Climate change blame and liability

I can sincerely say this is the most important petition we’ve ever done.
 
 
Sorry for the language, but one top scientist just warned that we are all «f*cked» if global warming releases gigantic amounts of methane gas from the arctic tundra. The UN knows this, and is bringing world leaders to New York for an emergency summit.
 
 
Hundreds of thousands of us will take to the streets for the People’s Climate March just before the summit. Let’s make sure that on that day we deliver the largest Avaaz petition ever, for the only solution: mobilize the world to shift to 100% clean energy. Add your voice, and forward this widely:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/100_clean_78/?bnJLaib&v=44756

Whether it’s the ‘arctic methane bomb’, the rapid acidification of our oceans, or apocalyptic flooding, climate change is the biggest threat humanity is facing, and we need the biggest petition ever to meet it. The number of us who sign will be read out to all leaders at the summit, published in hundreds of media articles, and be delivered by our marches worldwide.
 
 
100% clean energy is a realistic goal. Already, 20% of the world’s electricity comes from clean energy, and solar power is cheaper than coal in many countries! We just need to get our leaders to agree to put our foot on the accelerator.
We’re gearing up for the largest climate mobilization in history on September 21. Already hundreds of events are organised and hundreds of thousands of people signed up. But the events are designed to deliver our petition to decision makers. Let’s make it the largest call to action ever. Join now and tell everyone:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/100_clean_78/?bnJLaib&v=44756

We’re all different, and beautifully diverse. But whoever and wherever we are, climate change threatens everything we love, and brings all of us together. Let’s come together now.
 
 
With hope,

Ricken, Danny, Lisa, Judy, Alex, Iain, and the rest of the Avaaz team
PS – Every signature really does count! Add your voice here: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/100_clean_78/?bnJLaib&v=44756 

MORE INFORMATION: 

Climate scientist drops the F-bomb (Salon)
http://www.salon.com/2014/08/06/climate_scientist_drops_the_f_bomb_after_startling_arctic_discovery/

EU to beat 2020 climate targets, split over 2030 ones (Reuters)
http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/05/14/eu-carbon-idUKL6N0O06BG20140514 

The most influential climate change paper today remains unknown to most people (Inside Climate News)
http://insideclimatenews.org/news/20140213/climate-change-science-carbon-budget-nature-global-warming-2-degrees-bill-mckibben-fossil-fuels-keystone-xl-oil?page=show



Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Newly leaked documents have revealed how U.S. negotiators at the U.N. climate summit in Warsaw are opposing efforts to help developing countries adapt to climate change. According to an internal U.S. briefing memo seen by Democracy Now!, the U.S. delegation is worried the talks in Warsaw will «focus increasingly on blame and liability» and that poor nations will be «seeking redress for climate damages from sea level rise, droughts, powerful storms and other adverse impacts.»


Environmental Defense Fund
1875 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 600,
Washington, DC 20009
(800) 684-3322

The images brought tears to my eyes. A chill fell over me, and goosebumps raised along my arms. I stared at the video footage in disbelief, and was suddenly so grateful that each of my family members—all in my beloved home state of New Jersey or in New York City—were safe. They were living without power or heat, but they were luckier than so many others.

In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, my work—and the work of my EDF colleagues—has never felt so personally meaningful.

And it’s never been more clear: climate change is increasing the devastating effects of extreme weather—and it is time to do something about it.

The EPA is stepping up, and has proposed a groundbreaking new proposal that would—for the first time ever—nationally limit carbon pollution from new power plants. This is a historic first step in the President’s Climate Action Plan, and could be America’s first national effort at fighting back against climate change.

And you have a chance to be a part of it, to raise your voice, and to stand strong in favor of climate action.

Not just for my home—but for yours, and for everyone who has watched the places and people they love fall victim to these new, more powerful storms.

Because I’m not the only one with an extreme weather story. From devastating droughts to disastrous wildfires and calamitous floods, extreme weather is affecting more than just the East Coast. With one click, you can do something about it.

Take Action: Support EPA’s national limits on carbon pollution from new power plants.

I can sincerely say this is the most important petition we've ever done.
 
 
Sorry for the language, but one top scientist just warned that we are all "f*cked" if global warming releases gigantic amounts of methane gas from the arctic tundra. The UN knows this, and is bringing world leaders to New York for an emergency summit.
 
 
Hundreds of thousands of us will take to the streets for the People’s Climate March just before the summit. Let’s make sure that on that day we deliver the largest Avaaz petition ever, for the only solution: mobilize the world to shift to 100% clean energy. Add your voice, and forward this widely:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/100_clean_78/?bnJLaib&v=44756

Whether it's the 'arctic methane bomb', the rapid acidification of our oceans, or apocalyptic flooding, climate change is the biggest threat humanity is facing, and we need the biggest petition ever to meet it. The number of us who sign will be read out to all leaders at the summit, published in hundreds of media articles, and be delivered by our marches worldwide.
 
 
100% clean energy is a realistic goal. Already, 20% of the world's electricity comes from clean energy, and solar power is cheaper than coal in many countries! We just need to get our leaders to agree to put our foot on the accelerator.
We're gearing up for the largest climate mobilization in history on September 21. Already hundreds of events are organised and hundreds of thousands of people signed up. But the events are designed to deliver our petition to decision makers. Let's make it the largest call to action ever. Join now and tell everyone:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/100_clean_78/?bnJLaib&v=44756

We're all different, and beautifully diverse. But whoever and wherever we are, climate change threatens everything we love, and brings all of us together. Let's come together now.
 
 
With hope,

Ricken, Danny, Lisa, Judy, Alex, Iain, and the rest of the Avaaz team
PS - Every signature really does count! Add your voice here: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/100_clean_78/?bnJLaib&v=44756 


MORE INFORMATION: 

Climate scientist drops the F-bomb (Salon)
http://www.salon.com/2014/08/06/climate_scientist_drops_the_f_bomb_after_startling_arctic_discovery/

EU to beat 2020 climate targets, split over 2030 ones (Reuters)
http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/05/14/eu-carbon-idUKL6N0O06BG20140514 

The most influential climate change paper today remains unknown to most people (Inside Climate News)
http://insideclimatenews.org/news/20140213/climate-change-science-carbon-budget-nature-global-warming-2-degrees-bill-mckibben-fossil-fuels-keystone-xl-oil?page=show






Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Newly leaked documents have revealed how U.S. negotiators at the U.N. climate summit in Warsaw are opposing efforts to help developing countries adapt to climate change. According to an internal U.S. briefing memo seen by Democracy Now!, the U.S. delegation is worried the talks in Warsaw will "focus increasingly on blame and liability" and that poor nations will be "seeking redress for climate damages from sea level rise, droughts, powerful storms and other adverse impacts."





Environmental Defense Fund
1875 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 600,
Washington, DC 20009
(800) 684-3322

The images brought tears to my eyes. A chill fell over me, and goosebumps raised along my arms. I stared at the video footage in disbelief, and was suddenly so grateful that each of my family members—all in my beloved home state of New Jersey or in New York City—were safe. They were living without power or heat, but they were luckier than so many others.

In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, my work—and the work of my EDF colleagues—has never felt so personally meaningful.

And it's never been more clear: climate change is increasing the devastating effects of extreme weather—and it is time to do something about it.

The EPA is stepping up, and has proposed a groundbreaking new proposal that would—for the first time ever—nationally limit carbon pollution from new power plants. This is a historic first step in the President's Climate Action Plan, and could be America's first national effort at fighting back against climate change.

And you have a chance to be a part of it, to raise your voice, and to stand strong in favor of climate action.

Not just for my home—but for yours, and for everyone who has watched the places and people they love fall victim to these new, more powerful storms.

Because I'm not the only one with an extreme weather story.
From devastating droughts to disastrous wildfires and calamitous floods, extreme weather is affecting more than just the East Coast. With one click, you can do something about it.

Take Action: Support EPA's national limits on carbon pollution from new power plants.

women in Islam

The Iraqi Council of Representatives will vote to legalise Forced Child Marriage1.
The specifics of the legislation (part of the Jaafari Personal Status Law) are terrifying:

  • There will no longer be a minimum age to legally marry (it’s currently 18) but the law provides policies for divorcing a 9-year-old girl;
  • A girl’s father would legally be able to accept a marriage proposal on her behalf; and
  • The girl would be legally prohibited from resisting her husband’s advances and leaving the home without his permission.

It’s a recipe for a life in domestic and sexual slavery.

The law was sent to the Council of Representatives yesterday, and the vote could happen any time now. To prevent Iraq’s girls from becoming vulnerable to forced child marriage it is crucial that we act now.

Currently, Iraq has one of the most progressive policies on women’s rights in the Middle East — setting the legal marriage age at 18 and prohibiting forced marriage2.

Any minute now, the Iraqi Council of Representatives will vote to legalise forced child marriage. 1
The specifics of the legislation (part of the Jaafari Personal Status Law) are terrifying:
  • There will no longer be a minimum age to legally marry (it’s currently 18) but the law provides policies for divorcing a 9-year-old;
  • A girl’s father would legally be able to accept a marriage proposal; and
  • The girl would be legally prohibited from resisting her husband’s advances and leaving the home without his permission.
It’s a recipe for a life in domestic and sexual slavery.
Currently, Iraq has one of the most progressive policies on women’s rights in the Middle East — setting the legal marriage age at 18 and prohibiting forced marriage.2
Brave Iraqi women have been fighting against removing the minimum age for marriage, for their sake and for the sake of their daughters. Last month on International Women’s Day, countless women attended demonstrations in Baghdad protesting the Jaafari Personal Status Law. They called it the “Day of Mourning”.3
We may not have much time to stop Iraq from legalising forced child marriage and a lifetime of domestic and sexual slavery for girls and women. Call on the the Iraqi Council of Representatives to vote “no” to the Jaafari Personal Status Law today.


PUBLISHED: 14:41 GMT, 24 January 2013 | UPDATED: 14:42 GMT, 24 January 2013

Saudi Arabia’s feared morality police say they will not punish men who walk around in their underwear – but women still face harsh punishments if they violate strict laws on women’s dress codes.

The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has denied reports of a ban to counter the controversial trend of young men frequenting shopping malls in their undershirts and long pyjamas.

Women, however, are still expected to cover their body with a cloak, head covering and a veil according to the country’s strict Islamic laws.


Friday, 15 March, 2002, 12:19 GMT  

Saudi police ‘stopped’ fire rescue
 
Saudi Arabia’s religious police stopped schoolgirls from leaving a blazing building because they were not wearing correct Islamic dress, according to Saudi newspapers.

In a rare criticism of the kingdom’s powerful «mutaween» police, the Saudi media has accused them of hindering attempts to save 15 girls who died in the fire on Monday.

An inquiry was launched by the Saudi government in wake of the deaths. The investigation was led by Abdul Majeed, the governor of Makkah. The Interior Minister, Prince Nayef, promised that those responsible for the deaths would be held accountable.[7] Nayef, at the time, stated that the deaths didn’t happen as a result of the fire, but rather the stampede caused by the panic. He acknowledged the presence of two mutaween and that they went there to prevent «mistreatment» of the girls. He asserted that they didn’t interfere with the rescue efforts and only arrived after everyone had left the building.[7]
On March 25, the inquiry concluded that while the fire had been caused by a stray cigarette, the religious educational authorities responsible for the school had neglected the safety of the pupils.[3] The inquiry found that the clerics had ignored warnings that overcrowding of the school could cause a fatal stampede. It also found that there was a lack of fire extinguishers and alarms in the building. Accordingly, the cleric in charge of the school was fired, and his office was merged with the Ministry of Education. The report dismissed allegations that the mutaween (of CPVPV) had prevented the girls from fleeing or made the death toll worse.[3]
Many newspapers welcomed the merger of the agency responsible for girls’ education with the Ministry of Education. Previously, the agencies had been separate and girls’ education had been in the hands of the religious establishment. The newspapers saw the merger as a step towards «reform».


Elham Asghari is an Iranian swimmer who began swimming at the age of five. She holds several national open-water swimming records. Elham swims wearing a full-body swimsuit she designed that fully adheres to Iran’s Islamic dress code for women. She says the suit hinders her performance and causes her pain, adding a hefty six kilograms to her weight in water. Still she wears it in order to pursue her lifelong dream of being an open-water swimmer.
Achieving that dream has not been without its challenges for Elham. In Iran women are only allowed to swim in gender-segregated pools and are banned from participating in international swimming competitions. During a previous open-water record-attempt, Iranian police chased Elham in a boat in order to stop her from swimming. The propellers on the police boat sliced her legs and hip.
Elham broke her previous 20km open-water record, in June of 2013, by completing a swim in the Caspian Sea in just over eight hours. She swam in a private, women-only beach to avoid another run in with the police. Yet, Iranian officials have refused to recognize her record, stating that her swimming costume, which she had worn when setting her previous records, was illegal because “the feminine characteristics of her body were visible when she came out of the water.

As an Iranian-American woman living in the United States, I feel it is my duty to raise the publics’ awareness on the issue at hand. I’m asking the International Swimming Federation (FINA) to require the Iranian Swimming Federation to register the record Elham Asghari rightfully earned.
Elham Asghari is a talented, accomplished athlete who has worked tirelessly as an open-water swimmer. She continues to face obstacles and challenges that most athletes would never have to deal with on a daily basis. Like any other athlete she deserves to be recognized for her accomplishments. Please join me in asking FINA to help get Elham’s record recognized.


(CNN) — Women stood at the forefront of the Arab Spring, taking to the streets shoulder to shoulder with men in an effort to overturn oppressive old orders.

But while their efforts have seen dictators ousted and reforms introduced, the greater rights for women many hoped would emerge from the upheaval have not materialized.

Indeed, says Lebanese activist Diala Haidar, the rise of political Islam throughout the region in the wake of the uprising has raised the specter of hard-won gains for women being lost.

Haidar and four other women’s rights activists across the region started a campaign, The Uprising of Women in the Arab World, on Facebook in October 2011, to highlight injustices against women throughout the region.

«The Arab Spring took place under the banner of freedom, dignity and equality, and the three can’t be established if women are left behind,» said Haidar, 28, a laboratory supervisor.

«At every stage of history we have been given the excuse, ‘It’s not the time to discuss women’s issues — we are at war, it’s a revolution,’ or whatever. It’s our time to say ‘We need our rights,'» she added.


RIYADH — Denied the right to travel without consent from their male guardians and banned from driving, women in Saudi Arabia are now monitored by an electronic system that tracks any cross-border movements.

Since last week, Saudi women’s male guardians began receiving text messages on their phones informing them when women under their custody leave the country, even if they are travelling together.

Manal al-Sherif, who became the symbol of a campaign launched last year urging Saudi women to defy a driving ban, began spreading the information on Twitter, after she was alerted by a couple.


International Olympic Committee rules require that countries allow both men and women to compete as a prerequisite for their participation in the Olympic Games. Saudia Arabia, a country that has never sent a female athlete to the games, has been warned of this, promised to correct the situation, and then sort of did nothing for awhile and hoped that no one would notice.

Now, one human rights group says enough is enough and is encouraging the IOC to bar the Middle Eastern Kingdom from the Games, on account of the fact that they’re clearly dragging their feet on this. In a letter to the IOC on Wednesday, the organization demanded Saudi Arabia be barred from the upcoming London Olympic Games if they fail to send a lady to compete.

For awhile, it looked as though Saudi Arabia would actually comply with the IOC’s warning. Equestrian Dalma Rushdi Malhas competed for the kingdom in the 2010 Youth Olympic Games, where she took home a bronze medal. Some analysts believed that she had the best chance to qualify for the Olympics, but now, it seems that the country’s all-male equestrian team is deep into training in Europe— without her.

Further, Olympic rules have bent over backward to allow countries with fewer highly trained athletes to send participants to the games by offering universality slots in many track and field and swimming events. The slots are reserved for countries that can’t produce any athletes that meet the qualifying standards. Saudi Arabia has not opted to fill any of those slots with female athletes.

A spokesperson from the IOC rejected the call for a Saudi ban, saying that the Games don’t issue ultimatums or deadlines to countries who wish to participate, that Malhas’s participation in the Youth Olympic Games was a positive sign that Saudi Arabia was serious about including ladies.

But Human Rights Watch isn’t not so sure this is the case. Girls and boys are strictly segregated in the country, and all girls schools do not offer any sort of physical education, exercise, or sports teams. For a Saudi woman to have any hope of training, she’d have to do it in another country. Saudi Arabia was never serious about including women in sport, and may never be.

Ban Urged on Saudi Arabia over Discrimination [NYT]

The Iraqi Council of Representatives will vote to legalise Forced Child Marriage1.
The specifics of the legislation (part of the Jaafari Personal Status Law) are terrifying:

  • There will no longer be a minimum age to legally marry (it’s currently 18) but the law provides policies for divorcing a 9-year-old girl;
  • A girl’s father would legally be able to accept a marriage proposal on her behalf; and
  • The girl would be legally prohibited from resisting her husband’s advances and leaving the home without his permission.
It’s a recipe for a life in domestic and sexual slavery.

The law was sent to the Council of Representatives yesterday, and the vote could happen any time now. To prevent Iraq’s girls from becoming vulnerable to forced child marriage it is crucial that we act now.
Currently, Iraq has one of the most progressive policies on women’s rights in the Middle East -- setting the legal marriage age at 18 and prohibiting forced marriage2.




Any minute now, the Iraqi Council of Representatives will vote to legalise forced child marriage. 1
The specifics of the legislation (part of the Jaafari Personal Status Law) are terrifying:
  • There will no longer be a minimum age to legally marry (it’s currently 18) but the law provides policies for divorcing a 9-year-old;
  • A girl’s father would legally be able to accept a marriage proposal; and
  • The girl would be legally prohibited from resisting her husband’s advances and leaving the home without his permission.
It’s a recipe for a life in domestic and sexual slavery.
Currently, Iraq has one of the most progressive policies on women’s rights in the Middle East — setting the legal marriage age at 18 and prohibiting forced marriage.2
Brave Iraqi women have been fighting against removing the minimum age for marriage, for their sake and for the sake of their daughters. Last month on International Women’s Day, countless women attended demonstrations in Baghdad protesting the Jaafari Personal Status Law. They called it the “Day of Mourning”.3
We may not have much time to stop Iraq from legalising forced child marriage and a lifetime of domestic and sexual slavery for girls and women. Call on the the Iraqi Council of Representatives to vote “no” to the Jaafari Personal Status Law today.



|

Saudi Arabia's feared morality police say they will not punish men who walk around in their underwear - but women still face harsh punishments if they violate strict laws on women's dress codes.

The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has denied reports of a ban to counter the controversial trend of young men frequenting shopping malls in their undershirts and long pyjamas.

Women, however, are still expected to cover their body with a cloak, head covering and a veil according to the country's strict Islamic laws.




Friday, 15 March, 2002, 12:19 GMT  

Saudi police 'stopped' fire rescue
 
Saudi Arabia's religious police stopped schoolgirls from leaving a blazing building because they were not wearing correct Islamic dress, according to Saudi newspapers.

In a rare criticism of the kingdom's powerful "mutaween" police, the Saudi media has accused them of hindering attempts to save 15 girls who died in the fire on Monday.

An inquiry was launched by the Saudi government in wake of the deaths. The investigation was led by Abdul Majeed, the governor of Makkah. The Interior Minister, Prince Nayef, promised that those responsible for the deaths would be held accountable.[7] Nayef, at the time, stated that the deaths didn't happen as a result of the fire, but rather the stampede caused by the panic. He acknowledged the presence of two mutaween and that they went there to prevent "mistreatment" of the girls. He asserted that they didn't interfere with the rescue efforts and only arrived after everyone had left the building.[7]
On March 25, the inquiry concluded that while the fire had been caused by a stray cigarette, the religious educational authorities responsible for the school had neglected the safety of the pupils.[3] The inquiry found that the clerics had ignored warnings that overcrowding of the school could cause a fatal stampede. It also found that there was a lack of fire extinguishers and alarms in the building. Accordingly, the cleric in charge of the school was fired, and his office was merged with the Ministry of Education. The report dismissed allegations that the mutaween (of CPVPV) had prevented the girls from fleeing or made the death toll worse.[3]
Many newspapers welcomed the merger of the agency responsible for girls' education with the Ministry of Education. Previously, the agencies had been separate and girls' education had been in the hands of the religious establishment. The newspapers saw the merger as a step towards "reform".


Elham Asghari is an Iranian swimmer who began swimming at the age of five. She holds several national open-water swimming records. Elham swims wearing a full-body swimsuit she designed that fully adheres to Iran’s Islamic dress code for women. She says the suit hinders her performance and causes her pain, adding a hefty six kilograms to her weight in water. Still she wears it in order to pursue her lifelong dream of being an open-water swimmer.
Achieving that dream has not been without its challenges for Elham. In Iran women are only allowed to swim in gender-segregated pools and are banned from participating in international swimming competitions. During a previous open-water record-attempt, Iranian police chased Elham in a boat in order to stop her from swimming. The propellers on the police boat sliced her legs and hip.
Elham broke her previous 20km open-water record, in June of 2013, by completing a swim in the Caspian Sea in just over eight hours. She swam in a private, women-only beach to avoid another run in with the police. Yet, Iranian officials have refused to recognize her record, stating that her swimming costume, which she had worn when setting her previous records, was illegal because “the feminine characteristics of her body were visible when she came out of the water.

As an Iranian-American woman living in the United States, I feel it is my duty to raise the publics’ awareness on the issue at hand. I’m asking the International Swimming Federation (FINA) to require the Iranian Swimming Federation to register the record Elham Asghari rightfully earned.
Elham Asghari is a talented, accomplished athlete who has worked tirelessly as an open-water swimmer. She continues to face obstacles and challenges that most athletes would never have to deal with on a daily basis. Like any other athlete she deserves to be recognized for her accomplishments. Please join me in asking FINA to help get Elham’s record recognized.





(CNN) -- Women stood at the forefront of the Arab Spring, taking to the streets shoulder to shoulder with men in an effort to overturn oppressive old orders.

But while their efforts have seen dictators ousted and reforms introduced, the greater rights for women many hoped would emerge from the upheaval have not materialized.

Indeed, says Lebanese activist Diala Haidar, the rise of political Islam throughout the region in the wake of the uprising has raised the specter of hard-won gains for women being lost.

Haidar and four other women's rights activists across the region started a campaign, The Uprising of Women in the Arab World, on Facebook in October 2011, to highlight injustices against women throughout the region.

"The Arab Spring took place under the banner of freedom, dignity and equality, and the three can't be established if women are left behind," said Haidar, 28, a laboratory supervisor.

"At every stage of history we have been given the excuse, 'It's not the time to discuss women's issues -- we are at war, it's a revolution,' or whatever. It's our time to say 'We need our rights,'" she added.



RIYADH — Denied the right to travel without consent from their male guardians and banned from driving, women in Saudi Arabia are now monitored by an electronic system that tracks any cross-border movements.

Since last week, Saudi women’s male guardians began receiving text messages on their phones informing them when women under their custody leave the country, even if they are travelling together.

Manal al-Sherif, who became the symbol of a campaign launched last year urging Saudi women to defy a driving ban, began spreading the information on Twitter, after she was alerted by a couple.



International Olympic Committee rules require that countries allow both men and women to compete as a prerequisite for their participation in the Olympic Games. Saudia Arabia, a country that has never sent a female athlete to the games, has been warned of this, promised to correct the situation, and then sort of did nothing for awhile and hoped that no one would notice.

Now, one human rights group says enough is enough and is encouraging the IOC to bar the Middle Eastern Kingdom from the Games, on account of the fact that they're clearly dragging their feet on this. In a letter to the IOC on Wednesday, the organization demanded Saudi Arabia be barred from the upcoming London Olympic Games if they fail to send a lady to compete.

For awhile, it looked as though Saudi Arabia would actually comply with the IOC's warning. Equestrian Dalma Rushdi Malhas competed for the kingdom in the 2010 Youth Olympic Games, where she took home a bronze medal. Some analysts believed that she had the best chance to qualify for the Olympics, but now, it seems that the country's all-male equestrian team is deep into training in Europe— without her.

Further, Olympic rules have bent over backward to allow countries with fewer highly trained athletes to send participants to the games by offering universality slots in many track and field and swimming events. The slots are reserved for countries that can't produce any athletes that meet the qualifying standards. Saudi Arabia has not opted to fill any of those slots with female athletes.

A spokesperson from the IOC rejected the call for a Saudi ban, saying that the Games don't issue ultimatums or deadlines to countries who wish to participate, that Malhas's participation in the Youth Olympic Games was a positive sign that Saudi Arabia was serious about including ladies.

But Human Rights Watch isn't not so sure this is the case. Girls and boys are strictly segregated in the country, and all girls schools do not offer any sort of physical education, exercise, or sports teams. For a Saudi woman to have any hope of training, she'd have to do it in another country. Saudi Arabia was never serious about including women in sport, and may never be.


Ban Urged on Saudi Arabia over Discrimination [NYT]

Corporate personhood

Corporations had been viewed as artificial persons for millennia, the debate over whether they should be afforded the same rights as humans had been raging long before the United States created, or the14th Amendment was adopted. The degree of permissible government interference … Continue reading

Corporations had been viewed as artificial persons for millennia, the debate over whether they should be afforded the same rights as humans had been raging long before the United States created, or the14th Amendment was adopted. The degree of permissible government interference in corporate affairs was controversial from the earliest days of the nation.

With the Industrial Revolution, the favored form for large businesses became the corporation as a mechanism to raise the large amounts of investment capital. The Civil War accelerated the growth of manufacturing and the power of the men who owned the large corporations. Businessmen such as Mark Hanna, sugar trust magnate Henry O. Havemeyer, banker J. P. Morgan, steel makers Charles M. Schwab and Andrew Carnegie, and railroad owners Cornelius Vanderbilt and Jay Gould created corporations which influenced legislation at the local, state, and federal levels as they built businesses that spanned multiple states and communities. After the adoption of the 14th Amendment in 1868, there was some question as to whether the Amendment applied to other than freed slaves, and whether its protections could be invoked by corporations and other organizations of persons.

Corporations as legal entities have always been able to perform commercial activities, similar to a person acting as a sole proprietor, such as entering into a contract or owning property. Therefore corporations have always had a ‘legal personality’ for the purposes of conducting business while shielding individual shareholders from personal liability (i.e., protecting personal assets which were not invested in the corporation).

Corporate personhood is the legal concept that a corporation may be recognized as an individual in the eyes of the law. This doctrine forms the basis for legal recognition that corporations, as groups of people, may hold and exercise certain rights under the common law and the U.S. Constitution. The doctrine does not grant to corporations all of the rights of citizens. In Pembina Consolidated Silver Mining Co. v. Pennsylvania - 125 U.S. 181 (1888), the Court clearly affirmed the doctrine, holding, “Under the designation of ‘person’ there is no doubt that a private corporation is included [in the Fourteenth Amendment]. Such corporations are merely associations of individuals united for a special purpose and permitted to do business under a particular name and have a succession of members without dissolution.”[2] This doctrine has been reaffirmed by the Court many times since.

As a matter of interpretation of the word “person” in the Fourteenth Amendment, U.S. courts have extended certain constitutional protections to corporations. Opponents of corporate personhood seek to amend the U.S. Constitution to limit these rights to those provided by state law and state constitutions.

The basis for allowing corporations to assert protection under the U.S. Constitution is that they are organizations of people, and the people should not be deprived of their constitutional rights when they act collectively.[5] In this view, treating corporations as “persons” is a convenient legal fiction which allows corporations to sue and to be sued, provides a single entity for easier taxation and regulation, simplifies complex transactions which would otherwise involve, in the case of large corporations, thousands of people, and protects the individual rights of the shareholders as well as the right of association.

Generally, corporations are not able to claim constitutional protections which would not otherwise be available to persons acting as a group. For example, the Supreme Court has not recognized a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination for a corporation, since the right can be exercised only on an individual basis.

Since the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission in 2010, upholding the rights of corporations to make political expenditures under the First Amendment, there have been several calls for a U.S. Constitutional amendment to abolish Corporate Personhood, Ralph NaderPhil Radford and others have argued that a strict originalist philosophy should reject the doctrine of corporate personhood under the Fourteenth Amendment.

A central point of debate has been what role corporate money plays and should play in democratic politics. This is part of the larger debate on campaign finance reform and the role which money may play in politics.

The corporate personhood aspect of the campaign finance debate turns on Buckley v. Valeo (1976) and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010): Buckley ruled that political spending is protected by the First Amendment right to free speech, while Citizens United ruled that corporate political spending is protected, holding that corporations have a First Amendment right to free speech. Opponents of these decisions have argued that if all corporate rights under the Constitution were abolished, it would clear the way for greater regulation of campaign spending and contributions. It should be noted, however, that neither decision relied on the concept of corporate personhood, and the Buckley decision in particular deals with the rights of individuals and political committees, not corporations.

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. ___ (2010), (Docket No. 08-205), is a US constitutional law case, in which the United States Supreme Court held that the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting political independent expenditures by corporations,associations, or labor unions. The conservative lobbying group Citizens United wanted to air a film critical of Hillary Clinton and to advertise the film during television broadcasts in apparent violation of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (commonly known as the McCain–Feingold Act or “BCRA”).[2] In a 5–4 decision, the Court held that portions of BCRA §203 violated the First Amendment.

The decision reached the Supreme Court on appeal from a July 2008 decision by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Section 203 of BCRA defined an “electioneering communication” as a broadcast, cable, or satellite communication that mentioned a candidate within 60 days of a general election or 30 days of a primary, and prohibited such expenditures by corporations and unions. The lower court held that §203 of BCRA applied and prohibited Citizens United from advertising the film Hillary: The Movie in broadcasts or paying to have it shown on television within 30 days of the 2008 Democratic primaries.[1][3] The Supreme Court reversed, striking down those provisions of BCRA that prohibited corporations (including nonprofit corporations) and unions from making independent expenditures and “electioneering communications”.

In Citizens United the Court confidently declared, “We now conclude that independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.” And for skeptics who thought otherwise, the Court provided this additional assurance: “The appearance of influence or access, furthermore, will not cause the electorate to lose faith in our democracy.”

In 2012 the Justices overturned a century-old Montana law that prohibited corporate spending in Montana state’s elections.

On march 2014 the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Sebelius v Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v Sebelius. These two consolidated cases concern Obamacare’s “contraceptive mandate”—the requirement that businesses offering their employees health insurance must provide plans that cover all federally-approved contraception methods at no extra cost to their employees.

Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties are both owned by Christians who believe that some of those contraceptive methods are tantamount to abortion, because they can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. The owners seek an exemption to the contraceptive mandate under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a statute that Congress passed almost unanimously in 1993. This says that “government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability”, unless the law is the least restrictive way to further a compelling state interest.

To summarize, the US judiciary thinks that corporations should have speech rights because they are basically associations of people. This view overlooks the fact that corporations are instruments with a very specific purpose, to make money.  In fact, many social ills created by corporations stem directly from corporate law. The law actually inhibits executives and corporations from being socially responsible. A provision in corporate law says the purpose of the corporation is simply to make money for shareholders. Every jurisdiction where corporations operate has its own law of corporate governance. But remarkably, the corporate design contained in hundreds of corporate laws throughout the world is nearly identical. That design creates a governing body to manage the corporation, usually a board of directors, and dictates the duties of those directors. In short, the law creates corporate purpose. That purpose is to operate in the interests of shareholders.

Of course there are people behind corporations, however, one of the main purposes of corporations is to shield people from responsibility of what the corporation do. While it is true that what guide corporations  is the human activity of their executives, boards of directors, managers and employees, all the human emotional factors of the people in the corporation pass through a “filter” created by the basic rule of maximizing profit. A corporation is a complex machine, and as it grows, its actions get more detached from the values of the founders. Wal-Mart a clear example of this. When Sam Walton was alive there probably was some truth on the saying that the Wal-Mart Way was the American Way; Nowadays is the cheap slave  labor Chinese way.

Corporations are big machines that should not go amok, the same way a train engine needs tracks. Free market is not restrain enough, specially when there is such an concentration of wealth and power and a few oligopolies control everything. In practice, corporations are powerful enough that they control government, not the other way, and is a moot point to discuss government regulations. Nonetheless one should be at least aware of the manipulations of public opinion and values.

Small family business might show some correlation between their behavior and the values of the shareholders. But the modern large corporation, the one that we, the people, the flesh and blood people, should consider, is an amoral entity, i.e., not governed by human moral values. It lacks guilt for what it does, or empathy for those it harms.  A corporation  can function beyond the natural limits that govern humans. A corporation doesn’t die with its originator. Corporations can’t feel pain. A corporation cannot be  imprisoned. One might give corporations the rights of a human being, but not similar responsibilities.

Like Frankenstein´s monster, corporations do have a life of their own, beyond the wishes, expectations or actions of their founders. Corporations are at their most nefarious as a living entity, bound on survive and thrive at all cost. The modern corporation is particularly dangerous because of its great concentration of money, power, and political influence–which it uses freely to reach its goals.

Even more, if it is granted that corporations reflect the interest and values of their owners, and there are a few extremely wealthy and powerful, that gives this few undue advantage to impose their interests on the majority.

It is a fact of life that the winner of elections for public office, specially the presidency, can be predicted on the bases of the amount spends on the campaigns.  The news media coverage in the United States is of very low quality, heavily biased towards the interests of the plutocracy. Extending the rights and prerogatives of big corporations is in practice the end of democracy.

 

In 2010, after the Supreme Court declared that corporations have the same rights as individuals when it comes to funding political campaigns, Murray Hill took what it considers the next logical step: declaring for office.

“Until now, corporate interests had to rely on campaign contributions and influence-peddling to achieve their goals in Washington,” the candidate, who was unavailable for an interview, said in a statement. “But thanks to an enlightened Supreme Court, now we can eliminate the middle-man and run for office ourselves.”

William Klein, a “hired gun” who has been enlisted as Murray Hill’s campaign manager, said the firm appears to be the first “corporate person” to run for office and is promising a spirited campaign that “puts people second, or even third.”

A stunt, but how far should the corporate personhood metaphor go?


hyper-fertile baby machines

Mexifornia (also Calexico or Califaztlán) is a Portmanteau and Neologism of Mexico and California, which refers to what some see as the Mexicanization/Hispanicization of the U.S. state of California as a result of increased legal and especially illegal migration of Mexican and other Hispanic people into California and the transformation of many aspects of the culture of the state.

Mexifornia is seen as a state level version of what is now known as Amexica, the merging of America and Mexico;
«The United States of “Amexica” share more than a border and a common heritage: both sides welcome the benefits of trade but struggle with the pressures of growth». Timemagazine.[1]
This is a topic of a heated debate between the advocates of amnesty for illegal immigrants on one side and those wishing to enforce immigration laws on the other side.

See also

References


A Frightening Analysis

We all know Dick Lamm as the former Governor of Colorado. In that context his thoughts are particularly poignant. Last week there was an immigration-overpopulation conference in Washington, DC, filled to capacity by many of American’s finest minds and leaders. A brilliant college professor named Victor Hansen Davis talked about his latest book, «Mexifornia,» explaining how immigration — both legal and illegal — was destroying the entire state of California. He said it would march across the country until it destroyed all vestiges of The American Dream.

Moments later, former Colorado Governor Richard D. Lamm stood up and gave a stunning speech on how to destroy America. The audience sat spellbound as he described eight methods for the destruction of the United States. He said, «If you believe that America is too smug, too self-satisfied, too rich, then let’s destroy America. It is not that hard to do. No nation in history has survived the ravages of time. Arnold Toynbee observed that all great civilizations rise and fall and that ‘An autopsy of history would show that all great nations commit suicide.'»

«Here is how they do it,» Lamm said: First to destroy America, «Turn America into a bilingual or multi-lingual and bicultural country. History shows that no nation can survive the tension, conflict, and antagonism of two or more competing languages and cultures. It is a blessing for an individual to be bilingual; however, it is a curse for a society to be bilingual. The historical scholar Seymour Lipset put it this way: ‘The histories of bilingual and bi-cultural societies that do not assimilate are histories of turmoil, tension, and tragedy. Canada, Belgium, Malaysia, Lebanon all face crises of national existence in which minorities press for autonomy, if not independence. Pakistan and Cyprus have divided. Nigeria suppressed an ethnic rebellion. France faces difficulties with Basques, Bretons, and Corsicans.»

Lamm went on: Second, to destroy America, «Invent ‘multiculturalism’ and encourage immigrants to maintain their culture. I would make it an article of belief that all cultures are equal. That there are no cultural differences. I would make it an article of faith that the Black and Hispanic dropout rates are due to prejudice and discrimination by the majority. Every other explanation is out of bounds.

Third, «We could make the United States a ‘Hispanic Quebec’ without much effort. The key is to celebrate diversity rather than unity. As Benjamin Schwarz said in the Atlantic Monthly recently: ‘The apparent success of our own multiethnic and multicultural experiment might have been achieved! Not by tolerance but by hegemony. Without the dominance that once dictated ethnocentrically and what it meant to be an American, we are left with only tolerance and pluralism to hold us together.'»

Lamm said, «I would encourage all immigrants to keep their own language and culture. I would replace the melting pot metaphor with the salad bowl metaphor. It is important to ensure that we have various cultural subgroups living in America reinforcing their differences rather than as Americans, emphasizing their similarities.»

«Fourth, I would make our fastest growing demographic group the least educated. I would add a second underclass, unassimilated, undereducated, and antagonistic to our population. I would have this second underclass have a 50% dropout rate from high school.»

«My fifth point for destroying America would be to get big foundations and business to give these efforts lots of money. I would invest in ethnic identity, and I would establish the cult of ‘Victimology.’ I would get all minorities to think their lack of success was the fault of the majority. I would start a grievance industry blaming all minority failure on the majority population.»

«My sixth plan for America’s downfall would include dual citizenship and promote divided loyalties. I would celebrate diversity over unity. I would stress differences rather than similarities. Diverse people worldwide are mostly engaged in hating each other – that is, when they are not killing each other. A diverse, peaceful, or stable society is against most historical precedent. People undervalue the unity! Unity is what it takes to keep a nation together. Look at the ancient Greeks. The Greeks believed that they belonged to the same race; they possessed a common language and literature; and they worshiped the same gods. All Greece took part in the Olympic Games.

A common enemy Persia threatened their liberty. Yet all these bonds were not strong enough to over come two factors: local patriotism and geographical conditions that nurtured political divisions. Greece fell.

«E. Pluribus Unum» — From many, one. In that historical reality, if we put the emphasis on the ‘pluribus’ instead of the ‘Unum,’ we can balkanize America as surely as Kosovo.»

«Next to last, I would place all subjects off limits ~ make it taboo to talk about anything against the cult of ‘diversity.’ I would find a word similar to ‘heretic’ in the 16th century – that stopped discussion and paralyzed thinking. Words like ‘racist’ or ‘x! xenophobes’ halt discussion and debate.»

«Having made America a bilingual/bicultural country, having established multi-culturism, having the large foundations fund the doctrine of ‘Victimology,’ I would next make it impossible to enforce our immigration laws. I would develop a mantra: That because immigration has been good for America, it must always be good. I would make every individual immigrant symmetric and ignore the cumulative impact of millions of them.»

In the last minute of his speech, Governor Lamm wiped his brow. Profound silence followed. Finally he said, «Lastly, I would censor Victor Hanson Davis’s book Mexifornia. His book is dangerous. It exposes the plan to destroy America. If you feel America deserves to be destroyed, don’t read that book.»

There was no applause.

