Reading Room

Citizens Watch Newsletter November 2001


by Marylia Kelley with Ann Seitz and Erek Dyskant contributing

Congress passed it last month without taking much time for detailed review. The President signed it with gusto, declaring the government would immediately enforce it "with all of the urgency of a nation at war." What is it?

It is a sweeping new law that gives the Attorney General and federal law enforcement unnecessary and, in many cases, permanent new powers to violate civil liberties.

The legislation goes far beyond its stated goal of fighting international terrorism. These new and unchecked powers can, and likely will, be used against U.S. citizens who are not under criminal investigation, immigrants who are here within U.S. borders legally, and also against any individual or group whose First Amendment activities are deemed to be threats to national security by the Attorney General.

Among the bill's troubling provisions are measures that will now:

  • *Permit the Attorney General to indefinitely incarcerate or detain non-citizens based on mere suspicion, and to deny re-admission to the U.S. of non-citizens (including lawful permanent residents) for engaging in speech protected by the First Amendment.
  • *Minimize judicial supervision of telephone and Internet surveillance by law enforcement authorities in anti-terrorism investigations and in routine criminal investigations unrelated to terrorism.
  • *Expand the ability of the government to conduct secret searches -- both in anti-terrorism scenarios and in unrelated investigations.
  • *Give the Attorney General and the Secretary of State the power to designate domestic groups as terrorist organizations and block any non-citizen who belongs to them from entering the country. Under this provision the payment of membership dues is a deportable offense.
  • *Grant the FBI broad access to sensitive medical, financial, mental health, and educational records about individuals without having to show evidence of a crime and without a court order.
  • *Lead to large-scale investigations of U.S. citizens for "intelligence" purposes and use of intelligence authorities to bypass probable cause requirements in criminal cases.
  • *Put the CIA and other intelligence agencies back in the business of spying on the American public by giving the Director of Central Intelligence the authority to identify priority targets for intelligence surveillance in the U.S.
  • *Allow searches of highly personal financial records without notice and without judicial review based on a very low standard that does not require probable cause of a crime or even relevancy to an ongoing terrorism investigation.
  • *Allow student records to be searched based on a very low standard of relevancy to an investigation.
  • *Create a broad new definition of "domestic terrorism" that could sweep in people who engage in acts of political protest and subject them to wiretapping and enhanced penalties.

Congress placed a four year "sunset" provision on the law's wiretapping provision, but otherwise handed the Bush Administration everything it wanted.

"I will direct investigators and prosecutors to begin immediately seeking court orders to intercept communications related to an expanded list of crimes under the legislation," Attorney General John Ashcroft told reporters.

On Nov. 1, armed government agents prevented Green Party activist Nancy Ogden from boarding an American Airlines flight in Bangor, Maine. Ogden was on her way to Chicago for a meeting of the Greens. "An official told me that my name came up on a computer," Ogden told reporters. Military personnel then surrounded her and instructed all airlines to deny her passage on any flight. Also on Nov. 1, the Associated Press reported on a West Virginia judge's ruling that a 15-year old girl cannot wear T-shirts opposing the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan because it "would disrupt school." Isolated incidents -- or harbingers of worse things to come?

Much as a developer will name a tract of look-alike houses "Oak Hills" to commemorate what has been razed and lost forever, so too the new law's sponsors dubbed this the "USA Patriot Act." Wrong. It undermines fundamental freedoms, such as speech and assembly, enshrined in the Bill of Rights.

The bill number is H.R. 3162 and its full text is at See also the American Civil Liberties Union at and the Center for Democracy and Technology at

As-salam Aleikum (Or, Peace be upon you): Celebrating Diversity & making Livermore a "Hate-Free Zone"

by Tara Dorabji and Marylia Kelley

On October 28, Tri-Valley CAREs sponsored a "Hate-Free Community" day with speakers, music, dance and children's crafts. The event was held at Carnegie Park in downtown Livermore.

