Friday, September 21, 2007

Casual Friday

Okay, I hope to have Ben Harper's CD review up this weekend. (Sunday morning.) However . . . Yes, I am the supreme procrastinator. But remember Maggie was upset earlier in the week? We're both over at C.I.'s and Jim's tearing into boxes (C.I. gets more parcels than anyone I know). A friend had sent C.I. some DVDs and they're classic films. (I think they're all out but they may not be.) Maggie saw a collection of one actress she loves, Mae West. C.I. told her, "Take it." But she won't. If it's out (C.I. says it is), then we'll grab it tomorrow when we go looking for it. But what's going to happen tonight is a huge bucket of popcorn, Maggie's French Onion dip (remember the 'secret' is two envelopes of onion soup mix) and who knows what else. C.I. and Ava are unpacking (they only just got back from the road) and when they're done, we're going to watch at least two of Mae's movies. Jim, believe it or not, has never seen a Mae West film, so he's very excited. Dona's seen She Done Him Wrong so we're not going to watch that. (She likes the comedy, but we thought since we're only watching two, it would be better to go with something that everyone hasn't seen. Ava, Jess, C.I., Ty, Maggie and myself have seen all of Mae's black & white films. I may be the only one who's seen Myra Breckenridge as well!)

By the way, Maggie was right about writing about her depression. I had two e-mails from people saying they were going through the exact same thing. One is a community member and the other was a visitor.

Oh, let me add something here. C.I. will be pulling the link that everyone's written about. C.I. had heard about the e-mails from members (Martha and Shirley tallied up everyone saying "Pull it") and I explained in greater detail what was going on. They're furious that ___ is attacking CODEPINK and calling Dennis Kucinich a 'tinkerbell'. There were e-mails that started, "Look, I'm not going to vote for Kucinich, but I am offended by this bulls**t." It had nothing to do with Kucinich supporters only. C.I. hasn't even read the site. (But noted, "He trashed my friend as well. That's the last time I ever read him." He trashed Molly Ivins a few weeks before she died. Then when she died, he offered this "I loved Molly!" nonsense apparently expecting everyone to forget that he'd said things about her like she's really just trying to get Republicans elected and she never had a kind word for Bill Clinton when he was in office and all the slurs he used to write about her.) So it's gone.

C.I. did ask, "Do people even go to that site?" No. Not normally. What happened was what usually happens, one member saw it, copy and pasted it and sent it around to some members he or she was close to and then it ended up going community wide. We're watching movies tonight. C.I. will remove the link by Sunday night when doing "And the war drags on."

So don't e-mail about it. Martha and Shirley told me they hadn't seen so many e-mails on one topic in a week or two. They were exhausted just from reading them. It's gone by Sunday night. Forget about it, it's over.

Back to the parcels. C.I. never opens them. They just stack up. That's why C.I. always tells Jim, "You can open them." And Jim will but always waits for C.I. to be here. (C.I. tells Jim, "I don't have to be here.") So one thing in the packages was Ani DiFranco's new CD. I didn't even know she had a new one. It's actually a collection. I haven't listened yet but I'll give it a listen and either write something here or a brief thing at The Common Ills (if the latter, probably next month -- I want to do Ben Harper this Sunday and Joni Mitchell the following). There were so many CDs but Jim tossed that one to me. I caught it, saw it was Ani and was so shocked I dropped it. It's a double disc and that's all I know right now.

I'm lazy (as always) so swiping from Third, I've mentioned The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim and C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, September 21, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, 'progress' is no where to be found in Iraq, the US loses weapons and the Iraqi resistance reportedly now has them, and more.

Starting with war resistance. Alaam News reports that a US family of five (three children) is seeking asylum in Finland "with local media speculating that it is opposition to the Iraq war" that has led the family to leave the United States and start over in Helenski this week. If true, it would be only the second time this decade that an "American citizen . . . [has] filed an asylum application in Finland during the current decade." Meanwhile IVAW's Michael Prysner (PSL) reports, "The number of deserters is also steadily climbing, with official numbers now reaching over 10,000 since the war began. Many believe these numbers may actually be much higher. The G.I. Rights Hotline reports an average of 3,000 calls a month by new recruits and active duty soldiers who have decided they want to abandon the military. . . . Soldiers against the war have begun organizing within the military. Active duty soldiers started the Appeal for Redress, a petition calling for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. It was formulated less than a year ago, and has collected over 2,000 signatures of soldiers currently serving in the military. Membership in Iraq Veterans Against the War is nearing 600. . . . Soldiers like Lt. Ehren Watada and Camilo Mejia have set the example, publicly refusing deployment and condemning the war for its illegal and immoral nature."

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

Peter Hart spoke with Anthony Arnove (IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal) on this week's CounterSpin (airing on most radio stations today) about the issue of contractors.

Anthony Arnove: There is effectively a doubling of the US occupation in Iraq right now through the employment of private contractors of whom as many as 50,000 are armed -- effectively private mercenaries working in the employee of the US occupation. Blackwater is operating under the employment of the State Department. What's interesting is that very early on in the US occupation, Paul Bremer -- who was acting as the colonial viceroy -- in his capacity of head of the Coalition Provision Authority deliberately exempted these mercenaries and other US contractors from Iraqi law. And they've created basically a legal black hole in which these mercenaries can operate without any accountability. And the few times there have been incidents in which Iraqis tried to pursue contractors for violations they've been skirted out of the country so as not to have to face any prosecution. They do technically fall under rules of engagement set down for US contractors -- whether that's Pentagon rules or State Department rules. But like we've seen with active duty troops who've engaged in abuses of human rights in Iraq, there's really been no accountability certainly not up the chain of command.

No accountability. And Bremer and the CPA were nothing but a shell game. Bremer stripped Iraqis of oversight and, in fact, the US may not have any legal right to oversight as well. As Naomi Klein explains in her new book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism:

Bremer's CPA would not try to stop the various scams, side deals and shell games because the CPA was itself a shell game. Though it was billed as the U.S. occupation authority, it's unclear that it held that distinction in anything other than name. This point was forcefully made by a judge in the infamous Custer Battles corruption case.
Two former employees of the security firm launched a whistle-blower lawsuit against the company, accusing it of cheating on reconstruction-related contracts with the CPA and defrauding the U.S. governments produced by the company that clearly showed it was keeping two sets of numbers -- one for itself, one for invoicing the CPA Retired Brigadier-General Hugh Tant testified that the fraud was "probably the worst I've ever seen in my 30 years in the army." (Among Custer Battles' many alleged violations, it is said to have appropriated Iraqi-owned forklifts from the airport, repainted them and billed the CPA for the cost of leasing the machines.)
In March 2006, a federal jury in Virginia ruled against the company, finding it guilty of fraud, and forced it to pay $10 million in damages. The company then asked the judge to overturn the verdict, with a revealing defense. It claimed that the CPA was not part of the U.S. government, and therefore not subject to its laws, including the False Claims Act. The implications of this defense were enormous: the Bush administration had indemnified U.S. corporations working in Iraq from any liability under Iraqi laws; if the CPA wasn't subject to U.S. law either, it meant that the contractors weren't subjected to any law at all -- U.S. or Iraqi. This time, the judge ruled in the company's favor: he said there was plenty of evidence that Custer Battles had submitted to the CPA "false and fraudulently inflated invoices," but he ruled that the plaintiffs had "failed to prove that the claims were presented to the United States." In other words, the U.S. government presence in Iraq during the first year of its economic experiment had been a mirage -- there had been no government, just a funnel to get U.S. taxpayer and Iraqi oil dollars to foreign corporations, completely outside the law. In this way, Iraq represented the most extreme expression of the anti-state counter-revolution -- a hollow state, where, as the courts finally established, there was no there, there.

Contractors in Iraq -- with the permission of the US government and sometimes on the orders of the US government -- have been allowed to act with impunity. Daniel Howden and Leonard Doyle (Independent of London) provide a look at the rise of outsourcing governmental tasks and note, "A high-ranking US military commander in Iraq said: 'These guys run loose in this country and do stupid stuff. There's no authority over them, so you can't come down on them hard when they escalate force. They shoot people.' In Abu Ghraib, all of the translators and up to half of the interrogators were reportedly private contractors."
Rosa Brooks (Los Angeles Times) also addresses the reality of governmental tasks being sold off to the private section, "What's been happening in Iraq -- and in Afghanistan, Columbia, Somalia and the Pentagon and the State Department -- goes far beyond the 'outsourcing of key military and security jobs.' For years, the administration has been quietly auctioning off U.S. foreign policy to the highest corporate bidder -- and it may be too late for us to buy it back. Think I'm exaggerating? Look at Blackwater. Its $750-million contract with the U.S. State Department employees in Iraq is just one of many lucrative U.S. (and foreign) government contracts it has enjoyed (and it's a safe bet that Sunday's episode will be only a minor PR setback for Blackwater). As for Blackwater's most recent slaughter, Kim Sengupta (Independent of London) reconstructs the events on Sunday via eye witness testimony: " We have found no Iraqi present at the scene who saw or heard sniper fire. Witnesses say the first victims of the shootings were a couple with their child, the mother and infant meeting horrific deaths, their bodies fused together by heat after their car caught fire. The contractors, according to this account, also shot Iraqi soldiers and police and Blackwater then called in an attack helicopter from its private air force which inflicted further casualties." Apparently unable to speak to Iraqis, Sabrina Tavernise and James Glanz (New York Times) rely on a leaked report from the Ministry of the Interior which "has concluded that employees of a private American security firm fired an unprovoked barrage in the shooting last Sunday," "that the dozens of foreign security companies here should be replaced by Iraqi companies, and that a law that has given the companies immunity for years be scrapped" -- and the reporters offer: "The Iraqi version of events may be self-serving in some points." And the US version may be what? Tavernise and Glanz ignore that prospect. Blackwater's apparently ignoring some things as well. Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes, "In Iraq, the private security firm Blackwater USA is reportedly back on the streets of Baghdad despite an announced ban on its activities. The Iraqi government said it had revoked Blackwater's license this week after its guards killed up to twenty-eight Iraqis in an unprovoked mass shooting. But a Pentagon spokesperson said today Blackwater is guarding diplomatic convoys following talks with the Iraqi government." So, as Ian Thompson (PSL) judged it, "Even the Iraqi puppet government leadership spoke up -- but its words were hot air. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki wants to gain credibility and appear to be independent of his U.S. colonial masters." The events appear to answer Thursday's question ("For the US government, it's a quandry: Do they use this moment to provide al-Maliki with a chance to alter his image or do they continue to let greed rule?"): Greed again won out.