A chilling fear quietly rose like an ominous cloud above every attendee at the conference. Every American in that room knew that everything Lamm enumerated was proceeding methodically, quietly, darkly, yet pervasively across the United States today. Every discussion is being suppressed. Over 100 languages are ripping the foundation of our educational system and national cohesiveness. Barbaric cultures that practice female genital mutilation are growing as we celebrate ‘diversity.’ American jobs are vanishing into the Third World as corporations create a Third World in America — take note of California and other states — to date, ten million illegal aliens and growing fast. It is reminiscent of George Orwell’s book «1984.» In that story, three slogans are engraved in the Ministry of Truth building: «War is peace,» «Freedom is slavery,» and «Ignorance is strength.»

Governor Lamm walked back to his seat. It dawned on everyone at the conference that our nation and the future of this great democracy are deeply in trouble and worsening fast. If we don’t get this immigration monster stopped within three years, it will rage like a California wildfire and destroy everything in its path, especially The American Dream.

Origins:   Richard D. Lamm was a Democrat who served as governor of Colorado for twelve years from 1975 to 1987. Of the above-quoted third person account regarding his speech on the perils of multiculturalism, he told Snopes.com in mid-June 2005:


Yes, it is a speech I gave a year and a half ago in Washington D.C. It was a 5 minute speech, and I am amazed and gratified it has received so much coverage.



What is the future of Spanish in the United States?

BY  AND 18 COMMENT


FT_Spanish_New
With more than 37 million speakers, Spanish is by far the most spoken non-English language in the U.S. today among people ages 5 and older. It is also one of the fastest-growing, with the number of speakers up 233% since 1980, when there were 11 million Spanish speakers. (The number of Vietnamese speakers grew faster, up 599% over the same period).






Mexifornia: A State of Becoming

by Victor Davis HANSON
Brain LAMB Interviews Victor HANSON

LAMB, HOST: Victor Davis HANSON, the name «Mexifornia» comes from
what?
HANSON: Actually, it`s a term that I discovered that was used by sort of the La
Razza (ph) left that was a connotation for a new hybrid-cultured California that
would be not part of Mexico and not part of the United States. So the editors that
I worked with embraced that as the title, but a lot of people think it came from the
conservative right, but actually, it didn`t
LAMB: Who`s La Razza?
HANSON: It`s a very funny word. It means «the race.» There`s a National
Council of La Razza that`s an advocacy group, people, they claim, of Mexican
heritage. But I`m very worried about that nomenclature because it reminds me of
the connotations of «Das Volk.» Any time you have a word for «the people,» but
it really means the race, I think it`s outside the boundaries of the American
assimilationist experience.
 LAMB: What`s a classics professor doing writing a book about Mexifornia?
 HANSON: I don`t know! Sometimes I wish I hadn`t have written it. But I
actually live on a farm in central California, and I am a fifth generation. I`ve lived
with Mexican-Americans. My daughter`s boyfriend`s a Mexican-American. I
have a brother married to a Mexican-American, step-nephews and nieces. So it
was sort of a memoir, a literary memoir of what I grew up with, and it was — it
was prompted by the idea that I thought that the world that I used to know of
assimilation and second and third-generation Mexican-Americans were such
wonderful citizens that this new generation was not getting the same
opportunities. I was worried about the problems for the future of California.



Fertile Matters
The Politics of Mexican-Origin Women’s Reproduction
By Elena R. Gutiérrez


Fertile Matters is an exploration of the ways we have come to think about the reproduction of women of Mexican origin in the United States. In particular, I look closely at one of the most popular and longstanding public stereotypes that portray Mexican American and Mexican women as «hyper-fertile baby machines» who «breed like rabbits.» Although these labels have become colloquially acceptable, I use them to also signify the related beliefs that Mexican families are unduly large and that Mexican-origin women do not use birth control. By examining the historical and sociopolitical evolution of these racial stereotypes, I reveal a complex network of character, ideology, time, and place that has yielded the collectively accepted image of women of Mexican origin as prolific «breeders.»

Chicana feminist scholars have previously documented the existence of this stereotype. However, during the course of writing this book, I was struck by the resilience of these images within public perceptions. For example, almost without fail, when I mentioned that I was researching the reproductive politics of Mexican American women, I received the response, «That is such an important topic. They have so many children!» Latino and non-Latino individuals alike often pointed out the «huge problem» of teenage pregnancy in Latino communities or commented that Latinas do not use birth control. Many asked me to explain why Mexican women have so many children. This widespread perception that Mexican women have too many children, and the belief that this reproductive behavior is a social problem that requires fixing, compelled me to continue trying to understand the sources and consequences of these ideas.

Although the stereotype of Mexican-origin women as perpetually pregnant is longstanding, our reproduction has been targeted for the past fifteen years as a major U.S. social problem. Newspapers carry headlines about the changing composition of the nation’s racial and ethnic makeup, the so-called Latinization of America. Due to a higher than average birth rate among Mexican Americans and a steady stream of immigrants from Mexico, Mexican-origin people are the fastest growing minority group in the United States. As a consequence, the reproduction of Mexican immigrant women has been a central theme in contemporary U.S. politics since the 1990s.

There is no clearer marker of this phenomenon—that is, the construct of Mexican women’s fertility as a social problem—than the passage of Proposition 187, proposed in 1994. The initiative, passed by California voters, was intended to take strong and deliberate measures to «Save Our State» from Mexican immigration. The campaign denied prenatal care and other social services to undocumented immigrants, specifically those of Mexican origin, and particularly women and children. Many of the proposition’s backers identified pregnant immigrants as the problem, claiming that they come to the country illegally to have their babies on U.S. soil in order to achieve citizenship for their children and benefits—namely, access to welfare and other public services.

Although Prop. 187 was eventually overturned in 1996, its original passage demonstrated the growing public concern over the so-called problem of Mexican reproduction and the increased public support for proposals to stop it. While some scholars suggest that this recent focus on women signals a new twist in nativist and anti-immigrant sentiment, I demonstrate that public concern about the reproductive behaviors of women of Mexican origin has a much longer presence in the United States, beginning as far back as the turn of the twentieth century.

Throughout Fertile Matters I demonstrate the gradual crystallization of widespread interest in the reproduction and «hyper-fertility» of women of Mexican origin during the 1970s. My purpose is in large part to systematically document the development of discourse about women of Mexican origin as «breeders» over the second half of the twentieth century.

Another goal of the book is to demonstrate the impact that such discourses have on the reproductive experiences of the women themselves. Specifically, I examine the coercive sterilization of women of Mexican origin at the University of Southern California-Los Angeles County Medical Center (LACMC) during the early 1970s. My research reveals that the perception of women of Mexican origin as «breeding like rabbits» was manifested in the coercive actions of doctors and other health providers at LACMC who believed they had the right to sterilize women who, in their opinion, had too many children. The case of Madrigal v. Quilligan provides strong evidence that racializing images and beliefs were crucial factors in the abusive handling of these women, both during their deliveries at LACMC and in the Los Angeles County courtroom where their case was tried.

Since I began this project ten years ago, a growing body of literature has documented that reproductive politics are central to racial politics and vice versa. U.S. racial politics and all women’s childbearing capacities have been intimately linked and manipulated throughout history. My research has shown that for women of color, racist stereotypes exist to justify the control of their fertility, and that activists in all communities have resisted accepting these images in their struggles for reproductive justice. However, we still know little about how these stereotypes work.

Fertile Matters intends to deepen public understanding of how the racial politics of reproduction have developed for women of Mexican origin in the United States. It shows that how we talk and think about reproduction is part of a system of racial domination that shapes social policy and impacts individual women’s lives. And finally, it aims to convince readers that reproductive politics are indeed fertile matters for discourse and disclosure, not only for women of Mexican origin, but for all communities.
Chapter Overview

Chapter One provides an overview of the theoretical perspectives and issues that frame my analysis, primarily social constructionist approaches to the study of social problems, racial formation theory, and feminist studies of the racial politics of reproduction. I also sketch a general picture of the ways in which Mexican-origin women’s reproduction has been racialized historically, particularly as they have been cast as «breeders.»

Chapter Two presents the historical background necessary to understand the development of the social construction of Mexican-origin women during the second half of the twentieth century. Focusing on social concerns about overpopulation and immigration that developed after World War II, this account highlights the primary actors and institutions considered in the remainder of the book.

Chapter Three is an empirical case study of the coercive sterilization of Mexican-origin women at Los Angeles County Medical Center, and the trial of Madrigal v. Quilligan that followed. I focus on how the idea that women of Mexican origin have too many children led to the abuses that occurred in both the hospital and the courtroom.

Chapter Four examines the construction of the category of «Mexican-origin women’s fertility» through a review of the development of social scientific interest in the topic. I critically assess the empirical findings of this research trajectory and suggest that this mode of inquiry plays a fundamental role in the social construction of Mexican-origin women’s hyper-fertility.

Chapter Five is a case study based on primary analysis of the platforms of Zero Population Growth (ZPG) Inc., and its offshoot, the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR). I highlight the interests of John Tanton, a former president of ZPG and the founder of FAIR, who was concerned about the «indirect effect» of immigration: the reproduction of Mexican women.

Through consideration of the published writings and public discussions of Chicana activists, in Chapter Six I show how they contest predominant characterizations of Mexican-origin women as breeders and develop a reproductive justice agenda that reflects their position as a racially oppressed group in the United States.

The final chapter discusses the centrality of the reproduction of Mexican immigrant women to more contemporary politics (the 1990s-present), focusing on the controversies over granting birthright citizenship to children born in the United States, changes in California over welfare reform, and the denial of prenatal care to Mexican immigrant women. These legislative and public battles not only represent the most recent incarnations in the lengthy historical trajectory of attempts to control Mexican-origin women’s reproduction, but also indicate that the social construction of these women’s fertility as a social problem has become institutionalized.
Chapter One. The Fertility of Women of Mexican Origin: A Social Constructionist Approach

«I think what we are trying to show is that throughout the entire period that the doctors were not using medical reasons to perform these sterilizations, but were using social reasons. That is very pertinent to this case.»

Attorney Antonia Hernández spoke these words as she implored federal district court judge Jesse Curtis to hear the testimony of her next witness. Along with co-counsel Charles Nabarette, Hernández represented ten women of Mexican origin filing a class-action civil suit against physicians at the University of Southern California-Los Angeles County Medical Center (LACMC). The plaintiffs in the case of Madrigal v. Quilligan, which was tried in 1978, accused the doctors of coercively sterilizing each of them between June 1971 and March 1974. Many alleged that hospital personnel forced them into signing consent forms while under the duress of labor pains, or that they were never approached and informed about the procedure at all. All of the women had various levels of English comprehension, and most testified that they did not understand that tubal ligation would irreversibly terminate their childbearing. The plaintiffs filed suit against state and federal officials, and the administrators and doctors at LACMC for violation of their constitutionally guaranteed right to procreate. In addition to financial compensation, the plaintiffs requested that the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare require federally funded hospitals to provide thorough sterilization counseling and consent forms in Spanish. On this, the sixth day of the trial, tension in the courtroom was high.

The contested witness was Karen Benker, a medical student at the University of Southern California Medical School, and an employee of the Women’s Hospital of LACMC during the period when the alleged forced sterilizations of countless Mexican-origin women occurred. As the only witness who had observed the alleged coercive practices of the doctors firsthand and was willing to testify in court, Benker’s observations confirmed Hernández’s argument that the sterilization of her clients at this hospital was «socially motivated.»

What Dr. Benker would share with the court could prove that the coercive sterilization of these ten plaintiffs was not incidental, accidental, or medically necessary, but was part of a concerted attempt by the doctors at the Women’s Hospital of LACMC to reduce the birth rate of Mexican-origin women. Based on this testimony, Hernández would maintain that many of the physicians deceptively pushed women into sterilization in accordance with an attitude widespread in the hospital community that the high childbearing rates of Mexican-origin women contributed to many social problems and could be effectively remedied through sterilization.

I begin this book with an empirical case study of the forced sterilization at LACMC because it illustrates the convergent discourses around Mexican-origin women’s fertility and the material ramifications of ideological notions of Mexican-origin women as «hyper-fertile» that surfaced during this period. The case of Madrigal v. Quilligan lucidly illustrates the central argument of this book: namely, that during the 1970s a confluence of ideas crystallized to construct the fertility of Mexican-origin women as a social problem to be remedied. These issues are part of a larger public policy discourse that has continued into the twenty-first century.
The Demography and Politics of the Population Growth of People of Mexican Origin

The 2000 U.S. census statistically confirmed that Latinos have become the largest racial-ethnic group living in the United States, totaling over forty million people. Between 1990 and 2000, the U.S. Latino population increased by 58 percent.

In what has been called a demographic revolution, Latinos were 12.5 percent of the nation’s population in 2000, and are expected to comprise 25 percent of the U.S. population by 2050. An ever-increasing volume of academic study, public policy investigation, and social commentary addresses this demographic change. Due to both higher birthrates than the national average and continued immigration from Mexico, persons of Mexican origin represent the largest portion of the Latino population growth in the last thirty plus years. In March 2002, Mexicans comprised 66.9 percent of the Latino population.

Demographic and government interest in the birthrates of the Mexican-origin community have also grown steadily over the past three decades. In 1998, the U.S. government conducted a first-ever, multiyear analysis of Hispanic birthrates, which established that, even within the rising rates for Hispanic women as a group, women of Mexican origin display markedly higher rates of childbirth than other Latinas. Media coverage of the 1998 report by the National Center for Health Statistics publicized the «dramatic rise» in Hispanic births between 1989 and 1995, attributing much of this growth to the «soaring» rates of teenage pregnancy. Commentators expressed an almost singular preoccupation with the ascending birthrates of Latina teens (which notably overtook those of African Americans for the first time in history) and pondered the social and political ramifications of such a demographic pattern. One commentator from the conservative journal National Review warned,

For those who cluck cheerfully about the ‘strong family ties’ of Hispanic immigrants, the new figures are ominous: two-thirds of young Latina mothers have no husbands. . . . Because the Latino share of the population is expanding, any burgeoning Latino culture of poverty will make its impact widely felt. Thirty-three years ago Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) gave a prescient warning about the breakdown of the African American family, for which he had no easy remedy. Now, thanks to feckless immigration policies, the United States is sowing difficulties which could prove of at least comparable scope.

Alluding to Senator Moynihan’s much-critiqued analysis of black family life, which faulted the matriarchal family structure of African Americans as the core cause of their poverty, the above statements suggest a similar case for national action concerning the reproductive behavior of Latinas.

Social and political interest in controlling the fertility of Latinas is of course nothing new. Control of the reproduction of Mexican, Mexican American, and Puerto Rican women’s reproduction served as a crucial tool of colonization and social repression of entire communities. Puerto Rico’s population has long served as a social laboratory for the U.S. birth control industry, and ideologies of population control and economic development justified the massive sterilization abuse of Puerto Rican women. With 33 percent of Puerto Rico’s women sterilized, and similar rates for Puerto Rican women living on the U.S. mainland, anthropologist Iris Lopez argues that the procedure has now become an institutionalized, or «medicalized,» practice of women faced with limited options. She writes, «Once Puerto Rican women’s reproductive decision-making is medicalized, they lose the ability to control their own fertility. . . . The medicalization of women’s reproductive behavior infused and gave medical and state authority more control.»

Other commentators similarly portray immigrant families as opportunists who are sapping social services and other scarce public resources. Public discourse surrounding California’s Proposition 187 (passed in November 1994), a paradigmatic embodiment of contemporary nativism in the United States, provides a classic case in point. The fertility of women of Mexican origin assumed center stage in the debates surrounding this controversial proposition, which was a measure designed to deny undocumented immigrants access to education and health care services. Proponents of the «Save Our State» initiative persistently alluded to the high fertility of Mexican women as one of the primary problems with recent immigration from Mexico (births to Hispanic mothers outnumber all other groups in the state). The very substance of the policy prescriptions of Proposition 187 (which I explore in greater detail in Chapter Seven) assumes that the allure of social benefits (i.e., health care, education, welfare) is the driving motivation for Mexican women to cross the border to bear their children on U.S. soil.

Supporters of the anti-immigration proposition encouraged strict sanctions to deter migrants from coming to the United States and «stealing» health and social service benefits that were not rightfully theirs. Although the proposition’s expressed goal was to halt all immigration, especially from Mexico, women were particularly targeted. Proposition 187 singled out «poor, pregnant immigrant women who, with their children, come to the United States to give birth in publicly-financed county hospitals, allowing the newborns to become U.S. citizens, and all their children to receive public assistance, medical care, and public school education.»

Fear of the «Latinization» of California and the possible ascent of people of Mexican origin to political power has led to vociferous anti-immigrant and anti-Mexican mobilization in the state and in the larger Southwest, sentiments that are increasingly echoed across the nation.

Consider the message in Mexifornia, a book written by classics professor Victor Davis Hanson of California State University, Fresno. Published in 2003, the title reflects «the strange society that is emerging as the result of a demographic and cultural revolution like no other in our times.» Hanson attributes a transformation of U.S. culture to a lack of assimilation by recent immigrants. At the heart of the complaint, though, is the ultimate culprit. Hanson bemoans that «every year the state must continue to deal with a succession of first-generation immigrant families with three to six children at or below the poverty line. Moreover, no advocate in the university promotes family planning as a means of economic self-sufficiency; there is no campaign in Chicano studies departments encouraging immigrant families to have only one or two children so as to ensure financial solvency.» According to Hanson, the continuing immigration of large, poor families has led to an unassimilated class of Mexicans that is changing the very nature of the state of California.

Again in 2003, Samuel Huntington, a distinguished Harvard professor, received national recognition for his treatise on «The Hispanic Challenge.» In Who Are We? The Challenge to America’s National Identity, Huntington wrote that «the single most serious challenge to America’s traditional identity comes from the immense and continuing immigration from Latin America, especially Mexico, and the fertility rates of these immigrants compared to black and white American ‘natives.'» Huntington clearly identifies the growth of the Mexican-origin population as a very real problem for the United States. He further warns that if these «floods» of immigrants are not stopped, the country’s cultural and political integrity will be endangered.

Some scholars suggest that the recent focus on women signals a «new twist» in nativist and anti-immigrant sentiment. However, criticisms of immigrant motherhood have prevailed in the United States since at least 1890. According to Katrina Irving, between 1890 and 1925 «all writers, no matter what their ideological position—nativism (‘scientific racism’), American-ization, or cultural pluralism—drew upon discourses that articulated feminine gender in order to construct an immigrant woman who would, in turn, embody their particular version of the immigrant ‘problem.'» In particular, nativists questioned the eugenic quality of children of very fertile immigrant mothers, predating contemporary concerns about the fertility of Mexican immigrant women. Later in this chapter, I will show that over the course of the twentieth century not only nativists, but some social scientists, members of the medical community, and population control proponents have expressed a similar racial anxiety over the reproduction of women of Mexican origin in the United States. First, I clarify my argument and review the major theoretical threads upon which my analysis is built.
The Tools of Social Constructionism: Situating the Fertility of Women of Mexican Origin

To explore the politics of Mexican women’s reproduction, I draw upon the analytical perspective represented by sociological research on the social construction of social problems. Such an approach(well articulated by Malcolm Spector and John Kitsuse, and Joseph Gusfield, and perceptively deployed by Constance Nathanson) posits that it is not the putative social conditions that should be the focus of study, but the processes central to the definition of any social occurrence as a «social problem.»

The construction of a social problem is a collective process within which individuals or groups define some set of putative circumstances as unduly problematic. While objectivists believe that social problems are literal conditions that pose a concretely real and objective threat to the good of society, social constructionists approach social problems from an alternative standpoint. Contextual constructionists argue that social problems do not objectively exist, but are fundamentally conceived by certain interests within a particular context; they are «constructed in the human mind, constituted by the definitional process.» Proponents of contextual constructionism argue that it is impossible for any given set of conditions to be considered a social problem outside of its sociopolitical context, and thus historical analysis is necessary to any project engaging the construction of such a problem.

The epistemological approach offered by social constructionism relies on an empirical focus on the actors, historical moments, and interests that contribute to the construction of the fertility of Mexican women as a matter of public interest and concern. Moreover, in his thoughtful analysis of drinking and driving, Joseph Gusfield notes that «analyzing public problems as structures means finding the conceptual and institutional orderliness in which they emerge in the public arena. The public arena is not a field on which all can play on equal terms; some have greater access than others and greater power and ability to shape the definition of public issues.» My research thus focuses centrally on those institutions that claim ownership of the problem of the fertility of Mexican women—that is, demographers, medical professionals, population policymakers, and Chicana feminists.

Accordingly, my intention is to «turn the camera around» to investigate those institutions, groups, and policies that have observed the reproduction of women of Mexican origin. Such a maneuver helps us shift the focus from attempting to unravel the «truth» of what is happening with the fertility and reproduction of women of Mexican origin toward an exploration of perspectives, interests, and policies that have played a role in creating «truths» about this topic.

A social constructionist perspective provides a completely different vantage point from which to engage the topic of the fertility of women of Mexican origin. In this vein, Sally Andrade, one of the first scholars to trace the biased nature of social science research about women of Mexican origin, wrote in 1982,

If one’s primary interest were research on the family size of Chicanas, the primary question remaining to be clarified would be whether the cultural background or the educational status of Mexican American women is the more important factor in terms of understanding their fertility regulation attitudes and behaviors. If one wants to examine the implications of social sciences inability to confront issues of racism, sexism, and social class bias with reference to research on Mexican women, however, different questions emerge.

Thus, principles of social constructionism provide a useful corrective to most of the extant social scientific research on the reproduction of women of Mexican origin, which primarily attempts to document and understand their «unusually high rates» and focuses on the attitudinal and behavioral aspects of their family planning practices. Typically based on secondary analysis of quantitative data, such projects conceptualize the reproduction of Mexican-origin women as a culturally dictated behavior to be understood. These projects largely reinscribe the reproduction of women of Mexican origin as the primary locus of inquiry, and the women themselves as the principal unit of analysis, often ignoring the sociopolitical context within which the reproductive activities of Mexican-origin women occur. A social constructionist approach considers academic scholarship as complicit in the creation of ideas about the fertility of women of Mexican origin. As such, demographic research about Mexican-origin women’s fertility is treated as a focal object of study in my analysis rather than as literature upon which my analysis is built.

Diverging from the previous social scientific research, in this project I argue that the important question is not how many children are born to women of Mexican origin or whether abortion intervention or birth control is practiced. Rather, I explore why the fertility of women of Mexican origin is in itself such a significant issue in so many sociopolitical discourses. This is not a study of the fertility of Mexican women per se, but an investigation of the sociohistorical context within which such a topic, and the structures that shape it, become significant.

Because such emphasis has been placed on enumerating and tracking the actual rates of fertility for Mexican-origin women (the number of children they bear), this project is particularly interested in exploring the concept of «fertility.» Popular discussions of such a category are inevitably tied up with a host of other related issues such as reproductive behavior, birth control practices, and attitudes toward the family. This project will thus envelop any and all topics related to reproduction with respect to Mexican-origin women, and the terms fertility and reproduction will be used as synonyms throughout to encompass this variety.
Discourse, Ideology, and the Racial Politics of Reproduction

When anthropologists Faye Ginsburg and Rayna Rapp theorize the politics of reproduction—which bridges the micro-level of reproductive behavior and practices, and the macro-level of the politics involved in that process—they stress that reproductive issues are largely discursive terrain and that discourse analysis «can be used to analyze ‘reproduction’ as an aspect of other contests over hegemonic control.» Since I am primarily concerned with the ideological construction of the fertility of women of Mexican origin as a social problem, this project pays considerable attention to discursive realms. Such a focus on discourse fundamentally assumes its political nature.

Moreover, my focus on the «ideological effects» of these discursive constructions implies that «these practices are always more than semiotic because they inscribe signs within social practices as a condition of existence of the meanings and subjectivities produced.» Thus, discourse is also located in public policy, social institutions, and practices.

Racialized reproductive images about women of Mexican origin circulating in public discourse are central to this project. I am equally interested in how these ideological constructs are tied to structural and institutional modes of reproduction and racial control. Drawing from racialization theory, most extensively articulated by Omi and Winant, I argue that the social construction of women of Mexican origin as hyper-fertile is a racial project and that the discourse surrounding and constructing their reproductive behavior as problematic must be viewed as racially based. Omi and Winant define racial formation as «the historical process by which racial categories are created, inhabited, transformed, and destroyed,» and as «a process of historically situated projects in which human bodies and social structures are represented and organized.» Imperative to my perspective is the vigilant consideration of racial projects in both their ideological and structural nature. I argue that ideological representations of women of Mexican origin as «hyper-fertile» must not only be analyzed in their form and content, but additionally in their relation to the structural associations within which they historically emerge.

I further draw upon a growing body of critical analyses that argue that race and reproductive politics are fundamentally intertwined. Research since the 1980s has traced the systemic intrusions on the reproductive liberty of African American and other women of color and the historical control of fertility as a mechanism of racial domination and economic exploitation. Legal scholar Dorothy Roberts’s treatise Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty deftly demonstrates that racial domination and reproductive control have been intricately tied throughout history. Central to her examination is how images about African American women render significant implications for their reproductive freedom. According to Roberts, «Regulating Black women’s fertility seems so imperative because of the existence of powerful stereotypes that propel these policies; myths are meaningful as expressions of what we believe to be true; [and] have justified the restrictions on Black women’s childbearing.»

Other authors have documented how the development of racializing images and ideologies is central to the reproductive control of women of color. Sociologist Patricia Hill Collins has identified that «controlling images» such as the mammy, welfare queen, and Jezebel are historically deployed to devalue African American women. Collins’s ground-breaking work theorizes how controlling images of African American women serve as «powerful ideological justifications» for class, race, gender, and sexuality domination. Stressing the ubiquity of these ideas in her now-classic treatise Black Feminist Thought, Collins writes that «schools, the news media, and government agencies constitute important sites for reproducing these controlling images. Scholarship has helped produce and disseminate controlling images.» It is in these spaces where the discourse of reproductive politics is created and communicated.

Through the denial of black motherhood and the characterization of African American women as «bad mothers,» the material deprivation of their reproductive rights to bear children has been symbolically justified. This dichotomization of good/bad, black/white motherhood is indeed a significant aspect of the racial politics of reproduction in the United States. However, in contrast to the depiction of African American women as neglectful mothers, historically and contemporarily, women of Mexican origin are more typically cast as overly identified mothers and reproducers.
The Politics of the Fertility of Women of Mexican Origin: Historical Antecedents

Women’s procreation has been a subject of political interest from the time of the Spanish colonization of Mexico. Spanish colonizers claimed a state imperative to control the childbearing of native women. Because a growing California needed a Hispanicized Indian population, missionaries took affirmative steps to encourage reproduction. Historian Antonia Castañeda has documented that in addition to encouraging marriages of converted AmerIndian women and mestizo soldiers by offering bounties, colonial officials also brought niños and niñas de cuna (foundlings) from Spain to populate California.

Castañeda’s research further demonstrates how women of Mexican origin first came to be depicted as hyper-fertile. In particular, impressions collected in the narratives of Euro-American pioneers (many of which were commissioned by Hubert Howe Bancroft during the 1870s and 1880s) provide some of the first documented characterizations of the Mexican family, which dominated subsequent histories of early California. According to Castañeda, descriptions of the patriarchal Spanish-Mexican family, their reproductive patterns, and family size abound in the recordings of Euro-Americans and elite Californios: «the texts described California women as ‘remarkably fecund’ and frequently commented that families were exceptionally large, with women bearing twelve, fifteen, and twenty children.» These stereotypical narratives provided a foundation on which most of the history of Mexican California is written. However, the research of Castañeda and others has dispelled these common mischaracterizations, suggesting that there was significant regional variation in the size of Spanish-Mexican California families, many of which had much smaller numbers of children than noted in founding texts.

Accounts of the reproduction of women of Mexican origin in the United States continued into the twentieth century. For example, in 1929 Samuel J. Holmes, a University of California professor, posed a foreboding question in an article entitled «Perils of the Mexican Invasion,» published in the North American Review: «At a recent state fair in Sacramento, California, when prizes were offered for the largest families, the first prize went to a Mexican family with sixteen children…. This excessive fecundity is of course exceptional, but it is indicative of the breeding habits of this class of our population. Is it not evident, then, that the Mexican invasion is bound to have far-reaching effects upon our national life?» Concerns about a possible «Mexican invasion» of the United States are clearly expressed here, with particular speculation about the resulting cultural effects on the nation.

From the beginning of the century into the early 1940s, growing nativist sentiment blamed Mexican immigrants for societies’ ills and commonly bemoaned their fertility. In a 1929 issue of the Saturday Evening Post, the editor offered his opinion under the heading «The Mexican Conquest»: «The very high Mexican birth rate tends to depress still further the low white birth rate. Thus a race problem of the greatest magnitude is being allowed to develop for future generations to regret and in spite of the fact that the Mexican Indian is considered a most undesirable ethnic stock for the melting pot.»

This concern about the fertility of Mexican women was wholeheartedly adopted by those associated with eugenic efforts. Sociologist David Montejano wrote:

The outcry about social decay reached near-hysterical levels. Eugenicists pointed out with alarm that Mexicans were not only intellectually inferior—they were also quite «fecund.» Imaginative calculations were formulated to drive home the point. C. M. Goethe, president of the Immigrant Study Commission, speaking of a Los Angeles Mexican with thirty-three children, figured that «it would take 14,641 American fathers…at a three-child rate, to equal the descendants of this one Mexican father four generations hence.»

Goethe, a Sacramento realtor, wrote in 1935, «It is this high birthrate that makes Mexican peon immigration such a menace. Peons multiply like rabbits.» The social panic that eugenicists instigated often incited public outcries to deport Mexicans (immigrant or not); at times their messages were informed by germ theories and hereditarianism.

Alternatively, proponents of the Americanist agenda (1915-1929) believed that efforts should be made to assimilate the Mexican population in the United States. A growing body of literature has shown that these efforts primarily focused on the assimilation of Mexican immigrant women and their children into American culture. Historian George Sánchez has noted that for Americanists, motherhood represented «the juncture at which the Mexican immigrant women’s potential role in Americanization was most highly valued.» Ideas about fertility, reproduction, and motherhood all gained significant racial meaning within the process of Americanization, as female Mexican immigrants were believed to be the bearers and sharers of culture.

In her study of the Houchen Settlement, a «Christian Americanization» program run in El Paso, Texas, from 1920 to 1960, historian Vicki Ruiz argues that this and other groups like it paid particular attention to expectant mothers. Millie Rockford, who worked at the settlement, shared the logic behind this approach with Ruiz: «If we can teach her [the mother to be] the modern methods of cooking and preparing foods and simple hygiene habits for herself and her family, we have gained a stride.»

In some cases Americanization policies bore important implications for the birth control practices of Mexican immigrant women. Americanists attempted to inculcate Anglo ideals of family planning and family size into the women’s values in hopes of ultimately changing behavior as well. Efforts to transform the reproductive ideas and behavior of recent immigrants were fueled by nativist and Americanist fears of race suicide. According to Sánchez, «the nativists wanted to control Mexican population growth for fear of a ‘greaser invasion,’ while Americanists viewed unrestricted population growth as a vestige of Old World ways that would have to be abandoned in a modern industrial world.» Regardless of their motivations, both nativists and Americanists centered their efforts on the reproduction of Mexican immigrant women.

More recently, social science literature on Mexican American women provides an acute example of these racializing images. Prevalent among depictions of Mexican-origin women in this body of research are assumptions that they are solely defined by their capacity to bear children. In a 1982 review of such representations in the extant social scientific literature, Sally Andrade wrote, «An exaggerated ‘super-mother’ figure emerges from a summary of the above impressions about Mexican American women: the unceasingly self-sacrificing, dedicated, ever-fertile woman totally without aspiration for self or initiative to do other than reproduce.»

While dissimilar to the ideological constructs that shape the reproductive context for African American women, images of Mexican women as overly identified mothers are also embedded in a framework of racial domination. One important component of the circumvention of Mexican women’s motherhood is the social construction of their hyper-fertility. Chicana feminist scholars have challenged these prevailing notions, showing that not only are these women complex in their identification as mothers, but that they are sexual beings who have diverse opinions regarding reproductive matters. Such efforts to deconstruct existing racist discourse and contribute to more accurate representations and analyses of the reproduction of women of Mexican origin are deliberately part of a Chicana feminist project. As Aida Hurtado explains, «Chicana feminisms proclaim that creating and controlling their own discourse are essential to decolonization. Passive silence has been the enemy that allowed others to construct who Chicanas are, what they can and cannot do, and what they are capable of becoming.»

While scholars demonstrate the complex construction of racializing images and ideologies central to the reproductive control of African American and women of Mexican origin, less obvious are the ways that these images impact women’s lives. I argue that beyond serving as key components of a «generalized ideology of domination,» by which the oppression of women of color is justified, these notions are often manifested in social institutions and actors that construct individual experience. In this volume, I advance such an examination by considering both the discursive dimensions of fertility and reproduction as they pertain to women of Mexican origin and their circulation in policy and public attitudes—or rather, how these social constructions work.

Throughout the following chapters I explore ideas about Mexican-origin women’s fertility in public discourse, assess the reasons for their deployment, and grapple with the relationship between «ideas» about fertility and the actual abuses enacted on the bodies of Mexican-origin women, including forced sterilization. I examine multiple forms of data (including written texts, oral statements, and other documents gathered through archival research) that construct social knowledge about Mexican-origin women’s fertility. I empirically ground our notions of Mexican-origin women as «breeders» in historical context, and explore the implications of these ideas in the discursive practices of various social actors.

Mexifornia (also Calexico or Califaztlán) is a Portmanteau and Neologism of Mexico and California, which refers to what some see as the Mexicanization/Hispanicization of the U.S. state of California as a result of increased legal and especially illegal migration of Mexican and other Hispanic people into California and the transformation of many aspects of the culture of the state.
Mexifornia is seen as a state level version of what is now known as Amexica, the merging of America and Mexico;
"The United States of “Amexica” share more than a border and a common heritage: both sides welcome the benefits of trade but struggle with the pressures of growth". Timemagazine.[1]
This is a topic of a heated debate between the advocates of amnesty for illegal immigrants on one side and those wishing to enforce immigration laws on the other side.

See also

References




A Frightening Analysis


We all know Dick Lamm as the former Governor of Colorado. In that context his thoughts are particularly poignant. Last week there was an immigration-overpopulation conference in Washington, DC, filled to capacity by many of American's finest minds and leaders. A brilliant college professor named Victor Hansen Davis talked about his latest book, "Mexifornia," explaining how immigration — both legal and illegal — was destroying the entire state of California. He said it would march across the country until it destroyed all vestiges of The American Dream.



Moments later, former Colorado Governor Richard D. Lamm stood up and gave a stunning speech on how to destroy America. The audience sat spellbound as he described eight methods for the destruction of the United States. He said, "If you believe that America is too smug, too self-satisfied, too rich, then let's destroy America. It is not that hard to do. No nation in history has survived the ravages of time. Arnold Toynbee observed that all great civilizations rise and fall and that 'An autopsy of history would show that all great nations commit suicide.'"



"Here is how they do it," Lamm said: First to destroy America, "Turn America into a bilingual or multi-lingual and bicultural country. History shows that no nation can survive the tension, conflict, and antagonism of two or more competing languages and cultures. It is a blessing for an individual to be bilingual; however, it is a curse for a society to be bilingual. The historical scholar Seymour Lipset put it this way: 'The histories of bilingual and bi-cultural societies that do not assimilate are histories of turmoil, tension, and tragedy. Canada, Belgium, Malaysia, Lebanon all face crises of national existence in which minorities press for autonomy, if not independence. Pakistan and Cyprus have divided. Nigeria suppressed an ethnic rebellion. France faces difficulties with Basques, Bretons, and Corsicans."



Lamm went on: Second, to destroy America, "Invent 'multiculturalism' and encourage immigrants to maintain their culture. I would make it an article of belief that all cultures are equal. That there are no cultural differences. I would make it an article of faith that the Black and Hispanic dropout rates are due to prejudice and discrimination by the majority. Every other explanation is out of bounds.



Third, "We could make the United States a 'Hispanic Quebec' without much effort. The key is to celebrate diversity rather than unity. As Benjamin Schwarz said in the Atlantic Monthly recently: 'The apparent success of our own multiethnic and multicultural experiment might have been achieved! Not by tolerance but by hegemony. Without the dominance that once dictated ethnocentrically and what it meant to be an American, we are left with only tolerance and pluralism to hold us together.'"



Lamm said, "I would encourage all immigrants to keep their own language and culture. I would replace the melting pot metaphor with the salad bowl metaphor. It is important to ensure that we have various cultural subgroups living in America reinforcing their differences rather than as Americans, emphasizing their similarities."



"Fourth, I would make our fastest growing demographic group the least educated. I would add a second underclass, unassimilated, undereducated, and antagonistic to our population. I would have this second underclass have a 50% dropout rate from high school."



"My fifth point for destroying America would be to get big foundations and business to give these efforts lots of money. I would invest in ethnic identity, and I would establish the cult of 'Victimology.' I would get all minorities to think their lack of success was the fault of the majority. I would start a grievance industry blaming all minority failure on the majority population."



"My sixth plan for America's downfall would include dual citizenship and promote divided loyalties. I would celebrate diversity over unity. I would stress differences rather than similarities. Diverse people worldwide are mostly engaged in hating each other - that is, when they are not killing each other. A diverse, peaceful, or stable society is against most historical precedent. People undervalue the unity! Unity is what it takes to keep a nation together. Look at the ancient Greeks. The Greeks believed that they belonged to the same race; they possessed a common language and literature; and they worshiped the same gods. All Greece took part in the Olympic Games.



A common enemy Persia threatened their liberty. Yet all these bonds were not strong enough to over come two factors: local patriotism and geographical conditions that nurtured political divisions. Greece fell.



"E. Pluribus Unum" — From many, one. In that historical reality, if we put the emphasis on the 'pluribus' instead of the 'Unum,' we can balkanize America as surely as Kosovo."



"Next to last, I would place all subjects off limits ~ make it taboo to talk about anything against the cult of 'diversity.' I would find a word similar to 'heretic' in the 16th century - that stopped discussion and paralyzed thinking. Words like 'racist' or 'x! xenophobes' halt discussion and debate."



"Having made America a bilingual/bicultural country, having established multi-culturism, having the large foundations fund the doctrine of 'Victimology,' I would next make it impossible to enforce our immigration laws. I would develop a mantra: That because immigration has been good for America, it must always be good. I would make every individual immigrant symmetric and ignore the cumulative impact of millions of them."



In the last minute of his speech, Governor Lamm wiped his brow. Profound silence followed. Finally he said, "Lastly, I would censor Victor Hanson Davis's book Mexifornia. His book is dangerous. It exposes the plan to destroy America. If you feel America deserves to be destroyed, don't read that book."



There was no applause.



A chilling fear quietly rose like an ominous cloud above every attendee at the conference. Every American in that room knew that everything Lamm enumerated was proceeding methodically, quietly, darkly, yet pervasively across the United States today. Every discussion is being suppressed. Over 100 languages are ripping the foundation of our educational system and national cohesiveness. Barbaric cultures that practice female genital mutilation are growing as we celebrate 'diversity.' American jobs are vanishing into the Third World as corporations create a Third World in America — take note of California and other states — to date, ten million illegal aliens and growing fast. It is reminiscent of George Orwell's book "1984." In that story, three slogans are engraved in the Ministry of Truth building: "War is peace," "Freedom is slavery," and "Ignorance is strength."



Governor Lamm walked back to his seat. It dawned on everyone at the conference that our nation and the future of this great democracy are deeply in trouble and worsening fast. If we don't get this immigration monster stopped within three years, it will rage like a California wildfire and destroy everything in its path, especially The American Dream.



