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Thursday, July 29, 2021

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot Sued For Racial Discrimination Against White Journalists

 

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot


Judicial Watch and the Daily Caller News Foundation File Amended Lawsuit against Chicago Mayor Lightfoot for Discriminating against White Journalists 

 

Lawsuit Continues As Mayor Tells New York Times  

She “Would Absolutely Do It Again” 



 

(Washington, DC) - Judicial Watch announced it filed an amended complaint in its lawsuit on behalf of the Daily Caller News Foundation and reporter Thomas Catenacci against Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot for violating their First Amendment rights and Catenacci’s right to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. 
 
The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division after Catenacci, a white male, emailed Lightfoot’s office requesting a one-on-one interview with the mayor and the office failed to reply to the request or Catenacci’s two additional follow-up emails (Catenacci et al v. Lightfoot (No. 1:21-cv-02852)).  
 
“Mayor Lightfoot discriminated against journalists based on their race,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Judicial Watch has repeatedly requested that Lightfoot sign a consent decree agreeing not to use race-based criteria for interview requests for the remainder of her time in office. Not only did her lawyers ignore these requests, in a recent interview, an unrepentant Lightfoot told a New York Times writer, ‘I would absolutely do it again. I’m unapologetic about it because it spurred a very important conversation, a conversation that needed to happen, that should have happened a long time ago’” .
 
“I cannot believe that Mayor Lightfoot told the New York Times reporter that she would absolutely discriminate against reporters again based on their race,” said Thomas Catenacci. “If she isn’t stopped, what’s next?” 
 
“A policy of granting interviews based on the color of a reporter's skin isn't merely discriminatory, it undercuts the foundational principles of freedom of the press,” said DCNF acting editor in chief Thomas Phippen. “That Mayor Lightfoot is 'unapologetic' about her policy speaks volumes.” 
 
In May, Lightfoot’s office informed multiple reporters that she would grant one-on-one interviews, “only to Black or Brown journalists.” The next day, the mayor released a letter doubling down on her discriminatory policy.  
 
The amended complaint explains: 
 

On May 18, 2021, a Chicago reporter tweeted that Mayor Lightfoot’s spokesperson informed her that the mayor “is granting 1 on 1 interviews – only to Black or Brown journalists.” Mayor Lightfoot subsequently released a letter stating, “By now, you have heard the news that on the occasion of the two-year anniversary of my inauguration as Mayor of this great City, I will be exclusively providing one-on-one interviews with journalists of color.” Neither Mayor Lightfoot nor her spokesperson suggested that the mayor’s new, race-based interview policy was not permanent or identified any time limit on how long the mayor intended to use race-based criteria for granting interview requests. 

 
Judicial Watch points out that Lightfoot’s communications director testified that the mayor used race-based criteria for granting interview requests for two days, May 19 and 20, and did not grant any interview requests to White reporters. Moreover, the mayor’s office has yet to respond to Catenacci’s request nor has the mayor agreed to an interview with him.  
 
Mayor Lightfoot’s response to the lawsuit is due by August 2, 2021. 
 
Christine Svenson of Svenson Law Offices in Palatine, Illinois, is assisting Judicial Watch with the lawsuit.

 

Chicago mayor defends granting interviews only to reporters of color

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Daniel Hale Cites Crisis of Conscience When he Leaked Classified Information

 

Daniel Hale in front of the White House

Chris Hedges: The Price of Conscience — Hale Sentenced to 45 Months
Chris Hedges, Consortium News, July 27, 2021

Daniel Hale, a former intelligence analyst in the drone program for the Air Force who as a private contractor in 2013 leaked some 17 classified documents about drone strikes to the press, was sentenced Tuesday to 45 months in prison.

The documents, published by The Intercept on October 15, 2015, exposed that between January 2012 and February 2013, U.S. special operations airstrikes killed more than 200 people. Of those, only 35 were the intended targets. For one five-month period of the operation, according to the documents, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets. The civilian dead, usually innocent bystanders, were routinely classified as “enemies killed in action.”

The Justice Department coerced Hale, who was deployed to Afghanistan in 2012, on March 31 to plead guilty to one count of violating the Espionage Act, a law passed in 1917 designed to prosecute those who passed on state secrets to a hostile power, not those who expose to the public government lies and crimes. Hale admitted as part of the plea deal to “retention and transmission of national security information” and leaking 11 classified documents to a journalist. If he had refused the plea deal, he could have spent 50 years in prison. 

The sentencing of Hale is one more potentially mortal blow to the freedom of the press.  It follows in the wake of the prosecutions and imprisonment of other whistleblowers under the Espionage Act including Chelsea Manning, Jeffrey Sterling, Thomas Drake and John Kiriakou, who spent two-and-a-half years in prison for exposing the routine torture of suspects held in black sites. 

Those charged under the act are treated as if they were spies.  They are barred from explaining motivations and intent to the court. They cannot provide evidence to the court of the government lawlessness and war crimes they exposed.  Prominent human rights organizations, such as the ACLU and PEN, along with mainstream publications, such as The New York Times and CNN, have largely remained silent about the prosecution of Hale.

