I have a nasty cold. I know people think, "California, it doesn't really get winter." It's 'winter' like to me. It's been so cold at night lately. I've played Bree Daniels all day, saying, "I hope this isn't going to make my cold worse." (Bree Daniels is the character in Klute played by Jane Fonda.) It's been one bit of bad news and worse news delivered over the airwaves all day. And I was on the couch in and out throughout the day. I taped Bonnie and I'll write about it tomorrow (unless I still have this cold) when I can listen. I nodded off and woke up throughout. I remember waking up at one point thinking, "What is that?" It was a caller and Bonnie noted it sounded like an engine was reving up. David Ewing was the guest and the topic was Christmas in China but I seriously doubt they were discussing Frosty the Snowman; however, I must have had a dream about Frosty because that's what I'm remembering. Somewhere during that or before or after C.I. was at the door with some hot soup. I downed that and was back asleep before I knew it.
I'm alternating shallow coughs (like a cat with a fur ball) with these deep barks and my nose is a glue factory. Except for the soup, I haven't eaten today and Sumner woke me up saying he was on his way over and bringing dinner. I'm going to eat that and then go right back to sleep. When I woke up this morning, I was freezing and couldn't get warm no matter what I tried. I'm going to assume I have a fever now because I've taken off my robe and am burning up (in sweats and t-shirt, before anyone dubs me the nude blogger).
C.I.'s covering a lot in the snapshot and I'll assume what's not covered happened only in my mind. (Seriously, I was in and out of all day while listening to KPFA.) Before that, here's a taste of Tariq Ali's "The War is Lost" (CounterPunch):
Once a war goes badly wrong and its justifications are shown to be lies, to insist that a "democratic" Iraq is visible on the horizon and that "we must stay the course" becomes a total fantasy. What is to be done?
In the US a group of Foggy Bottom elders was wheeled in to prepare a report. This admitted what the whole world (Downing Street excepted) already knew: the occupation is a disaster and the situation gets more hellish every day. After US citizens voted accordingly in the mid-term elections, the White House sacrificed the Pentagon warlord, Donald Rumsfeld.
The warlord of Downing Street, however, is still at large, zombie-like in his denials that anything serious is wrong in Baghdad or Kabul. Everything, for him, can still be remedied by a dose of humanitarian medicine (a poison so powerful and audacious that no resistance is possible). His desperate attempts to play the statesman have made him a laughing stock in friendly Arab capitals and Baghdad's Green Zone. Iraq is the umbilical cord that ties him to his fate.
Now here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Wednesday, December 20, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; the New York Times which continues to act as though Colin Brown and Andy McSmith (Independent of London) broke no news last week, now plays "I don't see Chatham House" which may make it difficult for them to explain why Britain's Foreign Secretary is fessin' up to her own 'blot'; a large crowd turns out in Honolulu to hear US war resister Ehren Watada; and Bully Boy, who wants to go long with the lives of others, lets slip a bit of truth (naturally, the Times plays dumb),
In England, a [PDF format] report continues to spark debate. Chatham House issued the six-page report yesterday (see yesterday's snapshot) and Tony Blair rushed to deny the conclusions but mainly revealed that six pages are about five too many for him to read and comprehend. Along with the prime minister, also issuing denials was the country's Foreign Secretary who termed the report "utterly ridiculous." "Utterly ridiculous" describes Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary, and her performance on BBC Radio 4 yesterday where she attempted to rewrite history. After confessing that the (false) claim that Iraq could attack England with WMDs within 45 minutes, Beckett attempted to make light of it: "That was a statement that was made once and it was thought to be of such little relevance". John Humphrys (host of the BBC program Today) begged to differ and noted that the Blair government never corrected the public record, never came out and stated, "Ooopsy! That was a big fat lie." Beckett snarled back, "Oh, come on -- nobody that it was revelant. Nobody thought it was a big sweeping statement."
This is London adds the perspective Beckett attempts to strip from the public record -- Tony Blair made that claim in the 2002 while advocating war, it "was at the heart of the Downing Street dossier issued in September 2002 where Blair wrote: "The document discloses that his military planning allows for some of the WMD to be ready within 45 minutes of an order to use them," Blair went on to push the false assertion four times more in the dossier and once in a public speech to the House of Commons, and the lie was at the root of the 2003 inquiry into whether or not intel had been 'sexed up' -- as the BBC reported it had -- during which time Beckett and Blair continued to sit on the truth and David Kelly died. Now Beckett wants to say, "Oh, come on"?