Origins:   Richard D. Lamm was a Democrat who served as governor of Colorado for twelve years from 1975 to 1987. Of the above-quoted third person account regarding his speech on the perils of multiculturalism, he told Snopes.com in mid-June 2005:



Yes, it is a speech I gave a year and a half ago in Washington D.C. It was a 5 minute speech, and I am amazed and gratified it has received so much coverage.






What is the future of Spanish in the United States?



BY  AND 18 COMMENT


FT_Spanish_New
With more than 37 million speakers, Spanish is by far the most spoken non-English language in the U.S. today among people ages 5 and older. It is also one of the fastest-growing, with the number of speakers up 233% since 1980, when there were 11 million Spanish speakers. (The number of Vietnamese speakers grew faster, up 599% over the same period).





Mexifornia: A State of Becoming

by Victor Davis HANSON
Brain LAMB Interviews Victor HANSON

LAMB, HOST: Victor Davis HANSON, the name "Mexifornia" comes from
what?
HANSON: Actually, it`s a term that I discovered that was used by sort of the La
Razza (ph) left that was a connotation for a new hybrid-cultured California that
would be not part of Mexico and not part of the United States. So the editors that
I worked with embraced that as the title, but a lot of people think it came from the
conservative right, but actually, it didn`t
LAMB: Who`s La Razza?
HANSON: It`s a very funny word. It means "the race." There`s a National
Council of La Razza that`s an advocacy group, people, they claim, of Mexican
heritage. But I`m very worried about that nomenclature because it reminds me of
the connotations of "Das Volk." Any time you have a word for "the people," but
it really means the race, I think it`s outside the boundaries of the American
assimilationist experience.
 LAMB: What`s a classics professor doing writing a book about Mexifornia?
 HANSON: I don`t know! Sometimes I wish I hadn`t have written it. But I
actually live on a farm in central California, and I am a fifth generation. I`ve lived
with Mexican-Americans. My daughter`s boyfriend`s a Mexican-American. I
have a brother married to a Mexican-American, step-nephews and nieces. So it
was sort of a memoir, a literary memoir of what I grew up with, and it was -- it
was prompted by the idea that I thought that the world that I used to know of
assimilation and second and third-generation Mexican-Americans were such
wonderful citizens that this new generation was not getting the same
opportunities. I was worried about the problems for the future of California.



Fertile Matters
The Politics of Mexican-Origin Women's Reproduction
By Elena R. Gutiérrez


Fertile Matters is an exploration of the ways we have come to think about the reproduction of women of Mexican origin in the United States. In particular, I look closely at one of the most popular and longstanding public stereotypes that portray Mexican American and Mexican women as "hyper-fertile baby machines" who "breed like rabbits." Although these labels have become colloquially acceptable, I use them to also signify the related beliefs that Mexican families are unduly large and that Mexican-origin women do not use birth control. By examining the historical and sociopolitical evolution of these racial stereotypes, I reveal a complex network of character, ideology, time, and place that has yielded the collectively accepted image of women of Mexican origin as prolific "breeders."

Chicana feminist scholars have previously documented the existence of this stereotype. However, during the course of writing this book, I was struck by the resilience of these images within public perceptions. For example, almost without fail, when I mentioned that I was researching the reproductive politics of Mexican American women, I received the response, "That is such an important topic. They have so many children!" Latino and non-Latino individuals alike often pointed out the "huge problem" of teenage pregnancy in Latino communities or commented that Latinas do not use birth control. Many asked me to explain why Mexican women have so many children. This widespread perception that Mexican women have too many children, and the belief that this reproductive behavior is a social problem that requires fixing, compelled me to continue trying to understand the sources and consequences of these ideas.

Although the stereotype of Mexican-origin women as perpetually pregnant is longstanding, our reproduction has been targeted for the past fifteen years as a major U.S. social problem. Newspapers carry headlines about the changing composition of the nation's racial and ethnic makeup, the so-called Latinization of America. Due to a higher than average birth rate among Mexican Americans and a steady stream of immigrants from Mexico, Mexican-origin people are the fastest growing minority group in the United States. As a consequence, the reproduction of Mexican immigrant women has been a central theme in contemporary U.S. politics since the 1990s.

There is no clearer marker of this phenomenon—that is, the construct of Mexican women's fertility as a social problem—than the passage of Proposition 187, proposed in 1994. The initiative, passed by California voters, was intended to take strong and deliberate measures to "Save Our State" from Mexican immigration. The campaign denied prenatal care and other social services to undocumented immigrants, specifically those of Mexican origin, and particularly women and children. Many of the proposition's backers identified pregnant immigrants as the problem, claiming that they come to the country illegally to have their babies on U.S. soil in order to achieve citizenship for their children and benefits—namely, access to welfare and other public services.

Although Prop. 187 was eventually overturned in 1996, its original passage demonstrated the growing public concern over the so-called problem of Mexican reproduction and the increased public support for proposals to stop it. While some scholars suggest that this recent focus on women signals a new twist in nativist and anti-immigrant sentiment, I demonstrate that public concern about the reproductive behaviors of women of Mexican origin has a much longer presence in the United States, beginning as far back as the turn of the twentieth century.

Throughout Fertile Matters I demonstrate the gradual crystallization of widespread interest in the reproduction and "hyper-fertility" of women of Mexican origin during the 1970s. My purpose is in large part to systematically document the development of discourse about women of Mexican origin as "breeders" over the second half of the twentieth century.

Another goal of the book is to demonstrate the impact that such discourses have on the reproductive experiences of the women themselves. Specifically, I examine the coercive sterilization of women of Mexican origin at the University of Southern California-Los Angeles County Medical Center (LACMC) during the early 1970s. My research reveals that the perception of women of Mexican origin as "breeding like rabbits" was manifested in the coercive actions of doctors and other health providers at LACMC who believed they had the right to sterilize women who, in their opinion, had too many children. The case of Madrigal v. Quilligan provides strong evidence that racializing images and beliefs were crucial factors in the abusive handling of these women, both during their deliveries at LACMC and in the Los Angeles County courtroom where their case was tried.

Since I began this project ten years ago, a growing body of literature has documented that reproductive politics are central to racial politics and vice versa. U.S. racial politics and all women's childbearing capacities have been intimately linked and manipulated throughout history. My research has shown that for women of color, racist stereotypes exist to justify the control of their fertility, and that activists in all communities have resisted accepting these images in their struggles for reproductive justice. However, we still know little about how these stereotypes work.

Fertile Matters intends to deepen public understanding of how the racial politics of reproduction have developed for women of Mexican origin in the United States. It shows that how we talk and think about reproduction is part of a system of racial domination that shapes social policy and impacts individual women's lives. And finally, it aims to convince readers that reproductive politics are indeed fertile matters for discourse and disclosure, not only for women of Mexican origin, but for all communities.
Chapter Overview

Chapter One provides an overview of the theoretical perspectives and issues that frame my analysis, primarily social constructionist approaches to the study of social problems, racial formation theory, and feminist studies of the racial politics of reproduction. I also sketch a general picture of the ways in which Mexican-origin women's reproduction has been racialized historically, particularly as they have been cast as "breeders."

Chapter Two presents the historical background necessary to understand the development of the social construction of Mexican-origin women during the second half of the twentieth century. Focusing on social concerns about overpopulation and immigration that developed after World War II, this account highlights the primary actors and institutions considered in the remainder of the book.

Chapter Three is an empirical case study of the coercive sterilization of Mexican-origin women at Los Angeles County Medical Center, and the trial of Madrigal v. Quilligan that followed. I focus on how the idea that women of Mexican origin have too many children led to the abuses that occurred in both the hospital and the courtroom.

Chapter Four examines the construction of the category of "Mexican-origin women's fertility" through a review of the development of social scientific interest in the topic. I critically assess the empirical findings of this research trajectory and suggest that this mode of inquiry plays a fundamental role in the social construction of Mexican-origin women's hyper-fertility.

Chapter Five is a case study based on primary analysis of the platforms of Zero Population Growth (ZPG) Inc., and its offshoot, the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR). I highlight the interests of John Tanton, a former president of ZPG and the founder of FAIR, who was concerned about the "indirect effect" of immigration: the reproduction of Mexican women.

Through consideration of the published writings and public discussions of Chicana activists, in Chapter Six I show how they contest predominant characterizations of Mexican-origin women as breeders and develop a reproductive justice agenda that reflects their position as a racially oppressed group in the United States.

The final chapter discusses the centrality of the reproduction of Mexican immigrant women to more contemporary politics (the 1990s-present), focusing on the controversies over granting birthright citizenship to children born in the United States, changes in California over welfare reform, and the denial of prenatal care to Mexican immigrant women. These legislative and public battles not only represent the most recent incarnations in the lengthy historical trajectory of attempts to control Mexican-origin women's reproduction, but also indicate that the social construction of these women's fertility as a social problem has become institutionalized.
Chapter One. The Fertility of Women of Mexican Origin: A Social Constructionist Approach

"I think what we are trying to show is that throughout the entire period that the doctors were not using medical reasons to perform these sterilizations, but were using social reasons. That is very pertinent to this case."

Attorney Antonia Hernández spoke these words as she implored federal district court judge Jesse Curtis to hear the testimony of her next witness. Along with co-counsel Charles Nabarette, Hernández represented ten women of Mexican origin filing a class-action civil suit against physicians at the University of Southern California-Los Angeles County Medical Center (LACMC). The plaintiffs in the case of Madrigal v. Quilligan, which was tried in 1978, accused the doctors of coercively sterilizing each of them between June 1971 and March 1974. Many alleged that hospital personnel forced them into signing consent forms while under the duress of labor pains, or that they were never approached and informed about the procedure at all. All of the women had various levels of English comprehension, and most testified that they did not understand that tubal ligation would irreversibly terminate their childbearing. The plaintiffs filed suit against state and federal officials, and the administrators and doctors at LACMC for violation of their constitutionally guaranteed right to procreate. In addition to financial compensation, the plaintiffs requested that the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare require federally funded hospitals to provide thorough sterilization counseling and consent forms in Spanish. On this, the sixth day of the trial, tension in the courtroom was high.

The contested witness was Karen Benker, a medical student at the University of Southern California Medical School, and an employee of the Women's Hospital of LACMC during the period when the alleged forced sterilizations of countless Mexican-origin women occurred. As the only witness who had observed the alleged coercive practices of the doctors firsthand and was willing to testify in court, Benker's observations confirmed Hernández's argument that the sterilization of her clients at this hospital was "socially motivated."

What Dr. Benker would share with the court could prove that the coercive sterilization of these ten plaintiffs was not incidental, accidental, or medically necessary, but was part of a concerted attempt by the doctors at the Women's Hospital of LACMC to reduce the birth rate of Mexican-origin women. Based on this testimony, Hernández would maintain that many of the physicians deceptively pushed women into sterilization in accordance with an attitude widespread in the hospital community that the high childbearing rates of Mexican-origin women contributed to many social problems and could be effectively remedied through sterilization.

I begin this book with an empirical case study of the forced sterilization at LACMC because it illustrates the convergent discourses around Mexican-origin women's fertility and the material ramifications of ideological notions of Mexican-origin women as "hyper-fertile" that surfaced during this period. The case of Madrigal v. Quilligan lucidly illustrates the central argument of this book: namely, that during the 1970s a confluence of ideas crystallized to construct the fertility of Mexican-origin women as a social problem to be remedied. These issues are part of a larger public policy discourse that has continued into the twenty-first century.
The Demography and Politics of the Population Growth of People of Mexican Origin

The 2000 U.S. census statistically confirmed that Latinos have become the largest racial-ethnic group living in the United States, totaling over forty million people. Between 1990 and 2000, the U.S. Latino population increased by 58 percent.

In what has been called a demographic revolution, Latinos were 12.5 percent of the nation's population in 2000, and are expected to comprise 25 percent of the U.S. population by 2050. An ever-increasing volume of academic study, public policy investigation, and social commentary addresses this demographic change. Due to both higher birthrates than the national average and continued immigration from Mexico, persons of Mexican origin represent the largest portion of the Latino population growth in the last thirty plus years. In March 2002, Mexicans comprised 66.9 percent of the Latino population.

Demographic and government interest in the birthrates of the Mexican-origin community have also grown steadily over the past three decades. In 1998, the U.S. government conducted a first-ever, multiyear analysis of Hispanic birthrates, which established that, even within the rising rates for Hispanic women as a group, women of Mexican origin display markedly higher rates of childbirth than other Latinas. Media coverage of the 1998 report by the National Center for Health Statistics publicized the "dramatic rise" in Hispanic births between 1989 and 1995, attributing much of this growth to the "soaring" rates of teenage pregnancy. Commentators expressed an almost singular preoccupation with the ascending birthrates of Latina teens (which notably overtook those of African Americans for the first time in history) and pondered the social and political ramifications of such a demographic pattern. One commentator from the conservative journal National Review warned,

For those who cluck cheerfully about the 'strong family ties' of Hispanic immigrants, the new figures are ominous: two-thirds of young Latina mothers have no husbands. . . . Because the Latino share of the population is expanding, any burgeoning Latino culture of poverty will make its impact widely felt. Thirty-three years ago Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) gave a prescient warning about the breakdown of the African American family, for which he had no easy remedy. Now, thanks to feckless immigration policies, the United States is sowing difficulties which could prove of at least comparable scope.

Alluding to Senator Moynihan's much-critiqued analysis of black family life, which faulted the matriarchal family structure of African Americans as the core cause of their poverty, the above statements suggest a similar case for national action concerning the reproductive behavior of Latinas.

Social and political interest in controlling the fertility of Latinas is of course nothing new. Control of the reproduction of Mexican, Mexican American, and Puerto Rican women's reproduction served as a crucial tool of colonization and social repression of entire communities. Puerto Rico's population has long served as a social laboratory for the U.S. birth control industry, and ideologies of population control and economic development justified the massive sterilization abuse of Puerto Rican women. With 33 percent of Puerto Rico's women sterilized, and similar rates for Puerto Rican women living on the U.S. mainland, anthropologist Iris Lopez argues that the procedure has now become an institutionalized, or "medicalized," practice of women faced with limited options. She writes, "Once Puerto Rican women's reproductive decision-making is medicalized, they lose the ability to control their own fertility. . . . The medicalization of women's reproductive behavior infused and gave medical and state authority more control."

Other commentators similarly portray immigrant families as opportunists who are sapping social services and other scarce public resources. Public discourse surrounding California's Proposition 187 (passed in November 1994), a paradigmatic embodiment of contemporary nativism in the United States, provides a classic case in point. The fertility of women of Mexican origin assumed center stage in the debates surrounding this controversial proposition, which was a measure designed to deny undocumented immigrants access to education and health care services. Proponents of the "Save Our State" initiative persistently alluded to the high fertility of Mexican women as one of the primary problems with recent immigration from Mexico (births to Hispanic mothers outnumber all other groups in the state). The very substance of the policy prescriptions of Proposition 187 (which I explore in greater detail in Chapter Seven) assumes that the allure of social benefits (i.e., health care, education, welfare) is the driving motivation for Mexican women to cross the border to bear their children on U.S. soil.

Supporters of the anti-immigration proposition encouraged strict sanctions to deter migrants from coming to the United States and "stealing" health and social service benefits that were not rightfully theirs. Although the proposition's expressed goal was to halt all immigration, especially from Mexico, women were particularly targeted. Proposition 187 singled out "poor, pregnant immigrant women who, with their children, come to the United States to give birth in publicly-financed county hospitals, allowing the newborns to become U.S. citizens, and all their children to receive public assistance, medical care, and public school education."

Fear of the "Latinization" of California and the possible ascent of people of Mexican origin to political power has led to vociferous anti-immigrant and anti-Mexican mobilization in the state and in the larger Southwest, sentiments that are increasingly echoed across the nation.

Consider the message in Mexifornia, a book written by classics professor Victor Davis Hanson of California State University, Fresno. Published in 2003, the title reflects "the strange society that is emerging as the result of a demographic and cultural revolution like no other in our times." Hanson attributes a transformation of U.S. culture to a lack of assimilation by recent immigrants. At the heart of the complaint, though, is the ultimate culprit. Hanson bemoans that "every year the state must continue to deal with a succession of first-generation immigrant families with three to six children at or below the poverty line. Moreover, no advocate in the university promotes family planning as a means of economic self-sufficiency; there is no campaign in Chicano studies departments encouraging immigrant families to have only one or two children so as to ensure financial solvency." According to Hanson, the continuing immigration of large, poor families has led to an unassimilated class of Mexicans that is changing the very nature of the state of California.

Again in 2003, Samuel Huntington, a distinguished Harvard professor, received national recognition for his treatise on "The Hispanic Challenge." In Who Are We? The Challenge to America's National Identity, Huntington wrote that "the single most serious challenge to America's traditional identity comes from the immense and continuing immigration from Latin America, especially Mexico, and the fertility rates of these immigrants compared to black and white American 'natives.'" Huntington clearly identifies the growth of the Mexican-origin population as a very real problem for the United States. He further warns that if these "floods" of immigrants are not stopped, the country's cultural and political integrity will be endangered.

Some scholars suggest that the recent focus on women signals a "new twist" in nativist and anti-immigrant sentiment. However, criticisms of immigrant motherhood have prevailed in the United States since at least 1890. According to Katrina Irving, between 1890 and 1925 "all writers, no matter what their ideological position—nativism ('scientific racism'), American-ization, or cultural pluralism—drew upon discourses that articulated feminine gender in order to construct an immigrant woman who would, in turn, embody their particular version of the immigrant 'problem.'" In particular, nativists questioned the eugenic quality of children of very fertile immigrant mothers, predating contemporary concerns about the fertility of Mexican immigrant women. Later in this chapter, I will show that over the course of the twentieth century not only nativists, but some social scientists, members of the medical community, and population control proponents have expressed a similar racial anxiety over the reproduction of women of Mexican origin in the United States. First, I clarify my argument and review the major theoretical threads upon which my analysis is built.
The Tools of Social Constructionism: Situating the Fertility of Women of Mexican Origin

To explore the politics of Mexican women's reproduction, I draw upon the analytical perspective represented by sociological research on the social construction of social problems. Such an approach(well articulated by Malcolm Spector and John Kitsuse, and Joseph Gusfield, and perceptively deployed by Constance Nathanson) posits that it is not the putative social conditions that should be the focus of study, but the processes central to the definition of any social occurrence as a "social problem."

The construction of a social problem is a collective process within which individuals or groups define some set of putative circumstances as unduly problematic. While objectivists believe that social problems are literal conditions that pose a concretely real and objective threat to the good of society, social constructionists approach social problems from an alternative standpoint. Contextual constructionists argue that social problems do not objectively exist, but are fundamentally conceived by certain interests within a particular context; they are "constructed in the human mind, constituted by the definitional process." Proponents of contextual constructionism argue that it is impossible for any given set of conditions to be considered a social problem outside of its sociopolitical context, and thus historical analysis is necessary to any project engaging the construction of such a problem.

The epistemological approach offered by social constructionism relies on an empirical focus on the actors, historical moments, and interests that contribute to the construction of the fertility of Mexican women as a matter of public interest and concern. Moreover, in his thoughtful analysis of drinking and driving, Joseph Gusfield notes that "analyzing public problems as structures means finding the conceptual and institutional orderliness in which they emerge in the public arena. The public arena is not a field on which all can play on equal terms; some have greater access than others and greater power and ability to shape the definition of public issues." My research thus focuses centrally on those institutions that claim ownership of the problem of the fertility of Mexican women—that is, demographers, medical professionals, population policymakers, and Chicana feminists.

Accordingly, my intention is to "turn the camera around" to investigate those institutions, groups, and policies that have observed the reproduction of women of Mexican origin. Such a maneuver helps us shift the focus from attempting to unravel the "truth" of what is happening with the fertility and reproduction of women of Mexican origin toward an exploration of perspectives, interests, and policies that have played a role in creating "truths" about this topic.

A social constructionist perspective provides a completely different vantage point from which to engage the topic of the fertility of women of Mexican origin. In this vein, Sally Andrade, one of the first scholars to trace the biased nature of social science research about women of Mexican origin, wrote in 1982,

If one's primary interest were research on the family size of Chicanas, the primary question remaining to be clarified would be whether the cultural background or the educational status of Mexican American women is the more important factor in terms of understanding their fertility regulation attitudes and behaviors. If one wants to examine the implications of social sciences inability to confront issues of racism, sexism, and social class bias with reference to research on Mexican women, however, different questions emerge.

Thus, principles of social constructionism provide a useful corrective to most of the extant social scientific research on the reproduction of women of Mexican origin, which primarily attempts to document and understand their "unusually high rates" and focuses on the attitudinal and behavioral aspects of their family planning practices. Typically based on secondary analysis of quantitative data, such projects conceptualize the reproduction of Mexican-origin women as a culturally dictated behavior to be understood. These projects largely reinscribe the reproduction of women of Mexican origin as the primary locus of inquiry, and the women themselves as the principal unit of analysis, often ignoring the sociopolitical context within which the reproductive activities of Mexican-origin women occur. A social constructionist approach considers academic scholarship as complicit in the creation of ideas about the fertility of women of Mexican origin. As such, demographic research about Mexican-origin women's fertility is treated as a focal object of study in my analysis rather than as literature upon which my analysis is built.

Diverging from the previous social scientific research, in this project I argue that the important question is not how many children are born to women of Mexican origin or whether abortion intervention or birth control is practiced. Rather, I explore why the fertility of women of Mexican origin is in itself such a significant issue in so many sociopolitical discourses. This is not a study of the fertility of Mexican women per se, but an investigation of the sociohistorical context within which such a topic, and the structures that shape it, become significant.

Because such emphasis has been placed on enumerating and tracking the actual rates of fertility for Mexican-origin women (the number of children they bear), this project is particularly interested in exploring the concept of "fertility." Popular discussions of such a category are inevitably tied up with a host of other related issues such as reproductive behavior, birth control practices, and attitudes toward the family. This project will thus envelop any and all topics related to reproduction with respect to Mexican-origin women, and the terms fertility and reproduction will be used as synonyms throughout to encompass this variety.
Discourse, Ideology, and the Racial Politics of Reproduction

When anthropologists Faye Ginsburg and Rayna Rapp theorize the politics of reproduction—which bridges the micro-level of reproductive behavior and practices, and the macro-level of the politics involved in that process—they stress that reproductive issues are largely discursive terrain and that discourse analysis "can be used to analyze 'reproduction' as an aspect of other contests over hegemonic control." Since I am primarily concerned with the ideological construction of the fertility of women of Mexican origin as a social problem, this project pays considerable attention to discursive realms. Such a focus on discourse fundamentally assumes its political nature.

Moreover, my focus on the "ideological effects" of these discursive constructions implies that "these practices are always more than semiotic because they inscribe signs within social practices as a condition of existence of the meanings and subjectivities produced." Thus, discourse is also located in public policy, social institutions, and practices.

Racialized reproductive images about women of Mexican origin circulating in public discourse are central to this project. I am equally interested in how these ideological constructs are tied to structural and institutional modes of reproduction and racial control. Drawing from racialization theory, most extensively articulated by Omi and Winant, I argue that the social construction of women of Mexican origin as hyper-fertile is a racial project and that the discourse surrounding and constructing their reproductive behavior as problematic must be viewed as racially based. Omi and Winant define racial formation as "the historical process by which racial categories are created, inhabited, transformed, and destroyed," and as "a process of historically situated projects in which human bodies and social structures are represented and organized." Imperative to my perspective is the vigilant consideration of racial projects in both their ideological and structural nature. I argue that ideological representations of women of Mexican origin as "hyper-fertile" must not only be analyzed in their form and content, but additionally in their relation to the structural associations within which they historically emerge.

I further draw upon a growing body of critical analyses that argue that race and reproductive politics are fundamentally intertwined. Research since the 1980s has traced the systemic intrusions on the reproductive liberty of African American and other women of color and the historical control of fertility as a mechanism of racial domination and economic exploitation. Legal scholar Dorothy Roberts's treatise Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty deftly demonstrates that racial domination and reproductive control have been intricately tied throughout history. Central to her examination is how images about African American women render significant implications for their reproductive freedom. According to Roberts, "Regulating Black women's fertility seems so imperative because of the existence of powerful stereotypes that propel these policies; myths are meaningful as expressions of what we believe to be true; [and] have justified the restrictions on Black women's childbearing."

Other authors have documented how the development of racializing images and ideologies is central to the reproductive control of women of color. Sociologist Patricia Hill Collins has identified that "controlling images" such as the mammy, welfare queen, and Jezebel are historically deployed to devalue African American women. Collins's ground-breaking work theorizes how controlling images of African American women serve as "powerful ideological justifications" for class, race, gender, and sexuality domination. Stressing the ubiquity of these ideas in her now-classic treatise Black Feminist Thought, Collins writes that "schools, the news media, and government agencies constitute important sites for reproducing these controlling images. Scholarship has helped produce and disseminate controlling images." It is in these spaces where the discourse of reproductive politics is created and communicated.

Through the denial of black motherhood and the characterization of African American women as "bad mothers," the material deprivation of their reproductive rights to bear children has been symbolically justified. This dichotomization of good/bad, black/white motherhood is indeed a significant aspect of the racial politics of reproduction in the United States. However, in contrast to the depiction of African American women as neglectful mothers, historically and contemporarily, women of Mexican origin are more typically cast as overly identified mothers and reproducers.
The Politics of the Fertility of Women of Mexican Origin: Historical Antecedents

Women's procreation has been a subject of political interest from the time of the Spanish colonization of Mexico. Spanish colonizers claimed a state imperative to control the childbearing of native women. Because a growing California needed a Hispanicized Indian population, missionaries took affirmative steps to encourage reproduction. Historian Antonia Castañeda has documented that in addition to encouraging marriages of converted AmerIndian women and mestizo soldiers by offering bounties, colonial officials also brought niños and niñas de cuna (foundlings) from Spain to populate California.

Castañeda's research further demonstrates how women of Mexican origin first came to be depicted as hyper-fertile. In particular, impressions collected in the narratives of Euro-American pioneers (many of which were commissioned by Hubert Howe Bancroft during the 1870s and 1880s) provide some of the first documented characterizations of the Mexican family, which dominated subsequent histories of early California. According to Castañeda, descriptions of the patriarchal Spanish-Mexican family, their reproductive patterns, and family size abound in the recordings of Euro-Americans and elite Californios: "the texts described California women as 'remarkably fecund' and frequently commented that families were exceptionally large, with women bearing twelve, fifteen, and twenty children." These stereotypical narratives provided a foundation on which most of the history of Mexican California is written. However, the research of Castañeda and others has dispelled these common mischaracterizations, suggesting that there was significant regional variation in the size of Spanish-Mexican California families, many of which had much smaller numbers of children than noted in founding texts.

Accounts of the reproduction of women of Mexican origin in the United States continued into the twentieth century. For example, in 1929 Samuel J. Holmes, a University of California professor, posed a foreboding question in an article entitled "Perils of the Mexican Invasion," published in the North American Review: "At a recent state fair in Sacramento, California, when prizes were offered for the largest families, the first prize went to a Mexican family with sixteen children.... This excessive fecundity is of course exceptional, but it is indicative of the breeding habits of this class of our population. Is it not evident, then, that the Mexican invasion is bound to have far-reaching effects upon our national life?" Concerns about a possible "Mexican invasion" of the United States are clearly expressed here, with particular speculation about the resulting cultural effects on the nation.

From the beginning of the century into the early 1940s, growing nativist sentiment blamed Mexican immigrants for societies' ills and commonly bemoaned their fertility. In a 1929 issue of the Saturday Evening Post, the editor offered his opinion under the heading "The Mexican Conquest": "The very high Mexican birth rate tends to depress still further the low white birth rate. Thus a race problem of the greatest magnitude is being allowed to develop for future generations to regret and in spite of the fact that the Mexican Indian is considered a most undesirable ethnic stock for the melting pot."

This concern about the fertility of Mexican women was wholeheartedly adopted by those associated with eugenic efforts. Sociologist David Montejano wrote:

The outcry about social decay reached near-hysterical levels. Eugenicists pointed out with alarm that Mexicans were not only intellectually inferior—they were also quite "fecund." Imaginative calculations were formulated to drive home the point. C. M. Goethe, president of the Immigrant Study Commission, speaking of a Los Angeles Mexican with thirty-three children, figured that "it would take 14,641 American fathers...at a three-child rate, to equal the descendants of this one Mexican father four generations hence."

Goethe, a Sacramento realtor, wrote in 1935, "It is this high birthrate that makes Mexican peon immigration such a menace. Peons multiply like rabbits." The social panic that eugenicists instigated often incited public outcries to deport Mexicans (immigrant or not); at times their messages were informed by germ theories and hereditarianism.

Alternatively, proponents of the Americanist agenda (1915-1929) believed that efforts should be made to assimilate the Mexican population in the United States. A growing body of literature has shown that these efforts primarily focused on the assimilation of Mexican immigrant women and their children into American culture. Historian George Sánchez has noted that for Americanists, motherhood represented "the juncture at which the Mexican immigrant women's potential role in Americanization was most highly valued." Ideas about fertility, reproduction, and motherhood all gained significant racial meaning within the process of Americanization, as female Mexican immigrants were believed to be the bearers and sharers of culture.

In her study of the Houchen Settlement, a "Christian Americanization" program run in El Paso, Texas, from 1920 to 1960, historian Vicki Ruiz argues that this and other groups like it paid particular attention to expectant mothers. Millie Rockford, who worked at the settlement, shared the logic behind this approach with Ruiz: "If we can teach her [the mother to be] the modern methods of cooking and preparing foods and simple hygiene habits for herself and her family, we have gained a stride."

In some cases Americanization policies bore important implications for the birth control practices of Mexican immigrant women. Americanists attempted to inculcate Anglo ideals of family planning and family size into the women's values in hopes of ultimately changing behavior as well. Efforts to transform the reproductive ideas and behavior of recent immigrants were fueled by nativist and Americanist fears of race suicide. According to Sánchez, "the nativists wanted to control Mexican population growth for fear of a 'greaser invasion,' while Americanists viewed unrestricted population growth as a vestige of Old World ways that would have to be abandoned in a modern industrial world." Regardless of their motivations, both nativists and Americanists centered their efforts on the reproduction of Mexican immigrant women.

More recently, social science literature on Mexican American women provides an acute example of these racializing images. Prevalent among depictions of Mexican-origin women in this body of research are assumptions that they are solely defined by their capacity to bear children. In a 1982 review of such representations in the extant social scientific literature, Sally Andrade wrote, "An exaggerated 'super-mother' figure emerges from a summary of the above impressions about Mexican American women: the unceasingly self-sacrificing, dedicated, ever-fertile woman totally without aspiration for self or initiative to do other than reproduce."

While dissimilar to the ideological constructs that shape the reproductive context for African American women, images of Mexican women as overly identified mothers are also embedded in a framework of racial domination. One important component of the circumvention of Mexican women's motherhood is the social construction of their hyper-fertility. Chicana feminist scholars have challenged these prevailing notions, showing that not only are these women complex in their identification as mothers, but that they are sexual beings who have diverse opinions regarding reproductive matters. Such efforts to deconstruct existing racist discourse and contribute to more accurate representations and analyses of the reproduction of women of Mexican origin are deliberately part of a Chicana feminist project. As Aida Hurtado explains, "Chicana feminisms proclaim that creating and controlling their own discourse are essential to decolonization. Passive silence has been the enemy that allowed others to construct who Chicanas are, what they can and cannot do, and what they are capable of becoming."

While scholars demonstrate the complex construction of racializing images and ideologies central to the reproductive control of African American and women of Mexican origin, less obvious are the ways that these images impact women's lives. I argue that beyond serving as key components of a "generalized ideology of domination," by which the oppression of women of color is justified, these notions are often manifested in social institutions and actors that construct individual experience. In this volume, I advance such an examination by considering both the discursive dimensions of fertility and reproduction as they pertain to women of Mexican origin and their circulation in policy and public attitudes—or rather, how these social constructions work.

Throughout the following chapters I explore ideas about Mexican-origin women's fertility in public discourse, assess the reasons for their deployment, and grapple with the relationship between "ideas" about fertility and the actual abuses enacted on the bodies of Mexican-origin women, including forced sterilization. I examine multiple forms of data (including written texts, oral statements, and other documents gathered through archival research) that construct social knowledge about Mexican-origin women's fertility. I empirically ground our notions of Mexican-origin women as "breeders" in historical context, and explore the implications of these ideas in the discursive practices of various social actors.

defending our water from fracking

The Center for Environmental Health links fracking to miscarriage, as well as to impaired learning and impaired intellectual ability, in children who are exposed to the air and water near fracking wells.


ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson just became the highest-profile anti-fracking activist in the world.
Even though he is the CEO of one of the largest fracking companies in the world, Tillerson is suing to block a fracking development near his Texas horse ranch because it would create a «noise nuisance and traffic hazards.»1 2

The situation is rich with irony, but the truth is that Rex Tillerson is right: He shouldn’t have to cope with the horrendous local impacts of fracking. Nobody should. And as the CEO of America’s largest natural gas producer, he has tremendous power to protect communities across the country from fracking.
Tell ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson: Fight fracking everywhere, not just in your backyard. Click here to sign the petition automatically.
Tillerson’s lawsuit concerns a water tower near his property which, if built, would supply nearby fracking operations. Tillerson and his neighbors are suing to block the construction of the tower, arguing that the presence of heavy trucks hauling water to fracking sites would devalue their properties.3
Tillerson’s ranch is in Bartonville, in Denton County right outside of Forth Worth, on top of the infamous Barnett shale. Fracking operations in North Texas’, many of them owned by ExxonMobil, have had devastating effects on the health and safety of Tillerson’s neighbors. It’s no surprise, then, that Tillerson isn’t the only Texan fighting to protect his home from fracking.
In the city of Denton, where some fracked wells are less than 200 feet from suburban homes, residents are organizing to place a fracking ban on the city’s ballot.4 5 Dallas residents passed a de facto ban on fracking, preventing XTO, an ExxonMobil subsidiary, from fracking in the city limits.6 Hundreds of North Texas residents have stormed Texas Railroad Commission hearings to demand that the commission shut down fracking wastewater injection wells that residents believe are causing earthquakes.7
But instead of using his considerable wealth and political influence to help his neighbors fight fracking, Tillerson has vocally backed fracking — unless, of course, it might impact the market value of his multimillion-dollar horse ranch. Tillerson’s hypocrisy is truly shameful. And the best way to call it out is to admit that he’s right: Not even Rex Tillerson deserves to be fracked.
Tell ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson: Fight fracking everywhere, not just in your backyard. Click here to sign the petition automatically.
Zack Malitz, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Automatically add your name:
Sign the petition ►
1. Rebecca Leber, «Exxon CEO Comes Out Against Fracking Project Because It Will Affect His Property Values,» ThinkProgress, February 21, 2014
2. Amy Silverstein, «Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson is Suing to Stop a Fracking Development Outside Dallas,» Dallas Observer, February 21, 2014
3. Daniel Gilbert, «Exxon CEO Joins Suit Citing Fracking Concerns,» Wall Street Journal, February 20, 2014
4. Julie Dermansky, «Welcome to Gasland: Denton, Texas Residents Face Fracking Impacts From EagleRidge Energy,» DeSmogBlog, December 5, 2013
5. Denton Drilling Awareness Group 6. Andrew Breiner, «Did Dallas Just Ban Fracking?» ThinkProgress, December 5, 2013
7. Nicholas Sakelaris, «Railroad commission will not halt injection wells in Azle area,» Dallas Business Journal, January 21, 2014


A dangerous new Coast Guard policy would allow the fracking industry to ship millions of gallons of toxic and radioactive waste from Pennsylvania and West Virginia down the Ohio River to Ohio and down the Mississippi to Texas and Louisiana, where it would likely be disposed of in earthquake-causing injection wells.1 2 3
A barge accident could spill dangerous wastewater directly into these rivers, which provide drinking water for millions. Further, by making it less expensive to dispose of fracking wastewater, the policy would incentivize more fracking.
The Coast Guard is accepting public comments on its policy until November 29. We need to tell the Coast Guard to reverse course on the proposed policy and not put our water at risk to help the fracking industry dump its toxic waste.
Tell the Coast Guard: Don’t open our waterways to radioactive fracking wastewater. Click here to submit a public comment.
Fracking in Pennsylvania and West Virginia produces gargantuan amounts of toxic wastewater — and the fracking industry is running out of places to dump it.4Fracking wastewater contains a slew of toxic, cancer-causing chemicals used during fracking, as well as radioactive material that naturally occurs in shale and returns to the surface with the water and chemicals used for fracking. Conventional wastewater treatment facilities can’t remove many of the toxins in fracking wastewater and, in some cases, they even make it more dangerous!5
But despite the terrifying threat of a major spill, the Coast Guard has refused to conduct a rigorous, comprehensive environmental review, instead baselessly declaring that it doesn’t expect the policy to have any substantial environmental impact. The Coast Guard even plans to allow the fracking industry to keep secret the toxic chemicals in its wastewater — making it dramatically harder to safely contain and clean up a spill if it occurs.
Even if the wastewater gets to its intended destination without spilling, it still poses a major threat to communities that will become a dumping ground for fracking waste. Wastewater injection wells can cause dangerous earthquakes and drinking water contamination.6 7
Activists across the country are waging pitched battles to shut down the fracking industry. The Coast Guard shouldn’t help the fracking industry contaminate our water, pollute our air, and accelerate climate change by opening our rivers to toxic fracking waste.
Tell the Coast Guard: Don’t open America’s waterways to radioactive fracking wastewater. Click here to submit a public comment.
Thanks for fighting fracking.
Zack Malitz, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Take action now ►
1. Sharon Kelly, «Coast Guard Proposal to Allow Barges to Haul Fracking Wastewater Draws Fire From Environmentalists,» DeSmogBlog, November 9, 2013
2. Mike Ludwig, «Coast Guard Moves to Approve Barging of Hazardous Fracking Waste on Major Rivers,» TruthOut, November 13, 2013
3. Emily DeMarco, «U.S. Coast Guard publishes proposed policy on moving frack wastewater by barge,» PublicSource, November 1, 2013
4. Bob Downing, «Pennsylvania drilling wastes might overwhelm Ohio injection wells,» Akron Beacon Journal, January 23, 2013
5. Bill Chameides, «Fracking Water: It’s Just So Hard to Clean,» National Geographic, October 4, 2013
6. Abrahm Lustgarten, «Injection Wells: The Poison Beneath Us,» ProPublica, June 21, 2012
7. Ryan Grenoble, «Oklahoma ‘Earthquake Swarm’ May Be Linked Wastewater Disposal From Fracking,» Huffington Post, October 24, 2013


Climate Activist—

Protect our national treasures from substandard oil and gas operations.
The U.S. House of Representatives voted last night to pass the so-called «Protecting States’ Rights to Promote American Energy Security Act» (HR 2728), a bill that would block federal environmental standards of hydraulic fracturing on federal lands.

A companion bill has been distributed in the Senate by Utah Senator Orrin Hatch.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it—this is a terrible idea. At a time when, with your support and activism, we’ve been working so hard across the country to protect communities by establishing tougher environmental and public health standards on the natural gas industry, this bill would put the air, water, and wildlife on federal lands at grave risk from substandard oil and gas operations.

It is crazy for Congress to strip the federal government of any right to take action to protect our public lands. These special places don’t belong to the oil and gas companies—they belong to all of us and to future generations of Americans. And we must stand together to protect them.

When we last wrote to you about the House bill a little more than a week ago, 27,678 of you took action by sending emails to your U.S. Representatives. Thank you for speaking out against this outrageous bill.

Now, I’d like to ask you to take action again—this time by helping us stop this foolishness in the Senate.

