Friday, December 31, 2010

Zach Foster: New Year's Message to the World

December 31, 2010

The New Year approaches. This is merely symbolic, as we'll all be doing the same things next week that we've been doing all year. Nonetheless, this day carries weight in its symbolism of second chances and new opportunities. Let us all move forward in realizing our dreams, and in making our society, our country, and our world a better place to live in. To all my brothers and sisters in arms who didn't survive to see this New Year, or the ones before, I thank you for your sacrifice and promise you that you are sorely missed and dearly remembered. To those who are still with us, don't be afraid to say you loved them. Years from now we'll look back on these times and realize that through all our toils and struggles to preserve the American Dream, we were the ones writing history with lightning, and our sons and daughters and their own posterity will be sure that our works and our memory will be preserved in the halls of history.

I'll see you on the other side.

Welcome 2011

By Ginger

I love welcoming in the New Year and I don’t mean the New Year’s Eve celebrations with the champagne, the ball dropping in Times Square, the tasty hors d'oeuvres (although, I do love me some little cocktail wienies and shrimp wrapped in bacon), and the singing of “Auld Lang Syne” at midnight. I mean, I love starting a new year.

It’s the beginning of a new calendar, a clean slate. It’s not exactly a do-over, but a promise of a fresh start.  It’s a chance to examine the events of the past year and think about how to make the next year better. For me, it’s a time to sweep away the cobwebs of negative thinking and to focus on new possibilities and positive thinking.

This will sound completely “Pollyanna” of me, but at the beginning of each year I mentally play the “glad game.”   Like Pollyanna, I think about the things in my life that I am glad about.  Even the things that aren’t so good in my life, I make myself find a reason to be glad, and I have to say, it just really makes me feel better and more hopeful.>

I don’t like to make resolutions, because I can’t keep them, but I do think about goals for the New Year.   Last year one of my goals was to get in a regular exercise routine and to eat healthier. I am happy to say, I am doing that.  This year, my goal is to learn to step outside of my comfort zone and to be willing to take more risks. I want to get back to being a Ginger that can embrace change, trust her instincts and lead a more spontaneous life.

What are your goals for 2011?

Republic of Haiti's Independence Day

By Hillary Clinton

On behalf of President Obama and the people of United States, I join with the people of the Republic of Haiti to honor the 207th anniversary of your independence this January 1.

When Haiti cast off the bonds of slavery and declared its freedom from France in 1804, it made history, setting a precedent for independence in Latin America and creating the first post-colonial black-led nation in the world. Today, we see the courage of that struggle – from the leadership of Jean Jacques Dessalines and Toussaint L’Ouverture to the strength and unity of the Haitian people – reflected in Haiti’s response to the devastating earthquake of January 12, 2010. In the wake of a disaster that took the lives of more than 200,000 people, Haitians and volunteers from more than 140 nations came together overnight to pull survivors from the rubble and administer critical care and assistance. I witnessed this testament to our common humanity first hand in the days immediately following the earthquake, and I have seen it grow throughout the year as countries around the world continue to help Haiti recover and rebuild.

Despite all Haiti has endured, Haitians have shown an unflagging strength, will, and passion to forge ahead and build a more prosperous nation. The people and Government of the United States stand firmly with the people of Haiti, and we are committed to helping ensure that your voice determines the way forward for your nation and government. We will continue deepening the partnership and friendship between our nations to achieve a brighter future for all our people.

I wish all Haitians a happy Independence Day and New Year. I look forward to working with you to make 2011 a year filled with peace and progress.

Iraq: Violence Against Christians

Mark C. Toner
Acting Department Spokesman
Washington, DC
December 31, 2010

We condemn the violence against Christians carried out overnight by terrorists in Iraq. President Talabani, Prime Minister Maliki, and virtually every political bloc and major religious leader in Iraq have denounced attacks on Christians and stressed the centrality of Christians in the fabric of Iraqi society. We commend the Government of Iraq for increasing its security measures to protect Christian communities since the October 31 suicide bombing attack at Our Lady of Salvation Church.

We call on the Government of Iraq to redouble its efforts to protect Christians and apprehend the terrorists who are behind these acts.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Why Wikileaks is a threat to International Security and Julian Assange is a traitor, Part 3

By Zach Foster
Click to view Part 1 or Part 2

Now that it has been established that Assange is a traitor to his country and an aide to terrorists, it is only fair to credit the successes of Wikileaks which have benefited the world.  There are indeed a great many bad things that need to be exposed, whose exposition not only benefits the world but also tends to bring attention to laws instead of violating them.  Assange, through Wikileaks, exposed the numerous extrajudicial assassinations taking place in Kenya, saying "It is a reflection of the courage and strength of Kenyan civil society that this injustice was documented. Through the tremendous work of organisations such as the Oscar foundation, the KNHCR, Mars Group Kenya and others we had the primary support we needed to expose these murders to the world."  The exposition of the Kenyan murders shows how laws were being broken and human rights were being violated left and right.  This is completely unlike the situation in the Iraq and Afghanistan war zones, which are under martial law and whose governments are engaged in armed combat against terrorist organizations that make an official policy of brutal torture and mass executions.  Furthermore, despite the seeming unethicality nature of water boarding or using fire hoses on detainees during interrogation, these actions are being carried out against unlawful combatants who have no protection whatsoever by the Geneva Convention.  It is almost humorous to look back on the capture of terrorists running houses of torture, where innocent civilians (alleged prisoners of “holy war”) had their fingers cut off, jaws ripped off, and then were executed by decapitation on film, and these terrorists had the nerve to demand their rights according to the Geneva Convention!

Assange’s exposing of secret documents of the Church of Scientology that show the “church’s” habits of preying upon the finances of its members, requiring certain fees amounting to thousands of dollars as a prerequisite for advancement in the church.  That was something that potential church members (and even un-knowing current ones) need to be made aware of.  Often times, hypocrisy by governments and politicians has been exposed.  If a member of a government is passing anti-drug legislation, or other legislation that takes a key moral side, and then engaging in contrary behavior in private, then a situation has arisen in which it is only ethical to blow the whistle.  Murders, scams, and outright lying are things that people need to be made aware of.

However, Assange’s actions in regards to the leaking of classified military documents have crossed many lines, both legal and moral.  It is unethical for him to get actively involved in foreign affairs and then feel victimized by prosecution for crimes he committed abroad.  Furthermore, it is unethical for him to make decisions that highly affect the status of wars when he knows nothing about war, especially about American just wars (whether people agree with the Iraq War or not, the U.S. has an obligation to rebuild a country it broke).  Regardless of mistakes that countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Afghanistan, and Iraq have made, their current governments and militaries could never be anywhere near as bad as the people they are fighting today.

