SF School Officials Question Recruiting Tactics

SF School Officials Question Recruiting Tactics

May 21, 2005

Critics of military recruiting tactics are calling for more action after a one day stand down that was prompted by reports of serious improprieties by recruiters.

Sandra Schwartz of the group American Friends Service Committee, Peace Education Program stood outside a military recruiting station in San Francisco Friday to focus attention on the recruiting tactics.

According to KCBS reporter George Harris Schwartz called for a change in culture not just a one day stand down to reinforce proper conduct in signing up young people to serve their country. “Truth in advertising really kind of nails it on the head that people need to know that it's not great opportunity to travel,” she said.

Dr. Dan Kelly a commissioner on the San Francisco Board of Education says since the No Child Left Behind Act, military recruiters have access to high school senior's private information; name, date of birth, phone number unless the student signs a card of confidentiality. “We are again receiving complaints from students about aggressive attempts to contact them. To stop them in the halls, to call them at home, and to seek them to entice them to join the military,” he said.

Recruiters have complained about the pressures they face in meeting enlistment goals as casualty figures increase in Iraq.

Major General Michael Rochelle the commander of the U.S. Army recruiting command says seven cases of alleged abuse are being investigated. “They generally fall in the area of pre-qualification, drug use, high school degree,” he said.

The recruiter improprieties include reports of showing young men and woman how to obtain a fake high school diploma and beat drug tests.


G u s h S h a l o m - pob 3322,
Tel-Aviv 61033,
עברית בהמשך


This week, the Israeli police showed that it is able to clear blocked roads without opening fire, without killing or even wounding one single person.

Even when all the main roads throughout the country were blocked simultaneously by thousands of settlers in an organized and well-planned operation.

Even then, the Israeli police was capable of opening all the blocked roads within one hour, without opening fire even once.

All due respect! Unfortunately, this discovery came five years too late for the 13 Arab citizens of Israel who were shot to death by Israeli policemen who argued that "there was no other way to open the blocked roads."

G u s h S h a l o m ad in Ha'aretz, May 20, 2005

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dao marriage

Chinese characters for "marriage"

young woman sits in chair, hand over right eye two fingers

Wall of flames, bridge of tears.
Snowflake on newly forged links.

For a marriage to last, a couple must go through great travails and hardships. It is like a process of forging steel links together. The iron must be heated to a high degree and then plunged into cold water. A marriage alternates between the heat of passion and love and the chilling times of tragedy, conflict, and adversity. An enduring marriage becomes like tempered steel.

It is difficult to go through life alone. We all need support and the sense of belonging that comes from working toward goals shared with another. For such a relationship to work, there must be a basic compatibility of values, outlook, and purpose. It is an inadequate cliche that spouses must be friends as well as lovers. Two mates can know a loyalty found in no other type of relationship. Yet even in the face of such strength, Tao reminds us of the need for moderation.

Ultimately, all relationships are temporary. False attachment to another can become an addiction, a voluntary bondage detrimental to clear perception. We should no bind another to ourselves, should not define ourselves by our marriage, should not force another to stay with us. But if chance allows us to walk together, who is anyone to challenge our choice of walking companions?

When it is time to part, then it is time to part. There should be no regrets. The beauty of marriage is like the fleeting perfection of a snowflake.


365 Tao
Daily Meditations
Deng Ming-Dao
ISBN: 0-06-250223-9

"Instantaneous Static"
Yang Feiyun 1990
Oil on canvas 34" x 30"


Yang Feiyun was born in 1954 in Baoton, Innermongolia. Yang came to Beijing to study art and graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1982. He then became a lecturer in the Department of Design at the Central Academy of Drama. In 1984 he was appointed lecturer in the Oil Painting department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts and is currently an Associate Professor there. Since the 1980s he has also traveled extensively showing his work in over twenty exhibitions world-wide including; the "Japan Exhibition of Asian Art," Bangladesh, 1986," the "Invitational Exhibition of Eight Famous Artists," Guilin, 1987, "Contemporary Oil Paintings from the People's Republic of China," Harkness House, New York, 1987, the "Seventh National Fine Arts Exhibition, Beijing," 1989 and the "'91 Biennial of Chinese Oil Painting." In addition to winning numerous awards, his paintings are included in the collections of the Chinese National Gallery and the Gallery of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, as well as the Fushan Museum, Japan.

Stanford Studies on Daoism

Definition of "Daoism"

"Daoist" religious groups (often rebellious or millenarian movements) emerged in varied forms in each dynasty. Because of its "naturalistic" and anti-authoritarian ethos, the term could encompass virtually any "local" religion with its familiar natural "Gods." The result is that Daoism an essentially malleable concept. Creel's famous question "What is Taoism?" remains as difficult as ever.

We will not attempt to settle that larger controversy, but will focus on the less controversial contrast between philosophical and religious Daoism. Even focusing only on philosophical Daoism invites enough controversy. Those who speak of it often identify Daoist philosophy with metaphysical monism or mysticism and contrast that with practical or political thought. For our purposes, we will refer to Daoist philosophy using our own distinction between ‘philosophy’ and ‘religion’ and use ‘philosophy’ to embrace both metaphysics and ethical-political thought particularly when marked by second-level reflection -- thinking about thinking.

Although we treat Laozi and Zhuangzi as the exemplars of ‘Daoism,’ the use of Lao-Zhuang to identify a strain of thought may have become common only as late as Neo-Daoism. Not only is it true that "Zhuangzi never knew he was a Daoist", he also didn't know he was "following" Laozi. The reasons for denying that Zhuangzi had heard of Laozi or the Daode Jing are stronger than for believing it. However, albeit without the name, writers responsible for later chapters of the Zhuangzi itself recognized an affinity between the two texts. A large chunk of the "outer" chapters use the character of Laozi as spokesman and often echo the style and attitudes of (though not quotations from) the Daode Jing. Common themes, tropes and modes of expression seem to link the authors of the outer chapters with Daode Jing. One plausible speculation is that anonymous students of the Zhuangzi, working after his death, were "developing" the text while in contact with the group anonymously composing the Daode Jing. They shaped each other's themes, expressions and ideas.

a reading list of books and interpretations of the Daodejing is available at
for a meditation sent to your email address each day, please write
‘subscribe tao’ in the subject line and send to lisbeth at duckdaotsu


dao scholasticism

Chinese characters for "scholasticism"

woman stands against backdrop, play with light and shadow

Ocean inside a skull-cup,

Seeking the universal code in letters.
The mind is like a flower on icy water:
An eye within the petals.

The intellect is one of the thorniest problems for a spiritual aspirant. One cannot do without it—indeed, it is essential—and yet one cannot allow it to remain totally dominant. The intellect must be fully developed before it is brought to a point of neutrality. Unless this is done, it will act as a block, and there will not be any ultimate spiritual success.

Scholarship is thus an important first step. Education is a means of gaining access to the conventional world, of satisfying our curiosity, and of avoiding superstitious tendencies. There can be no talk of delving into philosophical mysteries if one has not even satisfied one’s curiosity about nature, civilization, mathematics, and language. But once mental cultivation is achieved, one must focus increasingly on a part of the mind that is far beyond the scholarly.

The intellect uses discrimination, categorization, and dualistic distinctions in highly sophisticated ways. By contrast, spiritual contemplation involves no discrimination, no categorization, and no dualism, so it has very little need for scholasticism. It is pure action that requires the totality of our inner beings. It needs pure involvement, not mere study. The proper use of the intellect is to give it free play, develop it to an extraordinary degree, and yet to leave it behind when spiritual action is required. A sage knows how to balance and combine both.


