With Thursdays off each week (due to group), I always think, "Friday, I'll have something really strong." Instead, I'm always left rushing to the laptop and trying to blog something quickly. This Friday is no different. C.I. was speaking in the area (including to Mike's college class) and Mike talked and pleaded until C.I. agreed to skip the flight out and catch one tomorrow morning. Friday's are always fun because of the Iraq study group but it is a treat to have C.I. here and it will be a great deal of fun hanging out afterwards. So those are my excuses before moving quickly through.
"Heroes, Sung and Unsung" (David Swanson, CounterPunch):
Last night in a bar in Austin, Texas, we held a family reunion for the peace movement. The occasion was the presentation of the Camp Casey Peace Awards. Much of the evening was devoted to the incredibly powerful anti-war music of Carolyn Wonderland, Emma's Revolution , Hank Woji , and Jesse Dyen, each of whom had a crowd on their feet and moving as well as sitting and feeling like crying. Carolyn sang Willie Nelson's "What Happened to Peace on Earth" beautifully with Willie and his wife Annie sitting ten feet away and cheering.
The Nelsons were given an award for all the work they've done to promote peace and all the help they've given to Camp Casey. Cindy Sheehan presented the award. Mimi Kennedy presented an award to the amazing Jodie Evans, co-founder of Code Pink. Jim Hightower presented an award to Ann Wright and Veterans for Peace, without whom I don't think we'd have a peace movement or a Camp Casey. Ann Wright presented an award to the Crawford Peace House and its leaders, who brought peace activism to Crawford before Camp Casey and made Camp Casey work when it arrived. And Cindy gave an award to the young creator of online peace videos Ava Lowery. It would be hard to imagine a more deserving bunch.
But appreciation was handed out also to many of the people in the room, which was filled with a mix of Texans and peace activists from around the country. I was especially pleased to meet for the first time a member of the Texas state legislature, Lon Burnam. Burnam was already a hero of mine for having introduced into the legislature this year a resolution to petition the U.S. House of Representatives to impeach Bush and Cheney. Between this year and last, nine states have seen such resolutions introduced, two of which have come close to passing.
Cindy Sheehan doesn't wait for things to happen, she makes them happen. That's not because she's a super hero. It's because she's putting her all into ending the war. We are all learning a great deal from her. There's been talk of a film about her and I hope that happens. I see it as a classic in the spirit of Norma Rae and a way to make sure she's remembered.
I'm not speaking about by anyone reading this. If you're old enough to know who she is, you should have some idea 20 or 30 years from now; however, her story is important not only to today but also for the future because there will be more illegal wars. She's offered a wonderful example and though those fighting the illegal wars of the future will need to choose their own roads, they can find inspiration from her.
If you feel as strongly about Sheehan as I do, please make sure that you pass her story on. I don't just mean in the present but also in the future. Hopefully, you'll live many, many years. Never forget the lesson of power, personal power, that she's taught us and don't fail to share it with others. (Someone give Cindy Sheehan an award.)
"Female Chauvinist Pigs?" (Helen Redmond, CounterPunch):
Ariel Levy's book Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture rips the lid off the stunning rise and widespread acceptability of sexist culture in the United States. It investigates a number of cultural phenomena that reveal how pervasive and commonplace the objectification of women is, how normal it has become. It's about time someone took notice and wrote about the myriad ways that sexist ideas continue to saturate our society. The mainstream media either ignores or endorses these sexist trends. Moreover, for those of us who still believe women are oppressed, the book is a sharp rebuke of the ludicrous idea that raunch culture is a sign that women are liberated - which is what those who produce and profit from the objectification of women would have us believe - both men and women.Raunch culture is everywhere and impossible to avoid. Its toxic presence is found in all mass media outlets: internet, television, radio, films. And even bars and restaurants.
