Backtalk, December 4, 2004

Bullies at the Airport

Yes, I had a recent such humiliating experience. My son was in ICU in Phoenix, expecting to have his 11th brain surgery. I was rushing out there from Austin with a one-way ticket since I had no idea when I would return. I had the ICU information, hospital maps, and bus routes from the hospital in my carryon. I was in tears because of my terrible worry for my child. All of this was explained at the ticket counter and again at the security check. Nonetheless, I was "selected" for scrutiny. The first agent used her wand and when my legs weren’t far enough apart for her she tapped me in the ankle bones with it. I told her I wasn’t going to take her abuse and she laughed. At this point I refused to cooperate with her and she called her supervisor and the police. They threatened me with missing my flight and insisted on finding another female screener (when they could) to search me. This one patted me down with her palms in front of all the passengers. It was awful. I am a 49-year-old woman, very thin, no bulges. I am a supervising investigator with over 17 years with the Attorney General of Texas. I had no metal whatsoever on my person, not even a zipper or snap.

When I wrote to complain, TSA told me the pat-downs are only to be used when the wand detects something, which in my case it didn’t. They also told me that passengers are to be offered privacy and that pat-downs of private areas are to be done with the back of the hand rather than the palm.

~ Judith Johnson

Mr. Paul,

I said it before and I will gladly say it again. As a wounded W.W.II U.S. Marine Corps machine-gunner, 2 years in the Pacific jungles fighting to protect America’s Constitution and Bill of Rights, and as a voting Democrat all of my adult life, I am so impressed with you that were you to run for president I would vote for you.

~ Albert C. Mezzetti

On Thanksgiving morning, my 16-year-old daughter and I were flying from Sarasota, Florida. I am 60 years old and walked through the security detectors with no problem. So did my beautiful 16-year-old daughter. But they pulled her aside, went over her with a wand about 3 times front and back. Then the smiling female TSA agent felt between and under her breasts. I went ballistic and expressed my outrage and the supervisor gave me a number to call for complaints. All this time the female TSA had a smirk on her face and essentially said too bad. I have registered my complaint with TSA. Do you have other suggestions for filing a complaint? [Readers?]

~ Michael T. Burns

Why We Fight


Your attack on Michael Moore is unfair and distorted. His reference to insurgents as "minutemen" is dated April 14, 2004, almost a month before Nick Berg’s beheading. Certainly, there are many insurgents in Iraq who have since then forfeited any right to Moore’s comparison. Who would defend the murderers of Margaret Hassan? You are correct that there are dark forces, totalitarian forces, at work in Iraq. You are also right that we strengthen those forces of darkness with every minute we extend the occupation. But your blanket generalization of all opposition groups as totalitarian and antidemocratic is also unfair, and unworthy of you.

There are moderate, even democratic, forces at work in Iraq. They get nothing but discouragement from the U.S., so naturally they too are in "opposition." Do you really believe Bush would have scheduled elections were it not for the military pressure applied by al-Sadr, playing bad cop to al-Sistani’s good? Al-Sistani had been pleading for elections for a year. The excuse was lack of a census, but elections could have been held soon after the fall of Baghdad, using food ration cards. Indeed, Garner had scheduled elections, but Bremer canceled them. Now we’re getting ready to hold them, a year and a half and tens of thousands of dead later, on the basis of those same ration cards. Even today, there are moderate voices who support the insurgency in general but condemn indiscriminate violence. …

Like slavery vs abolition in the ante-bellum republic, imperial militarism vs peace is the single most important issue facing the U.S. today. It drives most other issues before it. Taxation, the deficit, terrorist blowback and civil liberties would nearly disappear as issues were it not for our militarism and interventionism. Without the excessive military expenditures and the cost of garrisoning the entire world (not to mention the depressed wages such interventionism brings to underdeveloped countries) our labor and domestic manufacturers would be more competitive. We would have more money to spend on schools, infrastructure, health care and pensions, regardless whether those programs were run by government or privatized.

