[pjw] REPORT BACK/FACTS: 9/11 15 Years Later event

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Sun Sep 11 13:47:04 EDT 2016

Greetings people working for peace in Portland and the world:

Below is the text of the fact sheet that the Iraq Affinity Group created 
for Friday's rally/march marking 15 years since 9/11. I thought it would 
be good to share it with everyone since today is "Patriot Day" (you did 
know that Congress made this a national holiday soon after 9/11, right?).

I think we had 25 people at the event at its height-- we were oddly spread 
out, maybe in part because the Tower of Peace took up a lot of room on the 
sidewalk. Sad to say, the police were in the midst of cracking down on the 
prisoners' rights rally that was going on while we were protesting, but 
the side benefit was they couldn't be bothered with arguing whether our 
12' tall rolling picket sign constituted a "structure." That said, there 
was no media covering our event. *Sigh.* Also, there was a helicopter 
circling overhead, likely tracking the prisoner rights protest but 
definitely overshadowing our rally.

Check out a picture of all 3 sides of the Tower at:

Our speakers were Marvin Simmons of NW Veterans for Peace who read a 
powerful poem from Iraq War navy vet Angie Hines, Kayse Jama of Unite 
Oregon who spoke about various impacts of 9/11 including war taking money 
from human needs, and Kevin Martonick of the Close Guantanamo Coalition 
(guess what he talked about). I used my introductions to address some 
specifics about lives lost, the environment and the connection to 
Israel/Palestine. We handed out about 60 copies of the fact sheet 
including during our spirited 20 minute march around downtown.

Thanks to everyone who helped with this, especially Rob from PPRC who 
helped me haul down and set up the Tower, and Kevin who babysat the Tower 
while we were marching. Most of our 8 endorsing groups had one or more 
members present and we thank them all too (though I may have forgotten to 
name Occupy Portland Elder Caucus at the rally, a byproduct of leaving my 
glasses in the car).

There are quite a few commemorations of 9/11 happening today which I saw 
listed on the websites for the Oregonian and the Tribune, and on TV news. 
Not one mention of our event or anyone examining the endless wars, the 
death tolls, the rising Islamophobia, the gutted economy, the perpetual 
spying and detentions, or the impact on the climate. Hmm. Guess we're 
outliers since we don't want to talk about the "terrorists," the first 
responders, or how to ramp up the war on ISIS.

We can discuss more of this tomorrow (7 PM at our office) at the Iraq 
Affinity Group meeting.

Anyway, here is a link to the laid-out version of the fact sheet with 
graphics that you can print out and share with others.


dan handelman
peace and justice works iraq affinity group

Casualties of Endless Wars:
Lives, Compassion, The Economy, Privacy and the Environment (9/11 15 Years 
September 9, 2016

In the decade and a half since September 11, 2001, the US has engaged in 
military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, 
Syria and elsewhere. Xenophobia and Islamophobia are on the rise. No money 
is available for jobs, health care or other human needs while the 
Pentagon's budget is untouchable. Civil liberties are violated by 
government spying and unlawful detentions such as in Guantanamo. And the 
US military continues as an entity to be the world's #1 user of fossil 
fuels, contributing to climate change.

Americans remember the roughly 3000 people who died on 9/11 in New York, 
Washington and Pennsylvania. But the US government took the nation's 
collective grief, amped up the fear of "terrorism," and involved itself in 
ongoing and expanding wars while passing laws which threaten the freedoms 
it claims to protect.


**Afghanistan** The first post-9/11 war, launched without a specific UN 
mandate, was the US bombing, invasion, and occupation of Afghanistan 
starting October 7, 2001. Afghanistan has been racked by violence for over 
35 years beginning with the US and Soviet Union fighting for control from 
1979 to 1989. Osama Bin Laden was a product of US efforts funding 
"Mujahideen" to fight the USSR. Although a new Afghan government was 
installed by the US, the Taliban and others have initiated guerilla 
attacks against international forces and the new regime. In 2009-10, 
President Obama increased the number of troops from 34,000 at the end of 
the Bush era to over 100,000. While Obama pledged to remove all combat 
troops by the end of 2016, about 9000 are still there-- with 29,000 
"contractors" supporting them (Military Times 8/17).

It is unknown how many Afghan civilians have died as a result of the 
invasion, but 1601 civilians were killed just in the first 6 months of 
2016, with a more than 100% increase in deaths by airstrikes (The Hill 
7/25). As of September 8, 2384 US troops and over 1000 from other 
countries had died in Afghanistan (icasualties.org).

