.”

Among the gunrunners was Salima Abu Zuada, a twenty-six-year-old legal adviser at Qaddafi’s Transport Ministry, who had learned to drive tanks as part of her high school military training. After fleeing to Tunisia in April, she made eight trips by road and tugboat, smuggling hundreds of guns and rocket-propelled grenades back to Tripoli. “Qaddafi didn’t suspect us,” she says. “He thought all women loved him.” Qaddafi’s intelligence chief, Abdullah Senussi, was more wary, however. On two occasions his spooks in Tunisia, she says, tried to run her off the road.

On Saturday, August 20, as dusk descended and the mosques sounded the prayer call for breakfast, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, Qaddafi’s meek-seeming former justice minister who now heads the NTC, went on television to deliver an address. Before he had finished, the rebel flag was flying over Suq al-Juma and other Tripoli neighborhoods. Meanwhile, NATO forces intensified their bombardment of loyalist positions on the western outskirts of Tripoli, stretching to its limits their UN mandate to protect civilians. As the colonel’s forces abandoned their bases, they found themselves sandwiched between rebels sweeping in from the mountains and Tripolitans carving out their own enclaves. Challenged on multiple fronts, Qaddafi’s forces melted away.

The speed of the conquest may yet contain the seeds of its disintegration. Without a common enemy, the diverse opposition could quickly unravel once its composite parts start jostling over the spoils. Already each of the participating groups is leveraging the instrumental role it played in the victory to promote its own interests. Despite earlier protestations that they had no troops on the ground, NATO officials have begun leaking laudatory details of the part played by their special forces in supporting the rebel army. So too have Arab states such as Qatar; and not to be outdone, Turkey has released details of its hundreds of millions in cash handouts to the rebels in the hope that the NTC might both honor the huge contracts Qaddafi gave Turkish construction companies and include Turkey in postwar reconstruction.

While Nicolas Pelham gives us the big picture Al Jazeera's Evan Hill gave us a window into one Tripoli families experiences:

On the night of August 20, after six months of bloody revolution, the rebels were tightening their grip on Tripoli. Fighters allied with the NTC had seized Zawiya, 50km to the west, and were pushing closer to Gaddafi's last stronghold.

In central Tripoli, the Shtawi family watched the news on television. Mustafa Abdul Jalil, chairman of the NTC, appeared on TV late in the evening.

"We have always called Tripoli the capital of a free Libya … [and] we are depending on you to protect your wealth, your ports and your national institutions," said Jalil. "We have contacts with people from the inner circle of Gaddafi. All evidence [shows] that the end is very near, with God's grace."

Jalil's remarks echoed through Tripoli homes like a battle cry.

"That was zero hour," said Nuri Shtawi, business development manager for the Sahara Petroleum Services Company and one of the Tripoli uprising's many informal organisers.

Shtawi's nephew, Anis, a 21-year-old economics major at Tripoli University, took up an AK-47 he had kept hidden. Months earlier, he and his brother, Esam, had been taken to a farm outside Tripoli where a family friend who once served as a military bodyguard for a regime official taught the brothers how to shoot.

"Just pray for me, that I die as a martyr," Anis told his father, Mohammed, a legal adviser for the Libya African Investment Company and another organiser.

Then he left, heading several kilometres east through the winding, darkened streets of the city centre, to a prearranged point near the al-Mahary Radisson Hotel. He would meet dozens of other armed men, most of them dressed in black.

Outside, the city's mosques sang "God is great, God is great". Amina, one of Mohammed's daughters, described this as the night's "beautiful moment". Tripoli's underground organisers, spread across neighbourhoods and connected in a web of ad-hoc committees, had asked the mosques to do so.

The family recounted February 21st - Tripoli's Long Night

The fight for Tripoli began in February, when thousands of residents took to the streets in solidarity with Benghazi, the eastern center of resistance. Protesters there had overthrown the city's military garrison and won the defection of Jalil, Gaddafi's former justice minister, and Abdul Fattah Younis, former interior minister. In Tripoli, things would not go so quickly.

Esam, a 21-year-old dental school, went to the central Green Square on February 20. The plaza, traditionally a rallying site for Gaddafi and supportive crowds, was for a brief moment flooded with shocked protesters.

"People went because they thought Gaddafi was gone," he said. "We heard that he went to Venezuela. We were so happy."

But as Esam looked on, Gaddafi's security forces entered the square. They brought anti-aircraft guns and turned them on the unarmed protesters.

"There was a big stage, and there were lots of people on [it]. The brigades came from the side streets and started shooting people. All the people on the stage were killed," he said.

There is evidence to suggest that the rumor that Qaddafi had fled to Venezuela was actually state sponsored and a setup designed to flush out the activists in Tripoli and set them up to be murdered en mass.

Some people had an response to NATO bombing that Cynthia McKinney never mentioned.

Beginning in March, when NATO air strikes began targeting regime bunkers, offices and military camps in and around the capital, the family rejoiced. Neighbourhood boys could be heard whistling, a way of cheering the jets, and some families wrote "Thank you, NATO" on their rooftops.

The family believed intervention was necessary and did not fear the disastrous invasion that Saif al-Islam and other regime officials had warned would follow.

"If NATO didn't come, Benghazi, Misrata, Zawiya, even some places here in Tripoli were going to be destroyed," Nada said. "We were very worried. Misrata people had suffered through so much, and Brega was hard to get because it was important."

Mohammed tells of the months of preparation.

Mohammed propped a scrapbook on his knees that contained dozens of stiff red pages; a piece of white paper had been carefully clipped to each one. The pages bore the eagle stamp of the Gaddafi regime, and those that Mohammed showed bore marks indicating they had come from the Internal Security agency.

Each one was a transcript of a recorded phone conversation, Mohammed said. Most of the conversations took place during the past six months of fighting. They had been leaked to Tripoli's rebel organisers by friends inside the regime. Mohammed declined to allow the transcripts to be photographed or copied, but he read out the contents of some.

In one conversation, two men named Abdelfattah and Abdelbaset, speak by phone about "small ships coming by sea".

"How are the sheep?" Abdelbaset asked.

"They're fine, thanks be to God," Abdelfattah responded. "But listen: One of the female sheep has a toothache."

The sheep referred to weapons, Mohammed said, and the toothache indicated the men believed they had a spy in their ranks.

In another conversation, dated July 17, a man phoned his friend to say he had spotted 70 cars with mounted Grad rockets and 106mm recoilless rifles leaving the southern town of Gatroun on the way to a place called Om al-Aranub.

"We have 600 cars," the man said, suggesting he is a rebel field commander. "We're a big force, but the men are not well trained. We need help from NATO."

The regime convoy came from the direction of al-Wigh, a nearby town with an airbase, he said. "If you need the coordinates, I'll send them to you in a message."

Nuri and Mohammed said rebel organisers in Tripoli had hundreds of contacts in various offices within the regime willing to help. The evidence of leaked files, access to weapons and the speed and scope of the uprising in the capital suggest they told the truth.

Many of the insiders wanted to abandon the government but were convinced to stay, Nuri said. Those who remained with Gaddafi proved invaluable, tipping off organisers when they heard of plans to arrest a member of the opposition leadership.

Nuri and Mohammed stayed out of military affairs. Instead, they spread news to Libyans and foreign media, sent money to Misrata and medical camps in Tunisia, and prepared their neighourhoods.

They produced pamphlets, handed out in secret, that gave instructions on how women might combat rape attempts. One pamphlet advised, "Tell him, 'Imagine this is your sister, or your mother.' Look him in the face".

They argued with friends and neighbours to convince them that NATO's intervention was good.

"We wanted people to be patient, pray. [We told] them why we want to get rid of Gaddafi, not get him necessarily, but his philosophy," Nuri said.

Victory at last

As the mosques chanted "God is great" on August 20, Anis and his companions fired their guns in the air to draw out Gaddafi's forces. In the streets, alleys and midans of a seaside neighbourhood called Zawiyat al-Dahmani, they waited.

Soon, four cars bearing anti-aircraft guns and around 25 men came down Anis's street. His men opened fire with their assault rifles, and the heavy regime weapons blasted back. From cover, some of the young fighters hurled petrol bombs and joulateen, cans packed with TNT that traditionally have been used for fishing.

Some of the regime troops went down, and two fighters with Anis were injured. The retreating loyalist forces left the bodies of their fighters behind and fired a rocket-propelled grenade in an attempt to destroy a remaining anti-aircraft gun the rebels were trying to seize.

The fighting lasted from sunset until the next morning. Eventually, the rebels surrounded the remaining government troops. They took 11 prisoners, including two women.

At 1 pm, they lifted the rebel flag over the Supreme Court building.

France24 Reporter Mathieu Mabin went into Tripoli on August 20th with the Tripoli brigade and provides this excellent 35 minute report in two parts that gets you close up and personal in this fight as few others have done. In the interview at the end of part 2, he says that he saw no British SAS or other nation's special forces on the ground for the assault on Tripoli and he is certain that the Tripoli brigade wasn't being ordered about or trained by any. Of course, you are invited to watch his report, judge his creditability, and look for them yourselves.

FRANCE 24 Reporters: The Tripoli Brigade (part 1)

FRANCE 24 Reporters: The Tripoli Brigade (part 2)


For more background on the Libyan Revolution and links to lots of information see my other writings at the DailyKos and WikiLeaks Central:
Racism in Libya
Abdul Rahman Gave his Eyes to See the End of Qaddafi
BREAKING: Secret files reveal Dennis Kucinich talks with Qaddafi Regime
BREAKING: Libyan TNC won't extradite Lockerbie bomber
Who really beat Qaddafi?
#Feb17: @NATO Please help MEDEVAC wounded from #Libya
What should those that opposed NATO's intervention in Libya demand now?
BREAKING: Qaddafi's Tripoli Compound Falls!
Does PDA Support Qaddafi?
BREAKING: Operation Mermaid Dawn, the Battle to Liberate Tripoli is Joined
Helter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure
Qaddafi's Long Arm
SCOOP: My Lai or Qaddafi Lie? More on the 85 Civilians presumed killed by NATO
Did NATO kill 85 Libyan Villagers As Qaddafi Regime Contends?
CCDS Statement on Libya - a Critique
The Assassination of General Abdul Fattah Younis
NATO over Tripoli - Air Strikes in the Age of Twitter
How Many Libyans has NATO Killed?
Qaddafi Terror Files Start to Trickle Out!
Have Libyan Rebels Committed Human Rights Abuses?
Tripoli Green Square Reality Check
Behind the Green Curtain: Libya Today
Gilbert Achcar on the Libyan situation and the Left
NATO slammed for Libya civilian deaths NOT!
2011-07-01 Qaddafi's Million Man March
NATO's Game Plan in Libya
February 21st - Tripoli's Long Night
Did Qaddafi Bomb Peaceful Protesters?
Tripoli Burn Notice
Libyans, Palestinians & Israelis
'Brother' Qaddafi Indicted plus Libya & Syria: Dueling Rally Photofinishs
An Open Letter to ANSWER
ANSWER answers me
2011-06-22 No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum
Are they throwing babies out of incubators yet?
Continuing Discussion with a Gaddafi Supporter
Boston Globe oped supports Gaddafi with fraudulent journalism
2011-04-13 Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Current Events in Libya
Amonpour Plays Softball with Gaddafi
Arming Gaddfi
North African Revolution Continues
Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation

Racism in Libya

Twitter Summary: Some see in Libyan racism an opportunity to attack the revolution. Others see in the revolution an opportunity to attack racism.
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Arab prejudice against blacks has a long and ignoble history. Racism against Africans has been a problem of long standing in Libya. Whereas progressives see the current revolutionary situation in Libya as an opportunity to combat this disease and built a new unity between Africans and Arabs free at last from Qaddafi's meddling, some pro-Qaddafi "left" groups are attempting to use Libyan racism, both real and exaggerated, to attack the revolution. They do this by denying that racism was ever a problem under Qaddafi and "discovering" it among those they still insist on calling the "rebels."

To hear them tell it, you'd think the Klu Klux Klan just took over in Libya. This alarmist piece from the Party for Socialism and Liberation is typical of this line. FYI, PSL is the leading member of the ANSWER Coalition:

NATO’s rebels are lynching black people in Libya [30/08/2011]

It is now beyond doubt, and being reported widely: While NATO has been pounding Libyan cities and massacring civilians with thousands of air strikes, the NATO-led “rebels” have been rounding up, targeting, beating and lynching darker skinned Libyans and immigrant workers from other African countries.

No one should be surprised. Imperialism, racism and attacks on immigrant workers go hand in hand.

In the battle for the working-class neighborhood of Abu Salim in Tripoli, where resistance to NATO was strong, NATO warplanes bombed indiscriminately and the “rebels” swept through the wreckage, kicking down doors and slaughtering civilians, many of whom were trapped in the neighborhood precisely because of the saturation bombing.

This is a very warped view of reality. Take, for example, the claim of "saturation bombing." Does PSL even have a clue what they are talking about? Operation Rolling Thunder in Vietnam was an example of saturation bombing. It involved 306,183 strike sorties that dropped 864,000 tons of bombs and probably killed over a million Vietnamese. Nothing like that has happened in Libya.

While the PSL says "NATO warplanes bombed indiscriminately and the “rebels” swept through the wreckage," Reuters tells it somewhat differently,

Libyan rebels stormed Tripoli's Abu Salim district, one of the main holdouts of forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi in the capital, on Thursday after a NATO airstrike on a building in the area, a Reuters correspondent said.

Rebel fighters were sweeping through houses to flush out snipers and were emerging with dozens of prisoners, the correspondent said, adding that gunfights were ongoing.

So "saturation bombing" turns out to be "a NATO airstrike on a building." NATO hit a grand total of 3 targets in Tripoli on the day Abu Salim fell in some of the hardest fighting of the whole Tripoli campaign. They hit that building in Abu Salim and, for their own safety, two surface-to-air missile launchers somewhere around the city. A lot of brave freedom fighters gave their lives to liberate Abu Salim that day but these "anti-imperialists" will give all the credit for the victory to NATO and it's 3 strike "saturation bombing."

They lack a similar sense of proportion when it comes to their charges of racism among the revolutionary forces. The purpose of these exaggerations is to warn off anyone who might be inclined to rethink their opposition to intervention and support the revolution:

The racist crimes of the rebels, however, should clear up illusions by those in the anti-war movement that the rebels are progressive in any way.

While many of these "anti-interventionists" claim only to be anti-NATO and 'neutral' with regards to Libya's civil war, the truth is that they long ago threw their lot in with Qaddafi. Now that their predictions that NATO boots on the ground would be required to beat Qaddafi have fallen flat, and the popular support they claimed for Qaddafi in Tripoli and western Libya has been shown to be an illusion, and especially now that the truth about the Qaddafi regime's horrific crimes against humanity are coming to light, they have turned to the most cynical forms of demonization of the revolution as their last defense.

After all, if some unknown Arab painted a racist slogan on a wall between Misrata and Tawergha, why not reprinted it a thousand times and condemn the whole movement for it. If some unprofessional citizen soldiers commit errors in the heat of battle, why not use that to smear the whole revolution in a effort to turn the clock back to Qaddafi's systematic and state sponsored racist violence.

So before we can address the real history of racism in Libya or the very real problems of the present, we must deal with these damning charges of "lynching of black people" and "racist demonization campaigns and pogroms."

On September 4th, Human Rights Watch issued a report in which they called on the new Libyan authorities to stop the arbitrary arrest of black Africans, and while they made that critique, and many others with which I agree, they also said:

Human Rights Watch has not found evidence of killings of Africans in Tripoli or systematic abuse of detainees, but the widespread arbitrary arrests and frequent abuse have created a grave sense of fear among the city’s African population.

So no "lynchings," no "pogroms," although there is some evidence for lynchings six months ago in Benghazi the first time protesters seized a fort and captured some snipers.

And the truth is that Africans in Libya have every reason to fear that they are in grave danger. For example, Nubianem wrote of "events [that] occurred a few months ago when thousands of Nigerians, Ghanians and other West Africans were lynched, attacked and killed in the streets of Libya," but he was not talking about Libya after the fall of Qaddafi, he is writing in December 2001 about events that took place under Qaddafi's watch almost ten years ago.

The US state department had a lower body count:

In October Libyan mobs killed an estimated 150 Africans, including a Chadian diplomat, in the worst outbreak of antiforeigner violence since Qadhafi took power in 1969. Government security forces reportedly intervened to stop the violence, but then deported hundreds of thousands of African migrant workers by driving them in convoys to the southern border and leaving them stranded in the desert (see Section 6.e.).

Arab Racism

The core problem here is Arab racism towards black Africans and that wasn't created by the freedom fighters, many of whom are black Libyans, BTW. Some of the army officers that came over to the revolution the earliest were black. And it wasn't even created by the self-styled "King of all African Tribes" Mummar Qaddafi, although he is one of the relative few that has managed to reap a handsome profit from it. It goes back over a thousand years and is closely associated with the slave trade.

Writing about modern day Arab racism in the Nigerian Village Square Moses Ebe Ochonu says in 2005:

The case of the Sudan is perhaps the most vivid, poignant, and irrefutable example of Arab racism against black Africans. Let it be noted that until the Janjaweed and their racist and murderous Sudanese government backers gave a bad name to the art of hating, marginalizing, and murdering blacks, Arabs never quite saw the raiding of black villages for slaves and cattle, especially in Southern and Western Sudan, as a crime. The racism which propels these practices was increasingly authorized (and rationalized) by the discourse of the distinction, within Islam, between dar-al Islam (the abode of Islam) and dar-al-harb (the abode of war and unbelief). For many Arabs, the historical description of blacks as slaves and servile presences in the Arab world is hard to unlearn. Descriptive categories etched in received grand-narratives and myths can only be dismantled through a self-conscious (and self-critical) denunciation of prejudices constructed in a historical time and place as a function of power.

Arabs still generally regard the Darfur genocide as a public relations disaster rather than as a barbaric racist war against black people. We have yet to hear unequivocal condemnation of the Sudanese government's racist practices from Arab states. To do that would be hypocritical because some of these states themselves condone the racist practices of mavericks or practice anti-black racism in their own official policies. For instance, black African immigrants are routinely killed, maimed, and their houses and properties destroyed in Ghadaffi's Libya--- the same Ghadaffi who wants to be the leader of a politically united African super-state. Africans have become jaded about Ghadaffi's feeble condemnations of anti-black riots in his country and the ad-hoc and sterile apologies he offers after each tragic episode.

Arab racism is itself but a poor relative of white racism, which was also developed to justify the very profitable African slavery and from which the Arabs also suffer, so it is at the same time both a tragedy and a comedy that in many Arab countries we see things like this:

Fair & Lovely, a popular whitening cream, advertises itself on Arabic TV when a model is rejected for being too dark, only to be ecstatically accepted after a few weeks of applying the magic cream.

Among the Arabs as among the black Africans, there is a kind of racism within racism that exists in which you are judged by how light your skin is. Meanwhile, all the white people are out buying creams to make their skins darker, but such is the human condition we are dealing with.

Qaddafi's use of racism

Qaddafi's method of rule was classic divide and conquer. First he pitted Arabs against Africans and then within those two large groups, he pitted tribe against tribe. The Berbers he put in a class by themselves. They weren't even allowed to speak their native tongue even though they have inhabited these lands for more than three thousand years.

One method he used was to spend a lot of talk and a little money to insure the support and loyalty of some black Libyans and well as other selected black Africans.

While PSL would have you see Abu Slim as a simple, patriotic working class Libyan neighborhood. Other more detailed descriptions tell us what was unique about it and why the people there fought for Qaddafi like no place else in Tripoli:

The Abu Slim neighborhood near Gaddafi's Bab al-Aziziyah compound has long been a regime stronghold manipulated carefully by the ruling family. "Saif al-Islam used to come here and give kids 200 dinars and a Kalashnikov. Khamis would come too," says Ramadan Ali Osman, whose apartment was destroyed in the recent fighting. A poor neighborhood, populated lightly with regime officials and a large number of African migrants, Abu Slim proved a ripe recruiting ground for cheap government fighters. "They would drive in — the brigades — and recruit kids for their forces," says Osman. Just days before the rebels captured Tripoli, residents say Gaddafi's son Saadi was the last one to make an appeal. "Saadi came here to form a brigade out of the youth," says Adil Masoud Moussa, a resident. "He gave money to a big boss in the neighborhood to give to the youth to fight against anyone who hated his father."

So in a desperate ploy that had no chance of saving the regime, Qaddafi's son was in this poor black Tripoli neighborhood handing out guns and money to African youth and imploring them to fight to the death for Qaddafi, and now certain pro-Qaddafi "leftists" want to lay the resulting deaths at the feet of the revolution with charges of racism. That is how matters really stand.

Writing in the Cedi Post last September, Kwame E. Bidi tells us of another way Qaddafi profited from racism:

Addressing the European Union (EU) in Rome, Gaddafi warned that “Europe runs the risk of turning “black” unless the EU pays Libya at least €5 billion (£4.1 billion) a year to block the arrival of illegal immigrants from Africa”. He continued, “Tomorrow Europe might no longer be European and even black as there are millions (of Africans) who want to come in. He described the migration pattern as something “very dangerous”.

If one analysis Gaddafi’s statements critically, it comes out clear that he is essentially saying, “Europe, you need to protect your prestigious white identity and prevent it from being blackened by the influx of black African people”.

He is actually playing the race card quite subtly, by appealing to the racial prejudice of the European people. Thus, he not only referred to the potential risks posed by illegal immigrants as undesirable consequences, but also that, black faces in Europe, whether legal or otherwise in itself, constitutes a danger to white European identity.

Gaddafi bolstered his dislike for black people and then projected his own racial bias on white European Christians when he further remarked, “We don’t know what will happen, what will be the reaction of the white and Christian Europeans faced with this influx of starving and ignorant Africans”.
...
After his speech, one Italian MP, Luigi de Magistris, criticized the Libyan leader of keeping tens of thousands of African migrants in “concentration camps” in the desert, reported Telegraph, UK.

Gaddafi’s blunt disrespect for black people in general, calls to question the intention behind his call for African unity. Many scholars believe Gaddafi has a hidden agenda against black Africans and that the African Union (AU) was simply a means for him to further his religious and political ambitions in sub-Saharan Africa. One such scholars, Prof. Kwesi Kwa Prah, alleged in 2004 that, Gaddafi’s true objective in AU is to create a space for Arabism and Arab expansionism.

My earlier dairy Helter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure has a lot more about his history with the African Union, his interventions in Africa's wars and his African immigrant policy, however it was written before he was forced out.

Since the liberation of Tripoli, we have also been able to learn more about the plight of immigrants under Qaddafi's rule. For example, there is one group of homeless black African immigrants that have been living under tarps strung between boats in a small Tripoli fishing port. The war has been especially disruptive for them. Time reports:

Since the rebel takeover of Tripoli last week, a few philanthropists have ventured into the camp with gifts of food and water, they say. But for months, men with guns used to come to loot and beat people up, the camp's inhabitants say. "They came in here robbing our gas, stealing our property," says Margaret Asanti, a Nigerian who has been at the camp for almost two months with her two young children. She lived a relatively stable existence in Tripoli for 12 years. But she says, "If you take me to my country, I'd be very happy. I'm tired of being in this place."

Also since the fall of Tripoli, indisputable proof of Qaddafi's use of black African mercenaries in his bloody bid to extend his 42 year dictatorship has been pouring in:

In Tripoli Human Rights Watch has found evidence that the Gaddafi government recruited and used African mercenaries from Chad, Sudan, and other countries. Human Rights Watch researchers located a large base used by hundreds of mercenaries from other African countries since February 2011, who were recruited and commanded by the 32nd Brigade of Khamis Gaddafi.

I would add that there is also ample evidence that Qaddafi has employed mercenaries from other Arab and Europeans countries as well and not all black Africans fighting for Qaddafi were mercenaries or even foreigners. As with the Abu Slim district in Tripoli, Qaddafi had curried favors and built loyalties in certain strategic communities.

The black township of Tawergha outside of Misrata is one such community and for four brutal months Tawergha was the staging area for the siege of of Misrata that took thousands of lives. Needless to say there were some hard feelings expressed. The WSJ reported:

The hatred of Tawergha stems from witnesses who say loyalist soldiers were accompanied by hundreds of volunteer fighters from Tawergha when they ransacked and burned dozens of properties in an assault against Misrata and surrounding areas on March 16 to 18.

