Publications & Talks

MANSKI: The Protest Wave: Why the Political Class Can’t Understand Our Demands

October 3, 2011
Ben Manski

The protests that began in Wisconsin this year, and which now also fill the streets of Manhattan, Boston, Chicago, and this week, Washington D.C., have gotten the attention of the American political class. And how could they not? 2011 is becoming a remake of the 1999 Battle of Seattle, except this time the protests are ongoing, national and global, and the target is not just the World Trade Organization, but the entire edifice of corporate capitalism.

US social forum: War Powers: Who Decides?

June 22, 2010

At the 2010 US Social Forum in Detroit, activists involved in the "Bring the Guard Home - It's the law!" campaign discuss the idea of democratizing defense, giving citizens greater control over decisions about the use of the U.S, military and especially each state's National Guard.

Speakers: Leah Bolger, David Swanson, Kevin Zeese, George Martin
Moderator: Ben Manski

SCOTCH: Legal memo on Wisconsin Safeguard the Guard Act

March 13, 2010
Benson Scotch

Memo to the Wisconsin Assembly Committee on Veterans and Military Affairs
2009 Assembly Bill 203
You have asked for my views about the validity and enforceability of AB 203, and I am happy to respond to this request. Please note that I am not a member of the Wisconsin Bar, and the comments I offer relate solely to the United States Constitution and laws as well as conventional rules and practices relating to statutory construction.

Additional Information: 

Benson Scotch is retired attorney living in Montpelier, Vermont, and is general counsel to “Bring the Guard Home—It’s the Law!” Ben is a former executive director of the Vermont ACLU, former Chief Staff Attorney of the Vermont Supreme Court, and former staff counsel to Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Constitution Subcommittee. Ben is a 1956 graduate of Yale College and a 1961 graduate of Harvard Law School. He served in the United States Army from 1956 to 1958.

BURNS: The strategy behind the Guard Home movement

October 14, 2009
Steve Burns

"Bring the Guard Home - It's the Law!" is a national campaign, now active in more than 20 states, that is raising a legal challenge to the Federal Government's use of our National Guard troops for deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Wisconsin, the campaign is promoting AB 203, a bill in the Wisconsin state assembly which would give the Governor the authority to examine the legality of any federal order for deployment of the Wisconsin National Guard and to challenge in court any orders determined to be unlawful.

Additional Information: 

Steve Burns, Outreach Director
Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice

FIRST VIDEO: Who Decides About War?

October 3, 2009

Georgetown Law School

You don't have to wait any longer: The initial video is in from Who Decides About War?, the National Conference on War Powers, Law, and Democracy. This exciting conference took place on October 2nd and 3rd at the Georgetown School of Law, and featured over one hundred participants from 18 states.

Participants included veterans, military family members, journalists, lawyers, law students, professors, and other advocates of a more democratic, peaceful system of national defense.

SWANSON: Who SHOULD Decide About War?

October 3, 2009
David Swanson

Georgetown Law School

Remarks at conference

Who actually does: the media, weapons companies, the permanent government, presidents (including simply by decreeing a "war on terror", through misspending, lying, simply acting, signing treaties), political parties, culture (the one Biden lives in, in which Israel's sovereign right to attack Iran is uncontroversial), soldiers who obey illegal orders and the culture that leads kids to that place.

Who should decide: we the people of the world, through democratically created and enforced international and national and state laws.

Antiwar Radio interviews Ben Manski

June 18, 2009's Scott Horton interviews Ben Manski, Executive Director of Liberty Tree. They discuss the Bring the Guard Home! campaign that, "seeks to end the illegal use of national guard units deployed abroad, the historical U.S. change from a republican system of state militias to an imperial army, and the reassertion of state control over the guard."

Additional Information: 

To listen to the interview, go to

Update on Efforts to Block Deployment of National Guard Troops to Iraq and Afghanistan

May 29, 2009

KBOO's public affairs host William Seaman interviews Dan Handelman about the campaign to keep Oregon's National Guard troops from deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan ... how close is the vote in the Oregon House and Senate on legislation aimed at challenging the federalization of the Oregon Guard? Also in the conversation by telephone is national campaign coordinator, Ben Manski, with an update on other state campaigns challenging guard deployments.

Additional Information: 

The interview can also be found at

LETNAR CERNIC: Corporate abuses require stronger international, national legal regimes

May 14, 2009
Jernej Letnar Černič

The US government published in February 2009 its decision that it will not renew its contract with the private security corporation formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide. Such a decision comes as no surprise given the allegations of killing 17 civilians by Blackwater guards, coupled with the Iraqi government's refusal to extend Blackwater's operating license. This case, however, opens again a number of conundrums relating to legal accountability for corporations and its employees for human rights violations. In short, how do we provide effective legal remedies to victims for human rights violations by or involving corporations? This comment therefore briefly explores the weaknesses of the current framework for corporate accountability for human rights.

