Saturday, March 17, 2007

Jeremy Scahill, Sunsara Taylor and Guiliana Sgrena on RadioNation with Laura Flanders

It's the weekend and I'll note that Laura Flanders will have Sunsara Taylor and Giuliana Sgrena on Saturday's show. On Sunday's show will include Jeremy Scahill. There are other guests and either I don't know much (or anything) about them, so I'm not going to promote them or else I'm a bit tired of them. The latter applies to the former UPI writer who is now with Salon that keeps acting as if the whole world was ignoring Walter Reed except him and why doesn't he get the credit he deserves? I haven't heard Diane Sawyer whine like that and she was reporting on the medical crisis back in 2004. If he needs a clue, most of us don't read UPI. First, fewer and fewer outlets carry it. Second, even if you've never read Robert Parry, most people are aware that UPI has about as much to do with news as The Washington Times (they're both owned by the head of the Moonies). As for Salon, it's a middle of the road publication that seems more famous for pieces they kill and for reporters they turn on.

But I will recommend Sunsara, Giuliana and Jeremy and, of course, Laura. RadioNation with Laura Flanders airs Saturdays and Sundays, 7:00 pm to 10 pm EST. You can listen online if you don't have an Air America Radio station in your area or if you don't have XM satellite radio. Sunsara was one of the organizers of the march on the Pentagon today, Giuliana is the Italian journalist who was kidnapped in Iraq, and Jeremy you should know from his years of working on Democracy Now!

I'll also recommend KPFA's Making Contact from Friday where Aaron Glantz discussed the case of Ehren Watada. We were at the airport, listening via C.I.'s laptop and, when I get home, I can't wait to listen to the tape Maggie says she made of that broadcast. (If she didn't tape it, I'll be listening to it online via the archives and you can do that as well.)

For those with short memories or too young to remember the nineties, here's an excerpt from Jeffrey St. Clair's "The Green Imposter" (CounterPunch) -- a must read:

Across the board, setbacks for the greens came at a dizzying pace during the Clinton Administration. A plan to raise grazing fees on Western ranchers was shelved after protests from two Western senators, one of whom, Max Baucus from Montana, later marveled at how quickly the administration caved. The EPA soon succumbed to pressure from the oil industry and automakers on its plans to press for tougher fuel efficiency standards, a move Katie McGinty defended by saying enviros were "tilting at windmills" on the issue. In the winter of 1994 the White House fired Jim Baca, the reform-minded director of the Bureau of Land Management, after his attempts to take on the ranching and mining industries riled Cecil Andrus, the governor of Idaho.
Tax breaks were doled out to oil companies drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. The Department of Agriculture okayed a plan to increase logging in Alaska's Tongass National Forest, the nation's largest temperate rainforest. The Interior Department, under orders from the White House, put the brakes on a proposal to outlaw the most grotesque form of strip mining, the aptly-named mountaintop-removal method. With Gore doing much of the lobbying, the administration pushed through Congress a bill that repealed the ban on the import of tuna caught with nets that also killed dolphins. The collapse was rapid enough to distress so centrist an environmental leader as the National Wildlife Federation's Jay Hair, who likened the experience of dealing with the Clinton-Gore Administration to "date rape".
The White House quashed a task force investigating timber fraud on the National Forest, which had uncovered several hundred million dollars' worth of illegal timber cutting by big corporations, including Weyerhaeuser. The task force was disbanded, some of its investigators reassigned to, as one put it, "pull up pot plants in clearcuts".
As ugly as things got, the big green groups never abandoned Gore, swallowing his line that he was "after all, only the vice president". It is a hallmark of the Gore style that he knows how deftly to exploit public interest groups even as he betrays their constituents. Like the Christian right during the Bush era, the Beltway greens felt there was nowhere else to turn. They had never trusted Clinton, who as governor had turned a blind eye to fouling of the White River by Don Tyson's chicken abatoirs and shamelessly pandered after corporate cash during the primaries. Gore was the man on whom they had pinned their hopes.
Gore, they remembered, was the man who had held the first hearings on Love Canal and helped usher the Superfund law into being. Here was the man who popularized the term "global warming" and had warned of the dangers of the deterioration of the ozone layer. Here was the man who had led a contingent of Democratic senators to the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, where he chastised George Bush's indifference to the health of the planet. Here was the man who had written Earth in the Balance, which called for the environment to be the "central organizing principle" of the new century and stressed strict environmental discipline for the Third World.
But as Brent Blackwelder of Friends of the Earth pointed out, during all his years in Congress, Gore's record on environmental issues was far from sterling. In fact, he voted for the environment only 66 percent of the time, a rating that put him on the lower end of Senate Democrats. Moreover, Blackwelder says, Gore functioned rarely as a leader in Congress but more as a solo operator pursuing his own agenda.

You can read Betty's latest chapter "Couching with a Potato Head" and check out Mikey Likes It! because Mike has blogged about the Texas trip all week long. We are in DC and took part in the march on the Pentagon. We woke up late and it was rush to gobble down some food and rush to shower and get dressed so we're running behind today. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, March 16, 2007. Chaos and violence continues in Iraq; US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid proclaims "The war has gone on too long. We must change direction in Iraq" but apparently can't control senators in his own party; protests rock Sadr City in Baghdad; Vicky Toejam will have to think of a new falsehood now that Valerie Plame has testified to the US Congress that she was a covert CIA agent; and the health 'care' for veterans remains a scandal.

Starting with war resistance, today on
KPFA's Making Contact, Aaron Glantz addressed the topic of Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq (June 2006) and the first to be court-martialed (last month). Glantz noted that before the court-martial began, on a rainy Sunday night, people gathered to show their support. Among those speaking were retired Lt. Col. and retired State Department Ann Wright, "
I have been here so many times and so many times for justice and principle." Glantz noted how the presiding judge, Lt. Col. John Head (aka Judge Toilet) refused to allow Watada to put foward his best defense -- explaining why he refused to deploy. A review of the court-martial's second day included Geoffrey Millard's observations (
Millard reported on the court-martial for Truthout) that the prosecutions' own witnesses backed up Watada under cross examination. This point was echoed by Jeff Paterson who told Glantz, "All the prosecution's witnesses stood up there and said miltary service are important oaths are important but on cross examination they explained how Ehren Watada was trying to fulfill his oath." (Paterson covered the court-martial for Courage to Resist.) Glantz noted that the prosecution witnesses had stated that intent was important as the second day ended so there was a belief that Watada might be able to present his motivations when he took the stand the following day.

"On Wednseday morning the court room was filled with anticipation," Glantz noted. But that quickly changed as Judge Toilet zeroed in on a stipulation where Watada agreed to making public statements. Judge Toilet had seen the stipulation the week prior, on Monday he had instructed the jury on the stipulation. On Wednesday, it was suddenly an issue. Judge Toilet declared a mistrail (over the defense's objections). Eric Seitz, Watada's civilian attorney, notes that double-jeopardy should prevent Watada from being court-martialed again; however, the military has scheduled Juyl 16th for the start of his second court-martial.

US war resister Joshua Key has told his story in the new book
The Deserter's Tale. In addition, he is also one of the war resisters profiled in Peter Laufer's Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq, from page 14:

Joshua still does not understand what he was doing in Iraq in the first place. "I still couldn't tell you why I was there. What purpose was it for? Whose gain was it for? I don't know the truth to it. Like I tell my wife, that's the problem with war -- your president, your generals, they send you off to go fight these battles. And all the way down to your commanding officers, they don't go out there with you. They send you out there to fight and do the crazy sh*t and do the dirty stuff. You're the one who has to live with the nightmares from it. You come back, you're nothing, you know? Guys are living on the streets that fought in Iraq just as well as I did. I mean it's horrific."