Despite the threat of rain, some 80 folks gathered together to share stories and build common bonds to counter the derogatory comments, harassment, and hate crimes that have taken place in our community and elsewhere -- targeting people of South Asian, Arab and/or Muslim backgrounds or those perceived as such.

The day's goals were supported by Proclamations passed by both the Livermore City Council and Alameda County Board of Supervisors. In part, the Proclamations read: "... We support and applaud the designation of October 28, 2001 as a 'Hate-Free Community' day in Livermore to celebrate diversity and nonviolence."

The day's events included a mix of local talent featuring live music, two wonderful young, traditional dancers from Livermore's American Indian Center and several speakers.

Speakers advocated alternatives to a military response to the terrorist attacks that, tragically, have left more than 5,000 people dead. Gustav Nystrom, representing the Catholic organization, Tri-Valley Pax Christi, quoted from the Pope's statement to the United Nations in response to September 11: "... that this inhuman act will awaken in the hearts of all the world's people a firm resolve to reject the ways of violence, to combat everything that sows hatred and division within the human family." The statement concludes that: "... though poverty is not by itself the cause of terrorism, we cannot successfully combat terrorism if we do not address the worsening disparities between the rich and poor. We must recognize that global disparity is fundamentally incompatible with global security."

The crowd represented many communities in Livermore and the Tri-Valley area.

As Tania Farzana took the stage she held her coat close around her body and assured the audience, "I may look cold on the outside, but I am filled with warmth on the inside because I feel supported by your presence."

Tania, born in Afghanistan, asked everyone to learn about Afghanistan so that all will see that something precious is being destroyed. She discussed the discrimination she experienced growing up in America and explained the journey she has taken to overcome her own prejudices and hatred in nonviolent ways.

Sheikh Ahmed, a Iman at the Livermore Islam Center, brought a special gift of sound to the park as he read (sang) the Qur'an in Arabic: "We made you into nations and tribes," he intoned, "that you may know each other, not that you may despise each other. Verily, the most honored of you in the sight of God is she or he who is the most righteous of you." (Qur'an 49:13), as translated by Kathy Bullock, also of the Islam Center. Kathy further spoke of how it felt to fear leaving her home for a number of days after September 11 because of her traditional dress.

Musical performances were interwoven among speakers. Michael Ferrucci, owner of Fretted Friends in Livermore, played folk music to support cultural understanding. Fariba, who owns Touch of Magic in downtown Livermore, sang Sufi devotional songs. She and friend Jeff brought their "Sound of the Desert" to the event with a clear message of peace. "When I sing the songs I do, it is to nurture love inside of people," Fariba explained. The melodic tunes carried across the crowd and brought a feeling of serenity.

Khaja Ahmed, of the United Muslims of America, helped to dispel myths about Islam. "The word Islam is derived from the word 'Salam' meaning 'Peace'," he explained.

A major misconception about Islam is due to the media's reference to terrorist groups in the Middle East as Islamic fundamentalists, Khaja told the group, although "terrorism goes against every principle of Islam." Khaja made an appeal to the audience to contribute to fighting hate by developing a deep and close friendship with at least two families of a different faith.

Mark Dyken, who led the participants in a circle dance to close the day, said: "We are like a fruit salad. We don't have to lose our identity to get along. We don't have to be a fruit smoothie, we can be a grape sliding along side a melon in the great fruit salad of life!" Mark also spoke of a special meaning the gathering held for him, "being for peace in Livermore -- a world center for the development of weapons of mass destruction."


by Marylia Kelley, Inga Olson, Tara Dorabji

Tri-Valley CAREs joined Bayview Advocates, American Friends Service Committee and over 35 other organizations to sponsor, "FALLOUT: From Hunters Point to Outer Space." This event was held on October 13 -- the international day to protest the militarization of space and the environmental contamination and public health impacts that result from nuclear weapons and missile research and development.

