Saturday, August 23, 2008

Obama Not American?

Obama Sued in Philadelphia Federal Court (Constitutionally Ineligible for the Presidency)by Phillip Berg - 9/11 Truth Attorney for William Rodriguez ^ | 8/21/08 | Jeff Schreiber

Posted on Thu Aug 21 17:00:24 2008 by LdSentinal

A prominent Philadelphia attorney and Hillary Clinton supporter filed suit this afternoon in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee. The action seeks an injunction preventing the senator from continuing his candidacy and a court order enjoining the DNC from nominating him next week, all on grounds that Sen. Obama is constitutionally ineligible to run for and hold the office of President of the United States.

Phillip Berg, the filing attorney, is a former gubernatorial and senatorial candidate, former chair of the Democratic Party in Montgomery (PA) County, former member of the Democratic State Committee, and former Deputy Attorney General of Pennsylvania. According to Berg, he filed the suit--just days before the DNC is to hold its nominating convention in Denver--for the health of the Democratic Party.

"I filed this action at this time," Berg stated, "to avoid the obvious problems that will occur when the Republican Party raises these issues after Obama is nominated.".

Berg cited a number of unanswered questions regarding the Illinois senator's background, and in today's lawsuit maintained that Sen. Obama is not a naturalized U.S. citizen or that, if he ever was, he lost his citizenship when he was adopted in Indonesia. Berg also cites what he calls "dual loyalties" due to his citizenship and ties with Kenya and Indonesia.

Even if Sen. Obama can prove his U.S. citizenship, Berg stated, citing the senator's use of a birth certificate from the state of Hawaii verified as a forgery by three independent document forensic experts, the issue of "multi-citizenship with responsibilities owed to and allegiance to other countries" remains on the table.

In the lawsuit, Berg states that Sen. Obama was born in Kenya, and not in Hawaii as the senator maintains. Before giving birth, according to the lawsuit, Obama's mother traveled to Kenya with his father but was prevented from flying back to Hawaii because of the late stage of her pregnancy, "apparently a normal restriction to avoid births during a flight." As Sen. Obama's own paternal grandmother, half-brother and half-sister have also claimed, Berg maintains that Stanley Ann Dunham--Obama's mother--gave birth to little Barack in Kenya and subsequently flew to Hawaii to register the birth.

Berg cites inconsistent accounts of Sen. Obama's birth, including reports that he was born at two separate hospitals--Kapiolani Hospital and Queens Hospital--in Honolulu, as well a profound lack of birthing records for Stanley Ann Dunham, though simple "registry of birth" records for Barack Obama are available in a Hawaiian public records office.

Should Sen. Obama truly have been born in Kenya, Berg writes, the laws on the books at the time of his birth hold that U.S. citizenship may only pass to a child born overseas to a U.S. citizen parent and non-citizen parent if the former was at least 19 years of age. Sen. Obama's mother was only 18 at the time. Therefore, because U.S. citizenship could not legally be passed on to him, Obama could not be registered as a "natural born" citizen and would therefore be ineligible to seek the presidency pursuant to Article II, Section 1 of the United States Constitution.

Moreover, even if Sen. Obama could have somehow been deemed "natural born," that citizenship was lost in or around 1967 when he and his mother took up residency in Indonesia, where Stanley Ann Dunham married Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian citizen. Berg also states that he possesses copies of Sen. Obama's registration to Fransiskus Assisi School In Jakarta, Indonesia which clearly show that he was registered under the name "Barry Soetoro" and his citizenship listed as Indonesian.

The Hawaiian birth certificate, Berg says, is a forgery. In the suit, the attorney states that the birth certificate on record is a forgery, has been identified as such by three independent document forensic experts, and actually belonged to Maya Kasandra Soetoro, Sen. Obama's half-sister.

"Voters donated money, goods and services to elect a nominee and were defrauded by Sen. Obama's lies and obfuscations," Berg stated. "If the DNC officers ... had performed one ounce of due diligence we would not find ourselves in this emergency predicament, one week away from making a person the nominee who has lost their citizenship as a child and failed to even perform the basic steps of regaining citizenship as prescribed by constitutional laws."

"It is unfair to the country," he continued, "for candidates of either party to become the nominee when there is any question of the ability to serve if elected."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Three Canadians Killed in Afghanistan Bombing

Afghan bomb kills 3 Canadian soldiers

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Canada's Department of National Defense says a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan has killed three Canadian soldiers.
The blast that killed the Canadians happened Wednesday in a dangerous district west of the main southern city of Kandahar — two days after a Taliban ambush killed 10 French troops — and was announced on Thursday

This year will likely be the deadliest for international troops since the 2001 invasion. Some 184 international soldiers, including about 96 Americans, have died in Afghanistan this year, according to an Associated Press count. That pace should far surpass the record 222 international troop deaths in 2007.

Chinese Police Reportedly Gun Down Tibet Protesters

Police 'shot at Tibet protesters'

Tibetan activists say police killed protesters in Aba on Sunday
Chinese police opened fire and wounded four protesters "in self-defence" last Sunday in a Tibetan area of Sichuan province, the Xinhua news agency says.
It is the first time China has admitted injuring anyone since anti-Chinese protests in Tibet began last week.

Xinhua said police opened fire in Aba county - the same place that Tibetan activists said eight people were killed during protests near Kirti monastery.

Activists released graphic photos of dead bodies showing bullet wounds.

China has said that only 13 people have been killed during the protests, and that all were innocent and killed by "rioters" in Lhasa.

The Tibetan government in exile has said at least 99 people have died so far, including 80 in Lhasa - and have accused the security forces of firing on crowds.

Earlier on Thursday, China admitted for the first time that the protests had spread outside the Tibetan Autonomous Region to nearby provinces in south-western China where large numbers of ethnic Tibetans live.

In a phone call to her Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged China to show restraint and enter dialogue with the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists.

Meanwhile White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said President George W Bush would go ahead with a visit to the Beijing Olympic Games in August despite the unrest, and would use the opportunity to speak openly to President Hu Jintao.

'Monks protest'

Citing police sources, Xinhua said police had opened fire "in self-defence" during Sunday's unrest in Aba, close to Sichuan's border with Qinghai province.

An earlier Xinhua report had said the police had shot dead four rioters, but it was quickly corrected.


Tibet: Protests began in Lhasa on 10 March, dozens reported dead over weekend
Gansu: Unrest spread to Machu, where Tibetan government in exile says 19 died, and near Hezuo, where protesters were filmed tearing down Chinese flag
Sichuan: State media says four people 'shot and wounded' by police in Aba
Qinghai: Other unrest reported

The state-owned news agency had previously said only that "mobs" had caused "great damage" to shops and government offices in the area.

Xinhua did not provide further details of the incident, but Tibetan activists have said at least eight people were killed at a demonstration against Chinese rule near the Kirti monastery in Aba on Sunday.