365 Tao
Daily Meditations
Deng Ming-Dao
ISBN: 0-06-250223-9

Kuang Jian 2000
Oil on canvas 56" x 42"

Kuang Jian
Kuang Jian was born in 1961 in Hefei City, Anhui province. He began studying art privately in 1974 and in 1979 was accepted into the Academy of Arts of the People's Liberation Army, Beijing. Since his graduation in 1983 he has been an art director for the Army Day Movie Studio, Beijing. He was awarded the Bronze prize at the Seventh National Exhibition in 1989 and has participated in shows in Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and Germany. He currently resides in Beijing.

Inventory #: KJ-0005
© Kuang Jian license one time use only

Stanford Studies on Daoism

Definition of "Daoism"

A clear definition of Daoism is difficult because of the complex twists in its development as it played its role in the long history of China. Even the coining of the term creates ambiguity about what to count as its doctrine. Three to seven centuries after they were supposed to have lived, Han dynasty (around 100 BC) historians named six schools of classical thought -- Confucian, Mohist, Yin-yang, Legalist, Daoist and school of names. They coined the term dao-jia (way-school) or (dao-de jia) (way and virtue school) and came to identify Laozi and Zhuangzi as paradigms of the study of dao way.

"Legalist" and Huang-Lao thought were at the time dominating intellectual life. The historians who coined the term "Daoism" were probably thinking of Huang-Lao content when they introduced the term, but they came to fix its reference by pointing to Lao-Zhuang as the originating zi philosopher:master of the school. So the operative definition of Daoism was "what Laozi and Zhuangzi taught." Other early Han writers cribbed and copied from the original texts but, under Huang-Lao influence, exhibited little further philosophical reflection. The products of this "recovery" have also come to be thought of as Daoist texts and include the Huinanzi (around 140 BC) and the Liezi (Fourth Century AD).

During the early Han, Confucianism became the official orthodoxy. Superstitious cosmological speculation (five-phase theory and portentology) dominated Han thought and the intellectual lives of Chinese thinkers for four centuries. When the Han declined, Confucianism lost much of its grip and intellectuals turned to Lao-Zhuang for inspiration -- but now read through cosmological lenses. Western scholars identify this movement as Neo-Daoist but since it fixed the enduring forms of a "traditional text" and provided the first systematic commentaries, their cosmological conception has come to dominate the Chinese view of Daoism. The Neo-Daoist movement also coincided with the initial spread of Buddhism in China. Neo-Daoist discourse practices helped introduce Buddhist ideas into China and Daoism heavily influenced distinctively Chinese forms of Buddhism, particularly Chan (Zen). This development blended the content of the two religious doctrines in the intellectual consciousness so much that Neo-Confucians eventually took them to be essentially similar religious-metaphysical outlooks.

a reading list of books and interpretations of the Daodejing is available at
for a meditation sent to your email address each day, please write
‘subscribe tao’ in the subject line and send to lisbeth at duckdaotsu



Several attempts were made to find information about yesterday's discussion and final approval of HR1815. What a wonderful trip down the information highway! So nice to go to our "accessible" website at dot gov and find that, for some reason, the audio would not be broadcast for the actual hearings. The best download I could get was, of course, a PDF on spending to keep the war machine gears grinding up and spitting out human flesh.

A phone call was made to the folks who have our eyes and ears, Center on Conscience and War (NISBCO). I spoke with Theo, now a lobbyist for the Center who acknowledged that "open" hearings can be described as "five chairs were available." (Kinda reminds me of the "40 acres and a mule" or the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868...)


There WAS discussion of the amendment to the bill, as many of the members of the Senate Armed Services Committee heard from you, the constituent! and brought up some discussion about it. Of course it did not pass. The good news is that Snyder (D-AK) called for a congressional hearing on recruitment deception and there will be follow up in the following weeks and months.

A CALL IS OUT1 for individuals (that are not sent from the Pentagon) who are willing to testify about recruitment claims and are able to back up their testimony. A young man from Arvada, Colorado High School by the name of David McSwane immediately comes to mind (see HOW FAR WILL THE ARMY GO? on the duckdaotsu website or Student Sting Shows Extent of Recruiter's Push-to-Enlist Tactics on duckdaotsu blog).

Another excellent example of verifiable recruitment HELL can be found in an award-winning article by none other than duckdaotsu's dear friend, Becky Oberg. FULL METAL STRAIT JACKET will have you seething and give you a glimpse into the real world of the Army Boot Camp and the tactics used on recruits once they are in and training. You may remember Oberg as the journalist who recorded BRANDON HUGHEY crossing of the Canadian border in The Expatriate. Hughey is expected to attend his immigration hearing later this month, while Jeremy Hinzman awaits appeal on the decision from the officials at his hearing.

It ain't over folks. Keep pacifist resistance while storming those recruitment offices, questioning the rights of recruiters on your campus, and above all, keep your eyes on the prize.

Thousands of lives depend on it.

1 If you can give testimony or want to contact the Center on Conscience and War about the hearing, you can reach them at
Center on Conscience & War
1830 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20009
Ph: 202-483-2220
Fax: 202-483-1246 or
email them at NISBCO

duckdaotsu reviews the recruiters


Official Response to Announcement of $1 million Bounty and the
Listing of ASSATA SHAKUR on Domestic Terrorist Watch List

On May 2nd the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New Jersey Troopers publicly announced a $1 million bounty for the capture of Assata Shakur. May 2nd also marked the 32nd anniversary of the fatal shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike that resulted in the deaths Trooper Werner Foerster and Zayd Shakur, and left Assata Shakur and Sundiata Acoli wounded.

Assata and Sundiata were both tried and convicted in separate trials for the deaths of Werner Foerster and Zayd Shakur.

For more than three decades the FBI has attempted to demonize Assata Shakur. She is a mother and grandmother, author and artist. She is politically astute and intellectually sharp. She is warm, humble and spiritual.

Years ago, the FBI labeled Assata "the heart and soul of the Black Liberation Army". They issued all sorts of defamatory statements about her. As a result she was hunted like an animal by law enforcement agencies all over the country, as were many other Black Panther Party and BLA members.

She has been used by the FBI as a symbol in various ways to further their political objectives. Convicted of murder for the death of a New Jersey State Trooper in 1977, Assata has been living in exile in Cuba. She is not convicted for any other incident or crime. In 1998 the New Jersey Troopers petitioned Pope John Paul II as he prepared for his historic visit to Cuba and meeting with President Fidel Castro. They wanted him to pressure President Castro to return Assata to the United States. The Pope flatly turned down their request but did advise then President Clinton that the United States needed to end the senseless and inhumane blockade against Cuba.

For years the New Jersey Troopers have held an annual commemoration ceremony for Trooper Werner Foerster in early May. Each year the local New Jersey papers print several stories about the events of May 2, 1973 that took place on the New Jersey Turnpike. Periodically various New Jersey officials have issued different statements sometimes accusing Assata and at other times accusing her co-defendant, Sundiata Acoli, of killing Foerster.

Former New Jersey Governor, Christie Todd Whitman, curried political favor with the state's police when she announced a bounty of $25,000 for Assata and later doubled it to $50,000. She was duly rewarded by President Bush who appointed her in 2001 to be the head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The bounty was quietly increased by the FBI to a million dollars as it crept around the country looking for relatives, friends and associates to enlist in its scheme to kidnap Assata and return her to the United States.

Time and time again, the FBI offered them a million dollars for their services. To some, they stated that there was no limit to how much they would pay for Assata's return.

The obsession shared by the New Jersey State Troopers and the FBI for Assata is highly unusual unless you examine the larger political picture and international affairs.