Self-serving? Sabrina Tavernise and James Glanz apply that to the report from Iraq's Interior Ministry and it's doubtful they'd ever use the term for the upcoming US report. Along with the issue of equality, there's also the fact that the term is flat out wrong. The Interior Ministry is not self-serving, it's US-serving. Dropping back to the September 6th snapshot:

Turning to retired generals, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reported today, "A panel of retired US generals is urging the United States to disband and reorganize the Iraqi police force because of infiltration by sectarian militias. The generals also report Iraq's security forces will be unable to fulfill their essential security responsibilities independently for at least another twelve to 18 months." Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) explains that the national police force as well as the Iraq Interior Ministry are "riddled with sectarianism and corruption" by the Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq headed by James Jones (Marine general) in there 150-plus page report which also finds the Iraqi army at least a year to 18 months away from being able to handle "internal security". Tim Reid (Times of London) reports, "The 20 member-panel also said today that the Iraqi Army was incpable of acting independently from US forces for at least another 18 months, and 'cannot yet meaningfully contribute to denying terrorists safe haven'."

The militias of the Interior Ministry are thugs who terrorize. Who trained them? Who introduced the "Salvador option"? The US. Who has refused to disband them? The US. Self-serving? The Interior Ministry wishes it were self-serving. Then it could really go to town slaughtering 'enemies.' It wouldn't have to worry that one of the many torture chambers they are running might result in a US military 'rescue' of their torture victims. If they were independent and self-serving, all of their torture chambers would be signed off on and not just some.

Today on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show, Rehm spoke with the Washington Post's Karen DeYoung, the Wall St. Journal's Neil King Jr. and Newsweek's Michael Hirsh about a number of topics. On the topic of Blackwater, Hirsh declared, "Often all that happens is that the employee is spirited out of the country. That happened last Christmas Eve when a Blackwater employee shot and killed a guard to a senior Iraqi official inside the Green Zone which was obviously a little politically toxic. And he left, the company has since refused to disclose his name and he has not been prosecuted."

Neil King, Jr. (Wall Street Journal): The thing that is extraordinary about it is that we had the Petraeus hearings last weekend or last week, and all the discussion "we want Iraq to be a country, we want it to step up, we want it to meet all these benchmarks" etc. And yet we don't really actually treat it as a country to the extent that we've got thousands of our own nationals driving around with machine guns and opening fire on people and then being totally immune from the law and as is the case of this shooting last week -- sorry, last December -- where a person shot a security guard who was the personal security guard of the vice-president of Iraq and the person's spirited out of the country. Nobody ever knows what his name was and he's gone. There'll never be -- I mean if you reverse the scenario and imagine any remote corrolary to that in the United States which is literally unimaginable.

A point the paper of record misses. Self-serving also wasn't applied by the New York Times to any of Gen. David Petraeus' many laughable reports to Congress. Rather strange considering Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London via CounterPunch) was reporting in the midst of the dog & pony show on how Petraues was explaining how he wanted to be President as early as 2004 but thought 2008 would be too soon to run. As Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reported earlier this week, safety "is deteriorating in southern Iraq as rival Shiite militia vying for power have stepped up their attacks after moving out of Baghdad to avoid U.S.-led military operations, according to the latest quarterly Pentagon report on Iraq". If it all sounds familiar it's because it's the same story that's been playing out over and over across Iraq. But this was hailed last week as 'progress.' Let's stick with 'progress' for a bit. Remember how the meaningless soccer victories didn't change anything but were hailed with waves of Operation Happy Talk? Strangely, that's not been the case for a title Iraq actually won. The title? Kim Sengupta (Independent of London) reported mid-week that "Iraq holds the world record for both the first and second highest amounts taken in the history of bank robberies." Number one! Number one! In fact, the chart accompanies the article reveals that four of the top five Iraq bank robberies have taken place this year for a total of $282 million (US equivalent). And how about the 'progress' in the spreading of cholera? What had been a crisis for nothern Iraq is now reaching into Baghdad with Andrew E. Kramer (New York Times) reporting that there are now two confirmed cases of cholera in Baghdad. And it's not stopping at Baghdad. Katrina Kratovac (AP) reports that "a baby in Basra" is "the farthest south the outbreak has been detected." "Progress"? Robert Burns (AP) reports that Iraqis control approximately 8 percent of Baghdad -- only 8 percent -- which Burns points out is not a large growth even though Maj Gen Joseph Fil claims it is, "Despite the slow pace of progress towards having Iraqi forces maintain control of Baghdad neighborhoods with minimal U.S. troop presence, Fil said he was hopeful that it would accelerate in coming months." He's hopeful -- that's supposed to have us all glowing.

Well maybe there's 'progress' to be found in oil news? Tuesday Press TV reported on the bombing outside Beiji of an oil pipeline "causing huge quanties of crude oil to spill into the Tigris River" which has "caused oil to seep into the Tigris River damaging water stations and triggering their temporary closure in Tikrit". And the Tigris flows. Last night AP reported, "City officials urged Baghdad residents Thursday to conserve water and fill up their tanks in case water treatment stations have to be shut down because of an oil spill in the Tigris River." Progress? Just more violence.

In some of today's reported violence . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Hawija bombing of the home "of the former chief of Hawija police". Reuters reports 1 Romanian soldier dead from a Tallil bombing that left five more injured, a Kirkuk roadside bombing that claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and 1 Iraqi police officer, an Iskandariya mortar attack that claimed 1 life (three more injured)


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 8 corpses were discovered in Baghdad and three female corpses in Basra. Reuters notes that three corpses were discovered in Yusufiya and 1 in Bajwan.

Today the US military announced: "A soldier assigned to Task Force Lightning died in a non-combat related incident in Kirkuk province Sept. 20." And they announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier was killed in Diyala Province Thursday when an explosion occurred near his vehicle." The deaths bring the total number of US service members killed in the illegal war since it began in March of 2003 to 3794 (ICCC). That's six announced deaths away from the 3800 mark.

Finally, the CBS Evening News' Armen Keteyian looks into the missing weapons "the U.S. military could not account for" (190,000 of them) and discovers a large number of the Glock pistols have ended up in the hands of the Iraqi resistance: "According to an intelligence source, the U.S. contractor in charge of the Glocks somehow lost track of an entire shipment. That mysterious disappeance is now part of a massive military bribery investigation centered around a contracting office run out of a small trailer at a military base in Kuwait. Eighteen federal investigators are digging into the actions of dozens of high-ranking U.S officers and military contractors."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Pistol slapping of & Boxer takes a dive

Democrats Voting to Condemn
Baucus (D-MT), Bayh (D-IN), Cardin (D-MD), Carper (D-DE), Casey (D-PA), Conrad (D-ND), Dorgan (D-ND), Feinstein (D-CA), Johnson (D-SD), Klobuchar (D-MN), Kohl (D-WI), Landrieu (D-LA), Leahy (D-VT), Lincoln (D-AR), McCaskill (D-MO), Mikulski (D-MD), Nelson (D-FL), Nelson (D-NE), Pryor (D-AR), Salazar (D-CO), Tester (D-MT), Webb (D-VA)

That's the list of supreme cowards. I'm not a fan of No one in this community is. They're basically a Democratic cheerleading squad. In a real world, they'd wake up and see, righ now, just where that got them. There's a list of mini-cowards. That's headed by my own senator Barbara Boxer. (DiFi is technically my other senator but most of us out here believe she's actually representing The Genteel Tea Party and not the state of California.) Barbara Boxer -- fresh from a framing conference? -- decided the thing to do was to offer up a proposal that condemned WalkOn but also condemned the Not-So-Swift-Floaties and others.

It's amazing that the lovelies have so much time to waste. But it's really not "their" time, is it?

They are on "our time." They're supposed to be working for us.

WalkOn has been in bed with the Dems forever. So now it's time to ask, "How'd that work out for you?" Not too well, did it? You just got condemned by the Democratically Senate.

In a real world, a pistol slapping like that would wake someone up. WalkOn won't even holler "Ouch!" at the Dems who stabbed them in the back is my bet.

We almost did a piece on this last weekend (at Third). But we were short on time and the decision was made that there were more important things to address.

It's a shame the Senate thinks they have so much more time than we, who do not serve in Congress, have.

WalkOn is a centrist group that leans slightly left. The Senate action should really telegraph to all against the illegal war what elected Democrats in the Senate really think of us.

Barbara Boxer's been making noises about retiring forever. Before her 2004 election, when she was plugging her book, she was all over the place (at least in California) talking about how she almost wasn't in Congress again because she didn't really want to be. But after 9-11, she was glad she was, she explained, because the country needed strong defenders.

