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

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Katie Couric, Robert Knight

BuzzFlash offers a snarky headline to MediaBistrow's 'Katie story' that opens with: "Last week's CBS Evening News viewership was the lowest it has been since at least 1987."

You know what I say to that? I say congratulations. I say "Well done." All the little shit heads that beared their claws for Katie Couric got what they wanted. Week after week (before she even started as anchor), they trashed her. Now they want to act as though the ratings have nothing to do with the smear job they've done on the woman.

I don't know Couric. (Ava and C.I. do. You can read their "TV: Katie Was a Cheerleader .") I do know that NOW has issued a plea for everyone to call out the sexist treatment of Hillary in the media. Where was the concern when Katie Couric was being trashed?

I don't watch TV news. I doubt very seriously that she's any worse than any of the other two. But it's really interesting how all the men (and some of the women) lined up to bash Couric before she ever uttered a word on The Evening News. And it's really interesting how so many were silent. NOW was silent.

Nancy Pelosi, who becomes more timid with each year, is the cover of Ms. Where's Katie? Where have the women been on this issue? The ones who weren't trashing her were silent.
Well done. You've succeeded in destroying the reputation of a woman. You used sexist bullshit to do so. But hey, you brought down Couric. How proud you must be.

Now at ABC, Charlie Gibson stole the job of an injured reporter and a pregnant woman. The first is disgusting, the second is disgusting and illegal. Elizabeth Vargas being demoted because she's pregnant (that's what happened and one NOW chapter did object) but there's been no "Let's get, Charlie!" Brian Williams? The Rush Limbaugh fan? Not even when he aired the footage of the Viriginia Tech killer did Brian Williams get anything resembling personal critiques.

So it just surprises me that no one but Ava and C.I. could call out the sexist bullshit for what it was. Maybe it shouldn't surprise me. A lot of women are chicken shit. A lot of women and men love to play Bash the Bitch.

Even CounterSpin felt the need, months ago, to note the ratings of The Evening News. They're a media watchdog. What do ratings have to do with a critique of the quality of what's airing? Not a damn thing. And CounterSpin led with Katie week after week while Brian and Charlie were doing outrageous things and getting a pass.

Couric's ratings took a hit? Is that a surprise after how many months of bashing the woman?

I hope CBS News sticks with her. Toni pointed out the item to me. A friend of her's pointed it out to her. There seems to be some realization slowly dawning that Katie Couric wasn't evaluated by the same standards her male peers were. I think there may be a shift.

And I think it's bullshit that women have stayed silent while we've heard how Katie wasn't qualified. She comes from a morning show! Where did Charlie Gibson come from? A morning show. Now the difference is Katie Couric strived to move forward while Gibson willingly moved to a morning show. The reality is that for a woman to anchor, she had to be on a morning show. Two other women anchored the evening news -- both were co-anchors: Barbara Walters (at ABC briefly) and then Connie Chung (at CBS). So Katie didn't dive to the morning shows the way Gibson did, she rose to that level and she was rising to the evening news, providing an opportunity for other women. But women couldn't stick up for her.

Scott Pelley gave Bully Boy a pass. Got the facts wrong about the shooting of Sgrena. But that didn't set the web afire. Katie Couric asked whether it might not be better for John Edwards to drop out of the presidential race since Elizabeth Edwards had cancer. (I didn't watch the interview -- didn't need to, I couldn't log on and surf without seeing a million action alerts.) Couric was slammed for that. Ridiculed.

Most wanted to point out that she didn't quit Today. Anchoring Today isn't the same as a non-stop presidential campaign where you're going all over the country, where you're giving speeches until all hours, where you're speaking to the press at all hours.

Do I think John Edwards should have dropped out? I think the decision was John and Elizabeth Edwards' to make. I also know that the question Couric asked was already being asked. I know Matthew Rothschild said Edwards should drop out, wrote a column about it. Matthew Rothschild wasn't trashed. I'm not suggesting he should be. I'm not suggesting that any of the people who asked the question should be. I am saying that the reaction to Couric's interview was out of proportion. I am saying women need to develop a spine and start calling out sexism. That's what the trashing of Katie Couric was on the Edwards interview, that's what the trashing of Couric has been all along.

I lived through this bullshit with Barbara Walters and with Connie Chung. So thanks to the silence, there's a chance we'll have to wait a decade or two before a woman's given the opportunity to co-anchor? Do you really think a woman will be rushed into an anchor slot anytime soon?

I don't know if Katie Couric's doing an awful job on the evening news. I don't watch. I do know that she can't be doing worse than the boys on the other two networks. I do know that it's past time someone called out the very vile, very sexist criticism that Couric has gotten.

Should Edwards drop out resulted in BuzzFlash linking to trash-Katie pieces for over a week. It's all boys' club at Buzz. A man is running for president. His wife announces she has cancer. The question needs to be asked and it needs to be answered. They can do whatever they want, its the Edwards' decision. But let's not pretend like asking the question was off limits.

I'll tell you waht else I know, a lot of liars got rich lying about Iraq. How come only Judith Miller got fired? How come Michael R. Gordon got off scott free. How come, in the fall and winter of 2006, after non-stop Bash the Bitch on Miller, some male pundits wanted to ask, "Hey, how come Gordon didn't get fired?" Because it was more fun to Bash the Bitch.

Miller deserved to be called out. She didn't deserve to be the sole focus. A lot of liars are still employed. If Couric deserves to be called out, call her out. But let's not pretend that the months of attack have been about what she does when they've been gender-based attacks.

This was the same week where a 'lefty' male decided to slam women, decided to flaunt his sexism. And who called it out? (Ava and C.I. will address it Sunday at The Third Estate Sunday Review.) A rude insult and lies were offered. Why wasn't it called it out?

