Friday, December 28, 2007

'Saint' Bhutto

Perhaps the most bizarre part of this circus has been the hijacking of the democratic cause by my aunt, the twice-disgraced former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto. While she was hashing out a deal to share power with Gen. Pervez Musharraf last month, she repeatedly insisted that without her, democracy in Pakistan would be a lost cause.
The reality, however, is that there is no one better placed to benefit from emergency rule than she is. Along with the leaders of prominent Islamic parties, she has been spared the violent retributions of emergency law. Yes, she now appears to be facing seven days of house arrest, but what does that really mean? While she was supposedly under house arrest at her Islamabad residence last week, 50 or so of her party members were comfortably allowed to join her. She addressed the media twice from her garden, protected by police given to her by the state, and was not reprimanded for holding a news conference. (By contrast, the very suggestion that they might hold a news conference has placed hundreds of other political activists under real arrest, in real jails.)
Ms. Bhutto's political posturing is sheer pantomime. Her negotiations with the military and her unseemly willingness until just a few days ago to take part in Musharraf's regime have signaled once and for all to the growing legions of fundamentalists across South Asia that democracy is just a guise for dictatorship. It is widely believed that Ms. Bhutto lost both her governments on grounds of massive corruption. She and her husband, a man who came to be known in Pakistan as "Mr. 10%," have been accused of stealing more than $1 billion from Pakistan's treasury. She is appealing a money-laundering conviction by the Swiss courts involving about $11 million. Corruption cases in Britain and Spain are ongoing.
It was particularly unappealing of Ms. Bhutto to ask Musharraf to bypass the courts and drop the many corruption cases that still face her in Pakistan. He agreed, creating the odiously titled National Reconciliation Ordinance in order to do so. Her collaboration with him was so unsubtle that people on the streets are now calling her party, the Pakistan People's Party, the Pervez People's Party. Now she might like to distance herself, but it's too late.
Why did Ms. Bhutto and her party cronies demand that her corruption cases be dropped, but not demand that the cases of activists jailed during the brutal regime of dictator Zia ul-Haq (from 1977 to 1988) not be quashed? What about the sanctity of the law? When her brother Mir Murtaza Bhutto -- my father -- returned to Pakistan in 1993, he faced 99 cases against him that had been brought by Zia's military government. The cases all carried the death penalty. Yet even though his sister was serving as prime minister, he did not ask her to drop the cases. He returned, was arrested at the airport and spent the remaining years of his life clearing his name, legally and with confidence, in the courts of Pakistan.
Ms. Bhutto's repeated promises to end fundamentalism and terrorism in Pakistan strain credulity because, after all, the Taliban government that ran Afghanistan was recognized by Pakistan under her last government -- making Pakistan one of only three governments in the world to do so.

I have no idea what Medea Benjamin was smoking when she wrote her tribute to Bhutto but the above, providing you with reality about 'Saint' Bhutto, was written by her niece Fatima Bhutto's "Aunt Benazir's false promises: Bhutto's return bodes poorly for Pakistan -- and for democracy there" (Los Angeles Times via Information Clearing House).

I thought it was just the embarrassing 'tribute' and petition that CODEPINK did for 'Saint' Bhutto but I just went through my e-mails and they've got a long, long e-mail that ends with:

Whether in Pakistan or in our home countries, we can pay tribute to Benazir Bhutto by dedicating ourselves to building a world based on tolerance, cooperation and fulfilling the urgent needs of the human family-which are the pillars of a more peaceful world.

Here's the translation, CODEPINK to English:

Whether in Pakistan or in our home countries, we can be like Benazir Bhutto by killing our own brother and dedicating ourselves to ripping off the people around us, corruption and suppressing democracy all around us.

For the record, the long embarrassing e-mail says nothing about the 3900 mark.

When a peace group rushes in to weigh in on everything but the illegal war, they need to do a self-check and do it quick.

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, December 28, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the lies of Bambi Peace King continue, the 3900 mark still remains largely unnoted and a peace organization decides to start a petition and do a tribute . . . to a media circus, all those disappointments and more.

Starting with war resistance, A Power Governments Cannot Suppress is a collection of Howard Zinn's essays and "Soldiers In Revolt" (pp. 173 -177) deals with war resistance within the military ranks:

It is undoubtedly the nature of this war, so steeped in deceptions perpetrated on the American public -- the false claims that Iraq possessed "weapons of mass destruction" and was connected to 9/11 -- that has provoked opposition to the war among the military. Further the revelations of the country from bombardment, foreign occupation, and sectarian violence, to which many of the dissenting soldiers have been witness, contribute to their alienation.

