Barack, for those who forgot, had a real problem respecting Hillary's space. He kept invading it. He kept touching her. It was very patronizing, not unlike Bully Boy Bush attempting to give an uninvited back rub to Germany's leader Angela Merkel.
I thought about that since I blogged last due to something I saw:
But they note that Barack's not sure about the Freedom Of Choice Act and that he says it's not a "high" priority; however, when he was attempting to woo women voters, he was promising that signing it would be the first thing, THE FIRST THING, he did as president if elected.
It wasn't the FIRST THING. Obviously. He's been in office now for over 100 days -- as the press can't stop telling us -- and he's not signed it, he's not pushed on it and now we know it's not "high" on his things-to-do list.
Women just got Merkel-ed again.
Tuesday, I posted "Is it a library in a police state?" here and it resulted in a huge number of e-mails. Many of you were complaining . . . about the library's refusal to call or e-mail you after you'd complained to them.
I'm not surprised that took place. Someone who does not respect the privacy of their patrons is not someone who can rush out an apology.
The e-mails were wonderful and I enjoyed them (Sunny loved them and most of you got a reply from her) and I think it's important that we get the message out that the Dallas Public Library thinks it is okay to allow the police to go through the items their patrons check out. So much for privacy.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, May 1, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces multiple deaths, Steven Green's War Crimes trial continues, Iraqi refugees see little progress, and more.
Monday July 3, 2006, Sandra Lupien broke the news listeners of KPFA's The Morning Show, "Steven Green who is discharged from the army was arrested in recent days in North Carolina and faces criminal charges in connection with the killings." It's the fourth news break of that day's broadcast and Steven D. Green is currently and finally on trial in Kentucky. From the July 2, 2006 snapshot: "Lupien also noted the arrest of Steven D. Green. Green, is 21 and was with the 101st Airborne Division of the US Army. Friday, in Asheville, North Carolina, he was arrested and charged with both the four deaths as well as the rape. According to the US government press release, if convicted on the charge of murder, 'the maximum statutory penalty . . . is death' while, if convicted on the charge of rape, 'the maxmium statutory penalty for the rape is life in prison'."
November 2, 2006, the US Justice Dept announced Green had been indicted: "A former Ft. Campbell soldier has been charged with various crimes for conduct including premeditated murder based on the alleged rape of an Iraqi girl and the deaths of the girl and members of her family, Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney David L. Huber of the Western District of Kentucky announced today. Steven D. Green, 21, was charged in the indictment returned today by a federal grand jury in Louisville, Ky., with conduct that would constitute conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit aggravated sexual abuse, premeditated murder, murder in perpetration of aggravated sexual abuse, aggravated sexual abuse on a person less than 16 years of age, use of firearms during the commission of violent crimes and obstruction of justice. The potential statutory penalties for conviction of these offenses ranges from a term of years to life in prison to death."
March 12, 2006, Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, a 14-year-old Iraqi girl, was gang-raped by two US soldiers while a third shot her parents and five-year-old sister dead. The third soldier, Steven D. Green, then joined the the other two soldiers and took part in the gang-rape before shooting Abeer dead and then attempting to set her body on fire. Though four US soldiers are already serving time for the War Crimes, and were tried in military court, another is on trial in a fedearl court. The United States District Court Western District of Kentucky is the location of the ongoing trial of Steven D. Green who has been described as the "ringleader" and fingered as the one who killed all four, a participant in the gang-rape of Abeer and the one who thought up the criminal conspiracy. Green's attorneys do not dispute it but ask that the 'context' of his actions be considered. The trial began Monday.
Among those offering testimony yesterday were Jesse Spielman and James Barker. Barker was tried in a military court and entered a guilty plea. Barker's testimony followed a court order after Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky Candace G. Hill filed a motion which Judge Thomas B. Russell signed off on and it included: "No testimony or other information compelled under this Order (or any information directly or indirectly derived from such testimony or other information) may be used against James Paul Barker in any criminal case, except a prosecution for perjury, giving a false statement, or otherwise failing to comply with this Order." Wednesday, Anthony Yribe testified and Hill also filed a motion to compell his testimony (which Judge Russell also signed off on). Paul Cortez also confessed to his part in the War Crimes and was sentenced by a military court. Hill has also had to file a motion to compell his testimony (which Judge Russel has signed off on). Cortez has yet to testify.
Jesse Speilman testified yesterday and was not under court-order. Brett Barrouquere (AP) quotes Speilman stating on the witness stand that he wasn't aware what the plan was when he joined Green and other soldiers: "I knew we were going to do something. We'd gone and roughed people up before. It's not all that uncomon."