We gathered at Hunters Point in San Francisco (SF) for many reasons, including historical ones. In July 1945, the USS Indianapolis left the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard loaded with a nuclear bomb named "Little Boy," which was loaded onto a U.S. B-29 bomber, the Enola Gay, and dropped on Hiroshima, Japan on August 6. For 23 years following World War II, the Hunters Point Shipyard was the site of the Navy's largest facility for applied nuclear research -- the top-secret Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory (NRDL). As Lisa Davis reports in an SF Weekly investigation, the NRDL:

  • -Oversaw the dumping of contaminated sand and acid into SF Bay. (The sand and acid had been used to "clean" ships irradiated by atomic bomb tests in the South Pacific.)
  • -Spread radioactive material on and off base to practice decontamination methods.
  • -Burned radioactive fuel oil in a boiler.
  • -Sold radioactively-contaminated ships as scrap metal to a private company in Alameda, CA.
  • -Conducted human experiments that included requiring people to drink radioactive elements.
  • -Experimented with significant amounts of a wide variety of long-lived radiological poisons, including plutonium, cesium, uranium, thorium, and radium.
  • -Studied and disposed of thousands of irradiated mice, rats, dogs, goats, mules, and pigs, among other animals. At one point, the lab owned a ranch in Contra Costa County used specifically to raise animals for radiation testing.
  • -Used the Farallon Islands Nuclear Waste Site to dump 47,500 barrels of low-level radiation waste generated by the Navy and UC nuclear labs like Lawrence Livermore.

There is also evidence that high-level nuclear waste, the 10,000 ton aircraft carrier, USS Independence, and other radiological waste items may also be located at the Farallones Nuclear Waste Site.

The SF Redevelopment Agency and the U.S. Navy agreed last fall on a method for transferring the naval shipyard in phases, or parcels, to city control. The Navy pledged to clean up three of the six parcels-to certain environmental standards, and to a depth of 10 feet below the surface, at a cost of at least $120 million. City officials reportedly did not know much about the site's nuclear history during negotiations over transfer.

The National Archives in San Bruno hold a variety of records that pertain to the NRDL. In the past year, 88 feet of a section that includes Pacific area weather maps and charts for the years 1955-1962 were reportedly destroyed. The center also holds records of the SF Field Office of the Atomic Energy Commission which include radiation exposure doses of personnel from 1952-1954, historical project correspondence from 1952-1969, and 1940s records of the Lawrence Berkeley Lab.

We also gathered on October 13 to support community-based action. The residents around the shipyard, who live in the predominantly African-American neighborhood of Hunters Point, are keenly aware of the problems. A past study, reported in the SF Chronicle, found that hospitalizations of neighborhood residents for chronic illnesses were four times higher than the statewide average. Bayview-Hunters Point activists successfully led efforts to pass Proposition P -- a proposal to clean up the shipyard to residential standards. This is a key step, yet it is a non-binding agreement that the Navy has said is too costly.

More than 100 gathered that day, representing many communities. We came together to support each other, share information about the military's impact on our health and environment and celebrate our successes through joyous singing by the Soul'd Out Gospel Choir, delicious food prepared by our hosts, and many conversations and connections made during the course of the day. Bayview-Hunters Point activists, Maurice Campbell and Lynne Brown led participants on a walking tour. Like Lawrence Livermore Lab here, the shipyard at Hunters Point is a federal "Superfund" cleanup site.

We are developing a common understanding of the problems posed by nuclear weapons and related "research and development" activities. We left carrying the desire to take action to clean up the shipyard, support the neighborhood's work to bring health services and economic justice to residents, and explore possible links to high breast cancer rates and public health impacts throughout the Bay Area.


by Marylia Kelley

The nuclear weapons budget for Fiscal Year 2002 contains a little bit of good, some bad and lots of ugly. Due in part to the Sept. 11 attacks and the aftermath, the budget has moved through Congress very slowly this year, and parts of it are still incomplete. Here is an up to the minute account (as of Nov. 5):

Energy and Water Appropriations:

The legislation awarded $24.6 billion, $2.1 billion above the President's request, for a range of programs including nuclear weapons activities, nonproliferation programs, environmental cleanup and other energy and water issues.