There are also accounts of rape, with one rebel commander putting the number at more than 150, but they are harder to prove given the stigma attached to the crime in the conservative Muslim nation and the lack of testimony.

Some of the hatred of Tawergha has racist overtones that were mostly latent before the current conflict. On the road between Misrata and Tawergha, rebel slogans like "the brigade for purging slaves, black skin" have supplanted pro-Gadhafi scrawl.

The racial tensions have been fueled by the regime's alleged use of African mercenaries to violently suppress demonstrators at the start of the Libyan uprising in February, and the sense that the south of the country, which is predominantly black, mainly backs Col. Gadhafi.

That sign, presumably in Arabic, that WSJ reported as "the brigade for purging slaves, black skin" has been so widely quoted to prove "the rebels" aren't "progressive in any way" that I wish I could find a picture or at least the orginal Arabic for a second opinion because translation can be a tricky thing. As Moses Ebe Ochonu pointed out:

Arab racism is so deep it is inscribed in the fundamental semantic structure of the Arabic language. Till this day, the generic word or for a black person is the preface "abd," which translates as "slave," as in "Abd"-allah (slave or servant of God). This linguistic norm, among many other racially-charged ones, is an expressive constant which holds true for the entire Arab-speaking world regardless of dialect and orthography.

So indicting the revolution for this sign may be an indictment based on a bad translation of a language that itself has racist roots. You know, like "angel food cake" and "devil's food cake" or the "darker elements" phrase I use below.

The revolution's shortcomings and its immediate tasks.

In their investigation Human Rights Watch didn't find a systematic racist pogrom organized from the top, as the Qaddafi supporters make out. However they did find that black men were being arbitrarily arrested and they did find discrimination in their treatment. Clearly this is wrong and must change.

The widespread neighborhood arrests seem to be a decentralized process, Human Rights Watch said, with no apparent oversight by the NTC. Two Tripoli members of the NTC defended the arrests, saying they were necessary to ensure security and, in the words of NTC member Abdulrzag Elaradi, to “secure the revolution.” But both said that detainees must be treated humanely and the NTC would not tolerate maltreatment or indefinite detention.

At another facility, the Maftuah prison in the Fernaj neighborhood, Human Rights Watch saw about 300 detainees on September 1, including some who had been wounded in fighting. About 50 of the detainees were Libyan and the rest were sub-Saharan Africans. Most of the Africans whom Human Rights Watch interviewed in groups in their crowded cells said that armed men had picked them up for no reason after NTC forces took control of Tripoli.

The conditions for the Libyan detainees were acceptable, but the sub-Saharan Africans were in overcrowded cells with a putrid stench; one cell had 26 people and six mattresses. The African men Human Rights Watch interviewed complained of inadequate water, poor sanitation, and not being allowed to make phone calls to ask family members to bring their documents.

While the NTC faces the most immediate task of putting down all remaining military resistance and rooting out and killing or capturing the leading elements of the Qaddafi regime still at-large, before the freedom fighters can start laying down their weapons and picking up the tools of their former trade, extraordinary care must be taken that the darker elements of Arab racism don't haunt the revolution.

Certainly mercenaries and Libyans who fought for Qaddafi must be rounded up and accessed. Their weapons must be located and seized. This is a military necessity. Some of them should be held for a while. This is also a military necessity. The worst of them should stand trial and face penalties. This is necessary for justice.

But skin color provides little intelligence as to who should be rounded up. The vast majority of the black Africans in Libya are black Libyans or immigrant laborers and asylum seekers. They number in the millions as compared to a few thousand Qaddafi loyalists and mercenaries.

As Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch put it:

“The NTC has legitimate concerns about unlawful mercenaries and violent activity, but it can’t simply arrest dark-skinned men just in case they think they might be mercenaries,” said Whitson. “African migrants have worked in Libya for many years, often carrying out the most unpleasant jobs, and this is no way to treat those who stayed put during the uprising.”
...
“The NTC should stop arresting African migrants and black Libyans unless it has concrete evidence of criminal activity. It should also take immediate steps to protect them from violence and abuse.”

Not only is using the necessity of capturing a few thousand Qaddafi loyalist as a pretext for "throwing a net" over that much larger community of black men of fighting age wrong on a moral and ethical basis, it is a very dangerous military practice for the revolutionary at this time.

First, because in trying to scoop up so many innocent people, they will inevitably allow many important fish to escape their grasp.

Second, because any error on the part of the revolution that even smells of Arab racism, any impropriety whatsoever, will sow doubts about the revolution in the hearts of the people of southern Libya and sub-Saharan Africa and create fertile ground from which the pro-Qaddafi forces can continue their resistance.

This is exactly why PSL and other Qaddafi supporters are giving this story so much play now, but they will never be able to sell it unless the freedom fighters themselves give it some currency. These are questions of immediate tasks.

Future tasks of the revolution

In the long run, the revolution can only be completely successful when all of the supports that represent the foundation for a totalitarian regime like Qaddafi's have been cut away. As long as they exist, the people can never really be united and the sewers of the soul that allow dictatorship to take root and flourish in Libyan society will continue to exist. One of these is inequality between men and women but that is beyond the scope of this piece.

Another is the division between Arabs and Africans, and it must be said frankly that Arab racism is largely the cause and it has resulted in discriminatory treatment of both black Libyans and African immigrants, both legal and illegal.

Under Qaddafi's 42 year reign, not only was this encouraged, it became a matter of state policy. This is the first thing the NTC and the new Libyan government must do. They must overthrow this state policy and the laws and traditions that go with it. Racial, ethnic and tribal equality must rule the day, and not just in the preaching, we've all heard that before, but most importantly, in the practice.

The NTC views, as expressed in A vision of a democratic Libya, provide a good starting point for racial and ethnic equality and justice in the new Libya:

The state to which we aspire will denounce violence, terrorism, intolerance and cultural isolation; while respecting human rights, rules and principles of citizenship and the rights of minorities and those most vulnerable. Every individual will enjoy the full rights of citizenship, regardless of colour, gender, ethnicity or social status.
...
We recognise without reservation our obligation to:
...
8. Build a democratic Libya whose international and regional relationships will be based upon:

a. The embodiment of democratic values and institutions which respects its neighbours, builds partnerships and recognises the independence and sovereignty of other nations. The state will also seek to enhance regional integration and international co-operation through its participation with members of the international community in achieving international peace and security.

b. A state which will uphold the values of international justice, citizenship, the respect of international humanitarian law and human rights declarations, as well as condemning authoritarian and despotic regimes. The interests and rights of foreign nationals and companies will be protected. Immigration, residency and citizenship will be managed by government institutions, respecting the principles and rights of political asylum and public liberties.

c. A state which will join the international community in rejecting and denouncing racism, discrimination and terrorism while strongly supporting peace, democracy and freedom.

But more than that will be needed. Prejudices and attitudes that took centuries to develop won't go away over night but the struggle against Arab racism is one that the Libyan people and their government must undertake robustly now and must sustain until it is no longer a hindrance to the people's development and freedom.

LibyaSteadfast

Freedom Fighter paralyzed after surviving torture. Reunites with family & cries for forgiveness from his Mom :)


For more background on the Libyan Revolution and links to lots of information see my other writings at the DailyKos and WikiLeaks Central:
Abdul Rahman Gave his Eyes to See the End of Qaddafi
BREAKING: Secret files reveal Dennis Kucinich talks with Qaddafi Regime
BREAKING: Libyan TNC won't extradite Lockerbie bomber
Who really beat Qaddafi?
#Feb17: @NATO Please help MEDEVAC wounded from #Libya
What should those that opposed NATO's intervention in Libya demand now?
BREAKING: Qaddafi's Tripoli Compound Falls!
Does PDA Support Qaddafi?
BREAKING: Operation Mermaid Dawn, the Battle to Liberate Tripoli is Joined
Helter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure
Qaddafi's Long Arm
SCOOP: My Lai or Qaddafi Lie? More on the 85 Civilians presumed killed by NATO
Did NATO kill 85 Libyan Villagers As Qaddafi Regime Contends?
CCDS Statement on Libya - a Critique
The Assassination of General Abdul Fattah Younis
NATO over Tripoli - Air Strikes in the Age of Twitter
How Many Libyans has NATO Killed?
Qaddafi Terror Files Start to Trickle Out!
Have Libyan Rebels Committed Human Rights Abuses?
Tripoli Green Square Reality Check
Behind the Green Curtain: Libya Today
Gilbert Achcar on the Libyan situation and the Left
NATO slammed for Libya civilian deaths NOT!
2011-07-01 Qaddafi's Million Man March
NATO's Game Plan in Libya
February 21st - Tripoli's Long Night
Did Qaddafi Bomb Peaceful Protesters?
Tripoli Burn Notice
Libyans, Palestinians & Israelis
'Brother' Qaddafi Indicted plus Libya & Syria: Dueling Rally Photofinishs
An Open Letter to ANSWER
ANSWER answers me
2011-06-22 No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum
Are they throwing babies out of incubators yet?
Continuing Discussion with a Gaddafi Supporter
Boston Globe oped supports Gaddafi with fraudulent journalism
2011-04-13 Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Current Events in Libya
Amonpour Plays Softball with Gaddafi
Arming Gaddfi
North African Revolution Continues
Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation

Abdul Rahman Gave his Eyes to See the End of Qaddafi

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Meet Abdul Rahman Zawawi. He is a freedom fighter from Misrata that has lost both his eyes in the revolution. He was able to get the emergency surgery he needed at a hospital in Tunis.
Omar with Adbu after he got out of surgery
Misrata endured months of shelling by Qaddafi's forces, including with cluster munitions. Then there was heavy fighting to end the siege. Many of the most seriously wounded have been sent to Tunis for care. As a result the situation in the Tunis hospitals is desperate and of the ICU units are packed. Only last week almost 300 new patients arrived and there was no room for them in the hospitals or clinics. Doctors are stressed out and overwhelmed with the kind of surgeries they are being asked to performed; far beyond their training.

Carol Viana and Omar AlMuktar met on Twitter during the early weeks of the Libyan Revolution and saw the needs in the hospitals early on. In July they started a project called "Postcards for Libya" where they encourage people to send get well cards and letters to Libya patients in Tunisia, mostly Tunis. Carol wrote me:

Money is an issue too. People are being discharged way too early. NTC needs to get involved. We've been trying for months to bring awareness to this but everyone was so focused on the war, it's hard to have "hospital stories."

A couple weeks ago Omar AlMuktar's own cousin from Misrata arrived in Tunis and the team for "Postcards for Libya" has been trying to get the word out on his story. Adbu, who is only 21, lost both eyes and also had his nose completely burned off. They are trying to get plastic surgery outside of Tunis.

Please visit Postcards for Libya if you can help.

Abdulrahman Zawawi, Freedom fighter from Misurata, has lost both of his eyes
عبد الرحمن الزواوي، من ثوار مصراتة، فقد عينيه الاثنين خلال مواجهات تحرير تاورغاء شرق مصراتة.

In the video ..., Abdu is waking up from surgery. He holds his brother's hand and asks God to give his parents strength and patience, says he was blessed with his wounds and he is glad he gave his eyes to Libya. He says he would gladly give more if asked. He asks his brother to work hard, be successful in life and asks him always to have faith in God.


More from Postcards from Libya:

Ali ,on right, and friend

Meet Ali, Misrata freedom fighter hit by Gaddafi Grad. Both legs amputated.

Ali said the Grad exploded at his feet and the blast threw him 10 meters away. One of his comrades was literally cut in half.

Ali was hit by that Grad on May 13. Then, due to the siege, he waited 27 days to get out of Misrata.

In Ali’s group of 30 Freedom Fighters, 3 died & 7 injured from that Grad. He said their weapons range was only 5km max vs 40 for Gaddafi forces.

Ali came from Misrata on a small fishing boat. It was fast but bounced a lot. During his 1st 5 days in Tunisia, Ali was treated for further damage suffered in the voyage from Misrata, not for direct injuries from the Grad.

Misrata was out of anesthetics when a chunk of flesh was removed near his waist. Ali showed me how he bit a towel & clenched. On the parts of Ali’s body that remain, it looks like he was hit by a meteor shower. 100 pieces of shrapnel from the Grad.

Ali said he’d been quiet & introspective before I came by. But as you can see, he became energized as we visited. July 14.

Ali said he’d gladly give the rest of his body for Libya and his beloved city, Misrata. He radiates a noble passion.

Visiting with Ali was a joy, but I couldn’t help weeping. He took my head in his hands, kissed it, and told me not to cry.”

Via James Wheeler (@wheelertweets)

This is Aymen in Tunis, Tunisia. Aymen is a 14 year-old child who picked up a cluster bomb outside of his house in Misrata. Upon picking it up, it exploded, ripping off both his hands, tearing off the flesh of his legs, and sending shrapnel into his eye.

He was so happy when he received his postcard from Australia, he asked his cousin to put the card around his neck so he could show everyone.

These are the true heroes of the Libyan revolution, not some imagery NATO spooks as the anti-interventionists would have you believe.

For more background on the Libyan Revolution and links to lots of information see my other writings at the DailyKos and WikiLeaks Central:
BREAKING: Secret files reveal Dennis Kucinich talks with Qaddafi Regime
BREAKING: Libyan TNC won't extradite Lockerbie bomber
Who really beat Qaddafi?
#Feb17: @NATO Please help MEDEVAC wounded from #Libya
What should those that opposed NATO's intervention in Libya demand now?
BREAKING: Qaddafi's Tripoli Compound Falls!
Does PDA Support Qaddafi?
BREAKING: Operation Mermaid Dawn, the Battle to Liberate Tripoli is Joined
Helter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure
Qaddafi's Long Arm
SCOOP: My Lai or Qaddafi Lie? More on the 85 Civilians presumed killed by NATO
Did NATO kill 85 Libyan Villagers As Qaddafi Regime Contends?
CCDS Statement on Libya - a Critique
The Assassination of General Abdul Fattah Younis
NATO over Tripoli - Air Strikes in the Age of Twitter
How Many Libyans has NATO Killed?
Qaddafi Terror Files Start to Trickle Out!
Have Libyan Rebels Committed Human Rights Abuses?
Tripoli Green Square Reality Check
Behind the Green Curtain: Libya Today
Gilbert Achcar on the Libyan situation and the Left
NATO slammed for Libya civilian deaths NOT!
2011-07-01 Qaddafi's Million Man March
NATO's Game Plan in Libya
February 21st - Tripoli's Long Night
Did Qaddafi Bomb Peaceful Protesters?
Tripoli Burn Notice
Libyans, Palestinians & Israelis
'Brother' Qaddafi Indicted plus Libya & Syria: Dueling Rally Photofinishs
An Open Letter to ANSWER
ANSWER answers me
2011-06-22 No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum
Are they throwing babies out of incubators yet?
Continuing Discussion with a Gaddafi Supporter
Boston Globe oped supports Gaddafi with fraudulent journalism
2011-04-13 Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Current Events in Libya
Amonpour Plays Softball with Gaddafi
Arming Gaddfi
North African Revolution Continues
Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation

7:05 AM PT: @OmarAlMuktar' real name is Suleiman A. Tawil

The True Story Behind the WikiLeaks Cable Dump

Last year, as both legal and extra-legal threats against WikiLeaks and Julian Assange grew, they took out an what they called an "insurance policy" to insure that the full dump of state department cables would get out. That took the form of an encrypted, compressed file of all the cables. This was before WikiLeaks or it's media partners had time to go through them so these were un-redacted cables. They made this file widely available on the Internet. As a matter of fact, I publicized the link in one of my earlier DailyKos dairies.

Since the file would be useless without the pass key, that alone did not release the cables but it did assure that should something drastic happen, say Julian should meet with a mysterious accident, by simply releasing the key, the cables could be made public.

I'll let Bernice Keane take it from there:

The problem was, the password was made available, by none other than The Guardian’s David Leigh, in his book released in February this year co-written with Luke Harding, WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy. An extract from the book, which was published after the encrypted material had gone online:

Eventually, Assange capitulated. Late at night, after a two-hour debate, he started the process on one of his little netbooks that would enable Leigh to download the entire tranche of cables. The Guardian journalist had to set up the PGP encryption system on his laptop at home across the other side of London. Then he could feed in a password. Assange wrote down on a scrap of paper:

CollectionOfHistorySince_1966_ToThe_PresentDay#

“That’s the password,” he said. “But you have to add one extra word when you type it in. You have to put in the word ‘Diplomatic’ before the word ‘History’ Can you remember that?” “I can remember that.” Leigh set off home, and successfully installed the PGP software.

Leigh thus, as part of his effort to cash in on his once-intense but by then-soured relationship with Assange, had revealed the key to decrypting the entire set of cables that had been available online.

The book was published last February but it took a while for someone to put one and two together and make three. When they did the cat was out of the bang.

The Guardian for it's part claims they had been told that the pass phase would expire and be deleted. The Guardian's solution was for WikiLeaks to "remove the files" that they had put up for download. Somebody needs to keep them away from computers. They simply don't understand these things.

For WikiLeaks, it then became a question of attempting to control this process or not. They decided to get ahead of the imminent hostile or uncontrolled release and attempt to control it.

This accounts for the sudden release of over 100,000 cables in recent weeks and the setting up of #wlfind and the final release of the full quarter million unredacted cables yesterday.

Keane again:

Shortly before deadline, Wikileaks was conducting a global consultation to determine if it should release the unredacted cables itself, with nearly all opinion favouring release.

I'll leave the parsing of blame to the comment section. I've read WikiLeaks Exposes Thousands Of Informants and heard a lot of confusing news reports. So I thought you deserved a simple telling of what happened.

From there you'll have to make up your own mind.

Libyans have spilled their blood for all of us!

I first published this diary under the title Libyans are spilling their blood for all of us on February 25th. There has been a lot of blood spilled since then but my conclusions remain the same. So this would seem like a good time to republish it and to thank the Libyan people. Their blood sacrifice will ultimately mean less death and destruction for the rest of us. Now that Qaddafi has been put out of power, expect changes for the better in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain. Also look for positive develops all over Africa in coming years now that Qaddafi's heel has been removed from her neck. You can count on it.

Follow clayclai on Twitter

The brute force approach to popular uprisings is now being tried in earnest in Libya. In using artillery, aircraft and navy on peaceful protesters Colonel Gaddafi is attempting to break the protest movements with massive violence.

If he is successful, this type of violent response to popular uprising will almost certainly be used elsewhere with all the terrible consequences for humanity. If he fails and is hopefully executed for his war crimes, the reigning powers around the world will favor more peaceful methods of resolving contradictions.

Colonel Gaddafi is not the only head of state that counts human life cheap. What he has been doing this week using large caliber military weapons against unarmed civilians, US Presidents do as a matter of course, week in and week out. This week US air assaults on the Afghan village of Heelgal killed 64 civilians including many children according to Afghan President Karzai. It was hardly noticed because the spot light is on the innocent blood being spilled by Gaddafi this week and because, with an estimated 8 million civilians killed by the US military since the Korean War, US presidents using military power on civilians isn't exactly news.

When Secretary of State Clinton made the rounds on the TV talk shows Sunday morning talking about events in Libya and complaining that it is wrong to turn to violence to solve political problems, most of the world knew they were listening to a hypocrite. The United States has led the world in using massive violence to resolve political problems.

Nor am I implying that the other world leaders are any less squeamish in applying massive violence if it will resolve their political problems. What I am saying is that the abhorrence for Gaddafi's violence that has been displayed by most world leaders, including our own, is mostly for public consumption.

They know that we are facing a world economic crisis of historic proportions. It's root cause is a world economy that has been organized to benefit a select handful at the expense of the majority. This system has insurmountable internal contradiction that cannot be solved unless the rich and powerful are dispossessed and the world economy is re-organized to benefit the world.

They are having none of that. They will fight that with their last dying breath. The other day an Indiana Official suggested that peaceful protesters in Wisconsin be shot. They are like Gaddafi on a world scale in that they would sooner bring disaster and suffering for all rather than give up their privilege.

In Tunisia the general of the army refused to use massive violence on the protesters and the revolution succeeded in ousting the dictator. In Egypt the junior officers refused to open fire with their tanks and the revolution succeeded in ousting the dictator. And while all the leaders of the US, UK and EU are now claiming to welcome and even champion these popular democratic movements, it is a sham. That's not why they have supported these dictators all these years.

If massive violence can contain the wave of mass rebellions that now has reached even the state house in Wisconsin, they won't mind the bloodshed. They just haven't had the opportunity yet. Gaddafi gives them that opportunity.

That is why they have so far been so anemic in their response to Gaddafi. They secretly want him to succeed. They are hoping he will succeed and they won't act until it is clear to all [as is quickly becoming the case] that he has failed. You can count on it. {and we now know, they allowed another 3 weeks of this horrific violence, and took action only after the protesters had taken up arms, and they were faced with a humanitarian crisis in Benghazi.} If he can put a lid on things, restore the status quo and with it, the oil flow, they may put him back on the pariah list but they will allow him to stand and continue to do business with him.

This is a test and fate or history has selected the Libyan people to take it. But all of us will be drastically affected by the outcome. The unarmed Libyan protesters that have braved machine gun, anti-aircraft and artillery fire to take many of Gaddafi's fortresses around the country are giving their all, their very lives in many cases, to show that even massive violence won't stop the people's movement forward.

If Gaddafi's violence fails Governor Scott will negotiate with the demonstrators in the Wisconsin state house, if it succeeds he will send in the police. If Gaddafi's violence succeeds, many more will die in Yemen and Bahrain and everywhere else that people resist tyranny. If he fails, the powers that be everywhere on the planet will be less likely to follow his lead and try a massive violence approach.

Those brave Libyans who fate chose to brave machine gun fire to win their freedom are braving that machine gun fire for all of us.

For more background on the Libyan Revolution and links to lots of information see my other writings at the DailyKos and WikiLeaks Central:
BREAKING: Secret files reveal Dennis Kucinich talks with Qaddafi Regime
BREAKING: Libyan TNC won't extradite Lockerbie bomber
Who really beat Qaddafi?
#Feb17: @NATO Please help MEDEVAC wounded from #Libya
What should those that opposed NATO's intervention in Libya demand now?
BREAKING: Qaddafi's Tripoli Compound Falls!
Does PDA Support Qaddafi?
BREAKING: Operation Mermaid Dawn, the Battle to Liberate Tripoli is Joined
Helter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure
Qaddafi's Long Arm
SCOOP: My Lai or Qaddafi Lie? More on the 85 Civilians presumed killed by NATO
Did NATO kill 85 Libyan Villagers As Qaddafi Regime Contends?
CCDS Statement on Libya - a Critique
The Assassination of General Abdul Fattah Younis
NATO over Tripoli - Air Strikes in the Age of Twitter
How Many Libyans has NATO Killed?
Qaddafi Terror Files Start to Trickle Out!
Have Libyan Rebels Committed Human Rights Abuses?
Tripoli Green Square Reality Check
Behind the Green Curtain: Libya Today
Gilbert Achcar on the Libyan situation and the Left
NATO slammed for Libya civilian deaths NOT!
2011-07-01 Qaddafi's Million Man March
NATO's Game Plan in Libya
February 21st - Tripoli's Long Night
Did Qaddafi Bomb Peaceful Protesters?
Tripoli Burn Notice
Libyans, Palestinians & Israelis
'Brother' Qaddafi Indicted plus Libya & Syria: Dueling Rally Photofinishs
An Open Letter to ANSWER
ANSWER answers me
2011-06-22 No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum
Are they throwing babies out of incubators yet?
Continuing Discussion with a Gaddafi Supporter
Boston Globe oped supports Gaddafi with fraudulent journalism
2011-04-13 Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Current Events in Libya
Amonpour Plays Softball with Gaddafi
Arming Gaddfi
North African Revolution Continues
Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation

Film Premiere of "We Win Or We Die"

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Director Matthew Milan traveled to Benghazi, Libya and collected some great material about the beginning of the Libyan Revolution from February 18th - 22nd. The title of this excellent documentary in "We Win Or We Die." He has it slated for a Sundance premiere but on August 20, 2011 I was lucky enough to attend a work-in-progress screening and discussion at Venice Arts. This is the video they produced about that event. I can be heard but not seen talking during the Q&A. Be warned. This is a 50 minute video but well worth your time.