Zinn notes Jeremy Hinzman's remarks to CBS News (60 Minutes) "I was told in basic training that, if I'm given an illegal or immoral order, it is my duty to disobey it, and I feel that invading and occupying Iraq is an illegal and immoral thing to do." Zinn also notes Jimmy Massey testifyng "that he and his fellow marines shot and killed more than thirty unarmed men, women and children, and even shot a young Iraqi who got out of his car with his arms in the air."

In early 2005, Naval Petty Officer Third Class Pablo Paredes refused to obey orders to board an assault ship in San Diego that was bound for the Persian Gulf. He told a U.S. Navy judge: "I believe as a member of the armed forces, byond having a duty to my chain of command and my President, I have a higher duty to my conscince and to the supreme law of the land. Both of these higher duties dictate that I must not participate in any way, hands-on or indirect in the current aggression that has been unleashed on Iraq."
For this, Paredes faced a year in the brig, but the navy judge, citing testimony about the illegality of the Iraq War, declined to give him jail time, instead gave him three months of hard labor, and reduced him in rank.

As Zinn draws his essay to a conclusion, he quotes IVAW's Kelly Dougherty speaking to "an audience at Harvard" where she explains that her experience in Iraq led her to see, "I'm not defending freedom, I'm protecting a corporate interest." Again, that's Zinn's A Power Governments Cannot Suppress.

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 ( -- that's pm at who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( -- that's Dion.S at who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( -- that's Bevilacqua.M at 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.

Yesterday's snapshot noted: "The US military announces 11 people were killed in Al Kut and states they were 'terrorists' which required 'fire, and . . . supporting aircraft'. The US military also announces 12 'kills' from December 22 to 25th in Diyala Province and, again, tosses around the term 'terrorists'. AFP notes, 'Iraq officials said the dead included two civilians'." Today Solomon Moore (New York Times) quotes eye witness Jameel Muhammad explaining, "The American helicopters shelled our neighborhood for three hours. Dead bodies were scattered here and there. Houses and cars were set on fire, and people were scared and running all over the place." Moore also quotes Hassan Jassim who saw "three bodies lying in the street near his house" and he declares, "American helicopters fired on our houses." A press that could explore the assault? Thankfully Moore did but there's a media circus going on, in case you didn't notice.

In some of today's reported violence . . .


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 8 dead from a Baghdad car bombing, a Baghdad mortar attack left 1 dead and another wounded and a Zighaniya roadside bombing that claimed the life of 1 "child and injuring another." Reuters notes the number dead from the Baghdad car bombing is now 10.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a police officer shot dead in Baquba and a home invasion (the assailants were dressed as Iraqi soldiers) in Sadaa village that claimed the lives of 2 men and ejected a woman from the home which they then planted with bombs (which were defused) -- both men killed were members of the so-called 'Awakening Council'.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad

Free Bilal. Bilal Hussein is the Pulitzer Prize winning AP photo journalist who has been imprisoned by the US military since April 2006. On Sunday, attorney Scott Horton (Harper's magazine) walked readers through the latest on Bilal and we'll note this section:

The Pentagon was particularly concerned about the prospect of Bilal Hussein getting effective defense from his lawyer, former federal prosecutor Paul Gardephe. The judge was told to refuse to allow Bilal Hussein's U.S. lawyer to participate in the case. The judge accepted this advice. Consequently, the U.S. military has a five-man team to press its case, but Bilal Hussein's lawyer is silenced and not permitted to participate - and all of this has occurred as a result of U.S. Government intervention with the court. The irony of course is that under Iraqi law, the U.S. military has no authority or right to appear and prosecute, but Bilal Hussein's chosen counsel has an absolute right.The U.S. military continues to keep Hussein in their custody and will not allow his lawyer, Gardephe, access to him to conduct interviews or trial preparation without having both a U.S. military representative and an interpreter in the room at all times. Under international norms, this means that Bilal Hussein is not permitted access to counsel: a serious violation of his trial rights. And note that the violator is not the Iraqi authorities, who have no control over Bilal, but the United States Government.

The US military & government have repeatedly changed their stories since taking Bilal a prisoner on April 12, 2006. Now they're refusing to let him meet with his attorney and they occupy the country he will supposedly receive a 'fair' trial in. Never forget his 'crime' was reporting. Free Bilal.