The final bill was reported out of conference committee on Oct. 30 and approved by the House and Senate on Nov. 1. Next, it goes to the President for signature.

Dept. of Energy Cleanup: The high note is that the bill adds $10 million for soil and groundwater cleanup activities at Livermore Lab. The original FY02 DOE budget request to Congress slashed $10.4 million from Livermore Lab's cleanup program -- a 48% cut that would have left pollutants to migrate unimpeded into our communities.

So, while the restoration of $10m is not enough to permit Livermore Lab to speed its environmental restoration efforts, at least the work will continue with "flat" funding. Given the original budget's hostility to cleanup, this is a major victory.

Special "kudos" go to all of the community members in Livermore, Tracy and throughout the Bay Area who wrote letters and made phone calls to make it happen! "Thanks" go out also to the city councils, county supervisors and state and federal officials who listened to their constituents and acted on our behalf.

Dept. of Energy Weapons Programs: Now, for the bad and the ugly. To begin, the conferees decided to fold personnel costs from the various nuclear weapons programs into the account for the Office of the Administrator, boosting this number from the $15 million request to $312 million. As a result, comparisons to the original request have to be adjusted to reflect this accounting change. (They do like to keep the budget confusing.)

The conference agreement provides $5.43 billion for Weapons Activities (plus $271 million for program direction, making the real total $5.7 billion) instead of $5.12 billion as proposed by the House and $6.06 billion as proposed by the Senate. The DOE's original budget request for Weapons Activities was $5.3 billion (including the $271 million). Thus, the conference added $400 million to the DOE's original budget request for nuclear weapons activities.

The Energy and Water report also contains ominous language foreshadowing the outcome of the Nuclear Posture Review, scheduled for release next month. The DOE's weapons program, it says, "is expected to propose significant investments in strategic weapon systems (to include refurbishments and life extensions) during the next 10 years to meet military requirements once the Administration's Nuclear Posture Review is completed. The Congress will have to examine these proposals in detail and will likely be asked to agree to higher levels of annual spending on these initiatives."

National Ignition Facility: NIF received the $245 million request as well as an extra $7 million for enhanced NIF diagnostics and cryogenic target activities, slightly below the $10 million addition that had been proposed by the Senate. The $7m was added as part of the more general inertial confinement fusion (ICF) program. NIF and ICF received a total of $506 million -- $39.5 million above the request.

Pit production: For plutonium pit manufacturing and certification, the conference agreement provides $219 million, an increase of $90.5m over the budget request of $128.5 million. The pit program includes $4 million for preconceptual design activities for a new pit manufacturing facility. Within the pit program, the conferees also included full funding for subcritical tests at the Nevada Test Site. Additional funding is provided within the Readiness in Technical Base and Facilities program to support facilities and activities "critical to the success of the pit manufacturing and certification campaign."

Tritium: In one of the few victories this year, the conferees provided no funding for the Accelerator Production of Tritium, the same as the budget request, but contrary to the Senate appropriation of $15 million for this purpose. However, the bill retains $43.3 million for tritium readiness, preparing the commercial light water reactors at Watts Bar and Sequoyah in Tennessee for use in production of tritium.

Facilities and Infrastructure: The conference agreement includes $200 million to establish a new program for facilities and infrastructure. The DOE had requested no funding for this program, though, unofficially, it waged an aggressive lobbying campaign for it. The $200m earmark is in addition to the approximately $600 million already included in the Energy & Water appropriations for facilities construction. In addition, while the conferees direct that at least 25 percent of this funding be used to dispose of excess facilities that will provide the greatest impact on reducing long-term costs and risks, there is no specific direction given as to which projects will be funded with the remaining $150 million in new funding.

Defense Appropriations

The Congress has yet to complete the '02 Defense Appropriations bill. So, final budget numbers for programs such as "missile defense" have not been determined. The Administration request for missile defense came to $8.3 billion. The House appropriators pared it to $7.85b. Next steps include a vote on the floor of the House, the Senate appropriators' number and a conference committee to reconcile them if they don't agree. If you are a betting person, pick a number between $7.8 and $8.3 billion. If you are an activist, pick up the phone while the budget wheel is still in spin.