Below is a 1 minute trailer for We Win or We Die

He needs your help to finish this film, which had the working title "West of Tobruk: The Libya Uprising." Here's his pitch:

Our Story

Follow Matthew Millan, a documentary filmmaker who is going into the lion's den to capture the very heart of the Libyan uprising. From the revolution's onset reflected in the heroic actions of a 49 year old suicide bomber to the current lingering stalemate, Mr Millan will travel to Benghazi to discover the true tipping point that caused an entire region to shed its yoke of 42 years of oppression. And from the interviews of the average people caught up in this war, we will see what caused them, in essence, to cross the Rubicon, the intangible point of no return.

From the eastern city of Tobruk to the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, Mr. Millan journeyed into the heart of a nebula coalescing from the dust of war...and into a nation reborn. Amidst the brutality and devastation wrought under 42 years of Gaddafi’s rule, a civil society par excellence is emerging from the ashes. And for the first time in their lives, the eastern Libyans feel a strong sense of citizenship, finding themselves gravitating toward certain roles, roles they would never consider five months before. Medical students turned news anchors. Civil engineers turned newspaper editors. And taxi drivers turned soldiers. Neighborhoods have banded together to pick up the pieces of a shattered infrastructure. Children sweep the streets after the witching hour, alongside men who paint the roadside curbs. Looting is non-existent, and the crime rate has dropped by a factor of 20… and this in the absence of strong government.

The Impact

'West of Tobruk' is very much a human story, and will reveal to the audience just who these rebels who chose to stand against tyranny are. We in the West will benefit in seeing those with the same hopes and aspirations...to shed the manacles of brutal, merciless oppression...and forge their own destiny. This film will remind us that no matter the borders, the boundaries, nor the beliefs, we are all human and should decry injustice wherever we may see it.

But this is a much bigger story. Much bigger than any one person...much bigger than any one country...and even much bigger than any one region. 'West of Tobruk' shall paint for the audience a greater context, and ring the echoes of a century. Paradigms are shifting with tectonic force, and with that new ideologies are emerging. The borders drawn by post-war colonialism are being dissolved, and an Arab nation is emerging from the ashes. 'West of Tobruk' will elucidate on how the Libyan uprising, and its kindred rebellions throughout the region, spell the real conclusion to the First World War, and a final closing of the 20th century.

Please view all of the Libya reports that I made between April and May of 2011. You will get an idea of the extraordinary events occurring in the East right now. Visit us at:

http://www.youtube.com/user/180filmsnetwork?fea...

What We Need & What You Get

In order to finish the film, I will need at least $12,000. This includes going back to Libya to investigate further into formation of a nation amidst the dust of war. Further, some of the funds will go to the task of finishing the film. This includes the rest of the production, and the post-production stages.. I will spend a further 8 weeks in Libya, where I will travel deep into the desert, journey to historic sites of the region, and interview a wide variety of people.

$12,000 is a very low estimate, but will be a good catalyst to finsih the project, and give to you one of the most riveting stories of our time.

Other Ways You Can Help

Please let everybody know about this amazing project. The uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa are much closer to home than you may believe, and will have a colossal impact on the geopolitical climate for decades to come. These stories shall ring throughout history...and it is no coincidence that they are occurring near the heart of where civilization began.

So tweet about it, post it on Facebook, email, or use carrier pigeons if you have to. Just please ge the word out, and make this film possible. Thank you for all of your support.

Here is his website.

For more background on the Libyan Revolution and links to lots of information see my other writings at the DailyKos and WikiLeaks Central:
BREAKING: Secret files reveal Dennis Kucinich talks with Qaddafi Regime
BREAKING: Libyan TNC won't extradite Lockerbie bomber
Who really beat Qaddafi?
#Feb17: @NATO Please help MEDEVAC wounded from #Libya
What should those that opposed NATO's intervention in Libya demand now?
BREAKING: Qaddafi's Tripoli Compound Falls!
Does PDA Support Qaddafi?
BREAKING: Operation Mermaid Dawn, the Battle to Liberate Tripoli is JoinedHelter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure
Qaddafi's Long Arm
SCOOP: My Lai or Qaddafi Lie? More on the 85 Civilians presumed killed by NATO
Did NATO kill 85 Libyan Villagers As Qaddafi Regime Contends?
CCDS Statement on Libya - a Critique
The Assassination of General Abdul Fattah Younis
NATO over Tripoli - Air Strikes in the Age of Twitter
How Many Libyans has NATO Killed?
Qaddafi Terror Files Start to Trickle Out!
Have Libyan Rebels Committed Human Rights Abuses?
Tripoli Green Square Reality Check
Behind the Green Curtain: Libya Today
Gilbert Achcar on the Libyan situation and the Left
NATO slammed for Libya civilian deaths NOT!
2011-07-01 Qaddafi's Million Man March
NATO's Game Plan in Libya
February 21st - Tripoli's Long Night
Did Qaddafi Bomb Peaceful Protesters?
Tripoli Burn Notice
Libyans, Palestinians & Israelis
'Brother' Qaddafi Indicted plus Libya & Syria: Dueling Rally Photofinishs
An Open Letter to ANSWER
ANSWER answers me
2011-06-22 No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum
Are they throwing babies out of incubators yet?
Continuing Discussion with a Gaddafi Supporter
Boston Globe oped supports Gaddafi with fraudulent journalism
2011-04-13 Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Current Events in Libya
Amonpour Plays Softball with Gaddafi
Arming Gaddfi
North African Revolution Continues
Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation

UPDATED: Secret files reveal Dennis Kucinich talks with Qaddafi Regime

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Today Jamal Eishayyal reported in Al Jazeera/English that he found some papers in the office of Abdullah Alsinnousi, head of Libya's intelligence service and one of the most fear men in Libya, that seem to document the communications of several prominent US citizens with the Qaddafi regime in the months before it was overthrown. The following information request is said to be from Congressman Dennis Kucinich:

Good Morning Gentlemen.
This is the Congressman you both spoke with. He is going to fight for us but he has asked us for evidence. I can bring whatever we can gather. If it is sensitive I will carry it, otherwise we can email it. House to vote next week on ending US involvement in Libya

l.Any corrupt (verifiable) acts by the Opposition leaders. Include any personal motives for instance to make money or gain certain types of power.
2.Any known Al-Qaeda operating in the Opposition.
3 .Any evidence of atrocities committed by the Rebel soldiers.
4-.Any evidence of Civilian deaths by NATO.
5 .Any evidence of arms sales to the Opposition in Benghazi or Misrata, including dates, who sold the weapons, what type and the cost of the deals.
6.Any evidence of weapons being smuggled on boats to Misrata, with dates. and type of weapons.
7.Any evidence that the uprising was a planned event prior to February 17th. Include intercepted communications, names, dates.
S.Evidence supporting that the Regime has a regular practice of hiring African military in its Pan-African units and this was not a new (mercenaries) thing just for the uprising.
9.Communications with the UK and USA prior to the UN bombings to show Regime was trying to negotiate peacefully.
10.Evidence of cease fires by the Regime or withdrawals of troops. Dates, location, description (including why cease fire broke down).
11.Evidence that before the uprising started, there were democratic projects under way, for instance a plan for elections and so forth. This shows that they were already going this way and aren't just saying that now.
l2.Evidence that The Leader had already planned to step down before the uprisings. This shows there was already a transition going on. It also helps him save face for when he does step down because it will look like that was the plan all along.
l3.A list of tribes and location known to be loyal to Regime, those pledging loyalty to Opposition, and the remaining ones that have not pledged either way. The population of each group as well, This shows that the Rebels don't have the full support of the country.
l4.A list and description (including date and location) of humanitarian efforts by Regime since this started, or their attempts to aid the civilian population, and any efforts blocked by NATO or the Rebels.
It will be used for:
A) A lawsuit against
B) Defending Saif in the ICC
C) Publicity to reform the image of Regime.
D) To help negotiation positions

At the time Kucinich was attempting to get passed a resolution which he authored that would mandate an immediate withdrawal of US forces from Libya absent congressional authorization. Dennis Kucinich has issued a response to this news to the Atlantic Wire:

"Al Jazeera found a document written by a Libyan bureaucrat to other Libyan bureaucrats. All it proves is that the Libyans were reading the Washington Post... I can't help what the Libyans put in their files... Any implication I was doing anything other than trying to bring an end to an unauthorised war is fiction."

While that reply would seem to indicate that this communication was a fabrication, earlier this week, Kucinich issued a press release defending his search for peace in Libya and confirming his contact with the Qaddafi regime:

Washington, Aug 26 - The Guardian newspaper recently reported that it found communications between me and an intermediary regarding a possible visit to Libya.

From the beginning of the conflict, I have led the effort in challenging the Obama Administration’s war in Libya and to seeking a just, peaceful resolution to the conflict. My opposition to the war has been well-known, including through a number of pieces published in The Guardian.

In my efforts to end the war, I have been contacted by many parties – including members of the Gaddafi regime and some with ties to the rebels. Reaching a just and peaceful solution requires listening to all sides.

The Guardian article Kucinich is referring to is one published earlier this week and speaks of other found secret papers about an attempt to arrange a meeting between the Congressman and officials of the Qaddafi regime. The Guardian wrote:

On 22 June a letter sent to Libya's prime minister, Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi, by a US-based lobbyist for the regime, Sufyan Omeish, noted that Kucinich was "concerned that his personal safety in Tripoli could not be guaranteed". He preferred to conduct meetings with regime officials outside Libya. The plan was for Kucinich to meet "senior Libyan officials, including Gaddafi". The proposed trip never took place. Kucinich visited Syria instead.

The Al Jazeera article also reports on another document the appeared to be the minutes of a meeting between David Welch, former assistant secretary of state under George W Bush, and senior Libyan officials Abubakr Alzleitny and Mohammed Ahmed Ismail on August 2, 2011 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Cairo, a few blocks from the US embassy. Welch was advising the Qaddafi regime on how to win the propaganda war.

Copies of the documents can be found on the Al Jazeera website at the above link. As the once secret business of the Qaddafi regime becomes public knowledge we can expect to get a much clearer picture of the workings of that regime as well as it's connections to it's US supporters.

Here is Al Jazeera's video report:

This diary posted a little before mine and has a very lively comment section:
Documents Found in Libya Say Dennis Kucinich Offered to Help Qaddafi

UPDATE - Wednesday, Sept 1, 2011: We have this additional info from Politco:

Kucinich told The Guardian that he had held an hour long telephone conversation with Libyan Prime Minister Al Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi but ended up deciding to visit Syria, another country in the throes of protest against a violent dictator.

Hour long? Could this be the conversation recorded in the memo? Politico continues:

At first, Kucinich did not publicize his trip to Syria, in which he met with Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. Rather, he was first spotted in Damascus by a CNN correspondent.

Soon thereafter, he gave a press conference to Syrian media in which he was quoted as saying, “President Bashar al-Assad cares so much about what is taking place in Syria, which is evident in his effort towards a new Syria and everybody who meets him can be certain of this.” Kucinich later disputed this reporting, saying that his message was lost in translation from Arabic.

I find it extremely interesting that Kucinich intended to keep his trip to Syria a secret. Why was he going there? We know from other reports [see above] that he refused a meeting with Qaddafi officials because he felt it was "unsafe" and suggested a meeting outside of Libya.

Now, where could such a meeting take place given the ICC indictments and the travel ban on Qaddafi officials? This raises the question of Kucinich's conduct if his trip to Syria involved a covert meeting with Qaddafi's representatives violating the travel ban or avoiding arrest. Might that be criminal?

More on Kucinich's defense of Qaddafi: Kucinich on NATO in Libya: ‘Gangsterism’

Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, may have gone too far even for the Puget Sound peaceniks he is courting as a potential carpetbagger candidate for Congress in Washington.

As much of the world celebrated the apparent fall of Libya’s Col. Gaddafi, Kucinich on Tuesday released a statement calling for NATO commanders to be hauled before the International Criminal Court.

“If members of the Gaddafi Regime are to be held accountable, NATO’s top commanders must also be held accountable through the International Criminal Court for all civilian deaths resulting from bombing,” said the seven-term Cleveland congressman.

“Otherwise, we will have witnessed the triumph of a new international gangsterism.”

Kucinich delivered a spirited defense of the dictator’s foreign policy while claiming he does not “sympathize with Colonel Gaddafi’s brutality.” He also seemed to blame foreign investment for social conditions that led to the anti-Gaddafi rebellion.

“On December 19, 2003, Libya voluntarily gave up its nuclear weapon-making capability and on January 6, 2004 ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty,” he wrote. “Its relationship with the US on the mend, Libya then opened up to international investment and began the wholesale privatization of its industries, leading to massive unemployment and dissatisfaction with the state of things, particularly among younger Libyans.”

For more background on the Libyan Revolution and links to lots of information see my other writings at the DailyKos and WikiLeaks Central:
BREAKING: Libyan TNC won't extradite Lockerbie bomber
Who really beat Qaddafi?
#Feb17: @NATO Please help MEDEVAC wounded from #Libya
What should those that opposed NATO's intervention in Libya demand now?
BREAKING: Qaddafi's Tripoli Compound Falls!
Does PDA Support Qaddafi?
BREAKING: Operation Mermaid Dawn, the Battle to Liberate Tripoli is JoinedHelter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure
Qaddafi's Long Arm
SCOOP: My Lai or Qaddafi Lie? More on the 85 Civilians presumed killed by NATO
Did NATO kill 85 Libyan Villagers As Qaddafi Regime Contends?
CCDS Statement on Libya - a Critique
The Assassination of General Abdul Fattah Younis
NATO over Tripoli - Air Strikes in the Age of Twitter
How Many Libyans has NATO Killed?
Qaddafi Terror Files Start to Trickle Out!
Have Libyan Rebels Committed Human Rights Abuses?
Tripoli Green Square Reality Check
Behind the Green Curtain: Libya Today
Gilbert Achcar on the Libyan situation and the Left
NATO slammed for Libya civilian deaths NOT!
2011-07-01 Qaddafi's Million Man March
NATO's Game Plan in Libya
February 21st - Tripoli's Long Night
Did Qaddafi Bomb Peaceful Protesters?
Tripoli Burn Notice
Libyans, Palestinians & Israelis
'Brother' Qaddafi Indicted plus Libya & Syria: Dueling Rally Photofinishs
An Open Letter to ANSWER
ANSWER answers me
2011-06-22 No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum
Are they throwing babies out of incubators yet?
Continuing Discussion with a Gaddafi Supporter
Boston Globe oped supports Gaddafi with fraudulent journalism
2011-04-13 Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Current Events in Libya
Amonpour Plays Softball with Gaddafi
Arming Gaddfi
North African Revolution Continues
Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation

BREAKING: Libyan TNC won't extradite Lockerbie bomber

Follow clayclai on Twitter

In an announcement that might seem to indicate that the new revolutionary government of Libyan won't be as compliant to NATO wishes as some have hoped, a minister in Libya's National Transitional Council said Sunday that Libya will not extradite Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, the man convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie airline bombing. According to Reuthers:

"We will not give any Libyan citizen to the West," Mohammed al-Alagi, the NTC justice minister, told reporters in Tripoli. The NTC is the de facto government of Libya's rebel movement.

"Al-Megrahi has already been judged once and he will not be judged again ... We do not hand over Libyan citizens. (Muammar) Gaddafi does."

Megrahi, who had been diagnosed with cancer, served eight years in a Scottish prison for orchestrating the bombing of the Pan Am passenger plane which blew up over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988 killing 270 people. He was released in 2009 on compassionate grounds after doctors gave him only months to live.

Megrahi's release angered politicians in the United States -- where many of the victims of the bombing came from. Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron later said the decision by Scotland's justice minister was a mistake.

Also new details have emerged about Mummar Qaddafi attempt to influence Dennis Kucinich in his views of Libya and NATO's involvement. Common Dreams reports:

Secret documents in Tripoli seen by the Guardian reveal the desperate attempts made by the Libyan government in its final months to influence US and world opinion. It approached key international opinion formers from the US president Barack Obama downwards.

The regime tried to persuade the Democratic congressman Dennis Kucinich – a well-known rebel who voted against Nato military action in Libya, and opposed the Iraq war – to visit Tripoli as part of a hastily arranged "peace mission". The Libyan government offered to pay all Kucinich's costs related to the trip, including "travel expenses and accommodation".
...
On 22 June a letter sent to Libya's prime minister, Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi, by a US-based lobbyist for the regime, Sufyan Omeish, noted that Kucinich was "concerned that his personal safety in Tripoli could not be guaranteed". He preferred to conduct meetings with regime officials outside Libya. The plan was for Kucinich to meet "senior Libyan officials, including Gaddafi". The proposed trip never took place. Kucinich visited Syria instead

Omeish, a US based filmmaker, was active in arranging other image building trips to Qaddafi's Libya. He worked with Libyan Foreign Minister Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi to arrange them. In one correspondence with him that has been revealed:

He then discusses an urgent proposed peace mission to Libya to try to sway international opinion in their favour. He writes: "We have already obtained confirmation of the involvement of a high-profile US congressman to participate … and are making additional overtures to obtain further congressional involvement from other members.

"Moreover, we have also obtained a new confirmation from a high-profile Princeton professor of international law and a former UN fact-finding commissioner to join our delegation." Omeish boasted that he was also working with "award-winning/Oscar-nominated filmmakers to help document the truth about Libya … to ensure maximum world-wide exposure."

In another message, Omeish urges Baghdadi not to communicate via Gmail, but to use a more secure private account.

Baghdadl has since denounced the Qaddafi regime and fled to Tunisia. As he talks and more of the regimes secrets come out, it will be interesting to find out more about the connections some of the more prominent anti-interventionist had with the Qaddafi regime.

Meanwhile in the capital city of Tripoli, alexblx's posterous reports that things are moving towards a kind or normalcy and stability given that the liberation of the city about a week old:

The citizens of Tripoli – have moved as efficiently as their Benghazi compatriots in establishing civil society in the city. To date – police and traffic wardens are back on duty – rubbish is being cleared – shops are opening – many people are out in the streets.

The NTC are distributing cooking gas in Tripoli - & have ordered bulk fuel supplies to power water pumps - to get water pipes working again Libya

NTC says it will start distributing 30,000 tonnes of petrol on Sunday, and provide cooking gas within the next 48 hours.

A ship carrying fresh water and diesel for the power stations is due to dock in the next couple of days.

Gun signs have been erected against celebratory shooting in Martyrs Square – and local neighbourhoods – have started gun registers so all neighbours can track the issue of firearms – and guns are being handed back in at these registries. As I predicted in the article below – “the Tripoli people show the same commitment to civil government as Benghazi”

Then she talks about the NTC stewardship of the large eastern city:

Take a look at Benghazi civil society since liberation

Boy scouts directing traffic - teenagers cleaning streets - mothers preparing community meals - policemen and civil servants turning up for work even if not always paid - parents forming education committees for their children - citizens establishing charities to provide food, housing, and medical services for displaced African and Arabic foreign workers stranded in the city during the uprising - intellectuals forming political and philosophical discussion groups - newspapers and media outlets opening up like there's 42 years of lost expression to make up for![there is].

And all this 'civilization' has happened - during a major military conflict - in which the city's very existence was under threat - by the massive military might of Gaddafi goons and Regime contract killers.

It will be interesting to see how things develop in the new revolutionary Libya. It will also be interesting to see what we will now start to find out about the old Libya.

James Bay of AJE has been out in the filed reporting on Libya for a long time. Below is his latest report on the situation in Tripoli.

For more background on the Libyan Revolution and links to lots of information see my other writings at the DailyKos and WikiLeaks Central:
Who really beat Qaddafi?
#Feb17: @NATO Please help MEDEVAC wounded from #Libya
What should those that opposed NATO's intervention in Libya demand now?
BREAKING: Qaddafi's Tripoli Compound Falls!
Does PDA Support Qaddafi?
BREAKING: Operation Mermaid Dawn, the Battle to Liberate Tripoli is JoinedHelter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure
Qaddafi's Long Arm
SCOOP: My Lai or Qaddafi Lie? More on the 85 Civilians presumed killed by NATO
Did NATO kill 85 Libyan Villagers As Qaddafi Regime Contends?
CCDS Statement on Libya - a Critique
The Assassination of General Abdul Fattah Younis
NATO over Tripoli - Air Strikes in the Age of Twitter
How Many Libyans has NATO Killed?
Qaddafi Terror Files Start to Trickle Out!
Have Libyan Rebels Committed Human Rights Abuses?
Tripoli Green Square Reality Check
Behind the Green Curtain: Libya Today
Gilbert Achcar on the Libyan situation and the Left
NATO slammed for Libya civilian deaths NOT!
2011-07-01 Qaddafi's Million Man March
NATO's Game Plan in Libya
February 21st - Tripoli's Long Night
Did Qaddafi Bomb Peaceful Protesters?
Tripoli Burn Notice
Libyans, Palestinians & Israelis
'Brother' Qaddafi Indicted plus Libya & Syria: Dueling Rally Photofinishs
An Open Letter to ANSWER
ANSWER answers me
2011-06-22 No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum
Are they throwing babies out of incubators yet?
Continuing Discussion with a Gaddafi Supporter
Boston Globe oped supports Gaddafi with fraudulent journalism
2011-04-13 Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Current Events in Libya
Amonpour Plays Softball with Gaddafi
Arming Gaddfi
North African Revolution Continues
Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation

Thu Sep 08, 2011 at 8:59 AM PT: Call for Megrahi's return

Pressure was mounting last night on the British Government to seek the return of the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, who has been a vigorous supporter of the Gaddafi regime since being returned to Tripoli from a Scottish jail two years ago. The Tory MP Robert Halfon said rebel leaders should be urged to extradite the former intelligence officer. The Foreign Office said: "He was convicted in a Scottish court under Scottish law. He could be returned under the terms of his release but that is a matter for the relevant authorities."

JONATHAN BROWN

Who really beat Qaddafi?

Follow clayclai on Twitter
Now that it is clear that the 42 year reign of Mummar Qaddafi has come to an end and there is little left to do on the military side beyond putting down a few pockets of pro-Qaddafi resistance, the question of bragging rights to this victory seems to be coming to the fore in certain western circles.

NATO and it's allies are looking to increase their influence in Libya so they can cash-in on post Qaddafi developments. Although they never managed to get "boots on the ground" during the conflict as NATO would have liked, they still hope to fulfill that dream, via some "peace keeping" or "stabilization" mechanism. Regardless of whether they are successful in that quest, they will be peddling their influence in a hundred other ways.

In preparation for that, they are now trying to take credit for the victory over Qaddafi in subtle ways that will allow them to take ownership of it in the public mind. Typical of the way they do that is the story that has been circulating in the media in the past few days about a group of British SAS on the ground in Libya. An example is this one in the Telegraph 24 Aug 2011:

Libya: SAS leads hunt for Gaddafi

British special forces are on the ground in Libya helping to spearhead the hunt for Col Muammar Gaddafi, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

For the first time, defence sources have confirmed that the SAS has been in Libya for several weeks, and played a key role in coordinating the fall of Tripoli.

With the majority of the capital now in rebel hands, the SAS soldiers, who have been dressed in Arab civilian clothing and carrying the same weapons as the rebels, have been ordered to switch their focus to the search for Gaddafi, who has been on the run since his fortified headquarters was captured on Tuesday.

I don't want to address the question of whether or not this is true. Even if the SAS were there, they can hardly take credit for this brilliant victory, a "key role" could be anything. That could mean communications and intelligence and it almost certainly meant supporting the sea assault by Thuwwar from Misrata, but trying to imply that a handful western special force Rambo types, who suffered no causalities as far as we know, are the real authors and heroes of this victory is to take credit were it is not due.

The campaign that routed Qaddafi's Tripoli defenses in a few days was masterful! First there were the coordinated campaigns in the west coming down from the Nafusah Mountains and from in the east, west of Misrata, then the convergence on Tripoli via three major roads, from the west, east and south, together with an amphibious landing of a brigade from Misrata and the uprising by secret forces already in Tripoli. It was a brilliant victory. It showed great unity and coordination by freedom fighters from separate parts of Libya and the leadership of their command staff in spite of the assassination of their chief of staff, most likely by Qaddafi agents, only weeks before. It will go down in military history as a classic victory.

