Saturday, May 12, 2007

My knee and Jeremy Scahill

I'm at C.I.'s for at least the weekend. I don't mean popping in and out the way I usually do. C.I.'s insisted I stay in a guest room. I don't know what I did yesterday but by evening, my knee was killing me. My right knee. And not really the kneecap. Not the front of it. The inner side of it. I couldn't stand without being in pain. Jim and Ty helped me out to the car and, with C.I., drove me to the emergency room. Nothing's broken but I've strained it some how and I've got a brace on it.

Maggie informed me it was because I was a Capricorn and Capricorns have weak knees. Of course, I'm not a Capricorn. That stopped Maggie for about 30 seconds before she insisted I must have Capricorn in one of my houses.

I don't think it has anything to do with a birth sign.

C.I. insisted I stay here over the weekend saying there was no way I was getting around with the brace on and that with everyone staying here there wouldn't be any problems checking on me. Which is true. Dona heard me moving around in here and showed up with morning coffee a short while later this morning. And Ava brought her in laptop for me to check my e-mail with instructions not to blog which I'm ignoring. I'm fine as long as I'm seated or still. It's only when I try to move that I get a tinge of pain. (With the brace, it's a tinge. Without it I was gritting my teeth like crazy.)

If it's not horiscope (and it's not), the only thing I can figure out is that I wore a very idiotic pair of high heels. I generally wear flats or a low heel. (I also wear sneakers.) I had to take a meeting about a photography job yesterday and I couldn't find anything that went with the dress I was planning to wear after my shoes of choice had a worn strap that I hadn't noticed before. I pictured the strap breaking en route to the meeting. So I was digging through the bottom of my closet and came across the high heels in a box. I actually wore them only once before, as part of a Halloween costume. I don't wear high heels normally and that's the only thing I've done differently so I'll pin it on that.

I remember crossing my legs during the meeting and my knee giving me a sharp stab of pain. It stopped right away and I didn't give it a second thought. As soon as it was over and I was in the car, I took off my shoes and drove over to C.I.'s where I was fine on a sofa until I tried to get off and that's when they insisted it was ER time.

I've skipped pain killers (I don't have a throbbing pain and you tend to recover quicker when you're not doped up) and at some point have a set of excercise to do. (Which involve me laying on my back with my legs up and against the wall. I just slowly and slightly bend my knees repeatedly.) I have to remove the brace for that.

The excercises will strengthen my knees and should take care of everything or so I'm told. Meanwhile I'm wondering what's next? Like I'm a car because whenever anything's gone out on any of my cars, something else has quickly followed. A fuel pump goes out, then the brakes have trouble.

Jess offered to bring breakfast in here but I asked him to help me off the bed instead. That's really the only problem with the brace, getting up and getting down.

Okay, this is from Friday, "Author and DN! Correspondent Jeremy Scahill Testifies in Landmark House Hearing on Defense Contracting" (Democracy Now!):

