Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Joshua Frank, Monica Benderman

I really didn't think I'd need to still be noting that the Pelosi measure is a joke (the Senate measure even more so); however, I made the mistake of listening to Democracy Now! today. It's quoted in the snapshot (excerpted in full at the end). So the issue for me is why has independent media been so reluctant to proble the Pelosi measure and instead rushing to repeat the angle the mainstream media pimps? I thought we were supposed to have some of living, breathing independent media? Can anyone find it? Is it trapped in a coal mine, gasping for air?
Joshua Frank details how it was foolish for anyone to expect the Democrats to do a thing on Iraq. I enjoyed that part of the column but I wanted to note this section even more.

"The Democrats Strike Again" (Joshua Frank, CounterPunch):
Fortunately these are the sorts of betrayals that fuel activists like Cindy Sheehan and CODEPINK in to putting their energy in opposing the Democratic leadership. Nancy Kricorian, who manages CODEPINK's
ListenHillary.org, a site dedicated to challenging Sen. Clinton's stance on the Iraq war, recently told me why she believes it is imperative that we take on the Democratic stalwarts like Hillary Clinton.
"Hillary is the current Democratic frontrunner for the Presidential nomination and because she is one of the most powerful people in the Party so we feel it is important to hold her accountable for her voting record on and her public statements about Iraq," Kricorian said. "We hope that by pressuring her to change her stance ... we will have an impact on the [Democrats]. We are tired of convoluted rhetoric and empty words -- we want Hillary and the Democrats to stop buying Bush's war."
Cindy Sheehan reiterated a similar line when I recently spoke with her. "We need to take Hillary and (Nancy) Pelosi on to reflect true progressive anti-war values, not AIPAC or neocon values," she said. "It is important to keep the pressure on her and the others, because number one, she needs to be exposed, and two, she needs to know that we are not fooled by her."
As Election Spectacle 2008 takes center stage over the next year, let's not buy the Democratic bull that they are going to do anything substantial to end the war in Iraq, even if Barack, Hillary, and rest of the gang promise as much. We gave them an antiwar mandate and they still want to give Bush the sole authority in deciding when the time is right to bring the troops home and billions more to continue the war.
The Democrats aren't a party of opposition, but a party of capitulation.

Exactly true. The heat needs to be kept up on the Dems and the ones who enable them with lies and cover. I'm not accusing Amy Goodman of lying or covering for them. I think she honestly doesn't know what the bill says. I think that's sad and hope that, tomorrow, Dennis Kucinich can enlighten her (and the show's audience which has yet to hear the truth).

Someone asked why I wasn't noting United for Peace and Justice? Note, I didn't just link to it. C.I. heard or read a report by Aaron Glantz that UPJ should be objecting to. "Glimmer of light"? Until they do, don't expect me to promote them. Yes, on their website they're calling out the nonsense in Congress. But if they feel Glantz' article or on air report accurately portrays them, then I'm not doing anything to advance them. (I am a big supporter of UPJ. But don't do one thing on the website and go along with a report where it appears that you and others see a ray of sunshine in the cowardice that is the Pelosi measure.)

I'm not in the mood for it. People better wise up that the peace movement's not going to take one betrayal after another. That includes a group I support who came out strong with a quote that a reporter has 'fit' into his report to demonstrate how happy peace groups are with the Pelosi resolution. The group needs to call that article out. The title, the opening paragraph set up the group (regardless of the strong remarks a spokesperson makes against the measure) as supporting the Pelosi measure. They need to call that article out.

We're not in the mood for it. Those of us who have rallied and marched and demonstrated for over four years are not in the mood for it.

We need to see real strength and real leadership. The mainstream media is happy to join the Dem leadership in Congress and pimp this as a measure that (a) will bring the troops home (which is what Amy Goodman said it would do when she spoke of it today -- it doesn't) so (b) don't worry about it. It's basically a How I Stopped Marching And Learned To Love Eternal War. That's what the coverage is doing. You have people, and I've had friends call about it, who think the Dems really have done something, believe the hype that has been passed off as truth.
They think it's a "victory" and the marches need to go onto other things. Then I have to be the wet blanket that breaks reality down for them.

So as long as even independent media is going to continue to pimp this nonsense, I guess we'll have to keep noting that the bill has no teeth. The benchmarks will be decided by the Bully Boy, not Congress. There's not one binding thing in there, he's given a way to weasel out every time.

