Christmas. If you celebrate it, have a great one. If you celebrate something else enjoy that. And if you're not celebrating anything, hope you at least get some rest.
I am Catholic and I do celebrate it. This is an illustration Betty's son did and Mike and I are both noting it at our sites tonight. (C.I.'s noting it tomorrow morning.) Betty's oldest son painted this and went with a snowman as Santa because Christmas passes much too quickly ("melts away," he said). That's really true so if you are celebrating it (or another holiday) try to treasure it while you can.
This time next week, 2007 will be winding down and I can't say that I'm too pleased with what was 'accomplished' this year. The illegal war continues, war resisters receive even less press attention and a bunch of idiots tell us that just because Democrats in Congressional leadership betrayed us doesn't mean that we can't continue to toss them our money. Are you sick of it yet?
What I look back fondly on in 2007 is the number of people across the country who -- unlike Congress and independent media -- actually give a damn about the illegal war and want to end it. Will 2008 be the year? I don't think so but maybe we'll be a little closer. Don't waste the holidays. Talk about war resisters to your friends and family, talk about the mercenaries in Iraq, talk about Jamie Leigh Jones and Tracy Barker. Talk about some reality.
Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Monday, December 24, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, 'tis the season for . . . mass kidnappings, mercenaries are back in the news and, in honor of the gift giving season, a 'left' 'voice' telegraphs just how unimportant the illegal war is to him.
Starting with war resistance. And let's deal with why, unless your name is In These Times, left and 'left' print magazines don't have anything to point to with pride in 2007. They've been silent on war resisters (this also goes to a number of radio programs) and have refused to cover any war resisters (in the US, in Canada or Eli Israel, the first service member to publicly resist while serving in Iraq though you wouldn't know that fact if you counted on independent media to bring the news to you). Every year at this time The Nation's Katha Pollitt does a column on where you could donate your money. This year's column appears to address some of last year's criticism, so here's the link. That is Pollitt's trademark and has been for years -- that column. Paul Loeb apparently thinks he can be the male Katha. (In his dreams. And, yes, I'm aware he's one of those three named monstrosities but he's signing off his Free Press column with "Paul Loeb." It's entitled "Who I Give To" with the message that it's who you should give to.
And what do we have. In order: Working Assets, Better World Club, IPA, MoveOn, Sojourners, WellstoneAction, America Votes, Democracy for America, the DNC, John Edwards' presidential campain, Barack Obama's presidential campaign, Public Campaign, 1Sky coaltion, Focus the Nation, Climate Crisis Coalition, Sierra Club, Fight Back America, Jobs With Justice, NAACP, ACLU, Peace Action, True Majority, The War Resister's Leauge, The Backbone Campaign, Americans For Peace Now and Brit Tzedek. He notes the last two are "pro-Israel." Reading over the list, where is IVAW? Where is Courage To Resist? Where is the War Resisters Support League? Where is Veterans for Peace? Where is CODEPINK? Where is SDS? Where is United for Peace & Justice? Where is World Can't Wait? Where is A.N.S.W.E.R.? Where is the National Lawyers Guild? (NLG has a group for war resisters.)
No where. An overly praised, fawned over writer opens his empty head to reveal to you just how shallow 'voices' are. Anyone stupid (and you have to be stupid, there's no other word for it) to give to two presidential candidates and not grasp they are not 'helping' either and they are cancelling their donation out, already started out in the Dumb Zone. But could that money not have gone to IVAW, War Resisters Support Campaign or Courage To Resist?
"I'm not a pacifist," he feels the need to reassure (no one thought he was a pacifist, it would be surprising if anyone thought he had the skill or ability to think long enough to reach that position), "but The War Resister's League has carried the banner of peace activism for 85 years, and I always admire what they do." The American Friends Service Committee has 'carried the banner' for 90 years. But though Working Assets and True Majority (covering the same damn terrain) can get shout outs and it's non-stop election central (including donating to two candidates running for the same slot), American Friends Service Committee is not mentioned .Paul gives a true gift this holiday season: a glimpse into the heavily pimped shallow mind that makes up too much of the so-called left today. With his list, that he wrote himself, he has told you what is important and what isn't and he has told you that he can't even plug the War Resister's League without rushing to reassure any reader that he's not a pacifist. Running scared and running brain dead, one of the most heavily pimped 'lefties' of the decade makes it very clear that he's all about the Democratic Party and elections and he's not at all about ending the illegal war. What's surprising is that he left off a Hurricane Katrina charity -- how many bad articles did he bore America with on that topic after Katrina hit? Well, that's the 'left' you for, a tiny-minded mocking bird, flittering and fluttering from here to there but never landing.
An illegal war is going on and the answer in an overly long, bad column (men who try to copy Katha Pollitt will always come up short), he tells you where his priorities are. He supports Jewish organizations that are pro-Israel, he supports Sojourners with money though he doesn't agree with their 'evangical' measures. He supports anything and everything but those committed to ending the illegal war with one exception and, when noting that exception, it's important for him to rush to assure America he's no pacifist. No one ever thought a shallow thinker could wade to that conclusion, Loeb, no one ever did.