JEREMY SCAHILL: At a time when the administration seems unwilling to subject its war strategy to oversight by the Congress, we face the widespread use of private forces seemingly accountable to no effective system of oversight or law. While tens of thousands of these contractors provide logistical support services for the military, thousands are heavily armed private soldiers roaming Iraq. We do know that there are 48,000 employees of private military companies in Iraq alone. These forces work for US companies like Blackwater, Triple Canopy and DynCorp, as well as companies from across the globe. Some contractors make in a month what many active-duty soldiers make in a year. Indeed, there are private contractors in Iraq who make more money than the Secretary of Defense or the commanding generals.
The testimony about private contractors that I hear most often from active-duty soldiers falls into two categories: resentment and envy. They ask what message their country is sending them. While many soldiers lack basic protective equipment, facts well-known to this committee, they're in a war zone where they see the private soldiers. They whiz by in better vehicles, better armor, better weapons, wearing the corporate logo instead of the American flag, and pulling in much more money. They ask, "Are our lives worth less?" Of course, there are many cases where contractors have horded the profits at the top, and money is not filtered down to the contractors on the ground or armor to protect them, and we can discuss that later.
The second reaction I hear from active-duty soldiers is that they see what they refer to as these rock star private contractors, and they want to be like them. So we have a phenomenon of soldiers leaving the active-duty military to jump over to the private sector. There’s now slang on the ground in Iraq for this jump; it's called "going Blackwater." To put it bluntly, these private forces create a system where national duty is outbid by profits, and yet these forces are being used for mission-critical activities. Indeed, in January, General David Petraeus admitted that on his last tour in Iraq he himself was protected by private contract security.
Just as there's a double standard in pay, there's a double standard in the application of the law. Soldiers who commit crimes or acts of misconduct are prosecuted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. There have been some sixty-four courts-martial on murder-related charges alone in Iraq. Compare that to the lack of prosecution of contractors. Despite the fact that tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of contractors have gone in and out of Iraq since March of 2003, only two have faced any criminal prosecution. Two. One was a KBR employee alleged to have stabbed a coworker in a kitchen. The other pled guilty to possession of child pornography images on his computer at Abu Ghraib prison. In four years, there have been no prosecutions for crimes against Iraqis committed by contractors and not a single known prosecution of an armed contractor. That either means that we have tens of thousands of boy scouts working as armed contractors or something is fundamentally wrong with the system.
Brigadier General Karl Horst of the First Infanty Division became so outraged by contractor unaccountability that he began tracking contractor violence in Baghdad. In just two months, General Horst documented twelve cases of contractors shooting at civilians that resulted in six deaths and three injuries, and that's just two months and one general. They have not been prosecuted under the UCMJ. They have not been prosecuted under US civilian law. They have not been prosecuted under Iraqi law. US contractors in Iraq reportedly have their own motto: "what happens here today stays here today." That should be chilling to everyone who believes that warfare, above all government functions, must be subject to transparency, accountability and the rule of law.
These are forces operating in the name of the United States of America. Iraqis do not see contractors as separate from soldiers. Understandably, they see them all as the occupation. Contractor misconduct is viewed as American misconduct.
While there's currently a debate in this congress about how to hold these private forces accountable, the political will to act remains shockingly absent. Given the vast size of this private force spread across the most dangerous war zone in the world, it is not at all clear how effective oversight would work. We already know that auditors cannot visit many reconstruction sites because of security concerns. Journalists are locked in the Green Zone. The Army is stretched to the max. So what entity then is supposed to have the capacity or the ability to oversee the men who have been brought to Iraq to go where no one else will?
Members of Congress tell me they've been stonewalled in attempts to gain detailed information about the activities of these private contractors. I think it's a disturbing commentary that I’ve received phone calls from members of Congress asking me for documents on the contractors, and not the other way around. In the current discussion in the Congress on this issue, what is seldom discussed is how this system, the privatization of war, has both encouraged and enabled the growth and creation of companies who have benefited and stand to gain even more from an escalation of the war.
In closing, while I think this congress needs to take urgent action on issues of oversight, accountability and transparency of these private forces operating with our tax dollars and in the name of the United States, there's a deeper issue that often gets overlooked. This war contracting system has intimately linked corporate profits to an escalation of war and conflict. These companies have no incentive to decrease their footprint in the war zone and every incentive to increase it. As the country debates current and future Iraq policy, Congress owes it to the American people to take down the curtain of secrecy surrounding these shadow forces that often act in the name and on the payroll of the people of this country.


There's more to the segment including a Republican Congress member not interested in addressing a serious problem but instead in letting the world know he is a conservative Christian. You can watch, read or listen via the link. C.I. notes this in the snapshot, but Sunday Amy Goodman and Greg Palast will be on C-Span's BookNotes. I've got the Chronicle, the New York Times, the Union-Tribune and something else on the bed (I'm on the bed) but I'm not in a blogging mood. I did want to note Jeremy because he was testifying to Congress about mercenaries on Thursday.

It really should appall you when you watch, read or listen to the segment (if you haven't already caught it) that a Republican member of Congress is more interested in wasting everyone's time with "I'm a conservative Christian" nonsense than in exploring the fact that mercenaries are above the law and getting paid by the US government -- often much more than those serving in the US military and, in fact, more than Donald Rumsfeld did or Robert Gates does for being Secretary of Defense. (The right-winger insists that's not a problem because people in government are in government for 'idealogical reasons' -- I guess that passes for "a calling" these days.)

I'm in the middle of Jeremy's book, Blackwater something, and it's very good. It's back at my place but Ty's going over later to water my plants and said he'd grab the book while he was over there. I really recommend the book. The day after I wrote about Jeremey here this week, C.I. asked me if I'd read the book? I hadn't so C.I. pulled a copy off one of the bookcases and I'm already 2/3 through the book. It's one of those books that you just can't put down.