Ehren Watada and Joshua Key are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes Darrell Anderson, Agustin Aguayo, Kyle Snyder, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Joshua Key's statements ("You come back, you're nothing, you know? Guys are living on the streets that fought in Iraq just as well as I did. I mean it's horrific.") are the jumping off point to the realities now more openly addressed: what passes for 'care' that many returning receive (or 'receive'). In light of the recent scandals about Walter Reed Army Medical Center,
Gregg Zoroya (USA Today) establishes the point that not all have to deal with mold, rats and roaches -- some quarters are very nice such as the Esienhower Executive Nursing Suite (Ward 72) which "features heightened security, including bullet-proof windows and secure telephone lines. Among the other touches are flat-panel television and curio cabinets filled with gifts from foreign leaders." This is the VIP suite but US Rep John Tierney feels "the true VIPs" are the returning service members and not the ones who get the Esienhower Executive Nursing Suite: "the presidents, the vice president, federal judges, members of Congress and the Cabinet, high-ranking military officials and even foreign dignitaries and their spouse. The only enlisted members of the military who are eligible to stay there are receipients of the Medal of Honor." Conn Hallinan (Berkeley Daily Planet) observes that the problems with Walter Reed require more than show firings, "'addressing' the problem will require jettisoning former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's high-tech subsidies to the nation's arms makers at the expense of the grunts, as well as the White House's mania for privitaziation. [Francis] Harvey [Army Secretary until recently] was brought in by Rumsfeld specifically to reduce the federal work force and, as he said in a speech last year, 'improve efficiency.' A former executive for one of the nation's leading arms producers, Westinghouse, Harvey hired IAP Worldwide Services -- run by two former Halliburton executives -- which promptly reduced the number of people providing service at Walter Reed from 300 to 60. The cutback and resulting increase in workloads kicked off an exodus of trained personnel, which an in-hospital study just released by the House Committee on Oversight and Governance found could lead to 'mission failure'."

One person who has been fighting for better service and for an end to the illegal war is Tina Richards whose son Cloy Richards has served two tours of duty in Iraq and now suffers from PTSD.
Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) spoke with Richards today and she explained what was next for her son in the Veterans Affairs system: "On March 24th, he's supposed to report in with documentation from Veterans Affairs as to his disabilities. The problem is, is that he doesn't have that documentation, because we've ben fighting with the VA system for close to a year now, just trying to get him treatment. Recently, I've been sitting in on the hearings, and I was interviewed by a Veterans Affairs Committee on the House. And it appears that a lot symptoms that my son has is actually from traumatic brain injury, which can sometimbes be confused with PTSD, or it can be a combination of both. You know, he definitely has undiagnosed traumatic brain injury."

On today's Democracy Now!,
Gonzalez and Goodman also spoke with Jean Stentz whose husband, Vietnam vet Willie Dougherty, died last year in a series of injustices that began when he was denied a VA hospital in his area -- Jean Stenz: "Because the VA hospital was full, and they wanted him to go to another one. And so, Beaumont's two hours away from us, and Houston's an hour away, but they sent him to Beaumont. And then, when they released him, I took him down by ambulance to the VA hospital emergency room, who refused him at that time, because they said he wasn't sick enough. He had an infection. He was perspiring profusely. I mean, the pillows were wet. He had fever. He had trouble breathing. But he wasn't sick enough. So we came home. We called on the phone -- in fact, my daughter and I had two phones going, the cell and the home phone -- trying to find help for him. Finally, the VA doctor in Lufkin decided that he should be put in a nursing home. He was in a nursing home in Huntsville less than two days and was very sick, was transferred to the Huntsville emergency room, who transferred him finally to the VA hospital in Houston, where he was in ICU -- very ill -- and transferred to their hospice room and died."

And though the US administration shows no genuine efforts at caring for those injured in combat, they're more than prepared to send even more over to Iraq.
Bryan Bender (Boston Globe) reports the escalation goes on, the escalation goes on: "The top US commander in Iraq has requested another Army brigade . . . . The appeal -- not yet made public -- by General David Petraeus for a combat aviation unti would involved between 2,500 and 3,000 more soldiers and dozens of transport helicopters and powerful gunships, said the Pentagon sources. That would bring the planned expansion of US forces to close to 30,000 troops." Meanwhile, Pauline Jelinek (AP) reports that an additional 2,600 troops "from a combat aviation unit" are going to Iraq "45 days earlier than planned" and that the excuse for not including it in Bully Boy's January numbers was because, Col. Steven Boylan, "This was requested over a month ago as part of the surge." For those who've forgotten, in January Bully Boy announced his intentions to send 21,500 more US service members into Iraq. The response from the American people was "NO!" The US Congress couldn't find it's spine and now that number is not threatened so Bully Boy's upped it. Bender reports that it's about to be upped again and Jelinek reports that in addition to those numbers made public, the White House has numbers they have not made public -- apparently to the people or the Congress.

Edward Wong and Damien Cave (New York Times) and Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) reported, yesterday Rahim al-Daraji was attacked (mayor of Sadr City) and Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reports that, today, Moqtada al Sadr "denounced the presences of U.S. troops in his Baghdad stronghold of Sadr City, and thousands of his followers waved banners and marched through the neighborhood to back his call for a withdrawal of foreign forces." Prior to the attack, al-Sadr was widely reported to have instructed his militia to lay low during the US sweeps of Sadr City.

In violence today . . .


Reuters notes a mortar attack in Baghdad that killed one and wounded five "in southern Baghdad" and a Kirkuk roadside bomb the resulted in the deaths of two police officers and left three wounded. Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) notes the Baghdad mortar attack was on a Sunni mosque. Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reports that the mortar attack on the mosque found two mortars landing behind the structure and an third landing in front and Susman also notes another mortar in Hillah which killed one person. Mohammed al Dulainy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a roadside bombing in Baghdad damaged a US military vehicle, a mortar attack on a home "in Al Muasllat neighborhood" killed three members of one family, and three police officers were wounded id Diyala when a man with a "vest bomb" staged an attack.


Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) notes the shooting death of "a member of the governmental facilities protection service in Suwayrah, 25 miles south of Baghdad." Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a fake checkpoint was set up in Diyala and "3 Kurd brothers" were shot dead -- "two of them were less than 10 years old" -- and that, in Kirkuk, an attack on police officers that started with a roadside bomb ended in gunfire with two police officers being killed, and 10 people wounded (6 of whom were police officers).


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) notes that 9 corpses were found in Baghdad and 2 corpses were discovered in Kirkuk today.

Also today, the US military made announcements: First,
they announce: "A Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West died March 14 in a noncombat related incident in Al Anbar Province." Then they announce: "One Soldier died as a result of injuries sustained from an explosion when Task Force Lightning Soldiers were attacked while conducting combat operations in Salah ad Din Province, Thursday."

Noting yesterday's US Congressional news,
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) summarized today: "On Thursday, Democrats advanced an Iraq withdrawal resolution in the House but failed to pass a similar measure in the Senate. The House Appropriations Committee voted to send the military spending bill to the House floor. The vote was thirty-six to twenty-eight. The bill would link war funding in part to the withdrawal of combat troops by September of 2008. Democratic Congressmember Barbara Lee of California broke party ranks to vote against the measure. Lee says the resolution doesn't go far enough to end the war. Lee said: 'I believe the American people sent a mandate to us to bring home our men and women before the end of the year.' Meanwhile, the Senate voted down a measure to withdraw troops by April of 2008. The final vote was fifty to forty-eight. Before voting, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid hailed the measure as an opportunity to change course. . . . Two Democratic Senators -- Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Ben Nelson of Nebraska -- joined Republicans in voting against the proposal. Independent Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut also sided with Republicans." As noted on page A8 of today's New York Times (AP box, lower left hand corner), Republican Gordon Smith (Oregon) voted in favote of the measure and was the only Republican to do so. In addition, Socialist Bernie Sanders (Vermont) voted for the measure. AFP reports that Senator and 2008 presidential hopeful Joe Biden stated those who voted against the measure would hear from their constituents on the vote; therefore, "It is ony a matter of time before our Republican colleagues come to that conclusion . . . In the meantime a lot of innocent lives are going to be lost."

The day prior, US House Rep and 2008 presidential hopeful
Dennis Kucinich proposed an amendment to the supplemental which would address the Iraqi oil law: "The United States should not be requiring Iraq to open their oil fields to private foreign companies as a condition of ending our occupation. The Administration's strong push to enact a hydrocarbon law has little to do with the needs of the Iraqi people. Instead it is a concerted effort to ensure that American oil companies are granted access to Iraqi oil fields. By adopting this benchmark in the supplemental, and requiring the enactment of this law by the Iraqi government, Democrats will be instrumental in privatizing Iraqi oil. We must remove this benchmark from the supplemental and work to ensure any hydrocarbon law put in place is truly the best interests of all Iraqi people."