Julian Assange has done good work in the past that is a credit to journalism.  His recent work however—work which he and his supporters have vehemently defended—has caused incredible harm.  This shows the change in a man who started a once good organization, now taking himself too seriously as prolific journalist—too seriously as a hero—rather than a servant of the people.  The truth is that Assange, in his quest to be the first to get the big, juicy scoop, has unknowingly lost himself in his career and become a servant for terror.  Many of his supporters cry over and over again, “Don’t shoot the messenger!”  Their basis for the argument and their chosen figure of speech is faulty; it’s not right to shoot the messenger when all he is doing is delivering the message—his job.  However, when the messenger eavesdrops on a conversation he knows absolutely nothing about, on a topic he has absolutely no expertise in, and the messenger makes a situation incredibly worse, then he has done wrong and can’t realistically expect to be patted on the back.

Nonetheless, there still is hope for Assange.  He needs to acknowledge that he has done harm to the international community, to militaries engaged in wars whose end goals are for the greater good, and to fledgling democratic governments struggling to build their future.  He needs to acknowledge that he allowed his selfishness and motivation to be the leading journalist get in the way of his true objectives.  Lastly, he needs to promise that his journalistic abilities will from now on be put to helping people in need, as he has done in the past.


Burma's Independence Day

By Mark C. Toner
Acting Department Spokesman

Tuesday, January 4, 2011 marks the 63rd anniversary of Burma’s independence. We offer our congratulations to the people of Burma on this occasion.

We are unwavering in our support for an independent, peaceful, prosperous, and democratic Burma. The United States remains prepared to improve bilateral relations, but looks to the Burmese Government to meet the aspirations of its diverse peoples by freeing all political prisoners and engaging in an inclusive and meaningful dialogue with all its citizens in pursuit of genuine national reconciliation.

We join the international community in anticipating the day when Burma’s citizens will succeed in their peaceful efforts to exercise freely their universal human rights.

A Look at 2010

Good morning,

As the New Year approaches, I’ve taken time to reflect on the work that the White House Council on Women and Girls has done this year – and I’m so proud!  There were many things, both big and small, that marked this year. Since the time of the Inauguration, we have made the economic security of women and girls our main focus.  To this end, we worked to shine the national spotlight on improving workplace flexibility, we continued to support women business owners, and we launched an unprecedented coordinated effort across the entire government to protect victims of domestic and sexual violence.

We helped pass the Affordable Care Act, which eliminates gender rating and bans insurance companies from dropping women from coverage when they get sick. The Affordable Care Act also provides free wellness visits for children and provides standardized, easy-to-understand information on different health insurance plans so women can easily compare prices. In addition to the Affordable Care Act, the Council fought hard to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act and although it was defeated, we will continue to advocate for equal pay for women. The Council also supports women around the world by promoting entrepreneurship, food safety, and global health.

We invite you to view a selection of 2010 highlights from the CWG website.
And, there is still more work to be done!  We know that 2011 will be a big year and we will need your continued engagement. If you have friends or family that would like to join our efforts, please have them click here.

Happy Holidays!

Valerie Jarrett
Senior Advisor to President Obama and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls

Behind the Scenes Video: Signing Repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell

By Jesse Lee

At the signing of the bill to repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" last week, the sense of history and enthusiasm was palpable throughout the audience.  While we were there we had a chance to talk to Captain Jonathan Hopkins, who was discharged under the policy, as well as Rep. Patrick Murphy who led the charge in the House of Representatives, and Melody Barnes who played an integral role here at the White House.  The video gives a glimpse of what it was like there:

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Why Wikileaks is a threat to International Security and Julian Assange is a traitor, Part 2

By Zach Foster

Click to view Part 1

Let us pay closer attention to the language used by Sun Tzu and von Clausewitz.  They both elaborate on how information can hurt the enemy.  But wait!  The information posted by Wikileaks helped terrorists and hurt the Coalition which includes the Australian military.  Assange is an Australian citizen!  Could this appearance of treason be innocent, merely an accidental side effect in a dedicated journalist’s quest for freedom of information for the public?  Perhaps.  However, Assange was warned by the Australian government in 2009 that his site would be censored in Australia for national security reasons over the posting of numerous classified documents of many governments, including the Australian government (He couldn’t realistically be arrested by Australian authorities as he doesn’t formally reside anywhere, always on the move from one country to another).  Then he leaked military documents again.  The second leak certainly makes circumstances appear that he has made his choice about whom his enemies are, and one of them is his own country as he continues to leak information that aids terrorists and insurgents in the Iraq and Afghan wars.

Assange’s CONTINUED act of releasing military intelligence to the world public, knowing that terrorist and insurgent organizations benefit from it, satisfied the requirement for treason in Australian Criminal Code 80.12 (d), since he is now levying war as an intelligence spy for terrorists.  His continued leaks of military intelligence shows engagement in conduct that assists an enemy at war with the Commonwealth—treason according to paragraph (e).

While his treason according to paragraphs (d) and (e) could ALMOST be argued against on philosophical grounds, paragraph (f) was very explicitly fit by Assange’s actions, since he has engaged in conduct that assists by any means whatever, with intent to assist (ii) an organization that is engaged in armed hostilities against the Australian Defence Force.  Perhaps the first leak wasn’t intended to assist terrorists, but the knowing disregard for that during repeat offenses does constitute intent.  Several Australian soldiers were wounded by hostile fire and explosions in the Iraq War and twenty-one Australian Defense Force troops have been killed in the ongoing Afghanistan War at the time this article was written.  All of the above fulfillments of treason serve to fulfill the “overt act” mentioned in paragraph (h).

While Assange cannot be tried or convicted of treason by any foreign court, he certainly can face those charges and that trial in Australia.  Furthermore, if it can be proven that these leaks of military intelligence by the terrorist spy Assange caused the deaths of American servicemembers in Iraq or Afghanistan, then Assange legally falls under the jurisdiction for prosecution by the United States, and could very well face trial if Great Britain (his current jailers) allow his extradition to the United States.  Remember those historical figures mentioned who were killed abroad for intervening in foreign affairs and violating foreign laws while abroad.

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines a spy as “one who keeps secret watch on a person or thing to obtain information.”  Spying is what Assange and his underlings do in order to fuel Wikileaks.  There is no question about it.  Furthermore, Assange and the Wikileaks contributors are aware that this leak of governments’ classified information provides valuable information to terrorist groups.  Assange’s conduct as a terrorist spy fulfills the requirements for seditious conspiracy against the United States according to United States Code Title 18, section 2384, “If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States…”

Assange’s actions which have been proven above to have levied war against Australia have also levied war against the United States, since terrorists and insurgents fighting against the United States have benefited on several occasions from intelligence posted online by Assange.  Assange obviously didn’t know this vital military information before he received it, but the fact that someone sent this military information to him AND he approved (and has since defended) its posting, this proves that two or more people in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States have conspired to levy war against the United States (war zones are under martial law and the U.S. Uniform Code of Military Justice, and any cyberspace holding U.S. military secrets can be acted upon by agents of the United States for purposes of national and international security.  Even through engaging in cyber warfare, Assange has made himself an enemy combatant).

