An Update On The President’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative.


 

By Jueseppi B.

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at an event to highlight "My Brother's Keeper," an initiative to expand opportunity for young men and boys of color, in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 27, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at an event to highlight “My Brother’s Keeper,” an initiative to expand opportunity for young men and boys of color, in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 27, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

 

An Update on the President’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative

 

 

“My administration’s policiesfrom early childhood education to job training, to minimum wagesare designed to give a hand up to everybody, every child, every American willing to work hard and take responsibility for their own success. That’s the larger agenda. 

 

 

President Obama Speaks on the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative

 

Published on Feb 27, 2014

President Obama launches a new effort aimed at empowering boys and young men of color, a segment of our society that too often faces disproportionate challenges and obstacles to success. February 27, 2014.

 

 

 

But the plain fact is there are some Americans who, in the aggregate, are consistently doing worse in our societygroups that have had the odds stacked against them in unique ways that require unique solutions; groups who’ve seen fewer opportunities that have spanned generations. And by almost every measure, the group that is facing some of the most severe challenges in the 21st century in this country are boys and young men of color.”

 

President Obama used these words to launch My Brother’s Keeper, his initiative to help ensure that boys and young men of color in America have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

 

Since then, the public response has been overwhelming. We’ve heard from private philanthropies and businesses, mayors, state and local leaders, faith organizations, community based non-profits, and thousands of  interested citizens, all who are committed to creating more pathways to success for these boys and young men. We will continue to engage and listen to these critical voices and those of the boys and young men this initiative focuses on, as we continue to learn from the efforts of the many stakeholders who have been committed to this cause for years. And we will do our best to live up to the optimism and incredible expectations this initiative has unleashed.

 

The first phase of the initiative has already begun in earnest and we want to provide an update on our progress to date and a sense of what to expect in the near future.

 

The Task Force has begun a 90-day process to develop the plans and infrastructure required to implement and sustain the initiative’s efforts. We are currently listening and engaging, working with stakeholders across the country to get their feedback on how we can all work together to make this initiative a success.

 

On the day of the launch in February, President Obama signed aPresidential Memorandum on “Creating and Expanding Ladders of Opportunity for Boys and Young Men of Color” which created a Federal Task Force to provide an assessment of and recommendations on how public and private actors can improve measurably expected educational and life outcomes and address persistent opportunity gaps. To inform that work, the President called for tools that will assess critical indicators of life outcomes for boys and young men of color and online engagement to lift up strategies, practices and programs with strong evidence of improving outcomes.

 

The Task Force’s work begins with identifying these critical indicators. We are focusing on five key moments that mark critical junctures on the path to healthy and productive adulthood: early learning and literacy, pathway to college and careers, ladders to jobs, mentors and support networks, and interactions with criminal justice and violent crime. Participating federal agencies are also now beginning to assess strategies, practices and programs to determine how they impact life outcomes for boys and young men of color. All of this work will inform a report by the Task Force on our progress and recommendations that we will submit to the President at the end of this 90-day listening and learning process.

 

At the same time, ten leading foundations have launched aprivate sector coalition that seeks to invest at least $200 million dollars over the next five years to find and rapidly spread solutions that have the highest potential for impact. This is on top of $150 million in current spending that these foundations have already committed toward this work. These foundations have announced they aim to put in place a strategy and infrastructure for coordination of their investments and additional commitments from a diverse array of actors from other sectors.

 

My Brother’s Keeper is focused on unlocking the full potential of boys and young men of colorsomething that will not only benefit them, but all of America. The Federal Task Force will pursue collaborative and multidisciplinary approaches to building ladders of opportunity. We are excited about the progress we are making and believe this effort has the potential to teach us a great deal about using evidence-based strategies to achieve the universal goals we have for all of our nation’s children.

 

Broderick Johnson is Assistant to the President and White House Cabinet Secretary, and the Chair of the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force. Jim Shelton is the Deputy Secretary of Education and Executive Director of the Task Force.

 

More information:

Related Topics: Urban Policy

 

 

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Barack After Dark™: Barack & Michelle Make History At THEIR House!


 

By Jueseppi B.

2014-02-27t165405z_2049154941_gm1ea2s02f001_rtrmadp_3_nutrition-labeling-update 2014-02-27t220314z_1066039652_gm1ea2s0ggi01_rtrmadp_3_obama

 

Today The White House Dynamic Duo, One Two Punch, Of First Lady Michelle LaVaughn Obama & President Barack Hussein Obama, made more American History.

 

The First Lady announced new guidelines for the FDA, in labeling our foods, to ensure a more aware public can make healthier choices. The first changes to FDA labeling practices in over 25 years.

 

The President signed an initiative called My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, which is a new effort aimed at empowering boys and young men of color, a segment of our society that too often faces disproportionate challenges and obstacles to success.

 

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The First Lady Announces Updates to Nutrition Fact Labels

 

 

 

 FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg at the White House to announce proposed revisions to the Nutrition Facts label.

FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg at the White House to announce proposed revisions to the Nutrition Facts label.

A concerned Shanese Bryant-Melton a mother, gets a hug after introducing First Lady Michelle Obama

A concerned Shanese Bryant-Melton a mother, gets a hug after introducing First Lady Michelle Obama

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The Full Story Can Be Found Here:

 

The First Lady Announces New Healthy Nutritional Fact Labeling Guidelines.