"On Ending War" (Monica Benderman, CounterPunch):
It is time to bring the war to an end and to begin the process of bringing our soldiers home. But the community of Hinesville knows there is much about this country that is not ready for the return of 200,000 combat weary members of the military. The soldiers of the 3rd Infantry have been to war three times in the past five years. Many of the members of the 3rd Infantry were in Afghanistan before being sent to the invasion of Iraq rather than redeployed home. The community of Hinesville was here for the soldiers when their families were told they would be stop-lossed in Iraq for months past their scheduled return dates. They were here when the soldiers were told they would be returning to Iraq just one very short year after they had arrived home.
At Warrior Walk on Ft. Stewart there are currently 320 trees standing in memorial to the members of the 3rd Infantry who gave their lives in Iraq. As we walk around the grounds of Winn Army Hospital we pass soldiers with artificial limbs, a permanent limp, and in wheelchairs all trying to recover from the war that seems to go on forever. The community of Hinesville knows, cares and does what it can to support them and their families. Veterans have not forgotten ­ and they understand how much is needed when the war comes home.
Do we understand what we will face when the war is over?
In the year between the first two deployments of the 3rd Infantry there were 191 confirmed cases of child abuse on Ft. Stewart alone. Soldiers returned but we were not ready.
In the next year the soldiers were home following their second deployment to Iraq, there were 138 cases of spousal abuse confirmed on Ft. Stewart. America continued to call for the soldiers to come home, but we were not ready.

Monica Benderman is the wife of war resister Kevin Benderman who was wrongly imprisoned by the US military. C.I. and I were just speaking of her writing Friday. So when I saw this, I really wanted to highlight it and planned to pair it up with many other things; however, then came the nonsens about the Pelosi measure pulling "the troops" out of Iraq. So we're stuck on that until reality sinks in. Hopefully, that reality will sink in before August 2008 rolls around. If not, the Congressional excuse will be that it's so close to the elections that Congress can't do anything. The Dems have gone to the well with that one on everything from the war, to torture, to illegal spying, to impeachment, to you name it.

Briefly, re: Moncia Benderman's article, she's exactly right. Currently, the system's not equipped to handle the ones returning. That's been true since the illegal war started. I get too much credit for the pro-bono work I do. That all started because of C.I. C.I. had been going around the country and speaking for some time and, at some point, in 2003, I got a call asking if I could see someone in my area. C.I. offered to pay for it which was silly because I don't work for money (as noted, trust fund baby here). I said give the vet my name and money wouldn't be an issue. There are others across the country doing that because C.I. has called repeatedly over the years asking, "Do you know anyone practicing in ___?" That is why I am so enraged, to this day, by the lie FactCheck.org signed off on, claiming that John Kerry was wrong about the underfunding for those returning. I knew it with my own eyes and ears. I knew from others in my field. The only one who didn't know it was the supposedly well researched FactCheck.org.

Now I'm maxed out presently. If C.I. found another one tomorrow, I would take him or her, I'd fit it in somehow. But otherwise, I'm maxed out in terms of time. That's true of most of the people I know who are donating their time. So I strongly agree with Monica. I want the war over, don't misunderstand me on that, but with the returnees thus far, the government's done nothing for them. In fact, they actively work to deny full disability. That's what the government does. Someone comes back with a missing limb or PTSD or some other trauma and they or their family has to fight like hell and they're still not getting certified for 100% coverage.

The administration has fought this illegal war on the cheap from the start. So she is right to sound the alarms because people are not getting the help they need currently and when the illegal war is finally and thankfully over, if something's not done very quickly, they're going to basically be dumped upon a system that's not functioning now and won't be able to offer them any form of treatment when they get back.

I do individual sessions and, on Thursdays, the group therapy. Many of the ones who get to a point where they're able to process better end up basically going out and helping others (the Thursday is a set schedule -- even when I was in Texas, I had the office open Thursday night so they could come in and I did phone in to check). Now that's great, what they're doing. But they should be doing that (what we used to call "rap sessions") as part of the reconnection process they would normally do, not in place of therapy that the government will not provide for them in most cases.

Right now, the system is overwhelmed and the government is very lucky that individuals are helping each other. But it's the government's job to help these people. The government made a promise to them. Now granted, it's the same administration that's lied us into an illegal war. But, setting that aside, they owe it to the ones returning to live up to their obligation. They aren't doing that. Refusing to fully certify isn't doing that. Letting people go without treatment isn't certifying. I won't share the horror stories I've heard (for four years now) due to respect for privacy (and the nature of how I learned of them) but I really think if you don't know these horror stories, even one, after four years of this illegal war, you haven't been paying attention.

