Sunday, December 31, 2006

The 3,000 mark

This morning at The Third Estate Sunday Review, we wrote "Editorial: The 3,000 mark looms." The 3,000 mark no longer looms, it has been passed.

The illegal war of choice, built on lies, is now responsible for over 3,000 US troops dead (over because those who die from wounds after they leave Iraq are not included in the count) and over 655,000 Iraqis. How many more?

You can check many sites for demonstrations you can take part in. As most people know, United for Peace and Justice is an organization I support so I'd recommend you check that. But whatever organization is your first pick, please make a point to note the milestone. You can also read C.I.'s "And the war drags on" for more information. Whatever you do, you need to "do," not just sit around waiting for the war to end.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Friday finally

I need to note three things right off the bat.

1) "2006: The Year of Living Dumbly (Year in Review)" -- this is hilarious. I honestly feel like a fool because C.I. is sick and was telling me all week not to expect much so I didn't. I should have known better. It captures 2006 perfectly and contains so many laugh out loud funny passages that it may be my favorite thing C.I.'s done this year. Sunny and I were going over it at lunch on Thursday and again Friday. (What? We were going to listen to Democracy Now! salute a wife beater?) It is priceless and pulls together all the strands of 2006 -- it's a tapestry of the year.

2) "2006 in books (Martha & Shirley)" -- Martha and Shirley carved out the book slot for themselves and I doubt anyone in the community would have been offended if the two had made their own picks for the top ten books of 2006; however, they did poll. My top vote made the list but I also voted for Giuliana Sgrena's Friendly Fire which didn't make the list. (It was at number 12, Martha told me, right behind Thomas E. Ricks' book.) I think the list, just the ten titles are worth noting, but I also enjoyed the commentary Martha and Shirley provided and the excerpts they picked. I haven't read Alice Walker's book yet (C.I. gifted me with it) but I'm sure I'll enjoy it. That's not an insult to Walker, I'm wanting to read it, but my days have been pretty hectic the last few weeks. Honestly, I have read sections of it. Just while breaking the binding and there was section that really caught my eye on the abuse of Native Americans. Rebecca's almost through the third critical week of her pregnancy and then it should be smooth sailing. That's not blaming my lack of time on Rebecca but it is noting that I have spent most of my free time worrying. (Although I know we're all not supposed to worry.)

3) "Kat's Korner: 2006 in music" -- Kat has picked a ton ten list (that actually has more than ten albums on it) that captures the best in music. I know she enjoys Bruce Springsteen so I'll imagine she wasn't keen to write the commentary on that album but I think she's 100% correct. I love her choices and would have only tinkered with it to add Thom York's CD.

So if you missed any of those, please read them. I have actually read each of them several times.

"Peace Mom Aims to Ramp Up 'Peace Surge' After Arrest Thursday" (Erin Quinn, The Waco Tribune-Herald via Truthout):
Crawford - Minutes before the "Peace Mom" was arrested Thursday for blocking a road near President Bush's ranch, Cindy Sheehan said she plans to become more "confrontational" and that it's time to "ramp up" peace efforts.
"We're the only people that can stop Bush now," she said, standing with about 30 other peace protesters at a barricaded Secret Service checkpoint outside the Crawford-area ranch.
Bush was meeting with top advisers to consider strategy in the Iraq war, including a possible surge in troop levels.
About 20 minutes after talking about her new plan, called a "peace surge" as a poke at Bush, Sheehan, 49, and four other protesters lay down in front of Secret Service barricades and refused to move. Texas Department of Public Safety troopers carried each one off the roadway and to a ditch along the side of the road - their hands tied with flexible nylon ties, a gentler handcuff police often use during protests.
It was Sheehan's first arrest at the Bush ranch in McLennan County.
The five protesters, including Dede Miller, Sheehan's sister; Gerry Fonsecca, Sheehan's boyfriend; Carl Rising-Moore; and Jeri Reed, were arrested on misdemeanor charges of obstructing a roadway. The group is expected to be bonded out of the McLennan County Jail today.

Cindy Sheehan just doesn't stop. The woman's had surgery this year and that honestly didn't slow her down. I have a lot of respect for her. Especially right now when I'm about to fall over. I've got a nasty cold and Flyboy's been insisting I take some NyQuil for it. I think he and Rebecca suggested to many tablespoons (I don't generally use cough syrup -- if I'm getting a cold, I usually just eat a couple of oranges and/or lemons) so between that and his putting on Crown of Creation (Jefferson Airplane), I'm a bit woozy and sleepy. (Well it was "NyQuil" and not "DayQuill.")

In the snapshot, you'll note the last item, the military is going to court-martial a young man that has PTSD and one that they refused to provide assistance to. The court-martialing for it may be a first (at least since it's become a recognized disorder) but the ignoring it and the refusal to treat it is standard procedure in today's military. Maybe the so-called can look into that someday or do they go on holiday except during presidential elections when they trot out to insist all is rosy even when it's not?