Like the Democrat/ Whig failure to address slavery, the Democrat/ Republican failure to address militarism makes a third force both necessary and more feasible than at any time since the Civil War. Unjustified cheap-shots such as the one you took at Michael Moore do nothing to encourage such a movement. …

~ Bill Rood

Mr. Raimondo,

While I agree with you most of the time, on most topics, I must take exception to the excerpt from Walter Russell Meade’s book in which he compares the neoconservative movement to Trotskyism. As a modern Trotskyist – and fan of Thomas Jefferson – I would just like to point out that the International Committee of the Fourth International, the modern Socialist heirs to Trotsky’s wealth of thought, thoroughly condemn the notions of "exporting democracy," "preemption," "military intervention," and "peacekeeping operations" abroad, since these are merely pretexts of imperialism. If a democratic revolution in any state is to occur it must arise from the working people there. International Socialists dismiss war as racist conquest and suggest that working people all over the world share this common oppression – hence the need for "internationalism" rather than "nationalism."

This in no way contradicts Jeffersonian sovereignty, but recognizes that nationalist movements tend toward the same polarized class structures they seek to overthrow. Jefferson, bad-ass revolutionary that he was, seemed to foresee this tendency as well when he warned against establishing a Supreme Court of unelected officials to lifetime appointments, as well as in his protection of states’ rights as set forth in the Kentucky Resolutions. He did not, however, confront the same corporate monster we have to contend with in this day and age, although he laid many stumbling blocks in anticipation of its arrival. Isolationism might have worked in Jefferson’s day against terrorists and tyrants alike, but I believe that Jefferson himself, who hosted the dinner at which the leading French patriots hammered out the legislative structure for their future government, was in no way a staunch isolationist so much as a democratic visionary. …

Well, take it or leave it. Keep up the reporting on the ol’ CIA for all of us who have noticed that "liberal" and "independent" media like Democracy Now and other Ford Foundation grant recipients are leaving the CIA purge and Israel spy ring stories alone.

~ Naomi Sheehan Groce

Bravo! This is the finest single essay articulating the case for peace and freedom that I have read at or anywhere else. I have collected half a dozen quotes from it for future reference.

Unlike my Democratic friends and family, I was extremely disheartened well before November 2, as it was clear to me that a profoundly wrong-headed approach to the world was going to hold sway in Washington no matter who was elected. At any rate, I am heartened that the cause of peace and personal freedom has such eloquent spokespeople as Justin Raimondo.

I know you have met your fundraising quota for this period, but I’m going to send you a check.

~ Brian Schuck

Casualties in Iraq

Iraq is safer than the United States. Our soldiers in Iraq have a lower death rate than the standard U.S.A. population. Based on National Vital Statistics Reports, Volume 53, Number 5, Abstract: "The age-adjusted death rate for the United States in 2002 was 845.3 deaths per 100,000 standard population" (latest available statistics). With approximately 130,000 troops in Iraq for 21 months, the equivalent U.S. standard population deaths would compute to: 845.3 x 130,000/100,000 x 21/12 = 1923.

~ Ernst Knolle

Sam Koritz replies:

Most soldiers are young, so they’re not representative of the standard population. Approximately 50 young Americans per 100,000 die annually due to accident, homicide and suicide. That means that if the 100,000+ soldiers hadn’t been sent to Iraq only about 100 of them would have died, rather than 1000. Life in Iraq is much more dangerous than in the United States.

FBI Audit Leaves Vital Questions Unanswered

I am starting a petition demanding the release of the IG Report, followed by a joint investigation and hearings by Congress regarding FBI wrongdoing/ accountability.

Please join me by signing this petition and disseminating it to as many people as you can (friends, family members, colleagues). Our Congress has been ignoring these issues. But let’s not give up, and let’s make these issues difficult/ impossible to ignore.

The link for this petition: …

Thank you so very much for all your support.

~ Sibel Edmonds

RT Carter’s Backtalk

We need to correct statements such as the following, wherever they appear:

"I did combat duty in Vietnam, so I have earned the right to criticize Bush policy."

Fortunately, Americans do not have to "earn" the right to criticize our government. Our Constitution guarantees that we can.

To say we have to "do combat duty" to earn our rights plays into the hands of those who are trying to keep us from speaking freely. It also supports the current fetishizing of all things military.