Monica Benderman is very right to be worried and we're all lucky that she's wrote about this. I really think her article is one of the most important things you could read this week and I really regret that I had to take time away from discussing it to (again) address the realities of the toothless, non-binding Pelosi measure (one more time, the Senate's is even worse).

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, March 27, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq and since it involves a mass bombing the media wakes up a little, waking up does not include -- for most -- getting the Pelosi measure right, 2 nuns are killed in Iraq due to their gender and their religion but see who in the mainstream tackles it, and what's Michael Gordon selling this time -- war! war! war!

Starting with
this from Iraq Veterans Against the War:

Last week, as the U.S. death toll in Iraq climbed over 3,242, Congress voted to continue the war by approving the $124 billion supplemental bill. This week, the Senate is expected to similarly approve funding for this war that continues to violently destroy U.S. and Iraqi lives every day. The Democratic leadership claims that, to end the war, they must continue funding it. Iraq Veterans Against the War knows that, despite the Democrats guarantees of time tables and restrictions, the supplemental will not end the occupation of Iraq or prevent further escalation of the war. It is time for our brothers and sisters in the military to come home and for the Iraqi people to be allowed their right to self-determination.

"To end the war, they must continue to fund it". Emphasized for those who will hear that and remember the 'logic' of "to save the village, we had to destroy the village." (That's the popular version of the quote. Following the slaughter of Ben Tre, the actual quote was: "It became necessary to destroy the village in order to save it.") So that's where it stands now, as
Iraq Veterans Against the War points out, the solution of the US Congress is that "to end the war, they must continue to fund it."

Yesterday, on
Flashpoints, Robert Knight devoted his entire Knight Report to the realities of the Pelosi measure: "Pelosi bragged that the measure was 'a giant step to end the war and responsibly redeploy our troops out of Iraq.' But in reality, the bill fulfills neither claim. The measure grants President Bush the unimpeded prerogative of maintaining his current escalation in Iraq through October 2007 at which time he is merely requested to self-certify success in his self-defined benchmarks. Those benchmarks include provisions for the Iraqi occupation regime to reign in death squads and to enact the US designed and multi-national friendly oil law that is presently before Iraq's absentee occupation parliament. Regardless of Bush's automatic auto-certification, no actual troop withdrawals would be required before August 2008 during the height of the national party conventions at which time the Democrats would then blame the Republicans with a war whose continuation they would have guaranteed until the eve of November 2008 presidential election. But even when the August deadline matures, Bush would still be allowed to maintain more than half of the 150,00 troops in Iraq due to a term of art in the legislation that requests the redeployment but not the homecoming of some 70,000 so-called combat troops. This would leave an equal or greater number of US troops in Iraq under the vague but permanent classifications of counter-insurgency, security and training for what New York Senator Hillary Clinton calls 'remaining vital national security interests in the heart of the oil region'." To hear The Knight Report in full check Flashpoints and in the KPFA archives. (Those unable to listen can click here for a 'rush' and 'rushed' transcript.)

decrying the Pelosi measure is Joshua Frank (CounterPunch): "Having been one of the unfortunate geeks who actually read the bill, I can tell you only one thing -- it's a complete farce. In order for troops to come home the Bushies would have to confim whether or not 'progress' has been made in Iraq, not Congress. So with more money in hand and sole authority on deciding whether or not the war is going as planned, the White House, even if Bush signed the bill, would never have to end the thing. The proposal wasn't a compromise as many have claimed, but a dagger in the heart of all those of us who want to bring this war to a screeching halt."

Turning to news of war resistance,
Ricky Clousing spoke March 17, 2007 at a rally in Fayetteville, "Hello, my name is Sgt. Ricky Clousing. I was stationed here in Fort Bragg
in the 82 Airborn division. I served with the 82nd in December of 2004 in Iraq as an interroagtor and after witnessing the abuse of power and the injustices that happened on a daily basis I decided I no longer could be a part of not only the 82nd airborn but also the organization of the military. So after deciding to go AWOL and serving a few months in jail, I'm here to say thank you guys because I received amazing support through my process and my journey. I'm not going to share my whole story because a lot of you might be familiar with it but I really want to just let you guys know how much it meant to me the support and letters and the organization for events like this and what not that you guys really blazed a trail for people like me for refusing to fight anymore and my brothers here that decided not to do it. So I just want to say that a lot of the times since I've gone and spoken at a different place that people, a lot of times, put things on a pedestal and different situations or people or places. And I think that it's important to express that we are all part of this bigger puzzle and this bigger of collective idea of peace and how to attain that Just be careful of putting people in those positions because it takes the responsibility that we all have to do our part -- and part of that is being here today and marching and walking and spreading the word on an individual level. So just remember that war isn't good for children and other living things. Thank you guys very, very much."