**Iraq** To justify the US-led March 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Bush 
administration asserted that Iraq supported terrorists and was part of the 
"War on Terror." However, Saddam Hussein provided no material support for 
Al Qaeda prior to 9/11 (Reuters 9/8/06) and President Bush himself 
conceded there was no connection between Iraq and 9/11. None of the 
hijackers was alleged to have been Iraqi. Iraq had no weapons of mass 

Despite the "withdrawal" of US troops at the end of 2011, with the US war 
on the Islamic State (ISIS) starting in August 2014, US soldiers, Iraqi 
civilians and combatants continue to die. 4504 Americans have died in 
Iraq, so the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost the US more than twice 
the 2973 lives lost on September 11. After the initial invasion and 
resulting factional fighting, Iraq Body Count estimates at least 163,461 
Iraqi civilians have died, based on verifiable news reports 
(www.iraqbodycount.org). The infrastructure in Iraq, devastated by the US' 
1991 war and 13 years of economic sanctions, has not improved despite 
billions pumped in by American taxpayers. At least 4500 US troops are now 
in Iraq, mostly as so-called "advisors" to Iraq's fight against ISIS 
(Associated Press 7/11).

**Syria** About 6 weeks after the war on ISIS in Iraq, the US also 
launched an unauthorized air war on Syria. Although President Obama 
pledged "no boots on the ground." at least 250 special forces are in Syria 
(Intercept 4/29). The low estimate of civilian deaths from the US and its 
allies since September 2014 is 773 (Airwars.org/ABC News 7/29). Civilian 
casualties increased after US policy changed from a zero civilian goal to 
"accepting up to 10 civilian casualties in any action" (Airwars.org 8/8). 
No US troops have been reported to have died in Syria (yet) but the 
continuing war with no military authorization raises legal issues. US Army 
Captain Nathan Smith filed suit in May 2016 for deploying him to Kuwait as 
part of the war on ISIS, challenging President Obama's failure to seek 
authorization after the 90 days provided for troop deployments under the 
War Powers Act (US News 8/6). The Authorization for Use of Military Force 
passed in 2001 and used by the US to justify all seven current 
interventions, focused on Al Qaeda-- which itself is fighting ISIS. The 
war in Syria is complicated by parallel interventions by Russia, also 
targeting ISIS but tending to favor the Assad regime, and by Turkey, which 
has been shelling Kurdish militias allied with the US (AFP 8/28).

**Pakistan** Under GW Bush, American unarmed aircraft (drones) dropped 
bombs on Pakistan's NW region (near Afghanistan) 45 times in 5 years. In 
his 8 years in office, President Obama has overseen 373 drone strikes 
(thebureauinvestigates.com). At minimum, 424 civilians have been killed. 
The strikes slowed down after Code Pink led an international delegation to 
investigate the aftermath of such bombings in 2012, and public pressure 
led to a pledged reworking of US drone policy. Despite Pakistani 
government and civilian protests, the drone strikes continue, most 
recently on May 21.

**Yemen/Somalia** The US has conducted multiple air attacks on the 
countries of Yemen and Somalia, using drones, cruise missiles, and 
air-launched missiles. The US is also overtly supporting the Saudi Arabian 
government's intervention in the civil war in Yemen with military support, 
while continuing drone strikes amidst the chaos. At least 132 US drone 
strikes in Yemen have killed over 568 people (thebureauinvestigates.com), 
and on May 7, AFP reported that US military personnel were deployed inside 
the country. The US has also targeted people in Somalia alleged to be with 
Al Qaeda or Al Shabbab, with at least 30 drone strikes and 3 civilians 
killed, most recently on September 5. It has also been reported that US 
special forces are on the ground in Somalia (Washington Post, 5/6).

