Friday, October 05, 2007

No, it can't wait

Okay, remember when we thought Democrats in control of both houses of Congress would actually mean something? Seems so long ago, doesn't it. This is from Robert Parry's "Why Not Impeachment?" (Consortium News):

The disclosure that the Bush administration secretly reestablished a policy of abusing "war on terror" detainees even as it assured Congress and the public that it had mended its ways again raises the question: Why are the Democrats keeping impeachment of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney "off the table"?
After the Democratic congressional victory last Nov. 7, Washington Democrats rejected calls for impeachment from rank-and-file Democrats and many other Americans, considering it an extreme step that would derail a bipartisan strategy of winning over Republicans to help bring the Iraq War to an end.
That thinking got a boost on Nov. 8, the day after the election, when President Bush announced the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the appointment of former CIA Director Robert Gates, who had been a member of the Iraq Study Group and was believed to represent the "realist" wing of the Republican Party.
One Democratic strategist called me that day with a celebratory assertion that "the neocons are dead" and rebuffed my warning that Gates had a troubling history of putting his career ahead of principle, that he was a classic apple-polisher to the powerful. [See the Consortiumnews.com's Archive, “
Who Is Bob Gates?”]
The Democrats also missed the fact that Rumsfeld submitted his resignation the day before the election – not the day after – along with
a memo urging an "accelerated draw-down of U.S. bases" in Iraq from a high of 110, to 10 to 15 by April 2007, and to five by July 2007.
In other words, Rumsfeld's ouster didn't signal Bush's new flexibility on ending the war, as the Democrats hoped, but a repudiation of Rumsfeld for going wobbly on Iraq.
Even when the Rumsfeld memo surfaced in early December, the Democrats ignored it, sticking to their wishful script that the Rumsfeld-Gates switch marked a recognition by Bush that it was time to begin extricating U.S. forces from Iraq.
Those rose-colored glasses got smudged badly when Bush instead announced in January that he was ordering an escalation, sending more than 20,000 additional troops to Iraq.
But instead of responding with their own escalation -- and putting impeachment back "on the table" -- the Democrats opted for a strategy of wooing moderate Republicans to mild-mannered legislative protests.
As an opening shot in this Nerf-ball battle, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid fired off a symbolic resolution to express disapproval of Bush's "surge," a meaningless gesture that Republicans kept bottled up for weeks making the Democrats look both feckless and inept.

I don't miss the suits the guys wore or those thick sideburns (although some guys could carry off the look today), but I do miss the spirit of the early 70s when we had people in Congress capable of being offended by abuses to the Constitution. I don't see many people in Congress capable of being even slightly offended by the non-stop abuses by the Bully Boy. By the way, Robert Parry was right. I never said he was wrong; however, for those who forget, he did note the problems with Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense even when others (such as the town crier screaming "We're going to war with Iran tomorrow!" over and over for years now) were providing cover for him.


This is from AFP:

Three US soldiers killed: Three US soldier were killed on Friday in two separate roadside bomb attacks in Iraq that wounded another five troops, the US military said. Two were killed and two others wounded when a device detonated during operations in southeastern Baghdad, a US military official said.
Another soldier was killed and three were wounded by a roadside bomb near the oil refinery town of Bayji in central Salaheddin province, according to a second statement. US forces announced earlier that a soldier had been killed on Thursday as a result of small arms fire during an operation in the south of Baghdad.
Their deaths brought the overall toll of US military losses since the March 2003 invasion to 3,809, according to an AFP tally based on Pentagon figures.

A lot has happened regarding Iraq today and, in fact, the entire week. I wanted to note the above because there was so little interest in the 3800 mark being passed. I was reading over the snapshot tonight and thinking about how much information is in each one and how little of it makes it into our independent press that is supposed to be against the illegal war. I was also thinking about all the Iraqis who have died since last week, and the US service members above, and how it was last week that Pig issued his "Iraq Can Wait" order. Iraq can't wait.

That is reality. Whether anyone wants to face it or not. There is a cholera epidemic, there is a huge refugee crisis, there are people dying and being injured, and there's no way in the world that Iraq can wait while we all focus on a possible war that might come tomorrow or never. Iraq can't wait.

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

Friday, Ocotber 5, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the US military announces more deaths, Ehren Watada's court-martial is still set to start next Tuesday, the bait and kill teams get a white wash, and more.

Starting with war resistance. In June 2006,
Ehren Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to the Iraq War. As Aaron Glantz (The War Comes Home) notes Ehren Watada's second court-martial is scheduled to begin this coming Tuesday. And if it takes place and the prosecution is trailing, Judge Toilet (aka John Head) can call another "do over." Glantz reported on the first court-martial each day of the court-martial (as well as on the Sunday rally of support that preceded the court-martial) and you can click here for some of that audio. Truthout also covered the court-martial daily and they announce: "Truthout will be covering the court-martial from Fort Lewis, Washington, beginning Monday." Their coverage last time provided both video and text reports. Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) reports on yesterday's events, "U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle on Thursday afternoon heard arguments from Watada's lawyers and a lawyer from the U.S. Attorney's Office about whether he has jurisdiction in the case. Settle held the hearing after Watada's defense attorneys, Jim Lobsenz and Ken Kagen, sought an emergency halt to next Tuesday's court-martial. They said they were compelled to go to federal court after receiving no word from the military justice system's highest appellate court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, concerning Watada's challenge to his court-martial." AP reports that a decision by Settle may come down today; however, Michael Gilbert (Washington's The News Tribune) reports, "A federal judge indicated he won't likely decide whether to halt Lt. Ehren Watada's second court-martial until Tuesday morning, when the proceeding is scheduled to begin in an Army courtroom at Fort Lewis." Meanwhile, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorializes "Watada Court-Martial: Let him go:"However the defense appeals turn out, we think there is a case for letting Watada leave the Army without further ado. That could be taken as a statement of higher-level confidence, a choice to focus on the larger military mission that President Bush and Gen. David Petraeus insist is making new progress. At a minimum, many of those who oppose the Iraq war would welcome the leniency for someone they view as a person of conscience."

In Canada this week, war resister Robin Long was arrested this week.
Charlie Smith (Vancouver's Straight) reports that when twenty-year-old war resister Brad McCall attemptedto enter Canada on September 19, 2007, he was arrested "and driven to a jail in Surrey" with McCall telling him, "I don't know what kind of police officer he was. He put me in handcuffs in front of all these people that were watching that were trying to get into Canada also" and McCall aksed the Canadian Border Services Agency, "I told them, 'Why are you playing the part of the hound dog for the U.S. army?' They didn't know what to say. They just started stuttering and mumbling." Brad McCall did make it into Canada and is staying with Colleen Fuller in Vancouver. As is very common in stories of war resisters going to Canada "over the Internet". McCall also speaks of hearing about atrocities/war crimes in Iraq as participants bragged about the actions. Robin Long also cited that in his interview for CBC Television. McCall explains he was interested in CO status but when he raised the issued with "his commander and sergeants," the dismissed it which has happened repeatedly with many war resisters. Aiden Delgado and Camilo Mejia are among those who can share their struggles to receive CO status -- Delgado was one of the few to be successful in his attempt. Robert Zabala has the distinction of being awarded CO status by the US civilian court system. Agustin Aguayo attempted the process both within the US military and within the civilian court system.

Another who attempted CO status is Kevin Benderman. Monica Benderman, Kevin's wife, addressed Congress in May of 2006 noting, "My husband violated no regulations. His command violated many. The command's flagrant disregard for military regulations and laws of humanity sent my husband to jail as a prisoner of conscience. Times have changed -- and so has conscientious objection. What has not changed is the Constitution, the oath our volunteer soldiers take to defend it, and every American citizen's right to freedom of choice. This conscientious objection goes beyond religious teaching. It is not dramatic. There is no epiphany. There is reality. Death is final, whether it is your own or you cause the death of another. No amount of field training can make up for the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of a real battlefield, and no amount of threats, intimidation, and abuse from a command can change a soldier's mind when the cold, hard truth of an immoral, unethical justification for war is couple with real-life sensations." Monica, and not Kevin, addressed Congress because Kevin was still serving the sentence on the kangaroo court hearing he was subjected to when he attempted to be granted CO status by following every detail by the book with no margin for error. But the US military brass doesn't like to issue CO status and they were willing to manuever and lie in their attempts at retribution towards Kevin Benderman. The laughable charge of "desertion" (which has no basis in reality) was shot down (he was acquitted of that ludicrous charge) but the brass was successful with other charges (trumped up charges) and that goes to how they control the court-martials, how they refuse to allow evidence to be entered and arguments to be made in an arrangement that's already stacked against the individual. (For instance, in Ehren Watada's trial, Judge Toilet was known to report to his superiors who, presumably, gave him orders throughout the February court-martial. In a civilian court, a judge reporting to a 'superior' and taking advice from one would be grounds for an aquittal.) Kevin and Monica Benderman fought the brass and continued fighting when others might have given up.
Letters from Fort Lewis Brig: A Matter of Conscience is the new book, out this week from The Lyons Press (US $24.95), in which they tell his story. Letters from Fort Lewis Brig: A Matter of Conscience is also the fourth book by a war resister of the Iraq War to be published this year. The other three are Aidan Delgado's The Sutras Of Abu Ghraib: Notes From A Conscientious Objector In Iraq, Camilo Mejia's Road from Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia and Joshua Key's The Deserter's Tale. Early on as the brass was targeting her husband, Monica Benderman visited bookstores attempting to learn more about CO status and similar topics and she couldn't find anything. The four books rectify that and join Peter Laufer's
compelling
Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq which covers the stories of variety of war resisters and was released in 2006. In an ideal world, bookstores across the country would stock all five and no Monica Benderman, in search of information, would ever be greeted with "We don't carry anything like that." Kevin and Monica Benderman have done their part to make sure it doesn't happen. Again, Letters from Fort Lewis Brig by Kevin Benderman with Monica Benderman was released this week, is available at bookstores and online and it'll be the focus of a book discussion at The Third Estate Sunday Review this weekend.