The idea that the authors of this were some westerners who just parachuted in and not the people who lived Qaddafi's nightmare for 40 years and have been fighting it for the last 6 months is ridiculous. Those most likely to believe it are those that have some misconceptions about the supremacy of western special forces and the inferiority of Arabs.

The Libyans are the ones that have been fighting in these lands since before the Romans. They know the lay of the land and they knew the rising capabilities of their people. The only thing they could never be sure of was NATO, which was MIA for the early parts of the campaigns around both Misrata and the Nafusah Mountains and bombed the wrong armies too many times. Why do the British feel the need to resurrect the "Lawrence of Arabia" mythology to try to snatch credit for this win from the revolutionary Libyan people?

Take for example the organizations of the secret forces inside of Tripoli itself. Do you seriously think that was pulled together under Qaddafi's nose by some British SAS guys in Arab clothes? They wouldn't even know their way around and they wouldn't be trusted by anybody. Two months ago I wrote Tripoli Burn Notice about an agitational action by the Free Generation Movement in Tripoli. They have organized many such actions in the past six months and also managed a rising tempo of armed attacks on Qaddafi checkpoints and other targets in the city. The forces that would rise up from within Tripoli itself were schooled and organized by these actions, not by SAS neighborhood classes.

And it was not some SAS guys with satellite gear that kept critical communication links up, it was the hacker groups like Anonymous, both inside and outside Libya that made sure the uprising had some degree of Internet access even in the worst of blackouts. The Google initiated speech-to-tweet service for Libya was far more important than anything the spooks contributed. A lot of operational information pasted through Twitter.

So with regards to the story about the British SAS on the ground in Libya, the question is why are they letting it 'leak' out now? The British government always "no comments" any story about the SAS, why then is the Telegraph saying it "can disclose?" That indicates that they have some sort of official permission or backing to print this story. Why is the gov't changing it's policy in this case? It's because making this story public is itself part of a psyops campaign directed at the public. This conclusion is quite independent of whether the story is true or not since it normally wouldn't be disclosed even if it was true.

In spite of all the commentary that says different. It was the Libyan freedom fighters, not NATO that beat Qadaffi. Sun Tzu said "Every battle is won before it is even fought," and this revolutionary war was won before it was ever fought because the people were sick to death of Qaddafi's rule. If Qaddafi was going to beat the uprising militarily, he would have already done so in the first month before the UN and NATO got involved. In that first month the freedom fighters were completely unskilled and practically unarmed whereas Qaddafi's forces were at their peak.

Qaddafi threw just about everything at them in that first month. Jet aircraft, helicopters, tanks, artillery, anti-aircraft weapons against civilians and of course, thousands of arrests and disappearances. The siege of Misrata, Libya's Stalingrad, started then. Grad rockets, cluster bombs, artillery, even naval bombardment until NATO made him stop that. The siege of Misrata was to go on for 4 long months before the freedom fighters had pushed Qaddafi's army beyond his 20 km. Grad rocket range. In some periods I've been told, they were losing an average of 50 people a day in Misrata.

The freedom fighters on the other hand, started out with practically nothing. Some had meat cleavers in their hands when they first attacked the barracks in Benghazi. As a result of that they got a few real weapons but still they had no training. But they had courage! The hospitals were filling up with Thuwwar that had accidentally wounded themselves, and they kept falling into traps and walking into ambushes, but they learned. They also had no overall organization or strategy. Most units began as a small band of brothers fighting together. During the months of battle, these youth groups coalesced into bigger units sometimes called battalions or brigades. Only slowly did they develop and gain strength.

But they showed perseverance right from the beginning. As so often happens in revolutionary periods, two would step forward for everyone killed, imprisoned or captured by Qaddafi. Qaddafi had divisions of crack trained troops, the best UK, EU and Russian weapons and all the soldiers money can buy, but he couldn't trump that revolutionary spirit.

The protests started out peacefully, as they had in Tunisia and Egypt. Once the people elected to meet Qaddafi's state violence with the people's revolutionary violence, there was no looking back. Qaddafi extracted a horrific toll in that first month of violence, probably about 7000, the majority of those killed in the whole six month war, and yet the strength of the Libyan revolutionary campaign continued to grow. Qaddafi sealed his own fate when he ordered his army to open fire on unarmed protesters. The die was cast when the people of Benghazi summoned up the courage to seize the barracks.

After that it was only a matter of time. Had NATO not entered the war on the side of the revolution, it certainly wouldn't have been done in six months. It would have been a protracted war and Qaddafi would have killed many, many more Libyans before it finally came to the same conclusion because the Libyan people simply were not going to put up with him any longer.

NATO did not win this war and this war was not the first war won by air power. This war was won by the revolutionary Libyan fighters on the ground. What NATO did with their intervention was to shorten the war and that is really why they entered the war. Those that say it wasn't about humanitarian concerns are right. So are those that say it was about oil. They were already getting the oil but given the economic crisis, the NATO countries couldn't afford to have the flow of Libyan oil stopped for years by a protracted war. They also didn't like the prospect of the relatively tamed revolutions in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt being radicalized by a protracted revolutionary war in Libya. After a month of seeing that Qaddafi's massive violence wasn't working, they acted to settle the matter quickly by throwing their air power behind the revolution. They acted to shorten the war, and in that they did serve a humanitarian purpose.

There is also the related mythology that NATO stepped in just in time to keep the rebel army from being crushed by Qaddafi forces. NATO did step in just in time to keep the civilian of Benghazi from being massacred, but that is not the same thing as defeating the liberation army in the field. The liberation army was growing in all parts of Libya, as was revealed shortly, not just in the east as the experts said. As the US learned in Vietnam, killing masses of civilians with aircraft, tanks and artillery is easy. Defeating a dedicated people's army in its own country is not.

NATO didn't win this war but they want you to think they did. They want to take ownership of this victory for at least three reasons that I can think of. First, they don't want people to get the "wrong" idea that people actually did this, rose up and overthrew an oppressor. That could be very bad for the bottom line. Second, the more they can take ownership of the victory, the more they can justify pushing their greedy noses into the Libyan trough. That could be very good for the bottom line. Third, it makes the argument for "boots on the ground" now go down a little easier if they can argue that they're there already.

Why do they need to disparage the victorious people's army so badly? Even on Al Jazeera we hear "untrained and undisciplined" rebel army in Tripoli. How do that get that from the practice of this army on the ground? The ultimate test of discipline for an army is it's ability to take and hold ground, it soldiers ability to follow orders so that the army can operate in a coordinated manner, and especially it's ability to bounce back from setbacks in a coherent way. The Liberation army has shown all those qualities and much more, an as yet we have heard no reports of widespread looting, revenge killings or other bad behavior by the freedom fighters in Tripoli. And as far as "untrained" is concerned, none who saw this army and it's soldiers in February and now can doubt that they have been trained. How and by whom may be in question, maybe they're self-taught, but the training is proven by the results.

I am also sick of hearing nonsense like "am I alone in wanting to have more information on who the rebels are?" Frankly, I supported the NLF in Vietnam 40 years ago on little more than the gut instincts of a 20 year old. In Libya, thanks to digital technology and the Internet, we have a virtual cornucopia of information about who the "rebels" are. There is far more information in YouTube videos, Facebook pages, Tweets, blogs posts, white boards etc, etc, than anyone could ever hope to consume. There is the excellence coverage of AJE available on-line 24/7. Thanks to the excellent work by Google Translates, you can even read Arabic websites in English with little trouble. Who would have thought that 10 years ago? The Libyan activists have made all of this publicly available, and still we hear "we don't even know who these rebels are" as if the Left's collective ignorance is an indictment of the Libyan people's movement. I think this comes from a combination of arrogance and laziness because I don't get the feeling most of these complainers have spent even an hour browsing http://feb17.info.

The other Arab people don't share the left's doubts. After Friday prays today, the Syrian protesters celebrated the success of the Libyan revolutionary war. It was celebrated in Tunis and Cairo as well. Western "Marxists" may know that "Libya is different" and that in Libya, a CIA/NATO backed group of armed contra is attempting "regime change" against a "progressive", "anti-imperialist" Jamahiriya, but the Arab Street in Syria, as well as Tunisia and Egypt know that it is all one revolutionary struggle and that at this particular time, the Libyans are in the lead. That is why the imperialist need so badly to get control of it.

Even the formerly pro-Qaddafi Russia Today is launching it's own arguments for a NATO force on the ground after the battle has been won. Now it's "the Libyan dictator" and today they are raising a scare about Qaddafi's stockpile of chemical weapons. Either he might still use them for a grand "going out" party or worst??, they might fall into the hands of the rebels and al Qaeda. Their solution? NATO has a responsibility to clean up "it's mess", so they better get down there and make sure those weapons are secure.

This example clearly illustrates the relationship between taking ownership of the military victory and "having to" take "responsibility" for the post-war outcome. More than just bragging rights for the defeat of Qaddafi are at stake. If they can claim the victory, they can claim the spoils. That is almost certainly one of the reasons NATO offered to "help out" in the first place. Of course they helped out in a way that was almost guaranteed to cost them no lives and very little money beyond Obama's drone fest. They have to fly those planes anyway and they really didn't drop as many bombs as some people have been lead to believe.

It is ironic that these types of news stories and this line of argument by the NATO PR people will find perked ears among many in the anti-NATO intervention crowd. Generally speaking, they have already discounted the grave danger that the people of Benghazi were faced with at the time that NATO acted, and they have also discounted the Libyan uprisings as a real organically growth people's struggle against a dictatorship. Many have argued all along that this was a western backed, CIA planned assault by NATO surrogates bent on "regime change." In other words, they had already given NATO ownership of this struggle even before the victory, so naturally they will welcome any news that supports their conclusions.

Back in March when this left wing crowd first noticed the Libyan revolution and started issuing various "Statements on Libya," I said that I thought they were tailing after their own bourgeoisie. I said that because I felt that revolutionaries would have recognized the significance of the Arab Spring much earlier and seen the central importance of the armed struggle shaping up in Libya long before the UN or NATO got involved. I said that because they only seemed to 'wake up' to what was going on after the imperialist had made it a question of public discourse when the bourgeoisie needed to get the public involved.

But a big part of the "tailing after their own bourgeoisie" POV didn't fit because the anti-interventionists came into the struggle opposed to NATO, seemingly opposed to their own bourgeoisie. What tricked them was that NATO, for it's own creepy reasons, some of which I have discussed here and here, came into this fight on the side of the revolution. As a result, much of the anti-war movement, short on analysis and driven by reflex, came out opposed to NATO. They took a counter-revolutionary stand with regards to the Libyan revolution

A good example of this viewpoint can be found on the Marxist website Kasama in a piece by Mike Ely titled:
Regime change by bomber: NATO’s victory in Libya
Do I really need to quote from it? The title makes it clear what he thinks. Anyway while we are here. How does Mike think the war was won?

The key element in their overthrow has been the massive deployment of aerial power by major imperialist countries (including the U.S. and its European NATO allies). It destroyed the Libyan government forces, and increasingly picked off, one by one, any concentrations of military forces willing to stand and fight.

He points to NATO stats of over 7,500 strike missions in the war to date. What he doesn't tell you, which I have pointed out elsewhere, is that this number is very misleading because in NATO's Libya campaign, they have actually attacked targets in less than 20% of the "strike missions," i.e. four our of five planes come back from strike missions without having dropped anything. This abnormally has raised eye brows in defense circles but has gone unnoticed by the anti-NATO "massive bombing" crowd.

And how does he think Tripoli was taken so fast?

The ground-based opposition to Gaddafi has increasingly walked into Tripoli through the cratered remains of Libyan government forces.

Is that true? How many bombs has NATO dropped in the last week in Libya in general and around Tripoli in particular? From NATO's daily reports we have:

Key Hits 17 AUGUST:
In the vicinity of Brega: 3 Rocket Launcher, 2 Tanks.
In the vicinity of Az Zawiyah: 2 Armed Vehicles, 1 Military Boat.
In the vicinity of Badr: 4 Armed Vehicles.
In the vicinity of Tripoli: 1 Military Facility, 1 Radar, 2 Surface to Air Transloaders, 3 Surface to Air Launchers, 2 Surface to Surface Launchers.
In the vicinity of Waddan: 2 Ammo Storage Facility.
In the vicinity of Zlitan: 2 Tanks.

Key Hits 18 AUGUST:
In the vicinity of Az Zawiyah: 1 Command and Control Node, 2 Armed Vehicles, Transloader, 5 Tanks.
In the vicinity of Tripoli: 4 Military Facility, 1 Surface to Air Missile.

Key Hits 19 AUGUST:
In the vicinity of AzZawiyah: 1Artillery Piece.
In the vicinity of Tripoli: 9 Military Facility, 3 Radars, 1 Radar Guided Anti Aircraft Weapon System, 1Tank.
In the vicinity of Zlitan: 1Military Logistic Vehicle, 1Tank.

Key Hits 20 AUGUST:
In the vicinity of Tripoli: 3 Military Facility, 1 Military Storage Facility, 7 Surface to Air Missile Transloaders, 1
Radar, 1 Surface to Surface Missile, 2 Armed Vehicles, 2 Armoured Fighting Vehicles, 3 Command and Control
Node, 2 Multiple Rocket Launcher.
In the vicinity of Sirte: 1 Command and Control Node.
In the vicinity of Brega: 1 Multiple Rocket Launcher, 1 Heavy Machine Gun, 1 Military Firing Position.
In the vicinity of Gharyan: 1 Armed Vehicle, 1 Anti Aircraft Gun.
In the vicinity of Zlitan: 1 Surface to Air Missile Launcher.

Key Hits 21 AUGUST:
In the vicinity of Tripoli: 3 Command and Control Facilities, 1 Military Facility, 2 Radar, 9 Surface to Air Missile Launchers, 1 Tank, 2 Armed Vehicles.
In the vicinity of Bin Ghashir: 1 Radar.
In the vicinity of Al Aziziyah: 5 Surface to Air Missile Launchers.

Key Hits 22 AUGUST:
In the vicinity of Brega: 2 Multiple Rocket Launch

Key Hits 23 AUGUST:
In the vicinity of Tripoli: 2 Armoured Fighting Vehicles, 2 Military Heavy Equipment Truck, 3 Surface to Air
Missile System, 1 Radar.
In the vicinity of Ras Lanuf: 3 Armed Vehicles, 3 Multiple Rocket Launchers.
In the vicinity of Zuwarah: 2 Tanks, 3 Armed Vehicles, 2 Military Trucks, 1 Military Facility.

Key Hits 24 AUGUST:
In the vicinity of Tripoli: 2 Military Storage Facility, 1 Military Heavy Equipment Truck, 2 Anti Aircraft Gun, 1
Surface to Air Missile Support Vehicle, 1 Multiple Rocket Launcher, 1 Radar.
In the vicinity of Sirte: Surface to Surface Missile Support Vehicles.
In the vicinity of Okba: 1 Surface to Air Missile.
In the vicinity of Bani Walid: Anti Tank Rifles

So NATO hit 84 targets in an 8 day period around Tripoli starting 3 days before the beginning Operation Mermaid Dawn. Of those 23 were missiles or missile launchers, 12 were vehicles of various sorts including a tank and 9 were radar installations. This is what is being portrayed as a carpet of bombs which allowed the Arab army to just waltz on into Tripoli over the decimated remains of Qaddafi forces.

The hospitals of Tripoli, Misrata and Benghazi are full to overflowing with injured and dying freedom fighters, true working class heroes. Many have given their all and will never see the new Libya or their twenty-fifth birthday. The Libyan people have paid with their blood to show that even the application of massive violence won't defeat the people's will to liberation.

And we have to read this stuff from a so-called Marxist? This is a very sorry time for our movement.

For more background on the Libyan Revolution and links to lots of information see my other writings at the DailyKos and WikiLeaks Central:
#Feb17: @NATO Please help MEDEVAC wounded from #Libya
What should those that opposed NATO's intervention in Libya demand now?
BREAKING: Qaddafi's Tripoli Compound Falls!
Does PDA Support Qaddafi?
BREAKING: Operation Mermaid Dawn, the Battle to Liberate Tripoli is JoinedHelter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure
Qaddafi's Long Arm
SCOOP: My Lai or Qaddafi Lie? More on the 85 Civilians presumed killed by NATO
Did NATO kill 85 Libyan Villagers As Qaddafi Regime Contends?
CCDS Statement on Libya - a Critique
The Assassination of General Abdul Fattah Younis
NATO over Tripoli - Air Strikes in the Age of Twitter
How Many Libyans has NATO Killed?
Qaddafi Terror Files Start to Trickle Out!
Have Libyan Rebels Committed Human Rights Abuses?
Tripoli Green Square Reality Check
Behind the Green Curtain: Libya Today
Gilbert Achcar on the Libyan situation and the Left
NATO slammed for Libya civilian deaths NOT!
2011-07-01 Qaddafi's Million Man March
NATO's Game Plan in Libya
February 21st - Tripoli's Long Night
Did Qaddafi Bomb Peaceful Protesters?
Tripoli Burn Notice
Libyans, Palestinians & Israelis
'Brother' Qaddafi Indicted plus Libya & Syria: Dueling Rally Photofinishs
An Open Letter to ANSWER
ANSWER answers me
2011-06-22 No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum
Are they throwing babies out of incubators yet?
Continuing Discussion with a Gaddafi Supporter
Boston Globe oped supports Gaddafi with fraudulent journalism
2011-04-13 Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Current Events in Libya
Amonpour Plays Softball with Gaddafi
Arming Gaddfi
North African Revolution Continues
Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation

#Feb17: @NATO Please help MEDEVAC wounded from #Libya

As the military phase of the Libyan Revolution is quickly being driven to a successful conclusion, many, including this diarist, are looking forward to the end of the NATO mission in Libya.

And it would appear that it's air combat mission is winding down. According to their own reports, NATO hit 2 targets in all of Libya on Monday, 22 targets on Tuesday due largely to a spurt of air strikes over Zuwarah[8] and Ras Lanuf[6], and 10 on Wednesday.

However, there is another urgent mission that it is hoped that NATO can undertake that probably more clearly falls under its mandate to protect civilian lives than anything it has done so far. NATO can save many lives right now if they can assist the overwhelmed hospitals of Tripoli with MedEvac and treatment of the wounded ASAP.

I just saw Bashir Sewehli of the Libya Youth Movement on AJE making this request. I decided to use today's diary to echo it.

Action Item: Please tweet this request to NATO @NATO

Look for more information on this here soon.

Follow clayclai on Twitter

For more background on the Libyan Revolution and links to lots of information see my other writings at the DailyKos and WikiLeaks Central:
What should those that opposed NATO's intervention in Libya demand now?
BREAKING: Qaddafi's Tripoli Compound Falls!
Does PDA Support Qaddafi?
BREAKING: Operation Mermaid Dawn, the Battle to Liberate Tripoli is JoinedHelter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure
Qaddafi's Long Arm
SCOOP: My Lai or Qaddafi Lie? More on the 85 Civilians presumed killed by NATO
Did NATO kill 85 Libyan Villagers As Qaddafi Regime Contends?
CCDS Statement on Libya - a Critique
The Assassination of General Abdul Fattah Younis
NATO over Tripoli - Air Strikes in the Age of Twitter
How Many Libyans has NATO Killed?
Qaddafi Terror Files Start to Trickle Out!
Have Libyan Rebels Committed Human Rights Abuses?
Tripoli Green Square Reality Check
Behind the Green Curtain: Libya Today
Gilbert Achcar on the Libyan situation and the Left
NATO slammed for Libya civilian deaths NOT!
2011-07-01 Qaddafi's Million Man March
NATO's Game Plan in Libya
February 21st - Tripoli's Long Night
Did Qaddafi Bomb Peaceful Protesters?
Tripoli Burn Notice
Libyans, Palestinians & Israelis
'Brother' Qaddafi Indicted plus Libya & Syria: Dueling Rally Photofinishs
An Open Letter to ANSWER
ANSWER answers me
2011-06-22 No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum
Are they throwing babies out of incubators yet?
Continuing Discussion with a Gaddafi Supporter
Boston Globe oped supports Gaddafi with fraudulent journalism
2011-04-13 Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Current Events in Libya
Amonpour Plays Softball with Gaddafi
Arming Gaddfi
North African Revolution Continues
Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation

What should those that opposed NATO's intervention in Libya demand now?

Follow clayclai on Twitter
If it is understood by 'now' I mean 'soon', which is to say when Qaddafi is finally defeated, because as I write this he is down but not yet out. And by 'out' I mean 'in', in prison or dead, that is. There is now no doubt that he soon will be. Even this morning Mummar Qaddafi's Foreign Minister said that his government has fallen.

So looking forward to that happy hour:

What should those that have been opposing the no-fly zone and other aspects of NATO intervention in the Libyan crisis be demanding now?

IMHO they should be demanding that NATO get out! They should demand that NATO take it's planes and go home, and if there are any spooks on the ground, like we all know there are, then bring them back too. This time I will be 100% with you.

The US/NATO/UN bull-shit story is that they stand for the fight against tyranny, as if they don't have their eye on the money twenty-four seven.

Their Libyan Story was that the tyrant Qaddafi was about to massacre thousands of people unless military power was used against him, and much more than the opposition could muster and 'not today but yesterday', meaning his tanks were already entering Benghazi.

And it must be admitted that there was some truth to that. He's done that sort of thing before. What was it? 1200 murdered in 2 hours with artillery in '96, and he had already killed many times that in trying to put down the current uprising.

So the French swooped in and saved Benghazi. Obama pounded Qaddafi's air defenses with the usual US heavy hand, then NATO took up the slack for 4 months with a coalition of European countries doing the heavy lifting in the air war and the US bringing up the rear with less than 17% of the strike missions. This really was a 'coalition of the willing.'

When all the deaths tolls are added up the number killed by NATO will probably be in the low hundreds whereas the number killed by Qaddafi was already in the high thousands and would have been much, much higher had his air power and armor not been put down.

So, for once, NATO did a good thing. Fine. Don't blow it now by sticking around and making mischief. Thank You. Good Bye.

Once Qaddafi isn't killing anymore, they can actually hang up the banner "Mission Accomplished" with some sense of pride. Good. Now go home.

Unless, of course. that wasn't really their mission.

So now comes the maneuvering to stick around after having seen the date safely to the door. This is a dangerous time for the Libyan people and their revolution. However, they have many factors working in their favor not the least of which is how they have organized themselves over the last six months. Plus they got a lot of important things right in their revolution. One of those was not allowing NATO ground troops. Nada, None. Zip.

The good thing about that is now that there are no more dragons to slay, there is really nothing for NATO to do but fly off into the sunset.

Anything else would be a whole new mission under a new mandate and that must be forcefully opposed by anti-imperialists and revolutionaries alike.

Without "boots on the ground", NATO is seriously limited in its ability to shape Libya's future, which is to say, screw with the Libyan revolution.

NATO wanted ground troops in. They wanted it bad. You can only control so much from the air, and frankly, that's not a lot. So they did a lot to persuade the NTC to let ground troops "help out." But they said No and UN resolution 1973 also said no to ground troops.

I remain suspicious of three NATO "friendly fire" incidents largely because they were surrounded by NATO claims that such accidents were much less likely to happen if only they could have their own forward air controllers on the ground. Somehow they must have worked it out because the "friendly fire" incidents dropped off.

And there were other things. But the revolution maintained its strong stand. Thanks, but no thanks. Smart move.

And make no mistake about it, while NATO help was important, this was a victory of the Libyan people's army. They did the heavy lifting and the dying. They showed incredible courage from the very beginning and developed very creditable military skills in the end.

As the US found out in Vietnam, you can't win a war from the air, no matter how brutally you apply it, if the soldiers on the ground don't win it for you. So while NATO intervention was important and did save many lives. I don't think it was decisive.

If Qaddafi was ever going to beat the revolution militarily, he would have already done so in the first month of armed conflict, before the UN passed the resolution. If the truth be told, the UN/NATO crowd gave him a clear month, between February 17th and March 17th, to use his military power however he wanted against first unarmed, and then lightly armed, civilians. Tanks, artillery, helicopters, jet air craft, naval bombardment, whatever. He probably killed about 700-800 in one night in Tripoli. NATO only cried "oh the humanity" when they saw it wasn't working. Then they switched sides.

During that first month, what was to become a very effective fighting force, was just getting started. Clerks and mechanics were picking up weapons for the first time. Small groups were banding together and learning how to fight an armed struggle for the first time. They had no experience. They had no leadership. They had no heavy weapons. And yet they persevered! This was when Qaddafi's forces were at their peak.