The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy circulated photos earlier this week of dead bodies with apparent gunshot wounds, which it said were the result of police firing indiscriminately at those attending the protest.

The group said many of the victims were monks who had joined thousands of others to demand independence for Tibet and the return of the Dalai Lama. Chinese police are deployed around the monastery to deter further protests, it said.


The BBC's China editor, Shirong Chen, says the situation in parts of western China is now extremely tense, with security being ratcheted up and many arrests.

Hundreds of troops have been seen pouring into Tibetan areas. On Wednesday alone, BBC reporters saw more than 400 troop carriers and other vehicles on the main road - the largest mobilisation witnessed since the unrest began.

The authorities have also placed strict limits on Western journalists trying to report on the unrest. A German journalist who was forced out of Lhasa on Thursday said security forces had told him he was the last foreign journalist in the city.

And officials said 24 people had been arrested after demonstrations in the Tibetan city of Lhasa, and 170 protesters had surrendered to authorities.

Earlier the Dalai Lama reiterated his willingness to meet Mr Hu if he received "concrete indications" of what the Chinese government can offer. But senior Chinese officials have repeatedly accused him of orchestrating the protests from his base in the Indian town of Dharamsala.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Russian Minister Responds to Western Media Coverage on Georgia

How the McCain Team Helped Start a New Cold War with Russia

How the McCain Team Helped Start a New Cold War with Russia,
The Neo-Cons Who Fabricated Evidence for the Iraq War Are Back
BY TOM HAYDEN - For the Hufington Post

Barack Obama and the Democrats are heading towards trouble in November because of a new Cold War with the Russians triggered largely by a top John McCain adviser and the same neo-conservative clique who fabricated evidence to lobby for the Iraq War.

This is not a conspiracy theory but a conspiracy fact, stated as boldly as possible before it is too late.

Because they are still mired in what Obama himself calls “old thinking”, the Democratic hierarchy and the mainstream media will have to be challenged to recognize the Georgia Conspiracy by the the faithful and clear-headed rank-and-file and the blogosphere.

Here are the short-term essentials:

- After border skirmishes similar to the 1964 Tonkin Gulf affair, on August 7-8, Georgia’s president Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia invaded the autonomous breakaway region of South Ossetia with his US-trained army. The Russians responded with massive force, quickly2 0routing Saakashvili’s forces.

- McCain has traveled to Georgia, nominated his “close friend” Saakishvili for a Nobel Prize in 2005, and was the first American leader “to blast Russia” last April when Vladimer Putin issued a sharp warning against NATO membership for Georgia and the Ukraine, supported by the US. [NYT, Aug. 18, 2008]
- The Bush administration was divided along familiar lines, with the pro-Georgia hawks centered in vice-president Cheney’s office, allied with McCain. The former group were foreign policy “realists” while the latter were enthusiasts for spreading “democracy” from Iraq to the Russian border.

- Randy Scheunemann, McCain’s foreign policy adviser was “registered foreign agent” for Saakashvili’s government from at least 2004, when Saakashvili came to power, until May 15, 2008, when he technically severed his ties to Orion Strategies, his lobbying firm. At that point, Orion had earned at least $800,000 in lobbying fees from Georgia. [W Post, Aug. 13, 2008]
- Saakashvili, with Scheunemann advising him, campaigned on a platform of taking back South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

- Scheunemann was Georgia’s lobbyist when Saaskashvili sent troops to retake two separatist enclaves, Ajaria in 2004 and the upper Kodori Gorge in Abhkazia in 2006, over strong Russian objections.

- Saaska20shvili tarnished his democratic credentials by sending club-wielding riot police against unarmed demonstrators protesting his abrupt purging of the police, civil servants and universities in 2007, a replay of Paul Bremer’s decision to privatize Iraq in 2003.

Until now Scheunemann has been less-visible but no less important than any of the top neo-conservatives who drove America into Iraq and now are lobbying for a new Cold War and a McCain presidency.

He was the full-time executive director of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. He helped draft the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act which authorized $98 million for the “Iraq lobby” led by Ahmad Chalabi which disseminated bogus intelligence in the lead-up to war. He also worked for Donald Rumsfeld as a consultant on Iraq. He joined the board of the Project for the New American Century.

Scheunemann traveled with McCain to Georgia in 2006. Seeking to repeat his 1998 Iraq jackpot, he lobbied for an unsuccessful measure co-sponsored by McCain that year, the NATO Freedom Consolidation Act which would have sent $10 to Georgia.

He claims to have invented the phrase “rogue state rollback” for a 1999 McCain speech, an echo of the right-wing Cold War strategy of rolling back the Soviet Union. He has been a paid lobbyist or consultant for such presumed beneficiaries of “roll back” as Latvia, Macedonia, and Romania, as well as Georgia. Not to miss an ot her opportunity, his firm has represented the “Caspian Alliance”, a consortium of oil and gas producers in the region.

It is unclear at this writing what links Scheunemann, as Georgia’s paid lobbyist, may have to the Western oil interests who in 2005 built the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline through Georgia, a project intentionally designed to “bypass Russia” and implement an “American strategy to put a wedge between Russia and the Central American countries that had been Soviet republics.” [NYT, Aug. 14] The BTC consortium includes BP, Chevron, Conoco, and the state of Azerbejian. As conceived, the system also would attempt to link eventually with Israel’s pipeline system as well. [Ha’aretz, Jan. 17, 2008]]. Using the justification of pipeline protection, US Special Forces in 2005 trained 2,000 Georgian troops in anti-terrorism techniques. [Turkish Weekly, May 27, 2005] Scheunemann has been a lobbyist for BP America, and Sec. Condoleeza Rice, of course, has longstanding ties with Chevron, which even named a super-tanker after her.

But as evidence of the serious tensions within Republican circles, Schuenemann attacked Rice for “appeasement” of Russia over Georgia as recently as 2006. [Financial Times, Oct. 21, 2006] Now it appears that the Shuenemann-McCain faction has succeeded in pulling the US into an unwinnable military situation which is overflowing with political dividends for McCain and the Republicans.

In a nutshell, here is what should be said: the same Republican neo-cons who fabricated the reasons for going to war in Iraq are back, and now they have been paid to trigger a new Cold War with Russia that benefits John McCain. These are dangerous, expensive unwinnable games being played with American lives to benefit Republican politicians and their oil company friends.

These are not words you are going to hear from Barack Obama or anyone in the Democratic hierarchy. Looking back, they agree that the Iraq invasion was a colossal misjudgment. Privately, most of them feel that Georgia’s adventurism provoked the current conflict. But politically, they are pledged to be positioned as tough against terrorism and Russian communism, tougher than the Republicans.

