War Tax Resister Priscilla Adams

I’ve found a new home — several times the space for less than ten clams more per month than I’ve been spending for a walk-in closet on the fancy side of the bay.

And so I find myself with more time to blog, though not necessarily much more to blog about, as my mind has been occupied by trying to get a roof over my head, and so I haven’t been thinking much about taxes and government policy and activism and the like.

The Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (a.k.a. Quakers) has been trying to accommodate the war tax resistance of one of its employees, Priscilla Adams. They haven’t been withholding taxes from her paychecks and forwarding the money to the IRS, but have instead been putting the withheld money into an escrow account as the IRS’s legal case against them continued.

Since most conscientious objection arguments to the federal income tax have failed in the courts, they had to try something new and so they reached for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act — a recent law that was designed for people whose long-standing religious beliefs conflict with federal law. It’s been used, for instance, to defend religious practitioners whose peyote use conflicted with federal drug laws.

The Meeting hoped that they could get some relief from this act as well, since they have a long-standing tradition of supporting the conscientious war tax resistance of their members, and they didn’t want to be put in the position of acting on behalf of the IRS and against the conscience of Ms Adams. Today, a judge ruled against them, but refused to add penalties to the back taxes.

According to this Washington Post article, the White House has finally started to back down a bit from the “torture is peachy when we say so” stand. In addition, they plan to release more of the memos in their torture-and-interrogation collection — and they hope by this to show that the awful ones we’ve seen and heard about aren’t a sample that accurately represents White House policy.

However, the documents also seem to confirm that the Dubya Squad were playing fast-and-loose with its treaty obligations and with its stated pledges to treat prisoners humanely. The current incarnation of the Post article begins: “President Bush claimed the right to waive anti-torture laws and treaties covering prisoners of war… and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld authorized guards to strip detainees and threaten them with dogs, according to documents released .” Even the right-wing Drudge Report, usually the first place to find the hopeful White House spin on a story, puts these revelations in its headline.

And the papers are finally catching on to a story that I covered : the Human Rights Watch report that U.S. air strikes designed to assassinate top Iraqi leaders were utter failures — zero for fifty — and because they involved techniques like dropping “bunker busters” on residential neighborhoods they caused many civilian casualties.

Why did it take for outfits like the Times to consider this news “fit to print?” I guess it’s because they finally got “senior military and intelligence officials” to verify the report. I’d like the Times better if they had the good sense to work the other way around, and wait until Human Rights Watch verifies the latest official spin before they rush it to print.