Let's not pretend that the 'lefty' males think they can get away with sexism because they don't get called on it. Ava passed on "The Knight Report," done by Robert Knight Monday through Thursday on KPFA's Flashpoints Radio, from yesterday evening's broadcast:

In today's "Knight Report" --
VP Cheney gets another thunderous respomse to his secret visit to Iraq; and
Democrats decide to continue the War in Iraq by giving President Bush a bimonthly "allowance," rather than an annual "trust fund."
I'm Robert Knight in New York.
The man who mapped Iraq's oilfields as the payoff for the Bush administration's 2003 invasion today visited his prize territory under cover of darkness, where security required Halliburton alumnus and VP Richard Cheney to wear a massive flack-jacket under his blue blazer during yet another secret visit to Baghdad. Nevertheless, Cheney was serenaded with the percussive sound of nearby explosions, just as he was duriung his secret visit to Bagram airnbase in Afghanistan several weeks ago.
Today, mortars fired by the Iraqi patriotic resistance struck near the heavily guarded home of the Iraqi puppet parliament and prime minister inside Baghdad's US controlled Green Zone, with such force and proximity that Cheney's traveling team of reporters and mainstream media stenographers were quickly hustled from the rattling windows that framed a scheduled press conference, to the basement bunker of the US embassy compound, for their own safety.
Following the upstaging of his meeting with US "proconsul" Ryan Crocker and Iraq's de facto military governor, General David Petraeus, the surly VP terminated reporters' questions by growling that "This is just a photo spray." and grumbling that "There still are some security problems, security threats, no question about it." Later, as reporters filed into an embassy conference room for another photo-op of Cheney they overheard him tell his staff "...then we kick the press out."
Cheney's primary purpose was to pump the unratified Iraqi oil law, which was actually written by an American consultancy based near Langley, Virginia -- and which would abolish Iraqi national sovereignty over national petroleum reserves, in favor of lucrative extraction agreements with multinational oil conglomerates, whose proceeds the Bush administration had fondly hoped would help fund the 2-trillion-dollar cost of the ill-advised invasion and occupation of Iraq.
The legislation would also lead to a defacto partition of Iraq by disempowering the central Baghdad government, as well as Iraq's 18 provinces, in favor of so^called "regional governments" -- of which there is currently only one: namely, the Kurdistan regional regime in northern Iraq, which has long enjoyed the favors and clandestine presence of the CIA and Mossad.
But the legitimacy of the Kurdish construct was also challenged during Cheney's visit by the Iraqi resistance, which launched a suicide truck attack in the fortified Kurdish capitol of Irbil, killing nearly 2 dozen and wounding more than 100, in the most significant attack in three years. The "Islamic State of Iraq" claimed responsibility, saying it was in retaliation for the Kurdish government's dispatch of Peshmerga troops and militias to Baghdad for the American security surge.
Cheney's secondary purpose in Iraq was to demand speedy compliance from Iraq's "plantation parliament," which has yet to rubber-stamp the Bush administration's desperate desire for the oil law giveaway. The absentee assembly seldom reaches quorum because nearly half of its members now reside in London and in neighboring countries for their own safety. Cheney (along with most of the American mainstream media) feels competent to judge the parliament's plans for a 2-month recess during the 100-degree summer days of Iraq -- just like the US Congress enjoys during its annual recesses, as do most of America's schoolteachers and students.
More than 4 years into the disastrous occupation that Cheney and the the White House said would be "welcomed with open arms," Cheney today blamed the US-constructed occupation regime for the lack of post-invasion progress, saying of the scheduled Iraqi recess that "Any undue delay would be difficult to explain," and adding that "I do believe that there is a greater sense of urgency now than I'd seen previously."
But, unfortunately for Cheney, much of that urgency is in direct opposition to his presence in Iraq.
The Mahdi Army movement led by Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr today announced large demonstrations in the three holy cities of Kufa, Karbala and Kadhemiyah to protest Cheney's visit. al-Sadr has also withdrawn a half-dozen Sadrist party members from the occupation cabinet of puppet PM Nouri al Maliki, over his refusal to demansd a US troop withdrawal from Iraq. Yesterday the Sunni VP of the occupation, Tarek Al Hashimi, gave Maliki a one-week deadline for accomodatoing Sunni interests and ending the occupation -- or face the withdrarwal of Sunni contingents from Maliki's shaky coalition government.
There was also some back-tracking in Washington, where Democrats in Congress are adopting a new strategy to maintain the war in Iraq, while appearing to oppose it.
The latest Democratic party gambit in prolonging the bipartisan war is to not end funding for the war, but to transfer President Bush from an annual war-making "triust fund," to a bi-monthly "allowance."
The Democrats' proposal would pay for the war through July, then give Congress the option of renewing more money if conditions meet up with arbitrarily-defined "benchmarks" -- not the least of them being... passage of the oil law. The Democrats would also agree to eliminate withdrawal requirements and give Bush a blank check for a potential invasion of neighboring Iran. The bill would fund operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for three months, but "sequester" $48 billion until Bush made an automatic and unchallenged claim of "progress" in Iraq.
Even so, the White House said today it would still veto the new conditional House legislation -- which Democrats consider a "win-win" tactic, because it would give the impression (with renewals every few weeks) that they are "opposed" to the war and occupation that more than 2/3 of the American public wish to come to a rapid comnclusion.
Nevertheless, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the day-to-day commander for U.S. military operations in Iraq, revealed today there are NO plans to end the US escalation in Iraq anytime soon. Odierno said "The surge needs to go through the beginning of next year for sure," .
And that's some of the news of this Wednesday, May 9, 2007.
From exile in New York, I'm Robert Knight for Flashpoints.


That's what I listen to. I don't watch TV. I expect real news and make a point to listen to KPFA for it. Robert Knight does a great job. Now here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, May 10, 2007. Chaos and violence, Mr Tony gets ready for life off stage, Iraqi oil workers postpone their planned strike to Monday, war resistance continues to grow, and more.