 

 

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President Obama Launches His New Initiative, My Brother’s Keeper, To Help Young Men Of Color

 

 

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President Barack Obama, next to White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett, left, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell, meets with foundation and business leaders in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, where he discussed his “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative to expand opportunity for minority boys and young men. Former Lakers basketball star Magic Johnson, far left partially obscured, also attended. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

President Barack Obama, next to White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett, left, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell, meets with foundation and business leaders in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, where he discussed his “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative to expand opportunity for minority boys and young men. Former Lakers basketball star Magic Johnson, far left partially obscured, also attended. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

 

 

 

The Full Story Can Be Found Here:

 

My Brother’s Keeper: A New White House Initiative To Empower Boys And Young Men Of Color

 

 

 

‘I got high': President Obama admits his teenage drug use as he introduces initiative to help minority boys

 

Published on Feb 27, 2014

President Obama launched a program- called ‘My Brother’s Keeper’- to help improve the lives of minority youth
Talked about how he grew up in a ‘more forgiving’ time where he was given second and third chances
Spoke of his teenage drug use and how he didn’t focus on school.

 

 

 

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President Barack Obama enters the East Room of the White House with Christian Campagne at the start of the "My Brother's Keeper," event, Feb. 27, 2014. "My Brother's Keeper" is an initiative to expand opportunity for young men and boys of color. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama enters the East Room of the White House with Christian Campagne at the start of the “My Brother’s Keeper,” event, Feb. 27, 2014. “My Brother’s Keeper” is an initiative to expand opportunity for young men and boys of color. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

 

 

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Statements and Releases February 27, 2014

 

Presidential Nominations Sent to the Senate

 

Statement by the Press Secretary on the Visit of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas

 

 

Presidential Actions

 

Posted in Presidential Memoranda

 

Presidential Determination — Proposed Nuclear Agreement with Vietnam

 

 

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My Brother’s Keeper: A New White House Initiative To Empower Boys And Young Men Of Color


 

By Jueseppi B.

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The White House Blog

 

My Brother’s Keeper: A New White House Initiative to Empower Boys and Young Men of Color

 

Valerie Jarrett, Broderick Johnson
February 27, 2014
10:26 AM EST

 

A student eyes the Emancipation Proclamation as the President gave students from William R. Harper High School in Chicago a tour of the Oval Office.A student eyes the Emancipation Proclamation as the President gave students from William R. Harper High School in Chicago a tour of the Oval Office, June 5, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

 

Today, from the East Room of the White House, President Obama will launch a new effort aimed at empowering boys and young men of color, a segment of our society which too often faces disproportionate challenges and obstacles to success. These obstacles are found in our schools, our communities, our criminal justice system, our families, and even in the minds of our young people themselves. The President is committed to build a broad coalition of backers to help break down barriers, clear pathways to opportunity, and reverse troubling trends which show too many of our boys and young men of color slipping through the cracks in our society.

 

To launch the “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative, the President will be joined by local and national leaders in philanthropy, business, government, faith communities, and media.  The challenges facing boys and young men of color are broad and multidimensional, and so must be the team we bring to the table to begin fostering solutions.

 

On hand today will be General Colin Powell, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Adam Silver, Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Congressman Ruben Hinojosa, Magic Johnson, and many more leaders from key national and regional philanthropic foundations and major businesses, all of whom understand what is at stake with this effort.  When we let this many boys and young men fall behind – we are crippling our ability to reach our full potential as a nation.

 

For decades, opportunity has disproportionately lagged behind for boys and young men of color – particularly in our African American and Latino communities.  As recently as 2013, only 14 percent of black boys and 18 percent of Hispanic boys scored proficient or above on the 4th grade reading component of the National Assessment of Educational Progress compared to 42 percent of white boys and 21 percent of black and Hispanic girls. Youth who cannot read “proficiently” by third grade are four times less likely to graduate high school by 19.

 

By the time students have reached 9th grade, 42 percent of black male students have been suspended or expelled during their school years, compared to 14 percent of white male students. While black youth account for 16 percent of the youth population, they represent 28 percent of juvenile arrests, and 37 percent of the detained population. While just over 6 percent of the overall population, black males of all ages accounted for 43 percent of murder victims in 2011.

 

The fraction of young men not working or enrolled in school is nearly twice as high for blacks than whites. Those neither working nor in school are not building the skills and experience needed to ensure their ability to succeed later in life.

 

Across the country, communities are developing and implementing promising and proven approaches to help put our young people on paths to opportunity and success.  Using intensive tutoring, the Becoming A Man program and the University of Chicago are demonstrating that dramatic improvements in math performance can be cost effectively made with middle school boys in Chicago.

 

The Miami public school system is serving thousands of students in dozens of schools with targeted interventions to lower dropout rates.

 

Restorative Justice programs used in Los Angeles contributed to a 38 percent reduction in suspensions, cutting black student suspensions in half.

 

In New York, the Young Men’s Initiative is validating the significant impacts the ASAP program is having on the college persistence rates of African American and Latino young men. These efforts are cause not only for hope, but for a renewed sense of urgency. As we learn more about what works, our resolve to act now must strengthen.  This initiative is about building on successes and promising ideas in the field by testing, implementing, and scaling-up strategies which have been shown to have the greatest impact at key moments in these boys’ lives.

 


 

A New Presidential Task Force to Expand Opportunity.

President Obama will sign a Presidential Memorandum today, establishing the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force, an interagency effort, chaired by the Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson, that will help us determine what public and private efforts are working and how to expand upon them.

