Saturday, September 09, 2006

Tom Hayden on RadionNation with Laura Flanders today

Tom Hayden on RadionNation with Laura Flanders today


Tom Hayden on RadionNation with Laura Flanders today

Kat here and first off, C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Friday can be seen easily by clicking here. There are a lot of entries here today. That's going to disappear when this goes up so I thought I'd note it.

Let's also note the fact that the Senate Intelligence Committee report proclaims no link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, despite Bully Boy and others serving under him claiming otherwise for years. (Most recently on August 21st, from the mouth of the Bully Boy himself.) (Or was it from his ass?) There is no connection, there was no connection. A "blot" is the least of Collie Powell's worries. If you missed that 'performance' in real time, read Ava & C.I.'s commentary on it "TV Review: Barbara and Colin remake The Way We Were" (The Third Estate Sunday Review) and, from the Washington Post, let's note Jonathan Weisman's "Iraq's Alleged Al-Qaeda Ties Were Disputed Before War:"

But Republican attempts to paint the findings as a partisan rehash were undercut by intelligence committee members from the GOP. The committee report's conclusions are based on the Democrats' findings because two Republicans -- Sens. Olympia J. Snowe (Maine) and Chuck Hagel (Neb.) -- supported those findings.
"After reviewing thousands of pages of evidence, I voted for the conclusions that most closely reflect the facts in the report," Snowe said in a written statement. "Policy-makers seemingly discounted or dismissed warnings about the veracity of critical intelligence reports that may have served as a basis for going to war."
Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) was emphatic this week that Iraqi exiles did not fundamentally shape the critical assessment of the Iraqi threat in the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate.
But, as Snowe emphasized in her statement, the report concluded that information provided by an INC source was cited in that estimate and in Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's February 2003 speech to the United Nations as corroborating evidence about Iraq's mobile biological weapons program. Those citations came despite two April 2002 CIA assessments, a May 2002 Defense Intelligence Agency fabrication notice and a July 2002 National Intelligence Council warning -- all saying the INC source may have been coached by the exile group into fabricating the information.

RadioNation with Laura Flanders? Laura's got enough in this weekend to last the month. Listen so you'll be able to say more than "Huh?" when everyone's talking about the show on Monday. (But if you miss it, an archived broadcast, that's a best of both Saturday and Sunday's shows, will go up mid-week here.) RadioNation with Laura Flanders airs from seven to ten p.m. EST Saturday and Sunday online and over Air America Radio stations in traditional broadcast and XM satellite radio for those with satellite radio:

What have Americans learned on the 5th anniversary of 9/11? That the White House always has tricks up its sleeve. We'll talk to former Guantanamo detainee Moazzam Begg on Bush's war against the Geneva convention.
Anti-war campaigner Tom Hayden on how we're going to get out of Iraq. Nation Institute muckraker Jeremy Scahill is exposing the criminals privatizing our military.
And there's more than one Ned Lamont ! We'll talk to progressives with primary races September 12th including New York's Jonathan Tasini and Maryland's Donna Edwards. Plus our roundtable: has the media learned anything these past five years? It's all on RadioNation with Laura Flanders this weekend on Air America Radio.

Tom Hayden is on today's show. Juan Gonzalez will be on tomorrow night's show. Again, Monday, if you hang in the informed circles, people will be talking about the show. Be prepared to offer more than, "Yeah." Listen.

Something else you shouldn't miss is Ava and C.I.'s TV commentary at The Third Estate Sunday Review tomorrow. It's not on Iraq but it should be hilarious (they were trading one-liners on it again this morning -- it's always nice to see a Repube get what's coming to them and that's all I'll say other than "Read it!").

Power to Peaceful Festival is today! If you're in the San Fancisco area (it's at Golden Gate Park) and are a fan of good music you should be there (free to the public, but they won't turn down donations). Andrea Lewis interviewed Michael Franti about this yesterday on KPFA's The Morning Show so you can check that out (either for reasons to go or because you don't live in the area) and you can also pick up Michael Franti & Spearhead's Yell Fire! [which I reviewed in"Kat's Korner: Michael Franti & Spearhead Yell Music! (Are you listening?)"]. Power to Peaceful Festival has already started but events last all day (five o'clock in the evening is when it's supposed to start winding down).

Friday, September 08, 2006

Wandering Post

Busy day. I got online around noon and thought I'd blog but ended up reading Ava and C.I.'s TV review from last week ("TV: Swift Justice") because Dak-Ho told me it was their funniest. It is good but I don't think it's their funniest. That's partly because I heard Ava and C.I. bouncing off one liners for their review this coming Sunday. I think they're hitting it out of the park with that one. I threw a tablet at them early in the week and said, "Write that stuff down!" They didn't. But they continued to come up with one liners throughout the week.

A lot of times, when they're writing a review, they will kill some of their funniest lines. They'll say they can't include whatever because someone may be a friend or because it's a personal joke that's too obvious. That shouldn't be a problem this week and that's all I can say. Rebecca called me today and asked, "Is it written yet?" No. She's dying to give a heads up to what show they're reviewing but, since it's not written yet, she's going to wait.

Jim's curious about the review and worried (noted with Jim's permission) because C.I.'s spoken out of state twice this week and had a mishap that required stitches (nothing major, some broken glass) so Jim's just expecting Saturday to roll around and C.I. to collapse. It'll happen, as soon as the edition is done. (And Dona keeps telling Jim the exact same thing but he's nervous about the first edition since they announced they're West coast based. I think Jim has some coastal issues, seriously.)

Ty's written some of the ideas for the edition down and pinned it to the fridge at C.I.'s thinking that might calm Jim down. If you read Ava and C.I.'s "TV: TESR Investigates: NYC," that is fiction, in terms of their portrayals of Ty, Dona, Jim and Jess but there's some truth in it too. Specifically:

We were in the land of milk & honey, poolside, well we might have been later. Right now we were in the middle of a party, in the middle of conversations, on opposite sides of the room when both our cells went off.
It was Jim talking in two phones at once because God forbid he make one call when he can make two calls.
"Ava! C.I.! If your brains haven't gone to mush and browned like guacamole left out too long, we need you here in NYC!"
NYC? It's summer. It's hot there. There's no breeze. Next month, everyone who can will be fleeing and you want us to fly out there?
"Well, you don't have to stay the whole week, just long enough to get some set-up shots then you can return to California where crap is so freely churned out."

I think the above perfectly captures Jim's coastal issues. I've seen it before. East coaster moves out here and they pack their stereotypes. It'll be fine. He doesn't need to worry.

The KPFA Evening News needs to worry. They had some guest on who basically said, of today's Senate Intel report, that the administration only linked al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein by saying a sentence on al-Qaeda and then saying a sentence on Saddam Hussein. Did their guest miss Carl Levin's statement? If you did, it's in the snapshot below and C.I. tracked down the Bully Boy quote that Levin's speaking of (with link provided to the transcript). Bully Boy, in one sentence, linked Zurqawi to Saddam. It happened and a supposed Middle East expert should know that. Especially when Carl Levin's calling out the administration on it.

Dak-Ho also pointed out Maggie's contribution today. Maggie has her moments where she's dead on and she had one in 2005 so I'm going to note it here:

Ticking off a list of names worthy for noting for Women's History Month, I came across many: Margaret Fuller, Mary Shelley, Kate Millet, Margaret Atwood, Lucy Stone, bell hooks, Kathy Boudin, Catharine A. MacKinnon, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Grace Paley, Grace Slick, Michelle Phillips, Nina Simone, Kate Bush, Nora Ephron, Anne Sexton, Louise Bryant, Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin, Carole King, Tracy Chapman, Mary Daly, Rita Mae Brown, Joan Baez, Alice Walker . . . And for the longest time I was just paralyzed as I was facing this monstorous decision of how to choose one.
Certainly the struggle for equality has been made up of many, many women (and often some men) but hopefully by noting various individuals it brings awareness to the larger struggle and the many who participated in opening various fields and options to women.
So just when I was at the abandon-all-hope-all-ye-who-enter, I was gathering magazines to carry to my local library's magazine exchange and there's Ms. staring at me.
Robin Morgan is a writer who's influence on my own life has been wide ranging. It started when I was a teenager and found a copy of
Sisterhood Is Powerful on my mother's bookshelves. Sisterhood Is Powerful is an anthology of writings from the women movement circa 1970 and Morgan served as the editor of the anthology. She also wrote a lengthy introduction for the book that served to capture what had led up to the then current wave of feminism. I found the anthology Sisterhood is Global (also edited by Robin Morgan) while I was in college and immediately snapped it up.
In 2003, Robin Morgan edited another anthology that I quickly added to my collection,
Sisterhood Is Forever. I think the three Sisterhood books serve as a powerful overview of the feminist movement and I hope she continues to introduce and edit anthologies.
Robin Morgan currently serves as a consulting editor at Ms. along with Gloria Steinem who's already been highlighted. Both have long helped steer Ms. and as such have shaped my life in ways that I'm probably not even aware of.
I'd recommend this
interview with Morgan for those new to her and I'd recommend this article by Morgan entitled "Fighting Words for a Secular America: Ashcroft & Friends VS.George Washington & The Framers." I'd also recommend that you check your libraries and bookstores for copies of Sisterhood is Powerful and Sisterhood is Forever. I'd also recommend that you check out her book The Demon Lover: The Roots of Terrorism.