This should be a red line for peace movement supporters of Barack Obama. We can live to fight another time on his proposals on Afghanistan and Pakistan. Nor can we play into McCain’s game plan, not with the Supreme Court at stake and a stronger-than-Obama Democratic majority poised to take over Congress. But this new Cold War is now, heating up by the day, and Obama could be its first political victim. It is even possible that McCain, alerted to the complicated dangers at home and abroad, will propose a “diplomatic solution” after he has squeezed as much benefit out of the Cold War revival that he can, to be resumed after he becomes president and tries to incorporate t he Ukra ine into NATO.

Until a leading Democrat summons the courage and vision, the peace movement and netroots will have to lead the battle against this attempt to reward the very people who brought us Iraq with another lease on power.

First, it will be necessary for millions of people to re-educate themselves in the history and perils of the Cold War. Fortunately, we don’t have to repeat the communism/anti-communism debates that divided America and defeated Democrats for decades. No one defends Russia as a democratic example. The real question is as old as 1917 or 1945: can and should the US attempt to strangle Russia through reckless pro-Western privatization schemes combined with installing military bases – now including Pershing missiles – on its western and southern borders. And the question is as old as 1967: why was John McCain bombing Vietnam in the belief that it was a pawn of the Soviet Union? Why did our government and a majority of Americans fall for the same misleading pretext for that war?

The Republicans and neo-conservatives should be asked this puzzling question: whatever happened to your triumphal claim that Ronald Reagan won the Cold War by destroying the “evil empire”? Evidently they were seeking nothing more than Russia’s natural resources and complete subjugation by NATO. There was no limit to what their superpower mentality thought possible.

Among those who caused this current debacle too were the Dem ocratic Pa rty’s “humanitarian hawks”, who promoted the NATO military intervention in the Balkans with the dream of creating an independent Kosovo in Russia’s historic sphere of influence. That war would have been a disaster if the US [under Clinton] had sent ground troops. But Russia pulled back its support of Belgrade after three months of US bombing. That was perceived as Russia’s weakness and the birth of a new “uni-polar” world. Then came the giddy enlistment of former Soviet-bloc countries in NATO – the “new Europe”, as Rumsfeld hailed them. The Russians were clear in warning that they could recognize places like South Ossetia if the West could carve out Kosovo, but the superpower was deafened by the delirium of success. It was to be “the new American century”, a resumption of the march to the free-market millennium first announced on the Time cover at the beginning of the Cold War.

The initial goal of the principled rank-and-file peace movement should be to devise a persuasive message against the reckless adventurism of the resurgent McCain/neoconservative crusade and bombard the “realist” foreign policy school, from think tanks to editorial boards to senior members of Congress, with questions that widen the current climate of debate.

If Obama had a paid lobbyist for a foreign country on his Senate staff, what would the Republican outcry be?

If John McCain is above the special in terest lobbie s, why is he harboring Scheunemann? Is it enough to go off the Georgia payroll and over to the McCain campaign payroll during a regional war you helped set off?

Is Scheunemann as reckless as Saakashvilishi and McCain, in his own way? Besides his work for the Iraq lobby and the Georgia government, Scheunemann was the lobbyist for the National Rifle Association and the Sporting Arms and Ammunitions Manufacturers, and just nutty enough to be arrested for possession of an unregistered shotgun in the US Capitol – after a duck-hunting trip, of course. [Washington Times, Feb. 5, 1997.]

Obama supporters should step up their criticism of his hawkish mimicry of McCain, and consider lessen their support though still voting for him, unless he distinguishes himself from McCain on the immediate crisis.

At the very least, Obama can stop going out of his way to celebrate McCain as a great American war hero, which only reinforces McCain’s strongest rationale for victory. And Obama’s surrogates might delicately suggest that McCain shoots before he thinks. McCain was the pointman pushing the neo-conservative war against “islamo-fascism”, centered in Baghdad, months before the Bush Administration revealed its intentions. While Obama urged caution about a “dumb war”, McCain was supporting Ahmad Chalabi’s “misleading assertions” about weapons of mass destruction and Iraq-al-Qaeda ties that didn’t exist. [NYT, Aug. 17]

The broad peace movement has to awaken a burning memory from below. Everyone recalls George Bush declaring “Mission Accomplished”, but does anyone recall John McCain standing on another aircraft carrier on January 2, 2002, yelling to young Navy pilots like himself during Vietnam, “Next up, Baghdad!” #

TOM HAYDEN is the author of Ending the War in Iraq [Akashic] and Writings for a Democratic Society [City Lights].


A Tale of US Expansion

This is a tale of US expansion not Russian aggression
War in the Caucasus is as much the product of an American imperial drive as local conflicts. It's likely to be a taste of things to come

Seumas Milne The Guardian
Thursday August 14 2008

The outcome of six grim days of bloodshed in the Caucasus has triggered an outpouring of the most nauseating hypocrisy from western politicians and their captive media. As talking heads thundered against Russian imperialism and brutal disproportionality, US vice-president Dick Cheney, faithfully echoed by Gordon Brown and David Miliband, declared that "Russian aggression must not go unanswered". George Bush denounced Russia for having "invaded a sovereign neighbouring state" and threatening "a democratic government". Such an action, he insisted, "is unacceptable in the 21st century".

Could these by any chance be the leaders of the same governments that in 2003 invaded and occupied - along with Georgia, as luck would have it - the sovereign state of Iraq on a false pretext at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives? Or even the two governments that blocked a ceasefire in the summer of 2006 as Israel pulverised Lebanon's infrastructure and killed more than a thousand civilians in retaliation for the capture or killing of five soldiers?

You'd be hard put to recall after all the fury over Russian aggression that it was actually Georgia that began the war last Thursday with an all-out attack on South Ossetia to "restore constitutional order" - in other words, rule over an area it has never controlled since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Nor, amid the outrage at Russian bombardments, have there been much more than the briefest references to the atrocities committed by Georgian forces against citizens it claims as its own in South Ossetia's capital Tskhinvali. Several hundred civilians were killed there by Georgian troops last week, along with Russian soldiers operating under a 1990s peace agreement: "I saw a Georgian soldier throw a grenade into a basement full of women and children," one Tskhinvali resident, Saramat Tskhovredov, told reporters on Tuesday.

Might it be because Georgia is what Jim Murphy, Britain's minister for Europe, called a "small beautiful democracy". Well it's certainly small and beautiful, but both the current president, Mikheil Saakashvili, and his predecessor came to power in western-backed coups, the most recent prettified as a "Rose revolution". Saakashvili was then initially rubber-stamped into office with 96% of the vote before establishing what the International Crisis Group recently described as an "increasingly authoritarian" government, violently cracking down on opposition dissent and independent media last November. "Democratic" simply seems to mean "pro-western" in these cases.

The long-running dispute over South Ossetia - as well as Abkhazia, the other contested region of Georgia - is the inevitable consequence of the breakup of the Soviet Union. As in the case of Yugoslavia, minorities who were happy enough to live on either side of an internal boundary that made little difference to their lives feel quite differently when they find themselves on the wrong side of an international state border.