Please email your Senators today to oppose the Hatch bill. Tell your Senators we need to work together to promote stronger standards on the natural gas industry to protect our communities and our natural environment. The last thing we should be doing is gutting the protections we already have.

Please take action today.

Jim MarstonThank you for your standing with us,
JimMarstonSignature
Jim Marston
Vice President, US Climate and Energy


Several years ago, gas companies set up fracking operations near the Hallowich family farm in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania. Soon after, the Hallowiches started experiencing health problems like nosebleeds, sore throats, and unexplained headaches. They were forced to abandon their home and to sue the gas companies, eventually reaching a settlement that includes a standard gag order.
But in an unprecedented move, the gas companies insisted the gag order extend to the Hallowiches’ children, age 7 and 10 years old at the time, legally barring them from talking about what happened to them — and fracking — forever.
As a parent, I am outraged that these dirty fracking companies have stooped to a new low by going after children. That’s why I started my own campaign on CREDO Mobilize that allows activists to start their own petitions. My petition, which is to Range Resources, Mark West Energy Partners, and Williams Gas, asks the following:

Stop silencing children. Take immediate legal action to remove the Hallowich children from the gag order placed on their family, and ensure your company does not include children in any future gag orders related to fracking.

The Hallowich children suffered unexplained illnesses and were forced to move from their childhood home. They will be processing these traumatic experiences for the rest of their lives. Children should not be forced by fossil fuel corporations to remain silent about issues that affect their health and well-being.
The Hallowiches’ story is just the latest example of how fracking and other extreme energy extraction are affecting families across the country. Families are battling air and water contamination — some people have even been able to light their tap water on fire. And every day we see more news of droughts, wildfires, and extreme weather fueled by climate change, caused by carbon pollution from projects like these. Far too often, it’s children who bear the brunt.
When pressed by the media, Range Resources Corporation, one of the companies involved in the lawsuit, told reporters it will not enforce the application of the gag order if the children decide to speak out. But, the family’s lawyer says the gag order, as currently written, could land the kids in legal trouble if they talk publicly about what happened to them — or the impacts of fracking — in the future. In order to protect the Hallowich kids, all three of the companies involved must take the legal steps necessary to remove the children from the gag order.
Will you join me and add your name to my petition telling Range Resources, Mark West Energy Partners, and Williams Gas to legally remove the children from the gag order — and commit to never go after kids again?
Thank you for your support.
Corinne Ball


September 5, 2013

Wow. Last week, CREDO and 275 allied organizations delivered more than 600,000 public comments—including yours and more than 120,000 others from CREDO activists—telling the Obama administration to ban fracking on federal lands.
You may not have known it when you submitted your comment (I certainly didn’t!), but you were participating in what may be the single largest display of opposition to fracking ever to take place in the United States.
This huge push to tell President Obama not to frack America couldn’t come at a more important time. Since he unveiled his Climate Action Plan, President Obama has bravely spoken out about the need to confront climate change. But, as admirable as many parts of his plan are, President Obama has continued to endorse fracking for oil and gas as part of his Climate Action Plan, even though fracking is a major threat to the climate and to countless American communities.
We don’t know how the Obama administration will respond to our comments. What we do know is that what has worked so far to stop fracking is relentless grassroots pressure.
In the last few years, grassroots activists from New York to California have waged and won campaigns to protect their communities from fracking. The hundreds of thousands of comments we delivered to President Obama are the direct result of that local and statewide organizing, which has drawn huge numbers of ordinary people into the anti-fracking movement.
We need to keep building momentum to ban fracking at the local level if we want to ever see change in Washington, D.C. And there’s an easy way to do it. CREDO recently launched CREDO Mobilize, which allows activists like you to start petitions to make progressive change in your community. Already, dozens of local campaigns have been started to ban fracking.
Click here to find and sign the petition to ban fracking where you live. Or if one hasn’t been started where you live, start your own. We’ll support you every step of the way and, if your petition takes off, we’ll send it to other CREDO activists to help you get more signatures.
If you’re starting your own petition, the more local your petition is the better. For example, it’s often easier to pressure your city council to act than it is to pressure your governor. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:

  • Tell your local elected officials to ban fracking in your city or county.
  • Tell your state legislator or your member of Congress to publicly endorse a ban on fracking.
  • Start a petition opposing a proposed fracking infrastructure project—a pipeline, a compressor station, a natural gas power plant, water withdrawal permits, a silica sand mine, a wastewater injection well, etc.

We have a hard fight ahead of us and the way forward won’t always be clear. The fracking industry has an awful lot of money and influence, and many of the most powerful people in the country—including President Obama—continue to claim that fracking is necessary.
But, as last week’s comment delivery shows, there are also an awful lot of us fighting to stop the fracking industry from poisoning our water and air. And, as the successful fights to keep fracking out of New York, Maryland, and dozens of communities on the frontlines of the fracking boom show, we are increasingly winning the fights we pick.
Thank you for everything you do.
Zack Malitz, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets


The Environmental Protection Agency released a progress report Friday that reiterated its support for increasing natural gas development in the United States.

«As the administration and EPA has made clear, natural gas has a central role to play in our energy future,» the agency said in a press release. «The administration continues to work to expand production of this important domestic resource safely and responsibly.» 

EPA outlined several steps it’s taking to assess the impacts fracking — short for hydraulic fracturing — has on the nation’s water supply, as directed by Congress in 2009.
Steps include:
— Analyzing existing data from natural gas companies on chemicals and practices used
— Modeling how discharging waste might impact the water
— Lab testing on water discharge
— Testing fracking chemicals for toxicity
— Testing groundwater in five regions near drilling activity
As expected, the study contained no new data or conclusions. The final results are not expected until late 2014.
Related: World’s 10 most expensive energy projects 

 
Some see the lack of data or negative comments in Friday’s progress report as a positive for the industry.
«It signals that the Obama administration has no real appetite for additional federal regulations until 2014 at the earliest,» said Nitzan Goldberger, a natural gas analyst at Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy. «That’s good news for the oil and gas guys.»
The Obama administration has tightened some rules around fracking, but for the most part has left regulation up to the states.
Fracking involves injecting massive amounts of water, sand and some chemicals deep underground in a bid to crack shale rock and ease the flow of oil and natural gas.
The process has unleashed an energy boom in the United States, creating thousands of jobs, driving down the price of oil and natural gas and cutting energy imports to levels not seen in decades.
But it’s also raised serious concerns over its effects on the environment, including air pollution from trucks and wells, its links to earthquakes and fears that it is contaminating drinking water.
For environmentalists, the negatives seem to outweigh the positives.


Dear Friend,

Across the country, the risky method of gas drilling known as «fracking» is causing polluted air, explosions, earthquakes and even flammable tap water.

But incredibly, as frackers rush to expand the practice, it remains totally unregulated by federal health and safety officials.

The Obama Administration has begun the process of passing some rules, but it’s clear they are bowing to pressure from the gas industry at every turn.

Last week, the Department of Interior released a draft rule to regulate fracking on federal lands, and like a number of opportunities before it, the Obama Administration caved to the gas industry to allowing major loopholes that fail to protect us from the dangers of fracking. The agency is now accepting comments on the rule, and we need to urge them to protect public land, water and health — not the gas industry.

I just sent a message urging the Department of Interior to protect our water — not the gas industry. Join me and add your name here.


The Obama Administration has begun the process of passing some rules, but it’s clear they are bowing to pressure from the gas industry at every turn.
You know that when American Petroleum Industry president Jack Gerard is crowing about how closely the administration is listening to the natural gas industry, and a lobbyist from the American Chemistry Council says «It took a while for the administration to realize the role it could play…What we’ve seen is an evolution in thinking,» we are in trouble.2
But after months of pressure from industry3 the latest Interior rule represents another in a string of recent concessions by the Obama Administration, including weakening a draft rule to reduce air pollution from fracking, refusing to take action to ban diesel fuel from fracking fluid, and even downplaying EPA studies which found water contamination from fracking in Pennsylvania and Wyoming.
Fracking, involves pumping millions of gallons of water and a largely secret mix of toxic chemicals, deep underground at high pressure, to literally fracture the rock and release trapped pockets of natural gas.
One fifth of all fracking happens on federal lands, so the Interior Department rule could be an opportunity for the administration to fill the void for strong national standards to at least force companies to disclose the toxic chemicals they are pumping through our groundwater, and set strong standards for safe disposal of the fracking fluid.
But the rule fails to do even that — and we need to urge the Department of Interior to substantially strengthen it.
Rather than set strong standards for chemical disclosure and water treatment, the new rule opens up key loopholes on both.4
This allows gas drillers to keep secret until after they drill the toxic mix of chemicals in their fracking fluid — making it far easier for them to avoid accountability in cases of water contamination.
Additionally, the rule continues to allow dangerous open evaporation pits drillers use to dispose of the huge volumes of toxic fracking wastewater that is recovered after fracking. The open chemical mixture goes airborne, unleashing toxic air pollution in the surrounding area. These pits can also leak this toxic fluid into land and water, and pose a major spill risk from floods or storms.
As the gas industry rapidly scrambles to expand fracking all over the country, it isn’t waiting for states or the federal government to adequately fill the regulatory void that was created when Dick Cheney exempted fracking from federal regulation in his 2005 energy bill.
It is clear that the Obama Administration has been hearing from the gas industry. Now they need to hear from us too — there is no time to waste to pass strong rules to protect us from the substantial dangers posed by natural gas fracking.
Thank you for defending our water from fracking.
Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

The Center for Environmental Health links fracking to miscarriage, as well as to impaired learning and impaired intellectual ability, in children who are exposed to the air and water near fracking wells.





ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson just became the highest-profile anti-fracking activist in the world.
Even though he is the CEO of one of the largest fracking companies in the world, Tillerson is suing to block a fracking development near his Texas horse ranch because it would create a "noise nuisance and traffic hazards."1 2



The situation is rich with irony, but the truth is that Rex Tillerson is right: He shouldn't have to cope with the horrendous local impacts of fracking. Nobody should. And as the CEO of America's largest natural gas producer, he has tremendous power to protect communities across the country from fracking.
Tell ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson: Fight fracking everywhere, not just in your backyard. Click here to sign the petition automatically.
Tillerson's lawsuit concerns a water tower near his property which, if built, would supply nearby fracking operations. Tillerson and his neighbors are suing to block the construction of the tower, arguing that the presence of heavy trucks hauling water to fracking sites would devalue their properties.3
Tillerson's ranch is in Bartonville, in Denton County right outside of Forth Worth, on top of the infamous Barnett shale. Fracking operations in North Texas', many of them owned by ExxonMobil, have had devastating effects on the health and safety of Tillerson's neighbors. It's no surprise, then, that Tillerson isn't the only Texan fighting to protect his home from fracking.
In the city of Denton, where some fracked wells are less than 200 feet from suburban homes, residents are organizing to place a fracking ban on the city's ballot.4 5 Dallas residents passed a de facto ban on fracking, preventing XTO, an ExxonMobil subsidiary, from fracking in the city limits.6 Hundreds of North Texas residents have stormed Texas Railroad Commission hearings to demand that the commission shut down fracking wastewater injection wells that residents believe are causing earthquakes.7
But instead of using his considerable wealth and political influence to help his neighbors fight fracking, Tillerson has vocally backed fracking -- unless, of course, it might impact the market value of his multimillion-dollar horse ranch. Tillerson's hypocrisy is truly shameful. And the best way to call it out is to admit that he's right: Not even Rex Tillerson deserves to be fracked.
Tell ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson: Fight fracking everywhere, not just in your backyard. Click here to sign the petition automatically.
Zack Malitz, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets
Automatically add your name:
Sign the petition ?
1. Rebecca Leber, "Exxon CEO Comes Out Against Fracking Project Because It Will Affect His Property Values," ThinkProgress, February 21, 2014
2. Amy Silverstein, "Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson is Suing to Stop a Fracking Development Outside Dallas," Dallas Observer, February 21, 2014
3. Daniel Gilbert, "Exxon CEO Joins Suit Citing Fracking Concerns," Wall Street Journal, February 20, 2014
4. Julie Dermansky, "Welcome to Gasland: Denton, Texas Residents Face Fracking Impacts From EagleRidge Energy," DeSmogBlog, December 5, 2013
5. Denton Drilling Awareness Group 6. Andrew Breiner, "Did Dallas Just Ban Fracking?" ThinkProgress, December 5, 2013
7. Nicholas Sakelaris, "Railroad commission will not halt injection wells in Azle area," Dallas Business Journal, January 21, 2014



A dangerous new Coast Guard policy would allow the fracking industry to ship millions of gallons of toxic and radioactive waste from Pennsylvania and West Virginia down the Ohio River to Ohio and down the Mississippi to Texas and Louisiana, where it would likely be disposed of in earthquake-causing injection wells.1 2 3
A barge accident could spill dangerous wastewater directly into these rivers, which provide drinking water for millions. Further, by making it less expensive to dispose of fracking wastewater, the policy would incentivize more fracking.
The Coast Guard is accepting public comments on its policy until November 29. We need to tell the Coast Guard to reverse course on the proposed policy and not put our water at risk to help the fracking industry dump its toxic waste.
Tell the Coast Guard: Don't open our waterways to radioactive fracking wastewater. Click here to submit a public comment.
Fracking in Pennsylvania and West Virginia produces gargantuan amounts of toxic wastewater -- and the fracking industry is running out of places to dump it.4 Fracking wastewater contains a slew of toxic, cancer-causing chemicals used during fracking, as well as radioactive material that naturally occurs in shale and returns to the surface with the water and chemicals used for fracking. Conventional wastewater treatment facilities can't remove many of the toxins in fracking wastewater and, in some cases, they even make it more dangerous!5
But despite the terrifying threat of a major spill, the Coast Guard has refused to conduct a rigorous, comprehensive environmental review, instead baselessly declaring that it doesn't expect the policy to have any substantial environmental impact. The Coast Guard even plans to allow the fracking industry to keep secret the toxic chemicals in its wastewater -- making it dramatically harder to safely contain and clean up a spill if it occurs.
Even if the wastewater gets to its intended destination without spilling, it still poses a major threat to communities that will become a dumping ground for fracking waste. Wastewater injection wells can cause dangerous earthquakes and drinking water contamination.6 7
Activists across the country are waging pitched battles to shut down the fracking industry. The Coast Guard shouldn't help the fracking industry contaminate our water, pollute our air, and accelerate climate change by opening our rivers to toxic fracking waste.
Tell the Coast Guard: Don't open America's waterways to radioactive fracking wastewater. Click here to submit a public comment.
Thanks for fighting fracking.
Zack Malitz, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets
Take action now ?
1. Sharon Kelly, "Coast Guard Proposal to Allow Barges to Haul Fracking Wastewater Draws Fire From Environmentalists," DeSmogBlog, November 9, 2013
2. Mike Ludwig, "Coast Guard Moves to Approve Barging of Hazardous Fracking Waste on Major Rivers," TruthOut, November 13, 2013
3. Emily DeMarco, "U.S. Coast Guard publishes proposed policy on moving frack wastewater by barge," PublicSource, November 1, 2013
4. Bob Downing, "Pennsylvania drilling wastes might overwhelm Ohio injection wells," Akron Beacon Journal, January 23, 2013
5. Bill Chameides, "Fracking Water: It’s Just So Hard to Clean," National Geographic, October 4, 2013
6. Abrahm Lustgarten, "Injection Wells: The Poison Beneath Us," ProPublica, June 21, 2012
7. Ryan Grenoble, "Oklahoma 'Earthquake Swarm' May Be Linked Wastewater Disposal From Fracking," Huffington Post, October 24, 2013





Climate Activist—
Protect our national treasures from substandard oil and gas operations.
The U.S. House of Representatives voted last night to pass the so-called "Protecting States’ Rights to Promote American Energy Security Act" (HR 2728), a bill that would block federal environmental standards of hydraulic fracturing on federal lands.

A companion bill has been distributed in the Senate by Utah Senator Orrin Hatch.

I'm not going to sugarcoat it—this is a terrible idea. At a time when, with your support and activism, we've been working so hard across the country to protect communities by establishing tougher environmental and public health standards on the natural gas industry, this bill would put the air, water, and wildlife on federal lands at grave risk from substandard oil and gas operations.

It is crazy for Congress to strip the federal government of any right to take action to protect our public lands. These special places don't belong to the oil and gas companies—they belong to all of us and to future generations of Americans. And we must stand together to protect them.

When we last wrote to you about the House bill a little more than a week ago, 27,678 of you took action by sending emails to your U.S. Representatives. Thank you for speaking out against this outrageous bill.

Now, I'd like to ask you to take action again—this time by helping us stop this foolishness in the Senate.

Please email your Senators today to oppose the Hatch bill. Tell your Senators we need to work together to promote stronger standards on the natural gas industry to protect our communities and our natural environment. The last thing we should be doing is gutting the protections we already have.

Please take action today.

Jim MarstonThank you for your standing with us,
JimMarstonSignature
Jim Marston
Vice President, US Climate and Energy





Several years ago, gas companies set up fracking operations near the Hallowich family farm in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania. Soon after, the Hallowiches started experiencing health problems like nosebleeds, sore throats, and unexplained headaches. They were forced to abandon their home and to sue the gas companies, eventually reaching a settlement that includes a standard gag order.
But in an unprecedented move, the gas companies insisted the gag order extend to the Hallowiches’ children, age 7 and 10 years old at the time, legally barring them from talking about what happened to them -- and fracking -- forever.
As a parent, I am outraged that these dirty fracking companies have stooped to a new low by going after children. That's why I started my own campaign on CREDO Mobilize that allows activists to start their own petitions. My petition, which is to Range Resources, Mark West Energy Partners, and Williams Gas, asks the following:
Stop silencing children. Take immediate legal action to remove the Hallowich children from the gag order placed on their family, and ensure your company does not include children in any future gag orders related to fracking.

The Hallowich children suffered unexplained illnesses and were forced to move from their childhood home. They will be processing these traumatic experiences for the rest of their lives. Children should not be forced by fossil fuel corporations to remain silent about issues that affect their health and well-being.
The Hallowiches’ story is just the latest example of how fracking and other extreme energy extraction are affecting families across the country. Families are battling air and water contamination — some people have even been able to light their tap water on fire. And every day we see more news of droughts, wildfires, and extreme weather fueled by climate change, caused by carbon pollution from projects like these. Far too often, it’s children who bear the brunt.
When pressed by the media, Range Resources Corporation, one of the companies involved in the lawsuit, told reporters it will not enforce the application of the gag order if the children decide to speak out. But, the family’s lawyer says the gag order, as currently written, could land the kids in legal trouble if they talk publicly about what happened to them -- or the impacts of fracking -- in the future. In order to protect the Hallowich kids, all three of the companies involved must take the legal steps necessary to remove the children from the gag order.
Will you join me and add your name to my petition telling Range Resources, Mark West Energy Partners, and Williams Gas to legally remove the children from the gag order — and commit to never go after kids again?
Thank you for your support.
Corinne Ball




September 5, 2013

Wow. Last week, CREDO and 275 allied organizations delivered more than 600,000 public comments—including yours and more than 120,000 others from CREDO activists—telling the Obama administration to ban fracking on federal lands.
You may not have known it when you submitted your comment (I certainly didn't!), but you were participating in what may be the single largest display of opposition to fracking ever to take place in the United States.
This huge push to tell President Obama not to frack America couldn't come at a more important time. Since he unveiled his Climate Action Plan, President Obama has bravely spoken out about the need to confront climate change. But, as admirable as many parts of his plan are, President Obama has continued to endorse fracking for oil and gas as part of his Climate Action Plan, even though fracking is a major threat to the climate and to countless American communities.
We don't know how the Obama administration will respond to our comments. What we do know is that what has worked so far to stop fracking is relentless grassroots pressure.
In the last few years, grassroots activists from New York to California have waged and won campaigns to protect their communities from fracking. The hundreds of thousands of comments we delivered to President Obama are the direct result of that local and statewide organizing, which has drawn huge numbers of ordinary people into the anti-fracking movement.
We need to keep building momentum to ban fracking at the local level if we want to ever see change in Washington, D.C. And there's an easy way to do it. CREDO recently launched CREDO Mobilize, which allows activists like you to start petitions to make progressive change in your community. Already, dozens of local campaigns have been started to ban fracking.
Click here to find and sign the petition to ban fracking where you live. Or if one hasn't been started where you live, start your own. We'll support you every step of the way and, if your petition takes off, we'll send it to other CREDO activists to help you get more signatures.
If you're starting your own petition, the more local your petition is the better. For example, it's often easier to pressure your city council to act than it is to pressure your governor. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:
  • Tell your local elected officials to ban fracking in your city or county.
  • Tell your state legislator or your member of Congress to publicly endorse a ban on fracking.
  • Start a petition opposing a proposed fracking infrastructure project—a pipeline, a compressor station, a natural gas power plant, water withdrawal permits, a silica sand mine, a wastewater injection well, etc.
We have a hard fight ahead of us and the way forward won't always be clear. The fracking industry has an awful lot of money and influence, and many of the most powerful people in the country—including President Obama—continue to claim that fracking is necessary.
But, as last week's comment delivery shows, there are also an awful lot of us fighting to stop the fracking industry from poisoning our water and air. And, as the successful fights to keep fracking out of New York, Maryland, and dozens of communities on the frontlines of the fracking boom show, we are increasingly winning the fights we pick.
Thank you for everything you do.
Zack Malitz, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets






The Environmental Protection Agency released a progress report Friday that reiterated its support for increasing natural gas development in the United States.

"As the administration and EPA has made clear, natural gas has a central role to play in our energy future," the agency said in a press release. "The administration continues to work to expand production of this important domestic resource safely and responsibly." 

EPA outlined several steps it's taking to assess the impacts fracking -- short for hydraulic fracturing -- has on the nation's water supply, as directed by Congress in 2009.
Steps include:
-- Analyzing existing data from natural gas companies on chemicals and practices used
-- Modeling how discharging waste might impact the water
-- Lab testing on water discharge
-- Testing fracking chemicals for toxicity
-- Testing groundwater in five regions near drilling activity
As expected, the study contained no new data or conclusions. The final results are not expected until late 2014.
Related: World's 10 most expensive energy projects 

 
Some see the lack of data or negative comments in Friday's progress report as a positive for the industry.
"It signals that the Obama administration has no real appetite for additional federal regulations until 2014 at the earliest," said Nitzan Goldberger, a natural gas analyst at Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy. "That's good news for the oil and gas guys."
The Obama administration has tightened some rules around fracking, but for the most part has left regulation up to the states.
Fracking involves injecting massive amounts of water, sand and some chemicals deep underground in a bid to crack shale rock and ease the flow of oil and natural gas.
The process has unleashed an energy boom in the United States, creating thousands of jobs, driving down the price of oil and natural gas and cutting energy imports to levels not seen in decades.
But it's also raised serious concerns over its effects on the environment, including air pollution from trucks and wells, its links to earthquakes and fears that it is contaminating drinking water.
For environmentalists, the negatives seem to outweigh the positives.




Dear Friend,

Across the country, the risky method of gas drilling known as "fracking" is causing polluted air, explosions, earthquakes and even flammable tap water.

But incredibly, as frackers rush to expand the practice, it remains totally unregulated by federal health and safety officials.

The Obama Administration has begun the process of passing some rules, but it's clear they are bowing to pressure from the gas industry at every turn.

Last week, the Department of Interior released a draft rule to regulate fracking on federal lands, and like a number of opportunities before it, the Obama Administration caved to the gas industry to allowing major loopholes that fail to protect us from the dangers of fracking. The agency is now accepting comments on the rule, and we need to urge them to protect public land, water and health -- not the gas industry.

I just sent a message urging the Department of Interior to protect our water -- not the gas industry. Join me and add your name here.




The Obama Administration has begun the process of passing some rules, but it's clear they are bowing to pressure from the gas industry at every turn.
You know that when American Petroleum Industry president Jack Gerard is crowing about how closely the administration is listening to the natural gas industry, and a lobbyist from the American Chemistry Council says "It took a while for the administration to realize the role it could play...What we've seen is an evolution in thinking," we are in trouble.2
But after months of pressure from industry3 the latest Interior rule represents another in a string of recent concessions by the Obama Administration, including weakening a draft rule to reduce air pollution from fracking, refusing to take action to ban diesel fuel from fracking fluid, and even downplaying EPA studies which found water contamination from fracking in Pennsylvania and Wyoming.
Fracking, involves pumping millions of gallons of water and a largely secret mix of toxic chemicals, deep underground at high pressure, to literally fracture the rock and release trapped pockets of natural gas.
One fifth of all fracking happens on federal lands, so the Interior Department rule could be an opportunity for the administration to fill the void for strong national standards to at least force companies to disclose the toxic chemicals they are pumping through our groundwater, and set strong standards for safe disposal of the fracking fluid.
But the rule fails to do even that — and we need to urge the Department of Interior to substantially strengthen it.
Rather than set strong standards for chemical disclosure and water treatment, the new rule opens up key loopholes on both.4
This allows gas drillers to keep secret until after they drill the toxic mix of chemicals in their fracking fluid — making it far easier for them to avoid accountability in cases of water contamination.
Additionally, the rule continues to allow dangerous open evaporation pits drillers use to dispose of the huge volumes of toxic fracking wastewater that is recovered after fracking. The open chemical mixture goes airborne, unleashing toxic air pollution in the surrounding area. These pits can also leak this toxic fluid into land and water, and pose a major spill risk from floods or storms.
As the gas industry rapidly scrambles to expand fracking all over the country, it isn't waiting for states or the federal government to adequately fill the regulatory void that was created when Dick Cheney exempted fracking from federal regulation in his 2005 energy bill.
It is clear that the Obama Administration has been hearing from the gas industry. Now they need to hear from us too — there is no time to waste to pass strong rules to protect us from the substantial dangers posed by natural gas fracking.
Thank you for defending our water from fracking.
Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Mantcunanjin

Standing Bear (1834(?) – 1908) (Páⁿka iyé official orthography: Maⁿchú-Naⁿzhíⁿ/Macunajin;[1] other spellings: Ma-chú-nu-zhe, Ma-chú-na-zhe or Mantcunanjin pronounced [mãtʃuꜜnãʒĩꜜ]) was a Ponca Native American chief who successfully argued in U.S. District Court in 1879 in Omaha that Native Americans are «persons within the meaning of the law» and have the right of habeas corpus. His wife Susette Primeau was also a signatory on the 1879 writ that initiated the famous court case.

In 1875, the Ponca paramount chief White Eagle, Standing Bear, and other Ponca leaders met with US Indian Agent A. J. Carrier and signed a document allowing removal to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). White Eagle and other Ponca leaders later claimed that because of a mistranslation, he had understood that they were to move to the Omaha Reservation, not to the Indian Territory.

In February 1877, eight Ponca chiefs, including Standing Bear, accompanied Inspector Edward C. Kemble to the Osage Reservation to select a site. Due to lack of preparation by the agent, they did not identify a site. Angry about what he called the Ponca chiefs’ «insubordination», Kemble left them to walk back north. He proceeded to prepare to remove the tribe. In April, Kemble headed south to the Quapaw Reservation near present-day Peoria, Oklahoma, with those Ponca willing to leave. In May the US Army forced the removal of the rest of the tribe, including Standing Bear and his family.[4]

The Ponca arrived in Oklahoma too late to plant crops that year, and the government failed to provide them with the farming equipment it had promised as part of the deal. In 1878 they moved 150 miles west to the Salt Fork of the Arkansas River, south of present-day Ponca City, Oklahoma. By spring, nearly a third of the tribe had died due to starvation, malaria and related causes. Standing Bear’s eldest son, Bear Shield, was among the dead. Standing Bear had promised to bury him in the Niobrara River valley homeland, so he left to travel north, with 65 followers.[5]

When they reached at the Omaha Reservation in Nebraska, they were welcomed as relatives. Word of their arrival in Nebraska soon reached the government. Under orders from the Secretary of the Interior, Carl Schurz, who also directed the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Brigadier General George Crook had the Ponca arrested for having left the reservation in Indian Territory.[6] The Army took Standing Bear and the others to Fort Omaha, where they were detained. Although the official orders were to return them immediately to Indian Territory, Crook was sympathetic to the Ponca and appalled to learn of the conditions they had left. He delayed their return so the Ponca could rest, regain their health, and seek legal redress.[7]

Crook told the Ponca story to Thomas Tibbles, an editor of the Omaha Daily Herald, who publicized it widely. The attorney John L. Webster offered his services pro bono and was joined by Andrew J. Poppleton, chief attorney of the Union Pacific Railroad.

They aided Standing Bear, who in April 1879 sued for a writ of habeas corpus in U.S. District Court in Omaha, Nebraska. Acting as interpreter for Standing Bear was Susette LaFlesche, an accomplished and educated, bilingual Omaha of mixed-race background. The case is called United States ex rel. Standing Bear v. Crook. General Crook was named as the formal defendant because he was holding the Ponca under color of law.

As the trial drew to a close, Judge Dundy announced that Chief Standing Bear would be allowed to make a speech in his own behalf. Raising his right hand, Standing Bear proceeded to speak. Among his words were, «That hand is not the color of yours, but if I prick it, the blood will flow, and I shall feel pain,» said Standing Bear. «The blood is of the same color as yours. God made me, and I am a man.»[8]

On May 12, 1879, Judge Elmer S. Dundy ruled that «an Indian is a person» within the meaning of habeas corpus. He stated that the federal government had failed to show a basis under law for the Poncas’ arrest and captivity.[9]

It was a landmark case, recognizing that an Indian is a “person” under the law and entitled to its rights and protection. “The right of expatriation is a natural, inherent and inalienable right and extends to the Indian as well as to the more fortunate white race,” The judge concluded.

Years later, blind and in failing health, Poppleton would reflect on his final court plea for Standing Bear: “I cannot recall any two hours’ work of my life with which I feel better satisfied.”[10]

Standing Bear and his followers were immediately freed. The case gained the attention of the Hayes administration, which provided authority for Standing Bear and some of the tribe to return to the Niobrara valley in Nebraska.


At first the United States district attorney considered appealing the decision, but after studying Judge Dundy’s written opinion (a brilliant essay on human rights), he made no appeal to the Supreme Court. The United States government assigned Standing Bear and his band a few hundred acres of unclaimed land near the mouth of the Niobrara, and they were back home again.

As soon as the surviving 530 Poncas in Indian Territory learned of this astonishing turn of events, most of them began preparations to join their relatives in Nebraska. The Indian Bureau, however, was not sympathetic. Through its agents the bureau informed the Ponca chiefs that only the Great Council in Washington could decide if and when the tribe might return. The bureaucrats and politicians (the Indian Ring) recognized Judge Dundy’s decision as a strong threat to the reservation system; it would endanger the small army of entrepreneurs who were making fortunes funneling bad food, shoddy blankets, and poisonous whiskey to the thousands of Indians trapped on reservations. If the Poncas were permitted to leave their new reservation in Indian Territory and walk away as free American citizens, this would set a precedent which might well destroy the entire military-political-reservation complex.

In his annual report, Big Eyes Schurz admitted that the Poncas in Indian Territory «had a serious grievance,» but he strongly opposed permitting them to return to their homeland because it would make other Indians «restless with a desire to fol­low their example» and thereby cause a breakup of the territorial reservation system.16

At the same time, William H. Whiteman, who headed the lucra­tive Ponca agency, tried to discredit Standing Bear’s band by describing them as «certain renegade members of the tribe,» and then he wrote in glowing terms of his considerable expenditures for materials and tools to develop the reservation in Indian Territory. Whiteman made no mention of the discontent prevalent among the Poncas, their constant petitions to return to their homeland, or of his feud with Big Snake.

Big Snake was Standing Bear’s brother, a giant with hands like hams and shoulders as big as a buffalo’s. Like many huge men, Big Snake was quiet and gentle of manner (the Poncas called him the Peacemaker), but when he saw that White Eagle and the other head men were being intimidated by agent Whiteman, he decided to take action on his own. After all, he was the brother of Standing Bear, the Ponca who had won freedom for his people.

Determined to test the new law, Big Snake requested permis­sion to leave the reservation and go north to join his brother. As he expected, permission to leave was refused by agent Whiteman. Big Snake’s next move was not to leave Indian Territory, but to travel only a hundred miles to the Cheyenne reservation. With him went thirty other Poncas, making what they believed to be a gentle testing of the law which said that an Indian was a person and could not be confined to any particular reservation against his will.

Whiteman’s reaction was that of any entrenched bureaucrat whose authority is threatened. On May 21, 1879, he telegraphed the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, reporting the defection of Big Snake and his party to the Cheyenne reservation, and requesting that they be arrested and detained at Fort Reno «until the tribe has recovered from the demoralizing effects of the decision recently made by the United States district court in Nebraska, in the case of Standing Bear.»17

Big Eyes Schurz agreed to the arrest, but evidently fearing another challenge in the courts, he asked the Great Warrior Sherman to transport Big Snake and his «renegades» back to the Ponca reservation as quickly and quietly as possible.

In his usual blunt manner, Sherman telegraphed General Sheridan on May 22: «The honorable Secretary of the Interior requests that the Poncas arrested and held at Fort Reno, in the Indian Territory… be sent to the agency of the Poncas. You may order this to be done.» And then, as if anticipating Sheridan’s apprehensions about flying in the face of Judge Dundy’s recent decision, Sherman decreed: «The release under writ of habeas corpus of the Poncas in Nebraska does not apply to any other than that specific case.»18 For the Great Warrior Sherman it was easier to unmake laws than it was for the courts of the land to interpret them.

And so Big Snake lost his first test of his brother’s victory at law, and he never had a chance to try again. After being brought back to the Ponca agency in the Corn Is in Silk Moon, Big Snake was marked for destruction. Agent Whiteman reported to Washington that Big Snake had «a very demoralizing effect upon the other Indians … extremely sullen and morose.» In one para­graph Whiteman charged that Big Snake had repeatedly threatened to kill him, and in another complained that the Ponca had never spoken to him since his return. The agent became so furious that he begged the Commissioner of Indian Affairs «to arrest Big Snake and convey him to Fort Reno and there confine him for the remainder of his natural life.»19

Finally, on October 25, Whiteman obtained authorization from Sherman to arrest Big Snake and imprison him in the agency guardhouse. To make the arrest, Whiteman requested a detail of soldiers. Five days later, Lieutenant Stanton A. Mason and thirteen soldiers arrived at the agency. Whiteman told Mason that he would send out a notice to the Poncas, ordering those who had money coming to them for special work to report to his office the next day. Big Snake would be among them, and as soon as he entered the office, Mason was to make the arrest.

On October 31 Big Snake entered Whiteman’s office about noon and was told to take a chair. Lieutenant Mason and eight armed men then surrounded him, Mason informing him that he was under arrest. Big Snake wanted to know why he was being arrested. Whiteman spoke up then and said one charge against him was threatening his (Whiteman’s) life. Big Snake calmly denied this. According to the post trader, J. S. Sherburne, Big Snake then stood up and threw off his blanket to show he was not armed.

Hairy Bear’s statement: «The officer told Big Snake to come along, to get up and come. Big Snake would not get up, and told the officer he wanted him to tell him what he had done. He said he had killed no one, stolen no horses, and that he had done nothing wrong. After Big Snake said that, the officer spoke to the agent, and then told Big Snake he had tried to kill two men, and had been pretty mean. Big Snake denied it. The agent then told him he had better go, and would then learn all about it down there. Big Snake said he had done nothing wrong, and that he would die before he would go. I then went up to Big Snake and told him this man [the officer] was not going to arrest him for nothing, and that he had better go along, and that perhaps he would come back all right; I coaxed all I could to get him to go; told him that he had a wife and children, and to remember them and not get killed. Big Snake then got up and told me that he did not want to go, and that if they wanted to kill him they could do it, right there. Big Snake was very cool. Then the officer told him to get up, and told him that if he did not go, there might something hap­pen. He said there was no use in talking; I came to arrest you, and want you to go. The officer went for the handcuffs, which a soldier had, and brought them in. The officer and a soldier then tried to put them on, but Big Snake pushed them both away. Then the officer spoke to the soldiers, and four of them tried to put them on, but Big Snake pushed them all off. One soldier, who had stripes on his arms, also tried to put them on, but Big Snake pushed them all off. They tried several times, all of them, to get hold of Big Snake and hold him. Big Snake was sitting down, when six soldiers got hold of him. He raised up and threw them off. Just then one of the soldiers, who was in front of him, struck Big Snake in the face with his gun, another soldier struck him alongside the head with the barrel of his gun. It knocked him back to the wall. He straightened up again. The blood was running down his face. I saw the gun pointed at him, and was scared, and did not want to see him killed. So I turned away. Then the gun was fired and Big Snake fell down dead on the floor.»20

The Interior Department first issued a statement that Standing Bear’s brother «Big Snake, a bad man» had been «shot accidentally.»21 The American press, however, growing more sen­sitive to treatment of Indians since the Standing Bear case, demanded an investigation in Congress. This time the military-political-reservation complex was operating in the familiar climate of Washington, and nothing came of the investigation.

The Poncas of Indian Territory had learned a bitter lesson. The white man’s law was an illusion; it did not apply to them. And so like the Cheyennes, the diminishing Ponca tribe was split in two—Standing Bear’s band free in the north, the others prisoners in the Indian Territory. (Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, pp. 360-66)

Big Snake said he had done nothing wrong: that he carried no knife; and threw off his blanket and turned around to show he had no weapon. The officer again told him to come along. Big Snake said he had done nothing wrong and that he would die before he would go. I then went up to Big Snake and told him this man (the officer) was not going to arrest him for nothing, and that he had better go along, and that perhaps he would come back all right; I coaxed all I could to get him to go; told him that he had a wife and children and to remember them and not get killed. Big Snake t hen got up and told me that he did not want to go, and that if they wanted to kill him they could do it, right there. Big Snake was very cool. Then the officer told him to get up and told him that if he did not go, there might something happen. He said there is no use in talking; I came to arrest you and want you to go. The officer went for the handcuffs, which a soldier had, and brought them in. The officer and a soldier then tried to put them on him, but Big Snake pushed them both away. Then the officer spoke to the soldiers, and four of them tried to put them on, but Big Snake pushed them all off. One soldier, who had stripes on his arms, also tried to put them on, but Big Snake pushed them off. They tried several times, all of them, to get hold of Big Snake and hold him. But Big Snake was sitting down, when six soldiers got hold of him. He raised up and threw them off. Just then one of the soldiers, who was in in front of him, struck Big Snake in the face with his gun, another soldier struck him along side the head with the barrel of his gun. It knocked him back to the wall. He straightened up again. The blood was running down his face. I saw the gun pointed at him, and was scared and did not want to see him killed. So, I turned away. Then the gun was fired and Big Snake fell down dead on the floor.

From Senate Executive Document No. 14, 46th Congress, 3d Session (January 5, 1881), p. 13.


United States, ex rel.
Standing Bear, v. George Crook, a
Brigadier-General of the Army of the United States.

  1. An Indian is a /person/ within the meaning of the /habeas corpus/ act, and as such is entitled to sue out a writ of /habeas corpus/ in the federal courts when it is shown that the petitioner is deprived of liberty under color of authority of the United States, or is in custody of an officer in violation of the constitution or a law of the United States, or in violation of a treaty made in pursuance thereof.
  2. The right of expatriation is a natural, inherent, and inalienable right and extends to the Indian as well as to the white race.
  3. The commissioner of Indian affairs has ample authority for removing from an Indian reservation all persons found thereon without authority of law, or whose presence may be detrimental to the peace and welfare of the Indians.
  4. The military power of the government may be employed to effect such removal; but where the removal is effected, it is the duty of the troops to convey the persons so removed, by the most convenient route, to the civil authorities of the judicial district in which the offense may be committed to be proceeded against in due course of law. In time of peace, no authority civil or military exists for transporting Indians from one section of the country to, another, without the consent of the Indians, nor to confine then to any particular reservation against their will; and where officers of the government attempt to do this and arrest and hold Indians who are at peace with the government for the purpose of removing teens to and confining them on a reservation in the Indian Territory they will be released on /habeas corpus/.

