While most everyone in Washington believes the surge of 30,000 troops in Iraq that began last January is nearing its end, the White House insisted Tuesday that it is only beginning.
As Senate Democrats began anew to try to force President Bush to withdraw American troops, each move by the White House seems calculated to shift deadlines and benchmarks forward -- and postpone a retreat from Iraq until after Bush leaves office in January 2009.
Last December, when Bush rebuffed a bipartisan exit strategy presented by the Iraq Study Group, he said he would leave the decision to withdraw from Iraq to his successor.
That question is "not going to face this government," Bush said, chuckling slightly at a news conference with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, "because we made up our mind. We've made that part clear. It'll face future governments. There will be future opportunities for people to say, 'Well, it's not worth it. Let's just retreat.' "
Since then, nearly 700 more American soldiers have died in a war that has now lasted more than four years, lost the lives of more than 3,600 U.S. troops, cost $10 billion a month -- and cost Republicans control of the House and Senate.
Time permitting, the above will get noted in tomorrow's snapshot. It just went up an hour ago and is from Carolyn Lochhead's "'We made up our mind,' Bush says: President seems to want to shift Iraq onto future administrations" (San Francisco Chronicle). We were all reading various coverage of the day's events in terms of Bully Boy and this really stood out. If it had been available when the snapshot was done, C.I. would've included it today. So read the entire thing, this is some really strong writing.
"War resisters and the bad press coverage" is really what I've been thinking about today. Check it out if you haven't already. I'm getting really tired of the MSM putting out these bad stories on war resisters. I love how they all go the military for sources or someone who just retired. And wasn't it cute the way Kyle Snyder's ex-lawyer (who screwed Kyle over) got to talk about Kyle and be presented as his attorney? Kyle's attorney is Jeffry House. Kyle got screwed over once already trying to turn himself in. He's married and making a life up in Canada. He has no need for a US attorney especially not one who messed up as badly as the ex-attorney did.
That's really it for me. There are some other things I could note here but I think the main points are covered for today. (The main points to me.) What's not is addressed in the snapshot. Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Tuesday, July 10, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, those knowing nothing about war resistance probably shouldn't attempt to write about it (but with so few writing about it . . .), Bully Boy drags out "I'm commander-in-chief!" again, a US service member dies in Iraq, a prisoner -- held in an American controlled prison -- is announced dead becoming the sixth prisoner to die in Camp Cropper since October, tell us about the "bleeder board," and more.
Starting with war resistance. Today Lynn Franey (The Kansas City Star) deploys to attack war resisters with half-trues and every other device in a bad reporters bag. Kyle Snyder and Ricky Clousing are misreported but Franey can't get anything right writing, at one point, that Snyder and Clousing were AWOL for 30 days and "[a]fter a month they became, officially, deserters." Really? Who told Franey that the Deserter Fairy? No, that's now when Snyder and Clousing's classification changed. Legally it can be (though it doesn't have to be). But people do not move automatically from one roll to the next. Anyone who decides to self-checkout knows the lengthy wait before you even show up on the AWOL list. Only Franey is confused.
Franey's also confused when repeating official army numbers on checkouts. On March 19, 2007 -- someone tell Franey -- Nancy Mullane broke the news on NPR that the US army was undercounting the number of self-checkouts for the 2006 period. Mullane reported, "Instead of 3100 deserters [for 2006], the real number may be closer to 5,000. That's according to analysts within the Army's personnel division at the Pentagon and at the Fort Knox desertion information center. Both reached that 5,000 figure by adding on soldiers who deserted and then were discharged from the Army throughout the year." Franey elects to repeat the count and play dumb.
