Saturday, October 28, 2006

New CD review by Kat

C.I. here with a quick note. The way Blogger/Blogspot's been, it's debatable whether or not it will show up, but Kat's got a new review up entitled "Kat's Korner: The death of Ani DiFranco?" She's still in Ireland, but she dictated it over the phone and it's posted now. She'll also have input on a feature we're doing at The Third Estate Sunday Review.

The coverage & the movement (C.I.)

It's time for us to escalate public pressure and action in support of the growing movement of thousands of courageous men and women GI's who have in many different ways followed the their conscience, upholding international law, taking a principled stand against unjust, illegal war and occupation and stood up for their rights. Widespread public support and pressure will help create true support for courageous troops facing isolation and repression, and help protect their civil liberties and human rights.
We call for the following:

Objection by military servicepersons is a healthy and important assertion of democracy, particularly in a country where the decisions to invade, to maintain occupation, and to engage in widespread ongoing torture, human rights violations and war crimes are made undemocratically in violation of the US Constitution and international law and based on continuing lies and disinformation.
Showing widespread support for soldiers who resist is one of the best ways those of us outside the military can encourage the growing momentum of the GI resistance movement--a movement that has the direct power to end this war. Supporting GI resistance, together with counter recruitment and draft resistance, is key to stopping illegal war and occupation ourselves. If the government can't recruit or draft enough new troops, and if troops refuse illegal immoral orders, it will help end the war and occupation and help prevent the next one. Look at the Vietnam War!
We urge you to join us December 8-10th for a weekend of action in support of GI Resistance and GI Rights!
Courage to Resist
War Resisters Support Campaign
Gold Star Families for Peace
Bob Watada and Rosa Sakanishi, father and step-mother of Lt. Ehren Watada
Darrell Anderson, Iraq veteran and war resister
DeDe Miller, Gold Star Families for Peace
Stephen Funk, former marine and first resister of Iraq war
Anita Dennis, mother of resister Darrell Anderson
Jeff Paterson, former marine and first resister Gulf War I
Sara Rich M.S.W., mother of Spc. Suzanne Swift
Edward Hasbrouck, draft resister
We ask you to begin mobilizing your group, community and networks now. As well as educating your organization’s members, please consider hosting one or more public events to help raise awareness and build support. Visit for more info and to contribute towards building this campaign.
Below you'll find the following information:
*How to Get Involved*Why Your Support is Crucial*Explanation of the Four Areas of Support

GET INVOLVED! Plan a support event in your community.Here's How:

Decide on what type of activity to organize. Choose a date, time and place. Make a plan to get the word out and involve other groups, communities and people.
PUBLIC ACTION:Organize a vigil, demonstration, human billboard, non-violent direct action, procession, leafleting, etc in your community.
DELEGATION: Organize a delegation to visit your local Congressional Representative or the Canadian Consulate or visit a US embassy or consulate if you are outside the US
LETTER WRITING: This could also involve a letter writing camping, delivering letters or having many people sign a joint letter. Writing letters to the editor is another idea.
EDUCATIONAL EVENT: This could be a video screening of Sir, no Sir or other relevant videos, speakers, performers, food, drink and discussion.
2)ORGANIZING KIT: Download the organizing kit
HERE or visit
Please include the following info:

*Your group or organization, and a contact person's e-mail and phone number.
*Info about the support action or event (what, where, when, etc.)
*Public contact info: a website (if you have one), e-mail, etc.
AFTER:Don't forget to send pictures and reports from your local support action ASAP! We will post reports to our website. Send to:
4)KEEP IT UP: Use this action to build momentum and CONTINUED SUPPORT for soldiers who have the courage to resist. You can do this by continuing to educate your community about the GI resistance movement and why support is crucial. Sign up to participate in the GI Resistance Alert Network that will alert you when and how support is needed:
Your participation in these days of action--and beyond-- is crucial to realizing these goals: together, we do have the power to end this war and prevent the next one. As the antiwar movement builds its support for these brave people and their important actions, we hope more will take a stand if we show them they won't be alone. Those of us outside the military must match their bravery by escalating our support for all GI resisters. They've got to know we're out here for them!
HERE is an explanation of the below four areas of support:


"I'd rather spend a year in jail than participate in an illegal war and be part of the machine suppressing Iraq" -Sgt. Ricky Closing, who served as a U.S. Army Interrogator in Iraq in 2004 and 2005, plead guilty to "absent without leave" on Thursday October 12 at Ft. Bragg in North Carolina.
Visit for more information, updates and to get involved today!

C.I. subbing for Kat. It's Saturday morning and not Friday night, I'm running late. Today, war resister Kyle Snyder is supposed to return to the United States (details in the snapshot at the end of this entry). This is a movement. Sir! No Sir! documents the movement in the Vietnam era and Courage to Resist is one of the few documenting today's movement.

I don't know if Stephen Funk's ever been noted at Kat's site or at The Common Ills. I would assume he has on the latter but his story is an early one in the illegal war and things can be forgotten. I read his name on the e-mail above and realized he's probably not been discussed in some time, if at all, by myself or anyone running a community site.