Starting with news of war resistance. Colleen Henry (WISN, Milwaukee) speaks with two war resisters who have gone to Canada -- Corey Glass and Dean Walcott. Walcott self-checked out and went to Canada at the end of last year. He served two tours in Iraq and was stationed in Germany at a hospital in between where he saw the wounded with missin glimbs, skin melted off, and more. Corey Glass joined the National Guard expecting to help out in the United States during national disasters. Instead he was shipped off to Iraq. Glass self-checked out, went underground and then went to Canada. As October started last year, Corey Glass, Justin Colby, Ryan Johnson and other war resisters in Canada were considering returning to US as a result of the way Darrell Anderson's discharge was resolved. However, once the military attempted to screw over Kyle Snyder, that changed. Glass told Brett Barrouqere (AP) at the start of November, "After what they did to him, I don't see anybody going back." In September of last year, Glass stated, "I knew the war was wrong before I went, but I was going to fulfil my end of the bargain, right or wrong and eventually my conscience just caught up with me. . . I felt horrible for being a part of it. If I could apologise to those people [Iraqis], every single on, I would." Though Dean Walcott has not yet appeared before Canada's Immigration and Refugee "Board," Corey Glass appeared before it March 30th of this year.

Dean Walcott tells Colleen Henry that Germany was the turning point for him: "Basically our job there was to make sure the injured and dying Marines were made as comfortable as possible. . . . People were coming in missing legs, missing arms. They had to be put on feeding tubes, they weren't able to breathe without help of a machine. At this time, I was dealing with a lot of emotional problems. I was pretty messed up from dealing with work at the hospital. It was a rewarding job, but it was very, very difficult. So I'd asked to be put somewhere that was non-deployable, so I could get mental help, which the command graciously decided not to let me do. There was a lot of times that families would come to visit them in the hospital and see their dead or dying son or daughter, and (they) would yell at us and would hit us. It was misdirected anger, but to my way of thinking, it was understandable."

Jeffry House, their attorney and also Joshua Key's attorney, among others, observes, "
Obviously there's a kind of courage in going to Iraq, even when you think it's wrong, and killing people, even when you think it's wrong. I think there's also courage in standing up and saying, 'No, I can't do that, and I'm willing to make some serious decisions." And Corey Glass tells Henry, "Staying there is, you're fleeing what you believe in, right? You're fleeing your belief in murder and all these other things, you're just doing it because you're scared of what they're going to do to you. But coming here, you're losing everything. You're fighting them because you're losing your family. You're losing it all."

And still they stand up. And still their numbers grow (sh, not too loudly, you might wake The Nation which has largely slept through the illegal war).
Kimberly Rivera arrived in Canada in February with her two children and husband Mario after self-checking out and becoming the first female US war resister to apply for refugee status. Arriving in the United States today is US war resister Agustin Aguayo. Mark St. Clair (Stars and Stripes) reports that Aguayo would be returning to Los Angeles today following his April 18th discharge from military prison but not release from the military. He may not be at the Sacremento event tonight (though he and Helga Aguayo, his wife, may surprise) at 7:00pm, Newman Center, 5900 Newman Court, Sacramento. But he will now be able to take part in the speaking out tour with Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes, Robert Zabala and others.


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 707-826-9197Thursday 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.

All 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.


In Iraq,
Garrett Therolf (Los Angeles Times) reports that US and Iraqi troops (under US command) have cut off basics to the citizens of Samarra and notes "residents . . . complain that basic necessities such as drinking water have not reached the city for seven days." Therolf seems either unaware or unable to call out this for what it is, a violation of Geneva.
(Therolf also pushes the propaganda that "Ambulances have become favorite vehicles for car bombs and insurgents in the country" and seems to think offering a 2003 and 2007 example proves a pattern. The shooting of ambulances in Falluja probably provide a clearer pattern but they were shot up by US forces. Therolf also seems unable to speak with enlisted. If he had, he might be writing that the enthusiastic cheers that greeted Cheney's speech were ordered and that the more muted response to Cheney's talk of extending deployments resulted in several divisions being chewed out after the speech.) Meanwhile,
as Danny Schechter (News Dissector) notes, Iraq's oil workers' trade union were set to strike today over the Iraqi oil law that will strip the country of profits but line the pockets of Big Oil. The strike has been moved to Monday, Steve Kretzmann (Oil Change) observes. UPI quotes US Labor Against the War's Michael Eisenscher explaining the postponement was "because they had a conversation with somebody at the Oil Ministry who said they wanted to respond to workers demands and needed time to prepare a response." US Labor Against the War, American Friends Service Committee and United for Peace & Justice are sponsoring a Voices of Iraqi Workers Solidarity Tour from June 4th to 29th that will include stops in Atlanta, Berkeley, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, NYC, Philadelphia, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Cruz, Washington DC. More details available at US Labor Against the War.

CBS and AP report: "A majority of Iraqi lawmakers have endorsed a bill calling for a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops and demanding a freeze on the number of foreign troops already in the country, lawmakers said Thursday. The Iraqi bill, drafted by a parliament bloc loyal to anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr was signed by 144 members of the 275 member house, according to Nassar al-Rubaie, the leader of the Sadrist bloc." This as Shailagh Murray and Jonathan Weisman (Washington Post) report that: "House Republican moderates, in a remarkably blunt White House meeting, warned President Bush this week that his pursuit of the war in Iraq is risking the future of the Republican Party and that he cannot count on GOP support for many more months." At last, a casualty of war he may care about.


Bombings?
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports two Baghad mortar attacks that claimed one life and left wounded, a Kirkuk roadside bombing that wounded three people, and "Around 3 am, American planes had raided Sadr City, killing 3 civilians and injuring 12 with huge damage to three houses and three cars."
Shootings?

Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that "gunmen exploded Al-Falahi Building in Abu Ghraib," and a Basra gun battle between British forces and unidentified others that resulted in one bystander being killed and two more wounded.

Corpses?

Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 20 corpses discovered in Baghdad and a decapitated head found in Hawija. Reuters notes five corpses discovered in Mosul and two in Mahaweel.

In addition, the
US military announced today: "A Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West was killed May 9, while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province."