I called Maggie and asked her about it. She remembers wanting to write about Robin Morgan but doesn't remember what she wrote. She asked, "Did I make any sense?" I said, "Yes, you did. You had your adult voice on." We laughed. But she did make sense. Morgan's latest book, Fighting Words, is due out September 28th.

That's going to be it for me tonight. I almost didn't blog but then I realize the East coasters are all doing the Iraq discussion group and might not blog tonight. Oh, Betty's blogging tonight. In fact, let me check and see if it's up. It is, it's called "The Central Proof." Read it. Now here's C.I.'s
"Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, September 8, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, bits of the long over due US Senate reporton the lies that led to war (they're calling it a look into the intell) are scattered like crumbs, US soldier Mark Wilkerson reflects on how he reached the decision not to take part in the illegal war, US soldier Darrell Anderson is reportedly headed back to the United States after attempts to be granted asylum in Canada,
and Australia's Bully Boy says Brendan Nelson is doing a "fantastic job."

In the United States,
AP was first out of the gate with: "A senate intelligence committee report says there's no evidence Saddam Hussein had a relationship with terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi or his al-Qaida associates before the Iraq war." CBS and AP quote US Senator John D. Rockefeller stating of the report: "Ultimately, I think you will find that administration officials made repeated prewar statements that were not supported by underlying intelligence" and that it shows "the administration pursued a deceptive strategy abusing intelligence reporting that the intelligence community had already warned was uncorroborated, unreliable and in some critical circumstances fabricated."

Reuters notes that US Senator Carl Levin has pointed to the Bully Boy's statement on August 21st and attempted (yet again) to make an unfounded link. Levin: "The president's statement, made just two weeks ago, is flat-out false."

Though the press wants to play Levin's statement as an allegation, public record shows
Bully Boy stated: "I square it because imagine a world in which you had Saddam Hussein, who had the capacity to make a weapon of mass destruction, who was paying suiciders to kill innocent life, who had relations with Zarqawi." As Levin pointed out, that "is flat-out false."

The lies that led into illegal war. Yesterday,
AP notes, the Senate passed a spending measure to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with another $63 billion dollars.

As the cost in blood and currency continues to add up, more and more people turn against the illegal war. In the United States,
Byron Pitts (CBS) reported on the mood in Jacksonville, North Carolina and spoke with retired Marine Colonel Jim Van Riper who admits to vote for Bully Boy twice but intends to vote Democratic for the first time. Van Riper tells Pitts: "I've turn him [Bully Boy] off. I've tuned him out." The cost in blood? AFP notes the Baghdad morgue body count for August stands at 1,584. It also includes 2666 US troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the war, 118 British troops (that includes the one who died Thursday) and 115 "other" for a total of 2899.

Of the US fatality count,
Emil Guillermo (Asian Week) notes, "Ironically, of the Iraq war deaths, over 2,500 came after" Bully Boy's "declared on May 1, 2003, 'Mission Accomplished'."


CNN reports that, in Baghdad, a roadside bomb left six injured and killed three ("including a mother and child" among the dead) and that a US soldier died "south of Baghdad" from a roadside bomb. Reuters reports a car bomb in Baghdad that killed a police officer "and a bystander". Sami al-Jumaili (Reuters) reports the death of eight in Kerbala from mortars.


CNN reports that three people were shot dead in Baquba and a sunni tribal chief was shot dead in Hawija. Reuters identifies the man as Ibrahim al-Khalaf and notes that an Iraqi soldier was shot dead near Samarra (with two others wounded).


AFP reports six corpses were found in Baghdad ("tortured . . . shot to death"). Reuters reports the corpse of Haider Hamza was discovered "shot dead in front of his house" and that he had been "an interpreter working for Danish troops in Iraq".

AFP reports that Brigadier Muzher Kamel Mohammad ("head of the police force protecting Iraqi courts") was kidnapped in Baghdad. This as Reuters reports the US is clashing with people in Falluja and "U.S. troops used loudspeakers to demand people turn in 'insurgents' or face a 'large military operation'." Falluja. Again. As if November 2004 wasn't destructive enough. Hearts and minds, as Mark Wilkerson has noted, are not being won.

And the much touted non-handover? As
Jim Sciutto (ABC) notes: "Watching the headlines in the American media today, you might think the U.S. military handed over military control in Iraq to Iraqis. There was certainly a ceremony yesterday -- a handshake at a military base where Iraqi commanders took control of an Iraqi army division from coailtion commanders -- but the real story is the arithmetic. Yesterday's handover affects the tiny Iraqi navy and air force, with a few hundred folks in each, and a single Iraqi army division, the 8th Army with 5500 to 7000 troops. This means only about five percent the 115,000 regulars in the Iraqi army now take their cues from the Iraqi prime minister. The rest remain firmly under foreign control -- and so do the most dangerous areas of the country, such as Baghdad and the volatile Anbar province in the west. The 8th Army operates in the relatively small -- and relatively quiet -- Diwaniyeh province in southern Iraq."

In peace news,
Diana Welch (Austin Chronicle News) reviews the case of war resister Mark Wilkerson noting his disillusionment ("When we went, our general mission was to win the hearts and minds of the people. But when I got there, and I saw the people and how we were treating them, I thought, 'We're doing exactly the opposite'."), his awakening (finding out who was profitting -- "certain individuals were making on this war, how much money the corporations like Halliburton were making"), having his conscientious objector application rejected as he was called up for another tour of duty, and then deciding to check himself out. Alan Gionet (CBS4) reports that Rebecca Barker, Matt Wilkerson's mother, stated, "I think the public is looking at anyone who goes AWOL as cowards and it goes much deeper than that." Welch notes that Wilkerson could face a special court-martial (if found guilty, one year sentence is the maximum) or a general one (which would led to seven years if found guilty). Gionet reports: "Wilkerson is confined to base while his unit faces what could be its third deployment."

Phinjo Gombu (Toronto Star) reports that war resister Darrell Anderson will be leaving Canada and returning to the US, according to his mother Anita Anderson. This should take place during the last weekend of September and he will be met at the border by peace activists and Vietnam veterans as well as by Jim Fennerty, his attorney. "If he is not arrested immediately, Anderson plans to travel to Fort Knox in Kentucky to turn himself in. It is one of the two army bases where deserters are kept while the army decides whether to court-martial or discharge a soldier."

In Washington, DC
Camp Democracy continues through September 21st. It is free and open to the public. Today's events focused on labor issues. Saturday, September 9th, many events will be taking place and among those speaking will be Antonia Juhasz (The BU$H Agenda), Ray McGovern and Bill Moyers. The events will kick off at 9:00 a.m. in preparation of the 9:30 a.m. march around the Capitol Building "To remember the fallen and remind Congress and the public of the human cost of the War on and Occupation of Iraq." Sunday, September 10th will feature Juhasz, Ann Wright, Raed Jarrar and others. A complete schedule can be found here.

And beginning September 21st (International Peace Day), via
United for Peace & Justice:

It's time to answer fear with courage, to step out of our personal comfort zones and take bold action to end the Iraq War.
Join us in a week of nonviolent action, including civil disobedience, from September 21-28, and in pressuring pro-war politicians all this fall through the Voters for Peace pledge.
In Australia, Defence Minister Brendan Nelson continues to be a subject of discussion over his role as self-designated media spokesperson for the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco.
First into the fray was prime minister John Howard who has "full confience" in Brendan Nelson. Of course he also claims to have "full confidence" in Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston whose testimony directly contradicts Nelson. And it's also true that Howard is the Bully Boy down under. So no one really cares what he says as he speaks from both sides of his mouth except possibly for this statement which has strong echoes of "Heck of a job, Brownie" -- from ABC's The World Today, Howard: "Dr Nelson is doing a fantastic job." Fantastic of a job, Brendie!

For those who missed it,
yesterday Houston told the hearing that he had repeatedly warned Nelson not to speak to the press because the events of Jake Kovco's death were not clear. Or as WA Business News sums it up: "Defence force chief Angus Houston has directly contradicted the Defence Minister's statement to police about private Jake Kovco's death, saying Brendan Nelson ignored repeated warnings not to speculate about the shooting."

Samantha Hawley summarizes (on ABC's PM) thusly: In a witten submission to the Military Board of Inquiry, Dr Nelson says it was Air Chief Marshal Houston who told him that Jake Kovco had been handling his loaded weapon in some way when it discharged. But Angus Houston directly contradicts that claim. In his own submission, the Defence Force Chief indicates he repeatedly urged the minister against speculating about the cause of death, saying it appeared to have been a tragic accident but this would need to be confirmed by the Board of Inquiry."