Compiled by Marylia Kelley from information gathered by Tri-Valley CAREs

From the New York Times: American warplanes bombed and largely destroyed the same Red Cross complex in Kabul that they struck 10 days ago, an error the Pentagon admitted tonight, saying it occurred because military planners had picked the wrong target. The bombing took place just after a detailed review by Pentagon and Red Cross officials of the places where the relief agency has installations in Afghanistan. That meeting, which followed the first bombing of the Red Cross compound, was designed to prevent exactly what happened today. One of the American aircraft that had been ordered to hit the Red Cross supply warehouses missed its target and hit a residential neighborhood instead. (U.S. Planes Bomb a Red Cross Site for Second Time, Oct. 26, NYT)

Senator Douglas Roche, Canada: It may seem comforting to say that civilians are not targeted, but it is not "collateral damage" when thousands of refugees fleeing the bombs are jammed along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in unspeakable conditions. UNICEF warns that the crisis "is threatening the lives of millions of women and children" and that "1.5 million children may not make it through the winter." ...The bombing of Afghanistan, one of the most desperate and vulnerable regions of the world, is producing an international catastrophe. (Statement, Oct. 26)

Jim Jennings, President of Conscience International: This is a race against time and we are losing. Even before September 11, there was a major humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan... The interruption of vital food deliveries and the withdrawal of the staff of humanitarian agencies because of the bombing have created a dire situation for the already vulnerable population -- 70 percent were already malnourished. The Pentagon is claiming progress, but it has acknowledged the food drops are minuscule and it is dragging out its bombing campaign... Time is of the essence: we must act now before winter. The bombing has to halt, we need to get food in or Afghan people will begin starving in great numbers at about the same time Americans sit down for their Thanksgiving feast. (Press briefing, Oct. 29)

Kamal Hossain, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan: The international community as it considers action to be taken needs, therefore, to take into account the situation of the men, women and children of Afghanistan and their extreme vulnerability which could result in a humanitarian catastrophe. The unceasing violence of the past 23 years left a million dead... With the withdrawal of UN personnel and those of the humanitarian agencies, and suspension of the operations of the World Food Programme, some 5 million Afghans face starvation and hundreds of thousands lack shelter and medical care. (Meeting, Geneva, Sept. 25)

Dominic Nutt, Christian Aid: The simple fact is that less than 20% of what needs to is getting into Afghanistan and even less is getting distributed. The only way to deal with this is to have a pause in the bombing to stockpile food for the winter... People are starving now in some areas, according to our source of information from within Afghanistan. It was actually starting when I was in Afghanistan this August -- in Herat and Ghor Province. Every village I went to had been affected by drought. Camps were having deaths from hunger and hunger-related diseases... About 85% of the people live in rural communities -- the roads are bad enough when the weather is good, you can't get food to those rural areas in the winter. It's going to get worse and worse; you could see entire villages wiped out. Governments have effectively sponsored the Taliban regime; it's a bit hypocritical, we think, for them to say that now it's crucial that they bomb the Taliban. Can't you wait four weeks for us to feed millions of innocent people at risk of starvation? (Press statement, Institute for Public Accuracy, Oct. 29)


Tri-Valley CAREs meets November 15
7:15 PM, Livermore Library
1000 So. Livermore Ave.
(925) 443-7148 for details
Join us for our last meeting of 2001. In these dark and uncertain times, we take heart in meeting together to explore positive alternatives to the descending spiral of violence, injustice and war. Together, we craft hopeful, creative, effective actions that make a difference in our communities and in the world. Also at our Nov. meeting we will have an opportunity to convey our best wishes to Joanne & Michael Freemire as they prepare to move to Pennsylvania to be with Joanne's ailing mom. All are invited to this important meeting. Don't miss it.