The House bill that passed the committee vote yesterday does not include any statement regarding the Bully Boy to get Congressional authorization should he decide to go to war on Iran next. Kucinich: "
The House Appropriates Committee removed language from the Iraq war funding bill requiring the Administration, under Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution, to see permission before it launched an attack against Iran. Since war with Iran is an option of this Administration, and since such war is patently illegal, then impeachment may well be the only remedy which remainst to stop a war of aggression against Iran."

CNN reports that Valerie Plame testifed to Congress today (a) that she was a covert agent and that (b) the outing of her for political reasons was harmful not only to her but to other (and that it hurt morale). In addition, CNN reports that she "testified her work involved gathering intelligence on weapons of mass destruction." Plame is married to former ambassador Joe Wilson who went to Niger to determine whether or not Iraq had attempted to obtain yellow cake uranium from that country. Wilson found no evidence of an attempt. Despite that fact (which was reported back, through channels, up to the administration), Bully Boy elected to include the false claim (known false) in his 2003 State of the Union address as part of his attempt to scare a nation into war. Wilson would speak privately to Nicholas Kristof (New York Times) about the falsehood and then write his own New York Times op-ed entitled "What I Didn't Find In Africa." The result was the White House conspired to out a CIA covert agent. The Vicky Toejam brigade has long tried to obscure the realities with false claims and the press has often helped them playing fast and loose with the facts -- such as Darlene Superville (AP) -- see Wally and Cedric's entry from yesterday.

kpfaaaron glantz
joshua key

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Richard & Neil

Okay, music quickly. I've got nine minutes before most of us are going out -- hence, quickly. An e-mail came in asking if I hadn't seen the thing on Richard Thompson?

I did. I didn't link to it. I'm not going to. I disagreed with his comments about Neil Young's Living With War. He tosses out something like at least Neil's trying, but he doesn't think it's a good album. The sort of little bitchy crap Elton John used to do Carole King in the early 70s.

Richard? "Has He Got A Friend For Me," as sung by Maria McKee is amazing. Some of his work with his then wife Linda was really strong. As a solo act? Not seeing any peaks. Will I listen? Yeah, I'll give it a spin. I hope I'll like his anti-war song. But the album's not about the war (as the e-mailer thought). It's one song. I could be like Richard and shrug while saying, "At least he's writing about it."

Neil Young made an incredible album. It's one that's going to stand as one of his best. Richard? Isn't he the guy who always writes about love?

I was thinking about that today when I saw this dumb article in the New York Times where the NYT writer was praising the British folk rock scene while slamming America. I hope a ton of Dylan lovers write in to lodge a protest. But I started thinking about people I know who are generally immature and site a long song by Dylan as their favorite love song. Often "Love Minus Zero" or "It Ain't Me Babe."
Those are strong songs but if you're rejecting something like "Like A Rolling Stone" (or something deeper), I think you've got some problems with growing up and suffer from Paul McCartney-ism -- if you don't want to fill the world with silly love songs, you at least just want to hear them all the time.

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

Thursday, March 15, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces the deaths of more US service members, Hillary Clinton gives bad press, and the Senate says "no" and the House says "yes."

Starting with news of war resistance.
Dean Kuipers (LA City Beat) examines the war resistance within the military and notes AWOL figures (8,000 since the start of the illegal war according the US Defense Department), desertion figures (40,000 since 2000) and that: "Several hundred of those soldiers have fled to Canada, according to unconfirmed reports, but only a few have identified themselves and thus face prosecution." On the issue of the sentencing of war resisters who go public, attorney Jim Feldman, who represents Agustin Aguayo among others, sees the sentencing as encouraging, noting that, "People who really are sincere, the Army judges are not going to come down hard on 'em. The judges seem to recognize that as a mitigating circumstance." Agustin Aguayo's recent court-martial in Germany found him sentenced to eight months and the time he had been in custory already (since turning himself in at the end of September 2006) was credited to his sentence. Iraq Veterans Against the War's Kelly Dougherty shares her view with Kupier, "At the same time, I think they are taking a tough stand because eight months in prison is still a long time in prison, especially for refusing to serve in a war because your conscience says it's wrong to kill people, or because you reel that this particular war is illegal. They could certainly be prosecuting people more. But the sentences that they are giving are being handed down as a message to others serving in the military not to apply for CO status and not to refuse to go to Iraq."

Ehren Watada, the first commissoned officer to publicy refuse to deploy to Iraq, is but one example of the attempt to "send a message." His second court-martial is scheduled to begin July 16th. The double jeopardy issue (a Constitutional issue) is something the military seems determined to ignore. Courage to Resist is asking that a mail campaign (snail mail) be used to demonstrate to Lt. Gen. James M. Dubik how much support there is for Watada. Dubik "has the power to drop all charges and let Lt. Watada out of the army". You can write to Lt. Gen. Dubik at: Bldg 2025 Stop 1, Fort Lewis, WA 98433.

In other news,
Vue Weekly reports: "Toronto hip-hop artist Mohammad Ali is about to release his new album at an event here in Edmonton for the War Resisters Support Campaign, a coalition of indivduals supporting US soldiers seeking asylum in Canada because they refuse to fight in Iraq. The self-proclaimed in-your-face activist ('I write about names, events and dates -- specifics.') is highlighting some of the controversial politics behind the war in Iraq, drawing some examples from the experiences of Darrell Anderson, an Iraq combat veteran." Darrell Anderson is the US war resister who served in Iraq, was awarded a Purple Heart and then self-checked out in January 2005 and moved to Canada. In September of last year, Anderson announced that he was returning to the US to turn himself in. On October 3rd, he turned himself in at Fort Knox. He was released by the military on October 6th and, as expected, he was not charged and was given an other-than-honorable discharge.

Darrell Anderson,
Agustin Aguayo and Ehren Watada are part of a movement of resistance within the military that includes Joshua Key*, Kyle Snyder, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

[*Yesterday, the third time I mentioned Joshua Key, I wrongly called him Josh Wolf. Wolf is a reporter who has been imprisoned for refusing to roll over on the First Amendment -- imprisoned "
longer than any other reporter in U.S. history for refusing a federal grand jury subpoena" as Howard Vicini notes.]

Turning to the selling of the illegal war,
a wave of Operation Happy Talk hit big media and they suited up, grabbed the Sticky Bumps and rushed to ride that wave. The talking point was that the ongoing crackdown in Baghdad (which began in June of last year and has been beefed up and juiced up ever since) had achieved real results! It was a success! This was true because they were told it was true! One of the few who remembered he was a reporter and that the occupation entails more than mere stenography was Damien Cave (New York Times) who noted problems with the announcement that violence had declined: "But the degree of improvement was unclear, partly because of the continued confusion over casualty counts here, and an American general cautioned against reading too much into optimistic reports, given that January and February were two of the worst months for car bombings since the invasion. The Iraqi review came from Brig. Qassim al-Moussawi, a military spokesman, who said at a news conference that civilian deaths since the start of the plan on Feb. 14 were counted at 265 in Baghdad, down from 1,440 in the four weeks before. He said 36 car bombings struck the capital over the past four weeks, down from 56. [. . .] It was not clear what his statistics were based on, though, and they may not have taken into account the bodies found strewn around the capital each day. An analysis by The New York Times found more than 450 Iraqi civilians killed or found dead during the same 28-day period, based on initial daily reports from Interior Ministry and hospital officials." While Cave reported, many of his cohorts were at the beach (mentally, if not physically).

The wave came rolling in despite a new report from the Pentagon. (Or maybe because of a new report from the Pentagon. Operation Happy Talk has always attempted to counter reality.)
Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reported on the Pentagon's "bleakest assessment of Iraq yet" which found: "record levels of violence and hardening sectarian divisions in the last quarter of 2006 as rival Sunni and Shiite militiias waged campaigns of 'sectarian cleansing' that forced as many as 9,000 civilians to flee the country each month. Weekly attacks in Iraq rose to more than 1,000 during the period and average daily casualties increased to more than 140, with Iraqi civilians bearing the brunt of the violence". Also noted was that the assement acknowledged "Those figures may represent as little as half of the true casualties because they include only violence observed by or reported to the U.S.-led military coalition". That obvious fact was ignored by those pushing the wave of "violence is down" due to the latest version of the crackdown (this version was 'released' in February of this year). Of the Pentagon assessment, Reuters noted, "There was an average of 1,047 attacks per week on U.S.-led forces and Iraqi soldiers, police and civilians in January and early February, according to statistics released with the report." The report also notes the civil war aspect raging in Iraq. This as the AFP notes Mister Tony's denials of civil war: "British Prime Minister Tony Blair insisted that despite the raging violence four years after the invasion, Iraq is not in a state of civil war. 'not a country at civil war'."