We turn to this statement from
April 27, 2006: "Of course we are, and I'm personally, very angry about it. I'm very disappointed. The inquiry and the investigation will get to the bottom of it. But I just ask Australians, it's very easy to criticise Defence. It's a large organization. It does wonderful things for Australians and for people in times of trouble, but don't just, I just say to Australians, don't just take a free kick here."

A free kick? Hasn't Brendan Nelson earned it? The statement above was when he went to the press to announce that Jake Kovco's coffin had returned home but not his body. It's been one mix up after another. Put yourself in the Kovco family's place, think of all the mix ups/screw ups Nelson's overseen and been responsible for and wonder if Brendan Nelson is the poor-put-upon he'd like to paint himself or someone performing their job very poorly.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The al-Maliki Shuffle

Do you remember a few months back? When it was all "Nouri al-Maliki will meet the Constitutional deadline for his cabinet!" And then it was, "Nouri al-Maliki missed the deadline but he'll have his cabinet any day now!" And then it was, "At last, the puppet of the illegal occupation of Iraq has his cabinet!" Well, he's about to start all over again:

Just three months after finalizing Iraq's Cabinet, Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's Shiite Muslim alliance is discussing changes at several top ministries, including a move to replace the head of the troubled Interior Ministry.
The agency runs police forces that are widely believed to be infiltrated by militia members and involved in hundreds of killings by alleged death squads.

That's from the Los Angeles Times, Solomon Moore's "Iraq Ministers, Including Interior, May Be Changed." All that happy talk down the drain, but don't lose hope, they'll be able to start it all back up again. "Things are changing! Nouri al-Maliki has a new cabinet!" They shuffle around the names and the occupation, like the war, remains illegal.

And always count on big media to clean up after the Bully Boy. This is from Media Matters and (a) I think it's important and (b) I don't know where to cut it so I'm going to post it in full. They have many items on this at their site so please use the link if you're interested in more.
"The (Disney) mouse doesn't scare the (GOP) elephant:"

As Media Matters for America and others have noted, the upcoming ABC miniseries The Path to 9/11 is rife with errors, inaccuracies, and omissions, relying on scenes the network admits are fabricated in order to blame former President Bill Clinton for the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, while simultaneously letting President Bush off the hook.
But in 2004, ABC's corporate parent, Walt Disney Co., refused to distribute Michael Moore's film Fahrenheit 9/11, which was highly critical of President Bush, even though it was produced by a Disney subsidiary, Miramax Films. Then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner
explained that the company "did not want a film in the middle of the political process where we're such a nonpartisan company and our guests, that participate in all of our attractions, do not look for us to take sides."
ABC's current promotion of an
admittedly "fictionalized" attack on former President Clinton is not only inconsistent with Disney's statements about Fahrenheit 9/11, it appears at odds with the company's approach to a 2005 book written about it by journalist James Stewart. Disney representatives reportedly threatened to sue the publisher of Stewart's DisneyWar (Simon & Schuster) if it contained inaccuracies, according to a February 7, 2005, Los Angeles Times article:
The book, which won't hit stores until later this month but already is the talk of Hollywood, couldn't come at a worse moment for [Robert] Iger. He is widely seen as the front-runner to become Disney's next CEO, a candidacy now backed by Eisner.
"The timing isn't good at all," said New York media analyst and longtime Disney watcher Harold Vogel.
Disney cooperated extensively with Stewart while he researched his book. But in recent weeks, the Burbank entertainment giant has been battling behind the scenes with the author and his publisher, Viacom Inc.-owned Simon & Schuster, over unflattering passages about Iger and Eisner that Disney executives have insisted are slanted or erroneous. Some of those complaints, according to a source familiar with Disney's communications, have been addressed in footnotes, parenthetical sentences or rewording in the book's final version.
Representatives for Disney, which also obtained a draft of "DisneyWar," have suggested that legal action could be brought against Simon & Schuster if the book were found to contain inaccuracies, according to two sources. For its part, Simon & Schuster sternly warned Disney in a letter not to disseminate copies of the draft, which was obtained without the publisher's permission.
Asked by The Times to comment on the draft of Stewart's book, a Disney spokesman would say only: "This flagrantly irresponsible article does not rise to a level that merits the dignity of a response."

So accuracy matters when it's about them and if something might offend Republicans, true or not, it matters. But they can smear anyone else? As I noted yesterday, look who sits on their board. I am not a Clintonista. I don't think he was God. I think he was the most liberal Republican president the nation's had. So I'm not commenting as a "fan" or someone who excuses everything that Bill Clinton does. But fair is fair and this isn't fair.

Some people wonder if it matters? Hell, yes it does. Not just for this election cycle. This mini-series will be dusted off and shown for years. It will put a lie out there and people will watch and think, "Well 9-11 really happened so this is truth!" Media Matters has done a great job on this but the thing is, ten years from now, they're not going to be able to do this every time some station runs the mini-series.

I was talking with C.I. and Rebecca about this to ask if I was over-reacting? No. As they both pointed out, film is very powerful. It gives weight to an idea. Seeing it before your eyes, whether it is true or false, gives weight to it. And these things live on for years. The revisionary Vietnam films, as Sir! No Sir! pointed out, helped erase reality from people who lived through the times. Things they saw with their own eyes, things they knew to be true, all down the drain.
Again, I'm not arguing out of some love of Bill Clinton but fair is fair.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" and please pay attention to the Jake Kovco coverage at the end:

Thursday, September 7, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, in Australia -- Brendan Nelson learns the morning after isn't always pleasing; a US soldier who went AWOL to Canada may be returning; Bully Boy & the GOP continue "Dirty Depends" actions, in Baghdad -- puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki closes a TV station, al-Maliki also calls it "a great day" as Iraqis and US soldiers die throughout Iraq; and Camp Democracy continues in Washington, DC.

Starting with the US soldier who may be returning.
Jim Warren (Lexington Herald-Leader) breaks the news that war resister Darrell Anderson "wants to come home." Anita Anderson tells Warren that she's urging her son Darrell not to come back "because he's probably going to get sponsorship in Canada now that he is married to a Canadian girl. But he's constantly stressed out and worried, and he feels like he can't live out the rest of his life this way."

War Resisters Support Campaign notes this of Darrell Anderson: "Darrell Anderson arrived in Toronto from Lexington, Kentucky in Januray 2005. He served 7 months in Iraq and was awarded a Purple Heart after being wounded by a roadside bomb. When faced with a second deploymnet to Iraq, he chose instead to come to Canada. His experience in Iraq convinced Darrell that the war was unjustified. Innocent civilians are being killed, and young soldiers are dying for an illegal war. 'Coming to Canada doesn't ruin your life,' said Darrell, 'it saves lives.'"

On the redeployment,
Anderson told Gary Younge (Guardian of London): "I was supposed to leave for Iraq on January 8th. On the 3rd I started to talk to people about the war. By the 6th I woke up and had hit a brick wall. I just knew I wasn't going to be able to live a normal life if I went back."

His mother Anita Anderson cites his reasons for wanting to return as economic, his PTS has gotten worse and that he wants to make.

Darrell Anderson needs to make the choice that will serve him best. Should he remain in Canada, he will be part of a movement that includes Brandon Hughey, Kyle Synder, Jeremy Hinzman, Patrick Hart and others. He will also be part of a historic movement. (And it needs to be remembered that even in the wake of Watergate, Jimmy Carter, as president, would not grant an amnesty to those who checked themselves out. The amnesty only covered those who avoided the draft, not those who enlisted and checked out.) If he returns to the US, as his mother fears, he will be part of a movement of refusal. This summer has seen
Ehren Watada become the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. We also saw Ricky Clousing and Mark Wilkerson turn themselves in.

There is bravery in either stand and Darrell Anderson needs to make the choice that's right for him. Like
Cindy Sheehan, he's already done his part and then some.

Turning to cowardice, the Bully Boy continues his
Dirty Depends campaign with the hope that it will scare up votes for the GOP in November. Which is why he boasts of his unconstitutional secret prisons, extends the national emergy act from 9-11 and attempts anything to change the topic away from Iraq. As Matthew Rothshchild noted on The KPFA Evening News yesterday, Bully Boy can't run on the war. How true that is gets brought home in a recent report by the AP that notes Bully Boy is losing his "once-solid relationship with Southern women" and quotes "self-described Republican since birth and the mother of three" Barbara Knight stating, "I think history will show him to be the worst president since Ulysses S. Grant. He's been an embarrassment."
AP notes: "The movement of some Southern women away from the Republican Party tracks with national poll results showing that women have become more disillusioned with the war and were more likely than men to list the conflict as the important issue facing the country." AP cites their own polling numbers and they track with Ms. Magazine's poll which earlier (poll conducted from May19th to 22nd) found 55% of women (43% of males) wanted US troops withdrawn "immediately or next year."