Such problems would be hard enough to settle through negotiation in any circumstances. But add in the tireless US promotion of Georgia as a pro-western, anti-Russian forward base in the region, its efforts to bring Georgia into Nato, the routing of a key Caspian oil pipeline through its territory aimed at weakening Russia's control of energy supplies, and the US-sponsored recognition of the independence of Kosovo - whose status Russia had explicitly linked to that of South Ossetia and Abkhazia - and conflict was only a matter of time.

The CIA has in fact been closely involved in Georgia since the Soviet collapse. But under the Bush administration, Georgia has become a fully fledged US satellite. Georgia's forces are armed and trained by the US and Israel. It has the third-largest military contingent in Iraq - hence the US need to airlift 800 of them back to fight the Russians at the weekend. Saakashvili's links with the neoconservatives in Washington are particularly close: the lobbying firm headed by US Republican candidate John McCain's top foreign policy adviser, Randy Scheunemann, has been paid nearly $900,000 by the Georgian government since 2004.

But underlying the conflict of the past week has also been the Bush administration's wider, explicit determination to enforce US global hegemony and prevent any regional challenge, particularly from a resurgent Russia. That aim was first spelled out when Cheney was defence secretary under Bush's father, but its full impact has only been felt as Russia has begun to recover from the disintegration of the 1990s.

Over the past decade, Nato's relentless eastward expansion has brought the western military alliance hard up against Russia's borders and deep into former Soviet territory. American military bases have spread across eastern Europe and central Asia, as the US has helped install one anti-Russian client government after another through a series of colour-coded revolutions. Now the Bush administration is preparing to site a missile defence system in eastern Europe transparently targeted at Russia.

By any sensible reckoning, this is not a story of Russian aggression, but of US imperial expansion and ever tighter encirclement of Russia by a potentially hostile power. That a stronger Russia has now used the South Ossetian imbroglio to put a check on that expansion should hardly come as a surprise. What is harder to work out is why Saakashvili launched last week's attack and whether he was given any encouragement by his friends in Washington.

If so, it has spectacularly backfired, at savage human cost. And despite Bush's attempts to talk tough yesterday, the war has also exposed the limits of US power in the region. As long as Georgia proper's independence is respected - best protected by opting for neutrality - that should be no bad thing. Unipolar domination of the world has squeezed the space for genuine self-determination and the return of some counterweight has to be welcome. But the process of adjustment also brings huge dangers. If Georgia had been a member of Nato, this week's conflict would have risked a far sharper escalation. That would be even more obvious in the case of Ukraine - which yesterday gave a warning of the potential for future confrontation when its pro-western president threatened to restrict the movement of Russian ships in and out of their Crimean base in Sevastopol. As great power conflict returns, South Ossetia is likely to be only a taste of things to come.


Aug 17 2008

Russia's objectives extend far beyond Georgia; to create a new global order in which the US and Russia are equal partners again

Aug 17 2008
War in the Caucasus: Fear of Russian 'protection' spreads to Ukraine and the Baltic

Aug 16 2008
Moscow warns it could strike Poland over US missile shield

Aug 13 2008
Ken Gude: Re-establishing US influence over Russia will be difficult

Aug 11 2008
Over 170 Americans have been evacuated from Georgia, according to the US state department

Aug 11 2008
Russia has taken over half the country, Georgia claims

Aug 11 2008
Dilip Hiro: Georgia's attack on South Ossetia threatens US control of Azerbaijan's oil © Guardian News and Media Limited 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Cold War II

Who started Cold War II?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

19/08/08 "WND" -- - The American people should be eternally grateful to Old Europe for having spiked the Bush-McCain plan to bring Georgia into NATO.

Had Georgia been in NATO when Mikheil Saakashvili invaded South Ossetia, we would be eyeball to eyeball with Russia, facing war in the Caucasus, where Moscow's superiority is as great as U.S. superiority in the Caribbean during the Cuban missile crisis.

If the Russia-Georgia war proves nothing else, it is the insanity of giving erratic hotheads in volatile nations the power to drag the United States into war.

From Harry Truman to Ronald Reagan, as Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, U.S. presidents have sought to avoid shooting wars with Russia, even when the Bear was at its most beastly.

Truman refused to use force to break Stalin's Berlin blockade. Ike refused to intervene when the Butcher of Budapest drowned the Hungarian Revolution in blood. LBJ sat impotent as Leonid Brezhnev's tanks crushed the Prague Spring. Jimmy Carter's response to Brezhnev's invasion of Afghanistan was to boycott the Moscow Olympics. When Brezhnev ordered his Warsaw satraps to crush Solidarity and shot down a South Korean airliner killing scores of U.S. citizens, including a congressman, Reagan did – nothing.

These presidents were not cowards. They simply would not go to war when no vital U.S. interest was at risk to justify a war. Yet, had George W. Bush prevailed and were Georgia in NATO, U.S. Marines could be fighting Russian troops over whose flag should fly over a province of 70,000 South Ossetians who prefer Russians to Georgians.

The arrogant folly of the architects of U.S. post-Cold War policy is today on display. By bringing three ex-Soviet republics into NATO, we have moved the U.S. red line for war from the Elbe almost to within artillery range of the old Leningrad.

Should America admit Ukraine into NATO, Yalta, vacation resort of the czars, will be a NATO port and Sevastopol, traditional home of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, will become a naval base for the U.S. Sixth Fleet. This is altogether a bridge too far.

And can we not understand how a Russian patriot like Vladimir Putin would be incensed by this U.S. encirclement after Russia shed its empire and sought our friendship? How would Andy Jackson have reacted to such crowding by the British Empire?

As of 1991, the oil of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan belonged to Moscow. Can we not understand why Putin would smolder as avaricious Yankees built pipelines to siphon the oil and gas of the Caspian Basin through breakaway Georgia to the West?

For a dozen years, Putin & Co. watched as U.S. agents helped to dump over regimes in Ukraine and Georgia that were friendly to Moscow.

If Cold War II is coming, who started it, if not us?

The swift and decisive action of Putin's army in running the Georgian forces out of South Ossetia in 24 hours after Saakashvili began his barrage and invasion suggests Putin knew exactly what Saakashvili was up to and dropped the hammer on him.

What did we know? Did we know Georgia was about to walk into Putin's trap? Did we not see the Russians lying in wait north of the border? Did we give Saakashvili a green light?

Joe Biden ought to be conducting public hearings on who caused this U.S. humiliation.

The war in Georgia has exposed the dangerous overextension of U.S. power. There is no way America can fight a war with Russia in the Caucasus with our army tied down in Afghanistan and Iraq. Nor should we. Hence, it is demented to be offering, as John McCain and Barack Obama are, NATO membership to Tbilisi.

The United States must decide whether it wants a partner in a flawed Russia or a second Cold War. For if we want another Cold War, we are, by cutting Russia out of the oil of the Caspian and pushing NATO into her face, going about it exactly the right way.