Assange can also be prosecuted for crimes against the United States according to Title 18, section 2388, “Activities affecting armed forces during war.”  While much speculation has been given to the vast jurisdiction that both the United States and Australian governments have for prosecution of Assange, no one has speculated on the numerous grounds whereupon the governments of IRAQ and AFGHANISTAN can prosecute him!  After all, his actions and the actions of the organization for which he is editor-in-chief have directly contributed (if not led) to the danger and serious harm or deaths of their countries’ citizens.  Let it be known that, while many of these arguments are philosophical in nature, their basis is firmly founded on written law.

Concluded in Part 3.

Safety Tips New Year's Eve

If you are hosting a New Year's Eve party, following a few simple rules could prevent a tragedy:

•Plan ahead by naming a "designated driver." Make this your responsibility as the host.
•Contact a local cab company to provide rides for your guests.
•Serve non-alcoholic beverages as an option to your guests.
•Stop serving alcohol to your guests several hours before the party ends.
•Provide your guests with a place to stay overnight in your home.
If you are attending New Year's Eve parties and celebrations:

•If you drink, don't drive.
•Plan ahead and always designate a sober driver before the party or celebration begins.
•If you are impaired, call a taxi, use mass transit, or get a sober friend or family member to come pick you up.
•Or, stay where you are until you are sober.
•Take the keys from someone if you think he/she is too impaired to drive.

The tragedies and costs from drinking and driving impaired don't just end with the potential death, disfigurement, disability and injury caused by impaired drivers. Driving impaired or riding with someone who is impaired isn't worth the risk. The consequences are serious and real. Not only do you risk killing yourself or someone else, but the trauma and financial costs of a crash or an arrest for driving while impaired can be significant.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Why Wikileaks is a threat to International Security and Julian Assange is a traitor

By Zach Foster

What happens when private citizens go abroad and disrupt the affairs of foreign nations?  If they go abroad and break any laws or codes whatsoever, they will be at the mercy of the country whose jurisdiction they are in.  In 1860 the filibuster (paramilitary pirate) William Walker, notorious for assembling private armies and attempting to conquer numerous Latin American regions to establish republics over which he would be the sovereign, was arrested and executed by the Honduran government.  He violated their laws with his presence in their country as a foreign invader with public intent to overthrow the sovereign government.  In 1838 Samuel Lount, an American citizen and native of Pehnnsylvania, was executed by the Royal Canadian government.  He got involved in Canadian politics and led an armed uprising in 1837.  Jamaican citizen Edward Nathaniel Bell was executed in 2001 for the murder of a Virginia police officer.  Clyde Lee Conrad, a US Army soldier, was arrested in 1990 by German authorities and sentenced to life in prison for spying on NATO for the People’s Republic of Hungary.

What did these individuals have in common?  Each of them got involved with the affairs of other nations, violating their laws, and being rightfully subjected to their laws and jurisdiction.  Has Julian Assange, the editor-in-chief of Wikileaks, commited any offenses against foreign governments as a private citizen?  Has Julian Assange betrayed his own country?  The answer to both is yes.

Upon being accused by the international community of treason, including a great many Americans outraged by the leaking of hundreds of thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan War documents, Assange has complained publicly in protest of such accusations that he is an Australian, not a United States citizen, and thus not guilty of treason.  The fact remains that he is, though it must be admitted that most people calling him a traitor have been passionately name-calling without knowing the basis of his treason.

Let it be known that, while Assange is guilty, he is by no means the only one guilty, for he is simply the tip of the iceberg.  While there are countless moles working toward the success of Wikileaks, Assange must fulfill his leadership role as editor-in-chief and take responsibility for the illegally leaked documents.  As editor-in-chief, Assange personally approves the content that is posted on the site.  Assange’s repeated approval of posting classified documents from the Iraq and Afghan wars marks him as a traitor to his own country, Australia, which participated in the Coalition of the Willing for five years, and continues to participate in the Afghan War coalition with over one thousand troops in the country, rebuilding the infrastructure, aiding the democratic government, and fighting the Taliban insurgents.  Section 80.12 of the Australian Criminal Code defines treason in several paragraphs.  Assange is guilty of treason according to paragraphs d, e, f, and h.

"A person commits an offence, called treason, if the person: (d) levies war, or does any act preparatory to levying war, against the Commonwealth; or (e) engages in conduct that assists by any means whatever, with intent to assist, an enemy: (i) at war with the Commonwealth, whether or not the existence of a state of war has been declared; and (ii) specified by Proclamation made for the purpose of this paragraph to be an enemy at war with the Commonwealth; or (f) engages in conduct that assists by any means whatever, with intent to assist: (i) another country; or (ii) an organisation; that is engaged in armed hostilities against the Australian Defence Force; or (h) forms an intention to do any act referred to in a preceding paragraph and manifests that intention by an overt act."

In war, critical information can be more valuable to an army than regiments of soldiers.  The historically famous Prussian General Carl von Clausewitz, author of On War, writes in Book I Chapter 6: “By the word ‘information’ we denote all the knowledge which we have of the enemy and his country.”  Military strategist Sun Tzu writes of the value of information in chapter 13 of The Art of War.  Sun Tzu writes “Thus, what enables the wise sovereign and the good general to strike and conquer, and achieve things beyond the reach of ordinary men, is foreknowledge.  Knowledge of the enemy's dispositions can only be obtained from other men.”  He also writes “Hence the use of spies, of whom there are five classes: (1) Local spies; (2) inward spies; (3) converted spies; (4) doomed spies; (5) surviving spies” and “Having inward spies, making use of officials of the enemy.”  The most recent local/inward spy of military intelligence aiding Wikileaks was Army PFC Bradley Manning.  While Assange is neither responsible for Manning’s actions not did he directly influence them, he did peruse the classified documents and approve their posting.

Among the hundreds of thousands of classified military documents posted by Wikileaks in recent years for the world to see were memos and after action reports detailing the names and numbers of military units, detailed descriptions of combat and other counterinsurgency operations, and most critically, the names of Iraqi/Afghan soldiers and policemen and, most unfortunately, the names of local civilians who served as informants for Coalition troops as well as the democratic Iraqi/Afghan authorities.  This was a devastating blow to the war efforts and even more painful for Iraq and Afghanistan.  These documents released online have now given “a hundred ounces of silver” (Sun Tzu) in rich information to the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and other insurgents fighting against Coalition troops and the governments of Iraq and/or Afghanistan.  If a blow was dealt to Coalition troops, then a blow was also dealt to Australian military forces, as they frequently work side by side with US and Afghan troops to this day.