On August 11, 2006, Ricky Clousing went public with his story of how he checked himself out of the military following his service in Iraq -- making an announcement in Seattle at the
Veterans for Peace conference. October 12, 2006, Clousing was court-martialed. The sentence was three months, bad conduct discharge and a reduction in rank. Clousing referred in the speech to the letters and support he received. Currently, US war resister Mark Wilkerson is is serving a sentence for self-checking out. From Courage to Resist: "Write to Mark while he is in the brig c/o his wife Sarah: Mark and Sarah Wilkerson, PO Box 25037, Colorado Springs CO 80936. Please consider a donation to Mark Wilkerson's legal defense fund.." On August 31st, Wilkerson spoke at Camp Casey III -- a press conference -- announcing his intent to turn himself in after having self-checked out a year and a half ago. That evening he was interviewed by Dennis Bernstein for KPFA's Flashpoints, where they discussed Wilkerson's service in Iraq and how his views changed from those he'd held at 17-years-old. He attempted to receive c.o. status but his was denied. He attempted to prepare for the rebuttal process but was informed he'd be redeploying to Iraq and any rebuttal would have to wait until his second deployment ended. When Bernstein asked him if he had any regrets about his decision to self-check out, Wilkerson responded, "I completely stand by my decision. For me, this was a time in my life when I decided I had to make a stand regardless of whether [it meant] prison or death". On February 22nd of this year, his court-martial began at Fort Hood in Texas. Wilkerson was sentenced to seven months in military prison and will receive a bad conduct discharge.

Clousing and Wilkerson are a part of movement of resistance within the military that also includes
Ehren Watada, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Joshua Key, Dean Walcott, Joshua Key, Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake 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.

editorial page editor of the San Jose Mercury News, Stephen E. Wright, wrote of the changes in his own life since his son shipped off to the illegal war this month, "But now we talk about the war, via my son, almost daily: How's he doing? Have you heard from him? Is he in Iraq yet? In a far more presonal way, we discuss the impact on families and friends, the political meaneuvering and the lack of progress in bringing stability to the country. What we don't talk about are the daily news stories about soldiers killed in action. Having a son on his way to Iraq hasn't changed my view of the war. We should not have invaded the country. If this were a righteous war, it would be more bearable to see him go. But now there's a knot in the pit of my stomach every time I think about where he's headed, what he might have to do and what might be done to him."

Taking a look at what happens to some who return,
Tom Roeder and Cary Leider (Colorado Springs Gazette) report on the increase in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among returning service members, "Nearly 600 Fort Carson soldiers were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder last year, up from 102 cases in 2003 when soldiers started returning from their first tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was the fourth straight year with a significant increase in the number of soldiers being diagnosed with PTSD. With symptoms that range from hyperawareness, to angry outbursts, PTSD is an anxiety reaction to traumatic events, which Iraq brings by the truckload. It plauges up to 10 percent of soldiers returning from war. Now the military is discovering a new problem. Substantial numbers of troops are showing lingering signs of traumatic brain injuries suffered in Iraq, mainly concussions caused by roadside bombs."

Turning to Iraq, let's dispense with the nonsense right away.
CNN speaks with Admiral William J. Fallon who's new to Iraq and new to the world of reality. Fallon puts forward the laughable belief that though Baghdad is chaos, outside things are just peachy keen and notes southern Iraq as a reference point. He may fool many US audiences that haven't received much reality about southern Iraq. For those who do not know better: YOU ARE BEING LIED TO. He also cites a region in the Kurdish north. Remember that when the elections for the boraders of that area get closer. Selcan Hacaoglu (AP) reports that Tariq al-Hashimi (Iraq's Sunni vice president) has "warned against a possible Turkish incursion into Iraq to fight separatist Kurdish guerrillas and promised to prevent cross-border attacks by the rebels." Though the domestic, US media prefers to ignore it, there's a battle raging over who will have claim to that area and the actual, physical make up of the area.