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, December 29, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Decemeber is now the deadliest month this year for US troops,
Ehren Watada finally appears in print in The Nation, is Sabrina Tavernise angling to be the new joke of the New York Times, and the US military reveals how little heart and compassion they have as they move to court-martial a soldier suffering from PTSD -- one they did nothing to help.
Starting with fatality news. Today the
US military announced: "Three Marines assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died Thursday from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." Watch for the New York Times to ignore that or Little Man Marcs to report "One marine died" if the pattern this month holds true. The Times can't say they weren't warned when they decided to ignore fatalities and minimize the few that they covered but readers of the paper who depend on it to provide reality (no chuckles) may end up shocked when they discover that today December became the deadliest month for US troops. The three deaths up the total for the month to 107. Prior to this announcement, October had been the deadliest month with 106.
Some outlets report 105 and that has to do with the fact that the US military tends to hold the deaths a bit, and has the since the start of the war, waiting for those first of the month look back press accounts to be published and then noting a death or two afterwards.
106 is the number ICCC uses, 106 is the one we'll go with here. 107 is now the total number of US troops who have died in Iraq this month. The total number of US troops who have died since the start of the illegal war stands at 2996 -- four shy of the 3,000 mark.
US troops have not been the only military fatalities and England's
Ministry of Defense notes:"It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that a UK serviceman was killed yesterday, Thursday 28 December 2006, in Basrah, southern Iraq. The soldier, from 2nd Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, was taking part in a routine patrol in Basra City when the Warrior Armoured Fighting Vehicle he was travelling in was targeted by a roadside bomb. He was very seriously injured and airlifted to the Field Hospital at Shaibah Logistics Base, but unfortunately died later as a result of his injuries." That death brought the total number of British troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 127.
Turning to the issue of war resistance and starting with The Nation magazine. On page 14 of the January 8/15 2007 issue (a double issue) Marc Cooper has an article entitled "Lt. Ehren Watada: Resister." The Nation makes the article
availble online to subscribrs only for whatever reasons but seems unaware that they've published it for all (subscribers and non-subscribers) on Yahoo -- click here. Cooper describes Ehren Watada as "the lighning rod case of resistance" (Watada is the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq); and notes the speech he gave in August at the Veterans for Peace conference in Seattle (click here for text at CounterPunch and here at Truthout which offers both text and video of the speech) where Watada declared, "The idea is this: that to stop an illegal and unjust war, the soldiers can choose to stop fighting it."; and notes that, in January, "a 'Citizen's Hearing on the Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq,' featuring Daniel Ellsberg and Princeton professor emeritus Richard Falk will be convened in Tacoma, Washinginton, in support of Watada".
January 4th is the date scheduled for the military's pre-trial hearing and Feb. 5th is when the court-martial is scheduled to begin. The US military is attempting to force journalists to testify at the pre-trial hearing (see
yesterday's snapshot).
Watada is part of a movement of resistance within the military that includes
Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing (who was released from the military brig on Satuday) Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress next month.
Resistance takes many forms in the peace movement. As noted in yesterday's snapshot,
Cindy Sheehan was arrested in Crawford, Texas outside Bully Boy's ranchette along with four other activists. Sheehan called the action a "peace surge" to combat Bully Boy's notions of escalating the number of US troops in Iraq. The AP reports that Sheehan's attorney Robert Gottlieb believes the arrest will have no impact on the conditional verdict the judge issued this month in Manhattan. The Smoking Gun reports that, were Sheehan convicted, the maximum sentence is six months in prison and the maximum fine is $2,000.
In another mother for peace news,
Theresa Hogue (Corvallis Gazette-Times) reported last week on Michelle Darr, a mother of six, who was arrested December 12th for attempting to get US Senator Gordon Smith to sign the Declaration of Peace (her third arrest this year for attempting to lobby Smith, she was arrested twice in September) and will face a tril in January. Darr told Hogue, "What they (her children) see me doing is as important as what they don't see me doing. If Im not using my voice and efforts in the cause of the common good, how can I expect them to take initiative when the need arises? I don’t want them to ever think oppression and genocide are acceptable, or that war is a way to solve problems."
Along with courageous acts of resistance like Sheehan's and Darr's, demonstrations will take part around the United States to note the 3,000 mark for US fatalities in Iraq.
United for Peace and Justice notes:
Another Grim Milestone -- 3,000 Deaths Too Many
More than 2,990 U.S. troops have died in Iraq. By the time you read this, the death toll may have reached 3,000. We must bear witness to this tragic milestone, even though many people are already beginning their celebrations of the new year. And when we do take action on this occasion, we must remind others that hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, women and men have also died in this outrageous war and occupation. Our call to end this war and to bring all the troops home now must be heard in every corner of the country! The killing must stop. Click here for some suggested ways to bear witness.
Military Families Speak Out notes:
MILITARY FAMILIES MOURN 3,000TH TROOP DEATH, PARTICIPATE IN NATIONWIDE VIGILS AND CALL ON CONGRESS TO END THE IRAQ WAR Family Members of Fallen Soldiers and Families of Troops Currently Deployed in Iraq Available for Interview Dec 29, 06 On the eve of the 3,000th troop death, the next horrific milestone in the Iraq war, Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), an organization of over 3,100 military families opposed to the war in Iraq, calls on the 110th Congress to honor the fallen and prevent further deaths by taking action to end the Iraq war. read more »
3000 Deaths Too Many As Bush considers sending thousands of additional troops to Iraq to control the violence, our troop death toll nears the 3,000 mark. It is crucial that we commemorate this grim milestone in Bush's disastrous war by pressuring Congress to bring the troops home NOW, and to stop this insanity NOW! Click here for CODEPINK suggested actions you can take.
Also refer to
World Can't Wait's Protests & Vigils Planned the Day After the Number of US Troops Killed in Iraq Reaches 3,000
As the press continues to note that Bully Boy is seriously considering escalating the number of US troops on the ground in Iraq,
Warren P. Strobel and Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) note: "Two attempts last summer to stabilize Baghdad by sending in more troops failed. The increased U.S. presence led to a brief drop in violence, but as soon as the troops left the neighborhoods where they'd deployed, the violence skyrocketed." That was the crackdown that cracked up and accomplished nothing. It began in June and by August, the US military was noting that, in July, attacks on US forces were up (double the January amount) and bombing attacks on civilians were up 10%. And last week Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reported on the US Pentagon's findings "that the violence in Iraq soared this fall to its highest level on record" and this during the continued increase of US troops in Iraq. But like a greedy tele-evangilist, Bully Boy can just cry out, "Send more! Send more!"
CNN reports a bomber "waited near the house of Sheik Kadhim Hameed Qassim" in northern Bagdad and then detonated the bomb "when the clearic, his security and family members arrived after Friday prayers" leaving the Shi'ite cleric dead and also killing "his brother and severn others" and leaving 15 wounded.
Reuters reports two police officers were shot dead in Jurf al-Sakhar and seven more wounded. AFP reports a police officer and "a bystander" were shot dead in Hindiya while, in Mussayib, a police officer was shot dead and five more wounded. KUNA reports four Iraqi soldiers were shot dead "southwest of Kirkuk" and a fifth Iraqi soldier was injured while, in nothern Iraq, "two employees who . . . worked for the Petroleum State Company" were shot dead.
KUNA reports that the corpse of a kidnapped police officer was discovered in Kirkuk.
AFP reports on the increasing demise of communal baths in Baghdad from violence and financial costs: "In its glory days when Iraq was one of the most developed Arab countries in the Middle East, the hammam used to employ 16 people. Today only four permanent staff remains on the payroll as massive inflation takes hold." and quotes the owner of the bathhouse explaining, "The electricity is often down. Gas for heating has become too expensive. We pay 20,000 dinars ($14) for a bottle compared to 1,000 just two or three years ago. How do you expect me to carry on? There are days when it costs me more to open than doing nothing. I love my profession but it's disappearing."
In I-Schilled-for-the-U.S.-military-and-all-I-got-was-a-red-face news,
Sabrina Tavernise's 'scoop' in the New York Times had holes blown through it earlier this week and has now fallen apart completely. The US military announced (to her and James Glanz of the New York Times) that they had been holding Iranian 'terrorists' and 'insurgents' since the 12th of December. In the latest development to rip the story of Iranian 'terrorists' to shreds, the BBC reports that the two diplomats who were held by US forces but in the country of Iraq at the invitation of Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani, were released. On the detention of the two diplomats, AFP quotes the Iranian ambassador to Iraq, Hasan Kazemi Qomi, stating: "Fortunately with the effort exerted by the Iraqi officials, the US forces who firstly denied their arrest were obliged to admit it and under pressure from the Iraqi government to release them. The arrest of these diplomats was carried out contrary to international laws and the Geneva convention."
In the US, the
AP reports: "Sgt. Edward W. Shaffer, 24, of Mont Alto, died Wednesday afternoon at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas" after being injured in November 13th bombing in Ramadi and quotes his grandfather, Edward Shaffer, stating that "All they could do was try to keep him comfortable. They couldn't do any more for him." 24 year-old Shaffer is among many troops who die from physical injuries recieved in Iraq but, due to dying after they are shipped out of Iraq, do not get included in the official body count.
Another war related death not included in the count is
covered by Megan Greenwell (Washington Post), 29-year-old James E. Dean, who had served in Afghanistan and recently recieved orders to deploy to Iraq, barricaded himself in his father's house on Christmas day, and was killed in an exchange with police officers.
NPR's Daniel Zwerdling reported that the US army's crappy record on addressing PTSD within the ranks just got worse: the army is moving to court-martial Tyler Jennings who suffers from PTSD and was diagnosed with "Crying spells... hopelessness... helplessness... worthlessness" five months ago and received no assistance.

ehren watada

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Ford & Brown blather

First off, please read C.I.'s "Correction to Barbara Ehrenreich on Democracy Now! today" about the embarrassing and shameful speech Barbara Ehrenreich gave that was broadcast on Democracy Now! today. Ehrenreich did not know what she was speaking of but saw a chance to deliver a cheap slam at Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda and GreenStone Media. It was embarrassing and it was shameful. It also calls into question Ehrenreich's own critical abilities.

