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Podcast: As Congress Buys Into More War, CODEPINK Becomes the Conscience of America

Ann Wright (Photo by Andy Worthington)

The past week was filled with officials coming before members of Congress to sell President Barack Obama’s strategy for escalating war in Iraq and Syria. It worked. Congress approved the arming and training of rebel forces in Syria to fight ISIS. However, this did not take place without members of Congress hearing some voices of dissent loud and clear.

CODEPINK Women for Peace managed to convince a group of people to be at almost all of the hearings on combating ISIS. They held up pink signs that could be seen behind officials like Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry. The group even provoked a lecture from Kerry, who scolded them for protesting the administration’s war plans.

It has been much more difficult to get people to protest than in 2005, when liberals were willing to flock to Washington, DC, to protest President George W. Bush’s administration. Although Obama’s war plans risk some of the same dangers Bush risked, there has been no massive demonstration in the streets.

This week on the “Unauthorized Disclosure” podcast retired Army colonel and former US diplomat Ann Wright, who resigned from the State Department in 2003 in protest against the Iraq War, is the show’s guest. She discusses her organizing with CODEPINK, which spent the past week demonstrating in congressional hearings on Capitol Hill on the Obama administration’s plans to combat ISIS. She reacts to Secretary of State John Kerry calling out CODEPINK and also discusses an op-ed written by Chelsea Manning on what the US should do to fight ISIS.

During the discussion portion of the show, we acknowledge the votes in Congress giving Obama the go-ahead to train and arm Syrian rebels. Co-host Rania Khalek highlights a story she wrote this week on an Israeli drone conference. We talk about Israel’s NSA scandal with Unit 8200 members blowing the whistle on spying against innocent Palestinians. Then, we move on to the Justice Department invoking the state secrets privilege to protect an anti-Iran advocacy group and wrap up our show covering the US response to the spread of Ebola in north African countries.

The podcast is available on iTunes for download. For a link (and to download), go here. Click on “go here” and a page will load with the audio file of the podcast that will automatically start playing.

Also, below is a player for listening to the podcast. You can listen to the podcast this way or you can go to iTunes and find the podcast listed there.

{!hitembed ID=”hitembed_1″ width=”500″ height=”360″ align=”none” !}

Wright, who attended the hearings this past week, notes that people were able to hold up posters and get on television to show people who sympathize with our concerns that they should not be silent. “Speak up because we’re in Congress on your behalf. Don’t be shy about letting your congressional representatives know that you’re concerned about air strikes and funding of rebel forces.”

Both Hagel and Joint Chiefs of Staff General Patrick Dempsey stated in their testimony, “There is no military solution,” which is remarkable because CODEPINK had an identical sign. They also had a sign saying, “More war = more extremism.”

“We are reflecting in a way what parts of our own government are saying. Other parts of our government keep pushing, pushing, pushing for these military operations and yet they are out of one side of their mouth saying yes we need to do this. On the other side, they are acknowledging that their solution is not the right solution,” Wright states.

Wright shares how she was stunned when Kerry turned around and said CODEPINK was here “after he had prefaced, I, too, was a protester, and all this sort of stuff, but essentially my protest was for the right reasons. But he forgot to say that the right reasons were that the United States had been killing hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese women and children and Vietnamese women had been raped by US military. There were a lot of things that he did not say about the reason that he was protesting.”

She was shocked that Kerry was using women’s suffering to not only sell war but to also push US citizens in CODEPINK to be silent about their government’s moves toward expanding another war.

“It is very concerning to us when a person like John Kerry will for his own political purposes and the political purposes of the Obama administration attempt to threaten [or] cajole groups that for the right reason that for the right reasons are challenging their policies and their interpretation of things,” Wright also states. “For them to say that we are not concerned about the rights of women that are in the [ISIS] areas is totally wrong. We abhor, of course, what [ISIS] is doing to those women but we don’t want women to be suffering under violence of war by our not speaking out because we’re cowed by somebody like John Kerry, who thinks he can bully us into silence.”