In legal news, much to note. Starting in the United States where, earlier this week, the
Manitowaoc Herald Times Reporter noted the sentencing of Donny Rage to one year in jail and three years probation. Rage was a US military recruiter and, by agreeing to a plea bargain, four of the second-degree sexual assault counts were dropped allowing him not to face the threat of six years in prison for using his official position to attempt to rape two women ("attempted to have sex with . . . carried into his bedroom and assualted" -- that's attempted rape). You can pair that up with Cheryl Seelhoff (Off Our Backs, vol 35, no 2, p. 22) report on the conviction of Michael Syndey (July 2006) for "pandering, mistreating, subordinates, and obstruction of justice, among other things, for what amounts to his having pimped women under his command. Syndey threatened to extend the tour of duty of female reservists called to active duty if they did not have sex with his superior officers."

Also in the United States, an Article 32 hearing is ongoing at Camp Pendleton into the killing of Iraqis in Haditha. Sanick Dela Cruz has testified in exchange for immunity. Our modern day Betty Grable, Paul von Zielbauer, is (mis)covering the hearing for the New York Times (
dropping a charge here, leaving something out there, scrub, scrub, scrub). Dela Cruz testified yesterday that "he was asked four times to lie about what happened in Haditha" (Marty Graham, Sydney Morning Herald). Thomas Watkins (AP) notes Dela Cruz testified to seeing Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich fire "six to eight rounds at" five Iraqis "with their hands interlocked behind their heads." At the heart of the Article 32 hearing is Randy Stone's actions. Stone "is charged with violating an order and two counts of dereliction of duty in connection with the killings." Was Stone covering up for the massacre in which US troops killed civilians? The prosecution, Lt. Col. Sean Sullivan, cross-examined a witness on Monday asking, "Did he tell you that he had left two wounded children in that house? Did he tell you that he had killed a child? Did he tell you that there was a woman at the bottom of the stairs that they had killed? . . . Did he say anything about the five children in the back bedroom being killed on the bed?" CNN offers a photo of one of the 24 Iraqis killed, Rasheed Abudl Hamid Hassan Ali at his wedding.

In Iraq,
Arwa Damon (CNN) reports on 25-year-old Samar Saed Abdullah who awaits execution for the killing of three relatives but maintains that her husband did the killings and that she only confessed "after being tortued in polic custody." She states: "I am innocent. The judge did not hear me out. He refused to hear anything I have to say. He just sentenced me." Hana'a Abdul Hakim, her mother, says, "She didn't confess. It was from the beating they gave her. She was bleeding. She finally said write what you want, just stop."

Turning to England,
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes that "two men have been found guilty for leaking a memo detailing a conversation in which President Bush reportedly tells British Prime Minister Tony Blair he wants to bomb the Doha headquarters of the Arabic television network Al Jazeera. David Keogh, a former civil servant, and Leo O'Connor, a former parliamentary researcher, were charged with violating the Official Secrets Act. Most of the trial was held in secret with reporters banned from the proceedings. Bush and Blair's meeting was recorded by Blair's adviser on foreign affairs. The memo came with a note reading 'This must not be copied further and must only be seen by those with real need to know'." Robert Verkaik (Belfast Telegraph) reports, "Tony Blair's ill-fated war with Iraq claimed two more victims yesterday when a civil servant and an MP's researcher were convicted of disclosing details of a secret conversation between the Prime Minister and President George Bush. Last night, MPs, lawyers and civil rights groups described the prosecution as a 'farce' and accused the Government of misusing the Official Secrets Act to cover up political embarrassment over the war." ITV notes that Keogh felt the memo -- with Bully Boy's talking of bombing Al Jazeera -- would reveal Bully Boy to the world as the "madman" he is and that Keogh had originally hoped to pass the memo to the 2004 presidential campaign of John Kerry. Most avoid noting what was going on in April 2004 when the Bully Boy and Tony Blair spoke, when Bully Boy talked of bombing Al Jazeera. James Sturcke (Guardian of London) manages to avoid most realities but does use the word: Falluja. As Jeremy Scahill has noted before (see Tuesday's KPFA's Flashpoints Radio for those late to the party) the city of 350,000 was attacked because of the murders of four US mercanaries from Blackwater, the US military bombed the power plant (a civilian target, a violation of Geneva), the US maintained civilians weren't being targeted and they weren't air bombing but they were -- 37,000 air strikes -- and Al Jazeera was there broadcasting the reality which is why the US offered a cease fire only if Al Jazeera left. That is the backdrop that's not being addressed. Bully Boy wanted to bomb Al Jazeera. Why in April? Falluja.