Since the victorious Cuban Revolution in 1959, the United States has engaged in an ongoing campaign to assassinate President Castro and overthrow the Cuban government. No fewer than 23 assassination attempts have been documented. Then in 1961 the failed Bay of Pigs attempt by President John F. Kennedy to invade and overthrow President Castro brought international embarrassment to the United States. The Bay of Pigs debacle was one of many government attempts to use and bow to the wishes of the powerful Miami based Cuban exile community. This is the same power base that Florida Governor Jeb Bush answers to and his brother, George W., is beholden to for the 2000 and 2004 "election" results.

Since the rise to power of Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez in 1998, the United States has greedily watched as political links developed between Cuba and Venezuela.

What does Venezuela have that the United States wants? Oil! What does Cuba have that the United States wants? It occupies a strategic geographic location that would enable the United States to militarily control the Caribbean. Of course Cuba also has the tenacity to show the people of the world that there is another way to exist. It is possible for education and health care to be guaranteed to every citizen. It is possible for every citizen to have a home and most importantly, hope for the future. It is a sovereign nation with the right to grant asylum whenever it sees fit. Equally important is that the majority of the Cuban population is of African descent.

The significance of this fact is not lost on the other Third World nations around the globe.

The United States' CIA has boldly intervened in Venezuelan affairs and aided in the failed coup there in 2002. Bitter to admit defeat, the United States continued to look for ways to provoke a confrontation with President Chavez. They found it in Luis Posada Carriles.

In fact, Posada provides Bush with a two for one shot at Chavez and Castro. For many years Posada has been a CIA operative. He is wanted in Venezuela for his role in the 1976 shoot down of a Cuban airliner that killed 73 civilians including the national fencing team. He escaped from prison there.

In 1998 he claimed responsibility for planning attacks on various Cuban establishments including the 1997 bombing of a tourist hotel that resulted in the death of an Italian tourist and the wounding of 11 others. In 2000 Posada was arrested in Panama for plotting to murder President Castro during the Ibero-American summit being held in that country. He was convicted and sentenced to eight years.

In November 2004, the outgoing Panamanian President, Mireya Moscoso, pardoned Posada allegedly in exchange for $4 million paid by a Cuban American. Money talked and Posada walked, disappearing from public view for several months. In March 2005, he surfaced in Miami. His lawyer, Eduardo Soto, admitted a few weeks later that Posada was in Miami as he filed his petition for political asylum.

House of Representative William Delahunt (D-Mass) stated recently, "I can't imagine how one could defend a terrorist where there exists overwhelming evidence that he was responsible or a co-conspirator in blowing up a civilian airliner." To many the revelation that Posada is in the country is shocking. But they were apparently unaware that his co- conspirator, Orlando Bosch, has been living comfortably in Miami for at least the past two years.

The revelation of Posada's presence in the United States set off a tidal wave of international and domestic criticism including accusations of political hypocrisy. President Castro called on President Bush to return Posada to Venezuela. Many demanded that the United States not allow Posada to remain in the country. But the role of Bosch and Posada as terrorists is indisputable. They plotted, murdered, bombed innocents and bragged about it. So what could Bush do? He tried denying that Posada was in the country but Posada's lawyer had already said that he was.

Roger Noriega, top State Department official for Western Hemisphere affairs, claimed he had no knowledge of Posada's whereabouts; again, hard to believe. Things, as one can see, went from the sublime to the ridiculous. Meanwhile President Castro issued a series of statements about Posada's presence in the United States and accused Bush of harboring of a terrorist. His comments grabbed the attention of the local media and hit a sympathetic nerve. It was impossible to explain Posada's presence in the United States after the numerous public statements Bush had made about terrorists.

Perhaps the most memorable of these is "If you harbor a terrorist, you are a terrorist."

Things were getting very ugly very fast for Bush. However, the timing couldn't have been better (for the Bush administration) since the anniversary of the New Jersey Turnpike incident was fast approaching. Here was an opportunity to "save face" and take another stab at Castro.

A miserably transparent attempt to deflect attention from the political embarrassment of Posada's presence developed overnight. In the blink of an eye, Assata was suddenly placed on the domestic terrorist list. How very convenient. Now Bush could aim a similar accusation at Castro, harboring a terrorist.

Turning back to Assata and her 1973 chance encounter with Trooper Foerster on the New Jersey Turnpike, it can hardly be labeled a terrorist act or plot no matter how you characterize the facts. No doubt she and her companions did not plan on the events of May 2, 1973. They didn't plan or provoke any encounter with the police nor did they brag about Trooper Foerster's death. Who defines a terrorist? What actions define a terrorist? Is it a politically manipulated designation used to further the agendas of the present administration?

While there is certainly no agreed upon definition of 'terrorism' even the U.S. State Department's self-serving definition that it involves "premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets" rules out the incident on the NJ Turnpike which was - by all accounts - initiated by the troopers in a state notoriously known for racial profiling on the Turnpike. Assata stands convicted (the result of a highly politicized trial) of one criminal act, the murder of Trooper Foerster.

The U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs reports that the FBI identified 785 assailants convicted in the killing of law enforcement officers between 1993 and 2002.

Should we expect that the next political announcement to be that those 785 individuals have also been placed on the domestic terrorism list? Is a murder conviction of a police officer the criteria? If so, then should we expect the list to increase by at least 785?

Perhaps, the commission of any heinous act makes one a terrorist. If so, what of the joint team of FBI agents and Chicago police that murdered Black Panther leaders, Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, in their sleep during in a pre-dawn raid at their apartment? Should they not be named as terrorists?

When now, Reverend, then Mayor, Wilson Goode ordered the bombing of the MOVE headquarters located at 6221 Osage Avenue in Philadelphia in 1985 that killed 11 people including 5 children, and resulted in the destruction of the entire neighborhood, including 62 homes, was that an act of terrorism? Should we expect to see his name added to the list?

Were the New York City Police Officers who shot and killed the unarmed grandmother, Eleanor Bumpers, during an apartment eviction, terrorists? They murdered her. Maybe the members of New York's finest that fired 41 bullets at unarmed immigrant Amadou Diallo will have their names added to the list of domestic terrorists. If this be the case, should not the names of the convicted abortion clinic bombers be added to the list?

Are the officers who beat, assaulted and sodomized young Abner Louima terrorists? What about the soldiers who shot unarmed detainees in Guantanamo?

In this current climate we find the terrorism label abused and manipulated. Political motivations, not international law, or ethical sensibilities, are increasingly being used to determine who is and who is not defined as a terrorist.

It is an outrage that this government would offend the sensitivities of the American public by labeling Assata Shakur a terrorist. In 1976 the Senate Select Subcommittee headed by Senator Frank Church of Utah issued its report on the activities of the FBI's Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO). That Program was aimed at destroying any political dissent in the country. Among its targets were Rev. Martin Luther King, Kwame Ture' (f.k.a. Stokely Carmichael) Malcolm X, the Black Panther Party, the Black Liberation Army, the New Left, the Weather Underground, the American Indian Movement, the Puerto Rican independence movement and the Communist Party.

Led by J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI left no stone unturned and no dirty trick untried. Part of this campaign was to criminalize legitimate political movements and individuals. The FBI maimed, murdered and imprisoned hundreds of political activists.

The Report concluded that "Many of the techniques used would be intolerable in a democratic society even if all the targets had been involved in violent activity, but COINTELPRO went far beyond that." The condemnation of the FBI practices temporarily limited its activities.

However, in 2001 the FBI was able to publicly reinstitute all the previously condemned COINTELPRO practices under the guise of the Patriot Act. Increased surveillance of political organizations and individuals began. Harassment, arrest, incarceration and intimidation of political activists have once again been restored as "acceptable" police practices.