(Before DUNDY, J.)
/habeas corpus/.-/Right of Indian to Writ/.
The facts are fully stated in the opinion of the court.
/A. J. Poppleton/ and /John L. Webster/, for the relators.
/G. M. Lambertson/, United States attorney, for the government.

DANDY, J.-During the fifteen years in which I have been engaged in administering the laws of my country, I have never been called upon to hear or decide a case that appealed so strongly to my sympathy as the one now under consideration On the one side, we have a few of the remnants of a once numerous and powerful, but now weak, insignificant, unlettered and generally despised race; on the other, we have the representative of one of the most powerful, most enlightened, and most Christianized nations of modern times. On the one side, we have the representatives of this wasted race coming into this national tribunal of ours, asking for justice and liberty to enable them to adopt our boasted civilization, and to pursue the arts of peace, which have made us great and happy as a nation; on the other side, we have this magnificent, if not magnanimous, government, resisting this application with the determination, of sending these people back to the country
which is to then less desirable than perpetual imprisonment in their own native land. But I think it is creditable to the heart and mind of the brave and distinguished officer who is made respondent herein to say that he has no sort of sympathy in the business in which he is forced by his position to bear a part so conspicuous; and, so far as I am individually concerned, I think it not improper to say that, if the strongest possible sympathy could give the relators title to freedom, they would have been restored to liberty the moment the arguments in
their behalf were closed. No examination or further thought would then have been necessary or Reliant. But in a country where liberty is regulated by law, something more satisfactory and enduring than mere sympathy must furnish and constitute the rule and basis of judicial action. It follows that this case must be examined and decided on principle of law, and that unless the relators are entitled to their discharge under the constitution or laws of the United States, or some treaty made pursuant thereto, they must be remanded to the custody of
the officer who caused their arrest, to be returned the Indian Territory, which they left without the consent of the government.

On the 8th of April, 1879, the relators, Standing Bear and twenty-five others, during the session of the court held at that time at Lincoln, presented their petition, duly verified, praying for the allowance of a writ of /habeas corpus/ and their final discharge from custody thereunder.

The petition alleges, in substance, that the relators are Indians who have formerly belonged to the Ponca tribe of Indians, now located in the Indian Territory; that they had some time previously withdrawn from the tribe, and completely severed their Tribal relations therewith, and had adopted the general habits of the whites, and were then endeavoring to maintain themselves by their own exertions, and without aid or assistance from the general government; that whilst they were thus engaged and without being guilty of violating any of the laws of the United States, they were arrested and restrained of their liberty by order of the respondent, George Crook.

The writ was issued and served on the respondent on the 8th day of April, and, the distance between the place where the writ was made returnable and the place where the relators were confined being more
than twenty miles, ten days were allotted in which to make return.

On the 18th of April the writ was returned, and the authority for the arrest and detention is therein shown. The substance of the return to the writ, and the additional statement since filed, is that the relators are individual members of, and connected with, the Ponca tribe of Indians; that they had fled or escaped from a reservation situated some place within the limits of the Indian Territory-had departed therefrom without permission from the government; and, at the request of the secretary of the interior, the general of the army had issued an order
which required the respondent to arrest and return the relators to their tribe in the Indian Territory, and that, pursuant to the said order, he had caused the relators to be arrested on the Omaha Indian reservation, and that they were in his custody for the purpose of being returned to the Indian Territory.

It is claimed upon the one side, and denied upon the other, that the relators had withdrawn and severed, for all time, their connection with the tribe to which they belonged; and upon this point alone was there any testimony produced by either party hereto. The other matters stated in the petition and the return to the writ are conceded to be true; so that the questions to be determined are purely questions of law.

On the 8th of March, 1859, a treaty was made by the United States with the Ponca tribe of Indians, by which a certain tract of country, north of the Niobrara river and west of the Missouri, was set apart for the permanent home of the said Indians, in which the government agreed to protect them during their good behavior. But just when, or how, or why, or under what circumstances, the Indians left their reservation in
Dakota and went to the Indian Territory, does not appear.

The district attorney very earnestly questions the jurisdiction of the court to issue the write, and to hear and determine the case made herein, and has supported his theory with an argument of great ingenuity and much ability. But, nevertheless, I am of the opinion that his premises are erroneous, and his conclusions, therefore, wrong and unjust. The great respect I entertain for that officer, and the very able manner in which his views were presented, make it necessary for me to give somewhat at length the reasons which lead me to this conclusion.

The district attorney discussed at length the reasons which led to the origin of the writ of /habeas corpus/, and the character of the proceedings and practice in connection therewith in the parent country.

It was claimed that the laws of the realm limited the right to sue out this writ to the /free subjects/ of the kingdom, and that none others came within the benefits of such beneficent laws; and, reasoning from
analogy, it is claimed that none but American citizens are entitled to sue out this high prerogative writ in nay of the federal courts. I have not examined the English laws regulating the suing out of the writ, nor have I thought it necessary so to do. Of this I will only observe that if the laws of England are as they are claimed to be, they will appear at a disadvantage when compared with our own. This only proves that the laws of a limited monarchy are sometimes less wise and humane than the laws of our own republic-that whilst the parliament of Great Britain was legislating in behalf of the favored few, the congress of the United States was legislating in behalf of all mankind who come within our jurisdiction.

Section 751 of the revised statutes declares that «the supreme court and the circuit and district courts shall have power to issue writs of /habeas corpus/.» Section 752 confers the power to issue writs on the judges of said courts, within their jurisdiction, and declares this to be » for the purpose of inquiry into the cause of restraint of liberty.»

Section 753 restricts the power, limits the jurisdiction, and defines the cases where the writ may properly issue. That may be done under this section where the prisoner » is in custody under or by color of authority of the United States, * * * or is in custody for an act done or omitted in pursuance of a law of the United States, * * * or in custody in violation of the constitution or of a law or treaty of the United States.» Thus, it will be seen that when a /person/ is in custody or deprived of his liberty under color of authority of the United States, or in violation of the constitution or laws or treaties of the United States, the federal judges have jurisdiction, and the writ can properly issue. I take it that the true construction to be placed upon this act is this, that in /all/ cases where federal officers, civil or military, have the custody and control of a person claimed to be unlawfully restrained of liberty, they are /then/ restrained of liberty under color of authority of the United States, and the federal courts can properly proceed to determine the question of unlawful restraint, because no other courts can properly do so. In the other instance, the federal courts and judges can properly issue the writ in /all/ cases where the /person/ is alleged to be in custody in violation of the constitution or a law or treaty of the United States. In such a case, it is wholly immaterial what over, state or federal, has custody of the person seeking the relief. These relators may be entitled to the writ in either case. Under the first paragraph they certainly are-that is, if an Indian can be entitled to it at all-because they are in custody of a
federal officer, under color of authority of the United States. And they may be entitled to the writ under the other paragraph, before recited, for the reason, as they allege, that they are restrained of liberty in violation of a provision of their treaty, before referred to. Now, it must be borne in mind that the /habeas corpus/ act describes applicants for the writ as /»persons,»/ or /» parties,»/ who may be entitled thereto. It nowhere describes them as citizens, nor is citizenship in any way or place made a qualification for suing out the writ, and, in the absence of express provision or necessary implication which would require the interpretation contended for by the district attorney, I should not feel justified in giving the words /person/ and /party/ such
a narrow construction. The most natural, and therefore most reasonable, way is to attach the same meaning to /words/ and /phrases/ when found in a statute that is attached to them when and where found in general use.
If we do so in this instance, then the question cannot be open to serious doubt. Webster describes a person as «a living soul; a self-conscious being; a moral agent; especially a living human being; a mans or child; an individual of the human race.» This is comprehensive enough, it would seem, to include even an Indian. In defining certain generic terms, the 1st section of the revised statutes declares that the word /person/ includes copartnerships and corporations. On the whole, it seems to me guise evident that the comprehensive language used in this section is intended to apply to all mankind-as well the relators as the mere favored white race. This will be doing no violence to language, or to the spirit or letter of the law, nor to the intention, as it is
believed, of the law-making power of the government I must hold, then, that /Indians/, and consequently the relators, are /persons/, such as are described by and included within the laws before quoted. It is said, however, that this is thirst instance on record in which an Indian has been permitted to sue out and maintain a writ of /habeas corpus/ in a federal court, and /therefore/ the court must be without jurisdiction in the premises. This is a /non sequitur/. I confess I do not know of another instance where this has been done, but I can also say that the occasion for it perhaps has never before been so great. It may be that the Indians think it wiser and better, in to end, to resort to this peaceful process than it would be to undertake the hopeless task of redressing their own alleged wrongs by force of arms. Returning reason, and the sad experience of others similarly situated, have taught them the folly and madness of the arbitrament of the sword. They can readily
see that any serious resistance on their part would be the signal for their utter extirmination. Have they not, then, chosen the wiser part by resorting to the very tribunal erected by those they claim have wronged and oppressed them ? This, however, is not the tribunal of their own choice, but it is the /only/ one into which they can lawfully go for deliverance. It cannot, therefore, be fairly said that because no Indian ever before invoked the aid of this writ in a federal court, the rightful authority to issue it does not exist. Power and authority right
fully conferred do not necessarily cease to exist in consequence of long non-user. Though much time has elapsed, and many generations have passed away, since the passage of the original habeas corpus act, from which I have quoted, it will not do to say that these Indians cannot avail themselves of its beneficent provisions simply because none of their ancestors ever sought relief thereunder.

Every /person/ who comes within our jurisdiction, whether he be European, Asiatic, African, or «native to the manor born,» must obey the laws of the United States. Every one who violates them incurs the penalty provided thereby. When a person is charged, in a proper way, with the commission of crime, we do not inquire upon the trial in what country the accused was born, nor to what sovereign or government allegiance is due, nor to what race he belongs. The questions of guilt and innocence only form the subjects of inquiry. An Indian, then, especially off from his reservation, is amenable to the criminal laws of the United States, the same as all other persons. They being subject to arrest for the violation of our criminal laws, and being persons such as the law contemplates and includes in the description of parties who may sue out the writ, it would indeed be a sad commentary on the justice and impartiality of our laws to hold that Indians, though natives of, our
own country, cannot test the validity of an alleged illegal imprisonment in this manner, as well as a subject of a foreign government who may happen to be sojourning in this country, but owing it no sort of allegiance. I cannot doubt that congress intended to give to /every person/ who might be unlawfully restrained of liberty under color of authority of the United States, the right to the writ and a discharge thereon. I conclude, then, that, so far as the issuing of the writ is concerned, it was properly issued, and that the relators are within the
jurisdiction conferred by the /habeas corpus/ act.

A question of much greater importance remains for consideration, which, when determined, will be decisive of this whole controversy. This relates to the right of the government to arrest and hold the relators for a time, for the purpose of being returned to a point in the Indian Territory from which it is alleged the Indians escaped. I am not vain enough to think that I can do full justice to a question like the one under consideration. But, as the matter furnishes so much valuable material for discussion, and so much food for reflection, I shall try to present it as viewed from my own standpoint, without reference to consequences or criticisms, which, though not specially invited, will be sure to follow.

A review of the policy of the government adopted in its dealings with the friendly tribe of Poncas, to which the relators at one time belonged, seems not only appropriate, but almost indispensable to a correct understanding of this controversy. The Ponca Indians have been at peace with the government, and have remained the steadfast friends of the whites, for many years. They lived peaceably upon the land arid in
the country they claimed and called their own.

On the 12th of March, 1858, they made a treaty with the United States, by which they ceded all claims to lands, except the following tract:
«Beginning at a point on the Niobrara river, and running due north so as to intersect the Ponca river twenty-five miles from its mouth; thence from said point of intersection up and along the Ponca river twenty
miles; thence due south to the Niobrara river; and thence down and along said river to the place of beginning; which tract is hereby reserved for the future homes of said Indians.» In consideration of this cession, the
government agreed » to protect the Poncas in the possession of the tract of land reserved for their future homes, and their persons and property thereon, during good behavior on their part.» Annuities were to be paid them for thirty years, houses were to be built, schools were to be established, and other things were to be done by the government, in consideration of said cession. (See 12 Stats. at Large, p. 997.)

On the 10th of March, 1865, another treaty was made, and a part of the other reservation was ceded to the government. Other lands, however, were, to some extent, substituted therefor, » by way of rewarding them
for their constant fidelity to the government, and citizens thereof, and with a view of returning to the said tribe of Ponca Indians their old burying-grounds and cornfields.» This treaty also provides for paying $15,080 for spoliations committed on the Indians. (See 14 Stats. at Large, p. 675.)

On the 29th day of April, 1868, the government made a treaty with the several bands of Sioux Indians, which treaty was ratified by the senate on the 16th of the following February, in and by which the reservations
set apart for the Poncas under former treaties were completely absolved.

(15 Stats. at Large, p. 635.) This was done without consultation with, or knowledge or consent on the part of, the Ponca tribe of Indians.

On the 15th of August; 1876, congress passed the general Indian appropriation bill, and in it we find a provision authorizing the secretary of the interior to use $25,000 for the removal of the Poncas to the Indian Territory, and providing them a hone therein, with consent of the tribe. (19 Stats. at Large, p.192.)

In the Indian appropriation bill passed by congress on the 27th day of May, 1878, we find a provision authorizing the secretary of the interior to expend the sum of $30,000 for the purpose of removing and locating the Ponca Indians on a new reservation, near the Kaw river.

No reference has been made to any other treaties or laws, under which the right to arrest and remove the Indians is claimed to exist.

The Poncas lived upon their reservation in southern Dakota, and cultivated a portion of the same, until two or three years ago, when they removed therefrom, but whether by force or otherwise does not appear. At all events, we find a portion of them, including the relators, located at some point in the Indian Territory. /There/, the testimony seems to show, is where the trouble commenced. Standing Bear, the principal witness, states that out of five hundred and eighty-one Indians who went from the reservation in Dakota to the Indian Territory, one hundred and fifty-eight died within a year or so, and a great proportion of the others were sick and disabled, caused, in a great measure, no doubt, from change of climate; and to save himself and the
survivors of his wasted family, and the feeble remnant of his little band of followers, he determined to leave the Indian Territory and return to his old home, where, to use his own language, «he might live and die in peace, and be buried with his fathers.» He also states that he informed the agent of their final purpose to leave, never to return, and that he and his followers had finally, fully, and forever severed his and their connection with the Ponca tribe of Indians, and had resolved to disband as a tribe, or band, of Indians, and to cut loose
from the government, go to work, become self-sustaining, and adopt the habits and customs of a higher civilization. To accomplish what would seem to be a desirable and laudable purpose, all who were able so to do went to work to earn a living. The Omaha Indians, who speak the same language, and with whom many of the Poncas have long continued to intermarry, gave them employment and ground to cultivate, so as to make
them self-sustaining. And it was when at the Omaha reservation, and when /thus/ employed, that they were arrested by order of the government, for the purpose of being taken back to the Indian Territory. They claim to be unable to see the justice, or reason, or wisdom, or /necessity/, of removing them by force from their own native plains and blood relations to a far-off country, in which they can see little but new-made graves
opening for their reception. The land from which they fled in fear has no attractions for them. The love of home and native land was strong enough in the minds of these people to induce them to brave every peril
to return and live and die where they had been reared. The bones of the dead son of Standing Bear were not to repose in the land they hoped to be leaving forever, but were carefully preserved and protected, and
formed a part of what was to them a melancholy procession homeward. Such instances of parental affection, and such love of home and native land, may be /heathen/ in origin, but it seems to me that they are not unlike
/Christian/ in principle.

What is here stated in this connection is mainly for the purpose of showing that the relators did all they could to separate themselves from their tribe and to sever their tribal relations, for the purpose of becoming self-sustaining and living without support from the government.

This being so, it presents the question as to whether or not an Indian can withdraw from his tribe, sever his tribal relation therewith, and terminate his allegiance thereto, for the purpose of making an independent diving and adopting our own civilization.

If Indian tribes are to be regarded and treated as separate but dependent nations, there can be no serious difficulty about the question. If they are not to be regarded and treated as separate, dependent nations, then no allegiance is owing from an individual Indian to his tribe, and he could, therefore, withdraw therefrom at any time.

The question of expatriation has engaged the attention of our government from the time of its very foundation. Many heated discussions have been carried on between our own and foreign governments on this great question, until diplomacy has triumphantly secured the right to every person found within our jurisdiction. This right has always been claimed and admitted by our government, and it is now no longer an open question. It can make but little difference, then, whether we accord to the Indian tribes a national character or not, as in either case I think the individual Indian possesses the clear and God-given right to withdraw from his tribe and forever live away from it, as though it had no further existence If the right of expatriation was open to doubt in
this country down to the year 1868, certainly since that time no sort of question as to the right can now exist.
On the 27th of July of that year congress passed an act, now appearing as section 1999 of the revised statutes, which declares that: » Whereas, the right of expatriation is a natural and inherent right of all people, indispensable to the enjoyment of the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and, whereas, in the recognition of this principle the government has freely received emigrants from all nations, and invested them with the rights of citizenship. * * ,* Therefore, any declaration, instruction, opinion, order, or decision of any officer of the United States which denies, restricts, impairs, or questions the right of expatriation, is declared
inconsistent with the fundamental principles of the republic.»

This declaration must forever settle the question until it is reopened by other legislation upon the same subject. This is, however, only reaffirming in the most solemn and authoritative manner a principle well settled and understood in this country for why years past.

In most, if not all, instances in which treaties have been made with the several Indian tribes, where reservations have been set apart for their occupancy, the government has either reserved the right or bound itself to protect the Indians thereon. Many of the treaties expressly prohibit white persons being on the reservations unless specially authorized by the treaties or acts of congress for the purpose of carrying out treaty stipulations.

Laws passed for the government of the Indian country, and I for the purpose of regulating trade and intercourse with the Indian tribes, confer upon certain officers of the government almost unlimited power
over the persons who go upon the reservations without lawful authority.

Section 2149 of the revised statutes authorizes and requires the commissioner of Indian affairs, with the approval of the secretary of the interior, to remove from any «tribal reservation» any person being thereon without authority of law, or whose presence within the limits of the reservation may, in the judgment of the commissioner, be detrimental to the peace and welfare of the Indians. The authority here conferred upon the commissioner fully justifies him in causing to be removed from Indian reservations /all/ persons thereon in violation of law, or whose presence thereon may be detrimental to the peace end welfare of the Indians upon the reservations. This applies as well to an Indian as to a white person, and manifestly for the same reason, the object of the law being to prevent unwarranted interference between the Indians and the agent representing the government. Whether such an extensive discretionary power is wisely vested in the commissioner of Indian affairs or not, need not be questioned. It is enough to know that the power rightfully exists, and, where existing, the exercise of the power must be upheld. If, then, the commissioner has the right to cause the
expulsion from the Omaha Indian reservation of all persons thereon who are there in violation of law, or whose presence may be detrimental to the peace and welfare of the Indians, then he must of necessity be
authorized to use the necessary force to accomplish his purpose. Where, then, is he to look for this necessary force? The military arm of the government is the most natural and most potent force to be used on such
occasions, and section 2150 of the revised statutes specially authorizes the use of the army for this service.
The army, then, it seems, is the proper force to employ when intruders and trespassers who go upon the
reservations are to be ejected therefrom.

The first subdivision of the revised statutes last referred to provides that «the military forces of the United States may be employed, in such manner and under such regulations as the president may direct, in the
apprehension of every person who may be in the Indian country in violation of law, and in conveying him immediately from the Indian country, by the nearest convenient and safe route, to the civil authority of the territory or judicial district in which such person shall be found, to be proceeded against in due course of law.» * * *

This is the authority under which the military can be lawfully employed to remove intruders from an Indian reservation. What may be done by the troops in such cases is here fully and clearly stated; and it is /this/
authority, it is believed, under which the respondent acted.

All Indian reservations held under treaty stipulations with the government must be deemed and taken to be a part of the /Indian country/, within the meaning of our laws on that subject. The relators were found upon the Omaha Indian reservation. That being a part of the Indian country, and they not being a part of the Omaha tribe of Indians, they were there without lawful authority, and if the commissioner of Indian affairs deemed -their presence detrimental to the peace and welfare of the Omaha Indians, he had lawful warrant to remove them from the reservation, and to employ the necessary military force to effect this object in safety.

General Crook had the rightful authority to remove the relators from the reservation, and must stand justified in removing them therefrom. But when the troops are thus employed they must exercise the authority in the manner provided by the section of the law just read. This law makes it the duty of the troops to convey the parties arrested, by the nearest convenient and safe rote, /to the civil authority of the territory or judicial district in which persons shall be found, to be proceeded against in due course of law/. The /duty/ of the military authorities is here very clearly and sharply defined, and no one can be justified in departing therefrom, especially in time of peace. As General Crook tad the right to arrest and remove the relators from the Omaha Indian reservation, it follows, from what has been stated, that the law required him to convey them to this city and turn them over to the marshal and United States attorney, to be proceeded against in due course of law. Then proceedings could be instituted against them in either the circuit or district court, and if the relators had incurred a penalty under the law, punishment would follow; otherwise, they would be discharged from custody. Put this course was not pursued in this case; neither was it intended to observe the laws in that regard, for General Crook’s orders, emanating from higher authority, expressly required him to apprehend the relators and remove them by force to the Indian Territory, from which it is alleged they escaped. But in what General Crook has done in the premises no fault can be imputed to him. He was simply obeying the orders of his superior officers, but the orders, as we think, lack the necessary authority of law, and are, therefore, not
binding on the relators.

I have searched in vain for the semblance of any authority justifying the commissioner in attempting to remove by force any Indians, whether belonging to a tribe or not, to any place, or for any other purpose than what has been stated. Certainly, without some specific authority found in an act of congress, or in a treaty with the Ponca tribe of Indians, he could not lawfully force the relators back to the Indian Territory, to remain and die in that country, against their will. In the absence of all treaty stipulations or laws of the United States authorizing such removal, I must conclude that no such arbitrary authority exists. It is true, if the relators are to be regarded as a part of the great nation of Ponca Indians, the government might, in time of war, remove them to any place of safety so long as the war should last, but perhaps no longer, unless they were charged with the commission of some crime. This is a war power merely, and exists in time of war only. Every nation exercises the right to arrest and detain an alien enemy during the existence of a war, and all subjects or citizens of the hostile nations are subject to be dealt with under this rule.

But it is not claimed that the Ponca tribe of Indians are at war with the United States, so that this war power might be used against them; in fact, they are amongst the most peaceable and friendly of all the Indian tribes, and have at times received from the government unmistakable and substantial recognition of their long-continued friendship for the whites In time of peace the war power remains in abeyance, and must be
subservient to the civil authority of the government until something occurs to justify its exercise. No fact exists, and nothing has occurred, so far as the relators are concerned, to make it necessary or lawful to exercise such an authority over them. If they could be removed to the Indian Territory by force, and kept there in the same way, I can see no good reason why they might not be taken and kept by force in the penitentiary at Lincoln, or Leavenworth, or Jefferson City, or any other place which the commander of the forces might, in his judgment, see proper to designate. I cannot think that any such arbitrary authority exists in this country.

The reasoning advanced in support of my views, leads me to conclude:

/1st./ That an /Indian/ is a PERSON within the meaning of the laws of the United States, and has, therefore, the right to sue out a writ of /habeas corpus/ in a federal court, or before a federal judge, in all cases where he may be confined or in custody under color of authority of the United States, or where he is restrained of liberty in violation of the constitution or laws of the United States.

/2d./ That General George Crook, the respondent, being commander of the military department of the Platte, has the custody of the relators, under color of authority of the United States, and in violation of the laws thereof.

/3d./ That no rightful authority exists for removing by force any of the relators to the Indian Territory, as the respondent has been directed to do.

/4th./ That the Indians possess the inherent right of expatriation, as well as the more fortunate white race, and have the inalienable right to «/life, liberty/, and the pursuit of happiness,» so long as they obey the laws and do not trespass on forbidden ground. And,

/5th./ Being restrained of liberty under color of authority of t the United States, and in violation of the laws thereof, the relators must be discharged from custody, and it is so ordered.

ORDERED ACCORDINGLY.

NOTE-At the May term, 1879, Mr. Justice MILLER refused to hear an appeal prosecuted by the United States, because the Indians who then petitioned for the writ of /habeas corpus/ were not present, having been released by the order of DUNDY, J., and no security for their appearance having been taken.

* Source:
Cases Determined in the United States Circuit Courts for the Eighth Circuit
Reported by John Dillon, The Circuit Judge.
Volume 5
Davenport, Iowa: Egbert, Fidlar, & Chambers. 1880.




Standing Bear (1834(?) - 1908) (Pá?ka iyé official orthography: Ma?chú-Na?zhí?/Macunajin;[1] other spellings: Ma-chú-nu-zhe, Ma-chú-na-zhe or Mantcunanjin pronounced [mãt?u?nã???]) was a Ponca Native American chief who successfully argued in U.S. District Court in 1879 in Omaha that Native Americans are "persons within the meaning of the law" and have the right of habeas corpus. His wife Susette Primeau was also a signatory on the 1879 writ that initiated the famous court case.

In 1875, the Ponca paramount chief White Eagle, Standing Bear, and other Ponca leaders met with US Indian Agent A. J. Carrier and signed a document allowing removal to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). White Eagle and other Ponca leaders later claimed that because of a mistranslation, he had understood that they were to move to the Omaha Reservation, not to the Indian Territory.

In February 1877, eight Ponca chiefs, including Standing Bear, accompanied Inspector Edward C. Kemble to the Osage Reservation to select a site. Due to lack of preparation by the agent, they did not identify a site. Angry about what he called the Ponca chiefs' "insubordination", Kemble left them to walk back north. He proceeded to prepare to remove the tribe. In April, Kemble headed south to the Quapaw Reservation near present-day Peoria, Oklahoma, with those Ponca willing to leave. In May the US Army forced the removal of the rest of the tribe, including Standing Bear and his family.[4]

The Ponca arrived in Oklahoma too late to plant crops that year, and the government failed to provide them with the farming equipment it had promised as part of the deal. In 1878 they moved 150 miles west to the Salt Fork of the Arkansas River, south of present-day Ponca City, Oklahoma. By spring, nearly a third of the tribe had died due to starvation, malaria and related causes. Standing Bear's eldest son, Bear Shield, was among the dead. Standing Bear had promised to bury him in the Niobrara River valley homeland, so he left to travel north, with 65 followers.[5]

When they reached at the Omaha Reservation in Nebraska, they were welcomed as relatives. Word of their arrival in Nebraska soon reached the government. Under orders from the Secretary of the Interior, Carl Schurz, who also directed the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Brigadier General George Crook had the Ponca arrested for having left the reservation in Indian Territory.[6] The Army took Standing Bear and the others to Fort Omaha, where they were detained. Although the official orders were to return them immediately to Indian Territory, Crook was sympathetic to the Ponca and appalled to learn of the conditions they had left. He delayed their return so the Ponca could rest, regain their health, and seek legal redress.[7]

Crook told the Ponca story to Thomas Tibbles, an editor of the Omaha Daily Herald, who publicized it widely. The attorney John L. Webster offered his services pro bono and was joined by Andrew J. Poppleton, chief attorney of the Union Pacific Railroad.

They aided Standing Bear, who in April 1879 sued for a writ of habeas corpus in U.S. District Court in Omaha, Nebraska. Acting as interpreter for Standing Bear was Susette LaFlesche, an accomplished and educated, bilingual Omaha of mixed-race background. The case is called United States ex rel. Standing Bear v. Crook. General Crook was named as the formal defendant because he was holding the Ponca under color of law.

As the trial drew to a close, Judge Dundy announced that Chief Standing Bear would be allowed to make a speech in his own behalf. Raising his right hand, Standing Bear proceeded to speak. Among his words were, "That hand is not the color of yours, but if I prick it, the blood will flow, and I shall feel pain," said Standing Bear. "The blood is of the same color as yours. God made me, and I am a man."[8]

On May 12, 1879, Judge Elmer S. Dundy ruled that "an Indian is a person" within the meaning of habeas corpus. He stated that the federal government had failed to show a basis under law for the Poncas' arrest and captivity.[9]

It was a landmark case, recognizing that an Indian is a “person” under the law and entitled to its rights and protection. “The right of expatriation is a natural, inherent and inalienable right and extends to the Indian as well as to the more fortunate white race,” The judge concluded.

Years later, blind and in failing health, Poppleton would reflect on his final court plea for Standing Bear: “I cannot recall any two hours' work of my life with which I feel better satisfied.”[10]

Standing Bear and his followers were immediately freed. The case gained the attention of the Hayes administration, which provided authority for Standing Bear and some of the tribe to return to the Niobrara valley in Nebraska.





At first the United States district attorney considered appealing the decision, but after studying Judge Dundy's written opinion (a brilliant essay on human rights), he made no appeal to the Supreme Court. The United States government assigned Standing Bear and his band a few hundred acres of unclaimed land near the mouth of the Niobrara, and they were back home again.

As soon as the surviving 530 Poncas in Indian Territory learned of this astonishing turn of events, most of them began preparations to join their relatives in Nebraska. The Indian Bureau, however, was not sympathetic. Through its agents the bureau informed the Ponca chiefs that only the Great Council in Washington could decide if and when the tribe might return. The bureaucrats and politicians (the Indian Ring) recognized Judge Dundy's decision as a strong threat to the reservation system; it would endanger the small army of entrepreneurs who were making fortunes funneling bad food, shoddy blankets, and poisonous whiskey to the thousands of Indians trapped on reservations. If the Poncas were permitted to leave their new reservation in Indian Territory and walk away as free American citizens, this would set a precedent which might well destroy the entire military-political-reservation complex.

In his annual report, Big Eyes Schurz admitted that the Poncas in Indian Territory "had a serious grievance," but he strongly opposed permitting them to return to their homeland because it would make other Indians "restless with a desire to fol­low their example" and thereby cause a breakup of the territorial reservation system.16

At the same time, William H. Whiteman, who headed the lucra­tive Ponca agency, tried to discredit Standing Bear's band by describing them as "certain renegade members of the tribe," and then he wrote in glowing terms of his considerable expenditures for materials and tools to develop the reservation in Indian Territory. Whiteman made no mention of the discontent prevalent among the Poncas, their constant petitions to return to their homeland, or of his feud with Big Snake.

Big Snake was Standing Bear's brother, a giant with hands like hams and shoulders as big as a buffalo's. Like many huge men, Big Snake was quiet and gentle of manner (the Poncas called him the Peacemaker), but when he saw that White Eagle and the other head men were being intimidated by agent Whiteman, he decided to take action on his own. After all, he was the brother of Standing Bear, the Ponca who had won freedom for his people.

Determined to test the new law, Big Snake requested permis­sion to leave the reservation and go north to join his brother. As he expected, permission to leave was refused by agent Whiteman. Big Snake's next move was not to leave Indian Territory, but to travel only a hundred miles to the Cheyenne reservation. With him went thirty other Poncas, making what they believed to be a gentle testing of the law which said that an Indian was a person and could not be confined to any particular reservation against his will.

Whiteman's reaction was that of any entrenched bureaucrat whose authority is threatened. On May 21, 1879, he telegraphed the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, reporting the defection of Big Snake and his party to the Cheyenne reservation, and requesting that they be arrested and detained at Fort Reno "until the tribe has recovered from the demoralizing effects of the decision recently made by the United States district court in Nebraska, in the case of Standing Bear."17

Big Eyes Schurz agreed to the arrest, but evidently fearing another challenge in the courts, he asked the Great Warrior Sherman to transport Big Snake and his "renegades" back to the Ponca reservation as quickly and quietly as possible.

In his usual blunt manner, Sherman telegraphed General Sheridan on May 22: "The honorable Secretary of the Interior requests that the Poncas arrested and held at Fort Reno, in the Indian Territory... be sent to the agency of the Poncas. You may order this to be done." And then, as if anticipating Sheridan's apprehensions about flying in the face of Judge Dundy's recent decision, Sherman decreed: "The release under writ of habeas corpus of the Poncas in Nebraska does not apply to any other than that specific case."18 For the Great Warrior Sherman it was easier to unmake laws than it was for the courts of the land to interpret them.

And so Big Snake lost his first test of his brother's victory at law, and he never had a chance to try again. After being brought back to the Ponca agency in the Corn Is in Silk Moon, Big Snake was marked for destruction. Agent Whiteman reported to Washington that Big Snake had "a very demoralizing effect upon the other Indians ... extremely sullen and morose." In one para­graph Whiteman charged that Big Snake had repeatedly threatened to kill him, and in another complained that the Ponca had never spoken to him since his return. The agent became so furious that he begged the Commissioner of Indian Affairs "to arrest Big Snake and convey him to Fort Reno and there confine him for the remainder of his natural life."19

Finally, on October 25, Whiteman obtained authorization from Sherman to arrest Big Snake and imprison him in the agency guardhouse. To make the arrest, Whiteman requested a detail of soldiers. Five days later, Lieutenant Stanton A. Mason and thirteen soldiers arrived at the agency. Whiteman told Mason that he would send out a notice to the Poncas, ordering those who had money coming to them for special work to report to his office the next day. Big Snake would be among them, and as soon as he entered the office, Mason was to make the arrest.

On October 31 Big Snake entered Whiteman's office about noon and was told to take a chair. Lieutenant Mason and eight armed men then surrounded him, Mason informing him that he was under arrest. Big Snake wanted to know why he was being arrested. Whiteman spoke up then and said one charge against him was threatening his (Whiteman's) life. Big Snake calmly denied this. According to the post trader, J. S. Sherburne, Big Snake then stood up and threw off his blanket to show he was not armed.

Hairy Bear's statement: "The officer told Big Snake to come along, to get up and come. Big Snake would not get up, and told the officer he wanted him to tell him what he had done. He said he had killed no one, stolen no horses, and that he had done nothing wrong. After Big Snake said that, the officer spoke to the agent, and then told Big Snake he had tried to kill two men, and had been pretty mean. Big Snake denied it. The agent then told him he had better go, and would then learn all about it down there. Big Snake said he had done nothing wrong, and that he would die before he would go. I then went up to Big Snake and told him this man [the officer] was not going to arrest him for nothing, and that he had better go along, and that perhaps he would come back all right; I coaxed all I could to get him to go; told him that he had a wife and children, and to remember them and not get killed. Big Snake then got up and told me that he did not want to go, and that if they wanted to kill him they could do it, right there. Big Snake was very cool. Then the officer told him to get up, and told him that if he did not go, there might something hap­pen. He said there was no use in talking; I came to arrest you, and want you to go. The officer went for the handcuffs, which a soldier had, and brought them in. The officer and a soldier then tried to put them on, but Big Snake pushed them both away. Then the officer spoke to the soldiers, and four of them tried to put them on, but Big Snake pushed them all off. One soldier, who had stripes on his arms, also tried to put them on, but Big Snake pushed them all off. They tried several times, all of them, to get hold of Big Snake and hold him. Big Snake was sitting down, when six soldiers got hold of him. He raised up and threw them off. Just then one of the soldiers, who was in front of him, struck Big Snake in the face with his gun, another soldier struck him alongside the head with the barrel of his gun. It knocked him back to the wall. He straightened up again. The blood was running down his face. I saw the gun pointed at him, and was scared, and did not want to see him killed. So I turned away. Then the gun was fired and Big Snake fell down dead on the floor."20

The Interior Department first issued a statement that Standing Bear's brother "Big Snake, a bad man" had been "shot accidentally."21 The American press, however, growing more sen­sitive to treatment of Indians since the Standing Bear case, demanded an investigation in Congress. This time the military-political-reservation complex was operating in the familiar climate of Washington, and nothing came of the investigation.

The Poncas of Indian Territory had learned a bitter lesson. The white man's law was an illusion; it did not apply to them. And so like the Cheyennes, the diminishing Ponca tribe was split in two—Standing Bear's band free in the north, the others prisoners in the Indian Territory. (Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, pp. 360-66)

Big Snake said he had done nothing wrong: that he carried no knife; and threw off his blanket and turned around to show he had no weapon. The officer again told him to come along. Big Snake said he had done nothing wrong and that he would die before he would go. I then went up to Big Snake and told him this man (the officer) was not going to arrest him for nothing, and that he had better go along, and that perhaps he would come back all right; I coaxed all I could to get him to go; told him that he had a wife and children and to remember them and not get killed. Big Snake t hen got up and told me that he did not want to go, and that if they wanted to kill him they could do it, right there. Big Snake was very cool. Then the officer told him to get up and told him that if he did not go, there might something happen. He said there is no use in talking; I came to arrest you and want you to go. The officer went for the handcuffs, which a soldier had, and brought them in. The officer and a soldier then tried to put them on him, but Big Snake pushed them both away. Then the officer spoke to the soldiers, and four of them tried to put them on, but Big Snake pushed them all off. One soldier, who had stripes on his arms, also tried to put them on, but Big Snake pushed them off. They tried several times, all of them, to get hold of Big Snake and hold him. But Big Snake was sitting down, when six soldiers got hold of him. He raised up and threw them off. Just then one of the soldiers, who was in in front of him, struck Big Snake in the face with his gun, another soldier struck him along side the head with the barrel of his gun. It knocked him back to the wall. He straightened up again. The blood was running down his face. I saw the gun pointed at him, and was scared and did not want to see him killed. So, I turned away. Then the gun was fired and Big Snake fell down dead on the floor.

From Senate Executive Document No. 14, 46th Congress, 3d Session (January 5, 1881), p. 13.



United States, ex rel.
Standing Bear, v. George Crook, a
Brigadier-General of the Army of the United States.


  1. An Indian is a /person/ within the meaning of the /habeas corpus/ act, and as such is entitled to sue out a writ of /habeas corpus/ in the federal courts when it is shown that the petitioner is deprived of liberty under color of authority of the United States, or is in custody of an officer in violation of the constitution or a law of the United States, or in violation of a treaty made in pursuance thereof.
  2. The right of expatriation is a natural, inherent, and inalienable right and extends to the Indian as well as to the white race.
  3. The commissioner of Indian affairs has ample authority for removing from an Indian reservation all persons found thereon without authority of law, or whose presence may be detrimental to the peace and welfare of the Indians.
  4. The military power of the government may be employed to effect such removal; but where the removal is effected, it is the duty of the troops to convey the persons so removed, by the most convenient route, to the civil authorities of the judicial district in which the offense may be committed to be proceeded against in due course of law. In time of peace, no authority civil or military exists for transporting Indians from one section of the country to, another, without the consent of the Indians, nor to confine then to any particular reservation against their will; and where officers of the government attempt to do this and arrest and hold Indians who are at peace with the government for the purpose of removing teens to and confining them on a reservation in the Indian Territory they will be released on /habeas corpus/.
(Before DUNDY, J.)
/habeas corpus/.-/Right of Indian to Writ/.
The facts are fully stated in the opinion of the court.
/A. J. Poppleton/ and /John L. Webster/, for the relators.
/G. M. Lambertson/, United States attorney, for the government.

