Saturday, June 03, 2006

The spin goes on

Good morning. Mike and I both took Friday evening off. I had plans and Nina was wanting to do something fun, so they did. But he is posting today so please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts.

"New Video Backs Claims of US Massacre in Ishaqi" (Democracy Now!):
New evidence has emerged in the case of another alleged massacre of Iraqi civilians at the hands of US troops. The BBC has obtained video footage bolstering accusations first made by Iraqi police that US troops murdered eleven civilians in the town of Ishaqi in March. The dead included five children and four women and ranged in age from 6 months to 75 years old. The Pentagon has insisted only four civilians died in the incident and that they were killed when their home collapsed during a gun battle. But according to the BBC, the new video shows a number of dead adults and children with visible gunshot wounds. Democracy Now covered this story in March. We spoke with Knight Ridder reporter Matthew Schofield in Baghdad. He first obtained the Iraqi police report that accused US troops of the civilian killings.
Matthew Schofield: "We were talking with the police officer who was first on the scene earlier today. He explained the scene of arriving. He said they waited until U.S. troops had left the area and it was safe to go in. When they arrived at the house, it was in rubble. I don't know if you've seen the photos of the remains of the house, but there was very little standing. He said they expected to find bodies under the rubble. Instead, what they found was in one room of the house, in one corner of one room, there was a single man who had been shot in the head. Directly across the room from him against the other wall were ten people, ranging from his 75-year-old mother-in-law to a six-month-old child, also several three-year-olds -- a couple three-year-olds, a couple five-year-olds, and four other -- three other women. Lined up, they were covered, and they had all been shot. According to the doctor we talked to today, they had all been shot in the head, in the chest. A number of -- you know, generally, some of them were shot several times. The doctor said it's very difficult to determine exactly what kind of caliber gun they were shot with. He said the entry wounds were generally small and round, the exit wounds were generally very large. But they were lined up along one wall. There was a blanket over the top of them, and they were under the rubble, so when the police arrived, and residents came to help them start digging in, they came across the blankets. They came across the blankets. They picked the blankets up. They say, at that point, that the hands were handcuffed in front of the Iraqis. They had been handcuffed and shot."

Though the US military is apparently attempting a whitewash by releasing a report on Friday, the Iraqi government is planning on conducting their own investigation. Since it's a puppet government, who knows how that will go? It's pretty disgusting.

"Iraqi PM: US Killings of Iraqis 'Daily Phenomenon'" (Democracy Now!):
Meanwhile, Iraq's Prime Minister has lashed out at the US military over what he has called the "daily phenomenon" of US attacks on Iraqi civilians. In an interview with the New York Times, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki said many troops "do not respect the Iraqi people." Maliki went on to say: "They crush them with their vehicles and kill them just on suspicion. This is completely unacceptable."

What's unacceptable is the refusal by some Americans to look at the occupation and see what actually has happened to Iraqis under it.

There's a point C.I. made that's very true: the big "news" today is that a military investigation cleared troops. Most people will see that and not give the matter another thought. That's very sad and I do think it was leaked as part of a p.r. campaign to combat the reporting on Haditha.

To read that point? Well, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man, C.I. of The Common Ills and of The Third Estate Sunday Review, and Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix took part in a conversation that's up at their sites and it's a pleasure to read. You can use any of the following links to read it:

"roundtable with cedric, betty, c.i. and myself participating"
"news via Democracy Now and a conversation in three parts"
"A conversation in three parts"
"Focusing on the paper to avoid my husband"

I'll wind down with the following.