And in Iraq?

KPFA's Flashpoints yesterday Nora Barrows Friedman spoke with Dahr Jamail about life on the ground in Iraq. Jamail: "Overall the situation in Iraq is worse than ever . . . but particularly in al-Anbar province the US military really doesn't have much control of anything there, outside of the areas around their immediate, or inside, I should say, their immediate bases. . . . It's important the people remember that Ramadi is the capital of al-Anbar province. So what the US has done there to try to get control of that city is there's an area right in the middle where the government offices are centrally located in Ramadi and the US has been unable to keep people, resistance fighters, from attacking the government offices so, as a result, what they're doing is literally demolishing, making a no-man's-land between, all of the buildings between the government offices in the middle of the city and then the rest of the city. So they're literally leveling at least eight city blocks, an area of at least eight city blocks, around those government offices to try to prevent them from being attacked so regularly. Of course what this is doing is infurating people of Ramadi who are saying, 'Look, you've already destroyed so much of our city, you've already launched massive operations in here . . .' Recently snipers, US snipers have killed at least four people there, mostly women and children. Just one travesty after another has been occurring inside Ramadi. The people are angry and now this takes it to a whole nother level where the people are outraged, they don't really know what to expect next. And, of course, the end result of these brutal, heavy-handed military tactics, just like we saw in Falluja, it doesn't actually stop the resistance. It maybe pauses it for a few days, or a few weeks. But then in the end it generates more people. It really causes more people to join the resistance or become sympathetic towards them if they're not already."

Two of the three US troops (one Marine, two soldiers) who died on Wednesday (
US military announced deaths today) died of wounds received in al-Anbar province. The US government has announced that another Marine has died today from "wounds sustained from enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province September 6."

Oh, but, as the BBC reported, Nouri al-Maliki called it a "
great day". He was referring to supposed "control" handed over by the US (to him, the puppet) of the Iraqi military. It's not really a handover. It's more like, "Here are the keys to the car and if you do everything we say, we might let you take it for a spin on the weekend but, right now, it's still our car." Which is why "[a] BBC correspondent in Baghdad says the transfer of control could be long, slow and fraught with problems."


AFP notes "a suicide bomber ploughed his explosives-laden car into a police fuel depot in the town centre, killing at least 12" police officers in Baghdad. AP notes another bomb, also in Baghdad ("hidden under a parked car") that killed three and wounded 20. Reuters notes two roadside bombs, also in Baghdad, that claimed the lives of two and left seven wounded while another roadside bomb, still in Baghdad, killed one person and left two wounded and, still in Baghdad, another roadside bomb left four wounded. Outside of Baghdad? Reuters notes four police officers were wounded by a roadside bomb in Kirkuk.


Reuters notes that two police officers were shot dead in Baghdad (four civilians wounded); a police officer was shot dead in Hay; and, in Mosul, a man and a woman were shot dead in parking lot while a father and his teenage son were shot dead elsewhere in the city.


CNN reports four corpses were discovered today in Baghdad. Reuters notes six corpses discovered in Mosul ("multiple gunshot wounds"), three corpses were discovered (one, a female, was beheaded) in the Tigris river near Suwayra and two were discovered in Kirkuk ("signs of torture").

On the subject of deaths,
AP is reporting that contrary to the hype, there was no decrease in the figures for violent deaths in Baghdad. As Aileen Alfandary noted on KPFA's The Morning Show today, the US government had attempted to earlier say the numbers had lowered as a result of the 'crackdown' when in fact, August's actual numbers were "the same number as July."

And the
BBC reports that Mahmoud al-Mashhadani's nephew has been kidnapped in Baghdad. al-Mashhadani is the speaker of Iraq's parliament and was also the target of a He's-Out-Of-Here-So-Out-Of-Here campaign at the end of July and start of August. al-Mashhadani remains in parliament, his nephew Ahmed al-Mashhadani has been kidnapped.

al-Mashhadani is Sunni and switching to parliament news, yesterday
AFP reported: "Iraq's dominant Shiite alliance submitted a draft of a new law to govern the division of the country into autonomous regions". Today the Associated Press notes that Mahmoud al-Mashhadani "interrupted a stormy legislative session on Thursday after a draft bill submitted by the largest Shia party led to accusations from Sunni Arabas that they were trying to divide the country." al-Mashhadani: "The parliament speaker does not know about this draft bill. Is that credible? Who else should know about it if the speaker does not know? When was it announced?"

Switching to the issue of broadcasting, were they showing episodes of Barney Miller or NYPD Blue? Who knows but police pulled the plug on the satellite network al-Arabiya in Baghdad.
CNN was told by a company official (Najib Ben Cherif) that the offices "is being shut for a month." AP is iffy on who gave the order but notes that Nouri al-Malike started making warnings/threats to television stations back in July. CNN reports: "A news alert on Iraqi State TV said the office of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered the office closed for a month."

In the United States,
Camp Democracy continues, free and open to the public, five tents worth of activity and more in Washington, DC. Tomorrow's activities include a focus on labor issues. A complete schedule can be found here.

In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco continues -- probably much to the regret of Chuckles Brendan Nelson.
Yesterday, Nelson, the Defence Minister, sought to deny statements, credited to him in the press, made back when he saw himself as Johnny-On-The-Spot and felt that the nation needed each unparsed idea that tumbled from his mouth. Today?

Malcolm Brown and Cynthia Banham (Sydney Morning Herald) report that "Chief of Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, has contradicted the Minister for Defence, Brendan Nelson on key events surrounding the death of Private Jacob Kovco." How so? Dan Box (The Australian) sums it up as Houston states Nelson "had ignored repeated warnings not to speculate about the death" and that Houston denies evey telling Nelson that Jake Kovco had been "handling his weapon in some way and it discharged."

AAP notes this "directly contradicts" Nelson's statement yesterday and, in addition, Houston states that he "told the minister several times that a proper investigation was needed". What was Chuckles Nelson, the 'rising star,' doing issuing those statements (statements he had to retract and yesterday attempted to disown)? Justin Vallejo (Daily Telegraph) notes that the statements came after Nelson was warned not once, not twice, but three times (by Houston) "that it was too early to speculate". But when your a 'rising star' and you can interject into a national story, even if your actions cause more pain to the mourners, why sit on the sidelines waiting for information to come in? Russell Skelton (The Age) reports that the three warnings were given the day after Jake Kovco's death "[b]ut Dr Nelson went ahead and told the media that Private Kovco was shot while 'maintaining' his nine-millemetre Browning pistol -- a statement he was forced to retract five days later."

Let's be clear. No one knows what happened in the room where Jake Kovco died. (Or, if they do, they're not telling.) However, the reason polls demonstrate Australians haven't bought the official story (whatever it was from week to week) goes directly to Brendan Nelson, with all the authority of his post, declaring X one week and then saying Y the next. Now Houston
and Lieutenant-General Peter Leahy have both denied that they ever provided Nelson with any of the information he (Nelson) took to the airwaves with.

If the grief and heartache his statements have inflicted upon the Kovco family isn't enough to give pause, it needs to be noted that the doubts about the inquiry have their roots in Nelson's very public, ever changing story.

Anthony McClellan (The Australian) lays it out very cleary noting: "It has taken a clear cry this week from the Kovco family to help us understand how bad this is. The family is sitting there every day in Victoria Barracks in Sydney, listening, I would think with increasing incredulity, as incompetence after incompetence, and worse, is documented. The family has now taken its criticism even further from its intital rage over the mishandling of his body." McClellan notes the need for transperancy and calls the 'national security' claim (the excuse for not giving the names of the soldiers testifying) "plain bunkum" and closes with this:

To sum up, here's a short competency primer for Defence headquarters at Canberra's Russell Hill:
* Wrong body.
* Initial investigators underfunded, obstructed and overruled by army command.
* Interference in the investigation.
* Death scene not preserved; forensic evidence removed.
* Those present in the room allowed to clean up.
* A litany of miscommunication.
Can it get any worse? Yes. If we do not find out what really happened.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Peter Phillips was on Guns and Butter discussing the Global Dominance Group

Guns and Butter aired on KPFA today and I hope you listened. (If you didn't and are interested, you can use either link to go to an archived broadcast.) The show was devoted to a speech by Peter Phillips (Project Censored) about the Global Dominance Group and how they control debate in the country. Phillips spoke of a number of topics, 9-11, the 2004 election, the media message. He spoke of how four of the top ten media coporations have GDG/Dept. of Defense contractors sitting on their board of directors. These four:

William Kennard on the New York Times and Carlye Group
Douglas Warner III on GE (NBC, et al) and Bechtel
John Bryson on Disney and Boeing
Alwyn Lewis on Disney and Halliburton

Are you hearing about the 9-11 movie ABC intends to air that supposedly paints Bully Boy in a favorable light? Well, why not? Bryson and Lewis sit on the boards of companies that benefit (as well as on ABC/Disney's board). Wonder why Naomi Klein's two-part articles on James Baker and Caryle ran in The Nation and The Guardian of London but never got mentioned in the New York Times? Well maybe Kennard didn't want it in there?