DANDY, J.-During the fifteen years in which I have been engaged in administering the laws of my country, I have never been called upon to hear or decide a case that appealed so strongly to my sympathy as the one now under consideration On the one side, we have a few of the remnants of a once numerous and powerful, but now weak, insignificant, unlettered and generally despised race; on the other, we have the representative of one of the most powerful, most enlightened, and most Christianized nations of modern times. On the one side, we have the representatives of this wasted race coming into this national tribunal of ours, asking for justice and liberty to enable them to adopt our boasted civilization, and to pursue the arts of peace, which have made us great and happy as a nation; on the other side, we have this magnificent, if not magnanimous, government, resisting this application with the determination, of sending these people back to the country
which is to then less desirable than perpetual imprisonment in their own native land. But I think it is creditable to the heart and mind of the brave and distinguished officer who is made respondent herein to say that he has no sort of sympathy in the business in which he is forced by his position to bear a part so conspicuous; and, so far as I am individually concerned, I think it not improper to say that, if the strongest possible sympathy could give the relators title to freedom, they would have been restored to liberty the moment the arguments in
their behalf were closed. No examination or further thought would then have been necessary or Reliant. But in a country where liberty is regulated by law, something more satisfactory and enduring than mere sympathy must furnish and constitute the rule and basis of judicial action. It follows that this case must be examined and decided on principle of law, and that unless the relators are entitled to their discharge under the constitution or laws of the United States, or some treaty made pursuant thereto, they must be remanded to the custody of
the officer who caused their arrest, to be returned the Indian Territory, which they left without the consent of the government.

On the 8th of April, 1879, the relators, Standing Bear and twenty-five others, during the session of the court held at that time at Lincoln, presented their petition, duly verified, praying for the allowance of a writ of /habeas corpus/ and their final discharge from custody thereunder.

The petition alleges, in substance, that the relators are Indians who have formerly belonged to the Ponca tribe of Indians, now located in the Indian Territory; that they had some time previously withdrawn from the tribe, and completely severed their Tribal relations therewith, and had adopted the general habits of the whites, and were then endeavoring to maintain themselves by their own exertions, and without aid or assistance from the general government; that whilst they were thus engaged and without being guilty of violating any of the laws of the United States, they were arrested and restrained of their liberty by order of the respondent, George Crook.

The writ was issued and served on the respondent on the 8th day of April, and, the distance between the place where the writ was made returnable and the place where the relators were confined being more
than twenty miles, ten days were allotted in which to make return.

On the 18th of April the writ was returned, and the authority for the arrest and detention is therein shown. The substance of the return to the writ, and the additional statement since filed, is that the relators are individual members of, and connected with, the Ponca tribe of Indians; that they had fled or escaped from a reservation situated some place within the limits of the Indian Territory-had departed therefrom without permission from the government; and, at the request of the secretary of the interior, the general of the army had issued an order
which required the respondent to arrest and return the relators to their tribe in the Indian Territory, and that, pursuant to the said order, he had caused the relators to be arrested on the Omaha Indian reservation, and that they were in his custody for the purpose of being returned to the Indian Territory.

It is claimed upon the one side, and denied upon the other, that the relators had withdrawn and severed, for all time, their connection with the tribe to which they belonged; and upon this point alone was there any testimony produced by either party hereto. The other matters stated in the petition and the return to the writ are conceded to be true; so that the questions to be determined are purely questions of law.

On the 8th of March, 1859, a treaty was made by the United States with the Ponca tribe of Indians, by which a certain tract of country, north of the Niobrara river and west of the Missouri, was set apart for the permanent home of the said Indians, in which the government agreed to protect them during their good behavior. But just when, or how, or why, or under what circumstances, the Indians left their reservation in
Dakota and went to the Indian Territory, does not appear.

The district attorney very earnestly questions the jurisdiction of the court to issue the write, and to hear and determine the case made herein, and has supported his theory with an argument of great ingenuity and much ability. But, nevertheless, I am of the opinion that his premises are erroneous, and his conclusions, therefore, wrong and unjust. The great respect I entertain for that officer, and the very able manner in which his views were presented, make it necessary for me to give somewhat at length the reasons which lead me to this conclusion.

The district attorney discussed at length the reasons which led to the origin of the writ of /habeas corpus/, and the character of the proceedings and practice in connection therewith in the parent country.

It was claimed that the laws of the realm limited the right to sue out this writ to the /free subjects/ of the kingdom, and that none others came within the benefits of such beneficent laws; and, reasoning from
analogy, it is claimed that none but American citizens are entitled to sue out this high prerogative writ in nay of the federal courts. I have not examined the English laws regulating the suing out of the writ, nor have I thought it necessary so to do. Of this I will only observe that if the laws of England are as they are claimed to be, they will appear at a disadvantage when compared with our own. This only proves that the laws of a limited monarchy are sometimes less wise and humane than the laws of our own republic-that whilst the parliament of Great Britain was legislating in behalf of the favored few, the congress of the United States was legislating in behalf of all mankind who come within our jurisdiction.

Section 751 of the revised statutes declares that "the supreme court and the circuit and district courts shall have power to issue writs of /habeas corpus/." Section 752 confers the power to issue writs on the judges of said courts, within their jurisdiction, and declares this to be " for the purpose of inquiry into the cause of restraint of liberty."

Section 753 restricts the power, limits the jurisdiction, and defines the cases where the writ may properly issue. That may be done under this section where the prisoner " is in custody under or by color of authority of the United States, * * * or is in custody for an act done or omitted in pursuance of a law of the United States, * * * or in custody in violation of the constitution or of a law or treaty of the United States." Thus, it will be seen that when a /person/ is in custody or deprived of his liberty under color of authority of the United States, or in violation of the constitution or laws or treaties of the United States, the federal judges have jurisdiction, and the writ can properly issue. I take it that the true construction to be placed upon this act is this, that in /all/ cases where federal officers, civil or military, have the custody and control of a person claimed to be unlawfully restrained of liberty, they are /then/ restrained of liberty under color of authority of the United States, and the federal courts can properly proceed to determine the question of unlawful restraint, because no other courts can properly do so. In the other instance, the federal courts and judges can properly issue the writ in /all/ cases where the /person/ is alleged to be in custody in violation of the constitution or a law or treaty of the United States. In such a case, it is wholly immaterial what over, state or federal, has custody of the person seeking the relief. These relators may be entitled to the writ in either case. Under the first paragraph they certainly are-that is, if an Indian can be entitled to it at all-because they are in custody of a
federal officer, under color of authority of the United States. And they may be entitled to the writ under the other paragraph, before recited, for the reason, as they allege, that they are restrained of liberty in violation of a provision of their treaty, before referred to. Now, it must be borne in mind that the /habeas corpus/ act describes applicants for the writ as /"persons,"/ or /" parties,"/ who may be entitled thereto. It nowhere describes them as citizens, nor is citizenship in any way or place made a qualification for suing out the writ, and, in the absence of express provision or necessary implication which would require the interpretation contended for by the district attorney, I should not feel justified in giving the words /person/ and /party/ such
a narrow construction. The most natural, and therefore most reasonable, way is to attach the same meaning to /words/ and /phrases/ when found in a statute that is attached to them when and where found in general use.
If we do so in this instance, then the question cannot be open to serious doubt. Webster describes a person as "a living soul; a self-conscious being; a moral agent; especially a living human being; a mans or child; an individual of the human race." This is comprehensive enough, it would seem, to include even an Indian. In defining certain generic terms, the 1st section of the revised statutes declares that the word /person/ includes copartnerships and corporations. On the whole, it seems to me guise evident that the comprehensive language used in this section is intended to apply to all mankind-as well the relators as the mere favored white race. This will be doing no violence to language, or to the spirit or letter of the law, nor to the intention, as it is
believed, of the law-making power of the government I must hold, then, that /Indians/, and consequently the relators, are /persons/, such as are described by and included within the laws before quoted. It is said, however, that this is thirst instance on record in which an Indian has been permitted to sue out and maintain a writ of /habeas corpus/ in a federal court, and /therefore/ the court must be without jurisdiction in the premises. This is a /non sequitur/. I confess I do not know of another instance where this has been done, but I can also say that the occasion for it perhaps has never before been so great. It may be that the Indians think it wiser and better, in to end, to resort to this peaceful process than it would be to undertake the hopeless task of redressing their own alleged wrongs by force of arms. Returning reason, and the sad experience of others similarly situated, have taught them the folly and madness of the arbitrament of the sword. They can readily
see that any serious resistance on their part would be the signal for their utter extirmination. Have they not, then, chosen the wiser part by resorting to the very tribunal erected by those they claim have wronged and oppressed them ? This, however, is not the tribunal of their own choice, but it is the /only/ one into which they can lawfully go for deliverance. It cannot, therefore, be fairly said that because no Indian ever before invoked the aid of this writ in a federal court, the rightful authority to issue it does not exist. Power and authority right
fully conferred do not necessarily cease to exist in consequence of long non-user. Though much time has elapsed, and many generations have passed away, since the passage of the original habeas corpus act, from which I have quoted, it will not do to say that these Indians cannot avail themselves of its beneficent provisions simply because none of their ancestors ever sought relief thereunder.

Every /person/ who comes within our jurisdiction, whether he be European, Asiatic, African, or "native to the manor born," must obey the laws of the United States. Every one who violates them incurs the penalty provided thereby. When a person is charged, in a proper way, with the commission of crime, we do not inquire upon the trial in what country the accused was born, nor to what sovereign or government allegiance is due, nor to what race he belongs. The questions of guilt and innocence only form the subjects of inquiry. An Indian, then, especially off from his reservation, is amenable to the criminal laws of the United States, the same as all other persons. They being subject to arrest for the violation of our criminal laws, and being persons such as the law contemplates and includes in the description of parties who may sue out the writ, it would indeed be a sad commentary on the justice and impartiality of our laws to hold that Indians, though natives of, our
own country, cannot test the validity of an alleged illegal imprisonment in this manner, as well as a subject of a foreign government who may happen to be sojourning in this country, but owing it no sort of allegiance. I cannot doubt that congress intended to give to /every person/ who might be unlawfully restrained of liberty under color of authority of the United States, the right to the writ and a discharge thereon. I conclude, then, that, so far as the issuing of the writ is concerned, it was properly issued, and that the relators are within the
jurisdiction conferred by the /habeas corpus/ act.

A question of much greater importance remains for consideration, which, when determined, will be decisive of this whole controversy. This relates to the right of the government to arrest and hold the relators for a time, for the purpose of being returned to a point in the Indian Territory from which it is alleged the Indians escaped. I am not vain enough to think that I can do full justice to a question like the one under consideration. But, as the matter furnishes so much valuable material for discussion, and so much food for reflection, I shall try to present it as viewed from my own standpoint, without reference to consequences or criticisms, which, though not specially invited, will be sure to follow.

A review of the policy of the government adopted in its dealings with the friendly tribe of Poncas, to which the relators at one time belonged, seems not only appropriate, but almost indispensable to a correct understanding of this controversy. The Ponca Indians have been at peace with the government, and have remained the steadfast friends of the whites, for many years. They lived peaceably upon the land arid in
the country they claimed and called their own.

On the 12th of March, 1858, they made a treaty with the United States, by which they ceded all claims to lands, except the following tract:
"Beginning at a point on the Niobrara river, and running due north so as to intersect the Ponca river twenty-five miles from its mouth; thence from said point of intersection up and along the Ponca river twenty
miles; thence due south to the Niobrara river; and thence down and along said river to the place of beginning; which tract is hereby reserved for the future homes of said Indians." In consideration of this cession, the
government agreed " to protect the Poncas in the possession of the tract of land reserved for their future homes, and their persons and property thereon, during good behavior on their part." Annuities were to be paid them for thirty years, houses were to be built, schools were to be established, and other things were to be done by the government, in consideration of said cession. (See 12 Stats. at Large, p. 997.)

On the 10th of March, 1865, another treaty was made, and a part of the other reservation was ceded to the government. Other lands, however, were, to some extent, substituted therefor, " by way of rewarding them
for their constant fidelity to the government, and citizens thereof, and with a view of returning to the said tribe of Ponca Indians their old burying-grounds and cornfields." This treaty also provides for paying $15,080 for spoliations committed on the Indians. (See 14 Stats. at Large, p. 675.)

On the 29th day of April, 1868, the government made a treaty with the several bands of Sioux Indians, which treaty was ratified by the senate on the 16th of the following February, in and by which the reservations
set apart for the Poncas under former treaties were completely absolved.

(15 Stats. at Large, p. 635.) This was done without consultation with, or knowledge or consent on the part of, the Ponca tribe of Indians.

On the 15th of August; 1876, congress passed the general Indian appropriation bill, and in it we find a provision authorizing the secretary of the interior to use $25,000 for the removal of the Poncas to the Indian Territory, and providing them a hone therein, with consent of the tribe. (19 Stats. at Large, p.192.)

In the Indian appropriation bill passed by congress on the 27th day of May, 1878, we find a provision authorizing the secretary of the interior to expend the sum of $30,000 for the purpose of removing and locating the Ponca Indians on a new reservation, near the Kaw river.

No reference has been made to any other treaties or laws, under which the right to arrest and remove the Indians is claimed to exist.

The Poncas lived upon their reservation in southern Dakota, and cultivated a portion of the same, until two or three years ago, when they removed therefrom, but whether by force or otherwise does not appear. At all events, we find a portion of them, including the relators, located at some point in the Indian Territory. /There/, the testimony seems to show, is where the trouble commenced. Standing Bear, the principal witness, states that out of five hundred and eighty-one Indians who went from the reservation in Dakota to the Indian Territory, one hundred and fifty-eight died within a year or so, and a great proportion of the others were sick and disabled, caused, in a great measure, no doubt, from change of climate; and to save himself and the
survivors of his wasted family, and the feeble remnant of his little band of followers, he determined to leave the Indian Territory and return to his old home, where, to use his own language, "he might live and die in peace, and be buried with his fathers." He also states that he informed the agent of their final purpose to leave, never to return, and that he and his followers had finally, fully, and forever severed his and their connection with the Ponca tribe of Indians, and had resolved to disband as a tribe, or band, of Indians, and to cut loose
from the government, go to work, become self-sustaining, and adopt the habits and customs of a higher civilization. To accomplish what would seem to be a desirable and laudable purpose, all who were able so to do went to work to earn a living. The Omaha Indians, who speak the same language, and with whom many of the Poncas have long continued to intermarry, gave them employment and ground to cultivate, so as to make
them self-sustaining. And it was when at the Omaha reservation, and when /thus/ employed, that they were arrested by order of the government, for the purpose of being taken back to the Indian Territory. They claim to be unable to see the justice, or reason, or wisdom, or /necessity/, of removing them by force from their own native plains and blood relations to a far-off country, in which they can see little but new-made graves
opening for their reception. The land from which they fled in fear has no attractions for them. The love of home and native land was strong enough in the minds of these people to induce them to brave every peril
to return and live and die where they had been reared. The bones of the dead son of Standing Bear were not to repose in the land they hoped to be leaving forever, but were carefully preserved and protected, and
formed a part of what was to them a melancholy procession homeward. Such instances of parental affection, and such love of home and native land, may be /heathen/ in origin, but it seems to me that they are not unlike
/Christian/ in principle.

What is here stated in this connection is mainly for the purpose of showing that the relators did all they could to separate themselves from their tribe and to sever their tribal relations, for the purpose of becoming self-sustaining and living without support from the government.

This being so, it presents the question as to whether or not an Indian can withdraw from his tribe, sever his tribal relation therewith, and terminate his allegiance thereto, for the purpose of making an independent diving and adopting our own civilization.

If Indian tribes are to be regarded and treated as separate but dependent nations, there can be no serious difficulty about the question. If they are not to be regarded and treated as separate, dependent nations, then no allegiance is owing from an individual Indian to his tribe, and he could, therefore, withdraw therefrom at any time.

The question of expatriation has engaged the attention of our government from the time of its very foundation. Many heated discussions have been carried on between our own and foreign governments on this great question, until diplomacy has triumphantly secured the right to every person found within our jurisdiction. This right has always been claimed and admitted by our government, and it is now no longer an open question. It can make but little difference, then, whether we accord to the Indian tribes a national character or not, as in either case I think the individual Indian possesses the clear and God-given right to withdraw from his tribe and forever live away from it, as though it had no further existence If the right of expatriation was open to doubt in
this country down to the year 1868, certainly since that time no sort of question as to the right can now exist.
On the 27th of July of that year congress passed an act, now appearing as section 1999 of the revised statutes, which declares that: " Whereas, the right of expatriation is a natural and inherent right of all people, indispensable to the enjoyment of the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and, whereas, in the recognition of this principle the government has freely received emigrants from all nations, and invested them with the rights of citizenship. * * ,* Therefore, any declaration, instruction, opinion, order, or decision of any officer of the United States which denies, restricts, impairs, or questions the right of expatriation, is declared
inconsistent with the fundamental principles of the republic."

This declaration must forever settle the question until it is reopened by other legislation upon the same subject. This is, however, only reaffirming in the most solemn and authoritative manner a principle well settled and understood in this country for why years past.

In most, if not all, instances in which treaties have been made with the several Indian tribes, where reservations have been set apart for their occupancy, the government has either reserved the right or bound itself to protect the Indians thereon. Many of the treaties expressly prohibit white persons being on the reservations unless specially authorized by the treaties or acts of congress for the purpose of carrying out treaty stipulations.

Laws passed for the government of the Indian country, and I for the purpose of regulating trade and intercourse with the Indian tribes, confer upon certain officers of the government almost unlimited power
over the persons who go upon the reservations without lawful authority.

Section 2149 of the revised statutes authorizes and requires the commissioner of Indian affairs, with the approval of the secretary of the interior, to remove from any "tribal reservation" any person being thereon without authority of law, or whose presence within the limits of the reservation may, in the judgment of the commissioner, be detrimental to the peace and welfare of the Indians. The authority here conferred upon the commissioner fully justifies him in causing to be removed from Indian reservations /all/ persons thereon in violation of law, or whose presence thereon may be detrimental to the peace end welfare of the Indians upon the reservations. This applies as well to an Indian as to a white person, and manifestly for the same reason, the object of the law being to prevent unwarranted interference between the Indians and the agent representing the government. Whether such an extensive discretionary power is wisely vested in the commissioner of Indian affairs or not, need not be questioned. It is enough to know that the power rightfully exists, and, where existing, the exercise of the power must be upheld. If, then, the commissioner has the right to cause the
expulsion from the Omaha Indian reservation of all persons thereon who are there in violation of law, or whose presence may be detrimental to the peace and welfare of the Indians, then he must of necessity be
authorized to use the necessary force to accomplish his purpose. Where, then, is he to look for this necessary force? The military arm of the government is the most natural and most potent force to be used on such
occasions, and section 2150 of the revised statutes specially authorizes the use of the army for this service.
The army, then, it seems, is the proper force to employ when intruders and trespassers who go upon the
reservations are to be ejected therefrom.

The first subdivision of the revised statutes last referred to provides that "the military forces of the United States may be employed, in such manner and under such regulations as the president may direct, in the
apprehension of every person who may be in the Indian country in violation of law, and in conveying him immediately from the Indian country, by the nearest convenient and safe route, to the civil authority of the territory or judicial district in which such person shall be found, to be proceeded against in due course of law." * * *

This is the authority under which the military can be lawfully employed to remove intruders from an Indian reservation. What may be done by the troops in such cases is here fully and clearly stated; and it is /this/
authority, it is believed, under which the respondent acted.

All Indian reservations held under treaty stipulations with the government must be deemed and taken to be a part of the /Indian country/, within the meaning of our laws on that subject. The relators were found upon the Omaha Indian reservation. That being a part of the Indian country, and they not being a part of the Omaha tribe of Indians, they were there without lawful authority, and if the commissioner of Indian affairs deemed -their presence detrimental to the peace and welfare of the Omaha Indians, he had lawful warrant to remove them from the reservation, and to employ the necessary military force to effect this object in safety.

General Crook had the rightful authority to remove the relators from the reservation, and must stand justified in removing them therefrom. But when the troops are thus employed they must exercise the authority in the manner provided by the section of the law just read. This law makes it the duty of the troops to convey the parties arrested, by the nearest convenient and safe rote, /to the civil authority of the territory or judicial district in which persons shall be found, to be proceeded against in due course of law/. The /duty/ of the military authorities is here very clearly and sharply defined, and no one can be justified in departing therefrom, especially in time of peace. As General Crook tad the right to arrest and remove the relators from the Omaha Indian reservation, it follows, from what has been stated, that the law required him to convey them to this city and turn them over to the marshal and United States attorney, to be proceeded against in due course of law. Then proceedings could be instituted against them in either the circuit or district court, and if the relators had incurred a penalty under the law, punishment would follow; otherwise, they would be discharged from custody. Put this course was not pursued in this case; neither was it intended to observe the laws in that regard, for General Crook's orders, emanating from higher authority, expressly required him to apprehend the relators and remove them by force to the Indian Territory, from which it is alleged they escaped. But in what General Crook has done in the premises no fault can be imputed to him. He was simply obeying the orders of his superior officers, but the orders, as we think, lack the necessary authority of law, and are, therefore, not
binding on the relators.

I have searched in vain for the semblance of any authority justifying the commissioner in attempting to remove by force any Indians, whether belonging to a tribe or not, to any place, or for any other purpose than what has been stated. Certainly, without some specific authority found in an act of congress, or in a treaty with the Ponca tribe of Indians, he could not lawfully force the relators back to the Indian Territory, to remain and die in that country, against their will. In the absence of all treaty stipulations or laws of the United States authorizing such removal, I must conclude that no such arbitrary authority exists. It is true, if the relators are to be regarded as a part of the great nation of Ponca Indians, the government might, in time of war, remove them to any place of safety so long as the war should last, but perhaps no longer, unless they were charged with the commission of some crime. This is a war power merely, and exists in time of war only. Every nation exercises the right to arrest and detain an alien enemy during the existence of a war, and all subjects or citizens of the hostile nations are subject to be dealt with under this rule.

But it is not claimed that the Ponca tribe of Indians are at war with the United States, so that this war power might be used against them; in fact, they are amongst the most peaceable and friendly of all the Indian tribes, and have at times received from the government unmistakable and substantial recognition of their long-continued friendship for the whites In time of peace the war power remains in abeyance, and must be
subservient to the civil authority of the government until something occurs to justify its exercise. No fact exists, and nothing has occurred, so far as the relators are concerned, to make it necessary or lawful to exercise such an authority over them. If they could be removed to the Indian Territory by force, and kept there in the same way, I can see no good reason why they might not be taken and kept by force in the penitentiary at Lincoln, or Leavenworth, or Jefferson City, or any other place which the commander of the forces might, in his judgment, see proper to designate. I cannot think that any such arbitrary authority exists in this country.

The reasoning advanced in support of my views, leads me to conclude:

/1st./ That an /Indian/ is a PERSON within the meaning of the laws of the United States, and has, therefore, the right to sue out a writ of /habeas corpus/ in a federal court, or before a federal judge, in all cases where he may be confined or in custody under color of authority of the United States, or where he is restrained of liberty in violation of the constitution or laws of the United States.

/2d./ That General George Crook, the respondent, being commander of the military department of the Platte, has the custody of the relators, under color of authority of the United States, and in violation of the laws thereof.

/3d./ That no rightful authority exists for removing by force any of the relators to the Indian Territory, as the respondent has been directed to do.

/4th./ That the Indians possess the inherent right of expatriation, as well as the more fortunate white race, and have the inalienable right to "/life, liberty/, and the pursuit of happiness," so long as they obey the laws and do not trespass on forbidden ground. And,

/5th./ Being restrained of liberty under color of authority of t the United States, and in violation of the laws thereof, the relators must be discharged from custody, and it is so ordered.

ORDERED ACCORDINGLY.

NOTE-At the May term, 1879, Mr. Justice MILLER refused to hear an appeal prosecuted by the United States, because the Indians who then petitioned for the writ of /habeas corpus/ were not present, having been released by the order of DUNDY, J., and no security for their appearance having been taken.

* Source:
Cases Determined in the United States Circuit Courts for the Eighth Circuit
Reported by John Dillon, The Circuit Judge.
Volume 5
Davenport, Iowa: Egbert, Fidlar, & Chambers. 1880.




Barry O’Bomber

Posted by Lesley Clark on October 11, 2013

«I thanked President Obama for the United States’ work in supporting education in Pakistan and Afghanistan and for Syrian refugees,» she said in the statement. «I also expressed my concerns that drone attacks are fueling terrorism. Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people. If we refocus efforts on education it will make a big impact.»

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakastani girl who was shot in the head on her school bus by Taliban gunmen for criticizing their rule, including banning education for girls.

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/10/11/205176/obama-and-first-lady-meet-with.html


The ‘war on terror’ – by design – can never end

In October, the Washington Post’s Greg Miller reported that the administration was instituting a «disposition matrix» to determine how terrorism suspects will be disposed of, all based on this fact: «among senior Obama administration officials, there is broad consensus that such operations are likely to be extended at least another decade.» As Miller puts it: «That timeline suggests that the United States has reached only the midpoint of what was once known as the global war on terrorism.»

The polices adopted by the Obama administration just over the last couple of years leave no doubt that they are accelerating, not winding down, the war apparatus that has been relentlessly strengthened over the last decade. In the name of the War on Terror, the current president has diluted decades-old Miranda warnings; codified a new scheme of indefinite detention on US soil; plotted to relocate Guantanamo to Illinois; increased secrecy, repression and release-restrictions at the camp; minted a new theory of presidential assassination powers even for US citizens; renewed the Bush/Cheney warrantless eavesdropping framework for another five years, as well as the Patriot Act, without a single reform; and just signed into law all new restrictions on the release of indefinitely held detainees.
Does that sound to you like a government anticipating the end of the War on Terror any time soon? Or does it sound like one working feverishly to make their terrorism-justified powers of detention, surveillance, killing and secrecy permanent? About all of this, the ACLU’s Executive Director, Anthony Romero, provided the answer on Thursday: «President Obama has utterly failed the first test of his second term, even before inauguration day. His signature means indefinite detention without charge or trial, as well as the illegal military commissions, will be extended.»
There’s a good reason US officials are assuming the «War on Terror» will persist indefinitely: namely, their actions ensure that this occurs. The New York Times’ Matthew Rosenberg this morning examines what the US government seems to regard as the strange phenomenon of Afghan soldiers attacking US troops with increasing frequency, and in doing so, discovers a shocking reality: people end up disliking those who occupy and bomb their country:


By Jack Goldsmith
Friday, June 8, 2012 at 4:18 PM

President Obama, today, on the possibility of leaks from the White House:

The notion that the White House would purposely release classified national security information is offensive, it’s wrong, and people, I think, need to have a better sense of how I approach this office and how the people around me approach this office . . . . We are dealing with issues that can touch on the safety and security of the American people — our families or our military or our allies — and so we don’t play with that.

This is not a credible statement.

With regard to drones and the Bin Laden attack: It has been obvious for years that senior national security officials, including White House officials, regularly and opportunistically leak details to the press (or urge subordinate agencies to do so). Dan Klaidman’s new book confirms this. In connection with the CIA killing of Baitullah Mehsud in August 2009, Klaidman reports, in direct contradiction of the President:

Though the program was covert, [White House Chief of Staff Rahm] Emanuel pushed the CIA to publicize its covert successes. When Mehsud was killed, agency public affairs officers anonymously trumpeted their triumph, leaking colorful tidbits to trusted reporters on the intelligence beat. (emphasis added)

With regard to “Olympic Games,” the cyber-operation against Iran, the Sanger NYT story is based on “officials involved in the program.” And Sanger’s book from which the story is drawn was based on interviews with “senior administration officials,” including White House officials. The book has quotations from many Obama-era briefings about Olympic Games with the president (including quotations attributed to the president himself). And it contains many intimate details about the program – details that Sanger says “were known only by an extremely tight group of top intelligence, military, and White House officials.” (Some of the early details of Olympic Games appear to be drawn from Bush-era officials.)

It is of course possible, consistent with these points, that the White House did not (as the President guardedly said) “purposely release” classified information about Olympic Games. Journalists have many tricks for building up insider accounts of White House conversations without the participants in those conversations being the original or main or purposeful source. Many elements of the leaks to Sanger (and to Klaidman, and to Becker and Shane) no doubt came from civil servants and political appointees around the government who spoke to reporters, without White House authorization, in order to spin an operation in their favor, to settle a bureaucratic score, or to appear important. The White House may have been involved, if at all, only in correcting inaccuracies or seeking to suppress facts in the Sanger story.

With regard to Olympic Games, in short, I am prepared to believe that President Obama and his White House advisors are genuinely angry about the leak. It is nonetheless remarkable that President’s Obama takes “offense” at the charge that his White House might have leaked Olympic Games. It is perfectly natural, in light of the massive White House (or White House-induced) national security leaks of the last few years, especially on drones, to attribute leaks about Olympic Games to someone in the White House. The President says that the public “need[s] to have a better sense of how I approach this office and how the people around me approach this office,” presumably with regard to classified information. But he has only his administration to blame for the understandable public sense that the White House leaks national security secrets. His failure to understand this is an indication of a White House bubble on the issue.


By Glenn Garvin
ggarvin@MiamiHerald.com

Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, when from out of the past come the thundering words of a constitutional law professor who promised us he was going to put an end to the callous disregard for the law of that bring-‘em-dead-or-alive cowboy George W. Bush.

“We’re going to close Guantánamo!” shouted Barack Obama to the San Antonio crowd that day in 2007. “And we’re going to restore habeas corpus. . . . We’re going to lead by example, by not just word but by deed.”

The deed, as it has turned out, included not very much habeas but a lot of corpus. Obama’s alternative to sending suspected terrorists to the federal prison at Guantánamo Bay has been to kill them, by the hundreds and perhaps thousands.

The death toll in Pakistan alone, by the count of the New America Foundation, last week stood somewhere between 1,456 and 2,372 since Obama took office.

The vast majority of those killings were done by aptly named Predator drones, which — piloted by remote control from CIA and Pentagon command rooms back in the United States — slowly cruise the skies of the Middle East looking for targets to attack with their even more aptly named Hellfire missiles. (Though former CIA attorney John Rizzo helpfully explained in an interview last week that the Obama White House sometimes likes to keep things old school: “The Predator is the weapon of choice, but it could also be someone putting a bullet in your head.)

Obama has launched over 250 drone attacks during his three years in office, more than six times as many as the lawless yahoo Bush ordered during his entire presidency. And to say Obama launched them is not merely a figure of speech; a lengthy New York Times story last week detailed how the president personally approves the target of every attack at cozy little White House meetings known as Terror Tuesdays.

The president shuffles a stack of biographies and photos that some participants in the meeting compare to baseball trading cards, bringing to bear not only his mighty intellect but his refined moral sensibilities (“a student of writings on war by Augustine and Thomas Aquinas,” the awed New York Times reporters wrote) before deciding who goes onto what’s known, with chilling lack of euphemism, as the “kill list.”

There are actually two separate kill lists, one compiled by the Pentagon and another by the CIA, using different legal criteria, which conveniently allows administration officials to shop around for the best forum in which to get their targets approved. And what are those differing criteria? In fact, just where in the U.S. Constitution or legal code is the authority that allows the president to appoint himself judge, jury and executioner?

Well, nobody knows. The Obama administration has classified all its legal memos and opinions used to justify the killings and has successfully beaten back every attempt to force their disclosure. Curiously, Obama had a very different perspective on the Bush administration’s legal opinions on interrogation techniques that looked a lot like torture: He quickly declassified them, even though six former CIA directors begged him not to.

After two decades as a foreign correspondent, much of it spent covering nations that bore the United States ill will, I’m no utopian when it comes to American self-defense or compliance with international law. There are people out there who mean to do us harm, operating from countries that cannot or will not do anything about them. I didn’t get too weepy about the death of Osama bin Laden, and I’m sure a lot of the people to whom Obama has sent Hellfire greeting cards richly deserved them.

But is this really the world we want, one where murderous drones orbit the skies over a big chunk of the earth, periodically blowing somebody’s head off? Of course we wanted to kill Osama and a few of his top lieutenants. But were there really 2,372 of them?

The answer is unequivocally no. Already the president has moved beyond “targeted strikes” — that is, attacks on specific individuals against whom we have some evidence of terrorist activities — to “signature strikes,” in which we obliterate people who look like they might be terrorists, with heavy emphasis on the might.

The White House policy “in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent,” reported The New York Times. And no, it didn’t mention any posthumous CIA techniques for bringing the innocent back to life. I guess Augustine and Thomas Aquinas didn’t cover that.


By: Kevin Gosztola Saturday June 2, 2012 5:24 pm

This morning, Chris Hayes did a segment on his show on MSNBC called “Up with Chris” that examined President Barack Obama’s reported “kill list,” whether the number of civilians being killed by drones is being hidden from the American public and whether the program is, in fact, legal as the Obama administration claims. The segment aired just days after a major story by the New York Times on the “kill list” catapulted US drone policy into the national conversation. It also was one of the few segments that MSNBC aired on the Obama administration’s drone program all week.

Colonel Jack Jacobs, MSNBC military analyst, Hina Shamsi from the ACLU’s National Security Project, Jeremy Scahill of The Nation magazine and Josh Treviño of the Texas Public Policy Foundation appeared on the program for the discussion.

Hayes set up the segment by mentioning that a policy of kill or capture of terror suspects has largely transformed into a policy of just killing the suspects. The issue had been “bubbling a bit” but just this week, Hayes said, it “felt like it really kind of entered the national conversation assertively for the first time this week.”

“Up with Chris” is a progressive show. Many of the viewers carry an expectation—albeit an unreasonable one—that Hayes will not wholly criticize Obama because there is a Republican presidential candidate named Mitt Romney out there trying to defeat Obama in the presidential election. There also are Republicans running to defeat Democrats, voters are being suppressed in states to help Republicans win and discussion of Obama and drones is destructive to the progressive cause. And that is why the segment got under the skin of many liberals and also why it was so critical that Hayes did this segment on his show.

Shamsi made a key point:

We have had a program that was begun under the Bush administration but vastly expanded under the Obama administration and this is a program in which the Executive Branch – the president claims the authority to unilaterally declare people enemies of the state including US citizens and order their killing based on secret legal criteria, secret process and secret evidence. There is no national security policy that poses a graver threat to human rights law and civil liberties than this policy today.

Scahill explained how Obama has been “out-Cheneying Cheney” by “running an assassination program where in a two week span in Yemen he killed three US citizens, none of whom had been charged or indicted or charged with any crime.” Two of the victims, Samir Khan and Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki, were clearly innocent. The FBI told Khan’s family that his speech—the propaganda he was writing and his work as editor of the magazine of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Inspire, was protected First Amendment speech and he had broken no US laws. In the case of Awlaki, a 16-year-old US citizen “whose only crime appears to be that his last name was Awlaki, he was “murdered in a US strike.” No explanation, Scahill said, has been given as to why he was killed.

“There is no indication that any suspected militants were killed. There is no indication that any known al Qaeda figures were killed. That family deserves an explanation. The American people deserve an explanation.” Scahill continued: “”People talked about Cheney running an executive assassination ring. What’s President Obama’s policy? This would have sparked outrage among liberals and they are deafeningly silent on this issue.”

Then, Hayes had Scahill address what really upset liberals the most: the fact that Scahill would say with a straight face Obama was a murderer for killing innocent people with drone strikes.

Scahill stated “the most dangerous thing” the US is doing “besides murdering innocent people in many cases is giving people in Yemen or Somalia or Pakistan a non-ideological reason to hate the United States, to want to fight the United States.” Hayes told Scahill calling it murder is a “provocative” way of describing what is happening and he wanted Scahill to defend using the word murder.

HAYES: Jeremy, you used the word “murder” before when you talked about the people who have killed by these strikes who are not combatants we can establish? And obviously that’s al oaded word because it carries certain legal and moral ramifications. Why do you use that word?

SCAHILL: If someone goes into a shopping mall in pursuit of one of their enemies and opens fire on a crowd of people and guns down a bunch of innocent people in a shopping mall, they’ve murdered those people. When the Obama administration sets a policy where patterns of life are enough of a green light to drop missiles on people or to use to send in AC-130s to spray them down —

JACOBS: That isn’t the case here (cross-talk)

SCAHILL: If you go to the village of al Majala in Yemen where I was and you see the unexploded cluster bombs and you have the list and photographic evidence as I do of the women and children that represented the vast majority of the deaths in this first strike that Obama authorized on Yemen, those people were murdered by President Obama on his orders because there was believed to be someone from al Qaeda in that area. There’s only one person that’s been identified that had any connection to al Qaeda there and twenty-one women and fourteen children were killed in that strike and the US tried to cover it up and say it was a Yemeni strike and we know from the WikiLeaks that David Petraeus conspired with the president of Yemen to lie to the world about who did that bombing. It’s murder. It’s mass murder when you say we are going to bomb this area because we believe a terrorist there and you know women and children are in the area. The United States has an obligation to not bomb that area if they believe women and children are there.

Trevino responded to Scahill by raising a historical example of US armed forces killing French civilians during World War II. He argued that America knew there were innocent people where they were bombing and then essentially asked if the people who carried out those attacks were murderers. Scahill said yes, which led Trevino to suggest that people should be arguing Dwight D. Eisenhower should have been prosecuted. It was a poor strawman that Trevino tried to construct to get Scahill to back down from arguing that the US government has killed people it has known to be innocent and this should not have happened.

From this point, Scahill and Trevino went back and forth with each other throughout the rest of the segment. Trevino contended there was a long history of dealing with Americans who have decided to make war on the United States and that it was not reasonable to expect Lincoln to have handled the Confederacy in the way that people are suggesting Obama should handle US-born terror suspects. Trevino said Obama is “part of a continuum.” That was not something of which Scahill disagreed.

“We have a dictatorship of the Executive Branch of government when it comes to foreign policy,” said Scahill.

Later in the show, Trevino attempted to shut down a lot of what had been said by Shamsi on the legal issues posed by the drone program and what Scahill had said about Obama murdering people. He argued, “Part of the reason there isn’t an outcry over this is that the American people really are getting the policy that they want. It’s not that controversial.”

Scahill rightfully replied in agreement, “Obama has normalized assassination for a lot of liberals who would have been outraged if it was President McCain.” The nation has developed a “bloodthirst.” Citizens now “treat targeted killings like sporting events and dance in the streets” (e.g. what happened when Osama bin Laden was assassinated).


From statements made in February by the families of victims and survivors of a March 17, 2011, drone attack in the village of Datta Khel in the Pakistani region of North Waziristan. The statements were collected by the British human rights group Reprieve and were included in their lawsuit challenging the legal right of the British government to aid the United States in its drone campaign. More than half of all deaths from U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan have occurred in North Waziristan. Translated from the Pashto.

I am approximately forty-six years old, though I do not know the exact date of my birth. I am a malice of my tribe, meaning that I am a man of responsibility among my people. One of my brother’s sons, Din Mohammed, whom I was very fond of, was killed by a drone missile on March 17, 2011. He was one of about forty people who died in this strike. Din Mohammed was twenty-five years old when he died. These men were gathered together for a jirga, a gathering of tribal elders to solve disputes. This particular jirga was to solve a disagreement over chromite, a mineral mined in Waziristan. My nephew was attending the jirga because he was involved in the transport and sale of this mineral. My brother, Din Mohammed’s father, arrived at the scene of the strike shortly following the attack. He saw death all around him, and then he found his own son. My brother had to bring his son back home in pieces. That was all that remained of Din Mohammed.

I saw my father about three hours before the drone strike killed him. News of the strike didn’t reach me until later, and I arrived at the location in the evening. When I got off the bus near the bazaar, I immediately saw flames in and around the station. The fires burned for two days straight. I went to where the jirga had been held. There were still people lying around injured. The tribal elders who had been killed could not be identified because there were body parts strewn about. The smell was awful. I just collected the pieces of flesh that I believed belonged to my father and placed them in a small coffin.

The sudden loss of so many elders and leaders in my community has had a tremendous impact. Everyone is now afraid to gather together to hold jirgas and solve our problems. Even if we want to come together to protest the illegal drone strikes, we fear that meeting to discuss how to peacefully protest will put us at risk of being killed by drones.

