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Nothing has actually changed yet, but the following changes have been promised by UFPJ:
-- The Working Group on Accountability and Prosecutions will be permitted to have a listserve and a webpage.
-- The Working Group will be permitted to submit items for inclusion in weekly Emails and in stand-alone emergency Emails, and to have someone respond with a yes or a no, and a why or why not.
-- The Working Group will either be integrated into the "Yes We Can" campaign that has come to consume all of UFPJ's time and energy, or it will be permitted to create serious work separate from that campaign. UFPJ has not decided which of these alternatives to go with. Neither will be easy. Neither has previously been contemplated. The prior arrangement was to brush Accountability and Prosecutions aside as unimportant and ignore those working on them. Either solution to taking the work seriously would be a major change for the better and a good reason to take more seriously UFPJ's commitment to follow through on the decisions of its members. And that would be a good reason to keep supporting UFPJ.
*Note: the first two of these three things had also been promised earlier, beginning in mid-December, but they have been promised again.
*Also Note: the Working Group has had a small listserve for conveners for some weeks through which it has been doing a lot of work that has been ignored and gone nowhere. The outstanding request is for the long-promised larger listserve that UFPJ members at large can join. This point was never unclear to UFPJ.
UPDATE: UFPJ has put out this response (PDF).
Other than the renaming of the group to remove the word Prosecution and the pretense that we wanted the conveners listserve that we already had, the plea to be nice seems pretty reasonable, the commitment to actually do things seems encouraging.
These questions remain:
When will we have a webpage?
When will we have the larger listserve (claiming it "exists" but that we can't be told how to find it yet doesn't quite make it usable much less justify claims that we should have known it "existed")?
When will we have even a response to the submissions we've made of emergency urgent Emails to go out and items to go in weekly Emails?
And most significantly, there is no answer here as to whether the Working Group on Accountability AND PROSECUTION will be part of the "Yes We Can" campaign or will be part of other major work. What exactly will be done with a separate flyer from our group? And why is there no mention of the fact that we've already drafted and submitted such a flyer and received no response to it at all?
I'm not asking that all of these questions be answered today -- that would get tiring after two months of it. But I'd be inclined to think that if all of this is still in the promises stage in March it will be beyond reasonable to conclude that something is wrong.
If, on the other hand, words become actions, I'll be inclined to tell everyone to support UFPJ as much as possible.
And if it ever becomes possible to have things corrected or "cleared up" within a few hours as claimed in UFPJ's response (cleared up how? did anyone receive any corrected talking points?) I will consider urging people to take out loans to fund UFPJ. I'm serious. A peace movement that works would be worth a great deal of sacrifice.
Well that didn't take until March. Within 30 seconds of posting the last update I got from UFPJ access to a larger listserve, and a link to a webpage. The webpage should appear any moment now at:
The webpage should have a link for those who want to join the listserve of the UFPJ Working Group on Accountability AND PROSECUTION.
That's a start, huh?
I've only read a fraction of the books written on the war/occupation of Iraq, and even those are a large pile. It's tough to choose the best one, but one of the most readable and informative has got to be "Red Zone: Five Bloody Years in Baghdad," by Oliver Poole. This is also perhaps the book most likely to engage war supporters and make them think without being didactic and without pulling any punches.
United for Peace and Justice, Largest Peace Coalition in U.S., Abandons its Agenda in Order to Avoid Working for Accountability and Prosecutions
At a time when more and more organizations are speaking up for accountability, including AfterDowningStreet, Democrats.com, Progressive Democrats of America, Code Pink, Center for Constitutional Rights, Robert Jackson Steering Committee, National Accountability Network, People for the American Way, American Civil Liberties Union, American Freedom Campaign, Amnesty International, World Can't Wait, High Road for Human Rights, and many others, ...
By David Swanson
Some months back, United for Peace and Justice held a big conference in Chicago for three days, and hundreds of us from all over the country spent most of those three days voting on the language to go in the documents that would determine what UFPJ would work on in the coming year and a half, especially the program document. In past years, I hadn't bothered to push for inclusion of accountability, but this year I did. (In the past UFPJ would refuse to work on things that were not in the program document, including issues of accountability.)
I went to the conference, and we voted overwhelmingly to make accountability and prosecution for war crimes an item on the agenda, and we explicitly voted to make it just as important as the other items. We then formed a working group. But our agenda is ignored by UFPJ, is not part of plans for a big event on April 4th and other events on the 6th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, and is left out of a list of things to talk to Congress about in the coming week. In fact, the list of things to talk to Congress about in the coming week looks a lot like a program document that someone has taken and rewritten in private, which means that they could have spared us all those tedious hours in Chicago. Let's compare the two documents.
By David Swanson, ConvictBushCheney.org
The First Step Is Prosecutions:
Sign a petition asking Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute any and all government officials who have participated in war crimes. Sign now.
By David Swanson
I wrote recently about the possibility of outgrowing the use of war. Today I got a book in the mail that makes a strong argument intended as a tool for ending war. The book is called "Will War Ever End: A Soldier's Vision of Peace for the 21st Century" by Captain Paul K. Chappell, U.S. Army. It's short, more of a hardcover pamphlet than a book, but it is packed with ideas.
I had a great time on Nicole Sandler's radio show this morning. check out her blog with a podcast link at the bottom.
A letter to the editor in my local newspaper, the Charlottesville Daily Progress, has persuaded me to rethink the truly remarkable accomplishments of President George W. Bush and inspired me to join the movement to erect a Bush Memorial on the National Mall.
By David Swanson
If we can move beyond torture, do we not have a responsibility also to think for a moment about the obvious fact that torture is not the cruelest thing we do? Torture offends us, in part, because the torturer is not at risk, but neither are most pilots dropping bombs. And how exactly does the risk taken by ground troops mitigate the suffering of those they wound, kill, and terrorize? Hanging someone by the wrists offends us, and yet we might rather have it done to us than be kept in 23-hours-a-day isolation for a decade, a practice that is part of our accepted justice system. Clearly our morality is a scrambled hodge-podge of reactions that could use some improvement.
By David Swanson
From the pains Democrats take to out-argue and/or to compromise with the fringe minority party called the Republicans you'd think no other course of action was available, specifically you'd have to assume that the filibuster -- the power of senators representing 11 percent of us to block all work by the House and Senate -- is written in stone. In reality, 51 senators could eliminate the filibuster or change the number of votes required to use it. This nation got along for many years without the filibuster and could do so again. It is no more a part of our Constitution than the CIA, enemy combatants, corporate persons, or the political parties that allow the filibuster to wreak such havoc with our so-called democracy.