That's the argument Phillips is making (not on Kennard, on the way the system works). If you're unable to listen to the program, you can read the article he co-wrote on the topic (PDF format) by clicking here.

I think Rebecca's planning on noting Flashpoints, so I'll just steer you to Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude. Mumia Abu-Jamal was covered at the end and I'll grab that. The guest was too fast for my note taking but I found the information online:

*REMINDER:9/15 - RALLY FOR MUMIA! - Alameda County Courthouse, 12th Street and Fallon, south side, Oakland, CA, 4:00pm - 6:30pm (initiated by Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, 510-763-2347

If you don't know about Mumia, you can find more information at this site.

Now here's more information than you'd expect on Iraq considering most of what passes for coverage these days, C.I's "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, September 6, 2006, chaos and violence continue in Iraq, England's Tony Blair and the United States' Donald Rumsfeld cause waves, Condi Rice -- who failed at national security -- fails at US history, Australia's Defence Minister Brendan Nelson tries to pretend he didn't say what he said and peace activities are ongoing at Camp Democracy.

In Iraq, the parliament yesterday,
Al Jazeera reports voted to extend the state of emergency for the country (not for Baghdad as I noted yesterday). AP reports that the measure "has been renewed every month since first being authorized in November 2004" before the slaughter of Falluja. Edward Wong (New York Times) notes that
"[t]here has been no serious move to roll it back" and that "[d]espite the affirmation of emergency powers, violence continued to roil Iraq." Also raised yesterday was the issue of breaking up the nation into a federation.
Al Jazeera reports: "Abbas al-Bayati, spokesman for the largest Shia bloc, the United Iraqi Alliance, predicted: 'In the next few sessions the parliament will discuss the law for the formation of provinces.'" Also making predictions is Mahmoud al-Mashhadani (whom many predicted would be gone when parliament resumed -- they were wrong). CNN reports that al-Mashhadani, the speaker of parliament, estimates that Iraq has "three to four months" before collapse if the warring factions persist.

Over the weekend, "
Iraqi army boasts they squeezed out Number Two -- but did they remember to wipe?" and the boast was called into question by Richard A. Oppel (New York Times) who reported that an unnamed American official expressed doubts as to the man being a "top-tier guy" and stated "I'm not sure we are ready to put a number on him." Now Qais al-Bashir (AP) is reporting that the arrest did not take place recently, it "took place in June" -- June 19th. A battle of spinmeisters causes William B. Caldwell IV to emerge and state that fellow spinner Mowafak al-Rubaie was wrong that the so-called "number two" was squeezed out this weekend, but that "permission to announce the arrest . . . had been given a few days earlier." For those assuming that he truly is number two . . . if he were flushed down June 19th, it obviously didn't make a damn bit of difference since the violence and chaos hasn't been effected (or diminished) by his June 19th arrest.

Their eyes are all asking
Are you in, or are you out
And I think, oh man,
What is this about?
-- "In or Out" written by Ani DiFranco

Tony Blair, is he in or out? Should he stay or should he go?
Nick Assinder (BBC) reports that while Blair wants another year as prime minister, "Senior party figures were openly arguing over whether prime minister should be allowed to stay for another 12 months or beforced out, in a Thatcher-style coup, much sooner." CNN reports that: "The acrimonious row over the timing of the departure . . . has grown with the resignation of a dissident minister and six ministerail aides." A memo has been leaked, reportedly detailing the plans for his exit, and Blair refuses to comment on it. Gulf News says the plans "will see him treated like a rock star, with slots on popular TV shows and a stage-managed farewell tour. It opened the Prime Minister to charges of vanity and ruined his attempts to douse speculation of an imminent departure that he fears could turn him into a lame duck." Commenting on attempting to sell Blair as a much wanted rock star, Iain Macwhirter (The Herald) points out: "Where have these people been for the last two years? The crowds aren't calling for more, they're calling for Tony Blair to go -- now." Fiona Hudson (Herald-Sun) reports, if the memo is accurate, Blair would "step down as Labour leader on May 31 next year and quit as PM on July 26."

And, in the United States, Donald Rumsfeld? The Secretary of Defense was rumored to face Democratic opposition in the Senate but
Andrew Taylor (AP) reported it was a ceremonial measure (nonbinding resolution) and that "Democrats conceded there's not likely to be any vote whatsoever." White House Lap Dog Tony Snow says, "It's not going to happen." David Lightman (Hartford Courant) reports that Ned Lamont, who is vying with Joe Lieberman for the Senate seat Lieberman currently occupies, has stated that if wins the race and Bully Boy attempts to replace Donald Rumsfeld with Joe Lieberman "he would probably not vote to confirm" No-mentum.

Meanwhile the
AP reports that Condi Rice, US Secretary of State, is comparing the current on the ground realities in Iraq to the US Civil War. While it is true that the Bully Boy, in March 2003, issued what could be termed an Obliteration Proclamation, no foreign invasion is known to have started the US Civil War.

Turning to Iraq . . .


Xinhua reports that, in Nineveh, a car bomb killed six police officers and left an additional six wounded. AFP reports that at least six people died "in twin bombings in Baghdad." AP notes that nine people died from the Baghdad bombings (not six) and 39 were wounded. Al Jazeera also reports nine dead and notes that they included two Iraqi soldiers. CBS and AP report that: "Mortar attacks in residential areas in Diyala province, north of Baghdad, killed three people: a two-year-old child in the Khan Bani Saad area and two people in Muqdadiyah". Reuters notes a bomb took the lives of two and left eight wounded when it went off near a funeral tent in Baghdad.


In Baquba,
AFP reports a woman was shot dead and a the owner of a store was shot dead as well. AP notes that "three construction workers waiting for a bus" in Baquba were shot dead. Reuters notes that two people were shot dead in Mosul. (The total for the above, bombings and shootings, should add up to twenty-seven reported dead from bombings and shootings.)


CNN reports that 19 corpses were found in Baghdad ("Overnight . . . signs of torture"). Reuters reports the 19 and notes that 15 more corpses were found in Baghdad today ("blindfolded with some showing signs of torture").

Still a wee bit touchy about abandoning a base (see
August 24 and August 25), AFP reports that the British continue to maintain that, basically, they left because they felt like it. Of course they did.

In peace news,
Camp Democracy is up and running and "free and open to the public."
Petula Dvorak (Washington Post) quotes Charlie Richardson (Military Families Speak Out) stating, "Every day, we realize there is a war in Iraq. But the vast majority of Americans don't; the forget. Less than 1 percent of this population has gone to war. And we need to get those troops out now." Australia's The Advertiser reports that the
"[f]ive tents will be open until at least September 21 for panels, protests and press conferences" and quotes Charlie Anderson stating, "This administration does not want to have a discussion especially with those of us who have lived the nightmare of what this war is really about." Anderson was also quoted on
The KPFA Evening News yesterday where he spoke about his growing realization that the war was wrong and what encouraged him to speak out.

Tomorrow is Immigrants' Rights Day at
Camp Democracy and director Robert Greenwald (The Burning Bed, Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War; Uncovered: The War on Iraq; Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism, Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices and the upcoming Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers). A complete schedule can be found here.

Other peace actions are going on and will be going on. In NYC, Friday September 15, Saturday September 16 and Sunday September 17 (7:00 pm each night), The People Speak directed by Will Pomerantz and Rob Urbinati. This is a workshop adaptation of
Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove's Voices of a People's History of the United States. The workshop will take place at The Culture Project's Bleecker Street Theater on 45 Bleecker Street. Tickets are ten dollars and can be ordered online here or here or purchased in person at the box office (box office does not take ticket orders). For those in NYC or that will be during those dates, click here for a map. The presentation is part of the Impact Festival.

CODEPINK's Troops Home Fast action continues is on day 64, and due to continue through September 21st, with at least 5,023 people participating. Those wanting to fast can grab a one-day fast at any point between now and the 21st or grab a one-day a week fast. Long term fasts are also possible but seek out advice before embarking on any long term fast.

In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco continues.
Another soldier has testified via videolink. This one, Soldier 20, shared a room with Soldier 14 whose DNA was found on Jake Kovco's pistol. Soldier 20 appears to have left himself ample wiggle room.
The Advertiser reports that Soldier 20 stated Soldier 14 was in the room with him, that they both yelled at the room next door (Kovco's) due to the "loud music, singing and 'obnoxious digger s**t" and that he was attempting to sleep and Soldier 14 was on a laptop. But when asked "if Soldier 14 could have left the room while he was trying to sleep" the response from Soldier 20 to this yes or no question was, "To the best of my knowledge sir, he didn't leave the room."