I stopped because C.I. came in with various CDs and put some on the stereo (thank you). I asked the title of Jeremy's book and it's Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. And told me I could swipe from a Thursday entry and grab two links by doing so: "MetroTimes also offers "Blackwater: One Man's private army" which is an excerpt from Jeremy Scahill's Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army." Read the excerpt and see if you're not interested in reading the book. (I bet you will be.) So that's going to be it for me this morning. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


Friday, May 11, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Cheney lies again while the press plays silent, more US service members are announced dead in Iraq, and a campus activism takes place as the Bully Boy prepares to mumble through another canned speech.
Yesterday in Iraq, Cheney spun like crazy. As
Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) pointed out, Dick Cheney quoted David H. Petraeus, top US commander in Iraq, repeatedly, "General Petraeus has underscored the fact that the enemy tactics are barbaric. . . . We can expect more violence as they try to destroy the hopes of the Iraqi people." As pep talks go, not a lot of reality. Last week, Rick Rogers (San Diego Union-Tribune) reported on a military study that found only 40% of US marines would be willing to "report a member of their unit for killing or wounding an innocent civilian" and the number of those in the army was 55 pecent. As Gregg Mitchell (Editor & Publisher) observered: "At the Associated Press' annual meeting in New York on Tuesday, I sat in the audience observing Gen. Petraeus on a huge screen, via satellite from Baghdad, as he answered questions from two AP journalists. Asked about a U.S. Army Surgeon General study of over 1,300 troops in Iraq, released last week, which showed increasing mental stress -- and an alarming spillover into poor treatment of noncombatants -- Petraeus replied, 'When I received that survey I was very concerned by the results. It showed a willingness of a fair number to not report the wrongdoing of their buddies.' That's true enough, but then he asserted that the survey showed that only a 'small number' admitted they may have mistreated "detainees" -- a profoundly misleading statement. Actually, the study found that at least 10% of U.S. forces reported that they had personally, and without cause, mistreated civilians (not detainees) through physical violence or damage to personal property. So much for the claims by President Bush, military leaders and conservative pundits that 99.9% of U.S. troops always behave honorably. Of course, that kind of record has never been achieved by any country in any war." Along with that reality, we have the first hand stories being told.

It was about two a.m., but I could see very well because there were streetlights on our road and because the American illumination rounds that kept the sky lit up all night.


Suddenly, I looked over to my left and saw the bodies of four decapitated Iraqis in their bloodied white robes, lying a few feet from a bullet-ridden pickup truck to the side of the road. Because I sat on top left of the vehicle, and because the bodies were on the left-hand side of the road, I had them in clear view. I assumed that someone had used a massive amount of gunfire to behead them.

"Sh*t," I said.

A few second later, our slow-moving APC came to a stop. Among the three APCs in our convoy, I was the only soldier immediately ordered down to the ground. As I slid down into the APC and then out the hatch, Sergeant Jones told me to look for brass casings, which would be signs that Iraqi fighers with AK-47s had been shooting at American soldiers in the area.

I saw no sign of brass casings, but I did see an American soldier shouting at the top of his lungs while two other soldiers stood quietly next to him."We f**king lost it, we just f**king lost it," the soldier was shouting. He was in a state of complete distress, but the soldiers next to him were not reacting. The distressed soldier stood about twenty yeards from me, and another forty or so yards from the four decapitated bodies.

Two other soldiers were laughing and kicking the heads of the decapitated Iraqis. It was clearly a moment of amusement for them. This was their twisted game of soccer.

I froze at the sight of it, and for a moment could not believe my eyes. But I saw what I saw, and was so revolted and horrified that I defied Sergeant Jones's orders and climbed right back into the APC.

[. . .]

I found Private First Class Hayes with a woman under an empty carport. He pointed his M-16 at her head but she would not stop screaming.
"What are you doing this for?" she said.

Hayes told her to shut up.

"We have done nothing to you," she went on.

Hayes was starting to lose it, and we weren't even supposed to be talking to this woman. I told her that we were there on orders and that we couldn't speak to her, but on and on and on she bawled at Hayes and me.
"You Americans are disgusting! Who do you think you are, to do this to us?"