No, if he was going to be able to put down the uprising militarily, he would have done so in that first month. After that the military tide was already turning against him. The resistance army was already taking shape and showing stick'em. I'm sure the NATO military analysts saw that.

That is not to say Qaddafi couldn't have slaughtered tens of thousands of civilians in Benghazi, Misrata, Tripoli and other places. Killing unarmed civilians in cities with tanks, rockets and aircraft and beating a dug-in army in the field are two different things entirely. Had NATO not intervened, he would have killed a lot more Libyans, but that wasn't going to make people give up, that was just going to make them mad.

Then it would just drag on and get very bloody and turn into a really protracted war. Six months is nothing. The Vietnamese liberation war took 30 years with various NATO allies taking turns at bat. I think that is what NATO was really afraid of, a protracted war in Libya.

The NATO intervention was about oil, but not in the way many people think. They already had the oil. They had settled that question with Qaddafi many years ago. And it wasn't because they were afraid of losing it to China or Russia as some think. Companies compete for oil all the time on the international market. British, US, EU and now Chinese, Indian, Russia and Brazilian companies all compete for oil all over the world without getting their governments to go to war for them. We're talking international capitalism here. I'm sure Walmart wants to see Chinese companies get all the oil they need to keep cranking out the cheap plastic stuff they import.

But given the current world capitalist crisis, and the part energy prices play in that, they simply can't afford to have Libyan oil off the market any longer than necessary. If Qaddafi could have settled things quickly, even with thousands of anonymous deaths, they would have been happy and kept buying "his" oil. But they couldn't afford a protracted war that would take Libyan oil off the market for years, and even if a bloodbath in Benghazi was successful in putting down the uprising, it would have been witnessed by the world. Then they would have been forced to impose sanctions and that would have taken Libyan oil off the market for years anyway.

So as it turns out, the best option for NATO was to stop the bloodbath and go ahead and help Qaddafi's opposition win this thing. That's why they came in on the side of the revolution.

I heard a statement from an ENI executive yesterday. He said they hoped the NTC would still honor the 5 year agreement they signed with Qaddafi in 2008. That is the main reason NATO got into this fight, to get back what they already had ASAP. Of course they would like more. They wouldn't be imperialists if they didn't.

So while NATO probably has what they call "hush puppies on the ground", they don't have any boots on the ground. This is a real problem for them because they can't control the post war situation like they know how. Not that Iraq or Afghanistan are outstanding examples of imperial sophistication. Without an occupation, they'll have to find something else to do. They still have 'soft power' but it has limits.

So now we see a move to introduce boots on the ground. Already as the war is ending, we hear talk in certain circles of the possible or probable need to send in some kind of "peace keeping force" to help with "stabilization." As if!

As if a nation that rose up against a dictator, forged an army and a government from scratch and eventually beat the tyrant and his mercenary, but well trained and well equipped, army in the field couldn't deal with the peace. Who says? European experts and talking head speculating:.

"Chaos on the ground." "Shari law" "The need, possibly, for an international stabilization force." "A faction riddled movement" "The sort of Chaos we saw in Iraq" "Many different factions, many different tribes." "all the factions, all the groups" "They'll split along tribal lines." "They all have so many guns." "The Islamics will take over."

"They don't know how to govern themselves."

That one's my personal favorite. As if we do. My mom had this saying about the pot calling the kettle black.

"It might turn into a 'fail state!'"

Now that one should really shame them. It's an admission that in the eyes of these so called champions of democracy, a dictator that rapes his country for 42 years is not a failed state.

They seem to almost have this hope that things won't work out smoothly. If only there is enough disruption and enough conflict that they can come to the rescue with some sort of ground force.

Their problem now is that with a relatively small footprint on the ground, it will prove deuce difficult to even "encourage" infighting and disruptions that they can use to justify an occupation.

We should all unite to strictly oppose any such schemes and the chauvinist presumptions that give it a platform even when there are no supporting facts.

No boots on the ground! Not Now! No Way!

Talk preparatory to this came up around the discussion of transferring Siaf al-Islam Qaddafi to the ICC during those hours when the NTC, the ICC and the media all thought he had been captured.

I remember that all Jacky Rowland on Al Jazeera/English could talk about was how important it was that he be transferred to the ICC immediately for a fair trial rather than receive some "rough justice" in Libya based on "vengeance." As if!

As if it has already been determined that he can't receive a fair trial in Libya. Based on what? Have any of the Qaddafis captured so far been summarily executed? Isn't he a Libyan? Weren't his crimes committed principally in Libya? So what happened to national sovereignty?

Did Osama bin Laden receive "rough justice?" He wasn't a US citizen or found in the US, but if he had been captured, I doubt that Obama would have sent him off to the Hague.

Personally I don't see how it is even possible for Saif al-Islam to receive "rough justice" if by that you mean a punishment that is greatly disproportional to the crime. How can you deliver "rough justice" to someone who has killed thousands and robbed billions? He can only serve one life sentence and even with the death penalty, you can only kill him once.

All such talk just plants in the publics mind the idea that the Libyans can't be trusted to govern themselves. We should vigorously expose such talk for what it is, chauvinism in the service of imperialism.

There is also the question of giving back the Libyans their stolen loot. The frozen assets should be unfrozen immediately and turned over to the revolutionary Libyan government and where that requires a UN resolution, no country should be allowed to use its veto to coerce the Libyans into making oil deals or other deals under threat of losing billions that rightly belong with them, not in US and European banks.

And there are, no doubt, other things that the anti-imperialist movement in the US and around the world can do to support the Libyan revolution and block the NATO countries from completing their imperialist mission in Libya. Those are our tasks now in relation to the Libyan revolution.

Good reads today on the 'net:

Guardian: Libya is no Iraq – this revolution is the real deal
Yansoon: Gaddafi the Closet Imperialist

For more background on the Libyan Revolution and links to lots of information see my other writings at the DailyKos and WikiLeaks Central:
BREAKING: Qaddafi's Tripoli Compound Falls!
Does PDA Support Qaddafi?
BREAKING: Operation Mermaid Dawn, the Battle to Liberate Tripoli is JoinedHelter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure
Qaddafi's Long Arm
SCOOP: My Lai or Qaddafi Lie? More on the 85 Civilians presumed killed by NATO
Did NATO kill 85 Libyan Villagers As Qaddafi Regime Contends?
CCDS Statement on Libya - a Critique
The Assassination of General Abdul Fattah Younis
NATO over Tripoli - Air Strikes in the Age of Twitter
How Many Libyans has NATO Killed?
Qaddafi Terror Files Start to Trickle Out!
Have Libyan Rebels Committed Human Rights Abuses?
Tripoli Green Square Reality Check
Behind the Green Curtain: Libya Today
Gilbert Achcar on the Libyan situation and the Left
NATO slammed for Libya civilian deaths NOT!
2011-07-01 Qaddafi's Million Man March
NATO's Game Plan in Libya
February 21st - Tripoli's Long Night
Did Qaddafi Bomb Peaceful Protesters?
Tripoli Burn Notice
Libyans, Palestinians & Israelis
'Brother' Qaddafi Indicted plus Libya & Syria: Dueling Rally Photofinishs
An Open Letter to ANSWER
ANSWER answers me
2011-06-22 No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum
Are they throwing babies out of incubators yet?
Continuing Discussion with a Gaddafi Supporter
Boston Globe oped supports Gaddafi with fraudulent journalism
2011-04-13 Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Current Events in Libya
Amonpour Plays Softball with Gaddafi
Arming Gaddfi
North African Revolution Continues
Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation

Thu Aug 25, 2011 at 2:19 PM PT: I would like to echo the call of Bashir Sewehli of the Libyan Youth Movement that their is another immediate humanitarian effort that NATO needs to help with namely the medivac and treatment of wounded Libyans.

BREAKING: Qaddafi's Tripoli Compound Falls!

Follow clayclai on Twitter
See also the Witnessing Revolution Live Blog team here on Daily Kos

This morning, PST, the tweets started coming in indicating that Bab Al Azizyah, Qaddafi's heavily fortified compound in the heart of Tripoli has been taken by the freedom fighters. Although this is not the end, It is a major breakthrough. THE END IS NEAR!

Photo: Freedom Fighter in Bab Al-Aziya compound, standing on golden fist.
Here is a map showing the current battle lines for Libya and Tripoli.

Here is the CNN live blog report on the breeching of the compound:

Live blog: Rebels say they have taken Gadhafi compound

[Updated 12:12 a.m. ET, 6:12 p.m. in Libya] An historic building inside Moammar Gadhafi's vast Bab al-Aziziya compound has been burned and the fighting at the compound is over, a Libyan rebel told CNN's Sara Sidner.

Sky News showed video they said was from inside the compound. In the video, rebel forces surrounding the iconic sculpture of a raised fist crushing a U.S. plane in Gadhafi's compound.

[Updated 12:02 a.m. ET, 6:02 p.m. in Libya] CNN's Sara Sidner said rebels told her the "fight is finished" at Gadhafi's Bab Al Aziza compound.

“They could even swim in the swimming pool” Sidner said rebels told her.

Rebels said the blasts being heard are celebratory.

[Updated 11:58 a.m. ET, 5:58 p.m. in Libya] An Al Jazeera reporter inside Gadhafi's Bab Al Aziza reported there is no resistance anymore inside the compound.

[Updated 11:45 a.m. ET, 5:45 p.m. in Libya] People in Tripoli are displaying files they say are from Moammar Gadhafi's compound, CNN's Sara Sidner reported Tuesday.

The documents, files and receipts have the official regime stamp and Gadhafi's name on it, Sidner reported.

"This neighborhood has gone wild," Sidner said.

Sidner is being handed even more documents by the rebels.

Rebels told Sidner they are going room-by-room to clear the compound.

One of the documents is a medical file that has the name of Gadhafi's son Saif al-Islam, Sidner reported.

[Updated 11:39 a.m. ET, 5:39 p.m. in Libya] Rebels are saying they have made it into Gadhafi's Bab Al Aziza compound, CNN's Sara Sidner reported.

"They have been able to take some of the weapons off of the Gadhafi forces," she said.

Rebels are telling Sidner "Gadhafi is nearly finished."

Sidner said that rebels said they are still inside trying to secure the area, but are celebrating as fighting continues.

“Now they’re going to try and clear the compound," Sidner said rebels told her.

Sidner said that she is less than half a kilometer from the compound and can see more smoke coming from the area.

Sidner said rebels are hugging each other and crying on the streets. Loud chants can be heard in the background.

Rebels shouted "God is great, God is great" in celebration Tuesday.

[Updated 11:32 a.m. ET, 5:32 p.m. in Libya] CNN's Sara Sidner, reporting from a neighborhood close to Gadhafi's Bab Al Aziza compound, said there are "massive blasts and lots of gunfire" in the area.

"We have confirmed a civilian that has been hit by sniper fire according to a nurse" at the local clinic, Sidner reported.

This is a dangerous place to be," she added.

And here are some of the tweets:

feb17libya
Alarabya Breaking: sources say independence flag has been raised on Gaddfi's house #Tripoli #Libya via @feb17voices

ShababLibya LibyanYouthMovement
It is now the end-The only thing left for #Gaddafi to do is run. Our brave #FreedomFighters have control of his compound. #Libya #tripoli

@acarvin: Wonder how soon it'll be before we see Gaddafi compound loot/memorabilia on eBay. #libya

alchemist585: So now we have just two areas that are still under occupation by the forces of evil:
Hathba الهضبة
Busleem بوسليم

Odd Bits...

This is a great video that eloquently answers the question "Who are Rebels?" The short story is that they are the Libyan working class united in armed struggle against a monarchy. They prefer to be called freedom fighters BTW.

This is an interesting article about the role the Internet is playing in the battle for Tripoli:

How tweets and texts helped the rebels take Tripoli

Libyans are free to text, call and blog again after a long telecommunications blackout, in a powerful symbol of how the rebels are ringing the changes.

Libyan rebel sympathisers in Tripoli used Twitter and Facebook to give anti-Gaddafi forces the map co-ordinates of pro-Government snipers and heavy artillery as the battle for the capital unfolded.

The episode demonstrates how important an issue the control of new media has been in the battle for Libya, with the rebels apparently making a concerted effort to wrest control of mobile phone and Internet resources before attempting to attack the state television station’s Tripoli headquarters.

Members of the Free Generation Movement, a dissident group who have been making secret broadcasts and podcasts from inside Tripoli throughout the six-month uprising, posted the map references of places where they said loyalist gunmen were holding out as the rebels swept into the city on Sunday.

One typical Facebook message, posted on Sunday, said: “Snipers on rooftop of tallest building at junction of Jraba Street and Ras Ahsan. Coordinates to the Location of Snipers in Benashour 32°52’12.28″N 13°12’22.36″ E”.

The rebel sympathisers appeared to take advantage of a window of opportunity after internet access was unexpectedly restored in Tripoli late on Sunday.

By Monday the website of the state-controlled service provider Libyan Telecom and Technology (LTT) was carrying a message in Arabic that read: “God is great ….We congratulate the Libyan people on the fall of oppression and tyranny, and we urge the people to celebrate and preserve public property. Libya one tribe.”

Here is another piece from today about technology and the war:

Special report: In Libya, the cellphone as weapon

The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo made an appeal in February for "footage and images to confirm the alleged crimes", after the United Nations Security Council referred the Libyan uprising to the court. A court filing applying for arrest warrants listed video evidence, mainly from media, but also from unspecified sources, in support of its claim.

In the Mediterranean city of Misrata, in particular, a group of rebel-allied lawyers has worked to gather evidence of what it calls war crimes committed by Gaddafi forces.

"In the beginning when there were snipers we had to move around carefully," said Omar Abulifa, a former prosecutor and head of the Misrata-based Human Rights Activists Association. "It was hard to get the evidence, but we did what we could."

As the rebels gained control of more of the city in April and May, the association set up a system to gather evidence after every incident, especially the continued bombardment of the city with Grad rockets by Gaddafi loyalists, which killed and injured many civilians. The footage they gathered includes videos taken from the cellphones of rebel fighters and from those of government troops captured or killed during the fighting. Other video and photographs came from citizens of the town.

Some of that film can be used as evidence, Abulifa says. "But not all of it because to be used as evidence it has to be from a trusted source and it has to be clear what is happening."

Around 150 gigabytes of video gathered by the city's media committee, which was set up after the uprising, has been provided to the association. A member of the committee gave a Reuters reporter who was in Misrata in July a large volume of that material.

So much material has been gathered in this war that I see a massive database project in the future. Eventually there can be a timeline and a map were you can see every battle and every incident from multiple views because everything has been recorded by multiple cameras.

In the comments to my diary yesterday, Carl Davidson questioned why my position on Libya is different from Iraq. My answer ended up being very long and detailed and also made use of Juan Cole's excellent blog yesterday, which I had already decided to highlight in my dairy today, so rather than let all those words get lost in the comments, I have elected to repeat them here:

I think generallies have a very limited usefulness and 'generally' each situation has to be evaluated on it's own merits.

For example WW1 & WW2 were in many respects the same, imperialist wars between 'great powers' to divide up the world. However I think it was absolutely right for the class-conscience US worker to opposed US intervention in WW1 and support US intervention for WW2. I will save my explanation of those choices for another time. Would you have opposed intervention in both? Some socialists opposed Lend-Lease saying "Roosevelt needs its dictatorial powers to further his aim of carving out of a warring world, the American Empire so long desired by the Wall Street money lords." Would you have been one of those?

Now what was the War on Iraq? IMHO it was an imperialist war for the control of oil and the domination that goes with it. It had been more than a decade in the planning with the '91 Gulf pre-war and 10 years of sanctions. It was not shaped by any uprising and revolution among the Iraq people [unless I slept thru that part]. US aircraft dropped over 29 thousand munitions in the first 30 days and over a hundred thousand ground troops went in at the same time.

Now what is the "War on Libya", as you and the other anti-interventionist like to call it? Is it a "remake" of the War on Iraq, as you would have us believe? Well US aircraft hit a total of 132 targets in the first 100 days, and no ground troops. So as wars go, not in the same class at all.

And what prompt it? Just another grab for oil as the anti-interventionist would have you believe?

In terms of the "another war for oil thesis" Juan Cole has eloquently answered that it his blog today Top Ten Myths about the Libya War which I highly recommend:

10. This was a war for Libya’s oil. That is daft. Libya was already integrated into the international oil markets, and had done billions of deals with BP, ENI, etc., etc. None of those companies would have wanted to endanger their contracts by getting rid of the ruler who had signed them. They had often already had the trauma of having to compete for post-war Iraqi contracts, a process in which many did less well than they would have liked. ENI’s profits were hurt by the Libyan revolution, as were those of Total SA. and Repsol. Moreover, taking Libyan oil off the market through a NATO military intervention could have been foreseen to put up oil prices, which no Western elected leader would have wanted to see, especially Barack Obama, with the danger that a spike in energy prices could prolong the economic doldrums. An economic argument for imperialism is fine if it makes sense, but this one does not, and there is no good evidence for it (that Qaddafi was erratic is not enough), and is therefore just a conspiracy theory.

Or was there something else going on at the time?

Well there was this thing called the Arab Spring that swept the whole region starting in December and there was this uprising in Libya that had Feb 17th as it's official kick off. Could that possibly have anything to do with this "War on Libya?"

Before the U.S. intervened in Libya there was this revolution taking place in Libya. I know you call it a civil war and see the US and intervening in a civil war, but I think that characterization is kindness to Qaddafi. Juan Cole again:

5. The Libyan Revolution was a civil war. It was not, if by that is meant a fight between two big groups within the body politic. There was nothing like the vicious sectarian civilian-on-civilian fighting in Baghdad in 2006. The revolution began as peaceful public protests, and only when the urban crowds were subjected to artillery, tank, mortar and cluster bomb barrages did the revolutionaries begin arming themselves. When fighting began, it was volunteer combatants representing their city quarters taking on trained regular army troops and mercenaries. That is a revolution, not a civil war. Only in a few small pockets of territory, such as Sirte and its environs, did pro-Qaddafi civilians oppose the revolutionaries, but it would be wrong to magnify a handful of skirmishes of that sort into a civil war. Qaddafi’s support was too limited, too thin, and too centered in the professional military, to allow us to speak of a civil war.

An just as you discount the Libyan revolution in your consideration of the matter, you also think "protecting civilians from massacre,’ ‘humanitarian intervention’ and so on are diversions if not falsehoods." That assessment is another kindness to Qaddafi that nobody that honestly assesses the facts surrounding Benghazi when 1973 was passed believes. Juan Cole again:

9. Qaddafi would not have killed or imprisoned large numbers of dissidents in Benghazi, Derna, al-Bayda and Tobruk if he had been allowed to pursue his March Blitzkrieg toward the eastern cities that had defied him. But we have real-world examples of how he would have behaved, in Zawiya, Tawargha, Misrata and elsewhere. His indiscriminate shelling of Misrata had already killed between 1000 and 2000 by last April,, and it continued all summer. At least one Qaddafi mass grave with 150 bodies in it has been discovered. And the full story of the horrors in Zawiya and elsewhere in the west has yet to emerge, but it will not be pretty. The opposition claims Qaddafi’s forces killed tens of thousands. Public health studies may eventually settle this issue, but we know definitively what Qaddafi was capable of.

This was the Libyan people's war in the beginning and it remains so today, in spite of NATO support. NATO has no boots on the ground and has lost no lives. Regardless of what the Russians say, it has been the Libyan people that have done the 'heavy lifting.' NATO has been trying all along to get "boots on the ground" but the rebels have refused. I think they have handle the whole situation very well to this point.

So I think the main contradiction in Libya today is between the dictatorship and the people. NATO entered this struggle, which was already in progress, on the side of the revolution. It did so for creepy, self-serving reasons in spite of the rhetoric, just like WW2. It is not to be trusted as an honest partner, just like WW2, nonetheless, it is on the right side of this struggle, just like WW2 and those that opposed US intervention in the Libyan situation are not serving the forward progress of humanity just as those that oppose US support for the allies in WW2 didn't.

Now I know that some people think that the US could never be on the right side of any struggle and so any struggle in which they take a side, anyone else on that side, i.e. Libyan freedom fighters, must also be bad. This is a narrow, ahistorical and un-dialectical view of the situation.

The reasons why NATO is supporting the revolution in Libya are complex and convoluted. I have covered much in my other blogs and so won't go into that here. See especially NATO's Game Plan in Libya

I know those that would have had the US stay out of WW2 would bristle at the charge that objectively they were supporting the fascist domination of much of the world but that was the reality.That being said, opposing NATO intervention period, also means opposing the revolution in Libya and supporting Qaddafi. That is very different from opposing NATO manipulation of the situation to gain advantage for itself by subverting the revolution while "supporting" it, but that is the task at hand for revolutionaries as opposed to "anti-interventionists."

For more background on the Libyan Revolution and links to lots of information see my other writings at the DailyKos and WikiLeaks Central:
Does PDA Support Qaddafi?
BREAKING: Operation Mermaid Dawn, the Battle to Liberate Tripoli is JoinedHelter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure
Qaddafi's Long Arm
SCOOP: My Lai or Qaddafi Lie? More on the 85 Civilians presumed killed by NATO
Did NATO kill 85 Libyan Villagers As Qaddafi Regime Contends?
CCDS Statement on Libya - a Critique
The Assassination of General Abdul Fattah Younis
NATO over Tripoli - Air Strikes in the Age of Twitter
How Many Libyans has NATO Killed?
Qaddafi Terror Files Start to Trickle Out!
Have Libyan Rebels Committed Human Rights Abuses?
Tripoli Green Square Reality Check
Behind the Green Curtain: Libya Today
Gilbert Achcar on the Libyan situation and the Left
NATO slammed for Libya civilian deaths NOT!
2011-07-01 Qaddafi's Million Man March
NATO's Game Plan in Libya
February 21st - Tripoli's Long Night
Did Qaddafi Bomb Peaceful Protesters?
Tripoli Burn Notice
Libyans, Palestinians & Israelis
'Brother' Qaddafi Indicted plus Libya & Syria: Dueling Rally Photofinishs
An Open Letter to ANSWER
ANSWER answers me
2011-06-22 No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum
Are they throwing babies out of incubators yet?
Continuing Discussion with a Gaddafi Supporter
Boston Globe oped supports Gaddafi with fraudulent journalism
2011-04-13 Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Current Events in Libya
Amonpour Plays Softball with Gaddafi
Arming Gaddfi
North African Revolution Continues
Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation

Does PDA Support Qaddafi?

Follow clayclai on Twitter

What's wrong with this picture? While Mummar Qaddafi was shelling unarmed protesters in the Tajoura neighborhood of Tripoli, Progressive Democrats of America was giving his chief American supporter, Cynthia McKinney, an award in the Santa Monica mountains.

This Saturday, August 20, 2011, the Progressive Democrats of the Santa Monica Mountains held their 6th Annual PDA Birthday Party and Fundraiser. The event was organized by Dorothy Reik and was billed as "an afternoon and evening of politics, food and music atop beautiful Topanga Canyon." The requested donation was $50, which is one of the reasons I did not attend.

The centerpiece of the event was the Teddi Winograd Courage Award recipients for Activism in the Pursuit of Peace and Justice. This was given to Ron Kovic and Cynthia McKinney.

Ron Kovic, who fought in Vietnam and wrote "Born on the 4th of July" certainly deserved the award. Ron is a good friend and also honorary co-chair, together with Martin Sheen, of the fundraising committee for my current film project, Vietnam: People's Victory. Ron, like me, was an early supporter of the Arab Spring and an avid viewer of Al Jazzeera/English.

Cynthia McKinney, on the other hand, is a different matter. While she has certainly supported progressive causes in the past, and I strongly supported her, even joining her group Dignity, what she has been doing lately is shilling for Mummar Qaddafi. She had taken a Dignity delegation to Tripoli to support Qaddafi, had just completed a nationwide ANSWER Coalition sponsored speaking tour "Eyewitness Libya" and was in the middle of another 21 city Libya tour sponsored by International Action Committee.

