Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Chalmers Johnson, Ben Terrall

Wednesday and Mike have I been on the phone wondering how C.I. does it? We just complained and complained and whined and whined to one another for about an hour. How do you find the energy drive to post every time it's your time to?

I don't know but after our mutual whine fest we ended up agreeing we'd do it somehow. I only blog here four times a week. I do help out at Third Estate Sunday Review. But even so, I used to wonder why some columnist only wrote twice a week. My favorites are smart and usually funny. If they can do that twice a week, they shouldn't hoarde the wealth, share it. Now I get why they don't. It probably takes everything they've got for those two weeks.

Just to clarify, I'm not on the level of my favorite columnists, let alone any columnist. I am saying that I understand their process more and respect it even more.

"Iraq Oil Workers Strike to Stop Privatization" (Ben Terrall, CounterPunch):
In ongoing negotiations between Congress and President Bush about continued funding of the Iraq war, the President late last week began to make accommodating statements about negotiating on "benchmarks" for the Iraqi government.
On May 10, the New York Times reported:
"After a briefing at the Pentagon, Mr. Bush said he had instructed Joshua B. Bolten, the White House chief of staff, to reach "common ground" with lawmakers of both parties over setting firm goals, or benchmarks, to measure progress in Iraq. Mr. Bush had previously insisted that he wanted about $95 billion for the military with no strings attached.
"'It makes sense to have benchmarks as a part of our discussion on how to go forward,' Mr. Bush said, even as he threatened to veto the House plan, approved on a 221-to-205 vote Thursday night, which would require him to seek approval in two months for the balance of the war money."
But these benchmarks are hardly a compromise for the Bush Administration, and the Times, along with most other U.S. news outlets, continue to ignore one of most important of the criteria being used to judge Iraq's "progress": legislation imported from the U.S. that threatens to give most of Iraq's oil to Western oil giants.

The Democrats are on board with this. It's not just the White House. So what does that really tell us? I think it tells us that we won't see troops leave if there's a chance this law can be passed first. I think, for some in Democratic leadership, this is a sought for goal. It's easy to dish out hollow words about just wishing that US forces could leave and then doing nothing when you've got your eye on the theft of Iraqi oil.

Sarah e-mailed about C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" and "NYT: Bono's front page news while US soldiers get left on A10." She wondered why C.I. would wait on those? (Yesterday, I mentioned here that C.I. would be addressing the attack if the press didn't.) The Common Ills is not a 'breaking news' site. C.I. beat Reuters by 24 hours (and they were the first) on the bombing of bridges being an attempt to divide up Baghdad physically. There was the issue of the helicopters as well which were repeatedly being stenographed as "hard landing" with no one ever asking a question about it. There have been more but those are the three from this year that spring to mind. In every instance, C.I. wasn't just made aware of that by friends serving in Iraq, C.I. (and Ava) actively worked their contacts in the mainstream press to go after those stories. When they were dragging their feet on the first two, C.I. took it to The Common Ills. In this case there is the issue that if what those serving is correct about last Saturday's attack, that means others serving in Iraq in danger if the military is leaving them as sitting ducks. It's also true that if the families of the deceased want to ask questions, now would be the time and not months from now -- or years -- when it will be that much more difficult to find out the truth.

The only thing that surprised me was that C.I. didn't go more into the New York Times because they are pissing soldiers off. They have no time for the enlisted and one reporter especially treats the enlisted like trash. Although I'm not sure if it was case on this, I could also note that from time to time, C.I.'s asked by a friend in the press to note something because then they can go in and say, "Look, this website is covering it. We've got the story already. Are we going to do anything with it or not?"

"Is Imperial Liquidation Possible for America?" (Chalmers Johnson, Common Dreams):
In politics, as in medicine, a cure based on a false diagnosis is almost always worthless, often worsening the condition that is supposed to be healed. The United States, today, suffers from a plethora of public ills. Most of them can be traced to the militarism and imperialism that have led to the near-collapse of our Constitutional system of checks and balances. Unfortunately, none of the remedies proposed so far by American politicians or analysts addresses the root causes of the problem.
According to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, released on April 26, 2007, some 78% of Americans believe their country to be headed in the wrong direction. Only 22% think the Bush administration's policies make sense, the lowest number on this question since October 1992, when George H. W. Bush was running for a second term — and lost. What people don't agree on are the reasons for their doubts and, above all, what the remedy -- or remedies -- ought to be.
The range of opinions on this is immense. Even though large numbers of voters vaguely suspect that the failings of the political system itself led the country into its current crisis, most evidently expect the system to perform a course correction more or less automatically. As Adam Nagourney of the New York Times reported, by the end of March 2007, at least 280,000 American citizens had already contributed some $113.6 million to the presidential campaigns of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, Mitt Romney, Rudolph Giuliani, or John McCain.
If these people actually believe a presidential election a year-and-a-half from now will significantly alter how the country is run, they have almost surely wasted their money. As Andrew Bacevich, author of The New American Militarism, puts it: "None of the Democrats vying to replace President Bush is doing so with the promise of reviving the system of check and balances…. The aim of the party out of power is not to cut the presidency down to size but to seize it, not to reduce the prerogatives of the executive branch but to regain them."