Additional Information: 

Jernej Letnar Černič, JURIST HOTLINE
Researcher, Institute for European, Constitutional,
International Law and Law of Economics

Democratizing Defense: A Discussion from the Liberty Tree Journal

May 1, 2009

A former congresswoman, a radio host, a military spouse, and a historian make up the participants of this Forum’s discussion on “Democratizing Defense.”

Stacy Bannerman is a prominent contemporary anti-war activist whose husband is an active duty member of the National Guard. We connected with Bannerman on the Troops Home Now! Tour of 2006, which Liberty Tree co-sponsored.

Paul Buhle is a historian, a veteran of the 1960s era SDS, and a mentor to the new SDS. Buhle is also known as a widely published cartoonist and author.

Barack Obama's War: Afghanistan's Failing Army

April 22, 2009
Ben Swales

Dear friends,

I am writing to you from Guardian Films; we are the film making arm of the Guardian Newspaper. Today, in time with President Obama's new strategy for the Afghan war, Guardian Films released a short video that documents the progress of the US army's training of the Afghan army. I have included a link to the video on the Guardian website, and would greatly appreciate it if you would watch the video, and embed a link to the video on your websites.

Additional Information: 

See the movie at

King Place
90 York Way
N1 9GU
Tel: 00 44 203 353 2910 (direct line)

CCR: Restore. Protect. Expand The Constitution: Amend the War Powers Resolution

April 9, 2009

Executive Summary

At the heart of American constitutional democracy is the concept of checks and balances: limits on the reach of each branch of government so that none can act unilaterally or exercise power without accountability. The power to initiate warfare, because of its grave and potentially long-term consequences for the entire republic, is rightly assigned to the entire Congress under the American system, rather than to the President, a single individual. Wisely, the Constitution provides that the decision to go to war should be debated thoroughly and openly in Congress, rather than carried out by a secretive order, on the judgment of one person.

Additional Information: 

666 Broadway, 7th floor, New York, NY 10012
Phone (212) 614-6489 Fax (212) 614-6422

Wisconsin votes for immediate withdrawal!

April 4, 2009
Ben Manski

George Bush recently defended Donald Rumsfeld on the basis that responsibility for matters of war and peace are his and his alone, saying, "I'm the decider and I decide what's best." On April 4, the people of Wisconsin begged to differ.

Voting in the tiny villages of the North Woods and the Door Peninsula, in the regional urban centers of Madison and La Crosse, and in the small cities that are the heart of this heartland state, three-fifths of voters cast ballots for immediate withdrawal from Iraq. Wisconsin voted "no" to the occupation, and as importantly, "no" to Bush's self-elevation from presider to decider. Small town America voted, and the world sat up and took notice.

The Roots of the Campaign

How did it happen?

Additional Information: 
A version of this article appeared in the Summer 2006 issue of Green Pages

Ben Manski is a Fellow with the Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution. Manski is a Wisconsin attorney, and provided legal counsel to the Wisconsin troop withdrawal campaign.

NICHOLS: You are the Commander in Chief

April 2, 2009

Pyle Center, Madison, Wisconsin

John Nichols speaks at the April 2, 2009, teach-in, "You are the Commander in Chief." This event was one of a series of five events launching Wisconsin"s National Guard campaign. See:

John Nichols says "You are the Commander in Chief" from Liberty Tree on Vimeo.

SCOTCH & BLACK: Restoring the Rule of Law Where it Matters Most

April 2, 2009
Benson Scotch

University of Wisconsin Law School, Lubar Commons

Available for listening online here.

The new debate over war powers, defense policy, and the National Guard

Benson Scotch appeared at the University of Wisconsin Law School on April 2, 2009, together with special guest State Representative Spencer Black, lead sponsor of WI National Guard federalization review legislation

Additional Information: 

For the original recording, see

Manski: From Liberty to Empire -- The Demise of American Defense

April 1, 2009
Ben Manski

All you have to do is remember that anti-imperialism is only another name for old-fashioned Americanism, and all will be clear to you. An American who has a settled body of convictions . . . who with his inherited ideas has an inherited courage, an inherited love of equality and justice . . . why, he is a natural born anti-imperialist, and it is simply his Americanism that makes him think and act as he does . . . .
~ New York Evening Post, May 3, 1902

Additional Information: 

Ben Manski is a Wisconsin attorney and the editor of the Liberty Tree Journal.