Strong defenders? Boxer, you behaved cowardly.

The answer wasn't in the tired and fading hula-hoop of "framing," the answer was in offering a strong defense for free speech.

She got re-elected in 2004 with a stronger percentage of the votes than Bully Boy. She actually had a mandate and she elected to squander it.

I'm pretty sure WalkOn will respond like a battered wife and make excuses for the abuse they just suffered. So let me be clear, I'm not defending them. I'm not saying, "We've got to stand with WalkOn."

I don't stand with anyone who can't take a stand. Maybe I'll end up wrong and WalkOn will issue a fiery statement about the backstabbing that just took place? And maybe they'll actually stand by their statement?

Who knows? That was one of the biggest concerns after the time issue last weekend: If we take the time to write a piece on this, how are we going to feel if WalkOn turns around and apologizes for their ad?

That's what happens when you're known for caving and appeasing, even people who might stand up for you have second thoughts because why should they go to the trouble if there's a good chance that you'll cave?

So maybe what happened today was WalkOn and the Democratic leadership continued their mutual self-destruct relationship?

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

Thursday, September 20, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, Blackwater is still hot water, cholera comes to Baghdad, the Iraq Moratorium starts Friday, and more.

Starting with war resistance. Last week,
Carol Mulligan (The Sudbury Star) reported on the Sudbury chapter of War Resisters Support Campaign to find lodging for an expected arrival -- a family of four. The Canadian community pulled together and went to work. Today Carol Mulligan (The Sudbury Star) reports that, "The soldier planning to come to Canada with his family to avoid deployment to combat in Iraq has been transferred to a non-combat role" after being granted CO status and will not moving to Canada and that Lee Zaslofsky (national co-ordinator of War Resisters Support Campaign) congratulated the community on their strong work and to "assure you that, with the current volume of inquiries from potential war resisters in the U.S., there will likely be war resisters in Sudbury very soon" with 2 war resisters having "arrived unexpectedly in Ottawa" as well as the London chapter having a family arrive "last weekend and another settled in the Niagara region."

Last week,
Anthony Lane (Colorado Springs Indy) reported on Brad McCall, 20 years old, army private, who made the decision to self-checkout of the US military. Lane explained, "Soldiers tell him details of fighting in Iraq meant to make his pacifist blood boil. Soldiers who've been and returned say he'll see the bodies of dead little girls, if and when his unit is deployed. They goad him with stories of a soldier they say peeled charred flesh from an Iraqi civilian's corpse and ate it." McCall considered applying for CO status but didn't think the chances were likely of his being granted that status. So, while Lane was working on the report, McCall self-checked out and, "He'll join hundreds of other U.S. soldiers in Canada. He'll go to college, in the States, if he can get discharged. If not, maybe in Canada. . . . Army officials notified McCall's family on Tuesday that he had disappeared. Charlotte McCall, his mother, says she's saddened and worried." While she expects that he will change his mind, Lane reports "McCall contends that staying in the Army could only lead to bad things, particularly if he is deployed. The fighting in Iraq has put soldiers in nerve-wracking situations where some have fired their weapons only to realize they killed civilians, he says. 'How would I live [with] myself,' he asks, 'knowing I killed an innocent person fighting in a war I didn't believe in?'"

Already in Canada, war resister Patrick Hart is attempting to be granted refugee status. His band will be playing in Winnipeg Sunday.
David Schmeichel (Winnipeg Sun) notes, "Yes, the Refuse & Resist tour lineup is jam-packed with punks who oppose the war in Iraq. But before you dismiss 'em as snotty agitators, know that Skull Device guitarist Pat Hart is something of an expert on the topic. Hart served 9 years with the U.S. military before going AWOL and fleeing to Canada, and now faces up to 30 years in prison if our government denies his bid for refugee status. He's got the support of tourmates Nikki's Trick and My Shaky Jane, (plus local recruits C-Punisher and Saxton)." Patrick Hart went to Canada at the end of August 2005 and was followed a few weeks later by Jill Hart and their son Rian.

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

McCall tells Lane that he doubts the US military will even look for him. If that has to do with his own record in the military, he may be right. But the reality is that the US military does attempt to track down members who check out. In news on some recent AWOLs . . .
Brad Zinn (Virginia's The News Leader) reports Denise A. Jones checked out, turned herself in and was arrested (she's 42-years-old and now at the Fort Knox Deserter Control Point). Russ Rizzo (The Salt Lake Tribune) reports Austin Lee Sommers developed pink, bronchitis, pneumonia and cellulitis while in basic training (marines) and checked out and stay with an aunt when the Orem police -- tipped off by the military and, his aunt believes, Austin's brother -- showed up to arrest him. Meanwhile in Maryland another AWOL soldier has been shot. Rocco Vertuccio (R News) reports Aberdeen was the location where 22-year-old Evan Parker of Rochester, NY was shot after he was picked up at a motel in the Aberdeen area and then returned to base (Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland) on Sunday only to go AWOL again and return to the same motel: "As an officer approached Parker, they say Parker displayed a gun. Police told Parker to drop the gun. They say instead, he waved it at the officer. The officer then fired several shots, hitting Parker in the abdomen, the leg, and upper chest. . . . Parker is now in stable condition at the University of Maryland Shock and Trauma Center. Aberdeen Police say, while Parker was being taken to the hospital, he told them and the medical personnel, he wanted police to shoot him."

This week on
The Progressive Radio Show, Matthew Rothschild interviews Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan about the illegal war, the Democrats and the Republicans and why she is running for Congress from the eighth district in California.

Matthew Rothschild: Cindy, what does it mean when two-thirds of the public is against the war and yet the war and surge goes on?

Cindy Sheehan: I think it means that what our country was founded on, which was being a representative republic, has transformed into a country or government by -- instead of by and for the people -- by and for the corporations, the special interests. I think that both parties -- the people in both parties are very similar in their ideologies, they're very similar in the people who pull their strings, the people who fund their campaigns and so I think that our government and, you know, with most of the people's consent by their silence, we're sliding into a form of fascism and I think that that is, it's corporate, you know Benito Mussolini famously said, it's when corporations and government -- it's the merger of those two interests and I think that's what we have right now.

Matthew Rothschild: How do we stop that slide? How do we reverse that slide?

Cindy Sheehan: I think we have to take back our government. I think we have to take back our representative republic. On July 23rd, I went with Ray McGovern and Rev. Lennox Yearwood to meet with John Conyers about impeachment. We took a petition with over a million signatures. We had three hundred people lining the halls by his office on Capitol Hill and, while we were there, there was a call every thirty seconds demanding impeachment and John Conyers said, "I can't do it." And I said, "So what you're telling me is that we the people have no voice in our government, we have no recourse." He said, "Yes, you do in the ballot boxes." But the candidates we vote for are the ones that the elite, the corporate elite pick for us and the media picks for us and they don't do what the people want them to do what kind of representative republic . . . do we have. So I think that we have to challenge this two-party system which really is just one party basically. People have to challenge their congress people like I'm challenging Nancy Pelosi. And I think that challenging her as an independent, unaffiliated with any party, that you can truly look at the human and not the politics -- you know, what would be right for me politically or what would make me more money -- but look at a human being and say, "What would be best for humanity? What would be best for our country?" And not what's best for myself and my own interests or the people who owns me interest. So I think that by challenging her I'm not just challenging Pelosi, I'm challenging the system and I'm challenging the military industrial complex that I think controls our system.

Matthew Rothschild: Cindy Sheehan, why do you think John Conyers told you that he couldn't do it? Because the time before in Congress, when the Democrats weren't in control, he did introduce a bill to explore grounds of impeachment.

Cindy Sheehan: This is just so puzzling to so many people -- especially people who have been impeachment-anti-war activists. A lot of people in the movement don't link impeachment with peace but there's many of us who do because first of all there's the thing of accountability. Second of all, George Bush has said the troops aren't coming home while he's president. And you know if Nixon had been held accountable for the, you know, for the prosecuting of Vietnam and for the illegal bombings of Laos and Cambodia I think it would reign in future presidents. But John Conyers wrote a book called The Constitution in Crisis and he laid out, he and his staff laid out, the crimes and the charges against George Bush. And in my many meetings with him since they've become in the majority, I've said, "You know, Congressman, what happened, all the sudden are they like innocent of these crimes? You know you have to put them to trial, you have to give them a hearing." And there's been a lot of speculation that Nancy Pelosi, and we know she did because before they were even elected she said election was off the table. And we think that Nancy Pelosi is reigning-reigning his hand in. And you know he keeps saying 'I don't have the votes, I don't have the votes". Well you're not going to have the votes if you don't put the resolution for impeachment out there and we think it's a Constitutional duty, we thank it's mandatory and he thinks he has discretion. And one thing he told me that broke my heart because I really have admired him -- even before I knew him, you know, even before my son was killed -- I admired him. And he told us that it's more important for him to have a Democratic president than to end the war. So what the democratic leadership are doing are playing politics with our flesh and blood and the people of Iraq and our soldiers are being put in the middle of this political struggle. And I think it's inherently immoral.

Matthew Rothschild: I mean that -- when I'm most cynical I think the Democrats want the war to go on because it will help them.

Staying on the topic of peace and truth telling,
Amanda Grosgebauer, Karin Scott and Kathleen Kreuger at Texas A&M refused to let a War Hawk columnist go unchallenged as he spewed hate and attacks and called him out as the pig he was. Good for them. Maybe he'll think twice before he tries to distor the work of Iraq Veterans Against the War? And a time when so many women paid to pen their opinions elect to be silent on the topic of the illegal war, the three college students show far more strength and passion that most 'professionals'. The "women of tomorrow" are already here and Kathleen Kreuger, Karin Scott and Amanda Grosgebauer make that very clear. Another strong woman is IVAW's Kelly Dougherty. Paul Pryse and Chris Chable (The Badger Herald) explain how Dougherty's story intersects with corporate profits: "When Kelly Dougherty was deployed to Iraq in 2003, her unit was assigned to escort truck convoys, usually from Kellogg Brown and Root Inc., then a subsidary of the Halliburton Company. Dougherty remembers one incident when her unit was guarding a broken-down truck containing produce and a crowd of destitute Iraqis assembled and begged for food. After Hallibruton told them to destroy the truck, Dougherty and other soldiers asked if they could distribute the food first, but were refused because it would be 'too hectic.' 'We sat there and burned produce in front of people struggling to get by, living not only under an occupation, but without jobs, without healthcare,' Dougherty said. To most people, this is wanton cruelty. However, under Halliburton's 'cost-plus' contract, they made a profit by charging the costs of that truck, the produce, plus an extra percentage to taxpayers." Which is why students at University of Wisconsin-Madison were protesting today as Halliburton showed up on campus for a job fair. Ryan J. Foley (AP) reports Chris Dols leading the hundreds of students in singing "From high to low, Halliburton got to go" and Foley observes, "The event is drawing parallels to a 1967 protest against recruiters for Dow Chemical Co., which made napalm used in Vietnam. A peaceful sit-in that ended in a bloody confrontation between students and club-wielding police officers galvanized the anti-war movement." Anita Weier (The Capital Times) notes the ingenuity of the students in the following: "They were allowed to enter the career fair but were told not to chant, so they sang. They were told to use conversational tones, but they did so with a bullhorn."

They aren't the only ones standing up.
Alive in Baghdad offers their latest video report and this one is on the Al Hurriya section of Baghdad which was once a mixed neighborhood but has become pure Shi'ite and was the scene for Nabeel Kamal's report of a protest following the murder of Jawad Kadhim Al Sultani which called for all US forces to "leave our safe district and be replaced with Iraqi Forces". Who led the protest? Women. Carrying banners and accompanied by small children, they changed We defend our country and we're call terrorists, No, no to America! No, no to America! Maliki government, how long will you be silent?"

Turning to the topic of Blackwater.
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes today, "Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is promising to hold the private military firm Blackwater USA accountable for its deadly attack on Iraqis last weekend in Baghdad. Maliki's pledge comes as the estimated death toll from the shooting continues to rise. Iraqi officials now say as many twenty-eight Iraqis were killed when Blackwater guards opened fire. The initial estimate was of nine dead. On Wednesday, Maliki said Iraq would not allow the killing of Iraqis 'in cold blood.' He also called on the Bush administration to cut ties with Blackwater. The shooting has put new scrutiny on the free reign companies like Blackwater enjoy in Iraq. The State Department says its formed a joint committee with Iraqi officials to suggest ways to improve regulation of private military firms." Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that Nouri al-Maliki declared yesterday that the mercenaries of Blackwater "have been involved in at least seven serious incidents" already and Mohammed al Askari (spokesperson for the Defense Ministry) declares "one of the incidents was former Iraqi Electricity Minister Ahyam al Samarrai's escape from a Green Zone jail in December. Samarrai had been awaiting sentencing on charges that he had embezzled $2.5 billion that was intended to rebuild Iraq's decrepit electricity grid. Another incident, Askari said, was the shooting death last month of a Baghdad taxi driver when Blackwater guards led a convoy the wrong way down a street." Steve Fainaru (Washington Post) informs that "the State Department's oversight of Blackwater became a central issue as Iraqi authorities repeatedly clashed with the company over its aggressive street tactics. Many U.S. and Iraqi officials and industry representatives said they came to see Blackwater as untouchable, protected by State Department officials who defended the company at every turn. Blackwater employees protect the U.S. ambassador and other diplomats in Iraq. Blackwater 'has a client who will support them no matter what they do,' said H.C. Lawrence Smith, deputy director of the Private Security Company Association of Iraq, an advocacy organization in Baghdad that is funded by security firms, including Blackwater." Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reports, "Two American diplomats speaking on condition of anonymity have told The Times that the State Department had failed to take Blackwater to task in past cases in which Iraqi civilians were shot. The diplomats complained that the State Department's security office in Baghdad had often failed to scrutinize Blackwater's actions."

Let's get the alleged 'progress' out of the way before we go further. This morning
Paul Tait (Reuters) reported that serial liar Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno is again claiming violence is a-dropping. He's got nothing to back it up, just his oft disproven claims. But it sure does eat a lot of press time (which is always the point of a wave of Operation Happy Talk). Meanwhile, no one knows anything about an arrest of an alleged Iraian for alleged smuggling but that eats up even more time. Maybe they'll distract from the looming 3800 mark for the number of US service members killed in the illegal Iraq War? Or maybe from AP's report on the 'handover': "In another sign of U.S. struggles in Iraq, the target date for putting Iraqi authorities in charge of security in all 18 provinces has slipped yet again, to at least July. The delay, noted in a Pentagon report to Congress on progress and problems in Iraq, highlights the difficulties in developing Iraqi police forces and the slow pace of economic and political progress in some areas. It is the second time this year the target date for completing what is known as 'Provincial Iraqi Control' has been pushed back. The Pentagon report submitted to Congress on Monday hinted at the possibility of further delays." Or maybe it will distract from the cholera outbreak in northern Iraq that, bad sign, has now moved to Baghdad according to the World Health Organization.

In other violence . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing claimed 1 life (police officer) and left three more people wounded, another Baghdad bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and left a second injured, a Baghdad car bombing claimed 3 lives and left eleven others injured and 2 Falluja roadside bombings claimed 2 lives (police officers) and left four more wounded. Reuters reports a mortar attack in Madaen claimed 2 lives (ten more were injured).


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Sheikh Khalid Salim Faris al-Bayati was shot dead in Tuz Khurmato today while Lt. Col. Mejeed Shnan "was shot in the shoulder and is being treated in hospital" after surviving an attack. Reuters notes that "radio presenter" Muhannad Ghanim was shot dead in Mosul that Judge Mustafa Kadhim was shot dead in Baghdad, and a person was shot dead in Hawija


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 7 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes that 3 corpses ("including a woman and her daughter") were discovered in Mosul.

Today the
US military announced: "A Soldier assigned to Multi-National Force-West died Sept. 19 in a non-combat-related incident in Al Anbar Province."
corporate media picks for us and the elite and they don't do what the people

In yet
another sign of how the US Veterans Affairs Dept continues to fails service members, Reuters reports Fort Riley's cemetary "has run out of space" and that US Senators Pat Robers and Sam Brownback are "urging . . . full funding for a new cementary for Fort Riley" -- that two US Senators (they are Republicans) have to urge the Veterans Affairs Dept to do their job is only one example of how mismanaged the department has been under the Bully Boy.

WBAI today, The Largest Minority Radio Show devoted a segment to remembering Dave Cline. In addition, yesterday's note on David Zeiger's piece didn't include the link to the website. First, language warning before clicking to get the essay, second, the site is Sir! No Sir! -- site of the amazing documentary. You can also Zeiger's piece and others (including one by Cindy Sheehan) at Veterans for Peace's memorial online.

Finally remember this:
United for Peace & Justice (along with others) will begin Iraq Moratorium on September 21st and follow it every third Friday of the month as people across the country are encouraged to wear and distribute black ribbons and armbands, purchase no gas on those Fridays, conduct vigils, pickets, teach-ins and rallies, etc. The Moratorium starts tomorrow.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007


My friend Maggie's pretty depressed and I figured I'd write about that some tonight. (She gave permission.) Her father died last year and she's just feeling really alone. Now she's got a new boyfriend and she's got plenty of friends.

So what's the deal? The deal is her parents are now both dead, ditto her grandparents. She has a sister who's a mess (liar and worse) and for years there was her and her brother. (And her father.) The brother was the baby of the family. (He's like 28 now.) And everyone kissed his ass. Including Maggie. At their father's funeral, she had enough of it.

I don't blame her. I was there and I could tell she was close to losing it. As usual, the little prince couldn't be bothered so the entire week their father was in the hospital, he was 'too busy' even though the doctors were saying the end was coming. So he shows up at the funeral and then after is playing like he's done all of this that he's never done. He's going on about how his father was in the hospital and the little prince never came by. When her father's best friend told Maggie that he felt so sorry for the little prince, I had to grab her and walk her out of the room.

Maggie lived at the hospital. She was also doing all the errands for him when he got sick. The brother didn't do anything. But, oh, did he put on a good performance at the wake. And people were buying it.

Now Maggie put his ass through college until he dropped out. Maggie loaned him the down payment for his house (when their father wouldn't because the little prince was too young to get married -- didn't have a job, had never had a job and their father said, 'You don't get married when you don't have a job.'). [His wife to be was how they got the loan for the house. Maggie was how they got the down payment.]

She has bent over backwards for that pompous little ass all her life. Everyone kissed his ass. In the time since, she tried to stuff all that went down (the brother refusing to visit their father in the hospital, the performance the day of the funeral, etc.) and has been calling him at least once a week.

He says, "Hi. How are you. Melanie wants to talk to you." And hands the phone off to his wife. Melanie seems like a nice person but he will not talk to Maggie. He will palm his own sister off on his wife.

So Maggie just felt really low tonight. She picked me up at the airport and I could tell she was putting on a brave face. So when we got to my place, I told her we were going to have a long talk. We've been friends too long for either of us to ever fool the other when we're really upset.