How has this helped these insurgents and terrorists?  They now know exactly which military units are operating where, as well as what part of operations they play in Enduring Freedom and New Dawn (then Iraqi Freedom), knowledge on how they fight in battle (so that they can be fought more effectively and ferociously), the IDENTITIES of indigenous soldiers and police officers so that they can be tracked down and “executed” (murdered), and the identities of CIVILIAN informers and partners in rebuilding the country, so that they can be “executed” (murdered, “made examples of”), thus severing vital information that would have gone to Coalition troops and government authorities.  The Australian military was an active participant in Operation Iraqi Freedom for five years and continues to be an active participant in Operation Enduring Freedom (the Afghanistan War).

Let us pay closer attention to the language used by Sun Tzu and von Clausewitz.  They both elaborate on how information can hurt the enemy.  But wait!  The information posted by Wikileaks helped terrorists and hurt the Coalition which includes the Australian military.  Assange is an Australian citizen!

Continued in Part 2

Security Measures at U.S. Embassies (Taken Question)

Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC

December 27, 2010

Question: Have U.S Embassies changed their security posture in light of the reported bombings on the Swiss, Chilean and Ukrainian Embassies in Rome?

Answer: We have notified all U.S. Embassies worldwide to review current mail screening procedures and to continue vigilance when opening mail.

In Rome, we are monitoring the situation with local law enforcement. We have alerted all U.S. Embassy Rome personnel that if they receive anything suspicious, either at the Embassy or at their residences, to inform the Regional Security Officer immediately.

Holidays at the White House

Each year a theme is selected for Christmas at the White House, a tradition started by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in 1961.  The theme for the White House Christmas 2010 is Simple Gifts – a celebration of friends and family, hearth and home, and simple things that bring joy at Christmas.  You’re invited to get into the holiday spirit on – tour the decorations, send “Seasons Greetings” to our troops, watch behind-the-scenes videos, and more.
Experience this at

Government Gab - New Year's Resolution #12: Volunteer

By Stephanie

Love dares you to care
For people on the edge of the night
—David Bowie, "Under Pressure"

Some popular New Year's resolutions: Save money. Find a better job. Lose weight. Quit smoking. Go back to school. Organize that closet. Volunteer to help others.

Sometimes the resolution to volunteer to help others gets a bit buried in all the rest. But one thing's certain: people's circumstances change throughout their lives, and sometimes we need help from someone else to get through the harder times. And in this economy, plenty of people are experiencing harder times.

Is one of your New Year's resolutions to volunteer to help others? If you follow through with that resolution, you'll be in excellent company. Last year, 63.4 million Americans age 16 and older volunteered. And the number of Americans volunteering in their communities jumped by 1.6 million last year, the largest increase since 2003.

The volunteering I've done in my life—and the remarkable people I've met while doing it—have left a lasting impression on me. Whether mopping floors at a homeless shelter, giving out groceries at a food pantry, supervising a transition house for women moving out of a shelter, or regularly bringing my dog to cheer up nursing home residents, I've encountered so many people who surprised me with their resilience, cheerfulness, unique backgrounds, and resourcefulness. I always feel like I get as much out of helping them as they do.

On the other end, I'll never personally know the volunteers who brought meals to seniors like my housebound grandmother, or the hospital volunteers who visited bedridden patients like my mom—but the companionship and care they gave were invaluable and appreciated by our whole family.

Want to volunteer, but don't know where to start? makes it easy to find opportunities in your area. Just type in your interests, such as seniors, hunger, veterans, education, health, animals, and even technology. Then type in your city, state, or zip code—and see the amazing variety of volunteer opportunities come up. There's sure to be one that fits your time, talent, and interest.

Under the category of seniors in my area, for example, I saw a call for a snow shoveler, food distribution assistant, English as a second language instructor, computer instructor, and even volunteers to offer talks on classical music and opera!

For more volunteer opportunities, visit's FAQ on Public Service and Volunteerism, and's section on Volunteering Your Time. And good for you for getting serious about that New Year's resolution to volunteer to help others!

Libertarian Party Monday Message

December 27, 2010

Dear Friend of Liberty,

This is the last Monday Message of 2010, and I thought I would take the opportunity to mention a few of the things our party has achieved this year.

-Over 800 Libertarians ran as candidates in the November 2 election. (That's up from about 600 in 2008 and also about 600 in 2006.) Our candidates got over 15 million votes total, and our candidates for U.S. House got over 1 million votes.
-Throughout the year, at least 38 Libertarians were elected or re-elected to public office. Our list of elected Libertarians grew from 146 to 154.
-We passed our goal of $365,000 in online contributions. The current up-to-the-minute total is on our home page.
-Our total fundraising this year is significantly greater than last year, and also greater than 2006, the previous mid-term election year.
-We started a program to distribute inexpensive Libertarian bumper stickers, door hangers, and T-shirts. We got orders for about 170,000 bumper stickers, about 650,000 door hangers, and over 1,000 T-shirts.
-Our monthly pledge total increased from about $25,000 per month to over $30,000 per month.
-Our Facebook fan count exploded from about 20,000 fans to over 134,000 fans.
Thanks to all our donors, candidates and volunteers for making 2010 a great year.

Please support the Libertarian Party and help make 2011 an even greater year!


Wes Benedict
Executive Director
Libertarian National Committee

P.S. If you have not already done so, please join the Libertarian Party. We are the only political party dedicated to free markets, civil liberties, and peace. You can also renew your membership. Or, you can make a contribution separate from membership.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Party Profile: Meet the Constitutionalists

Constitution Party National Platform

We declare the platform of the Constitution Party to be predicated on the principles of The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution of the United States, and The Bill of Rights.

According to the original intent of the Founding Fathers, these founding documents are the foundation of our Liberty and the Supreme Law of the Land.

The sole purpose of government, as stated in the Declaration of Independence, is to secure our unalienable rights given us by our Creator. When Government grows beyond this scope, it is usurpation, and liberty is compromised.

We believe the major issues we face today are best solved by a renewed allegiance to the original intent of these founding documents.

Selections from the Party Platform


The Constitution Party gratefully acknowledges the blessing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as Creator, Preserver and Ruler of the Universe and of these United States. We hereby appeal to Him for mercy, aid, comfort, guidance and the protection of His Providence as we work to restore and preserve these United States.

This great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been and are afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.

The goal of the Constitution Party is to restore American jurisprudence to its Biblical foundations and to limit the federal government to its Constitutional boundaries.

The Constitution of these United States provides that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." The Constitution Party supports the original intent of this language. Therefore, the Constitution Party calls on all those who love liberty and value their inherent rights to join with us in the pursuit of these goals and in the restoration of these founding principles.

The U.S. Constitution established a Republic rooted in Biblical law, administered by representatives who are Constitutionally elected by the citizens. In such a Republic all Life, Liberty and Property are protected because law rules.

