[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.
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.
LIVES LOST: WARS IN SEVEN COUNTRIES
**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
THE LOSS OF COMPASSION, THE RISE OF ISLAMOPHOBIA AND ANTI-IMMIGRANT
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
THE ECONOMY: HOW MANY SCHOOLS/ROADS/HEALTH PLANS SPENT ON WAR?
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.
PRIVACY AND CIVIL LIBERTIES DISAPPEARING
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.)
More information about the pjw-list