Vladimir Putin is no Stalin. He is a nationalist determined, as ruler of a proud and powerful country, to assert his nation's primacy in its own sphere, just as U.S. presidents from James Monroe to Bush have done on our side of the Atlantic.

A resurgent Russia is no threat to any vital interests of the United States. It is a threat to an American Empire that presumes some God-given right to plant U.S. military power in the backyard or on the front porch of Mother Russia.

Who rules Abkhazia and South Ossetia is none of our business. And after this madcap adventure of Saakashvili, why not let the people of these provinces decide their own future in plebiscites conducted by the United Nations or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe?

As for Saakashvili, he's probably toast in Tbilisi after this stunt. Let the neocons find him an endowed chair at the American Enterprise Institute.

Resistance and Ignominy at Cove-Mallard

Last Stand in the Big Woods

"Every time I've compromised, I've lost. When I held firm I won. The problem with too many environmentalists today is that they are trying to write the compromise instead of letting those we pay to compromise do it. They think they get power by taking people to lunch or being taken to lunch, when in reality they are only being taken."

-- David R. Brower

There was no reason it had to come down like this: Two militant greens standing in the middle of an isolated, snow-crusted road in a place where a road should never be; bracing their bodies against a train of logging trucks, snowmobiles, and Forest Service jeeps groaning at the gate, demanding entry; willingly subjecting themselves to arrest by Idaho troopers armed with guns, clubs, and a draconian and sub-constitutional new law. All in a last-gasp attempt to halt a vastly destructive timber sale in the heart of the nation's largest roadless area, a timber sale two federal judges had already found to be a brazen assault on our national environmental laws.

Charged with felony conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor, Mike Roselle, a founder of Earth First!, and Tom Fullum, of the Native Forest Network, now face possible five-year prison terms and $50,000 fines under Idaho's so-called Earth First! Statute - a law geared to smother popular dissent against the transgressions of multinational timber companies by slamming the jailhouse door on anyone bold enough to bodily protest logging on federal lands in the Potato Atate. The bill was signed into law in 1993 by then-Governor Cecil Andrus, a noted liberal who called the Cove/ Mallard protesters "just a bunch of kooks."

The proximate cause of Roselle's and Fullum's travails, and a new round of logging in the Cove/Mallard Roadless Area, is an act of organizational cowardice committed by one of the country's oldest and wealthiest environmental corporations: The Wilderness Society.

In January 1994, The Wilderness Society and Pacific Rivers Council won a slam-drunk injunction against the Forest Service in federal court. Citing the agency's contemptuous behavior for failing to submit its logging plans for review by the National Marine Fisheries Service after several stocks of salmon were placed on the endangered species list, federal district Judge David Ezra halted all logging, mining, and grazing in salmon watersheds on the Nez Perce, Salmon, Challis, Sawtooth, Clearwater, and Payette National Forest in central Idaho. The Cove/ Mallard timber sale, along with 300 other logging, road building and mining projects, were stopped cold.

The evidence of an imminent ecological collapse of Idaho's river systems is overwhelming. In America's wildest state, more than 70 percent of the streams are out of compliance with the standards of the Clean Water Act, dozens of stocks of salmon gasp along with the bull trout at the brink of extinction. This means that every additional clearcut or mine gouged into these watersheds creates a necrotic wound in the ecosystem. This was the emergency situation to which Judge Ezra responded with his injunction.

Of course, the predictable backlash swiftly erupted in rural Idaho when news of the injunction was leaked to timber contractors, ranchers, and mining companies by the Forest Service. Local papers played up the inevitable chest-beating by a mongrel assortment of loggers, ranch-hands and placer miners from towns with names like Challis, Dixie and Kamiah. Then came the apocalyptic assessments of the ruling by mega-corporations such as Boise/ Cascade, Pot-latch, and Hecla Mining: Mills and mines will be closed, they warned, thousands will be thrown out of work, already impoverished communities will be driven deeper into destitution.

The injunction also became a pretext for yet another round of vituperative cant from Idaho's reactionary congressional delegation. On the floor of the Senate, Dirk Kempthorne (who would later become Idaho’s governor and then Interior Secretary under Bush the Younger) bellowed that he would seek congressional action to shred the injunction and "the ill-conceived laws it was based on." Meanwhile, Helen 'Call-Me-Congressman' Chenoweth denounced the injunction as the work of "animal worshipping nature cults." And the stentorious Larry Craig, the senator with the wide stance, amplified the volume of his "forest health" crusade -- a cruel hoax on the public in which the last roadless forests in the West will be stripped of the meager protection provided them by current environmental laws and opened to indiscriminate chainsaw surgery in the name of medicating the ecosystem.

The Wilderness Society flinched and folded. They beat a rapid retreat, dragging the Pacific Rivers Council and their lawyers at the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund along with them. What follows is a saga of graveness that undercuts the credibility of nearly every environmentalist working to protect the planet in the dark times.

A week after the injunction came down, Craig Gehrke, the Wilderness Society's Idaho rep, sent an alarum to the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund office in Seattle, begging them to reappear before Judge Ezra and beg him to retract his ruling. SCLDF was loathe to engage in such a shameful turnabout. They explained to Gehrke that the Judge might interpret such a back flip as a severe breach of legal ethics. After all, only a week earlier SCLDF had persuasively argued that there was an emergency situation unfolding on the ground that needed a drastic legal remedy.

But Gehrke was undeterred. He insisted that the injunction be lifted. Higher levels of the Wilderness Society also phoned Seattle, explaining to SCLDF attorneys the delicate political situation they faced back at their gilded offices on 17th Street, in Northwest Washington, DC. Word is that former Wilderness Society boss George Frampton, then Bruce Babbitt’s right-hand man at the Interior Department, also called to suggest that the injunction was counter-productive to his good efforts at the Interior Department to salvage the Endangered Species Act.

For SCLDF attorneys this entire scenario must have seemed like a bad flashback to the notorious Deal of Shame, where 18 months previously lawyers at the same office insisted that the plaintiffs in the spotted owl case release timber sales in old-growth forest that had been enjoined by Judge William Dwyer. This time, however, the roles were reversed: SCLDF's clients were now twisting their lawyers’ arms to jettison an injunction.

By all reports, the conference call with an infuriated Judge Ezra was a bruising encounter for the eco-lawyers. When SCLDF explained the unexpectedly intense reaction the injunction had sparked in Idaho, the judge reportedly pulled out a sheaf of faxes and retorted that he'd been taking heat from Salmon and Challis, too, but he thought the case was about enforcing the law and protecting the salmon. According to a source close to SCLDF, Judge Exra threatened to impose legal sanctions on the attorneys. Ultimately, however, with none of the parties to the case standing up for the injunction or the salmon, Ezra was left with no choice: the judge delayed imposition of the injunction for 45 days. But for all practical purposes the injunction that could have saved the forests of the Salmon/ Selway river watersheds is gone forever.