Franey also suffers from some mistaken belief that Snyder is the client of Jim Fennerty. Fennerty was Snyder's attorney when Snyder decided to return to the US (from Canada). That was October 2006 and someone screwed that up. Fennerty was the profession, the attorney, maybe he should step up and own the blame? Snyder attempted to turn himself in (at the wrong place, thanks Jim Fennerty) as part of an alleged deal Fennerty had made with the military. Fennerty then sailed off leaving Snyer to deal with the Fennerty pieced together deal that fell immediately apart. Snyder self-checked out again. He toured the country speaking out and, here's the thing, he really wasn't in that close of contact to Fennerty. When he returned to Canada -- and he did return -- he really didn't need an American attorney. He's got a refugree application in process. In addition, Snyder is married to a Canadian woman. Kyle Snyder's attorney is Jeffry House but somehow Lynn Franey (rhymes with Lynn Cheney) manages to miss that and every other aspect of the story.
Ehren Watada is also in the news as the US military attempts to figure out whether they'll embrace the Constitution or shred it. Courage to Resist (at Political Affairs magazine) observes that Tom Brookhart and Gerri Haynes, of Seattle Veterans for Peace, have received subpoenas to testify in the intended second court-martial of Watada. Judge Toilet -- John Head -- ruled a mistrial, over defense objections, in the Feb. court-martial and at issue is whether the Constitution is the Supreme Law of the land or not.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Ross Spears, Jared Hood and James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, 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, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Care, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one 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, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.
Watada is also mentioned in a new essay John Feffer, Miriam Pemberton and Erik Leaver (Foreign Policy in Focus) have written on the issues of peace and the US' role in the process. The US role?
The topic of the day. The big topic in the United States. What to do about Iraq!!!!
First, let's note that 83 female service members have died in the illegal war -- 83 members of the so-called coalition. Why note that first? Apparently someone damn well needs to. Today on CBS' The Early Show, it was bad enough to hear alleged news person Harry Smith discussing "guys" and only became worse as White House spokesperson Tony Snow rushed to agree with him about the "guys" in Iraq ("Snow Discusses Iraq Report"). Both were referring to the US military and the service members in Iraq. They do grasp that males and females are stationed there, right? Maybe not. US Senator and 2008 presidential wanna be Joe Biden was on immediately after Snow and Smith and, speaking with CBS' Hannah Storm, made it clear in his opening remarks that he grasped the make up of today's military.
Biden then went on to argue that no conflict like Iraq ever is resolved with federalism and that the country should be split up. The country would be Iraq and, of course, Biden doesn't serve in the Iraq Parliament so what he thinks, honestly, really shouldn't matter. Iraqis should be determining their own fate. If that means splitting up their country, that's their choice. But the region was already split and grouped before by the British at the start of the 20th century and that didn't work out so well, now did it?
So the big topic is the report that the White House has been working on, the one they would be delivering to Congress. That's what had Tony Snow trying to look all agreeable this morning on network TV as he said of the illegal war that began in March of 2003. Yes, he was talking of the escalation which he hailed as a 'plan' and cautioned it hadn't been allowed the proper length of time to play out. Tony Snow and the White House better grasp that there are no more longterm plans of any kind. The American people turned against the war in 2005, the opinion hardened and grew to the point that now approximately 70% of Americans are against it. But Tony Snow, speaking for the White House, wants to give the illegal war 'more time' because the 'plan' needs 'more time.' The plan?
Escalation. Do the same thing but with more US troops. That passes for a 'plan' with the current White House.
It's a funny sort of 'plan' and one that allows the likes of John Howard, prime minister of Australia, to insist that the US must stay in Iraq because to leave would be catastrophic. Howard, you understand, is so concerned about bringing something (who knows what) to Iraq that he has 500 troops stationed in Iraq with another 1,000 around the edges. The US (currently 160,000 troops) must stay in Iraq, argues Howard, while he poines up the laughable number of 500. His Minister of Defence, Brendan Nelson, raised eye brows last week when he told Australia's ABC radio that the reason for the illegal war is oil. Meanwhile, Australia is still talking about Howard devising a plan to pull (the limited number of) Australian troops and how it's so top secret even the US White House hasn't been party to the talks.