There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

Canada's in the news not only for the arrest of war resisters these days but also for their oil deal. In
a curious press release that proclaims "THIS PRESS RELEASE IS NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION TO THE UNITED STATES NEWSWIRE SERVICE OR FOR DISSEMINATION IN THE UNITED STATES" at the top, Canada's Heritage Oil Corporation declares (to "Business Editors") that they are "pleased to announce that it has executed a Production Sharing Contract with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) over Miran Block in the south-west of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and that Heritage will be operating as a 50/50 partner with the KRG to create a 20,000 barrel per day oil refinery in the vincinity of the license area. . . . Heritage will join the existing and increasing presence of international oil exploration, development and production companies operating in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. . . . Heritage will commence geological work immediately, having established its local office in Erbil in 2005, and aims to commence a high-impact exploration drilling program in 2008." Last month a deadly clash took place on Lake Albert between "Congolese troops and the Ugandan army" which Heritage Oil has denied any part in despite media reports. Andy Rowell (Oil Change) notes that the Kurdish government has "announced four new oil exploration deals with international energy companies. The news is likely to upset the central government in Baghdad and the US." In addition, this week Canada refused entry to CODEPINK's Media Benjamin and retired US State Dept and army colonel Ann Wright. Today, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) interviewed Wright:

AMY GOODMAN: So, Ann, you were turned back at the border. You go back to Washington, D.C. You meet with Canadian officials at the embassy. What did they tell you?
ANN WRIGHT: Well, they told us that any time that the FBI puts people on this NCIC list, they just accept it at face value, that they don't really investigate things. And we kept saying, "Well, you ought to, because a lot of these things appear to be going onto this list because of political intimidation," because, indeed, the list itself for the database says that people like foreign fugitives, people on the ten most-wanted list or 100 most-wanted list, people that are part of violent gangs and terrorist organizations, are supposed to go on that NCIC list. It didn't seem like that we were a part of -- we haven't done anything to be on the list. And since this thing is just now -- we are the first ones that we know of that have been formally stopped from going into Canada. In fact, it happened to me in August, when I went up to Canada to participate in the Security and Prosperity Partnership. I had to buy my way in, $200 for a three-day temporary resident permit. "If I'm so dangerous, why would they even give me that permit?" I asked the immigration officer in the Canadian embassy.


Turning to the Iraqi puppet government
Susan Cornwell (Reuters) reported: "Widespread corruption in Iraq stretches into the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, an Iraqi investigating judge told U.S. lawmakers on Thursday, and an American official said U.S. efforts to combat the problem are inadequate. Judge Radhi Hamza al-Radhi, who was named by the United States in 2004 to head the Iraqi Commission on Public Integrity, said his agency estimated corruption had cost the Iraqi government up to $18 billion." Renee Schoof (McClatchy Newspapers) adds, "Enormous sums of oil revenues ended up in the hands of Sunni and Shiite militias, he said. Radhi Hamza al-Radhi, who is seeking U.S. asylum because of death threats against him, said that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his government prevented al-Radhi's U.S.-backed Commission on Public Integrity from taking action against top national officials."

Turning to the topic of violence,
AP notes that the mercenary corporation Blackwater USA has a new p.r. flack -- Burson-Marsteller -- and that, "The State Department, which pays Blackwater hundreds of millions of dollars to protect U.S. diplomats in Iraq, has stringent rules barring the private security contractor from discussing with the media the details of its work, according to those familiar with the arrangement." While Sudarsan Raghavan, Joshua Partlow and Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) explain the latest reports on the September 16th slaughter Blackwater conducted in Baghdad, "U.S. military reports from the scene of the Sept. 16 shooting incident involving the security firm Blackwater USA indicate that its guards opened fire without provocation and used excessive force against Iraqi civilians, according to a senior U.S. military official. The reports came to light as an Interior Ministry official and five eyewitnesses described a second deadly shooting minutes after the incident in Nisoor Square. The same Blackwater security guards, after driving about 150 yards away from the square, fired into a crush of cars, killing one person and injuring two, the Iraqi official said. The U.S. military reports appear to corroborate the Iraqi government's contention that Blackwater was at fault in the shooting incident in Nisoor Square, in which hospital records say at least 14 people were killed and 18 were wounded."

Staying on violence . . .

"Shams survived, but is now blind. She is one of hundreds who were injured, but survived this attack. More than 200 others died. This is her story," so begins Alive in Baghdad's video report this week entitled "
Car Bomb Survivors, No Longer Statistics" which focuses on the aftermath of the November 23rd bombing for the year-old Shams whose mother died shielding her from the blast and whose brother Ghaith was left with shrapnel. Her father, Hesham Fadhel Karim, explains his wife, Shams, and Ghaith and Taif (two sons) were in their car in Sadr City when three bombs went off, "My baby girl Shams was injured and lost her two eyes, her mother was killed and my older son Ghaith was injured by shrapnel in his back. . . . Shams face was injured because she was beside her mother who was burning. As for my wife, the fireman came to extinguish her and I carried her to the ambulance which brought her to the hospital. We took her out of the ambulance into the hospital. I was trying to extinguish her but I could not, because she burnt my hands, legs, and shoulder. At last, she died. As for Shams, I didn't know which hospital she was in. I searched for her in every hospital in Sadr City but I couldn't find her because she was carried to the Adnan Khairallah Martyr hospital." The search for Shams was made more difficult by the night time curfews forbidding travel. After finding her, her family attempted to get treatment for her in Jordan and Iran but were told there was nothing that could be done about her eyes. Shams' grandfather declares, "In fact, I appeal to this world and the humanitarian world to care for the children of Iraq because there are millions of children who are without eyes, deformed or having their arms or legs amputated."

In some of today's reported violence . . .

Bombings?

Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reports, "Up to twenty-four Iraqi civilians are reportedly dead following a U.S. air strike near the city of Baquba. Another twenty-seven people were wounded. The toll is said to include women and children. Witnesses say at least four homes were leveled in the attack. Some of the victims were killed after rushing out of their homes to help those hurt in the initial bombing." AFP reports, "Witnesses said US helicopters attacked Jayzani, northwest of the mainly Shiite town of Al-Khalis, at around 2:00 am (2300 GMT), destroying at least four houses. An AFP photographer saw at least four trucks, each carrying several bodies from Jayzani, being driven through Baghdad to the Shiite holy city of Najaf for burial. One of the dead was clearly an elderly man" and AFP quotes Ahmed Mohammed saying, "There are 24 bodies on the ground in the village and 25 others wounded in Al-Khalis hospital." Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a bombing today "near Latifiyah Bridge" outside Babil left three people injured while a Tuz Khurmatu bombing left three wounded. Reuters notes that a Laitifya roadside bombing left three people injured.

Shootings?

Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Sheikh Yasir Al Yasiri was shot dead yesterday and Sheikh Khalid was shot dead last night, both in Basra, both were professors at "Al Sadr religious university".

Corpses?

Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 corpses discovered in Baghdad and 2 corpses were discovered in Kifil.

Today the
US military announced: "Two Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldiers were killed and two others were wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated during operations in the southeastern region of the Iraqi capital Oct. 5." And the US military announced: "One Multi-National Corps - Iraq Soldier was killed and three were wounded in Salah Ad Din province today when an improvised explosive device was detonated near their vehicle." ICCC's total number killed in the illegal war since it started (March 2003) stands at 3813 and Reuters stands at 3812.

Turning to news of white wash,
Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) 'investigates' the bait and kill teams of US snipers in Iraq by . . . reading court transcripts. Work that will no doubt to elevate him to the level of Maury Povich or at least Ted Baxter. Parker writes: "Interviews and court transcripts portray a 13-man sniper unit that felt under pressure to produce a high body count, a Vietnam-era measure that the Pentagon officially has disavowed in this war. They describe a sniper unit whose margins of right and wrong were blurred: by Hensley, if you believe Army prosecutors; by the Army, if you believe the accused." Wow, shock and dull, shock and dull. In June of this year, James Burmeister went public with the news of the kill teams. All Things Media Big and Small ignored it in this country. Last week, a court-martial forced them to cover it with limited hangout. Now it's time for the white wash and Parker shows up in flip flops, a half-shirt and Daisy Dukes, scrub brush in hand.

Meanwhile,
James Foley (Medill Reports) quotes Kelly Dougherty (IVAW) declaring, "People say it's an all-volunteer army, but the truth is many people's contracts have been extended, some involuntarily extended. That's not only against an all-volunteer military, but putting the same people in a combat zone again and again . . . We get a lot of calls (asking) 'What should I do? Should I go back.'" Tim Dickinson (Rolling Stone) highlights two articles -- First, Philip Dine (St. Louis Dipatch) reveals that "Thousands of U.S. soldiers in Iraq -- as many as 10 a day -- are being discharged by the military for mental health reasons. But the Pentagon isn't blaming the war. It says the soldiers had 'pre-existing' conditions that disqualify them for treatment by the government." This is an effort to deny treatment for service members suffering from PTSD by claiming that the PTSD is actually a prior condition. Dikinson then notes a report on the number of service members who are deployed "for only 729 days. . . exactly one day short of the 730 days needed to guarantee thousands of dollars a year for college."

Today on the second hour of
NPR's The Diane Rehm Show, Rehm's roundtable guests were McClatchy Newspapers' Warren P. Strobel, the Washington Post's Keith Richburg and UPI's Martin Walker.

Diane Rehm: Let's talk about what's happening in Iraq with Iraq buying $100 million worth of weapons from China.