To stay on Democracy Now! today, I didn't get the idea that Goodman or anyone got what Ford proposed for those who dodged the draft during Vietnam. That was rather shocking. The program they seemed to be referring to was Jimmy Carter's. Possibly they werent, if so, the confusion stems from the fact that they did shout outs and not discussions.

Micah's already complained about Victor Navasky's mouth run ons. You know what, no one needs to listen to that. Let me tell you what that story was in full:

1) Gerald Ford wrote his memoirs.

2) Victor Navasky was passed information on it pre-publication.

3) The Nation published the information, that Ford may have worked out an agreement with Al Haig to pardon Nixon prior to Nixon resigning.

4) Time magazine, Reader's Digest and the publisher were unhappy that The Nation 'scooped' and a lawsuit resulted -- Time and Reader's Digest had intended to excerpt the book.

5) The case landed in the Supreme Court. The Nation lost the case.

This was, at best, a three minute story -- the three minutes includes any exchanges between Goodman and Navasky. Instead, this was the most annoying, most boring moment of broadcast radio for the week, the month and possibly the year. It was the never ending anecdote and it was also pointless in terms of a press issue.

This wasn't about free speech. The story The Nation 'broke' wasn't in danger of being suppressed. The 'scoop' was the same sort of nonsense the New York Times prides itself on -- something that will be known in a day or a week gets leaked to them ahead of time and they rush it into print. It's not breaking news, it's running with a leak. It's not investigative reporting because it doesn't uncover anything, it just cuts ahead of line.

What was more embarrassing about the Ford focus was that, big deal, Gerald Ford died. Exactly why Democracy Now! has to cover the 'statesman' is beyond me. I was making that point to C.I. who recommended I check out something. I did and I enjoyed it enough to share it here.

"Gerald Ford, Unsentimentally" (Matthew Rothschild, The Progressive):
Sorry, but I refuse to let my tear ducts open over the death of Gerald Ford.
There's something profoundly undemocratic and vaguely medieval about the almost mandatory salutes that we, the people, are supposed to offer when a former President dies.
The niceties of custom all too often reinforce the habits of blind obedience to the unworthy wielders of power.
Say no ill of the dead, we are told.
Hogwash. Let’s look at Gerald Ford's record.
The first thing he did was to pardon Richard Nixon, even though ten days previously he had said that the special prosecutor should proceed against "any and all individuals" and a year before, he averred that "I do not think the public would stand for it."
The pardon short-circuited the necessary prosecution of Nixon, which would have served as a salutary check on future inhabitants of the Oval Office. Instead, the pardon set a precedent for such flagrant lawbreakers as we have in the White House today.
If impeachment of Bush and Cheney may be just a remote possibility, prosecution and incarceration remain inconceivable. And so Bush and Cheney, thanks to Ford, can float comfortably above the law.
On domestic policy, Ford was a standard issue Republican, vetoing social spending bills, cutting food stamps and housing and education programs, infamously denying aid to New York City while all the while boosting Pentagon spending. And, in a move Bush and Cheney would have applauded, he proposed the nation's first official secrets act to provide criminal penalties for the unauthorized disclosure of classified material.

Covering the rich and powerful, Democracy Now! C.I. pulled something from the snapshot (noting, "I'm too angry right now") that I will note here. Democracy Now! failed to tell you that 100 people died in Iraq on Tuesday -- corpses, bombings and shootings. They also failed to tell you the number of US troops who were announced dead on Tuesday. But they had time for Ford, they had time to trash Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda, and they had time to tell you about James Brown's upcoming funeral/memorial.

Since (a) Brown was an apologist for Richard Nixon, (b) a supporter of Ronald Reagan, (c) an all around suck up to Republicans, (d) his arrests for battering women, I really don't give a damn that James Brown is dead. James Brown died around the time he buddied up with Tricky Dick. His career from the 70s to today has been one long embarrassment after another -- an embarrassment of crap, most of which failed to chart. On the domestic abuse charges, has everyone forgotten how many times he was arrested for beating up Adrienne Rodriegues, his third wife?

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, December 27, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the US military announces more deaths of US troops while they call up 3,500 more troops, a British general calls for more war money while lowering expectations, England and the United States face strong backlashes in Iraq and the puppet of the occupation proves unpopular.
As December has become the second deadliest month in 2006 it's easy to see who covers the fatalities (Washington Post -- usually
Nancy Trejos) and who doesn't (New York Times). Today the US military announced: "A 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Soldier died as a result of non-combat related injuries on Logistics Support Area Anaconda Dec 23." And they also announced: "A second Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier died of injuries received when a High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle rolled over along a dirt canal trail during a combat reconnaissance mission south of the Iraqi capital Dec. 26." And they announced: "One Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died today from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." ICCC lists the total for the month of December thus far at 94. October is the month with the highest US fatalities in 2006 (thus far): 106. The total number of US troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war stands at 2983, 17 away from the 3,000 mark.
Meanwhile the
US Defense Department reports that US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates hasapproved John Abizaid's request and 3,500 troops of the 82nd Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team were informed today that at the start of next month they will deploy to Kuwait to replace the 15h MEU who moved to al-Anbar Province last month.
The call up means that 3,500 troops have had to head to Fort Bragg and cut short the holidays. In Iraq, the holiday reflected the illegal war.
Dahr Jamail and Ali Al-Fadhily (IPS) report that, for little girls, crying dolls were the most popular gift and, for little boys, tanks and guns because, as Ahmed Ghazi told the reporters, "Children try to imitate what they see out of their windows." Jamil and Al-Fadhily write:
Social researcher Nuha Khalil from the Iraqi Institute for Childhood Development in Baghdad told IPS that young girls are now expressingtheir repressed sadness often by playing the role of a mother who takes care of her small daughter.
"Looking around, they only see gatherings of mourning ladies who lost their beloved ones," said Khalil. "Our job of comforting these little girls and remedying the damage within them is next to impossible."
[. . .]
"The only things they have on their minds are guns, bullets, death and a fear of the U.S. occupation," Maruan Abdullah, spokesman for the Association of Psychologists of Iraq told reporters at the launch of a study in February this year.

Sam Knight (Times of London) reports that Major General Richard Shirreff ("commander of British troops in southern Iraq") is stating that the British Army is underfunded and lowering expectations for 'democracy' and/or 'liberation' in Iraq -- Shirref stated: "When I set up, came up here and initiated the operations we have been conducting, I was looking for a 100% solution. But this is Iraq, this is Arabia and this is reality, so a 60% solution is good enough for me." This as Steve Negus (Financial Times of London) reports that Monday's raid and destruction, by British forces, on a police station in Basra is resulting in a backlash: " Several local leaders, including the head of the city council and a Basra police commander, have condemned Monday's raid. Mohammed al-Ibadi, provincial council chairman, said the council had decided to cut off ties with British forces pending an explanation of why they destroyed an 'Iraq government building flying the Iraqi flag' and removed detainees he described as suspected terrorists'."
This as the US faces their own backlash over a death in Najaf. Earlier today, Reuters reported that,
despite earlier denails by the US military, a US soldier was the one who shot an official of Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc. Khaled Farhan (Reuters) reports: "Thousands of supporters of anti-American Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr marched through the holy Iraqi city of Najaf in an angry funeral procession after a senior Sadr aide was killed by a U.S. soldier on Wednesday. Chanting 'No to America' and carrying placards decrying U.S. occupation, mourners, including black-robed clerics, carried the coffin of Saheb al-Amiri through the streets." Supporters maintain that Saheb al-Amiri was shot dead "in front of his wife and children" and that he was a charity lawyer, not a 'terrorist.' The attack on the member of al-Sadr's bloc follows last week's (unsuccessful) efforts by the US to isolate Moqtada al-Sadr as outlined by Hannah Allam (McClatchy Newspapers) Friday.
While England and the United States face backlashes,
Reuters reports that a bomb has killed two Latvian soldiers and left three more wounded. In other violence today . . .
BBC reports a car bombing in east Baghdad that has claimed 8 lives and left 10 more wounded. The Press Association reports that seven British troops were wounded by a roadside bomb in Basra. Reuters notes a roadside bomb in Baghdad that left five people wounded and a roadisde bomb in Suwayra that killed three Iraqi soldiers.
Reuters notes an attack on "a bus carrying employees of the Ministry of Higher Education" that left two wounded.
In peace news,
Dana Hull (San Jose Mercury News) reports that Nadia McCaffrey, mother of Patrick Ryan McCaffrey who was killed in Iraq by Iraqi security forces he was training, is planning to build a retreat for returning troops -- Nadia McCaffrey: "Patrick isn't dead. His spirit is very much alive, in me and all around us. The rest of my life is going to be dedicated to peace and justice, and to helping the veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan.''
Dahr Jamail and Ali Al-Fadhily (IPS) report that the support for puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki continues to nose dive among Iraqis (some polls noting 90% of Iraqis are displeased with al-Maliki's 'governing') and notes that Tariq al-Hashimi ("leader of the Islamic Party") feels that many have been shut out in al-Maliki's so-called unity coalition while Dr. Salih al-Mutlaq tells the reporters, "This government will definitely lead the country into a disaster."

iraqthe washington postnancy trejos

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Vacationing Bully Boy

The illustration is Isaiah's "Miss Congenital Liar."
So it's still December which means Bully Boy is still silent on what to do about Iraq. He's taking his time . . . as he vacations at Camp David and now at his ranchette in Crawford, TX. He has all the time in the world because he's not in Iraq where people are dying. Will the US troops fatality count reach 3,000 before Bully Boy announces his non-plan?

When you consider that he's vacationed over 365 days since January 2001, possibly Americans should have demanded that he give up his vacation, roll up his sleeves, and figure out how to fix the illegal war he started?

Remember how it started? Remember how the media pushed the lies instead of questioning them? Remember how we're all supposed to pretend it was just a mistake on the part of the media? Notice how the New York Times is pushing nonsense still. (Including advocating war with Iran. I saw Monday's 'exclusive' and checked later that night at The Common Ills. C.I. didn't note it so I called and was told, "It's all hearsay and bunk that was questionable before they printed it." C.I. addresses that in the snapshot today.) If you've forgotten how they didn't just get it wrong but worked over time to silence dissent . . . .

"Inside TV News: We Were Silenced by the Drums of War" (Jeff Cohen, Truthout): September 11th made 2001 a defining year in our country's history. But 2002 may have been the strangest. It began with all eyes on Osama bin Laden and ended with Osama bin Forgotten - as the White House turned its attention to Iraq. Bush's January 2003 State of the Union speech mentioned Saddam Hussein 17 times, but bin Laden not once.
Everything about my nine-month stint at cable news channel MSNBC occurred in the context of the ever-intensifying war drums over Iraq. The drums grew louder as D-Day approached, until the din became so deafening that rational journalistic thinking could not occur. Three weeks before the invasion, MSNBC Suits terminated "Donahue," their most-watched program.
For 19 weeks, I had appeared in on-air debates almost every afternoon - the last weeks heavily focused on Iraq. I adamantly opposed an invasion. I warned that it would "undermine our coalition with Muslim and Arab countries that we need to [help us] fight Al Qaeda" and would lead to "quagmire."
In October 2002, my debate segments were terminated. There was no room for me after MSNBC launched Countdown: Iraq - a daily show that seemed more keen on glamorizing a potential war than scrutinizing or debating it. The show featured retired colonels and generals resembling boys with war toys as they used props, maps and glitzy graphics to spin invasion scenarios. They reminded me of pumped-up ex-football players doing pregame analysis.
It was excruciating to be silenced while myth and misinformation went unchallenged. Military analysts typically appeared unopposed; they were presented as experts, not advocates. But their closeness to the Pentagon often obstructed independent, skeptical analysis.
When Hans Blix led UN weapons inspectors back into Iraq in November 2002 after a four-year absence, Countdown: Iraq's host asked an MSNBC military analyst, "What's the buzz from the Pentagon about Hans Blix?" The retired colonel declared that Blix was considered "something like the Inspector Clousseau of the weapons of mass destruction inspection program ... who will only remember the last thing he was told - and that he's very malleable."
Retired General Barry McCaffrey was the star military analyst on NBC and MSNBC - a hawk who pushed for an invasion every chance he got. (After the war started, McCaffrey crowed, "Thank God for the Abrams tank and the Bradley fighting vehicle." Unknown to viewers, McCaffrey sat on the board of a military contractor that pocketed millions on the Abrams and Bradley.)
As the war began, CNN news president Eason Jordan admitted that his network's military analysts were government-approved[.]

Please visit Mike's site tonight. We're all trying to do short posts. Also please read "Kat's Korner: 2006 in music" -- I enjoyed it very much.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, December 26, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the 3,000 mark for US troops killed in Iraq looms ever closer, Bully Boy continues to remain inactive and mum on what's next in his illegal war, a US war resister returns home and another gets some of the attention his stance warrants (no surprise, it doesn't come from independent media print division).
Starting with US military fatalities, there was no link between Iraq and 9-11. Now the number of US troops killed in Iraq tops the number of people killed on September 11, 2001.
AFP reports their count of US troops who have died in Iraq is 2975 which "is two more than the 2,973 people killed on September 11, 2001, when Al-Qaeda hijackers seized four airliners and crashed them into the World Trade Centre, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvanian field. . . . The landmark American death toll, emerging over the Christmas holiday season, represents another political blow for Bush, who earlier this month was forced to admit for the first time that the US was not winning in Iraq."
CBS and AP note: "CBS News correspondent Randall Pinkston reports that December is already the second deadliest month of 2006 for U.S. forces in Iraq. The depressing question now, Pinkston says, is whether the final figure will exceed October's of 106" and "Another sobering statistic; Iraqi officials report that 12,000 national police officers have been killed since the invasion in 2003, says Pinkston."
noted this morning:

US military announced today: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing two Soldiers southwest of the Iraqi capital Dec. 25." And today they announced: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier southwest of the Iraqi capital Dec. 25." And finally (thus far) today they announced: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing three Soldiers northwest of the Iraqi capital Dec. 26."

Since then, the
US military has announced: "One Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier was killed and two others injured when a High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle rolled over along a dirt canal trail during a combat reconnaissance mission south of the Iraqi capital Dec. 26." This brings the total number of US troops killed in Iraq for the month thus far to 90 and the total since the start of the illegal war to 2979 -- 21 away from the 3,000 mark.
In the face of this, all Bully Boy has to offer is the so-called 'surge' option which failed miserably in the continued 'crackdown' of Baghdad -- failed in June, failed in July, failed in August, failed in September, failed in October (when even the Pentagon had to note the all time rise in the number of attacks), failed in November and is failing in December.
AP reports that US Senator Joseph Biden is against the 'surge' option calling it "the absolute wrong strategy," noting he will fight efforts to implement it and that he continues to advocate "a drawdown of U.S. forces and finding a political settlement among the various ethnic factions there." CNN reports that Biden, who is expected to chair the Foreign Relations Committee in the Senate next month, has asked US Secretary of State Condi "to testify during three weeks of hearings in January about the Iraq war" that would begin January 9th and would also seek testimony from "former secretaries of state, academics, Iraq Study Group members and other witnesses from outside the administration as the committee examines various approaches to the war."
BBC reports 15 dead and 35 wounded in a bombing of a Sunni mosque today (northern Baghdad) which was preceeded by an earlier attack, using multiple bombs, in southwest Baghdad that "was severe, even by Iraqi standards, the BBC's Peter Greste reports from Baghdad" that claimed at least 15 lives and left at least 60 wounded. Christopher Torchia (AP) reports that the number of people killed in the latter attack rose to 25 and also notes an eastern Baghdad bombing that killed four police officers. AFP reports a roadside bomb killed three Iraqi children ("under the age of 12") and left eight more wounded when they were attempting to go to school.Shootings?
Reuters notes two police officers were injured in a drive-by shooting near Kirkuk.
Lauren Frayer (AP) reports: "Police found 49 bodies bearing signs of torture dumped across the country, mostly in Baghdad." Reuters notes six corpses were found in Baquba.
In peace news, US war resister
Ricky Clousing was released from the brig at Camp Lejeune on Saturday where he had been sentenced for three months following an October court-martial. Clousing self-checked out of the military in June 2005 and, on August 11, 2006, announced that he was turning himself in. Cheryl Johnston Sadgrove (The News & Observer) reports that Clousing and some supporters first gathered Saturday at Raleigh's Vietnam Veterans Memorial before heading to the Quaker meeting house and meeting up with about 36 more people where Clousing spoke about his decision to refuse to participate in the illegal war and life in military prison: "I had a bed and food and shelter. To me -- it was a time out. I took that time to read and think about what I want to do after that." The Associated Press reports that Clousing stated, "It feels good, but it feels surreal because I don't have to deal with the military anymore. . . . My decision was never personal to my command. I had to honor my own personal convictions. I'm excited to finally be finished with the military. I've gotten the opportunity to learn a lot about myself and the system I fell under." Kelley Chambers (Jacksonville's The Daily News) quotes Veterans for Peace's Dave Taylor, “(Clousing) said to me, “I was willing to do my duty but I’m not going back to that war because I think it’s wrong,’” said Taylor. “I can’t not back him up because of that.”
Another US war resister,
Ehren Watada, has been the topic of year end media attention (no, not from independent media). Rolling Stone picked Watada for their 2006 Honor Roll noting:

Watada, who enlisted in 2003, was praised by his superiors as an "exemplary" officer. But when he refused to ship out to Iraq, he not only became the first commissioned officer to do so -- he even rejected a desk job. "My participation would make me a party to war crimes," declared Watada, who calls the war a "horrible breach of American law." He now faces court-martial and eight years in the brig.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin picked him for their "10 Who Made a Difference" series and
Robert Shikina observed: "Watada brought his case to the public's attention, appearing at anti-war demonstrations -- he spoke to a crowd of more than 300 recently in Honolulu -- and speaking to the media to defend his beliefs. The army initiated a court-martial against Watada for missing movement and conduct unbecoming an officer for statemens he made about the war. A charge of contempt toward a government official for statements he made about President Bush was later dropped. Watada has criticized the government of committing lies to drag the U.S. into war in Iraq for the benefit of large corporations. He said he is defending the U.S. Constitution."
Phil Tajitsu Nash (Asian Week) picked Watada as one of the "Real People of the Year" noting:"When it was more damaging to his career to do so, however, Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada did not flinch when he publicly stated he believes the Iraq war is illegal, and publicly refused orders to deploy to Iraq to lead his troops later that month. He now faces possible court martial and prison time for his position, but refuses to back down. 'It is the duty, the obligation of every soldier, and specifically the officers, to evaluate the legality, the truth behind every order -- including the order to go to war,' he said. 'The wholesale slaughter and mistreatment of the Iraqi people with only limited accountability is not only a terrible moral injustice, but a contradiction to the Army's own Law of Land Warfare. My participation would make me party to war crimes'."
Clousing and Watada are part of a movement of resistance within the military that includes
Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Joel Wendland (Political Affairs) reviews Peter Laufer's Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to the War in Iraq which examines the resistance and a large number of the resisters (including Joshua Key, Darrell Anderson, Jeremy Hinzman, Ryan Johnson and others). Wendland notes: "While this military-based movement falls numerically short of such opposition during the Vietnam War (approximately 170,000 draftees refused to fight by registering as conscientious objectors), today's numbers are still significant within the context of a so-called volunteer army. Indeed, many war resisters have been denied conscientious objector status and subsequently punished for their refusal to participate in what they consider an immoral or illegal war."
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress next month. Information on past and present war resistance can also be found in David Zeiger's Sir! No Sir! which tells the story of war resistance during the Vietnam era and, in the new director's edition, also includes bonus material on Camilo Mejia's court-martial, interviews with Cindy Sheehan and Jane Fonda about today's war resistance, and more. The director's cut is availabe for $23.95 and the original version is currently available for $12.95.
CNN reports on the Iranians arrested in Baghdad (that the US government and the New York Times -- they still are seperate entities, right? -- has spun as 'terrorists' who entered the country to add to the chaos and violence) noting that Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani states they were in the country at his invitation and Iran's Foreign Ministry has stated "this action is not justifiable by any international rules or regulations and will have unpleasant consequences."

ricky clousingehren watada

Friday, December 22, 2006

John Lennon & Yoko Ono's "Happy XMAS (War Is Over)

Happy Holidays for those celebrating. I am and will be at Rebecca's all weekend. Mike is here as well -- and of course Flyboy.

"War Is Over If We Do More Than Want It To Be" (Matthew Rothschild, The Progressive):
So this is Christmas.
And that old John Lennon song keeps playing in my mind: "War is over, if you want it."
I've always puzzled over this song, though--especially that lyric.
War isn't over just by wanting it to be so.
A majority of Americans want it over now, but the war keeps going.

I am not going to tear Rothschild a new one. I will note that it's not "the old John Lennon song." The single is credited to John and Yoko and the song was written by John and Yoko. I do understand his point; however, I think there's a tendency to be far too literal. War really is over, if you want it.

That was true in Vietnam, it's true today. If the people want it to be over, it will be. He, Rothschild, is saying that it will take more than wishing (and hoping -- as the old song says). But the point of "Happy XMAS (War Is Over)" is that the power rests with the people. The song came out in 1971. That was the year of "Imagine" and "Power to the People" -- both of which speak to owning your power.

"War is over if you want it" is stating clearly that the power isn't with a president or with a Congress, it's with the people.

On the subject of John Lennon, Jon Wiener has posted the latest released FBI files on John Lennon. (Note, I typed "latest." I'm not sure this is all of them -- despite what the government says.) You can examine them yourself. (Some still have redactions.)

Back to Rothschild's question -- what the song is about -- if people want the war over, it will end. People in the US have turned against the war. Now they need to demand that the government ends it. Lennon and Ono weren't advocating just wishing (though wishing it important -- it allows us to conceive the future). We'll need rallies, marches and much more. But we already have the numbers to end the war -- if we're willing to exhibit the will to do so. By the way, my favorite cover version of the song is Carly Simon's from her Christmas Is Almost Here CD.

That's going to be it. Happy holidays.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, December 22, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; American military fatalities in Iraq hit
2964 -- 36 shy of the 3,000 mark and Condi Rice is pleased with that figure and want to see it go higher, HIGHER, HIGHER; a US war resister will be released from the military brig tomorrow; Carolyn Marshall demonstrates you don't have to serve in the US administration to be useless; and a remedial walk-through for confused visitors from yesterday.
Starting with news of US war resister
Ricky Clousing. Joe Miller (Jacksonville's The Daily News) reports that Clousing "will be released from the Camp Lejeune brig on Saturday." As Bob Geary (Raleigh-Durham Indpendent Weekly) reported yesterday, there is a rally scheduled in Fayetteville (North Carolina) "midday Saturday to be greeted by human rights supporters at the Raleigh Friends Meeting House, 625 Tower St. (the street behind the Cameron Village Post Office). His reception is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., before he catches a flight from RDU back to his hometown of Seattle Wash." Once arriving in Seattle, as Courage to Resist notes, there will be a welcoming at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, 10:15 p.m. Saturday night -- "Concourse B., Baggage Claim 11."
Clousing self-checked out of the US military in June 2005 and,
on August 11, 2006, announced he would be turning himself in. Following an attempt at turning himself in at Fort Lewis, Clousing was told to go to Fort Bragg. On October 12th, Ricky Clousing was court-martialed and has been in the brig since then. Like Ehren Watada, Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Mark Wilkerson, and Agustin Aguayo, Clousin is a part of resistance within the military that includes Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress next month. Information on past and present war resistance can also be found in David Zeiger's Sir! No Sir! which tells the story of war resistance during the Vietnam era and, in the new director's edition, also includes bonus material on Camilo Mejia's court-martial, interviews with Cindy Sheehan and Jane Fonda about today's war resistance, and more. The director's cut is availabe for $23.95 and the original version is currently available for $12.95.
Resistance within the military was the story of 2006 but too few were interested in reporting it or, let's face it, in reporting at all. Chatting on some charges, don't call it reporting,
Carolyn Marshall (New York Times) continued to flaunt ignorance today, as well as what may very well be xenophobia, as she chirped away about 8 US marines charged in the November 2005 Haditha slaughter without ever noting a reaction on the part of Iraqis -- even a previously reported reaction. (Marshall does have a co-writer. Her past bylines indicate she grabs all the blame for the latest.)
On today's
Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez rebroadcast an interview they did with Time magazine's Aparisim Ghosh about the Haditha massacre explaning (pay attention, Carolyn Marshall), "The more we dug, the more we thought something didn't quite add up." How so? The Iraqis "were killed in their homes, in their night clothes. The night clothes were significant because . . . women and children especially, are unlikely to go out in their night clothes, it is a very conservative society." "The victims," yes, Carolyn Marshall, Aparism Ghosh spoke with victims and eyewitnesses, "told us that the Marines came in and they killed everyone in sight." One young girl told of how the Marines killed everyone in her home except for her and her young brother. Click here for the full report from May 30th's Democracy Now! and we'll note what Dahr Jamail said in that discussion: "And the other really aspect of that, I think is important to note on this, is the media coverage, again, surrounding what has happened around Haditha simply because Time magazine covered it, and thank heavens that they did, but this has gotten so much media coverage, and in comparison, so many of these types of incidents are happening every single week in Iraq. And I think that's astounding and important for people to remember, as well."
If Carolyn Marshall needs futher examples of what real reporters do, she might also
check out Majid Hameed (Reuters) who spoke with people in Haditha today. Khaled Salman declares, "Those soldiers killed 24 people. They killed women and children, isn't that enough for them to be excuted? Just so that the family can have peace." Her sister was killed in the slaughter. Hameed also notes a local judge, Talal Saed, who states, "They should be tried in Iraq and under the Iraqi law. . . . This is a show trial just to show that the Americans are doing something to be fair with Iraqis but it's nothing more than that."
Equally oblivious is the US Secretary of State. Yes, Condi Rice continues to flaunt her loose grip on reality. Her failure as US National Security Advisor (remember, 9-11 was on her watch) trails her as US Secretary of State.
Mark Tran (Guardian of London) reports that Condoleezza Rice "said Iraq was worth the cost in US lives and dollars". Today, the US military announced: "Three Marines and one Sailor assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died Thursday from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." Also today, the US military announced: "An attack against a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol killed a Soldier west of the Iraqi capital Dec. 22. The Soldiers came under sporadic small arms and indirect fire during a patrol. One Soldier was killed and another wounded." Five deaths and Condi says it's worth it. The total number of US troops killed in the Iraq war is 2965 and Condi says 'It's worth it.'
As for the financial costs, the
National Priorities Project has released their summary of the US federal government's budget for 2006 which notes ". . . the total cost of the Iraq War rose to nearly $380 billion. . . . Broken down another way, on average, the federal government spends about $11 million every hour on the Iraq War, $256 million each day, or around $8 billion per month."
Condi's statements about things going swimmingly come as the
BBC reports that at least seven Iraqi police officers were arrested by British troops in Basra due to suspicions of "corruption and leading a death squad in Basra."
While Condi proves she's useless in every position,
Bully Boy hopes and prays that Santa Clause will bring him a way out of the illegal war he started so that he can announce some new 'plan' in 2007. 75 US troops, who lost their lives this month so far, won't be able to wait for that news. It is the deadliest December for US troops since the start of the illegal war and December isn't over.
And in Iraq?
AP notes that two people died and four were wounded in a car bombing in Samarra while two police officers were wounded in a roadside bombing in Baghdad. Reuters identifies the two dead in Samarra from the car bomb as Ahmed al-Yaseen and his wife (name not given) and the four wounded were their children while also noting that two police officers were killed in Samarra from a roadside bomb and, in Suwayra, a bombing left five people wounded. Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that an explosion in Baghad "targeting police patrol in Al Saadon street, central Baghdad" left eight citizens wounded.
Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that Hiba Abdullah was shot dead while in her car in Baquba and her two-year-old son Mohammed Ahmed was injured.
Reuters notes that the corpse of a "hospital employee" who was kidnapped Thursday was discovered today in Kut. Christopher Torchia (AP) reports that 21 corpses were found in Baghdad, Baquba and Kut today.
NN reports that iman Emad al-Shimari was kidnapped "at a Sunni mosque in northern Baghdad after Friday prayers."
In peace news,
Veterans For Peace announces that they, CODEPINK, Military Families Speak Out, Iraq Veterans Against the War, and Working Assets were able to purchase 24,000 phone cards which "were distributed to 149 VA hospitals nationwide."
Also in peace news,
Guy Smallman (Great Britain's Socialist Worker) reports that England's House of Lords has determined, three years after, that the police response to a March 2003 demonstartion against the war was "illegal and the protesters' human rights were violated. Lord Bingham has described the police's actions as 'wholly disproportionate' and said that the right to protest is 'an essential foundation of a democratic society'."
In let's-walk-the-visitors-through-real-slowly news (for visitors lost
yesterday), the US government wants to sideline Muqtada al-Sadr. Iraqis want foreign troops to stop occupying their country. This week US troops ceded control of Najaf to Iraqis. As the BBC reported yesterday, an attempted end run around al-Sadr took place yesterday when Shia leaders met with Ayatollah ali al-Sistani in Najaf. For visitors who got lost in the basic yesterday, note this from Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP): "In Najaf, Shiite delegates were meeting the country's top cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, to ask for his blessing for the new coalition. The deal would excluse al-Sadr, but participants sought to reassure him that it would not sideline his influence". Today, Lebanon's The Daily Star reports that following the meeting with al-Sistani, the same group of leaders will meet with al-Sadr and discuss with him the possibility of a one month truce/cease fire. Already one part of the plan has been enacted, al-Sadr's followers announced yesterday they would return to their cabinet and parliamentary functions. If it's still too hard to put together, the AFP reports: "US officials have made it clear that they favour a realignment in Iraq's unity government, which would exclude Sadr and his Shiite militia". Despite that desire and the Pentagon report blaming al-Sadr, Nouri al-Maliki refuses (thus far) to heed the US call. And, as AFP reports, "this week Iraqi politiicans trampled down to the Shiite holy city of Najaf to talk to Sadr's allies and encourage him back into the coalition." To review, in an attempt to win the favor of al-Sistani and his followers, US forces handed control of Najaf over to Iraqi forces. The US government's hope was that al-Sadr would then be shut out in the talks that took place on Thursday, that a new coalition would be formed which would sideline him. That, however, did not happen. Another bet Condi made that someone else will have to pay off. For visitors still confused, Sam Dagher (CNN) reports: "'President Bush is being misled,' senior Shiite parliament member Ali al-Adeeb said in response to Bush's statement Wednesday that an emerging 'moderate coalition' would marginalize those who 'use violence to achieve political objectives'."

ricky clousing

juan gonzalez

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Nostalgic Bully Boy and Nostalgic mainstream media

To the left is Isaiah's "Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts 'Nostalgic Bully'." Bully Boy's not the only one apparently nostalgic for those 'fun' and fact-free days, read the snapshot.

Mike and I have plans tonight so that's it.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, December 20, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; the New York Times which continues to act as though
Colin Brown and Andy McSmith (Independent of London) broke no news last week, now plays "I don't see Chatham House" which may make it difficult for them to explain why Britain's Foreign Secretary is fessin' up to her own 'blot'; a large crowd turns out in Honolulu to hear US war resister Ehren Watada; and Bully Boy, who wants to go long with the lives of others, lets slip a bit of truth (naturally, the Times plays dumb).
In England,
a [PDF format] report continues to spark debate. Chatham House issued the six-page report yesterday (see yesterday's snapshot) and Tony Blair rushed to deny the conclusions but mainly revealed that six pages are about five too many for him to read and comprehend. Along with the prime minister, also issuing denials was the country's Foreign Secretary who termed the report "utterly ridiculous."
"Utterly ridiculous" describes Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary, and
her performance on BBC Radio 4 yesterday where she attempted to rewrite history. After confessing that the (false) claim that Iraq could attack England with WMDs within 45 minutes, Beckett attempted to make light of it: "That was a statement that was made once and it was thought to be of such little relevance". John Humphrys (host of the BBC program Today) begged to differ and noted that the Blair government never corrected the public record, never came out and stated, "Ooopsy! That was a big fat lie." Beckett snarled back, "Oh, come on -- nobody that it was revelant. Nobody thought it was a big sweeping statement."This is London adds the perspective Beckett attempts to strip from the public record -- Tony Blair made that claim in the 2002 while advocating war, it "was at the heart of the Downing Street dossier issued in September 2002 where Blair wrote: "The document discloses that his military planning allows for some of the WMD to be ready within 45 minutes of an order to use them," Blair went on to push the false assertion four times more in the dossier and once in a public speech to the House of Commons, and the lie was at the root of the 2003 inquiry into whether or not intel had been 'sexed up' -- as the BBC reported it had -- during which time Beckett and Blair continued to sit on the truth and David Kelly died. Now Beckett wants to say, "Oh, come on"?
BBC reports that the Tory party are calling it "appalling" and noting the false claim did not belong "in a government dossier". William Hague, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, states, "If it is true that the 45-minute claim had been discounted before the invasion, it is appalling that there seems to have been no effort or coordination between ministers to put the record straight. This is yet another reason to dismantle Tony Blair's sofa policy-making and restore Cabinet government." The BBC notes what the New York Times can't or won't, "The comments come after it was revealed last week that former UK diplomat Carne Ross had told the 2004 Butler review into Iraq intelligence that 'at no time did HMG (Her Majesty's Government) assess that Iraq's WMD (weapons of mass destruction) posed a threat to the UK or its interests'. He also claimed that there was no evidence of 'significant holdings' of chemical or biological weapons in the possession of Saddam prior to the invasion. "
While the Chatham House report goes largely ignored by the US press,
Jackie Ashley (Guardian of London) observes, "If it wasn't so serious it would be hilariously funny. 'Mr Tony', as he now apparently likes to be called, has been explaining his theory of leadership: 'The art of leadership is learning to take decisions.' So far, so good. And, he goes on, 'sometimes you are right, sometimes you are wrong. Some of the decisions are very difficult and someone always gets angry.' Well, Mr Tony, certainly lots of people have got angry about the Iraq war, which an ever-growing number of people believe was a wrong decision. Look at the Baker-Hamilton commission in the United States, which gave a devastating critique of the policy, warned of the situation in Iraq deteriorating and of the threat of regional conflagration. Look at yesterday's report from the respected thinktank, Chatham House, which described the war as 'a terrible mistake' which has damaged Britain's global influence. Listen to all those Labour MPs who are saying publicly (a little) and privately (a lot) that the decision to follow George Bush into war with Iraq was a terrible error. Yet Mr Tony still seems to think, as indeed he has implied before, that it doesn't really matter whether the decision was right or wrong - what was important was that he made a decision. It is a truly bizarre theory of government, with extremely frightening consequences."
Mr. Tony? Sounds like he's getting ready to do a rinse and set. Tareq al-Hashemi thinks another kind of washing has gone on. The
BBC reports that al-Hashemi, one of Iraq's two vice presidents, spoke to the Council of Relations in NYC and, noting that Mr. Tony had been favorable to the ide of a withdrawal timetable for foreign troops, went on to conclude that possibly Mr. Tony had been "brainwashed" by the Bully Boy since he changed his mind on the subject: "It is quite unfortunate that your president made a sort of blackmail out of Mr Blair."
Brainwashed, blackmailed or strong armed, it's exactly the sort of cow-towing, lackey decision making that the Chatham Report noted and stated needed to stop.
In the United States, desperate for something, anything!, to fuel a new wave of Operation Happy Talk, the US government declares (and
CNN runs with) that they have captured yet another al Qaeda leader in Iraq! Six days ago is whispered in sotto voice. al Qaeda was not in Iraq prior to the illegal war and, as the US Pentagon underscored yesterday, it's not the force the hyped up talk repeatedly makes it out to be (the Pentagon found militias to be the greater threat to national security in Iraq). But if the US administration pushes it hard enough, maybe the wave of Operation Happy Talk will drown out reality.
Or at least allow people not to note that the same Bully Boy who used Daddy's connections to avoid serving in Vietnam (not due to any opposition to the war, just cowardice of putting his own ass on the line) now tests the waters for sending more US troops to die in Iraq. Speaking to the press today, Bully Boy declared, "
They think they can. They think it's just a matter of time before America grows weary and leaves, abandons the people of Iraq, for example. And that's not going to happen." Once again, he demonstrates how he can sleep easy even after all the blood on his hands -- he just doesn't give a damn. Which allows him to lie with claims such as "I also don't believe most Americans want us just to get out now." As polls have repeatedly demonstrated, Americans and Iraqis favor, in strong majorities, US forces doing just that.
AP reports that John Abizaid ("commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East") has submitted his plans to retire. That's surprising only to those who missed Thom Shanker (New York Times) report today that Abizaid "argues that foreign troops are a toxin bound to be rejected by Iraqis, and that expanding the number of American troops merely puts off the day when Iraqis are forced to take responsibility for their own security." That opinion is no longer in favor with the US administration (or War Hawks in the press like Gordo) so it's no surprise that Abizaid is stepping down.