Saturday, November 17
"World Peace Day"
The following notice came to us from another newsletter: "Never more needed than now, World Peace Day is a day dedicated to praying for world peace. You can show your support by visiting your place of worship, driving with your lights on and wearing a white ribbon." We are unsure of the exact origin of the message--but since we believe every day should be World Peace Day, we are happy to pass it along to you. Please observe the day in whatever manner of prayer, reflection and/or political action is most appropriate for you.

Monday, November 26
"Signs of Peace"
5 PM - 6 PM, Livermore flagpole
Corner of Livermore Ave. and First St.
(925) 443-7148 for details
We will gather to show that not all people support the bombing in Afghanistan. We will gather because we understand that violence only creates more violence, and we must call for peace. Bring a friend, a sign, a banner or a flag. Together, we will vigil for peace and mourn all of the lives being lost in this conflict. To help organize, ask questions or set up a sign-making party, call Tara.

Monday, November 26
Nevada Desert Experience's
"Monday Night" series
6 PM, Wesley Student Center
Bancroft Ave. at Dana, Berkeley
(510) 527-2057 for details
Nevada Desert Experience is hosting this series of "Monday night" talks on nuclear issues. On Nov. 26, Dr. Andreas Toupadakis will speak on his decision to leave nuclear weapons work at Livermore Lab to pursue peace.

Thursday, December 6
Tri-Valley CAREs mailing party
2 shifts: 4 - 6 PM and 7 - 9 PM
Tri-Valley CAREs offices
2582 Old First St., Livermore
(925) 443-7148 for details
Come and help us get our newsletter ready for the post office. You affix the labels, we provide the snacks. If you have been wanting to volunteer -- call us today!

Summit: When Presidents Bush and Putin meet in Washington DC and Crawford, Texas November 13-15 they may reach an agreement that will include maintaining the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty and reducing the number of strategic nuclear weapons in both country's arsenals. If they do this, we can celebrate a partial victory -- the ABM treaty stays in place, nuclear weapons numbers are reduced for the first time in years. Two caveats are needed, however. One, U.S. nuclear weapon design capacity must also be drastically reduced or we risk a situation in which the U.S. has fewer -- but "newer" and "more usable" nuclear weapons such as earth-burrowing tactical nukes. Too, if Bush and Putin reach agreement solely to reduce the number of strategic weapons while leaving hundreds or thousands of them on hair-trigger alert, the threat of an accidental nuclear exchange will remain.

On this latter topic, we have an unique opportunity to press Bush and Putin to agree on de-alerting. For, if the U.S. and Russia are to be better friends, preparing for a quick-launch of nuclear weapons at each other makes no sense. Letters to the editor on the merits of de-alerting may be particularly timely during the summit. Call us for more info.

News Flash From Russia: Ira Shorr, Back From the Brink's Director, participated in a forum in Moscow on Oct. 30 to release a Russian Briefing Paper on the need to de-alert nuclear weapons. The forum was attended by over 80 Russian military policy experts, including top scientists, military and government officials and journalists. The report is being sent to Putin's administration in preparation for his USA visit.

"Toast Card" Campaign: Back From the Brink has printed more than a quarter million de-alerting postcards. Order bulk quantities from Esther at the Back From the Brink campaign, (202) 545-1001, or pick up a few from the Tri-Valley CAREs office.

On false choices...

Now Bush and Bin Laden have even begun to borrow each other's rhetoric. Each refers to the other as "the head of the snake". Both invoke God and use the loose millenarian currency of good and evil as their terms of reference. Both are engaged in unequivocal political crimes. Both are dangerously armed -- one with the nuclear arsenal of the obscenely powerful, the other with the incandescent, destructive power of the utterly hopeless. The fireball and the ice pick. The bludgeon and the axe. The important thing to keep in mind is that neither is an acceptable alternative to the other. President Bush's ultimatum to the people of the world -- "If you're not with us, you're against us"-- is a piece of presumptuous arrogance. It's not a choice that people want to, need to, or should have to make. --from The Algebra of Infinite Justice by Arundhati Roy.

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