Martin Walker: Well you go to the best. I mean if you want, if you want the kind of material you need to supress people and maintain an authoritarian state where do you go? China. The point that the US wasn't able to supply the weaponry required and the Chinese are able to supply cheap knock-offs of AK-47s.

Diane Rehm: But haven't the Iraqis had terrible trouble keeping track of weapons to begin with?

Martin Walker: The place is awash in weapons but don't forget it also took place as we've got this new report about corruption in Iraq and about the way in which corruption is being covered up and protected by al-Maliki's government and I would be amazed if some of that money for the Chinese weaponry doesn't matter to leak out some way or another.

Diane Rehm: At twenty-seven before the hour, you are listening to The Diane Rehm Show. Do you want to add to that, Keith?

Keith Richburg: Just to add, it's ironic that these weapons are supposedly going to be going to the Iraqi police which is the one unit that all US investigators going in there have said is the most corrupt, the most inept and basically should be abolished and reconstituted from scratch. Here's Talibani saying, "Actually we need weapons to arm this force."

Diane Rehm: Warren?

Warren P. Strobel: Yeah, absolutely. There was a hearing in Congress this week that highlighted the issue of corruption and a report, the State Department's own report, shows that virtually every ministry has just massive corruption problems. It's hard to believe that lots of the weapons won't end up in the street. It's hard to believe there won't be huge kickbacks, as Martin said, for the weapon sale.



A caller brought up Seymour Hersh's report that the administration is planning to start a war with Iran.

Diane Rehm: Didn't Sy Hersh also go on to say that many in the administration know we don't have the resources to go into Iran, Warren?

Warren P. Strobel: Which is true, we don't in any serious way. Diane, if I had a dollar for every tip I got, or every e-mail I got, or every caller I got that the administration was about to launch another war on Iran, I'd be a rich man. I think we have to be very careful here. Some people in the administration, close to it, say "yes," some say "no." Cheney is said to be pushing this -- I'm not so sure. I think it's a debate that's going to go on right till the very the end of administration.

[. . .]

Keith: I would just add, well, two things. First, I agree that the resources, the troops aren't there for an invasion. If you're talking about some kind of an airstrike, I would just say the most dangerous period I think you can be in is when you've got a lameduck president with nothing to lose, facing a military catastrophe in Iraq at the moment. And secondly, I find this demonization of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a new Hitler and a new dictator a bit curious because within Iran he's not a dictator. They're all kinds of other institutions that are keeping him relatively constrained including the various ayatollahs who actually run the country. He's not a dictator and also he's not incredibly and also he's not incredibly popular as well.

[. . .]

Martin Walker: There's another factor which tends to get forgotten here, which is that Iran has bought -- and had delivered last year -- from the Russians a state of art anti-aircraft missile system called the S300 which is probably better than the Patriot. Now that's now installed. It's being made operational. Even before that, I was told by a former head of the Air Force that the US Air Force would need a US air strike would need something like three days to suppress the anti-aircraft to be able to go in and hit the targets. What's going to happen on Capitol Hill in those three days on that kind of suppression of the anti-aircraft system? He would be impeached.

Keith: Just to add one quick thought there as well, I think one reason you can see the echo chamber of hostility towards Iran building is because

Diane Rehm: Could or would the US go to war against Iran without total Congressional support?

Keith: Well it depends on "What is war?" Are a series of air strikes war?

Diane Rehm: A series of air strikes.

Keith: Well I think some might argue that he needs Congressional approval, I think others might say that's within his perogative as commander-in-chief to do that. I think within Congress you're going to see a lot more, it's a Democratic Congress first of all, and you're already hearing a lot more people saying, "Wait a minute. North Korea has already exploded a nuclear bomb, Iran is still ten years away, why are they the greater threat?"

Martin Walker: Well it depends. I think one could certainly see and envisage some kind of provocations taking place or perhaps being concoted and engineered under which there's an exchange of fire on the border, US marines get arrested in the way that those British navel personnel were so you can see something being whipped up along those lines. But I was at, I was at an event, a social event recently with two former National Security Advisors and one of them said, "These guys ain't nuts." And the other one replied, "Yes, but they aren't sane either."

Which works as a transition to PBS'
Bill Moyers Journal (Friday in most markets, check local listings -- and it's a listen, watch and read online after the episode airs) when Moyers explores the group Christians United for Israel and also speaks to Rabbi Michael Lerner and Dr. Timothy Weber on the topic of? Should the US strike Iran. A YouTube preview is up and, at the program's website, essays on the topic will be posted as well. Again, the hour long show begins airing on most PBS markets on Friday (check local listings -- and at the website, you can also locate the airtime for your local PBS station). Also Friday on most PBS markets, NOW with David Brancaccio airs their latest half hour installment and this week interview Michael Apted about his owngoing documentary where he tracks a group of British people every seven years, energy conversation will be addressed with a report on Decorah, Iowa and Ken Burns will be interviewed about his latest documentary The War. On October 12th, NOW with David Brancaccio will air a one hour program, "Child Brides: Stolen Lives" documenting "the heartbreaking global phenomenon of forced child marriage, and the hope behind breaking the cycle of poverty and despair it causes." They've created an e-Card you can send to friends and family or to yourself to provide a heads up to the broadcast (and there is no cost to send the e-Card). Last (and one time only) we're tossing a link to the Democratic magazine American Prospect. Due to the fact that it has David Bacon's "Mexican Miners' Strike for Life". Excerpt:

In a well-run mine, huge vacuum cleaners suck dust from the buildings covering the crushers, mills and conveyer belts. The Cananea miners call these vacuums colectores, or dust collectors. Outside the hulking buildings of the concentrator complex, those collection tanks and their network of foot-wide pipes are five stories tall. But many of the tanks have rusty holes in their sides the size of a bathroom window. And the pipes, which should lead into the work areas inside, just end in midair. None of the dust collectors, according to the miners' union, have functioned since the company shut them down in 1999.
So for the past eight years, the dust that should have been sucked up by the collectors has ended up instead in the miners' lungs. That is the most serious reason why the miners are out on strike. But there are other dangers. Many machines have no guards, making it easy to lose fingers or worse. Electrical panels have no covers. Holes are open in the floor with no guardrails. Catwalks many stories about the floor are slippery with dust and often grease, and are crisscrossed by cables and hoses. Not long ago, one worker tripped and fell five stories to his death onto a water pump below.

The community is a left community, it is diverse and American Prospect is geared towards Democrats. That's their right and we don't spend time knocking them for it. We're covering mainstream media and independent media and we really aren't able to note things from Democratic Party magazines because we do have Greens and other political party members. Bacon's written an important article -- that was the first and last exception for American Progress. (Short of them hiring Bacon to blog or to be a regular contributor. He's a labor beat reporter and there are so few of them that such a move would probably alter the above and members would be fine with it.)











pbs

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Susan Faludi, Amy Goodman & Juan Gonzalez

JUAN GONZALEZ: The Bush administration's use of feminists to help make the case for the war in Afghanistan is one of the many topics examined in a new book titled The Terror Dream: Fear and Fantasy in Post-9/11 America. It is written by one of the country's leading social critics, Susan Faludi.
Faludi examines the current cultural impact of the 9/11 attacks and concludes that the United States has been living in a myth since 9/11, and she explores how the attacks led to the denigration of women here in the United States, the magnifying of manly men and the call for greater domesticity.

AMY GOODMAN: Susan Faludi is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. Her previous books include Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women and Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man. She joins us in her first national broadcast interview today in our firehouse studio, as she begins a many-week tour around the country. Welcome, Susan.

SUSAN FALUDI: Thank you. Thank you for having me here.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the dream you had on September 11. Where were you?

SUSAN FALUDI: Well, I was in Los Angeles, so I was three hours behind the events. And very early in the morning, I had this peculiar dream, where in the dream I was sitting on an airplane next to another woman, and a young man came up to us and shot two bullets. One went into my throat at a sort of odd angle, and one into her throat at an odd angle. And I realized that we were both alive, but we couldn't speak.
Now, I don't pretend to be a psychic. I don’t know why I had this dream. But later it struck me that it had this remarkable metaphorical quality to it, because when I began to look at our response to 9/11, what repeated over and over was the silence, of the way that women were silenced and, more generally, the way our culture silenced any kind of questioning or examination of our reactions.


The above is from "Author and Social Critic Susan Faludi on 'The Terror Dream: Fear and Fantasy in Post-9/11 America'" (Democracy Now!). If you missed the interview, please listen to it. Or watch it or read it. Sherry wrote a wonderful e-mail to Rebecca and Rebecca was telling me about it tonight. Sherry loves Faludi's new book and sees a lot of the terrain that Ava and C.I. have been leading on the coverage of. Sherry recommended about a dozen pieces and I do not have time to note them all. But I agree that people should read "How we got to this point" (The Third Estate Sunday Review) which is a piece Ava and C.I. led on that we all worked on and "TV: Aftermath leaves an aftertaste" which is solely by Ava and C.I. and is just amazing:

A friend who writes for episodic television and gets lost in the intricacies frequently, when hitting the sauce heavy, wonders about The Lone Gunmen and the episode where a plane almost flew into the WTC and whether that was supposed to prepare the American people for what was to come on 9-11? We'd be more concerned about what Jericho is supposed to prepare us for.
Apparently, come the nuclear attack, all good and bad women are supposed to make like Bonnie Tyler and start rasping, "I need a hero, I'm holding out for a hero . . ." Since the best that fictionalized programming can offer up is Skeet, we'd suggest women learn to be their own heroes and strongly suggest you study just what uses Heddy (the always amazing Jennifer Jason Leigh) can find for a pair of stilleto heels in Single White Female.
The producers of this show know no Heddy, know no woman who can do a damn thing other than stand on the sidelines nervously while waiting for the men to do.
Consider us optimists but, in the aftermath of a nuclear attack, we would have thought a survival instinct would kick in. On Jericho, the women grab the pom-poms.
Gerald McRaney shows up, largely as a cautionary tale to Skeet on what happens when the looks are shot to hell, and Pamela Reed's left to spend all her time trying to get people to save him in one way or another. After this happens repeatedly, you're left wondering if Reed has ever thought to put half that energy into her own life instead of being the woman behind the man?Lennie James plays another ugly. His name is Robert Hawkins and we're supposed to be hot on his mystery and trying to figure out whether he is an FBI agent and whether he is working with the people who planned the mass bombings across the United States or whether he was attempting to stop them? After seeing Robert order his wife and kids -- who appear to have had a restraining order against him prior to the bombing -- around repeatedly, you start to wonder if wife Darcy shouldn't look through her shoe collection for a sharp heel?
When China Beach aired on ABC in the 90s there was at least KC, a con artist with a heart of silver, if not gold, and a desire to profit (to put it mildly). No such woman exist in Jericho largely because no women exist in the town. It was apparently a test village for Stepford Wives before the bombing.
That's the only explanation for the women who do nothing and seem happy to do nothing. The most action a woman ever takes part in is stalling some harm while waiting for the man or men to arrive who will save the day.
It's really that pathetic and that sick.
If there's a need for a television show about American cities being bombed (and we're not sure that there is), it should be so that Americans can see how resourceful they might be. Instead, viewers are told that fat, stocky men will do whatever needs doing and woman, if they're lucky, may breed.
Jon Turteltaub, a creator and one of the show's three producers, is fond of making statements that seem high minded such as this to Reuters, "Most of us are pretty wonderful during the good times, but our true character comes out when we're confronted with tragedy and disasters. True leadership appears, and really hard choices have to be made."
That sounds really good until you watch even one episode and grasp that "true character" (like True Grit?) is something for males and there's no interest at all in women. Hard choices will be made by and for men and women just go along with them.
In the same Reuters interview, Turteltaub gets closer to the truth with these statements, "If people had no fear of nuclear bombs, then this show would kind of suck. But if America was in a panic over nuclear bombs, we probably couldn't make the show." The show doesn't "kind of suck," it sucks completely and its statements like these that have many wondering if the show exists to turn nukes into a video game and lower America's opposition to them?
Turteltaub would probably argue, "All will be revealed in time." But, as one actor working on the show told us, it's all so damn murky that intent remains a mystery.
What's not murky, what's right there to see plainly on your TV screens, is that women do nothing and should do nothing. That message doesn't need to emerge, it's been at the forefront episode after episode where 'active' for the female characters has meant a 'damsel in distress' moment or two while we all wait for the men to arrive such as when ex-cons posed as cops and tormented a farmhouse.
Presumably, a nuclear aftermath produces a ton of dust and the women have all busied themselves with housework because, otherwise, we can't image what they do all day when not making cow eyes as they fret over the men of the town.
We think that's a really ugly message and hope that, should something like the show ever happen, women would embrace their inner Xenas and Gabrielles and come out fighting. Love her, hate her or be left indifferent, Hillary Clinton's running for president. Ditto the qualifer and note that Condi Rice is currently Secretary of State (and Anger as Wally and Cedric point out quite often). Ourselves, we'd love to see a guest spot by Gloria Steinem, Maxine Hong-Kingston or Robin Morgan where the women are gathered and questions about identity and wants and needs are explored. But, probably, such a scene would play out with Pamela Reed and the other women stalling throughout the attempted consciousness raising for the men to rescue them before any self-awareness set in.
In times of crisis, Jericho tells you, natural leaders emerge and that's based on something other than the ability to lead, it's based on whether or not you've got a Y chromosome. We don't buy into the belief that the dangling Y means extra intelligence or natural leadership but, come the nuclear aftermath, women should keep in mind that the heavily worshipped area, in this society, is also a very sensitive one. Aim the stilleto there as well.

I thought I knew that review by heart (it's really popular and I see e-mails all the time that come in quoting from it), but I forgot they mentioned Bonnie Tyler's lame song. Democracy Now! used it in the break as well (not to celebrate the song, to underscore the sickness of the time we live in). Faludi's written a must-read book but, like Sherry, reading along I was frequently reminded of the strong, incredible work Ava and C.I. have done. They have raised the issues in the book repeatedly. There is no denying that there is an audience for Susan Faludi's book (if people hear about the book) because there is a thirst for real feminism. Yes, Ava and C.I. are funny as hell. They can get you laughing and there are people who write months later to say, "I thought I got the point, but now I really get it." Faludi uses humor as well. And I really do think that's important. You can't always use it because somethings are just not funny. But if you can find a place for it and squeeze it in, you really do reach a lot more people than you would otherwise. A Rush lover from the 80s e-mailed last week or the week before. He started following Ava and C.I.'s TV commentaries over the summer and then going back to read others. The first time he wrote, Ty said the man thought Ava and C.I. were funny "for Femi-nazis." By the end of the summer, he wrote for the sixth time (each time he wrote, he would see something more than the humor) to say if Ava and C.I. had a talk radio show in the 80s, he would have felt "completely different about feminism" and while he wasn't suddenly a feminist, he did get the point of it now and was paying attention.

With Backlash, Faludi got a lot of people to pay attention. The new book can do that as well. So I would urge you not just to read it but also, when you find a passage that makes you laugh, share that with a friend. It's a really great book. I wish it had gone further and I'll note that in our book discussion. It's at least 100 pages shorter than Backlash so there may not have been time. But this is a book you really need to read.

And that's going to be it for me tonight. Mike and I are doing cooking duty and we already did the roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin so I'm all "observations" out anyway. (Ava and C.I. are grabbing one last group to speak to. We spoke to seven, Mike and I, with them but after the roundtable, we begged off the last group because we were exhausted.) If you missed Goodman & Gonzalez' interview with Susan Faludi, please, please check it out. Also please check out Elaine's "Reuters covers the peace movement -- badly!" and C.I.'s "Reuters covers the peace movement -- badly!" joint-post.

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

Thursday, October 4, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, resistance within the military continues (and McClatchy Newspapers states it's spreading to the top brass), US presidential candidate Bill Richardson says the debate is over and US troops need to leave Iraq now, war resister Robin Long is released from detention, officials continue to be targeted for assassination in Iraq, and more.

Starting with war resisters.
On Tuesday came the news that US war resister Robin Long, who self-checked out and went to Canada, had been arrested in Canada the day prior. Today Dharm Makwana (24 Hours Vancouver) reports, "Robin Long, an American army deserter, was released from Canada Border Services' custody yesterday after an anti-war activist posted a $5,000 cash bond" -- posted by Bob Ages of the War Resisters Support Campaign. The Canadian Press gives the detail of Robin Long's public statement, "A handcuffed Long told reporters at a detention review hearing that he left the U.S. Army two years ago and came to Canada because he felt it was a safe refuge. Immigration officials will conduct a pre-removal risk assessment of Long before deciding whether he will be deported to the U.S." Robin Long has been released from jail, he is not 'free.' Courage to Resist makes it clear: "He still faces a pre-removal risk assessment which could lead to deportation at a later time so the fight is not over yet." Canada's CBC notes that during that "risk" assessment, Long "will live at a home in Delta while reporting to the department [Citizenship and Immigration Canada] once a month." In a TV interview with CBC, Long noted, "It feels good to be out. The fresh air feels really good. . . . When I got arrested and was sitting in the detention cell in Nelson, I was pretty sure I was going home right away. I was pretty sure I would be deported. The way that the immigration officer made it sound, I would be deported Friday. That's not quite what happened and I'm very thankful for that." What happened was Canadians got active and mobilized. Organizations such as the War Resisters Support Campaign and the Canadian Peace Alliance, the New Democratic Party of Canada political party (click here for release in English, here for release in French) and individuals worked very hard and worked very quickly, raising awareness, getting the word out and ensuring that whatever happened would not happen in silence or shielded from the public. The Prince George Citizen reports that Long has to report to the Canada Border Service Agency monthly and quote his attorney Warren Puddicombe stating the monitoring is due to the belief "that if he were removed to the U.S. he might not report voluntarily." John Colebourn (The Province) covers the arrest and adds perspective, "In November, the Supreme Court of Canada will decide whether to hear the cases of U.S. war resisters Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey. The decision is expected to have an impact on all war resisters now seeking sanctuary in Canada." Referring to that decision, Long told CBC television, "Hopefully something will happen within the next couple of months with the [Canadian] government and maybe some kind of legal action will let us stay here other than the refugee protection."

Other perspective was offered by Rod Mickleburgh (Canada's Globe and Mail) who points out, "His detention on Monday follows the bizarre apprehension earlier this year of Kyle Snyder, another war resister staying in Nelson, who was taken off to jail in the middle of a winter's night, wearing just a toque, a robe and his boxers. Nelson police have refused to say on whose request they detained Mr. Snyder, or why they knocked on his door at 4 a.m. They released him three hours later, after learning that he was legally in Canada as a visitor." The arrest of Kyle Snyder came on the orders of the US and -- though Nelson police seem to have trouble grasping this -- the US cannot order around the police of Canada. After Snyder was arrested, the department and its head, Dan Maluta, repeatedly altered their story on what happened and happened. It was very similar to the way the visit to Winnie Ng's home repeatedly changed. Following the publication of Joshua Key's The Deserter's Tale, the US military decided to enter Canada. Accompanied by a Canadian police officer, two members of the US military began searching for Key. The trio went to Winnie Ng's home (she had housed Joshua and Brandi Key along with their children early on when they moved to Canada) and presented themselves -- all three -- as Canadian police as they began questioning her. Ng told her story and was dismissed. She was ridiculed by the police and the US military denied it. But the story didn't go away and finally -- bit by bit -- it was learned that a Canadian police officer did escort two members of the US military around in their search for Key. Everything Winnie Ng said happened, happened. She stuck to her story and her story -- subsquently -- was proven accurate. Which is why the latest sop tossed out by Dan Maluta is greeted with skepticsm and Manluta is under investigation for his actions in Snyder's arrest. In the US media, only Gregory Levey (Salon) covered these earlier instances.