As Marcia observed last night:
But grasp that he says, "We'd gone and roughed people up before. It's not all that uncommon."
The gang-rape and the murders was apparently uncommon; however, the roughing up of Iraqis, the sneaking off base to rough up Iraqis at night was "not all that uncommon."
It's a real damn shame so little of the country gives a damn about the March 2006 War Crimes or the trial going on right now because a lot is being learned.
Steven D. Green received his GED in 2003 and joined the military in February 2005, shortly after his January 31st arrest. He entered the military on a 'moral' waiver and he was discharged May 16, 2006.
Also testifying yesterday was FBI agent Stewart Kelly. Evan Bright is reporting on the trial at his blog. Bright reports Kelly testified that Green told him he "knew you guys were coming" and "looks like I'll be spending the rest of my life in prison" after his arrest. Of Spielman's testimony yesterday, Evan Bright reports:
After the lunch recess, Spielman described entering the house and keeping watch while Barker and Cortez separated 14-year-old Abeer from her family. He agreed to hearing three gunshots and that, after asking Green if everything was okay, Green replied "everything's fine", before letting him see the bodies of Qasim, Fakrhiya, and Hadeel. He said he knew they were dead because there was "blood scattered on the wall & part of the father's cranium was missing." Accordingly, Spielman walked out of that room and witnessed the rape of Abeer. The prosecution lent the model of the Al-Janabi house to Spielman for better clarification of the events and how they happened. When an M14 shotgun was brought out for demonstrative purposes, the court enjoyed a moment of humor as Marisa Ford, holding the weapon, declared "Judge, these have all been rendered safe but since I clearly have no clue what I'm doing," "and you're pointing it at me," (D)Wendelsdorf added. Spielman was confused, "I didn't really know what to do," he said, "It was an unsafe area and three out of my four squad members were involved so I couldn't leave and run back to TCP2." He testified to seeing Green unbuttoning his pants and getting down between Abeer's legs and raping her, after which he took a pillow and put it over Abeer's head and fired an AK47 into the pillow, killing her. At this, the defendant was spotted looking down. He then watched Barker pour a liquid onto her body. While her body was burning, he added clothes and blankets to fuel the flames, "to destroy evidence," he said.
He continued, describing Cortez & Barker washing their chests and genitalia back at TCP2, and how he himself threw the AK47 into the canal. When asked why he didn't turn his squad members in, he "didn't feel right, telling on people [he] served with." He was also fearful of retaliation from his fellow troops.
Evan Bright is in the courtroom and reporting. Considering all the media silence, ALL THE MEDIA SILENCE, that alone is amazing. When you grasp that Evan Bright is an 18-year-old high school student, it's even more amazing. We'll have an interview with Evan Bright Sunday at Third. Of Yribe's testimony Wednesday, Evan Bright reports:
Yribe spoke of Green's "confession" to the crimes, and of Specialist James Barker's hearing the confession but saying nothing, something that the Defense would later play upon. As he spoke of his realization that Spc. Green was telling the truth, Def. Green anxiously bit his nails.
When attorneys asked Yribe why he didn't turn Green in, Yribe murmured, "It was kind of….out of sight out of mind? I didn't understand the gravity of the situation."
During his cross-examination, Yribe was, for the most part, accepting and cooperative. As previously mentioned, Yribe was questioned on Barker's presence during Green's "confession" to the murder. The defense made light of Green's confessing that he and he alone did the murders, with Barker saying nothing and confessing to nothing, even though he had every opportunity to do so. Scott Wendelsdorf(D) pondered, "Is it true that if Green had said nothing to you, these crimes would have gone unsolved?" to which Yribe confirmed.
Unless Yribe's confessing to being the company blabbermouth, he has a highly inflated sense of himself. It's also cute how Green's defense wants to talk 'context' and the 'losses' but never want to take accountability for the worst attack on the platoon, June 16th when David Babineau, Kristian Menchaca and Thomas Tucker were murdered. But then if their deaths were on your hands maybe you wouldn't be too honest either?