Tony Blair, the empty suit triangulator who never met a promise he couldn't break, has announced he'll be stepping down as Britain's prime minister --
presumably to open a beauty shop francise entitled Mr. Tony. Mark Rice-Oxley (Christian Science Monitor) takes an (overly) balanced look at Mr Tony's legacy with regards to Iraq but does offer: "The problem with generalizing about the Blair era is that it invites immediate contradiction. He banned fox hunting -- but it still goes on. He introduced a Human Rights Act -- but made life harder for asylum seekers. He increased police numbers -- and tied them down with bureaucratic form-filling. He initiated reform of the House of Lords -- but became embroiled in a scandal amid allegations that people who had loaned money to the party had been promised seats. He presided over low inflation and unemployment and strong frowth -- but passed on only a modest slice of that increased prosperity to the bottom third of society. After 10 years of 'Blairism,' surveys show that child deprivation is as bad in Britain as anywhere in Europe."
Like the triangulator in the US, Bill Clinton, Blair destroyed his party. The New York Times' repeated confusion over why Rupert Murdoch endorsed Blair was laughable but the only thing funnier may be the continued efforts of the Guardian of London to carry water for Blair and his new Labour -- most recently AEB
Martin Kettle's love note. Great Britain's Socialist Worker leaves the hand jobs to others and calls it straight out: "We are in the final days of Tony Blair. And good riddance to bad rubbish." In a lengthier article, they note that Mr Tony "was swept into office by the tidal wave that destroyed the Tory government of John Major. Now he is slinking out of Donwing Street amid the electoral setback that New Labour suffered last week. He is even more unpopular than Margaret Thatcher when she left office." Quite an accomplishment for Mr Tony and, for those who've forgotten, Mr Tony was the p.r. created name that was going to sweep him through one soft publicity shot after another as he intended to use his final months to shore up his shakey image. Didn't turn out that way. Lindsey German (Socialist Worker) notes that "69 precent thought that Tony Blair would be remembered for the war in Iraq. . . Why has Iraq remained the defining issue in British politics? Partly there is the unfinished business about how we were taken to war. None of the whitewash inquiries into the war have been able to achieve closure. It is commonly accepted that Blair lied over the threat of weapons of mass destruction and how much a danger Saddam Hussein was. He continues to lie about Iraq today, claiming recently against all evidence that the main people responsible for violence there were Al Qaida. . . . However, none of this would probably have been decisive without the disastrous consequences of the war itself. The death toll of Iraqis almost certainly stands between half a million and one million." Jon Smith (Independent of London) reports June 27 is the day Mr Tony plans to step down. The Independent of London's cartoonist Dave Brown explains: "I won't be sad to see the back of Blair. I detest the man and what he's done."; while author John Morrison (Anthony Blair: Captain of School) declares, "I think the war in Iraq can be his only legacy. This man has thousands of deaths on his conscience, in my view, and he can't get round that."; photographer and filmmaker Alison Jackson shares, "He has directed and destroyed politics. We've always wondered if politicians were telling the truth and now there's no doubt that often they aren't. There is no glory in Tony Blair's decade. There he is trying to go down in the history books and hoping people will forget how disappointing he was. But even in leaving he's managed to make a mess. He was always there for famous moments: Diana moments, Queen Mother moments, war. But there's this trail of horror behind him. The film I'm making, Tony Blair, Rock Star, was based on research we did into his gap year. When he did play his first rock concert, the drums fell apart and everything went wrong and everyone booed and walked out. Then when he managed a band he hired the Albert Hall but no one had ever heard of them so nobody came. He had all these fabulous ideas that came to nothing."

With fabulous ideas that came to something,
Ron Jacobs (Z-Net) speaks with Josh Brielmaier, Todd Dennis, Zach Heise, Bernadette Watts and Chris Dols (students who took part in last month's occupation of US Senator Herbert Kohl's office in Madison), students . . . who aren't apathetic. Zach Heise and Josh Brielmaier were noted on Tuesday and Bernadette Wattas and Chris Dols on Monday. That leaves Todd Dennis and we'll note the following from him, "I have a couple reasons why I participated. One, as a veteran who was on active duty in the US Navy when the disinformation war to start the occupation of Iraq began, I have been opposed to the occupation from the start. While in the military, partly out of fear of retributions and partly because I was unaware of my GI rights to protest off-base and out of uniform, I didn't participate in the anti-war rallies and demonstrations prior to the start of the occupation. I did however contact all of my representatives stating my displeasure with the proposed Iraq war vote. Kohl like normal didn't respond to my emails. This was very disrespectful to me and my brothers and sisters whose lives he is personally responsible [for]. Since I have become a peace and justice advocate with first, Veterans for Peace and now along with Iraq Veterans Against the War, I have been disappointed in the representatives of this country's response to the war and public sentiment to it. While I can do nothing about my earlier inaction, I can when any opportunity arises, take action showing my displeasure with the continued occupation of Iraq where our military has virtually no mission but to stay alive. Some in our group until we did this action felt that Kohl was an honest and sincere politician. I had lost faith in the Democrats long ago and felt that Kohl who claims to be against the war and yet keeps funding it was a good target to show everyone how he really doesn't stand with us in our demand that Iraqis get self-determination. To show them and the rest of the country how our purported representatives respond to our simple requests I participated in the occupation of Herb Kohl's office." All the students taking part in the roundtable participated in the occupation of Kohl's office (the snapshot on Monday has "two" -- it was all) and they aren't apathetic. They deserve praise as does Ron Jacobs for taking the trouble to actually speak to students.

And finally,
Jim Lobe (IPS) delves into yet another use of the media in the illegal war:

In the run-up to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Pentagon planned to create a 'Rapid Reaction Media Team' (RRMT) designed to ensure control over major Iraqi media while providing an Iraqi 'face' for its efforts, according to a 'White Paper' obtained by the independent National Security Archive (NSA) which released it Tuesday.The partially redacted, three-page document was accompanied by a longer power point presentation that included a proposed six-month, 51 million-dollar budget for the RRMT operation, apparently the first phase in a one-to-two-year ''strategic information campaign''.

Among other items, the budget called for the hiring of two U.S. ''media consultants'' who were to be paid 140,000 dollars each for six months' work. A further 800,000 dollars were to be paid for six Iraqi ''media consultants over the same period.







Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Flashpoints, Robert Parry, Ron Jacobs

On KPFA's Flashpoints Radio today, Dennis Bernstein spoke with Robert Parry about the pass that Luis Posada has now been given. Let me include this from Parry's "Bush Sat on Evidence of Cuban Terror" (Consortium News):

The evidence, an FBI document based on interviews with confidential sources in the late 1990s, linked Posada to a wave of hotel bombings in 1997 that killed an Italian tourist. Administration lawyers have now filed the document in court as part of the illegal immigration case against Posada that is scheduled to resume in Texas on May 11.
On April 19, however, Posada was freed on $350,000 bond and allowed to live in his wife's home in Miami, where many right-wing Cuban exiles regard him as a hero.
The relatively gentle handling of Posada and other right-wing Cubans connected to terrorist acts against the communist government of Fidel Castro is in marked contrast to George W. Bush's harsh treatment of Islamic militants captured during the "global war on terror."
While suspected Islamic terrorists are locked away indefinitely at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and can undergo "alternative interrogation techniques," Posada has been afforded all U.S. legal protections and then some.
Bush has refused to extradite Posada to Venezuela or Cuba, where he is sought on other terrorism charges for masterminding the 1976 mid-air bombing of a Cubana Airliner killing all 73 people on board, including the young Cuban national fencing team.
During a court hearing in Texas on Posada, Bush administration lawyers allowed to go unchallenged testimony from a Posada friend that Posada would face torture if he were returned to Venezuela where he held citizenship and once worked as an intelligence officer. The judge, therefore, barred Posada to be deported there.

