Friday, January 19, 2007

Alexander Cockburn

This is the Alexander Cockburn post. He's got an amazing piece up at CounterPunch that I'll provide an excerpt to in a bit but I want to start with CounterSpin. I'll add that C.I. called me this morning to say "It was last week and I'm not wasting time going into that post to change it." C.I. was asked by a friend at FAIR to note that CounterSpin has been doing some strong work and used that as an example. There was some confusion over when it aired and C.I. said, "I'm not taking the fall for that!"

It just made me laugh. (Still does.) (Watch though, C.I. will go in there and put in a correction.) So I did listen via an archived broadcast today and maybe it was the radio station's problem but Alexander Cockburn's voice quality was really poor. It didn't sound like they were in the studio together and that doesn't surprise me since Cockburn lives in California. But I was surprised that the call was such poor quality. Maybe it was the radio station that had a problem? Anyone who wants to check that out can listen at CounterSpin which I would assume would have the best quality broadcast. I have had problems in the past with Real Player playing when I try to listen at CounterSpin which is why I don't even bother anymore. I've also had a problem (my computer at work and at home) with The Progressive's website. There's a new square (orange?) they've added to the page where they note new content and I've gotten a solid square. I am trying to note that, or at least Matthew Rothschild, because C.I.'s very high on Rothschild's upcoming book.

Let me add quickly, I didn't listen to the new broadcast today. Sarah Olson really needs to stop speaking publicly. Her ever changing positions make her case weaker and weaker everytime she speaks. I'll leave it at that because I think Rebecca's tackling it tonight.

Though it was difficult to hear Alexander Cockburn at times, what he was saying was worth hearing. He was addressing War pornographer Michael Gordon and how he continues to sell the illegal war from the pages of the New York Times (which marched in double time, in step with the administration, to sell the war before it even started). Let me add something in here that C.I.'s been pointed out in the last week or two, for those who doubt the paper is selling the war. How often does the paper do polls? Every few months. Where is the poll on the people's reaction to Bully Boy's intended escalation?

There hasn't been one. Not in November when it was being tossed around, not in December and not in January. As C.I.'s noted, CNN, the Washington Post, ABC, CBS, etc. have all done polls, where is the New York Times' poll? Usually, they do a joint-poll with CBS. Did they take their name of any of CBS' recent polls because they didn't want to front page another of their poll stories if it meant telling readers how unpopular the illegal war and escalation actually were?

Cockburn brought up that Gordo was Judith Miller's writing partner on questionable pre-war stories (including aluminum tubes) and that seems to not be remarked upon when it should be because he has continued to sell the war. He was referring to "White House Lists Iraq Steps to Build Banned Weapons" which Gordo wrote with Miller and ran in the September 13, 2002 edition of the New York Times. (They probably cursed themselves that they didn't have a special scare piece for September 11th itself. However, they did write a piece right before September 11th, C.I. would know the exact date, falsely claiming that Saddam Hussein was pursuing atomic bomb parts.) (I know the date of the other piece for personal reasons. I was attending a planned event that day and hadn't had time to return C.I.'s call so, at a dinner, I went into the lobby to call and got an earful about that nonsense.)

Cockburn wasn't singing the oldies, he was talking about how Gordo continues to sell the war. There are so few people that will call Gordo out. There's Cockburn, there's Norman Solomon and there's C.I. (I'm sure there are others online who do but I'm not a web surfer. I know that few media critics will call Gordo out although they're happy to trot out, again and again, Judith Miller.) (I love music and I loved it last April when C.I. rewrote the Supremes "Love Is Like An Itching In My Heart" for Gordo.) He also touched on the conflicts at the New York Times and I'll echo C.I. on the fact that they need to have him back on to speak more of that topic.

He was noting the decision to endorse (editorially, but in 'reporting' as well) Patrick Moynihan who was the uber Joe Lieberman. He, Cockburn, may see that as selling out (by the paper) or as proof of how right-wing it really is. I think arguments can be made for both but I think the real story of the paper is similar to that of the Democratic Party -- a group of 'good sports' who think people will play fair so they go along and grasp too late the realities. (I'm not referring to anyone with a byline or listed on the masthead.) At the very heart of it, there is a very real war and if and when the better natures decide to fight, the paper could be worth reading. As long as the Cro-Magnum set lead, the paper is worthless.