Hayes slammed her in the face with the stock of his M-16. She fell facedown into the dirt, bleeding and silent. The woman lay still on the ground. I pushed Hayes away."What are you doing, man?" I said to him. "You have a wife and two kids! Don't be hitting her like that."

He looked at me with eyes full of hatred, as if he was ready to kill me for saying those words, but he did not touch the woman again. I found this incident with Hayes particularly disturbing because during other times I had seen him in action in Iraq, Hayes had showed himself to be one of the most levelheaded and calm soldiers in my company. I had the sense that if he could lose it and hit a woman the way he had, any of us could lose it.


The above is from US war resister Joshua Key's
The Deserter's Tale -- the 'little' book that some expected to get a tiny flurry of attention the week of release and then quickly fade. Instead, it continues to get attention from across the political spectrum (and around the world), is stocked in bookstores across the country. ZNet runs the most recent review of it, by Derrick O'Keefe who found, "The Deserter's Tale is told in simple, compelling prose. Joshua Key's story may just be one perspective on the Iraq war, but in many ways the young war resister is also speaking on behalf of the voiceless thousands senselessly killed in this war. Relentlessly honest, and graphic, this book stands out as unique and significant amidst the shelves of books critiquing the Bush administration’s foreign policy. It will surely stand up long after this war is over as a condemnation both of the pretensions of empire, and of the grotesque inequality that scars life in the United States itself."

Key is not the only war resister to tell his story in book form. The just released
Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia is Camilo Mejia's account, an account he is also sharing currently on a speaking tour with other war resisters. That includes, as Courage to Resist noted yesterday, Agustin Aguayo:

Army Spc. Agustin Aguayo stepped off of a plane today at Sacramento International Airport after being imprisoned by the U.S. Army and held in Germany for nine months. Agustin was convicted of missing movement and desertion for refusing to redeploy to Iraq last year and publicly speaking out against the war.

Agustin's wife Helga and Courage to Resist supporters met him at the airport, give him a couple hours to relax from his 18-hour journey from Germany, and whisked him to his first speaking event in California’s capitol. From here, Agustin is beginning a multi-city tour covering much of Northern California. In the upcoming days, Agustin will be joined by fellow Iraq War resisters Army Staff Sergeant Camilo Mej√≠a, Navy Petty Officer Pablo Paredes, and Marine L/Cpl Robert Zabala.

The upcoming dates for the speaking out tour include:

Friday May 11 - Stockton 6pm at the Mexican Community Center, 609 S Lincoln St, Stockton. Featuring Agustin Aguayo.


Saturday May 12 - Monterey 7pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 490 Aguajito Rd, Carmel. Featuring Agustin Aguayo and Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace Chp. 69, Hartnell Students for Peace, Salinas Action League, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and Courage to Resist. More info: Kurt Brux 831-424-6447


Sunday May 13 - San Francisco 7pm at the Veterans War Memorial Bldg. (Room 223) , 401 Van Ness St, San Francisco. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia and Pablo Paredes. Sponsored by Courage to Resist, Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69 and SF Codepink.
Monday May 14 - Watsonville 7pm at the United Presbyterian Church, 112 E. Beach, Watsonville. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and Robert Zabala. Sponsored by the GI Rights Hotline & Draft Alternatives program of the Resource Center for Nonviolence (RCNV), Santa Cruz Peace Coalition, Watsonville Women's International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF), Watsonville Brown Berets, Courage to Resist and Santa Cruz Veterans for Peace Chp. 11. More info: Bob Fitch 831-722-3311


Tuesday May 15 - Palo Alto 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church (Fellowship Hall), 1140 Cowper, Palo Alto. Featuring Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Pennisula Peace and Justice Center. More info: Paul George 650-326-8837


Wednesday May 16 - Eureka 7pm at the Eureka Labor Temple, 840 E St. (@9th), Eureka. Featuring Camilo Mejia. More info: Becky Luening 707-826-9197


Thursday May 17 - Oakland 4pm youth event and 7pm program at the Humanist Hall, 411 28th St, Oakland. Featuring Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and the Alternatives to War through Education (A.W.E.) Youth Action Team. Sponsored by Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69, Courage to Resist, Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's (CCCO) and AWE Youth Action Team.
Friday May 18 - Berkeley 7pm at St. Joseph the Worker featuring Camilo Mejia.


