Saturday, September 16, 2006

Murtha, Medals, Parry and Iraq

Saturday morning. Early Saturday morning at that. Tonight was the discussion group (on Iraq). C.I. was kind enough to pass on about fifteen items that, if there had been more time today, would have made the snapshot. Since they didn't make the snapshot and since Mike and I both had the discussion group (and Rebecca already had her topic), C.I. thought we might be tired and needing something to grab from. I did. I'm exhausted. We went through and each picked out two so please visit Mikey Likes It! to read Mike's thoughts and see his choices.

"Murtha Lays the Dead at Rumsfeld's Door" (Jason Leopold, Truthout):
Democratic congressman John Murtha released a 12-page report outlining severe shortfalls plaguing the US Army as thousands of troops prepare to be deployed to Iraq.
Murtha, a 37-year Marine Corps veteran who entered the political arena in 1990, said Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld bears full responsibility for the military's consistent readiness failures and demanded that the Defense Secretary resign.
"Many Army combat and support units scheduled to deploy to Iraq in 2007 will have less than the required one year period for rest and re-training," the report says. "This is one of the key indicators that lead many Army officials to conclude that current deployment rates cannot be sustained without breaking the force."
Murtha publicized the report at a news conference Wednesday where he was joined by Congressman David Obey, D-Wisconsin. Murtha read the most explosive parts of the report, much of which is based on detailed, internal Army documents his staff requested over the past few months.
The findings are damning.
"In effect, the Army has become a 'hand-to-mouth' organization," Murtha said, reading from the report. "Its inability to get ahead of the deployment and training curves is rooted in the Secretary's miscalculations and blind optimism about troop and industrial surge requirements for the US occupation of Iraq."
Murtha added that "thousands of key Army weapons platforms - such as tanks, Humvees, Bradley Fighting Vehicles - sit in disuse at Army maintenance depots for lack of funding ... there are over 600 tanks - enough for one full Army division - sitting at Anniston Army Depot."

I was happy to grab Leopold's because I'd noted Murtha the last time I blogged ("ACLU, Peltier and Iraq"). There are so many attacks on Murtha lately. In fact, to try to stem the Not So Swift Floaties, Max Clealand and others are going to be part of a campaign next month (I believe next month). The same group that went after John Kerry now has their sights set on Murtha.

On the topic of elections, Billie listened to a show Robert Parry (Consortium News) was a guest on in June and e-mailed all of us a mini-transcript. This was back in June, that the show aired. Parry was speaking of the beancounters (he mentioned Carville by name) and how they assumed that if they could get that 52% leaning towards them, the Dems would win. But the reality, Parry pointed out, was that the Republicans launch attacks at the last minute (aided by the media) and three or so percent can get lost in the last minute smear campaigns. He made some really strong points which surprised me only because he was discussing elections. Rebecca gifts with his books. I am sure I have all of his books (I think there are four) on my shelves. He's a strong writer and I've enjoyed the books. But he's written of Iran-Contra and the Bush family, and topics such as that from a journalist's perspective so I was surprised -- not that he could observe the problem (which is up his alley), but that he had recommendations.

I doubt they'll be listened to. There's a whole cottage industry of bean counters and, as C.I.'s pointed out (sometime in November of 2004, I'm too tired to hunt it down but it's part of the four-part "Red" State series), the bean counters really don't care about a huge turn out. They want those easy numbers they can massage which is why they target the easy voters who will turn out to vote hell or high water. It's easier for them to try to peel off swing-voters than to work to actually come up with a campaign that will bring in new voters or voters who've grown disenchanted with the candidates (the watered-down candidates).

Reading the transcript, I didn't just think, "Parry's made some good observations"; I also feared that his words could very well be an explanation of why the Democrats lose in November. I hope I'm wrong. I also believe Parry talked about the need to build a team of candidates via the states but that was a point C.I. made so I may be confusing Parry's comments with the four-part series. It's too late for me to be blogging and offering any semblance of coherence.