And the violence continues today.


BBC reports that a bombing in the Karrada district of Baghdad has killed a least eight Iraq police officers and left 25 civilians wounded. Kim Gamel (AP) reports the death of a man (unnamed) in Baghdad who was "vegetable seller" who discovered a package which contained a bomb that "exploded as he was trying to carry it away from a populated area in Sadr City." Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) identifies the man as "Ahmed Draiwel, 18" an dnotes that he "was able to hurl it [the package containing the bomb] into a distant trash pile. His brother, who was trying to help him, lost his arm, witnesses said." Reuters notes a bombing in "the western Yarmouk district of Baghdad" which killed an Iraqi soldier and left two people wounded, while a car bombing in Mosul wounded a police officer.

CNN reports: "At least five people were killed and 21 wounded when a parked car packed with explosives detonated Thursday morning next ot a minibus in Iskandiriya, south of Baghdad, police said. The vehicle was carrying employees of the state-run National Car Industry Co. Police also said the manager of the company was shot dead this past week, while driving to work." The BBC notes this blast took place "outside one of the few factories still operating in Iraq."


AFP reports five shooting deaths in Baquba "by gunmen who attacked a string of gas stations and set them on fire". They also note that, in Baghdad, Rakim al-Darraji's car was attacked and he was wounded while a police officer traveling with al-Darraji was killed -- "Darraji had helped the US military in setting up a security centre in the district [Sadr City] as part of the crackdown in Baghdad". AP notes two deaths ("bodyguards") in the attack. Reuters notes a police officer and a cook were shot dead in Mosul while, also in Mosul, "U.S. forces targeting al Qaeda militants in the northern city of Mosul killed one Iraqi soldier and wounded three after thinking they were insurgent".


Kim Gamel (AP) reports: "Twenty bullet-riddled bodies also were found, most of them in Baghdad". The corpse count in Iraq for Thursday will, no doubt, be reported by others (and a higher number) on Friday. (Reuters is currently reporting corpses from yesterday.)

Today, the
US military announced: "A Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West died Mar. 14 in a noncombat related incident in Al Anbar Province." And they announced: "A Soldier assigned to Multi National Force-West was killed Mar. 14 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province." ICCC puts the total number of US service members who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war at 3203. And, most recently, the US military has announced: "Four Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldiers died when two roadside bombs targeted their vehicles in an eastern section of the Iraqi captial, March 15."
What? In Baghdad? But the Happy Talkers couldn't stop bragging about the crackdown!
Kim Gamel (AP) notes that 2 US service members were wounded. The number of US service member deaths announced toay now stands at six.

In the United States, news from both house of Congress.
Reuters reports the Senate plan (withdrawal of US troops by March 31st of 2008) did not pass. AP reports that the vote was 50 to 48 (50 voting against the measure).

Meanwhile, in the lower house, a bill passed a committee vote and will now go to the full house.
Al Jazeera reports that the "Democratic party plan to withdraw US combat troops from Iraq by September 2008 has been approved by a House of Representatives committee. The House approriations committe approved a $124.1 bn emergency spending bill, including around $100bn to continue fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan by 36 votes to 28." David Espo (AP) notes US Rep Jose Serrano stating: "I want this war to end. I don't want to go to any more funerals." This led to a rejoinder from US Rep C. W. Bill Young who claimed he wanted troops out more than anyone. C.W. Bill Young is most infamous for refusing to call out the scandals at Walter Reed Army Medical Center (which he admitted last month he'd seen himself months prior). His "support" of anyone is curiously exhibited. Espo notes that US Rep Barbara Lee voted against the plan and stated, "I believe the American people sent a mandate to us to bring home our men and women before the end of the year" which Lee (and many others) do not believe the bill honors.

In other political news,
Michael Gordon and Patrick Healy (New York Times via Common Dreams) report on their sit down with US Senator and 2008 presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton who told them that leaving out Iraq was out of the question -- "It is right in the heart of the oil region." Well you go, gas guzzling War Hawk. Her sit down position of some US will remain in Iraq if she's elected president is, as the writers note, in contrast to her campaign stop speech where she claims, "If we in Congress don't end this war before January 2009, as president, I will."

Turning to Iraq, Yes! magazine has the second part of a three part feature. It's worth noting for a number of reasons but, chiefly, due to the overly praised Rolling Stone roundtable which was all male and nothing you really couldn't have seen by turning on cable TV.
In the second part, Lisa Farino and Dal LaMagna discuss their meeting with Iraqi parliamentarians and "ambassadors and leaders from other Middle East cocuntires." Also interested in listening, Ali al-Fadhily (IPS) who reports on what Iraqis are saying they want from leaders and, bad news for exiles, "Iraqis have little faith in people who fled and left them to face the situation." Yesterday on KPFA's Flashpoints, Robert Knight noted that Ayad Allawi was in Saudi Arabia attempting to drum up support for his challenge to Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister/puppet of the occupation.

iraqagustin aguayo

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A jot

I was looking for something to write about and logged into The Common Ills public account to see if there was anything that caught my eye. I was about to blog about someone who may or may not be a wounded soldier (I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he is -- he's blogging about Walter Reed so he really can't use his own name). A visitor had e-mailed saying this had to be linked to. And I read it and thought, "Yeah." Then C.I. said, "Have you been to the site itself?" Hadn't. It's a right wing site. Good luck. Get well. But I'm not here to promote the right. The blog has nothing but right wing links on the blogroll. I checked out some of them. Lies and more lies. Saddam's responsible for 9-11 -- lie. The world will end if US troops leave Iraq -- lie. Bill O'Lielly, and much more. I'm not linking. I'm sorry for the guy, I hope he gets some attention. If there's an article in a newspaper and someone finds it, I'll write about it but I'm not providing a link to someone, anyone, who's promoting lies about the war. By the third or fourth link on his blogroll, I'm reading that WMD were discovered in Iraq (lie) and I'm not sending anyone to a site that links to stuff like that.

Now I have nothing to write about. Which I've told everyone and they say, "You've got it, you've got your post." I wish. I can tell you what I found online musically. "When You Close Your Eyes" is Carly's first single. Annie Lennox has a new CD that's almost completed. (I believe the recording is done, and it's just the mix.) Carole King is not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a performer (she's in there as a songwriter -- with Gerry Goffin). Nor is Heart. If you look at a list of those inducted this year, I think you may see the problem with those omissions.

Screw it, it is what it is. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, March 14, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the puppet teeters, 3 US service members are announced dead, US Congressional Dems see that when you cave in public you don't get a free pass, and guess which Iraqi exile wants to lead again.

Staring with news of war resistance, Joshua Key's book
The Deserter's Tale receives a favorable review from Peter Darbyshire (The Vancouver Provence) who concludes it is "a documentary" while War Pornographer Michael Gordon's Cobra II is a "feature film." Considering the estranged relationship with the truth that Gordo's writing has, that pretty much says it all. Key is in Canada with his wife Brandi and his children after self-checking out of the US miliary. Eric Ruder (Socialist Worker) draws links between the historic resistance within the military during the Vietnam era and with the resistance today, noting that "more than 20,000 soldiers have gone AWOL". Iraq Veterans Against the War's Kelly Dougherty states: "I think there probably are a lot of soldiers who left because they don't want to participate in the war in Iraq. The reason that only a handful have come out publicly is that it's really hard to put yourself in that position. If you come forward, you are exposing yourself to criticism and more extreme punishment from the military. One friend told me that he went AWOL because he didn't want to go to war in Iraq, and when he later turned himself in, he didn't tell anyone that he felt that way."

Joshua Wolf is a part of a movement of resistance within the military tha includes
Agustin Aguayo, Ehren Watada, Kyle Snyder, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Yesterday on
KPFA's Flashpoints, Dennis Bernstein again spoke with Tina Richards whose son Cloy has already served two tours of duty in Iraq. Richards: "My son can't face a third tour there. He barely made it home alive after the second tour." Cloy Richards suffers from PTSD. Richards is currently in DC and those wishing to join her or find out more information can click here for her website. She's not sure what her son will do but noted that he might decide to self-check out and due to his medical needs that would mean the threat that he would lose his benefits and health care. Noting the 'actions' of the US Congress on Iraq, Richards stated, "What confuses me is that George Bush's bill was not dead on arrival when it showed up at Congressman [David] Obey's office? Why his supplemental wasn't thrown in the trash and rewritten so that it would really benefit our troops and that it would bring them home. And the fact that they're looking like, that they're acting like they have to work off of President Bush's bill is just wrong. This is what a lot of political analysts have said -- that they can write their own bill."