When queried on the subject, SCLDF attorney Adam Berger reasoned: "We believe our actions served the best interest of justice."

Justice for whom? "Well, everyone understands the meaning of justice and that's all we're going to say," Berger concluded.

With Roselle and Fullum safely locked up in the Grangeville jail and Judge Ezra's injunction aborted at the demand of the Wilderness Society, the road was now clear for the Forest Service and the Shearer Lumber Company to bust into the largest units of the Noble timber sale, deep in the heart of the Cove/Mallard. In a move that reminded many forest activists of the midnight strike on Millennium Grove (a forest stand in the Willamette National Forest that harbored the oldest trees in the Oregon Cascades), Shearer Lumber swiftly attacked the two most lucrative and biologically productive stands of ponderosa pine in the 18-unit Noble timber sale.

Most of the Noble sale was already clearcut prior to March 15, the date SCLDF and the Wilderness Society chose to have the injunction postponed until. In fact, the Cove/Mallard EIS required the Forest Service to terminate operations prior to March 15, since that is the beginning of elk calving season. Ron Mitchell, director of the Idaho Sporting Congress, believes the March 15 date may not have been coincidental. "It sure looks like these groups simply wanted to avoid the politically explosive issue of Cove/ Mallard," Mitchell said. "The betrayal of the Wilderness Society on this point is devastating."

The 90,000 acre Cove/Mallard Roadless Area is a biological cradle in the mountains, a rolling landscape of ponderosa pine forests, meandering streams, and wet meadows that serves as a critical biological and migration corridor between the Salmon River and the high country of the Gospel Hump and Selway Mountains. Its brisk streams are home to steelhead, chinook salmon, bull trout, rainbow trout, and cutthroat, while the broad meadows harbor some of the best elk country in the Northern Rockies. The tall mountains are inhabited by bighorn sheep and mountain goat and the entire area is a key part of the Central Idaho grizzly bear and gray wolf recovery areas. In fact, over the past 10 years the Fish and Wildlife Service has documented numerous confirmed wolf sightings in the Cove/Mallard Roadless Area.

The Noble timber sale was one of nine big timber sales slated for the Cove/ Mallard. These sales called for 200 different clearcuts, the logging of 81 million board feet of timber, and the construction of 145 miles of new logging roads. When completed the Cove/ Mallard timber sale will leave behind only an empty infrastructure: its web of roads a lethal impediment to the migration of wolves and elk; its eroding swaths of bare land quietly smothering salmon and trout. In sum, Cove/ Mallard will be transformed into a crumbling necropolis to modern forest management.

Yet, the Wilderness Society (the organization founded by Aldo Leopold and Robert Marshall, and nurtured by Howard Zahniser) has never objected to the Cove/Mallard logging operations. Indeed, Cove/Mallard was simply a sacrifice area, traded-off year ago by the political brokers at the Sierra Club, Idaho Conversation League and The Wilderness Society in exchange for partial protection of the spectacular, but less controversial, Gospel Hump Wilderness.

The wretched terms of this deal are even now defended with intensity by Sierra Clubber Dennis Baird, of Moscow, Idaho, who in 1992 proclaimed to The Oregonian: "If the country need lumber and timber jobs, the Cove/ Mallard isn't such a bad place to get it." Given a chance to retract this comment, Baird instead tried to drive a couple more nails into Cove/ Mallard's ecological coffin. "The Northern Rockies Chapter [of the Sierra Club], which covers all of Idaho and some of eastern Washington, never opposed timber sales in the Cove/ Mallard because the area is mostly flat."

In fact, the relatively flat, rolling terrain of portions of the Cove/Mallard only underscored the area's ecological importance. Yet, we all know only too well that the burghers of the Sierra Club prefer to wage their wilderness fights on steeper terrain, in alpine areas which offer fewer stands of productive forest and less opportunities for political conflict.

Baird was a key author of the Sierra Club's woefully deficient national forest policy, a policy that has been under vigorous assault for years by grassroots Sierra Club activists. Baird also served, along with his friend Craig Gehrke, as a member of Cecil Andrus's secretive 1993 Idaho Timber Supply Task Force, which was chaired by Boise National Forest supervisor Stephen Mealey. The objective of the timber task force was to find ways to provide certainly for timber supplies from national forest lands in Idaho.

"Basically, the intent of the task force was to expedite timber sales in Idaho roadless areas by circumventing NEPA," said Ron Mitchell, whose group was refused access to the background documents generated by the task force. "Gehrke and Baird were there to put a green stamp on illegal timber sales."

The persistent criticism by Mitchell and Dan Funsch, an organizer with the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, effectively checked any official pronouncement from the task force. However, its secret agenda proceeds apace on the ground. At 10 million acres, Idaho retains more unprotected wildland than any other state; yet the Forest Service plans to lacerate the region with 150 commercial timber sales in these roadless areas in the coming decades, despoiling its wilderness character and placine hundreds of species (from salmon to grizzlies) in peril of extinction.

Meanwhile, Steve Mealey perfected the art of expedited timber sales on the ravaged Boise National Forest, where dozens of so-called salvage sales in roadless areas escaped full compliance with NEPA. Mealey's free-wheeling excursions in the forested foothills around Boise served as a disturbing prelude to the looming gotterdamerung for Western roadless areas promised by Larry Craig's forest health campaign.

As the chainsaws were cleaving through the Cove/ Mallard once again, Craig Gehrke defended his surrender (on the very day Roselle and Fullum were appearing at their preliminary hearing) by telling a reporter for the Missoula Independent: "We trust the Forest Service to abide by the law."

Various rationalizations and excuses for the release of the Idaho salmon injunction pinballed between the parties. SCLDF, for example, told an incredulous Judge Ezra that the injunction was now unnecessary because the Forest Service had agreed to begin consulting with NMFS. Immediately after the stay, Gehrke announced to the Idaho press that the Wilderness Society "did this voluntarily … We didn't want to come between working people and their jobs."

The Pacific Rivers Council's Ron Cooper (a former Wilderness Society staffer) told distraught Idaho and Montana forest activists that while he personally disagreed with the decision to lift the injunction "sometimes you've got to come promise in the face of political reality." In Oregon, PRC's David Bayles cast a similar line, chirping that they agreed to lift the injunction only in order to save "the Endangered Species Act."

Meanwhile, Rich Hoppe, a spin doctor at the Wilderness Society's DC headquarters, tweeted that they released the injunction to protect Gehrke, who had purportedly received death threats. Back in Idaho, however, Gehrke insisted that he was more concerned about the "safety" of rural activists.

There is nothing especially exculpating in any of these statements. Quite the contrary. SCLDF's comment about consultation is a transparent canard, since it merely relies on the discretionary actions of a discredited agency. In other words, precisely the reason they went to court in the first place. But the legal effects of this surrender extend far beyond merely this case. SCLDF's retreat alienated a sympathetic and friendly federal judge and darkened the prospects for any new environmental suits throughout the Ninth Circuit. Greens may have the legal standing to sue, but now lack the credibility needed to secure difficult legal decisions.