She had just flown into L.A. for the award on Saturday after speaking on behalf of the one she calls "Brother Qaddafi" on Friday in St. Louis and had to fly right back out again to speak in support of Qaddafi again on Sunday in Pittsburgh. If she was running true to form, on Friday she was spouting Qaddafi propaganda such as:

Libya's Revolution brought free health care and education to the people and subsidized housing. In fact, students in Libya can study there or abroad and the government gives them a monthly stipend while they are in school and they pay no tuition.

and

Libyans govern themselves by The Green Book, a form of direct democracy based on the African Constitution concept that the people are the first and final source of all power.

None of the above is true BTW and I would be very curious as to what she had to say on Sunday with Qaddafi on the run and two of his sons under arrest.

As it turned out, about the same time PDA was starting their event in Topanga Canyon, the Libyan opposition was beginning their final push to take Tripoli which they called Operation Mermaid Dawn. All across Tripoli people came out into the streets in spontaneous demonstrations. Although these protesters were mostly un-armed, Qaddafi responded with a vengeance. In the Tajoura neighborhood of Tripoli, he used tanks to slaughter the people. It is likely hundreds were killed. On this audio recoding you can hear the shells exploding and the people screaming.

It must gave been about the same time PDA was giving it's award to Cynthia McKinney.

[ ]

In a related development we have this:

Breaking Story: Libya, Intelligence Officer Defects, Records of Payments to Journalists/Activists by Gaddafi
Just In: Payment Records to Media/Bloggers/Activists by Gaddafi in Rebel Hands

Reliable sources in Libya, both with rebel forces and in Tripoli have verified that records of payments made to activists, journalists, bloggers and other media personnel by Gaddafi have been turned over to rebel forces.
...
Included is a list of names, some very well known, some less well known, including records of payments, email correspondence and lists of specific articles.

Some named are still in Tripoli while others have are in the US, Britain and Western Europe. Received from representatives of the National Transitional Council, the recognized government of Libya:

We’ve received a number of documents detailing rates for articles published and blogposts posted, with the highest rates being paid for articles that make it into the mainstream media (2,000 USD per article) and the lowest (500 USD per item) for blogposts of more than 700 words. Those who XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX are paid 15,000 USD per day spent there, plus 3,000 USD per article datelined Tripoli or another Gaddafi-held area.

As some of the people implicated are still in Libya, no names are being released until all are out of harms way. I can't wait. Soon we may find that Cynthia McKinney abd others have been motivated by more than ideology. Were those appearances on Libya State TV paid endorsements?

It sound like some journalists and activists should be prepared to be embarrassed and possible a great deal more were they found to be unregistered foreign agents.

For more background on the Libyan Revolution and links to lots of information see my other writings at the DailyKos and WikiLeaks Central:
BREAKING: Operation Mermaid Dawn, the Battle to Liberate Tripoli is JoinedHelter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure
Qaddafi's Long Arm
SCOOP: My Lai or Qaddafi Lie? More on the 85 Civilians presumed killed by NATO
Did NATO kill 85 Libyan Villagers As Qaddafi Regime Contends?
CCDS Statement on Libya - a Critique
The Assassination of General Abdul Fattah Younis
NATO over Tripoli - Air Strikes in the Age of Twitter
How Many Libyans has NATO Killed?
Qaddafi Terror Files Start to Trickle Out!
Have Libyan Rebels Committed Human Rights Abuses?
Tripoli Green Square Reality Check
Behind the Green Curtain: Libya Today
Gilbert Achcar on the Libyan situation and the Left
NATO slammed for Libya civilian deaths NOT!
2011-07-01 Qaddafi's Million Man March
NATO's Game Plan in Libya
February 21st - Tripoli's Long Night
Did Qaddafi Bomb Peaceful Protesters?
Tripoli Burn Notice
Libyans, Palestinians & Israelis
'Brother' Qaddafi Indicted plus Libya & Syria: Dueling Rally Photofinishs
An Open Letter to ANSWER
ANSWER answers me
2011-06-22 No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum
Are they throwing babies out of incubators yet?
Continuing Discussion with a Gaddafi Supporter
Boston Globe oped supports Gaddafi with fraudulent journalism
2011-04-13 Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Current Events in Libya
Amonpour Plays Softball with Gaddafi
Arming Gaddfi
North African Revolution Continues
Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation

BREAKING: Operation Mermaid Dawn, the Battle to Liberate Tripoli is Joined

Follow clayclai on Twitter

Tripoli has been liberated!
ICC prosecutor's spokeswomen says has confirmation Qaddafi has been detained.
Celebrations across most Libyan cities now.
Freedom Fighters are in control of all parts Tripoli except Bab Al-Azizyah
Two South African planes are reported to be on tarmac in Tripoli Airport.
AU says Angola or Zimbabwe may be offering Mummar Qaddafi a place to go.

TNC: Saif Qaddafi and Mohammed Qaddafi captured. People Celebrating across Libya! 3:03 pst

LibyaNewDay
Snipers reported in central #Tripoli near Bab al Aziziya #Libya 5:16 pst

N_Benghazi ن
Neighborhoods near Bab AlAziziyah are facing serious shelling and gunfire right now, residents are out defending. #Tripoli #Libya 5:16pst

lLibyaNewDay
BREAKING CONFIRMED:- the #Libyana mobile phone network compound in ALSHAT BOULEVARD is totally under FF control #Libya #Tripoli #MermadDawn
4:55pst Favorite Retweet Reply

Libya 7orra
by N_Benghazi
BREAKING CONFIRMED #SoogJumaa:- 3 truckloads of dead subsaharan african mercenaries in SoogJumaa overnight 4:52 pst

EndTyranny101 Ahmed Sanalla
#Gaddafi forces are attacking #Bin #Nabi mosque in #Alsaream street...Gaddafi now shelling mosques!! #Tripoli #Libya 4:52

Opposition forces have taken Al-Mayah, a town 20miles from Tripoli.

This is a live interview with Zeina from the frontline.

August 21, 4:30 pst Ibriham Moussa, Qaddafi's PR guy, just complete a press conference. They're done. Talking about everything in past tence, blaming NATO, saying thousands will defend Tripoli. I doubt Qaddafi is still on Tripoli.

Meanwhile at this hour three neighborhood are reported to be in complete control of the freedom fighters.

Tripoli: 31 soldiers killed pro-Gaddafi
Published with Reuters le 21/08/2011

The fighting that took place last night in Tripoli have been 31 deaths among the soldiers loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, reports the TV station al-Jazeera. The chain added that 42 other soldiers were captured by the rebels in Libya.

Weapons fired and explosions echoed through the streets of the city since last night while the insurgents say they are ready to launch the final assault against the Libyan leader to power for 41 years.

eyewitness for the bombarding of #Tripoli with missiles by #Gaddafi (sorry in Arabic)

Gaddafi Condemns Rebels As Tripoli Faces Siege
Posted in August 2011, News | 07:04

(TRIPOLI, Libya) — Libyan rebels said they launched their first attack on Tripoli in coordination with NATO late Saturday, and Associated Press reporters heard unusually heavy gunfire and explosions in the capital. The fighting erupted just hours after opposition fighters captured the key city of Zawiyah nearby.

Gunbattles and mortar rounds were heard clearly at the hotel where foreign correspondents stay in Tripoli. NATO aircraft made heavy bombing runs after nightfall, with loud explosions booming across the city. “We planned this operation with NATO, our Arab associates and our rebel fighters in Tripoli with commanders in Benghazi,” Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, the head of the rebel leadership council, told the Arab satellite channel Al-Jazeera. Benghazi, hundreds of miles east of Tripoli, is the rebels’ de facto capital.(See pictures of the battle for Libya.)

@AnonymousSyria tweeted 11:06 pst
A must-see, Libyan anchor holding a gun threatening anyone who might think of taking control of state TV #Libya #Feb17 Videos Posted by Tripoli Our Capital

Bashir Sewehli, a Libyan activist, tells us Souq al-Jomaa neighbourhood in #Tripoli is controlled by the opposition #Libya 10:14 pst

Guma El-Gamaty
FF from 3 axis outside tripoli will reach outskirts of the capital soon and trigger a massive deserting by many who r now on Gadhafi side!!
9:40pst via Twitter for BlackBerry®

Abdul Helal
According 2 #gergaresh resident abt 90% of #Gaddafi F hve been cleared over night frm #gergarish #Tripoli east #Jansour using gelatina bombs
9:36pst via Twitter for iPhone

Shortly after nightfall in Tripoli Saturday night the Libyan liberation army encircling Tripoli combined with an uprising by freedom fighters and protesters inside of the city and NATO air support in Operation Mermaid Dawn, the final battle to liberate Tripoli and with it, the entire country of Libya from Qaddafi's 42 year dictatorship.

Many people are dying tonight as Qaddafi forces are shelling parts of Tripoli at the same time DSL is coming back on in other sections. Both Mummar and Saif Qaddafi have been on Libyan State TV tonight trying to whole back the tide.

Watch this diary over the next 48 hours for frequent updates on this fast moving story.

These DailyKos diaries are also covering these events:
Witnessing Revolution #227: Battle of Tripoli or #MermaidDawn
Witnessing Revolution Diary #228: Battle of Tripoli continues
Witnessing Revolution Live Blog #229 - Libya
Breaking: The Battle For Tripoli Has Begun. W/ Updates. "All Hell Has Broken Out in Tripoli."

I will add stuff here only if it has net been covered in these other excellent blogs.
and if you want to understand what is so revolting about Qaddafi see yesterday's dairy:
Helter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure

At this hour 21 Aug 2011 00:42, Al Jazeera English is running this:

Libyan capital rocked by blasts and gunfire

Sustained automatic gun fire and a series of explosions have rung out in Tripoli, reports in the Libyan capital said.

Blasts and gunfire rocked Tripoli after the break of the dawn-to-dusk fast of Ramadan on Saturday and witnesses reported fighting in the eastern neighbourhoods of Souq al-Jomaa, Arada and Tajoura.

A government spokesman had earlier said an attack on Tripoli by rebels seeking to depose Muammar Gaddafi had been "dealt with".
...
Explosions also sounded in the same area as NATO aircraft carried out heavy bombing runs after nightfall.A senior official in the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) said on Sunday that Tripoli operation was coordinated between opponents of Muammar Gaddafi in Tripoli and the rebels.

"The zero hour has started. The rebels in Tripoli have risen up," said Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, vice-chairman of the NTC, based in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.

"There is coordination with the rebels in Tripoli. This was a pre-set plan. They've been preparing for a while. There's coordination with the rebels approaching from the east, west and south." Ghoga said NATO warplanes were launching raids to distract Gaddafi's forces.

"The next hours are crucial. Many of their (pro-Gaddafi) brigades and their commanders have fled." He added.

Operation Mermaid’

Colonel Fadlallah Haroun, a military commander in Benghazi, said the battles marked the beginning of Operation Mermaid - a nickname for Tripoli.

He also said the assault was coordinated with NATO. Haroun told AP news agency that weapons were assembled and sent by tugboats to Tripoli on Friday night.

"The fighters in Tripoli are rising up in two places at the moment - some are in the Tajoura neighbourhood and the other is near the Matiga (international) airport," he told Al-Jazeera.

Tajoura has been known since the beginning of the uprising in February as the Tripoli neighborhood most strongly opposed to Muammar Gaddafi's regime.

The head of the rebel's leadership council said they chose to start the assault on Tripoli on the 20th day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which fell on Saturday.

The date marks the ancient Islamic Battle of Badr, when Muslims conquered the holy city of Mecca in A.D. 624.

A representative for Tripoli on the rebel leadership council told the AP that rebels were surrounding almost every neighbourhood in the capital, and there was especially heavy fighting in Fashloum, Tajoura and Souq al-Jomaa.

In Benghazi, thousands of Libyans celebrated in the main city square, shooting fireworks and guns into the air, and waving the rebel tricolor flag.

For more background on the Libyan Revolution and links to lots of information see my other writings at the DailyKos and WikiLeaks Central:
Helter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure
Qaddafi's Long Arm
SCOOP: My Lai or Qaddafi Lie? More on the 85 Civilians presumed killed by NATO
Did NATO kill 85 Libyan Villagers As Qaddafi Regime Contends?
CCDS Statement on Libya - a Critique
The Assassination of General Abdul Fattah Younis
NATO over Tripoli - Air Strikes in the Age of Twitter
How Many Libyans has NATO Killed?
Qaddafi Terror Files Start to Trickle Out!
Have Libyan Rebels Committed Human Rights Abuses?
Tripoli Green Square Reality Check
Behind the Green Curtain: Libya Today
Gilbert Achcar on the Libyan situation and the Left
NATO slammed for Libya civilian deaths NOT!
2011-07-01 Qaddafi's Million Man March
NATO's Game Plan in Libya
February 21st - Tripoli's Long Night
Did Qaddafi Bomb Peaceful Protesters?
Tripoli Burn Notice
Libyans, Palestinians & Israelis
'Brother' Qaddafi Indicted plus Libya & Syria: Dueling Rally Photofinishs
An Open Letter to ANSWER
ANSWER answers me
2011-06-22 No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum
Are they throwing babies out of incubators yet?
Continuing Discussion with a Gaddafi Supporter
Boston Globe oped supports Gaddafi with fraudulent journalism
2011-04-13 Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Current Events in Libya
Amonpour Plays Softball with Gaddafi
Arming Gaddfi
North African Revolution Continues
Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation

Helter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure

BLACK PEOPLE WILL PREVAIL IN THE WORLD

The latest age of slavery has been the enslavement of Blacks by White people. The memory of this age will persist in the thinking of Black people until they have vindicated themselves.

This tragic and historic event, the resulting bitter feeling, and the yearning for the vindication of a whole race, constitute a psychological motivation of Black people to vengeance and triumph that cannot be disregarded.

from Qaddafi's Green Book, p 29. And how does Qaddafi expect that black people will achieve that vindication?

Black people are now in a very backward social situation, but such backwardness works to bring about their numerical superiority because their low standard of living has shielded them from methods of birth control and family planning. Also, their old social traditions place no limit on marriages, leading to their accelerated growth. The population of other races has decreased because of birth control, restrictions on marriage, and constant occupation in work, unlike the Blacks, who tend to be less obsessive about work in a climate which is continuously hot.

from Qaddafi's Green Book, p 30. So we will do it through shear forces of numbers, by the explosive population growth of "starving and ignorant Africans."

From his 33 page 'book' that even today, he hands out wherever he goes, it's easy to see that Mummar Qaddafi promotes a lot of the standard racist mythology that black people are lazy and promiscuous. He also uses the spectra of increasing hordes of blacks looking for vengeance to create a climate of fear, another standard racist ploy. As we will see, racism and the creation of discord between Africans and Arabs has been one of the keys to his 42 year rule. Another is his cynical and self-serving manipulation of contradictions among the people in sub-Saharan Africa.

Mummar Qaddafi represents that most virulent type of racist that combines parentalism with false adulation and then schemes to used racism and the fear of blacks by lighter skinned people to further his own plans. We have seen these racist fantasies play out before. Most notably with Charles Manson and Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, and most recently with Anders Behring Breivik who took large parts of the Unabomber Manifesto, updated it by replacing the word "black people" with "Muslims" and republished it as the manifesto for his killing spree that left 93 Norwegians dead three weeks ago. Here's a sample from the Unabomber Manifesto:

In all ESSENTIAL respects most leftists of the over socialized type want to make the black man conform to white, middle- class ideals. They want to make him study technical subjects, become an executive or a scientist, spend his life climbing the status ladder to prove that black people are as good as white. They want to make black fathers"responsible," they want black gangs to become nonviolent, etc. But these are exactly the values of the industrial-technological system...

Mummar Qaddafi and Charles Manson

While Mummar Qaddafi was building his influence in the Libyan army and plotting his coup d'état against King Idris, Charley Manson was developing his racist philosophy and raising a Family. Manson's "philosophy" or more accurately, scheme, was that beginning in the summer of 1969, black people would rise up in vengeance for all the years of abuse and overthrow "whitey" while performing hideous acts of retribution. Manson and his Family would hide out in the dessert until the violence was all over. Soon the blacks would realize that they are too stupid to rule themselves and they would ask Charles Manson, as the only white man left, to rule them. He called this, his vision of revolution, an apocalyptic war between black and white that would put him on top, "Helter Skelter." I know this sounds unbelievable but it did cost a number of people their lives.

When events failed to develop as Manson expected. He decided to help them out. He claimed that black people were too dumb to figure it out for themselves so he would have to get the ball rolling. On August 8, 1969 Manson told the Family "Now is the time for Helter Skelter." That night, after midnight, he had his followers slaughter five adults including Roman Polanski's wife Sharon Tate who was eight months pregnant, at Terry Melcher's Hollywood home. The next night they murdered Leno and Rosemary LaBianca at their Los Feliz home. They left "clues" at the crime scene that were intended to make it look like black militants had done it, like writing "Death to Pigs" in the victim's own blood and carving the word "war" in the stomach of their victims.

By August 16, Manson and 25 Family members were safely behind bars. Two weeks later, on September 1, 1969, Mummar Qaddafi came to power in an African country that put tremendous oil wealth at his disposal. So while Charles Manson has been safely behind bars for the past 42 years, Mummar Qaddafi has been given billions of dollars in oil money and the weapons they can buy, and the whole continent of Africa in which to play out his racist fantasies. This has meant four decades of Qaddafi manipulation and war mongering in Africa that has been one of the major factors that has held the African continent, it's nations and it's people, down for so long. When Qaddafi finally falls, which should be soon, it will be a liberating experience for the whole continent of Africa.

Racist politics and a tumultuous summer of '69 aren't the only things Charles Manson and Mummar Qaddafi have in common. Phil Mershon has noted other similarities:

Both men consider themselves revolutionaries. Both men love to make speeches more than to engage in simple conversation. Both men have a small group of supporters and a humongous group of people who hate them. Both men prefer to live in the desert. Both men impersonated hippies. Both men employed female bodyguards. Both men have indicated that they believe themselves to possess supernatural powers. And both men give every indication of endorsing serial killings.

Both men also play chess and both men have the same attorney, the world’s most infamous lawyer, Giovanni di Stefano, aka The Devil’s Advocate. Or rather, Manson now has Qaddafi's attorney, since Stefano was Qaddafi's attorney first. Stefano just took on Manson as a client this past January whereas we know he worked for Qaddafi as early as 2007. Then he represented Qaddafi's promise not to execute the Bulgarian nurses accused of starting a HIV epidemic in Libya. Qaddafi's son's girl friend made him promise to get them off the hook before she would date him, but that's another story.

Possibly even Stefano doesn't know who really put him on the Manson case. His contact is "an attorney from Sacramento, California." That's how they do it when they don't want to leave a trail, so we are free to speculate about who might be eccentric enough to want to give Manson a second trial and has the money to pay an extremely expensive mouthpiece to pursue it or who might want to communicate with Manson because his lawyer would have access.

Qaddafi and African Immigrants

Last August, Qaddafi attempted to use European fear of unchecked waves of African immigrants to extort money from the Europe, telling them the EU should pay Libya at least 5bn euros (£4bn; $6.3bn) a year to stop illegal African immigration and avoid a "black Europe".

"Tomorrow Europe might no longer be European, and even black, as there are millions who want to come in," said Col Gaddafi, quoted by the AFP news agency

"We don't know what will happen, what will be the reaction of the white and Christian Europeans faced with this influx of starving and ignorant Africans," Col Gaddafi said.

"We don't know if Europe will remain an advanced and united continent or if it will be destroyed, as happened with the barbarian invasions."

When it comes to immigrant policy, Qaddafi is on the same page as Anders Behring Breivik and other violent neo-fascists that are troubling Europe. For much of the past decade, Qaddafi has been working with well known racist, Silvio Berelusoni, the Italian PM, to turn Libya into the cork that keeps African immigrants bottled up. In September 2004 Human Rights Watch wrote:

Libya’s recent immigration “reforms,” introduced by Colonel Muammar Gadaffi apparently after overtures from Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi, resemble a catalogue of human rights abuses against migrants and asylum-seekers. African internees and migrants in Libya are being detained in what one MEP has described as “catastrophic conditions.” And Libya continues forcibly to deport Eritrean refugees to Eritrea, where they face arrest, illegal detention and torture. If Libya is called on to run EU processing camps, we can surely expect more of the same.

Last December, HRW wrote about Libya in their world report on abuse and detentions at borders:

Since May 2009, Italy has joined forces with Libya to patrol the waters from the coast of Libya to Italy’s Mediterranean territories, principally the island of Lampedusa. Libya in 2010 operated patrol boats provided by Italy with Italian personnel on board to interdict boat migrants on the high seas and in Libyan waters and return them summarily to Libya with no screening to identify refugees, the sick or injured, pregnant women, unaccompanied children, victims of trafficking, or victims of violence against women. All interdicted boat migrants are detained upon arrival in Libya in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. Libya is not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and has no asylum law or procedure. In April, Libyan Foreign Secretary Moussa Koussa said his country “does not have any refugees but only illegal migrants who break the laws.” In July the government said that there were 3 million irregular migrants in Libya. A new law on “Illegal Migration” criminalizes trafficking of migrants but does not mention protections for refugees.

In June, Libya closed the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Tripoli and expelled its representative. It later allowed the office nominally to reopen but only with highly restricted permission to work on behalf of refugees and asylum seekers whom it had registered prior to closing, and without access to newly detained migrants and asylum seekers.

On June 28, a group of detained Eritrean migrants tried to escape from a migrant detention center after Libyan officials allowed Eritrean embassy officials to take their photos and forced them to complete forms raising fear of deportation. In response, Libyan authorities transported 245 Eritrean detainees from the Misrata detention on Libya’s northern coast to another detention center at al-Biraq, north of Sabha, in an apparent attempt to deport them. Some of these Eritreans were among those whom Italy had forcibly returned to Libya without giving them an opportunity to claim asylum. After an international outcry, Libya released this group but did not provide them with any support or protection. They remain in Libya.

But perhaps most disturbing are some of the individual stories contained in the HRW 92-page report "Pushed Back, Pushed Around: Italy's Forced Return of Boat Migrants and Asylum Seekers, Libya's Mistreatment of Migrants and Asylum Seekers."

"Daniel," a 26-year-old Eritrean interviewed in Sicily, told Human Rights Watch what happened after Maltese authorities interdicted the boat he was on and towed it to a Libyan vessel, which brought his group back to Libya (to read Daniel's complete account, please visit: http://www.hrw.org/en/node/85530 ):

"We were really tired and dehydrated when we arrived in Libya. I thought, ‘If they beat me, I won't feel a thing.' When we arrived, there were no doctors, nothing to help, just military police. They started punching us. They said, ‘You think you want to go to Italy.' They were mocking us. We were thirsty, and they were hitting us with sticks and kicking us. For about one hour they beat everyone who was on the boat."

They were taken to Misrata prison in a crowded, airless truck and beaten again when they arrived:

"We were treated badly at Misrata. We were Eritreans, Ethiopians, Sudanese, and a few Somalis. The rooms were not clean. We were only given a half-hour a day to take air outside, and the only reason they let us out at all was to count us. We sat in the sun. Anyone who spoke would be hit. I was beaten with a black plastic hose."

and

Many of the worst abuses reported to Human Rights Watch occurred after failed attempts to leave Libya. One of the migrants, "Pastor Paul" (all names have been changed), a 32-year-old Nigerian, told Human Rights Watch how Libyan authorities brutally treated him when the Libyans stopped his boat shortly after it left Libya on October 20, 2008:

"We were in a wooden boat, and Libyans in a [motorized inflatable] Zodiac started shooting at us. They told us to return to shore. They kept shooting until they hit our engine. One person was shot and killed. I don't know the men who did the shooting, but they were civilians, not in uniforms. Then a Libyan navy boat came and got us and started beating us. They collected our money and cell phones. I think the Zodiac boat was working with the Libyan navy. The Libyan navy took us back in their big ship and sent us to Bin Gashir deportation camp. When we arrived there, they immediately started beating me and the others. They beat some of the boys until they could not walk."

These brutal methods had the intended effect according to the BBC:

European Commission figures show that in 2009 the number of people caught trying to enter Italy illegally fell to 7,300, from 32,052 in 2008. The data was collected under the EU's Eurodac fingerprinting system.

Col Gaddafi has forged close ties with Italy since a friendship treaty was signed two years ago.

"Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Mu`ammar al-Gaddafi are building their friendship agreement at the expense of people from other countries whom both regard as expendable,"

was the response from Bill Frelick, refugee policy director at HRW.