They died apparently as a result of what was done to Abeer and her family. That is the claim of their assailants. So Green and company might want to try taking a little accountability for their actions. As for Yribe's claim that the crimes would have gone unsolved if Green hadn't spoken to him? Lie. Yribe did confess to Justin Watt but so did Bryan Howard. When Babineau was murdered and Menchaca and Tuker were missing, Watt came foward with what Howard and Yribe were telling him and others. Justin Watt is the whistle blower who stepped forward. Gregg Zoroya (USA Today) reported that as far back as September 2006. From the October 15, 2008 snapshot:
When did it come to light? In June of 2006. Prior to that the crimes were committed by 'insurgents'. Gregg Zoroya (USA Today) reported on how Justin Watt (who was not part of the conspiracy) came forward with what he had been hearing. This was while US soldiers Kristian Menchaca and Thomas Tucker were missing and, though the two were not involved in the war crimes, they were the ones chosen for 'punishment' as The Sunday Telegraph revealed in December 2006. Mechaca and Tucker get no special requests to the court. Like Abeer, they're dead. Like Abeer, they were guilty of no crime.
Brett Barrouquere (AP) who has been on the story for close to three years now reports that today saw James Barker continue testifying and that Paul Cortez alos testified. As they did in military courts, they repeated their own involvement in the War Crimes and described Steven Green's role. Barrouquere quotes Barker reflecting on his crimes to the court, "I should have had more sense than that. It was against everything, how I felt, how I was raised. In a way, it was barbaric."
This morning the US military announced: "AL ANBAR PROVINCE, Iraq – Two Marines and one sailor were killed while conducting combat operations against enemy forces here April 30. The names of the service members are being withheld pending next-of-kin notification and release by the Department of Defense." The announcement brings to 4281 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war. CNN observes that April is the deadliest month for US service members in Iraq so far this year, "In April, 18 U.S. troops died in Iraq, according to a CNN count of reported troop fatalities. Sixteen of those troops died in combat." 18 is the current total but it is not uncommon for an announcement or two to surface a few days after the start of the month -- meaning 18 may or may not be the final count for April. Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) observes, "Anbar is an overwhelmingly Sunni province that was the center of the insurgency in Iraq until tribal leaders joined forces with the American military and Iraqi government against Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and other extremists in 2006 and 2007. Since then the province has been one of the more stable in the country." Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) provides this context: "The spike in American casualties coincides with a rise in civilian deaths. They come as the U.S. military is retrenching from urban areas, leaving Iraqi security forces in the lead, and as insurgents are stepping up attacks designed to discredit the Iraqi government and the U.S. military." Of the increased violence, Dahr Jamail (at CounterCurrents) explains, "The floodgates of hell have once again been opened, largely as the result of US unwillingness to pressure the Maliki government to back off its ongoing attacks against the US-created Sahwa, which have led to the Sahwa walking off their security posts in many areas, which has been a green light for al-Qaeda to resume its operations in Iraq. In addition, many of the Sahwa forces, weary of not being paid promised wages from the government, as well as broken promises by the occupiers of their country, have resumed attacks against US forces. Again, there doesn't appear to be anything in the short term to indicate these trends will stop."
In other reported violence today . . .
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Mosul "suicide bomber" who took his own life and the lives of 6 others.
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a US home invasion in Tikrit early this morning (one a.m.) in which 2 people were killed: Emad Sleman al Sharqi and Arkan Maseer al Sharqi. Tim Cocks (Reuters) reports 1 police officer was shot dead in Mosul and 1 "bodyguard of a Kurdish politician" was as well.
Cocks also notes that Maj Gen David Perkins declared at a Baghdad press briefing today that US forces might miss the June 30th departure date on Iraqi cities when it comes to Mosul. That date was not supposed to float in the air. Allegedly the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement ruled/demanded that US troops leave ALL Iraqi cities by June 30th. But the treaty was never the 'binding' document that the US government (past and present administrations) or the press led the people to believe. As Seumas Milne (Guardian) observes today, "Not only does it seem all US combat troops will not after all be pulling out of Iraqi cities by the end of June, but there are persistent US hints that "agreement" may be reached with the Iraqi government to stay on after the announced full withdrawal by the end of 2011. The aggressors are clearly not going to go quietly."
Meanwhile, Zeina Karam (AP) examines life for Iraqi refugees in Syria and quotes Taghrid Hadi stating, "Life here is better. My children can play outside and I know they'll come back. You never know what's going to happen there." Monday Human Rights First issued a press release which included:
Washington, DC -- Only 4,200 Iraqis with U.S. ties have made it to the United States since 2003, though at least 20,000 have applied, and the number of U.S.-affiliated Iraqis may be as high as 146,000, according to a new report issued today by a leading human rights group.