Apparently there's no show tune for him to stumble across ("the impossible will take a little while") about war resisters so they're not on his list of concerns. But, in that list, you see 2007 independent (or 'independent') media coverage in all its horror. Give money to candidates! Give it to two candidates running against each other! Give money to the Democratic Party! Give money to groups working on clean elections! Give money to groups working on getting people elected! Give, give, give till it hurts.
And the reality is, in 2007, independent media has hurt war resistance. This December 23rd published column also explains how useless independent media is. Is anyone really thinking, this late in the game, "I must get a gift! I know I'll donate!" If they were, links would be required for someone wanting to be 'helpful.' No links are provided. Typical independent media in 2007, advocating badly.
Does Loeb know that on November 15th, the Canadian Supreme Court refused to hear the appeals of war resisters Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey? Does he even care? Judging by his column, the answer is no. An over hyped voice of the 'left' gives the greatest gift of all in 2007: The reality of how little the alleged 'left' cares about ending the illegal war. (Give to the DNC! Give to two presidential candidates who refuse to promise, that if elected in 2008, they would pull out the troops by 2013!) That just about sums it all up. In the real world, the Canadian Parliament has the power to let war resisters stay in Canada. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper (email@example.com -- that's pm at gc.ca) who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion (Dion.S@parl.gc.ca -- that's Dion.S at parl.gc.ca) who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua (Bevilacqua.M@parl.gc.ca -- that's Bevilacqua.M at parl.gc.ca) who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use. Both War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist are calling for actions from January 24-26.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).
Meanwhile IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC event:
In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.
Click here to sign a statement of support for Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan
March 13th through 16th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation.
On Sunday, Alissa J. Rubin and Damien Cave (New York Times) provided the lengthiest coverage of Iraq the paper's offered in some time as they explored the 'Awakening' Councils that US government has decided is the quick-fix to reducing the violence just enough to stop Americans from caring that an illegal war is going on. Not noted in the article is that the Sunni thugs want the US out. Noted in the article is that the they don't support al-Maliki's puppet government. This is why the Shi'ite thugs are furious. They were armed and backed by the US early on and were very effective at 'cleansing' areas through force, intimidation and death squads. Now the US is arming their enemies and they're worried. Arming but unable to control. In Ramadi, Cave and Rubin join Second Lt. Stephen Lind who discovers that, despite "a rule that bans the Iraqi Army from the city," the Iraqi army is at a sheik's and, when asked by Lind why, the response is: "The sheik told us to come." And that's that, time to roll out and rules (like laws) really don't matter but let's all pretend the US is somehow in 'control.' Rubin and Cave observe, "The standoff, though, underscored the Awakening's long-term challenge."
The US is not 'improving' things in Iraq, they are laying the groundwork for further tensions and anyone could tell them that but the government doesn't want to listen. Very similar to how they did not want to listen about the issue of mercenaries. Steve Rainaru (Washington Post) reports on how warnings were repeatedly ignored by the State Dept and the Pentagon
which addresses how warnings were ignored by the government (US) repeatedly regarding mercenaries, cites the lack of "substantive action to regulate" mercenaries -- lack of action from the State Dept. or the Pentagon and while "previous wars . . . had prohibited contractors from participating in combat . . . in Iraq, military planners rewrote the policy" via a September 20, 2005 order that granted mercenaries the power "to use deadly force". From the article:
Critics, including the American Bar Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, warned that the Pentagon had used an obscure defense acquisition rule to push through a fundamental shift in American war-fighting without fully considering the potential legal and strategic ramifications.The provision enabled the military to significantly raise troop levels with contractors whose "combat roles now closely parallel those of Constitutionally and Congressionally authorized forces," wrote Herbert L. Fenster, a partner with McKenna Long & Aldridge, a Washington-based international law firm that represents several major defense contractors. Fenster questioned the provision's legality in a lengthy comment he filed in opposition. The practice "smacks of a mercenary approach," he wrote in an e-mail.But neither the military nor the State Department set guidelines for regulating tens of thousands of hired guns on the battlefield. Oversight was left to overburdened government contracting officers or the companies themselves, which conducted their own investigations when a shooting incident occurred. Dozens of security companies operated under layers of subcontracts that often made their activities all but impossible to track. They were accountable to no one for violent incidents, according to U.S. officials and security company representatives familiar with the contracting arrangements.
In England, accountability is also an issue with regards to contractors. PA reports that the Parliament may be addressing "clains that a UK-based security company" ArmorGroup "deliberataly withheld intelligence from the British armed force in Iraq" with regards to "militia infiltration of the Iraqi police in Basra" Henry McDonald, Duncam Campbell and Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian of London) report that Colin Williamson (who worked for ArmorGroup in Iraq) has made "[t]he most serious allegations" which include this, "My role was to go to certain Iraqi police stations daily in the Basra area. But we were told not to report back any intelligence we picked up there, not to hand it to the British military. Why? Because our bosses and probably, in turn, the FCO [Foreign and Commonwealth Office] didn't want to expose how corrupt and infiltrated by the militia the police were." If true, his statements mean that ArmorGroup is just another contractor that's yet to face accountability.