Ali Muslin, noting that the problem of Arab racism towards Africans goes back more than a thousand years, said:

For all his claims to the contrary, Gaddafi has no respect for Africa or Africans. This is not just manifested by how very inhumanely he treats African workers and asylum seekers, nor by his self declaration as the King of All African tribes, but mainly by his deeply ingrained chauvinism and pretension to be an African Messiah. No wonder he refers to Africans as starved and ignorant and violates the rights of Black Africans in Libya.

Qaddafi's Meddling in Africa

Gaddafi the racist has for long been also Gaddafi the dictator, killing off his opponents both inside and outside his country, financing the likes of Fode Sankoh in Sierra Leone and meddling in the domestic affairs of other countries like Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Liberia, etc.

Two aspects of Qaddafi's Green Book philosophy have combined help keep Africa roaming around in the wilderness for 40 years. First, Qaddafi believes all governments should be the subject of violent revolution by the few:

If the instrument of government is dictatorial, as is the case in the world's political systems today, society's awareness of deviation from its laws is expressed only through violence to redirect its course, i.e., revolution against the instrument of government. Violence and revolution, even though they reflect the sentiments of society regarding deviation, do not constitute an exercise in which the whole of society takes part. Rather, violence and revolution are carried out by those who have the capability and courage to take the initiative and proclaim the will of society.

The Green Book p.10 , and before you protest that he was only referring to "dictatorial governments," I would ask you to consult the Green Book on what he means by that. For example:

51 per cent of the votes leads to a dictatorial governing body in the guise of a false democracy, since 49 per cent of the electorate is ruled by an instrument of government they did not vote for, but which has been imposed upon them. Such is dictatorship... This is the reality of the political systems prevailing in the world today. They are dictatorial systems and it is evident that they falsify genuine democracy.

The Green Book p.1 Secondly, every group, no matter how small, deserves it's own national liberation movement:

Contemporary national liberation movements are themselves social movements; they will not come to an end before every group is liberated from the domination of another group.

That's a perfect formula for endless wars.

If some of these quotes makes Mummar Qaddafi sound as crazy as Charles Manson, remember he's not the one that is behind bars with a swastika tattooed on his forehead. He's the one with a country to run and billions of dollars to spend. That means he's not crazy, he's eccentric.

And he has billions to spend any way that suits him including favoring whoever he regards as "revolutionary" around the world. The Economist tells us how he gets his money:

Libya is earning over $10 billion a year from its 1.4m barrels of oil a day. But Libyans see little of it. This year’s budget amounts to far less than its oil receipts; the colonel threw away an earlier budget, prepared by the General People’s Congress, saying oil should not be used for ordinary expenses, like salaries. In this hyper-rich state, a teacher’s salary is about $1,200 a year. Libyans have to go to Tunisia for health care. “Wealth, weapons and power lie with the people,” says the Green Book, the colonel’s revelation to the world. But one man decides which people.

One American group that he has favored has been Louis Farrakhan's Nation on Islam. In fact, support for the Nation of Islam, or Black Muslims, as they were often called in the '60's, is something else that unites Mummar Qaddafi and Charles Manson. Manson even talked about the NOI in court:

"'The Black Muslims' they know the way, they’re ahead of us. Fifty years ahead. They are way ahead of the Black Panthers, dig. They know what’s happening. And I turn them on because I’m the only white guy in here that knows Mohammed.”

While Charles Manson had big plans for the Nation of Islam, and clearly supported them spiritually, he was never able to support them financially, not like Mummar Qaddafi. While we can only guess at the amount of money Qaddafi has given to the NOI over the years, clearly it has been in the millions. Louis Farrakhan built the Chicago Maryam Mosque 40 years ago with a $3 million loan from Qaddafi. That much is documented. We also know that he tried to give Farrakhan a $250,000 Qaddafi Human Rights Award in 1996 in violation of U.S. sanctions, and after Farrakhan's Million Man March in October 1995, Qaddafi promised the group a billion dollars.

And then there is this: In 1987, a Federal jury convicted five members of El Rukins, described as an urban street gang close to Farrakhan, of conspiring to commit terrorist acts against the U.S:

The plotters, prosecutors said, expected to receive $2.5 million from Libya's Colonel Muammar Gaddafi for bombing buildings and airplanes and assassinating American politicians. The verdict marked the first time American citizens had been found guilty of planning terrorist acts for a foreign government in return for money.

Obviously, by funneling millions in Libyan oil money to Farrakhan's group over the years, Qaddafi has given it an influence that exceeds its support among African-Americans, but his meddling in the affairs of the United States is nothing when compared to his meddling in the affairs of African countries. The dictator fancies himself the Che Guevara of Africa and the continent is his playground. From Anna Mahjar-Barducci we have this survey of Qaddafi's plague upon African affairs:

Chad

Gaddafi has a long and complicated relation with its neighbor, Chad. Gaddafi brought Chadian President Deby to power in 1990 by supporting him financially and militarily. Deby was a rival to former Chadian President Hissene Habré, Gaddafi's enemy. In 1980, Libya invaded Chad in an attempt to remove Habré from power. Libya occupied and annexed the Aozou Strip, a region of 44.00 square miles in the North of Chad, bordering Libya's entire 500 mile frontier.

At the time, the United States and France helped Chad in order to contain Libya's regional ambitions. The state of warfare between Chad and Libya lasted from 1978 to 1988. Gaddafi was defeated and had to put aside his hegemonic dreams in Chad. In retaliation to US and France's support to Chad, however, Gaddafi's government sponsored the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988 and French Airline UTA Flight 772 in 1989.

Habré's government, however, did not last long. He was opposed by the Zaghawa ethnic group. In November 1990, a rebel offensive against Habré was led by Idriss Deby, the Zaghawa former army commander, supported by Gaddafi.

Darfur Region

Darfur, a region in western Sudan, is where war erupted in 2003, when the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) emerged to fight the government in a battle over power, resources and land allocation. Gaddafi was deeply involved in the Darfur crisis. Libya openly supported the Darfur rebel group, JEM, led by Khalil Ibrahim. Ibrahim was born in Darfur and belongs to the African tribe of Zaghawa, spread between Darfur and Chad. Even though Khalil claimed he was leading a battle against the discrimination practiced by African tribes in Darfur, he declared in an interview with Saudi-owned Al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper on May 3, 2005, that his goal was "one state that includes Egypt, Libya and Chad." Khalil has been supported by the president of Chad, Idriss Deby. Deby, himself is a Zaghawa.

Gaddafi's support to the JEM, which is fighting the central government in Khartoum, can be explained through his controversial relations with Sudan. In the 70s, the former Sudanese President Jaffar Nimeiry was getting closer to the US. Gaddafi, being a fighter against "Imperialism," severed diplomatic relations with Khartoum and allegedly plotted three failed coups. Relations between the two countries did not completely normalize until now.

Gaddafi is paying a pivotal role in keeping alive the conflict in Darfur. Recently, Khalil Ibrahim has been residing in Tripoli since May 2010, after being barred entry to Chad, while the Chadian government was trying to pursue a rapprochement with Sudan.

Central Africa Republic (CRA)

Gaddafi also intervened militarily in the CRA; he supported coups and violence there. Gaddafi was a supporter of former CRA President, Ange-Félix Patassé, accused of war crimes, and of Jean Pierre Bemba (former vice-president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo), who intervened with his militias in CRA following Patassé's request, and with Gaddafi's support. Bemba was arrested in Belgium in 2008 on the basis of an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Congo Brazzaville

The President of Congo Brazzaville, Sassou Nguesso, openly supports Gaddafi. The Libyan leader has supported him both financially and militarily during a civil war in Congo that brought Nguesso back to power in 1997. Nguesso, with other African leaders, wanted to visit Tripoli on March 20th supposedly in support of Gaddafi, but did not receive international permission.

Gabon

Gabon supported the council's resolution on Libya authorizing the no-fly zone over Libya and "all necessary measures" to protect civilians. The vote comes as a surprise as Gabon President, Ali Bongo, is considered a good friend of Gaddafi, and Libya has invested hugely in Gabon. Ali Bongo succeeded his father, Omar Bongo, as President of Gabon. Omar Bongo, who stayed in power for 42 years, converted to Islam under Gaddafi's influence. Gabon's vote should therefore be understood in light of its internal political crisis. Bongo is accused of supporting dictators and of being one himself. Massive protests have been waged against Bongo, but were soon repressed by the use of force.

The Polisario

Gaddafi has supported the Polisario against Morocco financially and logistically, since the mid-1970s by providing equipment for an entire army.

Mauritania

[Some] popular committees [are] linked to Gaddafi in Mauritania. Since Gaddafi came to power, Libya has intervened in Mauritania's internal affairs. Gaddafi is even accused of having plotted several coups in Mauritania.

Wikipedia talks about the role Colonel Qaddafi played in the Sudanese conflict.

Under Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi Libya continued to pursue foreign policy directed along ideological and pragmatic lines.[2]This resulted in several instances of conflict between the two nations between 1972 and 1976. In 1976 Sudan charged that Libya was involved in a terrorist plot against its government. This led to a severance of relations between the nations. In the late 1970s and 1980s Sudanese and Libyan foreign policy clashed over several regional conflicts. These included the Chadian-Libyan conflict, the Libya-Egypt conflict and Libyan support for Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.[3]

In these cases Libya’s conflict with Sudan resulted from Gaddafi’s regional goals of pan-Arabism and was heavily influenced by relations with Egypt.[4]The Chad-Libyan conflict in particular influenced the foreign policy of several African countries towards Libya. Pro-Libyan supporters were set against an anti-Libyan side which included Sudan and Egypt.[5]Some sub-Saharan countries, such as Zaire, supported the anti-Libyan forces in Chad out of fear of a Libyan expansion.[6]In 1986 Libya assisted the Mahdi government under Omar al-Bashir to assume power in Sudan, resuming relations between the two nations.[7]

In August 1971, Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi helped reverse a communist coup against Sudanese President Nimeiry by diverting a British airliner carrying one of the coup’s leaders and handing him over to Nimeiry to be hanged.[9]Libya turned over two of the top communist plotters to the Sudanese authorities, who executed them shortly afterward. However, a year later Sudan accused Libya of involvement in three successive coup attempts and severed diplomatic relations.[10]

Eric Ham of the XII Project summed-up Mummar Qaddafi's international role as follows:

During much of his reign he was seen as a pariah and a cold-blooded killer who financed an odd assortment of guerilla movements and wreaked havoc in surrounding states and internationally. He attacked Chad and Egypt, fomented trouble in Sudan, sent Libyan soldiers to defend Idi Amin in Uganda, tried to acquire nuclear and chemical weapons, provided training and support for Liberia’s Charles Taylor, bank rolled the Black September Movement, sent arms to the Provisional IRA, and liquidated opponents by the hundreds at home and overseas.

This is one way Qaddafi has spent the billions he has looted from Libyan oil. He spent it keeping sub-Saharan Africa in turmoil by pouring in money and guns to support first one side and then the other.

“Libya could have been as luxurious as a Gulf state,” said a Nation of Islam representative at a recent international gathering. “Instead Qaddafi has taken the oil wealth to use as a liberating force for the struggling oppressed peoples of the world.”

I'm sure that the Libyan people take a different view of that question and so too do the "struggling oppressed peoples of the world" IMHO.

The Arabs have a historic problem with racism, as the Europeans do, and it stems from the same place. It is a legacy of African slavery. I have already outlined two ways Qaddafi has aggravated the problem in Libya: 1.) He has fanned turmoil and instability on the continent and enforced immigration policies that have forced increasing numbers of Africans to 'hold up' in Libya, and 2.) He has squandered much of Libya's wealth on foreign adventures in Africa that didn't do anybody any good. Except for war profiteers that is. To these two, I must now add a third, the use of African mercenaries against the Libyan people.

Qaddafi's African Mercenaries

Qaddafi has long employed a great variety of armed forces in his various African adventures so it should not surprise anyone that he is making full use of them in his last desperate bid to stay in power. After all, mercenaries fight for money and that is the one thing Mummar Qaddafi still has a lot of. Anna Mahjar-Barducci gives us the breakdown once more:

The mercenaries reportedly come from different countries of North- and Sub-Saharan Africa: Chad, Mauritania, Sudan, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Liberia. And these mercenaries come in different categories: some are pure mercenaries, moved by money; others are soldiers sent directly by their central governments, and others are members of guerrilla movements supported by Gaddafi in the past. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) claims that Gaddafi is also using child soldiers to face the Libyan uprising.

The International Federation of Human Rights numbers the mercenaries to be 6,000 whereas Human Rights Solidarity gives an estimate of 30,000[1]. According to the Qatari satellite channel, Al-Jazeera, Gaddafi's regime has brought approximately 50,000 mercenaries to Tripoli, and about 150,000 mercenaries throughout Libya[2].

Chad

Libyan revolutionaries claim that the government of Chad is playing a vital role in providing "mercenaries" to Gaddafi through the overland route to the Libyan town of Sabha, just across the Chad border. Ali Zeidan, spokesman of the exiled Libyan Human Rights League (LHRL), claims that two Chadian generals are commanding the mercenaries, under the orders of the Chad's ambassador to Libya, Daoussa Deby, the brother of Chadian President Idriss Deby.

The Government of Chad denies providing mercenaries to Gaddafi. Chadian FM Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat said in a statement. "These are outrageous and malicious reports. […] Chad has never sent or authorized the recruitment of its nationals to fight in Libya. Chad cannot afford such a gesture, as we are concerned about the situation in our neighboring country."[3]

Darfur Region

Sudan's foreign ministry says it has evidence that JEM members are among the mercenaries supporting Gaddafi. The JEM has denied these allegations.[4]

Central Africa Republic (CRA)

News items report the presence of mercenaries from Central Africa Republic among Gaddafi's forces. UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado told the Associated Press that there is "a serious concern" that child soldiers are among the mercenaries that Gaddafi is hiring to attack rebel forces. The spokeswoman for the UN children's agency said the mercenaries come from the Central African Republic, Chad, Niger, and Sudan's Darfur region, which are all places "with known child soldiers."[6]

French news items suggest that Bemba's militia, the Movement for the Liberation of Congo, is among the mercenaries fighting with Gaddafi against the uprising.[7]

DR Congo (Former Zaire)

According to news items, Congolese mercenaries in Libya are members of rebels' groups[8]. Allegedly among them, as mentioned above, there is also former Congo VP Jean Pierre Bemba Bemba's militia, the Movement for the Liberation of Congo.

Equatorial Guinea

[12] According to news items ... President Obiang sent troops to help Gaddafi[13]. The estimated number is of 650 Guinean soldiers[14]. Another news item reported that the government of Equatorial Guinea had prepared a group of 120 policemen and gendarmes to send to fight in Libya. The Guinean government told them that in Libya they would have received a 60-day training course as "border police." However while the 120 men were waiting to fly to Libya, they were apparently told that there was no safe way or possibility of landing in any Libyan airport[15].

The Polisario

The Moroccan Press Agency reports members of the Polisario, Western Sahara Separatist Group, left Mali's capital Bamako on board a Libyan aircraft heading to Algiers, intending to enter Libya by land to support Gaddafi's forces against rebels[17].

The Polisario is a politico-military organization fighting Morocco in order to take control of the former Western Sahara, currently under Morocco's sovereignty, and win independence for that region. The Polisario's headquarters are now based in Algeria, in the town of Tindouf. According to news items, Gaddafi spoke directly to Muhammad Abdelaziz, leader of the Polisario Front, to ask for help.

According to sources, over two hundred well trained Polisario's fighters trained in the techniques of guerrilla warfare have been selected and armed with Kalashnikovs, grenades and rocket launchers, and sent on their way on board 4X4 at the end of last week, and headed for Libya. The mercenaries took the path leading to the Libyan border town of Atchane Al, where they had to be escorted by the Libyan military to Tripoli, passing by the city of Sabha[18].

The Moroccan American Center for Policy, reported that Libya's former Minister of State for Immigration & Expatriates, Ali Errishi, condemned members of the Polisario for their "hypocrisy" in claiming to fight for freedom and progressive ideals, but joining the Gaddafi's mercenary army. [19]Errishi confirmed that well-armed members of the Polisario are among Gaddafi's mercenaries.

Algeria

The African Press Agency claimed that the Algerian government is supporting Gaddafi in recruiting mercenaries, especially from the Polisario, as Algeria is supporting this separatist group against Morocco. "The Algerian government spares no effort to facilitate the arrival of new reinforcements for Gaddafi to shield his regime from falling and avoid the repercussions on Algeria's stability that may arise from such a collapse".[20]

The Algerian government denied being involved in fighting the uprising against Gaddafi. The foreign ministry said in a statement, that these "false lies" which were reported by internet websites and TV satellite channels are "baseless," and Algeria was committed to non-interference in other countries' internal affairs, said the statement.

Tunisia

The Algerian paper Echorouk reports that after the Tunisian revolution, militias loyal to former Tunisian President Zine el Abedine Ben Ali escaped from Tunisia and found refuge in Libya[22]. According to news items, these militias are now fighting to protect Gaddafi's regime.

Mauritania

Mauritanians mercenaries are reported to be fighting for Gaddafi in Libya. A Libyan political opponent living in Washington DC, Mahmoud Chemam, stated that popular committees linked to Gaddafi in Mauritania are trying to recruit mercenaries to send to Libya[23]. Pro-Gaddafi's parties and movements in Mauritania are part of the fundamentalist Islamic Front Action. Mauritanian leader of the opposition, Messaoud Ould Boulkheir, called for investigation of Mauritanian mercenaries in Libya[24].

Human Rights Watch has called upon Qaddafi to stop using foreign mercenaries against the Libyan people. When arguing the UN should suspend Libya's Human Rights Council membership they said:

The League of Arab States on February 22 denounced the acts of violence being committed against civilians as severe violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, in particular the hiring of foreign mercenaries and the use of live ammunition and heavy artillery against protestors, and banned Libyan delegations from participating in all bodies affiliated with the Arab League until the Libyan authorities met the League's demands to guarantee the security of its people.

And Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch told Qaddafi "He should call his forces including mercenaries off immediately."

But mercenaries are just about all he has left.

Racism has also been a problem among the freedom fighters as they are a product of Libyan society and they cannot entirely escape it's faults. Qaddafi's use of African mercenaries against the uprising has exacerbated this problem, as he knew it would. Just as he has always recruited security forces from the west to serve in the east and vice versa, he is using the old tactic of divide-and-conquer once again.

He knew that using African mercenaries would further divide the forces of the revolution. He knew that it would encourage the Arab distrust of the African immigrant and give the most backwards element in Libyan society a crutch. As a result, there have been some crimes committed against innocent Africans by some associated with the opposition. This must not be tolerated! Those creating the future of Libya must not fall for Qaddafi's provocation. Fighting racism must become one of the tasks of the revolution if it is to succeed in building a free Libya in Africa.

The King of Kings

Another way that Qaddafi spends Libya's billions is on a lavish lifestyle for himself and his family that is second to none. A girl friend of Mummar's son Saadi Qaddafi for six years, Dafinka Mircheva, gives us a window into their royal lifestyle:

His aides told her he spent £170 million a year on private jets, five-star hotels, supercars, lap-dancers, jewels and designer clothes.

‘Money was no object,’ she says. ‘He would always have a black suitcase stuffed with thousands of banknotes.

‘If he ran out, he would call the embassy and they would have more delivered to his hotel.’

She says he began a prolonged pursuit of her after that first meeting in 2004 – lavishing her with gifts and proposals of marriage – despite having a wife, the daughter of a commander in the Libyan military.

After she finally agreed to date him, Dafinka says Saadi paid £500,000 for her favourite pop group, The Pussycat Dolls, to perform for her at his birthday party in Cannes in the South of France

‘In his room were black leather suitcases full of cash. He would have £150,000 at any one time.’

She says he bought her £25,000 designer dresses and spent £10,000 on dinner at Raspoutine, a Russian restaurant in Paris. He is said to have owned a purple Bugatti Veyron road car worth £1million.

‘Saadi will never look at the price. He doesn’t care. Someone else always pays the bill.'

He acted like a little spoiled prince and he treated everyone else like peons. She added, ‘His entourage were mainly Libyans. He would call them all his servants. I told him many times not to tell people that. He told me, “I do what I want. I want to call them servants.”

And why not? Daddy has a special exemption for servants in his Green Book [p.19]:

Since the new socialist society is based on partnership and not on a wage system, natural socialist rules do not apply to domestic servants because they render services rather than production. Services have no tangible material product and cannot be divided into shares according to the natural socialist rule.

The ex-girl friend's tale continues:

Two years later, Dafinka and Saadi visited Tanzania for a week-long safari, staying in £600-a-night lodges. She says: ‘He killed an impala. I remember him asking, “What other gaming do you have for royalty?” He saw himself as the son of a king.’

The first monarch of united Libya was King Idris. He ruled for 17 years from 1951 to 1969. He was King but he shared power with a Constitution. In 1969 he was overthrown by Mummar Qaddafi who declared a socialist republic but in point of fact, he has treated Libya as his personal property, controlled it with armed violence and ruled it as though he were King. And this absolute monarch makes life and death decisions without a Constitution or a Parliament.

Cynthia McKinney will tell you that "Libyans govern themselves by The Green Book, a form of direct democracy based on the African Constitution concept that the people are the first and final source of all power," but that is pure rubbish. For the past forty-two years Libya has been ruled as a tribal kingdom and Mummar Qaddafi has held as much dictatorial power as has ever been held by any king. This is how Qaddafi does it:

The supreme leader would be King, ruling through tribal elders who would report to the Kgotla, also fetching advice for the central committee based in Tripoli. The King of All Kings, like the Great Cock, Mobutu Sese Seko, of the Congo, would open the national radio or television station in the morning as the national anthem blared in the background.

The Cock would then tour the hinterlands on the back of a covered land rover in full army regalia, waving at the subjects as he headed for the party headquarters which were invariably housed near or inside a luxurious hotel, followed by a coterie of sycophants who posed as heads of the civil service.

It was understood that the serfs would gather at the Kgotla to see the King of Kings in the flesh, and to reward him with their only chickens and goats which he would enjoy with them at the fireside after they were duly cooked to standard by the chief chef brought along with the presidential entourage from Tripoli, Gaborone or Lusaka.

The chef, of course, travelled as part of the National Guard that looks after the safety of the country and the Great Cock.

This business progresses from a presidential tour, to custom, to tradition until, after 42 years, it becomes a national ritual at which the King of Kings arrives at Kgotla to listen to the village gossip about the performance of the tribal or provincial leaders. The Great Leader, points out the ministers and civil servants who will put things right when he returns to Tripoli, having also handed out a gift or two to the lowliest of the poor in each strategic village.

Soon, a culture develops where the well-being of the nation is identical with that of the Great Leader and the King of Kings seeks deification on earth, demonstrating his powers by extending generous assistance to poor nations like The Sudan, at the same time providing the budget for the Organisation of African Unity, AU, OPEC and others.

Tribal sectarianism and conflicts are remnants from Libya's feudal past which is not yet history and that's what the Qaddafi regime has been based on. For all the "revolutionary" talk about "socialism" and "people's direct democracy", it has really been a throw back to an earlier period and Qaddafi has ruled as a king without a crown. That he is prepping a son to succeed him is your first clue, kings build dynasties.

The current uprising in Libya is in large part a revolution against these feudal remnants and the "king" that perpetuates them.

But Qaddafi doesn't see his kingdom as limited to Libya. In 2008, Gaddafi invited 200 kings and traditional rulers from sub-Saharan, mainly non-Arab Africa to witness his crowning of as Africa's "King of Kings."

The African Union

Qaddafi isn't the only African leader to rule his country like a king. It's a tradition which he has helped to perpetuate across the continent. Just look at the age of these African leaders:

Abdulai Wade (Senegal), age 83, HosniMubarak (Egypt), 82, Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe), 86, HifikepunyePohamba (Namibia), 74, Rupiah Banda (Zambia), 73, Mwai Kibaki(Kenya), 71, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (Liberia), 75, Colonel Gaddafi(Libya), 68, Jacob Zuma (South Africa), 68, Bingu Wa Mtalika(Malawi), 76, Paul Biya (Cameroon), 77, Yoweri Museveni (Uganda),66. Average Age: 72 yrs.

Did they all take some sort of "till death do us part" vow when they were sworn in?