"Iraq snapshot" ("Democracy Now: Nukes, Gentrification," The Common Ills):
Chaos and violence.
There are at least three alleged incidents in Iraq that are under some form of investigation. (Remember that The Christian Science Monitor asked mid-week whether or not the military could investigation itself.) For two who were confused by the new ones noted last night, there is Haditha. Haditha took place November 19, 2005 and resulted in the deaths of twenty-four civilians. This is the one Rep. John Murtha has spoken of and that has had the most attention and media focus. Next, there is Ishaqi which took place in March 15th of this year. For background refer to Democracy Now!'s March report as well as the BBC's report on a tape that has turned up which appears to refute the US military claims. In that incident, the official version is that "four people died during a military operation" when a building that was on fire collapsed on them while the version put foward by Iraqi police is that "US troops had deliberately shot the 11 people." The third incident under attention currently took place on April 26th of this year in Hamandiya this is where one man died and US troops are accused of planting a shovel and gun on him while insisting that he was attempting to plant a roadside bomb. This is the incident that David S. Cloud (NYT) reported "[m]ilitary prosecutors are preparing murder, kidnapping and conspiracy chargs against seven marines and a Navy corpsman" for. Kidnapping? When Jim Miklaszewski reported it for NBC Sunday, he noted that the allegations included taking the man from his home, murdering him and then attempting to hide their own actions by planting the shovel and gun on him.
Those are the three incidents currently under some form of investigation and media light.
On the middle item, Jonathan Karl of ABC News (ABC, United States) is reporting that with regards to the events in Ishaqi, "military officials have completed their investigation and have concluded U.S. forces followed the rules of engagement." Which one is that? This is the one that BBC only recently reported having a tape of. One might argue far too recently for "military officials" to have "completed" anything that could pass for a full investigation. Or, as Australia's ABC puts it, "But a video obtained by the BBC shows evidence that the people were shot." Among the dead so-called insurgents in this incident that alleged followed "the rules of engagement," Australia's ABC reports were "a 65 year old grandmother and a six-month old baby." The Independent of London summarizes thusly: "But the BBC said its tape, which comes in the wake of the alleged massacre in Haditha in November, showed a number of dead adults and children at the site with gunshot wounds."
Pressure on the Iraqi prime minister and puppet of the occupation, Nuri al-Maliki, has led to his announcing that Iraq will launch their own investigation. As Ferry Biedermann notes in the Financial Times of London, this investigation is supposed to "look into other allegations of misconduct by the US-led forces in Iraq and the way troops behave toward the civilian population after they have come under attack." The Guardian of London reports that al-Maliki informed US ambassador to Iraq (and puppet master) Zalmay Khalilzad of this decision "during a visit to a power station."
Meanwhile, the AFP reports on a Friday lunch between Tony Blair (prime minister of England, lap dog of the Bully Boy) and Romano Prodi (newly elected prime minister of Italy). During the lunch, "Prodi stressed there was no going back on his decision to pull troops out" of Iraq. Presumably Tony Blair choked only on hard feelings since there's no report of a Heimlich being performed.
The AFP reports that at least four people were killed and fifty wounded "in twin blasts targeting a Friday morning animal market in downtown Baghdad." Reuters reports two other roadside bombs, one that wounded two police officers and the other that killed two people and injured four.
Pay attention to what Sandra Lupien noted on KPFA's The Morning Show this morning, Donald Rumsfeld said "Things that shouldn't happen, do happen in combat."Finally, CBS and the AP report that CBS reporter Kimberly Dozier, wounded in Iraq, has been taken "off her respirator and [is] breathing on her own" as of this morning.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006


A number of e-mails came in on yesterday's post. Every one was positive but a few wondered if there was any negative reaction? There was one visitor who needs to go back and re-read what I wrote. He'll have a problem with anything I say and that's his problem. But if he wants to berate me for what I wrote, he needs to first grasp what it is I wrote. Should he read this, he's been blocked from my e-mail account so he'll have to find someone else to distort and gripe at.
Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts on today's headlines.

"U.S. Sends 1500 More Troops Into Iraq; Italy to Pull Out All Troops" (Democracy Now!):
In Iraq it now appears the United States will be unable to reduce the number of troops it has on the ground this year due to the increasing violence and the decision by several countries to begin withdrawing troops. On Monday, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, ordered the deployment of fifteen hundred more troops from Kuwait into Iraq. Meanwhile Italy has announced it would pull out its 2600 troops by year's end and South Korea plans to bring home one thousand troops. Once Italy pulls out, Britain and South Korea will be the only nations besides the United States to have more than one thousand troops in Iraq.

After the so-called election in Iraq, we were told that the number of troops would be drawn down. But that's not the direction that things are heading. The so-called coalition of the willing continues to dwindle and that means, if the United States is going to continue the illegal occupation, the United States will have to bear the obligation. People should be paying attention and asking themselves how much they're willing to tolerate because until we oppose the war in loud numbers with plenty of activism, the war will drag on (as Donovan sings).

"Over 50 Die in Series of Iraq Bombings" (Democracy Now!):
On Tuesday a car bomb exploded near a bus stop north of Baghdad killing at least twenty-five people. In Hilla, another twelve people died in a car bombing. And a third bomb killed ten people outside a Baghdad bakery.

Over fifty dead. This is the illegal occupation. There's not been a "turned corner" -- despite the many waves of Operation Happy Talk. There won't be, short of slaughtering every Iraqi, because an occupied people resists. Installing a puppet government (with exiles) doesn't increase credibility anymore than their being mouthpieces for the US administration. By the way, please read C.I.'s "NYT: "Files Contradict Account of Raid in Iraq" (Eric Schmitt & David S. Cloud)" and we need laughter so please read Wally's "THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY ALMOST READY FOR BIKINI SEASON!"

C.I. passed on two items to Mike and I. Mike got the better of the two (and I'm betting C.I.'s enjoying picturing what we'll write on both.)