The report, Promises to the Persecuted: The Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act of 2008, issued by Human Rights First, examines implementation of this critical legislation. It finds that, despite a Congressional mandate intended to expedite Iraqi refugee processing times, only a small portion of eligible Iraqis have been granted a safe haven in the United States. Based on its findings, Human Rights First urged the Obama administration to examine this issue and clear remaining bureaucratic obstacles to fulfilling America's promise to persecuted Iraqis who worked with the United States in Iraq, as well as to their families.
"Progress has been made since the enactment of the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act in January 2008, but it's not enough. Processing times are unacceptably long, and Iraqis seeking safety in the United States can wait a year or more for their applications to move through the system," says Human Rights First's Ruthie Epstein, who authored the report. "We pin the delays on two problems – inadequate staffing and inefficient security clearance procedures. The result is that thousands of U.S.-affiliated Iraqis are stuck in Iraq and other countries in the region, facing danger and destitution. The absence of direct access to the U.S. refugee program in Syria and Turkey, where the need is significant, exacerbates the problem."
According to the report, U.S. officials successfully established processing for U.S.-affiliated Iraqis under an administration that was reluctant to acknowledge the refugee crisis and in the face of significant logistic and security challenges. But the multi-agency programs are still plagued with procedural barriers.
"In February at Camp Lejeune, President Obama made a commitment to Iraqi refugees. He declared, rightly so, that the United States has a strategic interest and a moral responsibility to act," noted Amelia Templeton, a refugee policy analyst at Human Rights First. "His commitment should begin with a comprehensive evaluation and improvement of the programs designed to provide escape to the very Iraqis who helped the United States."
Today Seumas Milne (Guardian) observes, "The Iraq war has been a monstrous crime. Based on a false pretext, it has left hundreds of thousands dead, created more than four million refugees, unleashed an orgy of ethnic cleansing and laid waste to the broken infrastructure of a country already on its knees from 12 years of sanctions and a generation of war." Human Rights First [PDF format warning] report notes, "Only a small percentage of the 15, 627 U.S.-affiliated Iraqis who applied directly to the U.S. refugee admissions program and whose U.S. ties have been verified have actually arrived in the United States -- less than 9 percent as of April 22, 2009." The new admissions programs is for those who have assisted the US -- US news outlets, US diplomatic corps or the US military. Elisabeth Witchel (Committee to Protect Journalists) explains:
CPJ supported the legislation, which created a category known as P2 (priority 2) for direct resettlement of Iraqi refugees with U.S. affiliations, including employees of U.S.-based media. The act promised a lifeline to Iraqi journalists, among other eligible groups, who have been targeted and killed in record numbers. However, CPJ shares the concerns detailed in the HRF white paper about the lengthy delays applicants are facing throughout this process.
[. . .]
Journalists applying out of Baghdad have expressed anxiety and frustration to us with unexplained delays and lack of information available to them on the status of their cases. One translator for a major U.S. newspaper submitted her application materials 10 months ago and still has not received so much as an invitation for an interview. She did receive a notice last month requesting she resend some of her documents. She complied and received an auto reply that her case would be reviewed within 10 months. This could mean a 20-month wait before even knowing if she has been confirmed as eligible, let alone the time it takes for the multi-agency security clearance process and Department of Homeland security checks which follow. That is a long time for someone in her shoes.
Like many other journalists and Iraqis at risk for their work, she has moved five times now for her safety; she keeps her occupation secret from family and friends and says she fears discovery every day by militias that consider people who work with Americans to be traitors or spies. Then there is the chance that she will find out after the long wait that she has not been approved. A cameraman for a prominent U.S. television news program was interviewed six months after his application was submitted; he waited another four months to learn that his application was rejected and he must now apply for reconsideration.
It needs to be noted that the process may be a little slower now due to the fact that some journalists (we don't use "media worker" here, they are journalists even if they're 'only' stringers) have been accepted and decided not to leave Iraq. We'll be kind and not provide the link but it was one of the top ten US daily newspapers in the country and it reported on how various Iraqi journalists for their paper were either accepted or in the process and not sure they wanted to leave Iraq. Sahar S. Gabriel is one of the Iraqi journalists accepted via the program. She worked for the New York Times and she posts to the paper's blog since arriving in the US. In her most recent post, she observed, "On March 18, just after my arrival in the United States, four high schoolers were killed in the state of Michigan. DUI, an expression I had heard so much in TV shows and movies. Four lives ended in a reckless accident caused by a moment of irrationality. A bad decision. This was not a terrorist act or a sectarian killing. This was what is referred to as 'stuff happens,' and it happens everywhere around the world."