Stephen Funk joined the military at the age of 19. He's spoken of how he was sold on a pitch that made the whole thing sound like something akin to the Boy Scouts but, when he got to boot camp, the reality sank in. On Arpil 1, 2003, Funk became the first known war resister of the current illegal war when he reported to his base (San Jose, CA) with his conscientious objector packet. The war wasn't even a month old.

Speaking out today takes courage. Doing it in April 1, 2003, when networks and cable were decked out in flags and rah-rah attitudes, when the Dixie Chicks were being targeted (along with Susan Sarandon and others) took courage as well. I don't want to say "more courage" because I don't know that taking a stand is ever "easier." But when Funk stood up, he could draw on the ones who came before in previous wars, but there wasn't the movement that exists today and he had to be his own model.

Camilo Mejia has spent years giving a face to resistance and, when you're thinking of standing up, having someone else makes it easier to visualize your own stand. Let's say you are a man or a woman today in boot camp or maybe returning from Iraq. If you know of Mejia or another war resister, you can picture it. In conversations, you have a template. It's not just, "I think I'm going to resist." Instead, in conversations, when people express doubts, you can point to Camilo Mejia or any number of people and it's not just short hand (although it can provide that), it also allows others to see that not only are you speaking of something that's never been thought of or done, but that there is a movement at work.

Which is why I'm so appalled by the coverage of the media, big and small, on this issue. That's in terms of individuals (see how many cover Kyle Snyder in the next few days and let's be amazed if most do -- and if those that do manage to offer more than an announcement) and in terms of the movement itself.

I was speaking most of this week and, in one group, a student brought up food. He primarily used hot wings as an example and noted that he could remember his first hot wings. He was in eighth grade and he wasn't sure whether he liked them or not. But he was telling friends about it at school. He'd had them with his family and when he attempted to discuss them the next school day at lunch, his friends kept misunderstanding him. They would ask, "Fried chicken?"

And in the time since, hot wings have become very popular (there are even places set up that serve only hot wings). He talked about how most people his age eat them and he couldn't imagine having to explain them to anyone growing up in this country today.

But he tied that in to the discussion we were having about war resistance and the importance of peace activists, the peace movement, war resistance within the military and other aspects being covered.

He said that first day at lunch, attempting to explain hot wings to his friends, he was so frustrated because he didn't have the words for it and they didn't have something to picture in their own minds. He'd attempt to explain and they'd attempt to tie in fried chicken or b-b-q chicken or Chinese chicken wings.

To him, attempting to discuss any form of the peace movement with people who either don't follow the news or follow it via the corporate media is like trying to explain hot wings in the early days. That's a really good connection he was making.

We can 'see' a better world without examples. (Visionaries excepted from that conclusion.) Most of us need something concrete, some point of reference.

So when the peace movment is ignored in coverage -- as it largely is by media big and small -- the result is that you really have to do the peer-to-peer sharing to raise awareness. Every day can become a teach-in.

That can be rewarding work, it can also be hard work. However you categorize it, the reality is that the movement continues to depend upon word of mouth. I don't care for the attacks on the peace movement or organizations from media (big or small) because I know too many, of all ages, who have to focus on getting the word out continually.

Recently, The Nation offered a brief critique of a demonstration and I felt that was uncalled for and the comparison was inept. The writer was comparing a peace protest to a candidate's rally and finding the protest lacking. The rally was 'alive' -- no surprise, it was focused on an individual. Our soceity is set up to focus on the individual. It's in the folk tales and cultural narratives we've all grown up on and the individualist streak runs throughout the history told (though that's usually not the actual history).

I felt the comparison was apples and cheesecake, not even apples and oranges. In one case, you're rallying to elect an individual, in another you're taking on the concepts of war. There was no comparison. One presented a likeable personality, the other required something greater than all participating.

But the critique offended me as well because there's been no attempt to cover the peace movement in The Nation (I subscribe to The Nation, I enjoy the magazine -- with the exception of one columnist who I always avoid). So if you've got a problem with a protest and your magazine hasn't bothered to cover the peace movement, I really don't believe you're in a position to criticize because I really think you are part of the problem.

If the coverage was there, if the work on turning out people and getting them excited and motivated didn't always fall on the organization and their members, maybe they could do whatever 'wonderful' protest you think they should be doing. But when you're out there trying to focus on the turnout, trying in vain for media coverage, it can be really hard to also be attempting to discover some new way of doing something.

Organizations have to be their own media, their own p.r., their own planners, go down the list. I don't think media, big or small, has done their job at all.

And I don't think the columns about 'what's up with you today?' serve anyone unless your point is to make someone angry and goad them into action.

I've been speaking to college and high school students for three years (four in February) and what the desk jockeys see and what's really been happening on campuses and at protests are completely different.

Students today are active and they do oppose the war. And if you're not seeing that, it goes to your media, not to the actual reality. (And there's a story in the current issue of The Nation that demonstrates that -- we'll be addressing that at The Third Estate Sunday Review this weekend.) The media coverage remains one of the sorriest things about this illegal war.

Those wanting to slam today in comparison to the sixties seem unaware that in that period there was an entire movement that went beyond what was in the streets. It ws there in coverage from the media, it was in fashion, it was in song, it was on your TV screen, in the streets, all around you. The media has really been disappointing and I used to refrain from saying that.