The group Stand with Daniel Hale has called on President Biden to pardon Hale and end the use of the Espionage Act to punish whistleblowers. It is also collecting donations for Hale’s legal fund. The bipartisan onslaught against the press — Barack Obama used the Espionage Act eight times against whistleblowers, more than all other previous administrations combined — by criminalizing those within the system who seek to inform the public is ominous for our democracy.  It is effectively extinguishing all investigations into the inner workings of power.

“Using the analogy of taking out a sniper, with his sights set on an unassuming crowd of people, the president likened the use of drones to prevent a would-be terrorist from carrying out his evil plot. But, as I understood it to be, the unassuming crowd had been those who lived in fear and the terror of drones in their skies and the sniper in this scenario had been me.”

Hale, in a handwritten letter to Judge Liam O’Grady on July 18, explained why he leaked classified information, writing that the drone attacks and the war in Afghanistan “had little to do with preventing terror from coming into the United States and a lot more to do with protecting the profits of weapons manufacturers and so-called defense contractors.”

At the top of the ten-page letter Hale quoted U.S. Navy Admiral Gene LaRocque, speaking to a reporter in 1995: “We now kill people without ever seeing them. Now you push a button thousands of miles away … Since it’s all done by remote control, there’s no remorse … and then we come home in triumph.”

“In my capacity as a signals intelligence analyst stationed at Bagram Airbase, I was made to track down the geographic location of handset cellphone devices believed to be in the possession of so-called enemy combatants,” Hale explained to the judge.

“To accomplish this mission required access to a complex chain of globe-spanning satellites capable of maintaining an unbroken connection with remotely piloted aircraft, commonly referred to as drones. Once a steady connection is made and a targeted cell phone device is acquired, an imagery analyst in the U.S., in coordination with a drone pilot and camera operator, would take over using information I provided to surveil everything that occurred within the drone’s field of vision. This was done, most often, to document the day-to-day lives of suspected militants. Sometimes, under the right conditions, an attempt at capture would be made. Other times, a decision to strike and kill them where they stood would be weighed.”

He recalled the first time he witnessed a drone strike, a few days after he arrived in Afghanistan.

“Early that morning, before dawn, a group of men had gathered together in the mountain ranges of Patika province around a campfire carrying weapons and brewing tea,” he wrote.

“That they carried weapons with them would not have been considered out of the ordinary in the place I grew up, much less within the virtually lawless tribal territories outside the control of the Afghan authorities. Except that among them was a suspected member of the Taliban, given away by the targeted cell phone device in his pocket. As for the remaining individuals, to be armed, of military age, and sitting in the presence of an alleged enemy combatant was enough evidence to place them under suspicion as well. Despite having peacefully assembled, posing no threat, the fate of the now tea drinking men had all but been fulfilled. I could only look on as I sat by and watched through a computer monitor when a sudden, terrifying flurry of hellfire missiles came crashing down, splattering, purple-colored crystal guts on the side of the morning mountain.”

This was his first experience with “scenes of graphic violence carried out from the cold comfort of a computer chair.” There would be many more. “Not a day goes by that I don’t question the justification for my actions,” he wrote.

“By the rules of engagement, it may have been permissible for me to have helped to kill those men — whose language I did not speak, customs I did not understand, and crimes I could not identify — in the gruesome manner that I did. Watch them die. But how could it be considered honorable of me to continuously have laid in wait for the next opportunity to kill unsuspecting persons, who, more often than not, are posing no danger to me or any other person at the time. Never mind honorable, how could it be that any thinking person continued to believe that it was necessary for the protection of the United States of America to be in Afghanistan and killing people, not one of whom present was responsible for the September 11th attacks on our nation. Notwithstanding, in 2012, a full year after the demise of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, I was a part of killing misguided young men who were but mere children on the day of 9/11.” 

Daniel Hale was sentenced to 45 months in jail for revealing that 90% of US drone strike casualties were innocent civilians.

George Bush and Dick Cheney who knowingly lied about WMDs to start a war in the Middle East were never jailed

This isn't justice.https://t.co/cyuKuKQ5Ea

— Aaron D. (@MrBrownEyes2020) July 27, 2021

He and other service members were confronted with the privatization of war where “contract mercenaries outnumbered uniform wearing soldiers 2 to 1 and earned as much as 10 times their salary.”

“Meanwhile, it did not matter whether it was, as I had seen, an Afghan farmer blown in half, yet miraculously conscious and pointlessly trying to scoop his insides off the ground, or whether it was an American flag-draped coffin lowered into Arlington National Cemetery to the sound of a 21-gun salute,” he wrote. “Bang, bang, bang. Both served to justify the easy flow of capital at the cost of blood — theirs and ours. When I think about this, I am grief-stricken and ashamed of myself for the things I’ve done to support it.”

He described to the judge “the most harrowing day of my life” that took place a few months into his deployment “when a routine surveillance mission turned into disaster.” 

“For weeks we had been tracking the movements of a ring of car bomb manufacturers living around Jalalabad,” he wrote. “Car bombs directed at U.S. bases had become an increasingly frequent and deadly problem that summer, so much effort was put into stopping them. It was a windy and clouded afternoon when one of the suspects had been discovered headed eastbound, driving at a high rate of speed. This alarmed my superiors who believe he might be attempting to escape across the border into Pakistan.”