– Brian J. Foley

The Lying Game, Revisited


Your description of the MEK as a cult is very accurate. Your readers should use any search engine and enter: "Rajavi cult." While American feminists have praised Maryam Rajavi for being a president-elect (who voted for her?) and for the female military leaders at Camp Ashraf, Iraq, they fail to mention the mandatory wife-swapping aspect of this bizarre cult. Maryam Rajavi was married legally to someone else until she became the current leader in a wife-swapping. This is the same cult that required some of its followers to burn themselves to death in front of television cameras when the French police arrested Maryam Rajavi in 2003. On January 15, 2003, the MEK placed a full-page advertisement in the New York Times containing 6 names of the 150 members of Congress they claim signed a letter of support for them. Shortly after this advertisement appeared, American troops entered Iraq and attacked Camp Ashraf, killing large numbers of MEK fighters. Given Condoleeza Rice’s past support of neoconservatives, it is unlikely that any Democrat or Republican will even question her about whether she supports the MEK. With Condoleeza Rice as Secretary of State, the neoconservatives (or neo-Trotskyites) will be able to move forward with future endless wars.

~ Professor Paul Sheldon Foote, California State University, Fullerton

Not What You Think

Get serious, Charlie, the Middle East supplied 20% of U.S. domestic oil imports in August 2004 and that could easily rise to 28-30% when the Iraqi oil starts to flow again. If it does. Considering that Canada and some other countries can’t be relied upon to supply large amounts indefinitely, that’s hardly an insignificant amount as you are trying to portray in your article.

To your credit though, your argument of Israel’s interests being a large part of the reason for the U.S. meddling in the Middle East cannot be discounted for the reasons that you lay out in that article, but not limited to those reasons. Is it so difficult to understand that Israel’s presence in the Middle East is a guarantee of U.S. interests being protected? …

~ Don Stewart

Preemptive Strikes Will Not Disarm Iran

When Iran signed the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968, the only nuclear-capable country close to the region was the Soviet Union, a superpower. Since then it has emerged that Israel, India and Pakistan have been successfully circumventing the NPT for years. None of these countries have opened their facilities to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as Iran has done on over 200 occasions. All three could be developing more lethal nuclear weapons even as Western observers focus on Iran, ignoring the biggest offender, Israel, which has amassed a sizable arsenal. After a half-century of conflict with its immediate neighbors, Israel has now extended the scope of its hostility by leaking increasingly strident threats to bomb Iranian facilities.

The official U.S. position states that "Israeli policy is to neither confirm nor deny" possession of nuclear weapons. This oft-repeated, yet curiously meaningless declaration is deemed sufficient to balance out the aggressive, intrusive and open-ended inspections demanded of Iran.

Anti-Iranian critiques may encourage some people to reach for the panic button, but others are uncomfortably aware that the only information available on Israel’s weapons of mass destruction comes not as a result of IAEA inspections but from a former nuclear technician who has served 18 years in prison for daring to speak about his country’s clandestine weapons program.

~ Kewmars Bozorgmehr


I was stationed in Kurkook and Fallujah, Iraq during the war. I feel that your magazine leaves the side of the American soldier undefended. We were scared out of our minds! Every night someone tried to kill us, and we thought we were doing the right thing. Our mission varied, from calling air strikes on convoy attackers to flushing out KNOWN terrorists. Our enemy was very clear to us, anyone who shot at us. Is that fair? You bet.

~ Curt Diaddigo

I would like to suggest that would be a good place for a message board. In the community of those who want peace it would be helpful to be able to discuss ideas in addition to reading articles.

You do great work. Thank you for it. I’d like to communicate with others. There are many topics which could use some fleshing out.

~ Patricia Cole

Sam Koritz replies:

Click here for the Antiwar Forum.

Imagine a world where Senator Kerry, pointing to exit poll data showing him the clear winner over George Bush, claimed voting irregularities cost him the election. Now imagine Senator Kerry leading a "million voter march" on Washington DC and demanding that congress annul the election results. Then picture Kerry declaring himself "President" all to the welcoming chorus of foreign media and governments. This is exactly what is happening in Ukraine today as Europe and the U.S. attempt a well-funded and choreographed coup of the type practiced so well in Georgia and Serbia. They very well may succeed because, unlike cops in America, I doubt the Ukrainian security forces will use force even if ordered.

The truth, however, is that Ukraine is a political fiction: it is two separate countries divided by language, religion, and culture. The Ruthenian Catholic West and the Orthodox Russian East should go their separate ways. That would be real self-determination. That would be real democracy. America and the EU are determined to enforce a new imperialism complete with forced Ukrainification and virtual ethnic cleansing on the pro-Russian half of Ukraine just as the Russian Empire coerced western Ukraine in centuries past. As the CIA-funded youth organization in Ukraine says, "Enough!" Let Lvov live as Lvov wants and let Donetsk live as Donetsk wants.

~ Charles Shearer

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