A bombing took place in Tal Afar resulting in mass casulties.
Al Jazeera reports "bodies and wounded were brought to hospital after the two vehicle-borne bombings." Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that one vehicle was a a truck carrying flour and that the death toll was at least 55 with 130 injured. AFP reports a mortar attack in the Abu Chir section of Baghdad that killed "[t]wo children, a man and a woman" with 14 others left wounded. Reuters notes a Baghdad roadside bombing that killed a police officer and left two more wounded and a car bombing in Ramadi that claimed 17 lives and left 32 wounded. And Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) also reports a rocket attack: "This morning gunmen attacked the car of Sheikh Harith al Thari the son of the tribal leader Sheikh Thahir al Thari not far from his house. The attackers wanted to kidnap him, he and his companion resisted and killed some of the attackers. The attackers used an RPG rocket and destroyed the car. Later in the day the 1920 Revolution Brigades announced he was one of their field leaders. Sources from the area said he was a media man for the Brigades and his death comes after refusing to pledge loyalty to the Iraq Islamic State, Al Qaeda linked group."


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that US and Iraqi forces conducted a raid in Najaf and "shot at a driving by car and killed the driver and injured a pregnant woman, they were heading to the hospital" while, in Baghdad, Abbas Salah was shot dead.
AFP notes two people shot dead and seven more wounded in the Shorja section of Baghdad while two police officers and two civilians were shot dead in Mosul. Reuters notes three people shot dead in Ishaqi, a police lieutenant shot dead in Baghdad,


Okay, the New York Times continues to want to push the myths of the huge return to Baghdad. To do that, they have to ignore the minorities that have been run out of the city (including Catholics and Jews).
CBS and AP report that, in Kirkuk, two Chaldean Catholic nuns were stabbed to death ("no sign of a robbery" -- of course not, it was a crime against women and religious persecution) at the home of Margaret Naoum (the younger sister, 79-years-old). The older sister (85-years-old) was named Fawzeiyah Naoum. They stabbed older sister Fawzeiyah to death with three stabs, and they stabbed younger sister Margaret seven times.


Reuters notes 15 corpses were discovered in Baghdad today, 3 in Mosul, and 6 in Diwaniya.

Today the
US military announced: "A Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West died March 24 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province."

In the US, US House Rep and 2008 presidential candidate
Dennis Kucinich has taken a strong stand against the illegal war. Recently, his wife Elizabeth Kucinich has begun posting to his presidential campaign website and noted this of the Pelosi measure that passed: "Dennis and I are in mourning. We mourn the deaths of those who have passed and those whose lives are now on the line, both in the military and civilian Iraqis. We mourn the destruction, the ecocide. We mourn with families in Iraq and the US who will see more death and devastation. We mourn the callous and calculated political spin cloaking the Congress's hawkish support of war with the rhetoric of peace."

Dennis Kucinich will appear on Wednesday's
Democracy Now! -- and, hopefully, before then it can be explained to the program that the Pelosi measure does not, as was stated on today's show, "also establish a timeline for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq by next year." Assuming that Bully Boy will go along with the toothless measure, only "combat troops" would be withdrawn (Robert Knight: "recalls the tactic by which earlier administrations once referred to US soldiers in Vietnam as advisers rather than troops.") This is too important to get it wrong and basic journalism provides no excuses. As Tom Engelhardts (TomDispatch) observed on the "troops" myth and "combat troops" reality, "The two categories are now so conveniently blurred that it would be pardonable if few Americans grasped the difference any more than did Charles Gibson, anchor of ABC's World News Tonight. On last Friday's news, he claimed the House had voted to get 'all US forces' out when his own White House correspondent used the correct phrase, 'combat forces'." How the House leadership wants to pimp the bill is not reality so Tell The Truth. That's what we'll call this item should it need to be be repeated in the snapshot: Tell The Truth & Know The Truth because, in fairness, some people may not know what the bill does say.

Then there are those who haven't earned the same benefit of the doubt.
Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) may not know what Paul Bremer does which would explain why she was all over the US orders to the puppet government to do away with the de-Baathifcation laws -- the same laws that didn't exist until the US administration's Paul Bremer decided to create it and enforce it. Tell The Truth, Rubin!

Finally, the Ultimate
War Pornographer Michael Gordon took Scott Shane with him on an unsourced wet dream of further war, of expanding it to Iran.