“Now, whenever I encounter an individual who thinks that drone warfare is justified and reliably keeps America safe, I remember that time and ask myself how could I possibly continue to believe that I am a good person, deserving of my life and the right to pursue happiness.”— Daniel Hale, of learning about children killed by indiscriminate U.S. drone attacks he participated in.

“A drone strike was our only chance and already it began lining up to take the shot,” he continued. “But the less advanced predator drone found it difficult to see through clouds and compete against strong headwinds. The single payload MQ-1 failed to connect with its target, instead missing by a few meters. The vehicle, damaged, but still driveable, continued on ahead after narrowly avoiding destruction. Eventually, once the concern of another incoming missile subsided, the driver stopped, got out of the car, and checked himself as though he could not believe he was still alive. Out of the passenger side came a woman wearing an unmistakable burka. As astounding as it was to have just learned there had been a woman, possibly his wife, there with the man we intended to kill moments ago, I did not have the chance to see what happened next before the drone diverted its camera when she began frantically to pull out something from the back of the car.”

He learned a few days later from his commanding officer what next took place. 

“There indeed had been the suspect’s wife with him in the car,” he wrote.

“And in the back were their two young daughters, ages 5 and 3 years old. A cadre of Afghan soldiers were sent to investigate where the car had stopped the following day. It was there they found them placed in the dumpster nearby. The eldest was found dead due to unspecified wounds caused by shrapnel that pierced her body. Her younger sister was alive but severely dehydrated. As my commanding officer relayed this information to us, she seemed to express disgust, not for the fact that we had errantly fired on a man and his family, having killed one of his daughters; but for the suspected bomb maker having ordered his wife to dump the bodies of their daughters in the trash, so that the two of them could more quickly escape across the border. Now, whenever I encounter an individual who thinks that drone warfare is justified and reliably keeps America safe, I remember that time and ask myself how could I possibly continue to believe that I am a good person, deserving of my life and the right to pursue happiness.”

“One year later, at a farewell gathering for those of us who would soon be leaving military service, I sat alone, transfixed by the television, while others reminisced together,” he continued.

“On television was breaking news of the president giving his first public remarks about the policy surrounding the use of drone technology in warfare. His remarks were made to reassure the public of reports scrutinizing the death of civilians in drone strikes and the targeting of American citizens. The president said that a high standard of ‘near certainty’ needed to be met in order to ensure that no civilians were present. But from what I knew, of the instances where civilians plausibly could have been present, those killed were nearly always designated enemies killed in action unless proven otherwise. Nonetheless, I continued to heed his words as the president went on to explain how a drone could be used to eliminate someone who posed an ‘imminent threat’ to the United States. Using the analogy of taking out a sniper, with his sights set on an unassuming crowd of people, the president likened the use of drones to prevent a would-be terrorist from carrying out his evil plot. But, as I understood it to be, the unassuming crowd had been those who lived in fear and the terror of drones in their skies and the sniper in this scenario had been me. I came to believe that the policy of drone assassination was being used to mislead the public that it keeps us safe, and when I finally left the military, still processing what I’d been a part of, I began to speak out, believing my participation in the drone program to have been deeply wrong.”

Speaks Out

Hale threw himself into anti-war activism when he left the military, speaking out about the indiscriminate killing of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of noncombatants, including children in drone strikes. He took part in a peace conference held in Washington, D.C. in November 2013. The Yemeni Fazil bin Ali Jaber spoke at the conference about the drone strike that killed his brother, Salem bin Ali Jaber, and their cousin Waleed. Waleed was a policeman. Salem was an Imam who was an outspoken critic of the armed attacks carried out by radical jihadists.

“One day in August 2012, local members of Al Qaeda traveling through Fazil’s village in a car spotted Salem in the shade, pulled up towards him, and beckoned him to come over and speak to them,” Hale wrote. “Not one to miss an opportunity to evangelize to the youth, Salem proceeded cautiously with Waleed by his side. Fazil and other villagers began looking on from afar. Farther still was an ever present reaper drone looking too.”

“As Fazil recounted what happened next, I felt myself transported back in time to where I had been on that day, 2012,” Hale told the judge.

“Unbeknownst to Fazil and those of his village at the time was that they had not been the only watching Salem approach the jihadist in the car. From Afghanistan, I and everyone on duty paused their work to witness the carnage that was about to unfold. At the press of a button from thousands of miles away, two hellfire missiles screeched out of the sky, followed by two more. Showing no signs of remorse, I, and those around me, clapped and cheered triumphantly. In front of a speechless auditorium, Fazil wept.”

A week after the conference Hale was offered a job as a government contractor.  Desperate for money and steady employment, hoping to go to college, he took the job, which paid $ 80,000 a year.  But by then he was disgusted by the drone program.

“For a long time, I was uncomfortable with myself over the thought of taking advantage of my military background to land a cushy desk job,” he wrote.

“During that time, I was still processing what I had been through, and I was starting to wonder if I was contributing again to the problem of money and war by accepting to return as a defense contractor. Worse was my growing apprehension that everyone around me was also taking part in a collective delusion and denial that was used to justify our exorbitant salaries, for comparatively easy labor. The thing I feared most at the time was the temptation not to question it.”