"Haditha Means Time to End Iraq War" (Ruth Conniff, The Progressive):
Point-blank shootings of a seventy-seven-year-old grandfather in a wheelchair, a three-year-old, and a five-month-old baby and mother, who was apparently pleading for mercy when she was killed, are some of the casualties. Not, as The New York Times first reported--giving the Marine Corps' official version of events--armed insurgents. The original Times story said that a roadside bomb aimed at a U.S. convoy killed 20 Iraqis, and a firefight between U.S. troops and insurgents killed several more.
According to a news analysis piece in
Editor and Publisher, "U.S. Military Admits Iraq Massacre--Months After Press Reported it", Time magazine broke the massacre story in the United States last March, months after a video shot by a local journalism student and witness testimony to human rights groups had been reported in the Arab press. A.P. and Knight Ridder followed Time's lead.
Now more details of the Pentagon investigation are leaking out, showing My Lai-like behavior by Marines on a rampage in the insurgent-dominated town of Haditha.

That's about all I can agree with in Conniff's column. As someone who speaks with Iraqi vets and treats them, I'm not going to get behind the rest of it. There's an obvious analogy here that I avoided making yesterday (and will today) because it's so highly charged. However, the fact remains that people are responsible for their actions. The Bully Boy created the environment for what happened. One can argue he put the gun in their hands without much debate. But the trigger wasn't pulled by the Bully Boy.

I speak to vets who are pleased with what they did over there and those who aren't pleased, but their needs to be ownership of each individual's own activities. Take it back to childhood, if you need to, and your parents' questions of "Just because everyone else --" and it's quite clear that we live in a society where we do factor in outside factors (as we should) but we also have an obligation for our own actions. When counseling patients, we discuss outside factors, we also discuss their own involvement. With the permission of, and due to their request, the group session I do with vets each week, I will note that they are "appalled" by the Haditha actions. Some in the group have problems with actions they took part in. They are addressing those issues. But there is will be no attempts at dealing with actions by denying them or by turning over ownership.

Ambulances have been attacked in Iraq, health care workers have been attacked, innocents have been killed at check points. With every occurrence we are told that these are the casulities of war and that it just happens. To turn the horror of Haditha into another 'happen-stance' is shirking our own responsibility. Anyone who's visited this site, or read anything I've written for the gina & krista round-robin, knows I have no problem blaming the Bully Boy for anything. I blame him for the war, for lying us into it, for all the deaths, for the ongoing occupation. I blame him for creating the environment in which a horror like Haditha took place; however, that's not the end of the blame and to argue otherwise is to give a get-out-of-jail-free card to those on the ground and, which is the point the vets wanted me to make, to reduce everyone in the US military in Iraq down to nothing but unthinking pawns. Not everyone would participate in a slaughter and many have not.

Does that make them "better"? It makes them innocent of war crimes. Those participating in war crimes are responsible for their actions. So are their commanders and on up the chain of command. If you say "Well, it's not their fault" then forget chain of command because the issue goes no where -- it doesn't have to because when things happen that are not our falut, they aren't crimes, they are accidents.

We don't generally punish accidents. The participants should not be "scape goated" in the sense that they should not be punished and the punishment should end with them. But they should be punished. Denying that punishment is denying the value of the lives of the Iraqis -- those who were killed and those who still remain alive.

It also denies the fact that not everyone serving in Iraq is engaged in war crimes. Those who are engaging them need to be punished (with the punishment carried up the chain of command). By refusing to express the justified outrage over the actions of Haditha, we're honoring no one. Not the Iraqis who lost their lives and not the troops who haven't engaged in such behavior.

By acting as those "It's just one of those things that happen" we're encouraging other events while devaluing the service of others.

The war is immoral and illegal. That goes straight to the Bully Boy who lied us into war and keeps us over there. His practices should be exposed (including teleconfrences that we've only recently learned Donald Rumsfeld had with Abu Ghraib). We can feel sympathy for those who are put in a situation that leads to choices of how to respond. But the choices they make are their own and accountability includes being accountable for murder.

