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Office of the Americas 24th Anniversary Celebration:

Los Angeles-based Office of the Americas is “dedicated to furthering the cause of international justice and peace through broad-based educational programs.”

The nonprofit organization, established in 1983 by Blase Bonpane, celebrated its 24th anniversary at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel on Sunday, November 11.

Daniel Ellsberg, author of the Pentagon Papers, presented an award to film writer and director Paul Haggis. Ellsberg spoke about the parallels between the Vietnam War and Iraq, and the inside knowledge in Washington at the time that the war was unwinnable. Ellsberg told the audience that seasoned Washington insiders in both political and military circles are deeply concerned about the workings of the current administration and how dangerous President Bush will be until the day he leaves office. He commended Haggis for his professional work and activism, and recommended that people see In The Valley of Elah, a film that he feels will change people’s hearts about this war.

Jim Lafferty, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Lawyers Guild and Interim General Manager at KPFK, presented an award to peace activist Frank Dorrel. Dorrel, who got a resounding ovation, is a member of Los Angeles Veterans for Peace, one of the co-founders of the Arlington West Memorial, the publisher of Addicted to War, which tells the history of US foreign wars in comic book form, and host of many peace events both at public forums and in his Culver City home.

Lafferty also presented an award to investigative reporter Seymour Hersh. Hersh broke the news of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam in November 1969 and the Abu Ghraib prison torture in April 2004. He spoke of the similarities of those incidents and the impact of war on the young US military perpetrators that he met in the course of both of those investigations.

Activist and musician Jackson Brown performed with his band. He has a long association with the organization, having met Bonpane in Nicaragua in the 1970s.

For more information on Office of the Americas, go to officeoftheamericas.org.

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