Dear Mr. President

Amnesty in Gaza
January 30, 2009, 8:43 pm
Filed under: Israel, justice, news, Obama, Palestine, peace, politics, U.S.A., United Nations, war | Tags: , , ,

Dear Mr. President, I just sent a message to Secretary of State Clinton and Ambassador Rice from Amnesty International. The letter, which I have appended to this, is pretty long-winded. What I’d like to say is that, while we continue to support Israel in its very real struggle for survival, we need to recognize that Hamas is not going to disappear. It is the legitimately elected government of Gaza, eyeless or not. And in order to help the people of Gaza, who have just been through hell, we need to work with Hamas. So let’s do it.

Here’s the letter from Amnesty:

“Now that the fighting between Israel and Hamas has largely ceased after their declaration of separate ceasefires, the true scale of devastation wrought on civilians in Gaza is becoming increasingly evident. Our researchers in Gaza and southern Israel have this week found first hand evidence of war crimes and other serious violations of international law by the parties to the conflict, including possible crimes against humanity, as well as abuses of human rights. Amnesty International believes that long-term peace and security cannot be found in the Middle East unless accountability is established for crimes under international law. The United Nations Secretary-General has already called for an urgent, impartial investigation into the shelling of UNWRA schools, including with the use of White Phosphorus munitions, and other attacks on UN buildings and personnel in Gaza. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon recently briefed the Security Council on his return from Gaza and emphasized: “where civilians have been killed and there are allegations of violations of international humanitarian law, there should be thorough investigations, full explanations and, where it is required, accountability.” In adopting resolution 1860 (2009), the Security Council called for a ceasefire, for the unimpeded provision of humanitarian assistance and the re-opening of crossing points into Gaza. But the Security Council failed to address the question of accountability. Amnesty International believes this is critical—that those who have committed possible war crimes should not be given impunity. Considering the mutual recriminations that may affect the impartiality of national investigations, and the poor record of investigations by Israel into violations by its forces, Amnesty International urges the US to support the establishment of a comprehensive independent international inquiry – set up by the UN Security Council – into all allegations of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law by Israel, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups participating in the conflict. An international fact-finding team of qualified experts should carry out its investigations on the basis of the highest international standards. It must have powers to gain access to all relevant documents, other evidence and persons, and its report and findings must be public so that follow-action can be taken. As Israeli attacks in Gaza have used US made weapons, the US must not fail to respond to domestic and worldwide expressions of concern that international humanitarian and human rights law must be upheld in Gaza, that accountability for violations be established and that the perpetrators are brought to justice. For more information, please see Amnesty International’s latest report: The conflict in Gaza: A briefing on applicable law, investigations and accountability (, which we hope you will find helpful in your further consideration of the grave situation in Gaza. Thank you for your prompt attention to this urgent matter. ”

Sincerely, Margaret Sacht


The Last Day: The Sorrows
January 19, 2009, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Bush, children, crime, death, election, ethics, Iraq, justice, news, Obama, peace, politics, U.S.A., war | Tags: , , , ,
Dear Mr. President,
     Today is your last full day as President of the United States, and this will be my last letter to you.   Consequently, I wanted to be conciliatory.  I wanted to find something good you had done and praise you. 
    Unfortunately there isn’t much to praise, but a great deal to mourn.   . 
     And yet you seem honestly to believe  you have done a fine job..  You seem to believe you have stuck to your beliefs, and that may be true.  You seem to believe that you have acted honestly, and that, too may be true.  But Mr. President, history is replete with tyrants who believed in what they were doing.  It is this very belief that has blinded you to the evil you have committed. 
       You have done those things which you ought not to have done; you have left undone those things which you ought to have done.  This is the human condition.  We are all of us sinners.  It’s just that your great power has made your sins the greater.  
 A picture is worth a thousand words.



No one died when Clinton lied

No one died when Clinton lied

 I do not wish you great unhappiness, Sir, but look at these faces.  Think of what you have done that you should have left undone.  The evil you have done will live after you.   These children of our land and the thousands of other children will not.