The first time I saw a drone in the sky was about eight years ago, when I was thirteen. I have counted six or seven drone strikes in my village since the beginning of 2012. There were sixty or seventy primary schools in and around my village, but only a few remain today. Few children attend school because they fear for their lives walking to and from their homes. I am mostly illiterate. I stopped going to school because we were all very afraid that we would be killed. I am twenty-one years old. My time has passed. I cannot learn how to read or write so that I can better my life. But I very much wish my children to grow up without these killer drones hovering above, so that they may get the education and life I was denied.

The men who died in this strike were our leaders; the ones we turned to for all forms of support. We always knew that drone strikes were wrong, that they encroached on Pakistan’s sovereign territory. We knew that innocent civilians had been killed. However, we did not realize how callous and cruel it could be. The community is now plagued with fear. The tribal elders are afraid to gather together in jirgas, as had been our custom for more than a century. The mothers and wives plead with the men not to congregate together. They do not want to lose any more of their husbands, sons, brothers, and nephews. People in the same family now sleep apart because they do not want their togetherness to be viewed suspiciously through the eye of the drone. They do not want to become the next target.


By Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK | Op-Ed 

On May 29, The New York Times published an extraordinarily in-depth look at the intimate role President Obama has played in authorizing US drone attacks overseas, particularly in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. It is chilling to read the cold, macabre ease with which the President and his staff decide who will live or die. The fate of people living thousands of miles away is decided by a group of Americans, elected and unelected, who don’t speak their language, don’t know their culture, don’t understand their motives or values. While purporting to represent the world’s greatest democracy, US leaders are putting people on a hit list who are as young as 17, people who are given no chance to surrender, and certainly no chance to be tried in a court of law.

Who is furnishing the President and his aides with this list of terrorist suspects to choose from, like baseball cards? The kind of intelligence used to put people on drone hit lists is the same kind of intelligence that put people in Guantanamo. Remember how the American public was assured that the prisoners locked up in Guantanamo were the «worst of the worst,» only to find out that hundreds were innocent people who had been sold to the US military by bounty hunters?

Why should the public believe what the Obama administration says about the people being assassinated by drones? Especially since, as we learn in the New York Times, the administration came up with a semantic solution to keep the civilian death toll to a minimum: simply count all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants. The rationale, reminiscent of George Zimmerman’s justification for shooting Trayvon Martin, is that «people in an area of known terrorist activity, or found with a top Qaeda operative, are probably up to no good.» Talk about profiling! At least when George Bush threw suspected militants into Guantanamo their lives were spared.

Referring to the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, the article reveals that for Obama, even ordering an American citizen to be assassinated by drone was «easy.» Not so easy was twisting the Constitution to assert that while the Fifth Amendment’s guarantees American citizens due process, this can simply consist of «internal deliberations in the executive branch.» No need for the irksome interference of checks and balances.

Al-Awlaki might have been guilty of defecting to the enemy, but the Constitution requires that even traitors be convicted on the «testimony of two witnesses» or a «confession in open court,» not the say-so of the executive branch.

In addition to hit lists, Obama has granted the CIA the authority to kill with even greater ease using «signature strikes,» i.e. strikes based solely on suspicious behavior. The article reports State Department officials complained that the CIA’s criteria for identifying a terrorist «signature» were too lax. «The joke was that when the C.I.A. sees ‘three guys doing jumping jacks,’ the agency thinks it is a terrorist training camp, said one senior official. Men loading a truck with fertilizer could be bombmakers — but they might also be farmers, skeptics argued.»

Obama’s top legal adviser Harold Koh insists that this killing spree is legal under international law because the US has the inherent right to self-defense. It’s true that all nations possess the right to defend themselves, but the defense must be against an imminent attack that is overwhelming and leaves no moment of deliberation. When a nation is not in an armed conflict, the rules are even stricter. The killing must be necessary to protect life and there must be no other means, such as capture or nonlethal incapacitation, to prevent that threat to life. Outside of an active war zone, then, it is illegal to use weaponized drones, which are weapons of war incapable of taking a suspect alive.

Just think of the precedent the US is setting with its kill-don’t-capture doctrine. Were the US rationale to be applied by other countries, China might declare an ethnic Uighur activist living in New York City as an «enemy combatant» and send a missile into Manhattan; Russia could assert that it was legal to launch a drone attack against someone living in London whom they claim is linked to Chechen militants. Or consider the case of Luis Posada Carrilles, a Cuban-American living in Miami who is a known terrorist convicted of masterminding a 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 73 people. Given the failure of the US legal system to bring Posada to justice, the Cuban government could claim that it has the right to send a drone into downtown Miami to kill an admitted terrorist and sworn enemy.

Dennis Blair, former director of national intelligence, called the drone strike campaign «dangerously seductive» because it was low cost, entailed no casualties and gives the appearance of toughness. «It plays well domestically,» he said, «and it is unpopular only in other countries. Any damage it does to the national interest only shows up over the long term.»

But an article in the Washington Post the following day, May 30, entitled «Drone strikes spur backlash in Yemen,» shows that the damage is not just long term but immediate. After interviewing more than 20 tribal leaders, victims’ relatives, human rights activists and officials from southern Yemen, journalist Sudarsan Raghavan concluded that the escalating U.S. strikes are radicalizing the local population and stirring increasing sympathy for al-Qaeda-linked militants. «The drones are killing al-Qaeda leaders,» said legal coordinator of a local human rights group Mohammed al-Ahmadi, «but they are also turning them into heroes.»

Even the New York Times article acknowledges that Pakistan and Yemen are less stable and more hostile to the United States since Mr. Obama became president, that drones have become a provocative symbol of American power running roughshod over national sovereignty and killing innocents.

One frightening aspect of the Times piece is what it says about the American public. After all, this is an election-time piece about Obama’s leadership style, told from the point of view of mostly Obama insiders bragging about how the president is no shrinking violent when it comes to killing. Implicit is the notion that Americans like tough leaders who don’t agonize over civilian deaths—over there, of course.

Shahzad Akbar, a Pakistani lawyer suing the CIA on behalf of drone victims, thinks its time for the American people to speak out. «Can you trust a program that has existed for eight years, picks its targets in secret, faces zero accountability and has killed almost 3,000 people in Pakistan alone whose identities are not known to their killers?,» he asks. «When women and children in Waziristan are killed with Hellfire missiles, Pakistanis believe this is what the American people want. I would like to ask Americans, ‘Do you?'»


Obama At Large: Where Are The Lawyers?

By Ralph Nader

The rule of law is rapidly breaking down at the top levels of our government. As officers of the court, we have sworn to “support the Constitution,” which clearly implies an affirmative commitment on our part.

Take the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The conservative American Bar Association sent three white papers to President Bush describing his continual unconstitutional policies. Then and now civil liberties groups and a few law professors, such as the stalwart David Cole of Georgetown University and Jonathan Turley of George Washington University, have distinguished themselves in calling out both presidents for such violations and the necessity for enforcing the rule of law.

Sadly, the bulk of our profession, as individuals and through their bar associations, has remained quietly on the sidelines. They have turned away from their role as “first-responders” to protect the Constitution from its official violators.

As a youngster in Hawaii, basketball player Barack Obama was nicknamed by his schoolboy chums as “Barry O’Bomber,” according to the Washington Post. Tuesday’s (May 29) New York Times published a massive page-one feature article by Jo Becker and Scott Shane, that demonstrated just how inadvertently prescient was this moniker. This was not an adversarial, leaked newspaper scoop. The article had all the signs of cooperation by the three dozen, interviewed current and former advisers to President Obama and his administration. The reporters wrote that a weekly role of the president is to personally select and order a “kill list” of suspected terrorists or militants via drone strikes or other means. The reporters wrote that this personal role of Obama’s is “without precedent in presidential history.” Adversaries are pulling him into more and more countries – Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and other territories.

The drones have killed civilians, families with small children, and even allied soldiers in this undeclared war based on secret “facts” and grudges (getting even). These attacks are justified by secret legal memos claiming that the president, without any Congressional authorization, can without any limitations other that his say-so, target far and wide assassinations of any “suspected terrorist,” including American citizens.

The bombings by Mr. Obama, as secret prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner, trample proper constitutional authority, separation of powers, and checks and balances and constitute repeated impeachable offenses. That is, if a pathetic Congress ever decided to uphold its constitutional responsibility, including and beyond Article I, section 8’s war-declaring powers.

As if lawyers needed any reminding, the Constitution is the foundation of our legal system and is based on declared, open boundaries of permissible government actions. That is what a government of law, not of men, means. Further our system is clearly demarked by independent review of executive branch decisions – by our courts and Congress.

What happens if Congress becomes, in constitutional lawyer Bruce Fein’s words, “an ink blot,” and the courts beg off with their wholesale dismissals of Constitutional matters based on claims and issue involves a “political question” or that parties have “no-standing-to-sue.” What happens is what is happening. The situation worsens every year, deepening dictatorial secretive decisions by the White House, and not just regarding foreign and military policies.

The value of The New York Times article is that it added ascribed commentary on what was reported. Here is a sample:

– The U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron P. Munter, quoted by a colleague as complaining about the CIA’s strikes driving American policy commenting that he: “didn’t realize his main job was to kill people.” Imagine what the sidelined Foreign Service is thinking about greater longer-range risks to our national security.

– Dennis Blair, former Director of National Intelligence, calls the strike campaign “dangerously seductive.” He said that Obama’s obsession with targeted killings is “the politically advantageous thing to do — low cost, no US casualties, gives the appearance of toughness. It plays well domestically, and it is unpopular only in other countries. Any damage it does to the national interest only shows up over the long term.” Blair, a retired admiral, has often noted that intense focus on strikes sidelines any long-term strategy against al-Qaeda which spreads wider with each drone that vaporizes civilians.

– Former CIA director Michael Hayden decries the secrecy: “This program rests on the personal legitimacy of the president and that’s not sustainable,” he told the Times. “Democracies do not make war on the basis of legal memos locked in a D.O.J. [Department of Justice] safe.”

Consider this: an allegedly liberal former constitutional law lecturer is being cautioned about blowback, the erosion of democracy and the national security by former heads of super-secret spy agencies!

Secrecy-driven violence in government breeds fear and surrender of conscience. When Mr. Obama was campaigning for president in 2007, he was reviled by Hillary Clinton, Joseph Biden Jr. and Mitt Romney – then presidential candidates – for declaring that even if Pakistan leaders objected, he would go after terrorist bases in Pakistan. Romney said he had “become Dr. Strangelove,” according to the Times. Today all three of candidate Obama’s critics have decided to go along with egregious violations of our Constitution.

The Times made the telling point that Obama’s orders now “can target suspects in Yemen whose names they do not know.” Such is the drift to one-man rule, consuming so much of his time in this way at the expense of addressing hundreds of thousands of preventable fatalities yearly here in the U.S. from occupational disease, environmental pollution, hospital infections and other documented dangerous conditions.

Based on deep reporting, Becker and Shane allowed that “both Pakistan and Yemen are arguably less stable and more hostile to the United States than when Obama became president.”

In a world of lawlessness, force will beget force, which is what the CIA means by “blowback.” Our country has the most to lose when we abandon the rule of law and embrace lawless violence that is banking future revenge throughout the world.

The people in the countries we target know what we must remember. We are their occupiers, their invaders, the powerful supporters for decades of their own brutal tyrants. We’re in their backyard, which more than any other impetus spawned al-Qaeda in the first place.

So lawyers of America, apart from a few stalwarts among you, what is your breaking point? When will you uphold your oath of office and work to restore constitutional authorities and boundaries?

Someday, people will ask – where were the lawyers?


Posted by Lesley Clark on October 11, 2013

"I thanked President Obama for the United States' work in supporting education in Pakistan and Afghanistan and for Syrian refugees," she said in the statement. "I also expressed my concerns that drone attacks are fueling terrorism. Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people. If we refocus efforts on education it will make a big impact."

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakastani girl who was shot in the head on her school bus by Taliban gunmen for criticizing their rule, including banning education for girls.

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/10/11/205176/obama-and-first-lady-meet-with.html





The 'war on terror' - by design - can never end


In October, the Washington Post's Greg Miller reported that the administration was instituting a "disposition matrix" to determine how terrorism suspects will be disposed of, all based on this fact: "among senior Obama administration officials, there is broad consensus that such operations are likely to be extended at least another decade." As Miller puts it: "That timeline suggests that the United States has reached only the midpoint of what was once known as the global war on terrorism."


The polices adopted by the Obama administration just over the last couple of years leave no doubt that they are accelerating, not winding down, the war apparatus that has been relentlessly strengthened over the last decade. In the name of the War on Terror, the current president has diluted decades-old Miranda warnings; codified a new scheme of indefinite detention on US soil; plotted to relocate Guantanamo to Illinois; increased secrecy, repression and release-restrictions at the camp; minted a new theory of presidential assassination powers even for US citizens; renewed the Bush/Cheney warrantless eavesdropping framework for another five years, as well as the Patriot Act, without a single reform; and just signed into law all new restrictions on the release of indefinitely held detainees.
Does that sound to you like a government anticipating the end of the War on Terror any time soon? Or does it sound like one working feverishly to make their terrorism-justified powers of detention, surveillance, killing and secrecy permanent? About all of this, the ACLU's Executive Director, Anthony Romero, provided the answer on Thursday: "President Obama has utterly failed the first test of his second term, even before inauguration day. His signature means indefinite detention without charge or trial, as well as the illegal military commissions, will be extended."
There's a good reason US officials are assuming the "War on Terror" will persist indefinitely: namely, their actions ensure that this occurs. The New York Times' Matthew Rosenberg this morning examines what the US government seems to regard as the strange phenomenon of Afghan soldiers attacking US troops with increasing frequency, and in doing so, discovers a shocking reality: people end up disliking those who occupy and bomb their country:



By Jack Goldsmith
Friday, June 8, 2012 at 4:18 PM

President Obama, today, on the possibility of leaks from the White House:

The notion that the White House would purposely release classified national security information is offensive, it’s wrong, and people, I think, need to have a better sense of how I approach this office and how the people around me approach this office . . . . We are dealing with issues that can touch on the safety and security of the American people — our families or our military or our allies — and so we don’t play with that.

This is not a credible statement.

With regard to drones and the Bin Laden attack: It has been obvious for years that senior national security officials, including White House officials, regularly and opportunistically leak details to the press (or urge subordinate agencies to do so). Dan Klaidman’s new book confirms this. In connection with the CIA killing of Baitullah Mehsud in August 2009, Klaidman reports, in direct contradiction of the President:

Though the program was covert, [White House Chief of Staff Rahm] Emanuel pushed the CIA to publicize its covert successes. When Mehsud was killed, agency public affairs officers anonymously trumpeted their triumph, leaking colorful tidbits to trusted reporters on the intelligence beat. (emphasis added)

With regard to “Olympic Games,” the cyber-operation against Iran, the Sanger NYT story is based on “officials involved in the program.” And Sanger’s book from which the story is drawn was based on interviews with “senior administration officials,” including White House officials. The book has quotations from many Obama-era briefings about Olympic Games with the president (including quotations attributed to the president himself). And it contains many intimate details about the program – details that Sanger says “were known only by an extremely tight group of top intelligence, military, and White House officials.” (Some of the early details of Olympic Games appear to be drawn from Bush-era officials.)

It is of course possible, consistent with these points, that the White House did not (as the President guardedly said) “purposely release” classified information about Olympic Games. Journalists have many tricks for building up insider accounts of White House conversations without the participants in those conversations being the original or main or purposeful source. Many elements of the leaks to Sanger (and to Klaidman, and to Becker and Shane) no doubt came from civil servants and political appointees around the government who spoke to reporters, without White House authorization, in order to spin an operation in their favor, to settle a bureaucratic score, or to appear important. The White House may have been involved, if at all, only in correcting inaccuracies or seeking to suppress facts in the Sanger story.

With regard to Olympic Games, in short, I am prepared to believe that President Obama and his White House advisors are genuinely angry about the leak. It is nonetheless remarkable that President’s Obama takes “offense” at the charge that his White House might have leaked Olympic Games. It is perfectly natural, in light of the massive White House (or White House-induced) national security leaks of the last few years, especially on drones, to attribute leaks about Olympic Games to someone in the White House. The President says that the public “need[s] to have a better sense of how I approach this office and how the people around me approach this office,” presumably with regard to classified information. But he has only his administration to blame for the understandable public sense that the White House leaks national security secrets. His failure to understand this is an indication of a White House bubble on the issue.



By Glenn Garvin
ggarvin@MiamiHerald.com

Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, when from out of the past come the thundering words of a constitutional law professor who promised us he was going to put an end to the callous disregard for the law of that bring-‘em-dead-or-alive cowboy George W. Bush.

“We’re going to close Guantánamo!” shouted Barack Obama to the San Antonio crowd that day in 2007. “And we’re going to restore habeas corpus. .?.?. We’re going to lead by example, by not just word but by deed.”

The deed, as it has turned out, included not very much habeas but a lot of corpus. Obama’s alternative to sending suspected terrorists to the federal prison at Guantánamo Bay has been to kill them, by the hundreds and perhaps thousands.

The death toll in Pakistan alone, by the count of the New America Foundation, last week stood somewhere between 1,456 and 2,372 since Obama took office.

The vast majority of those killings were done by aptly named Predator drones, which — piloted by remote control from CIA and Pentagon command rooms back in the United States — slowly cruise the skies of the Middle East looking for targets to attack with their even more aptly named Hellfire missiles. (Though former CIA attorney John Rizzo helpfully explained in an interview last week that the Obama White House sometimes likes to keep things old school: “The Predator is the weapon of choice, but it could also be someone putting a bullet in your head.)

Obama has launched over 250 drone attacks during his three years in office, more than six times as many as the lawless yahoo Bush ordered during his entire presidency. And to say Obama launched them is not merely a figure of speech; a lengthy New York Times story last week detailed how the president personally approves the target of every attack at cozy little White House meetings known as Terror Tuesdays.

The president shuffles a stack of biographies and photos that some participants in the meeting compare to baseball trading cards, bringing to bear not only his mighty intellect but his refined moral sensibilities (“a student of writings on war by Augustine and Thomas Aquinas,” the awed New York Times reporters wrote) before deciding who goes onto what’s known, with chilling lack of euphemism, as the “kill list.”

There are actually two separate kill lists, one compiled by the Pentagon and another by the CIA, using different legal criteria, which conveniently allows administration officials to shop around for the best forum in which to get their targets approved. And what are those differing criteria? In fact, just where in the U.S. Constitution or legal code is the authority that allows the president to appoint himself judge, jury and executioner?

Well, nobody knows. The Obama administration has classified all its legal memos and opinions used to justify the killings and has successfully beaten back every attempt to force their disclosure. Curiously, Obama had a very different perspective on the Bush administration’s legal opinions on interrogation techniques that looked a lot like torture: He quickly declassified them, even though six former CIA directors begged him not to.

After two decades as a foreign correspondent, much of it spent covering nations that bore the United States ill will, I’m no utopian when it comes to American self-defense or compliance with international law. There are people out there who mean to do us harm, operating from countries that cannot or will not do anything about them. I didn’t get too weepy about the death of Osama bin Laden, and I’m sure a lot of the people to whom Obama has sent Hellfire greeting cards richly deserved them.

But is this really the world we want, one where murderous drones orbit the skies over a big chunk of the earth, periodically blowing somebody’s head off? Of course we wanted to kill Osama and a few of his top lieutenants. But were there really 2,372 of them?

The answer is unequivocally no. Already the president has moved beyond “targeted strikes” — that is, attacks on specific individuals against whom we have some evidence of terrorist activities — to “signature strikes,” in which we obliterate people who look like they might be terrorists, with heavy emphasis on the might.

The White House policy “in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent,” reported The New York Times. And no, it didn’t mention any posthumous CIA techniques for bringing the innocent back to life. I guess Augustine and Thomas Aquinas didn’t cover that.



By: Kevin Gosztola Saturday June 2, 2012 5:24 pm


This morning, Chris Hayes did a segment on his show on MSNBC called “Up with Chris” that examined President Barack Obama’s reported “kill list,” whether the number of civilians being killed by drones is being hidden from the American public and whether the program is, in fact, legal as the Obama administration claims. The segment aired just days after a major story by the New York Times on the “kill list” catapulted US drone policy into the national conversation. It also was one of the few segments that MSNBC aired on the Obama administration’s drone program all week.

Colonel Jack Jacobs, MSNBC military analyst, Hina Shamsi from the ACLU’s National Security Project, Jeremy Scahill of The Nation magazine and Josh Treviño of the Texas Public Policy Foundation appeared on the program for the discussion.

Hayes set up the segment by mentioning that a policy of kill or capture of terror suspects has largely transformed into a policy of just killing the suspects. The issue had been “bubbling a bit” but just this week, Hayes said, it “felt like it really kind of entered the national conversation assertively for the first time this week.”

“Up with Chris” is a progressive show. Many of the viewers carry an expectation—albeit an unreasonable one—that Hayes will not wholly criticize Obama because there is a Republican presidential candidate named Mitt Romney out there trying to defeat Obama in the presidential election. There also are Republicans running to defeat Democrats, voters are being suppressed in states to help Republicans win and discussion of Obama and drones is destructive to the progressive cause. And that is why the segment got under the skin of many liberals and also why it was so critical that Hayes did this segment on his show.

Shamsi made a key point:

We have had a program that was begun under the Bush administration but vastly expanded under the Obama administration and this is a program in which the Executive Branch – the president claims the authority to unilaterally declare people enemies of the state including US citizens and order their killing based on secret legal criteria, secret process and secret evidence. There is no national security policy that poses a graver threat to human rights law and civil liberties than this policy today.

Scahill explained how Obama has been “out-Cheneying Cheney” by “running an assassination program where in a two week span in Yemen he killed three US citizens, none of whom had been charged or indicted or charged with any crime.” Two of the victims, Samir Khan and Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki, were clearly innocent. The FBI told Khan’s family that his speech—the propaganda he was writing and his work as editor of the magazine of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Inspire, was protected First Amendment speech and he had broken no US laws. In the case of Awlaki, a 16-year-old US citizen “whose only crime appears to be that his last name was Awlaki, he was “murdered in a US strike.” No explanation, Scahill said, has been given as to why he was killed.

“There is no indication that any suspected militants were killed. There is no indication that any known al Qaeda figures were killed. That family deserves an explanation. The American people deserve an explanation.” Scahill continued: “”People talked about Cheney running an executive assassination ring. What’s President Obama’s policy? This would have sparked outrage among liberals and they are deafeningly silent on this issue.”

Then, Hayes had Scahill address what really upset liberals the most: the fact that Scahill would say with a straight face Obama was a murderer for killing innocent people with drone strikes.

Scahill stated “the most dangerous thing” the US is doing “besides murdering innocent people in many cases is giving people in Yemen or Somalia or Pakistan a non-ideological reason to hate the United States, to want to fight the United States.” Hayes told Scahill calling it murder is a “provocative” way of describing what is happening and he wanted Scahill to defend using the word murder.

HAYES: Jeremy, you used the word “murder” before when you talked about the people who have killed by these strikes who are not combatants we can establish? And obviously that’s al oaded word because it carries certain legal and moral ramifications. Why do you use that word?

SCAHILL: If someone goes into a shopping mall in pursuit of one of their enemies and opens fire on a crowd of people and guns down a bunch of innocent people in a shopping mall, they’ve murdered those people. When the Obama administration sets a policy where patterns of life are enough of a green light to drop missiles on people or to use to send in AC-130s to spray them down —

JACOBS: That isn’t the case here (cross-talk)

SCAHILL: If you go to the village of al Majala in Yemen where I was and you see the unexploded cluster bombs and you have the list and photographic evidence as I do of the women and children that represented the vast majority of the deaths in this first strike that Obama authorized on Yemen, those people were murdered by President Obama on his orders because there was believed to be someone from al Qaeda in that area. There’s only one person that’s been identified that had any connection to al Qaeda there and twenty-one women and fourteen children were killed in that strike and the US tried to cover it up and say it was a Yemeni strike and we know from the WikiLeaks that David Petraeus conspired with the president of Yemen to lie to the world about who did that bombing. It’s murder. It’s mass murder when you say we are going to bomb this area because we believe a terrorist there and you know women and children are in the area. The United States has an obligation to not bomb that area if they believe women and children are there.

Trevino responded to Scahill by raising a historical example of US armed forces killing French civilians during World War II. He argued that America knew there were innocent people where they were bombing and then essentially asked if the people who carried out those attacks were murderers. Scahill said yes, which led Trevino to suggest that people should be arguing Dwight D. Eisenhower should have been prosecuted. It was a poor strawman that Trevino tried to construct to get Scahill to back down from arguing that the US government has killed people it has known to be innocent and this should not have happened.

From this point, Scahill and Trevino went back and forth with each other throughout the rest of the segment. Trevino contended there was a long history of dealing with Americans who have decided to make war on the United States and that it was not reasonable to expect Lincoln to have handled the Confederacy in the way that people are suggesting Obama should handle US-born terror suspects. Trevino said Obama is “part of a continuum.” That was not something of which Scahill disagreed.

“We have a dictatorship of the Executive Branch of government when it comes to foreign policy,” said Scahill.

Later in the show, Trevino attempted to shut down a lot of what had been said by Shamsi on the legal issues posed by the drone program and what Scahill had said about Obama murdering people. He argued, “Part of the reason there isn’t an outcry over this is that the American people really are getting the policy that they want. It’s not that controversial.”

Scahill rightfully replied in agreement, “Obama has normalized assassination for a lot of liberals who would have been outraged if it was President McCain.” The nation has developed a “bloodthirst.” Citizens now “treat targeted killings like sporting events and dance in the streets” (e.g. what happened when Osama bin Laden was assassinated).

From statements made in February by the families of victims and survivors of a March 17, 2011, drone attack in the village of Datta Khel in the Pakistani region of North Waziristan. The statements were collected by the British human rights group Reprieve and were included in their lawsuit challenging the legal right of the British government to aid the United States in its drone campaign. More than half of all deaths from U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan have occurred in North Waziristan. Translated from the Pashto.

I am approximately forty-six years old, though I do not know the exact date of my birth. I am a malice of my tribe, meaning that I am a man of responsibility among my people. One of my brother’s sons, Din Mohammed, whom I was very fond of, was killed by a drone missile on March 17, 2011. He was one of about forty people who died in this strike. Din Mohammed was twenty-five years old when he died. These men were gathered together for a jirga, a gathering of tribal elders to solve disputes. This particular jirga was to solve a disagreement over chromite, a mineral mined in Waziristan. My nephew was attending the jirga because he was involved in the transport and sale of this mineral. My brother, Din Mohammed’s father, arrived at the scene of the strike shortly following the attack. He saw death all around him, and then he found his own son. My brother had to bring his son back home in pieces. That was all that remained of Din Mohammed.

I saw my father about three hours before the drone strike killed him. News of the strike didn’t reach me until later, and I arrived at the location in the evening. When I got off the bus near the bazaar, I immediately saw flames in and around the station. The fires burned for two days straight. I went to where the jirga had been held. There were still people lying around injured. The tribal elders who had been killed could not be identified because there were body parts strewn about. The smell was awful. I just collected the pieces of flesh that I believed belonged to my father and placed them in a small coffin.

The sudden loss of so many elders and leaders in my community has had a tremendous impact. Everyone is now afraid to gather together to hold jirgas and solve our problems. Even if we want to come together to protest the illegal drone strikes, we fear that meeting to discuss how to peacefully protest will put us at risk of being killed by drones.

The first time I saw a drone in the sky was about eight years ago, when I was thirteen. I have counted six or seven drone strikes in my village since the beginning of 2012. There were sixty or seventy primary schools in and around my village, but only a few remain today. Few children attend school because they fear for their lives walking to and from their homes. I am mostly illiterate. I stopped going to school because we were all very afraid that we would be killed. I am twenty-one years old. My time has passed. I cannot learn how to read or write so that I can better my life. But I very much wish my children to grow up without these killer drones hovering above, so that they may get the education and life I was denied.

The men who died in this strike were our leaders; the ones we turned to for all forms of support. We always knew that drone strikes were wrong, that they encroached on Pakistan’s sovereign territory. We knew that innocent civilians had been killed. However, we did not realize how callous and cruel it could be. The community is now plagued with fear. The tribal elders are afraid to gather together in jirgas, as had been our custom for more than a century. The mothers and wives plead with the men not to congregate together. They do not want to lose any more of their husbands, sons, brothers, and nephews. People in the same family now sleep apart because they do not want their togetherness to be viewed suspiciously through the eye of the drone. They do not want to become the next target.



By Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK | Op-Ed 

On May 29, The New York Times published an extraordinarily in-depth look at the intimate role President Obama has played in authorizing US drone attacks overseas, particularly in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. It is chilling to read the cold, macabre ease with which the President and his staff decide who will live or die. The fate of people living thousands of miles away is decided by a group of Americans, elected and unelected, who don't speak their language, don't know their culture, don't understand their motives or values. While purporting to represent the world's greatest democracy, US leaders are putting people on a hit list who are as young as 17, people who are given no chance to surrender, and certainly no chance to be tried in a court of law.

Who is furnishing the President and his aides with this list of terrorist suspects to choose from, like baseball cards? The kind of intelligence used to put people on drone hit lists is the same kind of intelligence that put people in Guantanamo. Remember how the American public was assured that the prisoners locked up in Guantanamo were the "worst of the worst," only to find out that hundreds were innocent people who had been sold to the US military by bounty hunters?

Why should the public believe what the Obama administration says about the people being assassinated by drones? Especially since, as we learn in the New York Times, the administration came up with a semantic solution to keep the civilian death toll to a minimum: simply count all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants. The rationale, reminiscent of George Zimmerman's justification for shooting Trayvon Martin, is that "people in an area of known terrorist activity, or found with a top Qaeda operative, are probably up to no good." Talk about profiling! At least when George Bush threw suspected militants into Guantanamo their lives were spared.

Referring to the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, the article reveals that for Obama, even ordering an American citizen to be assassinated by drone was "easy." Not so easy was twisting the Constitution to assert that while the Fifth Amendment's guarantees American citizens due process, this can simply consist of "internal deliberations in the executive branch." No need for the irksome interference of checks and balances.

Al-Awlaki might have been guilty of defecting to the enemy, but the Constitution requires that even traitors be convicted on the "testimony of two witnesses" or a "confession in open court," not the say-so of the executive branch.

In addition to hit lists, Obama has granted the CIA the authority to kill with even greater ease using "signature strikes," i.e. strikes based solely on suspicious behavior. The article reports State Department officials complained that the CIA's criteria for identifying a terrorist "signature" were too lax. "The joke was that when the C.I.A. sees 'three guys doing jumping jacks,' the agency thinks it is a terrorist training camp, said one senior official. Men loading a truck with fertilizer could be bombmakers — but they might also be farmers, skeptics argued."

Obama's top legal adviser Harold Koh insists that this killing spree is legal under international law because the US has the inherent right to self-defense. It's true that all nations possess the right to defend themselves, but the defense must be against an imminent attack that is overwhelming and leaves no moment of deliberation. When a nation is not in an armed conflict, the rules are even stricter. The killing must be necessary to protect life and there must be no other means, such as capture or nonlethal incapacitation, to prevent that threat to life. Outside of an active war zone, then, it is illegal to use weaponized drones, which are weapons of war incapable of taking a suspect alive.

Just think of the precedent the US is setting with its kill-don't-capture doctrine. Were the US rationale to be applied by other countries, China might declare an ethnic Uighur activist living in New York City as an "enemy combatant" and send a missile into Manhattan; Russia could assert that it was legal to launch a drone attack against someone living in London whom they claim is linked to Chechen militants. Or consider the case of Luis Posada Carrilles, a Cuban-American living in Miami who is a known terrorist convicted of masterminding a 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 73 people. Given the failure of the US legal system to bring Posada to justice, the Cuban government could claim that it has the right to send a drone into downtown Miami to kill an admitted terrorist and sworn enemy.

Dennis Blair, former director of national intelligence, called the drone strike campaign "dangerously seductive" because it was low cost, entailed no casualties and gives the appearance of toughness. "It plays well domestically," he said, "and it is unpopular only in other countries. Any damage it does to the national interest only shows up over the long term."

But an article in the Washington Post the following day, May 30, entitled "Drone strikes spur backlash in Yemen," shows that the damage is not just long term but immediate. After interviewing more than 20 tribal leaders, victims' relatives, human rights activists and officials from southern Yemen, journalist Sudarsan Raghavan concluded that the escalating U.S. strikes are radicalizing the local population and stirring increasing sympathy for al-Qaeda-linked militants. "The drones are killing al-Qaeda leaders," said legal coordinator of a local human rights group Mohammed al-Ahmadi, "but they are also turning them into heroes."

Even the New York Times article acknowledges that Pakistan and Yemen are less stable and more hostile to the United States since Mr. Obama became president, that drones have become a provocative symbol of American power running roughshod over national sovereignty and killing innocents.

One frightening aspect of the Times piece is what it says about the American public. After all, this is an election-time piece about Obama's leadership style, told from the point of view of mostly Obama insiders bragging about how the president is no shrinking violent when it comes to killing. Implicit is the notion that Americans like tough leaders who don't agonize over civilian deaths—over there, of course.

Shahzad Akbar, a Pakistani lawyer suing the CIA on behalf of drone victims, thinks its time for the American people to speak out. "Can you trust a program that has existed for eight years, picks its targets in secret, faces zero accountability and has killed almost 3,000 people in Pakistan alone whose identities are not known to their killers?," he asks. "When women and children in Waziristan are killed with Hellfire missiles, Pakistanis believe this is what the American people want. I would like to ask Americans, 'Do you?'"





Obama At Large: Where Are The Lawyers?

By Ralph Nader


The rule of law is rapidly breaking down at the top levels of our government. As officers of the court, we have sworn to “support the Constitution,” which clearly implies an affirmative commitment on our part.

Take the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The conservative American Bar Association sent three white papers to President Bush describing his continual unconstitutional policies. Then and now civil liberties groups and a few law professors, such as the stalwart David Cole of Georgetown University and Jonathan Turley of George Washington University, have distinguished themselves in calling out both presidents for such violations and the necessity for enforcing the rule of law.

Sadly, the bulk of our profession, as individuals and through their bar associations, has remained quietly on the sidelines. They have turned away from their role as “first-responders” to protect the Constitution from its official violators.

As a youngster in Hawaii, basketball player Barack Obama was nicknamed by his schoolboy chums as “Barry O’Bomber,” according to the Washington Post. Tuesday’s (May 29) New York Times published a massive page-one feature article by Jo Becker and Scott Shane, that demonstrated just how inadvertently prescient was this moniker. This was not an adversarial, leaked newspaper scoop. The article had all the signs of cooperation by the three dozen, interviewed current and former advisers to President Obama and his administration. The reporters wrote that a weekly role of the president is to personally select and order a “kill list” of suspected terrorists or militants via drone strikes or other means. The reporters wrote that this personal role of Obama’s is “without precedent in presidential history.” Adversaries are pulling him into more and more countries – Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and other territories.

The drones have killed civilians, families with small children, and even allied soldiers in this undeclared war based on secret “facts” and grudges (getting even). These attacks are justified by secret legal memos claiming that the president, without any Congressional authorization, can without any limitations other that his say-so, target far and wide assassinations of any “suspected terrorist,” including American citizens.

The bombings by Mr. Obama, as secret prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner, trample proper constitutional authority, separation of powers, and checks and balances and constitute repeated impeachable offenses. That is, if a pathetic Congress ever decided to uphold its constitutional responsibility, including and beyond Article I, section 8’s war-declaring powers.

As if lawyers needed any reminding, the Constitution is the foundation of our legal system and is based on declared, open boundaries of permissible government actions. That is what a government of law, not of men, means. Further our system is clearly demarked by independent review of executive branch decisions – by our courts and Congress.

What happens if Congress becomes, in constitutional lawyer Bruce Fein’s words, “an ink blot,” and the courts beg off with their wholesale dismissals of Constitutional matters based on claims and issue involves a “political question” or that parties have “no-standing-to-sue.” What happens is what is happening. The situation worsens every year, deepening dictatorial secretive decisions by the White House, and not just regarding foreign and military policies.

The value of The New York Times article is that it added ascribed commentary on what was reported. Here is a sample:

- The U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron P. Munter, quoted by a colleague as complaining about the CIA’s strikes driving American policy commenting that he: “didn’t realize his main job was to kill people.” Imagine what the sidelined Foreign Service is thinking about greater longer-range risks to our national security.

- Dennis Blair, former Director of National Intelligence, calls the strike campaign “dangerously seductive.” He said that Obama’s obsession with targeted killings is “the politically advantageous thing to do — low cost, no US casualties, gives the appearance of toughness. It plays well domestically, and it is unpopular only in other countries. Any damage it does to the national interest only shows up over the long term.” Blair, a retired admiral, has often noted that intense focus on strikes sidelines any long-term strategy against al-Qaeda which spreads wider with each drone that vaporizes civilians.

- Former CIA director Michael Hayden decries the secrecy: “This program rests on the personal legitimacy of the president and that’s not sustainable,” he told the Times. “Democracies do not make war on the basis of legal memos locked in a D.O.J. [Department of Justice] safe.”

Consider this: an allegedly liberal former constitutional law lecturer is being cautioned about blowback, the erosion of democracy and the national security by former heads of super-secret spy agencies!

Secrecy-driven violence in government breeds fear and surrender of conscience. When Mr. Obama was campaigning for president in 2007, he was reviled by Hillary Clinton, Joseph Biden Jr. and Mitt Romney – then presidential candidates – for declaring that even if Pakistan leaders objected, he would go after terrorist bases in Pakistan. Romney said he had “become Dr. Strangelove,” according to the Times. Today all three of candidate Obama’s critics have decided to go along with egregious violations of our Constitution.

The Times made the telling point that Obama’s orders now “can target suspects in Yemen whose names they do not know.” Such is the drift to one-man rule, consuming so much of his time in this way at the expense of addressing hundreds of thousands of preventable fatalities yearly here in the U.S. from occupational disease, environmental pollution, hospital infections and other documented dangerous conditions.

Based on deep reporting, Becker and Shane allowed that “both Pakistan and Yemen are arguably less stable and more hostile to the United States than when Obama became president.”

In a world of lawlessness, force will beget force, which is what the CIA means by “blowback.” Our country has the most to lose when we abandon the rule of law and embrace lawless violence that is banking future revenge throughout the world.

The people in the countries we target know what we must remember. We are their occupiers, their invaders, the powerful supporters for decades of their own brutal tyrants. We’re in their backyard, which more than any other impetus spawned al-Qaeda in the first place.

So lawyers of America, apart from a few stalwarts among you, what is your breaking point? When will you uphold your oath of office and work to restore constitutional authorities and boundaries?

Someday, people will ask – where were the lawyers?

Actions that threaten Saudi Arabia’s unity

Published time: February 03, 2014 03:34

Actions that threaten Saudi Arabia’s unity, disturb public order, or defame the reputation of the state or the king – will be considered acts of terrorism under a new counterterrorism law which has come into force in the gulf kingdom.

The new legislature was ratified by King Abdullah on Sunday after being approved by the Cabinet in December, following the initial proposal by the Interior Ministry and advisory Shura Council.

It defines terrorism as “any act carried out by an offender … intended to disturb the public order…to shake the security of society… stability of the state… expose its national unity to danger… suspend the basic law of governance or some of its articles,” according to its text as cited by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Terrorists can also be considered those individuals who “insult the reputation of the state or its position… inflict damage upon one of its public utilities or its natural resources,” or those who attempt to force “governmental authority to carry out or prevent it from carrying out an action, or to threaten to carry out acts that lead to the named purposes or incite [these acts].”

