Friday, July 18, 2008

World Can't Wait! calls for action

Earlier this week, when we heard that protest groups in Denver are not planning one march against the occupation of Iraq and the potential attack on Iran, we wrote this. I'm inviting you to sign on to the letter here.
16 July 2008: In six weeks, the Democrats meet in Denver. As recent news makes clear, an attack on Iran could happen before the election, driving the Bush Agenda into the next administration, no matter who the president is.Who will stop an attack on Iran? Not the Democrats who secretly authorized military operations George Bush already has underway inside Iran. Not the Democratic leaders - including Senator Obama - who insist, again and again, that "all options" remain on the table for military action against Iran, including the use of nuclear weapons!
Not the Democrats who, in their majority, including Obama, not only sanctioned retroactive immunity for the large telecom companies who went along with Bush and spied on people, but have given them prospective immunity in expanded government spying.This war now belongs to the Democrats no less than the Republicans. If it is left to McCain and Obama, the occupation will continue for years. It was wrong to go into Iraq, it's wrong to stay in Iraq, it's wrong not to get out now!If there is not a strong showing from the anti-war movement against this whole direction outside the convention, it will signal those who make war and the victims of these wars around the world that the people of this country will go along with continued occupation, with McCain or Obama sending many more troops to Afghanistan, and with threats to Iran. The Bush regime promised a war to last generations. Are we against this, or not? The anti-war movement must set a standard of resistance, not accommodate what is intolerable. Only the people - not the politicians - can force open debate over why the U.S. occupation must end now. Only we can act on our convictions, letting others know that an end to the illegal, unjust and immoral wars and occupations will not happen without massive mobilization of the people, and that putting all your hopes and energies into the elections will not bring the change millions desire. Some people say protest does not work. They are WRONG! What does not work is passivity in the face of a government being more widely exposed as committing war crimes and a public increasingly sickened by what is being done in their name. If the anti-war movement was so ineffectual why did the New York Times have to call it the "other superpower"?Whether one plans on voting for Obama or not, we all must be in the streets making our clear opposition to torture, bloody occupations and any new war against Iran vividly clear. People are traveling the country to campaign for Obama. With a strong call from the anti-war movement, some will be willing to bring an anti-war message to Denver. Local Denver activists have gone to court for permits for political protest outside the convention, and have permits for nearby parks. Recreate68 plans a march against the war on Sunday August 24, the day before the convention starts. The Alliance for Real Democracy, another coalition, is currently not planning to join this march.Whatever differences exist, they pale in comparison to the responsibility those of us who are not at peace with being at war have to stop the US occupation of the Middle East. The world needs to see us in the streets in Denver, marching together on the eve of the convention opening. If you're concerned this protest will be too small, you're not alone. The people in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan & Pakistan whose lives may be lost to further US aggression share that concern. It is the responsibility of those of us who know the devastation and misery the continued occupation of Iraq and an attack on Iran would bring to the world to struggle to bring many more forward to participate in this.This is a call to MARCH together with the demand Stop the war in Iraq/Afghanistan, and Stop an Attack on Iran! You could have separate rallies and speakers at different sites in the park, but call out the many thousands of people to march together.We will join with others in mobilizing everyone who has ever been against this war, and all those who know in their hearts this is wrong, to be in the streets of Denver, standing with the people of the world and refusing to be party to these wars.
We the undersigned will do all we can to get people to Denver to participate.

Missy Beattie, Elaine Brower, Larry Everest, Ron Kovic, Dennis Loo, Cynthia McKinney, Dede Miller, Cindy Sheehan, David Swanson, Debra Sweet, Sunsara Taylor,Kevin Zeese

Add your name to the letter here.

Debra Sweet, Director, The World Can't Wait - Drive Out the Bush Regime

The World Can't Wait for reality to sink in that Barack is nothing but a War Hawk. He's been cheered, he's been babied. Tell me when will he be held accountable? It's long past time. He should have been called out on 'residual forces' left in Iraq before 2008 rolled around. But instead he got to pretend he was 'anti-war.' And I see two names they played that lying game with him: Cindy Sheehan and David Swanson.

David Swanson is a really disgusting man and he's really enjoyed using sexism against Hillary throughout the primaries.

I think he's a fool.

I think we had a better chance of ending the illegal war with Hillary than with Barack. Hillary does listen. Cindy's all bent-out of shape about one meeting she had with Hillary years ago.

Get over it.

Like me, Cindy has Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer for senators. Hillary didn't have to meet with her. And Hillary certainly didn't have to do whatever Cindy wanted.

During Clinton's first term, there was an issue that was a big deal to a number of high schoolers. I know this story from C.I.'s neighbor. So the kids were really upset. (I'm about to tell the story that Betty's always wanted C.I. to share at Third. I'm basing it on the neighbor; however. Betty's heard the story from C.I. and heard it when she decided to support Hillary and felt every one was going to be upset or angry.) So the parents were all proud of their children. Caring about the world around them. And so C.I. hears about it because it's big news in the neighborhood and C.I. says, "Well are they going to the White House?" C.I. lives in a high-price neighborhood as I assume everyone knows. So we're talking about the children of big contributers to Bill Clinton's 1992 race. C.I. ended up drafted as the adult to go with the children. They got a few minutes will Bill Clinton. I'm not insulting him with that remark. He was president. He had a tight schedule. But the kids were crestfallen because they really thought a face to face with Bill Clinton would get things happening. They were so depressed when they left and, in the hall, passed one of Hillary's staffers (who C.I. knew then and knows now) and she said for them to hold on and she'd see if Hillary could see them for a few seconds. Hillary made time for them. She listened to them. She knew they were sad. She told them that this is how politics works, you bring your issue to the table. That's the first thing and it's a big thing. But there are a lot of issues and they are important to a lot of people. So you don't give up then. You make your issue important, you work on it and you push it through. She told them that a president, any president, had 100 things to do and you focus on your issue and make the president listen to you. She really inspired the kids (and I probably screwed up the story in the way I told it). They were crestfallen one minute and then, after her break down on how it works, they were picking themselves up and realizing that they did a huge step but that there were many more steps to take.

So when Hillary was saying, on the campaign trail, that voters needed to hold her accountable and make her take action, she meant it.

And as somone who remembers the 90s, let me be really clear that the left made excuses for inaction. I don't think Bill Clinton was a bad president (I'm not a fan of any president, but I'd rank him higher than Jimmy Carter and certainly higher than Republicans I've seen in office in my adult life). But the base that exists today that has made demands in the last few years didn't exist then. 12 years of Reagan-Reagan-Bush may have sapped the strength. But there wasn't a lot of pressure on Bill Clinton. When there was what happened?

Bill acted and then was smeared by the GOP as someone who just followed polls. (Polls being one representation of the citizen's will.)

Hillary won me over slowly as anyone who's read my site will remember.

She really did want to work for Americans. And she really would have.

And the base that refuses to call out Barack, the base that attacked her every chance they got, you think they would have been silent on her?

Hell no.

They would have made demands. And we would have had a responsive president.

Would I get everything I believed in under a Hillary Clinton White House?

No. But I would get the things that large numbers of Americans would work on and demand. Like universal health care.

And ending the illegal war.

Hillary wanted to work for us.

I believe that very firmly.

Now if __ didn't, they still should have applauded whatever she was proposing because that might have put pressure on Barack. But they never did that.

Hillary's against contractors and Barack's not (he can't continue the Iraq War without them). So Jeremy Scahill does what? Makes excuses for Barack and trashes Hillary. You're screaming for a politician to listen and one does (Hillary) and all you can do when she responds to your call is to smear her and make excuses for the politician (Barack) that refused to do anything.

Hillary in the White House would have meant a stronger left. They weren't vested in some myth of her. They would hold her accountable.

Barack? Even now they have trouble holding him accountable. Even after the FISA cave, his ever-shifting position on Iraq, his broken promise about public financing.

Barack brings along a fan club cult who always excuses him.

And he doesn't want to work for Americans.

He wants the title of president. In other words, he's another Bully Boy. After seven years of one in the White House, a lot of crazy people decided to get another one, a younger model.

I'm sorry that Cindy Sheehan didn't have a good meeting. I'm sorry that Cindy Sheehan thought she meets face to face once and gets what she wants.