This recent labeling of Assata as a terrorist is done as part of the broader campaign to demonize and criminalize political dissent and resistance. This agenda was begun by the previous United States Attorney General, John Ashcroft. All over the country FBI agents started questioning and harassing past and present political activists. In courtrooms and filed documents, the FBI and U.S. Attorneys began referring to domestic political activists as terrorists.

The label has far reaching implications. The First Amendment is in serious danger and so is anyone who dares to exercise their rights under its protections. The convergence of Posada's entry into the United States, the hardening of relations with Cuba under Bush mandated Executive orders, and the otherwise inexplicable labeling of Assata as a terrorist fit well into a much broader politically motivated scheme.

Her name must immediately be removed from the list and the bounty offer rescinded.

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ISRAEL: Conscientious objectors in prison

[CO-alert: War Resisters' International's mailing list]
[ on conscientious objectors facing repression ]
19 May 2005

ISRAEL: Conscientious objectors in prison

Five conscientious objectors are presently in prison in Israel, for refusing to enlist or for refusing to serve in the Occupied Territories.

Misha Hadar (ISR14725) is presently serving his third prison term of 28 days. He reported to the induction base on 10 May, together with fellow conscientious objector Alex Kohn (ISR14726), who was also sentenced to a third prison term of 28 days. Both used their right to request to be tried by a more senior officer. That office made some preparation for the trial, read their statements and there was even a conversation at the trial. Eventually he determined that their refusal is "selective" rather than "conscientious" and sentenced them to 28 days in prison. Both were transferred to Military Prison No 4. They are due to be released on 3 June.

Eyal Brami (ISR14727) was sentenced on 15 May to a third prison term of 28 days, and was also transferred to Military Prison No 4. He is due to be released on 9 June.

Wissam Qablan (ISR14735), a Druze draft resister, was sentenced to a second prison term of 21 days on 10 May. He is held in Military Prison No 4, and is due to be released on 27 May. He served a first prison term of 28 days from 11 April to 6 May 2005, and is likely to be imprisoned again.

O.Y. (ISR14736), an officer of the reserves, refused to perform reserve duty in the Occupied Territories and was sentenced to 28 days in prison on 30 April. He is serving his sentence in Military Prison No 6 and is due out on 25 May.

War Resisters' International calls for letters of support to the imprisoned objectors:
Misha Hadar, Military ID 7323957
Alex Kohn, Military ID 6866693
Eyal Brami, Military ID 7706258
Wissam Qablan
Military Prison No 4
Military Postal Code 02507, IDF

War Resisters' International calls for letters of protest to the Israeli authorities, and Israeli embassies abroad. An email letter can be sent at .

War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of conscientious objectors Misha Hadar, Alex Kohn, Eyal Brami, Wissam Qablan, O.Y., and all other imprisoned conscientious objectors.

Andreas Speck
War Resisters' International

Shaul Mofaz
Minister of Defence,
Ministry of Defence,
37 Kaplan st.,
Tel-Aviv 61909,
e-mail: or Fax: +972-3-696-27-57 / +972-3-691-69-40 / +972-3-691-79-15

Commander of Military Prison No. 4,
Military Postal Code 02507
IDF, Israel
Fax: +972-3-957-52-76

Commander of Military Prison No 6
Military Prison No 6
Military postal number 01860,
IDF, Israel.
Fax: +972-4-869-28-84

Addresses of Israeli embassies can be found at

Addresses of Israeli media:
2 Karlibach st.
Tel-Aviv 67132
Fax: +972-3-561-06-14

Yedioth Aharonoth:
2 Moses st.
Fax: +972-3-608-25-46

Ha'aretz (Hebrew):
21 Schocken st.
Tel-Aviv, 61001
Fax: +972-3-681-00-12

Ha'aretz (English edition):
21 Schocken st.
Tel-Aviv, 61001
Fax: +972-3-512-11-56

Jerusalem Post:
P.O. Box 81
Jerusalem 91000
Fax: +972-2-538-95-27
e-mail: or

Jerusalem Report:
Fax: +972-2-537-94-89

Radio (fax numbers):
Kol-Israel +972-2-531-33-15 and +972-3-694-47-09 Galei Tzahal +972-3-512-67-20

Television (fax numbers):
Channel 1 +972-2-530-15-36
Channel 2 +972-2-533-98-09
Conscription and Conscientious Objection Documentation
War Resisters' International
5 Caledonian Road - London N1 9DX - Britain
tel +44-20-7278 4040 - fax +44-20-7278 0444

Support War Resisters' International! Donate today!

Help WRI to support consientious objectors!
Send your donation:
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ARMENIA: Continued persecution of conscientious objectors

on conscientious objectors facing repression
19 May 2005

ARMENIA: Continued persecution of conscientious objectors

In recent weeks Armenia continued the persection of conscientious objectors, despite its commitment to recognise the right to conscientious objection.

Conscientious objector Armen Grigoryan (ARM14687 - see, a Jehovah's Witness, had been taken to Nagorno-Karabakh by force in June 2004, and was forced to strip and stand in front of 1,800 soldiers in his underwear to tell them why he refused to do military service. He had managed to escape from his unit on 25 August 2004, and was in hiding since. He gave himself up on 28 April 2005, accompanied by his lawyer, and was immediately arrested and taken to Stepanakert, the capital of the internationally unrecognised entity Nagorno-Karabakh, where he is held in solitary confinement. The beginning of his trial is scheduled for 27 May. He faces imprisonment of up to six years on charges of desertion and refusing military service.

Two Jehovah's Witnesses who were performing substitute service under Armenia's discriminitory CO law and refused to continue to serve due to service conditions on 6 May were also arrested. Narek Alaverdyan (ARM14733) and Arsen Sevoyan (ARM14734) refused to continue their substitute service in the Vardenis Psychiatric Hospital, because they were forced to wear military style uniforms and name bages marked "Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia", were regularly visited by military police and given degrading work where they were treated as soldiers. Even the food is provided by the military.
After they wrote a letter to the civilian director of the hospital stating that the work regime conflicts with their views on military service, Military Police were dispatched to the hospital, where the two were immediately arrested and taken to an unknown location.
Armenia introduced a law on conscientious objection in 2004, due to pressure from the Council of Europe. However, Armenia's law does not comply with international standards, as the example of Narek Alaverdyan and Arsen Sevoyan shows.

War Resisters' International calls for letters of protest to the Armenian authorities, and Armenian embassies abroad. A protest email can be sent at

War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of all imprisoned conscientious objectors.

Andreas Speck
War Resisters' International

Mr Vartan Oskanian
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Government House #2
Republic Square
Yerevan 375010
Republic of Armenia
tel +374-1-544041
fax +374-1-562543

Robert Kocharian
President of the Republic of Armenia
Baghramyan st. 24
Yerevan 375077
fax +374-1-521581, 521796, 151152

A list of Armenian embassies abroad can be found at
Conscription and Conscientious Objection Documentation
War Resisters' International
5 Caledonian Road - London N1 9DX - Britain
tel +44-20-7278 4040 - fax +44-20-7278 0444

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Feingold Condemns Intelligence Committee Scheme

Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), the only senator with the guts and sense of democratic principle to vote against the PATRIOT Act when it was first put to Congress six weeks after 9-11, has blasted the attempt by the White House, with the connivance of Sen. Pat Roberts, (R-KS) to introduce an even worse version of the bill in secret in the Senate Intelligence Committee Roberts chairs.