Which brings everything together. The first highlight on why the Dems are as eager as the Repubes to seize Iraqi oil, the fact that the press will look the other way on many things. They are the enablers who allow the two major parties to act in concert while the public is misinformed.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, May 16, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the 3 missing US soldiers remain missing, Congress sings along to Aimee Mann's "Going Through the Motions," the State Department doesn't want to go the Green Zone, and Chalabi chuckles.

In his newly published book,
Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia, war resister Camilo Mejia shares how empty talk went over in Iraq (p. 138):

Now that people were realizing bullets fly two ways in war, the gung-ho attitudes that had predmoninated when we were back in Jordan were seldom heard. Pretty much everyone wanted to go home. This new attitude was evidenced by rumors in the unit about how this politician or that officer was trying his best to get us out of Iraq. We called such rumors "cheese," so if anyone had supposed news regarding our departure from Iraq they would announce it by saying: "Guess what the latest cheese is?" This would generally be followed by a story about how some senator back home had written a letter to the Pentagon questioning why we'd been in Iraq for so long, and how come this, and how come that. It never amounted to anything except empty rumor.

Proved again today as the US Senate . . . did nothing.
David Swanson (AfterDowningStreet) laid it out yesterday: "I don't give a damn who 'goes on record' against the war. I care who actually tries to end it. To do that will require voting for bills to end it, AND VOTING AGAINST bills to fund it. Otherwise, you're 'on the record' both for and against the war." Today some Senators went on the record as a proposal by Senator Russ Feingold and US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that would have ended funds for US combat operations on March 31, 2008. Police actions and 'terrorism' fighting would have still continued under the proposal. As Jeff Zeleny and Carl Hulse (New York Times) reported this morning, Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton waited until yesterday to weigh in and only after "Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, seeking to draw more attention to his presidential candidacy, began broadcasting advertisements on Tuesday in states with early primary elections, highlighting his support for the legislation. 'Unfortunately, my colleagues running for president have not joined me,' he said. Hours later, at least two of his colleagues did."

The full text of Senator and 2008 presidential contender
Chris Dodd's advertisement was: "Half measures won't stop this president from continuing our involvement in Iraq's civil war. That's why I'm fighting for the only responsible measure in Congress that would take away the president's blank check and set a time table for bringing the troops home. Unfortunately, my colleagues running for president have not joined me. I'm Chris Dodd I'm running for president. I approved this message because we can't just wait for a new president -- we should have the convictions to stand up to this one."

So that's what it takes to get Hillary and Barack semi-off their butts? Today, the vote was taken.
Noam N. Levey (Los Angeles Times) reports that 29 senators voted for it and 67 voted against it and notes that Senator and presidential contender Joe Biden was one of the 29 voting for the Fiengold-Reid proposal. "I'm not crazy about the language in the Feingold amendment, but I am crazy," CBS and AP quote Joe Biden stating, "about the idea that we have to keep the pressure on." William Branigin (Washington Post) observes, "It was one of a series of largely symoblic votes today on war spending proposals, testing support for restrictions on President Bush's war policy on Iraq ahead of negotiations with the House on legislation to provide stopgap funding." Also voted on was Senator John Warner's proposal that set timetables . . . Woops! He changed it before the vote so that Bully Boy would be able "to waive the restrictions on U.S. funding." But remember, John Warner swore come September he will get tough. That leaves him three months to grow a spine. Russ Feingold issued a statement: "Today the Senate took another step toward acknowledging the will of the American people, who want to end this misguided mission in Iraq. A majority of Senate Democrats are on the record clearly stating that the President's Iraq policy is a failure and that we need to take real action to change course. Keeping 150,000 American troops in the middle of an Iraqi civil war both hurts our national security and impedes the ability to reach a political solution in Iraq. We must continue to rachet up the pressure on the Preisdent and supporters of this irresponsible war to safely redeploy our troops from Iraq so we can refocus on those who attacked us on 9/11."