I do believe in independent media; however, over the summer, I've pitched various things to friends (in big media) to assing or cover themselves and found them to be more responsive and more willing than what I see in our little media (who shouldn't need pitching to). There were six weeks this summer when, in print and on air, all little media could do was focus on one topic and they let Iraq slip off the radar. That wouldn't have happened in the sixties (death of JFK to Nixon stepping down). That's independent media's fault and they need to own it.

I'm not in the mood these days to propr them up or hand out gold stars. The fact is they're not doing their jobs. They want to travelogue or jaw bone (usually about politicians) and they don't want to cover a people's movement. They're failing at their mission as a group.

So when I read a slam on the movement, it really does bother me because there's been no support for it. At best we get what Rebecca's dubbed "Baby cried the day the circus came to town" coverage. (From the song "Don't Cry Out Loud.") For a day, if the event or topic is seen as important enough, we've got 'coverage' and then it's dropped. It's like there's a check list and it's "Oh, okay, I did Iraq today, let me see what else I can cover for the rest of the month."

It's war as an after thought (Mike's phrase). And what I'm hearing more and more on campuses these days is students expressing their distaste for being 'channeled' into this or that cause. (Largely elections this month, that's been the big point made on campuses this month.)
The coverage of Iraq and the peace movement remains shoddy.

If it seems like I'm biting my tongue, I am. That's because this is a topic we're addressing Sunday. I was actually on the fence about it until the article was brought up for the third time by a student on Wednesday, at which point I called Dona and told her I was on board.

It's an awful article, in The Nation, and my attitude was, "Well that's time I'll never see again." Jim, Dona, Jess, Ava and Ty were offended by it (as they should have been). I saw it as bad writing in topic and execution but I didn't grasp how offensive it was until Wednesday when I kept hearing about it from students. It's also true that I get tired of the e-mails asking about a 'war on The Nation' that I must have. I've subscribed to the magazine for years. But if it's going to get noted for what it does right, then what it does wrong needs to be noted as well. Otherwise, you're nothing but a fan club.

And this is going up late because I leanded back in my chair to 'rest my eyes'. I fell asleep. Jim just came in and woke me up. There's no conclusion to this entry. I've got to log into The Common Ills and do the entry or entries there.

Here's Friday's "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, October 27, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, US war resister Kyle Snyder prepares to return to the US; a G.I. coffeehouse opens in Watertown, NY; Gerhard Schroder weighs in on the special relationship between Tony Blair and Bully Boy; and the barking puppet of the occupation gets his leash yanked.

Tomorrow Kyle Snyder will return to the United States,
Mike Howell reports for the Toronto Star noting that Snyder notes war resister Darrell Anderson's decision to return to the US (Anderson returned September 30th). Like Anderson, Snyder elected to self-check out of the military. For Snyder, that happened in April 2005. As Snyder explains in Michelle Mason's Breaking Ranks, military recruiters were circling throughout high school: "I had just received my high school diploma. I get off of the stage and here's another recruiter right outside the door -- waiting for me. I look back at i now and everything that I'm going through, everything that I've worked through I can retrace down to that moment that I signed the f**king contract." Snyder has addressed how the military broke its contract with him -- such as by refusing to investigate incidents of violence targeting Iraqis.

In August,
Synder explained his decision to self-check out of the US military and go to Canada to Karen Button noting, "You know, if they want to help people in Iraq . . . imagine a 15 year-old kid, for the last . . . years all he's seen is [US] military personnel with weapons going through his city. How is that child supposed to believe that the man, in that uniform is helping him? Now, if that child saw a convoy of logs being brought to his city, or a convory of water being brought to his city, still guarded, it would be a completely different situation. That's where the American military messed up. Because they forgot about the perception of civilisation. They forgot about the perception of the Iraqi people."

Kyle Snyder intends to return to the US Saturday and turn himself in. Michelle Mason's documentary
Breaking Ranks takes a look at US war resisters who have gone to Canada seeking asylum. In addition to Mason's film, more information on war resisters hoping to be granted refugee status (which the Canadian government has thus far refused to do, unlike during the Vietnam era) can be found at War Resisters Support Campaign.

Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Jeremy Hinzman, Brandon Hughey, Carl Webb, Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes, Aidan Delgado, Ryan Johnson, Joshua Key, Katherine Jashinski, Ivan Brobeck, Robin Long, Kevin Benderman and Clifford Cornell are among those war resisters who have gone public. And that's only the names of those who have gone public. The war resistance within the military is a movement.

Earlier this week, US service members created a website, Appeal for Redress, and are attempting to collect 2000 signatures for their petition to Congress to end the illegal war. From Appeal for Redress:

An Appeal for Redress from the War in Iraq
Many active duty, reserve, and guard service members are concerned about the war in Iraq and support the withdrawal of U.S. troops. The Appeal for Redress provides a way in which individual service members can appeal to their Congressional Representative and US Senators to urge an end to the U.S. military occupation. The Appeal messages will be delivered to members of Congress at the time of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January 2007.
The wording of the Appeal for Redress is short and simple. It is patriotic and respectful in tone.
As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq .
Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home.
If you agree with this message,
click here.
The Appeal for Redress is sponsored by active duty service members based in the Norfolk area and by a sponsoring committee of veterans and military family members. The Sponsoring committee consists of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans For Peace, and Military Families Speak Out.
Members of the military have a legal right to communicate with their member of Congress. To learn more about the rights and restrictions that apply to service members
click here.
Attorneys and counselors experienced in military law are available to help service members who need assistance in countering any attempts to suppress this communication with members of Congress.
Several members of Congress have expressed interest in receiving the Appeal for Redress.
Click here to send the Appeal to your elected representatives.