"Maybe the lawsuit was ill-timed considering the new political atmosphere," said Mike Medberry, former public lands director for the Idaho Conservation League. "But it was a good suit, a necessary action. Giving up the injunction so quickly sent the worst possible political and legal message."

The real politick banter of the Pacific Rivers Council also falls flat. It represents the don't-use-it-to-don't-lose-it approach to environmentalism. But of what value is the Endangered Species Act, if the cost of saving the law requires some species to be consigned to extinction? Moreover, there is no evidence that the lifting of the injunction has lessened the rabid attacks against the ESA and other environmental laws launched by Idaho's congressional delegation, and their corporate backers.

Obviously, the political pressure from the wacko right in Idaho was intense, particularly from Craig, Chenoweth and Kempthorne. But there were several angles of effective counterattack against these politicians available to the plaintiffs. Take Rep. Helen Chenoweth, the primped heroine of Idaho's burgeoning population of potbellied punks and middle-aged skinheads, the prissy pinup girl of the Posse Comitatus, a woman who morphed the religio-cosmetic acumen of Tammy Faye Bakker onto the paranoid political sensibilities of Lyndon LaRouche.

Chenoweth is a former legislative aid to former Idaho Sen. Steve Symms (an intellectual neighbor of Dan Quayle's in the lower depths f the Bell Curve), who trounced the ineffectual Democrat Larry LaRocco by running an openly racist campaign, which had as its recurring theme: "White anglo-saxon males are the only endangered species." Chenoweth occasionally grabbed the mic at Don Young's Natural Resources Committee to launch rambling and incoherent ad hominem attacks on the evils of environmentalism, along the lines of her now famous aphorism: "Salmon aren't endangered, there are cans of them on the shelf at Albertsons."

Back in September 1994, Chenoweth's strange election campaign (which featured endangered salmon feast, among other mindless amusements) was running low on cash. For salvation, she turned to a traditional source of financial succor for Idaho politicians: mining companies. Chenoweth sold an "interest" in a parcel of land she owned in the Clearwater country to Allen Ball. Ball paid Chenoweth $60,000 for part owner-ship in a property with an assessed value of less than $10,000.

Ball owns the A-B Mining Company. It is possible that A-B Mining purchased the subsurface rights to Chenoweth's property and intends to excavate this mineral-laden land. But A-B Mining also has plans to construct a massive cyanide heap-leach gold mne along Smiley Creek, a salmon stream that flows off the pyramids-shaped Abe's Chair Mountain in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.

The transfer of cash was not reported to the Federal Election Commission and a new deed was never officially filed with the county clerk. A week after the deal, however, Chenoweth held a press conference to announce that one of her first acts as a "Congressman" would be to open the Sawtooth National Recreation Area to new mining claims. An apparent case of political quid pro quo.

Chenoweth's populist protestations about the injunction could have been exposed as nothing more than a thin veneer concealing her pursuit of self-enrichment. Instead, the Wilderness Society opted for appeasement, a strategy eerily foreshadowed by Gehrke shortly after the election when he publicly declared: "I don't want to pick a fight with these guys." But the neurotic pursuit of the political center in a state where the ideological spectrum spans from the well-off xenophobe to the well-armed white supremacist s vain and self-immolating.

This leads directly to the dire consequences of the Wilderness Society's most feeble and lachrymose excuse: By placating vague threats of violence, the Wilderness Society dramatically increased the odds of real violence being visited upon grassroots activists in the near future. Their surrender strengthens the resolve and amplifies the intensity of the most venomous sects of the Wise-Use and Militia movements, not to mention the henchmen of Boise/Cascade and Hecla Mining. The atmosphere of intimidation against environmentalists in Idaho, and throughout the West, will only be torqued-up by such supplicant behavior.

"Not only did Gehrke help nullify an effective injunction that had stopped the Cove/ Mallard sale for at least a few more months," said Russ Moritz of the Kanisku Bioregional Council in Sandpoint, Idaho. "But he offended a friendly judge, forced Roselle and Fullum to sacrifice themselves, and show the opposition just how weak the national environmental groups really are."

Craig Gehrke, of course, is a merely deserving scapegoat for the real forces that asphyxiate the Wilderness Society's agenda: money and politics. At the center of this dispiriting nexus is Cecil Andrus; and, most importantly, Walter Minnick, CEO of the Boise-based timber company TJ International.

Minnick's transnational enterprise, Trus-Joist, is partially owned by timber giant MacMillan Bloedel, scourge of Canada's forests. Evidence of the nefarious character of TJ International's operations can be found in the company's 10K filings with the Securities Enchange Commission, where Minnick bemoan the facts that successful litigation on federal forests in the West has constricted timber supplies. In order to combat this "problem," TJ's annual report to its shareholders announced the formation of a "strategic alliance" with MacMillan Bloedel and Weyerhaeuser. Booming profits simply aren't enough to satiate these masters of capital.

TJ International's corporate neighbor Boise/ Cascade, which enjoys a near monopoly on federal timber supplies in central Idaho, may soon be folded into this grim oligarchy of timber interests. The debt-saddled timber company (whose products were being boycotted by environmentalists because of the corporation's logging operations at Sugarloaf in a grove of ancient forest the Siskiyou Mountains of Oregon) is now run by financier George Harad, an old Harvard chum of Minnick's, whom Walt recently described as being "dazzling in his intellectual ability and financial acuity." Boise/ Cascade, it will be recalled, energized much of the so-called popular opposition to Judge Ezra's injunction.

That Walt Minnick might use his position on the governing board of the Wilderness Society to leverage the surrender of the salmon injunction shouldn't surprise anyone familiar with this man's past activities. Many west coast forest activists painfully recall Minnick's performance at Bill Clinton's Timber Summit, held in Portland in 1993, where the CEO seemed more obsessed with advertising his engineered wood products, declaring his opposition to restrictions on log exports, and securing certainly for the federal timber supply, than in advocating permanent protection for ancient forests, Pacific salmon or spotted owls.

From where I sat that gloomy day (buried in the basement next to the then high-flying and frantic George Stephanopolos and Andrea Mitchell, of NBC News, who kept asking me in the latte line: "Murrelet?...Sounds kinky! What's a murrelet?"), Minnick came off as more of a timber beast than Weyerhaeuser's vicious genius Charlie Bingham. As an offer of proof, check out this gem of neoliberalism, delivered as a quasi-threat to President Clinton, where Minnick warns that if timber supplies are not freed from the Dwyer injunction he might be forced to export his mills to Canada: “Essentially what we need the government to do is get out of the way, let the market system work, get some certainly into the west side timber supply because we don't know whether to build another plant here to go to Canada or even whether we should be hiring folks for a month from now, because we can't be assured that our veneer supplier are going to have the raw material we're going to need.”