Something isn't right
I don't know how I know
But baby, it's despite
Your dog and pony show
I can hear it coming
You're only going through the motions, baby
With your engines humming
You're just going through the motions, baby
-- "Going Through the Motions," written by Aimee Mann off her CD
The Forgotten Arm

And while they do that, 3 US soldiers remain missing. On Saturday, an attack in Al-Taqa, outside Mahmudiya, a "
stationary observation post" that was apprently left unaided and left out in the open for too long, came under attack. 4 US soldiers and 1 Iraqi translator were killed. 3 other US soldiers were missing and are assumed captured by an organization that the US military assumes has ties to al Qaeda. Sudarsan Raghavan and Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) noted the US military's identification thus far: James David Connell Jr., Daniel W. Courneya and Christopher E. Murphy are dead while Anthony J. Schober, Alex R. Jimenez, Joseph J. Anzack Jr., Byron W. Fouty are identified as missing -- one listed as missing is dead but the miltary has yet to be able to determine which one. For Joe Anzack's moter this is a replay. Louis Sahagun and Ashraf Khalil (Los Angeles Times) spoke with Theresa Anzack who explained that only three weeks prior, she had been infored that her son was dead. Joseph Aznack, Joe's father, spoke on NBC's Today this morningthat "his son was not the soldier who was killed."

One family member who does know the fate of her loved one is Jennifer Courneya whose husband Daniel Courneya who is among the three declared dead thus far.
Speaking to
Joe Mahoney and Rich Schapiro (New York Daily News), Jennifer Courneya, while turning her late husband's fatigues in to a military supply store, noted of her husband, "He was so funny, very loving. He was talking about starting a family." She also shared her feelings "that we don't need to be [in Iraq] anyway" and that her husband "told me in a letter I just got yesterday if he had met me before he went in the service, he would have never gone. He really didn't want to be there." If you wonder why the widow is left out of the press you see, consider that the outlets can't deal with what she has to say. (Jennifer Courneya is being left out of a lot of coverage on the death of her husband -- even coverage that finds the time to interview students at a high school he went to.)

CNN reports that the hunt for the missing includes dropping 150,000 leaflets and "offering a $200,000 reward for any information about the location of three missing American soldiers, or the identity of their kidnappers". The Giddiest Gabor in the Green Zone, Little Willie Caldwell, insists to CNN that the soldiers attacked Saturday had support and maintains that the support was only 1640 feet away. For that to be true, they'll need to explain why 'support' came in the form of the "unmanned aerial vehicle" which, for the record, apparently got there much to late to deteact the missing soldiers or where they might have gone. Little Willie does admit that "the patrol was 'static throughout th enight with concertina wire somewhat around their position'." Somewhat? And a commander rushes in to say Little Willie was wrong, it didn't take an hour to get to the burning wreckage, it took only 30 minutes. Only 30 minutes? Did they travel by tricycle? "500 meters" is 1640 feet. "500 meters" is less than 1 mile (it's .31 miles). They're scrubbing the store to change the one hour to 30 minutes and that might fool some but it's not fooling all the rank and file serving in Iraq -- some grasp this was something that could have and should have been avoided. Not a screw up by the ones who were stationed, but by the ones who stationed them there and the real question is how far up does the screw up go? Little Willie says the military is "looking very carefully at the whole tactical situation to see if there's something they need to do better."

"There's no one left to call me, 'Mom'."
Erin Allday (San Francisco Chronicle) reports on Mother's Day for Karen Meredith whose son Kenneth Ballard died in Iraq three years ago and spent her Sunday addressing the First Unitarian Universalist Church: "He left the day after Mother's Day, and he said he'd make it up to me when he returned. Today is my third Mother's Day that I will not pick up the phone and hear his voice." Also speaking were Iraq Veterans Against the War's Sean O'Neill and war resister Pablo Paredes: "My mother was a very moral person. She instilled in me a sense of brotherhood. War is the antithesis of motherhood."

