November 5, 2007: This website is an archive of the former website, traprockpeace.org, which was created 10 years ago by Charles Jenks. It became one of the most populace sites in the US, and an important resource on the antiwar movement, student activism, 'depleted' uranium and other topics. Jenks authored virtually all of its web pages and multimedia content (photographs, audio, video, and pdf files. As the author and registered owner of that site, his purpose here is to preserve an important slice of the history of the grassroots peace movement in the US over the past decade. He is maintaining this historical archive as a service to the greater peace movement, and to the many friends of Traprock Peace Center. Blogs have been consolidated and the calendar has been archived for security reasons; all other links remain the same, and virtually all blog content remains intact.THIS SITE NO LONGER REFLECTS THE CURRENT AND ONGOING WORK OF TRAPROCK PEACE CENTER, which has reorganized its board and moved to Greenfield, Mass. To contact Traprock Peace Center, call 413-773-7427 or visit its site. Charles Jenks is posting new material to PeaceJournal.org, a multimedia blog and resource center.
John Bonifaz on the Failure of Government:
The War Powers Clause and the Constitution Today
Text Introducing the audio file, by Sunny V. Miller
--August 30, 2004, NYC
In New York City as the Republican National Convention began, in another Burrough, Attroney John Bonifaz, author of "Warrior King, the Case for Impeaching George W. Bush," said that the failure of Congress to stop an illegal and unconstitutional attack on a sovereign nation was a bi-partisan failure.
Hear John Bonifaz talk; 44:51 minutes; 15.5 mb mp3 audio (Real audio version);
with discussion session 33:17 minutes; 11.5 mb, mp3 audio (RealAudio version)
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He spoke at the New York Public Library, St. George Library Center on Staten Island, as part of the My Daily Consitution series at 8 NYC public libraries over 6 days. L.A. artist Linda Pollack organized the series and served as moderator for Bonifaz's talk and discussion.
"This is about members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, colluding with the President to violate the Constitution. ... They are as complicit (as the President) and their complicity began with their act to hand over to the President this decision-making power, and it continued with the President marching us into this illegal war, with the judiciary refusing to intervene.”
Attorney John Bonifaz filed suit in Federal Court in Boston, Massachusetts on February 13, 2003 arguing before Judge Tauro that the Court must hold the administration accountable for adhering to the explicit mandates of the Constitution. Article 1, Section 8 makes clear that Congress and only Congress has the power to declare war. The First Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court ruling in favor of the US Administration. Spectacularly all three branches of government failed us, and continue to fail.
In this audio file from August 30 you will hear John Bonifaz quoting impassioned voices of the near and distant past, making important historical and contemporary arguments for clarity on the question of how the nation shall decide to go to war.
Senator Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia said on the floor of the Senate in October of 2002:
" ...We are handing this over to the President of the United States. When we do that, we can put a sign on the top of this Capitol, and we can say: 'Gone home. Gone fishing. Out of business.'"
As Bonifaz reiterated Senator Byrd’s pleas before the Senate vote, he touched a nerve in us that recognizes the power of telling a truth that defies defeat. He seems to understand both the tremors quieted by sticking together in neckties and suits, among people willing to have others killed for our benefit, and the honorable and courageous act of speaking with every ounce of passion one can muster, to reach past and through the cloak of privilege.
For most members of Congress, no "imminent" existed in Iraq in October, 2002, except the threat of being run out of office in November elections just around the corner by jeers that anyone who wouldn't give up their responsibility to deliberate, was soft on terror.
Bonifaz explains that in the customary erosion of the war powers clause, Congress authorized military action without a Congressional declaration of war, claiming that threats were imminent. Hence the lies that US ships on routinne patrol were attacked without provocation in the Gulf of Tonkin, of the coast of Vietnam, and the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.
But five months of prodigious preparation for an assault, and White House opposition to an amendment that would have added the crucial term "imminent threat" to the October Resolution show the haste with which Congress handed-off their Constitutional responsibility for declaring war.
Bonifaz comments on the fears Congress held -- not of Iraq -- but of the political fall-out of not appearing tough and pro-war. "As we know there was one US Senator who lost three limbs in Vietnam, named Max Cleeland, and he in fact did lose his seat in that election (that followed on November 5) on a separate issue, which is that he wanted to ensure that the Department of Homeland Security would comply with basic labor bargaining responsibilities that workers could unionize. And the Reublicans went strongly after him, claimed that this man was weak on national security and they defeated him. So even there the fear is real that national security will be used as a club against those who stand up...”
Bonifaz reads an email sent Tuesday, March 18, 2003 from a John Doe plaintiff in the case, from the Persian Gulf. He says, " ... Now if you don't hear from me ... it's either I went landside or they cut all communications on the boat. It's bad enough not being able to be with the people you love, but no contact at all is going to be hard. If I go down, it's not for something I believed in. ..." See other noteworthy quotes in his book, "Warrior King ..." available through Nation Books:
Representative Julia Carson of Indiana:
“One of the greatest dangers to an American soldier is a poor economy at election time.”
Audio duration: Bonifaz talk; 44:51 minutes; 15.5 mb mp3 audio; discussion session 33:17 minutes; 11.5 mb, mp3 audio.
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September 4 , 2004 - page created by Charlie Jenks