I'm sorry she was that politically immature. With a group of high schoolers, it's a wonderful story. With a grown woman, it's kind of sad.

And as a woman who was ripped apart for calling out the Democratic Party, ripped all over the net, for her to participate in the ripping apart of another woman (as she did with her comments she left on articles at Common Dreams) was really sad and really disappointing.

She attacked Hillary as a woman in some columns she wrote.

Maybe she listened to too much KPFA? KPFA is not that popular in the Bay Area. It's lost a lot of listeners over the years (and has lost more over the way they rigged their coverage -- such as a two hour 'analysis' of the Texas debate that only featured Barack supporters and never disclosed that everyone had publicly endorsed Barack). The KPFA audience (and I'm a member of it) is not a huge audience in the Bay Area. But maybe Cindy was listening to it and thinking that's who the Bay Area is? I don't know. I know when I go visit senators with Ava and C.I., they never expect anything more than to plant seeds. They'll do that with Republicans and Democrats. And the better they know the person, the more likely they will get loud in their remarks. But they never go to DC thinking, "This meeting is going to do it! It's going to change everything!"

Again, high schoolers thinking that a single meeting will change everything is understandable. Adults? No.

I'll probably vote for Cindy. But I really planned to volunteer on her campaign. To phone bank and block walk. To sign up for clean up duties after get togethers. I was ready and prepared to do anything. Those days are gone. I'll probably vote for her but that's all.

And it's because of the way she behaved in the primary.

Kisses for Barack and curses for Hillary.

I thought she had her awakening when she kissed the Democratic Party goodbye.

What it played out like was she had a lot of rage and she was bound and determined to aim it at Hillary.

Barack's not going to end the illegal war. Samantha Power told the BBC in March that any 'promise' he made on that wasn't a promise and he'd decide what he wanted to do once he got into the White House. He repeated that basic 'strategy' when he was on CNN June 5th.

Add in that he wants to expand the war in Afghanistan and wants to start one with Pakistan. Add in that he's made war rumbles aimed at Hugo Chavez for years now.

And Cindy Sheehan tarnished herself defending him and tearing Hillary apart.

I know people committed to ending the illegal war that will not vote for her now just because of the way she went after Hillary. That includes Toni and Maggie. They're sick of this crap where a woman's always the one at the bottom of the dog pile.

Toni points out that if Cindy had ripped both Barack and Hillary apart, she'd have no problem with it. (Toni does not support Hillary. She never has. It's not about "I love Hillary!" for Toni.) But that a woman who was already being ripped apart while a War Hawk was getting feather kisses ends up getting a pass from Cindy was just too much for Toni. She's voting for Nancy Pelosi as is Maggie. And they don't like Nancy Pelosi. And they hate that Pelosi didn't call out the sexism. But they're sick of Cindy. And that's true in Toni's area period.

Mayor Gavin supported Hillary and he suffered no fall out for doing so. That should have helped Cindy grasp that Hillary had some strong support in the Bay Area. Add in the people like Toni who did not support Hillary but were grossly offended by the non-stop sexism (Toni is not listening to KPFA and never plans to ever listen to it again). It should have been Cindy's election to win.

It's the same thing with I-Need-Attention Benjamin. Toni and Maggie and pretty much all my friends have turned against Medea. I have as well. There was no reason for that stunt Medea pulled at the Hillary gathering in DC. Her little stunt was uncalled for. She did it to get attention. That's really all CODESTINK does, attack women. Theat criticism of them stung a little so they're targeting Gary Ackerman now. But it's reality. They never held Barack accountable. Medea's becoming a joke. Jodi's right next to her on the laugh list.

You can't talk about female empowerment and then participate in a public stoning. But that's what I-Need-Attention did. And many outlets ignored her. They didn't name her. That must have really hurt her never-ending ego. Back when she was a Green, Medea ran for office. She didn't win but she'll never get votes like that again. The stunt is huge with women. It's created a huge wall for CODESTINK.

I hope it was worth it to Medea.

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

Friday, July 18, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, who is harrassing IVAW co-chair Adam Kokesh, the White House issues a statement the State Dept doesn't want to touch, the US military announces another death, and more.

Starting with war resistance -- because Amy Goodman never can -- this was a busy week. Monday US war resister in Canada Robin Long was the subject of deportation of hearing. Which he lost. (Mainly because Judge Anne Mctavish doesn't know her job.) He was deported Tuesday from Canada with the Canadian government keeping everything hush-hush to try to clamp down on public shows of support for Robin. On Wednesday, US war resister James Burmeister faced a court-martial: "
The court-martial of the kill-team whistle blower." He was busted in rank, given six months of time and stripped of his rights and benefits. The latter is especially shocking when you realize he has Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The government gladly shipped him to a war zone where he was injured and then they spat him this week by refusing to pay for the injuries their illegal war caused James -- life-long injuries. Amy Goodman (Democracy Sometimes!) continued the silence she's long maintained on James -- she never mentioned his name. James is the one who blew the whistle on the kill teams -- groups of US soldiers assigned to leave US property (such as cameras) out in the open in Iraq while snipers then wait for an unsuspecting Iraqi to touch them at which point, living up to the team name, they kill the Iraqis. It was big news and and Mark Larabee (The Oregonian) broke the news domestically July 16, 2007. That wasn't something to amplify. Apparently no one in Panhandle Media had slept with James or wanted to. If so, we could have seen the kind of embarrassing moment that had the 'left' recruiting talk show hosts not all that long ago. Call it The Critic and the Young Chippie or -- as they prepared to play it -- The Greatest All Time Threat to Democracy. Nothing gets a fire burning for our 'fearless' 'leaders' as much as the thought that one of their old 'lions' might finally get laid. So James, who was actual news, got ignored in 2007 and, if you missed it, got ignored Wednesday, Thursday and today. Free Speech isn't worth a damn when it's also Meaningless Speech -- and didn't so many prove just how meaningless they could be.

AP (Real Media) filed a better version of their earlier story, one that noted, "He said he was disturbed by a military tactic of planting equipment to lure Iraqis that American snipers could then kill. Burmeister said he complained to superior officers that the snipers couldn't know for sure whether the people they shot were actually insurgents, or presented any threat to U.S. forces." The Oregonian did a brief that noted, "Burmeister said he complained to superior officers that the snipers couldn't know for sure whether the people they shot were actually insurgents or presented any threat to U.S. forces. Eventually, the soldier from Cheshire, near Eugene, was injured by a roadside bomb and sent to Germany to recuperate. While there, he left his unit and went to Canada, where he campaigned against the use of the small kill teams." Kill teams. War crimes. But Panhandle Media had something else to cover. While whining about the silence from Real Media on some stories, they censored themselves. Call it Learned Pathetic. The only maturity in the story came from James himself. Ten months ago, Mina Al-Oraibi (Asharq Alawsat) quoted the then-in-Canada James Burmeister stating he did not regret self-checking out, "Because I feel it's the right thing to do -- even if I face prison or a dishonorable discharge from the army. I can't go back to the killing."

On Robin Long,
Stefanie Fisher (Party for Socialsim and Liberation) provides a run-through, "On July 15, Robin Long became the first Iraq war resister to be deported from Canada back to the United States. In 2005, Long went to Canada because he would not fight in an 'illegal war of aggression.' Like thousands of young recruits, Long discovered that the Iraq war was based on lies only after he had joined the military. The court denied Long sanctuary based on a so-called 'lack of evidence' that he would face harsh treatment if he were sent back to the United States. The court was fully aware that Long would be unjustly tried as a deserter, could face prison time and be deployed to Iraq against his will. As an example to others, on July 16, James Burmeister, a resister who turned himself over to the U.S. government was sentenced to 9 months in jail and dishonorably discharged. Protests in the U.S. and Canada have demanded sanctuary for Iraq war resisters. Two-thirds of Canadians believe that war resisters should be allowed to stay in Canada." Jeremy Deutsch (Kamloops This Week) reports on NDP's Michael Crawford's reaction to the deportation and quoted him stating, "We have a government in Canada hell-bent on pleasing the American administration. . . . If we believe it's an illegal war, why should we not give some form of sancturary to people who are refusing to fight that war?" This follows NDP's Bill Siksay's earlier statements this week, prior to the deportation of Robin, "Stockwell Day, Diane Finley and Stephen Harper should respect the will of Parliament and the Canadian people and stop this deportation immediately. The House of Commons has passed a motion supporting a special programme that would allow conscientious objectors who refuse to serve in the war in Iraq to remain in Canada. The government must respect this action by the House and stop deportation action against Robin Long and other Iraq war resisters. The Canadian government and the Canadian people do not support George Bush's illegal war in Iraq. We must have the courage of those convictions and back them up by ensuring that Americans who take a stand against that war receive a welcome in Canada. Robin Long must be allowed to stay." Meanwhile Keith Jones (WSWS) examines the situation and concludes:

As for the Canadian government, in 2005 when the Liberals held office, it took the highly unusual step of intervening at [Jeremy] Hinzman's refugee hearing--the first for an Iraq war resister--to successfully urge the Immigration and Refugee Board to exclude any arguments concerning the legality of the US's invasion of Iraq. The pretext invoked by the government was that only the International Court of Justice at the Hague has the authority and jurisdiction to adjudicate on the legality of a war. (See
"Canada denies asylum to US soldier who refused to serve in Iraq")
During the Vietnam War more than 50,000 US draft-dodgers and "deserters" found refuge in Canada. Today, however, the Canadian judiciary, immigration board, and government are determined to ensure that the country not become a safe haven for those in the US military who refuse to be party to the US's wars of aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This is not just because Canada's elite does not want to rile the Bush administration and US military. The Canadian ruling class is determined to jettison the myth of Canada as a peace-keeping nation--a myth closely bound up with Pearson and Trudeau Liberal governments' attitude toward the Vietnam War and decision to allow Vietnam war resisters to apply for landed immigrant status in Canada--because they see it as cutting across their efforts to revive Canadian militarism and use the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) as a means to assert their predatory interests on the world stage.

Canadian Christianity notes: "Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) Canada held a public prayer vigil July 10 on behalf of Robin Long, a US war resister who was scheduled to be deported from Canada July 15. Long joined the US military in 2003, but became disillusioned with the US war in Iraq, deserted and fled to Canada in 2005. He applied for refugee status in 2006, but his final court appeal was turned down July 14. There are about 200 US resisters of the Iraq War currently in Canada. The CPT Canada vigil, which took place in Winnipeg, drew participants from the 'People's Summit for Faithful Living,' a joint meeting of delegates from Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA."

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Megan Bean, Chris Bean, Matthis Chiroux, Richard Droste, Michael Barnes, Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb,
Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Jose Vasquez, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara 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, Logan Laituri, Jason Marek, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

IVAW's co-chair, Adam Kokesh, has been regularly targeted by the US government for speaking out. Wednesday he wrote (Revolutionary Patriot) "The Cops Are Everywhere -- Especially Where I Am." Thursday he posted a video of one encounter. Friday, his report also included a police report (pages of the police report are clickable to make them larger to read) which reveals that one of the people who have been hassling/harassing him is an FBI agent. So what's going on? I have no idea. But Adam has been targeted before and there's no denying that an FBI agent is going out of his way to target Adam now.

Staying on
IVAW, they've posted a copy members of Congress sent to the White House. The letter is signed by House Reps Yvette D. Clarke, John Conyers, Lynn Woosley, Barbara Lee, Jan Schakowsky, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Dennis Kucinich, James McGovern, Pete Stark, Edolphus Towns, Tammy Baldwin, William Jefferson, and Eleanor Holmes Norton. The letter [PDF format warning] reads:

We, the below signed Members of Congress, voice our support for current, present, and future members of the United States Armed Forces who oppose the War in Iraq and who are working to bring it to a speedy and safe conclusion. These brave men and women, who have served our nation so honorably, represent the best aspects of our democratic tradition. While we cannot condone the actions of any service members who translates their personal opposition to the war into a deliberate decision to go Absent Without Leave (AWOL), we offer our most sincere support to every service member affected by the War in Iraq. This war has placed many of armed service members, like Sergeant Matthis Chiroux, in an untenable dilemma. Sgt. Chiroux has served as an active duty service member for the last 5 years -- serving tours of duty in Afghanistan and the Philippines. In July of 2007, having served his country with distinction, the Sergeant was discharged to the Individiual Ready Reserves. As the civil war raging inside Iraq intensified, Sgt. Chiroux was moving on with his life and leaving behind a war with which he disagreed. Unfortunately for the Sergeant, the war's unpopularity has taken a heavy toll on the Army's recruitment efforts. As such, in February of this year, he was recalled to active duty and received his deployment orders for Iraq. We in the Congress oppose this type of forced redeployment, as well as the military's so-called 'stop-loss' policy. As such, we in the Congress reaffirm our support for ending the War in Iraq by all means available to us. We also reaffirm our support for all military members who speak out, advocate, and otherwise support efforts to bring the troops home.

If the letter seems a little weak, let's go to
Howard Zinn who isn't campaigning for any office and, even if he was, could probably still tell the hard truths. From his "Memo to Obama, McCain: No one wins in a war" (Boston Globe):

For someone like myself, who fought in World War II, and since then has protested against war, I must ask: Have our political leaders gone mad? Have they learned nothing from recent history? Have they not learned that no one "wins" in a war, but that hundreds of thousands of humans die, most of them civilians, many of them children?
Did we "win" by going to war in Korea? The result was a stalemate, leaving things as they were before with a dictatorship in South Korea and a dictatorship in North Korea. Still, more than 2 million people - mostly civilians -- died, the United States dropped napalm on children, and 50,000 American soldiers lost their lives.
Did we "win" in Vietnam? We were forced to withdraw, but only after 2 million Vietnamese died, again mostly civilians, again leaving children burned or armless or legless, and 58,000 American soldiers dead.

This morning in Tucson, Arizona, the traveling White House press corps heard from Scott Stanzel, Deputy Press Secretary, regarding the continued treaty negotiations between the White House and its puppet in Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki. Stanzel stated, "And as the statement says, we have reached a point in Iraq where we can have these discussions about continuing to transition more control of the security situation to the Iraqi forces. . . . But these are aspirational goals, not arbitrary time lines based on political expediency. So we want to get to a point where we have sustainable security in the country, and our forces are able to come home and transition into a role there of more overwatch and training." What was Stanzel referring to? This statement issued by the White House Press Secretary:

President Bush and Prime Minister Maliki spoke yesterday in their regularly scheduled secure video conference, about a range of matters including the improving security situation and the performance of Iraqi Security Forces across Iraq, from Basra, to Maysan, Baghdad and Sadr City, and Mosul. The two leaders welcomed the recent visit of Prime Minister Erdogan to Baghdad and the successful visit of Prime Minister Maliki to the UAE. They also discussed ongoing initiatives to follow security gains with Iraqi investment in its people, infrastructure, cities, and towns, which will be aided by a $21 billion supplemental budget now before the Iraqi parliament.
In the context of these improving political, economic, and security conditions, the President and the Prime Minister discussed the ongoing negotiations to establish a normalized bilateral relationship between Iraq and the United States. The leaders agreed on a common way forward to conclude these negotiations as soon as possible, and noted in particular the progress made toward completing a broad strategic framework agreement that will build on the Declaration of Principles signed last November, and include areas of cooperation across many fields, including economics, diplomacy, health, culture, education, and security.
In the area of security cooperation, the President and the Prime Minister agreed that improving conditions should allow for the agreements now under negotiation to include a general time horizon for meeting aspirational goals -- such as the resumption of Iraqi security control in their cities and provinces and the further reduction of U.S. combat forces from Iraq. The President and Prime Minister agreed that the goals would be based on continued improving conditions on the ground and not an arbitrary date for withdrawal. The two leaders welcomed in this regard the return of the final surge brigade to the United States this month, and the ongoing transition from a primary combat role for U.S. forces to an overwatch role, which focuses on training and advising Iraqi forces, and conducting counter-terror operations in support of those forces.
This transition and the subsequent reduction in U.S. forces from Iraq is a testament to the improving capacity of Iraq's Security Forces and the success of joint operations that were initiated under the new strategy put in place by the President and the Prime Minister in January 2007.

