‘No material breach’

Despite the advance publicity and a 90-minute multi-media snow job by Secretary of State Colin Powell, members of the United Nations Security Council remained unconvinced that war with Iraq is justified.

While most used the guarded language of diplomacy to express their concern over the U.S. drive to war with Iraq, others challenged the “evidence” Powell presented, saying much of it was based on “un-named and unknown sources” and raised the possibility that modern technology made it possible to fabricate electronic intercepts of conversations.

While every speaker called upon Iraq to cooperate fully with the inspectors, none of the 15-member council except the United States spoke of a “material breach” of UN Resolution 1441 and none threatened “consequences.”

Instead, a consensus emerged around five points, all of which can be lumped under the slogan, “Let the inspectors do their job”:

1) That the Security Council, charged by the UN Charter with maintaining peace and upholding international law, be the arena for resolving the Iraq crisis.

2) That the inspections be strengthened with additional inspectors and the most advanced technology.

3) That the United States turn over the documentation backing its charges of Iraq’s “denial and deceit,” and that all countries make their intelligence available to UN inspectors

4) That every effort be made to settle the crisis by peaceful means.

5) That inspections are working and the process should not be short-circuited by artificial deadlines. (Resolution 1441 has none.)

The meeting of the Security Council is a boost to efforts by the United for Peace and Justice Coalition to build the Feb. 15 “The World Says No to War” demonstration in New York City. A turnout of hundreds of thousands is the best contribution the American people can make toward a peaceful solution to the Iraq crisis.

We may not have elected George Bush but it’s our job to help keep him under control.

Defeat Estrada

George W. Bush has nominated right-wing ideologue Miguel Estrada for a judgeship on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for D.C. If Estrada is confirmed by the Senate, he will be a candidate for one of the next open seats on the Supreme Court.

Estrada is a member of the law firm that represented Bush in the Supreme Court’s outrageous ruling that put Bush in the White House. Estrada refused to answer questions by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He claimed he has not read the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortions. Estrada’s nomination was approved in the Committee by a razor thin margin of one.

Latino, labor and other groups are urging the Senate to reject this nomination. Among them are the Hispanic Congressional Caucus, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, United Farm Workers, National Council of La Raza, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Educational Fund (PRLDEF).

Estrada’s colleagues say he “has extreme views … outside the mainstream,” the PRLDEF report charged adding that Estrada has a “clear lack of any connection whatsoever to the issues, needs and concerns” of the Latino community.

MALDEF said that they could not believe that Estrada “would be fair to Latino litigants and their interests on a number of critically important issues.” MALDEF has questioned Estrada’s commitment to protecting individual rights against police abuse.

We support the demand for more Latinos representation on the judiciary. Latinos comprise 12.7 percent of the U.S. population but only 3.7 percent of federal judges. However, Estrada’s nomination is bad for Latinos, the working class, democratic rights and the country, just as Clarence Thomas’ nomination to the Supreme Court set back democratic rights.

The Senate should reject Estrada. We support the call for a Senate filibuster to block his confirmation.