"Iraq snapshot" ("Democracy Now: Electronic Voting and Citizen Journalism," The Common Ills):
Chaos and violence continue while Bully Boy strikes a pose appearing to be "troubled" by the Haditha slaughter. This as the Brookings Institute and the American Enterprise Institute find common ground as both present spokespersons who say the Bully Boy walks away from the scandal with no harm, no foul to his own image. Ann Clwyd, who both lives in a dream world and holds the post of the UK's human rights envoy to Iraq (a comical title in and of itself), falls back on the 'few bad apples' defense as she likens Haditha to Abu Ghraib.
While some fall back on mimimizing via denial and yet another wave of Operation Happy Talk, The Financial Times of London comments on both the revelations and the original cover up to address why comparisons are being made to the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. Also raising questions is The Christian Science Monitor which wonders whether or not the military can investigate itself and notes: "There is no position in the Department of Defense akin to an attorney general - someone whose job it is solely to follow up on credible allegations. Under the current system, investigations are convened by local commanders, who have many other duties - and perhaps conflicts of interest."
Meanwhile, Reuters reports, "A preliminary military inquiry found evidence that US Marines killed two dozen Iraqi civilians in an unprovoked attack in November, contradicting the troops' account." Reuters also notes a "defense official," Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrzas, stating that "Forensic data from corpses showed victims with bullet wounds, despite earlier statements by Marines that civilians were killed by a roadside bomb that also claimed the life of a Marine from El Paso, Texas."
The apparent lack of accountability at the top may be why Nuri al-Maliki, Iraqi prime minister and puppet of the occupation, bandies around terms like "iron fist" as he declares a month long "state of emergency" in Basra.
With another view, Iraq's former foreign minister and current member of parliment Adnan Pachachi declared, "There must be a level of discipline imposed on the American troops and change of mentality which seems to think that Iraqi lives are expendable." Also dissenting from the group think is Iraq's ambassador to the United States, Samir Shakir al-Sumaidaie, who said of the June 25th killing of a cousin in Haditha by American forces, "I believe he was killed intentionally. I believe he was killed unnecessarily. The marines were doing house-to-house searches, and they went into the house of my cousin. He opened the door for them. His mother, his siblings were there. He let them into the bedroom of his father, and there he was shot."
Interviewed today by C.S. Soong on KPFA's Against The Grain, author Anthony Arnove (IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal) stated of the allegations of the November slaughter in Haditha, "In fact they just underscore the fact that the longer the United States stays, the more harm it causes to the people of Iraq. The situation in Haditha is a symptom of an occupation. Just as the torture we saw exposed in the Abu Ghraib detention facilities is a sympton of a much deeper problem."
This as the Associated Press reports that American forces shot and killed two women, one of them pregnant, at a checkpoint today in Baghdad. Nabiha Nisaif Jassim, thirty-five-years-old, was being rushed to the hospital by her brother, Khalid Nisaif Jassim, with her cousin, Saliha Mohammed Hassan, also in the car. Both women were killed. The brother, who was driving, denies the US accounts that the area was a clearly marked check point. A US spokesperson e-mailed a weasel word statement to the Associated Press where they note that the woman "may have been pregnant." Naibha Nisaif Jassim was rushed to the maternity hospital (her intended destination) but both she and the child she was carrying died. A US spokesperson, emailing Reuters, called the deaths "a mistake."
AFP notes that "Over the past two days alone more than 100 people have been killed in a wave of bombings and shootings in Iraq." Noting another sadly common feature of the occupation, Reuters reports that forty-two corpses have been found dumped in the last twenty-four hours. Australia's ABC reports an attack in southern Iraq on an Australian military vehichle. The AFP notes an attack, in Baghdad, on a police station that lasted over an hour and led to the death of four civilians and the wounding of three police officers. Reuters reports a mortar attack in Baghdad that led to the death of nine people. In Muqdadiya, the mayor, his cousin and brother were all killed when the mayor's office was bombed today.
Though the heads of the ministries of defense and interior have still not been filled, the Turkish Press reports that three ministers will be replaced "because they do not have the proper qualifications or had not been cleared by the de-Baathification commission."
Reuters notes that CBS reporter Kimberly Dozier has had shrapnel removed from her head and remains in intensive care. Meanwhile the AFP reports that another journalist has been killed while he was leaving his home in Baghdad. Reporters Without Borders notes that sports reporter Jaafar Ali became "the third journalist to be killed in Iraq in the space of 48 hours and the 11th employee of the national TV station Al-Iraqiya to be killed since the start of the war in March 2003." This as UAE diplomat Naji al-Nuaimi left Iraq and returned home following his rescue from his two-week kidnapping that began May 16th. Finally, the AFP notes that "the latest indication that US hopes for a major troop drawdown this year were fading fast."

If you missed it, Cedric did address "The backstory" yesterday. (Sunny pointed out that I didn't provide links yesterday as I wrote I was doing. I was rushing and am tonight. Such is life.)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Hope everyone got a break yesterday. Please read Wally's "THIS JUST IN! HORN DOG BULLY BOY KEEPS ON TAPPING!" -- please, please and, again, please. Why? Because I'm not in a good mood with regards to one topic. You'll find no laughs here. The "left" police are out, hitting their batons against the palm of their hands. I'm not in the mood for that shit. I'll address it on the second item. Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts on today's headlines.