There has been a truly staggering explosion of television shows whose plots brazenly and unapologetically revolve around displaying women's body parts. Not a brain to be found. Fembots. Stepford Wives. The success of these shows depends on the copious use of soft-core pornographic imagery. Shows like: Girls Gone Wild, The Real World, Pussycat Dolls Present: Search for the Next Doll, The Bachelor: Officer and a Gentleman, America's Next Top Model, Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire, and The Girls Next Door. Notice how often women are referred to as "girls." Decades after the movement for women's liberation, even a seemingly simple change like referring to females correctly has not been achieved. In most of these programs women compete against each other for male approval and attention. The contestants reinforce the worst female stereotypes, that women are conniving, backstabbing, jealous, insecure, and crybabies. And they are also "bitches," the second most popular word to refer to women, after "girls."
The female body has never been under such extreme scrutiny. A punishing beauty and weight standard has been established that doesn't exist in nature - pert, symmetrical features atop an anorectically thin body with large breasts (pejoratively called "tits-on- sticks," think Pamela Anderson). Television, Hollywood (with its obsessive and sick celebrity culture), advertising, music, and the fashion industry all promote these images of women. In order achieve the body type two things are necessary: starvation and surgery. Starving is free, surgery costs money. Enter the cosmetic surgery industry which creates and defines images (often unattainable) of women's beauty, and depends on women feeling insecure and dissatisfied with their bodies. Dolly Parton said in an interview that when she sees a part of her body that is "dragging, sagging or bagging," she opts for surgery.
The latest offering from the industry: labiaplasty. It's a surgical reduction and reshaping of the labia minora--the "inner lips" that cover the vaginal opening and clitoris. Lovely. No one really noticed a woman's labia minora until the waxing-off of all pubic hair (the infamous Brazilian bikini wax) became the rage. What's next? What's left? Surgical interventions are not being offered to modify men's genitalia, of course. But what about all those hanging, swinging, and sagging scrotal sacks? Surely there is a surgical procedure to lift and tighten up those "balls-in-a-bag."
I am 99% sure I have read this. That's not an insult to CounterPunch which often features online content that's a best of from elsewhere. But I can't remember where I read it. C.I.'s taking a shower (to wake up, C.I.'s exhausted) or I would ask, "Where did I read this?" I'm pretty sure it was in a print magazine. Return on Monday and I'll tell you whether I was right or wrong and, if right, where it appeared.
I think it's a wonderful article but, before someone e-mails to pass it on, I am fully aware that testicles hang low in adulthood because otherwise they won't produce sperm. I'm also sure the writer is aware of that as well. I was going to say that she's not writing about the descent from puberty (that she was referring to the increasing descent that goes on in later adulthood) but I'm not sure now. The surgeries proposed for women have little to do with women, they're about returning to a 'girlhood' or idealized version of it. So possibly she does in fact mean a non-descended testicle. If women are encouraged to revisit the pre-puberty days, why not the same for males?
Of course, I agree with the thrust of her article. I think far too many today mistake 'raunch' for feminism and it goes to the fact that feminism does say every woman should make her own choices about her life but every choice is not a feminist choice, a feminist embracing choice or even a nonhurtful choice. Yes, we're back to the Mud Flap Gals and all the damage they do.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills)
Friday, April 6, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, lies of war get exposed but Cheney continues to lie, the US military aids a terrorist group (designated as such by the US State Department) in Iraq -- aids and escorts, and airstrikes hit the Diwaniya province.
Starting with war resistance, approximately 40 US war resisters have self-checked out, moved to Canada and filed paperwork to be legally granted asylumn in Canada. (Approximately 40 have filed papers, hundreds have gone to Canada and are not attempting to go through the legal process.) Reuben Apple (Eye Weekly) notes that war resisters appearing before the Immigration and Refugee Board to argue their case are prevented from saying "We think this killing is unlawful" and they "are asking our Federal Court of Appeal for the right to say" those six words. Apple notes that attorney Jeffry House -- who represents many war resisters -- is a Canadian citizen today because of the country's policies during an earlier illegal war (Vietnam) when a real prime minister, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, didn't cower before Tricky Dick Nixon but instead declared, "Canada should be a refuge from militarism." Tricky Dick's response to that statement and policy was to call the Canadian prime minister an "asshole" and Trudeau's comeback was that he'd "been called worse things by better people."