Another one screaming for 'stay the course' right to hell is British Canon Andrew White who has made a point to dash in and out of Iraq, or rather the heavily fortified Green Zone. Mere months ago, while plugging his latest bad book, White was insisting that the US must stay. And Vicar White, supposedly ministering to Iraqis? Joanna Sugden (Times of London) summed it up best, noting that White "has fled Iraq because of what has been described as 'a serious security threat'." Fled. Presumably under the (unspoken) orders of the Lord Jesus Christ. Take that, Joan of Arc. Howard can flee, White can flee, everyone can flee except Iraqis and the United States?
This as the latest US installed puppet government is in shambles. Last weekend, Lara Logan (CBS News) reported that, July 15th, there was a plan to call for a no confidence vote in the Parliament on Nouri al-Maliki. Speaking with Tony Snow today, Harry Smith (CBS The Early Show) raised that reported issue and Snow didn't even bat an eye as he hurried onto another topic. This as Brian Bennett (Time magazine) files the report asking, "Why is Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki still around? His cabinet seems to be crumbling around him. In April, the bloc allied with Shi'a strongman Moqtada al-Sadr pulled its ministers from Maliki's cabinet in protest of the Prime Minister's reluctance to set a timetable for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. (The head offices in key ministries such as health, education and transportation are still empty.) Then, two weeks ago, four Sunni ministers began boycotting al-Maliki's cabinet meetings to protest an arrest warrant issued for a fellow Sunni minister."
The al-Sadr bloc is crucial to al-Maliki if there is a challenge. He can, and has, repeatedly ignored Sunni walk outs throughout his tenure of little over a year. Without support from al-Sadr's his loose grip on power becomes even less secure. Washington installed him and he knew the rules going in, get your cabinet together quickly and pass the oil law. The cabinet did not come together quickly. In fact, al-Maliki missed the Constitutional deadline on that. At which point, he gave himself another deadline (out of whole cloth, his government is not only a puppet, it's also illegitimate). But the understanding was that he would get the oil law passed guaranteeing the theft of Iraqi oil and the enrichment of foreign multin-nationals. Even with the Iraqi Parliament tossing aside their announced summer vacation, the oil law has still not passed. When Time asks why al-Maliki is still around, in print, you better believe most of DC is as well.
While he's worked on that (worked with Americans on that, this is not Iraqi drafted legislation), Iraq still does not have basic resources. Four hours a day of electricity is considered amazing. Potable water is non-existant. In June of 2006, the heavily fortified Green Zone (home of the Iraqi parliament, the US embassy, the press and more) faced a serious attack one Friday as the barricades (Bremer walls) were stormed. Managing to turn back that attack, the response was a 'crackdown.' Since June of 2006, Baghdad has been under 'crackdown' in one form or another. Sometimes it is juiced up, sometimes it is the regular 'crackdown.' Not only has it not stopped the violence, it has destroyed what was one of the regions most cosmopolitan areas. 2007 saw the announcement that barricades would be going up around Baghdad (after the notion of a moat around the capital -- proposed in summer 2006 -- was finally dropped). The barricades are the equivalent of the Bremer walls used to keep people out of the Green Zone. Though the Sunni population in Baghdad has dropped (as has the Jewish population, the Palestinian population and much more), this was to be the answer to stopping the violence once and for all. Or that's how it was sold. To people living in Baghdad they saw it as the walling off of their city and it was the one thing that the Sunnis and Shias could agree on -- they didn't want the Bremer walls.
Out of the country as he, both vice-presidents and the president of Iraq, so often are, al-Maliki held a press conference to note that the walls would cease construction immediately. al-Sadr was against it and that was enough for al-Maliki. But al-Maliki had no weight to throw around. Not only did the US forces continue constructing the walls, they did so with the help of Iraqi forces who were more than happy to share with the press that it didn't matter what al-Maliki said. This would be Iraqi forces that, per the Iraqi constitution, are supposed to be under the control of the prime minister.