What's it mean? Nothing.
BBC may come closest to that reality when they note: "The BBC's Adam Brookes in Washington says the announcement is designed to encourage the idea that US troops are coming home, without committing to any dates." In which case, the hope would be to lull the American people into a sense that the illegal war is drawing to a close, so everybody calm down. Who is 'everybody'? Our pathetic 'peace' organizations who are focused on Iran and have forgotten Iraq? Roger Runningen and Ken Fireman (Bloomberg News) note that "White House spokesman, Gordon Johndroe, said the new statement doesn't reflect a shift in the U.S. position." At the State Dept today, spokesperson Sean McCormack attempted to play dumb. Responding to questions about the discussions between the puppet and the White House, McCormak first declared, "I think the -- well, the White House issued a statement about this." The next question was answered with, "And they -- the Iraqis -- also put out language." And then, "What am I going to add to the statement that has been issued?"

It's all very Nixonian, this 'plan' that no one can know about but everyone should know that peace is just around the corner.
It echoes US Senator John McCain (presumptive GOP presidential nominee) claiming yesterday that the Iraq War could now be considered a 'win.' And, as with Nixon and his secret 'peace plan,' no one appears eager to probe McCain to explain what happens after a 'win'? Mitt Romney took to NBC's Today show this morning to speak vaugely of John McCain's 'goals' to end the illegal war to Matt Lauer but Matt was more interested in cracking resume jokes and asking about polls. Didn't even appear to note Romney's "sweet talk" jab at Barack ("I think in the final analysis that sweet talk is going to give into straight talk."). Maybe because Matt Lauer was too busy laying on the "sweet talk" ("Can I just recite your resume here?").

James Risen (New York Times) reports that KBR's electrical work is even worse than thought -- and this was with it thought that only 13 US service members had died from being electrocuted in the showers due to cheap and shoddy work -- with people receiving daily shocks and Risen notes, "During just one six-month period -- August 2006 through January 2007 -- at least 283 electrical fires destroyed or damaged American military facilities in Iraq, including the military's largest dining hall in the country, documents obtained by The New York Times show. Two soldiers died in an electrical fire at their base near Tikrit in 2006, the records note, while another was injured while jumping from a burning guard tower in May 2007." Meanwhile Hurriyet reports that northern Iraq was bombed today by Turkish warplanes.

Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Nineveh Province car bombing that killed the driver and 3 members of the Iraqi military with seven more left wounded, an apparent assassination attempt on Laith Salih in Diyala Province -- Salih ("Awakening" Council) wasn't wounded but his brother was.


Reuters drops back to Thursday to note 1 police officer shot dead in Mosul with three more injured.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse discovered in Baghdad.

Monsters and Critics reports, " The Voices of Iraq (VOI) news agency quoted a statement by the US Department of Defense saying a US soldier died of injuries after a car accident in Nineveh's capital some 400 kilometres north of Baghdad."

"Decades ago it was full of victories in the sixties and seventies," said
Ralph Nader when asked about the changes in consumer advocacy. "Full of victories. You know, regulated the lack of safety in motor vehicles, flamable fabrics, Product Safety Commission, all kinds of -- going after usary interest rates for the poor and many other pieces of legislation. But now it's purely defensive. It's trying to hold the gains of the sixties and seventies and that's become a losing fight because the Democrats are not going after the Republicans on this issue, even in this campaign. The Republicans are terrible on consumer protection and the Democrats are not fighting back." Hold the line? You could apply the comments to reproductive rights (except Barack's now attacked them with his demeaning of Doe v. ). Nader was speaking to John Bachir and about the 2004 campaign (video here). But what about the consumer aspect? Yesterday the US Food and Drug Administration issued an announcement noting: "FDA is updating its warning to consumers nationwide concerning the outbreak of Salmonella serotype Saintpaul. As of today, FDA officials believe that consumers may enjoy all types of fresh tomatoes available on the domestic market, without concern of becoming infected with Salmonella Saintpaul. The agency is removing the warning that has been in place since June 7, which states that consumers should avoid certain types of fresh tomatoes due to a potential connection to the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak. Consumers may resume enjoying any type of fresh tomato, including raw red plum, raw red Roma, and raw red round tomatoes. While we are changing our consumer guidance about tomatoes, we reiterate our guidance to consumers that those in vulnerable populations (infants, the elderly, and immune-compromised people) should avoid eating jalapeno and serrano peppers as the investigation continues." In what world is that acceptable? For those who remember the earlier e-coli outbreak in spinach, in March of this year Consumer Reports' blog noted "a report recently released by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform called 'FDA and Fresh Spinach Safety.'
The findings paint a most unappetizing picture of food safety and once again underscore the need to give the Food and Drug Administration more resources to oversee the safety of the nation's food supply. The committee's investigation was prompted by the
September 2006 outbreak of E. coli 0157:H7 that caused hundreds of reported injuries and several deaths—an outbreak that was ultimately traced to packaged fresh spinach. So where is the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform? June 7th was when the FDA issued their warning on tomatoes. A working Congress, a working committee would have called for public hearings immediately. But apparently the public safety takes backseat to showboating for elections so everyone has to wait until the end of July for any hearings. Jim Downing (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that "Americans have continued to get sick -- at a rate of about 20 people per day -- even after" the FDA issued their alert, even after they studied the spinach outbreak. US House Rep Diana DeGette issued a statement yesterday: "It is absolutely outrageous that we are 90 days into the salmonella outbreak and the FDA and CDC still cannot determine the source of contamination. Currently, over 1200 cases of salmonella have been reported, hundreds have been hospitalized, while the outbreak has affected 41 states, including Washington, DC and even Canada. The salmonella outbreak continues to spread, with nearly 30 cases a day, because we do not have a national, comprehensive food traceability system that would quickly track our foods from the field to the fork. . . . Now the FDA is saying that tomatoes are safe, but only because they have a short shelf life. We still don't know the source of the contamination and that is inexcusable." And it's inexcusable that Congress has done nothing but issue press statements while this has taken place. Stephen J. Hedges (Chicago Tribune) quotes a letter Senator Tom Harkin sent to Michael Leavitt, Secretary of Health and Human Services, "It seems highly unlikely that tomatoes harvested in April would still be consumed fresh by consumers in late June." And it seems highly unlikely that an effective Congress 'addresses' this issue by sending letters instead of immediately calling hearings.

On a possibly related note, Bill Moyers and Michael Winship (PBS'
Bill Moyers Journal ) point out:

But we also get into these terrible dilemmas -- where the big guys step all over everyone else and the victims are required to pay the hospital bills -- because we refuse to recognize the connection between money and politics. This is the great denial in democracy that may ultimately mean our ruin. We just don't seem able to see or accept the fact that money drives policy. It's no wonder that Congress and the White House have been looking the other way as the predators picked the pockets of unsuspecting debtors. Mega banking and investment firms have been some of the biggest providers of the cash vital to keeping incumbents in office. There isn't much appetite for biting -- or regulating -- the manicured hand that feeds them. Guess who gave the most money to candidates in this 2007-08 federal election cycle? That's right, the financial services and real estate industries. They stuffed nearly $250 million dollars into the candidate coffers. The about-to-be-bailed-out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac together are responsible for about half the country's $12 trillion mortgage debt. Lisa Lerer of reports that over the past decade, the two financial giants with the down home names have spent nearly $200 million on campaign contributions and lobbying. According to Lerer, "They've stacked their payrolls with top Washington power brokers of all political stripes, including Republican John McCain's presidential campaign manager, Rick Davis; Democrat Barack Obama's original vice presidential vetter, Jim Johnson; and scores of others now working for the two rivals for the White House." Last Sunday's New York Times put it as bluntly as anyone ever has: "In Washington, Fannie and Freddie's sprawling lobbying machine hired family and friends of politicians in their efforts to quickly sideline any regulations that might slow their growth or invite greater oversight of their business practices. Indeed, their rapid expansion was, at least in part, the result of such artful lobbying over the years." What a beautiful term: "artful lobbying." It means honest graft.