The legislation, made up of 40 clauses, allows the security forces to arrest and detain suspects for up to six months with the possibility to extend the confinement for another six months. Suspects are allowed to be held incommunicado for 90 days without the presence of their lawyer during the initial questioning.

Internet surveillance and phone tracking are also allowed under the new legislature, as well as the right for the security services to raid the homes of suspected terrorists, without prior approval from a judge. People suspected of financing terrorist activities could also be prosecuted.

The interior minister, rather than any judge, is empowered to suspend sentences or drop charges and release a person on trial.

When the legislature was approved in December, HRW lashed out against the Kingdom’s strive to limit freedom of speech and criticized the monarchy over its very vague definition of terrorism.

“Vague and overbroad legal provisions cannot be the basis for overriding a broad array of fundamental rights,” HRW said in a statement in December. “Saudi Arabia’s denial of the rights to participate in public affairs, and freedom of religion, peaceful assembly, association, and expression, as well as its systematic discrimination against women greatly exceed any notion of justifiable restrictions.”

Activists are worried that the law will first of all be applied to silence the liberal opposition in the country. Saudi activist Abdulaziz Al Shubaily from the Saudi Association for Civil and Political Rights (HASEM) described the law as a “catastrophe”.

“If I call for the release of someone from jail for being held longer than their sentence, I can be tried for “asking the state to take action,” Shubaily said. “When I call for a constitutional monarchy, I can now be charged with terrorism.”

“They characterize you as a terrorist because you ask the kingdom to do something it does not want to do,” he added.

HRW researcher Adam Coogle said, that the new law is “draconian in spirit and letter, and there is every reason to fear that the authorities will easily and eagerly use it against peaceful dissidents.”

Saudi women who are seen driving can now be accused of disturbing public order for defying a driving ban imposed on females and face punishment under a new law. In October last year, several images emerged online of women getting in cars and going around the city as part of a unified protest.


Edited time: November 05, 2013 08:14

A Kuwaiti woman was arrested in Saudi Arabia for driving a car while taking her diabetic father to the hospital. The arrest comes just one week after Saudi women protested the driving ban in the conservative Gulf monarchy.

The woman was driving a Chevrolet Epica with her father in the passenger seat when she was pulled over in an area located near the border with Kuwait, Saudi police told Kuwait Times newspaper.

She explained that she was taking her sick father to the hospital, but officers were unsympathetic. The woman was detained and is now being held in custody pending an investigation, police said.

The media report provided no information on whether her sick father made it to the hospital.

There are close ties between Kuwaitis and Saudis in the area, with people from both countries crossing the border on a regular basis.

However, Kuwait has surged ahead in terms of female rights. Women in the country are allowed to drive, vote, and run for political office.

In Saudi Arabia, attempted reforms from King Abdullah often face resistance from the country’s senior clergy.

Saudi woman are not allowed to drive cars, travel abroad, open a bank account, or work without permission from a male relative.

Last Saturday, a protest took place against the driving ban, which resulted in 16 female drivers being stopped by police. They were fined 300 riyals (US$80) each and forced along with their male guardians to pledge to obey the kingdom’s laws.

Activists said that more than 60 Saudi women got behind the wheel to protest the driving ban.


A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced a woman to 10 lashes for breaking the country’s ban on female drivers.
The woman, identified only as Shema, was found guilty of driving in Jeddah in July.
Women2drive, which campaigns for women to be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, says she has already lodged an appeal.
In recent months, scores of women have driven vehicles in Saudi cities in an effort to put pressure on the monarchy to change the law.
The sentence comes two days after the Saudi leader King Abdullah announced women would be allowed to vote for the first time in 2015.
Two other women are due to appear in court later this year on similar charges, correspondents say.
Published time: February 03, 2014 03:34

Actions that threaten Saudi Arabia’s unity, disturb public order, or defame the reputation of the state or the king – will be considered acts of terrorism under a new counterterrorism law which has come into force in the gulf kingdom.

The new legislature was ratified by King Abdullah on Sunday after being approved by the Cabinet in December, following the initial proposal by the Interior Ministry and advisory Shura Council.

It defines terrorism as “any act carried out by an offender … intended to disturb the public order…to shake the security of society… stability of the state… expose its national unity to danger… suspend the basic law of governance or some of its articles,” according to its text as cited by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Terrorists can also be considered those individuals who “insult the reputation of the state or its position… inflict damage upon one of its public utilities or its natural resources,” or those who attempt to force “governmental authority to carry out or prevent it from carrying out an action, or to threaten to carry out acts that lead to the named purposes or incite [these acts].”

The legislation, made up of 40 clauses, allows the security forces to arrest and detain suspects for up to six months with the possibility to extend the confinement for another six months. Suspects are allowed to be held incommunicado for 90 days without the presence of their lawyer during the initial questioning.

Internet surveillance and phone tracking are also allowed under the new legislature, as well as the right for the security services to raid the homes of suspected terrorists, without prior approval from a judge. People suspected of financing terrorist activities could also be prosecuted.

The interior minister, rather than any judge, is empowered to suspend sentences or drop charges and release a person on trial.

When the legislature was approved in December, HRW lashed out against the Kingdom’s strive to limit freedom of speech and criticized the monarchy over its very vague definition of terrorism.

“Vague and overbroad legal provisions cannot be the basis for overriding a broad array of fundamental rights,” HRW said in a statement in December. “Saudi Arabia’s denial of the rights to participate in public affairs, and freedom of religion, peaceful assembly, association, and expression, as well as its systematic discrimination against women greatly exceed any notion of justifiable restrictions.”

Activists are worried that the law will first of all be applied to silence the liberal opposition in the country. Saudi activist Abdulaziz Al Shubaily from the Saudi Association for Civil and Political Rights (HASEM) described the law as a “catastrophe”.

“If I call for the release of someone from jail for being held longer than their sentence, I can be tried for “asking the state to take action,” Shubaily said. “When I call for a constitutional monarchy, I can now be charged with terrorism.”

“They characterize you as a terrorist because you ask the kingdom to do something it does not want to do,” he added.

HRW researcher Adam Coogle said, that the new law is “draconian in spirit and letter, and there is every reason to fear that the authorities will easily and eagerly use it against peaceful dissidents.”

Saudi women who are seen driving can now be accused of disturbing public order for defying a driving ban imposed on females and face punishment under a new law. In October last year, several images emerged online of women getting in cars and going around the city as part of a unified protest.



Edited time: November 05, 2013 08:14

A Kuwaiti woman was arrested in Saudi Arabia for driving a car while taking her diabetic father to the hospital. The arrest comes just one week after Saudi women protested the driving ban in the conservative Gulf monarchy.



The woman was driving a Chevrolet Epica with her father in the passenger seat when she was pulled over in an area located near the border with Kuwait, Saudi police told Kuwait Times newspaper.

She explained that she was taking her sick father to the hospital, but officers were unsympathetic. The woman was detained and is now being held in custody pending an investigation, police said.

The media report provided no information on whether her sick father made it to the hospital.

There are close ties between Kuwaitis and Saudis in the area, with people from both countries crossing the border on a regular basis.

However, Kuwait has surged ahead in terms of female rights. Women in the country are allowed to drive, vote, and run for political office.

In Saudi Arabia, attempted reforms from King Abdullah often face resistance from the country’s senior clergy.

Saudi woman are not allowed to drive cars, travel abroad, open a bank account, or work without permission from a male relative.

Last Saturday, a protest took place against the driving ban, which resulted in 16 female drivers being stopped by police. They were fined 300 riyals (US$80) each and forced along with their male guardians to pledge to obey the kingdom’s laws.

Activists said that more than 60 Saudi women got behind the wheel to protest the driving ban.




A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced a woman to 10 lashes for breaking the country's ban on female drivers.
The woman, identified only as Shema, was found guilty of driving in Jeddah in July.
Women2drive, which campaigns for women to be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, says she has already lodged an appeal.
In recent months, scores of women have driven vehicles in Saudi cities in an effort to put pressure on the monarchy to change the law.
The sentence comes two days after the Saudi leader King Abdullah announced women would be allowed to vote for the first time in 2015.
Two other women are due to appear in court later this year on similar charges, correspondents say.

U.S. Drone Program

Edited time: October 29, 2013 20:58

 
 

The victims of a drone strike alleged to be launched last year by the United States spoke to members of Congress on Tuesday and urged the US government to stop killing civilians with weaponized unmanned aerial vehicles.

Rafiq ur Rehman, a primary school teacher from North Waziristan, Pakistan, spoke through an interpreter on Capitol Hill on Tuesday along with his two children, ages nine and 13.

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Florida) invited Rehman to speak in Washington about the strike last October that killed Momina Bibi, his 67-year-old mother who was recognized around the region as a midwife, not a militant. Regardless, a weaponized drone purported to be under the control of the US Central Intelligence Agency executed Bibi in front of her grandchildren on Oct. 24, 2012. The US has not formally acknowledged the attack, nor taken responsibility.

«Nobody has ever told me why my mother was targeted that day,” Rehman said during the Tuesday morning panel. «All media reported three, four, five militants were killed. But only one person was killed that day. A mom, grandma, a midwife.”

“The string that holds the pearls together. That is what my mother was,” Rahman said. “Since her death, the string has been broken and life has not been the same. We feel alone and we feel lost.”

Speaking before members of Congress, Rehman thanked Rep. Grayson for the invitation and said it was reassuring that some members of the US government are willing to try and shed light on a gruesome operation rarely acknowledged publicly in Washington.

«As a teacher my job is to educate,” said Rehman. “But how can I teach this? How can I teach what I don’t understand?”

Rehman’s 12-year-old son, Zubair, told Grayson and the few congressional colleagues that joined him on the Hill Tuesday that he was with his grandmother last year when she was killed shortly after the buzzing of a drone was heard hovering above them.

«As I helped my grandma in the field, I could see and hear drone overhead but wasn’t worried because we’re not militants,” Zubair said. «I no longer like blue skies. In fact, I prefer gray skies. When sky brightens, drones return and we live in fear.”

“We used to love to play outside. But now people are afraid to leave their houses so we don’t play very often,” the boy added.

Zubair’s sister, nine-year-old Nabila, was picking okra in a field with her grandmother at the time of the attack. She testified that she heard the noise from above. “Everything was dark and I couldn’t see anything, but I heard a scream…I was very scared and all I could think of doing was just run,” she said.

The Rehman’s were joined at the hearing by Robert Greenwald, a filmmaker who has been working in Pakistan over the past several months on a project related to the ongoing US drone strikes. Testifying on his own behalf, Greenwald suggested that the ongoing operations waged by the US as an alleged counter-terrorism operation are breeding anti-American sentiment at a rate that makes Al-Qaeda jealous.

“Yes, there are 100 or 200 fanatics, but now you have 800,000 people in this area who hate the United States because of this policy,” Greenwald said. Indeed, last week a former US State Department official claimed that drone strikes in Yemen are creating dozens of new militants with each attack.

Greenwald added that the research he’s seen indicated that 178 children have been killed in Pakistan by US drone strikes. Independent studies suggest that the total number of civilians killed by unmanned aerial vehicles may be in the thousands.

“We’ve gone from being the most popular country among Pakistani to, according to the polling I’ve seen, the least popular,” Grayson said. “And if you ask people why, the reason is this program.”

Despite these numbers, though, the White House maintains that the best intelligence agencies in the world work in tandem with the mightiest military in order to gather information about targets, then order hits intended to take out extremists and cause as little collateral damage as possible.

According to Greenwald, this system is not without its flaws.

“How could we make decisions, let’s be clear about this, making decisions to clear people based on guesses?” asked Greenwald. “Guesses. No jury, no judge, no trial, no defense but because they are sitting in a certain pattern, because they’re in a certain place, an entire community of leadership has been wiped out.”

“I hope that by telling you about my village and grandmother, you realize drones are not the answer,” pleaded 12-year-old Zubair.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois) said at the hearing that she would bring up the witnesses’ plight with the White House. Grayson said that “friends of the military industrial complex” in Washington would likely keep a full discussion from occurring immediately in Washington, adding that “I don’t expect to see a formal hearing conducted on this subject anytime soon.”


Published on Oct 19, 2013

America’s deadly drone strikes are essentially above the law, and must become transparent and accountable. That’s according to the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism. Washington has so far refused to disclose details on where its unmanned aerial strikes occur, and how many civilians are killed. Let’s get some reaction and insight from journalist and former Pakistani Air Force officer, Sultan M. Hali.


Let’s also Remember the 176 children Killed by US Drones

Posted on 12/16/2012 by Juan Cole

The US government continues to rain drones down on the tribal belt of Pakistan. While the Washington narrative is that these drones are precision machines that only kill terrorists, this story is not true.

The drone program is classified, and so it cannot be publicly debated. It cannot even be acknowledged by President Obama and his cabinet members. Drones are operated by civilians and sometimes by contractors. That is, we are subcontracting assassination.
Americans who were upset that the president did not seek congressional authorization for the enforcement of the no-fly zone in Libya are apparently all right with his administration bombing Pakistan without explicit authorization (the 2001 one authorizes action against perpetrators of 9/11, not their children.). The Obama administration has declared that no judges or judicial process need be involved in just blowing away people, even American citizens.
Of the some 3000 persons killed by US drones, something like 600 have been innocent noncombatant bystanders, and of these 176 were children. In some instances the US drone operators have struck at a target, then waited for rescuers to come and struck again, which would be a war crime. Obviously, children may run in panic to the side of an injured parent, so they could get hit by the indiscriminate second strike.
We don’t know the exact circumstances of the children’s deaths because the US government won’t talk about them, indeed, denies it all.
Someone actually wrote me chiding me that the Newtown children were “not in a war zone!” Americans seem not to understand that neither is Waziristan a “war zone.” No war has been declared there, no fronts exist, no calls for evacuation of civilians from their villages have been made. They’re just living their lives, working farms and going to school. They are not Arabs, and most are not Taliban. True, some sketchy Egyptians or Libyans occasionally show up and rent out a spare room. So occasionally an American drone appears out of nowhere and blows them away.
Robert Greenwald of the Brave New Foundation explains further: (warning: graphic and not for the squeamish):


Broad Spectrum of Organizations Support ACLU Legal Fight for Transparency on U.S. Drone Program

nine organizations submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the ACLU’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking records about the CIA’s use of drones to carry out targeted killings around the world.  The organizations work on a diverse array of issues that don’t always overlap, including international human rights and rule of law, government transparency, investigative journalism, civil liberties and national security policy.  Although some of these groups seldom have occasion to collaborate, they joined together to urge the court to reject the CIA’s position that it can’t confirm whether it has a drone strike program at all.

Edited time: October 29, 2013 20:58
 
 

The victims of a drone strike alleged to be launched last year by the United States spoke to members of Congress on Tuesday and urged the US government to stop killing civilians with weaponized unmanned aerial vehicles.

Rafiq ur Rehman, a primary school teacher from North Waziristan, Pakistan, spoke through an interpreter on Capitol Hill on Tuesday along with his two children, ages nine and 13.

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Florida) invited Rehman to speak in Washington about the strike last October that killed Momina Bibi, his 67-year-old mother who was recognized around the region as a midwife, not a militant. Regardless, a weaponized drone purported to be under the control of the US Central Intelligence Agency executed Bibi in front of her grandchildren on Oct. 24, 2012. The US has not formally acknowledged the attack, nor taken responsibility.

"Nobody has ever told me why my mother was targeted that day,” Rehman said during the Tuesday morning panel. "All media reported three, four, five militants were killed. But only one person was killed that day. A mom, grandma, a midwife.”

“The string that holds the pearls together. That is what my mother was,” Rahman said. “Since her death, the string has been broken and life has not been the same. We feel alone and we feel lost.”



Speaking before members of Congress, Rehman thanked Rep. Grayson for the invitation and said it was reassuring that some members of the US government are willing to try and shed light on a gruesome operation rarely acknowledged publicly in Washington.

"As a teacher my job is to educate,” said Rehman. “But how can I teach this? How can I teach what I don’t understand?”

Rehman’s 12-year-old son, Zubair, told Grayson and the few congressional colleagues that joined him on the Hill Tuesday that he was with his grandmother last year when she was killed shortly after the buzzing of a drone was heard hovering above them.

"As I helped my grandma in the field, I could see and hear drone overhead but wasn’t worried because we’re not militants,” Zubair said. "I no longer like blue skies. In fact, I prefer gray skies. When sky brightens, drones return and we live in fear.”

“We used to love to play outside. But now people are afraid to leave their houses so we don’t play very often,” the boy added.

Zubair’s sister, nine-year-old Nabila, was picking okra in a field with her grandmother at the time of the attack. She testified that she heard the noise from above. “Everything was dark and I couldn’t see anything, but I heard a scream...I was very scared and all I could think of doing was just run,” she said.

The Rehman’s were joined at the hearing by Robert Greenwald, a filmmaker who has been working in Pakistan over the past several months on a project related to the ongoing US drone strikes. Testifying on his own behalf, Greenwald suggested that the ongoing operations waged by the US as an alleged counter-terrorism operation are breeding anti-American sentiment at a rate that makes Al-Qaeda jealous.

“Yes, there are 100 or 200 fanatics, but now you have 800,000 people in this area who hate the United States because of this policy,” Greenwald said. Indeed, last week a former US State Department official claimed that drone strikes in Yemen are creating dozens of new militants with each attack.

Greenwald added that the research he’s seen indicated that 178 children have been killed in Pakistan by US drone strikes. Independent studies suggest that the total number of civilians killed by unmanned aerial vehicles may be in the thousands.

“We’ve gone from being the most popular country among Pakistani to, according to the polling I’ve seen, the least popular,” Grayson said. “And if you ask people why, the reason is this program.”

Despite these numbers, though, the White House maintains that the best intelligence agencies in the world work in tandem with the mightiest military in order to gather information about targets, then order hits intended to take out extremists and cause as little collateral damage as possible.

According to Greenwald, this system is not without its flaws.

“How could we make decisions, let’s be clear about this, making decisions to clear people based on guesses?” asked Greenwald. “Guesses. No jury, no judge, no trial, no defense but because they are sitting in a certain pattern, because they’re in a certain place, an entire community of leadership has been wiped out.”

“I hope that by telling you about my village and grandmother, you realize drones are not the answer,” pleaded 12-year-old Zubair.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois) said at the hearing that she would bring up the witnesses’ plight with the White House. Grayson said that “friends of the military industrial complex” in Washington would likely keep a full discussion from occurring immediately in Washington, adding that “I don’t expect to see a formal hearing conducted on this subject anytime soon.”





Published on Oct 19, 2013

America's deadly drone strikes are essentially above the law, and must become transparent and accountable. That's according to the UN's special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism. Washington has so far refused to disclose details on where its unmanned aerial strikes occur, and how many civilians are killed. Let's get some reaction and insight from journalist and former Pakistani Air Force officer, Sultan M. Hali.





Let’s also Remember the 176 children Killed by US Drones


Posted on 12/16/2012 by Juan Cole
The US government continues to rain drones down on the tribal belt of Pakistan. While the Washington narrative is that these drones are precision machines that only kill terrorists, this story is not true.

The drone program is classified, and so it cannot be publicly debated. It cannot even be acknowledged by President Obama and his cabinet members. Drones are operated by civilians and sometimes by contractors. That is, we are subcontracting assassination.
Americans who were upset that the president did not seek congressional authorization for the enforcement of the no-fly zone in Libya are apparently all right with his administration bombing Pakistan without explicit authorization (the 2001 one authorizes action against perpetrators of 9/11, not their children.). The Obama administration has declared that no judges or judicial process need be involved in just blowing away people, even American citizens.
Of the some 3000 persons killed by US drones, something like 600 have been innocent noncombatant bystanders, and of these 176 were children. In some instances the US drone operators have struck at a target, then waited for rescuers to come and struck again, which would be a war crime. Obviously, children may run in panic to the side of an injured parent, so they could get hit by the indiscriminate second strike.
We don’t know the exact circumstances of the children’s deaths because the US government won’t talk about them, indeed, denies it all.
Someone actually wrote me chiding me that the Newtown children were “not in a war zone!” Americans seem not to understand that neither is Waziristan a “war zone.” No war has been declared there, no fronts exist, no calls for evacuation of civilians from their villages have been made. They’re just living their lives, working farms and going to school. They are not Arabs, and most are not Taliban. True, some sketchy Egyptians or Libyans occasionally show up and rent out a spare room. So occasionally an American drone appears out of nowhere and blows them away.
Robert Greenwald of the Brave New Foundation explains further: (warning: graphic and not for the squeamish):





Broad Spectrum of Organizations Support ACLU Legal Fight for Transparency on U.S. Drone Program


nine organizations submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the ACLU's Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking records about the CIA's use of drones to carry out targeted killings around the world.  The organizations work on a diverse array of issues that don't always overlap, including international human rights and rule of law, government transparency, investigative journalism, civil liberties and national security policy.  Although some of these groups seldom have occasion to collaborate, they joined together to urge the court to reject the CIA's position that it can't confirm whether it has a drone strike program at all.

A wanna-be authority figure who loves guns.

Nov. 18, 2013 8:00 PM EST

APOPKA, Fla. (AP) — George Zimmerman told a 911 operator that he never pulled a gun on his girlfriend, and that it was she who smashed a table at the home they shared outside Orlando.

Zimmerman said on the 911 call Monday that the girlfriend, Samantha Scheibe, also became upset when he started to leave.

Deputies didn’t buy Zimmerman’s story and charged him with aggravated assault, battery and criminal mischief.

Scheibe told deputies that Zimmerman smashed a glass table with his firearm, pointed the gun at her and shoved her out of their home after she asked him to leave.


Subject: Sign the petition

Trayvon Martin is dead, and his killer is walking free. The injustice of the situation is both palpable and maddening. There is no question that had George Zimmerman not acted as an armed vigilante almost a year and a half ago, Trayvon Martin would still be alive. But while a jury in Florida decided not to hold Zimmerman responsible for this senseless murder, the federal government can still take action. I just signed a petition telling Attorney General Eric Holder to bring civil rights charges against George Zimmerman. You should sign it, too.

http://act.credoaction.com/sign/holder_zimmerman/?sp_ref=4606908.4.272.e.1155.2&referrer_akid=8421.5084505.7-UdNY&source=mailto_sp


What being liberal or conservative has to do with condoning murder?

It is baffling that a nigger would take the position of Mr. Parks. By the way, while I do feel apprehensive about calling Mr. Parks names, because people of his kind are physically strong and prone to violence, I am assured by his statement that he would just say: «Yes, sir».

Even if one accepts that George Zimmerman was justified in profiling and stalking and confronting Trayvon Martin, end even more, if one accept that at some point Martin got the upper hand, the fact is that Zimmerman provoked the situation and at least a charge of Manslaughter is in order. Manslaughter is a legal term for the killing of a human being, in a manner considered by law as less culpable than murder. The law generally differentiates between levels of criminal culpability based on the mens rea, or state of mind; or the circumstances under which the killing occurred (mitigating factors). Manslaughter is usually broken down into two distinct categories: voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter;

Trayvon Martin is dead, and whatever verdict would no change that, but a verdict of innocence makes Zimmerman the victim and sets a dangerous precedent that it is all right to look for lethal confrontations.


ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — George Zimmerman sued NBC on Thursday, claiming he was defamed when the network edited his 911 call to police after the shooting of Trayvon Martin to make it sound like he was racist.

The former neighborhood watch volunteer filed the lawsuit seeking an undisclosed amount of money in Seminole County, outside Orlando. Also named in the complaint were three reporters covering the story for NBC or an NBC-owned television station.

The complaint said the airing of the edited call has inflicted emotional distress on Zimmerman, making him fear for his life and causing him to suffer nausea, insomnia and anxiety.



To think minorities can’t be racist against another group is very naive.

By Manuel Roig-Franzia, Tom Jackman and Darryl Fears


The Washington Post

The shooter was once a Catholic altar boy, with a surname that could have been Jewish.

His father is white, neighbors say. His mother is Peruvian. And his family is eager to point out that some of his relatives are black. The slain victim, we know, was named Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager in a hoodie.

Why are they calling him white, wondered Paul Ebert, the Prince William County commonwealth’s attorney who knew Zimmerman’s mother, Gladys, from her days as an interpreter at the county courthouse. Zimmerman’s mother, Ebert knew, was Peruvian, and he thought of her as Hispanic.

Looking at Zimmerman’s photograph made Darren Soto, a Florida state legislator, think he might be Latino.

«You have people with Anglo first and last names who speak perfect Spanish and are from Puerto Rico. And you’ve got a third- or fourth-generation Joey Gonzalez from Tampa who can’t speak a word of Spanish.»

The focus in Florida, where thousands gathered Thursday night in Sanford for an emotional rally, has primarily been on complaints that Martin, 17, may have been targeted because of his race.

In Manassas, Va., where Zimmerman lived in the 1980s and 1990s with his parents and two siblings, neighbors tended to define the family based on their spiritual profile. «Very Catholic … very religious,» their neighbor Jim Rudzenski recalled Thursday. The children attended All Saints Catholic School through the eighth grade before going to Osbourn High School. George became an altar server and evening receptionist at All Saints Catholic Church.

Strict upbringing

The father, Robert Zimmerman, is a retired military man. He could be strict. And the children’s grandmother, who lived with the family, also kept a watchful eye, said Kay Hall, who lived across the street from the Zimmermans for about 20 years. George and his siblings «didn’t play with the neighborhood kids,» Rudzenski said. «They had to stay home and play.» It was always «Yes, ma’am,» «No, ma’am,» Hall said.

Zimmerman’s life was not without difficulties. In 2001, when he was 17 or 18, he was the victim of a minor criminal assault, said Manassas police Sgt. Eddie Rivera. The city’s computer records do not provide details.

In school, Zimmerman hinted at ambitions in the business world. He joined a Future Business Leaders of America club. In his senior yearbook, he wrote: «I’m going to Florida to work with my godfather who just bought a $1 million business.»

In Florida, Zimmerman shifted his plans, enrolling in Seminole State College with hopes of becoming a law-enforcement officer. He became the self-appointed protector of the streets around his home in Retreat at Twin Lakes, a gated community, although his neighborhood-watch organization was not officially registered.

In the past eight years, he called the police department at least 46 times with reports of various sightings: open garages, suspicious people. In 2005, according to police records obtained by The Orlando Sentinel and other news organizations, Zimmerman was twice accused of either criminal misconduct or violence. He had a concealed-weapon permit and had a black Kel-Tec semiautomatic handgun and a holster the night Martin died.

Zimmerman married Shellie Nicole Dean, a licensed cosmetologist, in late 2007. The next year, he resurfaced in court documents as a credit-card company pursued him for unpaid debts.

Capital One accused Zimmerman of failing to pay more than $1,000. He settled with the company for $2,135.82, records show, to cover his debts with interest, as well as attorney and court costs. However, the credit-card company soon reported that Zimmerman wasn’t making the payments he had agreed to.

It’s unclear how Zimmerman was employed when he encountered Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26.

Teontae Ami, who also lives in the Retreat at Twin Lakes community, said very few black teens like himself live in the neighborhood. Ami, 17, said he and a close friend who is black would sit at the end of a driveway in the evening and felt uncomfortable when Zimmerman would pass them on a neighborhood patrol. They used to greet him, but he never responded, he said.

«I think he took his job too seriously,» Ami said, referring to Zimmerman’s watch patrols. A student, Ami said his friend was once confronted by Zimmerman, who accused him of stealing a bike.

«I don’t want to call it a black thing, but it sure seemed like it,» said Ami.

Another neighbor, Frank Taaffe, 55, defended Zimmerman as «not a racist.»

Taaffe, a marketing specialist who had been a watch captain with Zimmerman until December, said he may have been «overzealous, maybe,» but «his main concern is the safety and welfare of the community.»

He said Zimmerman had been doing watch patrols for about a year and was a stand-up guy. Records show Zimmerman is not the owner of the town home where he lives.

Emphasizing diversity

Zimmerman’s father has sought to emphasize his family’s diversity in hopes of saving his son from condemnation as a racist.

While images of protests from across the country skitter past on television screens, the elder Zimmerman has tried to do what others have been doing, in various ways, for days: define his son. George is «a Spanish-speaking minority,» the father wrote in a letter delivered to The Orlando Sentinel. «He would be the last to discriminate for any reason whatsoever.» George, the father insisted, was more like the boy he killed than people thought. George was a minority — the other — too.

The argument the father is making feels hollow and self-serving to Michaela Angela Davis, an African-American writer and activist who lives in New York. In her eyes, George Zimmerman’s Hispanic roots don’t give him cover.

«You being a minority doesn’t make you immune to racist beliefs,» she said in an interview Thursday. Davis sees a pervasive cultural imprint, reinforced by media and entertainment imagery: the black man as a symbol of «violence, fear and deviant behavior.» A young man could be susceptible to the influence of that image whether his «mother is from Peru or Norway.»

History of tension

Hispanics and black Americans have a shared history of discrimination in the United States. But they also have a shared history of tension in neighborhoods, schools, even prisons. In Latin America, including Peru, Afro Latinos have frequently complained of a lack of political representation, economic disenfranchisement and the virtual absence of their image in popular culture, such as soap operas, an issue they attribute to racial exclusion.

Zimmerman’s legal fate could rest on examinations of possible motives that will be pieced together from clues, including snatches of audiotape, and from inquiries into whether he muttered a racial slur before the shooting.

His family background doesn’t discount possible racial motives, said Luis Martinez-Fernandez, a professor of Latin American and Caribbean history at the University of Central Florida. Hispanics are an ethnic group, but within that group there are different races. There are black Dominicans and Cubans, for instance.

«Who is Hispanic and who’s not is not as clear as other ethnic groups,» said Martinez-Fernandez. «There’s no such thing as a Hispanic race. It has to do with origin, culture and race. Some people argue that language should be a part. All this complicates identity.»

Hispanics make up the nation’s largest ethnic group at more than 13 percent of the population, while African Americans are the largest racial group, with more than 12 percent of the population. In the 2010 Census, more than half of people who identified as Hispanic said they were white, and only 3 percent said they were black.

«There’s a sense that one group has been harmed historically more than the other,» Martinez-Fernandez said. «There’s been a history of the dominant group in power pitting one group against the other. I think we have not fought together. There have been few instances of that.»

Post staff writers Brady Dennis, Sari Horowitz and Jeremy Borden contributed to this report. Material from The Orlando Sentinel is included in this report.

Nov. 18, 2013 8:00 PM EST

APOPKA, Fla. (AP) — George Zimmerman told a 911 operator that he never pulled a gun on his girlfriend, and that it was she who smashed a table at the home they shared outside Orlando.

Zimmerman said on the 911 call Monday that the girlfriend, Samantha Scheibe, also became upset when he started to leave.

Deputies didn't buy Zimmerman's story and charged him with aggravated assault, battery and criminal mischief.

Scheibe told deputies that Zimmerman smashed a glass table with his firearm, pointed the gun at her and shoved her out of their home after she asked him to leave.





Subject: Sign the petition

Trayvon Martin is dead, and his killer is walking free. The injustice of the situation is both palpable and maddening. There is no question that had George Zimmerman not acted as an armed vigilante almost a year and a half ago, Trayvon Martin would still be alive. But while a jury in Florida decided not to hold Zimmerman responsible for this senseless murder, the federal government can still take action. I just signed a petition telling Attorney General Eric Holder to bring civil rights charges against George Zimmerman. You should sign it, too.

http://act.credoaction.com/sign/holder_zimmerman/?sp_ref=4606908.4.272.e.1155.2&referrer_akid=8421.5084505.7-UdNY&source=mailto_sp



What being liberal or conservative has to do with condoning murder?

It is baffling that a nigger would take the position of Mr. Parks. By the way, while I do feel apprehensive about calling Mr. Parks names, because people of his kind are physically strong and prone to violence, I am assured by his statement that he would just say: "Yes, sir".

Even if one accepts that George Zimmerman was justified in profiling and stalking and confronting Trayvon Martin, end even more, if one accept that at some point Martin got the upper hand, the fact is that Zimmerman provoked the situation and at least a charge of Manslaughter is in order. Manslaughter is a legal term for the killing of a human being, in a manner considered by law as less culpable than murder. The law generally differentiates between levels of criminal culpability based on the mens rea, or state of mind; or the circumstances under which the killing occurred (mitigating factors). Manslaughter is usually broken down into two distinct categories: voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter;

Trayvon Martin is dead, and whatever verdict would no change that, but a verdict of innocence makes Zimmerman the victim and sets a dangerous precedent that it is all right to look for lethal confrontations.



ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — George Zimmerman sued NBC on Thursday, claiming he was defamed when the network edited his 911 call to police after the shooting of Trayvon Martin to make it sound like he was racist.

The former neighborhood watch volunteer filed the lawsuit seeking an undisclosed amount of money in Seminole County, outside Orlando. Also named in the complaint were three reporters covering the story for NBC or an NBC-owned television station.

The complaint said the airing of the edited call has inflicted emotional distress on Zimmerman, making him fear for his life and causing him to suffer nausea, insomnia and anxiety.







To think minorities can't be racist against another group is very naive.


By Manuel Roig-Franzia, Tom Jackman and Darryl Fears


The Washington Post


The shooter was once a Catholic altar boy, with a surname that could have been Jewish.

His father is white, neighbors say. His mother is Peruvian. And his family is eager to point out that some of his relatives are black. The slain victim, we know, was named Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager in a hoodie.

Why are they calling him white, wondered Paul Ebert, the Prince William County commonwealth's attorney who knew Zimmerman's mother, Gladys, from her days as an interpreter at the county courthouse. Zimmerman's mother, Ebert knew, was Peruvian, and he thought of her as Hispanic.

Looking at Zimmerman's photograph made Darren Soto, a Florida state legislator, think he might be Latino.

"You have people with Anglo first and last names who speak perfect Spanish and are from Puerto Rico. And you've got a third- or fourth-generation Joey Gonzalez from Tampa who can't speak a word of Spanish."

The focus in Florida, where thousands gathered Thursday night in Sanford for an emotional rally, has primarily been on complaints that Martin, 17, may have been targeted because of his race.

In Manassas, Va., where Zimmerman lived in the 1980s and 1990s with his parents and two siblings, neighbors tended to define the family based on their spiritual profile. "Very Catholic ... very religious," their neighbor Jim Rudzenski recalled Thursday. The children attended All Saints Catholic School through the eighth grade before going to Osbourn High School. George became an altar server and evening receptionist at All Saints Catholic Church.

Strict upbringing

The father, Robert Zimmerman, is a retired military man. He could be strict. And the children's grandmother, who lived with the family, also kept a watchful eye, said Kay Hall, who lived across the street from the Zimmermans for about 20 years. George and his siblings "didn't play with the neighborhood kids," Rudzenski said. "They had to stay home and play." It was always "Yes, ma'am," "No, ma'am," Hall said.

Zimmerman's life was not without difficulties. In 2001, when he was 17 or 18, he was the victim of a minor criminal assault, said Manassas police Sgt. Eddie Rivera. The city's computer records do not provide details.

In school, Zimmerman hinted at ambitions in the business world. He joined a Future Business Leaders of America club. In his senior yearbook, he wrote: "I'm going to Florida to work with my godfather who just bought a $1 million business."

In Florida, Zimmerman shifted his plans, enrolling in Seminole State College with hopes of becoming a law-enforcement officer. He became the self-appointed protector of the streets around his home in Retreat at Twin Lakes, a gated community, although his neighborhood-watch organization was not officially registered.

In the past eight years, he called the police department at least 46 times with reports of various sightings: open garages, suspicious people. In 2005, according to police records obtained by The Orlando Sentinel and other news organizations, Zimmerman was twice accused of either criminal misconduct or violence. He had a concealed-weapon permit and had a black Kel-Tec semiautomatic handgun and a holster the night Martin died.

Zimmerman married Shellie Nicole Dean, a licensed cosmetologist, in late 2007. The next year, he resurfaced in court documents as a credit-card company pursued him for unpaid debts.

Capital One accused Zimmerman of failing to pay more than $1,000. He settled with the company for $2,135.82, records show, to cover his debts with interest, as well as attorney and court costs. However, the credit-card company soon reported that Zimmerman wasn't making the payments he had agreed to.

It's unclear how Zimmerman was employed when he encountered Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26.

Teontae Ami, who also lives in the Retreat at Twin Lakes community, said very few black teens like himself live in the neighborhood. Ami, 17, said he and a close friend who is black would sit at the end of a driveway in the evening and felt uncomfortable when Zimmerman would pass them on a neighborhood patrol. They used to greet him, but he never responded, he said.

"I think he took his job too seriously," Ami said, referring to Zimmerman's watch patrols. A student, Ami said his friend was once confronted by Zimmerman, who accused him of stealing a bike.

"I don't want to call it a black thing, but it sure seemed like it," said Ami.

Another neighbor, Frank Taaffe, 55, defended Zimmerman as "not a racist."

Taaffe, a marketing specialist who had been a watch captain with Zimmerman until December, said he may have been "overzealous, maybe," but "his main concern is the safety and welfare of the community."

He said Zimmerman had been doing watch patrols for about a year and was a stand-up guy. Records show Zimmerman is not the owner of the town home where he lives.

Emphasizing diversity

Zimmerman's father has sought to emphasize his family's diversity in hopes of saving his son from condemnation as a racist.

While images of protests from across the country skitter past on television screens, the elder Zimmerman has tried to do what others have been doing, in various ways, for days: define his son. George is "a Spanish-speaking minority," the father wrote in a letter delivered to The Orlando Sentinel. "He would be the last to discriminate for any reason whatsoever." George, the father insisted, was more like the boy he killed than people thought. George was a minority — the other — too.

The argument the father is making feels hollow and self-serving to Michaela Angela Davis, an African-American writer and activist who lives in New York. In her eyes, George Zimmerman's Hispanic roots don't give him cover.

"You being a minority doesn't make you immune to racist beliefs," she said in an interview Thursday. Davis sees a pervasive cultural imprint, reinforced by media and entertainment imagery: the black man as a symbol of "violence, fear and deviant behavior." A young man could be susceptible to the influence of that image whether his "mother is from Peru or Norway."

History of tension

Hispanics and black Americans have a shared history of discrimination in the United States. But they also have a shared history of tension in neighborhoods, schools, even prisons. In Latin America, including Peru, Afro Latinos have frequently complained of a lack of political representation, economic disenfranchisement and the virtual absence of their image in popular culture, such as soap operas, an issue they attribute to racial exclusion.

Zimmerman's legal fate could rest on examinations of possible motives that will be pieced together from clues, including snatches of audiotape, and from inquiries into whether he muttered a racial slur before the shooting.

His family background doesn't discount possible racial motives, said Luis Martinez-Fernandez, a professor of Latin American and Caribbean history at the University of Central Florida. Hispanics are an ethnic group, but within that group there are different races. There are black Dominicans and Cubans, for instance.

"Who is Hispanic and who's not is not as clear as other ethnic groups," said Martinez-Fernandez. "There's no such thing as a Hispanic race. It has to do with origin, culture and race. Some people argue that language should be a part. All this complicates identity."

Hispanics make up the nation's largest ethnic group at more than 13 percent of the population, while African Americans are the largest racial group, with more than 12 percent of the population. In the 2010 Census, more than half of people who identified as Hispanic said they were white, and only 3 percent said they were black.

"There's a sense that one group has been harmed historically more than the other," Martinez-Fernandez said. "There's been a history of the dominant group in power pitting one group against the other. I think we have not fought together. There have been few instances of that."



Post staff writers Brady Dennis, Sari Horowitz and Jeremy Borden contributed to this report. Material from The Orlando Sentinel is included in this report.