About every six weeks or so, al-Maliki will complain to the press about an operation in Iraq (often in Baghdad) that he did not approve of. He will beg and plead for the US to at least inform him if not get his permission.
This is the alleged independent leader of Iraq. He is a puppet. He has not done anything to stem the violence, he has not done to lower the sky rocketing unemployment, he has not done anything about the basic resources. He has worked on the oil law. He has no legitimacy in the eyes of the majority of Iraqis.
Speaking to Hannah Storm (The Early Show) today, Senator Biden made that point in his own way noting that the tiny government out of Baghdad could not and did not represent the country. The only one not getting it is the majority of the mainstream press.
While the puppet government flounders, the Bully government tries yet again to lie to the American people. With the due date of July 15th for the report to Congress, the White House went into 'crunch time' halting US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' trip to Central and Latin America (where, like much of the rest of the world, the opinion of the US has plummeted as a result of Bully Boy's illegal war of choice). Tony Snow was part of the rollout that exists to insist "More time" so that the White House can continue doing what it's been doing all along -- to no noticeable improvement -- but with larger numbers.
As part of the rollout, Bully Boy gave a speech today. Tim Reid and Suna Erdem (Times of London) report that he's attempting to push a half-measure of "partial withdrawal" and, even then, it's not a case of "will happen," it's a case of he really, really wishes it were possible. It was an attempted Bill Clinton moment where Bully Boy was declaring, "I feel your pain." It will not go over because more and more Americans have wised up to the fact that Bully Boy causes the pain.
In one of the more laughable moments, CBS and AP report, the Bully Boy declared of his refusal to withdraw troops, "That's what the American people expect. They expect for military people to come back and tell us how the military operations are going. And that's the way I'm going to play it as commander in chief." What the American people expect? The American people expected WMDs to be found. The American people expected a cakewalk. The American people expected 'democracy.' Not all, but those giving the benefit of the doubt to the White House in the lead up to the illegal war. The American people were lied to and they grasp that. What the American people appear to expect from the latest polls is that the Bully Boy be impeached for his assorted crimes which do include lying a nation into war (and lying to keep it there).
Bully Boy loves to toss out the commander-in-chief line almost as much as he enjoys playing dress up. But reality, Bully Boy is not commander-in-chief of the United States. The commander-in-chief clause applies solely to the military. It is a civilian check on the military -- required in a democracy. And in a democracy, the ultimate check will always be the citizens. Were the illegal war going wonderfully and really about improving the lives of Iraqis, if the American people said "no" that would mean "no." Bully Boy, though he operates as if this is not so, is answerable to the people. In a democracy, the people are the ultimate check. With approximately 70% now favoring a withdrawal no later than April, the people have spoken and the Bully Boy needs to follow.
Though he will continue to toss out easy lies, he will not, however follow the will of the people (a sure reason for impeachment in and of itself) and he will not be honest with the American people. The war is lost. The attempts, at this late date, to gain more time has nothing to do with 'democracy,' but it does have to do with serving whom the administration has always served: Big Oil. More time might mean the oil law could be passed. More time might mean permanent bases could continue to be installed with little of the press calling it out let alone noting it.
More time and a little luck might mean that reports like one recent one by Sam Dagher will be lost in the flood of the daily news cycle. Dagher (Christian Science Monitor) reports that Diyala Province (where the laughable al-Anbar "model" was supposed to be transplanted) has a host of problems including Iraqi soldiers (trained and supplied by the US) are taking money from militants to protect them from capture and, according to one unnamed US officer, transporting both militants and their weapons while allegedly standing with US forces to 'pacify' the region.