Citizen Soldier announces the opening, today, of "the first soldiers' coffeehouse of the current Iraq war in Watertown, NY." More information can be found at Citizen Soldier and at Different Drummer, the name of the coffeehouse. It is a movement and for those wanting more information on the importance of the GI coffeehouse to a peace movement should view David Zeiger's Sir! No Sir! documentary.

As resistance and opposition to the illegal war spreads throughout the world spreads, Bully Boy & Friends attempts to remarket/re-brand all week.
At the start, the US State Department's Alberto Fernandez was having to eat his own words ("arrogance" and "stupidity" used to describe the war) after the White House first attempted to claim that Fernandez had suffered from mistranslation. We also heard the announcement by Tony Snow, White House flack, that the phrase "stay the course" was being stricken from the official White House language. Wednesday, the Bully Boy attempted to show how involved and concerned he was with the war Wednesday by noting the "93" US troops who had died in Iraq this month when, in fact, the US military's official count before the speech, during the speech and until Thursday morning was "91." While the White House removed one phrase from the official lexicon, Donald Rumsfeld added a new one on Thursday, "Just back off."

While the US administration played word games and offered faulty numbers, chaos and violence continued in Iraq. Despite this,
Zalmay Khalilzad (US ambassador to Iraq) and George Casey ("top US general" in Iraq) held a joint press conference where they declared that success was yet again just around that ever elusive corner and it will only take a year to a year-and-a-half for it to show up. (For those who've forgotten, the illegal war began in March 2003.)

Meanwhile a US & Iraqi raid in the Sadr City section of Baghdad, led to a barking puppet of the occupation.
Nouri al-Maliki rejected the raid, rejected the notion that he (who holds the position of commander-in-chief of the Iraqi military) had been involved in the planning of the raid, and rejected the "timelines" and "timetable" speak that Khalilzad and Casey had told reporters of the day before.

his laughable Wednesday press conference, Bully Boy was asked why al-Maliki hadn't been included in the Tuesday press conference held by Khalilzad and Casey?
His response? "I have no idea why he wasn't there," said Bully Boy the 'decider' but not the planner. He added, "I have no idea. I'm not -- I'm not the scheduler of news conferences." Once again, out of the loop.

In Iraq today,
Alastair Macdonald (Reuters) reports that Nouri al-Maliki issued "a joint statement with the U.S. ambassador [that] his government had 'timelines' for the resolution of the country's problems". The strings get pulled, the puppet plays along.
Macdonald notes: "The statement appeared aimed at dispelling the impression of mounting friction between Washington and its Iraqi allies". If the 'friction' is gone, does that leave only fiction? Bronwen Maddox (Times of London) labels the whole thing "Operation Cross Fingers" -- surely a 'strategy.'

Monday night in Baghdad, a US soldier went missing and is believed to have been kidnapped. AFP reports that the US military continues searching Baghdad "with armoured vehicles and backed by helicopter gunships" but the soldier has still not been located. AP reports that the soldier has been identified as Ahmed Qusai al-Taei.

The US press had trouble locating the 2800 mark for US troops who have died in Iraq -- a milestone passed this week. (In October 2005, passing the 2000 mark was news. Possibly the press is saving their energies for the 3,000 mark?)
2809 is the current toll since the start of the illegal war with 96 for the month. Or was until the US military announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, was injured Thursday as a result of enemy action in Diyala province. The Soldier was transported to a coalition forces medical treatment facility and later died of wounds." That brought the monthly toll to 97 and the number who have died since the start of the illegal war to 2810. October has been the deadliest month for US troops serving in Iraq this year.

a British soldier died today near Basra due to "road traffic" according to the British Ministry of Defense. This brings the total British soldiers who've died this month in Iraq to two and the total since the start of the illegal war to 120.

Among the violence reported so far today in Iraq, is the death toll in Baquba where fighting broke out Thursday.
CBS and AP report that 43 people died ("including 24 officers" -- police officers).


CBS and AP report that, in the Diyala province, a group of nine mourners returning from a funeral in Najaf were attacked with four being shot to death and the other five being injured.


BBC notes five corpses were discovered in Mosul Thursday and that the city is now under a curfew and vehicle ban. Reuters notes that number of corpses discovered in Mosul rose to 12. AFP notes that, "Thursday and overnight," eleven corpses were discovered in Baghdad.


Reuters reports the death of one woman "when two rounds slammed into the house of a Sunni Arab member of parliament, Abdul Nasir al-Janabi, in the town of Mussayab".

The woman's death comes at a time when, as
Edith M. Lederer (AP) reports, the UN's executive director of the Development Fund for Women speaks out. Noeleen Heyzer states: "What UNIFEM is seeing on the ground -- in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia -- is that public space for women in these situations is shrinking. Women are becoming assassination targets when they dare dfend women's right in public decision-making."