Team Nader notes:

Last week, we set a fundraising goal of $60,000 by Sunday July 20 midnight - to put Nader/Gonzalez on the ballot in a total of 15 states.
In one week, we have raised $44,000.
Now, we need your help to raise the remaining $16,000 over the next three days - by Sunday midnight.
If only 8,000 of you, our loyal supporters,
donate $2 now, we will meet this goal.
Why is it important to have Ralph Nader on the ballot in November?
Without him, the plight of the Palestinian people will not be an issue in this year's election.
How do we know?
Because Obama/McCain stand with the militaristic right wing AIPAC lobby in the United States.
Nader/Gonzalez stand with the Israeli/Palestinian peace movements.
You will be hearing a lot this weekend about Obama's upcoming trip to the Middle East.
To keep Obama's trip in perspective, check out our new video -
Nader on Obama/Israel - here.
Pass it around to friends and family this weekend.
It is also important to keep in mind that Obama is to the right of some Mossad Israeli hawks. (
See recent Mother Jones article here.)
Even these Mossad Israeli hawks - along with the majority of the Israeli people - would open talks with Hamas.
Obama/McCain would not.
Nader/Gonzalez would reverse U.S. policy in the Middle East.
Obama/McCain would not.
We stand with the courageous Israeli and Palestinian peace movements.
We stand against the AIPAC militarists.
So, if you care about peace in the Middle East.
help us out today.
meet our goal by Sunday night.
Together, we are making a difference.

NOW on PBS will focus on "the forgotten war' Afghanistan (begins airing Friday on most PBS stations). Bill Moyers Journal (check your local listings, begins airing on PBS in most markets tonight, it also streams online -- transcript, video, audio) looks at the housing crisis and spotlights the continued decline of a once strong voice who guests on the program to talk about the 'up' of the housing crisis (for Democrats!). Gwen's fronting polls as a 'draw' for viewers of this week's Washington Week which should give everyone pause. Dan Balz is among the scheduled guests and the only one who might be able to penetrate the spin. And independent journalist David Bacon continues to explore the issue of immigration, his latest is "THE RIGHT TO STAY HOME" (New American Media). Bacon's latest book is set for release in September, Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press).

iraqjames burmeisterrobin longjeremy deutschmark larabeekeith jonesstefanie fisher
mina al-oraibi
howard zinn
iraq veterans against the war
adam kokesh
mcclatchy newspapers
now on pbs
bill moyers journal
the new york timesjames risen

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Robin Long, James Burmeister, Carly Simon

A former American soldier, Robin Long, was deported from Canada, long a haven for American deserters, after his application for refugee status was turned down. He fled there in 2005 as his unit was about to be sent to Iraq, claiming he would suffer irreparable harm if forced to participate in an “illegal war of aggression”. He is believed to be the first American army deserter ever to be deported from Canada.

That's from the right-wing Economist's "Politics this week." Robin Long should be the focus of 'independent' media right now but he's not. And that tells you a great deal about the state of Panhandle Media -- always there to beg you for money, never there to talk about the stories that matter.

James Burmeister got even less attention. Apparently, some people only pretend to care about ending the illegal war.

I'm really sick of all the faux activists and their cry of 'a better world is possible!' Well use your power right now to make the world better or just admit that you're doing nothing but jerking off.

You'd think after five years plus, they'd have pleasured themselves enough but apparently that's not enough pleasure for them. So they'll go on wasting your time and my time -- in a time where we don't have it to waste.

This is labeled a PR release so I'm reposting in full:

Carly Elisabeth Simon (born June 25, 1945) is an American singer/songwriter and musician. She is also an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and two-time Grammy Award winner.
Simon was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1994. Simon's father was Richard L. Simon (co-founder of
Simon & Schuster, Inc.), a pianist who often played Chopin and Beethoven at home. Her mother was Andrea Louise Simon (née Heinemann, a biracial (black and white) Jewish civil rights activist and singer. Carly was raised in the Riverdale neighborhood of the Bronx, New York City and has two older sisters, Joanna (b. 1940) and Lucy (b 1943), and a younger brother, Peter Simon (b. 1947). She attended Riverdale Country School. She also briefly attended Sarah Lawrence College, before dropping out to pursue music. ... Simon's career began with a short-lived attempt with her sister Lucy as The Simon Sisters They had a minor hit in 1964 called "Winkin', Blinkin' and Nod" and made three albums together before Lucy left to get married and start a family. Later Simon collaborated with eclectic New York rockers Elephant's Memory for about six months. She also appeared in the 1971 Milos Forman movie Taking Off, playing an auditioning singer and sang "Long Term Physical Effects" which was included in Taking Off, the 1971 soundtrack for the movie. more video news images and samples etc. see) ...festival or Actress pop actor Movi Album concert rock singer Blues radio tv CD DVD Single country rapper festival or Actress pop actor. and soon more than 1000 artist see

Carly has nothing to do with the earlier section but she's one of my favorites and if it weren't for music, I'd be so depressed right now. With good reason considering what's happened to Robin Long and James Burmeister this week.

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

Thursday, July 17, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, James Burmeister is court-martialed and sentenced, John McCain appears to be saying "War is over," hotel construction and big business in northern Iraq, and more.

Starting with war resisters. US war resister James Burmeister was court-martialed yesterday.
AP ridiculously offers, "Burmeister said he was disturbed by a military tactic of planting equipment to lure Iraqis -- presumably insurgents -- who American snipers could then kill." No, not insurgents. They can't even do their own reporting and they can't even the damn facts right. What took place at Fort Knox yesterday was "The court-martial of the kill-team whistle blower." Here's how Mark Larabee (The Oregonian) reported it, "But once in Iraq, he was assigned to a 'small kill' team that set traps for insurgents. They'd place a fake camera on a pole with a sign labeling it as US property, giving the team the right to shoot anyone who messed with it." [The Oregonian link does not currently work and the story does not show up via a search. The section quoted here was quoted here on July 16, 2007. The story ran that day and was entitled "Soldiers still go over the hill even in an all-vounteer Army."] [Add this anywhere, on the paper's blog, they've just reposted Larabee's story.] The CBC reported it June 29,2007 (link has text and also a listening option), "Instead he said he became part of a team that set up traps for Iraqis using an object such as a fake camera as a lure" and quotes James stating, "If the Iraqis would go and touch it they [the soldiers] could shoot 'em because if anyone messes with the U.S. government property, they're allowed to fire at 'em." It could have been news then -- the "kill teams." It should have been. But instead Panhandle Media chose to ignore reality. They're never very concerned with Iraq. Real Media got on the story in September, via Josh White and Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reporting on Jorge Sandoval "As he and two other snipers face charges of killing Iraqis, legal experts are debating how large a role a classified program of "baiting" their targets played in the cases. The soldiers in the unit had the spool of wire, defense attorneys said, only because the Army's secretive Asymmetric Warfare Group had given it to them -- along with other items, such as plastic explosives and AK-47 rounds -- so the snipers could boost the number of suspected insurgents they killed by shooting whoever picked up the materials. . . Retired Maj. Gen. Thomas J. Romig, a former judge advocate general for the Army, said the group's baiting program, as described publicly, opens up the possibility for indiscriminate shootings -- based on little information -- that could lead to the death of scavengers or curious passersby. He said that when troops kill civilians by mistake, it can harm the war effort." Kim Sengupta (Independent of London) summarized it, "US soldiers are luring Iraqis to their deaths by scattering military equipment on the ground as "bait", and then shooting those who pick them up, it has been alleged at a court martial." Sengupta then quoted an unnamed "US military source" stating, "The guys picking them up are sometimes bad guys. But how do you know each time?" The difference should be very clear to the AP which, after all, reported of Sandoval September 28th, "He was found not guilty of the two murder charges, but the panel decided he had placed a detonation wire on one of the bodies to make it look as if the man was an insurgent." But today AP wants to say "presumably insurgents"?