 

The Task Force will work across executive departments and agencies to:

 

  • Assess and suggest improvements to Federal policies, regulations, and programs that apply to boys and young men of color.
  • Create an Administration-wide “What Works” online portal to disseminate programs and practices that improve outcomes for boys and young men of color, while promoting incentives for private and public entities to develop and adopt strategies that have been proven to be effective.
  • Develop a comprehensive public website, to be maintained by the Department of Education, that will assess, on an ongoing basis, critical indicators of life outcomes for boys and young men of color in absolute and relative terms.
  • Recommend to the President means for ensuring this effort is sustained for years to come within government and across public and private sectors.

 

Key Investments by Leading Foundations and Businesses

The foundations supporting today’s call to action have already made extensive investments, including $150 million in current spending that they have already approved or awarded. Building on that, today these foundations are announcing that over the next five years they seek to invest at least $200 million, alongside additional investments from their peers in philanthropy and the business community, to find and rapidly spread solutions that have the highest potential for impact in key areas.

 

The foundations will work over the next 90 days to design a strategy and infrastructure for coordination of these investments, which can be aligned with additional commitments from a diverse array of actors from other sectors.

 


 

This is just the start of an effort that will continue to build over the coming months and years. When research clearly shows us a problem that needs fixing, it is our responsibility as leaders to band together to start implementing solutions. When we do – we will not only see better outcomes for boys and young men of color, we will see the entire country begin to fulfill its full potential.

 

Learn more about the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative

 

 

Valerie B. Jarrett is a Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama. Broderick Johnson is Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary.

 

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On Thursday, the President will host an event on his “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative.

 

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3:25 PM: The President delivers remarks on the My Brother’s Keeper initiative, The East Room.

 

FACT SHEET: Opportunity for all: President Obama Launches My Brother’s Keeper Initiative to Build Ladders of Opportunity For Boys and Young Men of Color

 

 

February 27, 2014 3:25 PM EST

President Obama Speaks on the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative

The White House, watch on White House LIVE!! Streaming.

 

 

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FACT SHEET: Opportunity for all: President Obama Launches My Brother’s Keeper Initiative to Build Ladders of Opportunity For Boys and Young Men of Color

 

“I’m reaching out to some of America’s leading foundations and corporations on a new initiative to help more young men of color facing especially tough odds to stay on track and reach their full potential.”

 

– President Barack Obama, January 28, 2014

 

“There are a lot of kids out there who need help, who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement.  And is there more that we can do to give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them?”

 

– President Barack Obama, July 19, 2013

 

President Obama is taking action to launch My Brother’s Keeper – a new initiative to help every boy and young man of color who is willing to do the hard work to get ahead. For decades, opportunity has lagged behind for boys and young men of color.  But across the country, communities are adopting approaches to help put these boys and young men on the path to success. The President wants to build on that work. We can learn from communities that are partnering with local businesses and foundations to connect these boys and young men to mentoring, support networks, and skills they need to find a good job or go to college and work their way up into the middle class. And the Administration will do its part by helping to identify and promote programs that work.

 

That starts by using proven tools that expand opportunity at key moments in the lives of these young people.  The President believes this includes ensuring access to basic health, nutrition, and to high-quality early education to get these kids reading and ready for school at the youngest age.  But that’s not enough.  We need to partner with communities and police to reduce violence and make our classrooms and streets safer.  And we need to help these young men stay in school and find a good job– so they have the opportunity to reach their full potential, contribute to their communities and build decent lives for themselves and their families.

 

New Presidential Task Force to Expand Opportunity. President Obama will sign a Presidential Memorandum establishing the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force, an interagency effort, chaired by Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson, that will help us determine what public and private efforts are working and how to expand upon them, how the Federal Government’s own policies and programs can better support these efforts, and how to better involve State and local officials, the private sector, and the philanthropic community in these efforts.

 

The Task Force will work across executive departments and agencies to:

 

  • Assess the impact of Federal policies, regulations, and programs of general applicability on boys and young men of color, so as to develop proposals that will enhance positive outcomes and eliminate or reduce negative ones.
  • Recommend, where appropriate, incentives for the broad adoption by national, State, and local public and private decision makers of effective and innovative strategies and practices for providing opportunities to and improving outcomes for boys and young men of color.
  • Create an Administration-wide “What Works” online portal to disseminate successful programs and practices that improve outcomes for boys and young men of color.
  • Develop a comprehensive public website, to be maintained by the Department of Education, that will assess, on an ongoing basis, critical indicators of life outcomes for boys and young men of color in absolute and relative terms.
  • Work with external stakeholders to highlight the opportunities, challenges, and efforts affecting boys and young men of color.
  • Recommend to the President means of ensuring sustained efforts within the Federal Government and continued partnership with the private sector and philanthropic community as set forth in the Presidential Memorandum.

 

Investments from Leading Foundations and Businesses to Advance the Achievement of Boys and Young Men of Color.  Leading foundations and businesses have long worked with others in philanthropy to create opportunities for young men and boys of color and today are committing significant resources to research critical intervention points in the lives of boys and young men of color; change the often-damaging narrative about them; and catalyze coordinated investments to seed, replicate, and scale up effective community solutions.

 

The foundations supporting today’s call to action have already made extensive investments, including  $150 million in current spending that they have already approved or awarded. Building on that, today these foundations are announcing that over the next five years they seek to invest at least $200 million, alongside additional investments from their peers in philanthropy and the business community, to find and rapidly spread solutions that have the highest potential for impact in key areas, including: early child development and school readiness, parenting and parent engagement, 3rd grade literacy, educational opportunity and school discipline reform, interactions with the criminal justice system ladders to jobs and economic opportunity and healthy families and communities.