While the pusillanimous Democratic members of the Intelligence Committee cower in silence about the attempt to end run Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on renewal of the PATRIOT Act, their colleague Feingold says, "The Senate should not begin its consideration of the PATRIOT Act with a secret review, of a secret bill, concerning a law that often operates in secret. "

He adds, "Any bill to reauthorize, fix, or expand the PATRIOT Act, which has caused such controversy around the country almost from the day it was enacted in 2001, should be debated in the light of day, not behind closed doors. The Senate must respect the principle of open government, so deeply rooted in my own state of Wisconsin, because this bill directly implicates the civil liberties of all Americans."

While Feingold deserves the praise of all civil libertarians right and left for his bold statement, it is a sad commentary on the state of American democracy that his is almost a lone voice. Certainly there is not even a pale echo from the seven Democratic poobahs on the Intelligence Committee (if you want to try changing that, call them at the numbers listed in the box at the top right of this web page).

I've said it before, and I'll say it again here: Feingold for President in '08!

Dave Lindhorff blog

10:37 am pdt

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

FLASH! Senate Intelligence Commitee tries end-run around Judiciary Committee in Maneuver to Pass Even Worse PATRIOT Act

In a stunning slap at the democratic legislative process, the Senate Intelligence Committee, headed by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), has suddenly and quietly scheduled a closed-door session for this Thursday to mark up its version of a renewed USA PATRIOT ACT, the frankenstein legacy of former Attorney General John Ashcroft and his then assistant Michael Chertoff (now secretary of Homeland Security).

The controversial act, many provisions of which seriously undermine basic Constitutional rights and protections, was just being examined in hearings by the Senate Judiciary Committee headed by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), where it came under heavy criticism from both right and left. Both the Intelligence and Judiciary committees have jurisdiction over the act, but the Judiciary committee, with its open hearings, was widely seen as having primacy.

Critics of some of the act's provisions, such as the notorious library records provision, which allows federal agents, or local law enforcement authorities working for them, to inspect the patron or customer records of libraries, video stores and bookstores, without a warrant and without notification, or the sneak-and-peek provision, which lets federal agents spy and surveil on people without later notifying them, carry a "sunset provision," which means if they are not renewed this year, they would expire.

The administration has been arguing for renewal or for making the provisions permanent, but a coalition of conservative and liberal groups calling itself Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances, has expressed hopes of convincing a majority of the Judiciary Committees of both House and Senate to modify those and several other rights-threatening measures in the PATRIOT Act before sending the renewal legislation to the full Congress in June.

This surprise move by the Intelligence Committee, which is packed with senators from both parties who have not been particularly friendly to civil libertarians, appears to be an end run by supporters of the White House.

Says Lisa Graves, intelligence lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union, "This is an effort by the administration to get everything they want. It is an outrage." Graves says the move suggests that the administration and its congressional backers fear that they could lose in the Judiciary Committee, and are hoping to present the bill they want as a fait accompli and then call anyone who tries to weaken it "soft on terror."

"This is a radical bill," Graves says of the Intelligence Committee work-in-progress. She says her sources tell her that besides making the controversial sunset provisions of the PATRIOT Act permanent, the Intelligence Committee version of the revised act would greatly expand one of its most dangerous provisions, the administrative subpoena. "It would allow administrative subpoenas for virtually anything held by a third party, such as bank or phone or medical records, with only the merest unsubstantiated hint of a foreign connection." Equally troubling, she says, the Intelligence Committee version of the bill would strip out a current bar on using warrantless administrative subpoenas in cases that involved primarily protected First Amendment activities, such as legitimate political protest.

"I guess now we’ll have to see whether the people on the Judiciary Committee will have the political courage to stand up to this," says Graves.

While the Intelligence Committee's plan for a closed-door mark-up of the bill is a clear affront to democracy and to the Bill of Rights, it is in keeping with the history of the PATRIOT Act, which was drawn up--reportedly at the direction of Chertoff, who was then in charge of terrorism issues at the Justice Department--in the weeks after the 9-11 attacks, and then passed by Congress with no committee hearings and virtually no discussion. Although no member of Congress even had time to read the mammoth 362-page bill, it passed in the Senate with only one dissenting vote--cast by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin)--and then passed in the House by a lopsided 357-66 margin.

Over the intervening four and a half years, a dramatic grassroots movement against the PATRIOT Act has swept across the country, with some 383 communities so far, large and small, including some major cities and seven state governments, passing legislation that seeks to protect their residents from the act--for example by barring local or state law enforcement authorities from supporting unconstitutional federal agency requests for information or surveillance or by calling on state congressional delegations to vote to rescind the act.

Given this broad cross-party popular opposition to the Act, it will be interesting to see how the full House and Senate vote on whatever PATRIOT Act renewal bill is ultimately presented out to them.

Unlike the Intelligence Committee session this Thursday, their votes will be in public.

Anyone concerned about this end run around the clear desires of the American public concerning the Patriot Act and its threat to our civil liberties should call all members of the Senate Intelligence Committee (see the list of phone numbers in the box at the top right of this page), to demand an end to the hearing, or failing that, to demand that it be open to the press and public.

9:01 pm pdt

dao vulnerabilities

Chinese characters for "vulnerabilities"

young beautiful girl in distinctive dress and headwear, tribal

A warrior takes every person as an adversary.
He sees all their vulnerable points,
And trains to eliminate his own.
A sage has no vulnerable points.

A warrior takes everyone as a potential adversary. He assesses each person that he meets for their strengths and weaknesses, and he places himself strategically. No confrontation is ever a surprise. Protection, competition, honor, and righteousness are his principles.

He is the weapon. Therefore, a warrior trains body and mind to perfection. He knows that the average person as hundreds of points where death can enter. For himself, he seeks to eliminate as many of his own vulnerabilities as possible. In combat, he defends one or two points, and the rest of his attention is devoted to strategy and offense. Yet no warrior can eliminate all vulnerable points. Even for a champion, there is always at least one. Only the way of the sage eliminates all weaknesses.

It is said that the sage has no points for death to enter. This makes the sage, who is perfect in Tao, superior to the warrior, who is merely skilled in Tao. The warrior accepts death, but does not go beyond it. The sages goes beyond concepts of protection, completion, honor, and righteousness, and has no fear of death. The sage know that nothing dies, that life is mere illusion: Life is but one dream flowing into another.


365 Tao
Daily Meditations
Deng Ming-Dao
ISBN: 0-06-250223-9

Kuang Jian 2000
Oil on canvas 30" x 24"
Kuang Jian
Kuang Jian had long been curious about the minorities of the Pamir region in far Western China. He studied them in history books and when he was able to go there he found the people very calm and friendly and was attracted to them. He has used the young girl from "Sunshine of Pamir" in a few paintings and he especially liked her eyes and the way she seemed to look beyond any problems she might have. Her costume in this portrait is actually Han Chinese, not typically Pamir, but he liked the way she looked in it.

Inventory #: KJ-0006
© Kuang Jian lisenced one time use only

Stanford Studies on Daoism

Dao (Way, Guide, Road)
Is ‘speak’ the right way to translate these verbal uses of dao? It is in some ways too narrow and in others too broad. We can write, gesture, point, and exemplify as well as speak daos. On the other hand, not all speaking (writing etc.) is dao-ing -- particularly not if we think of language as describing, representing, picturing, expressing, defining, or "capturing" some reality. The Chinese verbal use, is more accurately translated normatively as "to guide" or to "recommend." The activity of dao-ing is primarily giving advice. To dao is to put guidance into language -- including body language.

Consider, again, the concrete translation for dao: ‘road’ or ‘path’. A woodsman with an ax daos when he chops bark from the trees as he enters the forest; He is dao-ing when "blazing" the trail. We must avoid regarding roads as simple natural objects -- they are, like the woodman's blazes, akin to texts that we "read" for guidance as we proceed on our way. Roads or paths are embodied in physical reality, but are not simply the reality. They are normative guides and "invitations" to "pass this way".