More wiggle room could be found in the testimony of Brendan Nelson, Defence Minister and "
star on the rise in the Government" (Michael Edwards, ABC's PM). Nelson's come under considerable heat for issuing statements, attention getting ones (well he's a 'star on the rise,' isn't he?). So Brendy gave his statement to the inquiry and, guess what, it wasn't him. Malcolm Brown reports (Sydney Morning Herald) that "Brendan Nelson, has distanced himself from a story that circulated soon after Jacob Kovco was killed in Iraq -- that he [Kovco] accidentally shot himself while cleaning his weapon." Nelson's statement contains this laughable statement: "The media used the term, 'cleaning his gun,' I never did, now was I told by any person." Fortunately for Chuckles Nelson, ABC is more than ready to clean up after him. On PM, Michael Edwards states Nelson's laughable claim (we'll get to it -- it's laughable) and then an actor recites Nelson's statement (in a re-inactment). That passes for reporting.

Will it pass for the truth? Only if ABC scrubs their own earlier stories. Nelson's trying to deal reality. We noted reality here
on April 27th:

"As noted by Australia's ABC and
WBAI's Wakeup Call, Jake Kovco remains in Iraq. Kovoco died in Iraq last week. Jacob Bruce Kovco was twenty-five years old and was to be honored this week in the Gippsland community of Briagolong. For that to happen, Kovco's body would need to make it to Australia. The wrong body was in the coffin. Brendan Nelson, Australia's Defense Minister, tells of breaking the news to Shelley Kovco and when the widow demanded to speak with Prime Minister John Howard, Nelson dialed the number. Nelson then angered family members (brother of the deceased, Benn Kovco, and mother of the deceased, Judy Kovco) by making statements regarding the death (which is still under investigation)."

From ABC's "
Kovco's family demands answer" (April 27, 2006 8:12 pm): "Defence Minister Brendan Nelson has further angered the family of dead Australian soldier Jake Kovco with comments about the manner of the Private's death in Iraq last week. . . . . Dr Nelson had previously said Private Kovco was maintaing his weapon when it discharged, killing him, but today he told Macquarie radio that is not the case. 'He wasn't in fact cleaning his weapon,' he said. There was obviously a live round in it which there should not have been.' His comments have angered Prviate Kovco's mother Judy."

While his original statements did use "maintaining" (as opposed to "cleaning"), it is the same difference. And when he felt the need to take to the airwaves with new statements, he clearly stated "cleaning." AAP reports that Nelson's statement also included this: "I would like to say there was no attempt at cover-up, deceit or misinformation." Presumably, he means then because his statement to the inquiry seems to attempt several.

Brendan Nelson's original statement: "I am advised that the soldier was simply handling his weapon and maintaining it as soldiers are required to do and for some unexplained reason, the firearm discharged and the bulletin unfortunately uh-uh entered the soldier's head.

Brendan Nelson's second statement (April 27, 2006): "He was in a room, uh, with two of of his mates who were doing other things, working on a computer and so on, and he was, it appears, the information I now have, is he wasn't, in fact, cleaning his weapon. It was near him, in his vicinity, and he made some kind of movement which suggest that it discharged. Obviously there was a live round in it which there should not have been. That's as much as I should probably say right now."

Or maybe it was more than you should have said to begin with? The media used the term because Nelson used "maintaining" and Nelson used "cleaning" himself. Take some accountability.

Things just happen under Chuckles Brendy Nelson's watch. Things just happen and they're never his fault. The Kovco family is obvioulsy overreacting. So is the Lawton family, we're sure. The Lawton family? Oh, Paul Lawton died August 31st.
Mark Dunn (Herald Sun) reports that his mother and his "former wife" learned of his death via . . . a cell phone calls (no sympathies expressed). So, no, it's not just the Kovco family. Nelson's department appears as unwilling/unable to learn from mistakes as he does. (Hint: First step is accepting the blame for your actions.)

The hearing also heard from someone many Americans probably hoped never to hear from again: Robert Jensen. Speaking in his role as mouth piece, president and CEO of
Kenyon International, Jensen told the hearing the mix up between the corpses of Jake Kovco and Juso Sinanovic wasn't his company's fault. Michael Edwards reported to Eleanor Hall (The World Today) that Jensen blamed (a) "the lack of experience within the Australian Defence Force," (b) the use of visual identification [which apparently wasn't used -- but it's clear you can say anything to this inquiry board and never be challenged], (c) Australia lacks clear guidelines on how to "repatriate bodies" [which one might assume is something Kenyon International should have pointed out when they won the contract] and (d) "unreal expectations."

Flashback to Robert Jensen jawing in the after effects of Hurricane Katrina a year ago: "
This is not going to be quick or easy. It is not something that will be handled in a couple of weeks." Well he got that right. While he was jawing away, it's surprising no one asked him to offer a theory as to how Soldier 14's DNA ended up on Jake Kovco's gun because Jensen is a forensic scientist (or was i.d.ed as such plenty of times on CNN prior to Hurricane Katrina). But apparently physical evidence, like shifting stories, are something the inquiry will ignore.

Russell Skelton (The Age) reports that Jake Kovco's father-in-law, David Small, has termed Jensen's comments "pathetic nonsense" and stated, "We are utterly disgusted. The contract was to bring Jake Kovco home and they failed to do that. They had an obligation to check the contents of the casket. . . . Kenyon was not hired just to bring a casket home."

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Michael Franti, Music, Iraq, Ray McGovern and more

First thing first, "Kat's Korner: Michael Franti & Spearhead Yell Music! (Are you listening?)" is my latest review for all those who fear I've stopped reviewing. I thought I was done with it Saturday but ended up redoing it Sunday and then again on Monday. Is it perfect? No. Is it done? Yes. What's next up. I hope to have a review of Ani DiFranco's latest in the next seven days and I'll be reviewing a piece of pure product this month or that's the plan. An e-mail (you can write me at if you must write -- community members have another address to use and should stick with that one) was passed on that said basically it was about time. Yeah, it has been awhile since I did a review. I did, however, spend weeks in Ireland on a family vacation, I am speaking out on Iraq with the gang at least twice a week and my original plan for this site was to no more than two posts a week. So I'm not too worried about the reviews. I intended to do at least once a month which would be twelve a year. I've already done more than twelve.

When I do a review, I'm not rushing to be first in line. I'm trying to live with it and figure out what it says to me and where it fits in. (Fits in musically, fits into our world.) There was actually a review I wanted to do in July before the Michael Franti & Spearhead. I may pick that up later. It's a totally non-political album in so many ways and that's why I didn't want it to be the first one I wrote. But everytime I grabbed a legal pad or a spiral notebook, I'd end up writing a paragraph or two about that CD. It's a good CD. So I may try to grab that in the comming weeks as well.

The 'audience' I'm writing to is a the community (that's what the visitor wondered, who am I writing to) and some are buying music and some aren't. But they are interested in music. They're also interested in Iraq and the visitor wondered about that? We upped our coverage, as a community, because there was none. With few exceptions, everyone else dropped Iraq. At one point, Ruth (read her latest: "Ruth's Report") wrote, this was in June or May, about how if you cared about Iraq, you could easily gather audio coverage each day from various Pacifica stations and programs. That stopped. That stopped almost instantly. As they and other outlets the community turns to ignored Iraq, we all beefed up our coverage. The war didn't stop, just the coverage.

So the community beefed up their coverage. There was no mention a war resister once and then ignore him or her for six or more weeks. The community attracted a lot of visitors, some of whom became visitors, because people were sick of not hearing about a US declared war and how it was being resisted. Iraq will always be an issue to the community and it will continue to be covered but when everyone turned their attention somewhere else, C.I. had already made the decision to do the "Iraq snapshot" (which is a huge hit but takes forever on most days) and the rest of us were looking for ways to do our part.

Ruth was devoting her report to Iraq and dropping other things and, after such a long absence on my part, I didn't see the point in returning to reviewing with a review of something that didn't even address the war.

I am appalled at the lack of coverage of Iraq from many outlets. In July and August, many programs offered nothing on Iraq. I really do think they should be ashamed. To have reviewed the CD that kept calling to me as my return to reviewing would have made me just as guilty as those programs. The e-mail went on and on about how he didn't want to hear political songs. Well, if he read my review, he would have seen the note that the apolitical can ignore all the commentary and still find a strong musical CD they could enjoy with Yell Fire!

I'll also steer you towards The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Musical Roundtable" which deals with a number of CDs. I agree that Paul Simon's Surprise is the best thing he's done since the break up of Simon & Garfunkel. (And agree as well with Ava's point about using prayer imagery.) I haven't heard Michael Franti and Spearhead's Live in Sydney yet. I wanted to listen to it when everyone started raving over it last week but I knew there was a chance I'd find yet another reason to avoid completing a review.

So that's the muscial status that the e-mailer so fretted over. Hope that clears up something for him. And no, in answer to his question about do I regret focusing on Iraq, I don't. I regret that others took the summer off -- actual journalists, supposed news organizations and news critics.