The BBC reports that the Tory party are calling it "appalling" and noting the false claim did not belong "in a government dossier". William Hague, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, states, "If it is true that the 45-minute claim had been discounted before the invasion, it is appalling that there seems to have been no effort or coordination between ministers to put the record straight. This is yet another reason to dismantle Tony Blair's sofa policy-making and restore Cabinet government." The BBC notes what the New York Times can't or won't, "The comments come after it was revealed last week that former UK diplomat Carne Ross had told the 2004 Butler review into Iraq intelligence that 'at no time did HMG (Her Majesty's Government) assess that Iraq's WMD (weapons of mass destruction) posed a threat to the UK or its interests'. He also claimed that there was no evidence of 'significant holdings' of chemical or biological weapons in the possession of Saddam prior to the invasion. "
While the Chatham House report goes largely ignored by the US press, Jackie Ashley (Guardian of London) observes, "If it wasn't so serious it would be hilariously funny. 'Mr Tony', as he now apparently likes to be called, has been explaining his theory of leadership: 'The art of leadership is learning to take decisions.' So far, so good. And, he goes on, 'sometimes you are right, sometimes you are wrong. Some of the decisions are very difficult and someone always gets angry.' Well, Mr Tony, certainly lots of people have got angry about the Iraq war, which an ever-growing number of people believe was a wrong decision. Look at the Baker-Hamilton commission in the United States, which gave a devastating critique of the policy, warned of the situation in Iraq deteriorating and of the threat of regional conflagration. Look at yesterday's report from the respected thinktank, Chatham House, which described the war as 'a terrible mistake' which has damaged Britain's global influence. Listen to all those Labour MPs who are saying publicly (a little) and privately (a lot) that the decision to follow George Bush into war with Iraq was a terrible error. Yet Mr Tony still seems to think, as indeed he has implied before, that it doesn't really matter whether the decision was right or wrong - what was important was that he made a decision. It is a truly bizarre theory of government, with extremely frightening consequences."
Mr. Tony? Sounds like he's getting ready to do a rinse and set. Tareq al-Hashemi thinks another kind of washing has gone on. The BBC reports that al-Hashemi, one of Iraq's two vice presidents, spoke to the Council of Relations in NYC and, noting that Mr. Tony had been favorable to the ide of a withdrawal timetable for foreign troops, went on to conclude that possibly Mr. Tony had been "brainwashed" by the Bully Boy since he changed his mind on the subject: "It is quite unfortunate that your president made a sort of blackmail out of Mr Blair."
Brainwashed, blackmailed or strong armed, it's exactly the sort of cow-towing, lackey decision making that the Chatham Report noted and stated needed to stop. In the United States, desperate for something, anything!, to fuel a new wave of Operation Happy Talk, the US government declares (and CNN runs with) that they have captured yet another al Qaeda leader in Iraq! Six days ago is whispered in sotto voice. al Qaeda was not in Iraq prior to the illegal war and, as the US Pentagon underscored yesterday, it's not the force the hyped up talk repeatedly makes it out to be (the Pentagon found militias to be the greater threat to national security in Iraq). But if the US administration pushes it hard enough, maybe the wave of Operation Happy Talk will drown out reality.
Or at least allow people not to note that the same Bully Boy who used Daddy's connections to avoid serving in Vietnam (not due to any opposition to the war, just cowardice of putting his own ass on the line) now tests the waters for sending more US troops to die in Iraq. Speaking to the press today, Bully Boy declared, "They think they can. They think it's just a matter of time before America grows weary and leaves, abandons the people of Iraq, for example. And that's not going to happen." Once again, he demonstrates how he can sleep easy even after all the blood on his hands -- he just doesn't give a damn. Which allows him to lie with claims such as "I also don't believe most Americans want us just to get out now." As polls have repeatedly demonstrated, Americans and Iraqis favor, in strong majorities, US forces doing just that.
AP reports that John Abizaid ("commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East") has submitted his plans to retire. That's surprising only to those who missed Thom Shanker (New York Times) report today that Abizaid "argues that foreign troops are a toxin bound to be rejected by Iraqis, and that expanding the number of American troops merely puts off the day when Iraqis are forced to take responsibility for their own security." That opinion is no longer in favor with the US administration (or War Hawks in the press like Gordo) so it's no surprise that Abizaid is stepping down.
Robert Gates, the newly installed US Secretary of Defense is all for more US troops being sent to Iraq. CBS and AP report that Gates visited the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad where he "discussed a possible infusion of more U.S. troops into Iraq with American commanders on Wednesday but said no decisions have been made. On just his third day in his post, Gates journeyed to Iraq armed with a mandate from President Bush to help forge a new Iraq war strategy." There are no new strategies, just desperation tactics. As Peter Baker (Washington Post) reported today, the Bully Boy has admitted that the US is "not winning" which, Baker observed, "was a striking reversal for a president who, days before the November elections declared, 'Absolutely, we're winning'."