I would have been very interested in hearing Cockburn expand on that point, which came almost at the very end, because . . . Let's just say personal reasons. But there were any number of ways that could have pursued and I would have enjoyed hearing where Cockburn would take it. He also has a book coming out (with Jeffery St. Clair) and I'm very eager to read that (End Times). He mentioned Patrick Cockburn (who reports for the Independent of London and whose pieces often get republished at CounterPunch) and I was thinking about how different the conversation would be without that family. There's Patrick Cockburn and, hopefully, many are familiar with his writing. But there's also Laura Flanders. I've more than had it with political dynasties in elected office but I am thankful for the policital dynasty that the three of them represent. That must have made for very interesting family get togethers.

That's also the only family biography I'd be interested in reading.

"First Bomb Carter; Then Nuke Iran!" (Alexander Cockburn, CounterPunch):
Suppose the movers and shakers in the Israel lobby here -- Abe Foxman, Alan Dershowitz and the rest of the crew -- had simply decided to leave Jimmy Carter’s Palestine Peace Not Apartheid alone. How long before the book would have been gathering dust on the remainder shelves? Suppose even that Dershowitz had rounded up his unacknowledged co-authors in all their tens of thousands and sallied forth to buy up every copy of Carter’s book and toss each one into the Charles River, would not that have been a more successful suppressor than the blitzkrieg strategy they did adopt?
Of course it would. For weeks now the lobby has hurled its legions into battle against Carter. He has been stigmatized as an anti-Semite, a Holocaust denier, a patron of former concentration camp killers, a Christian madman, a pawn of the Arabs who "flatly condones mass murder" of Israeli Jews. (This last was from Murdoch's New York Post editorial, relayed to its mailing list by the Zionist Organization of America.)
Any day now I expect some janitors at the Carter Center to resign, declaring that they can no longer in all conscience mop bathrooms that might have been used by the former President, their letter of protest duly front-paged by the New York Times, just like the famous fourteen members of the Carter Center's Board of Councilors. Actually there were, at the time of resignations, 224 people on this board, where membership is mostly a thank you for a financial donation to the center. So the headlines could be saying, "Nearly 95 per cent of Carter Center Board Members Back Former President."

That's an excerpt, you need to read the whole thing. There's an queally interesting article on the press narratives, Gail Dines' "I Was Ambushed by Paula Zahn." I hope you visit CounterPunch even if you're not reading the periodical. Web traffic is as important as circulation and if you see something up there, you should e-mail it. You can e-mail it to me, certainly, but you can also share it with friends. I don't believe it has an "e-mail this" option but you can search "e-mail this" on Google and find something to add to your browser that allows you to mail web pages. Or you can copy and paste and excert (like I did) and provide the link in an e-mail. I really think in the face of the endless rah-rah Dems, CounterPunch is the cold water of reality and that following it will keep the pressure on for change. If 2007 could be the year CounterPunch becomes one of the highest ranked websites, I'd be happy. I think it would lead to some real change in the country. We certainly need some and puff pieces on Democrats aren't going to bring it about. With more on that note, please read Mike's "Help Wanted: The Nation's in need of direction."

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, January 19. 2006. Chaos and violence continue, but speculation is so much more fun for the mainstream press; war resisters stand up and some stand with them; General Casey uses weasel words;

Starting with news of US war resister
Ehren Watada who, in June 2006, became the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Watada faces a court-martial February 5th and the 'judge' has stripped him of the right to present a strong defense. Arguments that can't be made in a kangroo court can be made by in the real world at Citizens' Hearing on the Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq which starts tomorrow and concludes Sunday at the Evergreen State College Tacoma Campus (10:00 am to 4:00 pm each day). As Michael Gilbert (The News Tribune) reports "a lineup of speakers will make the case that the war and the ongoing occupation are illegal under international and U.S. law, and that an officer such as Watada has a duty to disobey orders to take part in it." Zoltan Grossman tells Gilbert that "the event will take the shape of a congressional hearing" and notes that those participating include the following: Denis Halliday, Ann Wright, Francis Boyle, Daniel Ellsberg, Darrell Anderson, Harvey Tharp and Nadia McCaffrey.

While some stay silent (The Nation)
Peter Michaelson (BuzzFlash) steps up, "The world is upside down, and one brave first lieutenant tries to set it right. The U.S. war in Iraq is illegal and immoral, says 1st Lt. Ehren Watada. In thus choosing reality over fallacy, and refusing to deploy to Iraq with his Stryker brigade, the 28-year-old Honolulu native faces six years in the brig when his court-martial begins next month at Ft. Lewis near Seattle." Peter Michaelson and BuzzFlash stood up. FYI, BuzzFlash is offering Peace buttons and Howard Zinn's A Power Governments Cannot Suppress.