Bernstein asked her if she felt that elected officials were putting "politics before humanity"? Richards noted that some members of Congress were standing up; however, "there's a lot of other ones that are so disappointing because they are not standing up for what is right but they are working around what is going to make sure that they get a president in '08 and how are they going to increase their majority? And it's coming directly from the leadership of the Democratic Party. And other Congress people have told me, this is being run like a hierarchy, it's not run like a democracy and that to me is just . . . Every single one of those represenatives needs to stand up and represent the people in their district not get told by the leadership of the Democratic party what and how to vote to me any congress that does not stand up to their leadership and speak to truth to power then I just cannot, I don't think that they should be re-elected."

David Swanson ( notes: "The House Appropriations Committee is taking up the 'Supplemental' spending bill for the war at 9 a.m. on Thursday. Whatever comes out of that committee will go to the full House for a vote. Please call 202-224-3121 today and ask for your congress member's office. Or find their number" here.

The Congressional Dems refusal to tell Bully Boy he needs authorization to go to war with Iran or to utilize their power of the purse to end the illegal war on Iraq is resulting in some strong commentaries.
Linda O'Brien (Common Dreams) observes Congress wouldn't stand up to the Bully Boy in 2003 and won't now and wonders how things would be different if Congress had found their spines in 2003: "A fourteen-year-old Iraqi girl would not have been raped by three or more men, her father, mother and little sister would not have heard her scream from the next room; she would not have heard themb eing murdered and then been raped again, and killed, and set on fire. Cindy Sheehan's life could be about long telephone calls, laughter, arguments, joy and the normal sorrows of loving her child, instead of about spending her life struggling with that empty space in her soul filled with questions that can't be answered -- all the things that will never, ever be right. Tens of thousands of American young and middle aged men and women would spend the rest of their lives walking and seeing and thinking instead of living without legs or arms or memories or brains. Hundreds of thousands -- hundreds of thousands -- of Iraqis, half of them children, would still be alive. Living restricted lives, but alive." John V. Walsh (CounterPunch) feels Congress proposals "are designed to do no more than save face for the Dems and allow them to continue to bash Bush. But the bills will not and cannot end the war. There is but one way for the Democratically controlled Congress to end the war and that is to stop the funding. So far the 'antiwar' Democrats refuse to do that. So they now own the war every bit as much as Bush does."

US House Rep and 2008 Democratic presidential hopeful
Dennis Kucinich states: "I have just come from a Democratic Caucus meeting where I raised this issue: Democrats are pushing President Bush's benchmarks in the supplemental as milestones which must be reached by a certain time. One of the first milestones or benchmarks involveds the privatization of Iraqi oil, in the form of passage of a so-called Hydrocarbon law. Democrats are now in a position of legitimatizing the very reason why George Bush took the US to war against Iraq. To grab the oil. Call your Member of Congress now and tell them to not permit the war funding bill to become the vehilce for the privatization of Iraq's oil." The Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Out of Iraq Caucus have a plan and they presented it some time ago. The Dems in leadership choose to look the other way. Which is at the source of the 'flared tempers' that Julie Hirschfeld Davis (AP) reports on: "Tempers flared on Iraq among Democrats on Tuesday as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi fielded criticism from an anti-war congresswoman over liberals' concern that the party is not doing enough to end the war. Pelosi's behind-closed-doors exchange with Rep. Maxine Waters of California -- described as heated by lawmakers and aides who asked not to be identified because of the session's private nature -- came as House leaders made progress in their quest for votes on a war spending that would require U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq by 2008." Does it do that? The bill needs reauthorization (in August) so it's hard to see how a bill in need of reauthorization in August 2007 can accomplish a 2008 withdrawal.

While the Dems in leadership posts posture and preen, life in Iraq continues as usual.


Reuters notes a car bomb in Baghdad "near an Iraqi army checkpoint" that claimed one life and left four more wounded, a roadside bomb outside Kirkuk that killed one person, a mortar attack in Mosul that killed "a man and his child" and left four wounded, and a bombing in Tux Khurmato that killed 10 and left 15 wounded.


CNN reports: "In Diwaniya, the Shiite provincial capital of the southern Iraqi province of Qadisiya, insurgents Wednesday dragged three Iraqi policemen and shot them. Two of them were killed and one was wounded. Police found the bodies and the inured officer near a canal." CBS and AP report the shooting deaths of "a municipal council chief and three other people . . . in the Sunni neighborhood of Azamiyah in Baghdad." Reuters reports, in Baghdad, that Mudhafer al-Ubaidi and a guard were shot dead and al-Ubaidi's on was injured -- al-Ubaid heads the Adhamiya Municipality in Baghdad while, in Mosul, two police officers were shot dead, and, in Kirkuk, a man was shot dead in his story (his brother was kidnapped).


Reuters notes "four decapitated heads" were discovered in Baquba and two corpses were discovered near Falluja.

Today, the
US military announced: "March 13, a MND-B unit struck a roadside bomb while on a combat patrol in a southern section of the Iraqi capital, killing one Soldier and wounding three others." And they announced: "March 13, a MND-B unit struck a roadside bomb while conducting these types of combined security operations in a northeastern section of Iraqi capital, killing one Soldier and wounding another." And they announced: "A Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West was killed Mar. 13 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province."

In addition,
CBS and AP note: "The head of the local Iraqi Red Screscent Society branch, Jassim al-Jubouri, in Tikrit was abducted by gunmen on Monday night."

Turning to news of the puppet of the occupation.
After David Petraeus held Nouri al-Maliki's hand for the helicopter ride to and from Ramadi yesterdy, you might think there's strong support for ht puppet. But AP reports things are far from pretty: "Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki fears the Americans will torpedo his government if parliament does not pass" the Iraqi oil law "by the end of June, close associates of the leader told The Associated Press on Tuesday. . . . Passage of the oil law . . . has become a major issue for the United States".
Antonia Juhasz, writing for Tuesday's New York Times, examined the obvious inequalities of the law the US wants to force through and notes: "Iraqis may very well choose to use the expertise and experience of international oil companies. They are most likely to do so in a
manner that best serves their own needs if they are freed from the tremendou external pressure being exercised by the Bush administration, the oil corporations -- and the presence of 140,000 members of the American Military."

But could al-Maliki really be out? His dismissal has been floated some time and
AP notes the drama's own Darth Vader has returned: Ayad Allawi. Allawi? Where to start? Something mild like 'related' to Ahmed Chalibi by marriage? Or maybe that in the days before he became Iraq's the prime minister/puppet in 2004, Paul McGeough (Sydney Morning Herald) was among the reporters noting that eye witnesses stated they watched as Allawi "pulled out a pistol and execute as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad polices station, just days before Washington handed control of the country to his interim government, according to two people who allege they witnessed the killings. They say the prisoners -- handcuffed and blindfolded -- were lined up against a wall in a courtyard adjacent to the maximum-security cell block in which they were held at the Al-Amariyah security centre, in the city's south-western suburbs." McGeough appeared on Australia's Lateline in July 2004 to discuss the shootings:

MAXINE McKEW: And just take us through the events as they were accounted to you?
PAUL McGEOUGH: Well, I'll take you through what the two bits of pieces of what the two witnesses said to give you the full chronology as I understand it. There was a surprise visit at about 10:30 in the morning to the police centre. The PM is said to have talked to a large group of policemen, then to have toured the complex. They came to a courtyard where six, sorry seven prisoners were lined up against a wall. They were handcuffed, they were blindfolded, they were described to me as an Iraqi colloquialism for the fundamentalist foreign fighters who have come to Baghdad. They have that classic look that you see with many of the Osama bin Laden associates of the scraggly beard and the very short hair and they were a sort of ... took place in front of them as they were up against this wall was an exchange between the Interior Minister and Dr Allawi, the Interior Minister saying that he felt like killing them on the spot. It's worth noting at this point in the story that on June 19, there was an attack on the Interior Minister's home in the Sunni triangle in which four of his bodyguards (inaudible) -- Dr Allawi is alleged to have said (inaudible) -- .
MAXINE McKEW: Paul, you just dropped out there. You were just beginning to describe in fact how this incident, this alleged incident, took place. What was the action taken?
PAUL McGEOUGH: Um, after a tour of the complex, the sort of official party, if you like, arrived in a courtyard where the prisoners were lined up against a wall. An exchange is said to have taken place between Dr Allawi and the Interior Minister. The Interior Minister lives to the north of Baghdad, and on June 19, four of his bodyguards were killed in an attack on his home. He expressed the wish that he would like to kill all these men on the spot. The PM is said to have responded that they deserved worse than death, that each was responsible for killing more than 50 Iraqis each, and at that point, he is said to have pulled a gun and proceeded to aim at and shoot all seven. Six of them died, the seventh, according to one witness, was wounded in the chest, according to the other witness, was wounded in the neck and presumed to be dead.
And of course, Allawi is an exile -- like al-Maliki -- and was
an asset to both the CIA and M16. In terms of the false claim that Saddam Hussein could depoly weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes of the order being given, as Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London) noted in 2004 leads back to Allawi: "The choice of of Iyad Allawi, closely linked to the CIA and formerly to M16, as the Prime Minister of Iraq from 30 June will make it difficult for the US and Britain to persuade the rest of the world that he is capable of leading an independent government. He is the person through whom the controversial claim was channeled that Iraqi weapons of mass destruction could be operational in 45 minutes."

With the above in mind,
Ned Parker (Times of London) reports that Allawi "is pushing for a return to power after assembling a parliamentary coalition of more than 80 steats" and "presenting himself as a secular alternative to Mr Maliki" and that he's seeking out groups to join his coalition at a time when al-Maliki's coalition is 113 seats in parliament -- a loss of 15 seats resulting from Shia Fadhila walking out of al-Maliki's coalition last week. In January of this year, the strain between the puppet and the US became highly public as al-Maliki publicly took offense at comments made by US Secretary of State (and Anger -- as Wally and Cedric say) Condi Rice that his government was on "borrowed time" and al-Maliki also criticized the Bully Boy's 'plan' which al-Maliki felt left Iraqi soldiers "under-armed." The Secretary of State and Anger's response was that "there is a sense of urgency there". As opposed to here?

Turning to
MADRE's "Promising Democracy, Imposing Theocracy: Gender-Based Violence and the US War on Iraq" (which can be read in full in PDF format or, by sections, in HTML). Wednesday, section one ("Towards Gender Apartheid in Iraq") was noted, Thursday, section II, "Iraq's Other War: Impsoing Theocracy Through Gender-Based." Section III is "The Rise of US-Backed Death Squads" was noted Friday, section four, "Violence Against Women Within Families" was noted Monday and yesterday part five is "Gender War, Civil War," part six is "Gender-Based Violence Against Men," and part seven "Violence Against Women in Detention." Which leaves "Conclusion: Standing With Iraqi Women In A Time Of War" which pulls all the sections together and notes that lofty rhetoric about women's rights by the Bully Boy do not translate into advances for women (the loft rhetoric is for domestic audiences) because the words are cover for a continued embrace of totalitatrian leadership in the regime and efforts to snuff out any progressive movements or forces. The violation of Iraqi women's rights and the violence aimed at them results from the encouragement and actions of the US. When women attempt to speak out, the US media refuses to report it or else rushes to "implicitly cast doubt on the veracity of the allegations." Even in one of the big stories of last year, the kidnapping of Jill Carroll, the media consistently refused to explore the kidnapper's sole demand: "the release of Iraqi women in US custody." The report notes the connections between "honor killings" and the US crimes. The media tends to play the "honor killings" in isolation and fails to explore that "the crimes of the occupation reinforce crimes of honor and how repressive codes of family honor have made all Iraqis more vulnerable to abusive authorities, whether they are US occupiers or their Iraqi successors."

Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted, "The US military is expanding two major prisons in Iraq ahead of an expected rise in Iraqi prisoners from the new crackdown in Baghdad. Thousands of prisoners are expected on top of the 17,000 already behind bars."
Those prisoners include women and young girls. Focusing on just two prisons (Al-Rusafah in Uma Qasr and Al-Kadhmiya) MADRE's report noted there were over 1300 women and girls in the two prisons and: "They range from girls of twelves to women in their sixties." Yet still the US military wants more prisons.

iraqagustin aguayo

joshua key

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Silent & The Loudmouth

Patti Smith. I was asked twice today, when we were speaking, what were my favorite Patti Smith songs? "Dancing Barefoot" is probably my favorite. After that the songs (written by her) on Horses and then? Well, I can tell you what my two favorite albums are, in this order, Trampin' and Peace & Noise. Trampin' was her most recent one and there's not one sour note on the whole album for me. I love it all. "Radio Baghdad" is probably my favorite on the album but "My Blakean Year" comes real close to beating it. Trampin' and Peace & Noise were just really amazing, really powerful albums.

The other thing I really wanted to talk about was Molly Ivins. We're in Texas so that seems appropriate. As everyone knows, Ivins recently passed away. As everyone should also know, Ivins was hitting hard on Iraq and planning to make that her main topic. So Elaine, tonight, was posting and she asked me if I remembered Katha Pollitt doing a column on Iraq since September 2005?

I didn't. C.I. said there were two in 2006 but they were on Islam and don't count. C.I. also noted that the September 19, 2005 column perpetuated the myth (Pollitt presented it as fact) that Islam is anti-woman. Hold on, I'm tapping into the C.I. data base right now. (That was a joke, C.I.'s trying to remember a quote from the column.) "How can women be equal before Islamic law, according to which they are unequal?" C.I. says that's an oversimplication that many Islamic women would disagree with. And that it's a "Western-based snobbery" that allows Bully Boy to lie and be believed that he will bring 'democracy' because if the women are so weak they need the help of the "West." Iraq women were better off before Bully Boy came to town. C.I. says read Asma Barlas among others. So the point here is, why was Molly Ivins the only columnist to realize that Iraq was an important topic?

Molly Ivins was a smart woman but was she the only one to see the obvious?

Katha Pollitt was included on a ridiculous list of strong voices against the illegal war that Elaine was e-mailed. What a laugh. You last wrote about Iraq (I don't count her one paragraph slam of "BE HONEST") in 2005 and you're a strong voice? Well Good God, save us from the weak voices!

Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters didn't make the list. I think Jesse Jackson was one of the few African-Americans on the list (Cornell West may have been on it) but Poppy Bush's Brent was on it! Because Brent's been at all the marches! (That was sarcasm.)

That list was insulting and obviously written by someone who knew very little about anything but decided, "It's the anniversary, let me churn out a column on Iraq!"

Why has it gone on four years? Maybe because for every Molly Ivins or Norman Solomon, there are forty Katha Pollits and others. (I have one man in mind but although I think Katha's made herself useless, she can write. Even a bad topic, she can make readable. So I won't disgrace the strong style she has by comparing her to a male so obviously her lesser.)

I love it when Liza Featherbrain decides to slam the peace movement. They're not 'fun,' or they're not doing enough or blah blah blah. Does Featherbrain ever think, "I'm a writer, am I doing enough?" If she hasn't, I'll provide her the honest answer, "NO!" No, she's not doing enough and there are a huge number of men and women who aren't doing enough.

And if you really think about, the 'star' writers have often written more about a potential war with Iran than about the current war with Iraq. (I'm not talking about Pollitt here.) I don't mean in the last few months. I mean since 2004, they've written over and over about this coming war. (To the point that they're going to look like Chicken Little if the US doesn't go to war with Iran.) They've had no time for Iraq, but they've yammered away for two years about Iran.

I guess it's easier to right about what might happen, what could happen, than it is to address the very ugly realities of what the war is doing to Iraq?

Maybe they need the rush, the charge, of a new war the same way Michael Gordon (New York Times) does?

The thought of another war is frightening, no question. But should the possibility get more coverage than an actual ongoing war? I don't think so.

But maybe desk jockeys are only good at What-ifs? Maybe reality is just too much for them? So they need to take months and months off from Iraq, years even, to tell us their thoughts on Mark Folely or other 'hot' topics? The desk jockeys are no better than Larry King and it's really time they grew the hell up.