Though some Democrats in the Senate may scratch their heads and wonder what happened to Bobby Gates, the reality is that his lackey qualities were well known long before they confirmed him. As Robert Parry (Consortium News) reports, the thinking was "that Gates was a closet dove who would help guide the United States out of George W. Bush's mess in Iraq. The thinking was that Gates, a former member of the Iraq Study Group, would represent the views of James Baker and other 'realitists' from George H.W. Bush's administration. Hillary Clinton and other Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee praised Gates for his 'candor' when he acknowledged the obvious, that the war in Iraq wasn't being won. Since the Gates confirmation vote on Dec. 6, however, Bush and Gates have signaled that they have no intention of extricating the U.S. military from the Iraq quagmire. They still insist on nothing short of 'victory' or 'success,' no matter how unlikely those ends and no matter how much blood must be spilled over the next two years to avert defeat." As Rebecca (Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude) noted yesterday, there's one conclusion left out of Parry's report -- the statement "I was right." Parry was right and had Senate Dems been more interested in exploring the record and less in a hurry to get rid of Donald the Rumsfled (who was out the door regardless), as Rebecca pointed out, "we wouldn't have the new donald rumsfeld. that's all gates is. actually, he's rumsfeld without 4 years of baggage, 4 years of known lies. he's rumsfeld with a honeymoon period from the press that will probably extend all the way through 2008."
Instead of recognizing the peace mandate of the November elections, as CBS and the AP report, the Pentagon is asking for an additional 99.7 billion for the wars (Iraq and Afghanistan) which "would boost this year's budget for the wars to about $170 billion."
More money and more lives down the drain in an illegal war of choice. In Iraq today . . .
Outside of Baghdad, Reuters notes two dead and three wounded in Baiji from a roadside bomb. Molly Hennessy-Fiske (Los Angeles Times) reports "a massive sucide car bomb" this morning in Baghdad "near the entrance to Baghdad University" which claimed eleven lives (plus the driver of the car) "including six Iraqi police" and left "at least two dozen" injured. Reuters also notes three other car bombs in Baghdad: four dead and eight wounded from one "in the parking lot of an Interior Ministry office," two wounded from one in the Bayaa disctrict and two wounded from one in the Camp Sara district.
Molly Hennesy-Fiske (LA Times) reports that three people were shot dead and at least seven more wounded at the Bab Al Muadhem bus terminal in Baghdad, that Mahmoud Mohammed Rahseed was shot dead in the Baghdad neighborhood "where he taught middle school," that Ali Arnoosi ("deputy dean of the college of law at the University of Baghdad") and law professor Mohammed Hamdani were also shot dead in Baghdad continuing the targeting of educators in Iraq. This comes at a time when, Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki has made attendence mandatory for both professors and students and failure to comply will lead to "dismissal or expulsion" so "the professors have begun hiding their education by donning ratty clothes, pulling on traditional Arab head scarves and driving to campus in beat-up cars." Like the Bully Boy, the puppet's not concerned with safety just with the appearances.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports: "A military official in the 5th division of the Iraqi army said that a soldier was killed and 3 others were wounded when a group of more than 30 insurgents attacked early morning today a military checkpoint in Abo Al Nakhal district in Khalis city north of Baqouba city. The source confirmed that 5 insurgents were killed." and "A governmental source in Baladrooz town east of Baqouba city (60 kms north of Baghdad) said that 2 civilians were killed and 8 were injured when an insurgents group from Dainiya neighborhood targeted civilians in Shakori village in the same town early morning today."
Reuters notes that eleven corpses were discovered in Mosul and two in Mahmudiya while 76 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Repeating, 76.
In addition, the US military announced today: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division -Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier in a southern neighborhood of the Iraqi capital Dec. 20. The combat patrol was conducting a route clearance mission in order to free the roads of any possible dangers. As they conducted their mission, a roadside bomb exploded near one of their vehicles, killing one and wounding two other Soldiers." The US military also announced: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division -Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier southwest of the Iraqi capital Dec. 20. The dismounted combat patrol was on the way to investigate an explosion that occurred in the area when a roadside bomb detonated. As a result of the explosion, four Soldiers were wounded and one Soldier was killed."
Turning to peace news, in June of this year, Ehren Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Yesterday, in Honolulu, he spoke out again. Rod Ohira (The Honolulu Advertiser) reports that a crowd of 350 turned out to hear Watada speak at the Church of the Crossroads where he stated, "The issue is about the war and people need to educate themselves about everything that's going on about the war. They need to take a position one way or another. If people agree with me or disagree with me, I really don't care. . . . What people need to do is take a stance. And if they truly believe there is something wrong with this war -- that it's immoral and illegal -- they should ask themselves what are they willing to sacrifice in order to stop this war?"
Watada faces a pre-trial hearing in January and then a court-martial in February. Though the US Congress seems unable or unwilling to excercise their oversight and have largely rebuffed his mother, Carolyn Ho, and her efforts, the reality is that he is one person in a growing movement of resistance within the military that includes Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. Those are some of the war resisters who have gone public while currently there are thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada attempting to be legally recognized.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress next month.
iraqehren watadathe washington postpeter bakerthe new york timesmichael r. gordonthom shankarrobert parry