We affirm the principles of inherent individual rights upon which these United States of America were founded:

•That each individual is endowed by his Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are the rights to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness;
•That the freedom to own, use, exchange, control, protect, and freely dispose of property is a natural, necessary and inseparable extension of the individual's unalienable rights;
•That the legitimate function of government is to secure these rights through the preservation of domestic tranquility, the maintenance of a strong national defense, and the promotion of equal justice for all;
•That history makes clear that left unchecked, it is the nature of government to usurp the liberty of its citizens and eventually become a major violator of the people's rights; and
•That, therefore, it is essential to bind government with the chains of the Constitution and carefully divide and jealously limit government powers to those assigned by the consent of the governed.


US Constitution, 5th Amendment:
"No person shall be … deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

Conscription deprives a person of liberty without due process of law. This is clearly prohibited by the 5th amendment. Conscription is an involuntary taking of a person's labor-which is a form of property-without just compensation as provided by the eminent domain provisions of the 5th amendment.
Compulsory government service is incompatible with individual liberty.

We oppose imposition of the draft, the registration law, compulsory military training or any other form of compulsory government service.

We support a well-trained and highly organized volunteer state home militia, and voluntary Reserve Officer Training Corps (R.O.T.C.) military training in our schools, colleges, and universities.


Since the Constitution grants the Federal Government no authority over Education, the 10th Amendment applies:
"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
All teaching is related to basic assumptions about God and man. Education as a whole, therefore, cannot be separated from religious faith. The law of our Creator assigns the authority and responsibility of educating children to their parents. Education should be free from all federal government subsidies, including vouchers, tax incentives, and loans, except with respect to veterans.

Because the federal government has absolutely no jurisdiction concerning the education of our children, the United States Department of Education should be abolished; all federal legislation related to education should be repealed. No federal laws subsidizing or regulating the education of children should be enacted. Under no circumstances should the federal government be involved in national teacher certification, educational curricula, textbook selection, learning standards, comprehensive sex education, psychological and psychiatric research testing programs, and personnel.

Because control over education is now being relegated to departments other than the Department of Education, we clarify that no federal agency, department, board, or other entity may exercise jurisdiction over any aspect of children's upbringing. Education, training, and discipline of children are properly placed in the domain of their parents.

We support the unimpeded right of parents to provide for the education of their children in the manner they deem best, including home, private or religious. We oppose all legislation from any level of government that would interfere with or restrict that liberty. We support equitable tax relief for families whose children do not attend government schools.

So that parents need not defy the law by refusing to send their children to schools of which they disapprove, compulsory attendance laws should be repealed.

Gun Control

The 2nd Amendment strictly limits any interference with gun ownership by saying: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
The right to bear arms is inherent in the right of self defense, defense of the family, and defense against tyranny, conferred on the individual and the community by our Creator to safeguard life, liberty, and property, as well as to help preserve the independence of the nation.

The right to keep and bear arms is guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the Constitution; it may not properly be infringed upon or denied.

The Constitution Party upholds the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms. We oppose attempts to prohibit ownership of guns by law-abiding citizens, and stand against all laws which would require the registration of guns or ammunition.

We emphasize that when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have them. In such circumstances, the peaceful citizen's protection against the criminal would be seriously jeopardized.

We call for the repeal of all federal firearms legislation, beginning with Federal Firearms Act of 1968.

We call for the rescinding of all executive orders, the prohibition of any future executive orders, and the prohibition of treaty ratification which would in any way limit the right to keep and bear arms.

Poverty Spreads Across America as We Celebrate Christmas

By Darrell Castle
Constitution Party National Committee, Vice-Chairman

“The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19)

This week we pause to celebrate the birth of the one who spoke those words in the temple more than 2000 years ago. While contemplating those words amid the celebration, and preparations for celebration, I am reminded that a deepening poverty is spreading across the nation – the same nation, as we are constantly reminded, that is the richest nation on earth.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, we now have almost 43 million people who subsist on food stamps. That is a little more than 13% of the entire American population that must have assistance from the government just to buy food. In my home state of Tennessee it’s more than 20% and in Washington D.C., the seat of the nation’s government, it’s more than 21%.

Prices of the things people need most to live – or in other words, the things they can’t live without – such as food and fuel, are soaring.  Based on current Federal Reserve interest rates, we are told there is no inflation in the economy, but those of us who must buy food and fuel know better.

This inflation in food and fuel comes at a time when some 15 million people are unemployed according to U.S. Government (USG) figures, which place the unemployment rate at close to 10%. During the depression years of the 1930’s, the USG used a more honest reporting formula for unemployment. If you did not have a job and were not retired, you were unemployed. If we used that formula today, the rate would be pushing 25%. Now, the unemployed are not counted unless they are actually receiving unemployment benefits.  Could that be the reason the administration fights so hard to continually extend the months of eligibility for benefits?

Many people are very concerned about the deficit now, as well they should be. These people tell us we can’t afford to extend unemployment benefits, we can’t afford Medicare and Medicaid, and we can’t afford Social Security which has now gone negative. We can, however, afford about a trillion dollars a year for wars that nobody can tell us the meaning of. Even the Commander-in-Chief can only say “they’re necessary.” If we can’t afford anything but wars of aggression, it seems to me that we deserve at least an explanation of why.

Oh yes, I almost forgot one other thing that we can afford. We can always afford the trillions – yes that’s right: Mr. Bernanke said he gave trillions to foreign banks and corporations – we can also afford the trillions we gave to American banks and corporations. Goldman Sachs, for example, was provided funds 212 times during the approximate year of the TARP period. That’s almost once every business day.

We’ve seen some of the USG’s priorities then, in relation to what we can and can’t afford. We know that the five largest items, often referred to as mandatory, in the fiscal year 2011 budget take up 100 percent of tax revenue. Those items are Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, defense, and interest on the debt. Everything else that is spent must be borrowed. Defense and interest on the debt are clearly affordable, but the others are problematic. The USG has now spent generations creating a totally dependent society and it seems bad form to me for them to then blame the entire mess on the dependent.

All these things taken together add up to a collapsing economy and ultimate doom for the dollar. When the dollar loses reserve status and necessary items, if obtainable at all, skyrocket in price, the picture might not be a pretty one. I wonder if all these economic “mistakes” have occurred purely by accident and stupidity? Aren’t Rhodes Scholars, as well as Harvard, Princeton, and London School of Economics graduates supposed to be smart? If so then, are they fools or knaves?

Those who, through their concerted efforts, have managed in only 100 years to destroy a civilization that took 1000 years to build seem pretty happy and pretty excited right now. Sometimes their gloating is a little hard to take, but I remind you that there is still cause for great joy during this Christmas week. Oh I know they have their dark prince and they hear his voice, but their time and his time are but temporary. The one who spoke the words in the first paragraph of this writing is with us, and he did tell us that he would not leave us or forsake us.