One feature that dao and speech share is the need for interpretation. But with dao the interpretation is in xing conduct, not in a theory or a belief. In this respect, the relevant notion of interpretation is the aesthetic one -- as when a conductor interprets a score or an actor a character in a play. A complete metaphysics of dao involves a distinction between normative way types and interpretive tokens . Daoist theory does so most dramatically with Shen Dao who focuses on the great way -- the actual history of the world past, present and future. That image draws our attention to a purely descriptive way -- a way that is not a way (not a guide).

To talk, however, about a way of interpreting a way, is to remind ourselves of Zhuangzi's point. That we can never make ways purely objective. In selecting it from the alternative "invitations" open to us, and then in interpreting in our actual "walking" we have relied on still some other dao from the one that has our attention. We forget we are in a sea of dao .

Besides the actual dao, we can speak of tian nature:sky ways that are also descriptive. We still presuppose dao in choosing not to "reform" or "compensate" for our nature (as we do in choosing to follow it). Whichever dao we rely on is, presumably, itself natural at least in the sense of being naturally available ways of choosing and interpreting -- as are all the real alternatives.

a reading list of books and interpretations of the
Daodejing is available at

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send to lisbeth at

Protests across the U.S. support war resisters

‘‘Pablo and Kevin put the war on trial’’

THE U.S. military put war resisters Pablo Paredes and Kevin Benderman on trial last week. But at the same time, across the U.S., activists put the Iraq war itself on trial.

Paredes, a Naval petty officer, and Benderman, an Army sergeant, both faced military trials for answering their consciences and not deploying to Iraq. Paredes was found guilty at his court-martial in San Diego, but he received a light sentence compared to the year behind bars in a military prison that he faced as a maximum punishment. Meanwhile, at Fort Stewart in Georgia, Benderman’s defense team won a motion claiming that the military’s prosecutor wasn’t impartial, sending his case back to square one.

While Paredes’ trial was going on, outside the Navy base in San Diego, activists set up their own court and put the war on trial.

Aidan Delgado, who received conscientious objector status after serving nine months in Iraq, told the mock court of the atrocities he witnessed while working in Abu Ghraib prison--and affirmed the International Red Cross’ estimate that 70 to 90 percent of the prisoners are there by mistake. “At Abu Ghraib, we shot prisoners for protesting their conditions,” said Delgado. “Four were killed.”

Two members of Iraq Veterans Against the War--Tim Goodrich and Camilo Mejía--also spoke in Pablo’s defense. “In reality, it isn’t the only superpower in the world putting Pablo on trial,” said Mejía, who spent seven months in a military prison for refusing to return to Iraq for a second tour of duty. “It’s Pablo putting the only superpower in the world on trial.”

Meanwhile, at the trial itself, the Navy judge, Lt. Cmdr. Robert Klant, delivered a stunning indictment of the war.

After law professor Marjorie Cohn explained on the witness stand why the U.S. invasion of Iraq was illegal under U.S. and international law, government prosecutors began hounding her about her prior statements that the U.S. wars on Afghanistan and Yugoslavia were also illegal. Cohn explained that both these wars--like the invasion of Iraq--were neither defensive, nor sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council, and therefore were illegal.

At the end of the cross-examination, an exasperated Klant agreed with Cohn, declaring, “I think that the government has successfully proved that any service member has reasonable cause to believe that the wars in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq were illegal.”

In the end, Klant gave Pablo what amounts to a slap on the wrist--two months’ confinement to his base, three months’ hard labor and a reduction in rank. “This is...a stunning blow to the prosecutors who asked for nine months in the brig,” said Jeremy Warren, Pablo’s lawyer. “It’s a huge affirmation of every sailor and military personnel’s rights to speak out and follow their consciences.”

Meanwhile, Kevin Benderman faces a new hearing in his case, where the military will decide again what charges to bring and how stiff a sentence to seek. Seemingly in retaliation for the defense’s successful motion for a new hearing, the government added two charges of larceny because Kevin received combat pay since January, when his unit was deployed in Iraq without him--even though the Army initiated the payments and Kevin reported the extra pay.

“I just know that I want the truth to continue to come out,” Kevin told reporters after he received the new hearing. “And I think that’s what happened today. Some of the truth came out that they mishandled the Article 32 hearing.”

The mock trial outside the San Diego Navy base where Paredes’ trial was held was just one of many solidarity actions organized in some 20 cities across the U.S. last week.

A day before his trial, Pablo addressed an audience of about 50 people in Oakland, Calif., by telephone. “This fight is not over,” said Pablo. “This is the first battle, and we are winning it in the streets.” Other speakers included Father Louis Vitale and Oakland City Council candidate Aimee Allison.

The day after Pablo’s court-martial, more than 100 people in New York set up their own mock court to put the war on trial at an event organized by Citizens for Pablo, Veterans for Peace, the local chapter of Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), United for Peace and Justice, International Action Center, Not in Our Name, the International Socialist Organization and others. Speakers included military resister Carl Webb, Linda Sarsour of the National Council of Arab Americans, Tod Ensign of Citizen Soldier and Iraq Under Siege editor Anthony Arnove.

During closing arguments, Michael Letwin of New York City Labor Against War summed up the choice that soldiers like Pablo and Kevin face, along with everyone trying to stop the U.S. war machine: “Resistance is not only a right, it is an obligation.”

At Hunter College in New York, Mike Stoll of the Campus Antiwar Network prosecuted the case against the war, while A’dam Farooqui of the College Republicans argued in its defense. Basing their testimony on real sources, students acted as witnesses, playing the parts of an Iraqi civilian, a Marine recruiter, a Halliburton CEO, a resisting U.S. soldier and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. In the end, a jury made up of audience members voted 10 to 3 to find the war guilty as charged.

In Burlington, Vt., 70 people picketed the federal building with chants of “They’re our brothers, they’re our sisters, we support war resisters.”

“The importance of what we’re doing today can’t be overstated,” Jim Ramey, one of the organizers of the event and a member of Vermont MFSO, told the crowd. “The U.S. armed forces are attempting to make an example of Pablo and Kevin and so are we. By supporting them now, we can give confidence to the many soldiers who are questioning this war that they can speak out, and we’ll have their backs.”

In Springfield, Mass., about 20 people picketed for two hours in front of the federal building. American Friends Service Committee, Traprock Peace Center, the Antiwar Coalition at Holyoke Community College and the International Socialist Organization sponsored the event. During the picket, there was an almost unbroken sound of cars and trucks honking their horns in solidarity, and many drivers and passersby stopped to take fliers about the two cases.

In Providence, R.I., about 30 people rallied in front of the federal building. Passersby joined the rush-hour protest or signed petitions before boarding buses, and listened as speakers addressed the brutality of the U.S. occupation--and the hypocrisy of threatening GI resisters with prison while alleged murderers of Iraqi civilians go free.

In New Haven, Conn., a small but spirited crowd gathered in front of the federal building downtown to show their support for Pablo and Kevin. The demonstration was called by the Southern Connecticut State University Antiwar Coalition and the Middle East Crisis Committee and was supported by several local groups. Though some military recruiters decided to stand across the street with their “Army of One” banner, horn blasts from drivers and thumbs-up from pedestrians showed overwhelming support for the antiwar message.

Together, these events showed that a new movement to defend those who resist the U.S. military machine from the inside is being created.

“Resistance is the essence of democracy,” said Pablo at a press conference the day before his trial began. “We learn in our American history classes about a resistance to the empire outside. I have to be a part of the resistance to this empire.” Everyone should join this resistance--and help build a movement to stand with people like Kevin and Pablo.