Equally unaccountable are the US employees who gang-rape and sexually harass in Iraq. Yvonne Roberts (Guardian of London) addresses the crimes against Jamie Lee Jones and notes that there has been no accountability in the two years since the gang-rape was reported and that laws favorable to US corporations (Halliburton/KBR are who Jones' attackers worked for) may allow them to avoid prosecution. Roberts notes, "MoveOn, a democracy-in-action pressure group is organising a petition calling on Congress to investigate Jamie's case, hold those involved accountable, and bring US contractors under the jurisdiction of US law so this can't happen again. Sadly, the petition can only be signed by American voters. If you take a look at what happened to Jamie Leigh Jones and at least 11 other women now claiming they have been raped and sexually assaulted while working in Baghdad's Green Zone, then it's difficult to avoid the notion that if these contractors behave in such a sexually barbaric fashion to their working colleagues, what have they been inflicting on the female Iraqi population - apart from apparently randomly beating and shooting their men?"Meanwhile, Walter Pincus (Washington Post) reports today on a disgusting development for those who did not assume the United States resorted to tactics of totalitarian regimes: 'deprogramming.' Maj. Gen. Douglas Stone is identified as the one responsible for what's called "the battlefield of the mind" and just the fact that the US uses such languages and wants to 'militarize' the mind should be enough to frighten most. But reading on you realize that Iraqi prisoners are now experiment subjects -- against their will -- and may every anthropologist, sociologist, medical personal, et al be haunted eternally for what are they doing. Pincus tells you that who the military wants to assist with these attacks on a person's sanity, will and mind are "teachers, religious and behavioral science counselors" and that the goal is 'reintegration.' Here's a thought: How can Iraqis be reintegrated into their own occupied country? If the military's telling you this much, it's probably much worse; however, Stone doesn't have the common sense to grasp how offensive what he is peddling to the public is. I am unaware of an waiver that allows for brain-washing in a war (legal or illegal) but apparently that's one more thing being tossed aside.
Moving on, Leila Fadel (Baghdad Observer, McClatchy Newspapers) shares details of Eid al Adha celebration including the shopping ("a toy store where little boys crowded around toys, picking their holiday gifts. They all wanted the same thing, toy guns, just like the men they see on the streets.. . . The toys hear are a reflection of the reality they live, humvees, military helicopters and guns. All the little boys want sto emulate the violence on the street"), a McClathy correspondent's relative who has to to Iran for medical treatment ("Although a trickle of people are returning so many professionals are absent and simple medical procedures are only available outside Iraq") and a meal where inquiries about marital status were made with Iraqi woman explaining, "My fiancee was killed at the beginning of the war. I've never found anyone like him."
And the violence goes on . . .
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Bagdad mini-bus bombing that claimed 1 life and left five wounded, two Baghdad roadside bombings that wounded six people and a Diyala Province roadside bombing that claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and wounded three more. AP reports that the mini-bus bombing was "near the Baghdad governor's office" and "near the heavily guarded Green Zone" and that it's "unclear if it was detonated remotely or just went off."
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an armed clash at a police station "north east of Sulaimaniyah."
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 14 people were kidnapped from a mini-bus north of Baquba, 7 truck drivers were kidnapped south of Kirkuk. Reuters reports that the 14 kidnapped off the bus today were all "members of one family". AFP reports on the 14 Shi'ites kidnapper that they were stopped at a fake check-point outside of Baquba and were taken off a bus at the checkpoint and kidnapped -- this was "all the passengers" on the bus "including some women and children" according to Iraqi police officer Hazim Yassin.
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad.
In addition, Al Jazeera reports on a Sunday train crash that claimed the lives of many members of the Hamid Hrat family -- two adults, five girls and six boys for a total of 13 -- who were apparently unable to move over the train crossing (stalled car? who knows?) and were plowed into by a train in Hilla. (AP and some other domestic sources report the train crash as happening today.)
Finally, despite PO'LICeandTICksOh providing a back channel to Nancy Pelosi's Blue Dog Congressional enemies last Friday, Dennis Camire (The Honolulu Advertiser) reports that US House Rep Neil Abercrombie states that Dems will "push on with the effort" to end the illegal war and that "Rep. Abercrombie said it's only a matter of time and American casualties before the public gets fed up enough and forces politicians to bring the troops home." Apparently, the writers' strike has also resulted in Congress airing re-runs. The 'strategy' is not 'new.' It's the one John Harris (PO'LIceandTICsOh) summed up as describing what Congress was hoping for in 2007 when speaking on PBS' Washington Weak over the weekend. (Here for the program's web site. Here for Ava and my review.)
iraq veterans against the warthe new york timesalissa j. rubindamien cave
the washington post
walter pincussteve fainaruyvonne roberts