The followers of the dark prince may not realize it, but they are just instruments doing what God has ordained them to do since before the foundations of the world.

Party Profile: Who Are the Modern Whigs?

Established in 1833, the Whigs are one of America's oldest mainstream political parties. We were the original party of Abraham Lincoln and four other U.S. Presidents.

Revived by Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, this grassroots movement has quickly attracted thousands of new members. We represent moderate voters from all walks of life who cherry-pick between traditional Republican and Democratic ideals in what has been called the Modern Whig Philosophy. This Washington DC-based national movement values common sense, rational solutions ahead of ideology and partisan bickering.

This includes general principles of fiscal responsibility, strong national defense and educational/scientific advancement.

In March 2010, TIME Magazine rated the Modern Whig Party as one of the "top 10 most popular political movements worldwide."


FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY — The Modern Whig philosophy is to empower the states with the resources to handle their unique affairs.

ENERGY INDEPENDENCE — Reduce dependence on foreign oil by developing practical sources of alternative energy. This will have the simultaneous effect of changing the national security dynamic.

EDUCATION/SCIENTIFIC ADVANCEMENT — Increased public and private emphasis on fields such as space, oceanic, medical and nanotechnology. Also, providing common-sense solutions to enhance our educational system from pre-school to university-level studies.

STATES RESPONSIBILITY — Each state can generally determine its course of action based on local values and unique needs.

SOCIAL PROGRESSION — Government should refrain from legislating morality.

VETERANS AFFAIRS — Vigilant advocacy relating to the medical, financial, and overall well-being of our military families and veterans.

Remarks at Townhall on Human Rights Day

Michael H. Posner
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

Harold Hongju Koh
Legal Advisor U.S. Department of State

Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Public Affairs

MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon. Thank you. Good afternoon. Welcome to the Department of State. My name is P.J. Crowley. I’m the Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, or as Stephen Colbert described me last night, an unnamed government functionary. (Laughter.)

I have several purposes here. One is to welcome you all, which I’ve done. The other is to introduce my two very good friends and colleagues, Assistant Secretary Mike Posner, who has an even more challenging job than I do as the State Department spokesman and -- as our Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, and Harold Koh, our distinguished legal advisor and my lawyer. (Laughter.)

Now, Mike Posner has some experience with Stephen Colbert as well. He made an appearance earlier this year, did us all proud here at the State Department. But we were trying to prep him a little bit before getting started, and we said, “So, suppose Colbert asks you a question like what got you interested in human rights?” And Michael paused and said, “I’m a Chicago Cubs fan.” (Laughter.)

Now, Harold and I are both Red Sox fans. I’m not sure whether we have anybody here from New England and Red Sox Nation, but we’re doing okay. There have been a couple of key acquisitions here. So – but we can sympathize. I mean, everybody in the world is a Cubs fan, and we can sympathize with that.

But again, we welcome you here. And this is – we welcome you on a particular day, December 10th, which commemorates Human Rights Day and the UN adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But this is something that our diplomats do every single day. And I would pause here and say you don’t need to have a release of a treasure trove of secret documents to hopefully understand that this is the subject of conversations day in and day out by our diplomats all around the world as we – both as we both promote human rights and as we try to meet the challenge every single day of practicing what we preach.

We, the United States, do not by any stretch say – suggest that we are perfect. We are – we have challenging – challenges within our practice of human rights in this country. Now, has anybody here heard of something called the Universal Periodic Review? Anybody here from Arizona? Well, we did, through Michael and Harold and others we did present something called the Universal Periodic Review to the Human Rights Council in Geneva last month, which was our best assessment of the human rights challenge in this country.

Why did we do it, even though some conservatives in the country said, “Why are you doing this?” Well, again, our practice here at the State Department and within the U.S. Government is to lead by example. And we do recognize that even though we have shortcomings, by the same token, we do respect human rights in this country. In fact, we do see ourselves as a model for others to emulate, and in fact we recognize that many people look to us to lead the way in terms of the promotion and practice of human rights, promoting freedom of association, the freedom to participate in an open political process, the freedom of the press.

I deal with the press every day, and whether you like the press or not -- many Americans respect the press but don’t necessarily like what they print. On some days I agree with them. But by the same token, our press are here every day. They challenge the government every day. They hold us to account, and by holding us to account they make us more effective. We do recognize that in other parts of the world journalists are intimidated, they are jailed, and in some cases, tragically, they are killed. So we have built institutions of civil society here in the United States over more than 240 years, and we do see ourselves as an indispensible country in promoting human rights around the world.

We don’t – and we hold ourselves up to that standard. We respect anyone who wants to point a finger at us, and there is this debate going on in the world today about this thing called WikiLeaks, and we welcome that debate. I think that is what distinguishes us from other countries, a country like China, for example, where it is trying to stifle debate, even on a day where we recognize Liu Xiaobo as the latest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. And we respect and salute his courage in demonstrating for a different kind of political system in China.

But with that, we welcome you here. It’s an important subject. I’m going to introduce Mike Posner, who will say a few remarks, and then Harold Koh, and then we will start a question and answer period. I think the Secretary of State’s going to come down for a quick hello to you, and then we’ll continue the Q&A after the Secretary’s remarks. But with that, happy to introduce and bring to the podium Assistant Secretary Michael Posner. (Applause.)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: Thank you. Thanks so much, P.J. It’s, first of all, a great pleasure to have you here on Human Rights Day. And we view this, more than anything, as an opportunity to have an open discussion and hear your questions.

Just by way of introduction, to follow on what P.J. said, today we celebrate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, now 62 years old, which for the first time provided the world a universal set of standards that apply to everyone, regardless of their nationality, their race, their religion. Everybody, by virtue of their humanity, is entitled to core rights. That document, a single set of standards that we apply to everyone, including ourselves -- and as P.J. said, and as Secretary Clinton has said, our aim is lead by example. That document very much the product of Eleanor Roosevelt’s leadership in the UN Human Rights Commission, and 62 years later we are still trying to honor her legacy by continuing our engagement on human rights.

The President has talked about principled engagement. We’re engaged in the world on a range of issues, political, business issues, strategic, but human rights is at the center. In every place we operate, human rights issues are raised, and that’s my job, and it’s the job of many people in this Department and in this government. And then finally, we believe very strongly that things in the world change not because you force them outside but because within a society agents of changes -- whether they’re women’s groups or the press or an independent judiciary -- human rights groups have the ability to create a democratic environment where change is possible.

So the Secretary in Krakow, Poland in July gave a speech which we regard as a kind of watershed for this Administration and this government, where she focused on the role of the nongovernmental sector, civil society, in promoting human rights and spelled out some of the challenges that human rights and other activist groups face in their own societies. That commitment to civil society extends to you. Part of the reason for our having you here and having events like this throughout the year, is our belief that if we’re going to have a democratic country, a truly democratic country, we need to do what we can to engage our own people, our own country.

