Liar, liar

Where is the outrage? Where are the calls for a special prosecutor? The current president, and all of his men and women, have perpetrated a colossal fraud. They told lie after lie to justify their war on Iraq. With over 500 U.S. soldiers and thousands of Iraqi people dead, billions of dollars spent, a country destroyed and under occupation, the American people – indeed the world – demand accountability.

Former top U.S. weapons inspector David Kay now says that no large stockpiles of WMDs will ever be found in Iraq because they never existed. Kay’s carefully constructed statement places the blame on the CIA, but that won’t wash.

Thirteen of the top 20 newspapers, including papers that supported the war, have felt compelled to call for probes. Many have questioned the White House role in “cooking” the intelligence to fit its own narrow agenda. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) has called for an independent commission to investigate – not just the Senate Intelligence Committee query.

Daniel Ellsberg, a Kennedy-Johnson-Nixon official who leaked the Pentagon Papers exposing the Vietnam War lies, has made a patriotic plea to other similarly placed officials to come forward with documents on Iraq.

“I have no doubt that there are thousands of pages of documents in safes in London and Washington right now – the Pentagon Papers of Iraq – whose unauthorized revelation would drastically alter the public discourse on whether we should continue sending our children to die in Iraq,” he wrote.

However important these developments are, they are not enough. The corporate media “embedded” with this administration will cooperate in the cover-up. It will take the action of thousands and thousands of people to pressure their representatives to set up an independent investigation. Lies less than this resulted in the impeachment of one president and the resignation of another. This is bigger than Watergate and certainly bigger than Monica Lewinsky.

“Bush lied, thousands died,” as the slogan goes. The American people have a responsibility to end this outrage.

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Ban the death penalty!

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Jan. 26 to review a Missouri court decision that the death sentence handed down against a man who was a juvenile when he murdered a woman in 1993 is unconstitutional.

The high court ruled 6-3 in 2002 to ban executions of the mentally ill or retarded. In 2003 they banned executions of those who were younger than 16 when they committed their crime. In that case, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that “the practice of executing such offenders is a relic of the past and is inconsistent with evolving standards of decency in a civilized world.” Three other justices concurred.

Now the justices may be poised to extend that ban to all those younger than 18. At this writing, there are 74 inmates on death row nationwide who were juveniles at the time of the crimes for which they were convicted. Of those, 26 are on death row in Texas.

Capital punishment is the most extreme form of class justice, or more accurately, injustice. Every survey shows that it is inflicted on poor and working-class people and on African Americans, Latinos, and other racially and nationally oppressed peoples and almost never on the wealthy.

As he was leaving office a year ago, Illinois Gov. George Ryan commuted the death sentences of 167 inmates on death row and pardoned four others because so many innocent people had been wrongfully convicted. The Illinois Supreme Court recently upheld Ryan’s legal authority to stay all those executions. We may be witnessing the step-by-step abolition of the death penalty despite the fanatical zeal of Attorney General John Ashcroft, and his boss, George W. Bush, to expand the use of this “cruel and unusual” punishment. As Texas governor, Bush executed more people than any other public official in the U.S., and perhaps even in the world. It’s another reason to send him packing next Nov. 2.

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