    So I end our correspondence as sadly as I began it, over two years and over 600 letters ago, wishing it were otherwise.   And yet, perhaps there is one bit of praise I can utter, all going well tomorrow:  That nothing in your tenure in office became you like the leaving of it.
Sincerely, VNV

Two Days: The Prisons, The Torture, The Trials
Dear Mr. President,
     It was under your watch that, for the first time in history, America openly tortured prisoners of war.  Yes.  That’s what we did.  It was torture.  We tortured.  No matter how often you say “We do not torture,” we have tortured.  
     From the very beginning of our “war on terror” we have done this.  We have incarcerated hundreds of people, calling them enemy combatants.  We have imprisoned them at Guantanamo.  We have imprisoned them at Abu Ghraib.  We have allowed them to be “exported” – “outsourced”, so to speak, to countries that are even less squeamish about torture than we are. 
     We have imprisoned hundreds of people  without the possibility of a writ of habeas corpus.   We have denied these people access to legal representation.  We have held them without charge, many of them for years and years.  We have imprisoned and tortured youngsters aged 14, including one lad who now, after 6 years, should soon be finally released. 
     You are saying that we cannot release those prisoners still left in Guantánamo because a) no one will take them and b) they may upon release turn against our country (as who could blame them?). 
    Mr. President, we can’t keep people in prison because they might commit crimes upon being released.  We don’t get to do that.  We only get to keep people in prison if they are found guilty of having committed crimes.  Only if there is evidence of their having committed crimes are we allowed to punish them.  If people are accused of having committed crimes, then they must be brought to trial and the evidence of their guilt must be shown.  This is what is called justice.  this is what is known as “innocent until proven guilty”, a great Anglo-Saxon tenent.
     You have broken with this idea of justice.  You have set yourself beyond the law.  Even in those cases in which there have been trials, such as the case of Saddam Husssein, there has been no justice.  His trial was a farce; his hanging was a lynching.  And what has happened to those other members of his government who have just sort of disappeared?  How is Tarak Aziz doing, for example?
     And what is happening to the thousands of other prisoners in our prisons in Afghanistan and Iraq?  Are they “enjoying due process”?  What about those in the prisons of the “fledgling democracies” themselves?
     Mr. President, you have made a mockery of the law.  You have condoned illegal imprisonment and torture.  You have demolished our Constitution.
     You have made cruel punishment usual.  You have denied a writ of habeas corpus.   In America we live by the law, but you have set yourself beyond the law.
    You have, in fact, made yourself an outlaw, deserving of arrest and trial and, the evidence being pretty evident, punishment.   It is my hope that, once your “reign” is over, you will be brought to justice.
     Sincerely, VNV

Four Days: The “Patriot Act” and the Abuse of Language
Dear Mr. President,
   The “Patriot Act”??  The very name is appalling.  What  does it mean?  An Act of Patriotism?
An Act for Patriots?  A Patriotic Act?  And then the questions:  Is it
“patriotic” to suspend habeas corpus for suspected terrorists?  Is it
patriotic to invade the privacy of people accused of no crime?  Are searches
and seizures patriotic?  Is profiling patriotic?  Is creating a thicket of
Kafka-like bureaucracy around every section of financial reporting whilst
ignoring any sensible regulation patriotic?
     Of course not.  Calling something a “Patriot Act” does not make it patriotic.  Nor does it change its unconstitutionality.  It is merely typical for the use of language in your administration.  “The Patriotic Act,”  the “Clean Air Act”,”Homeland Security”:  All tendentious misnomers. 
    Who but you would call an Act allowing for more air pollution on the part of industry the “Clean Air” act?
Who else would call wounded soldiers “warriors”?  “Warriors” we had under
the Vikings maybe.  We didn’t call soldiers in World War II “warriors”.
The people who did that had another name.  They were Fascists, Nazis.  The
Nazis spoke of Krieger – warriors.  The Nazis spoke of “Homeland”in the sense of “Blut und Boden”.  We used to call it “national”.  National Security.  Not “Homeland Security”.
     So today I fault not only your unconstitutional Acts, I fault your
lying language.  Your “New Speak”.  Your plain and simple propaganda.
Goebbels had nothing on you, Sir.  Now there was a man after your own heart.
A man who made tough decisions and stood by them.  And past-master in
language manipulation:   “Wollt Ihr den totallen Krieg?” he asked, and
thousands shouted “Ja”.
     It comes down to your use of “Good” and “Evil”.  I quote your Farewell
Address:   “I have often spoken to you about good and evil, and this has
made some uncomfortable.  But good and evil are present in this world, and
between the two there can be no compromise.  Murdering the innocent to
advance an ideology is wrong every time, everywhere.”
    Now that is true.  And that makes you, by your own definition, clearly evil.