US war resisters are part of a growing movement of war resistance within the military: Camilo Mejia,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Joshua Key, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Cheney made other laughable claims in Baghdad yesterday. Many in the press, including
Joshua Partlow (Washington Post), Alissa J. Rubin and basically anyone filing from Iraq, noted that Cheney declared, "We are here, above all, because the terrorists who have declared war on America and other free nations have made Iraq the central front in that war. . . . The United States, also, has made a decision: As the prime target of a global war against terror, we will stay on the offensive. We will not sit back and wait to be hit again." If it sounds familiar, it's part of the scare lie that the US administration used to launch an illegal war. It's been disproven and discredited. Strangely, though major outlets found time to include the lie, there wasn't room to call it out. Now in the leadup to the illegal war this lie would be repeated over and over. It was a lie then but many in the mainstream ran with it (click here for one notable exception, McClatchy Newspapers -- then Knight-Ridder). After that and other lies were exposed -- after the US was involved in an illegal war -- some in the press would express shock that the discredited lie was believed by so many in the public. Why was that? Because despite mini-culpas there was no strong calling out of the lies and, even today, the lie can be jotted down and appear in print without a reporter feeling it is their duty (and it is their duty) to note that what Cheney uttered was a lie. One example, Warren P. Strobel and Margaret Talev's "Senate reports say Saddam rejected cooperating with terrorists" (McClatchy Newspapers) calling out the lie in September of last year:

Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein rejected pleas for assistance from Osama bin Laden and tried to capture terrorist Abu Musab al Zarqawi when he was in Iraq, a Senate Intelligence Committee report released Friday found, casting further doubt on the Bush administration's rationale for invading Iraq.
President Bush and other administration officials repeatedly cited Saddam's alleged ties to radical Islamic terrorists before the March 2003 invasion as one reason to take military action against Iraq.


Yes and Cheney continues to do so without being called out on it, so don't blame the public when the press fails at its own job.
A failure of the British press currently is the slobbering going over about Mr Tony. As
Tariq Ali noted at CounterPunch, "Tony Blair's success was limited to winning three general elections in a row. A second-rate actor, he turned out to be a crafty and avaricious politician, but without much substance; bereft of ideas he eagerly grasped and tried to improve upon the legacy of Margaret Thatcher. But though in many ways Blair's programme has been a euphemistic, if bloodier, version of Thatcher's, the style of their departures is very different. Thatcher's overthrow by her fellow-Conservatives was a matter of high drama: an announcement outside the Louvre's glass pyramid during the Paris Congress brokering the end of the Cold War; tears; a crowded House of Commons. Blair makes his unwilling exit against a backdrop of car-bombs and mass carnage in Iraq, with hundreds of thousands left dead or maimed from his policies, and London a prime target for terrorist attack. Thatcher's supporters described themselves afterwards as horror-struck by what they had done. Even Blair's greatest sycophants in the British media: Martin Kettle and Michael White (The Guardian), Andrew Rawnsley (Observer), Philip Stephens (FT) confess to a sense of relief as he finally quits." Speaking with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) today, Tariq Ali noted, "We had no real accounting of why he's leaving as prime minister. And the fact is he's leaving is, because he's hated. And the reason he's hated is because he joined the neocons in Washington and went to war against Iraq, which now 78% of the population in this country [England] oppose. And when people are being asked what will Blair’s legacy be, a large majority is saying Iraq. And I think that's what he will be remembered for, as a prime minister who took a reluctant and skeptical country into a war designed by Washington and its neoconservative strategists, all of whom are in crisis. And you listen to Blair now and his successor, Brown, and they sound much worse than any Democrat in the Senate or the House, because they realize the war's unpopular. These guys carry on living in a tiny bubble, media bubble, which they construct. And I think the BBC's sycophancy, the way in which they portrayed him yesterday as if he was a sort of dead Princess Diana, doesn't do them proud. It was a low point in BBC journalism, with one of their political correspondents saying, 'Gosh, look at him. Isn't he a winner?' Well, he isn't a winner, which is why he's leaving. And a reluctant party is saying farewell to him, because they think they’ll lose the next election if he’s in charge. That's what's going on."

And what's going on Iraq today?

Bombings?

Ibon Villelabeitia and Dean Yates (Reuters) report that Baghdad has seen truck bombing attacks on bridges today that have left at least 26 dead, at least 60 wounded and damanged bridges. Jenan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Basra explosion that left one civilian wounded. Reuters reports a bridge outside Taiji was bombed "main highway connecting the capital [Baghdad] with cities in the north" and that four Iraqi soldiers were killed in the explosion, a Zaafaraniya bombing that left two dead and four wounded.