By Eric Ruder and Jocelyn Blake | May 20, 2005 | Page 12
Frank Couget, Tom Dillon, Andrew Jagunich, Rebecca Lewis, John Osmand, Steve Ramey and Annie Zirin contributed to this report.

Lawyer calls for independent inquiry into abuse of Iraqis by British troops

Lawyer calls for independent inquiry into abuse of Iraqis by British troops

(AP) - LONDON-A lawyer representing nine Iraqis who say they were beaten and humiliated by British troops called Wednesday for an independent inquiry into the abuse.

Attorney Phil Shiner said that if no inquiry were held, the men could sue the British government for damages.

Earlier this year, four low-ranking soldiers were court martialed and received prison sentences of between five months and two years for the abuse at Camp Bread Basket, near Basra.

Pictures of the abuse - which included an Iraqi hoisted on a forklift and two naked men simulating sex - provoked outrage in Britain.

The victims were not identified and did not testify at the court martial on a British military base in Germany. Military police said they had been unable to locate them.

But Shiner said he informed the Army Prosecuting Authority during the court martial that he had spoken to three of the victims. He said he was rebuffed by prosecutors.

"Here there is the clearest evidence that the military are incapable of prosecuting and investigating themselves," Shiner said at a press conference Wednesday. "If they are allowed to, all we get is a whitewash and a few bad apples thrown to the dogs."

Shiner said he had witness statements from nine of the men, who say they were rounded up as part of an anti-theft operation dubbed "Operation Ali Baba" in May 2003.

One, fisherman Hassan Kadhim Abdul-Hussein, said he was the man photographed suspended from the forklift. In his statement, he said soldiers beat him "with fists, boots, wooden sticks and iron bars." Another of the men, Aqeel Jassim Mohammad, said a soldier had kicked him in the genitals, and a doctor had subsequently told him he would be unable to have children.

Shiner said he would give Attorney General Lord Goldsmith 14 days to respond to the demand for an independent public inquiry before taking legal action.


When You Refuse to Consent to a Police Search, Can Your Spouse Override That Refusal?:

The U.S. Supreme Court Takes An Important Fourth Amendment Case
Wednesday, May. 18, 2005

Last month, the Supreme Court decided to review Georgia v. Randolph. The case asks the following question: if a husband refuses to give police consent to search his house, may the police get consent from his wife and then go ahead with the search?

This question is important because a large number (perhaps the overwhelming majority) of warrantless searches are conducted on the basis of consent. The more flexible the concept of "consent," therefore, the more searches the police can perform, without a warrant, without probable cause, and without any real basis for believing that criminal activity is afoot.

Why Police Want Your Consent

Ordinarily, police must have a good reason to invade your privacy. If an officer wants to search your home, for example, the Fourth Amendment requires that she first obtain a warrant, after demonstrating to a neutral magistrate that she has probable cause to believe that she will find evidence of crime there. In the absence of a warrant (or an emergency explaining the failure to obtain a warrant), the police officer violates your constitutional right against unreasonable searches and seizures when she crosses the threshold of your home.

And even with a warrant, the officer must limit the scope of her search to the areas where the evidence she seeks might reasonably be located. In other words, she can't search your desk drawers for a stolen big-screen television.

But all of that changes when you consent. Once you give a police officer permission to search your home, you relieve her of the obligation to obtain a warrant and probable cause. You relieve her, as well, of the obligation to limit the scope of her search to correspond with her basis for suspecting wrongdoing.

A simple "go ahead" in response to the question, "do you mind if I look around?" converts what would have been an unlawful invasion of privacy into entirely legal activity. It forfeits the Fourth Amendment objections you might otherwise have had to the search.

So it is clear why police seek consent for searches -- it saves them a lot of trouble, and it opens doors that the Constitution otherwise keeps firmly shut. But why does anyone consent?

Why People Give Consent

As I elaborated in greater detail in an earlier column, the main reason people consent to searches is that they do not know any better. To many, a police officer's request for consent may sound like an empty gesture that does not truly allow for a negative response. The person to be searched may well hear an implicit "we could do this the easy way (with consent) or the hard way (without consent) -- it is up to you" in the police question. Who would prefer "the hard way" in the face of those alternatives?

But don't police tell the suspect that he has the right not to be searched? After all, when a suspect is arrested, he is told -- before any interrogation may take place -- that he has the right to remain silent. Doesn't the "consent search" scenario require essentially the same thing?

The Supreme Court has said no. According to the Court, the fact that a person might not know that he has the right to refuse consent to a search is merely one factor in the determination of whether his consent is voluntary. The Court has reasoned that the police need not give warnings (to eliminate any doubt about the suspect's knowledge of her rights), because warnings might detract from the informality of an otherwise friendly interaction between civilians and the police.

The Supreme Court has explained that "the community has a real interest in encouraging consent, for the resulting search may yield necessary evidence for the solution and prosecution of crime…." Furthermore, the Court has concluded, it would be "thoroughly impractical" to require an effective warning about the right to refuse.

Third Party Consent

It is with this perspective on consent searches -- as desirable events that should be understood to have occurred whenever plausible -- that the Supreme Court addressed the question of third party consent. Third party consent occurs when the person who gives police permission to perform a search is not the same person as the target of the search or the defendant in the later criminal prosecution.

You may have a roommate, for example, with whom you share a kitchen, bathroom, and living room in a two-bedroom apartment. The police suspect that the roommate possesses marijuana and has hidden it in the home you share. They either lack probable cause, and thus lack grounds for a search warrant, or do not want to bother to try convincing a judge that they are entitled to one. And they also believe that you are more likely to consent to a search of the common areas of the dwelling than your roommate is. So they ask for your consent to a search of the living room and bathroom.

You might say yes, because you either don't mind or don't think you have a choice. The police then search the medicine cabinet in your bathroom to find evidence connected to your roommate. Perhaps they find something. Perhaps they do not. Either way, legally, they have not violated the Fourth Amendment.

But what if it turns out that you didn't have actual authority to consent to the search of the medicine cabinets? Perhaps you and your roommate agreed that you would use the shelves on the wall, and your roommate would use the medicine cabinet, because he has an embarrassing infection and doesn't want his medications to be visible.

According to the Court, a lack of actual authority doesn't matter either. As long as the police reasonably believed that you had authority to consent and that your general consent to the search of the bathroom contemplated the medicine cabinet as well, the police have done nothing illegal.

Disputes Between Those with Common Authority: The Government's Side

It is in this context that the issue of disputes between people with common authority over the premises arises. The police receive consent to search from someone other than the search target or future defendant. But this time, the police have already requested consent from the target and received a negative response. Should the police be able to proceed with a search on the basis of the third party consent they subsequently obtain from a roommate or spouse?

It may seem obvious that the answer is yes - and that the case is therefore a slam-dunk for the government. If the well-established legal rule is that police need consent from only one party with common authority, then it follows logically that the existence of a nonconsenting other person with common authority is irrelevant.

After all, there is little difference between the target's saying "no" to a request for consent, on the one hand, and the target's not being asked or given an opportunity to say "yes," on the other -- either way, the target has not given anyone permission to search his home. If his consent is needed for a search, then the search is illegal. If it is not, then the search is fine.

Consider an analogy. You own a car. Someone who lives down the street from you decides to "borrow" that car. You leave your key in the ignition because it saves time when you're in a rush. Your neighbor gets into your car and drives around on various errands during the day, without ever asking you for permission or otherwise getting your authorization. That person has illegally taken possession of your car. It is no defense, moreover, for the person to say "well, you never said that I couldn't borrow it." The default rule is that he cannot borrow it -- it takes an affirmative act by you to change that default.