 

The foundations will work over the next 90 days to design a strategy and infrastructure for coordination of these investments, which can be aligned with additional commitments from a diverse array of actors from other sectors.

 

These foundations, who are joining President Obama at today’s announcement, include The Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Atlantic Philanthropies, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The California Endowment, The Ford Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Open Society Foundations, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and The Kapor Center for Social Impact. Many of the foundations are members of the Executives’ Alliance to Expand Opportunities for Boys and Men of Color – a coalition of philanthropic institutions committed to leveraging philanthropy’s role in improving life outcomes for boys and men of color.

 

In addition to the leadership from the philanthropic community, the My Brother’s Keeper initiative will leverage participation from the business community and elected officials to support this cross-sector effort.  As part of today’s announcement, President Obama will meet with a number of business leaders – including Joe Echevarria of Deloitte, Magic Johnson of Magic Johnson Enterprises, Glenn Hutchins of Silver Lake Partners, Adam Silver of the National Basketball Association and Thomas Tull of Legendary Entertainment – to discuss ways in which they and their companies can work with the Initiative to improve the life outcomes of boys and young men of color.

 

The President will also be joined today by public sector leaders including General Colin Powell, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Honorable Michael Bloomberg.  Additionally, several other prominent members of the business community—including Rosalind Brewer of Sam’s Club, Ken Chenault of American Express, and Don Thompson of McDonald’s—have already expressed their support for this effort, and the White House expects additional commitments in the coming days and months.

 

*  *  *

 

Data shows that boys and young men of color, regardless of socio-economic background, are disproportionately at risk throughout the journey from their youngest years to college and career.  For instance, large disparities remain in reading proficiency, with 86 percent of black boys and 82 percent of Hispanic boys reading below proficiency levels by the fourth grade – compared to 58 percent of white boys reading below proficiency levels.  Additionally, the disproportionate number of black and Hispanic young men who are unemployed or involved in the criminal justice system alone is a perilous drag on state budgets, and undermines family and community stability.  These young men are more than six times as likely to be victims of murder than their white peers and account for almost half of the country’s murder victims each year.

 

The effort launched today is focused on unlocking the full potential of boys and young men of color – something that will not only benefit them, but all Americans.  The Task Force and new private sector partnership will take a collaborative and multidisciplinary approach to building ladders of opportunity.  Both the Task Force and the partnership will take action immediately while planning for long-term success.

 

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President Obama’s Handwritten Essay Marking The 150th Anniversary Of The Gettysburg Address.


 

By Jueseppi B.

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Kori Schulman
Kori Schulman

November 19, 2013
07:02 PM EST

 

One hundred and fifty years ago today, President Abraham Lincoln delivered one of the most memorable speeches in U.S. history from Gettysburg, PA. In dedicating the military cemetery where thousands of soldiers were buried following the Battle of Gettysburg, fought just four months earlier, Lincoln described “a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

 

Paying tribute to the historic speech, President Obama hand wrote an essay for an exhibit at the Lincoln Presidential Library. President Obama joins former Presidents Clinton, Carter and H.W. Bush who have submitted their contributions, along with other notable essayists including Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, General Colin Powell, and Martin Luther King III, among hundreds of others.

 

President Barack Obama, Former US presidents, Politicians and Celebrities Recite The Gettysburg Address

 

 

 

You can read President Obama’s essay here, and below

 

President Obama’s Handwritten Tribute to the Gettysburg Address

 

One hundred fifty years after President Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, President Obama penned a handwritten tribute to President Lincoln’s historic remarks. Read his essay below, then share it with others.

 

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Click Right Here To Read Full Size Version Of Barack’s Essay

 

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Here’s the full text of President Obama’s essay:

 

In the evening, when Michelle and the girls have gone to bed, I sometimes walk down the hall to a room Abraham Lincoln used as his office.  It contains an original copy of the Gettysburg address, written in Lincoln’s own hand.

 

I linger on these few words that have helped define our American experiment: “A new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

 

Through the lines of weariness etched in his face, we know Lincoln grasped, perhaps more than anyone, the burdens required to give these words meaning.  He knew that even a self-evident truth was not self-executing; that blood drawn by the lash was an affront to our ideals; that blood drawn by the sword was in painful service to those same ideals.

 

He understood as well that our humble efforts, our individual ambitions, are ultimately not what matter; rather, it is through the accumulated toil and sacrifice of ordinary men and women – those like the soldiers who consecrated that battlefield – that this country is built, and freedom preserved.  This quintessentially self-made man, fierce in his belief in honest work and the striving spirit at the heart of America, believed that it falls to each generation, collectively, to share in that toil and sacrifice.

 

Through cold war and world war, through industrial revolutions and technological transformations, through movements for civil rights and women’s rights and workers’ rights and gay rights, we have.  At times, social and economic change have strained our union.  But Lincoln’s words give us confidence that whatever trials await us, this nation and the freedom we cherish can, and shall, prevail.

 

The fifth and final copy of the Gettysburg Address, which President Lincoln wrote in his own hand, is on display in the Lincoln Bedroom of the White House. Take a closer look of the only version that Lincoln titled, signed, and dated through the Google Art Project.

 

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The United States of Aftermath


 

 

The United States of Aftermath.