MARYLAND ASSEMBLY: Testimony on National Guard

March 4, 2009

Maryland General Assembly, Annapolis, Maryland

The Maryland Senate Education Health and Environmental Affairs Committee held a hearing on SB 503 on March 4, and the House Health and Government Operations Committee held a hearing on HB 907 March 11. Click below to read testimony that was presented at these hearings.

Introductory Overview Testimony:
Steve Lane

Legal Testimony:
Ben Scotch
Jim Klimaski

Additional Information: 

VIDEO: National Launch of Guard Home! campaign

January 21, 2009

National Press Club, Washington D.C.

Prospects for Participatory Democracy in the U.S.A

December 1, 2008
Ben Manski

Location: Barcelona, Spain Presented at the International Seminar on Participatory Democracy "Participatory Democracy. Political Actors and Social Movements" Abstract Diagnosing Democratic Collapse The U.S. political system suffers from a potentially fatal condition, a malady that can be diagnosed as "Democratic Collapse." The causes of this collapse are known: First, the consolidation of corporate control of the establishment political parties. Second, the sacrilegious enshrinement of corporations as persons under law, entitled to constitutional protections against citizens and governments.

Additional Information: 

Ben Manski is a Fellow with the Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution in its Local Democracy and Democratizing Education program areas. He served as Co-Chair of the Green Party of the United States from 2001 through 2004, and was active in the U.S. student, labor, peace, and environmental movements throughout the 1990s. Ben has a degree in law from the University of Wisconsin, and has written on the corporatization of higher education in the United States.

Your Time Is Up, Mr. President -- the National Guard Is Coming Home

February 5, 2008
Karen Dolan and Ben Manski

Guess what, Mr. President? Your authority to keep state National Guard troops in Iraq has expired. So says a new bill introduced this week to the Vermont Legislature by Rep. Michael Fisher and Sen. Peter Shumlin. It is supported by 30 of their colleagues.

"It is clear that the mission that Congress authorized no longer exists," said Fisher. "Unless Congress grants a new authorization, the Vermont Guard should revert back to state control." The Vermont bill states:

Additional Information: 

Karen Dolan is a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., and a contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus. Ben Manski is a Wisconsin attorney and the executive director of the Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution.

Frequently Asked Questions about the AUMF, National Guard, and Guard recall

August 1, 2006
Benson Scotch, legal counsel to the Vermont authors

Q-1. Aren’t questions of war and peace exclusively within the province of the federal government?

A. In general, the Congress and the President share war powers under the Constitution. The states do have some powers with respect to their national guards, but Congress has whittled away at the scope of these powers, particularly after 1903, when The Dick Act was passed creating the rudiments of the present dual system of joint state and federal National Guards.

Corporatization: An Internal Clash of Civilizations

July 1, 2006
Ben Manski and John Peck

Published in TNI's "Beyond the Market: The Future of Public Services" In January, 2006, Liberty Tree's Ben Manski and Patrick Barrett travelled to the Social Forum of the Americas in Caracas, Venezuela, where they made presentations on the state of the democracy movement in the United States. Ben Manski also participated in the international release of a new yearbook on public services, to which he and John Peck were contributors. Read their survey of corporatization in the United States, together with their analysis of what can be done about it, below.

Manski, Dolan: Has Your Town Declared Peace Yet? Tired of being ignored by the feds, citizens pass city laws declaring peace.

June 16, 2006
Ben Manski and Karen Dolan

The heartland spoke; the world listened. On April 5, 2006, hundreds of newspapers across the globe, from Italy’s Il Manifesto to the Los Angeles Times, shared a similar headline: “Wisconsin votes for troop pullout.”

One day earlier, citizens in 32 Wisconsin cities, towns, and villages had cast ballots for immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Voters in tiny villages in the North Woods and the Door Peninsula, in the regional urban centers of Madison and La Crosse, and in the small cities that are the heart of the Badger State, sent a clear message. As Green Party activist Steve Burns told newspapers, the vote meant that “opposition to the war [has] become the majority sentiment,” winning over communities that had voted for George Bush only months earlier.

Additional Information: 

For the original, please see

MANSKI & PECK: Corporatization: An internal clash of civilizations

January 1, 2006
Ben Manski and John Peck

Hurricane Katrina destroyed as yet uncounted lives, communities, and ecosystems. The hurricane also destroyed popular visions of the US state, sweeping away the last vestiges of federal paternalism, revealing the costs of corporatization in its wake. Years of budget cuts, cronyism, and corporatization rendered the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) incompetent to manage this greatest of national emergencies.

Additional Information: 

Ben Manski is Executive Director of Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution. John Peck is Director of Family Farm Defenders.