In the snapshot, C.I. mentions Peter Pace twice. I'll assume everyone knows about this, but in case they don't, I'll go into it. (C.I. didn't have time. We were speaking today, a really tight schedule, and the snapshot was pulled together in 20 minutes -- I was shocked when I read it because I was there and knew C.I. was really pressed for time so I was really expecting 4 or 5 paragraphs.) Peter Pace, fresh from Iraq to become the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, told The Chicago Tribune yesterday that gays (and presumably lesbians) were "immoral."

This is from Willie Monroe's report (channel seven in San Francisco):

General Peter Pace kept a low profile after his comments to the Chicago Tribune Newspaper took on a life of their own. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was asked what he thought about the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which allows gays and lesbians in the military if they don't admit it or act on it. He was not subtle.
General Peter Pace: "I believer that homosexual acts between individuals are immoral, and that we should not condone immoral acts."
General Pace said he believed homosexuality was like adultery, the military doesn't condone either.
Commander Zoe Dunning: "I was very surprised, and shocked that he would actually say those things. The fact that he may believe that was not so much of a surprise."
Commander Zoe Dunning is a Naval Academy graduate who's been serving 26-years -- the last 14 as the only openly gay person in the military, after winning her legal case. She's currently a Naval Reservist, and is also co-chair of the Service Members Legal Defense Network, a group that assists gays dismissed from the military. The group demanded an apology from the general.
Commander Zoe Dunning: "Here you have part of your fighting forces that are necessary, and you're saying they're immoral and we don't need them."
[. . .]
General Pace did not apologize. Instead, he issued a statement saying he should have focused more on supporting the policy, and less on his personal moral views.

Little Peter Pace is a homophobic pig.

Now it's time for C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Tuesday, March 13, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, two new polls have bad results for Bully Boy, Nouri al-Maliki begins a whisper campaign to smear a woman, and Dems cave again.

Starting with
MADRE's "Promising Democracy, Imposing Theocracy: Gender-Based Violence and the US War on Iraq" (which can be read in full in PDF format or, by sections, in HTML). Wednesday, section one ("Towards Gender Apartheid in Iraq") was noted, Thursday, section II, "Iraq's Other War: Impsoing Theocracy Through Gender-Based." Section III is "The Rise of US-Backed Death Squads" was noted Friday, section four, "Violence Against Women Within Families" was noted Monday. Part five is "Gender War, Civil War," part six is "Gender-Based Violence Against Men," and part seven "Violence Against Women in Detention." We're grabbing all three sections today because five and seven fit with something in today's news. Due to that, we'll start with section six.

US tax dollars pay for what in Iraq? Homophobia. (Peter Pace must be so proud.) Recently,
the US military expressed concern over the effects TV's cess pool 24 was having on US troops. But what about inside Iraq? As the report outlines one of Iraq's most popular TV shows is Terrorists in the Hands of Justice which -- mini-American Idol -- "airs six nights a week on the Iraqiya television network, which was created by the US Pentagon." The show ("financed with US tax dollars") features an interrogation of real prisoners who have the wounds to prove they've been tortured into confessing -- confessing to whatever the bullies want them to say. (Bullies, again, paid with US tax dollars.) So they confess to many things include "gay orgies" -- Sunnis make up the prisoners, interrogators are Shia. Think the program (US backed) doesn't create further tensions (while also marketing and condoning tension)?

The report notes that target groups for "torture and killing are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, and intersex". Those who attempt to receive help or protection realize there is none to be had: "US authorities have responded to Iraqis seeking protection or justice in the wake of homophobic attacks with derision and outright mockery. The US-backed Iraqi police stand accused of rape and extortion by gay men." (Again, Peter Pace must be so proud.)

Now we're going to combine sections five ("Gender War, Civil War") and six ("Violence Against Women In Detention"). Here the report addresses the realities of the gender war which is intertwined with the civil war even if the media and others refuse to acknowledge it. The report notes Haifa Zangana's research which found that the first question asked of any female taken prisoner in Iraq is "Are you Sunni or Shia?" The second? "Are you a virgin?" The report notes the photos of US troops raping women in Abu Ghraib which the US Congress refused to release. The photos are noted in the Taguba report but not as rape, as "sex." That results from the 2006 US Military Commissions Act.

For those of who've forgotten, the
Showboat Express (John McCain) had this to say about the 2006 US Military Commissions Act: "Simply put, this legislation ensures that we respect our obligations under Geneva, recognizes the President's constitutional authority to interpret treaties, and brings accountability and transparency to the process of interpretation by ensuring that the executive's interpretation is made public. The legislation would also guarantee that Congress and the judicial branch will retain their traditional roles of oversight and review with respect to the President's interpretation of non-grave breaches of Common Article 3."

Far from the Showboat Express, US Senator Patrick Leahy opposed the bill in strong language and concluded: "
I am sorry that the Republican leadership squandered the chance to consider and pass bipartisan legislation that will make us safer and help our fight against terrorism. There was an opportunity today for the Senate to provide the tools we need to fight terrorism while showing the world the values we cherish and defend . . . I will not participate in a legislative retreat out of weakness and fear that undercuts everything this nations stand for and that makes us more vulnerable and less secure. Consistent with my oath of office, my conscience, my committment to the people of Vermont and the nation, I cannot and will not support this bill."

US Senator John McCain is also attempting to win the Republican 2008 presidential nomination. Would be voters might want to ask him why he pushed an act that effectively removed rape? Prior to the US Military Commissions Act of 2006, rape was on the list of acts of torture. Thanks to McCain and his ilk, it was watered down to the point that it's meaningless. Guards having sex with prisoners? Maybe it was boredom? Not rape, never rape.

Before Abu Ghraib became the scandal that shocked the world, in December 2003, a letter was smuggled out of the prison, penned by "Noor." She wrote of "women . . . being systematically rped by US soldiers . . . and that some detainees were pregnant as a result of these rapes." Noor's claims were backed up after the fact. But no US troop was punished. Along with rape, female prisoners were urinated on, beaten and much more. Women and girls were often imprisoned not for any act they had committed but because US forces wanted their male relatives so women and girls became bargaining chips -- in violation of international law. Once imprisoned, the dangers didn't stop. Women (and their husbands) would be threatened with women not only being raped but being raped in front of their husbands who would be forced to watch.

Many examples of abuse are given but we'll focus on the case of Kahdija Mohammed Mhawish who was held in several jails for over two years and tortured the whole time: "She reported being flogged with cables, having her fingernails pulled out, and being forced to stand naked before prisoners who were urged to rape her. Khadija, who was sexually assaulted in front of her son (also a prisoner), identified the following men as her rapists: Fifth Branch officers Major Raid, Captain Nabeel, First Lieutenant Saad, and non-commissioned officers Abdilamir and Raad."

Into that climate comes news of Sabrine Janabi. She was the woman who publicly stated she had been raped on television -- by Iraqi security forces. As noted in
the first snapshot she was mentioned in last month: " . . . an Iraqi woman (whose real name has not been given in press reports) has stated she was raped by Shia military forces in Baghdad on Sunday." Thug-puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki promised an investigation and of course changed his mind. As Riverbend (Baghdad Burning) noted, "It was less than 14 hours between Sabrine's claims and Maliki's rewarding the people she accused. In 14 hours, Maliki not only established their innocence, but turned them into his own personal heroes. I wonder if Maliki would entrust the safety of his own wife and duaghter to these men. This is meant to discourage other prisoners, especially women from coming forward and making claims against Iraqi and American forces." Well al-Maliki can't stop smearing the woman.

Ned Parker (Times of London) reports on the whisper campaign against the woman whom, they claim, has been under arrest for some time and had made a confession they videotaped. To show it on US-backed Iraqi television? They're probably not going to show the tape, they've decided, and instead push the whisperer campaign. They tell Parker the woman is actually Shia (if true, that appeared in the press the same week she went on TV), that she worked as a prostitute, that she was paid by Sunnis to make these charges and that Sabrine is not her real name! Not her real name! Oh, we should issue a correction right now . . . except that anyone paying attention when the story broke knew "Sabrine" wasn't the name of the woman. Of course, the campaign wants you to believe that when not turning tricks, Sabrine also has time to play the medical nurse to the "insurgency" and don't forget she has also been alleged to have been the chief chef of the "insurgency."