"Deadly Anti-U.S. Riots Hit Kabul, Afghanistan" (Democracy Now!):
In Afghanistan, thousands took part Monday in the most violent anti-U.S. protests in the capital of Kabul since the fall of the Taliban. The riots were sparked by a traffic accident involving a U.S. military truck. Within hours of the crash, protests had spread throughout the city. By day's end at least 14 people died and another 100 were wounded. Police stations were set on fire. Hotels came under attack. The office of CARE International was torched to the ground. Stores were ransacked. The U.S.--backed government imposed a night-time curfew for the first time in four years. Protesters called on the U.S. to end its occupation of Afghanistan.
Ajmal Jan: "We want America out of this country! we hate America! They have no responsibility! Their army wrong and they are driving on the road killing innocent people! We want America out of this country sooner or later! We hate America!!"
Meanwhile U.S. forces killed about 50 Afghans in an air strike in the town of Helmand in Southern Afghanistan. Over 400 people have now died in the region over the past 10 days.

Has Bully Boy brought peace anywhere outside of corporate boardrooms? We all noted that yesterday -- you can read it on any of our sites or you can read "News Roundup" at The Common Ills. C.I. gets the individual link because Cedric called me to explain what happened there. The plan was for us to do it together, which we did. Those who weren't able to participate "live" were supposed to prepare their items (Wally, Mike and Jim worked on the sports item) and e-mail it (to the private account for The Common Ills) and C.I., Ava and Jess would pull it together. That didn't happen. The thing was supposed to go up at any point after midnight on Monday morning. Due to a number of problems, it ended up being put together by C.I. and Dona. The whole point, the intended reasoning behind the entry, was that everyone would work together, it would be a joint entry and we'd have something to cover headlines (since Democracy Now! was doing the special programming on Memorial Day). I noted my section at eleven my time when C.I. was working on "And the war drags on . . ." and I feel so awful because, while we were on the phone talking, I asked C.I., "Are you really going to take the day off?" That was everyone's hope. A day off, any day, would be good but especially a Monday since The Third Estate Sunday Review always means an all nighter and, for C.I., it's then do the NYT entry at The Common Ills, post Isaiah's latest comic (the publishing on that -- especially to make sure tags are read -- requires taking at least thirty minutes of time) and turn around that night and do "And the war drags on . . ." C.I. said there'd be a Democracy Now! entry at some point on Monday but, otherwise, that would be it. There were some things to do in the morning and some major housekeeping chores Monday afternoon.

I've just deleted several paragraphs on this because I called Cedric to check and he is blogging on this tonight. So read Cedric's Big Mix tonight to learn how plans can go awry.

"Military Probe: Marines Killed 24 Iraqis in Haditha Massacre" (Democracy Now!):
Military investigators have determined that U.S. Marines wantonly killed unarmed Iraqi civilians -- including women and children -- in the city of Haditha last November. An internal investigation determined that the Marines fatally shot as many as 24 Iraqis and then tried to cover up the killings. One 10-year-old Iraqi girl said she watched Marines kill her mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, four-year-old cousin and two uncles. The incident is being compared to the massacre in My Lai during the Vietnam War. Several Marines involved in the killing are now being held in the Camp Pendleton brig in California. At least one Marine has spoken to the media about what he witnessed. Lance Cpl. Roel Ryan Briones told the Los Angeles Times he was not involved in the killings but took photographs and helped remove the dead bodies. Briones said "They ranged from little babies to adult males and females."

Now here's what has me upset. The story above is upsetting, no question. But I'm getting tired of the "left" police. In The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Editorial: The Reailities of Occupation," our opinion was summarized which is that the Bully Boy created the environment for this to happen. That's not in question. He did so by starting and waging an illegal war, he did so by the administration's much noted "take off the kid's gloves" approach. He did it by making a mockery out of conventions and treaties the United States has signed off on (as well as laws our Congress has passed). Trace it to the top, it's Bully Boy.

However, the "left" police don't want anyone to use the term "baby killer." It's not a term I would use personally. There are many terms I don't use, but what anyone else uses is their business. But, proving that bullies abound, a blow hard has stated he will come after anyone that uses the term.

Do you realize why we're in this war? Because people let these "taste makers" set the tone. If you missed the news, it wasn't a "few" children at Guantanamo, it was "more than sixty" according to the current reports. How did that happen? By letting Bully Boy abuse the language so everyone could feel safe and comfortable about what was going on.

"Detainees" when we're talking prisoners who are held without any legal conviction and kept without any legal rights. Laura Bush shows up to tell us how bombing the hell out of Afghanistan is going to be a good thing for Afghanistan women (when Laura Bush preaches her version of 'feminism,' the nation should know to be skeptical). Bully Boy grandstanded on what was "achieved" and no one could call him out on it. Post 9/11, the rules were set -- the mainstream media would allow no dissent.

So the reality emerges (or begins to) that there's no peace in Afghanistan. First clue should have been Tony Blair's repeated 'hope' to pull British troops from Iraq and send them to Afghanistan this year -- a hope that's now forgotten -- because if things were hunky dory in Afghanistan, there'd be no need for Blair to send more troops in.

Falluja is the slaughter that apparently will never be addressed. Now we've got another one. Here comes the "left" police to tell people what is and isn't acceptable.