August 24th Maria Hinojosa spoke with James Burmeister for NOW on PBS (she also spoke with Agustin Aguayo for the same segment)

HINOJOSA: During his many missions, James was caught in three road-side bombings... And amazingly, a fellow soldier caught one of the explosions on camera.BURMEISTER: We were in a five humvee set. Rolling down a--down a main street in Baghdad in our sector. I'm the gunner on top of this humvee... Just a big bomb goes off. And it's so fast, you don't--you don't see the bomb. You're scared. You're checking your body parts to see if you're missing anything. A few days after that, I had actually passed out in my room. Passed out, just hit the floor.HINOJOSA: James says that was the first sign of his post traumatic stress disorder. He says doctors thought he also may have sustained a traumatic brain injury, so he was sent to Germany on medical leave. Two months later, while still on medication, he was ordered back to Iraq.BURMEISTER: They were desperate for people to get back there. They just needed people in Baghdad. They just need bodies to man the guns and the equipment.HINOJOSA: James saw only two options: either go back to Iraq...or go AWOL, Absent Without Leave, a crime punishable by jail time and even court-martial.BURMEISTER: I got back home--talked to my wife. You know, I said, "I think I'm gonna leave." It was like a 15 minute decision that I'm--I'm gonna leave--I'm gonna leave the Army.HINOJOSA: On May 4th of this year James fled to Canada, a familiar haven for over 55,000 Americans during the Vietnam War. But times have changed and Canadian immigration laws are much stricter now. When James arrived in Ottawa he realized his only viable option to legally stay in Canada was to apply for refugee status. We were with him and his family the day they put in their application.BURMEISTER: Today I am here at the immigration office to file my refugee claim, and starting the whole process today and hope everything goes well.HINOJOSA: Up until now James and his family had been living underground. During this war about 300 U.S. soldiers are known to have fled to Canada and around 50 have applied for refugee status. None to this day have been granted but no one has been sent home either. They, along with James, wait to see if Canada will take them in permanently.

Speaking to the CBS June 29th, he explained: "Our platoon in particular would set up small groups called small kill teams maybe a group of four, five people, some snipers and we would set up fake cameras. We would put 'Property of US Government' in English and Arabic and we would wait for an Iraqi to come up and touch it because that gives the US the right to kill them, so they say. That would be the typical thing we'd do. . . . I didn't see how that was helping at all." Following the roadside bombing caught on tape (which wasn't the only bombing James endured), he was put on 'leave' when he should have been sent to a hospital. The military didn't want to take responsibility for that and expected him to get (apparently brief) medical treatment while he was on so-called 'leave.'
Mina Al-Oraibi (Asharq Alawsat) reported, "Following three months of lengthy treatment and surgery for a head injury, the US Army issued an order to send Burmeister back to Iraq" and James explained to her, "They wanted to send me back there on crutches and taking anti-depressants." James told the CBC that he was being threatened and told to lie about his status because he was wanted back in Iraq which is when he made his decision:

Like I said, I was back on leave, just taking care of my hospital stuff. My commander of my company told me that I had two days to get ready to head back to Baghdad. They gave me 24-hours duty on the first day so I couldn't go home and tell my wife so I was -- when I got back after the 24-hours -- just was looking on the internet about Canada and I heard a lot of stories about Vietnam war resisters coming up to Canada so the idea just popped into my head to look on the -- look on the internet. And I also included 'refugee" in that search. Came across the website and called them up and asked what kind of options I had. You know, they told me I should look at all my options before just running up to Canada but at that point I had already looked at a lot of them, I had already talked to my commander about consientious objector status and they just said no to that. So that day I bought the ticket and next day flew out from Nuremberg Germany to Toronto and made my way up here.
[The audio clip at CBC is an interview Burmeister did with Rob Benzie. More from the interview -- for those who can't stream online or with hearing disabilities -- can be found in the
September 25th snapshot.]

Burmeister left Canada and returned to the US where he turned himself in on March 4th.
Camilla Mortensen (Eugene Weekly) reported on his return and noted, "His father fears the Army wants to keep Burmeister quiet about the 'bait-and-kill' teams the he alleges have been used to kill Iraqi civilians. While James Burmeister awaits the Army's decision, his father [Erich Burmeister] is fighting to bring him home." In May, James Burmeister's father Erich wrote about his son at Courage to Resist:

He is not a kid anymore. When he joined the army, he was a typical poor kid, naive kid, painted himself in a corner kid. A typical young man high on testosterone low on common sense, he brought the recruiter's line of crap and fine-print flim flaw, and was coached on how to assure his induction despite medical conditions that would have disqualified him.
So the army trained him how to kill efficiently in urban warfare situations and shipped his naive butt over to Baghdad to carry out the orders of his commander and chief, the Warrior Prince Bush, our president, brave military veteran of Vietnam. So my son was forced to take part in and was witness to acts of human cruelty beyond his wildest imagination. He killed other young men just like him. In another place in another time, they could have been friends, they could have worked side by side and shared their dreams, now their ghosts will haunt his dreams, like the dreams of this brand new generation of "winter soldiers". For the matter of a few feet, or maybe even a few inches, my son's brains would have been spilled out on a Baghdad street. My nightmare of a soldier's dad, of cradling my son's blown up head in my lap while I try to put it back together, it would have become reality like the nightmares of the families of those soldiers who have already died, and those who will die next week, next month, and next year.
So now my son sits in Army custody, brain injured by a roadside bomb and struggling mightly with PTSD while he awaits court-martial for desertion, because he refused redepolyment to combat in Iraq in May 2007 in protest over the war crimes he was ordered to engage in. He married a fifty-caliber machine gun atop a hummer providing perimeter security for one of the now infamous small kill teams.

In June, his mother Helen Burmeister spoke at a rally outside Fort Knox.

Helen Burmeister: I'm Helen Burmeister and I'm here today to support my son Prviate 1st Class James Burmeister. My son is an Iraq War veteran and I'm very proud of him today. He fought bravely in Iraq. He followed orders. He was wounded in a roadside bomb and he's been diagnosed with PTSD and a possible brain injury. Our request today is that the army release James. We want James to be able to put this traumatic experience behind him so he can begin to heal -- both emotionally and physically. I believe my son has done his part. Now it's time for him to be given the recognition he deserves. Short of that, we are requesting that he be allowed to go home to Oregon. And thank you. Thank you to everyone for all your support today.

Chris Kenning (Courier-Journal) reported on Helen Burmeister's efforts and spoke with US war resister Darrell Anderson who also went to Canada. Anderson returned September 30, 2006 to turn himself in October 3rd. Like Burmeister, he suffers from PTSD and he also lost his benefits. He told Kenning, "It wasn't the easy choice, it was the hard choice. I lost my GI Bill, my veteran's benefits . . . but I did what's right, and I've still got my pride."

Chris Kenning (Courier-Journal) reports on James Burmeister's court-martial yesterday and the sentence of jail (six months), reduction in rank (busted down to private), dishonorable discharge (bad conduct) and "a loss of pay" and quotes Burmeister's military attorney, Captain Tyson McDonald, stating of the military, "They're not happy that dirty laundry was getting aired." Nick Kyonka (Toronto Star) quotes Vietnam vet and Vietnam Veterans Against the War's Carol Rawert-Trainer stating the court-martial took four hours and, "It's quite a shock to everybody. We all thought they were going to take it easy on him because he turned himself in, but it doesn't look that way." She also spoke at the rally last month to show support for James Burmeister:

Carol Rawert Trainer: I am a Vietnam Era veteran and my husband is a retired USAF officer and Vietnam Veteran. We belong to Lousiville Peace Action Community and Vietnam Veterans Against the War, two great organizations that work for peace and justice. I learned of PFC James Burmeister through my involvement with the GI Rights Hotline. We are disgusted at the way the government treats our returning war heroes and we will not sit by and watch it happen. You hear the slogan 'Support Our Troops.' Well that is why we have come here today. I have personally heard too many horror stories of veterans in the Lousiville area who return from war and do not receive proper medical care or benefits or counseling for PTSD which is all too prevalent in this war. The Army seems to care more about their retention at any cost to the soldier and family than they do about the care of the soldiers affected by this war. Too many soldiers are battling their physical and emotional problems alone. The suicide rates have risen dramatically. This is obscene. We are here today to demand that the army grant James a discharge in lieu of court-martial. We are watching what the army is doing. James served honorably in Iraq and carried out his duties as commanded. He received head injuries and shrapnel in his face in the 3rd attack on his convoy. He also has PTSD and seizures and is on many medications as a result of his experience. When he was recuperating in the hospital in Germany he realized that what he was commanded to do -- killing innocent people, sometimes in bait-and-switch schemes, was immoral. The army trains these troops from basic to kill, kill, kill and does not differentiate between innocent Iraqis or insurgents. James could not, would not, do it any longer. He had to live with himself and his actions for the rest of his life. The army does not care about the lifelong problems these honorable soldiers face. In fact they were going to send James back to Iraq even though he was on medications for high blood pressure, depression, sleep problems and more. At least James is one of the lucky ones who realized he needed help before it was too late. Going back to Iraq would be dangerous to his life as well as to those who served with him. We are here today to support James and his family in their struggle for justice! James' family has suffered through other family circumstances that dictate that James be home to help them. We hope the army will grant James an immediate discharge not only for his own personal needs but for his families' needs. Even though he would not receive medical benefits which he needs, he would be home in a safe and loving environment. This is what is fair. This is what is just. James was there when the army needed him. Now the army must be there for James and the countless other heroes who need assistance and support as they cope with their war-induced problems.