“Then it came to be that one day after work I stuck around to socialize with a pair of co-workers whose talented work I had come to greatly admire,” he wrote.

“They made me feel welcomed, and I was happy to have earned their approval. But then, to my dismay, our brand-new friendship took an unexpectedly dark turn. They elected that we should take a moment and view together some archived footage of past drone strikes. Such bonding ceremonies around a computer to watch so-called “war porn” had not been new to me. I partook in them all the time while deployed to Afghanistan. But on that day, years after the fact, my new friends gaped and sneered, just as my old one’s had, at the sight of faceless men in the final moments of their lives. I sat by watching too; said nothing and felt my heart breaking into pieces.”

“Your Honor,” Hale wrote to the judge,

“The truest truism that I’ve come to understand about the nature of war is that war is trauma. I believe that any person either called-upon or coerced to participate in war against their fellow man is promised to be exposed to some form of trauma. In that way, no soldier blessed to have returned home from war does so uninjured. The crux of PTSD is that it is a moral conundrum that afflicts invisible wounds on the psyche of a person made to burden the weight of experience after surviving a traumatic event. How PTSD manifests depends on the circumstances of the event. So how is the drone operator to process this? The victorious rifleman, unquestioningly remorseful, at least keeps his honor intact by having faced off against his enemy on the battlefield. The determined fighter pilot has the luxury of not having to witness the gruesome aftermath. But what possibly could I have done to cope with the undeniable cruelties that I perpetuated?”

“My conscience, once held at bay, came roaring back to life,” he wrote. “At first, I tried to ignore it. Wishing instead that someone, better placed than I, should come along to take this cup from me. But this too was folly. Left to decide whether to act, I only could do that which I ought to do before God and my own conscience. The answer came to me, that to stop the cycle of violence, I ought to sacrifice my own life and not that of another person. So, I contacted an investigative reporter, with whom I had had an established prior relationship, and told him that I had something the American people needed to know.”

Hale, who has admitted to being suicidal and depressed, said in the letter he, like many veterans, struggles with the crippling effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, aggravated by an impoverished and turbulent childhood.

“Depression is a constant,” he told the judge.

“Though stress, particularly stress caused by war, can manifest itself at different times and in different ways. The tell-tale signs of a person afflicted by PTSD and depression can often be outwardly observed and are practically universally recognizable. Hard lines about the face and jaw. Eyes, once bright and wide, now deep-set, and fearful. And an inexplicably sudden loss of interest in things that used to spark joy. These are the noticeable changes in my demeanor marked by those who knew me before and after military service. To say that the period of my life spent serving in the United States Air Force had an impression on me would be an understatement. It is more accurate to say that it irreversibly transformed my identity as an American. Having forever altered the thread of my life’s story, weaved into the fabric of our nation’s history.”

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for 15 years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East bureau chief and Balkan bureau chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor and NPR. He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated RT America show “On Contact.” 

This column is from Scheerpost, for which Chris Hedges writes a regular columnClick here to sign up for email alerts.

 The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.


 

In Pre-Sentencing Letter, Drone Whistleblower Daniel Hale Says Crisis of Conscience Motivated Leak

Consortiumnews.com 

The former U.S. Air Force intelligence analyst is the first person to face sentencing for an Espionage Act offense during the administration of President Joe Biden.

By Brett Wilkins
Common Dreams, July 25, 2021

Attorneys for drone whistleblower Daniel Hale — who faces sentencing this week after pleading guilty earlier this year to violating the Espionage Act — on Thursday submitted a letter to Judge Liam O’Grady in which the former Air Force intelligence analyst says a crisis of conscience drove him to leak classified information about the U.S. targeted assassination program.

The 11-page handwritten letter (pdf) begins with a quote from U.S. Admiral Gene La Rocque, who said in 1995 that “we now kill people without ever seeing them. Now you push a button thousands of miles away… Since it’s all done by remote control, there’s no remorse.”

“It is not a secret that I struggle to live with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder,” the 33-year-old Hale wrote in the letter. “Depression is a constant… Stress, particularly stress caused by war, can manifest itself at different times and in different ways.”

“Except that among them was a suspected member of the Taliban, given away by the targeted cell phone device in his pocket,” he wrote. “As for the remaining individuals, to be armed, of military age, and sitting in the presence of an alleged enemy combatant was enough evidence to place them under suspicion as well.”

“The first time that I witnessed a drone strike came within days of my arrival to Afghanistan,” Hale recounted. “Early that morning, before dawn, a group of men had gathered together in the mountain ranges of Patika province around a campfire carrying weapons and brewing tea. That they carried weapons with them would not have been considered out of the ordinary in the place I grew up, much less within the virtually lawless tribal territories outside the control of the Afghan authorities.”

Obama’s Method for Counting Casualties

In 2012 — the same year that Hale deployed to Afghanistan to support the U.S. Defense Department’s Joint Special Operations Task Force and was responsible for identifying, tracking, and targeting “high-value” terror suspects — the New York Times reported then-President Barack Obama, who dramatically increased U.S. drone strikes in the so-called War on Terror, “embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties” that effectively “counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants.”