By the mid 1990's the old OAU [Organization of African Unity] had been pretty much discredited as a "Dictators' Club" that didn't do much for the African people. Mummar Qaddafi revived his idea of the African Union as a way of promoting his vision of a United States of Africa. In September 1999, Qaddafi and the other OAU heads of state issued the Sirte Declaration (named after Qaddafi's hometown) calling for the establishment of an African Union. It was established at Lusaka in 2001, it was bank-rolled from the beginning by Qaddafi.

The African Union has a number of objectives, including developing the political and socio-economic integration of the continent, defending interests common to all Africans, achieving peace and security on the continent and promoting human rights and good governance. For Mummar Qaddafi it is a vehicle for implementing his vision of a United States of Africa in which he would be made King of Kings.

With Qaddafi in charge, we can imagine how the meetings go. Wait, we don't have to imagine. South Africa's Jacob Zuma tells us:

"He has his own ways of holding meetings." said Zuma jokingly at a two-day ANC provincial general council at the University of KwaZulu-Natal's Westville Campus.
Describing how the African Union (AU) chairman conducted the conference in his country this week, Zuma said "quarter of the speeches during the meeting was done by him...He forgets that there is lunch time and he forgets that people have to sleep."

Commenting on the election of Qaddafi as chairman of the AU in 2009, Henry Owuor wrote:

This is the perfect time for Col Gaddafi to take the reins of leadership. He can push his agenda. There are actually very few leaders who can challenge him.

In the past, South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki could challenge Gaddafi at AU meetings but he is no longer in office and his replacement, Kgalema Motlanthe is an acting president who is due to hand over to his mentor Jacob Zuma at elections set for mid this year.

On the other hand, Africa’s most populous state, Nigeria, has a president who is perennially sick and who was on holiday as the AU met in Addis. Umaru Musa Yar’Adua instead sent his vice-president Mr Goodluck Jonathan, a man who cannot challenge Gaddafi. In the past, retired general Olusegun Obasanjo was a man Gaddafi could not ignore but his presidency ended in 2007.

What happened in Addis is that many heads of state simply did not show up because they did not want to commit to Gaddafi’s grand project of a single government for Africa.
...

Ask Zambia’s Rupiah Banda, in office since October 2008 or Ghana’s John Attar Mills in office since January and who did not even bother to show up in Addis or Sierra Leone’s Ernest Bai Koroma who took power in 2007 if they are planning to take on Gaddafi at the next AU summit in July and what you will get is “no comment.’’

Qaddafi stormed out of an AU meeting in Qatar, March 2009, saying:

"I am an international leader, the dean of the Arab rulers, the king of kings of Africa and the imam of Muslims, and my international status does not allow me to descend to a lower level."

So Mummar Qaddafi's vision of Africa is for the whole continent to be a United States of Africa with himself named "King of All African Tribes", a non-black, ruling over all the African people. That is also pretty much where Charley Manson's fantasy ended up, one white guy ruling over all the blacks in the world. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why one of these men hasn't been able to make parole in 42 years. The question is why has the other one been allowed to run a muck for 42 years?

QADDAFI MUST GO!

Mummar Manson
original graphics by me, both images "PhotoShop till I crop"

Qaddafi's Long Arm

One of least reported aspects of Mummar Qaddafi's struggle to continue his 42 year totalitarian rule has been the way he has used Libyan security personnel to extend his dictatorship to Libyans even when they are out of the country. In many cases this has been done through the mis-use of embassy staff to harass and intimidate Libyan students studying aboard and other Libyans who support the freedom fighters. In many countries, the ambassador and staff have come over to side of revolution and the Transitional National Council but in others they are still loyal to Qaddafi. Many of those have been involved in what is regarded in diplomatic terms "inappropriate behavior," been named "persona non gratis" and thrown out of the country.

Here is a round-up of news from the worlds media about this front in the Libyan freedom fight.

Libyan Embassy in Jordan harasses student supports of freedom fighters.

In Jordan this July, the Libyan embassy cut off grant and health insurance to students in "retaliation" for their support of wounded freedom fighters from Benghazi. When they arrived at Jordan's Marka Military Airport on board a Royal Air Force transport, a number of students staged a symbolic sit-in and thanked the Jordanian king and government and people for receiving the wounded. "Libya and unity .. not Eastern nor Western," was their slogan.

In response, Fri Almoudi from the Libyan embassy told the student supervisor to cut off the aid to the students. The students take the position that "Grant funds and health insurance funds are from the Libyan people and not from the funds of Gaddafi and the student supervisor."

The students said that they would not be intimidated by the threats from regime officials and said "we stand with our people struggling to defend their freedom and dignity." This cut off of promised aid is especially difficult for the students at this time because the situation in Libya makes it hard for their families to remit funds to them. There are between 300-400 Libyan students in various universities in Jordan and they are demanding that the Jordanian government intervene to stop "the harm inflicted upon them Qaddafi and his gang in Jordan."

The Libyan embassy in Jordan has divided loyalties because Ambassador Mohamed Barghathi and other dissidents have joined the freedom fighters, with Barghathi becoming the representative of the Transitional National Council in Amman, but the embassy staff is still loyal to Qaddafi.

Libyan student president in Italy arrested for intimidating other students.

On June 9 the Italian police arrested the president of the Libyan Students' League in Italy. The pro-Qaddafi president, Ahusain Nuri, 41, has lived in Italy for ten years. He was arrested in Perugia. Investigators said the Nuri was he head of an organization responsible for violence and threats against other Libyan students who supported the TNC. The Libyan Students' League is thought to have the backing of senior members of the Qaddafi regime.

The investigation and arrest were carried out by the Digos anti-terrorism police. The chief of police in Perugia, Sandro Federico called student harassment a problem of national security.

Five Libyan diplomats expelled from Canada

In May, five Libyan diplomats working at the Libyan Embassy in Ottawa were expelled for activities "considered inappropriate and inconsistent with normal diplomatic functions," according to a statement by the Department of Foreign Affairs. Lisa Monette, a spokeswoman with Foreign Affairs said she could not comment on state-to-state communications and refused to detail the reasons the diplomats were being expelled.

However in March, the CBC reported some Libyan students in Canada who had spoken out against the Qaddafi regime received threatening phone calls believed to have come from embassy staff.

Earlier in May, pro- and anti-Gadhafi protesters faced off in downtown Ottawa only two blocks from Parliament Hill and the anti-Gadhafi side outnumbered the pro-Gadhafi, anti-NATO side of fewer than 20 people by about three to one.

Men, women and children chanted songs and carried Libyan rebel flags and posters calling Qaddafi a war criminal. The larger group drowned out the chants from the pro-Qaddafi side, which carried the green flags that have symbolized Libya in the era and two large pictures of the leader himself. One RCMP officer was injured in a skirmish when the demonstrations first started.

Police did their best to keep both sides apart, but one RCMP officer was hurt during a skirmish when the demonstration first got under way.

Finally on august 9, Canada ordered all remaining Libyan diplomats to leave the country within five days. Forign Affars Minister John Baird said the Libyan diplomats had become "persona non grata."

France also sent 14 Libyan diplomats home in May, accusing them of "activities incompatible with the relevant UN resolutions . . . and contrary to the protection of Libyan civilians." "Many of these people were using their status as diplomats as a cover," the diplomat said.

Britain also expelled several Libyan diplomats for behavior that had become "unacceptable."

While the activities of the Qaddafi regime has been mostly limited to various forms of harassment and intimidated while the Libyan opposition is out of the country, many will be in grave danger if they are forced to return to Libya while Qaddafi is still in power.

Libyan student murdered by Qaddafi marksman after returning from Australian.

A Libyan student studying in Perth, Australia was murdered by soldiers loyal to Mummar Qaddafi's regime after returning home to Libya. Qmar Swyeb, 27, was an English language student at the University of West Australia and he return to Libya because he was worried about his family. His murder raises grave concerns among the several hundred Libyan students in WA about what may happen to them once there visas run out and they are forced to return home.

An investigation by The Weekend West has uncovered a small contingent of students loyal to Qaddafi that were spies for the regime in Perth and they have been taking names and photographs of rebel sympathizers to add to the Libyan secret police blacklist. In light of these problems. the Greens plan to move in the Senate to have the Libyan student visas extended until the crisis in the war torn country is resolved.

For more background on the Libyan Revolution and links to lots of information see my other writings at the DailyKos and WikiLeaks Central:
SCOOP: My Lai or Qaddafi Lie? More on the 85 Civilians presumed killed by NATO
Did NATO kill 85 Libyan Villagers As Qaddafi Regime Contends?
CCDS Statement on Libya - a Critique
The Assassination of General Abdul Fattah Younis
NATO over Tripoli - Air Strikes in the Age of Twitter
How Many Libyans has NATO Killed?
Qaddafi Terror Files Start to Trickle Out!
Have Libyan Rebels Committed Human Rights Abuses?
Tripoli Green Square Reality Check
Behind the Green Curtain: Libya Today
Gilbert Achcar on the Libyan situation and the Left
NATO slammed for Libya civilian deaths NOT!
2011-07-01 Qaddafi's Million Man March
NATO's Game Plan in Libya
February 21st - Tripoli's Long Night
Did Qaddafi Bomb Peaceful Protesters?
Tripoli Burn Notice
Libyans, Palestinians & Israelis
'Brother' Qaddafi Indicted plus Libya & Syria: Dueling Rally Photofinishs
An Open Letter to ANSWER
ANSWER answers me
2011-06-22 No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum
Are they throwing babies out of incubators yet?
Continuing Discussion with a Gaddafi Supporter
Boston Globe oped supports Gaddafi with fraudulent journalism
2011-04-13 Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Current Events in Libya
Amonpour Plays Softball with Gaddafi
Arming Gaddfi
North African Revolution Continues
Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation

Mon Aug 15, 2011 at 8:12 AM PT: If you know of other examples of Qaddafi's harassment and worst of opposition supporters outside of Libya, please send me the details and I will include them here. @clayclai on twitter or clayclai@gmail.com

SCOOP: My Lai or Qaddafi Lie? More on the 85 Civilians presumed killed by NATO

Salwa Jawoo in Ziltan Hospital
Meet 15 year-old Salwa Jawoo. She is said to be one of the victims of a NATO airstrike near Zlitan, Libya that the Qaddafi regime claims killed 85 civilians in an area with no military presence. Matthew Price of the BBC found her lying in a Ziltan hospital bed, bruised and with a bandaged hand. She says that her mother and two sisters were among the 85 children, women and men murdered by NATO, and from the look of her, she is lucky to have escaped with her own life. Earlier Matthew Price and other international journalists were taken on a tour of the bombing scene with Libyan Prime Minister Baghdadi Mahmudi. He was shown Salwa's name in some school books at the scene. Of the visit with Salwa in the hospital, Price wrote:

Her face was scarred - she had a broken shoulder.

She said she was sitting outside her home when the first missile struck. It was the second one that injured her.

"There was no military camp. We were just living there. Why did they attack us?" she asked.

"My mother died, and my two sisters," she added, with a sigh. A tear ran down her cheek as she spoke. Her grief was genuine.

Salwa Jawoo in Libyan State TV video
And here is Salwa Jawoo again, at least it certainly looks like her. This still is a screen shot from this video produced by Libyan State TV about the murder of 85 civilians near Ziltan. She speaks in this YouTube video between 3:45 - 4:24, the screenshot is @ 04:07:24, and she appears to have made quite a recovery. The bandage is gone and so are the bruises as far as I can tell. If you watch the video clip of her I put up you'll see her broken shoulder is much better. But her anger is as genuine as her grief was earlier.

A twittermate, N_Benghazi has translated what she said for me:

"I want to say that I'm a civillian from Zliten, And my little brother, all praise is due to God, died a martyr and he's but a child. And I, with God's help, with God's help I'll pick up weapons and go to the frontline, with Khamis, fight as a soldier alongside Khamis [Gaddafi].

And I want to tell Muammar, I want to thank him for the Honor and Dignity he's allowed us to live in. We want you, we want you Muammar and we're silent, we're silent here in Libya. Either we live, or we die. Omar Mukhtar said it himself -- We will not surrender, we live or we die. "

So what's the real story here? Did her anger take away the memory of the loss of her two sisters, and mom as well as the bandage and bruises? And why didn't she mention "little brother" before?

Also please note that Qaddafi PM Baghdadi Mahmudi that took the international journalist on the tour is the same person that has been report to have been recorded talking [youtube] with an unknown person "in which they plot to take three dead children from a hospital, plant them at a known site, and have the government spokesman, Musa Ibrahim, report from there using the children as casualties to further their propaganda," as I reported in my last diary.

NATO, for it's part, still says the Qaddafi claims are highly unlikely but without people on the ground, how can they really know? NATO spokesman Bouchard said at a recent press conference:

“I can assure you that the target was a legitimate one that contained mercenaries, a command centre and 4×4 vehicles modified with automatic weapons, rocket launchers or mortars,” Bouchard said.

“I cannot believe that 85 civilians were present when we struck in the wee hours of the morning and given our intelligence” on the target, he added.

“I can assure you that there wasn’t 85 civilians present, but I cannot assure you that there were none at all.”

“Frankly, I cannot say if there were any civilian deaths or how many,” said the general, who accused Gaddafi’s forces of often leaving already dead corpses at military sites after they have been levelled by NATO airstrikes to make the bombings appear like blunders.

I found another Qaddafi video on YouTibe that also featured Salwa Jawoo and was clearly shot at the same time if not the exact same footage but it has the advantage of a wider view:
Libya: NATO blamed for Libyan massacre [10.08.0211.]
This is screenshot @ 02:45:16
Salwa Jawoo in another Libyan State TV video

And here is another @ 03:06:12.

scared kids in video

Who is that unseen person off-screen to the left side that appears to be coaching the kids on because they look scared to death of him? That's not a very nice way to treat a bunch of kids that are suppose to have just survived a massacre.

For more background on the Libyan Revolution and links to lots of information see my other writings at the DailyKos and WikiLeaks Central:
Did NATO kill 85 Libyan Villagers As Qaddafi Regime Contends?
CCDS Statement on Libya - a Critique
The Assassination of General Abdul Fattah Younis
NATO over Tripoli - Air Strikes in the Age of Twitter
How Many Libyans has NATO Killed?
Qaddafi Terror Files Start to Trickle Out!
Have Libyan Rebels Committed Human Rights Abuses?
Tripoli Green Square Reality Check
Behind the Green Curtain: Libya Today
Gilbert Achcar on the Libyan situation and the Left
NATO slammed for Libya civilian deaths NOT!
2011-07-01 Qaddafi's Million Man March
NATO's Game Plan in Libya
February 21st - Tripoli's Long Night
Did Qaddafi Bomb Peaceful Protesters?
Tripoli Burn Notice
Libyans, Palestinians & Israelis
'Brother' Qaddafi Indicted plus Libya & Syria: Dueling Rally Photofinishs
An Open Letter to ANSWER
ANSWER answers me
2011-06-22 No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum
Are they throwing babies out of incubators yet?
Continuing Discussion with a Gaddafi Supporter
Boston Globe oped supports Gaddafi with fraudulent journalism
2011-04-13 Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Current Events in Libya
Amonpour Plays Softball with Gaddafi
Arming Gaddfi
North African Revolution Continues
Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation

Did NATO kill 85 Libyan Villagers As Qaddafi Regime Contends?

This news report from Haaretz 09/08/11 is typical:

The Libyan government said Tuesday that a NATO airstrike near the western city of Zlitan had killed 85 villagers, including children, state television reported - a claim swiftly called into question by the military alliance.

Footage showed what the broadcaster said were the burned bodies of at least three children under the age of 9 in a hospital. It also showed women and children being treated for injuries. The country is to hold a three-day mourning for the deaths, the channel reported.

The report said the victims were from the village of Majar, which is near Zlitan, to the east of the capital Tripoli, where NATO forces have been intensifying their strikes on government troops.

However this report was quickly disputed by NATO:

NATO spokesman Col. Roland Lavoie said the Libyan claim of civilian casualties in an airstrike near the western front-line town of Zlitan "was not corroborated by available factual information at the site."

NATO aircraft hit a staging base and military accommodation 10 kilometers (6 miles) south of Zlitan, Lavoie said from the operational command in Naples, Italy. Four buildings and nine vehicles within the compound were struck with precision-guided munitions, he said.

"With our surveillance capabilities, we monitored this military compound very carefully before striking it," Lavoie said. "A number of military or mercenary casualties were expected due to the nature of the activity we monitored."

"Our assessment, based on the level of destruction of the buildings, confirms the likelihood of military and mercenary casualties," he said.

AP reported:

State television also showed funerals for dozens of civilians it said were killed in the NATO airstrike near Zlitan, about 90 miles (140 kilometers) southeast of Tripoli.

The channel has been airing images in black and white to honor a three-day mourning period for the 85 people the government said lost their lives in Zlitan.

A day earlier, state television ran images of Libyans rummaging through the rubble of buildings the government said were destroyed by the airstrike. They were shown digging out body parts and piling dead babies in sacks in the back of ambulances. It said 33 children and 32 women were among those killed.

The Telegraph had a reporter on the scene and filed this report:

Despite discrepancies at the bomb sites, regime spokesmen said that 20 families in Majar, a remote village on a ridge overlooking the rebel enclave of Misurata, had been killed in airstrikes.

While up to seven homes were destroyed by large scale explosions, there was no evidence of the scale of slaughter suggested by officials.

Ten miles away at Zlitan hospital officials put bodies said to have been recovered from the site on display. One woman and two infant corpses lay alongside men of military age.

At least one ruined home bore the hallmarks of family life but debris from the destruction contained relatively few clues to the lives of the occupants.

Only a few traces of blood were smeared the rubble of the houses and there was no sign that bodies had been dragged through the dust.

With Nato's rules of engagement imposing strict safeguards to protect civilian life, Col Gaddafi's forces have an incentive operate from compounds occupied by families.

A green army belt that one official quickly removed from the side of a teddy bear indicated that the army had established a presence in the area.

BBC World News reported:

The BBC's Matthew Price says he saw about 30 white body bags at the hospital, while on a guided government tour.

Half the bags were opened to the media, he says, with the majority revealing men of fighting age, and also two children and two women.The BBC's Matthew Price says he saw about 30 white body bags at the hospital, while on a guided government tour.

Half the bags were opened to the media, he says, with the majority revealing men of fighting age, and also two children and two women.

Libyan State TV ran this report [warning very disturbing content]:

While these claims and counter-claims have been battling each other in cyberspace, the Libyan Youth Movement website published this report, together with a video:

Gaddafi PM Baghdadi Mahmudi’s phone call to use dead children for propaganda (English Subtitles)
Posted on August 10, 2011
This recorded telephone call is allegedly between the Gaddafi regime’s Prime Minister Baghdadi Mahmudi and another man in which they plot to take three dead children from a hospital, plant them at a known site, and have the government spokesman, Musa Ibrahim, report from there using the children as casualties to further their propaganda. We cannot independently verify the identity of the callers in this recording.

If true, it shows just how far the Qaddafi regime is willing to go to fabricated charges that NATO is killing Libyan civilians and calls into question Tuesday's claim that NATO killed 85 civilians and all such claims. It certainly doesn't mean that NATO isn't killing some civilians in Libya, but it doe means that all such claims by the Qaddafi regime that have not been independently verified can not be believed.

Did NATO really kill 85 civilians as the Qaddafi regime claims? You'll have to make up your own mind but look for updates here as this story develops.

For more background on the Libyan Revolution and links to lots of information see my other writings at the DailyKos and WikiLeaks Central:
CCDS Statement on Libya - a Critique
The Assassination of General Abdul Fattah Younis
NATO over Tripoli - Air Strikes in the Age of Twitter
How Many Libyans has NATO Killed?
Qaddafi Terror Files Start to Trickle Out!
Have Libyan Rebels Committed Human Rights Abuses?
Tripoli Green Square Reality Check
Behind the Green Curtain: Libya Today
Gilbert Achcar on the Libyan situation and the Left
NATO slammed for Libya civilian deaths NOT!
2011-07-01 Qaddafi's Million Man March
NATO's Game Plan in Libya
February 21st - Tripoli's Long Night
Did Qaddafi Bomb Peaceful Protesters?
Tripoli Burn Notice
Libyans, Palestinians & Israelis
'Brother' Qaddafi Indicted plus Libya & Syria: Dueling Rally Photofinishs
An Open Letter to ANSWER
ANSWER answers me
2011-06-22 No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum
Are they throwing babies out of incubators yet?
Continuing Discussion with a Gaddafi Supporter
Boston Globe oped supports Gaddafi with fraudulent journalism
2011-04-13 Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Current Events in Libya
Amonpour Plays Softball with Gaddafi
Arming Gaddfi
North African Revolution Continues
Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation

CCDS Statement on Libya - a Critique

From CCDS website 01/08/11 - (CCDS omitted the first 3 paragraphs of my critique in their publication of it.)

This Sunday I am told that 142 Syrians in Hama were slaughtered by Assad's tanks. It is estimated that as many as 1700 peaceful protesters have been massacred by Assad since the Syrian people welcomed the Arab Spring. I find it absolutely shameful that much of the left, including CCDS remain silent in the face of the Syrian people's cries for international support. I think we can do a lot better than that.

When the internationalist history of the Arab Spring is finally written it will be embarrassing to some that these revolutionary people's uprisings have received more practical support and solidarity from US computer hackers than from the US left.

CCDS was similarly silent as Qaddafi's "yellow hat" thugs shot unarmed protesters in Benghazi (18/02/11), waiting to make its official statement on Libya 72 days after Libyan protests started with the housing sit-ins on January 14, 2011 and more than a month after it had become a revolutionary armed struggle. As I will show below, this statement, which has as it's focus opposition to our own imperialists is self-centered and in the context of concrete conditions of the Libyan revolution, counter-revolutionary. In summation, the I agree with rima_misrata who tweeted July 30:

Hey anti-interventioners - Were you enraged when Gaddafi was massacring Libyans? No? So you don't really have a moral leg to stand on?

CCDS Statement on Libya - a Critique

By The Committees of Correspondence for Democracy & Socialism
March 27, 2011

In war, the first casualty is truth. Nowhere is this maxim more relevant than the current air and naval bombing campaign against Libya initiated by the U.S., France and Great Britain, and involving other NATO countries.

IMHO this is already taking a position that equates the Qaddafi regime with "Libya." NATO would argue that their military activities are against the forces of the Qaddafi regime not Libya, and frankly the revolutionaries would agree. As a matter of fact there is very little evidence that NATO has attacked Libyan population centers or infrastructure in the way they did in Iraq. [see my How Many Libyans has NATO Killed? for details and background]

Furthermore, the statement "the current air and naval bombing campaign against Libya initiated by the U.S...." reinforces the view that Qaddafi=Libya. The Libyan opposition would say that the "current air and naval bombing campaign against Libya" was initialed by Qaddafi with his naval bombardment of the people of Misrata and his aerial bombing of the people of Benghazi and Tripoli, which preceded the NATO intervention and which was stopped by that intervention.

What is more important, behind all the anti-imperialist rhetoric, the practical application of CCDS's basic demand under the concrete conditions currently existing is that Qaddafi would be allowed to continue his naval and aerial bombardment of any population centers in Libya where the people have forced him out on the ground.

So far I don't see anything in the CCDS statement that Qaddafi would object to.

The air and missile strikes on Libya are acts of war.

No argument there. Of course I would also argue that Qaddafi's air and missile strikes on Libya are also acts of war, and contrary to the wishful thinking of pacifists, sometimes violence must be put down with violence. Sometimes you can only put an end to "acts of war" is by countering them with "acts of war" to stop the initial perpetrator of the violence.

Is it the position of the CCDS that it would oppose intervention by any outside force to prevent say, another Rwanda, if the interventionists were allowed to use "acts of war?"

All the talk of ‘no fly zones,’ ‘protecting civilians from massacre,’ ‘humanitarian intervention’ and so on are diversions if not falsehoods.

This sounds like the CCDS doesn't believe the threat to Benghazi was real. This statement would also lead me to believe it is discounting all the stories about cluster munitions, Grad rockets, and land mines being used by Qaddafi forces on population centers. Well they can stick their collective heads in the sand and Qaddafi will applaud them for it, but I don't know of any serious close observers outside of the Qaddafi camp that doubt, with 200+ tanks just outside of Benghazi on March 17th, and Qaddafi saying they the