Meanwhile a new book, Decisions: My Life in Politics, takes a look at the special relationship between Bully Boy of the US and Tony Blair of England. The book's author? Gerhard Schroder, the previous chancellor of Germany.
Jess Smee (Guardian of London) writes that the book takes a look at Blair's rush to please Bully Boy, that Blair now pays for the price for his role in the illegal war, and notes that Blair had no interest in Europe -- Gerhard writes: "Quite the opposite, the country will continue to protect its role as a translantic mediator, even if that is to the cost of the European decision-making process."

In abuse news,
Anne Plummer Flaherty (AP) reports: "The Halliburton susidary that provides food, shelter and other logistics to U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan exploited federal regulations to hide details on its contract performance, according to a report released Friday."

In England,
Michael Evans (Times of London) reports the latest on the seven British soldiers accused of abused prisoners in a Basra prison -- RAF soldier Scott Hughes has testified that he saw eye gouging of a prisoner and the prisoner being kicked "in the lower back". Donald Payne, one of the seven accused soldiers, has already pleaded guilty to war-crimes. In the United States, as Linda Deutsch (AP) reports, US marine John Jodka "pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of assault and conspiracy to obstruct justice in the death of" Hashim Ibrahim Awad, 52-years-old, in Al-Hamdaniyah.

In music news,
Lydia Howell (Pulse of the Twin Cities) interviews singer, musician, songwriter and activist Michael Franti who says of his trip to Iraq, "I got tired of watching the news every night with generals and politicians talking about the economic costs of war WITHOUT mentioning the human crisis there. Rather than sit around frustrated, I picked up a guitar and a camera, flew to Baghdad and played music on the street." Michael Franti & Spearhead's latest CD is Yell Fire!

Finally, Bob Watada began his latest speaking tour yesterday. He is the father of
Ehren Watada who is the first commissioned US officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Below are dates through Monday:

Oct 27, 7PM
Albuquerque, NM
Location: Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice202 Harvard Dr SESponsor: Veterans for Peace Chapter 63
Contact: Sally-Alice Thompson, 505-268-5073, 512-463-2014,

Oct 28, 1 -- 4:30PM
Houston, TX.
Sponsor: Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace Chapter 12, Iraq Veterans Against the War , Cy-Fair Democratic Club
Location: Live Oak Friends House, 1318 West 26th Street
Entertainment by Bill Passalacqua and Hank Woji, "
Sir, No Sir"

Oct 28, 6:15PM
Houston, TX
Location: Dan Electro's Guitar Bar, 1031 East 24th Street. "Celebration of Resistance"Sponsors: Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace Chapter 12, Iraq Veterans Against the War
Contact: Sherry Glover,,(H) 832-363-1741, (C) 713-929-1132
-Bob Watada, ---- David Rovics

Oct 29, 1PM
Austin, TXPM
Sponsor: Code Pink/Austin, Veterans for Peace Chapter 66
Contact: Fran Hanlon, 512-454-6572,
Peter Ravella, 512-220-1740Heidi Turpin, (C)512-565-2242,

Oct 29, 5:30PM
Austin, TXCafé Caffeine -- 206 West MarySponsors: Code Pink, Veterans for Peace Chapter 66, Iraq Veterans Against the War
Contact: Doug Zachary,, (C) 512-791-9824
Heidi Turpin, (C) 512-565-2242,
heiditurpin@yahoo.comFran Hanlon (H) 512-454-6572, ,

Oct 30
Austin High Schools

Oct 31, 7-9PM
Norman, OK
Location: Cleveland County Fairgrounds - Lobby615 E. Robinson
Sponsor: Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War
Contact: Jeri Reed, 405-307-0352, cell 405-606-9598,

full schedule can be found at Veterans for Peace and those interested in hosting a Bob Watada speaking engagement in their area are urged to contact Doug Zachary.
More information on Watada and other war resisters can be found at
Courage to Resist.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Betty filling in for Kat

Betty here and Elaine called and said Blogger/Blogspot was screwing up (Ruth lost all of her post Saturday) and advised I post piecemeal. I won't have much to say probably but I will do it piecemeal so that at least something goes up.

I read this (Martha sent it to me) and thought it was worth sharing, it's from James Carroll's "A Time to Remember Our Own Mortality" at Common Dreams:

THIS OCTOBER has been a month of reckoning for Americans. A long-simmering anguish about the war in Iraq has come suddenly to a boil. One sees this in the readiness of Democratic politicians, finally, to challenge President Bush and the Republicans on the issue. Only weeks after the White House launched a strategy to emphasize GOP toughness on the war, in contrast to Democratic softness, expectations for a Democratic triumph in the elections are running high. Such a victory, with resulting changes in one or both legislative majorities, would empower Congress to challenge the administration on its disastrous war policy -- a challenge that will surely come if that policy is proven to have been the key electoral issue.
Meanwhile, in Iraq itself, American casualties are soaring this month, possibly heading for a record. The intensification of insurgent violence is drawing comparisons with the decisive Tet Offensive in Vietnam. US commanders are making rare admissions of failure. President Bush has affirmed the project of a bipartisan review commission, chaired by James Baker and Lee Hamilton. Their recommendation is expected to be anything but "stay the course." Bellwether pundits who supported the war denounce it now as if their early cheerleading never happened. And reliable surveys have been published this month putting the number of Iraqi dead in the many hundreds of thousands -- a stunning confirmation of worst fears about the consequences of the US aggression.
We may look back on these weeks as the time when the tide began to turn on the war in Iraq. That the reversal comes in October is what is so striking. October was repeatedly the month of reckoning during the Vietnam War. The nascent peace movement took its first hold on the national imagination with something called "Vietnam Day" at the University of California at Berkeley in October 1965, and October demonstrations became a regular feature of anti war organizing after that. In 1967, October saw the march on the Pentagon, chronicled in Norman Mailer's "
The Armies of the Night." In 1969, October was defined by the Peace Moratorium, simultaneous demonstrations in numerous cities across the nation, involving millions of protesters.
Once college campuses became the home ground of anti war activity, October continued to be the month of peace. University schedules were part of what made this so, with students and professors readily able to mobilize in the middle of the semester, after courses were launched and before the pressures of finals. But electoral cycles, peaking on that first Tuesday in November, were also factors in making October the time of acute public debate. Demonstrations and moral confrontations could and did occur throughout the calendar year, especially in the spring, but the distractions of holidays and exigencies of weather helped to keep October paramount as the time of public wrestling with war.

I read that and think about all the people (on all sides) who've died in Bully Boy's illegal war. And I think about Kyle Snyder who walked away which is always a hard thing to do. Bully Boy, in fact, can't and won't do it today. He's comfortable allowing the dying to go on as long as Americans will join him in looking the other way -- something they've stopped doing and that I doubt they'll return to doing. When you're told to shut up and follow orders (or, in Snyder's case, told not to worry about Iraqis wrongfully killed), it's very hard to take a stand. Snyder did. He removed himself from the illegal war and that was very brave. After he self-checked out, he went to Canada. In that country, people (including Jeremy Hinzman) are waiting to hear if they will be granted asylum (which allows for work permits and other legal recognition). So far, the government of Canada has said no. Hinzman and Brandon Hughey are appealing the decision and the decision should be coming out this fall. Kyle Snyder has decided to return to the United States next month. We wrote about him in "Editorial: Kyle Snyder's return to the US is part of a movement of resistance" at The Third Estate Sunday Review.

I teach my kids that sometimes you have to do the thing that is hardest. Life's not about 'going along.' When something's wrong, and you know it's wrong, you have an obligation to say no. Kyle Snyder realized, serving in Iraq and seeing it up close, that the war was illegal that there was no real efforts at reconstruction, no real efforts at peace. He realized the war was based on lies and he said no. That's a brave thing to do and if my children were unfortunate to find themselves in a similar situation, I hope they would respond in the same way that he did.

Now let me do some plugs because it's hard to do that at my own site. Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix)
and Wally (The Daily Jot) have been doing joint-posts for a few weeks now because they're both attempting to really work on getting out the vote in their areas. I'm sure they're making a difference with that goal and I know they're making us all laugh with their daily (Monday through Friday) takes on the news. Today, the joke is an "interview" with Condi. Trina's "Halloween Gorp in the Kitchen" is her latest and my mother and I were talking about Trina's site Sunday. I've learned a great deal from it and my mother said, "Well you learned a lot from me too." Oh please.

My mother is the most secretive cook in the world. All of us, all my sisters, wait for the day when we find out the extra ingredient in this or that. She'll give us the basics most of the time but she hoards those 'extra ingredients.' I told her that and my mother burst out laughing. She had to agree that was true. I learn a lot from Trina, and no ingredients are hidden!

Self-plug alert. At my own site, I posted "It's Back" on Friday. Now here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Monday, October 23, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, US troops hit the 2800 fatality mark, Bully Boy sings a few bars of "Daddy Wasn't There," the former head of the US State Department's Iraq intel section tells the BBC there is no 'win' in Iraq, a US war resister who self-checked out and went to Canada announces he is returning to the US, and Ehren Watada's father prepares to take to the road again to raise awareness on his son's stance against the illegal war.

the US military announced the death of a marine in the Al-Anbar Province. He was a member of Regimental Combat Team 5. And the military felt the need to add "This release is not a duplicate of the MNC-I press release #20061022-01, which announced the death of another RCT 5 Marine." That's necessary due to the number of press releases on US troops the military has issued today to cover the large number of US military fatalities in Iraq which has hit 87 this month. The number of US troops killed in Iraq since the beginning of Bully Boy's illegal war of choice now stands at 2800. CNN notes that October has been the deadliest month for US troops this year topping April "when 76 U.S. troops were killed." As John Ward Anderson and Debbi Wilgoren (Washington Post) and John F. Burns (New York Times) noted the record high for US fatalities are November 2004 and April 2004 (137 and 135 respectively.) At BuzzFlash, Cindy Sheehan provides historical perspective: "In the first 3 years, 7 months of the illegal and immoral occupation of Iraq, 2791 of our volunteer soldiers have been tragically killed and in the first 4 years of the illegal and immorcal conflict in Vietnam (which was never a 'war' constitutionally declared by Congress either), 1864 conscripts were killed."