Other categories of Iraqi refugees have arrived in the US -- a very small number, to be sure. Susan B. Wilson (KCUR -- link is audio) reported Monday on Iraqi refugees in Missouri:
Young boy: It's so much fun to be here because it's like you feel you are in your country. You see a lot of people, you see a lot of people that understand you and people that from your country and like you talk with them and you know what they feel and they know what you feel and I think that's really special.
Susan B. Wilson: And how old are you?
Young Boy: Uh, 12.
Susan B. Wilson: And when did you come to America?
Young Boy: About one year ago
Susan B. Wilson: Oh. And what was it like to first come here?
Young Boy: It was like a challenge for me because I didn't know how to speak English so I had to like have to learn English to know how to speak English to talk with people so people can understand me and I can understand people.
Susan B. Wilson: Well you speak English so well, how did you learn?
Young Boy: I learned it from school.
Nina Berman (Mother Jones) also reported on Iraqi refugees this week and she focused on those in Dallas, Texas where she observed, "Rather than making new lives, they are facing unemployment, eviction and isolation." Berman explains, "Each refugee receives $900 from the State Department's Reception and Placement program for initial resettlement to cover housing, clothing, food and necessities for 30 to 90 days. The money is administerd by 10 resettlement agencies that typically use half of it to cover administration and logistics. . . . Beyond that, refugees can get food stamps and Medicaid for eight months, which is a decline from 36 months when the Refugee Act was passed in 1980." Yes, that is embarrassing, yes, the US government should be ashamed of itself.
A large number of the external refugees are Christians due to the targeting of them in Iraq. Monday Vatican Radio reported on the Iraqi Christians murdered in Kirkuk Sunday.
Lydia O'Kane: Two Christian homes in the Iraqi city of Kirkuk became places of violence on Sunday, leaving 2 women and a man dead. These latest attacks on the dwindling Christian community have left it frightened and also worried about fears of reprisals. The motives behind the attacks remain unclear but police in Kirkuk say the slayings appear to be an attempt by al Qaeda to spark sectarian clashes or scare away the more than 10,000 Christians remaining around the city.
Archbishop of Kirkuk Louis Sako: During the funerals, the church was full by Muslims. The governor, the mayor, the head of the police, the head of the army, the Sheiks [. . .] and also the Imans. And all of them, they condemned such attacks against innocent Christians.
Lydia O'Kane: Archbishop of Kirkuk Louis Sako who condemned the killings said he's received support from other religious denominations.
Archbishop of Kirkuk Louis Sako: After the funeral, they gave speeches about the humanity and the harmony of all the groups in the city. And also I asked Muslims, the Shia and Sunni and other ethnic groups, to be united. To be united and to protect each other in the same neighborhood. I hope that will work.
Lydia O'Kane: In light of the murders round the clock security patrols and checkpoints have been increased around Christian areas in the country including the city of Mosul which has faced the brunt of attacks including a string of bombings and execution style slayings in late 2008 blamed on Sunni insurgents. Iraq's Christians who numbered about one million in the early eighties are now estimated at about half that as families flee warfare and extremists attacks that target their churches and homes. I'm Lydia O'Kane..
Monday also saw Azzaman offered an editorial on the murders which noted, "The killing of [three] Christians in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk has sent shivers of fear in the Christian minority in the volatile northern city of Mosul. A few months ago more than a dozen Christians were killed in Mosul, forcing a big Christian exodus to surrounding villages and towns. Mosul, Iraq's second most populous city is under the control of insurgents fighting U.S. and Iraqi troops. Observers believe the city has emerged as a bastion for al-Qaeda in Iraq. Many of Mosul Christians have returned but some say they now fear for their lives." Eric Young (Christian Post Reporter) reminds, "Since 2003, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled to neighboring countries and some 750 Christians have been killed in Iraq, according to Archbishop Louis Sako, the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Kirkuk." World Magazine reports on the three funerals held in Kirkuk Monday which were attended by the province's governor Mustafa Abdulraham and presided over by Archbishop Sako whose church the three had attended: "Besides crowds of mourners, Christian clergy from across the city as well as government officials attended the service in the ethnically mixed city, which has repeatedly been forced to delay a referendum on whether it will join the Kurdish government to the north or remain part of the Baghdad administration to the south. A U.N. commission has just completed a report on the region, which sits atop most of Iraq's oil reserves. It calls for a negotiated settlement that leaves the province intact. The outcome of the dispute will go a long way toward determining whether Iraq will continue with a strong centralized government in Baghdad once U.S. forces begin their departure. Many believe the attacks are aimed at undoing current negotiations."