The last paragraph was a point Parry raised with Dennis. Tonight's program also featured a broadcast of a speech by Jimmy Carter about Palestinians. Yesterday on Flashpoints Radio, along with what's noted in the snapshot below, they played a speech by Jeremy Scahill about the mercenaries of Blackwater and how they came into being. He spoke of how they, at one point, were going to be an exclusive hunting club/shooting club but then they cashed in big in the aftermath of Columbine, scaring the country and installing a 'school' where they could demonstrate attacks and counter-attacks. They were in place before September 11th and they have just raked it in ever since. They lobbied Congress to make sure they wouldn't be punished from crimes under civilian law and they're not punishable under military law.

Do you grasp that? They cannot be punished. If the military screws up, justice is a possibility. If the government screws up, justice is a possibility. If Blackwater screws up -- when they screw up -- they get away with it. When they break the law the White House and our Congress has made it possible for them to unpunished.

They are mercenaries and what sort of a government allows mercenaries to operate outside the bounds of law? Not a democracy.

Okay, this is from a roundtable Ron Jacobs did with students entitled "Sitting In On Senator Kohl and the War-A Conversation With Antiwar Students" (ZNet):


Ron: There are now at least two or three national youth and student groups involved in protesting the war--SDS, Campus Antiwar Network (CAN) and the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition. Is there coordination among these groups? Are there major differences? If so, can you elucidate?
Chris: CAN's emphasis is on working with all student organizations - and non-student organizations, for that matter - who are organizing against the war. And we have organized jointly with SDS and NYSPC. We look forward to future collaboration.
Todd: No, there needs to be coordination between the groups since the youth are obviously against the war in larger numbers. I am not that familiar with NYSPC but from what I know about SDS and CAN they are democratic and seem to be doing pretty much the same things.
Zach: I know that several members of our group are in communication with SDS, and we do try to plan national events with the national branches of Campus Antiwar Network, which in turn communicates with SDS for coordination. However, I don't know about NYSPC - they're a relative unknown to me.
Ron: Well, summer is coming up and school will be out for the year. What are your political plans for the summer?
Zach: I will be around after June 7th, and I plan to continue meeting with my colleagues in CAN. As for our plans for the summer, I'm not sure myself. I hope that we'll continue to do sit-ins and protests at the capitol building, as well as increasing our knowledge of the issues since we won't have classes to worry about.
Chris: Most of our CAN chapter is going to be in Madison for the summer. We are hoping to spend the summer preparing for CAN's national conference which may well be held in Madison this Fall (a decision will be made shortly). We also hope to launch fund-raising efforts over the summer to strengthen our hand financially going into the fall. Further, a good number of us are attending the Socialism 2007 conference in Chicago where we hope to learn more about struggles (today's and yesterdays, successes and failures) and we will network with other antiwar activists and build the student movement there.
Todd: I will be traveling to NYC for an Operation First Casualty action with IVAW and then will be studying abroad in France for a few months. I plan on relaxing and catching up on some reading during this time. When I get back i will be going to the Veterans For Peace National Convention.
Josh: Socialism 2007 in Chicago and whatever else might be going on in Madison when I'm around...I'm going to Kerouac it across the country so hopefully I'll be able to make some meaningful connections with fellow freaks, revolutionaries, and other fellow travelers.
Bernadette: I will be in Madison over the summer, along with most of CAN. So hopefully we’ll all have more time and energy. The plan is just to continue doing… continue to organize, fundraise, and educate ourselves. I too will be attending Socialism 2007 and I’m looking forward to a productive summer!!
Ron: Anything else?
Chris: Thank you for asking us what we think. As a student-activist, it's much nicer to be posed these questions, than the one I heard most often from 2004-2006: "When will the students do their part?" Well, here we are.
Zach: Thank you for interviewing us!






Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, May 9, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, Cheney visits the Green Zone and receives his usual welcome, Democratic leadership caves again, and cries go out for people to get active.

Starting with war resistance. Last week Camilo Meija's
Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia was published and, as Courage to Resist reports, tonight, he begins a speaking tour with Pablo Paredes, and Robert Zabala. Announced dates include:

Wednesday May 9 - Marin 7pm at College of Marin, Student Services Center, 835 College Ave, Kentfield. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Pablo Paredes and David Solnit. Sponsored by Courage to Resist and Students for Social Responsibility.

Thursday May 10 - Sacramento Details TBA
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 707-826-9197Thursday 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.

All are part of a growing movement of war resistance within the military: Camilo Mejia,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, 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, thirty-eight 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.

Turning to politics, US and Iraq. Yesterday on
KPFA's Flashpoints Radio, Robert Knight's "The Knight Report" summed up developments as follows:

The US backed Shia led puppet regime in Baghdad faced further setbacks today after the absentee parliament's biggest Sunni block threatened to collapse Nouri al-Maliki's Shia supremacist leadership by removing 44 Sunni legislatures from the current governing coalition. Iraqi vice president Tariq al-Hashimi, of the fundamentalist Iraqi Accord Front, has given Maliki a one week deadline until May 15th to amend Iraq's US designed Constitution of Military Occupation to restore authentic national sovereignty and territorial integrity otherwise Hashimi threatened quoted "I will tell my constituency frankly that I made the mistake of my life when I put my endorsement to that National Accord." Hashimi added that he was frustrated by Sunni exclusion from government under the de-Baathification commission headed by CIA and Pentagon asset Ahmed Chalabi. Hashimi concluded his demands with the hope that "I would like to see the identity of my country, in fact, restored back." He also refused an invitation to meet in Washington with President George W. Bush until those issues were addressed.
A collapse of the Maliki regime would scuttle bi-partisan hopes in Washington that Iraq's puppet parliament would ratify the US written petroleum law that would eradicate national sovereignty over oil resources and clear the way for lucrative extraction contracts for American and other multi-national oil conglomerates. A fig leaf ratification of the oil law is a mutual goal of both Republicans and Democrats in Congress who call the potential give away and segmentation of Iraq into secular regions to be an essential so-called benchmark for further military funding for the US occupation.
And on that front there are alarming revelations from Ohio Representative
Dennis Kucinich who reveled over the weekend that Congressional Democrats have sold out any hopes for reform in Iraq with a secret agreement with the White House over the so-called funding bill for the Iraq war. In a remarkably revelatory speech to the West Los Angeles Democratic Club, Kucinich said that the Democrats led by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have made the following secret concessions. One, that House debate would not challenge the multi-national friendly Iraqi oil law that President Bush and vice president Cheney and the Democrats are desperate to have enacted so that Iraqi resources would be privatized. Number two, that bush could invade Iran without the approval of Congress because the Democrats have removed a clause that would require him to get approval from Congress. And of course that any and all timetables would be removed from subsequent enactments of the bill.

[. . .]

Dennis Bernstein: Robert Knight, stay with us. Thank you for the excellent report. And obviously we have been watching closely in particular the willingness of the Democrats to play ball so that the war and the significant aspects, the real reasons, the oil war can go forward. Would you just in a nutshell again recap the Kucinich highlights of the revelations of the sell out?

Robert Knight: Well this oil law is something that was a promise made by Cheney and Bush at the beginning of the war -- saying that the invasion would be funded by resources, the increased oil extraction and of course the profits to be made by the American companies. They have changed the language of the so-called PSA -- Production Sharing Agreements -- so that now the Iraqi national oil council would no longer have sovereignty over its own resources. There is a division in the bill that the Democrats are propagandistically propping up that is to say that this would share revenues among the different provinces.
But what it does it sets it up not to the province per se but to the regional coalition which is part of the United States and Israeli backed plan to divide Iraq into competing sectarian fragments -- the Kurds, the Shias in the south and of course the Sunnis in the more impoverished oil regions, the western part of Iraq. So the oil law would not only be something for profit but also something for segregation in Iraq.

Oil and Congress. Starting with oil. Dickey Cheney ("President of Vice" as
Wally and Cedric have dubbed him) high tailed it to the Green Zone and you know it wasn't to rally the troops. BBC reports that Nouri al-Maliki was gushing and that "US officials said Mr Cheney wanted faster progress on the fair division of oil revenues" -- well of course he does, look at his portfolio. Garrett Therolf (Los Angeles Times) reports Vice was greeted with the usual warm response he's learned to expect the world over: over a thousand protesters holding sings such as the one that read: "Kick out the leaders of evil." Cheney must be so proud.


On the issue of the US Congressional measure,
Edward Epstein (San Francisco Chronicle) reports that the 'plan' would fund illegal operations only through September 30th, that the toothless, non-binding withdrawal talk has been dropped and that "Democratic leaders expect to debate the plan for troop withdrawals again as part of bills now moving through committees that would authorize and spend the money for 2008 Pentagon operations, including the war." Last week, the Bully Boy vetoed the Congressional bill that did not enforce withdrawal. That measure was non-binding and full of loopholes that would allow Bully Boy to keep every US service member in Iraq there through the end of his term. One example, classify them all "military police" and say it was now a police operation would mean he wouldn't have to follow any of the Congressional suggestions -- suggestions because they were non-binding. The Democratic leadership refused to stand up then and now they just roll around on their backs. Noam N. Levey (Los Angeles Times) notes, "Democratic leaders, who are still finishing the plan, will no longer tie war funding to a pullout of almost all U.S. combat forces, which the president has said he will never accept." Carl Hulse and Jeff Zeleny (New York Times) observed that the talk of Congress funding the illegal war in scheduled stages was being attacked by the White House (via Tony Snow) and some Republican members of Congress such as Adam H. Putman. In a sure sign of how weak Democratic leadership is, not only have they sold out the mandate handed to them by the the American people in November 2006, they can't even fight for the nonsense they're trying to push forward. Every time Tony Snow shoots off his mouth, a Congressional Democrat should hold a press conference to ask, "Is the White House attempting to micro-manage the people's Congress?" Another sign? Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reports that Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno announced yesterday that the escalation that members of Congress are saying they must wait until September to evaluate (when Petraeus gives his report) will also be evaluated "at the beginning of next year for sure." The failure that is the escalation will be evaluated at various intervals by the US military. If the military can do that, Democrats should be able to make the case for their own right to base their power of the purse on regular evaluations.

But when you don't have the guts to call for the withdrawal the people support, when you don't have the strength to excercise your Constitutionally mandate power of the purse, when you spend the bulk of your time trying to fool the public with non-binding, symbolic measures, maybe you don't have the time or the guts to offer anything else?

United for Peace & Justice issues a call:

Veto the War! Take Action Today!
President Bush vetoed the $124 billion Iraq war funding bill, because it included a timid troop withdrawal plan.
Unfortunately, the Democrats in Congress now seem to think that they must compromise with the arrogant, incompetent administration that led us into war, rather than stand up for us, our troops and the Iraqis.
If we do not create a national outcry right now, Congress will capitulate and simply give Bush the money he wants to continue the war.
Let's make some noise!
Organize an emergency veto action!
Click here for ideas.
Write letters to the editors of your local news outlets.
Call into local radio talk shows.
(Click here for talking points.)
Call the offices of your members of Congress.
Show Congress what kind of funding bill YOU want them to pass! Download and deliver
"The People's Emergency Funding Bill," by fax or in person, to your representative's and senators' local and Washington DC offices. (Click here to find their office addresses and fax numbers.)