Critics condemned the policy as an attempt by the administration to artificially lower the war’s civilian casualty figures — which by then already numbered in the hundreds of thousands, with most victims killed during former President George W. Bush’s tenure.

“Despite having peacefully assembled, posing no threat, the fate of the now tea drinking men had all but been fulfilled,” Hale continued. “I could only look on as I sat by and watched through a computer monitor when a sudden, terrifying flurry of hellfire missiles came crashing down, splattering purple-colored crystal guts on the side of the morning mountain.”

“I could only look on as I sat by and watched through a computer monitor when a sudden, terrifying flurry of hellfire missiles came crashing down.”

“Since that time and to this day, I continue to recall several such scenes of graphic violence carried out from the cold comfort of a computer chair,” he wrote. “Not a day goes by that I don’t question the justification for my actions. By the rules of engagement, it may have been permissible for me to have helped to kill those men — whose language I did not speak, customs I did not understand, and crimes I could not identify — in the gruesome manner that I did.”

“But how could it be considered honorable of me to continuously have laid in wait for the next opportunity to kill unsuspecting persons, who, more often than not, are posing no danger to me or any other person at the time?” Hale asked. “Never mind honorable, how could it be that any thinking person continued to believe that it was necessary for the protection of the United States of America to be in Afghanistan and killing people, not one of whom present was responsible for the September 11th attacks on our nation. Notwithstanding, in 2012, a full year after the demise of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, I was a part of killing misguided young men who were but mere children on the day of 9/11.”

It Wasn’t Just Men

It wasn’t just men. Hale continued, describing what he called the most harrowing day of his life:

“For weeks we had been tracking the movements of a ring of car bomb manufacturers living around Jalalabad… It was a windy and clouded afternoon when one of the suspects had been discovered… A drone strike was our only chance and already it began lining up to take the shot. But the less advanced Predator drone found it difficult to see through clouds and compete against strong headwinds.

The single payload MQ-1 failed to connect with its target, instead missing by a few meters. The vehicle, damaged, but still drivable, continued on ahead after narrowly avoiding destruction.

The driver stopped, got out of the car, and checked himself as though he could not believe he was still alive. Out of the passenger side came a woman wearing an unmistakable burka… And in the back were their two young daughters, ages 5 and 3 years old…. The eldest was found dead due to unspecified wounds caused by shrapnel that pierced her body. Her younger sister was alive but severely dehydrated.”

“Whenever I encounter an individual who thinks that drone warfare is justified and reliably keeps America safe, I remember that time and ask myself how could I possibly continue to believe that I am a good person, deserving of my life and the right to pursue happiness,” wrote Hale, who said he became “increasingly aware that the war had very little to do with preventing terror from coming into the United States and a lot more to do with protecting the profits of weapons manufacturers and so-called defense contractors.”

“The evidence of this fact was laid bare all around me,” he wrote.

“In the longest or most technologically advanced war in American history, contract mercenaries outnumbered uniform wearing soldiers two to one and earned as much as 10 times their salary. Meanwhile, it did not matter whether it was, as I had seen, an Afghan farmer blown in half, yet miraculously conscious and pointlessly trying to scoop his insides off the ground, or whether it was an American flag-draped coffin lowered into Arlington National Cemetery to the sound of a 21-gun salute.”“But how could it be considered honorable of me to continuously have laid in wait for the next opportunity to kill unsuspecting persons, who, more often than not, are posing no danger to me or any other person at the time?” Hale asked. “Never mind honorable, how could it be that any thinking person continued to believe that it was necessary for the protection of the United States of America to be in Afghanistan and killing people, not one of whom present was responsible for the September 11th attacks on our nation. Notwithstanding, in 2012, a full year after the demise of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, I was a part of killing misguided young men who were but mere children on the day of 9/11.”

It Wasn’t Just Men

It wasn’t just men. Hale continued, describing what he called the most harrowing day of his life:


“For weeks we had been tracking the movements of a ring of car bomb manufacturers living around Jalalabad… It was a windy and clouded afternoon when one of the suspects had been discovered… A drone strike was our only chance and already it began lining up to take the shot. But the less advanced Predator drone found it difficult to see through clouds and compete against strong headwinds.

The single payload MQ-1 failed to connect with its target, instead missing by a few meters. The vehicle, damaged, but still drivable, continued on ahead after narrowly avoiding destruction.

The driver stopped, got out of the car, and checked himself as though he could not believe he was still alive. Out of the passenger side came a woman wearing an unmistakable burka… And in the back were their two young daughters, ages 5 and 3 years old…. The eldest was found dead due to unspecified wounds caused by shrapnel that pierced her body. Her younger sister was alive but severely dehydrated.”

“Whenever I encounter an individual who thinks that drone warfare is justified and reliably keeps America safe, I remember that time and ask myself how could I possibly continue to believe that I am a good person, deserving of my life and the right to pursue happiness,” wrote Hale, who said he became “increasingly aware that the war had very little to do with preventing terror from coming into the United States and a lot more to do with protecting the profits of weapons manufacturers and so-called defense contractors.”

“The evidence of this fact was laid bare all around me,” he wrote.