Apple notes war resisters Ryan Johnson ("wake up and get involved with something, nuclear disarmament, the Canadian Peace Alliance, the War Resisters Support Campaign, anything, because it's the people that can end this"), Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key: "Two weeks ago, three big men in trench coats, claiming to be 'Toronto police,' came with questions to the home of Winnie Ng, a campaigner who once hosted Key. According to Toronto Star reports of the incident, it seems American military authorities would like to speak with Key. If they want to discuss The Deserter's Tale with its author, they can go to his next talk, or they can call his lawyer, Jeffrey House. Key has legal status in Canada as a refugee claimant, and officials should tell the American government that our police, if those men were our police, are not their messengers."
Earlier this week, Monday, on Canada's Gorilla Radio, host Chris Cook interviewed the War Resisters Support Campaign's Lee Zaslofsky on the topic of US war resisters in Canada. Zaslofsky spoke of what was known and what wasn't known -- such as Kyle Snyder was detained by Canadian police (and that was on the US military's orders though Zaslofsky didn't note that) but he was not deported. During this "mistaken arrest," Snyder was told he was being deported. (He legally cannot be deported.) Cook noted that when a war resister appears before the Refugee and Immigration Board, they are not appearing before a group of people, the board has one person designated to hear that case. Like attorney Jeffry House, Zaslofsky came to Canada during Vietnam as a war resister. Zaslofsky noted that Synder's status in Canada has changed as a result of the fact that he is now married. (That would be to Maleah Friesen, whom Zaslofsky didn't note.) As Friesen's spouse, Snyder has more avenues available to Canadian citizenship. March 19th, Zaslofsky noted, Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey were before the Federarl Court of Appeals and are awaiting a decision which, if necesarry, Zasolfsky states, "We'll appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada."
Snyder, Key, Hinzman and Hughey are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes Ehren Watada Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Corey Glass, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Dean Walcott, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.
From war resistance to reality as we dig into some of the lies of the illegal war. From yesterday's Flashpoints:
Robert Knight: Also in Iraq, a spokesperson for Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is today denying reports that Sistani rejected a new draft law that would allow former members of the Baath party to retain or regain government employment. Sistani's Beriut based representive, Hamed al-Kafaf said, "What some news agencies said, quoting who they described as an aide to al-Sistani about his position on the de-Baathification law was not true." Recent reports that Sistani was against the draft law can be traced to a meeting earlier this week between Sistani and the prevaracating US intelligence asset Ahmed Chalabi who heads the so-called de-Baathification commission and who remains dead set against an easment of the anti-Baath legislation imposed by the occupation forces. Sistani's representative added, "We are surprised by attempts trying to get the Shia clerical establisment involved in a case which is the speciality of constitutional organizations."
And in other news, the overnight release of 15 British sailors by the Iranian government has generated mixed signals in what some say was a quid pro quo that in regard to the 5 Iranian diplomats who were seized last Janurary by American forces in Iraq. Iranian media reported overnight that an Iranian diplomatic official would be allowed to meet with the five diplomatic detainees. But Secreatary of Defense Robert Gates said today that the Bush administration was not planning to release the five who were abducted in a raid on the Iranian consulate's office in the northern Iraqi city of Ibril.
And in a related note, a captain among the detained British sailors who were released was revealed to have admitted that there mission the Shaw al abray waterway between Ira1 and Iran, unsurprisingly did indeed involve elements of intelligence gathering Britain' s Murdoch owned Sky News is reporting today that Sky News went on patrol with Captain Chris Air and his team in Iraqi waters close to the area where they were arrested and just five days
before the crisis began, in an interview recorded the Thursday before the seizure that happened two weeks ago, Captain Air stated to the interviewer that his crew's assignment was "To gather intelligence. If they do not have any information because they're there for days at a time, the people on the boats can share it with us. Whether it's about piracy or any sort of Iranian activity in the area obviously we're right by the bufferzone with Iran." And that's some of the news of this Thursday April 5, 2007. From exile in New York, I'm Robert Knight for Flashpoinsts.
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes today that "British Defense Secretary Des Browne defended the intelligence operation. Browne said it was important to gather intelligence to 'keep our people safe'." Goodman also noted that Sky News sat on the story "until the release of the sailors."