So we’re delighted you’re here. With those opening comments, Harold and I are really eager to hear your thoughts and questions, and the floor is open. Please.

MODERATOR: And if you would identify yourself that would be great.

QUESTION: Hello. My name is Dr. Janet Paker (ph). I am here from Lawrence, Kansas. I’m the executive director of Medical Whistleblower in Lawrence, Kansas, and we did submit a report to the Universal Periodic Review. I wanted to ask you in regards to the Whistleblower Protection Act, currently now in legislative session with the Senate, already has passed the House, and is being debated, I think right now, on the floor of the Senate. It’s S-372.

We are, as a nation, required by the Declaration of – for Human Rights Defenders, the mandate for human rights defenders, to protect those who are obligated to report violations of human rights under treaties that we have signed and ratified, such as CAT, the Convention against Torture. And our federal whistleblowers, those in federal service, many of whom have classified clearances, some of whom are working in the federal prison system, some of whom are working in the BA (ph), some of whom are working in military positions, some who are working in the intelligence community, are especially concerned that they do not have adequate protections right now with the Merit Systems Protection Board and also protections under the Office of Inspector General. And I was wondering if you will be looking at that legislation to make sure that it is in compliance with the Declaration for Human Rights Defenders, mandate 53/144. Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: I’m going to turn to my lawyer for this one.

MR. KOH: You have a right to remain silent. (Laughter.) Well, let me say I won’t comment on the specific bill. That’s not something that we do in this forum. We will do it with regard to hearings and other things that are presented on the bill. On the basic notion, do governments have – I mean, do individuals have a right to call their governments to account, it’s a core principle of how the U.S. system has operated, notably absent in other countries.

I think if I could just say a word to follow what Mike said, it’s important to realize two things: how radical the notion of international human rights is, that simply by virtue of being born as a human being you acquire certain rights that you cannot sell, that cannot be taken from you, that you don’t have to own property or have a certain amount of money or be a certain skin color or a certain gender to possess. You have those rights simply by virtue of being born as a human being. And that’s a notion that the Universal Declaration recognized 62 years ago.

Now, there are some people in this country and elsewhere who find that concept threatening, to which I would say we hold these truths to be self-evident that all persons are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, that that concept is the very concept on which this nation was founded, that this is a nation that is based on human rights, and that therefore has a critical role to play in advancing the cause of international human rights.

Finally, Eleanor Roosevelt did a remarkable thing in her time. And those of you who haven’t looked at her speeches on the world wide web, we’d encourage you to do that. One of the most touching things is that every night during the negotiations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights she would say a prayer, which was reported in a book about her by Mary Ann Glendon, who is a professor at Harvard Law School. It says, “Show me a vision of a world made new.” That’s the title of the book, A World Made New.

The notion was that after World War II, having experienced unspeakable violence and genocide, we needed to have a different vision to animate us going forward in the 20th century. And what she was saying was the concept of recognizing and protecting fundamental human rights for all persons is what the war was about; it was what we were fighting for, and that it’s so important that we have that concept and that the advance of human rights is a measure of whether civilization is advancing or standing still. So I think that on this day, why do we celebrate it, because of an extraordinary idea, radical idea, that was recognized because it is so fundamental to who we are as a nation and because it’s a measure of the advance of civilization both in this country and elsewhere in the world.

QUESTION: Good afternoon. My name is Josh Ruebner. I’m the national advocacy director of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, and I want to thank you for hosting this event this afternoon.

I’m just a little bit confused about the universality of human rights, given that the Obama Administration has now on two occasions – the Goldstone Report and Israel’s attack on the flotilla -- worked to prevent the international community from holding Israel accountable for its human rights violations.

So I have two fairly simple questions. Number one, does the State Department believe that there really truly is one human rights standard for all countries to abide by, or is Israel held to a lower standard of account? And number two: Are Palestinians, in the State Department’s vision, considered equal human beings with equal human rights to Israelis? And if so, when is the State Department going to end our diplomatic and military support for Israel’s human rights abuses of Palestinians?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: Harold and I were there in Geneva when the Goldstone Report was first taken up last September. Since then, I’ve been back to Israel twice, most recently last month, to follow up on our work in this area. So let me offer a couple of observations about what you say.

Yes, there is a single universal standard that applies to every country, including our own. We apply it to the Israelis, and we also view – in an answer to your second question – Palestinians as being human beings under the Universal Declaration and entitled to those rights.

We said three things in Geneva and have continued to say them about the Goldstone Report. One is that the report had a number of flaws, which we’ve identified and which, by the way, we’ve discussed directly with Justice Goldstone, who I know and respect. But the report was a document that had a number of flaws. We could discuss that.

Secondly, we’ve said that the UN forum in which that report was taken up, the Human Rights Council, devotes disproportionate attention to Israel and Palestine. It doesn’t mean that the issues aren’t legitimate. It means that, for example, next March the Council will have not one but six different resolutions on that subject. Lots of other things get no attention. Again, it doesn’t say there isn’t a serious issue. It does say that the institution needs to be reformed.

But the third we said, and we continue to say, is that the report included a number of serious allegations, and we called on the parties, including the Israelis, to take those reports seriously and to establish credible accountability mechanisms. We said that a year ago in September, and those have been my marching orders since then. We are discussing with the Israeli Government, including the IDF, the follow-up measures that we believe they ought to be taking, some of which they’ve taken and some not. We regard it as a serious issue.

And frankly, there’s a broader issue, which I’m increasingly focused on, which is the way in which the international community and governments and international institutions deal with the very real phenomenon in the 21st century of what are called asymmetrical urban wars. We face that. I faced it in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many other countries are fighting a new kind of war. And I think one of the things we’re urging the Israelis, we’re trying to do ourselves, is to take a fresh look at what are the maximum civilian protections, what are the maximum ways that humanitarian law can be enforced in these urban settings.

This is not an easy subject, but I can assure you that more than few minutes have gone into trying to address that. I’m committed to continuing to do it, and I have the support of this Department and this government to do it.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Hi. Good afternoon. I’m Tommy Grandon (ph). I’m in Consular Affairs now, but you’re quite right. It’s been a long haul. I was a staff assistant back in 1968 for President Johnson’s commission on the celebration of the anniversary of the human rights treaties, and I just would like to historically pay tribute to not only Alice Holsted (ph), who was a co-chair with Avril Hariman (ph), but also our executive director James Green (ph), his assistant Steve Shot (ph). And you can’t talk about human rights or women’s rights without mentioning in the same breath Gladys Tulet (ph). Human rights is hard, and you said today is 62 years. I was there on its 20th anniversary, and we’re still chugging along. Please keep it up. Thank you.