That's just fatalities, not wounded, and just US fatalities. Iraqis are dying and being wounded as well.


Reuters reports three people were wounded in Balad from a mortar and two roadside bombs in Baghdad resulted in five police officers being killed and left 15 wounded as well as two civilians injured. CNN notes a car bomb "detonated on Palestine Street" in Baghdad that took one life and left 13 more wounded as well as a car bomb targeting a Baghdad market which took the lives of four and left six wounded.


CNN reports that four people with "security services for Iraq's oil facilities" were shot dead in their car in Baghdad and that a woman ("the shop's owner") was shot dead when her "hairdresser's shop" in Baghdad was attacked. Reuters notes an Iraqi soldier was shot dead in Balad (four more wounded), a police officer was shot dead in Baiji, "four policemen from the Facility Protection Services" were shot dead in Baghdad,


Reuters reports eight corpses were discovered in Baghdad ("gunshot wounds to the head").

KUNA reports that US forces "broke into offices of Shiite militias in the two cities of Holla and Diwaniya" -- noting that Holla was "the offices of Al-Mahdi Army, a Shiite militia led by Muqtada Al-Sadr" and AFP reports that Amara is now on curfew. Curfews and 'crackdowns,' the hallmarks of 'democracy' and 'liberation' in someone's distorted view of the illegal war.

Staying in the real world before venturing into the soft underbelly of the Bully Boy and his administration, Wayne White's caused a stir.
Speaking to the BBC, the former US State Dept. who headed the Iraq intel "section until last year" stated of the illegal war: "The effort can't be sustained over the long haul, and so we can't stay a course, I think, that requires years and years more. . . . We're not winning. It's apparent."

Apparent to all who can face reality.

In the someone's been watching their Austin Powers in Goldmember DVD news,
Reuters reports Bully Boy's none too pleased with his father: "Earlier this month, the elder Bush was reported to have told a Republican fund-raiser in a Philadelphia suburb that" things wouldn't be so good for sonny-boy if Democrats won control of the US Congress. Reuters reports that the Bully Boy told ABC's This Week, "He shouldn't be speculating like this, because -- he should have called me ahead of time and I'd tell him they're not going to (win)." Possibly Bully Boy's too busy feeling sorry for himself to remember his own response to a question about whether he went to Poppy Bush for advice on starting the Iraq war? Bob Woodward told 60 Minutes Bully Boy responded to that question with: "He is the wrong father to appeal to for advice. The wrong father to go to, to appeal to in terms of strength."

As Bully Boy trots out yet another karaoke version of "Daddy Wasn't There,"
Rupert Cornwell (Independent of London) takes a look at the 'daddy issues' and observes "the psychodrama that has been playing out here for four years, and whose climax may be yet to come -- the relationship between Bush the elder and Bush the younger -- '41' and '43' as they like to call each other . . . It is a tangled tale of love and rivalry, of admiration and intense competition. And it may have brought us the disaster of Iraq. . . . As I write this, the President is closeted in the Oval Office with General John Abizaid, his top commander for the Middle East, trying to sort out the appalling mess. More US troops or fewer, a phased withdrawal, the splitting of the country into some form of confederation (partition lite), or even talks with Syria and the arch-enemy Iran (the one indisputable beneficiary, along with radical Islam, of the mess)? Who knows? Maybe none of the above. As everyone but the White House acknowledges, there are no good options, there are only less bad options."

When not painting himself pathetic, Bully Boy practices denial.
The Guardian of London points out: "Americans, Iraqis and many others must have wondered just what George Bush meant in his weekly radio address on Saturday when he insisted: 'Our goal in Iraq is clear and unchanging. Our goal is victory.' The president's comments can only be counted as bizarre at a time when concerns about the deteriorating situation have reached a 'tipping point' due to a combination of events on the ground in Baghdad, Amara and elsewhere - and the impending decimation of the Republicans in the November 7 Congressional elections. Mr Bush's nonsensical message, a variant of his stock line about 'staying the course,' is likely to be quickly forgotten. The phrase that will be long remembered is that of Alberto Fernandez, head of public diplomacy at the [US] state department: he told al-Jazeera that US policy in Iraq had suffered from 'arrogance' and stupidity'."

After initially disputing that Alberto Fernandez made the remarks,
Sean McCormack of the US State Dept. asserted the remarks resulted from a mistranslation, they tried a time-honored tactic: get the speaker to blame themselves. Mistranslated was always a tough sell because, as CBS and AP note, Fernandez "spoke in fluent Arabic" during the interview. So it was time for the self-flogging. Neela Banerjee (New York Times) reported that Alberto Fernandez that the "senior State Department official apologized Sunday night" for his remarks. CNN reports the apology came via e-mail (so modern!) and that he stressed to CNN he wasn't "dissing" the 'policy' but added that his remarks did not break "new ground". So why the apology?