War Resisters Support Campaign Lee Zaslofsky tells Kyonka regarding the verdict, "In that case, his post-traumatic stress disorder and some of the other problems that he has won't be dealt with properly. I just hope this isn't an ill omen for some of the other (resisters)."

Turning to news of Robin Long. Or how about "Huh?" "The Morning Show discusses Canadian government's decision to expel an American war resistor, then Jane Mayer . . ." It does? No, KPFA's The Morning Show did not. Despite the summary and announcing it on air. Kind of like, as noted in
yesterday's snapshot, "And US war resisters may see refuge in Canada." Which should have been noted as taking place on Tuesday. Or rather not taking place. Probably not a good idea to self-pat yourself on the shoulders, in the midst of your latest round of begging, when you're unable to deliver on what you have promised and appear to think that, as the program ends, you can just pretend you never promised the segment. Or if you let Aileen pimp the most embarrassing segment of the week as "independent, listener sponsored media," don't expect people to be in a hurry to toss a few coins at you -- not even to get you to be quiet.

Heath Druzin (Idaho Statesman) reports, "Long, who has a child with a Canadian woman, has been considered absent without leave since he fled the U.S. Commanders at Fort Carson will decide whether he should be discharged from the military, returned to duty, court marshaled or given a less severe punishment, Fort Carson spokeswoman Karen Linne said." Monique James (KTVB) notes, "He's been living in British Columbia for the past three years and has a two-year-old son there.Long's sister, Christine, says she fears for her brother now that he's back in the U.S. 'When I heard what was going on I'm kind of freaked out because he's my brother, I don't want anything to happen to him,' said Christine Long."
Robin is the father of a Canadian child. It's not a minor issue. It is, however, an issue that Judge Anne Mctavish should have to explain overlooking. Apparently dizzy from the high altitude of the bench, she forgot the law: Robin, as the father of a Canadian citizen, should not have been deported. It's not just the common sense that it splits up a family (which it does), it's also that the immigration policies are very clear regarding children and parents. Judge Mctavish needs to be asked what gave her the right to override precedent and law in making her decision to evict Robin from the country? Also covering Long? The Idaho Examiner runs a summary of the article
here while The Seattle Times does so here. KBOI News files a brief summary. The Chicago Tribune files a small brief on Long here. Iran's Press TV covers his story here. And Susan Bourette (Christian Science Monitor) observes of the decision to deport Robin, "In a country that provided refuge to an estimated 90 percent of some 100,000 deserters and draft dodgers who went into exile during the Vietnam War, it's an unprecedented decision -- though perhaps not unexpected, given the political temper of the times in Canada."

Free Speech Radio News filed a report yesterday:

Aura Bogado: When more than 50,000 people made their way from the US to Canada to avoid fighting in the Viet Nam war, Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau welcomed them, declaring Canada a "refuge from militarism". Today, while much smaller in number and largely unnoticed in the US, a new generation of "deserters" are fighting for the same sanctuary -- including Robin Long, who came to Canada in 2005 seeking refugee status. But as FSRN's Sarah Olson reports, Canadian government officials have not extended the same welcome to these modern war resisters.

Sarah Olson: A federal judge in Vancouver ruled that Robin Long must go home, saying Monday that the 25-year-old had failed to provide clear and non-speculative evidence that he'd be singled out for harsh treatment if he returned to the United States. By Tuesday afternoon, despite two federal court victories,
last month's Parliamentary resolution welcoming Iraq war resisters and the support nearly two-thirds of Canadians have shown for US war resisters, Long became the first Iraq Warwar resister to be deported from Canada. Bob Ages with the War Resisters Support Campaign in Vancouver.

Bob Ages: We think they have expedited what amounts to kidnapping and extraordinary rendition precisely to try to set a precedent to take the wind out of the sails of a campaign of support which has been growing in strength both in terms of our legal arguments and our political support.

Sarah Olson: To understand the legal landscape Long is navigating, one must examine three other cases. First, the Hinzman-Hughey case. Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey arrived in Canada in 2004 and in 2005 became the first US soldiers to petition for refugee status. They were denied but appealed all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada which declined to intervene in November of last year. Attorney Alyssa Manning represents deserters now living in Toronto. Her client,
Corey Glass, won a stay of removal last week based largely on how dramatically Hinzman-Hughey changed things.

Alyssa Manning: We argued that it established new law in the area of Canadian refugee law and that is that if you are fearing the persecution of the state itself as opposed to some other actor in your country of origin then you have to seek protection from that state before you can get refugee protection. Before the Hinzman decision, it wasn't thought that you had to seek state protection if it was actually the state that was persecuting you.

Sarah Olson: The second case is army private Joshua Key. Unlike Hinzman and Hughey, Key was an Iraq veteran. In 2005, the refugee board found that although Key had received orders which violated the Geneva Convention disobeying these orders didn't entitle Key to refugee status. A federal court heare his appeal earlier this month. Key's attorney, Jeffry House.

Jeffry House:
The federal court said that the right to refuse inappropriate orders is larger than what the refugee board had thought. It isn't simply that a soldier can refuse to commit war crimes, a soldier can also refuse to commit violations of the Geneva Convention if that's required of him or her on a systematic basis. The court held that if the United States were to prosecute Joshua Key for refusing to violate the Geneva Conventions then that would give rise to a refugee claim.

Sarah Olson: This July 4th decision was the first legal victory for Iraq War resisters and House says it could have substantial implications.

Jeffry House: Any case in which it was alleged by the person concerned that he or she was required to commit inappropriate acts on a systematic basis probably would have a right to have their case re-heard.

Sarah Olson: Finally there is national guard Sgt. Corey Glass. Glass arrived in Canada in 2006 after going AWOL while home on leave in the middle of an 18-month deployment. His bid for refuge was also rejected. His legal appeals unsuccessful. And his deportation seemed so likely he gave up his apartment and quit his job. But thanks in part to the Key decision the federal court stayed his removal last week while his legal team presents new evidence. Attorney Alyssa Manning.

Alyssa Manning: The really interesting thing about the reason coming down in Corey's case is that it will be the first decision that will consider all of the evidence that we gathered about what has happened to simarly situated individuals in the United States -- people like Stephen Funk or Camilo Mejia, people who spoke out against the war and then were court-martialed and imprisoned.

Sarah Olson: This makes
Robin Long's removal yesterday all the more unfortunate. Long is expected to be sent to Fort Carson, Colorado where his tanker unit is based. Despite the Canadian court's assertion that most deserters don't even face a court-martial or prison time, the percentage of soldiers facing prosecution is much higher when the soldier is on record opposing the war. And this has Long's US supporters concerned. For Free Speech Radio News, I'm Sarah Olson, Oakland, California.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Megan Bean, Chris Bean, Matthis Chiroux, Richard Droste, Michael Barnes, Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb,
Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Jose Vasquez, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara 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, Logan Laituri, Jason Marek, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

Turning to the MidEast where
Deborah Haynes (Times of London) reports Lt Gen Ali al-Momen will become Kuwait's first ambassador to Iraq since 1991and notes, " His appointment will be issued in a decree by the emir. It is unclear when the new embassy will open but it is likely to be situated inside Baghdad's fortified Green Zone, home to other foreign embassies as well as Iraqi Government buildings." And Iran's Press TV reports that Lebanon's Parliamentarian leader Saad Hariri visited Iraq today for the first time since the start of the Iraq War. CNN calls it a diplomatic push that will include puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki going to meet with "leaders of Germany and Italy and with the pope" next week. Strangely no one's talking about what the Kurdistan region of Iraq's President Massoud Barzani's doing. He was courting big business again today as ground was broken for construction of the a new hotel in Erbil and, among his notable guests, were "Joseph Sarkis, Lebanon's Minister for Tourism, Jacques Sarraf, President of Malia Group Holdings, Selim al-Zyr, President and CEO of Rotana Hotles, Andrea Dini, CEO Dama and Diva Companies." His speech is posted online here.