This was hardly the first time Minnick wielded an iron fist to well-intentioned Wilderness Society policy initiatives. Several years ago Minnick helped crush an attempt by former Wilderness Society staffer Larry Tuttle and former board member Terry Tempest Williams to change the organization's archaic policy on public lands grazing. Among other things, Minnick vociferously rejected a proposal that the Wilderness Society oppose livestock grazing in designated wilderness areas. It should be noted for the record that many of the society's board members and large donors own ranches in the West, including new Wilderness Society president G. Jon Roush, who logged off old growth trees on his own big ranch in Montana and then sold the timber to a notorious log exporter.

"The Wilderness Society's founders, Aldo Leopold and Bob Marshall, believed that progress in environmental protection required radical political and economic changes," said Larry Tuttle. "But the new Wilderness Society through its repeated actions has refused to challenge a system where our public resources are controlled by renegade public agencies and multinational corporations, a system that assumes that our natural resources exist solely for the purpose of making money. The Wilderness Society's corporate motto is: Whatever you do, don't offend anyone."

That brings us to Cecil Andrus, former Secretary of the Interior under Jimmy Carter and four-term governor of Idaho (where he signed into the law the unconstitutional statute that threatened to imprison Roselle and Fullum), who was angered at the effrontery of the salmon injunction given his long and fruitful association with the Wilderness Society.

In the revolving-door-milieu of American environmental politics it was probably inevitable that in 1981 the Wilderness Society would hire the unemployed ex-cabinet secretary as a high-profile influence peddler. Andrus' assignment: develop a bridge between industry and environmentalists on natural resource issues. Well, Andrus didn't so much construct a bridge as a one-way interstate down which Idaho's forests ave been happily transported ever since.

For this contribution to the Wilderness Society, Cecil Andrus was handsomely rewarded when he decided to run for governor. Grateful Wilderness Society board members invested heavily in Andrus's campaigns, side-by side with mining companies, agribusiness conglomerates, and timber interests, including Minnick, Boise/Cascade, and Dick Bennett, purchaser of the Cove/Mallard sales.

When George Frampton threatened to close down the Society's Boise office as a cost-cutting move in 1992, Andrus rushed to the rescue. He declared that Craig Gehrke was just the kind of moderate, homegrown environmentalist Idaho needed. An emergency fund-raiser was arranged at an exclusive ranch north of Sun Valley. It was attended by the likes of Charlotte Ford, Bruce Vento, Walt Minnick, Andrus, and Pamela Harriman. Tens of thousands were quickly raised; Gehrke's office saved.

Then Gehrke speedily climbed aboard the timber supply task force, gave qualified endorsement to the awful LaRocco wilderness destruction bill, and refused to oppose the Cove/Mallard timber sales even when his fellow environmentalists were being assaulted, hit with SLAPP suits, and hauled off to jail. After Andrus left the governor's office, he joined the board of directors of two mining companies, both of which were eyeing claims in central Idaho that might have been hampered by the injunction.

Connect-the-dots; it's not a pretty picture.

The whole Cove/Mallard affair reads like synecdoche for how the environmental elite operate these days. Each new entry on the bleak tableau of conscience-eating concessions, compromises and trade-offs strikes like a body blow against grassroots environmental activists standing up on the frontlines for salmon, wolves, and wildlands.

Still a palpable resistance survives. Amid the cratered reputation of the national environmental corporations a grassroots insurrection is being incubated under fire. This new movement is symbolized by Roselle and Fullum standing there at that gate, facing off with the police, the logging trucks, and the Forest Service, in the freezing mountains of central Idaho, and by the dozens of other activists who rushed to Idaho to stand in their place.

The grassroots movement is healed and galvanized by the feverish efforts of Ron Mitchell and the Idaho Sporting Congress to uncover new legal angles to save this imperiled landscape. And by the growing troops of rural activists with groups like the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Kanisku Bioregional Council who have the courage to stand up in their communities and say: Damn it, we've simply got to save it all for our own good.

In the end, the wild land itself is redemptive. This land particularly so. Or that's how it seemed to me on an autumn when my son Nathaniel and I camped had come to take our stand at the gate in the lower reaches of the Cove/Mallard: the sky splayed with stars, the air spiced with the scent of ponderosa pine, the sound of the salmon-graced river still flowing free.

This essay is excerpted from Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance in the Heartland.

Jeffrey St. Clair is the author of Been Brown So Long It Looked Like Green to Me: the Politics of Nature and Grand Theft Pentagon. His newest book, Born Under a Bad Sky, is just out from AK Press / CounterPunch books. He can be reached at:


Monday, August 18, 2008

Woody Speaks

The Knives Come Out for Grewal

June 06, 2005

Stephen Harper announced today disgraced MP Gurmant Grewal has taken "stress leave." Grewal is at the centre of a growing scandal involving political intrigue, secret tapes, and questionable editing. Revelations of Grewal's "altered" tapes and insider testimony contradicting his account of meetings with Health Minister, Ujjal Dosanjh has now triggered investigations by the federal Ethics Commissioner and the RCMP. And, in a baffling side-bar, Air Canada has launched its own investigation. -{lex}

The Knives Come Out for Grewal
C. L. Cook
June 6, 2005

Well, it had to happen. Caught out as a lying, conniving tape-artist, unrestrained by truth, honour, or conscience, Tory MP Gurmant Grewal took his first tentative steps into the political wilderness today. In a telling move, Tory leader Stephen Harper broke the news of Mr. Grewal's Ottawa departure.

In a statement posted on the Tory website, Harper cited "significant personal pressure" emanating from Grewal's constituents as the cause in his removal from parliament. Harper had defended Grewal's surreptitious tapes implicating on their face minister Dosanjh, but that was before Grewal's Clousseau-esqe production of the tapes became embarrassingly apparent; but not before a go-between in the Grewal-Dosanjh tryst contradicted Grewal's story that he was approached by the government, saying the opposite is the case.

"I have spoken with Gurmant," Harper said. "I have been aware that for some days now he has been feeling significant personal pressure...he and I agreed that he should take a temporary stress leave from his parliamentary responsibilities."

Temporary it may be, but with the house split down the middle, the loss of a voting member, no matter how venal and stupid, portends badly for Grewal's future and can't enhance his MP wife's credibility.

Things may be slowing down at the Newton-North Delta MP's office. Below Gurmant Grewal's smiling visage, his website still boasts the discredited tapes. So eager in fact was he to share his handiwork with colleagues in Ottawa, Grewal tried to recruit Air Canada ticket agents to arrange to send a package unattended on a domestic flight out of Vancouver. Forgetting perhaps the Air India disaster, Grewal now says he will deny Air Canada's charges he circumvented anti-terrorism safety precautions by recruiting a passenger to carry the tapes, contrary to Air Canada staff making him aware this was illegal.

GW Speechifying