Therefore, the "borrower's" failure to obtain your permission to use the car is equivalent to his having expressly asked to borrow it and received a clear "no" in response.

In the same way, the government could argue, the failure to give consent for a search is legally indistinguishable from an affirmative response of "no" to a request for consent. If the former does not preclude third party consent, then the latter -- where police ask the target and he says "no" before they go to the roommate or spouse -- should not either.

Disputes Between Those with Common Authority: The Other Side

But this argument for the government -- persuasive on the surface -- is flawed.

Consider what happens when you share common authority over premises with another person. You can invite friends over to the house. You can authorize guests to use the bathroom or sit in the living room, and you can do these things without calling your roommate or spouse to make sure he's okay with it. But that is not because "yes" necessarily trumps "no" when it comes to understandings and expectations about shared spaces.

Rather, it is because the default of "no permission" changes when one of the people with common authority over the premises grants someone permission to enter -- whether a friend or a neighbor or the police. Once one of you invites a person in, the default becomes permission.

Consider again the car analogy. Your neighbor still wants to borrow your car, and he still has not asked for your permission. This time, however, he has asked your spouse, who co-owns the vehicle, and your spouse has said "okay." In this scenario, if your neighbor claimed that "your spouse said I could borrow the family car," and you believed that claim, then you would no longer have any reason to complain about your neighbor's actions. Your spouse, in other words, has the implicit authority to speak for both of you when someone requests permission to use your joint property.

Unless you say otherwise, your spouse's permission thus counts as permission from both of you. That is why your failure to raise an objection to the neighbor's borrowing the car -- recall the "you never said no" defense -- is meaningful when the other joint owner has said "yes," in a way that it is not when neither of you has granted permission.

If instead, however, your neighbor has asked you first and you have said no, his subsequently going to your spouse and getting permission would present a very different set of circumstances. Your spouse now no longer speaks for both of you, even implicitly, because you have already made your wishes known to the neighbor.

By failing to accept your refusal, the neighbor -- at the very least - has behaved improperly by seeking a different "ruling" from your spouse. You could now understandably complain about the neighbor's actions and say "I already told you no. Going to my spouse to ask for permission was out of line."

Now return to the consent search case. When the police officer asks you whether it is okay if she looks in the bathroom, your affirmative response speaks for both you and your roommate. If, however, your roommate has already refused consent, then you can no longer speak for him.

The question, at that point, really does become whether "yes" can trump "no" -- rather than whether people with common authority can consent to searches and entries on each other's behalf (prior law makes clear that they can).

The Court Should Rule Against the State

Let us take a step back and consider how important it is for police to be able to perform consent searches. The Supreme Court seems to think it is essential, saying that "a search authorized by a valid consent may be the only means of obtaining important and reliable evidence." But is the Court right to value consent searches so highly?

Consent searches that could not otherwise take place -- that is, searches that are not supported by probable cause, a warrant, or some other measure of reasonableness -- are, by that very index, unlikely to yield results. They are based on hunches and other unsubstantiated police guesses and thus, they frequently end with a needless invasion of privacy coupled with the waste of precious police time.

These fruitless "consent" searches typically happen below our radar, because police have no incentive to tell us about them, and they only rarely cause the sort of injury that would motivate a lawsuit. In the unusual case in which police guess correctly, we hear about the consent search, and that selective revelation conveys the misleading impression that something appropriate and reliable must have motivated the search in the first place.

The invasion of privacy, moreover, can be substantial, because people rarely feel that they have the right or the option of saying no when police ask for permission to search, no matter how extensively. And over time, police may come to feel entitled to get consent, which only emboldens them to ask for permission to search on flimsier grounds and with a greater air of legal rectitude.

But that is all set by existing Supreme Court precedents. The question now before the Court is a relatively narrow one: whether police should be able to "cheat" when it comes to consent -- ask dad, and when he says no, just go to mom or grandma, etc., until they hear the answer they want.

As rare as it is for people to exercise their right to privacy in the face of police "requests" for forfeiture, those assertions -- when they do occur -- deserve respect. If the Court holds otherwise, it will further whittle away the right against unreasonable searches and seizures -- the right to make police accumulate probable cause and seek a warrant from a neutral magistrate before showing up at your doorstep or your car window, hoping to look around.

Though the Court seems so far to have been mesmerized by the "need" to search without any basis for believing the search will yield results, it should wake up from its trance and close the door to your private spaces.

Sherry F. Colb, a FindLaw columnist, is Professor and Frederick B. Lacey Scholar at Rutgers Law School in Newark.

Greece: Courts go mad: New sentences against conscientious objectors

[CO-alert: War Resisters' International's mailing list]
[ on conscientious objectors facing repression ]
18 May 2005

Greece: Courts go mad: New sentences against conscientious objectors

While the international conscientious objectors' movement focused on the situation of conscientious objectors in Greece for International Conscientious Objectors' Day - 15th May - the Greek courts embarked on a new wave of ridicilous punishments for conscientious objectors, in complete ignorance of any international standards.

On 18 May, conscientious objector Nikos Baltoukas (GR14729) was sentenced by the Military Court of Xanthi to 15 months' (!) imprisonment for refusing to perform one week (!) of military reserve duty. Nikos Baltoukas, who is 37, had performed his military service in 1990-91. When he was called up for reserve duty on 31 October 2004, he refused to report, based on reasons of conscience. He was thus charged with insubordination, which now lead to the sentence of 15 months.

Andreas Anastasiou (GR14730), a Jehovah's Witness, was sentenced on 17 May by the Military Court in Larissa to six months' imprisonment, also for refusing reserve duty. He too has already served his military service in the Greek army prior to becoming a Jehovah's Witness.

Makedonas Alexandridis (GR 14731), also a Jehovah's Witness, was sentenced on 10 May by the Military Court of Ioannini to six months' imprisonment for insubordination and disobedience. Makedonas Alexandridis has performed military service in Russia prior to moving to Greece and becoming a conscientious objector. He applied for conscientious objector status, but the Greek CO law (law 2510/97) excludes anyone who has previously served in any armed forces from the right to conscientious objection.

In April, two decisions by the Military Court of Athens and the Military Appeal Court of Athens gave the impression of new insights by the Greek military courts. In the very similar cases of Dionisis Avlastimidis and Sergey Gutarov, the courts came to the conclusion that both could not be punished, as they only had followed their conscience. The new sentences now bury any hope for more understanding from the Greek courts.

To top the list of recent events, Greek police arrested conscientious objector Georgios Koutsomanolakis (GR14732), who is living in Germany, on the island of Rhodes on 12 May during a visit to Greece, based on charges for insubordination dating back to 1979. Georgios Koutsomanolakis was transferred to Korydallos prison in Athens, where he remains imprisoned awaiting his next trial on 23 May.

War Resisters' International is appalled by this new wave of punishments against conscientious objectors in Greece. Only recently, the UN Committee for Human Rights called on Greece to improve the situation of conscientious objectors.

War Resisters' International calls for letters of protest to the Greek authorities, and Greek embassies abroad. A list of Greek embassies can be found at You can send a protest email to Mr. Kostas Karamanlis, Prime Minister of Greece, at

Andreas Speck
War Resisters' International

Contact for protest letters:

Mr. Kostas Karamanlis, Prime Minister of Greece Maximos Mansion (‘Megaro Maximou’)
19, Herodou Attikou str
GR-106 74 Athens

Background information on CO in Greece:

Conscription and Conscientious Objection Documentation
War Resisters' International
5 Caledonian Road - London N1 9DX - Britain
tel +44-20-7278 4040 - fax +44-20-7278 0444

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