The US has done little (that includes the current administration) to aid Iraqi refugees. Many of the external refugees flee to neighboring countries with Jordan and Syria having the largest numbers of Iraqi refugees. Syria Today reports, "The Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and Danish embassy opened a new counseling centre for Iraqi refugees in Damascus on April 29." James Cogan (WSWS via CounterCurrents) notes, "There are 1.2 million Iraqi refugees in Syria, 500,000 in Jordan, 200,000 in other Gulf states and upwards of 50,000 in both Lebanon and Egypt. Relief agencies and charities report that after years of exile, conditions for many of the refugees are dire. Whatever money or assets they had has been spent, and in most of the host countries the Iraqis are not legally allowed to work."
In other news, Iraq War veteran and Iraq Veterans Against the War co-chair Adam Kokesh announces he's running for Congress:
Since I was first politically active, people have been encouraging me to run for Congress, including a recent effort to "draft" me to run (draftkokesh.com). We need rallying points to keep our movement invigorated and growing, and if a run for Congress from my home town of Santa Fe can serve as one, I will gladly step up. In that spirit, I am excited to announce the formation of the Kokesh for Congress Exploratory Committee.
While I am asking for your financial support in this effort, I want to make it clear that I am willing to make the personal sacrifices necessary to raise the standard of our national leadership. If elected, I will not accept the Congressional salary of approximately $170,000, but only the national average income. It is unbearable in these difficult times, for Congress to tell the American people what is best for us economically while they vote themselves another pay raise and burden our children with impossible debt. Enough is enough!
There is a temporary website up now at kokeshforcongress.com. Please sign up and donate there as we prepare for the launch of a complete site on June 1st.
It is time once again to draw the line between patriots and loyalists. I am a patriot because I am committed to the ideals of liberty and equality this country is destined to achieve, loyal to no false authority. I know that much more than political resistance is required to achieve a paradigm shift, but we can do no wrong standing up for what we know to be morally right. Regardless of my decision, I remain eternally committed to the cause of liberty.
Independent journalist David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press). At The Nation, he and Bill Ong Hing explore efforts to further punish immigrant workers:
For more than two decades it has been a crime for an undocumented worker to hold a job in the United States. To enforce the prohibition, agents conduct immigration raids, of the kind we saw at meatpacking plants in the past few years.
Today, some suggest "softer," or more politically palatable, enforcement--a giant database of Social Security numbers (E-Verify). Employers would be able to hire only those whose numbers "verify" their legal immigration status. Workers without such "work authorization" would have to be fired.
Whether hard or soft, these measures all enforce a provision of immigration law on the books since 1986--employer sanctions--which makes it illegal for an employer to hire a worker with no legal immigration status. In reality, the law makes it a crime for an undocumented worker to have a job.
The rationale has always been that this will dry up jobs for the undocumented and discourage them from coming. Those of us who served on a United Food and Commercial Workers commission that studied Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids at Swift meatpacking plants across the country learned that the law has had disastrous effects on all workers. Instead of reinforcing or tweaking employer sanctions, we would be much better off if we ended them.
TV notes, Washington Week begins airing tonight on many PBS stations (check local listings) and finds Gwen sitting around the table with Spencer Hsu (Washington Post), Alexis Simendinger (National Journal), David Wessel (Wall St. Journal) and Jeff Zeleny (New York Times). Expect some easy-breezy Cover Girl makeup 'analysis' of Arlen Specter and a ton of bad jokes. (Seriously, expect a ton of bad jokes.) Also on PBS (and starts airing tonight on many PBS stations, check local listings), Bonnie Erbe sits down with Bay Buchanan, Donna Edwards, Princella Smith and Jessica Valenti to discuss this week's news on To The Contrary. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:
Ecuadorians are suing oil giant Chevron, the owner of Texaco, because they say oil drilling in the Amazon jungle by Texaco polluted their fragile environment. Scott Pelley reports.
Reeducating Osama Bin Laden's Disciples
Saudi Arabia, the native country of most of the 9/11 terrorists, says it is attempting to change the mindsets of jhadists formerly loyal to Osama bin Laden through a re-education program. David Martin reports. | Watch Video
All In The Family
The Antinoris have been in the wine business for 600 years – maybe the oldest family business on earth -- reports Morley Safer, from its vineyards in Tuscany, Italy. | Watch Video
60 Minutes, Sunday, May 3, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.