Meanwhile, the Green Party of the US has also "criticized the retreat of Democratic Congress members and party leaders after President Bush last week vetoed legislation that included a timetable for withdrawal of US combat troops from Iraq" with statements from various party members including the co-chair of the Green Party's Peace Action Committee (GPAX), Aimee Smith: "Democratic front groups like MoveOn.org have abandoned the antiwar movement. We don't need an 'Americans Against Escalation in Iraq' coalition, we need an independent political movement demanding removal of US troops as quickly as possible and reunciation of aggressive military power. Democratic leaders, including presidential candidates like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, are rejecting these demands and are willing to see US forces remain in Iraq until late 2008, and even longer to serve US financial interest there and the strategic demands of Israel and its supporters in the US. The goal of Democrats isn't to end the war, it's to seek party unity in order to win the White House. There's little doubt that most antiwar Democratic groups wil line up behind their party's prowar nominee in 2008."

Dave Lindorff (CounterPunch) observes the "bankruptcy of the Democratic Party leaderhip's position on impeachment was revealed in stark terms yesterday, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that she would sue the president in court if he resorted to a signing statement to kill the next version of Congress's Iraq funding bill" and concludes: "As long as she continues to refuse to allow impeachment of President Bush, she cannot hope to stop the war, restore habeas corpus, undo the Military Commissions Act, stop illegal spying on Americans by the National Security Agency, or win passage of any significant legislation to deal with global warming. She cannot really do anything, because Bush will simply issue signing statements and use his claim of 'unitary executive authority' to invalidate any legislation passed by Congress."

In Iraq (puppet) governmental news,
War Pornographer Michael Gordon (New York Times) attempts to get a money shot out of the Iraqi Exile Visits DC. Like a large number of exiles, Mowafak al-Rubaie serves in the puppet government. In 2003, after the illegal war began, al-Rubaie returned to Iraq (after two decades in exile) in just enough time for the US government to appoint him to the Iraqi Governing Council then, in 2004, they appointed him to the Coalition Provisional Authority and today's he's Nouri al-Maliki's national security adviser. A government of exiles ruling over an Iraqi people that wonders just where the hell these exiles get off dashing back into the country post-invasion and attempting to rule? al-Rubaie danced through the halls of Congress in the metaphorical equivalent of a g-string, attempting to get Congress to shove dollar bills down his crotch. Though he shook his money maker, not all rushed to request a lap dance. US Senator Carl Levin didn't take to al-Rubaie's notion that democracy for Iraq was a 'generational' thing. Levin: "I told him that is too long." The exiles, so very popular with the White House, share the same paternalistic, patronizing attitude of the White House: Iraqis are just too stupid for self-rule. One might ask why those who feel that way would want to rule in the first place but al-Rubaie's lined his pockets quite well since the start of the illegal war.

All that pocket lining has to be paid by someone.
Dexter J. Kamilewicz (Military Families Speak Out) notes the human costs, the economic costs, the civil rights costs and the "costs of deliberate neglect" concluding: "The enormous costs of the lack of leadership in dealing with the war in Iraq are measurable, and those costs hit home in ways we cannot ignore no matter how depressing the subject. The longer we wait to confront those who let these costs mount [Congress], the more responsible we are for those costs. It is up to us, you and me, to demand an end to it." One way to demand an end to it is to take action. Cindy Sheehan (Camp Casey Peace Institute) is calling for mothers "to stand up and put our bodies on the line for peace and humanity. . . . I am calling on Mothers of the world to join us in Washington DC for a '10,000 Mother of a March' on the day after Mother's Day, Monday, May 14, 2007. Marches on weekends are not effective, we need to shut the city of DC down! We will surround Congress and demand an end to this evil occupation and refuse to leave until the Congressiona leadership agrees with us, or throws us in jail! Meet at Lafayette Park at noon. We will rally then march to Congress." More information can be found here and via CODEPINK:


Mother's Day: Women Say NO to War!Join us in DC to walk the halls of Congress with some of the most influential moms of our day! Plan your own local Mother's Day peace picnic, post your event here, or host a peace movie night. More...NEW! View the Mothers Day for Peace Video

That's next Monday.
Gordon (Iraq Veterans Against the War) notes the March of the People which will begin June 21st with a "gathering at Millennium Park, Chicago to begin an 800-mile march to Washington, DC. They will demand an immediate peace in Iraq and the impeachment of those leaders who oppose it".

Those are only some of the activites that will be taking place. Want to prolong the illegal war? Be a Dolittle Dem like the leadership in Congress. Want to end it? Get active.
Rebecca S. Bender (The Eureka Reporter) reports on a speech Ann Wright gave Monday where she declared, "It is important that we hit the streets. There are a lot of reasons why we have to keep working to end the war in Iraq. . . . We're not putting up with endless war. We elected you to end this war now."

Still the war drags on . . .

Bombings?

Hussin Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bomb "near the students dormiotry of Mustansiriya university" that wounded three police officers. Reuters reports an Arbil bombing that killed 14 and wounded 87 and a Shirqat bombing that left two people dead. Garrett Therolf (Los Angeles Times) notes that the Arbil (also spelled Irbil) bombing's death toll rose to 19 and notes a Musayyib mortar attack that left two dead as well as a Haswa mortar attack that killed two people. AFP reports, "In Baghdad, a rocket exploded near the US embassy in the fortified Green Zone during Cheney's visit, an Iraqi defence official said. Smoke could be seen rising near the US compound shortly after the blast". CBS and AP note Cheney flack Anne McBride's statement, "His meeting was not disturbed and he was not moved." AFP has Cheney's full quote: "I spent today here basically in our embassy and military headquarters."

Shootings?


Hussin Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad shooting attack on workers of the "Adhamiya concrete wall" which left one dead and two more wounded and a Baghdad shooting where "a directoarte manager at the housing and reconstruction ministry" was shot dead. Reuters notes the shooting deaths of "two men from the ancient Yazidi faith" in Mosul. CBS and AP note that a Kirkuk drive-by resulted in the deaths of four Iraqi journalists who "worked for the independent Raad media comapny, which publishes several weekly newspapers and monthly magazines that are generally pro-government and deal with politics, education and arts."

Corpses?

Hussin Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 8 corpses were discovered in the Diyala province. Reuters reports five corpses were discovered in Falluja.