"Two few Medal of Honors ... Will Tai Shan stay? ... More" (Lisa Hoffman, Scripps Howard News Service):
Gripes are growing in the ranks of some U.S. troops and veterans about the virtual absence of Medals of Honor bestowed upon a growing list of those who have performed extraordinary acts of combat valor in Iraq and Afghanistan.
So far, just one of the nation's top decorations has been awarded, and that was posthumously to Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith, who died in the early days of the war while protecting fellow soldiers from enemy attack near the Baghdad airport.
Critics are especially ticked that no living hero has been selected for the award, and note that - if the medal were awarded at the same rate at which it was during the Vietnam War - at least 30 would have been presented so far.
The Pentagon says the process for awarding Medal of Honors is necessarily painstaking, but is proceeding.

When I read that, I thought of C.I.'s "'Soldier describes anguish in revealing murder allegations' (Gregg Zoroya)" on Zoroya's article about Justin Watt. Watt came forward when he found out what was allegedly done to Abeer and her family. Where is his medal of honor? By coming forward, doesn't he deserve one? Isn't that a core value that the military instills? Isn't bravery something they applaud and responsibilty? If it weren't for Justin Watt, the 'story' would still be that Abeer, her parents and her sister were killed by 'insurgents.'

I also wonder about the lack of medals and whether it has anything to do with the fact that the Bully Boy has none? He always seems to be engaged in games of one-up-manship. Was John Howard, Australia's Prime Minister, the leader Bully Boy needed to say was ugly? Or was it fat? Or something else? He does that all the time. Press conferences are a joke with the press licking his boots and him trying to make them laugh. So is the low rate of medals resulting from the fact that Bully Boy's competative instincts make him feel less than those he'd hand out the medals too?

On the press conference Friday, can someone do something about his hands. I know he's trying to look "manly," but he just looked, as he pivoted with palms facing, as though he were about to break out in a cheer of "Ready? Okay!" I thought Kat's "Ann Richards" called it correctly: "So Ann Richards, the woman Bully Boy wishes he were -- but he's not fit to carry her pumps."