Turning to presidential candidates because the LIES are getting to be too much. Monica Davey (New York Times) reported July 26, 2004 in "A Surprise Senate Contender Reaches His Biggest Stage Yet:"

He opposed the war in Iraq, and spoke against it during a rally in Chicago in the fall of 2002. He said then that he saw no evidence that Iraq had unconvental weapons that posed a threat, or of any link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda.
In a recent interview, he declined to criticize Senators Kerry and Edwards for voting to authorize the war, although he said he would not have done the same based on the information he had at the time.
"But, I'm not privy to Senate intelligence reports," Mr. Obama said. "What would I have done? I don't know. What I know is that from my vantage point the case was not made."

Do you get that, do you grasp it? Barack Obama told the New York Times in 2004 that he didn't know how he would have voted on the resolution HAD HE BEEN IN THE SENATE.

Now let's go to the June 3rd 'debate' in New Hampshire. The topic is the illegal war, we're picking up with John Edwards

But I have made very clear from the outset that the way to end the war is for the Congress to use its constitutional authority to fund. They should send a bill to the president with a timetable for withdrawal, which they did. The president vetoed. And then it came back. And then it was the moment of truth. And I said throughout the lead-up to this vote that I was against a funding bill that did not have a timetable for withdrawal, that it was critical for the Congress to stand firm. They were given a mandate by the American people. And others on this stage -- Chris Dodd spoke out very loudly and clearly. But I want to finish this -- others did not. Others were quiet. They went quietly to the floor of the Senate, cast the right vote. But there is a difference between leadership and legislating.BLITZER: You want to name names?EDWARDS: No, I think it's obvious who I'm talking about. BLITZER: It is to me, but it might not be to some of the viewers out there.EDWARDS: Senator Clinton and Senator Obama did not say anything about how they were going to vote until they appeared on the floor of the Senate and voted. They were among the last people to vote. And I think that the importance of this is -- they cast the right vote, and I applaud them for that. But the importance of this is, they're asking to be president of the United States. And there is a difference between making clear, speaking to your followers, speaking to the American people about what you believe needs to be done. And I think all of us have a responsibility to lead on these issues, not just on Iraq, but on health care, on energy, on all the other issues.BLITZER: I'm going to give both of them a chance to respond to you. Senator Obama?OBAMA: Well, look, the -- I think it is important to lead. And I think John -- the fact is is that I opposed this war from the start. So you're about four and a half years late on leadership on this issue. And, you know, I think it's important not to play politics on something that is as critical and as difficult as this.

"I opposed this war from the start"? The public record shows Obama gave a speech calling it a "dumb" war before it started. Then it started. He went on to then tell the New York Times that he wasn't sure how he would have voted had he been in the Senate.

He DID NOT oppose all along. He made some weak-ass statements before the illegal war started and then he got on board with the illegal war. "Dumb" war is not a position a lawyer should take. "Dumb" war might play well as a faux folksy talking point for Fred Thompson, but, as Patti Williams can't stop gushing, Barack Obama was the president of the Harvard Law Review. "Dumb" war is a "dumb" thing and a weak thing for a legal mind to state. And he admitted, in 2004, he didn't know how he would have voted if he'd been in the Senate in 2002. But that didn't stop him from calling out John Edwards and saying Edwards was "four and a half years late on leadership" in the New Hampshire debate this year.

And here's the thing, Bambi didn't just make the "I don't know how I would've voted in 2002 if I'd been in the Senate" statement once. And he was still making it in late 2006. Speaking to David Remnick (The New Yorker, November 2006), he was asked about differences between himself and Hillary Clinton. He responded:
I think what people might point to is our different assessments of the war in Iraq, although I'm always careful to say that I was not in the Senate, so perhaps the reason I thought it was such a bad idea was that I didn't have the benefit of U.S. intelligence. And, for those who did, it might have led to a different set of choices. So that might be something that sort of is obvious. But, again, we were in different circumstances at that time: I was running for the U.S. Senate, she had to take a vote, and casting votes is always a difficult test.

The conversation with Remnick is also available as an audio download. Casting a vote can be 'difficult.' Chicago's WBEZ reported (link has text and audio) last week that Obama "missed more than 160 votes on the Senate floor" as a result of "campaigning" and that "Obama's missed more than a third of the Senate's votes this year, about the same tally as two other senators running for the president: Joe Biden and Chris Dodd. Hillary Clinton has missed significantly fewer votes than Obama, while Republican John McCain has missed far more." Bernie Tafoya (WBBM) narrowed it down, "During September and October, Senator Obama missed 71 -- or nearly 80 percent -- of the 89 votes that have taken place in the Senate." That included the Iran resolution, the one Bambi wants to hiss, "Bad Hillary! You voted for it!" But he was a member of the Senate and he knew about the vote and chose not to show up. He says Iran says something about Hillary Clinton. It says a great deal about him: He didn't vote one way or the other. Is that what he would have done in 2002? Ducked the vote?

