Friday, March 21, 2008

Laura Richardson, Hillary and the liar John Nichols

John Nichols really thinks America is full of idiots. He smears Hillary again and the title is "Clinton Lie Kills Her Credibility on Trade Policy." Does anyone expect anything but a smear from Johnny Five-Cents at this point? NO. Has Johnny Nichols ever implied that Hillary had credibility on anything? No.

You know this same crowd was going to rock the world in 2004 and they didn't. It's because their echo chamber convinces their readers that they KNOW and they are in TOUCH and then come the election returns.

So a lot of Hillary Haters reading Johnny Worth One Penny think they're getting real information. They're not.

I was with C.I. and Ava today in a meeting with three super delegates. Based on all the lobbying they have been doing, if the DNC convention was held today, I'd argue the super delegates would go with Hillary. I was shocked by that. I asked C.I. about it and told Jim about the conversation. Jim claimed it for Third. So there will probably be a roundtable Sunday and, in it, C.I. will be asked to explain the power structure of the Democratic Party and how super delegates reflect it.

I will share right now that the most hated person by super delegates is . . . drum roll please, Katrina vanden Heuvel. They LOATHE her. Her magazine's non-stop schilling for Bambi is a minus.

I wanted to highlight the blog at because I'm not sure people know that it's there. I don't think I've ever highlighted it. But there is a blog and this is "Celebrating Women: A Note from Congresswoman Laura Richardson:"

I've had the honor of serving my district in California as a Member of Congress for just over six months now, but I've had the honor of knowing Hillary for much longer. Senator Clinton and I first met during my city council and state legislature days when she visited my district in Los Angeles ten years ago. We spent her visit, and several others since then, talking about the issues faced by the residents of my district, and I was incredibly impressed both by her knowledge of their challenges and by her commitment to improving their lives.
Hillary's wisdom and empathy have been the driving force behind her work throughout her career, from her time with the Children's Defense Fund to her work on behalf of the children and families of New York as Senator. Women’s History Month is a time to honor the historic accomplishments of the women who came before us, but I think it should also be a time to reflect upon women who have influenced our own personal history.
My history is very much tied to the history of my generation. As a child of a mixed marriage in the 1960s, I could not understand why strangers threw eggs at my mother's car or cursed at her in the grocery store. My mother tried to explain these things to me, but no explanation could cover the hurt so eventually she just said to me, "You should be a person who makes better laws." From that day forward, I knew that I wanted to be a public servant.
I know that not everyone who serves can trace their desire to do so to such a precise moment, but I know after spending time with Senator Clinton in California to South Carolina to Ohio, that the traits of leadership were with Hillary throughout her lifetime as well. From the courage to face neighborhood bullies after an early move, to the strength she exhibited in her commencement address at Wellesley, she has always been an individual of uncommon ability and she has continued to put that to use throughout her career.
She once told me that as a young candidate for class president, she ran against several of the boys from her school. She lost that election and afterwards, one of her opponents came up to her and told her that she was silly if she thought a girl could be elected president. I’m glad Senator Clinton didn't stop there, and not only do I believe it is possible for a woman to become president, I believe in my heart that Hillary is the best leader right now for what our country needs and what we can achieve.

So that was really worth reading. Hillary is a fighter and she doesn't take her marbles and run home. Her can-do spirit is the sort that is the best of America.

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

Friday, March 21, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the cease-fire gets frazzled, Antonia Juhasz spoke at Winter Soldier and we highlight her and Iraq vet James Gilligan, Cheney's out of the country, Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez propose a military draft for the children of elected officials, Joe Wilson attempts to set the record straight re: Bambi, and more.

Starting with war resistance. Remember James Burmeister? Probably not. He was never interviewed on Democracy Now!, he was never profiled in The Nation. He was one of the war resisters of 2007 who were ignored non-stop by Panhandle Media. (August 24th, Maria Hinojosa interviewed Burmeister for NOW on PBS.) Ava and my summary:

James Burmeister also self-checked out while in Germany. He was lifted out of Iraq and taken there after he was injured. He enlisted to do humanitarian work (e.g. rebuilding in Iraq) and, of course, that didn't end up being the case. ("Of course" is not a judgement of Burmeister's intelligence, it is noting that we are probably far more cynical than he is.) "Humanitarian work" for the US military translated as leaving US military items out in public so that when an Iraqi touched them, he or she could be shot for touching US property. Your tax dollars at work in the illegal war. Following the third bombing he was the victim of, Brumeister was sent to Germany to recover. At that point, he and his family made the decision to go to Canada.

Courage to Resist reports that "Burmeister recently returned from Canada and turned himself in to the Army at Fort Knox, Kentucky on March 4. In May 2007, James refused redeployment to Iraq. He lived in Canada for the last ten months with the help of the War Resisters Support Campaign. James' father Erich Burmeister of Eugene, Oregon believes that the Army is getting ready to prosecute James. He is asking people to call the Fort Knox Public Affairs office at 502-624-7451 and let them know you are concerned about PFC James Burmeister."
Meanwhile Duluth's Budgeteer News reports: "War resister Melanie McPherson, an Army reservist from Tofte, will speak at 7 p.m. in UMD's Montague Hall, Room 70" on March 25th next week. Also speaking next week is Iraq Veterans Against the War's chair Camilo Mejia who, Burlington Free Press reports, "plans to speak at Green Mountain College on at 7 p.m. on March 27 in Ackley Auditorium."

War resisters in Canada were dealt a setback in November the Canadian Supreme Court refused to hear the appeals of Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey. Today, Canada's Parliament remaining the best hope for safe harbor war resisters have, you can make your voice heard by the Canadian parliament which has the ability to pass legislation to grant war resisters the right to remain in Canada. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper ( -- that's pm at who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( -- that's Dion.S at who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( -- that's Bevilacqua.M at who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use. That is the sort of thing that should receive attention but instead it's ignored. We will note war resisters in Canada tomorrow. There is not time today, my apologies.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum. Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

Like most things Iraq related, Iraq Veterans Against the War's Winter Soldier Investigation is not receiving the attention it deserves. Noting the media silences on Iraq and actually writing about Winter Soldier, Osagie Ighile (North Carolina's Duke Chronicle) observes:

In the three days of testimony by war veterans, one thing that has emerged is that Abu Ghraib and other atrocities are not exceptions, but are commonplace. The main cause is not an innate wickedness in our troops but is rather the necessary outcome of placing them in a situation where friend and foe are indistinguishable and soldiers are forced to choose between their survival instinct and their moral code.
Marine Corps Sgt. Adam Kokesh, who served in Falluja from February to September 2004 on a civil affairs team, specifically explained this confusion of the rules of engagement, which state that 'positive identification is required prior to engagement' where positive identification means "'reasonable certainty' that you target is a legitimate military target." However, Kokesh said when all soldiers see is a muzzle flash from a building in a civilian area, they are forced to choose between increasing their chance of survival by returning fire and not breaking the rules of engagement. Consequently, he stated that "we changed the rules of engagement more often that we changed our underwear."

Trina wrote about Kokesh's testimony on Friday's Rules of Engagment morning panel and she noted him explaining, "During the seige of Falluja, we changed rules of engagement more often than we changed our underwear. At first it was, you follow the rules of engagement you do what you're supposed to do and then there were times when you could shoot any suspicious observers or someone with binoculars or someone with a cell phone was fair game. And that really opened things up to a lot of subjectivity. But also firing at muzzle flashes into the city. Firing Mark 19s became common practice. At one point we imposed a curfer on the city of Falluja and at that point we were told we could shoot anything after dark." Which goes back to Jason Hurd's testimony on the same panel about how civilians were supposed to recognize a checkpoint easily but, as Hurd noted, "I was in front of a desert colored vehicle, preceeding a desert colored building in desert colored camoflauge."

James Gilligan testified about both Afghanistan and Iraq. Our focus is Iraq but his testimony on Afghanistan was very powerful for any who want to pursue it.

James Gilligan: 2003, Iraq. My HNS Company first sergeant. He had a thing for handing out candy to the children who would come up to our Humvees -- winning the hearts and minds. My first sergeant had seen that there was a little girl next to the Humvee and he personally handed her a lollypop. The little girl, excited, ran away from the vehicle and we're guessing her brother or a neighborhood kid came up behind her and hit her. My first sergeant then proceeded to get out of the vehicle in the crowded marketplace endangering our entire convoy, withdrew his M9 pistol and ran after the kid, picked the kid up approximately 30 feet away from our vehicle and hoisted him one foot in the air, threatening him with the M9 pistol. In 2003, in Iraq, we were ordered to . . . secure an expeditionary runway. It was my job to pull overwatch security. . . . In 2003, while securing this expeditionary runway we had observed that there was a gentleman at the end of the runway collecting souveniers. I was my job as a corporal to go down and investigate and, of course, push this guy away and inform him that he was not to be at the end of our runway collecting souveneirs. I took Lance Cprl. Jermone with me and we had went all the way down to the runway on foot, it's approximately 200 meters. After walking down there, the gentleman was collecting bits of rounds set from a previous battle. I radioed over what we were doing and of course we searched him and took away any kind of munitions that we had found I was then ordered to search the vehicle. As I told Lance Cpl. Jerome "Secure my detainee," I went ahead and I searched the vehicle. Afterwhich, I reported back that I did not find anything futher other than what was on the ground and we had already taken away from the gentleman, I was informed to make the vehicle inoperable. It is at this time that I pulled out my knife. I opened up the seats, I cut every single wire that I could find, I slashed tires and I made sure that his vehicle could not be used again without even thinking that this could be this man's lifeblood.

He spoke last Friday, on the second Rules of Engagement panel. Antonia Juhasz was among the speakers on the corruption and contractors panel that took place immediately before the second Rules of Engagement panel. Among the tiny attention that's been doled out, this hearing has had almost no attention. (There's one that got even less attention.) So we're going to note her comments at length (and Wally and Cedric noted her last week).

Antonia Juhasz: The problem is that when these grants were given, first of all, Iraqis were of course overlooked. But not only were Iraqis overlooked, the entire structure of the economic
reconstruction laid in place the results we're seeing now. So one of the first acts of the US occupation government led by Paul Bremer was called the de-Baathification order. This was the order by which Bremer fired 120,000 of all of the key ministerial leaders in Iraq, all of the engineers, all of the scientists, all of the people who ran the water ministry, the electrical ministry, the oil ministry. He fired them all. 120,000 people. He fired them all because he didn't want anyone standing in the way of the restructing that was being planned. That left an enormous brain vaccum. The next step that Bremer did was to fire 500,00 Iraqi soldiers. . . . Half a million Iraqi soldiers. The US military had intended that those soldiers would be put to work to do the reconstruction but the Bush administration's economic plan didn't include that. The Bush administration's economic plan was to bring in private contractors. So immediatly at the get-go you had half-a-million men with guns made unemployed, without jobs, without money and their families left without hope, without money. And some estimates put that number at 2.5 million Iraqis -- ten percent of the population -- who from the get-go were now very, very hostile to the reconstruction and to the invasion, and to the occupation. All of these people also knew that US companies were being given billions of dollars to reconstruct the country and you'll hear many people testify to the fact that there were many Iraqis who while they were upset that Iraqis companies -- of which there were many, Iraqi workers -- of which there were many, who were more than capable of doing the work, were being jumped over. But there was a sense that, "If America was going to spend 10 billion dollars fixing our electricity, that's no so bad and, you know, maybe that'll be good." And there was a sense of allowing this to take place. The reconstruction failed and one of the primary reasons that it failed was that objective was not to just get the services up and running. The objective was this longer term permanent presence which I mentioned.
So that you had companies like Bechtel spending the first six weeks in country . . . walking around doing an assessment of the situation. They could have talked to the Iraqis who ran the water systems. They could have hired the Iraqis to run the water systems. But they didn't. They walked around, they checked out the scene. In that time there was no electricty, there was no water being provided and that built up, of course, bad will and by the time Bechtel got to work it became very unsafe for Bechtel to be at work. The failure of the reconstruction continues but one of the things that's important for us to remain aware of today is that many of the companies have radically failed. So Bechtel, a recent report found that they completed less than half of the projects that they were contracted to fulfill and that was water, electricity, schools, basic rebuilding. Parsons, another analysis just done that Parsons had barely fulfilled any of its comittments. Of the statistics that Louis just gave, Parsons was hired to rebuild 150 primary health centers across the country. They built 34 and not all of them are even functional. But not all of that money has been paid out and that's an area where we can take action. I just don't have nearly the time to say the things I'd planned to say so let me just say a couple of things. The first is, the intention of the war to be about oil. Right now we are in a situation where five oil companies -- Exxon, Chevron, BP, Shell and Total, have just signed, within the last week, contracts to get oil -- to go into Iraq. Anyone with any sense of Iraqi history recognizes the names of these companies. These are the exact same companies that from the end of WWII until 1970 owned all of Iraq's oil. They were given it as a war bounty at the end of WWI. They owned it, they controlled it and they controlled Iraq's fate because of owning the oil. Since they were kicked out in the early 1970s, they've been trying to get back in. This is the second or third and maybe the largest pot of oil in the world depending on who's counting. The world is running out of oil; however, oil sells for $110 a barrel. This oil is sitting there like a gleaming prize at the end of the finish line. And believe me, they have been planning and plotting to get it. These five contracts are the tip of the iceberg. The intent is to get the Iraqis to pass a law that would put everything back the way it was in the '20s, to take it from a nationalized oil system to a privatized oil system where US oil companies -- and a little bit for the French and a little bit for the British because, you know, we like them -- would own and control the oil. Now, if that happens a US government report that was leaked by ABC News said -- and just so we are using the terminolgoy, this is one of the president's benchmarks for Iraq, which the Congress adopted, passage of an oil law in Iraq. Another one of the benchmarks, by the way, was reversing the de-Baathification law that Bremer put into place that fired all of those experts. The oil law, if it is to be put into place and if US companies that are angling are Exxon, Cheveron, Conoco, Marthon, BP, Shell and Total. If they stay, they will need to be quote "underwritten by the US government." I take "underwritten by the US government" to mean you, to be underwritten by the US military. That we will have to stay to ensure their safety and the continuation of their mission which was the whole reason we went there in the first place.

On contractors, at the start of the week Hannah Allem (McClatchy Newspapers) reported on the opinions expressed by Iraq's clerics that "the real crime is that five years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, they still swelter in the summer and freeze in the winter because of a lack of electricity. Government rations are inevitably late, incomplete or expired. Garbage piles up for days, sometimes weeks, emanaging toxic fumes" and Allam noted that now worms are being found in the water.

Staying with the topic of contractors, Sahara Zahav (Florida Alligator) notes Iraq veteran Anthony Maroun's speaking to students at Santa Fe Community College prior to Winter Soldier:

As the team leader of his unit, it was part of Maroun's job to keep the Dell computers they used from overheating in the desert climate. But as hard as he tried, Maroun couldn't manage to get the necessary air conditioner, which meant his unit couldn't do its mission.
"I finally asked a friend of mine, this contractor, to help me out," Maroun said. "He got the air conditioner so fast. But me, a leader in the Marines, wasn't connected enough to get the equipment we needed."
Maroun said for him, that air conditioner stood for the "corporate takeover of a country."

We'll be noting Winter Soldier in Monday's snapshot. Visitors have e-mailed to complain that this or that person hasn't been noted. Regarding civilians offering testimony, Nancy Lessin of Military Families Speak Out is someone that will be hopefull noted on Monday. Otherwise? None of us are interested in highlighting someone who says -- to wide applause -- that there's no difference between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on the illegal war and then rushes off to give an embarrassing interview where he maintains there is a difference and, since he can peer into the souls of both, he knows Barack is all things wonderful. So if he says, to applause at Winter Soldier, that the candidates need to be pressed and now is the time and he then rushes off to give an interview where he completely dismisses Hillary's signing onto US Senator Bernie Sanders' call to ban Blackwater (while offering the valentine of an excuse for Bambi that it's "complicated"), we're not interested. We're not interested in liars. We're not interested in people who went to Winter Soldier to get some applause and some attention and then turned around and gave interviews taking back their applause lines. Six snapshots have covered Winter Soldier and Monday we'll probably wind things down. We don't have time to note hypocrites so those visitors needing their 'man' noted can just forget it. He danced pretty at Winter Soldier and then -- like his earlier interview subject Samantha Power -- said something completely different. We're not interested. We could further add that while others had to stick to a time limit, the visitors' 'man' was allowed to run on and on, always promising to wrap up but avoiding that repeatedly. If you missed Winter Soldier you can stream online at Iraq Veterans Against the War, at War Comes Home, at KPFK, at the Pacifica Radio homepage and at KPFA, here for Friday, here for Saturday, here for Sunday. Aimee Allison (co-host of the station's The Morning Show and co-author with David Solnit of Army Of None) and Aaron Glantz were the anchors for Pacifica's live coverage.

Juhasz also spoke of oil, so let's note Deb Riechmann (AP) reported that two months after Bully Boy went to Saudi Arabia to beg, Dick Cheney does so now:
During his trip to Saudi Arabia in January, President Bush urged the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to increase production, saying it was a mistake to have the economies of its largest customers slowing down as a result of higher energy prices.The oil-producing nations ignored Bush's request. The White House said it disagreed with OPEC's decision to rebuff that request, and that the oil-producing nations themselves could be hurt by gas prices that are more than $3 a gallon.Cheney was greeted at King Khaled International Airport by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal. The two shared tea inside the airport before heading to the king's horse farm, a posh retreat with a towering water fountain and statues of four show horses, their tails standing high.

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


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Tikrit roadside bombing that wounded "a little boy". Reuters notes a Dour mortar attack that left four children injured.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Diyala Province 2 people wounded by unknown assailants who shot up their car in Diyala Province, 3 police officers wounded in a shooting in Diyala Province, a Tikrit home invasion that left 1 person dead and an attack in Balad on the Chief of Police of al-Mahata area that killed him and 2 of his guards as well as leaving two bystanders wounded.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Meanwhile Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) reports on the "Awakening" Council -- thugs changed to turncoats against the Iraqi people when the US tossed coin their way -- who are now getting antsy because another thug -- Nouri al-Maliki -- won't bring them into the government already. Zavis notes that "the fighters need jobs now. If not, many openly declare that they will have no choice but to work for the insurgency" -- of course not, they only turned to begin with because they were bought off. This as Reuters reports that the cease-fire/truce between the US and forces alligned (at one time?) with Moqtada al-Sadr battled in Baghdad and Kut -- 3 followers dead in Kut, five injured in Baghdad.

In political news, Military Families Speak Out [PDF format] notes Diane and Neil Santoriello are calling on Senators Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Barack Obama "to meet them at their son's grave in Arlington National Cemetry -- a a grave they visit every month." Their son Neil Santoriello "was the 930th [US] soldier killed" in the Iraq War (August 13, 2004). Both parents are quoted. This is Diane Santoriello:

I would like to see the presidential candidates utilize the leadership that they each claim to have. With each funding bill that the President signs, he is actually signing the death warrant for more soldiers and more Iraqi civilians. The Senate has the power to stop that death warrant from reaching his desk. Senator McCain, Senator Clinton, and Senator Obama all share responsibility for continuing this war. Senator Clinton, Senator Obama, Senator McCain, do you have the courage and honor to face up to the reality of section 60? If so give us the day and time and we will meet you there. (Leave the wreaths, the media and your staffers at the gate.)

And this is Neil Santoriello:

I challenge each presidential candidate to meet us at our son's grave in section 60 of Arlington Cemetery. I want them to stand at his grave and face the Memorial Bridge. I want them to see how many more soldiers have been laid to rest since he was buried in 2004. He was the 930th soldier killed. How many more rows need to be created before they say enough?

Ralph Nader is running for president and Matt Gonzales is the vice-president on the ticket. At their campaign website, it's noted today: "President Bush believes that the war in Iraq is 'worth the sacrifice.' The question then becomes -- sacrifice by whom? What about George Bush's daughters Jenna and Barbara? Prince Harry served in Afghanistan. Senator Jim Webb and Senator John McCain each have a son who served in Iraq. During World War II four of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's sons entered the armed forces, as did General Eisenhower's son, John Eisenhower. No double standard for them. So, why not Jenna and Barbara Bush? And why not military service for the children of all members of Congress -- who have funded this criminal war in Iraq? . . . It's called -- draft at the top. Pass a law that says this -- whenever Congress and the White House take our country to war, all able-bodied military-age children of every member of Congress, the President and the Vice-President will be conscripted automatically into the armed forces."

Meanwhile Dominque Soguel (WeNews) speaks with US service members Luz Gonzalez, Carolyn Schapper, Emily Stroia and Chrissy DeCaprio who state their concerns for the next president include "vision, experience and patriotism." If your candidate of choice wasn't mentioned and you're not a community member, tough. This week was the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War, not the fifth anniversary of a Venezuelan War, for example. Maybe your candidate needs to learn to focus? Regardless, we don't have time for nonsense. We do have time to support our own. As Gina's long noted, this is a private conversation in a public sphere. If you're a visitor, you can listen in, but you cannot steer it.

Patriotism. Jeremiah Wright's damning of America has offended many Americans and will only offend more as time passes. Barack Obama's Tuesday speech was met with the usual press nonsense which was to focus on the pretty words he offered and not grasp that the speech was a distraction and an avoidance. As the polling indicates, Americans grasped it far better than the press did. We all love Betty and what Cedric has termed her "deep wisdoms from the south." We love them because she's usually right on the money. This was Betty in Sunday's "Roundtable:" "We've seen a very ugly campaign season and I was so disappointed when it was announced on Friday that they were calling a truce. Whenever the heat gets turned up on Bambi, it's time for a truce. Jesse Jackson Jr. can get on TV and lie about Hillary and not be called out but when realities emerge about Bambi, it's time for a truce? There should be no truce and there should be no nonsense that race hasn't played a part or that White people have repeatedly ignored the way the Obama campaign has used racism throughout the campaign." Betty's correct that everytime the Obama campaign gets into hot water they insist on a truce and then they don't honor it. Jeremiah Wright's damning of America was offensive to many. It was time for a "truce" insisted the Obama campaing and then, not a full week later, they show up to "peddle photos of President Clinton shaking hands with . . . Wright less than 48 hours after calling for a high-minded conversation on race. Well, President Clinton took tens of thousands of photos during his eight years as president. Stop the presses." Neither Bill or Hillary Clinton were members of Wright's church. This is the same crap that the George W. Bush campaign repeatedly pulled in the 2000 election. And you need to be noticing Hillary's response.

Democrats have stated since 2000 -- when Al Gore didn't fight hard enough after the election -- and again in 2004 -- when John Kerry refused to stand up for Ohio voters -- that the party needed a fighter. Hillary Clinton is a fighter. She's fighting for the nomination and doing so against one of the most rigged systems in recent memory. Panhandle Media has churned out embarrassing, fawning copy for Obama since 2006 in anticipation of his run while running 'exposes' on Hillary. It hasn't changed a thing with the core of the Democratic Party, working class people, who continue to support her. Panhandle Media's non-stop lying has allowed some very smart Obama supporters to believe such lies as "Obama voted against the Iraq resolution in 2002." They believe that because the LIARS of Panhandle Media repeatedly suggest that. Last year on KPFA we saw Professor Patti Williams float that lie and when called on it, by a woman of MidEastern descent who pointed out Obama wasn't in the Senate in 2002, Professor Patti had her meltdown on air, snarling at a woman who obvioulsy had dificulty speaking on air. How proud Professor Patti must be -- both for attempting to lie and for attacking a woman who pointed out that Professor Patti was wrong. We saw all this crap during the 2000 George W. Bush campaign. We're seeing it all again but it's coming from Democrats and it's not Hillary, despite Panhandle Media's non-stop lying. It's the Barack team.

Meanwhile, having offended a good portion of Americans, what has Barack done? It is now Friday and the best he can offer is to try to smear the Clintons by pointing out that Wright was among many clergy invited to one prayer breakfast at the White House. If you're not alarmed by that, you're not paying attention. Wright is toxic. He is pulling the Obama campaign down. And the campaign's best response is to pull out a photo-op shot of the man with Bill Clinton? How does Barack Obama plan to address a Republican opponent because he's running a losing campaign right now. You need to think about Florida 2000 and ask yourself which of the two would be fighting and which would be saying, "Oh, well, we all need to heal and blah blah blah" thereby stabbing voters in the back. I don't think anyone can argue that Hillary would say, "Oh well, it's over. Heal, America, let's all heal!" Democrats have complained and, yes, whined for eight years now that they wanted a figher. You've got your fighter, it's Hillary Clinton.

Now the rejects of Panhandle Media -- who couldn't work in the Real Media -- are facing their own little awakening. They have to face that all their talk of 'democracy' and of 'participation' and of embracing the 'working class' is just b.s. They've spat on all three notions this election cycle. They've stamped their feet and amplified their LIES when they didn't get their way. It is a testament to the spirit of working class Democrats that with all the lies, all the distortions, they have refused to be taken in. But then real Democrats didn't vote for the Bully Boy in 2000 or 2004. And maybe Panhandle Media should start including disclaimers when they LIE about Obama. Maybe readers do, as Mike and Marcia both noted yesterday, have a right to know, when reading yet another endorsement of Obama, whether the writer can even vote in the election, whether the writer is a Democrat, whether the writer is a Communist, whether the writer voted Democrat before or -- again -- even can vote.

They've created their little artisan class (highly undemocratic) to act as an echo chamber and they've enlisted people who HAVE TO PASS for Democrats. When someone has to pass for a Democrat, there's a problem and that's an indication that they probably shouldn't be addressing a Democratic primary to begin with. Hillary's fighting and Panhandle Media can't stand that. They're working overtime to say that damning the United States does not matter -- how very cosmopolitan of them -- or is it European of them. It does matter and they need to get out of their elitist little nooks and crannies to start interacting with real Americans. If they do that, they'll quickly grasp how serious Barack Obama's 20-year-relationship with Jeremiah Wright is.

Panhandle Media can't allow for dissent at something as 'serious' as rigging an election. So they (like the Obama campaign) toss people to the curb. One such person is Joe Wilson. you may remember him and how the likes of David Corn, BuzzFlash, Amy Goodman and all the other sorry excuses for 'media' can't seem to find him today -- because he is supporting Hillary Clinton. Via, here's Joe Wilson, former US ambassador:

Senator Clinton has a long and well documented history of involvement in many of critical foreign policy issues we have confronted and will continue to confront as a nation. Critics can quibble about the details of the health plan she fought for in the 1990s, or whether hers was the decisive or merely an important voice in the Northern Ireland peace efforts, but there can be no denying that she has been in the arena for a generation fighting for what she believes in, gaining experience and developing leadership skills. She has traveled the world and met with international leaders both as the First Lady and as a respected senator on the Senate Armed Services Committee. As NSC director on Africa I experienced her direct positive involvement in U.S.-African relations; it was she, as First Lady who advanced through her own travel, then urged and made possible President Clinton's historic trip. In the Senate, she has aggressively exercised her oversight responsibility and held the Pentagon's feet to the fire on plans related to withdrawal from Iraq, shaped legislation requiring reports to Congress, and cosponsored legislation with Senator Byrd to deauthorize the war with Iraq. She has exercised the levers of power because she knows how to do so. That is not a small thing; it is not a campaign theme. It is simply true and goes to the heart of whether she, or anyone, is prepared to be the president to manage at once two wars and a global economic crisis.
Senator Obama is clearly a gifted politician and orator. I disagree profoundly with his transparently political efforts to turn George Bush's war into Hillary Clinton's responsibility. I was present in that debate, in Washington, from beginning to end, and Obama was nowhere to be seen. His current campaign aides in foreign policy, Tony Lake and Susan Rice, were also in Washington, but they chose to remain silent during that debate, when it mattered.
Claims of superior intuitive judgment by his campaign and by him are self-evidently disingenuous, especially in light of disclosures about his long associations with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Tony Rezko. But his assertions of advanced judgment are also ludicrous when the question of what Obama has accomplished in his four years in the Senate is considered.
As the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee subcommittee on Europe, he has not chaired a single substantive oversight hearing, even though the breakdown in our relations with Europe and NATO is harming our operations in Afghanistan. Nor did he take a single official trip to Europe as chairman. This is the sum total of his actions in the most important responsibility he has had in the Senate. What are his actual experiences that reassure us that when the phone rings at 3 a.m. he will know what to do, which levers of power to pull, or which world leaders he can count on?
Obama has stated that he will rely upon his advisers. But how will he know which ones to depend upon and how will he be able to evaluate what they say? Already, one of his chief foreign policy advisers, Samantha Power, has been compelled to resign for, among other indiscretions, honestly revealing on a British television program that Obama's public position on withdrawal from Iraq is not really his true position, nor does it reflect what he would do. Her gaffe exposed a vein of cynicism on national security. How confident can we be in his judgment? In fact, the hard truth is that he has no such experience.

He will rely on his advisors? Oh, didn't we all hear that in the 2000 campaign and, after all these years of that man occupying the White House, don't we all grasp how dangerous that is. That's in for two reasons. 1) Betty's father asked for the topic to be addressed and 2) Jim thinks we'll also grab it at Third on Sunday. On the first, that's how it works: the community dictates content, not outsiders.

aaron glantz

mcclatchy newspapers

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Hillary, Jess Hamilton (I hope)

Polling Memo: The Shift to Hillary
To: Interested PartiesFrom: Mark Penn, Chief Strategist Date: Thursday, March 20, 2008Re: Polling Memo - The Shift to Hillary
There are some pretty big changes happening out there with the voters. Barack Obama recently declared himself the frontrunner in the race, although there are 10 contests remaining and MI and FL have not yet been decided. But a look at the polls shows that Sen. Obama’s lead nationally with Democrats has been evaporating. The Gallup daily tracking poll shows Hillary leading Sen. Obama among Democrats by 7 points, and the latest Zogby/Reuters poll has Sen. Obama’s lead down from 14 points last month to just 3 points now. This suggests a strong swing in momentum in the race to Hillary since the Texas and Ohio primaries earlier this month.
The more that the voters learn about Barack Obama, the more his ability to beat John McCain is declining compared to Hillary. For a long time we have explained that poll numbers for a candidate who has not yet been vetted or tested are not firm numbers, and we are beginning to see that clearly. Just a month ago, the Obama campaign claimed that the polls showed Barack Obama doing better than Hillary against Sen. McCain. Now such numbers are a lot harder to find.
In the latest USA Today/Gallup poll, Hillary leads John McCain by 5 points (Hillary 51 / McCain 46) while Sen. Obama is only 2 points ahead of Sen. McCain (Obama 49 / McCain 47). This is a reversal from February, when Sen. McCain led Hillary by 4 points. The latest CNN poll also shows that Hillary leads Sen. McCain by a bigger margin than Barack Obama.
In several key states, Hillary is a stronger general election candidate than Barack Obama against John McCain. For example, the latest Survey USA poll has Hillary leading Sen. McCain by 6 points in Ohio while Sen. Obama trails Sen. McCain by 7 points. In Kentucky, Hillary’s margin against Sen. McCain is 26 points better than Barack Obama’s. In Missouri, Sen. Obama lags John McCain by 14 points while Hillary comes within 2 points of Sen. McCain. In Florida, the latest PPP poll shows Barack Obama losing to John McCain by 11 points while Hillary comes within 4 points of Sen. McCain. Last week's University of Central Arkansas poll showed Hillary leading Sen. Sen. McCain by 15 points in that state while Sen. Obama trails Sen. McCain by 16 points. And the latest Rasmussen poll showed Hillary leading Sen. McCain by 11 points in New Jersey while Sen. Obama trails Sen. McCain by 2 points.
Moreover, 24 percent of Florida Democrats say that if Florida's delegates are not counted at the Democratic convention in August, they are less likely to vote for a Democrat in November, according to the latest St. Petersburg Times/Bay News 9/Miami Herald poll. Since Florida is the single largest and most important swing state in the country and nearly 1.8 million Florida Democrats voted in the January primary, Democrats must find a solution to allow Florida's delegates to count if we are to have any hope of winning in November.
And in the crucial state of Pennsylvania - the next Democratic primary battleground and the biggest state which has not yet voted - the latest Quinnipiac poll shows Hillary doubling her Democratic primary lead over Barack Obama from 6 points to 12 points. In Pennsylvania, Hillary improved among men, maintained her 24 point advantage among women, and improved among younger, older, more educated and less educated voters. She leads in every region across the state (NE, SE, NW, SW, Central, Alleghany) with the exception of Philadelphia.
Ultimately, this Democratic nominating process is meant to select the candidate who will: a) be the best president - the best commander-in-chief, steward of the economy, and exercise leadership; b) defeat John McCain; and c) promote and defend core Democratic principles such as universal health care. On all three fronts, Hillary is the best choice for the Democratic Party.
Hillary is the runaway leader on most qualified to be commander-in-chief. In the Ohio exit poll, 60 percent of Democratic primary voters said Hillary was most qualified to be commander-in-chief, compared with 37 percent for Barack Obama. In Texas, she led by 16 points, and in most other states, she led by 10 points or more. She also won among those who said the economy was the most important issue - by 12 points in Ohio, for example. And in the latest CNN poll, more voters say Hillary would do a good job on the economy than Barack Obama or John McCain. Finally, in the latest USA Today/Gallup poll, Hillary leads Barack Obama on strong and decisive leadership, managing the government effectively and having a clear plan for solving the country’s problems.

I read the nonsense online and think, "Am I the only one raised in a religious family?" My family's Catholic. I have to wonder if anyone in Panhandle Media was raised in a religious family because they're either (a) still dismissing that Jeremiah Wright, Bambi's pastor, damned the United States or (b) they're trying to smear Hillary for being part of a Bible study group.

A Bible study group! Oh, that's so shocking!

How stupid is Panhandle Media? There's nothing shocking about Hillary belonging to a Bible study group. There's no shame there. You really grasp that it's not just that Panhandle Media doesn't believe in God, it's that they really, really hate people who do. They think they're so much better and so much smarter, so 'rationale' because they don't believe in God.

I think it's really sad that there are so many in Panhandle Media who don't believe because that's why they miss the key points over and over again. There are apparently more non-believers in Panhandle Media than believers which goes to the fact that they aren't representative of the country they supposedly want to reach.

And when they say a pastor giving a sermon where he damns the United States of America is no big deal, they also seem to suggest that they were merely posing after 9-11 when they were all flaunting their patroitism.

Don't claim patriotism and also not be offended when someone of the cloth damns the United States. It doesn't work that way.

I was raised Catholic and that translates today as I go to Midnight Mass each Christmas. I'm not a Bible thumper. I'm not devout. But I took offense to Wright's remarks and if I found it offensive you better be sure that Americans who go to church every Sunday found it even more offensive.

And I didn't see the clips. I saw one thing, where Wright damned the United States. That's all I needed to see to be offended. Reading up on it, I see he's also used his pulpit to preach the lies that AIDS is a White plot. That's offensive.

The man is an idiot, a hateful idiot. And that's Barack Obama's 'mentor'? That's the man he lets 'train' him for 20 years? Let's remember Barack wasn't raised in a religion. Wright is the one who brought him to the church. So all the sudden he hears Wright and decides to become a church member? Considering the hate Wright was spewing, that's really offensive and frightening.

People in Panhandle Media need to quit kidding themselves that this is going away. It is never going away. If he wasn't running for the presidency but was running for re-election to the Senate, he could be defeated by a Democratic or Republican opponent. We don't expect our senators to keep company with people who damn the United States. There are standards.

Apparently the non-belivers in Panhandle Media have spent the last decade kidding themselves that only conservatives are religious. They've tossed a few crumbs out to Jim Wallis (he's Catholic but not any kind of Catholic I would support) but they have no grasp of how important religion is to many Americans. They're out of touch. And they've missed how this really does damage their poster boy Barack Obama.

If I'm doing this right tonight, this is Jesse Hamilton.

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

Thursday, March 20, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, which outlets are covering Winter Soldier and more.

Starting with war resistance. Aaron Glantz (OneWorld) reports on a CO testifying at Winter Soldier:

"The problem that we face in Iraq is that policy makers in leadership have set a precedent of lawlessness where we don't abide by the rule of law, we don't respect internationl treaties," argued U.S. Army Sgt. Logan Laituri, who served a tour in Iraq from 2004 to 2005 before being discharged as a conscientious objector. "So when that atmosphere exists, it lends itself to criminal activity." Laituri told OneWorld that precedent of lawlessness makes itself felt in the rules of engagement handed down by commanders to soldiers on the front lines. For example, when he was stationed in Samarra, he said, one of his fellow soldiers shot an unarmed man while he walkded down the street.
The problem is that that soldier was not committing a crime as you might call it, because the rules of engagement were very clear that no one was supposed to be walking down the street," Laituri said. "But I have a problem with that. You can't tell a family to leave everything they know so you can bomb the [expletive] out of their house or their city. So while he definitely has protection under the law, I don't think that legitimates that type of violence."

We'll come back to Winter Soldier in a moment but it concluded on Sunday and also over the weekend, protests against the war took place in Canada. Jenny Yuen (Toronto Sun) reports that among those taking part was war resister Linjamin Mull who was among at least 500 protesting in Toronto.

War resisters in Canada were dealt a setback in November the Canadian Supreme Court refused to hear the appeals of Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey. Today, Canada's Parliament remaining the best hope for safe harbor war resisters have, you can make your voice heard by the Canadian parliament which has the ability to pass legislation to grant war resisters the right to remain in Canada. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper ( -- that's pm at who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( -- that's Dion.S at who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( -- that's Bevilacqua.M at who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use. That is the sort of thing that should receive attention but instead it's ignored. We will note war resisters in Canada tomorrow. There is not time today, my apologies.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum. Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

FAIR asks why Iraq Veterans Against the War Winter Soldier Investigation isn't news in the US and it's a question worth asking but that requires more honesty and facts than FAIR is providing. They give two shout-outs to Democracy Now! which is about one too many. Fact check FAIR in this statement: "While the tetimony of soldiers who had served multiple tours of duty was broadcast on Pacifica Radio's Democracy Now!, Free Speech TV and the Real News network, the major broadcast networks and PBS instead . . . " Free Speech TV and Real News Network broadcast the hearings in real time. Democracy Now! did not. Where in that sentence -- or anywhere else in their action alert -- is there any acknowledgement that KPFA broadcast the hearings live, that the stream was available at Pacifica's homepage, at The War Comes Home, at KPFK? Where in that action alert do Aaron Glantz and Aimee Allison receive any credit for anchoring the live coverage?

We've noted that Christopher Hayes did two blog posts at The Nation -- the first noting that the hearings were streaming live and the second noting Camilo Mejia. That's not included. More importantly the wasteland that is Panhandle Media gets a walk. The Progressive did nothing on them (it's finally published it's written ahead of time story today and we're not linking to that crap -- community wide, we're not linking to that crap), Mother Jones couldn't be found either. In These Times' article that ran AFTER we linked to but it needs to be noted they were among the ones contacted AHEAD of time to ask if they'd be covering Winter Soldier and, of course, they had something else to do. As did Mother Jones and assorted others in Panhandle Media who elected to blow off Winter Soldier.

Before we go futher, if you missed Winter Soldier you can stream online at Iraq Veterans Against the War, at War Comes Home, at KPFK, at the Pacifica Radio homepage and at KPFA, here for Friday, here for Saturday, here for Sunday. Aimee Allison (co-host of the station's The Morning Show and co-author with David Solnit of Army Of None) and Aaron Glantz were the anchors for Pacifica's live coverage. That's credit FAIR forgot to give. Anthony Swofford (Slate) attended the hearings and his article was published Monday. He quotes Jose Vasquez, who oversaw the verification process for witnesses taking part in the panels, stating, "We were willing at least to take testimony from anybody, whether or not they were a member. They didn't even have to agree with our points of unity. If you had a story to tell about Iraq and you were able to prove your service, then we would give you a venue to spread that word." He focuses on the the first Rules of Engagement panel on Friday and notes Jon Turner provided video clips during his testimony:

He then played a few videos he'd made while in Iraq. The first video he played was of his executive officer, after having called in a 500-pound bomb, saying, "I think I just killed half the population of northern Ramadi. F**k the red tape."
Then he played video of a missile attack on a Ministry of Health building. He spoke about the standard procedure of a "weapon drop": When mistakes are made, you drop a weapon on the innocent dead man so it appears he was a combatant. He showed photos of a man's brain. "This wasn't my kill, it was my friend's," he stated.
When the next image of a corpse appeared on the big screens in the hall, he continued, "On April 18, 2006, I had my first confirmed kill. Ahh. This man was innocent. I don't know his name. I call him the Fat Man. He was walking back to his house, and I shot him in front of his friend and father. The first round didn't kill him after I hit him up here in his neck area. So I looked at my friend who I was on post with and said, 'Well, can't let that happen.' So I took another shot and took him out." It took seven members of the Fat Man's family to move his body.

Linda Milazzo (OpEdNews) notes the blackout from big broadcast and observes, "Had Winter Soldier been televised, viewers would have seen the anguish of young Americans who saw and committed acts that torment them every day. The public would have heard stories of returning veterans abandoned by their government and by their V.A. (Veterans' Administration). The public would have seen the agony of parents whose 23 year old son hung himself in their closet due to untreated PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). If Winter soldier had been televised, The People could no longer accpe the deceptions of those who had alterted the facts. The people would have received the knowledge they need to motivate them to act -- to stop the atrocities -- to end the war -- NOW!" OpEdNews, FYI, may have been the only website of its kind (Truthout, BuzzFlash, et al) to actually COVER Winter Soldier. Throughout the hearings, various contributors to OpEdNews were filing stories. By the way, here's a folder The Real News Network has created for its Winter Soldier coverage. Celeste De Vore (Boise State's Arbiter) observes, "Many people may not even know this is happening; the event has been completely ignored by the corporate media. I suppose I can understand why: If America really took hold of the message portrayed by these brave veterans and soldiers (a message of betrayal, brutality, dismay and disillusionment) its citizens couldn't stand in silent ignorance anymore. We would demand an end to the Iraq occupation now." Eric Ruder (Socialist Worker) reports on the hearings and we'll note this section on Bryan Casler:

Bryan Casler was a Marine who, in the course of his four years of action-duty service, was deployed first to Iraq, then to Afghanistan, and then again to Iraq. His testimony captured the indifference of the U.S. military for the well-being of Iraqis, as well as U.S. soldiers.
"During my first deployment, I was deployed to Kuwait in support of the invasion of Iraq," said Casler. "This was in 2003. Our unit was responsible for guarding Gen. Tommy Franks. While stationed in Kuwait, we received alerts for incoming missiles or possible gas attacks.
"As a Marine, being with the general, you feel like you're going to get the most current information, and you're going to be protected because you are going to be up to date and around these other important people.
"It was very disheartening to see the generals running out of their tents, putting on their gas masks, and I look over to our commander and say, 'Shouldn't we put on our gas masks?' He said, 'We'll wait. The siren hasn't been sounded yet.'
"And several minutes later, maybe five or 10 minutes, they would come running back out because they had forgotten to sound the siren for the rest of the base. As Marines, we knew our place. We were at the bottom of the food chain. We are the ones that get forgotten about."
Casler went on to explain that his unit had no clearly defined mission except to keep moving forward. In such circumstances, he said, the first instinct of every Marine is to rely on the tactical training that is drilled into recruits from the start of basic training, which is to use lethal force to repel attacks and destroy the enemy.
"When you mission is not defined, you are going to use . . . those skills that you have to handle hostile people -- not friendly people, not people that are looking for your help or looking for a hand," said Casler. "All you have is hammers, and everything you find is nails. And you are going to crush it. You are going to crush every nail that you find. We are crushing the Iraqi people with the training we're given."

Michael Kramer (Workers World) offers testimony and backround and we'll highlight this section:

While most of the panelists were IVAW members, expert witnesses also testified. Iraqi civilians, including refugees, described their experiences with the occupation through detailed interviews that had been video recorded in Iraq, Jordan and Syria. IVAW Advisory Board member Dr. Dahlia Wasfi raised the occupation of PalestineIVAW is a growing organization with over 800 members. The leadership is diverse: the chair of its Board of Directors was born in Nicaragua and the co-chair is African-American. The treasurer and executive director are women. The group is LGBT-friendly. Most members come from the enlisted ranks and are under 30 years old. They are from both urban and rural areas. Many were on track to be career noncommissioned officers--the foundation of any military organization. Their membership in IVAW is a major defeat for the U.S. imperialist war machine.

Kat wrote about Dahlai Wasfi's testimony on Monday. Tim Wheeler and Joel Wendland (People's Weekly World) provide a cross-section report and we'l lfocus on this section:

Marine Lars Ekstrom said he suffered an emotional breakdown from brutal "hazing" during his tour in Iraq. It included ordering him to do pushups and then to crawl with his face pressed against the ground causing cuts, a bloody nose, and sand filling his eyelids. "I was more afraid of my own unit than I was of the enemy," he said. He finally accepted "administrative separation" from his unit.
Marine Matt Howard said the Marine Corps "bases itself on subjugation and abuse" of lower-ranking enlisted personnel. "I was beaten and then I was kicked out of my platoon for being beaten," he said.
Many of the casualties in Iraq "are from friendly fire," he said.
Howard was the at the front in Kuwait the day the invasion began in March 2003. The first Abrams M-1 tank to cross into Iraq was destroyed by a U.S. helicopter gunship firing rockets armed with depleted uranium, he said. Luckily, the American soldiers escaped. "Why are we using these weapons?" he demanded. "We're poisoning the soldiers. We're poisoning Iraq. We're poisonin the world. Depleted uranium is the Agent Orange of the Iraq war."

Matt Howard's who we're focusing on today. "The Marine Corps bases itself on dehumanization and subjegation and abuse of its lower enlisted in order for it to function," Howard stated early on. He testified on Sunday's The Breakdown of the Military panel and noted being beaten during bootcamp "and ended up being kicked out of my platoon." He noted being on the border between Iraq and Kuwait before the invasion officially started and learning that Captain Banning of Alpha Company a helffire missile was launched into a tank.

Matt Howard: Contained in that Hellfire Missile was depleted uranium. Contained in the armor of the M1A1 tank was depleted uranium. Maximum exposure time for depleted uranium or when you're most susceptible to exposure is directly after impact. You should not be in the vincity of a vehicle that was just hit by friendly fire. I certainly don't have a science background. I won't get into the issue of depleted uranium too much, I expect you to do that and do the research. But I can speak briefly to the fact that this is the Agent Orange of this occupation. This weapon has no purpose in Iraq. Granted this was during the initial invasion so I can maybe understand its deployment but let's be clear here depleted uranium is an anti-armor weapon. The Iraqis do not have armor. They don't have tanks. They don't have bombers. Why are we using this? And, again, I urge you to do the research yourself. I can quickly say that we're using this because it's a way to get rid of atomic waste. We do not know what to do with that. We are posioning our soldiers. We are posioning the people of Iraq. But make no mistake, we are posioning the world. I can test every single person in this room and I can find depleted uranium in your hair. I was tested myself personally. in Australia. I had begged the VA for testing. I received this letter recently: "Dear Mr. Howard, I checked with the provider who has been with the VA and many branches of the services and he does not know of any depleted uranium testing. I have put in a request for your dental visit but it will be most likely only cover an evaluation for mouth-jaw pain due to grinding teeth for PTSD. For routine cleaning, we would need a letter from your command stating you were due for routine dental work prior to leaving the service." The VA has continually denied my requests to be tested for depleted uranium. This letter clearly shows they're saying a test doesn't even exist. And I will say for the record a test does exist. It's the wrong test. It's an urinalysis used to detect exposure, immediate exposure. The problem with depleted uranimum is that these particles dig deep within your body and you will not find them in your urine after a couple of days. You need a very expensive test, one that the VA is certainly not willing to pay for. But I would also like to point out that the VA does recognize the danger of depleted uranium. While they might not want to test for it, or talk about it, or give us any briefings on it beforehand. I specifically remember still holding this round . . . When we were issued tank rounds in Kuwait, most of the tankers had never seen this weapon. They don't use it, at least the Marines don't use it, in training. Probably because they don't just have the money for it compared to the other branches. But we finally got to Kuwait and we're being issued this ammunition, I just so clearly remember these Marines coming up and saying, "Hey, Howard, will you take my picture, will you take my picture?" They wanted the picture of them holding the Black Widow because this is the first time they ever got to actually have their hands on it. And this was a depleted uranium sable round that went in the tank. That round on impact aerosols and vaporizes and these particles go up in the air. And that's why I was saying I can test every single one of you for depleted uranium and find it in your hair. These particles blow up into the atmosphere and they are disseminated all around the entire globe. They have found depleted uranium on the skin of NASA vehicles in space. We are changing the entire genome of our planet -- human beings, cats and dogs, plants. We're changing the genetic makeup of our planet by using these munitions in Iraq and Afhganistan. And as I said, the VA does recognize the danger albeit in a different way. I'm holding here is a depleted uranium questionnaire that I had dowload from the VA. I certainly never saw this in Iraq. And it says: "Did you enter an Abrams battle tank to retrieve sensitive items immediately after it was struck by friendly fire?" Why do they ask that question? Because they know how dangerous a situation that is. And my best friend, Lance Cpl. Greg ____ did exactly that he entered an Abrams battle tank to retrieve sensitive items immediately after it was struck by friendly fire. And those sensitive items did not need to be retrieved. The tank was already destroyed. In fact there were live rounds still on that tank. My command that ordered him to retrieve those sensitive items put his life at risk -- those rounds could have cooked off. And not only that, they weren't that sensitive to begin with. Another Hellfire could have been launched into that tank and we could have moved on. Instead he was ordered to stay on that tank for an extended period of time and was exposed to depleted uranium in the process.

Greg's last name given sounds likes Stroll but I'm not sure I transcribed that correctly so there's ____ instead.

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


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad rocket attack that left two people wounded, a Baghdad mortar attack wounded two police officers, Nineveh Province car bombing wounded two police officers and a Mosul roadside bombing wounded two police officers.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an Iraqi soldier was shot and wounded in Kirkuk today by unknown assailants. Reuters notes 2 police officers shot dead in Mosul.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Raad Shallal and his driver were kidnapped yesterday and are being held for a $250,000 ransom while today Khalid al-Seyid was kidnapped in Kirkuk as was the owner of a story in Kirkuk.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 5 corpses discovered in Baghdad, 1 corpse discovered in Sulaimaniyah Province.

Meanwhile Marcus Baram (ABC News) reports on Ryan D. Maseth who died January 2nd of this year while serving in Iraq as a result of electrocution in the base shower due to "an improperly grounded electric water pump [which] short-circuited and flowed through the pipes. Since the coiled hose was touching his arm, he was hit with an electrical jolt and went into cardiac arrest and died." He was at least the 12th US service member to die "in Iraq due to accidental electrocution". Guess who had that contract? KBR.

With over four milliion Iraqi refugees (internal and external), the International Rescue Committee issues a report entitled "Five Years Later, A Hidden Crisis." In the (PDF format warning] report, they make four recommendations. 1) Displaced Iraqis need more aid delivered more effectively and efficiently. 2) Calls for the international community to work on the problem. 3) The US must lead on admitting Iraqi refugees. 4) Hold a talk with Ban Ki-moon chairing. It really is that superficial and that disappointing. On step 3, for example, they note that 12,000 is the number of Iraqis the White House has promised to allow into the US in this year (fiscal year). They said it needs to be "more". While that may be true (I wouldn't argue with that) it also needs to be at least 12,000. The US is not on track to admit 12,000 currently and the fiscal year started October 1st -- not January 1st. Last year (last fiscal year), the US government did not meet the total they pledged and this year is already on track to be a repeat. Yes, more would be nice but how about we point out the reality that even the number the White House has promised to admit isn't happening?

In a community-wide correction, Barack Obama's maternal grandmother -- the one he chose to shame in his speech Tuesday -- is alive and our apologies. With wife number two or three of his father is paraded around on TV as his paternal grandmother (his father and his paternal grandfather had multiple wives), one would assume his maternal grandmother must be dead. But that's not the case. Taylor Marsh ( reports Bambi can't stop shaming the woman and that he's now called her "a typical white person". This is the grandmother he painted as a racist in his speech (though that 'creative tale' doesn't go with what he wrote in his book if anyone in the press wants to check that out).

For those worrying about a US war with Iran, William M. Arkin (Washington Post) offers a score card:When it comes to making sense on Iran, Hillary Clinton wins hands down over Barack Obama, John McCain and George Bush. In his zeal to describe the mess created by the war in Iraq, Obama falls into the trap of lumping Iran in with our "enemies." McCain is even more offensive, borrowing from the president's always-change-the-justification playbook to argue that the Iraq war is ultimately about Iran. And President Bush is more confused than ever, fretting about emboldening Iran if we leave Iraq, but oblivious to how invading and occupying Iraq may have had the same effect. [. . .] We throw the word "enemy" around way too much these days. Is that what Obama thinks Iran is? The same country he has pledged to negotiate with? In his five-year anniversary speech about Iraq yesterday, Obama said Iran "poses the greatest challenge to American interests in the Middle East in a generation, continuing its nuclear program and threatening our ally, Israel." It is time to present Iran "with a clear choice," Obama said, to abandon its nuclear program, its support for terrorism and its threats to Israel. "Make no mistake," Obama bellowed about Iran, "if and when we ever have to use military force against any country, we must exert the power of American diplomacy first." Gee, I'm no Republican and have no confidence in the Bush administration. But that sounds like current White House policy.

aaron glantz

mcclatchy newspapers

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Elton John, Hillary Clinton, etc.

Legendary artist Sir Elton John will perform at a solo concert on behalf of Hillary Clinton's campaign on April 9, 2008 at Radio City Music Hall in New York. The event, called "Elton and Hillary: One Night Only," is Elton John's first public solo concert in New York City without his band since his solo concert at Madison Square Garden in October 2000.
"I'm not a politician but I believe in the work that Hillary Clinton does," said John. "I'm excited to support Hillary by performing at what will be a truly memorable night."
Tickets start at $125 for Mezzanine seats and $250 for Orchestra seats. Tickets will go on sale at 9:00 am EST, on Wednesday, March 19, 2008. To purchase tickets, go to or call the campaign office at 212-213-3717.
In his four decade career, Elton John has been one of the dominant forces in rock and popular music, especially during the 1970s. He has sold more than 250 million albums and over one hundred million singles, making him one of the most successful artists of all time. He has won five Grammy awards and one Academy Award. John was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. He is a worldwide activist and humanitarian for a variety of issues including HIV/AIDS, breast cancer and human rights to name a few. In 1992, John founded the Elton John AIDS Foundation and was knighted in 1998.

That's from "Sir Elton John To Perform at Clinton Fundraiser on April 9th" and being the musical chronicler of the community it is imperative that I note that. If you polled the community, I believe the general consensus would be "Rocket Man" is the favorite song by Elton John. After that, it would probably be "Tiny Dancer." But I'm guessing on the latter.

I was guessing on how to post the video of Winter Soldier yesterday as well and clearly guessed wrong. I will post it tomorrow night. C.I. will be here and has promised to show me how to do it. C.I. and Ava are still speaking, this being the anniversary of the illegal war, they have just started one discussion group and then drive across town for a midnight thing. While I stay holed up and comfy in the hotel. Sorry. I'm exhuasted. We spoke and spoke and spoke some more today. We're mainly talking about Winter Soldier. C.I. was hitting on Matt Howard's testimony repeatedly today.

I believe all the postcards for Winter Soldier are now gone. I don't know how many C.I. had four weeks ago but those things have been handed out and handed out. There were easily 500 at the start of the week but they're very popular and I think C.I. handed out the last one this afternoon. I promised to dig around a suitcase for C.I. to see if there were more and will do that after I post and take a long bath. Again, I'm exhuasted.

And I'm exhausted by the Iraq War without end. I'm exhausted by the lies from the White House and the lies from Barack Obama.

I was going through the public account and saw a thing someone sent in on Cynthia McKinney. Like Hillary, I believe Cynthia would end the illegal war.

However the thing was about race and Barack Obama's speech. I read it in vain searching for McKinney pointing out that Barack was hiding behind race to avoid addressing the offensive issue of his pastor damning the United States of America. She never made that point so I won't highlight it and I can tell you that no one else in the community will as well.

To post it would be to fall into Barack's scheme to shift the topic over to the area of race. It wasn't about race, it was about damning the United States. I don't encourage distraction so I won't be posting Cynthia's speech. Sorry.

This is from CBS News:

Voters are slightly more likely to say that a woman candidate faces more obstacles than a black candidate when it comes to presidential politics even as they see racism as a more serious problem for the nation overall, according to a new CBS News poll. Thirty nine percent of registered voters said a woman running for president faces more obstacles while 33 percent said a black candidate does.

Panhandle Media pretends not to get it. They're like Bambi, distracting and distorting in their efforts to lie.

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

Wednesday, March 19, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, Winter Soldier has even more bearing today on the fifth anniversary of the illegal war but continues to be ignored, members of the Out of Iraq caucus issue a statement and Panhandle Media ignores it, and Bully Boy itches to lie to the American people yet again.

Starting with war resistance.
Tamara Jones (Washington Post) interviewed war resisters in Canada for a report the paper ran earlier this week. Phil McDowell shared how he had finished his tour of duty in Iraq, he had completed his service contract, been discharged in June of 2006, only to learn that he was being stop-lossed. He explained, "I tried contacting senators and congressmen. I tried to contact civilian military lawyers, but they all said the time frame was too short." He signed up after 9-11 and thought he would be serving a larger purpose, one that "would define our generation" only to learn differently, that the search for WMDs had ceased, that the rationale was now "freedom" for Iraqi, "But then we'd go on convoys and they'd instruct us to run cars off the road if they were in our way. . . . It's a hard personal realization to join the Army out of patriotism and accept your country was wrong." Learning he was being forced back into the military, McDowell began searching for alternatives and with Congress and military lawyers refusing to help, he found the website for the War Resisters Support Campaign. That is an organization that assists US service members who go to Canada to seek asylum. Two earlier war resisters, Lee Zaslofsky, Tom Riley and others provide assistance to today's war resisters::

Zaslofsky and Riley never even knew each other before this movement, and both feel frustrated that more Vietnam-era settlers haven't come forward. Don't they owe that much? "Ancient history," they hear again and again from the weary grandfathers who want to forget that they were once angry young men. Plans are being made to develop a Web site, do some documentaries, organize more events to draw out the graying Vietnam generation. Thousands, not a few hundred, should be rising up again for this fight, Zaslofsky fumes.
Now the volunteers are labeling 800 envelopes for the letters they'll urge rallygoers to send to Ottawa. In her pink hoodie and ponytail, Phil McDowell's wife, Jamime Aponte, 28, runs the meeting with the precision and enthusiasm of a majorette. She wants to know: Who's been putting up posters where? Are there enough pens to hand out at the church?
Zaslofsky is grateful for her energy. He is weary and not a little disgruntled, himself. He thought he would be easing into a comfortable retirement by now after a career in public health, but here he is working himself ragged for $200 a week as the WRSC director, which just covers his rent, and why is the adopted country he has grown to love making this so damn hard?
"I feel so lucky that my generation of war resisters had it far easier than they do, and probably had a much easier time of it emotionally because there were so many more of us, and because so many more Americans were actively opposing the war than do so now," Zaslofsky says. "They don't have a widespread social movement backing them up."

The letters are necessary because in November the Canadian Supreme Court refused to hear the appeals of
Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey. Today, Canada's Parliament remaining the best hope for safe harbor war resisters have, you can make your voice heard by the Canadian parliament which has the ability to pass legislation to grant war resisters the right to remain in Canada. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper ( -- that's pm at who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( -- that's Dion.S at who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( -- that's Bevilacqua.M at who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use. That is the sort of thing that should receive attention but instead it's ignored. We will note war resisters in Canada tomorrow. There is not time today, my apologies.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb,
Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum. Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

On the fifth anniversary of the illegal war, the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war stands at
3992 -- eight away from 4,000. Many others died after they made it out of Iraq. Some on R&R in places like Kuwait. Some were transported to the US and placed in hospitals to care for their wounds only to die from those wounds (Anthony Raymond Wasielewsk, Gerald J. Cassidy, Jack D. Richards, Raymond A. Salerno III and John "Bill" Smith). Some returned only to find a medical system that was falling apart and did not serve them, did not treat them and they took their own lives and there are many examples there including Jeffrey Lucey whose parents, Kevin and Joyce Lucey, testified on Friday at Iraq Veterans Against the War Winter Soldier Investigation's panel on The Crisis in Veterans Health Care. Joyce Lucey explained of her family's loss, "Unfortunately the tragedy is not that it just happened to one Marine but that this continues to happen to others four years after our son's death to countless others -- names that will never be placed on a memorial wall." The death toll for US service members is much greater than the official numbers from the Pentagon. As Daniel Fanning noted during Winter Soldier, "that number doesn't even take into the number of people who have come home with PTSD and taken their own lives."

Iraq veteran Fanning was speaking Sunday morning as part of the panel on The Breakdown of the Military. His testimony would include time and resources wasted in a military stretched to the limit including training in the use of bayonets (a weapon, he noted, that hadn't been used in decades), missions that were based on bad intel (raiding a 'bombing factory' that was just an empty building being painted by one person). Steve Mortello addressed the breakdown as well and the constant maintenance required on equipment and vehicles that were breaking down. He spoke of returning to the US and being diagnosed with PTSD, "I remember just this feeling that I told myself after I got through this everything would be cool. . . . I'll never forget the things that happened over there and I think about them every day and I hope wholeheartedly the American people can understand the impact this occupation has had on the American military . . . It's tearing us apart."

On the same panel, Iraq veteran Kristofer Goldsmith offered testimony. He noted he never saw work done on the water treatment plant in Sadr City, he never saw al Qaeda. He saw destruction, he saw Iraqi civilians turned into prisoners of war, he saw stop-loss. Most of all, he saw a refusal to treat US service members. "We were told that if we were to seek" mental healthcare, he explained, "we would be locked away." They were also told it would be the end of their military careers. Since no medical assistance was provided, he did what many do, self-medicate. He talked of getting drunk and using alcohol to treat his wounds. He was diagnosed with PTSD and still received no help but was told he would be redeploying to Iraq. Shortly after that, he attempted to take his own life and woke up "locked to a gurney and in a mental ward" while the military was still wanting to deploy him and accusing him of 'malingering' to avoid his call up. He was held accountable for that and told he couldn't fight it because to do so would bring down the military system. His discharge papers note his "serious offense," he explained, "I committed a serious offense by trying to kill myself because I was damaged by the war." Because of that "serious offense," the Iraq War veteran is denied the only thing he was counting on receiving: education benefits. He now delivers pizzas because it's the only job he could find where he can call in and say he's going to be three hours late because he's still standing in line at the VA waiting for assistance.

He did something else during his testimony. He spoke of a book that helped him, a book that informed him. We're not naming the book because the authors have disgraced themselves. One of the authors is David Corn. (The other's human slime whose name is never mentioned at this site.) David Corn bores America, at Mother Jones, with yet another mash note today to Barack Obama. David Corn's book influenced someone, someone who took the time to give it credit during his Winter Soldier testimony and Corn has so little manners, so little gratitude that anyone read that book, so little concern for the illegal war, that he can't even take a moment to blog at Mother Jones about the veteran -- whose suffering continues -- who took the time to mention Corn by name. That's shameful. That's embarrassing.

Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) continued bringing the testimonies from Winter Soldier to her audience today. She featured Camilo Mejia, Mike Totten, Kevin and Joyce Lucey, Tanya Austin and Jeffrey Smith. Tanya Austin hasn't been mentioned in a snapshot so far so we'll excerpt some of her testimony:

If you guys could throw up the website, please? What we have up here is dot-org, sorry. And what's really cool about this website is it was this individual's way of telling her story and trying to make progress, because the military didn't do anything to help her. So, finally, she decided, well, if the military won't help me, I'm going to help me and everyone like me. As you see there on the homepage, these are some really frightening statistics. 25 percent of women will be sexually assaulted on college campuses. 12 percent of women will be raped while in college. 28 to 66 percent of women in the military report sexual assault. The reason the number varies so much is military reports versus VA reports. It's a lot easier to tell someone at the VA that you've been sexually assaulted than it is to tell your own command, which is not right. And 27 percent of women are reported raped. And what's interesting about this statistic is if you report that you've been raped and no charges are brought against your rapist, you haven't been raped. You're not part of that statistic. And, unfortunately, for our military, this is something that happens way too often, is the cover-up of sexual assault, of rape of individuals experiencing the worst from their comrades. So here is what they're currently doing about it. According to the Department of Defense's own statistics, 74 to 85 percent of soldiers convicted of rape or sexual assault leave the military with an honorable discharge, meaning rape conviction does not appear in their records anywhere. Only two to three percent of soldiers accused of rape are ever court-martialed. And only five to six percent of soldiers accused of domestic abuse are ever court-martialed. In fact, several multiple homicides have recently taken place on military bases that have not even been criminally prosecuted. The Department of Defense's definition of morale booster for male soldiers: female soldiers--take as needed, dispose when finished and continue serving with honor. Please remember that many suffer in silent shame and never forget what's going on. Now I'd like to tell this individual's particular story. And having experienced sexual harassment in the military myself, this is kind of difficult, as it is for everyone on this panel up here. But our stories need to be told. We are often asked how we get started with Stop Military Rape, Military Rape Crisis Center. I'm a veteran of the United States Coast Guard and a survivor of military sexual trauma. I was raped in May of 2006 by a fellow shipmate. I followed all the necessary steps, including reporting the assault and providing evidence: a confession letter written by my rapist. In August of 2006, I was informed that I will be discharged. According to the Coast Guard Academy psychologist, surviving rape makes deployment--makes one ineligible for worldwide deployment, and as a result, I can no longer serve in the Coast Guard. What follows was a nine-month battle between the Coast Guard and myself, while I tried to keep my job and change the Coast Guard's unofficial policy that rape survivors shouldn't be allowed to serve in the Coast Guard. I was a female in my early twenties, brand new to the Coast Guard. I admit it: I did not know every Coast Guard policy or try to know something beyond my E3 rank. All I know is that what was happening to me was not--was just not right. I felt powerless. I didn't know how to fight the military. I was taught how to fight with them, for them. But how could I fight for my rights to stay with them? Out of the need to vent and needing an outlet to express the horror I was experiencing as a result of being raped, I started an online blog on MySpace. I was not expecting much of it. I just wanted to let out all the pain in me and share with the public. I almost immediately started receiving emails from active-duty military members and veterans alike, each wanting to share their story. Everybody's story was so different, yet so similar. I received one email from an eighteen-year-old female who was raped two hours prior by a member of her command and was scared and had no one else to turn to. I received an email from a Coast Guard veteran who was raped ten-plus years ago while serving, and I was the first person he ever told. I started doing research online about military rape. I learned about Tailhook and read the brave story of Army Specialist Suzanne Swift. What was happening to me in the Coast Guard was very common and had been going on for a long time. I knew that I was in for the biggest battle of my life. I could not abandon my fellow men and women in uniform. Something's got to change. Stop Military Rape and the Military Rape Crisis Center was formed. We are the nation's largest support group for the survivors of military sexual trauma. In 2007, we assisted over 12,000 men and women of military sexual trauma and their families. We are starting to work with Congress to change the military policy of sexual assault. Every man and woman that volunteer to serve their country should have the right to serve without the fear of being sexually assaulted, harassed and/or raped. In addition, no one should be reprimanded or punished for reporting a crime that was done to them. May 30th is International Stop Military Rape Awareness Day. Write to your representatives, contact the media, do what we're doing now, and let them know that military rape is something we just can't stand for.

Madeleine Mysko (Baltimore Sun) draws on her experience in the US Army Nurse Corps during Vietnam to reflect on Winter Soldier:

Kelly Dougherty, former sergeant in the Colorado Army National Guard and present executive director of IVAW, warned that it would not be easy to listen to these testimonials. "But we believe that the only way this war is going to end is if the American people truly understand what we have done in their name."
A certain kind of patriotism closes off a lot of otherwise good minds. It accepts the testimony of the decorated general without question but shuns the testimony of the ordinary soldier as seditious.
After my basic training in 1969, I was assigned to the burn ward at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. It was hard work, but I think I was a good nurse, maybe even a good officer. Our unit had an ironclad esprit de corps; all of us, regardless of rank, worked with one accord for the sake of those terribly wounded soldiers, alleviating their pain when we could, cheering on the remarkable survivors, trying to make the others comfortable until the end.
Meanwhile, beyond the gates of the post, veterans in beat-up uniforms were angrily protesting against the war. Their stories about atrocities and lies and failed policies were too much for me to take in. I still had no time to read the news. But with all my heart, I wanted the war to end as much as they did, so that the days of burned flesh and amputations would be over.
It was a very long time before those days were over.

Winter Soldier provided realities about the Iraq War (and Afghanistan), about what's happening in the service and what happens when leaving the service. It as a very important action. If you missed it, archives of Winter Soldier can be found at
Iraq Veterans Against the War, at War Comes Home, at KPFK, at the Pacifica Radio homepage and at KPFA, here for Friday, here for Saturday, here for Sunday. Aimee Allison (co-host of the station's The Morning Show and co-author with David Solnit of Army Of None) and Aaron Glantz were the anchors for Pacifica's live coverage (and archives are now up at Pacifica Radio).

And the war drags on.
US Senator Jim Webb spoke with the Christian Science Monitor (link has text and video) today about the Bully Boy's efforts to circumvent the Constitution and Congress (as well as the Iraqi Parliament and Iraq's Constitution) by negotiating a treaty with Nouri al-Maliki, puppet of the occupation, that would tie the US to Iraq for many years to come. Webb explained, "The new president" of the United States, "is going to inherit this agreement" and this will make things "more difficult for a Democratic president to change course than for a Republican to continue the same course."


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports "a magnetic bomb attached to Col. Midhat Ali, military" intelligence, "exploded" in Baghdad claiming his life and wounding a passenger, a Baghdad grenade attack on the "Awakening" council that wounded three of them as well as one bystander and a Diyala Province bomber who killed herself and 3 other people. Reuters reports the US military killed 3 Iraqi police officers and wounded one more via "their vehicle drone" in Kirkuk, a Mosul car bombing left eleven Iraqi soldiers and three Iraqi civilians injured, an Iskandariya roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left two others wounded while a second Iskandariya roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 woman and left two more wounded.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a robbery in Baghdad where "140 million Iraqi dinars" were stolen from a currency exchange killing 2 people ("the owner and his son"), an armed attack in Tikrit on the "Awakening" council that claimed 1 council member's life and left two more injured. Reuters notes a Basra shooting that wounded an assistant to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.


Reuters notes 2 corpses discovered in Kerbala, and, on Tuesday, two in Baiji.

How damn pathetic is Panhandle Media? They didn't call out Barack Obama when then foreign policy advisor Samantha Power told the BBC his 'pledge' to bring combat troops home within 16 months of entering the White House. They ignored it. They played dumb and silent. Self-loathing lesbian Laura Flanders and Tom Hayden both endorsed Bambi and then showed up days after to claim that both Obama and Hillary Clinton -- the two candidates for the Democratic Party nomination for president -- needed to have their feet held to the fire on Iraq. But both played dumb about Power's interview. (And it is "Power" -- not "Powers" -- one of the many factual problems in Davey D's embarrassing 'report' featured on KPFA's The Morning Show yesterday that Aileen Alfandary found so 'factual' and 'informative' she had to replay it. If you can't even get the names right, it doesn't belong on the radio. That was the least of the problems since Davey D also couldn't mention the revelation that the pledge wasn't a pledge.) They have to lie and work overtime to prop up a candidate who is not for ending the illegal war and they can tell their lies to someone who didn't speak to him face to face about this very thing when he was running for the US Senate only to discover then that, despite the press hype already going on, he wasn't going to do a damn thing to end the illegal war. He got into the US Senate and kept that vow. Yesterday, we noted the speech Hillary Clinton gave about ending the Iraq War. It wasn't noted by Alfandary or Amy Goodman, it wasn't 'news' to them. They could both pimp a bad speech by Obama that hadn't even been delivered. Today the silence continues and members (not all) of the Out of Iraq Caucus in Congress have weighed in on Hillary Clinton and the illegal war.
This is what they have said and you need to ask yourself why Panhandle Media can't tell you about it:

As firm opponents of the Iraq war, we believe there is no higher priority for the next President of the United States than ending this war, and we believe there is no one better prepared and more committed to bringing this war to a responsible conclusion than Hillary Clinton. The best way to honor the sacrifices of our brave young men and women in uniform is to bring them home.
We support Hillary Clinton because she is the candidate with the stature, strength, and experience needed to end this war as quickly and responsibly as possible.
Hillary has put forward the most comprehensive plan for bringing our troops home, with troop withdrawals beginning within 60 days of taking office. She bravely pressed the Pentagon to begin planning for the withdrawal of our troops from Iraq. And she has introduced legislation to bar the Bush administration from unilaterally negotiating a long-term security agreement with the Iraqi government and thereby tying the hands of the next administration.
Hillary's commitment to ending this war is matched by her experience. Her knowledge of the armed forces, her service on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and her extraordinary efforts on behalf of our veterans have earned her the respect of our men and women in uniform.
We are proud to support her because we know that she is the candidate ready to bring our troops home.
Del. Donna Christian-Christensen (D-VI) Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) Rep. Michael McNulty (D-NY) Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY) Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA) Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH) Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) Rep. Diane Watson (D-CA) Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA)

On the list above you'll find many names that Panhandle Media has applauded, has interviewed, has treated as heroes. Now they ignore them. Panhandle Media isn't trying to end the illegal war, they're trying to elect a candidate who will not only continue the illegal war but bring about new wars in Africa. That is the new battlefield. It's where the US military wants to move the new bases to. It is something that Panhandle Media works overtime to ignore. But they've got a candidate to elect and that matters more to them than information or journalism.
Goodman noted the endorsement of Clinton by US House Rep John Murtha but she had to pimp Bambi first and pretend the affront to Americans was over Jeremiah Wright's comments about race; the affront was over that man of the cloth standing up at the front of a church and calling for the damnation of America. Goodman wasn't raised a Christian and seems bound and determined to ignore the offensive remark just as she works overtime to ignore the talk of killing Hillary Clinton that one of Obama's supporters -- a Las Vegas precinct captain, no less -- has put online.

The lies about the illegal war do not just come from the White House. But they do continue from the White House. The Bully Boy offered from the Pentagon today one lie after another. There isn't time or even a need to note them all. He's a known liar now. He sags in the poll, his word means little to the bulk of Americans. Gone are the days when it was considered 'radical' to call him the liar and bully he so clearly is.

On this day in 2003, the United States began Operation Iraqi Freedom. As the campaign unfolded, tens and thousands of our troops poured across the Iraqi border to liberate the Iraqi people and remove a regime that threatened free nations.

There was no threat to the United States. The United States was not threatened by Iraq. There were no WMDs, there was no basis for the illegal war beyond lies.

When the Iraqi regime was removed, it did not lay down its arms and surrender. Instead, former regime elements took off their uniforms and faded into the countryside to fight the emergence of a free Iraq. And then they were joined by foreign terrorists who were seeking to stop the advance of liberty in the Middle East and seeking to establish safe havens from which to plot new attacks across the world.

When the Iraqi regime was removed? L Paul Bremer, the bwana in Iraq sent by the US, disbanded the Iraqi army. He did so with the approval of and endorsement by the White House. In addition, government employees were tossed out of their jobs. That was the de-Baathification process that Bremer also oversaw. The de-de-Baathifaction process, though listed as one of the White House benchmarks to measure 'success' in Iraq, has still not taken place. All these years later, it has still not taken place. Terrorists? The US has implemented counter-insurgency strategies in Iraq, the same sort used to kill many in Latin America. Counter-insurgency is war on civilians. It was endorsed by Samantha Power who, at the start of the month, was still part of Obama's campaign. She, in fact, went to work for him when he was elected to the US Senate. She blurbed the counter-insurgency manual, gushing over it. Sarah Sewall oversaw the counter-insurgency manual. Sewall is another advisor to Obama. Obama's 'plan' is to add more mercenaries to Iraq if elected president. He will not just continue the counter-insurgency, he will escalate it. Most supporters of it serve as advisors to Obama. Counter-insurgency is used to kill civilians -- 'difficult' civilians whose 'crimes' include speaking out about abuses. Counter-insurgency is not a peace strategy.

If we were to allow our enemies to prevail in Iraq, the violence that is now declining would accelerate -- and Iraq would descend into chaos. Al Qaeda would regain its lost sanctuaries and establish new ones -- fomenting violence and terror that could spread beyond Iraq's borders, with serious consequences for the world's economy.

"Our enemies"? That would apparently be the Iraqi people who want all foreign forces to leave. Were the US government to stop attempting to play God and pull US troops, the Iraqi people could create the government they choose as opposed to having a puppet government installed by and beholden to the White House.

The illegal war continues as long as people fool themselves. They've had a good role model in that behavior with the occupant of the White House.

aaron glantz

mcclatchy newspapers