“In the longest or most technologically advanced war in American history, contract mercenaries outnumbered uniform wearing soldiers two to one and earned as much as 10 times their salary. Meanwhile, it did not matter whether it was, as I had seen, an Afghan farmer blown in half, yet miraculously conscious and pointlessly trying to scoop his insides off the ground, or whether it was an American flag-draped coffin lowered into Arlington National Cemetery to the sound of a 21-gun salute.”

“Bang, bang, bang. Both served to justify the easy flow of capital at the cost of blood—theirs and ours,” he said. “When I think about this I am grief-stricken and ashamed of myself for the things I’ve done to support it.”

“I came to believe that the policy of drone assassination was being used to mislead the public that it keeps us safe,” Hale continued, “and when I finally left the military, still processing what I’d been a part of, I began to speak out, believing my participation in the drone program to have been deeply wrong.”

“Your Honor, the truest truism that I’ve come to understand about the nature of war is that war is trauma,” he wrote. “No soldier blessed to have returned home from war does so uninjured. The crux of PTSD is that it is a moral conundrum that afflicts invisible wounds on the psyche of a person made to burden the weight of experience after surviving a traumatic event. How PTSD manifests depends on the circumstances of the event. So how is the drone operator to process this?”

“My conscience, once held at bay, came roaring back to life,” said Hale. “At first, I tried to ignore it. Wishing instead that someone, better placed than I, should come along to take this cup from me. But this too was folly.”

“Left to decide whether to act, I only could do that which I ought to do before God and my own conscience,” he concluded. “The answer came to me, that to stop the cycle of violence, I ought to sacrifice my own life and not that of another person. So, I contacted an investigative reporter, with whom I had had an established prior relationship, and told him that I had something the American people needed to know.”

Hale was charged in 2019 during the Trump administration after leaking the top secret documents to a reporter, who according to court documents, matches the description of The Intercept founding editor Jeremy Scahill. He is the first person to face sentencing for an Espionage Act offense during the administration of President Joe Biden.

Hale’s lawyers argue that his humanitarian motives, and the lack of harm resulting from his actions, warrant a lenient sentence. Defense attorneys Todd Richman and Cadence Mertz said that Hale “committed the offense to bring attention to what he believed to be immoral government conduct committed under the cloak of secrecy and contrary to public statements of then-President Obama regarding the alleged precision of the United States military’s drone program.”

Prosecutors, however, claim Hale’s leaks were more egregious than those of Reality Winner, the former NSA whistleblower released last month after serving four years of a 63-month sentence —the longest ever imposed for leaking classified government information to the media. They assert that a suitable sentence for Hale would be “significantly longer” than Winner’s.

[Prosecutors might also argue that the Espionage Act does not allow for a public interest defense, i.e., a defendant explaining motive, such as Hale’s handwritten statement.]

This article is from Common Dreams.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Schools in America and Critical Race Theory

 


In an ongoing investigative series, City Journal contributing editor Christopher F. Rufo reports on the spread of critical race theory through American schools.
Going All In
The NEA pledges to bring critical race theory to a public school near you. July 15, 2021
What Critical Race Theory Has Wrought
A new video essay explores the theoretical roots and practical consequences of the controversial ideology. June 16, 2021
The Courage of Our Convictions
How to fight critical race theory April 22, 2021
Merchants of Revolution
California’s ethnic studies initiatives train children in Marxist theory—and opposition to the American system. April 13, 2021
Senator Cotton’s Stand
The Arkansas lawmaker is introducing a bill to protect the military from critical race theory indoctrination. March 24, 2021
Subversive Education
North Carolina’s largest school district launches a campaign against “whiteness in educational spaces.” March 17, 2021
Revenge of the Gods
California’s proposed ethnic studies curriculum urges students to chant to the Aztec deity of human sacrifice. March 10, 2021
Critical Race Fragility
The Left has denounced the “war on woke,” but it is afraid to defend the principles of critical race theory in public debate. March 2, 2021
Critical “Race” to the Bottom
10 Blocks podcast with Brian C. Anderson, February 26, 2021
Failure Factory
Buffalo’s school district tells students that “all white people play a part in perpetuating systemic racism”—while presiding over miserable student outcomes. February 23, 2021
Gone Crazy
A New York City public school principal calls on white parents to “subvert white authority.” February 18, 2021
Bad Education
In a Philadelphia elementary school, teachers are putting a premium on radicalism, not reading. February 11, 2021
Spoiled Rotten
Students at the United Nations International School launch an anonymous social media campaign denouncing their teachers as “racists” and “oppressors.” January 28, 2021
“Antiracism” Comes to the Heartland
A Missouri middle school forces teachers to locate themselves on an “oppression matrix” and watch a video of “George Floyd’s last words.” January 19, 2021
Woke Elementary
A Cupertino elementary school forces third-graders to deconstruct their racial identities, then rank themselves according to their “power and privilege.” January 13, 2021
Radicals in the Classroom
San Diego’s school district tells white teachers that they are guilty of “spirit murdering” black children and should undergo “antiracist therapy.” January 5, 2021
Teaching Hate
The Seattle school district claims that the U.S. education system is guilty of “spirit murder” against black children. December 18, 2020

From the Editor:

Schools gone woke: a view from America

and,


Critical race theory has just recently become one of the primary targets for the right, and for good reason. But CRT's presence in K-12 education isn't new.