QUESTION: I’m Mark Hangman (ph). I’m with U.S. Fund for UNICEF. Thank you for having us here today, and I just want to recognize how amazing it is to have people with your credentials in and commitment to human rights working in this Administration. Unfortunately, the United States has not ratified the most widely recognized human rights treaty in the world, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and I’m just wondering what the prospects are of the Obama Administration getting that treaty package together and shipping it to the Senate so the Senate can take it up in the not too distant future. Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: I’m going back to my lawyer.

MR. KOH: Well, I think it’s an important point. We very much want to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child. We have ratified two protocols connected to it, which was an important step. I think that one of the things that we have to explain to those who are not in our political system is that to ratify a treaty takes not just the support of the executive branch and the support of civil society but the support of 67 senators, which is a super majority, which means that a relatively small number of senators can prevent a treaty from being ratified.

That does not prevent us from trying to move into full compliance with the treaty before we get to the point when the actual ratification occurs. And so I think as we said at the Universal Periodic Review, the difficulty of our political mechanism often leads to the opposite pattern in our country from some other countries. Some other countries ratify first then comply either later or never. Our country tends to try to move into compliance, and then when we have achieved that, at that point it becomes possible to get the political support to get the ratification.

That’s not a reason why we will not push for those ratifications. We do not believe the objections to the Convention that have been made by others are well founded. We think the Convention is something that should, indeed, be ratified by the United States.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: I would just say just one other point on that. Senator Durbin’s Human Rights subcommittee in the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing, I guess, last week or the week before on CEDAW, the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. Melanne Verveer, who is the Ambassador for Women’s Issues here, testified on that. Secretary Clinton has made it very clear we’re going to continue to push on that.

And there’s also the relatively new Convention on the Rights of Disabled People, and we are moving forward also to try to tee that up in a place. So these are priorities for us. As Harold said, the political reality makes it challenging, but it’s not stopping us from doing what we can to be – and get those things in place so when the moment is right we’re going to able to really push forward.

QUESTION: Good afternoon. My name Sumej Sudani (ph) and I’m a student at Georgetown University. And my question is, recognizing the fact that we are in a war in terror and the fact that America is perceived, if not believed to be allied with nations that do not promote human rights, I wanted to ask if there are moments – or if the United States should put its national security interest before human rights, and if so when?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: When I said earlier that the policy of this Administration, articulated by the President and the Secretary of State, is that of principled engagement, it precisely is aimed at addressing that question.

I was with the Secretary last week in Central Asia, in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Those are all countries where we have important security interests at stake relating to the war in Afghanistan, but there are also human rights issues. And those issues were raised. We’ll continue to raise them.

I think the challenge for this or any administration is to be clear that we have a range of issues with all sorts of governments, and we’ve got to be able to be multifunctional. We’ve got to be able to say, yes, we have security interests, but that’s not going to prevent us from raising the human rights concerns. And we did, and we did it very forcefully.

MR. CROWLEY: Just to add to that, this should – this is never an either-or situation. We have a range of interests with countries. We don’t have one approach to a country and – we look at what can be the most effective means of helping to transform the practice inside other countries. Well, how do we best influence them?

In a case of North Korea, a country with which we have profound human rights concerns, we do not have diplomatic relations with that country and we try to work those both in our public statements and in the dialogue we have with other countries, such as China, which has a relationship with North Korea.

In other countries, we may well have and do have well-founded human rights concerns, but we’ve made a judgment that we can best effect change in those countries from working with that country. You look at an Indonesia, for example, where we have a growing relationship, and through our cooperation and engagement we have, in fact, been able to help transform how Indonesia looks at and holds to account those within government who may be a suspect of human rights abuses.

At times we have pulled back from cooperation and made it clear that our future relationship, our future engagement, our future support, will depend on change and that we hold that country to account.

And through this involvement and having people on the ground helping to demonstrate to them this is how you have a military that relates to broader society; this is how you can create a civil society that can hold government to account but not necessarily be a threat to government. And we believe that we have had influence in various countries around the world.

Michael is going to Vietnam, which is a country where we have transformed our relationship, and while we have come a long way over 35 years, human rights is fundamental aspect of our dialogue expressly because we still have concerns about how the government – the actions the government takes with respect to its own population.

MR. KOH: And since I’m the lawyer on the panel, I hope you don’t mind if I try to narrow the terminology. You said we’re in a war on terror. We would say we’re in an armed conflict with al-Qaida, the Taliban, and associated forces, which Congress approved in a statute that it passed in September 2001.

The President made clear a year ago today that – in his Nobel Prize lecture, that he does not like to be fighting an armed conflict, but that’s not a choice that he made. It was a choice that was presented to him, and that he’s deeply committed to fighting that armed conflict consistent with our values, because he believes that fighting that conflict consistent with our values makes us both safer and stronger. And among other things, he rejected the use of torture as a tool in that armed conflict and committed himself to pursuing that armed conflict consistent with the rule of domestic and international law.


QUESTION: Hello. My name’s Victoria (ph), and I’m a law student at Northeastern University School of Law, and I’m currently here in Washington as a legal fellow with the National Law Center for Homelessness and Poverty. And my question is with respect to the conversation in Geneva about the reduction of homelessness and poverty.

And as usual, we reaffirmed our commitment to that – to reducing shelter and food and security. However, we seem to continue to conceptualize that problem as one that is best solved through aspirational policy goals. However, that doesn’t generally seem to be having the effect of precluding states from passing laws that criminalize various activities that are performed by homeless people, life sustaining activities such as sleeping or collecting cans for money for food. Isn’t it time that we maybe re-conceptualize our understanding of food, and shelter, security as human rights as opposed to simply aspiring to solve the problems through various encouraging policies, if you understand what I mean?

MR. KOH: Well, I think – I certainly believe that we have human rights to freedom from want. That’s what Franklin Roosevelt said in 1941. I think that was incorporated in the Universal Declaration, the first part of which had to do with civil and political rights, and the second part which had to economic, social, and cultural rights. The U.S. Supreme Court addressed the question in 1972 under our domestic law and did not find a constitutional right to be free from poverty, and that has led to a different trend in our domestic constitutional law.

But there are some countries in the world, and ours is one of them, in which polices and pursuing particular policies can then lead to legal change. for example, the Americans with Disabilities Act that has actually led to the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – I think the Secretary is here, so I think it probably might be a bad idea for me to keep talking. (Applause)

MR. POSNER: Earlier today we presented the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award to three, four great Americans, and we were delighted that Secretary Clinton led that ceremony. When introducing her, I said that very much as we’ve been talking today about the American -- U.S. role, leadership role, in creating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Eleanor Roosevelt’s role, we feel very proud to be led here at the State Department by someone who very much follows in Eleanor Roosevelt’s leadership tradition, a woman who needs no introduction, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.