By William Rivers PittTruthout | Op-Ed

 

Thursday, 21 February 2013 09:18

 

 

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A statue of Saddam Hussein stands in front of the burning National Olympic Committee building in Baghdad, on April 19, 2003. (Photo: Tyler Hicks / The New York Times)

 

 

 

 

It’s hard to say grace and to sit in the place
Of someone missing at the table
Mom’s hair sprayed tight
And her face in her hands
Watching TV for answers to me
After all she’s only human
And she’s trying to find her own way home, boys
She’s trying to find her own way home

 

My legs ache
My heart is sore
The well is full of pennies

 

- Tom Waits

 

 

Ten years ago on this day, my life was a blur of frantic activity. The week before, tens of millions of people had taken to the streets in more than 600 cities around the world to protest the looming invasion of Iraq, an attack that had been pursued with single-minded ferocity by the administration of George W. Bush. As the author of the book “War on Iraq“, which had been published in October and argued Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction or al Qaeda connections to the September 11 attacks, I was one of the voices crying out in the wilderness of the “mainstream” news media trying to make it clear that the whole thing was a sham, and a disaster in the making. I did as many television, radio and print interviews as I could – at one point, CNN interviewed me in the gymnasium of the high school where I was still teaching, because that was the only time I had available – in an attempt to halt the calamity in its tracks.

 

One month later, I and every other person who tried to stop it encompassed the totality of our collective failure as we watched huge swaths of Baghdad be incinerated by the “Shock and Awe” bombing campaign that heralded the opening festivities of America’s nine-year debacle in Iraq.

 

As the ten-year anniversary of the invasion approaches, all the news networks will carve out some time to report on the decade of war endured by the people of Iraq and the people of America. Rachel Maddow recently broadcast an hour-long documentary on the selling of the war by the Bush administration. Maddow’s program began with the attacks of September 11 as the reason for the Iraq invasion, a starting point that in all probability will be repeated by the other networks, but that starting point is not factually correct. The roots of the Iraq war trace back to the founding in 1997 of a Washington DC think-tank called The Project for a New American Century (PNAC).

 

The core mission of PNAC was to establish what they called “Pax Americana” across the globe. Essentially, their goal was to transform America, the sole remaining superpower, into a planetary empire by force of arms. A report released by PNAC in September of 2000 entitled “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” codified this plan. Author Norman Podhoretz, a PNAC signatory, quantified the other aspect of the PNAC plan in the September 2002 issue of his journal, “Commentary.” In it, Podhoretz noted that the Mideast regimes “that richly deserve to be overthrown and replaced, are not confined to the three singled-out members of the axis of evil. At a minimum, the axis should extend to Syria and Lebanon and Libya, as well as ‘friends’ of America like the Saudi royal family and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, along with the Palestinian Authority, whether headed by Arafat or one of his henchmen.” At bottom, according to Podhoretz, war against Iraq was about “the long-overdue internal reform and modernization of Islam.”

 

PNAC was the driving force behind the drafting and passage of the Iraqi Liberation Act in 1998, a bill that essentially turned their desire for war into American law. PNAC funneled millions of taxpayer dollars to a group called the Iraqi National Congress, and to the man they intended to be Iraq’s heir-apparent, Ahmed Chalabi, despite the fact that Chalabi was sentenced in absentia by a Jordanian court to 22 years in prison on 31 counts of bank fraud. Chalabi and the INC gathered support for their cause by promising oil contracts to anyone who would help overthrow Saddam Hussein and put them into power in Iraq.

 

After the Supreme Court gifted the presidency to George W. Bush in December of 2000, the members of PNAC – once on the outside looking in – soon found themselves walking the halls of power and holding positions of enormous influence. Among these members were Vice President Dick Cheney; Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Cheney’s chief of staff; Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld; Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz; National Security Council member Eliot Abrams; Undersecretary of State John Bolton, who also served as America’s ambassador to the UN; and Richard Perle, chairman of the powerful Defense Policy Board.

 

On September 11, 2001, as America and the world watched in horror, these men went to work implementing their plans for war against Iraq. That day presented, for them, the opportunity of a lifetime, and they wasted not a moment. Within a year after the 9/11 attacks, Paul Wolfowitz and Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith had established the Office of Special Plans (OSP) in the Pentagon, ostensibly to deal with raw intelligence on the state of Iraq’s armaments. In truth, OSP’s main task was to manipulate that evidence to exacerbate the threat posed by Iraq, and to quash any information that augured against the necessity for war. Those who spoke out against this manipulation of evidence were dealt with harshly; former ambassador Joseph Wilson penned an editorial in the New York Times trashing the Bush administration’s claim that Iraq had sought “yellow cake” uranium from Niger. Soon after, the Bush administration retaliated by blowing the cover of Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, a CIA operative tasked with tracking weapons of mass destruction, ending her career.

 

George W. Bush, during his State of the Union address in January of 2003, looked solemnly into the television cameras and told the American people that Iraq was most assuredly in possession of 26,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, 30,000 munitions to deliver the stuff, mobile biological weapons labs, and uranium from Niger for use in their “robust” nuclear weapons programs. One month later, Colin Powell stood before the United Nations and fleshed out these claims in an address that will go down in history as one of the biggest bag-jobs ever perpetrated by anyone, ever.