Long explains his reasons for resisting to CBC TV, "Because I feel the war in Iraq is an illegal war of aggression and its an indiscriminate killing of the Arab people and I believe it's all for lies and the wrong reasons so I couldn't with good conscience take part in that conflict. . . . When I joined the army, I thought the war in Iraq was a good thing. I was lied to by my president. I -- The reasons that were given, I thought were valid but just because I joined the army didn't mean I abdicated my ability to evolve intellectually and morally and what I saw in the independent media and even in mainstream media changed my view of what was going on over there. And based on what I learned, I made a decision to desert."

Courage to Resist notes that this isn't over:
We need to keep up the pressure on Canadian politicians for a political solution to the plight of US war resisters. Canada should make a provision for them all to be allowed to stay.
It is urgent that everyone who supports the right of US war resisters to stay in Canada immediately contact Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Minister of Citizenship & Immigration Diane Finley and Leader of the Liberal Party St├ęphane Dion and request that they make a provision to allow U.S. war resisters to stay in Canada.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper Fax: 613-941-6900 Email:
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pm@pm.gc.ca This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
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Minister of Citizenship & Immigration Diane Finley Phone: 613-954-1064 (between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.) Email:
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Minister@cic.gc.ca
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This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
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St├ęphane Dion, leader of the Liberal Party Phone: 613-996-5789 Email:
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dion.s@parl.gc.ca

Long's reasons aren't unique and as the realities of the lies the war was sold and the realities of the lies still being used to sell the illegal war are unmasked, more decide to resist.
Jonah House and Dorothy Day Catholic Worker have issued a petition calling (link goes to Courage to Resist cross-posting) for those serving to "Refuse to fight! Refuse to kill! You are being ordered to war in the footsteps of veterans, who, more than 10 years ago, were sent to fight the first Gulf War. Many of those vets returned with severe and unacknowledge illnesses. Many gave birth to severely deformed children. All were abandoned by the Veterans Administration. You are being ordered to war by a nation whose self-acknowledged posture is that of world domination, mastery, control. This nation can have no moral justification for war."

Ehren Watada is another war resister. In June of 2006, he became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to the Iraq War. He cited the illegal nature of the war and his concern that, as an officer, serving would also mean putting those serving under him at risk of war crimes. Prior to going public, Watada spent months working with the military brass on a solution. They gave the impression that is what they wanted but that obviously wasn't the case because not only did they shoot down alternatives (such as Watada serving in Afghanistan), they appeared to be attempting to run the clock out. As Watada's deployment date loomed ever closer, he went public. In August 2006, he faced the Article 32 hearing. In February of this year, Judge Toilet (aka John Head) presided over the court-martial of Watada; however, it didn't go the way the military would have liked with the prosecution's case falling apart on the second day. On the third day, Judge Toilet suddenly declared a problem with a stipulation (which he had seen before the court-martial began, which he had signed off on). He attempted to convince Watada that he (Ehren) now disagreed with the stipulation. Watada stated he didn't disagree. Judge Toilet then tossed out mistrial to the prosecution who didn't immediately grasp the lifeline they were being handed. Once they did, it was all, "Yes, Judge Toilet! We move for a mistrail!" Over defense objection, Judge Toilet declared a mistrial in his attempt to hand the prosecution a "do over." However, that's not how the legal system works in the United States and military courts are as bound by the Constitution as every other court. As Marjorie Cohn (president of the National Lawyers Guild) has noted, double-jeopardy had already attached. Double-jeopardy forbids a defendant being tried more than once for the same offense. Since double-jeopardy had attached, Judge Toilet calling a mistrial (over defense objection) means that the military blew their chances at court-martialing Watada. That's the brief summary thus far. On Tuesday, Watada is scheduled -- Constitution be damnend and shredded apparently -- to face a second court-martial.

Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) reports, "In an unusual appeal to civilian courts, attorneys for 1st Lt. Ehren Watada have asked a federal judge in Seattle to block a military court-martial scheduled to start Tuesday at Fort Lewis. Watada faces up to six years in prison on charges of failure to deploy to Iraq and four counts of conduct unbecoming an officer." Bernton notes that in August (one year after the Article 32 hearing) the Army Court of Criminal Appeals rejected the defense claims and that the matter now lies with the Court of Appeal for the Armed Forces. Watada's attorneys have maintained that the best chance is with that court due to its makeup. Currently defense is waiting to hear on the latest round of appeals. Christian Hill (The Olympian) reports, "Their request is pending before the nation's top military court, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. Worried a decision won't arrive before the court-martial begins, they filed a request Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle seeking a judge's order to stop the trial." Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) reports that the attorneys Kenneth Kagan and Jim Lobsenz (Carney Badley Spellman) are requestin "an emergency stay in a Seattle federal court because the Appeals Court for the Armed Forces has not ruled and the trial date is quickly approaching" and "Among other remedies, Watada's lawyers have asked the federal court in Seattle 'to issue a writ of habeas corpus releasing (Watada) from all restraint imposed by the pending court-martial charges, and declaring any trial on such charges to be barred and prohibited by the double-jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment'." Barber notes that Watada's service contract long ago expired and the military is extending it solely for the court-martial.


There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

Turning to peace news,
Andy Sullivan (Reuters) kind of reported on the peace movement yesterday. As Elaine and I noted last night, from the small (United for Peace and Justice has a national cooridnator named Leslie Cagan not "Kagan") to the large (the number of people attending rallies), Sullivan was short on facts. Often the case when you have a 'trend story' to sell. Sullivan's trend was that divisions in the peace movement (which do exist) are resulting in lower turnout (which is not fact). To 'prove' his 'trend,' he had to fudge the facts. Noting that UPFJ held a rally last January with at least 100,000 attending, Sullivan then moved to last month's ANSWER rally which he insisted was attended by only "10,000" people. Those of us present know that is not accurate (we also know A.N.S.W.E.R. was one coalition sponsor for the rally but Sullivan can't be bothered with that because his sub-trend -- his trend within a trend -- is exploring ANSWER's history) and press accounts also reported 100,000 present. To make his trend work, Sullivan has to eliminate 90,000 people. Divisions do exist and that's certainly worth exploring but no honest exploration can take place when a reporter doesn't know the estimated attendance (in this case, heavily reported estimates). In other peace news, on a recent trip to Canada, Ann Wright was stopped at the border and only allowed to enter after much hassle. Wright is retired US State Dept and a retired Col. in the US military. Yesterday, Wright and CODEPINK's Medea Benjamin attempted to enter Canada "crossing near Buffalo to attend a conference sponsored by a Canadian peace coalition in Toronto." As CODEPINK notes, "At the Buaffalo-Niagara Falls Bridge they were detained, questioned and denied entry. . . . The women were questioned at Canadian customs about their participation in anti-war efforts and informed that they had an FBI file indicating they had been arrested in acts of non-violent civil disobedience." Benjamin explains, "In my case, the border guard pulled up a file showing that I had been arrested at the US Mission to the UN where, on International Women's Day, a group of us had tried to deliver a peace petition signed by 152,000 women around the world. For this, the Canadians labeled me a criminal and refused to allow me in the country." Wright declares, "The FBI's placing of peace activists on an international criminal database is blatant political intimidation of US citizens opposed to Bush administration policies. The Canadian government should certainly not accept this FBI database as the criteria for entering the country." The delivery of the petition Benjamin is speaking of also saw Missy Comley Beattie, Patti Ackerman and Cindy Sheehan arrested for the 'crime' of intent to use freed speech. At Common Dreams, Sheehan writes of the Imagine Peace project Yoko Ono has started to honor her late husband John Lennon, "Peace will only happen when every member of humanity is guaranteed prosperity, health and security which will not happen when we here in the US can't even get off our asses to protest a war that is four and a half years and hundreds of thousands of bodies old, now. We can imagine peace all we want but until each and everyone of us is willing to sacrifice some of our prosperity (because we have already had our security robbed from us by the rotten Republicans and complicit corporate Democrats) true peace -- not just the absence of war -- will be as elusive as a morsel of truth or modicum of courage coming out of Washington, DC. Voluntary sacrifice is truly a revolutionary concept here in the United States of America. So you say you want a revolution? Imagine that." Carolyn Jones (San Francisco Chronicle) reports that a marine recruiting station in Berkeley (sandwiched between UC Berkeley and Berkeley High) is now the site for weekly protests each Wednesday by CODEPINK and Grandmothers Against the War that began last week when the low profile recruiting station was discovered.

From recruiters to the military itself,
Nancy A. Youssef and Renee Schoof (McClatchy Newspapers) report that some of "the nation's top military leaders . . . are beginning to question the mission" and Iraq "and sound alarms about the toll the war is taking on the Army and the Marine Corps." Democrats have NOT been powerless in Congress -- as the reporters maintain -- Democrats have CHOSEN TO BE POWERLESS and it's really disappointing that McClatchy (of all outlets) can't get that fact right. They list six developments they say "have combined" to create the resistance at the top which include the Dems controlling both houses in Congress, Robert Gates replacing Donald Rumsfeld as US Secretary of Defense, government reports declaring that the Iraqi forces are still not able to assume control, concern over Afghanstian (over that war, not over the country, never over the country) and Bully Boy's consistently low polling.

Meanwhile . . .

Bombings?

Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "Around 10 a.m., the deputy governor of Iskandariyah (45 km north of Hilla and 50 km south of Baghdad) was assassinated by a roadside bomb which targeted his convoy in Iskandariyah killing three of his guards and injuring a fourth one." This follows yesterday assassination attempt on the Polish ambassador and the hallmark of the last few weeks -- the continual targeting of officials in Iraq. Aseel Kami and Aws Qusay (Reuters) report that Abbas al-Khafaji had been "a member of the powerful Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council" and that the death toll on his guards now stands at 4. Yesterday, AP reported a list of diplomats from other countries who've been targeted in Iraq. No list on the officials in Iraq who are being targets. They would include the shooting death of a "Sunni tribal leader" (Reuters) who was shot dead in a home invasion yesterday and "a local official in the city of Hilla" shot dead yesterday and "a police brigadier-general" shot dead in Iskandariya yesterday.

Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bus bombing claimed 4 lives and left seven more injured while a Baghdad car bombing claimed 1 life and left six more people injured, a Salahuddin roadside bombing that wounded three Iraqi soldiers and a Slahuddin roadside bombing that wounded Sheikh Muawiya Jebara "who died later in the hospital" and claimed the lives of 3 bodyguards. Reuters notes a Tal Afar car bombing that claimed 3 lives and left fifty-seven wounded and a Riyadh motorcycle bombing that injured an Iraqi soldier

Shootings?

Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports unknown assailants littered a home in Mosul with gunfire leaving one woman wounded and that her son (a member of Patriotic Democratic of Kurdistan) is thought to have been the intended target. Reuters notes a police officer was shot dead outside Kut.

Corpses?

Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 8 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Reuters reports 1 corpse was discovered in Iskandariya and 1 in Hilla.

Meanwhile
BBC reports that Naif Jassim Mohammed (Iraqi Parliament member of the Iraqi National Accord) is being held by US forces "after he allegedly attended a meeting of suspected al-Qaeda members" and quotes the Accordance Front stating they didn't "know why he had been seized." In the US today, CBS and AP report the House of Represenatives "passed a bill . . . that would make all private contractors working in Iraq and other combat zones subject to prosecution by U.S. courts" in a 389-30 vote and quote US House Rep Sheila Jackson-Lee explaining, "There is simply no excuse for the de facto legal immunity for tens of thousands of individuals working in countries" in the US' name -- such as Blackwater and other mercenaries. In other US political news, in addition to problems with covering the peace movement, Reuters also had trouble covering the realities of the three Democratic front runners. As Mike noted yesterday, the three front runners, when asked if they could promise that by the end of their first term of office (2013 -- if any of the 3 were elected) they could promise that US troops would be out of Iraq, they refused to make the promise. Hillary Clinton: "It is very difficult to know what we're going to be inheriting."John Edwards: "I cannot make that commitment." Barack Obama: "I think it's hard to project four years from now." Yet Reuters apparently missed that bit of televised reality last week and elected to present both Edwards and Obama as candidates promising to end the illegal war when the reality is that they are not at all different from Clinton when it comes to the illegal war. Bill Richardson (along with Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel and Chris Dodd) have stronger plans to end the illegal war. Today, Steve Holland (Reuters) reports that Richardson is saying the US needs to "get all our troops out now"; "I say there has been enough waiting and seeing. If you haven't enough to know that we need to get all the troops out, then you aren't watching the same war that I and the rest of America are seeing"; "The foundation of my Iraq plan is this: Get out now. Get all our troops out now."

Today
Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) spoke with Susan Faludi about her new book.

AMY GOODMAN: Our guest, Susan Faludi, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, her latest book, The Terror Dream, just out this week, Fear and Fantasy in Post-9/11 America. Susan, talk about Jessica Lynch. Who was she? Tell us her story.
SUSAN FALUDI: Jessica Lynch, as probably most people remember, was a private in an Army maintenance company who went into Iraq in March of 2003, and her unit was basically left behind in the rush to get to Baghdad. The rest of the convoy zoomed ahead. And she wound up, along with, you know, the rest of her company, being ambushed in Nasiriyah. A number of her fellow soldiers were taken captive. She was terribly injured in a car wreck, where the Humvee she was in crashed into a Mack truck, and it jackknifed. So she wound up in an Iraqi hospital. And there was a great rescue drama that ensued.
The story we heard originally was that these, you know, Special Ops teams of brave men, armed with a night vision video camera so they could film themselves, came battling into this Iraqi hospital, which was supposedly overrun with Fedayeen death squads, and they rescued Lynch. The military hustled out a video of this drama only three hours later and woke up all the reporters in the middle of the night so they could see it.
Well, as it turns out, there was no battle. I mean, it took them six minutes, and there wasn't one casualty. And there were no Fedayeen death squads, as the military actually knew, because they had been alerted by an Iraqi translator. It was just, you know, a bunch of doctors and nurses trying to take care of Lynch and actually trying to return her to the US military.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain.

SUSAN FALUDI: Well, they bundled her into an ambulance and tried to drive her back, and they got to the military checkpoint, and American soldiers started shooting at the ambulance, so they had no choice but to go back to the hospital.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Jessica Lynch testifying before Congress on April 24 of this year.
JESSICA LYNCH: At my parents' home in Wirt County, West Virginia, it was under siege by media, all repeating the story of the little girl Rambo from the hills of West Virginia who went down fighting. It was not true. I have repeatedly said, when asked, that if the stories about me helped inspire our troops and rally a nation, then perhaps there was some good. However, I am still confused as to why they chose to lie and tried to make me a legend, when the real heroics of my fellow soldiers that day were legendary.
AMY GOODMAN: Former Private Jessica Lynch. Go on from there, and also tell us about her book, her autobiography, supposedly.

SUSAN FALUDI: Well, right after the rescue, the media sort of bought this story hook -- the American media bought this story hook, line and sinker. I mean, it was ultimately debunked by the British media, which went back and actually talked to the Iraqi doctors and nurses. It turned out she had extraordinarily attentive care and that this was -- that the stories of her being abused and, you know, slapped and, as the media kept insinuating, tortured, were not true. She, herself, was in the hospital and couldn't speak for herself, so everybody else did speak for her.

As Faludi notes in The Terror Dream, when Lynch did speak, the media ignored her. They were too busy finding 'male heroes' to be bothered:

Four months after that terrible accident, Lynch spoke publicly for the first time at a homecoming event in Elizabeth, West Virginia. She chose to focus her remarks on the soldier whose support had meant the most to her. Lori Piestewa, she said, "fought beside me, and it was an honor to have served with her. Lori will always be in my heart." Later, when reporters asked Lynch how she mustered the will to live in that hospital room thousands of miles from home, her body a mass of broken bones, she always told them, "Lori helped me get through." Lynch said there were moments when she saw her dead friend's spirit perched at the foot of her bed, assuring her that everything would be OK.
The media, though, had little interest in the story of the Native American woman who had protected her sister in arms. The story in Rolling Stone was one of a very few exceptions, and that profile of Piestewa ran more than a year after the event. The headline read, accurately enough, "
The Forgotten Soldier." [Rebecca noted Faludi's new book yesterday.]

Heads up on PBS'
Bill Moyers Journal (this Friday in most markets, check local listings -- and it's a listen, watch and read online after the episode airs) when Moyers explores the group Christians United for Israel and also speaks to Rabbi Michael Lerner and Dr. Timothy Weber on the topic of? Should the US strike Iran. A YouTube preview is up and, at the program's website, essays on the topic will be posted as well. Again, the hour long show begins airing on most PBS markets on Friday (check local listings -- and at the website, you can also locate the airtime for your local PBS station). Also Friday on most PBS markets, NOW with David Brancaccio airs their latest half hour installment and this week interview Michael Apted about his owngoing documentary where he tracks a group of British people every seven years, energy conversation will be addressed with a report on Decorah, Iowa and Ken Burns will be interviewed about his latest documentary The War. On October 12th, NOW with David Brancaccio will air a one hour program, "Child Brides: Stolen Lives" documenting "the heartbreaking global phenomenon of forced child marriage, and the hope behind breaking the cycle of poverty and despair it causes." They've created an e-Card you can send to friends and family or to yourself to provide a heads up to the broadcast (and there is no cost to send the e-Card).


















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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Answering

In 1972, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee took detailed testimony from Secretary of State William P. Rogers about the continuing war in Indochina.
As a junior staffer for Sen. Jacob K. Javits (R-N.Y.), I watched committee chairman J. William Fulbright (D-Ark.) grill Rogers - almost literally.
Fulbright constantly prompted Rogers with fact after fact that his answers were incomplete or one-sided.
Fulbright knew all the facts, uncovered by an assiduous professional staff that discovered a whole lot more than what the Defense and State departments wanted them to know.
The situation became embarrassing for Rogers. At the end of the hearing, the secretary of state and his gaggle of staff filed past me in the audience seats.
They were not happy; one in the entourage turned angrily to an underling and hissed to him within my earshot, "Find out how that son of a b--h found all that out."
That's oversight.
Now consider four-star Army Gen. David Petraeus' recent appearances before House and Senate committees to issue his report on military progress in Iraq.
When Petraeus and his entourage filed out of the hearings, no one was frowning, no one was hissing.
You could almost see their secret smiles. Despite considerable preening for the cameras by members of both parties, there was precious little actual oversight to fact check the general's statements and assertions.
The Democrats didn't do their homework. They didn't even try; they may not know how.


That's from Winslow T. Wheeler's "Posturing at the Petraeus Hearings" (CounterPunch). I enjoyed the commentary and think you will as well if you read it (if you haven't already). My own commentary "Kat's Korner: Stills & DiFranco" went up last night.

Martha and Shirley e-mailed me a list of questions that had come up on that.

1) No, I'm not doing one tonight. I did three in a row. I'm semi on vacation at this point.

2) When will the next one go up? I haven't written a word. If inspiration hits me (or I get some real rest), I'd like to do Prince and Smashing Punkins. Not tomorrow and Friday. I mean during the rest of the month. Glad they were well received but I really can't do a review a day. All 3 reviews were written on Saturday and Sunday and just making time to type them over the last few days has been a huge problem.