That's it for me this morning.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, September 15, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq and among the dead are US troops; the count of discovered corpses in Baghdad continue to rise, meanwhile the latest US 'answer' is "Castle!"; war resister Darrell Anderson prepares to return to the United States; and
Camp Democracy continues in Washington, DC.
Starting with the violence (stick around for the 'answer'),
CBS and AP report that five US troops died on Thursday ("making it a particularly bloody day for U.S. forces" -- well not to the New York Times) and that a marine has died today in al Anbar province. al Anbar? For those who missed it, Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) reported Monday that that Marine Col Pete Devlin's assesment "that the prospects for securing that country's western Anbar province are dim and that there is almost nothing the U.S. military can do to improve the political and social situation there, said several military officers and intelligence officials familiar with its contents." Today Will Dunham (Reuters) reports: "U.S. commanders in Iraq have demoted their long effort to subdue insurgents in Anbar province . . . 'Baghdad is our main effort right now,' Army Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the top U.S. operational commander in Iraq, told Pentagon reporters in a briefing from Iraq."
Staying with the violence.
A senior Interior Ministry official
remarks to Reuters, on the continued discovery of corpses, "Forty bodies, 60 bodies -- it's become a daily routine." Friday started with Rebecca Santana (AP) noting the discovery of 30 corpses in Baghdad. AFP gives the announced figures for the last three days as 64 (Wednesday), 20 (Thursday) and 51 (last 24 hours). In addition to those corpses which were discovered in Baghdad, Reuters reports that in Mussayab a corpse "with a missing head" was discovered.
Reuters reports one person was shot dead and five others wounded in Baghdad. AP reports the incident: "In central Baghdad, a gunman opened fire from the top of an abandoned building in a Sunni Arab neighborhood, killing an Iraqi civilian and wounding five others, said police Lt. Ahmed Mohammed Ali."
Reuters reports a car bomb in Mosul that left nine wounded, while, in Mussayab, a roadside bomb "late on Thursday" left three police officers wounded.
In addition,
Al Jazeera reports that a US soldier is missing after Thursday's car bombing in Baghdad that left two troops dead on Thursday and 25 others wounded. AP raises the wounded from that bombing to 30 and notes the missing soldier "has been reported as Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown".
AFP reminds: "The United Nations has also warned that Iraq could slide into civil war as the daily bloodshed shows no signs of abating despire political efforts for national reconciliation." CBS and AP report that John Bolton told the UN Security Council yesterday "that Iraq's sectarian killings and kidnappings had increased in the last three months, along with a rise in the numbef of displaced people."
So where does it stand? Even John Bolton's sounding alarms, US troops are pulling out of al Anabar,
Reuters reports that the 147,000 American troops in Iraq are "the most since January," and the violence and chaos continue.
But don't fret 'a new plan' finally emerges as the 'answer.'
It's being called trenches which is really implying something it's not. When people think of trenches, they tend to think of trench warfare. What's being described is more along the lines of a mote --
AFP reports that Brigadier General Abdel Karim Khalaf described it this way, "We will surround the city with trenches. The entry to the captial will be permitted through 28 roads, as against 21 at the moment, but at the same time we will seal off dozens of other minor roads with access to Baghdad."
Quote: "We will surround the city with trenches." That's the 'new plan.' Baghdad goes from capital to castle. But not overnight.
Al Jazeera notes "an operation of this scale would take months to complete."
In the real world,
Cal Perry (CNN) takes a look at the wounded US troops ("more than 20,000" have been "wounded in Iraq") at the 10th Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad.
In peace news,
Courage to Resist has reported that war resister Darrell Anderson will return to the United States (from Canada): "Support is mounting for Darrell and his courageous stand. Two events are planned in conjunction with his return to the U.S. In Fort Erie on Saturday, Septemeber 30 at Noon there will be a rally in Lions Sugar Bowl and then supporters, including Iraq war veterans and military family members, will accompany Darrell as he crosses the border back into the U.S. over Peace Bridge."
Other peace actions are going on and will be going on including a three-day event in NYC that begins this evening at 7:00 pm, continues Saturday at 7:00 pm and concludes on Sunday at 3:00 pm. What is it? The People Speak directed by Will Pomerantz and Rob Urbinati. This is a workshop adaptation of
Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove's Voices of a People's History of the United States. The workshop will take place at The Culture Project's Bleecker Street Theater on 45 Bleecker Street. Tickets are ten dollars and can be ordered online here or here or purchased in person at the box office (box office does not take ticket orders). For those in NYC, or who will be during those dates, click here for a map. The presentation is part of the Impact Festival.
In Washington, DC,
Camp Democracy continues, free and open to the public. Today's events have focused on Electoral Reform and include an 8:00 pm (EST) showing of the film Stealing America, Vote by Vote." Among those speaking today were Bob Firtakis. Saturday is peace day and will include Kevin Zeese, Nadine Bloch, Allison Hantschel. CODEPINK's Gael Muphy will report on the visit to Jordan at the start of last month to meet with Iraqis as well as the trip to Lebanon. And war resister Ricky Clousing will discuss the court-martial he's facing. (This may be the first major discussion he's given publicly on the topic since August 11th.)
And on Sunday,
Camp Democracy will host a number of events and the theme will be Impeachment Day. Among those participating: Elizabeth Holtzman, Michael Avery, Ray McGovern, David Green, John Nichols, Marcus Raskin, Elizabeth De La Vega, Dave Lindorff, David Swanson, Jennifer Van Bergen, Geoff King, David Waldman, Dan DeWalt, Steve Cobble, Anthony St. Martin, Cindy Bogard, Mubarak Awad, Susan Crane, Frank Anderson. The camp has daily activities and admission is free. A complete schedule can be found here. Free and open to the public with daily activites.
Finally, in Australia,
ABC reports that Brendan Nelson (Defence Minister) will be expanding their role in Iraq when "Italian forces withdraw at the end of next month." Reuters notes this will be 20 troops added to "the extra 38 troops announced on Sept. 4". The 58 need to be weighed next to the intent, as Dan Box (The Australian) reported earlier this week, the Australian government wants to up the army from 2,600 to 30,000 ("its biggest intake since the Vietnam war")