 

A year after the attacks of September 11, Osama bin Laden had gone from being enemy #1 to being Mr. Who Cares About Him, and six months after that, “Shock and Awe” was unleashed. Maddow and her friends in the “news” media will, in the coming weeks, give us their various interpretations on how it came to happen, but none of them will bother to delve into the question of why it happened. The answer to that is too simple, and cuts too close to the bone: the war in Iraq cost more than three trillion dollars ($3,000,000,000,000.00) to execute. Every bullet fired, every bomb dropped, every MRE eaten, every helicopter shot down, every missile fired, every truck destroyed by an IED, every oil well guarded, every uniform worn, and every body bag filled translated into a slice of that money going to a company connected to the PNAC members of the Bush administration, who lied us into that war as an expression of their personal principles and in fulfillment of their dreams. Halliburton, KBR, United Defense, the Carlyle Group, independent military contractors like Blackwater and a crowd of American oil companies are still counting the riches they earned from their participation in the carnage.

 

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The profit motive behind why the war happened is not limited to the corporations that directly cashed in on the conflict. The “mainstream” media went along for the Bush administration ride with a bull-throated roar, pitching everything the administration was selling with graphics and music, gleefully aware of the money they were making thanks to increased viewership, and be damned to contrarian voices. Phil Donahue’s show on MSNBC came and went like a summer storm entirely because his pre-war contrarian views cut against the network’s martial grain. I summarized the reality of America’s pre-war media landscape in an October 2002 article titled, “I See Four Lights“:

One of the main reasons the dismal truths of business and economy in present-day America go unreported is the fact that we have us a war coming on. CNN, MSNBC and Fox have crafted various permutations of a ‘SHOWDOWN WITH IRAQ’ graphic, coupled with suitably dramatic music. This is a boon to the media – stories of financial ruin and stock schemes that bilked investors of billions are complicated. Compared to grainy images of explosions, fluttering American flags, and stalwart American troops preparing to step into harm’s way, the economic news is plain boring. People were changing the channel back in July and August because it was too painful, and because it was not sexy. Now, with the war graphics in full cry, they are back. CNN’s viewership increased by 500% after September 11th, and you can bet the executives down in Atlanta noted that well. War is good for the media business.

 

Over the last few years, MSNBC refashioned itself as the progressive news alternative to networks like Fox and CNN by giving Keith Olbermann an opportunity to do actual journalism on television for a few years, and by putting people like Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz front and center. Even Chris Matthews, the human weathervane, appears to have gotten the memo. But I remember a phone call I got from an MSNBC producer in February of 2003. Hans Blix and his weapons inspectors had not been in Iraq for 100 hours when this woman called me on my cell, told me she’d read my book, and asked me to appear on the network. There was, however, one caveat: she told me I was expected to argue that Blix and the inspectors were doing a terrible job and should be ignored, which just happened to be the exact line being peddled at the time by the Bush administration. I told the producer that I did not agree, that the inspectors needed to be given time to do their jobs, and that undermining them might lead to a devastating war. The MSNBC producer chuffed a cigarette-roughened laugh into my phone and hung up on me.

 

That happened – I remember the details not only because of how gruesome the conversation was, but because when she hung up on me, I almost lost control of my car and nearly wound up in the Charles River – and the fact of it tells you everything you need to know about MSNBC and the rest of the alphabet-soup cohort that is America’s “mainstream” news media. I did not do what that MSNBC producer asked me to, but you can bet all the money you have that she found someone who would a few phone calls later. You might have even seen it on TV.

 

MSNBC and the rest of the “news” networks can level a finger of blame at the Bush administration until the sun burns out, but the rock-bottom fact of the matter is that every one of those networks are equally to blame for the catastrophe that was, and remains, the war. No questions were asked, no push-back was offered; when the war cry went up, they made that cry their own, and they have as much blood on their hands as Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the rest of that PNAC crew.

 

The war against Iraq, in the end, was nothing more or less than a massive money-laundering operation that took American taxpayer dollars, soaked them in blood, and redirected them to Certain Friends In High Places. It was, as I said years ago, a smash-and-grab robbery writ large, aided and abetted by an American “news” media which had its own profit motive, and which made a nifty sum off the whole deal.  Even better for them, today they get to enjoy the ratings and advertising dollars to come when they broadcast their somber “documentaries” about how terrible it all was, how many lies were told, how many mistakes were made, and all without ever looking inward at their own enormous complicity.

 

They say the war is over now, but Halliburton is still getting paid to “rebuild” Iraq, the military contractors are still there, bombs are still going off all over the country, the hundreds of thousands of civilians who were killed are still dead, the hundreds of thousands of civilians who were wounded and maimed are still scarred, and many of the millions who were displaced are still not home. Almost 5,000 American soldiers are still dead, nearly 40,000 more are still scarred, and the VA is utterly incapable of dealing with the aftermath.

 

Three trillion dollars of taxpayer money was laundered away, and today we have squadrons of politicians who voted for the war and made sure it happened now talking about cutting Medicare, about cutting Social Security, about how we can’t afford decent health care or the United States Post Office, without even a blink of acknowledgement toward their own overwhelming share of blame for what has happened to the nation.

 

Ten years ago, they used 9/11 against us, with the happy help of the “news” media, to unleash butchery for a payday, and broke the country in the process.

 

So you remember, so you never, ever forget, this is how they did it.