Regardless, it's too late. Just like
Bully Boy's comparison of Iraq to Vietnam last week, it's out there. As Meg Ryan's character tells Billy Crystayl's in When Harry Met Sally, "You can't take it back. . . Because it's already out there" (written by Nora Ephron, directed by Rob Reiner.) Attempts to disown it are a bit like the administrations quibbles over "deadlines" vs. "milestones." As the White House quibbles, Iraq's deputy prime minister, Barham Saleh, goes into a panice. David Stringer (AP) reports that Saleh spoke with Tony Blair and has stated: "I do believe there is no option for the international community to cut and run." Saleh, when not jetting off to England, stays safe and sound in the heavily fortified Green Zone of Baghdad. No doubt the thought of living with the realities all other Iraqis have had to face since the start of the illegal war must be frightening -- especially the loss of water and electricity which has always been in abundance in the Green Zone. What's good enough for the people of Iraq has never been good enough for the puppet regime. Al Jazeera reports that Saleh pooh-pahhed the "pessimistic tone" -- as would anyone in his secure quarters and lofty lifestyle faced with losing it all should foreign troops pull out.

Steve Kroft (CBS' 60 Minutes) reported Sunday, "More than half a billion dollars earmarked to fight the insurgency in Iraq was stolen by people the U.S. had entrusted to run the country's Ministry of Defense before the 2005 elections, according to Iraqi investigators. . . One of the people praised in former U.S. Ambassador L. Paul Bremer's memoris is a major suspect in the case. Ziad Cattan was in charge of military procurement at a time when the ministry of Defense went on a $1.2 billion buying spree. [Ali] Allawi estimates that $750 to $800 million of that money was stolen." But don't forget it was a windfall for all. As Greg Palast reports, on other thefts, in Armed Madhouse (p. 75): "Who pocketed the loot? Don't ask Mr. Bremer. Before he slipped out of Baghdad, he had a little trouble with CPA [Civilian Provisional Authority] bookkeeping himself. We all lose an expense receipt or two on occasion, but the CPA's petty cash drawer was fatter than most. They kept $200 million in bricks of U.S. currency in a room in Saddam's palace and another $400 million tucked away here and there. Agents could check out these cash bricks, like library books. Unlike a library, they didn't have to return them as long as they brought receipts. One agent took $23 million in a tub of cash and returned with $6 million in receipts. Another took $25 million and returned, it appears, with nothing at all. In all, 363 tons of U.S. currency were shipped to Iraq. Where did the cash go?"

The no-take-backs Bully Boy comparison of Iraq to Vietnam continues to receive attention.
Cindy Sheehan (writing at BuzzFlash) notes the similarities between Bully Boy's talk of presenting the Iraqi government with a timetable to Tricky Dick's oft campaigned on 'secret plan' for Vietnam: "The US plan for withdrawing from Iraq would include disarming militias and training more Iraqi security forces to take over security of the country -- which sounds suspiciously like Nixon's 'Vietnamization' program. With the incipient warmonger Kissinger (we were wondering why Iraq was such an unmitigated disaster?) back in the Oval Office advising George, does this smell like a fiasco to anyone else?" Reminder, Gold Star Families for Peace is staging a sit-in in DC, in front of the White House, November 6th through 9th. BuzzFlash is offering Sheehan's Peace Mom, A Mother's Journey Through Heartache to Activism as a premium (BuzzFlash's portion of any sales go to keep BuzzFlash up and running).

In other peace news, war resister
Kyle Snyder intends to return to the United States from Canada next month as Courage to Resist.reported in an e-mail sent out Friday. In August, Synder explained his decision to self-check out of the US military and go to Canada to Karen Button noting, "You know, if they want to help people in Iraq . . . imagine a 15 year-old kid, for the last . . . years all he's seen is [US] military personnel with weapons going through his city. How is that child supposed to believe that the man, in that uniform is helping him? Now, if that child saw a convoy of logs being brought to his city, or a convory of water being brought to his city, still guarded, it would be a completely different situation. That's where the American military messed up. Because they forgot about the perception of civilisation. They forgot about the perception of the Iraqi people."

Ehren Watada's father Bob Watada is launching another speaking tour to raise awareness on his son -- the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. The tour kicks off October 26 in Phoenix, AZ and is set to conclude November 17th in Atlanta, GA. A full schedule can be found at Veterans for Peace.

More information on Ehren Watada, Kyle Snyder and other war resisters who have gone public can be found at
Courage to Resist. In addition, FluxView has videos of war resisters who went to Canada and information on them can be found at War Resisters Support Campaign.

Finally, (
as Rob and Kara noted this morning) a look at peace activists comes not from The Nation or The Progressive, but Christian Hill (The Olympian) who reports on
Olympia Movement for Justice & Peace and Olympians for Peace in the Middle East member Muhammad Ayub (a doctor inspired by his own observations while serving with the UN in Iraq during the first Gulf War, "I feel like political dissent is actually celebrated, not just stifled."),Veterans For Peace -- Rachel Corrie Chapter 109 member and board member of the Washington Truth in Recruitment Molly Gibbs (mental health counselor, "There are actually more people who share the concern I have than not. Thirty percent are pretty entrenched in beliefs about the country and the moral values that they tend to think exist but in practice don't exist.") and Fellowship for Reconciliation's Glen Anderson (a c.o. during Vietnam, "This is grandparents, this is state employees, this is small-business people. These are local farmers, our carpenters, the people who work for our local phone company and stuff. . . . At some point, we're going to win if we organize smart and if we work hard, and work strategically and smart and build enough grass-roots movement."). Hill provides a look at three peace activists who are part of a movement to end the illegal war.