3) How much time do I spend on them? Of the three, I spent the most time on Ben Harper but that's because I overwrote and then never fixed that draft. There was no time to. So I wrote that one on the plane ride back home last weekned (okay, I started it then!). After getting back, I went on a mad coffee jag and got the other two written more or less. I doctored them a little during the writing edition Saturday night and Sunday morning.

4) After they're up how do I feel? Glad they're done. And usually not in the mood to listen to those CDs for at least a week. I'm listening to them over and over and that included when I was typing them up this week. Trying to make sure I didn't miss something I wanted to note. I am listening to Joni but the others I probably won't listen to for at least a week. Not a reflection on the CDs, just not wanting to be reminded of all the time put in on those. After about a week, they go back to being music I can enjoy.

5) How many reviews have I done at The Common Ills? I have no idea. I'm not doing links but I will list the artists I've reviewed that come to mind right now at this minute. I've done 3 reviews of Carly Simon CDs, 2 reviews of Carole King CDs, 2 reviews of Ben Harper CDs, 2 reviews of Tori Amos CDs, the crappy Nivrana cash-in release (I like Nirvana, I hated that release), Cass Elliot, Richie Havens, 2 Ani Difranco CDs, Michael Franti, Josh Ritter*, James Blunt, Cat Power, Etta James, Mavis Staples, Justin Timberlake (hated that CD, before anyone gets the wrong idea), 2 Judy Collins, Diana Ross, Neil Young, Holly Near, Nina Simone, Bruce Springsteen, Rolling Stones, Aimee Mann, Maria McKee, Patti Smith, Norah Jones, Rickie Lee Jones, The Free Design, Lizzie West, David Rovics, Janis Ian, Wilco, White Stripes and Joan Baez. I am sure that's not a complete list. I started doing them in December 2004. Ideally, I was shooting for 1 a month with a total of 12 for the year. I have done more than 12 in 2005, 2006 and thus far in 2007. I just remembered that I reviewed 2 Bright Eyes CDs as well. Also, in January 2005, C.I. went to protest the Bully Boy's inauguration (went to DC) and I did some commentaries on music during that period to help out. I also do a year-in-review piece on music.

6) Josh Ritter has a new CD. I put a star by his name because I just remembered that. I would like to review it. But right now, my attitude is "I never want to review anything again." Doing the reviews gives me such appereciaton for what Ava and C.I. do each week at The Third Estate Sunday Review. Week after week, they do a TV commentary. They've had no break, no week off. That started in January 2005 with Dona, Jim, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I. working on the TV reviews. In February 2005, Ava and C.I. started doing the commentaries by themselves. That's over 130 commentaries (and some weeks they did more than one -- one week, they provided 3 commentaries). Now remember, they are out speaking about Iraq, until recently Ava was in college (she graduated), C.I.'s got The Common Ills to do and they really do not have time for those commentaries. I can't believe that they've done this week after week. I could not do 52 music commentaries a year. Even if I could find enough to write about, I couldn't take the pressure. Knowing every week someone was expecting them. Ava and C.I.'s TV commentaries are the calling card for The Third Estate Sunday Review (Jim, Dona, Ty and Jess will tell you that). And that is such huge pressure. Many writing editions when things are going bad, Jim will ask them to drop the show they plan to review and grab something 'harder' so that if everything else fails, the TV piece will be strong. That's a lot of pressure to carry on the shoulders. The manage to do it without going nuts. I'd be a raving lunatic if there was that kind of expecation on me to deliver -- to deliver each week, forget to deliver something that's going to delight the site's readers. So I applaud them but i don't know anyone that could do that. Entertainment Weekly is a weekly magazine (it's also a joke) but their TV critics get vacations. They get time off. Ava and C.I. have never had a week off. (One week, Jim asked them to address a movie and they did. Every other week has been TV.) It's a lot of work, a lot of pressure and they handle it and do it every weekend. And they have created this amazing body of work.

Okay, Mike and I have dish duty (Ava and C.I. made pasta) so I need to wrap up. I've mentioned:

Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
and The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ava, Jess, Ty, Jim, and Dona

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

Wednesday, October 3, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, Robin Long's supporters rally, more officials targeted in Iraq, and more.


Starting with war resistance. Yesterday, NDP (New Democratic Party of Canada) announced their support for war resister Robin Long arrested in Nelson British Columbia citing Olivia Chow (iimigration critic) and parliament member Alex Atamanenko (
click here for release in English, here for release in French). The War Resisters Support Campaign also issued a statement of support. Today a support rally was held in Toronto. Timothy Schafer (Vancouver Sun) reported yesterday on Long's arrest "on Baker Street by police on a nation-wide warrant" according to Klaus Offermann who visited the jail to protest and tells Schafer that, "The city of Nelson is arrest-central for war resistors in Canada" -- referencing the February 23rd arrest of Kyle Snyder (hauled off in his boxers at the request of the US military). Today, Schafer (at Canada's Globe and Mail) cotinues covering the story and notes the cover story just issued by police chief Dan Maluta: Robin Long was smoking pot in public with four other people and that's why he was arrested! Of course the reality from eye witnesses is different and of course three others weren't arrested with Long. But it's more of the lies the Nelson city police have become famous for. Did that announced investigation in Maluta and the department ever get completed? Yes, it was signed to one of Maluta's personal friends, which should only mean the white wash moved even faster than usual. The cover story comes out after last night's strong show of support for Robin Long at the police station. Now LIAR Maluta said what about the arrest of Kyle Snyder? Oh, that's right, he repeated lies non-stop and that's why an investigation was required because it got so bad there was no doubt he was lying.

While Long is under attack in Canada, in the US
Ehren Watada is scheduled to face court-martial number two next week -- despite the very clear Constitutional provision against double-jeopardy. Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports that the court-martial is scheduled to begin next Tuesday, that Watada will be represented by Ken Kagan and James Lobsenz, that Watada service contract ended in December 2006 but the US military elected to extend it and that, "The Army has refiled four charges against Watada, including one count of missing a deployment and two counts of conduct unbecoming of an officer. Those counts cover statements Watada made criticizing the Iraq war and President Bush. Conviction on all counts could mean nearly eight years in prison and a dishonorable discharge." AP's brief story is only six sentences long. It will pop up everywhere which is why the factual mistakes in it are all the more glaring. Ehren Watada is the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to the Iraq War. He will also be the first officer in which double-jeopardy is tossed out, in which the Constitution is completely shredded, if the second court-martial goes through. The more war resisters there are, the more nervous the military brass gets.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

Turning to the topic of Blackwater,
John M. Broder (New York Times) and Peter Spiegel (Los Angeles Times) got into a nasty slap fight today as both used their papers to argue, "No! I love Erik Prince more!" Broder apparently sat through yesterday's House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform fantasizing about Erik Prince (Blackwater CEO) instead of paying attention (maybe he's turned on by the crook of a neck?). Spiegel saw him as really, really cool and not suffering from the big head at all, but, like, a guy you can really, really talk to! which is why he referred to Prince answering "questions politely" -- in what world is repeatedly rolling your eyes, smirking and turning your head in disgust "polite"? Desperate to proclaim (in his very best Melrose Place manner), "Paws off, Petey, I saw Prince first," Broder raves over Prince's attire ("trim") and "blond hair" with "a fresh cut."

In the real world,
Jeremy Scahill offered his evaluation of yesterday's hearing to Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!):

JEREMY SCAHILL: When Erik Prince stepped into the room, he was mobbed by photographers, and he came in, not with an army of armed mercenaries, but with an army of lawyers and advisers. And one of the people with him was Barbara Comstock, who's a well-known Republican operative and a crisis management consultant. Blackwater had the first and second rows basically empty behind Mr. Prince, with the exception of his team of advisers and his consiglieri, and an unidentified man on several occasions during the course of the hearing himself interrupted the hearings and asked Henry Waxman to be able to consult with Prince. And then, what would result from that is that Erik Prince would turn around, and his advisers and lawyers would pile around him like a sports team plotting out their next play. It was very dramatic.
And I think that the issue here is that the Democrats really, I feel, dropped the ball on many of the most important issues surrounding Blackwater. Yes, there were some important questions raised. But for the most part, they steered away from some of the most devastating and violent incidents involving the company. The ambush at Fallujah in March of 2004, for instance, wasn't addressed at all, except in passing. And there were a number of family members of the four Blackwater operatives who were killed in that incident. That's a crucial one for the Congress to investigate, not only because of the allegations that Blackwater sent those four men into Fallujah in unarmored vehicles, short two men, and without heavy weapons, but because of the enormous price that Iraqi civilians paid for the deaths of those four corporate employees, the Bush administration ordering the leveling of Fallujah and, of course, the inflammation of the Iraqi resistance. There are a number of other incidents that never came up in the hearing.
I think that what needs to happen is that Erik Prince needs to become a more frequent visitor to Capitol Hill than his industry lobbyists have been over the past several years, and his visits should always begin with his right hand raised and cameras in front of him.

In other news of violence,
Robert Parry (Consortium News) explores the death squads Bully Boy has created for Iraq and Afghanistan. These are the "kill teams," the "bait and kill teams," the teams war resister James Burmeister went public on last June and the mainstream media 'discovered' last week. Parry writes, "The ugly image of Americans killing unarmed Iraqis also helps explain the growing hostility of Iraqis toward the presence of U.S. troops. While the Bush administration has touted the supposed improved security created by the 'surge' of additional U.S. troops into Iraq, a major poll found Iraqis increasingly object to the American occupation." On a related note, Steve Negus (Financial Times of London) reports: "US military officials in Baghdad on Wednesday defended their support of local anti-insurgent volunteer organisations, the day after the country's largest political bloc attacked the programme as an 'adventure' and accused participants of kidnap and murder. The controversy over the scheme, which is a centrepiece of the US military's new strategy in Iraq, has flared as these local alliances against al-Qaeda spread from their point of origin in the western province of al-Anbar to other Sunni and even some Shia parts of Iraq."