Tonight on KPFA's Flashpoints, Dennis interviewed Ray McGovern and they talked a great deal about the fascism of the Bully Boy. (I most enjoyed McGovern's hypothesis of why Arlen Specter went from screaming he would hold serious hearings and get to the bottom of the illegal, NSA warrantless wiretapping only to turn around and propose legislation that would absolve Bully Boy from his crimes.) On a similar point, I found this -- Robert Freeman's "Rehabilitating Fascism: How Would We Know It If We Saw It?" (from Common Dreams):

With his announcement that the war on terror is actually a war against "Islamo-fascism," President Bush has opened a fruitful debate. As is so common with Bush, however, his use of the term seeks to stigmatize more than characterize, to evoke glandular excretions more than intellectual reflections.
But in one sense, the president has performed a useful service. By re-introducing fascism into legitimate public discourse - by "rehabilitating" it, as it were - the president may actually help inform the country about the real dangers it faces as the war on terror continues its relentless march.
For the better part of sixty years, fascism was a term of intense odium, too heavily freighted with moral opprobrium to even be used in polite conversation. Even though earlier U.S-allied, right-wing regimes in Spain, Portugal, Greece, Chile, Argentina, Korea and other countries could legitimately be termed fascist, the remembrance of Nazis herding Jews into gas chambers was almost too painful to bear. Use of the term against political foes automatically removed its user from the realm of legitimate discussion.
Yet it is precisely the power of fascism - at least to those who practice it - that has made it such a compelling and recurring form of national rule. The question we must confront with Bush's revival of the term is, "What exactly does it mean?" How would we recognize fascism today if, in fact, it was loose about the globe?
In classic terms, fascism is defined by five characteristics of governance: nationalist aggression; fusing of the state with corporate interests; single party rule; the suppression of civil liberties; and pervasive propaganda. All of these inhered in the Italian, German, and Japanese governments of the 1930s and '40s. All of them would have to be present before the label "fascism" could legitimately be applied to a modern regime.
Nationalist aggression was a hallmark of Hitler's rule. He occupied Austria, the Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia, and Poland, in each case declaring (falsely) that Germany's very existence was threatened by dark forces in those countries. Mussolini attacked Ethiopia and reasserted Italian control over Libya. Japan attacked Korea, Manchuria, China, Formosa (Taiwan), and much of southeast Asia.

Now here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" because Iraq hasn't vanished, just the coverage elsewhere:

Tuesday, September 5, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Bully Boy spouts hot air, the so-not-successful 'crackdown' in Baghdad is extended for another month, Ehren Watada and others rally in Seattle, Washington and, in Australia, the family of Jake Kovco delivers a blistering evaluation of the hearing into the death of Kovco.

As already noted, 29 US troops have died in the last ten days (that's counting today). The figure has already risen. Centcom reports that: "Two Marines and one Sailor assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died Monday due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." 32 in ten days -- and where is the coverage? The total number of US troops who have died in Iraq since the beginning of the illegal war now stands at 2656 (three up since this morning as a result of Centcom's announcement of three more deaths on Monday). (117 is the number of British troops killed thus far, including the two who died on Monday Retuers reports a British soldier has been shot north of Basra and is "seriously wounded.".)


China's People's Daily reports that three are dead and five wounded from a roadside bomb and a car bomb in Samarra. AP reports that "a house explosion" in Mosul left two wounded.


CNN reports that a drive-by shooting left three dead in Baghdad while four drive-bys resulted in seven deaths in Baquba. Tthe sevend dead includes three police officers. Reuters reports that they were killed by "a rocket-propelled grenade" aimed at their car and that, near Latifiya, a Shi'ite pilgrim was shot dead and three others wounded.


Reuters reports five corpses ("blindfolded . . . gunshot wounds . . . signs of torture) were discovered near Suwayra and seven corpses discovered in Baghdad.

And the
BBC reports the kidnapping, on Friday, of Ghanim Khudayer, 22-year-old football player/star who had been planning to sign with a team in Syria to escape the violence in Iraq. Khudayer was kidnapped in Baghdad.

Baghdad, city of the fabled 'crackdown' that began on June 14th and has been so 'successful.' Baghdad is also where the Iraqi parliament is meeting for the first time in a month (a month's vacation when your country is falling apart seems more than a bit indulgent -- to put it mildly).
AP reports that their first act was to renew the so-called crackdown for another month. Al Jazeera reports that "a possible federal break up of the country at the top of its agenda." AFP reports that discussion times was also devoted to the issue of a new flag, this on the day when at least twenty Iraqis have been killed. No word as to whether or not Nouri al-Maliki should sport mutten chops is also on the agenda.

Alastair MacDonald (Reuters) reports that Iraqi president Jalal Talabani has stated that all British forces in Iraq could leave by the end of 2007; however, like the last guest who won't take a hint no matter how you yawn to indicate the hour is late, Margaret Beckett, England's Foreign Secretary pooh-paed the notion and termed progress on the ground in Iraq "very slow." Yes, but you were all but ordered to leave.

In the United States,
AP reports that Bully Boy has delcared the nation to be "safer but not safe" which is either an attempt to, yet again, personally profit from fear or he's got a self-destruct wish and continues to feel the need to feed fuel to the impeachment efforts.

In peace news,
Jennifer Sullivan (Seattle Times) reports that a march and demonstration for immigrant rights, reproductive rights, an end to the war and more led to a thousand participating including Ehren Watada and eleven members of The Raging Grannies Action League who sang, as Raging Granny Carolyn Hale put it, "for peace and justice for all. We have a lot to sing about."

Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing, heard testiomony Thursday August 17th and has since recommended a court-martial for Watada. As the recommendation works through the chain of command, more information on Watada can be found at Courage to Resist and

In Washington, DC,
Camp Democracy is up and running and "free and open to the public" though they caution you should bring your own chair if possible. Among today's scheduled activities was a march and tomorrow Congress members Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey, Maxine Waters, Jim McGovern and Bob Filner are among those scheduled to be participating in events. A complete schedule can be found here.

One person who is not at Camp Democracy is Cindy Sheehan.
Speaking to Bill Whitaker (Waco Tribune-Herald), Cindy Sheehan explained that due to her surgery and (intense) activity over this summer, she's going to be taking some time to heal and rest in the immediate future. Sheehan noted that Camp Casey is a permanent presence and, on the subject of the Bully Boy's avoidance of Crawford this year, stated: "I don't see it as so much a victory as just proof that our presence is very effective. I would rather he was here because then he would see us and we would still be out at the (ranch) checkpoint all the time protesting and things like that. I believe they (the White House) changed their schedule constantly when we changed our schedule." Reflecting on the differences between last summer's Camp Casey and this summer's Camp Casey III, Sheehan noted:
"Well, if you look at the past year, so many things have happened. When I came to Crawford last year, 51 percent (of the American public) disapproved of the war. Now I've seen some as high as 67 percent. I'm seeing so much grass-roots activism all over the country. Just this past week there were thousands of people protesting in Salt Lake City."

Sheehan is the subject of a song on
David Rovic's new CD out today. "Song for Cindy Sheehan" is among the tracks appearing on Halliburton Boardroom Massacre.

In legal news,
Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi (usually reduced to "14-year-old girl") was raped and murdered in Iraq on March 12, 2006. Also murdered were her parents Qassim Hamza Raheem and Fakhriya Taha Muhasen and her five-year-old sister Hadeel Qassim Hamza. On June 30th, Steven D. Green was arrested in the United States and will be tried in federal courts for his alleged role in the rape and murders. Green had been discharged from the military. On August 17th, an Article 32 hearing was held in Baghdad for five soldiers still serving in the military. One of the five, Anthony W. Yribe, was charged with failure to report the alleged crimes (dereliction of duty). The other four were charged with rape, murder and arson and the Article 32 hearing was to determine whether the evidence merited moving forward with the charges.

Rebecca Santana (AP) reports that Col. Dwight Warren has recommended that the other four (James P. Barker, Jesse V. Spielman, Paul E. Cortez, and Bryan L. Howard) face a court-martial because, his report states, "reasonable grounds exist to believe that each of the accused committed the offense for which he is charged." During the Article 32 hearing, the defense argued stress, fatigue, etc. (And, in fact, the New York Times, with Robert F. Worth and Carolyn Marshall's "G.I. Crime Photos May Be Evidence," manged to argue that defense before the hearing could even commence.) As CNN reported, Captain Alex Pickands' counter argument to those claims was, "Murder, not war. Rape, not war. That's what we're here talking about today. Not all that business about cold food, checkpoints, personnel assignments. Cold food didn't kill that family. Personnel assignments didn't rape and murder that 14-year-old little girl." Santana reports that David Sheldon, attorney for James P. Barker, intends to arguein a court-martial that, in the field and in the Article 32 hearing, his client didn't get the support he needed.