**Libya** Despite the limited mandate in UN Security Council Resolution 
1973 allowing member nations to "protect civilians," America's 6-month war 
on that country in 2011 killed dozens of civilians, including members of 
the militias they were allegedly aiding. After Muammar Gadhafi was 
brutally killed by his own people, the country fell into chaos, with two 
separate governments vying for control. Under the guise of repelling an 
expansion of ISIS, the US began bombing Libya again in August 2016, 
declaring there was no foreseen end-point of the intervention (Intercept 

**Israel/Palestine** Though many Americans say 9/11 happened because 
others "hate our freedoms," most of the world realizes the attacks were in 
response to US foreign policy. Among the issues were the presence of 
troops in Saudi Arabia (since withdrawn) the sanctions killing Iraqi 
civilians (since lifted), and the ongoing oppression of Palestinians by 
Israel, with political and financial support from America. Yet the US 
continues to give over $3.5 billion per year in military aid to Israel to 
support its brutal occupation that denies human rights, justice and 
freedom to the Palestinian population. The Gaza strip remains under 
military siege and has suffered 3 major attacks by Israel in the last 8 
years. In the West Bank, Israel is rapidly expanding its settlement of 
Palestinian lands as it destroys more homes and threatens entire villages, 
but the US vetoes any attempts to condemn Israel at the UN. Unless the 
Israeli/Palestinian issue is resolved, the Middle East will likely never 
see peace.


The "War on Terror" has made life more difficult for many Arabs, Muslims 
and immigrants in the US. In addition to increasingly blurred lines 
between law enforcement and immigration administration, cultural forces 
are leading to discrimination and unjustifiable detentions and 
deportations. A wave of anti-immigration sentiment, mostly aimed at 
undocumented Latin-Americans, has illogically connected 9/11 to the 
efforts of thousands of people to find work and support their families in 
countries whose economies are suffering from US economic policies like 


In 2013, a Brown University study estimated the costs of the wars in Iraq 
and Afghanistan were over $4 trillion (Reuters 3/14/13), and the war on 
ISIS has cost another $8 billion (The Hill 7/28). In January, 2012 the 
City of Portland passed a resolution calling to bring the war dollars 
home. While Americans are being thrown out of foreclosed homes, losing 
jobs, having pensions taken away, and facing rocketing health care costs, 
it is time to bring the money back home and spend it here.


In the US, September 11 led to a climate of fear making it easy for laws 
to pass stripping citizens' rights. The passage of the USA PATRIOT act in 
October, 2001 greatly expanded the power of law enforcement. The National 
Security Agency began conducting warrantless wiretaps on international 
calls. Every major city's police force joined with the FBI in "Joint 
Terrorism Task Forces" (JTTFs). Though originally created through 1996 
anti-terrorism laws, JTTFs became ubiquitous after 9/11. Portland removed 
its officers in 2006, but rejoined on a 3-2 vote in early 2015. Meanwhile, 
suspects brought to the US military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have 
been held for nearly fifteen years, and most have not been charged with 
any crime. Though President Obama pledged to close the prison, which 
mostly serves to bolster anti-American sentiment, he has been unable to do 
so, instead releasing most of the 779 prisoners so that as of August 2016 
only 61 remain, 20 of whom are eligible to be transferred out (NPR 8/16).

US MILITARY: WORST POLLUTER In October 2010, just 9 years into the "War on 
Terror," Project Censored wrote "the US military is responsible for the 
most egregious and widespread pollution of the planet." They cited author 
Sara Flounders who reported "The Pentagon is the largest institutional 
user of petroleum products and energy, yet [they] have a blanket exemption 
in all international climate agreements." Project Censored said the 
military was consuming 320,000 barrels of oil a day, noting Oil Change 
International found "The Iraq war was responsible for at least 141 million 
metric tons of carbon dioxide [emissions], more than 60 percent of all 
countries [combined]." The US flew 280,000 sorties in the "no-fly zones" 
in the 1990s (DailyKos 8/10/14), and by early 2012 had flown 663,000 more 
in Iraq and Afghanistan (Media Roots 3/26/12), with over 55,000 more in 
Iraq and Syria in the war against the Islamic State in just the first 18 
months (Bloomberg News 3/16/16). With climate change endangering the 
planet, this alone is reason enough to stop the wars.


As we remember September 11, let us move past the misleading language and 
self-censored media accounts and acknowledge the suffering of war. The 
life of every Iraqi, Afghan, Syrian, Pakistani, Somali, Yemeni and Libyan 
killed was just as important, and their grief and fear in the face of 
violence is every bit as real as what Americans felt on 9/11. Let's pledge 
resistance to state-sanctioned murder in the name of "national security" 
and agree to support international law, human rights, and civil liberties. 
Let's convert the US military economy to a peace economy, with money for 
health care, housing, a healthy environment and an educated citizenry that 
will never again allow its own government to conduct illegal and immoral 

(This flyer was modeled on PJW's fact sheets from Sept. 2006 and Sept. 
2011. It includes updated information.)

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