In some of today's reported violence . . .


Bombings?

Yasser Faisal and Mussab Al-Khairalla (Reuters) report that Poland's General Edward Pietrzyk (ambassador to Iraq) was wounded in Iraq today in what the Polish government is calling "an assassination attempt" that also claimed the lives of at least one of Pietrzyk's bodyguards and one Iraqi civilian. NPR and AP report, "The attack took place a few hundred yards from the Polish embassy." Deborah Haynes (Times of London) notes the attack utilized three roadside bombs and that Pietrzyk "was being treated for burns at a hospital inside Baghdad's fortified Green Zone." CBS and AP put the bombs at two and note at least 11 more people were wounded in the bombings. CNN goes with three bombs being used in the attack and states that "three others in the entourage, including one of his bodyguards" were killed as well as "two Iraqi civilians". Katya Andrusz (Bloomberg News) reports being told by Robert Szaniawski (spokesperson for Poland's Foreign Ministry) that there were three bombs and Andrusz notes that while 53% of Poles were against the illegal war in January 2004, opposition now stands at 80%. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that the ambassador and his entourage "were leaving the Polish embassy" when the attack happened and also notes a Baghdad car bombing that claimed 2 lives (five more wounded), 1 dead from a Falluja bombing that left four more injured, and thirteen were wounding by a bombing "inside an in internet cafe" in Jalawa. Reuters notes the AIR WAR continues with "five suspected insurgent bombers" being shot dead by US helicopters in Baghdad, a Baquba mortar attack claimed 3 lives, while a Kirkuk roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer (left another injured) -- Reuters also notes that yesterday saw "the local senior figure in Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council" shot dead in Ifach. DPA reports a roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer in Kirkuk.

Shootings?

Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports "the official of tribes in Diwaniyah city local council" was shot dead in Qadisiyah. Reuters notes, "Three people were killed, including a girl student, during clashes between police and gunmen in Baquba" and a police captain was shot dead in Tikrit. KUNA reports an Iraqi "army officer was shot dead" in Mosul by unknown assailants "in a speeding car".

Corpses?

Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 6 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes a police officer's corpse was found in Ishaqi.

Turning to politics,
The Peace Resister Katrina vanden Heuvel (you can use the link -- it's Common Dreams and KvH is providing plenty of laughter) is on her Barack bandwagon and determined to make sure that when her ass is finally kicked out of The Nation, no one else will touch her. KvH wants credit (she links to her self) for "an under-reported event" at the Council On/For Foreign Relations and considers her policy of under-disclosure (KvH probably 'reported' on it in real time due to the fact that she is a Council On/For Foreign Relations member). If a New York Times columnist attempted to give a 'shout out' to an organization they were a member of without disclosing it, it would be considered news. But maybe no one sees Katrina vanden Heuvel as a journalist? The friend I'm dictating this to says the comments left are hilarious so check those out: "Just another article from The Nation pandering to the impotent Democratic Party." And why is that? Or how about the recent commentary that borrowed heavily from The Search For Signs of Intelligent Life In The Universe -- Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner's masterpiece -- from Trudee's scene at the end where the aliens tell her the audience was art. But is there really a need for this nonsense of cheerleading Barack Obama or (in Flanders' case) his supporters? Here's the thing (and include John Nichols and others in this -- in fact David Corn appears to be the only one at the magazine not wearing a "Barack Has My Vote And Body" t-shirt), this time next year, a HUGE number of people will be telling you that you have to vote for Candidate X -- whomever the Democratic Party nominates. You've got to, you've just got to, they'll insist sounding like a deranged Miss Manners. And for those who elect not to and decide to be upfront about that, they'll still hear the mantra: "Vote Democratic to save the Republic!" You'll get the faux sympathy, the nod of the head, and the same damn sermon trotted out every four years, "Well we'll do that next time but vote Democratic, it's really, really important." If Candidate X is a War Hawk (very likely since Hillary Clinton, Obama and John Edwards refuse to promise that, if elected president, they would end the illegal war by the end of their first four years), you'll be told to hold your nose and vote for someone who disgusts you and that 'next time' everyone will get it together to make sure it doesn't happen. Those speeches were given in 2004 too. The Nation proves those speeches are hollow (at best) or flat out lies (at worst). They started their 2008 presidential coverage days before the November 2006 election took place and what do they have to show for it? Not a damn thing. The magazine hates Hillary Clinton and appears to see Barack Obama as having the best shot to take her out. So they've pushed Obama like crazy. Even though he's a War Hawk who is on record being against withdrawal since 2004. Had they used the last months (or the ones remaining) to cover Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel or Bill Richardson they wouldn't be playing the lesser of two evils currently. They're playing it in the primary and they'll play it in the general election. (And the Green Party will be as non-covered by the magazine as it was in 2004 or 2006.) "Power" to The Nation has meant "Do anything to take Hillary out." It's really disgusting. Kucinich has been covered more by our own Trina (who blogs once a week) than by The Nation. That's not just print, that's "online exclusives" and blog posts. Even lumping all of that together, Trina's still provided more coverage of Dennis Kucinich in 2007 (with her once a week posts) than The Nation. Sharon Smith (CounterPunch) does a good summary of Kucinich versus the press reinforced candidates. She notes the 2004 cave by Kucinich (Democratic National Convention) and thinks expecting a similar cave in 2008 isn't going out on a limb. One factor she may miss on that is Kucinich may not be a House candidate. By the time of the Democratic National Convention, Kucinich may have lost the primary for his House seat (the party is offering 'advise' to his opponent). If that happens, there should be very little reason for Kucinich to back down from his supporters demands. Regardless, and here's the point, in 2008, your vote is your vote. Vote for who you want (or don't vote, your business). And if you hear the "Hold Your Nose" speech and don't wish to hold your nose, just remember that The Nation elected to ignore candidates offering real opposition to the illegal war. Their anti-stories have revolved repeatedly around Hillary Clinton and their pro-coverage has been Obama (after earlier flirting with John Edwards). Free press? Be great to have one but let's not pretend we do as not one of them will tell you the truth about Barack Obama but will let him continue to repeat his stale talking point of being against the war (he doesn't say "illegal") before it began without ever noting the very obvious fact that, once he began his 2004 Senate campaign, he was on record as against withdrawal. That's why no one should be surprised that -- despite all the hype for an empty suit -- he declared in last week's 'debate' that, if elected, he couldn't promise to end the illegal war by the end of his first term.

In the new issue of
The Progressive (October 2007), Ruth Conniff contributes "Doing the Hillary Dance" (pp. 16-17). She notes US House Rep Tammy Baldwin is on board with support for Hillary even thought it means "on the Iraq War, Baldwin gives Clinton a pass." For the piece, Conniff also interviews Iraq Veterans Against the War's Garrett Reppenhagen and the Center for Media and Democracy's John Stauber. Conniff notes that Reppenhagen "has hopes that the Internet could be a powerful tool for getting the U.S. out of Iraq. Now a member of Iraq Vets Against the War, he doesn't want to see the blogosphere hijacked by the Democratic Party." He tells Conniff, "I worry because more and more people start endorsing candidates and we become like sports enthusiasts." Stauber, who was refused a forum on Iraq by The Daily Toliet Scrubbers (but created a forum on his own), "concurs. As Stauber sees it, the idea that the Democrats, if only they can get elected, will end the war is 'just the blue Kool-Aid talking'." Stauber tells Conniff, "There's a delusion that there are going to be sweeping reforms once the Democrats have more power. But looking back over the last several decades, I don't see any reason for that optimism."

Finally,
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) opened her conversation with Norman Solomon today by quoting from his new book Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State, "The warfare state doesn't come and go. It can't be defeated on Election Day. Like it or not, it's at the core of the United States -- and it has infiltrated our very being." From their conversation today:

NORMAN SOLOMON: Just a few minutes ago, we heard a clip from the Blackwater hearing yesterday about the way in which, supposedly, Blackwater, as one Congressperson put it, a Democrat, a critic of Blackwater, said that Blackwater is undermining the US mission in Iraq. And all too often the insidious nature of the warfare state gets us to at least tacitly accept the idea that there is something in that mission to be supported. And yet, $2 billion a day going into the Pentagon's coffers, that's our money. That's money that should belong to the people of this country for healthcare, education, housing.
And yet, we are tamped down, our numbing process, which is part of the warfare state, gets us to be passive, to accept. And often, you know, Amy, I travel around the country. I talk with people. Many are concerned. They watch this program. They're active. We get in a room. There's fifty, there's five, there's five hundred people. And often, the question comes up: "Well, aren't we just preaching to the choir?" And that is a concern. We have to go outside our own constituencies as progressives. But the reality is that the choir needs to learn to sing better, to challenge more fundamentally the warfare state, because right now it's our passivity, our acculturated acceptance, that's causing so much damage.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you really think that it's a choir right now that is a very confined to a certain group of people? I mean, in this country now, the level of opposition to the war in Iraq, doesn't it go far beyond any particular category of people?

NORMAN SOLOMON: The opposition is registered in opinion polls, but largely quiescent, and if we look at the progression of the Vietnam War, year after year, from the late '60s through the first years of the '70s, opinion polls show that most Americans were opposed to the war, even felt it was immoral. You fast-forward to this decade, for years now most polls have shown most people are opposed. But what does that mean? Our political culture encourages us to be passive, not to get out in the streets, not to blockade the government war-making offices, not to go into the congressional offices and not leave, not to raise our voices in impolite or disruptive ways. We have to become enemies of the warfare state, not in a rhetorical way, but in a way that speaks to the American people in terms of where our humane values are and should be.













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