Turning to other lies of war, R. Jeffrey Smith (Washington Post) reports today that a US Defense Department report (declassifired yesterday and written by Inspector General Thomas F. Gimble) states the obvious -- in 2002 the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency both knew the claims that Saddam Hussein had a links to al Qaeda were incorrect. Smith notes the report was released yesterday, "on the same day that Vice President Cheney, appearing on Rush Limbaugh's radio program, repeated his allegation that al-Qaeda was operating inside Iraq 'before we ever launched' the war". Dick Cheney's remarks are not merely 'incorrect,' they are lies. Peter Speigel (Los Angeles Times) reports that "The Defense Intelligence Agency and the CIA each 'published reports that disavowed any "mature, symbiotic" cooperation between Iraq and Al Qaeda,' the inspector general's report found." AP notes that US Senator Carl Levin "requested that the Pentagon declassify the report prepared by acting Defense Department Inspector General Thomas F. Gimble. In a statement Thursday, Levin said the declassified document showed why a Defense Department investigation had concluded that some Pentagon prewar intelligence work was inappropriate." Strangely in the face of Cheney's lies about terrorism, Michael Ware (CNN) reports that the US military is currently protecting a non al Qaeda group in Iraq that the US State Department has "labeled a terrorist organization" -- Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) -- and that "[t]he U.S. military . . . regularly escorts MEK supply runs between Baghdad and its base, Camp Ashraf." Why? MEK is an anti-Iranian group. Ware reports that the Iraqis government wants the group out and quotes Iraq's National Security Minister Shirwan al-Wa'eli stating, "We gave this organization a six-month deadline to leave Iraq, and we informed the Red Cross. And presumably our friends the Americans will respect our decision and they will not stay on Iraqi land."
Returning to the topic of the lies that led to war, they were lies in real time -- scary lies to some -- they're sad lies now. Another popular lie is "if only we knew then . . ." US Senator and 2008 presidential candidate Chris Dodd tells that sweet little lie: "Had we known before the war what we know today -- that there were no weapons of mass destruction; that there were no links between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda; that there was no imminent threat from Iraq to America's security or vital interests -- Congress would never have considered, let alone voted to authorize, the use of force in Iraq." A comforting lie to some, but a lie nonetheless. In October 2002, (PDF format warning) US House Rep Dennis Kucinich provided an analysis of the US administration's false claims and noted, among other things: "There is no proof that Iraq represents an imminent or immediate threat to the United States. A 'continuing' threat does not constitute a sufficient cause for war. The Administration has refused to provide the Congress with credible intelligence that proves that Iraq is a serious threat to the United States and is continuing to possess and develop chemical and biological and nuclear weapons. Furthermore there is no credible intelligence connecting Iraq to Al Qaida and 9/11." The analysis makes the point repeatedly: "There is no credible intelligence that connects Iraq to the events of 9/11 or to participation in those events by assisting Al Qaida. . . . There is no connection between Iraq and the events of 9/11." 125 Democrats in Congress voted against the Iraq war resolution. Kucinich, who is running for President, was among the 125.
To suggest that 'we were all wrong' is to replace one lie with another. Professor Francis Boyle was interviewed by Bonnie Faulkner for the March 28, 2007 broadcast of KPFA's Guns and Butter and he shared the experience, from March 13, 2003, of joining former Attorney General Ramsey Clark for a meeting with Congressional Democrats where the subject was impeachment of the Bully Boy and how impeachment could stop the war. Though there was strong interest in that, an appearance by John Podesta deralied it as he screeched that doing so would hurt the Democrats 2004 election chances. As Kat notes of that interview, Boyle and Clark "were both getting their cabs" after and Boyle asked Clark what had happened? Clark explained that Democratic leadership wanted the illegal war. Boyle also discussed the meeting with Dori Smith for Talk Nation Radio in May 2006 (link takes you to audio and transcript via Information Clearing House) where he noted: "The main objection" to impeachment "was political expedience and in particular John Podesta was there. He had been [Bill] Clinton's White House chief of staff. He stated he was appearing on behalf of the Democratic National Commitee and that as far as the DNC was concerned it was going to hurt their ability to get whoever their candidate was going to be in 2004 elected President if we put in these bills of impeachment. I found that argument completely disingenuous when the Democrats had no idea who their candidate was going to be in 2004 as of March 2003."