Civilians were killed. That includes children. Don't try to water down anyone's remarks. Americans should be outraged and they don't need some blow hard, who apparently didn't live through the sixties but thinks he knows all about it, telling them which words are acceptable and which ones aren't.

What happened was disgusting and people have to process it in their own way, in their own terms. Following the "left" police's orders means another clampdown on what happened just like we can't seriously address Abu Ghraib. No question, Bully Boy, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, et al are responsible for that. They created the environment for it. But it's also true that responsibility goes to the "few bad apples." This wasn't controversial last decade.

A Few Good Men dealt with a group of soldiers who were "following orders" and didn't know any better. At the end, they're punished as well as Jack Nicholson and when one of them can't understand why, the other explains that a man died due to their actions, following orders or not.

But suddenly we're so soggy minded that we're not supposed to use a term?

If someone wants to use it, they should. I personally have no reason to use it. But they killed civilians. They killed children. Trying to "frame" it into acceptable (to the "left" police) terms doesn't change what happened. It does immediately start a clampdown.

We don't need to minimize or sugar coat torture or war crimes. Those men are war criminals if the press reports are true. ("War criminals" is the term I use.) I am sorry that they were put over there, that they were put in that position to begin with, but what happened is a crime of war. I'm sick of all the blustering boys who want to line up and scream at civilians about what should be said and what shouldn't. The blustering boys so eager to line up behind the military, that they themselves are not serving in, to prove their manhood.

Being a woman, I don't have to prove "manhood." By my professional training, I know that minimizing something, even just with language, hurts everyone. Hurts the participants, hurts the victims, hurts the understanding.

If the press reports are true, they're war criminals. That means they need to be punished. To argue otherwise is to say that it's okay that Iraqi civilians died. It's saying they are the "other" and they don't really matter. It's more important, according to this logic, that we rush in to say, "Poor boys, put in that position" than it is to have justice.

Instead of fretting over the language that may or may not be used (and your mythical crap notion of the sixties), you might try seriously examining yourself and asking what is about you that makes human life worth so little that when innocent people die, you're willing to not address that, but immediately rush in to say, "Hands off my boys!"

If that's you're way of looking at it, you're enabling war crimes, you're minimizing them and you should be ashamed of yourself.

It is a shame that anyone was sent over to Iraq for an illegal war, but don't trash the ones who are attempting to do a job by saying, "Oh well, it couldn't happen to anybody." No, it couldn't. No, it didn't. While I'm sure many similar crimes have taken place, I'm equally certain that everyone serving hasn't participated in them. We know that's the case with Abu Ghraib. Those involved committed war crimes.

You can have your panic over what you think the sixties were (probably learned from a lot of really bad, revisionist films) but don't kid yourself that you're doing anything to help because all your doing is minimizing what happened. You're clamping down on the discussion before it begins saying to Americans that free speech is out the window (how very Bully Boy of you) and saying that some lives have more value than others.

You're free to do whatever you want, but don't do all that and then try to claim that you're for stopping the war because those kind of actions allow to continue. That's what the peace movement's been up against since day one -- silly little slogans that we're all supposed to nod along with as opposed to addressing reality.

"Iraq snapshot" ("Democracy Now: Dahr Jamail and others on Haditha, discussion of East Timor," The Common Ills):
Chaos and violence continue.
Turkish Press notes that May has led to the "highest monthly death toll . . . since the US-led invasion" for England. So far, nine British troops have died this month in Iraq bringing their official total, since the beginning of the illegal invasion, to 113. This as Nuri al-Maliki, Iraqi prime minister and occupation puppet, is reported by Reuters to have said, "I'm giving them a final deadline to give their opinon on the candidates now."
al-Maliki was referring to his cabinet which still hasn't been fully staffed -- this depsite the May 22nd constitutional deadline having passed.
the US moves 1,500 more troops into Iraq, the Associated Press reports on what they've dubbed the "coalition of the dwindling." William J. Kole, reporting for the AP, notes Italy's statements that all of their troops will be pulled by year's end, South Korea's intent to "withdraw about 1,000 of its 3,200 soldiers" and Denmark's decision to pull 80 of its 530 troops from Iraq. Kole also notes that rumors that Japan will pull troops by year's end and Poland's continued evaluation of whether or not to keep their 900 troops in Iraq.
In Baghdad, the
Associated Press reports a mortar atatck ("fired by remote control from a cary near the Interior Ministry") resulted in the deaths of "two female employees" and wounded a police officer, "two janitors" and, from a mortar that "landed in a park," "two city workers." Reuters notes the wounding of "four policeman . . by a rocket which landed near the ministry." The BBC notes the death of a police officer, killed by a roadside bomb. Reuters notes that death and the wounding of three more police officers. Reuters reports the murder of a "preacher of a Sunni Mosque in the Shula district of the capital" Also murdered were four mechanics, reports the AFP. The BBC notes the discovery of three corpses ("blindfolded and handcuffed"). The AFP notes those three plus three more, including "the corpse of a policeman kidnapped two days earlier . . . [and] a taxi driver."
As noted
by Reuters and Sandra Lupien on KPFA's The Morning Show, in Hilla, a car bomb has resulted in deaths and wounded -- the current estimate is "at least 12" dead and at least "36 people . . . wounded." In Balad, Reuters notes the kidnapping of "an employee of the Oil Protection Facility."
And finally,
CBS News and the Associated Press report that the corpses of two US marines who have been missing since their helicopter crashed on Saturday have been found -- one corpse was found on Monday and the other today.