While some explore diplomacy, US Senator John McCain (presumptive GOP presidential nominee) makes a surprising statement in Kansas City.
CNN reports that he stated "we have succeeded in Iraq. I repeat my statement that we have succeeded in Iraq. Not 'We are succeeding.' We have succeeded in Iraq." If McCain truly believes that, he should be able to speak of withdrawal and reporters shouldn't let him avoid the very serious issue by his stating he doesn't want to talk about 'timelines.' Forget timelines. If he believes what he says, he should be able to sketch out a specific plan for withdrawal. He can note qualifiers that things on the ground could change or whatever -- but if he truly meant what he said, he should be able to sketch a withdrawal. If he can't, he's honestly not up to the job of running for president. When you state, "We have succeeded," being asked, "Then how do we withdraw?" is not an unreasonable question.

Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that wounded three people, a Diyala roadside bombing that killed 1 man and wounded his three sons. Reuters notes a Samarra roadside bombing that left seven "Awakening" Council members injured.


Reuters notes 1 person shot dead in Hilla.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes 1 corpse discovered in Hilla.

Before becoming McClatchy, it was Knight-Ridder Newspapers. Dr. Yasser Salihee was one of the Iraqis working as a correspondent. In June of 2005,
Ron Brynaert (Why Are We Back In Iraq?) noted Yasser's final story: "The last story filed by Knight-Ridder special correspondent, Yasser Salihee appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Tuesday but received little attention. "Campaign of executions feared in Iraq" was co-written by Tom Lasseter and it suggested that the Iraqi police may have been acting as executioners instead of policemen". James Cogan (WSWS) explained in July 2005, "Over the past month, Salihee had been gathering evidence that US-backed Iraqi forces have been carrying out extra-judicial killings of alleged members and supporters of the anti-occupation resistance. His investigation followed a feature in the New York Times magazine in May, detailing how the US military had modeled the Iraqi interior ministry police commandos, known as the Wolf Brigade, on the death squads unleashed in the 1980s to crush the left-wing insurgency in El Salvador." NPR's Jacki Lyden noted his death in 2005, "Yasser was part of the first story I reported for NPR after Saddam Hussein was deposed. We met in Baghdad, when he was a physician at Yarmouk Hospital's emergency room. He invited me home the next day and I met his beloved wife and child. . . . It was Friday, he was in his neighborhood on his day off, going to get gasoline and an oil change so that he could take his wife and daughter swimming. He was driving his car alone, when an American sniper from the 3rd Infantry apparently shot him at a check point. I say apparently because the cricumstances are somewhere unclear. He died of a single bullet to the brain, which pierced the car's windshield." As part of the Sacremento Bee's investigation into violence, Russell Carollo reports new details this week on the man who shot Yasser dead, "But a yearlong examination by the Sacramento Bee found that the shooter, Staff Sgt. Joseph J. Romero, brought a long, troubled past with him to Iraq, and the Guard unit Vige praised was riddled with misfits, drug users and soldiers with criminal records -- at least two of them former mental patients. At the time that he shot Salihee Romero was under investigation for selling cocaine, military records show. Days before the shooting, Romero threatened to kill a fellow soldier who reported him to the Army's Criminal Investigation Command or CID. Three weeks later, the drug allegations would prompt the Army to strip Romero of his leadership, bar him from missions and take away his large-caliber sniper rifle. And less than three months after the shooting, on Sept. 9, 2005, Romero was sentenced to 14 months' confinement and given a bad conduct discharge, convicted of selling cocaine, possessing other drugs, obstructing justice and communicating a threat." The Sacremento Bee editorializes on the topic of who is getting into the military on waivers today and notes:

Soldiers with criminal, drug and alcohol histories may represent just a tiny fraction of the 1.4 million who serve in the United States military. But Bee reporter Russell Carollo's stories show that these soldiers can wreak havoc within the military, at times seriously jeopardizing the country's mission in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Take one case examined by The Bee. As a young man, Staff Sgt. Joseph Romero was charged with assault and a string of residential burglaries, but most of the charges were dropped when he agreed to join the Army. During his problem-plagued first 10 years of Army service, he was investigated but not charged with selling drugs. He left the Army in 2001 and spent what those who knew him described as a drug-soaked few years before he joined the Louisiana National Guard and was deployed to Iraq.
While in Iraq, Romero was accused and later convicted of selling drugs to fellow soldiers. After he was accused, the Army required him to surrender his sniper rifle -- but only after he had used that rifle to kill Yasser Salihee, an Iraqi physician who was working as an interpreter. No criminal investigation of the shooting was ever conducted. Salihee's widow told The Bee, "Before the accident I loved the Americans … but after … I hate all the Army. All my neighbors were hating the Americans."

Andy Rowell (Oil Change) notes, "Four Democratic senators, including Senator Carl Levin have called on the State Department's inspector general to investigate whether the agency encouraged lucrative oil deals between Iraq and several Western companies." This as CBS and AP report that Iraq has decided that the no-bid contracts awarded to Big Oil would come with a one-year offer so as not "overlap with longer-term deals expected" next year. Meanwhile independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader issues an open letter to presumed GOP and Democratic presidential nominees McCain and Barack:

In the July 6, 2008 edition of the New York Times, the courageously peripatetic columnist, Nicolas D. Kristof urged the creation of a Truth Commission on torture and other war crimes. Here is Kristof in his words: "When a distinguished American military commander accuses the United States of committing war crimes in its handling of detainees, you know that we need a new way forward. "'There is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes,' Antonio Taguba, the retired major general who investigated abuses in Iraq, declares in a powerful new report on American torture from Physicians for Human Rights. "'The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.' "[W]e need a national Truth Commission to lead a process of soul searching and national cleansing. "That was what South Africa did after apartheid, with its Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and it is what the United States did with the Kerner Commission on race and the 1980s commission that examined the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. "Today, we need a similar Truth Commission, with subpoena power, to investigate the abuses in the aftermath of 9/11. "It's a national disgrace that more than 100 inmates have died in American custody in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantánamo. After two Afghan inmates were beaten to death by American soldiers, the American military investigator found that one of the men's legs had been 'pulpified.' "Moreover, many of the people we tortured were innocent: the administration was as incompetent as it was immoral. The McClatchy newspaper group has just published a devastating series on torture and other abuses, and it quotes Thomas White, the former Army secretary, as saying that it was clear from the moment Guantánamo opened that one-third of the inmates didn't belong there. "These abuses happened partly because, for several years after 9/11, many of our national institutions didn't do their jobs. The Democratic Party rolled over rather than serving as loyal opposition. We in the press were often lap dogs rather than watchdogs, and we let the public down. "Yet there were heroes, including civil liberties groups and lawyers for detainees. Some judges bucked the mood, and a few conservatives inside the administration spoke out forcefully. The Times's Eric Lichtblau writes in his terrific new book, "Bush's Law," that the Immigration and Naturalization Service commissioner, James Ziglar, pushed back against plans for door-to-door sweeps of Arab-American neighborhoods. "'The book recounts that in one meeting,' Mr. Ziglar bluntly declared, 'We do have this thing called the Constitution,' adding that such sweeps would be illegal and 'I'm not going to be part of it.' "The Truth Commission investigating these issues ideally would be a non-partisan group heavily weighted with respected military and security officials, including generals, admirals and top intelligence figures. Such backgrounds would give their findings credibility across the political spectrum -- and I don't think they would pull punches. The military and intelligence officials I know are as appalled by our abuses as any other group, in part because they realize that if our people waterboard, then our people will also be waterboarded. "Both Barack Obama and John McCain should commit to impaneling a Truth Commission early in the next administration. This commission would issue a report to help us absorb the lessons of our failings, the better to avoid them during the next crisis." Mr. Kristof has put forth a strong case for a strong investigating Truth Commission. He asks for your commitment to establish such a commission should either of you become President. How do you respond to this prize-winning, eye witness-inclined journalist?

iraqjames burmeister
darrell anderson
joshua keymark larabeechris kenningcorey glassnick kyonkapbs
josh whitethe washington post
russel carollomcclatchy newspapers
mina al-oraibi