 

“Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.”
- Dick Cheney, Vice President
Speech to VFW National Convention
8/26/2002

 

“There is already a mountain of evidence that Saddam Hussein is gathering weapons for the purpose of using them. And adding additional information is like adding a foot to Mount Everest.”
- Ari Fleischer, Press Secretary
Response to Question From the Press
9/6/2002

 

“We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”
- Condoleezza Rice, US National Security Adviser
CNN Late Edition
9/8/2002

 

“Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons.”
- George W. Bush, President
Speech to the UN General Assembly
9/12/2002

 

“Iraq has stockpiled biological and chemical weapons, and is rebuilding the facilities used to make more of those weapons. We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons – the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have.”
- George W. Bush, President
Radio Address
10/5/2002

 

“The Iraqi regime … possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons. We know that the regime has produced thousands of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, VX nerve gas.”
- George W. Bush, President
Cincinnati, Ohio, Speech
10/7/2002

 

“And surveillance photos reveal that the regime is rebuilding facilities that it had used to produce chemical and biological weapons.”
- George W. Bush, President
Cincinnati, Ohio, Speech
10/7/2002

 

“After 11 years during which we have tried containment, sanctions, inspections, even selected military action, the end result is that Saddam Hussein still has chemical and biological weapons and is increasing his capabilities to make more. And he is moving ever closer to developing a nuclear weapon.”
- George W. Bush, President
Cincinnati, Ohio, Speech
10/7/2002

 

“We’ve also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas.”
- George W. Bush, President
Cincinnati, Ohio, Speech
10/7/2002

 

“Iraq, despite UN sanctions, maintains an aggressive program to rebuild the infrastructure for its nuclear, chemical, biological, and missile programs. In each instance, Iraq’s procurement agents are actively working to obtain both weapons-specific and dual-use materials and technologies critical to their rebuilding and expansion efforts, using front companies and whatever illicit means are at hand.”
- John Bolton, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control
Speech to the Hudson Institute
11/1/2002

 

“Iraq could decide on any given day to provide biological or chemical weapons to a terrorist group or to individual terrorists … The war on terror will not be won until Iraq is completely and verifiably deprived of weapons of mass destruction.”
- Dick Cheney, Vice President
Denver, Address to the Air National Guard
12/1/2002

 

“If he declares he has none, then we will know that Saddam Hussein is once again misleading the world.”
- Ari Fleischer, Press Secretary
Press Briefing
12/2/2002

 

“The president of the United States and the secretary of defense would not assert as plainly and bluntly as they have that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction if it was not true, and if they did not have a solid basis for saying it.”
- Ari Fleischer, Press Secretary
Response to Question From the Press
12/4/2002

 

“We know for a fact that there are weapons there.”
- Ari Fleischer, Press Secretary
Press Briefing
1/9/2003

 

“The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production.”
- George W. Bush, President
State of the Union Address
1/28/2003

 

“Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent.”
- George W. Bush, President
State of the Union Address
1/28/2003

 

“We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction, is determined to make more.”
- Colin Powell, Secretary of State
Remarks to the UN Security Council
2/5/2003

 

“There can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more. And he has the ability to dispense these lethal poisons and diseases in ways that can cause massive death and destruction. If biological weapons seem too terrible to contemplate, chemical weapons are equally chilling.”
- Colin Powell, Secretary of State
Address to the UN Security Council
2/5/2003

 

“In Iraq, a dictator is building and hiding weapons that could enable him to dominate the Middle East and intimidate the civilized world – and we will not allow it.”
- George W. Bush, President
Speech to the American Enterprise Institute
2/26/2003

 

“So has the strategic decision been made to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction by the leadership in Baghdad? I think our judgment has to be clearly not.”
- Colin Powell, Secretary of State
Remarks to the UN Security Council
3/7/2003

 

“Let’s talk about the nuclear proposition for a minute. We know that, based on intelligence, that has been very, very good at hiding these kinds of efforts. He’s had years to get good at it and we know he has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.”
- Dick Cheney, Vice President
“Meet the Press”
3/16/2003

 

“Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.”
- George W. Bush, President
Address to the Nation
3/17/2003

 

“Well, there is no question that we have evidence and information that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical particularly … all this will be made clear in the course of the operation, for whatever duration it takes.”
- Ari Fleischer, Press Secretary
Press Briefing
3/21/2003

 

“One of our top objectives is to find and destroy the WMD. There are a number of sites.”
- Victoria Clark, Pentagon Spokeswoman
Press Briefing
3/22/2003

 

“I have no doubt we’re going to find big stores of weapons of mass destruction.”
- Kenneth Adelman, Defense Policy Board Member
Washington Post, p. A27
3/23/2003

 

“We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.”
- Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense
ABC Interview
3/30/2003

 

“We still need to find and secure Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction facilities and secure Iraq’s borders so we can prevent the flow of weapons of mass destruction materials and senior regime officials out of the country.”
- Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense
Press Conference
4/9/2003

 

“You bet we’re concerned about it. And one of the reasons it’s important is because the nexus between terrorist states with weapons of mass destruction … and terrorist groups – networks – is a critical link. And the thought that … some of those materials could leave the country and in the hands of terrorist networks would be a very unhappy prospect. So it is important to us to see that that doesn’t happen.”
- Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense
Press Conference
4/9/2003

 

“But make no mistake – as I said earlier – we have high confidence that they have weapons of mass destruction. That is what this war was about and it is about. And we have high confidence it will be found.”
- Ari Fleischer, Press Secretary
Press Briefing
4/10/2003

 

“Were not going to find anything until we find people who tell us where the things are. And we have that very high on our priority list, to find the people who know. And when we do, then well learn precisely where things were and what was done.”
- Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense
“Meet the Press”
4/13/2003

 