Sincerely, VNV

One More Week
Dear Mr. President,
    Just think!  A week from today at this time, you will no longer be President!  Isn’t that wonderful?  You will no longer have the power to undermine the Constitution.  You will no longer be able to incite wars with your  prevarications.  You will no longer be able to pass judgments that end in death and destruction. You will no longer be able to authorize renditions of prisoners to countries that torture – and you will no longer be able to condone torture of our Prisoners of War.
    What a relief!  You must be very happy, Sir, finally to be able to cease sinning against God and humankind!
Sincerely, VNV

Merry Christmas
December 24, 2008, 10:00 pm
Filed under: Bush, Germany, justice, news, politics, U.S.A. | Tags: , , ,

Dear Mr. President, Over here in Germany, we celebrate Christmas on the 24th, so I’ll already send you good wishes for a MERRY CHRISTMAS – and for a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Yes,Happy New Year, because I probably won’t be writing again this year. Today we celebrate Christmas in Germany, and then tomorrow, because I am an American, we celebrate American Christmas with the whole family here, and then …..then I go home to California for a real, belated American Christmas with my mother, who will be 95 this year.

So I will be wishing that your Christmas is as happy and peaceful as may be, and I will be wishing this for everyone on our beautiful and yet benighted planet. I’ll be wishing this for AIDS orphans, for cholera sufferers, for the lonely parents of suicide bombers, for the lonely children of their victims,and well, just for everyone.

If wishes were horses…So maybe I’ll try to pray some, too. And I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers as well: You have committed horrible acts of treason and treachery, and yet I am sure your motives were at least partly good. Your intentions, let us say.    You are sort of the antithesis of Mephisto in Goethe’s Faust, who “stets das Böse will und stets das Gute schafft.”   (who always wishes to do evil and always ends up doing good.)

 Thus, I hope that, in the long order of the world, your evil may turn to good, for us and for you. In this sense, I also wish you a HAPPY NEW YEAR, with all the joys of no longer ordering death and destruction. May the Lord watch between me and thee…whilst we are absent, one from the other.

Sincerely, VNV

Free Muntadhar al-Zaidi!
December 16, 2008, 6:12 am
Filed under: Bush, Iraq, justice, news, peace, politics, prisoners, U.S.A., war | Tags: , , , ,

Dear Mr. President,
    I hear they are still holding al-Zaidi in Iraqi jail.  What are they
going to charge him with?  Don’t they have to charge him pretty soon or let
him go on a writ of habeas corpus?   Surely Iraq allows for habeas corpus.  Didn’t we make their democracy in our image? 

They can’t really charge him with disturbing the peace, for
there is no peace.
      I suppose you yourself could press charges, for assault with an
undeadly weapon.  Or rather, weapons.  After all, al-Zaidi used TWO shoes.
WMH:  weapons of massive humiliation.    
      But seriously, Mr. President,  I think you should announce publically that  you are not pressing charges, unless you are courting further humiliation.    I think that Muntadhar al-Zaidi made one last, desperate , honorable attempt to draw the world’s attention to the infamy of the invasion and occupation of his country.  I think his action was perfectly justified.   In fact, I think it was the least he could do.

Sincerely, VNV