Turning to Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco continues. Yesterday,
Sydney's ABC reports, military psychologist Col. Peter Murphy testified that Jake Kovco "was not behaving in a way that would suggest he was likely to commit suicide" and that he did not display any of the known indicators of sucide.
Jake Kovco was killed by a bullet to the head, the gun used was his own and that's about all, after all this time, that anyone's been able to establish. A variety of contradicatory testimony has been given throughout the hearing.
Last week, Soldier 14 admitted that he and Kovco's roommates, Soldiers 17 and 19, "had discussions on a numerous occassions trying to work out what happened." Unlike Soldier 17's claim that Kovco was a 'cowboy' with his pistol, this statement wasn't amplified (or headlined). For any who have fogotten, though Soldier 17 admitted he never saw any such behavior himself (and remember that Jake Kovco was well versed in guns long before he joined the military), he stated he'd 'heard' about it from people that he couldn't name -- and he got away with that. (And his charge, about something he'd never seen, was amplified and headlined.)

If all the numbers leave you confused, you're not the only one.
Last week, Australia's Nine Networks aired footage of Soldier 14 (whose DNA was found on Kovco's pistol) and they were the first to break the policy not to identify (by name) anyone testifying or to show them. (Those wishing to see the video, this page has a link.) The Australian reports that Australia's Defence Minister Brendan Nelson is making noises of how such actions (showing the footage or revealing names) could destroy morale and therefore security and blah, blah, blah. They're witnesses in a public hearing. No one's argued that they need any sort of witness relocation program after the hearing. And Nelson was far from worried about morale when he made (obviously false) claims to the media (for which he had to issue a retraction). Were a screen capture possible from the footage, we would have posted Soldier 14's face here last week.

Soldier 14 was on duty with Kovco the day he died. He was "two-seconds away" from the room Kovco died in. His DNA is on the gun. His 'excuse' for why it was on the gun was deemed ridiculous
by the DNA expert. (He stated he must have touched a bullhorn, radio, or something that Kovco did while they were both on duty. Then Kovco must have touched it and then Kovco must have transferred it to the gun. The DNA expert, Michelle Franco, stated that was unlikely to have occurred and noted that Soldier 14's DNA on the pistol's slide was greater than Kovco's which, even if a transfer had been likely, means that it did not get on the gun via a transfer of the sort Soldier 14 describes. For it to have been on the slide in the concentration it was, she stated, he would have had to have touched the gun.) But he and all other soldiers testifying are numbered and not named. National security? Morale?

On the latter, since it seems very likely (
best explanation for the bungles) that the early investigation and Jake Kovco's body were rushed so he could arrive home by Aznac Day (only he didn't, the body of Bosnian carpenter Juso Sinanovic was mistakenly sent to Australia instead) to score a p.r. coup (even Juso Sinanovic didn't arrive then, he arrived the day after), morale is a laughable resort at this late date. Morale probably also went out the window when Nelson claimed on national TV that Kovco had killed himself while cleaning his gun (he had to retract that false claim).

Australia's ABC, which has followed the strange guidelines to the letter, reports that "director-general of the Defence Community Organisation, Janet Stodulka, says it is a common sense decision, appreciated by soldiers and their families" -- it being the decision not to identify witnesses in the PUBLIC hearing. Australia's ABC was where Nelson made his (false) claim about how Jake Kovco had died -- back when "morale" and "national security" weren't apparently a big concern and "common sense" was in short supply.

Meanwhile, Amanda Dynes (who for some strange reason, can be identified with no risk to national security or morale) has testified.
ABC reports that Group Captain Dynes, a military doctor, testified that she doesn't understand how the mix up of Juso Sinanovic and Jake Kovco occurred -- noting that there was a twenty year age difference between the two (Sinanovic was twenty years older), that she observed an identification tag on Juso Sinanovic's arm properly identifying him, and that Juso Sinanovic had a "thick moustache and a hairy body, while there was little hair on the body of Private Kovco" -- leading her to wonder if anyone had even bothered to open the body bags before sending what was thought to be Jake Kovco's body to Australia?
Belinda Tasker (NewsCom) reports that Dynes also testified to an identification tag on the body bag containing Juso Sinanovic, the fact that he had intravenous tubes, while Kovco had a tatoo and "badly bruised eyes." But supposedly, the body was checked -- that's what previous testimony has noted. If Dynes is being truthful (not doubting her), the question remains as to how anyone could have done their assigned duty (and it was an assigned duty, not a favor, they were ordered -- that includes not just Soldier 2) and Juso Sinanovic's body could have been shipped to Australia by mistake.

Judy Kovco, mother of Jake Kovco, previously referred to the "Keystone Cop" mentality at play and had to leave the hearing because she was so upset by the bungles and what she saw (which this community agrees with) as ineptitude continuing throughout the hearing. What's being called a family statement (and apparently represents the parents of Jake Kovco, Judy and Martin, Shelly Kovco, Jake's widow, as well as Jake Kovco's siblings) was read by Jake Kovco's step-brother Ben to the inquiry Monday.

Tracy Ong and Dan Box (The Australian) provide the background to the statement noting the stripping of Jake Kovco's room (where he died -- before forensic tests could be conducted, and the clothes he was wearing were also destroyed before testing) and note that the Kovco family has termed this a "face-saving exercise" on the part of senior officers of the Australian Defence Force and that the actions indicate "negligence that defies belief." Belinda Tasker (The Age) reports the statement included: "Though we would like to believe otherwise, it is very difficult to move beyond the undesirable idea that the ADF and its representatives have gone out of their way to destroy as much evidence as possible in an attempt to protect the organisation and its personnel from any implication of wrongdoing." Malcolm Brown (Syndey Morning Herald) reports: "Mr [Ben] Kovco said he believed there had been a conspiracy to cover up, collusion between soldiers, that the room had been contaminated as a crime scene and the Defence Force had waited for nine days before interviewing witnesses."

ABC reports the response of the Australian Defense Association disputes the statement and that the head, Neil James (and remember these are his words), stated of the integrity issue, "We don't have too much of a concern about it, remembering that of the three-man board of inquiry, one of them is an outsider, is an independent member, a retired New South Wales coroner and one of the other two members, whilst he is in the military as a reservist, is a respected New South Wales judge in civilian life," Well, they certainly haven't conducted themselves as if they ever had "too much concern".

Via The Australian (which provides extracts of the Kovco's family statement), we'll close with (some of) their words read to the inquiry by Ben Kovco:

"Given the current evidence of Jake's roommates, at the time officers in Iraq would have very soon after the incident been aware that neither could, or was willing to say, how Jake was killed. Under these circumstances, even the most ill-informed, indeed an individual who had never before investigated a potential crime scene, would know better than to allow the only potential witnesses to wash their clothes and themselves, return to their daily duties and then allow the clothing of the deceased to be destroyed.

"Trained military officers and MPs have no excuse. They are not new to this environment. It is hard to imagine what the NSW Police officers must have thought, arriving to a fully stripped, effectively sterilised room with a couple of blood stains on the carpet and a hole in the ceiling. "Hearing the testimony of the soldiers directly involved with Jake on April 21st was frustrating in the extreme. To touch on the absurdity of their evidence, we have Jake killed by a gunshot wound while in very confined quarters with two other individuals, soldiers 17 and 19. Soldier 19 claims to be looking away from Jake when he heard the gun shot yet says he reacted and turned quickly enough to see Jake falling to the floor. Soldier 17 openly admits to have been facing Jake, sitting so close that he was almost in bodily contact, yet saw nothing. In fact, the claim is that he heard the gun shot and was completely unaware of an imposing six-foot tall man falling to the floor practically on top of him. Difficult to stomach from professional soldiers, whose training equips them better than most to observe and report. "Soldier 14 is then unable or unwilling to adequately explain the presence of his DNA in larger quantities than Jake's own DNA on the weapon that killed Jake ... He also offers an account of Jake supposedly mishandling his pistol the week before his death, accounting in detail an event that has been demonstrated in the inquiry to be physically impossible. Furthermore, Soldier 14, via his legal representative refuses to co-operate with the NSW Police.
"Soldiers 14, 17 and 19 have provided all this to the board as their sworn testimony, but as conscious individuals, it is absolutely insulting to have this evidence put to us as the full and honest truth. Perhaps these soldiers can live with the decisions they have made and the effect it may have on finding the truth about Jake's death. Likely, it will play on their minds for the rest of their lives. I hope they can live with that because we cannot. Not knowing exactly what happened to our son and brother will haunt us for the rest of our lives. "Though we would like to believe otherwise, it is very difficult to move beyond the undesirable idea that the ADF and its representatives have gone out of their way to destroy as much evidence as possible in an attempt to protect the organisation and its personnel from any implication of wrongdoing. The actions described above (among many others) coupled with the disturbing inability of the witnesses to the event to provide any credible account of what happened, makes it very nearly impossible to reach the truth of what occurred in room 8 and in this the ADF is solely responsible and their actions have almost ensured that the truth may never be found.''