Paredes, Camilo Mejia,
Agustin Aguayo and Robert Zabala are taking part in the speaking out tour to raise awareness on the realities of the illegal war and the need to stand up against it:

Tuesday May 15 - Palo Alto 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church (Fellowship Hall), 1140 Cowper, Palo Alto. Featuring Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Pennisula Peace and Justice Center. More info: Paul George 650-326-8837 Wednesday May 16 - Eureka 7pm at the Eureka Labor Temple, 840 E St. (@9th), Eureka. Featuring Camilo Mejia. More info: Becky Luening 707-826-9197 Thursday May 17 - Oakland 4pm youth event and 7pm program at the Humanist Hall, 411 28th St, Oakland. Featuring Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and the Alternatives to War through Education (A.W.E.) Youth Action Team. Sponsored by Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69, Courage to Resist, Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's (CCCO) and AWE Youth Action Team.
Friday May 18 - Berkeley 7pm at St. Joseph the Worker featuring Camilo Mejia.US war resisters are part of a growing movement of war resistance within the military: Camilo Mejia, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Joshua Key, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty 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.

Iraq Veterans Against the War bring truth with them whenever they speak (and they are available for speaking engagements if you have a group or organization that would like to hear from them). Eric Ruder (ISR) provides a transcript of four members who spoke last March at the Different Drummer Cafe. This is from Matt Howard's talk:

I was given a whole pallet of humanitarian rations on my truck, so the first thing I started to do is hand them out to all the children I saw standing on the sides of the road in the south of Iraq. My first sergeant came up to me and said, what the hell do you think you're doing? Those aren't for the children. I got all the way to Baghdad and all the way back to Kuwait and was ordered to bury these things. Our commanding general said that we don't want to give the Iraqis the wrong impression of why we are there.
So let's cut through the bullsh*t, we were never there to help the people. Our first objective was to secure the oil fields in the south of Iraq. Now we hear that it's for the hearts and minds? We've got to be honest. Coming out of the military I'm told that I'm really courageous for speaking out. No. I feel I have a moral responsibility to speak out. The sh*t I've seen you're not going to see on the news or read it in the newspapers. We as veterans have a responsibility to tell the truth of what we've seen in Iraq and let it be known. Speak about the reality of actually what's happening on the ground. The reality that we will never quell the insurgency, they are fighting a foreign military occupation. We are treating them like sh*t. We go and clear an area and they just go somewhere else and when we leave they come back, and this will go on and on until we finally admit that we're not supposed to be there. We never should have been there in the first place. This war was based on lies. As I like to say, you can't win a crime, you can only stop it.

Someone explain it to the US Congress (the Bully Boy isn't listening and won't): YOU CAN'T WIN A CRIME, YOU CAN ONLY STOP IT.

Until you do, the chaos and violence drags on.
Reuters reported this morning that, on Tuesday, a truck bombing -- using chlorine gas -- killed 45 people (60 wounded) in Abu Sayda. Today?


The Telegraph of London reports a mortar attack on the Green Zone for the second day in a row. AP reports that the nine mortar rounds killed 2 and left 10 wounded ("No American casualities were reported"). Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that the Green Zone victims were "eight Iraqis and two non-American foreigners," and notes: a roadside bombing in Baghdad that claimed 1 life and left 3 wounded, a Baghdad car bombing that claimed 1 life and left 1 person injured, a mortar attack in south Baghdad that left one person wounded, a Baghdad mortar attack the injured one person, a Diyala car bombing that killed an Iraqi soldier, a Kirkuk roadside bombing that killed Riyadh's deputy mayor and a city board member, a Hawija roadside bombing that wounded a police officer ;


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the Diyala shooting death of a member of the Kurdstand Democracy Party, the Baghdad shooting death of a police colonel, an attack on a Diyala police house that left 3 guards dead and 2 more injured, and, in Basra, "a child was killed and two civilians injured when policemen shot" into a crowd of "people who were furious as they have no power suppy since yesterday".


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 30 corpses discovered in Baghdad, the head of a police officer in the Diyala province and 5 in Basra.

Remember that no "American casulities were reported" in today's attack on the heavily fortified Green Zone?
Scott Canon (McClatchy Newspapers) notes "the unease is growing among career State Department employees in Baghdad over what many fear is inadequate security in the Green Zone, a 4-square-mile sector in downtown Baghdad where acess is strictly limited and that until recently had a reputation for being relatively secure." And life just outside the Green Zone? Patrick Cockburn (CounterPunch) speaks with serial liar and war starter Ahmed Chalabi and Cockburn notes: "Mr Chalabi's own justification for encouraging the US to invade is simple. He says he favoured the overthrow of Saddam Hussein by the US but not the subsequent occupation of Iraq to which he attributes all the disasters that followed. It is not an argument that goes down well in Washington or London." Chalabi also brags of "the US and Britain . . . having unwittingly committed a revolutionary act in the Middle East by overthrowing Saddam Hussein. 'The US found that it had dismantled the cornerstorne of the Arab security order'."