In the real world,
Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reports not just on the whisper campaign ("leaked information to discredit her" and adds that they're also accusing Sabrine of bigamy) but also notes the Iraqi Islamic Party's denial of hiring and and, most important, reminds that despite the puppet's minions saying the woman is liar, "U.S. rape experts told McClatchy Newspapers that the report, filled out after the woman was taken to a U.S. military hospital by the American patrol who picked her up from the Iraqi police station, showed that she had extensive injuries consistent with sexual assault, including bruises on her thigh."

That's in reference to a report that ran in February --
noted in Feb. 22nd's snapshot:

What he [al-Maliki] did do was release something -- a second page of a three page report on someone -- that he said was proof that the woman wasn't raped. It wasn't proof of anything. And it doesn't even prove that whatever woman the report is on wasn't raped.
Richard Mauer (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that rape experts who have looked at the page say it "didn't disprove the woman's allegations, . . . and it indicated that the woman suffered extensive injuries, including at least eight bruises on the front of her thighs consistent with a sexual assualt."

Only McClatchy Newspapers had the brains to take the released page to rape experts, everyone else allowed the puppet government to spin the single page they had released. Sadly, only McClatchy Newspapers has noted this fact -- that the single medical page doesn't disprove Sabrine's statements but, in fact, backs them up.

On the topic of crimes in Iraq,
Paul von Zielbauer (New York Times) examined criminal convictions of US troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and found "240 of the 665 cases" ended in conviction and that alcohol "is involved in a growing number of rimes committed by troops deployed to those countries." In the case of Abeer Qasim Hamza (not mentioned by name in the article -- this is the Times which has gone out of its way to avoid giving the victim a name), based on the confessions of James P. Baker and Paul Cortez, alcohol was involved prior to after the gang rape of the 14-year-old Abeer by US forces, the murder of her and the murders of her parents and five-year-old sister. So was chicken, they grilled chicken afterwards -- so alcohol's link (or "link") may or may not be a major mitigating factor.

Turning to news of war resistance,
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today that Helga Aguayo, the wife of Agustin Aguayo, has stated they will "continue to fight for her husband's release from a military prison" and quotes Helga Aguayo stating: "What I do want now is my husband to be released which will happen in 40-45 days. We pursue it legally and that he is found to be a conscientious objector, one, that his conviction of desertion is overturned, two, and that he is given an honorable discharge. That's all I hope for." Agustin Aguayo was court-martialed March 6th in Germany and was sentenced to 8 months in prison but given credit for the 161 days he had already served while awaiting his court-martial.

Another US war resister,
Ehren Watada was the subject of a short film noted by Jeff Yang (San Francisco Chronicle) today:

CAAM's evolutionary throughline might be visible in its production of Curtis Choy's "
Watada, Resister," an 18-minute mini-film documenting the historic conversation between Lt. Ehren Watada, the Japanese American soldier who is facing court martial as the first U.S. commissioned officer to refuse deployment to the Iraq War, and Frank Emi and Yosh Kuromiya, Nisei resisters of a generation before, who rejected service in the U.S. military as a protest against the internment of their friends and family.By connecting Watada with these moral forebears, the work connects yesterday to today, bringing the legacy of history to the dynamic, shifting playing field of the present. The medium is as much a message as the content: "Watada, Resister" was released directly to the Internet as a streaming and downloadable video."Curtis came to us saying, 'We have to tell this story, but I don't want to wait two years to do this for PBS, and I don't want to raise a lot of money,'" says [Stephen] Gong. "We pulled together a few thousand dollars to cover the costs of a crew up in Seattle and in L.A., and Curtis did his own editing, while our staff pulled together the contextual narrative to give people a way to understand the material. And literally, that was it. This was a story that needed to be told now, and this gave us a way to tell it."

Agustin Aguayo, Ehren Watada are part of a movement of resistance within the military that includes Kyle Snyder, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.


CBS and AP report that a roadside bomb in Baghdad left two Industry Ministry workers dead and six more injured. Lauren Frayer (AP) reports a mortar attack in Mosul that claimed one life and left four wounded. Reuters notes a rocket attack in central Baghdad that killed 2 people and left two more wounded (although one source told Reuters 4 died and 4 were wounded).


CBS and AP report that an interpreter working for occupation forces was shot dead in Kut. Reuters notes that a judge (Omar Abdul Nabi) and two people with him were shot dead in Baghdad while another person was wounded, an attack on a police car that killed 3 police officers and left 2 wounded, that Hatam Mushin ("general director of mechanical industries company") was shot dead in Iskandariya, and, in Kirkuk, one police officer was shot dead and three more wounded.

AFP reports four people were shot dead in Baghdad and Lauren Frayer (AP) notes that they were shot dead in "a Sunni mosque in the southwest of the city".


Reuters reports 17 corpses were discovered in Baghdad, 2 near Kut, 1 in Diwaniya and 4 in Mosul. Lauren Frayer (AP) notes that the number of corpses in Kut rose from two to eight and, in Mosul, from 4 to 5.

Turning to US politics. As
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted, "Democratic leaders have announced they're now abandoning an effort to put limits on President Bush's authority to take military action against Iran. Democrats had included a provision in the new military spending bill that would have required Congressional approval for any military confrontation with Iran.But the requirement was dropped after several Democrats argued it would take away the use of force as a bargaining tool over Iran's nuclear program." Peter Grier (Christian Science Monitor) observes what this may means in terms of leadership issues:
"The provision's removal shows how difficult it may be for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) of California and Senate majority leader [Harry] Reid to keep Democrats together in the coming debates over further Iraq restrictions. It may also show how hard it is for Congress to strike a consensus over difficult questions of war and peace." If it is a leadership issue, it's one for Congress to fret over, not one for peace activists to wring their hands over.
Norman Solomon (CounterPunch) makes this point very well: "Pelosi and Reid have a job to do. The antiwar movement has a job to do. The jobas are not the same. This should be obvious -- but, judging from public and private debates now fiercely underway among progressive activists and organizations, there's a lot of confusion in the air. No amount of savvy Capitol-speak can change the fact that 'benchmarks' are euphemisms for more war. And when activists pretend otherwise, they play into the hands of those who want the war to go on . . . and on . . . and on." Kevin Zeese (Democracy Rising) also offers reality, "The headline that the Democratic leadership would like voters to hear" from last week's nonsense measure, " is 'troops out of Iraq by August 2008.' But the headline is more a wolf in sheep's clothing than a reality. After hearing details of the bill from Obey's appropriations staff person the loopholes may define the law more than the headline. From most in the peace movement an August 2008 deadline for withdrawl is already way too slow. . . .
But, that is not the worst of it. As Rep. Maxine Waters, the Chair of the Out of Iraq Caucus point out, a few weeks ago the Congress passed a non-binding resolution against the so-called "surge" but this appropriation will actually pay for the surge – which has grown since their vote by
more than 8,200 troops. Indeed, the Democrats are poised to give Bush up to $20 billion more than he asked for!" Mike addressed the Obey nonsense last week. Others offered cover for Obey (for comments on Sirota's cover, see this roundtable). As Solomon points out: "Pelosi and Reid have a job to do. The antiwar movement has a job to do. The jobs are not the same."

Meanwhile, two news polls continue to demonstrate Americans want US forces out of Iraq.
CNN has a new poll which has found: "Nearly six in ten Americans want to see U.S. troops leave Iraq either immediately or within a year, and more would rather have Congress running U.S. policy int he conflict than President Bush". The same poll finds that American want US troops out of Iraq -- 21% immediately and 37% advocating "within a year". CBS and the New York Times poll finds that 59% oppose Bully Boy's escalation plan of sending more troops to Iraq (36% approve -- so sign up to fight!) while 76% of those polled said that the administration had not "done enough for Iraq war vets."

Nor for their families.
Speaking with Amy Goodman (Democracy Now) Carlos Arrendo explained how the military told him his son Alex had died serving in Iraq (they told him of the death then stayed out on the street in a van, refusing to leave -- with his ex-wife, Marines sat down with her and brought a chaplain) Arrendo is currently taking part in the Endless War Memorial in NYC (Times Square) which is multi-day reading of the known names of those who have died in Iraq.

Finally, the puppet left the Green Zone and went to Ramadi where he exclaimed, "
I haven't been to Ramadi since 1976!" reports al Jazeera. How could he? He fled Iraq in 1980 to escape criminal charges, ran to Iran then Syria, and lived there until after the start of the current illegal war. Now Nouri al-Maliki has to face that life can be confining in the cage that is the Green Zone. At least he has his whisper campaigns.

iraqagustin aguayo