“We are learning more as we interrogate or have discussions with Iraqi scientists and people within the Iraqi structure, that perhaps he destroyed some, perhaps he dispersed some. And so we will find them.”
- George W. Bush, President
NBC Interview
4/24/2003

 

“We’ll find them. It’ll be a matter of time to do so.”
- George W. Bush, President
Remarks to Reporters
5/3/2003

 

“I’m absolutely sure that there are weapons of mass destruction there and the evidence will be forthcoming. We’re just getting it just now.”
- Colin Powell, Secretary of State
Remarks to Reporters
5/4/2003

 

“We never believed that we’d just tumble over weapons of mass destruction in that country.”
- Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense
Fox News Interview
5/4/2003

 

“I’m not surprised if we begin to uncover the weapons program of Saddam Hussein – because he had a weapons program.”
- George W. Bush, President
Remarks to Reporters
5/6/2003

 

“U.S. officials never expected that ‘we were going to open garages and find’ weapons of mass destruction.”
- Condoleezza Rice, US National Security Adviser
Reuters Interview
5/12/2003

 

“We said all along that we will never get to the bottom of the Iraqi WMD program simply by going and searching specific sites, that you’d have to be able to get people who know about the programs to talk to you.”
- Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense
Interview with Australian Broadcasting
5/13/2003

 

“It’s going to take time to find them, but we know he had them. And whether he destroyed them, moved them or hid them, we’re going to find out the truth. One thing is for certain: Saddam Hussein no longer threatens America with weapons of mass destruction.”
- George W. Bush, President
Speech at a Weapons Factory in Ohio
5/25/2003

 

“They may have had time to destroy them, and I don’t know the answer.”
- Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense
Remarks to the Council on Foreign Relations
5/27/2003

 

“For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction (as justification for invading Iraq) because it was the one reason everyone could agree on.”
- Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense
Vanity Fair Interview
5/28/2003

 

“The President is indeed satisfied with the intelligence that he received. And I think that’s borne out by the fact that, just as Secretary Powell described at the United Nations, we have found the bio trucks that can be used only for the purpose of producing biological weapons. That’s proof-perfect that the intelligence in that regard was right on target.”
- Ari Fleischer, Press Secretary
Press Briefing
5/29/2003

 

“We have teams of people that are out looking. They’ve investigated a number of sites. And within the last week or two, they have in fact captured and have in custody two of the mobile trailers that Secretary Powell talked about at the United Nations as being biological weapons laboratories.”
- Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense
Infinity Radio Interview
5/30/2003

 

“But for those who say we haven’t found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they’re wrong, we found them.”
- George W. Bush, President
Interview With TVP Poland
5/30/2003

 

“You remember when Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and he said Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons … They’re illegal. They’re against the United Nations resolutions, and we’ve so far discovered two … And we’ll find more weapons as time goes on.”
- George W. Bush, President
Press Briefing
5/30/2003

 

“This wasn’t material I was making up, it came from the intelligence community.”
- Colin Powell, Secretary of State
Press Briefing
6/2/2003

 

“We recently found two mobile biological weapons facilities which were capable of producing biological agents. This is the man who spent decades hiding tools of mass murder. He knew the inspectors were looking for them. You know better than me he’s got a big country in which to hide them. We’re on the look. We’ll reveal the truth.”
- George W. Bush, President
Camp Sayliya, Qatar
6/5/2003

 

“I would put before you Exhibit A, the mobile biological labs that we have found. People are saying, ‘Well, are they truly mobile biological labs?’ Yes, they are. And the DCI, George Tenet, Director of Central Intelligence, stands behind that assessment.”
- Colin Powell, Secretary of State
Fox News Interview
6/8/2003

 

“No one ever said that we knew precisely where all of these agents were, where they were stored.”
- Condoleezza Rice, US National Security Adviser
“Meet the Press”
6/8/2003

 

“What the president has said is because it’s been the long-standing view of numerous people, not only in this country, not only in this administration, but around the world, including at the United Nations, who came to those conclusions … And the president is not going to engage in the rewriting of history that others may be trying to engage in.”
- Ari Fleischer, Press Secretary
Response to Question From the Press

 

“Iraq had a weapons program … Intelligence throughout the decade showed they had a weapons program. I am absolutely convinced with time we’ll find out they did have a weapons program.”
- George W. Bush, President
Comment to Reporters
6/9/2003

 

“The biological weapons labs that we believe strongly are biological weapons labs, we didn’t find any biological weapons with those labs. But should that give us any comfort? Not at all. Those were labs that could produce biological weapons whenever Saddam Hussein might have wanted to have a biological weapons inventory.”
- Colin Powell, Secretary of State
Associated Press Interview
6/12/2003

 

“My personal view is that their intelligence has been, I’m sure, imperfect, but good. In other words, I think the intelligence was correct in general, and that you always will find out precisely what it was once you get on the ground and have a chance to talk to people and explore it, and I think that will happen.”
- Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense
Press Briefing
6/18/2003

 

“I have reason, every reason, to believe that the intelligence that we were operating off was correct and that we will, in fact, find weapons or evidence of weapons, programs, that are conclusive. But that’s just a matter of time … It’s now less than eight weeks since the end of major combat in Iraq and I believe that patience will prove to be a virtue.”
- Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense
Pentagon Media Briefing
6/24/2003

 

“I think the burden is on those people who think he didn’t have weapons of mass destruction to tell the world where they are.”
- Ari Fleischer, Press Secretary
Press Briefing
7/9/2003
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