Monday, May 29, 2006

News for Memorial Day

Good morning, it's Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, 2006. Here are a collection of news stories put together by The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim;
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review;
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills);
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix;
Mike of Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz;
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen
and Dallas.

Starting with the Iraq snapshot.

In Baghdad Sunday, Sheik Osama al-Jadaan and at least one of his bodyguards is dead as a result of an ambush. al-Jadaan had been seen by some as an ally with the US administration. al-Jadaan and the bodyguard were among the at least nine Iraqis who were killed on Sunday, roadside bombs continued to be a party of Iraqi daily life and another daily feature continued as at least ten more corpses were found in Baghdad. There have been sixty American military deaths for the month of May bringing the fatality count to 2464 since the illegal invasion in March of 2003. In addition to American military helicopter pilots are missing, the AFP reports, after the helicopter crashed on Saturday. In Baquba, a new feature to the occupation emerged as three severed heads were flung out of a moving vehicle. Near Baquba, Monday has already seen eleven die from a bombing, Reuters reports. This as the United States Pentagon believes their investigation into the apparent slaughter of civilians in Haditha is winding down -- the estimated 24 civilians died in November. United States House Representative John Mutha maintains that what happened in November is as important as apparent attempts to cover up the events and to stall an investigation into them. United States Senator John Warner has stated that the Senate Arms Committee, which he chairs, will hold a full investigation into "what happened . . . when it happened . . . what was the immediate reaction of the senior officers."

Meanwhile Nouri al-Maliki, Iraqi prime minister, has failed to meet another one of his predicitions. He set a date for himself to establish his cabinet and he didn't meet it. He just managed to meet the constitutional deadline (May 22) for the cabinet but did so only by leaving posts vacant. Last week, he announced that he would be fill the vacant posts this weekend. Unless Iraq's having a three day weekend, he's again failed another of his own predicitions -- there remains no heads for the interior, defense and homeland security ministries.

This as Andy McSmith reports (Independent of London) that British troops in Iraq are now being attacked attacked sixty times a month since the start of the year, an increase of 26% since last year. This as the BBC reports that at least 1,000 British troops have deserted since the start of the illegal war.

In Indonesia, an earthquake on Saturday has now claimed the lives of at least 5115. Heavy rains are preventing some attempts at rescue. This as the Phillipines have been hit with an earthquake that measured 5.3 on the Richter scale -- no injuries or deaths are reported. The Indonesian earthquake was measured 6.2 on the Richter scale and the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) immediately went on alert with news of the quake. Aid agencies, including the Indonesian Red Cross, began providing assistance on Saturday including foods; however, as noted earlier, heavy rains are preventing some attempts at rescue and relief. IPS reports that this is Indonesia's worst disaster since the tsunami in December 2004 and that doctors and medical supplies are in short supply. "The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is launching an emergency appeal for 12 million Swiss francs ($9.79 million USD/ €7.68 million) to support the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) in providing assistance to the survivors of the earthquake." As noted on KPFA's Evening News Sunday, people are sleeping in the streets as they await emergency assistance and the United States government has pledged 2.5 million dollars while the Euopean Union has pledged 3.8 million dollars.
In the United States, fire fighters have discovered the body of another victim of last fall's Hurricane Katrina "in the rear laundry room" of a New Orleans house they were searching. The current official count of those killed by Hurricane Katrina is 1577.

In Afghanistan, a demonstration was held following a traffic incident. The BBC reports that four died when a US convoy entered rush hour traffic. The AP reports that three humvees were involved on the US side and quotes eye witness Mohammad Wali, "The American convoy hit all the vehicles which were in their way. They didn't care about the civilians at all." At least four demonstrators have died, shot by "U.S. and Afghan security forces."

