Norman Mineta

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Norman Mineta ...

The Chile letter

On August 1 1979 Thirty-five U.S. Congressmen signed a letter[1]to President Jimmy Carter demanding that private bank loans to Chile be barred unless the Chilean government chose to extradite three military officials, including the former director of the Chilean intelligence service. The three had been indicted for complicity in the assassination of marxist Unidad Popular government member and KGB agent Orlando Letelier and the killing of Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) staffer Ronni Moffitt in 1976.

In May 1978 the Chief Justice of the Chilean Supreme Court rejected the U.S. request for extradition.

Chief sponsor of the letter was Rep. Tom Harkin (D-IA), who was joined by Congressmen John Burton (D-CA), John Conyers (D-MI), Robert Kastenmeier (D-WI), Ron Dellums (D-CA), Berkley Bedell (D-IA), Richard Ottinger (D-NY), Fred Richmond (D-NY), Robert Drinan (D-MA), Leon Panetta (D-CA), Don Edwards (D-CA); Norman Mineta (D-CA), Pete Stark (D-CA}, Anthony Beileson (D-CA) George Brown (D-CA), Toby Moffett (D-CT), Dale Kildee (D-MI), Eugene Atkinson (D-PA), Michael Barnes (D-MD), David Bonior (D-MI), Adam Benjamin (D-IN), William Brodhead (D-MI), Robert Carr (D-MI), Tom Daschle (D-SD), Tom Downey (D-NY), Harold Hollenbeck (R-NJ), Pete Kostmayer (D-PA), Stewart McKinney (R-CT), Edward Markey (D-MA), Andrew Maguire (D-NJ) Richard Nolan (DFL-MN), Gerry Studds (D-MA), Bruce Vento (DFL-MN) and Howard Wolpe (D-MI).

The Harkin letter characterized the Chilean government as "an enemy of the American people" and urged the President to "take strong action against this terrorist government." The letter was released (9 A.M. on August 1 1979) at the same time a press statement from the Washington, DC, Chile Legislative Center of the National Coordinating Center in Solidarity with Chile, staffed by veterans of the Venceremos Brigade and the Communist Party USA, supported the Congressional letter and urged pressure so that the State Department does not accept a military trial of the three Chileans in Chile as a substitute for extradition and trial in the US.

South Africa benefit

On January 17 1986, a benefit concert was held at Oakland's Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center, for the National Emergency Fund of the South African Council of Churches.

Dinner Committee Members included Hon. Alan Cranston, Hon. Leo McCarthy, Hon. Barbara Boxer, Hon. Sala Burton, Hon. Ron Dellums (a DSA member), Hon. Don Edwards, Hon. Tom Lantos Hon. George Miller, Jr. Hon. Norman Mineta, Hon. Pete Stark, Hon. Willie Brown, plus Democratic Socialists of America members Julian Bond, Nancy Skinner, Harry Britt, John Henning, Adam Hochschild, Frances Moore Lappe, Stanley Sheinbaum, Communist Party USA affiliates Wilson Riles, Jr., Maudelle Shirek, Al Lannon, and Irving Sarnoff, and radical socialists Julianne Malveaux, Drummond Pike, John George, Peter Yarrow and actor/activist Sidney Poitier.[2]

Free Wen Ho Lee

Chanting "Free Wen Ho Lee!" more than 150 people rallied in front of the San Francisco Federal Building, June 8, 2000 for a National Day of Action to protest the government's persecution of Dr. Wen Ho Lee. Dr. Lee was an employee of Los Alamos National Laboratory, which designs and builds nuclear weapons. He was jailed and charged with providing an unnamed foreign power with information on atomic weapons.

The San Francisco protest was one of many demonstrations, teach-ins, and press conferences held across the country organized by the Coalition Against Racial and Ethnic Scapegoating (CARES). CARES charges that Dr. Lee was singled out because of his Chinese ancestry, and was made a scapegoat for poor security at the weapons lab.

Los Alamos Laboratory has security problems, which have continued after the arrest of Dr. Lee. The former head of security at Los Alamos stated that Lee was targeted because he was Chinese. At the rally in San Francisco, author Helen Zia angrily told the government, "Shame, shame, shame," referring to the fact former CIA head, John Deutch also mishandled data, but he has not been charged with a crime or jailed.

Other speakers at the rally explained how the persecution of Wen Ho Lee reflects the growing tensions between the United States and China, and likened his persecution based on nationality to police harassment of African Americans and Latinos. Lillian Galedo of Filipinos for Affirmative Action stated the case against Wen Ho Lee was influenced by "cold warriors trying to maintain the 'Chinese threat.'"

Renee Saucedo, of the Centro Legal La Raza, said that Latinos can relate to Wen Ho Lee because, "We are seen as 'illegals' and suffer from racial profiling by the police." She also praised the coalition of Latinos, African Americans, and Asian Americans who came together in a statewide effort to end the common police practice of stopping African American and Latino drivers for no apparent reason, "Driving while black or brown."

As each speaker finished, they shackled themselves together with handcuffs and chains to protest Wen Ho Lee's treatment. Dr. Lee's daughter, Alberta Lee, told the San Francisco rally how her elderly father is kept in solitary confinement, with his hands chained to his waist whenever he leaves his cell.

The discriminatory and inhumane treatment of Dr. Lee has led a number of prominent Asian Americans such as former chancellor Chang-Lin Tien of the University of California, Berkeley, and former California congressperson Norman Mineta to speak out on his behalf. [3]

Nakano connection

Rep. Norman Mineta, Bert Nakano redress celebrations 1988

Council for a Livable World, 50th Anniversary

On June 6, 2012, Council for a Livable World, along with its sister organizations Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation and Council for a Livable World’s PeacePAC, celebrated the 50th Anniversary of their founding by Leo Szilard in 1962.

An evening celebration was held at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Congressman Barney Frank acted as the Master of Ceremonies and, in the process, received a lifetime achievement award from former Rep. Tom Downey, a member of the Council’s Board of Directors. The Robert F. Drinan Peace and Human Award was presented to former Representative and PeacePAC Chairman David Bonior and the late Edith Wilkie, a longtime advocate and leader for peace and justice.

There were also speeches and toasts by Senator Al Franken (D-MN), Representative Shelley Berkley, former Representative and PeacePAC chairman Tom Andrews (D-ME), former Cabinet Secretary Norman Mineta and Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen.[4]

Dream of Equality awardee

Norman Mineta is a past recipient of Asian Americans for Equality's annual Dream of Equality award.[5]

Honorary Board Asian American Action Fund

Circa 2013, Norman Mineta served on the Honorary Board of the Asian American Action Fund;[6]

References