I told she's got me and other friends and we are here for life. And that is true. But I wonder how many people feel that way?

In the Spirit is a funny movie starring Marlo Thomas and Elaine May and the two go on the run and are trying to figure out who they can call for help? Elaine May has this speech about how all of her relatives have died (except for a sister who sounds even worse than Maggie's brother) and how you get to a certain age and everyone's passing away.

Maggie's not depressed now. But when she was, she was convinced she was all alone in the world. So while we were reviewing things, she started see that they were not bad. She's got an exciting life, she's got friends who are family.

I told her I had to post and for her to make some snacks (which means that French Onion dip I've noted before -- she swears it's a secret recipe but it's the recipe for one serving but with two envelopes of dry onion soup mix) and she asked me what I was going to write about?

I told her I have no idea. So she suggested I write about what we talked about because maybe someone else was "out there feeling a little low" and this could help them. That's the best reason in the world to write, if you ask me.

She's got her dip done and is digging through the videocassettes. We're going to have an 80s night and Dak-Ho's supposed to drop by. I'm tired and will probably fall asleep during Lucas or whatever. (She's in a Charlie Sheen mood.) So it is what it is tonight.

By the way, my plan is to review Ben Harper's new CD this weekend.

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

Wednesday, September 19, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, when the 3800 marker is reached (3800 US service members killed in the illegal war) will anyone know, bad news keeps on coming for the mercenary company Blackwater, Newsweek (which once invented a 'marriage crisis' for women in the 80s) turns their creative 'minds' to young Iraqi women, the US military brags of the 11-year-old children they hold in Iraq prisons, and more.

Starting with war resistance, today on
KPFK's Morning Review with Gabriel Gutierrez, Gutierrez spoke with two members of Iraq Veterans Against the War, war resister Agustin Aguayo and Maricela Guzman (also with the Service Women Action Network) about their experiences speaking with students about the Iraq War.

Maricela Guzman: For me, when I go to schools, I definitely talk about my perspective in the service. I think it's really important to go to that route. And I do tell them about my experience specifically as a woman veteran. I do tell them that I was assaulted in the service, sexually assaulted when I was in boot camp. And I think it's really important for them to know this and it's been very difficult for me to tell my story over and over but it's really important for them to know this because I want them to understand that there are risks when you join such an organization like this. So it's very critical. And for me, what I've found, I've gotten really good feedback from the kids and I've had, you know I've talked about suicide, my suicide attempt. And I've had kids -- I've talked about seeing a psychologist and it's a big taboo when you go to these communities and this is something we don't talk about -- I'm Chicana and it's something definitely my family would never talk about. For me, talking to these kids afterwards, them coming up and telling me, "This is what happened to me. I was assaulted" or "I've tried suicide." I think, for me, that's very critical. And we're including these organic conversations when we're going to these schools -- even besides military.

Gutierrez asked Aguayo what helped him "make the determination" not to return to Iraq?

Agustin Aguayo: To me, honestly, it wasn't a hard decision once I decided that I could never go back. Basically because I experienced a moral awakening and I was forced to realize who I was. And I had to accept that I could deny myself and cause all this violence against myself or I could stand up and say, "No, I believe this is wrong and I'm willing to accept any consequences." And in the end I think it gave me a . . . feeling of great freedom. So that is . . . a personal moral determination to do what I felt was right is what helped me the most.

Gabriel Gutierrez: And your wife Helga and your two daughters have been involved in the campaign to bring awareness to your case but also in its aftermath once you've now returned. What type of work has that led to with regard to awareness and with regard to work with young people specifically?

Agustin Aguayo: Yes, I've had the privilege of speaking supporting groups that have helped other war resisters, the growing number of them. And now I'm in the position to share with them what I've been through and they, of course, these resisters that are in this path, this crossroads: "What am I going to do?" I've had the privilege of sharing my experience with them and inspiring them. And one of the happiest things I'm pleased with is the
Arlington West Film and speakers program and I think in the peace work nothing is really more important than educating our young because our future really depends on how we take care of our young today and educating them. So going into inner city schools is just so important. And veterans sometimes, we're hesitant. And sometimes we really want to forget everything we've been through, everything we've experienced, our military experience, but I think we owe it to our young people. They need to know what's going on, what we experienced.

Gutierrez asked what the reaction was from students, teachers and recruiters when they speak in schools?

Maricela Guzman: Well for me, it's definitely been very difficult. I know I've been on panels -- it was this year sometime, we went to Fairfax -- and Agustin was in jail at that time and we had a panel, we had recruiters veterans that were for the war and we had Helga and we really got a good reception. It was very interesting because we weren't sure what was going to happen. And really what it came down to was that it was the kids who were asking the hard questions. So it was empowering these kids to ask the questions that needed to be asked. And the most important thing was that they heard from family members. You know, we have a lot of family members . . . who talk to these kids. We don't tell them don't be against the war. We talk about our experiences. We're storytellers we tell them of what we've gone through and I think that's why it's been such a successful program. We've become a family, we've definitely become a family, the people that do this work, the Aguayos are a family to me.

Agustin Aguayo: I think the community, administrators, are very receptive because of our tact and like Maricela said the way we share our stories Basically that's what we do. And I think our stories are so powerful in themselves even people that are for the war which I mean at this point, even people who don't want us to go out they really can't say much because all we are doing is sharing stories and nothing is more powerful than the truth.

As pointed out
Arlington West Film is "doing the work that the mainstream media is not doing". Friday, September 28th, there will be a benefit performance of the musical Hair at 8:00 pm at the MET Theater, 1089 No. Oxford Avenue, Hollywood, CA 90029 with Aguayo and Cindy Sheehan among the speakers.

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

In other peace news,
United for Peace & Justice states they are using the Just Foreign Policy count for Iraqis who have died in the illegal war. The report on the state of Iraq has been updated to note the Iraqi dead during the illegal war is over a million. United for Peace & Justice (along with others) will begin Iraq Moratorium on September 21st and follow it every third Friday of the month as people across the country are encouraged to wear and distribute black ribbons and armbands, purchase no gas on those Fridays, conduct vigils, pickets, teach-ins and rallies, etc. That's this Friday. On Sunday, Christine Anne Piesyk (Tennessee's Clarksville Online) provided a list of some actions that will take place:.

Each of these individuals and groups -- a list too long to print here -- have something in common: each have signed up to support the Iraq Moratorium, which will make its debut as a national movement on Friday, September 21. Wear and distribute black ribbons and armbands Buy no gas on moratorium days Pressure politicians and media Hold vigils, pickets, rallies and teach-ins Hold special religious services Coordinate events in art, music and culture Host film screenings, talks and educational events Organize student actions: teach-ins, school closings Iraq Moratorium is designed to take the issue to the people, and no event or action is to small to be of merit in opposing the Iraq war.

Turning to the topic of Blackwater USA, the mercenaries that got into Iraq due to crony connections and whom Paul Bremer made above the law during his reign of King of Iraq before fleeing the country.
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes today, "The private military contractor Blackwater is now believed to have killed twenty Iraqi civilians in a mass-shooting Sunday in Baghdad. The Iraqi government revoked Blackwater's license amidst reports nine civilians were killed when Blackwater guards opened fire. Blackwater says it responded after coming under attack from a roadside bomb. But in its initial report on the shooting, Iraq's Interior Ministry says the guards shot at a small vehicle that failed to make way for Blackwater's convoy to pass. An Iraqi couple and their infant were killed in the attack. The New York Times reports video footage of the shooting shows the child burned to the mother's body after their car caught fire. Blackwater guards and helicopters are then believed to have fired indiscriminately." In the New York Times, Sabrina Tavernise and James Glanz reported this morning that the Ministry of Interior's preliminary report on the incidnet found "that Blackwater security guards were not ambushed, as the company reported, but instead fired at a car when it did not heed a policeman's call to stop, killing a couple and their infant." Joshua Partlow (Washington Post) addresses the issue of stopping and the police officer via . . . interviews (take note NYT): "Traffic police officer Sarhan Dhia, 34, said he was standing under the Iraqi flags next to his white guard shack along the traffic circle when he saw the convoy of at least four armored vehicles approch, traveling against the flow of traffic. He said he jumped out into an intersecting street to prevent cars from entering the circle while the convoy passed. The next thing he knew, he said, gunfire erupted." Sarhan Dhia says there was no bombing. Blackwater originally claimed that their mercenaries were 'returning fire' after they had been shot at. They then declared that their indiscriminate spraying of a civilian area with bullets was their way of responding to car bombing. Their stories -- like the civilian area they shot up -- is riddled with holes. Leila Fadel and Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) also operate under the belief that reporting requires speaking to eye witnesses and they speak with Hassan Jaber Salma and Sami Hawas Karim (an attorney and a taxi driver respectively) who both -- as does every other eye witnesses quoted in press accounts -- maintain that Blackwater "opened fire without provocation" and the reporters note the ever changing story by Blackwater. Interior Ministry spokesperson Ali al Dabbagh tells McClatchy Newspapers that, "No country in the world would allow the way they [Blackwater] are operating in Iraq." Multiple outlets (including McClatchy and the New York Times) report that Blackwater helicopters also fired on civilians in the Sunday slaughter. CBS and AP cite eye witness Suhad Mizra who stepped outside of her hair salon ("about 250 meters" from the incident) and remebers, "The sounds attracted my attention so I went outside the shop to see a convoy of SUVs with security guards shooting randomly at the people at low level. We were surprised by this and we rushed inside our shops to avoid random bullets. Apparently, the guards wanted to make their way through the traffic jam made by Iraqi army checkpoint. There was no provocation and the guards were using their ammunition to move quicker in the street. Minutes later, the ambulances arrived to up the wounded and dead." Reality is that this has long been the procedure: to ram through Iraq so that the "high levels" didn't have to wait. An important question the press should be asking is: Who was Blackwater transporting? Among the many times this has happened before, Anne Garrels (All Things Considered, NPR) reports on one: "NPR witnessed a similar scenario two years ago. A State Department convoy, protected by Blackwater, raced out of a compound. Guards immediately shot at the car killing an old man, his son and his daughter-in-law. Blackwater said the car was driving erratically. A U.S. military investigation concluded Blackwater had used excessive force. No one was prosecuted.

Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) informs, "Blackwater is now being accused of another fatal shooting of an Iraqi civilian. An Iraqi engineer living in Britain has revealed Blackwater guards shot his seventy-five year old father in the southern Iraqi town of Hilla last month. Safaa Rabee says his father had pulled over to the side of the road to let a Blackwater convoy pass. But Rabee says the last vehicle in the convoy opened fire when his father pulled back on to the road. An Iraqi police chief told Rabee he has no legal recourse to pursue his father's killers." As the US government continues to attempt damage control, many more of these stories are likely to come out.

Newsweek continues to prove it is the gutter of all news weeklies. In the 'safe' Kurdistan region of Iraq (not safe -- but Newsweek needs their fantasies), young women (teenagers) are showing up at hospitals with burns and many are dying from them (since August 10th alone, 25 young women have died) and the best guess Newsweek can offer is that it's a copy-cat trend by romantic teenage females. As with their notion of the region being 'peaceful,' their notion of women is ridiculously out of touch. Young women have been repeatedly targeted in that area, they've been kidnapped and forced into marriages, they've been persecuted for not being the right sect, go down the list. But romantic young women self-mutilating (to the death!) is the myth they toss out. .

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


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a roadside bombing in Kirkuk that left five wounded "(four of them are policemen while the fifth man is a civilian)".


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an attack in Mosul in which 1 Iraqi soldier died, 14 unidentified people died and four Iraqi soldiers were wounded.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports eight corpses discovered in Baghdad.

CBS and AP report: "The military said five U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq Tuesday. Three died following an explosion near their patrol northeast of Baghdad. Another soldier was killed in a vehicle accident in the northern province of Ninevah. On Wednesday, the military said another soldier had been killed in an attack in southern Baghdad. The Multi-National Division-Baghdad soldier was killed by small arms fire while conducting combat operations Tuesday in a southern section of the Iraqi capital, according to a brief military statement. The soldiers' names were not released pending notification of relatives. The deaths raised to at least 3,787 members of the U.S. military who have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count." Maybe. (Not a slap down. We noted the string along announcements numbered five deaths this morning.) Today the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was killed during a small arms fire attack while conducting combat operations in a southern section of the Iraqi capital Sept. 18." That is in the count of five. Later today, the US military announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier died of a non-battle related cause, Wednesday, in Sala ad Din Province." And they announced: "A Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was killed during combat operations in an area weat of the Iraqi captial Sep 19." Reuters count is 3786 since the start of the illegal war. ICCC's total is 3791 US service members killed in the illegal war thus far. The reason for the confusion? M-NF is supposed to announce deaths with the Defense Dept later announcing the names of the dead (after next of kin is notified). But M-NF has been slacking on the job -- it's not a tough job, they just issue press releases all day long. They've 'suceeded' in hiding the dead. And with the 3800 mark looming, let's not kid and pretend this is just an accident. M-NF has a pattern of doing this when every realities are in conflict with the spin coming out of the White House. ICCC has period details and their count includes deaths never announced by M-NF but announced by the Defense Dept when the DoD provides the names of the dead. ICCC's period details indicate that six deaths took place on Tuesday -- six deaths that have been announced.

In other number news,
Prensa Latina reports that there are 25,000 Iraqis imprisoned by the US -- up from 10,000 "a year ago." IRIN reveals that the Iraqi Lawyers Association is asking the parliament to provide the location of all prisoners currently being held and that "[l]awyers representing families of Iraqi detainees have accused the government of concealing information about detainees, including their whereabouts" quoting attorney Ayad Daraji stating, "Hundreds of Iraqis have been detained by the Iraqi police or army in the past three years and their locations and conditions are unknown. There is no evidence as to whether they are alive or not. Families aren't allowed to visit them and this raises big questions about the detainees' situation." As the numbers grow and families often have no idea that members have been imprisoned, Walter Pincuse (Washington Post) reports on a program entitled "religious entitlement" that the US military is using on the prisoners "some of whom are as young as 11" according Maj. Gen. Douglas M. Stone who brags that the programs will "bend them back to our will." The age should cause further alarm but the realities don't appear to even be sinking in. For instance, CBS News (or "News") Keach Hagey sees it as a topic to have some funnin' with: "But what really emerges from the article -- a summary of a conference call Stone held from Baghdad with a group of defense bloggers -- is a portrait of Stone as a formidable character who's almost as fun to quote as Donald Rumsfeld was." Hagey and others need it get it through their thick skulls that this isn't 'cute' or 'funny' or even 'new.'

Yesterday, Naomi Klein's
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism was released in the US. In it, she details "the love shack" in the Guantanamo prison used as a reward to those terrorized and broken down. There's not a damn bit of difference here except for the fact that the Iraqi prisoners are supposed to be protected by Geneva with no waiver. Though Hagey can't grasp reality staring in his face, it's not 'funny' that 11-year-olds are prisoners. It's not 'funny' that the US -- having taken these children from their families -- think they can 'break' them and rebuild them to their liking. That is what The Shock Doctrine outlines. Erasing memory, starting with a clean slate, refusal to see people as people but as pawns for the US to play with. Those who don't grasp how disgraceful this is are either playing dumb or are historically ignorant. It is not the right of the US military to snatch children from their homes and attempt to do some reprogramming of them. That is a crime and it is in violation of Geneva.

Elaine (Like Maria Said Paz) wrote about the Free Sami Al-Haj -- a journalist imprisoned in Guantanamo for over five years now and subject to the same torture and disregard for basic rights as every other prisoner in Guantanamo -- and concluded, " The real terrorism is the silence we allow ourselves to be forced into out of fear." Or out of stupidty as is the case with Keach Hagey.

In other non-progress news,
Alissa J. Rubin and James Glanz (New York Times) cover the upcoming Red Cross report on Iraqi refugees which notes the "radically reshaping" taking place in Iraq (not unlike the aims in the US prison) which indicates "partitioning the country into semiautonomous Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish enclaves would not be easy" (impossible actually because the three divisions ignore Iraq's minority populations) and note, "The migration data, which are expected to be released this week by the Iraqi Red Crescent Organization but were given in advance to The New York Times, indicate that in Baghdad alone there are now nearly 170,000 families, accounting for almost a million people, that have fled their homes in search of security, shelter, water, electricity, functioning schools or jobs to support their families. The figures show that many families move twice, three times or more, first fleeing immediate danger and then making more considered calculations based on the availability of city services or schools for their children." Peter Apps (Reuters) gets to the point quickly, "Iraq's humanitarian crisis is getting worse and more Iraqis are fleeing their homes despite the recent surge of U.S. troops, aid workers say, with donors reluctant to fund support for millions of displaced. Last week, President George W. Bush presented a relatively upbeat picture of conditions in Iraq and said forces could be cut by around 20,000 by next July. He linked the reduction to improvements on the ground particularly in Baghdad where the surge was centred and the volatile Anbar governorate." There is no improvement for Iraqis. There is, however, the US military bragging that they will "break" 11-year-old prisoners -- how proud their parents must be.
Finally, a voice for peace passed away Friday. As
Amy Goodman (DemocracyNow!) noted on Monday, Dave Cline a founder of Vietnam Veterans Against the War passed away. Margaret Prescod noted the passing Tuesday on KPFK's Sojourner Truth, IVAW's Michael Hoffman offers a look back at Cline. Veterans for Peace has a memorial online and they have created a fund to cover the expenses of Cline's burial. At Sir! No Sir!, director David Zeiger writes of Cline, "Dave and I were from different worlds. I was a middle class kid who came to my opposition to the war and growing radicalism intellectually. Dave, a working class kid from Buffalo, had joined the army and had been wounded three times in Vietnam. It was his last wound, from an NLF soldier at point blank range, that changed everything. The soldier shattered Dave's knee, and Dave killed him with a bullet in the chest. His first realization was it was "pure luck" that he was alive and the other guy was dead. Then it hit him that there was no real difference between the two of them. Finally, the epiphany: It was the NLF
soldier who was fighting for a just cause, while Dave and his comrades were fighting for a lie. In typical Dave Cline fashion he concluded in 1970, 'I had to kill a revolutionary to become a revolutionary.' "

agustin aguayo

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Joni, oil and Greenspan

When I reviewed Judy Collins' hideous covers album, I mentioned how great Joni Mitchell's Shine was and that I thought she did a major re-working of "Big Yellow Taxi." The Times of London has that track up and you can listen to it by clicking here. Billie sent me a piece from the Dallas Morning News which is on fall CDs and notes:

Joni Mitchell, Shine (Hear Music) – Ten new tunes from the legendary singer-songwriter all have an environmentally conscious bent.

And Sumner passed on that Joni Mitchell's official website has a link to Herbie Hancock's The Joni Letters, his new CD that utilizes songs by Joni. If you use the link, you can hear an edited version of the album. This isn't little snippets. It's over fifty minutes of streaming you can do. But it notes that the tracks have been edited. Norah Jones. I didn't care for her version of "Court & Spark" (her vocal) at first but it grew on me. Tina Turner provides the vocal for "Edith & the Kingpin." Joni herself provides the vocals for "The Tea Leaf Prophecy."

Joni's CD comes out next Tuesday. You don't want to miss it.

I'm posting the opening of an editorial. This is from Pakistan's Daily Times so grasp that this is how the US is being seen. From "Editorial: America and the Iraq 'oil grab':"

Former head of the US Federal Reserve and economic guru commanding bipartisan reverence for his grasp of the national economy, Mr Alan Greenspan has put the cat among the pigeons in Washington by saying in his latest book The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World that "the Iraq war was about oil". His exact words were: "I'm saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows -- the Iraq war is largely about oil".
When the Administration reacted angrily, Mr Greenspan himself found it "politically inconvenient" to stick to his clear pronouncement, but his "verdict" has gone and mixed with the vortex of opinion complaining about the Bush Administration’s “oil barons” falling on Iraq for its oil. To count just the people at the top, President George W Bush himself, Vice-President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, have close links to the American oil industry, also called the Big Oil.
Mr Cheney, the most hawkish member of the Bush cabinet, had said in 1999: "By 2010 we will need [a further] 50 million barrels a day. The Middle East, with two-thirds of the oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize lies". Iraq was invaded under false pretences only to have a large US army bogged down there, after more than half a trillion dollars spent and perhaps half a million Iraqis killed. The central political knot in Iraq today is the privatisation of Iraqi oil, recommended on the basis of the abuse of oil income by Saddam Hussein. In the latest poll, the Iraqi people have rejected privatisation and have voted for state control, clearly to prevent the American Big Oil from walking away with the bonanza.

Greenspan can try to back peddel but the reality is out there and not just in the US. It is time for all the troops to come home and for Iraqi's to be able to govern themselves.

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

Tuesday, September 18, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, low and behold the US military announces deaths, Blackwater remains in at least semi-hot water, IVAW deserves tremendous credit and applause for their leadership on Saturday, and more.

Starting with war resistance. On Saturday in DC, demonstrations against the illegal war started a new phase of activism. As
Feminist Wire Daily noted, "Several women's groups, including CODEPINK and the National Congress of Black Women, sponsored a women's convergence earlier in the day before joining the larger rally at the White House before the march." But this was the event at which Iraq Veterans Against the War truly made their presence felt. That is not taking anything away from A.N.S.W.E.R., CODEPINK or anyone else; however, part of the strength of the action may be due to those organizations who refused to participate? Regardless, IVAW's membership continues to grow and their voices are among the surest and loudest out there. Mike Ferner (Dissident Voice) reports on IVAW and we'll pick it up with war resister Eli Israel who is the first US service member to publicly refuse to serve while stationed in Iraq: "Eli Isreal, a native Kentuckian who had already completed a hitch in the Marines and then enlisted in the Army after September 11, 2001, repeated the Enlistment Oath taken by every person joining the military, that swears them to protect and defend the US Constitution against 'all enemies, foreign and domestic.' He asked the crowds on the sidewalks to consider what they would do 'when your leaders tell you to fight an unjust war based on lies. The Occupation of Iraq is a form of terrorism and we refuse to support it!' With his comrades falling quiet and raising their fists high in the air in salute, the former Military Secret Security sergeant who guarded General Petraeus 'and all those other bastards,' said 'We walk in silence for our brothers and sisters who died for a lie. We didn't join the military to become slaves to the military-industrial complex. We joined to serve our country."

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

Ferner also recounts how Adam Kokesh provided "one of the most memorable moments of the day" when, leading a march past pro-war hawks, he declared, "Column, HALT! Left FACE!" so that the verterans were facing the pro-war hawks with Kokesh saluting leaving "the gathered eagles momentarily taken aback and the crowd cheering." Rebecca offers her thoughts on Saturday's actions, "i was really impressed with the huge turnout. as you probably noticed, some organizations elected to sit out and not promote the action. even so, even without them, the turnout was huge" and, of the police attacks on the demonstrators, "i imagine we'll see more attacks like that on the people. it's really the only hope there is to continue the illegal war." Escambray notes, "Capitol Hill security guards doused the demonstrators with chemicals after dozens laid on the street to symbolically represent the thousands of US soldiers killed in the Iraq war".

Adam Kokesh was among the speakers and has
posted his speech (at Sgt. Kokesh Goes to Washington): "As we all know now, we were lied into this war and is lies that are keeping us there. They lied about Weapons of Mass Destruction, they lied about Jessica Lynch, they lied about Pat Tillman, and they lied about Al Qaeda and Saddam. And those are just the lies we know about! But I'm not so mad that I was lied to, as I am that I cannot trust my government any more. It astounds me that yet so many Americans want more than anything to trust out government. When will we wake up, and realize that the power of the truth is greater than any force brought to bear by any Army ever fielded?"

Among the other speakers were Ralph Nader. Nader, as many have noted, was not invited to speak at the last big DC rally. Though some cries of "Apologize for the war!" could be heard as Nader began to speak, they died down quickly. (For the record, Nader doesn't owe an apology for an illegal war that he did not start. Nor do those running Al Gore's 2000 campaign need to apologize for an illegal war that Gore did not start.) Nader noted that, "The impeachable offenses of Bush outnumber the impeachable offenses of any US president." He took Congressional 'leadership' to task for their refusal to impeach the Bully Boy. His critique was greeted with huge cheers. And, by the end of his speech, sounded like someone running for the presidency. (Community note, Nader's speech runs in full in today's Hilda's Mix.) Nader has not announced an intent to run but a campaign to draft him into running, "
Run, Ralph Run!", has been started.

Staying with US politics, one effort a draft campaign appears to have not been successful.
Kimberly Wilder (On the Wilder Side) reports on former US House Rep's Cynthia McKinney's decision not to seek the presidential nomination of the Green Party for 2008. The Green Party's convention is scheduled to take place from July 10th through July 13th in Chicago, IL. Last week, the Green Party issued a statement noting that they "will use their presence in various antiwar demonstrations and other events throughout September and October to press the Green Party's demand for immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq" and quotes the co-chair of the party's Peace Action Committee Deanna Taylor stating, "The greatest danger to the peace movement is that organizations and voters who oppose the war are being fooled into seeing the election of Democrats as a step towards peace, stability, and the observance of human rights in the Middle East." In Democratic Party news, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes that "Congressman Dennis Kucinich has accused Democratic Party leaders in Iowa of excluding him from two presidential events this week. On Sunday six of the Democratic candidates were invited to speak to over 12,000 Democratic voters at Senator Tom Harkin's Steak Fry. But Kucinich and former Senator Mike Gravel were not invited. They also weren't invited to a recent Democratic presidential forum in Davenport Iowa. Kucinich said: 'When Party leaders and their allies pre-select which candidates they will allow the voters to hear, it's a disservice to the voters. Iowans deserve better than a rigged game." Saturday, Trina (Trina's Kitchen) recapped some of the developments in Kucinich's campaign including a new staffer, retired Army Capt. Mike Klein, Kucinich's criticism of the illegal war -- "a smokescreen to cover the immorality and criminality of the real reason he took us to war and the reason he refuses to end it: oil" -- his hosting of a student debate in Florida and his campaigning in Hawaii -- the state Democratic presidential candidates tend to write off (at their own risk). TransWorldNews notes of Gravel that the "former Alaska Senator, is not shy about placing the blame for the length of the War in Iraq on the current crop of Democrats eyeing the nomination for President. Especially front runners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, according to Gravel, as they were in a position to do something about the country's involvement [but] when the opportunity presented itself chose to fault others instead of taking the appropriate action."

Turning to the subject of US mercenaries. Blackwater's latest slaughter continues to garner attention. On Sunday, Blackwater fired into crowds and they've repeatedly changed their story ever since. Are the mercenaries in our out?
Martin Fletcher (Times of London) notes that any effort to eject them from Iraq -- any Iraqi effort -- "would be resisted strenuously by the US Government, whose security arrangements will be thrown into chaos if Blackwater can no longer operate in Iraq." Which is why US Secretary of State and Anger Condi Rice spent 15 minutes on the phone with puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki. Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) noted that "several contractors predicted Monday that it was unlikely the Iraqi government would carry through with the threat to expel Blackwater."For all intents and purposes they belong to the [U.S.] Department of State," one contractor said of Blackwater employees". Kim Sengupta (Independent of London) reports on "an extraordinary telephone news conference, the US embassy spokeswoman could not answer whether the company was still working for the Americans inside the Green Zone, or what its legal position was along with similar foreign contractors within Iraq." Sengupta also notes the ever changing story of Blackwater for why the opened fire on unarmed Iraqi civilians killing at least 8 on Sunday. Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) notes that Ali Dabbagh spoke to the press in Baghdad and noted that the Iraqi investigation "had found that guards with the private security company Blackwater USA had fired without provocation on a Baghdad traffic circle, killing eight people and wounding 13" and that a child was among the dead. As Leila Fadel, Joseph Neff and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) point out, "Whether the Iraqi Interior Ministry will be able to enforce its decision to ban North Carolina-based Blackwater Security from operating in Iraq is likely to be a major test between the government of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki and the United States. Blackwater, founded by a major Republican Party benefactor, is among the most prominent -- and most controversial -- of dozens of companies that provide security to both government and private individuals in Iraq. In 2003, the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority exempted the companies and their employees from prosecution under Iraqi law, but Iraqi officials disputed whether that exemption remains in effect, and U.S. officials declined to comment."

Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) explored the topic with Jeremy Scahill -- journalist and author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army -- and Doug Brooks who is the president of International Peace Operations Association ("a trade group for the private secuirty industry")

JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, clearly, Nouri al-Maliki made the mistake of believing that there is a sovereign Iraqi government for about fifteen minutes over the past twenty-four hours, and it appears now that there's a real diplomatic shuffle going on. Condoleezza Rice called Nouri al-Maliki ostensibly to apologize, but it does seem that the US is putting a tremendous amount of pressure on the Iraqi government not to expel Blackwater.
And, you know, what's important to understand about this is that Blackwater is a relatively small player, in terms of numbers in Iraq. They have about a thousand operatives on the ground inside of the country. But symbolically, this is of enormous importance, because Blackwater is the official mercenary company of the US government. They protect the senior US officials in Iraq, the US ambassador. My understanding is that it was a chief of mission operation that they were protecting yesterday, which could mean that it was a very senior US official that the principal or the noun, so to speak.
But we also have to say, there's nothing new here. Iraqis for four years have been terrorized by these mercenaries, who ride around the country, and they'll do anything to keep their ever-important US lives protected, even if it means shooting Iraqi civilians. And so, if Iraq does follow through on this and expel Blackwater, it would be an extraordinary development.
[. . .]
I mean, the reality here is that every time Iraq has made any kind of noise about prosecuting contractors, the contractors are whisked out. It becomes a major discussion between Washington and Baghdad diplomats. And the fact of the matter is, this is solid proof. There is no sovereignty in Iraq of the government at all. The US gutted out the Iraqi legal system, made it virtually impossible for Iraqis to hold accountable murderers and thugs inside of the country who are foreign operatives. And so, when the Bush administration talks about how great everything is going in Baghdad, we have to remember that when US mercenaries shoot Iraqis, the Iraqis are basically powerless to stop them.

Naomi Klein's
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism is out today in the United States and from the book we'll note this on the lives of Iraqis:

It began, as it often does, with the disappearance of women behind viels and doors, then the children disappeared from the schools -- as of 2006, two-thirds of them stayed home. Next came the professionals: doctors, professors, entrepreneurs, scientists, pharmacists, judges, lawyers.
[. . .]
That is what happenes with projects to build model societies in other people's countries. The cleansing campaigns are rarely premeditated. It is only when the people who live on the land refuse to abandon their past that the dream of the clean slate morphs into its doppelganger, the scorched earth -- only then that the dream of toral creation morphs into a campaign of total destruction.
The unanticipated violence that now engulfs Iraq, is the creation of the lethally optimistic architects of the war -- it was preordained in that original seemingly innocuous, even idealistic phrase: "a model for a new Middle East." The disintegration of Iraq has its roots in the ideology that demanded a tabu rase on which to write its new story. And when no such pristine tableua presented itself, the supporter of that ideology proceeded to blast and surge and glast again in the hope of reaching the promised land.

Democracy Now! today, Doug Brooks declared that the mercenaries (Blackwater, et al) were "better than US soldiers" (Goodman asked that, Brooks replied "Absolutely"). And Jeremey Scahill noted, "Well, I think that most people in the world first learned of Blackwater USA on March 31st, 2004, when four Blackwater operatives were ambushed and killed in the Iraqi city of Fallujah. Their bodies were burned, they were dragged through the streets, strung up from a bridge over the Euphrates River. And the Bush administration responded to that attack by leveling Fallujah and destroying the city. In fact, it was the first of a number of sieges against the city of Fallujah, and it really fueled the Iraqi resistance that haunts the occupation to this day. That was the first time that many people heard of any kind of a private security or private military company, a mercenary company, operating in Iraq." The two slaughters of Falluja. Stemming from that incident (caused in part by Paul Bremer shutting down a press because he didn't care for a cartoon mocking him). Sabrina Tavernise (New York Times) sidesteps that reality (possibly because Dexy Filkins provided rah-rah coverage of the November 2004 slaughter?) and offers that "One of the most terrifying images of the war for Americans involved four of Blackwater's contractors in Falluja who were killed in 2004, and their bodies hung from a bridge." That was the most terrifying image? For Americans? Tavernise thinks Americans weren't shocked by the bombings in northern Iraq that claimed approximately 500 lives on one day this summer? If Tavernise isn't speaking for the State Dept (a constant problem for the Times), she might want to consider -- among many other attacks -- the June 16, 2006 attack in Youssifiyah in which US service members David Baineau, Kristian Menchaca and Thomas Tucker were killed with the latter two's corpses being discovered after they'd been tortured to death. Clearly the US State Dept saw the Falluja attack as the worst but Tavernise might want to explain why she sees it as such. Tavernise does mange to reveal that an employee of Blackwater (apparently drunk) shot dead the bodyguard of Iraq's Shi'ite vice president on Christmas Eve (2006) and was faced no charges (in Iraq or the US) but got whisked out of the country and she notes that "A law issued by the American authority in Iraq before the United States handed over soverieignty to Iraqis, Order No. 17, gives the companies immunity from iraqi law. A security expert based in Baghdad said Monday night that the order, issued in 2004, had never been overturned." One of the Bremer orders that the press wasn't overly interested in covering in real time.

Staying with the US State Dept for a minute more,
CBS and AP report, 'A congressional committee has launched an investigation into the State Department's Inspector General, alleging that he blocked fraud investigations, including potential security lapses at the newly built U.S. embassy in Baghdad. Also under scrutiny is whether a major security firm was 'illegally smuggling weapons into Iraq,' according to a letter to IG Howard J. Krongard that was obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press."

In some of today's reported violence . . .


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed 1 life and left two police officers wounded, a Baghdad bus bombing that claimed 2 lives and left five wounded and 3 Baghdad car bombings that claimed a total of 13 lives and left 35 wounded. Reuters notes a bombing in Jalawla that claimed the lives of 4 Iraqi civilians (fourteen more wounded), a Mosul car bombing that left two Iraqi soldiers wounded


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports assailant attacked a representative of Ayatollah Sistani in Basra (Emad Abdul Kareem) while he was departing a mosque leaving him wounded and 1 of his guards dead. Reuters notes a police officer was shot dead in Shirqat.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 9 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes that 3 corpses were discovered in Mosul and 3 in Qaim.

In a novel development, the
US military announced deaths today: "Three Task Force Lightning Soldiers were killed in Diyala Province, Tuesday, following an explosion." ICCC's total for the number of US service members killed in the illegal war now stands at 3786 (with 44 for the month). If that number suprises many it may be because the total stood at 3781 Sunday night. As noted this morning, the names of two who had died were announced by the Defense Dept on Monday; however, M-NF never announced those deaths. The usual pattern is what M-NF has done today with the "Three Task Force Lightning Soldiers were killed in . . . " After that, the US Defense Dept follows up by releasing the names of the dead after the next of kin has been notified. Altering the process allows them to hide the deaths. M-NF didn't stop putting out their press releases -- they were still, for instance, happy to offer "Soldiers take citizenship oath" -- they just stopped announcing the deaths. They've done that before, they will do it again. Because M-NF finally did their job, Reuters was able to report on the deaths and note the count is 3,784 US service members killed in the illegal war thus far. The 3800 mark looms.

Meanwhile the US people still want US troops withdrawn even if their represenatives (and sadly, an apologist in the peace movement) don't see it as anything to get too worked up over.
CBS' latest poll came out yesterday and 68% still is calling for troops to be brought home.

But there are some lies that are being told to our children every day in order to convince them to sign up to be sent into the Baghdad meat grinder. Proponents of the policy in Iraq are quick to point out that everyone in the military volunteered, but what does that mean if most of them were tricked into enlisting by the lies that recruiters tell every day? It means that to support the troops means to cut through the lies, bring them home, and stop this criminal occupation!

we are back to Adam Kokesh. The above was part of his speech delivered Saturday in DC. Iraq Veterans Against the War have kicked off Truth in Recruiting. Maureen O'Donnell (Chicago Sun-Times) reports on yesterday's actions in Chicago with IVAW's Aaron Hughes explaining, "Every minute that a recruiter's spending with someone from the movement is a minute that they're not recruiting for the war" and O'Donnel notes that five demonstrators were in the army recruiting station on 1239 N. Clybourn, Chicago's WBEZ (91.5 FM) notes that IVAW "hopes to keep the campaign going until the war stops." Chicago's WLS-TV quotes Huges stating, "We are asking people to go befriend recruiters, spend time with them -- find out the real issues. Find out all the things that they're telling you, that they're offering you, and then talk to a veteran and realize how much of that's not true."

Saturday was a strong moment for IVAW and they deserve nothing but praise for their leadership and actions. War Hawks are e-mailing regarding a story and we'll note it here.
Alan Garthright and Hector Gutierrez (Rocky Mountain News) have reported that Iraq vet Ricardo Cortez who was apparently speaking out against the illegal war is now held on charges in an attack on "his estranged wife . . . [and] her companion". If Cortez is guilty, and not to minimize or excuse his actions, it only demonstrates again the way that the Veterans Affairs Dept. is failing veterans who return and need help. This is not the first act of violence -- if Cortez committed it -- committed by a veteran -- in this illegal war or any other -- nor is it as though the civilian population doesn't also get charged with violent crimes. If Cortez did do what he's charged with, this goes to the lack of medical screening for returning veterans and those e-mailing who thinks this 'proves' anything about veterans against the illegal war should be aware that many pro-war veterans have been charged with much worse including murdering their wives. The issue isn't their stance on the Iraq War, the issue is most likely the lack of medical attention that the military is providing to those returning.