Also standing up, of course, in support of Watada is
Iraq Veterans Against the War have set up Camp Resistance and Portland IMC has audio of Dennis Kyne and Darrell Anderson speaking about Camp Resistance. Anderson spoke of how they were camping outside Fort Lewis, "That bus is parked right there and it's not leaving until the trial is over, not till February." Anderson noted the positive reaction from soldiers at Fort Lewis, "They see the bus, they know who we area. After six days, we had soldiers honking, soldiers rolling by in their civilian clothes and screaming out the window. And I remember like, wow, I was just coming up here for Watada and Suzanne Swift and I didn't think the soldiers were going to . . . I never heard of soldiers power fisting anti-war guys. And that's when it hit me, that they're done. They're not going back for a third time. 'Cause that's where I'd be if I didn't go AWOL, I'd be at my third tour right now. Three years in Iraq, three years. Could you imagine Vietnam vets, could you imagine going back to Vietnam three times? Three years and you don't come back from that. You go to Iraq, but you don't come back."

Ehren Watada's February 5th court-martial approaches, this week the US military announced their decision to charge Agustin Aguayo with desertion and missing movement which carry a maximum sentence of seven years in prison. Watada, Aguayo, and Anderson are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes Kyle Snyder, Agustin Aguayo, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske 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.

Bring the Peace Mandate to D.C. on J27! On Election Day voters delivered an unmistakable mandate for peace. Now it's time for action. Join CODEPINK in a national march to D.C. on January 27-29, to send a strong, clear message to Congress and the Bush Administration: The people of this country want the war and occupation in Iraq to end and we want the troops home now! See our latest actions, and click here for details.

In Iraq today?


Reuters reports a bombing of a butcher's shop that killed the butcher in Hilla. Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing ("at AL ELLWIAH intersection in KARDA") that killed a police officer and left another dead, a mortar attack ("near haifa street") that killed 2 and left 3 more wounded, another martar attack ("bayaa area western Baghdad") that left one person injured and a mortar attack that killed a woman and wounded 3 more people. Kim Gamel (AP) reports that a Shi'ite mosque was bombed "in sourthern Baghdad" (before the bombing, two guards of the mosque were killed).


CBS and AP report that "a man working for the Ministry of Tourism and Archaeology Affairs . . . was shot to death near his home in a predominantly Sunni neighborhood in western Baghdad." Reuters reports three shot dead in Falluja (Iraqi soldier and two ex-police officers), a Sunni preacher was shot dead in Kirkuk, and an attack on a minibus left two wounded in Hilla. Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that, in Tikrit, a vehichle was stopped an official checkpoint, the car contained 4 family members and began accusing one ("OMAR") of having fake identification but they waived them on only for them to be stopped by "unknown gunmen" immediately after who wanted to know which one was Omar "and killed him immediately and stabbed his other brother" leaving his sister and mother to drive to the hospital in Tikrit.


Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 17 corpses were discovered in Baghdad today ("1 yarmouk, 2 amil, 1 aour, 2 zaafaraniyah, 1 selakh, 1 kamaliyah, 4 rahmaniyah, 1 bayaa, 1 shurta khamsa and 3 in dora. some were tortured and handcuffed").

In addition to the above, today
US military announced today: " A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier died when an improvised explosive device detonated on a patrol in a northwest section of the Iraqi capital Jan. 18" and the BBC reports that six British oldiers were wounded following an attack utilizing rockets and mortars ("on the Basra Palace camp").

In legal news, on Thursday,
three US troops confessed and to review that:

*Hashim Ibrahim Awad who was the grandfather kidnapped and then murdered last year (April). Eight US service members were charged. They are known as the Pendleton Eight. Four had already confessed to their involvement. Yesterday, Trent Thomas became the fifth with his plea agreement.
*Three Iraqis, on May 9th, were detained by US troops, placed in plastic handcuffs, released (handcuffs cut off) with the intent to kill them ("Kill them all" is what some defense lawyers argued their clients were told). Four US troops were charged with this. William B. Hunsaker confessed (and was sentenced) earlier this month, Juston R. Graber also confessed to his involvment this month. Raymond L. Girouard maintains his innocence. Yesterday, Core Clagett entered a plea agreement. (It should be noted his attorney, Paul Bergin, has
his own problems these days.) So that's three out of four having admitted guilt.
Abeer is the one Megan says she can follow but just to recap for anyone who is confused -- three admissions of guilt in three different war crimes took place yesterday -- Abeer Qasim Hamza (14-years-old), Hadeel Qassim Hamza (five-years-old, Abeer's sister), Qassim Hamza Raheem and Fakhriya Taha Muhasen (her parents) were all killed on March 12, 2006. In addition Abeer was gang raped before being killed. Those charged in the incident were Steven D. Green (to be tried in a civilian court because he had left the military before the war crimes were learned of), Jesse Spielman, Bryan Howard, James P. Barker and Paul Cortez. (Anthony W. Yribe was not charged with participating -- he was charged with failure to report the crimes, dereliction of duty.) Green has entered a plea of not guilty in a federal court. James P. Barker confessed in court in November (and named Cortez as a co-gang rapist). Paul Cortez confessed yesterday but his attorney maintains Cortez was an 'oberserver.' Was he an observer in rape?
Barker's testimony was that it appeared Cortez was raping Abeer but, from his statements, he wasn't able to determine penetration. (Wasn't able to determine it from his angle. Whether Cortez penetrated or not, he took part in the gang rape, according to Barker, because Barker confessed to how they took turns holding Abeer down during the gang rape.)