By Spencer Lindquist, the Federalist, July 22, 2021

One step backward. They asked another question. One step forward. The PA system buzzed back to life. Another question, another step forward. Then another, and another. It had been decided. 

It was 2015 during my freshman year of high school. I had just been exposed to critical race theory for the first time. We were in the midst of a privilege walk, a racial shaming exercise that uses selective questioning to substantiate claims of privilege and oppression.

Now, six years later, critical race theory has just recently become a target for the right, with various different states outlawing it and parent groups forming to oppose it. This cancerous ideology has had a presence in our K-12 public schools for much longer than many realize, however. I know because my high school attempted to indoctrinate me with it and, when I fought back, to reeducate me. 

Taxpayers Paying for Indoctrination

I went to high school at a mid-sized government school in the heart of the Silicon Valley. The student body was highly diverse, with large Asian and Hispanic populations and a white plurality. The Public School Review noted my school was in the top 20 percent of the most multiracial schools in California, a state that’s already far more multi-ethnic than most of the rest of the country.

My first encounter with critical race theory was in my freshman year, when we skipped our P.E. class to engage in a racial struggle session, hosted by a teacher and a special cadre of students who had been handpicked and placed in her equity advisory class.

I began to catch on when the presenters played a video titled “What kind of Asian are you?” The clip features a buffoonish caricature of an insensitive white man, the video’s antagonist, who becomes the subject of scorn after he commits several “microaggressions” as he attempts to relate with the video’s heroine, an Asian woman. She then humiliates him and trots off.

I was beginning to wonder if our conversation was really about advancing “equity,” or if it was about scapegoating those who pose an obstacle to progressivism’s long march. They didn’t leave me wondering for long. Shortly after the video, we were taken into the school courtyard, where chalk lines had been meticulously drawn on the pavement, where we were then told to stand on the center line. We then started our privilege walk. 

Similar exercises held today likely don’t ask questions that account for recent developments, like multi-million-dollar organizations branding phrases like “It’s Okay To Be White” as hate slogans, critical race theory teaching white children to hate themselves, or the adoption of the language of genocide by academics who dub whiteness a “parasitic condition” without a “permanent cure,” or fantasize about committing acts of racial violence against white people. 

The selective questioning was intended to create a certain outcome, a prime example of a conclusion in search of evidence. 

Afterwards, we were divided into breakout groups, where I was chastised by the group leader and a peer who made a scene when I disputed a claim that our city upheld white supremacy. 

Although the event had left a bad taste in my mouth, I gave it little thought until the next year when I saw I’d been placed in the class that hosted the yearly event. I was told I’d been recommended by faculty members who thought I’d be a good fit for the class. As a vocal conservative, I knew there was no chance that any of my teachers genuinely believed I’d be a good fit. I knew the equity advisory faculty member was well aware of my beliefs due to the pushback that I offered at her event.

I was left to conclude that I was placed in the class in an attempt to reign in my dissent. On the first day, my suspicions were confirmed. Not only was I the lone straight white male in the year-long class, I was also one of the only students who wasn’t left-wing. 

Throughout the class, we watched Emma Watson’s feminist speech to the U.N, sifted through Peggy McIntosh’s Invisible Knapsack of white privilege, and deconstructed various forms of privilege and oppression, always noting who the “oppressors” were. We were even shown a video that advocated for affirmative action, which was then shown to the rest of the school. 

Rather than soften my conservative proclivities, the class hardened my disposition towards the “social justice” movement and what would soon be known as critical race theory. When it came time for us to run the struggle session that I had been subjected to the previous year, my dignity nagged at me, and I refused to take part. 

I noticed the tragic irony of being told that I was the beneficiary of structural racism while a government school that my family helped fund marched in lockstep with much of the media and higher education, telling me on a weekly basis that, because I am a straight, white, Christian male, recognizing these facets of my identity as anything other than a source of shame was evidence of my own wickedness. 

Upon leaving the class after my sophomore year, the consistency of my exposure to critical race theory slowed down, but the severity of such instances didn’t, with racial grievance politics permeating our discourse. One teacher instructed me not to use the word “minority,” claiming it was offensive since it meant “less than whole.” When I objected, I was mocked, with my teacher remarking, “You know white people will be a minority one day, right?” 

In a public speaking class, a two-minute speech I delivered turned into a 45-minute exchange after I decried the villainization of white people on college campuses, citing an anti-white article from Texas State University’s student newspaper titled “Your DNA is an Abomination” that argued white people are genetically inferior and claimed that “white death will mean liberation for all,” even ending with “I hate you because you shouldn’t exist.”

My teacher called me back up to the podium, asking in front of the class if I “understood why some people might feel this way, given our nation’s history?” I was in awe. A teacher who would’ve described herself as an “anti-racist” was attempting to justify the rhetoric of genocide in an article that argued for the genetic inferiority of white people. 