Meanwhile, as the situation on the ground in East Timor grows more dangerous and deadly, the United Nations is relocating UN family members and non-essential staff to Darwin Australia. Last week, East Timor handed over security duties to Australian forces following shootings, houses being set on fire and other violence. East Timor's president and prime minister are holding talks to discuss resolutions to the current situation while crowds have gathered outside the presidential palace calling for the resignation of the prime minister. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Screscent Socities trace the current wave of violence to March of this year and are attempting to assist over 25,000 displaced persons. The IFRCRSS's estimates that 50,000 have left their homes due to the current violence. As the violence continues Australia's Federal Justice Minister Chris Ellison has been quoted as saying,"The United Nations, though, was the lead agency in all of this and the United Nations was, it had planned to pull out in a month's time. So I think really it's a question of the United Nations in this issue of whether people pulled out or not. It was the lead agency, not Australia." Peter Lewis reports that the New Zealand embassy in East Timor had to temporarily relocate the the Australian embassay due to threats from "armed thugs."

Yesterday, though the San Francisco Giants lost to the Colorado Rockies, Barry Bonds broke Babe Ruth's record for home runs. Bonds' 715 home runs now leaves him ahead of Ruth but behind Hank Aaron (755).

Though it seems long ago that Harriet Miers was in the running for the United States Supreme Court, those who remember the media coverage will remember Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht. The media friendly Hecht has received an admonishment from the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct for "improperly using his position" to promote Miers in an estimated "120 newspaper, TV and radio interviews" after he offered his services to the White House as some sort of go-to-guy for the media. Hecht is appealing the admonishment. In other United States governmental news, Feminist Wire Daily reports Brett Kavanaugh confirmation to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia "by a 57-36 vote." The Washington Post once described Kavanaugh as "a protege" of Kenneth Starr. In The Clinton Wars, Sidney Blumenthal recounts David Brock's statement that while watching the 1998 State of the Union address, Kavanaugh hissed "b*tch" at the TV when Hillary Clinton was shown onscreen. The co-author of the Starr Report now holds a lifetime seat on the court.

In news on the NSA warrantless, illegal spying on American citizens, Bully Boy is attempting to invoke the "state secrets privilege" to stop legal actions. The Center for Constitutional Rights Shayna Kadidal notes, "The Bush Administration is trying to crush a very strong case against domestic spying without any evidence or argument. This is a mysterious and undemocratic request, since the administration says the reason the court is being asked to drop the case is a secret. I think it's a clear choice: can the President tell the courts which cases they can rule on? If so, the courts will never be able to hold the President accountable for breaking the law. If the Executive Branch can secretly squash legal challenges to its conduct like this, then American democracy as we know it is in danger." The administration filed papers Friday arguing that "New York and Michigan to dismiss a pair of lawsuits filed over the National Security Agency's domestic eavesdropping program, saying litigating them would jeopardize state secrets." Also attempting to quash legal actions that might lead to further embarrasment is AT&T "which filed a 25-page legal brief" arguing that the Electronic Frontier Foundation's class action suit should be dismissed. The AT&T brief had contained redactions but a few simple computer steps allowed the redactions to be made visible. The brief does not confirm the existance of the secret room (reported on in Wired's "Whistle-Blower's Evidence, Uncut" and "AT&T's Implementation of NSA Spying on American Citizens, 31 December 2005") but argues that "'the same physical equipment could be utilized exclusively for other surveillance in full compliance with' the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act."

In other news, Amnesty is launching to highlight "governments using the net to suppress dissent."

In Cannes, director Ken Loach has won the prestigious Palme d'Or for his film on Ireland's fight for independence from England -- The Wind That Shakes the Barley. Reuters reports "The 69-year-old film maker told Reuters in an interview earlier in the festival that the Irish fight for independence against an empire imposing its will on a foreign people had resonances with the US occupation of Iraq today."

Amy Goodman noted the scheduled topic for today's Democracy Now! (noted on Thursday's Democracy Now!):

On Monday, we bring you an exclusive interview with British Lieutenant Commander Steve Tatham, former head of the British Royal Navy's Media Operations in the Northern Arabian Gulf during the Iraq invasion. He’s author of Losing Arab Hearts and Minds.

In addition to being able to watch it on TV or listen to it on the radio, remember that you can listen, watch or read (transcripts) online at Democracy Now!

This morning on KPFK (time given is PST):

Uprising! --Weekday Mornings from 8:00 to 9:00 am
Coming up on Uprising on Monday May 29th: A memorial day special with Stephen Kinzer on Overthrow : America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq.

This evening on WBAI (time given is EST):

7:00-midnight: Building Bridges-Your Community and Labor Report
With Mimi Rosenberg and Ken Nash, a five-hour marathon special featuring Greg Palast's latest investigative book, Armed Madhouse : Who's Afraid of Osama Wolf?, China Floats, Bush Sinks, The Scheme to Steal '08, No Child's Behind Left, and Other Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Class War.

Thought for the day from the Mamas and the Papas's "Too Late" (off the album The Papas & the Mamas) : "Cause when the mind that once was open shuts / And you knock on the door, nobody answers anymore/ When the love and trust has turned to dust/ When the mind that once was open shuts . . ." ("and no one can get in").