From Howard Zinn's A Power Governments Cannot Suppress (City Lights Press), pp. 199-200:
Now that most Americans no longer believe in the war nor trust Bush and his administration, and evidence of official deception has become old news, we might ask: why were so many people so easily fooled?
The question is important because it might help us understand why Americans -- members of the media as well as the ordinary citizen -- rushed to declare their support as the president was sending troops halfway around the world to Iraq.
A small example of the innocence (or obsequiousness, to be more exact) of the press is the way it reacted to Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation in February 2003 to the UN Security Council, a month before the invasion, a speech that may have set a record for the number of falsehoods told in one talk. In it, Powell confidently rattled off his "evidence": satellite photographs, audio records, reports from informants, with precise statistics on how many gallons of this and that existed for chemical warfare. The New York Times was breathless with adminiration. The Washington Post editorial was titled "Irrefutable" and declared that after Powell's talk "it is hard to imagine how anyone could doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction."
The truth was that a small army of UN inspectors could not find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. A large army of 100,000 soldiers marauding through the country could not find them. But back in February 2003 the White House said: "We know for a fact that there are weapons there." Vice President Dick Cheney said on Meet the Press: "[W]e believe Saddam has in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons." On March 30, 2003, Rumsfeld said on ABC TV: "We know where they are." And Bush said on Polish TV: "We've found the weapons of mass destruction."
The only weapons of mass destruction in Iraq turned out to be ours: bombs and missiles raining down by the thousands, cluster bombs spewing out deadly pellets, the arsenal of the greatest military power on earth visiting destruction on yet another country.
Self-determination for the Iraqis becomes an ironic claim as the new officialdom, headed by wealthy exiles, is flown by U.S. planes into Iraq and positions of power. In Vietnam there was a similar claim as Ngo Dinh Diem was flown into Saigon to rule South Vietnam in the interest of U.S. hegemony in Southeast Asia.
Which brings us back to the points Robert Knight was making earlier about Chalabi. On Tuesday, Edward Wong (New York Times) reported that Ahmad Chalabi was stating that al-Sistani was opposed to allowing former members of the Baath party to rejoin the government (Wong notes that Chalabi heads up the commission and that it was "set up L. Paul Bremer III, the American pro-consul who governed Iraq from May 2003 to June 2004. Mr. Bermere's very first order was to purge former Baathists from the government, a task that Mr. Chalabi's commission pasisonately carried out"). On Wednesday, Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reported that: "An official spokesman for Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani distanced the ayatollah from reports published Monday and Tuesday saying that the marjiay, the most senior Shiite clerics, disagreed with the plan, which was proposed jointly by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki and President Jalal Talbani." Which begs the question why any serious outlet would take a word from Chalabi's mouth seriously? The exile who helped sell the war is attempting to position himself back to the top of the puppet regime. But, as Joshua Partlow (Washington Post) notes today, Chalabi's got competition from another US backed exile: "Some politicians say they believe the talk of a new parliamentary alliance is a cover for an attempt by Allawi to take another run at ruling Iraq. Allawi was installed as interim prime minister in mid-2004 by the U.S.-led government in Iraq, but he was swept from office by the groundswell of support for religious parties in January 2005." That's Iyad Allawi a one time prime minister of Iraq who was then and is now also a citizen of Britain. Allawi and Chalabi aren't only exiles (heavily funded before the illegal war with US tax dollars), they're also related. The current puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki (emphasis on "current") is another exile who returned to Iraq only after the US invaded. Which must mean that around kitchen tables across Iraq, children are being told, "Clean your plate, spend some time in exile, and some day you can grow up to be Prime Minister."
Most attemtnion is on Ramadi today where a bombing has claimed multiple lives. CBS and AP report the death toll at "at least 27" and many more are wounded from "A suicide bomber driving a truck loaded with TNT and toxic chlorine gas [who] crashed into a police checkpoint in western Ramadi". CNN notes at least 30 wounded and that two police officers are among the dead. AFP calls it "the biggest chemical attack by insurgents in Iraq since the invasion" and notes that it took place "next to a market and residential buildings".
Reuters notes a Hawija bombing that left four police officers wounded, two Kirkuk bombings that left six people wounded and mortar attacks in Baghdad which killed three and left five wounded.