The violence has not diminished nor disappeared throughout Iraq. David Martin (CBS News) examined the violence and the US claims by speaking with the Brookings Institution's Michael O'Hanlon ("Civilian fatalities really is the crux of the matter because Iraq is very violent and if it doesn't get less violent and if doesn't get less violent, you can't see the economy improve, you can't see the economy improve, you can't see political confidence grow, you can't see these hatreds dimish") and noting the US military brass' claim that numbers have fallen is apparently built on date and yet "the military will not release the actual numbers because they can't be verified." The mere fact that the US military tracks it goes to the fact that they do consider it an indicator. The mere fact that they will not release the numbers goes far beyond this administration's usual secrecy. While playing dumb for the American people, they take it very seriously. Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales (Democracy Now!) spoke with US war resister Ricky Clousing in August of last year:
SGT. RICKY CLOUSING: I, myself, only witnessed this particular incident where an innocent civilian was killed, although because I was an interrogator, my security clearance granted me access to the S-2 room, which is the intelligence briefing room. It's where they have all the intelligence updates. There is a board called the daily intelligence summary, and that holds information on how many times in our area of operation that soldiers have received small arms fire, how many IEDs have gone off and also the number of local nationals or noncombatant Iraqi civilians that are killed. And as I said, I only saw this personally one time, but the number of innocent Iraqis killed on the bleeder board, or on the intelligence board, definitely climbed the whole time I was in Iraq. The number never -- it gradually increased day by day that we were there in the sector.AMY GOODMAN: It's called the "bleeder board"?SGT. RICKY CLOUSING: It's an intelligence summary board, basically of all the updates in the area of operation that we conduct in, all of the significant events.
The bleeder board. The press should be demanding the count be released.
What the US government will release, they release slowly. Today, the US military announced a death that took place Saturday: "A security detainee died at the Theater Internment Facility at Camp Cropper, Iraq July 7 from injuries sustained after apparently being assaulted by other detainees. The detainne was pronounced dead at 2:10 a.m. by an attending physician at Camp Cropper's medical facility. The incident is currently under investigation. The family will receive the remains upon completion of the investigation, in accordance with standar procedure." Isn't it great to know the US military has a "standard procedure" when dealing with the deaths of prisoners in American custudy? Did you catch the time? Two in the morning. Two in the morning, Saturday morning, and the US learns of it on a Tuseday.
So the detainee died from injuries sustained after apparently being assualted by other detainees"? And it's under investigation. Anyone thinking of October 30, 2006? That's when the US military announced: "A security detainee died Oct. 29 at Camp Cropper, Iraq, from apparent injuries sustained after being assaulted by other detainees. The incident is under investigation" and what were the results? Camp Cropper sure seems to have a lot of deaths. December 1, 2006, the US military announced: "A security detainee died Nov. 30 at Camp Cropper, Iraq, from what appears to be natural causes." There to they had the "investigation is pending" tossed in. December 6, 2006, the US military announced: "A security detainee died Dec. 2 at Camp Cropper, Iraq, from natural causes." April 6, 2007, the US military announced: "A security detainee died April 4 at Camp Cropper, Iraq." May 28, 2007, the US military announced: "A security detainee died May 26 at Camps Cropper, Iraq." So today's announcement means 6 deaths in less than 1 year. A reported record in the US would probably lead to cries for a prison investigation. But it's one more thing no one's supposed to notice. And the investigation, like the ones into the helicopter crashes, exist solely as stalling tactics with the hopes that the press will lose interest and move on to something else.
In many areas, it's proven very successful. In other news of violence . . .
Reuters notes a mortar and rocket attack today on the Green Zone that claimed the lives of 2 Iraq police officers and left at least twenty-five people wounded in what is being called "one of the biggest barrages against the zone since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003." CBS and AP note the recent United Nations report which concluded the Green Zone was now under "increased threat of indirect fire" and that such fire had become "increasingly concentrated and accurate." And Reuters is now reporting that one of the dead from today's Green Zone attack is a "U.S. military service member".
Reuters also reports an Iskandariya mortar attack that wounded a woman and two people wounded in a car bombing in Baghdad.
Reuters reports 3 police officers shot dead in Balad (a fourth wounded), the British military killed 3 Iraqis that they claim (and hope) were 'militants' (whatever that means), one person was shot dead in Najaf.
Reuters reports 2 corpses discovered in Kirkuk.