Or as US House Rep and Democratic Party contender for the presidential nomination Dennis Kucinich declared today in New Hampshire, "Senators Clinton, Edwards, Biden and Dodd voted to give the President the authorization to go to war in Iraq. Their judgment was wrong. They and Senator Obama have voted to continue funding that war. Their judgement was wrong."

We've gone remedial because Democracy Now! twice (here and here) offered Barack Obama's campaign spokesmodel David Axelrod's statement on today's show: "Barack Obama had the judgement to oppose the war in Iraq. And he warned at the time that it would divert us from Afghanistan and Al Qaeda, and now we see the effacts of that . . . Sen. Clinton made a different judgement. Let's have that discussion." Obama's position on the Iraq War has been all over the map. (Tariq Ali demolishes the other points from Bambi's spokesmodel.) Last night we noted the large number of Republican and Democratic presidential hopefuls rushing in to offer their thoughts on the thug and crook Benazir Bhutto. They should all be ashamed of themselves. We took media to task last night and yesterday as well. Add another group that's got some explaining: CODEPINK. Bhutto died yesterday. For Bhutto they can rush to offer a "tribute" and offer a "Petition." What was our complaint about media and the candidates? What were they not noting?

Today, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes it, "In Iraq, the U.S. death toll has topped 3,900. Two soldiers were killed on Wednesday in Mosul." And that's it from Democracy Now! For those wondering, the 3900 mark prompts nothing from our peace groups. We didn't call them out yesterday, they're volunteers and they're not news outlets or running for votes. But when CODEPINK has time to create a tribute (for someone who doesn't deserve it) and to start a petition, they DAMN WELL have time to note that 3,900 US service members have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war. As we noted last night, "'Independent' media (broadcast and some print) largely offered us state propaganda. Meanwhile the candidates for both major parties telegraphed just how little American deaths mean to them." And, again, US presidential wanna-bes are running to become the President of the United States, not the Prime Minister of Pakistan. A peace organization that has time to weigh in on breaking news has time to note the 3900 dead and, if they don't make that time while they rush to note some 'hot' topic, they send a message -- intentionally or not, they send a message.

Since we've noted Democrats running for president, the Green Party has an upcoming debate. Kimberly Wilder (On the Wilder Side) notes that January 13th, 2:00 p.m., Herbst Theater (410 Van Ness) in San Francisco, there will be a Green Party Presidential debate featuring Ralph Nader, Cynthia McKinney, Elaine Brown, Jared Ball and Kent Mesplay. For a list of candidates -- from all parties -- that may be running, see Kimberly and Ian Wilder's candidates page.

Today Naomi Klein will be on PBS' The Charlie Rose Show. Klein's new book is The Shock Doctrine: The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism. Also today on PBS, NOW with David Brancaccio, the program "investigates the partnership of a Republican congressman and the Idaho Conservation League to protect a vast swath of the state's natural environment. Does their compromise legislation come at too high a price? The legislation, the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act (CIEDRA), transfers some public land -- land Americans across the country pay for -- to private local ownership in exchange for protection of nearby wilderness. It also leaves land bordering the wilderness open to further recreational use, especially involving off-road vehicles." Among those speaking out on the program against the sell-out of public lands is Carole King -- King of Goffin & King in the 60s (chronological sixties), writing the music to more charting hits than may be humanly possible, easing into a group at the tail end of that decade (The City), going solo in the seventies, releasing the landmark album Tapestry, etc., still writing, still performing and working on the issue of the ecology for many, many years. Check local listings for the times both programs will be aired. Sunday on NYC's WBAI (streams online) from 11 a.m. to noon EST, The Next Hour will offer: "Author/actor/racounteur Malachy McCourt hosts his brothers Frank, Alf and Mike in what has come to be an annual McCourt family radio reunion." While Monday on WBAI's Cat Radio Cafe, 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm EST, "In an epilogue to WBAI's recent 'Celebration of Norman Mailer' (The Next Hour, December 16, 2007, 11 am-1 pm, archived at, legendary actor Rip Torn weighs in on his old friend and fellow improvisor, along with an encorse airing of Joyce Carol Oates' observations on Mailer; and political satirist Will Durst with the Top Ten Comedic Stories of 2007. Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer."

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