Al Jazeera reports that "in the city of Diwaniya, Iraqi and US forces clashed on Friday with fighters loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr, the Shia leader in a major operation. . . . Residents and an Iraqi security source in Diwaniya said a curfew had been imposed and that troops were blocking streets and conducting house-to-house searches." DPA notes "at least 30 men were killed and many others wounded" and that "US military aircraft flew over the city and all roads were sealed off . . . The local authorities also imposed a curfew all over the city." Steven R. Hurst (AP) reports: "Dr. Hameed Jaafi, the director of Diwaniyah Health Directorate, said an American helicopter fired on a house in the Askari neighborhood, seriously wounding 12 people as the assault began." Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reports, "A man named Jassim, from Sadr's Diwaniyah office, said that U.S. troops had entered the city before dawn from three locations with tanks and helicopters flying overhead, taunting the Mahdi army fighters. . . . He claimed that two civilians had been killed by snipers as they tried to go to work" which the US military denies. AFP notes at least one dead and that "Polish aircraft dropped leaflets over the city ordering local police officers to stay home, warning that anyone who went out with a weapon will be considered a target, a military spokesman confirmed."
Reuters reports Sheikh Ghazi al-Hanash was shot dead in Mosul, three police officers were wouned by gunfire in Baghdad, Sheikh Karim Omran al-Shafi was injured in an attack in Hilla, and two people were shot dead "in the Amil District in southwestern Baghdad."
Reuters notes four corpses discovered in Tal Afar. As noted in yesterday's snapshot, the corpse of Khamail Khalaf was discovered yesterday. Bloomberg News reports: "An Iraqi reporter for a U.S.-backed radio station has been found dead in Baghdad after going missing two days ago. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty said on its Web site that the body of Khamail Khalaf was found with bullet holes in her head and wounds on her body" and the article notes she had worked for RFE "since 2004." This was noted yesterday but she has been reported as a TV journalist -- which she was until the start of the war.
Finally, on Thursday, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) explored the latest developments in governmental spying "a secret FBI intelligence unit helped detain and question a group of protesters in a downtwon parking garage in April 2002. Some of the protesters were interrogated on videotape about their political and religious beliefs." Excerpt:
Amy Goodman: We're also joined by Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, an attorney and co-founder of Partnership for Civil Justice. Mara, talk about the significance of this, of the years of denial that the FBI were involved.
Mara Verheyden-Hillard: Well, as Nat said, the FBI and the Metropolitan Police Department have steadfastly held that it didn't happen. We believe our clients. We know that this happens. We have evidence in other cases of FBI involvement in intelligence gathering on political protesters. And in discovery request after discovery request, in sworn responses in hearings before the court, over and over again, the FBI, the MPD have done everything they can to suggest that this is somehow complete fabrication. And we have sought for years, as well, to get a particular document, the document that now places the FBI squarely at the scene of the arrests and doing intelligence gathering. And that's the running resume. It's a document that indicates, line by line, what the MPD and federal police and other law enforcement agencies are doing during protests. We've been able to obtain them in virtually every protest case we're litigating in D.C. And in this case, they actually told us it didn't exist, and they swore it didn't exist -- and now we know why. This document says very clearly FBI intelligence is on the scene and the protesters are being questioned. And the only way this finally came up is they gave it to us the one business day before a deposition we were taking of one of the MPD members who's responsible for developing this document.
Juan Gonzalez: And what has been the response of the law enforcement officials who kept saying that they didn't have any records of this?
Mara Verheyden-Hillard: Well, we want a response. We have filed a motion for sanctions with the court. As well, the FBI has filed a motion to dismiss themselves from the case. We don't see that there can be any basis for their dismissal -- and this situation is really important, because we think it's sort of the tip of the iceberg. We think it's one tentacle coming up that's quite visible of a larger operation. The questions that they were asking protesters, the questions about who were you with, what are your political beliefs, where are you staying -- associational, political questions -- that's programmatic questioning. It's not random questioning. It's the kind of information you collect when you're building a database, an associational database and a network database of information. And it's all purely political. It's all First Amendment-protected political activity, political association.
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