Shootings?
Jenan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the Samara shooting death of "brigadier Amar Kareem Khlaf". Reuters reports a Kirkuk drive-by that left one person dead and the shooting death of Falluja's deputy mayor.
Corpses?

Reuters reports one corpses was discovered in Hawija.

Earlier today
Reuters reported the Baghdad death of a US soldier (two more wounded) from a Thursday roadside bombing, the Tikrit death of a US soldier (9 wounded) from a Thursday bombing, the Thursday death of a US soldier in Diwaniya from "small-arms fire" and the Thursday death of a US soldier in Baghdad also from "small-arms fire".

This as
AP reports that Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani , in a speech delivered at Cambridge, declared, "I think that in one or two years we will be able to recruit our forces, to prepare our forces and say goodbye to our friends." The total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war is now 3386 -- that's 3386 'goodbyes' Talabani can say. Long after the four year mark has passed on the illegal war, everyone is supposed to buy that now (now!) it will only take one or two more years. And of course in one or two more years, no doubt, the message will still be "It'll just take a year or two more." How many deaths is it going to take? The next time someone -- in the US Congress, in the Iraqi Parliament, wherever -- wants to tell the world how much more X it will take for the illegal war to be 'won,' let's all ask them to drop the months or years and tell us how many more lives. How many more lives will this illegal war take? CBS and AP report: "The U.S. commander in northern Iraq, Maj. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon, said he doesn't have enough troops for the mission in Diyala, a province northeast of Baghdad that has seen a rise in violence blamed largely on militants who fled the Baghdad security operation. Mixon also said Iraqi government officials are not moving fast enough to provide the 'most powerful weapon' against insurgents -- a government that works and supplies services for the people." For such a government to exist, it would have to be one put foward by the Iraqi people and not yet another puppet government installed by the US. Meanwhile, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reports this on CBS: "In media news, CBS has dismissed an Iraq war veteran over his involvement in an ad campaign criticizing the war. General John Batiste appears in an ad from the group VoteVets dot org. Batiste has been working as a CBS News consultant." Amy Goodman and Greg Palast will be on Sunday's Book TV (C-Span) (7:00 pm EST).

The US House of Representatives passed a measure today. It funds the Iraq war but by piecemeal. The Senate now takes up the vote. It's called going through the motions. Instead, we'll turn to campus activism where Bully Boy's speech today at St. Vincent college (in Penn.) has led to a huge outcry.
James Gerstenzang (LA Times) reports that "Students vigorously debated the invitation at a town-hall meeting last month. A former St. Vincent College president wrote a scathing newspaper essay saying Bush had no place on the campus. About a quarter of the tenure-rank faculty wrote an open letter to Bush challenging the Iraq war as contrary to Roman Catholic doctrine. Several dozen people held a candlelight vigil Thursday night protesting the visit. And for several Sundays, nuns protested on the edge of the campus. The discord, polite and reasoned as it may be, is emblematic of passions across the country as the war moves further into its fifth year, with increasing military deployments and mounting death tolls among Iraqi civilians and U.S. troops." Jennifer Loven (AP) reports a crowd of at least 150 protesting and quotes philosophy major Ronny Menzie "I didn't finish my thesis because I didn't want my graduation with him. I think it's a blight, an embarrassment on a Catholic college." and Iraq war vet Jonas Merrill who made a 90 minute drive to protest the Bully Boy's appearance, "We're fighting for the guys still over there." This campus response isn't a brand new development for the administration. David Nitkin (Baltimore Sun) observes, "Graduation visits by Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other administration officials are galvanizing opponents at campuses across the country, sparking intense debates and frustrating White House hopes. A similar outcry greeted Bush last month at a South Florida community college. Protesters flocked to the campus even though it was considered to be an accommodating environment, with a large Cuban-American population." And Ron Hutcheson (McClatchy Newspapers) reminds, "Other even more conservative campuses also have been touched by unrest over the war. Last month, a small group of students and faculty at Brigham Young University, the nation's premier Mormon school, objected to a commencement address by Vice President Dick Cheney."

iraq tariq ali agustin aguayo democracy now amy goodman the new york times alissa j. rubin the washington post joshua partlow