This was the type of outright, anti-white hatred that critical race theory exposed me to, beginning six years ago. Since then the situation has undoubtedly worsened, with CRT even targeting children in elementary school

Critical race theory isn’t new, but the fight against it is. After years of pushing back against it, it’s been heartening to watch a mass movement rise to counter the left’s politics of racial grievance as the right relearns how to organize on the grassroots level, even as impotent so-called conservatives like David French attempt to undercut their success.

Moving forward, it will be incumbent not only on lawmakers and commentators but on parents, educators, and even students to continue to organize against ideologies like critical race theory that use appeals to egalitarianism as a smokescreen while they engage in blood libel.

Spencer Lindquist is an intern at the Federalist and a senior at Pepperdine University where he studies Political Science and Rhetoric and Leadership and serves as Pepperdine’s College Republicans President and the Chief of Staff of the California College Republicans. You can follow him on Twitter @SpencerLndqst and reach him at LSpencerLindquist@gmail.com.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

National Labor Relations Board Rules Against Amazon, Says Two Activist Workers Were Fired Illegally

Credit...Jenny Riffle for The New York Times

Amazon Illegally Fired Activist Workers, Labor Board Finds


By Karen Weise, NY TIMES, April 5, 2021 Updated June 15, 2021

The two employees had publicly pushed the company to reduce its impact on climate change and address concerns about its warehouse workers.

SEATTLE — Amazon illegally retaliated against two of its most prominent internal critics when it fired them last year, the National Labor Relations Board has determined.

The employees, Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa, had publicly pushed the company to reduce its impact on climate change and address concerns about its warehouse workers.

The agency staff told Ms. Cunningham and Ms. Costa that it would accuse Amazon of unfair labor practices if the company did not settle the case, according to correspondence that Ms. Cunningham shared with The New York Times. The case would then go before an administrative law judge.

“It’s a moral victory and really shows that we are on the right side of history and the right side of the law,” Ms. Cunningham said.

The two women were among dozens of Amazon workers who in the last year told the labor board about company retaliations, but in most other cases the workers had complained about pandemic safety.

“We support every employee’s right to criticize their employer’s working conditions, but that does not come with blanket immunity against our internal policies, all of which are lawful,” said Jaci Anderson, an Amazon spokeswoman. “We terminated these employees not for talking publicly about working conditions, safety or sustainability but, rather, for repeatedly violating internal policies.”

Claims of unfair labor practices at Amazon have been common enough that the labor agency may turn them into a national investigation, the agency told NBC News. The agency typically handles investigations in its regional offices.

While Amazon’s starting wage of $15 an hour is twice the federal minimum, its labor practices face heightened scrutiny in Washington and elsewhere. The focus has escalated in the past year, as online orders surged during the pandemic and Amazon expanded its U.S. work force to almost one million people. Amazon’s warehouse employees are deemed essential workers and could not work from home.

This week, the national labor board is counting thousands of ballots that will determine whether almost 6,000 workers will form a union at an Amazon warehouse outside Birmingham, Ala., in the largest and most viable labor threat in the company’s history. The union has said the workers face excessive pressure to produce and are intensely monitored by the company to make sure quotas are met.

The results could alter the shape of the labor movement and one of America’s largest private employers.

Ms. Costa and Ms. Cunningham, who worked as designers at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters, began criticizing the company publicly in 2018. They were part of a small group of employees who wanted the company to do more to address its climate impact. The group, Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, got more than 8,700 colleagues to support its efforts.

Over time, Ms. Cunningham and Ms. Costa broadened their protests. After Amazon told them that they had violated its external communications policy by speaking publicly about the business, their group organized 400 employees to also speak out, purposely violating the policy to make a point.

They also began raising concerns about safety in Amazon’s warehouses at the start of the pandemic. Amazon fired Ms. Costa and Ms. Cunningham last April, not long after their group had announced an internal event for warehouse workers to speak to tech employees about their workplace conditions.

After the women were fired, several Democratic senators, including Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kamala Harris of California, wrote Amazon expressing their concerns over potential retaliation. And Tim Bray, an internet pioneer and a former vice president at Amazon’s cloud computing group, resigned in protest.

Mr. Bray said he was pleased to hear of the labor board’s findings and hoped Amazon settled the case. “The policy up to now has been ‘admit nothing, concede nothing,’” he said. “This is their chance to rethink that a little bit.”

Ms. Cunningham said that, despite the company’s denial, she believed that she and Ms. Costa were prime targets for Amazon because they were the most visible members of Amazon Employees for Climate Justice.

The labor board also upheld a complaint involving Jonathan Bailey, a co-founder of Amazonians United, a labor advocacy group. The agency filed a complaint against Amazon based on Mr. Bailey’s accusation that the company broke the law when it interrogated him after a walkout last year at the Queens warehouse where he works.

“They recognized that Amazon violated our rights,” Mr. Bailey said. “I think the message that it communicates that workers should hear and understand is, yes, we’re all experiencing it. But also a lot of us are fighting.”

Amazon settled Mr. Bailey’s case, without admitting wrongdoing, and agreed to post notices informing employees of their rights in the break room. Ms. Anderson, the Amazon spokeswoman, said the company disagreed with allegations made in Mr. Bailey’s case. “We are proud to provide inclusive environments, where employees can excel without fear of retaliation, intimidation or harassment,” she said.


See also Parentadvocates.org: