Thank you to those who wrote to say they enjoyed the college ramble last night. I'll try to pick the thread back up later this week. But tonight is a rush-rush post because we're all trying to carve out some time to get on the phone and figure out some features for The Third Estate Sunday Review ahead of time. Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts.
"Sunni Group Accuses U.S. of Killing 25 Civilians in Iraq" (Democracy Now!):
In Iraq, a leading Sunni religious group has accused U.S. forces of killing 25 civilians in a series of recent raids near Baghdad. The Muslim Clerics Association accused U.S. and Iraqi forces of carrying out air strikes against civilians in Latifiya. In addition the group said U.S. forces shot and killed people who ran from their houses during the bombing. In a statement the Muslim Clerics Association said "We hold the Iraqi government and the occupiers responsible for this brutal atrocity." The U.S. military admits it killed 41 people in the recent attacks but the military described all of the victims as either associates of al Qaeda or terrorists.
Please read C.I.'s "Other Items" which walks you through how the military's press agent Dexter Filkins minimizes the importance of the above. There was a Congressional event today, a briefing. Probably not "bipartisan" and the New York Times will use that as their excuse not to cover it. Monica Benderman was supposed to be present.
"National Leaders and Activists to present Congressional Briefing on Conscientious Objection and Military Recruitment Practices" (Press Release from the Fellowship of Reconicliation, Kevin Benderman Defense Committee):
The Fellowship of Reconciliation, the oldest, interfaith peace and justice organization in the nation, believes that the current situation in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the threat of a new war in Iran, compel people of conscience to speak out in support of the fundamental right of dissent from participation in any form of armed conflict.
The FOR further believes that many young people are induced to enlist in the military by unscrupulous and even fraudulent tactics used by military recruiters.
For these reasons, the Fellowship of Reconciliation and allied organizations in the I Will Not Kill campaign will hold a Congressional briefing on conscientious objection and military recruitment practices in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, May 16, 2006 from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. The briefing will be held in Room 1116 of the Longworth House of Representatives Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515, and will be hosted by the office of Representative Cynthia McKinney (D-GA)
The purpose of this briefing is to provide both a historical overview of the right of conscientious objection and a survey of current issues and problems confronting individuals who elect to dissent from military service.
“In a time of national turmoil and deep engagement in wars, we hold that the refusal to kill and participate in armed conflict is a fundamental right, and a moral necessity,” said Ibrahim Ramey, Disarmament Coordinator at the Fellowship of Reconciliation.
“We uphold this right and seek for others to become more familiar with the right of conscientious objection,” he said.
Presenters at the briefing include: Oscar Castro of the American Friends Service Committee’s Youth and Militarism Program; Ibrahim Ramey of the Fellowship of Reconciliation; Rev. Graylan S. Hagler of Washington, D.C., Steve Theberge from the War Resisters League; Jose Vasquez of Iraq Veterans Against the War; Matthew Ochalek of Pax Christi USA; Theo Sitther from the Center on Conscience and War; Elandria Williams of the Unitarian Universalist Youth; Arlene Inouye of the National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth; and Tim Godshall of National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund. There will also be a special presentation by Monica Benderman, wife of imprisoned military conscientious objector U.S. Army Sgt. Kevin Benderman.
I'm not expecting that to get a lot of attention but I hope I'm wrong. I also think it's important to know about it whether it gets covered in tomorrow's papers or not. (I haven't heard or seen anything on it on radio or TV.)
"Report: Government Tracks Phone Calls of Journalists" (Democracy Now!):
In other news, a senior federal law enforcement official has admitted to ABC News that the government is now tracking phone calls made by journalists in an attempt to find out who is leaking information to the media. According to the report the government has focused on journalists from the New York Times, the Washington Post and ABC News. The disclosure comes just days after USA Today reported that Verizon, BellSouth and AT&T have handed over the phone records of millions of customers to the National Security Agency. On Monday one of the companies -- BellSouth -- denied giving the NSA customer calling records.
Help me out here. As I understood the story, nothing was being physically handed over, the information was being directly routed to the NSA. I take BellSouth's denial of something they haven't been accused of as meaning that the reports are true. For more on that, I've got a highlight.
"FBI Said to Seek Phone Records of News Reporters" (John Nichols, The Online Beat, The Nation):
To be sure, the Bush-Cheney administration would not be the first to go after journalists in order to protect itself from challenges to its authority. President John Adams actually jailed journalistic critics in the early days of the Republic, provoking the crisis that would make him the first president to be defeated for reelection. President Richard Nixon produced an "enemies list" that included the names of prominent journalists such as Daniel Schorr.
This could mark a turning point for the usually pliant Washington press corps, however.
White House reporters are by any measure a docile lot, and there is no question that the Bush-Cheney administration has benefited tremendously from the frequently stenographic reporting of even its most outlandish spin by unquestioning national correspondents -- two words: "Judith Miller." But it is difficult to imagine, especially with the approval ratings for the president and vice president dipping to depths previously explore by Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew in their darkest days, that Washington reporters will take kindly to being spied on by an administration bent to shutting up confidential sources.
Historically, this has happened before. It was also stopped before and needs to be stopped now. I'm appalled by the slide we've rushed down where everything's suddenly okay: torture, spying, internment, lying, you name it. Is there anything left for our government to stand for?
Al Qaeda isn't destroying us, the Bully Boy is. Americans need to get serious about whether or not democracy means anything to them because Bully Boy's steering us so far away from what we're supposed to value that I'm not sure we can recover -- not when Nancy Pelosi's rushing in to say "no" to impeachment. Read C.I.'s "NYT: Bell-South says, "No, we didn't!" and the Times runs with it" for more on that.
"Iraq snapshot" ("Democracy Now: Brian Ross discusses the spying on journalists," The Common Ills):
Chaos and violence continue as Reuters notes "Andrew Krepinevich, a retired army officer and professor at Washington's George Mason University, estimates that defeating the insurgency in Iraq would take at least a decade, hundreds of billions of dollars and longer casualty rolls."
And right now?
As Sandra Lupien noted on KPFA's The Morning Show, "At least 18 are dead after an attack on a garge . . . dozes are wounded." This happened in Baghdad and, as the Associated Press notes, before the attack on the garage/parking lot, the assailants "first shot five guards." The deaths and the injuries resulted from exploding "a parked oil tanker." Reuters notes that the fatality count has now risen to 19. The BBC notes that this takes place as Nouri Maliki attempts to meet the Monday deadline regarding forming his cabinet (constitutional deadline). Sources tell KUNA that the cabinet will be "announced in 24 hours and that the Foreign Ministry portfolio would go to Hushyar Zibari and Ahmad Al-Jalabi would assume the Interior Ministry."
Also in Baghdad, AFP reports that four corpses have turned up "including the body of a police officer reported kidnapped on Monday." CNN notes three (of the four) "shot in the head . . . tortured." CNN also notes an attack that killed 6 people "in the southern Hor Rijab Shi'ite district" of Baghdad. Reuters notes that the police's account and the account from the Interior Ministry differ on the attack. Reuters reports the death of four US military base workers who were killed when assailants "opened fire on their minibus." China's People's Daily Online reports the death of US soldier as a result of a roadside bomb.
Mark Oliver takes a look at the issue of the mental health of the British and American troops and notes a King's College London study which has found that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder effects many (4% of British and 20% American troops) and a finding "that 26% of reservists have mental health problems such as depression, compared to 19% of regular troops."
In Kirkuk, assailants attacked a police patrol killing two police officers. KUNA notes that police Captain Shuhab Ahmad Mohammad and his brother Envoy Qasin Ahmad Mohammad were assasinated when gunmen "opened fire" on his car. KUNA also notes that Dr. Adnan Abbas Hashimi was killed "in front of his clinic in Mosul." In Kerbala, Reuters notes a corpse was discovered "blindfolded and handcuffed," while an Egyptian who worked in a bakery was killed by unidentified assailants.
The Times of London reports that Christian Peace Teammakers have made the decision to discontinue their work on the ground in Iraq, "evacuated its volunteers and warned they might not return" and Kim Sengupta (in London's Independent) provides a look at Joseva Lewaicei and Adam Morris, two British soldiers who died in Iraq.
All of this as Ian Bruce reports ("US Spells out plan to bomb Iran," Scotland's Herald):
THE US is updating contingency plans for a non-nuclear strike to cripple Iran's atomic weapon programme if international diplomacy fails, Pentagon sources have confirmed.
[. . .]
The main plan calls for a rolling, five-day bombing campaign against 400 key targets in Iran, including 24 nuclear-related sites, 14 military airfields and radar installations, and Revolutionary Guard headquarters.
At least 75 targets in underground complexes would be attacked with waves of bunker-buster bombs.
C.I. passed on that Ciny Sheehan and Anthony Arnove are both going to be on KPFA's The Morning Show tomorrow morning so, if you're able to listen (airwaves or online) please make a point to.
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