Robert Gates, the newly installed US Secretary of Defense is all for more US troops being sent to Iraq.
CBS and AP report that Gates visited the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad where he "discussed a possible infusion of more U.S. troops into Iraq with American commanders on Wednesday but said no decisions have been made. On just his third day in his post, Gates journeyed to Iraq armed with a mandate from President Bush to help forge a new Iraq war strategy." There are no new strategies, just desperation tactics. As Peter Baker (Washington Post) reported today, the Bully Boy has admitted that the US is "not winning" which, Baker observed, "was a striking reversal for a president who, days before the November elections declared, 'Absolutely, we're winning'."
Though some Democrats in the Senate may scratch their heads and wonder what happened to Bobby Gates, the reality is that his lackey qualities were well known long before they confirmed him. As
Robert Parry (Consortium News) reports, the thinking was "that Gates was a closet dove who would help guide the United States out of George W. Bush's mess in Iraq. The thinking was that Gates, a former member of the Iraq Study Group, would represent the views of James Baker and other 'realitists' from George H.W. Bush's administration. Hillary Clinton and other Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee praised Gates for his 'candor' when he acknowledged the obvious, that the war in Iraq wasn't being won. Since the Gates confirmation vote on Dec. 6, however, Bush and Gates have signaled that they have no intention of extricating the U.S. military from the Iraq quagmire. They still insist on nothing short of 'victory' or 'success,' no matter how unlikely those ends and no matter how much blood must be spilled over the next two years to avert defeat." As Rebecca (Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude) noted yesterday, there's one conclusion left out of Parry's report -- the statement "I was right." Parry was right and had Senate Dems been more interested in exploring the record and less in a hurry to get rid of Donald the Rumsfled (who was out the door regardless), as Rebecca pointed out, "we wouldn't have the new donald rumsfeld. that's all gates is. actually, he's rumsfeld without 4 years of baggage, 4 years of known lies. he's rumsfeld with a honeymoon period from the press that will probably extend all the way through 2008."
Instead of recognizing
the peace mandate of the November elections, as CBS and the AP report, the Pentagon is asking for an additional 99.7 billion for the wars (Iraq and Afghanistan) which "would boost this year's budget for the wars to about $170 billion."
More money and more lives down the drain in an illegal war of choice. In Iraq today . . .
Outside of Baghdad,
Reuters notes two dead and three wounded in Baiji from a roadside bomb. Molly Hennessy-Fiske (Los Angeles Times) reports "a massive sucide car bomb" this morning in Baghdad "near the entrance to Baghdad University" which claimed eleven lives (plus the driver of the car) "including six Iraqi police" and left "at least two dozen" injured. Reuters also notes three other car bombs in Baghdad: four dead and eight wounded from one "in the parking lot of an Interior Ministry office," two wounded from one in the Bayaa disctrict and two wounded from one in the Camp Sara district.
Molly Hennesy-Fiske (LA Times) reports that three people were shot dead and at least seven more wounded at the Bab Al Muadhem bus terminal in Baghdad, that Mahmoud Mohammed Rahseed was shot dead in the Baghdad neighborhood "where he taught middle school," that Ali Arnoosi ("deputy dean of the college of law at the University of Baghdad") and law professor Mohammed Hamdani were also shot dead in Baghdad continuing the targeting of educators in Iraq. This comes at a time when, Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki has made attendence mandatory for both professors and students and failure to comply will lead to "dismissal or expulsion" so "the professors have begun hiding their education by donning ratty clothes, pulling on traditional Arab head scarves and driving to campus in beat-up cars." Like the Bully Boy, the puppet's not concerned with safety just with the appearances. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports: "A military official in the 5th division of the Iraqi army said that a soldier was killed and 3 others were wounded when a group of more than 30 insurgents attacked early morning today a military checkpoint in Abo Al Nakhal district in Khalis city north of Baqouba city. The source confirmed that 5 insurgents were killed." and "A governmental source in Baladrooz town east of Baqouba city (60 kms north of Baghdad) said that 2 civilians were killed and 8 were injured when an insurgents group from Dainiya neighborhood targeted civilians in Shakori village in the same town early morning today."
Reuters notes that eleven corpses were discovered in Mosul and two in Mahmudiya while 76 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Repeating, 76.
In addition, the
US military announced today: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division -Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier in a southern neighborhood of the Iraqi capital Dec. 20. The combat patrol was conducting a route clearance mission in order to free the roads of any possible dangers. As they conducted their mission, a roadside bomb exploded near one of their vehicles, killing one and wounding two other Soldiers." The US military also announced: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division -Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier southwest of the Iraqi capital Dec. 20. The dismounted combat patrol was on the way to investigate an explosion that occurred in the area when a roadside bomb detonated. As a result of the explosion, four Soldiers were wounded and one Soldier was killed."
Turning to peace news, in June of this year,
Ehren Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Yesterday, in Honolulu, he spoke out again. Rod Ohira (The Honolulu Advertiser) reports that a crowd of 350 turned out to hear Watada speak at the Church of the Crossroads where he stated, "The issue is about the war and people need to educate themselves about everything that's going on about the war. They need to take a position one way or another. If people agree with me or disagree with me, I really don't care. . . . What people need to do is take a stance. And if they truly believe there is something wrong with this war -- that it's immoral and illegal -- they should ask themselves what are they willing to sacrifice in order to stop this war?"
Watada faces a pre-trial hearing in January and then a court-martial in February. Though the US Congress seems unable or unwilling to excercise their oversight and have largely rebuffed his mother, Carolyn Ho, and her efforts, the reality is that he is one person in a growing movement of resistance within the military that includes Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. Those are some of the war resisters who have gone public while currently there are thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada attempting to be legally recognized.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress next month.

iraqehren watadathe washington postpeter bakerthe new york timesmichael r. gordonthom shankarrobert parry