Monday, November 29, 2010

The Wrong Lesson

One of the myths deposed by the Wikileaks US State Department embassy cable cache is the notion of diplomacy as a benign exercise above the fray of dirty dealing that takes place at the National Security Agency or Central Intelligence Agency. With the revelation of spying on UN officials, authorized by Secretary of State Clinton, we note the continuity of malpractice notoriously conducted under the previous White House by Secretary Powell, with help from his long time associate from the Department of Defense, Richard Armitage. As Deputy Secretary of State, Armitage was responsible for outing undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame in retaliation for her husband Ambassador Wilson’s refusal to go along with the fraudulent Iraq WMD campaign promoted at the UN by Secretary Powell. Apparently, Clinton learned something useful from that sordid betrayal; unfortunately, it was the wrong lesson.

In May 2008, State Department envoys to the newly democratized state of Bolivia — presided over by the first indigenous head of state, Evo Morales — were busy arranging a coup. As reported by The Real News Network, Bolivia deported the US ambassador for funding ruling class rebels trying to overthrow Morales by violence and murder of his indigenous supporters. At the Organization of American States summit a year later, Latin American leaders made it clear to the new US president that they were not going to tolerate further US interference in their countries.

As President Obama and Secretary Clinton continue to block progress on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, we must expect they will also continue running covert operations against leaders and organizers of the World Indigenous Peoples’ Movement. With the recommendation two days ago by the European Union Parliament that the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change be given a seat at the table in UN climate change talks, those operations are likely already underway.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Unique Video Collection

The Intercontinental Cry video archive is a unique collection of indigenous-produced video news, analysis, and educational discussions. I make use of it often.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Obstacle to Reconciliation

California's largest Indian tribe, the Yurok, has made a bid to become the legal custodian of a portion of Redwood National Park, portions of Six Rivers National Forest, and the national marine sanctuary adjacent to the mouth of the Klamath River where they reside. As inherent custodians of the ancestral homeland, where the Yurok constructed their salmon-based culture over the last ten thousand years, the loss of both salmon and sacred sites -- due to federal mismanagement -- has prompted the tribe to seek to restore its ancient responsibility as steward of the area. Unfortunately, when it comes to fighting turf battles with the federal government, bureaucratic organizations like PEER can be an obstacle to meaningful reconciliation.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Intelligence Inquisition

Nora Barrows-Friedman and Maureen Clare Murphy report on the use of grand juries by the US Department of Justice as a tool of political repression against peace activists. In what amounts to an intelligence inquisition, says Friedman and Murphy, the Obama Administration has upped the ante against domestic critics of US policy towards Israel and other anti-indigenous states.

Friday, November 19, 2010

US Human Rights Record

Responding to the US record of human rights violations at home and abroad, the US envoy to the UN Human Rights Council noted that the President of the United States is a black man, as though that somehow excuses everything. But being a black man did not excuse US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas when he voted to overturn a federal election in order to appoint as President of the United States the son of the man who appointed him. Nor did being a black man excuse US Secretary of State Colin Powell when he knowingly committed fraud on behalf of that president by lying to the UN General Assembly about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in order to facilitate the invasion of Iraq.

Much has been made about the departure by the Obama Administration from the lame public relations and misconduct of his predecessor, but that claim now rings hollow. Not only does his administration continue every single violation of international human rights law that was violated by President Bush, but it continues to neglect the legal instruments that might be observed in changing that atrocious record.

If this is the best we can hope for, then the United States of America is truly doomed.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Solidarity Forbidden

Solidarity -- expressing support for liberation -- especially if those affinities are fighting US-backed regimes, is now a crime in the United States. Even solidarity in the form of support for the peaceful use of international law to further human rights is punishable by imprisonment when used against US policy. Any contribution toward the resolution of violent conflict through publishing, advocacy, or training on behalf of peoples seeking freedom from repressive regimes receiving US aid is now forbidden.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Intercontinental Cry

My colleague Ahni at Intercontinental Cry recently received recognition for his work in covering the plight of indigenous peoples in Kenya that led to police reforms that toned down the violence against them. As an editor and correspondent who reads IC daily, I want to take the opportunity to congratulate Ahni for his fine work, as well as warn of the dangers of investigative journalism. In the comments on the post announcing the award, I relate some precautions those of us in the field have found useful.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Revitalizing Hostility

Adrienne Pine reports on the Pentagon's Strategic Culture Initiative, a project to develop propaganda favorable to US interests in Latin America. Targeted at recent anti-imperial agreements between a majority of states in South America -- particularly at the democratic independence of Bolivia -- the new psychological warfare partnership with Florida International University enables the U.S. military to go on the offensive against self-determination south of the border. Lauding such enterprises as Peru's plan to assimilate its indigenous peoples by annihilating their cultural land base, the renewed Pentagon partnership with academia is anticipated to revitalize the hostility toward indigenous peoples promoted by the Reagan Administration.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Obama's Death Squads

While Indonesian military forces torture and murder West Papuans, President Obama decided to lift the military assistance ban to the country’s elite death squads. With the release of video footage of these killers in action, Survival International is asking that Obama reverse his decision to ignore these human rights abuses.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Enemy of the People

The Thought Police
I began my morning reading about Tibetan journalists imprisoned and tortured by Chinese security agents for interviewing Tibetans about their cultural disintegration. The next news item was about the U.S. Department of Justice witch hunt against anti-war organizers, who were served subpoenas to appear before a grand jury to give coerced testimony against their friends and fellow activists. It seems that the Obama Administration has much in common with the Chinese dictatorship in how it handles criticism.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Seventh Heaven

In 2006, San Francisco’s US Senator Dianne Feinstein sponsored a bill criminalizing any type of activism targeted at corporations. Unable to push it through under President Bush, she had to wait for that year's keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention to become president before her dreams of a totalitarian state could begin to come true. With the recent arrests by Homeland Security of anti-war and environmental activists for the crime of showing documentary films criticizing the arms and energy industries, Feinstein must be in seventh heaven.

Monday, November 01, 2010


After airing a video of Indonesian troops torturing West Papuans, Survival International suspects the government of Indonesia as the culprit in the latest cyberattack against their website.