“Neither the Bush administration or Obama administration have been right on much of their foreign policy, and we’re not about to be bullied into silence on another policy that we know is going to cause infinite deaths and more destructions,” Wright argues. And Kerry, she believes, was being a bully like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld were bullies when they demanded people just be quiet and trust them.

She praises US military whistleblower Chelsea Manning, who wrote a column for The Guardian on how the US should respond to ISIS.

“I am amazed and very heartened by the fact that she is using her time there to help America by her professional skills that she has there from her military service,” Wright says.

Wright continues, “None of us want ISIS to continue. It’s a terrible group. It’s horrible actions have to be ended, but to end them through horrible military action is a thing we’re trying to analyze how to do.”

One nonviolent action that can be taken is to convince Saudi Arabia to end its support and convince Turkey to close its borders so youth are not getting into ISIS areas from Turkey. Pressure can be applied to prevent countries from allowing oil and gas taken from Syrian forces to be sold at “rock bottom prices.” This can begin to quarantine the area ISIS has seized, and, while it will lead to confrontation, it will be a step toward ending ISIS’s rise in power.

Finally, Wright suggests that the media has fallen for fear mongering coming from the Obama administration and members of Congress. “They’re creating the ISIS crisis in my opinion.”

She mentions that Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg has called on members of the national security establishment to “leak documents that will give us a much better clue of what’s happening right now.”

Like Manning and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, “We need to know what is going on. How in the world did the CIA come up with the figures now of 31,000 members of ISIS when two weeks ago it was 10,000?” Because there has been a “cooking of the books by the intelligence community to meet the political needs of the Obama administration,” she further suggests.

CommunityFDL Main BlogThe Dissenter

Podcast: As Congress Buys Into More War, CODEPINK Becomes the Conscience of America

Ann Wright

The past week was filled with officials coming before members of Congress to sell President Barack Obama’s strategy for escalating war in Iraq and Syria. It worked. Congress approved the arming and training of rebel forces in Syria to fight ISIS. However, this did not take place without members of Congress hearing some voices of dissent loud and clear.

CODEPINK Women for Peace managed to convince a group of people to be at almost all of the hearings on combating ISIS. They held up pink signs that could be seen behind officials like Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry. The group even provoked a lecture from Kerry, who scolded them for protesting the administration’s war plans.

It has been much more difficult to get people to protest than in 2005, when liberals were willing to flock to Washington, DC, to protest President George W. Bush’s administration. Although Obama’s war plans risk some of the same dangers Bush risked, there has been no massive demonstration in the streets.

This week on the “Unauthorized Disclosure” podcast retired Army colonel and former US diplomat Ann Wright, who resigned from the State Department in 2003 in protest against the Iraq War, is the show’s guest. She discusses her organizing with CODEPINK, which spent the past week demonstrating in congressional hearings on Capitol Hill on the Obama administration’s plans to combat ISIS. She reacts to Secretary of State John Kerry calling out CODEPINK and also discusses an op-ed written by Chelsea Manning on what the US should do to fight ISIS.

During the discussion portion of the show, we acknowledge the votes in Congress giving Obama the go-ahead to train and arm Syrian rebels. Co-host Rania Khalek highlights a story she wrote this week on an Israeli drone conference. We talk about Israel’s NSA scandal with Unit 8200 members blowing the whistle on spying against innocent Palestinians. Then, we move on to the Justice Department invoking the state secrets privilege to protect an anti-Iran advocacy group and wrap up our show covering the US response to the spread of Ebola in north African countries.

The podcast is available on iTunes for download. For a link (and to download), go here. Click on “go here” and a page will load with the audio file of the podcast that will automatically start playing.

Also, below is a player for listening to the podcast. You can listen to the podcast this way or you can go to iTunes and find the podcast listed there.

{!hitembed ID=”hitembed_1″ width=”500″ height=”360″ align=”none” !}

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."

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