Meanwhile Robert Gates visits Iraq and calls the current climate a "
pivotal moment." Meeting up with the outgoing George Casey ("top American commander in Iraq"), CBS and AP report that Casey declares: "I think it's probably going to be the summer, late summer, before you get to the point where people in Baghdad feel safe in their neighborhoods." Is that what you think? Casey's not done with feelings checks or predictions, Robert Burns (AP) reports that escalated troops (the 21,500 Bully Boy wants to send into Iraq) COULD be back "home by late summer". COULD. A weasel word.

"Casey, didn't you say US troops would be back home by late summer?"

"No, I said could."

Meaningless weasel words meant to comfort and lull a public that's enraged by an illegal war with no apparent end.
AP reports that Nancy Pelois (US House Speaker) has declared Bully Boy "has dug a hole so deep he can't even see the light on this. It's a tragedy. It's a stark blunder."

CBS, CNN and the whole mainstream press report that Muqtada al-Sadr's top aide was arrested, this following yesterday's reported arrest of Shi'ite fighters, and that al-Sadr is now in hiding fearing for his life and moving his family around while stating that a holy period of Muharram (the new year -- short answer). al-Sadr is quoted stating that no attacks will be initiated by him during the holy period (however, a response would be another issue) but when it is over, "we'll see." How much of this is true, how much of this is the sort of jerk-around we were once supposed to believe during Vietnam (remember Henry Kissinger really, really wanting to have those Paris Peace Talks -- at least publicly?), who knows.

More importantly, what Nouri al-Maliki is willing to go along with (not order, he doesn't have the power to order) at this minute and after more troops are on the ground is also a question mark.

Most importantly, Baghdad is a city.

Al-Anbar Province and Baghdad are where Bully Boy wants to send the bulk of esclation. As Webster Tarpley and Bonnie Faulkiner discussed Wednesday on
KPFA's Guns and Butter, house-to-house, blah, blah, blah (the kind of nonsense that makes Michael Gordon light headed) creates a flank, you have less power to move in a city (tanks, et al). Tarpley compared it to the desperation measures of Hitler when commander-in-chief of the Eastern Front against Russia.

As people get exicted over who may have gotten arrested and who may not have, what al-Sadr might have said or not, what al-Maliki might do or not, what COULD happen this summer, it seems (yet again) some basic realities are being ignored.
Noting one reality is Warren P. Strobel (McClatchy Newspapers): the illegal war "hasn't turned out the way advocates of the Iraq invasion had hoped or the way Bush and [U.S. Secretary of State] Condi Rice had predicted." Nor the way the New York Times and many others predicted either.

For more reality,
Anthony Arnove, author of Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal, will be speaking tomorrow as well as next Saturday:

*January 20, 7 pm, Chicago, IL (with Jeff Engelhardt) University of Illinois-ChicagoContact: Adam Turl, 773-567-0936,
*January 27, 5 pm, Washington, DC (with Kelly Dougherty) Busboys and Poets

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Joshua Frank, Medea Benjmain

Mike often says, when C.I. posts something especially powerful, "I don't even know how I can post something after that." I always reply, "It's not a competition." Which it isn't. Which C.I. would point out (and C.I. hates competition). (C.I. had announced ahead of time that there might or might not be a snapshot on Monday. When Trina's "Lemon & Rice Soup in the Kitchen" went up, I knew there wouldn't be. Trina's noting the importance of the snapshot and I happen to agree 100% with her but I also know it was just a little too much praise for C.I.'s comfort so I knew Monday wouldn't have a snapshot as soon as I read Trina's post Saturday.)

I get to work and can't even grab a cup of coffee. Sunny's beat to me work and telling me to sit at her computer and read "Judge rules Ehren Watada cannot present a defense in court-martial" and "Other Items." So I do and . . . What do you say? Really, what can I write after both of those. Especially the sentence where C.I. is just firing on all cylinders and making the (hopefully not obscure) reference to the Homestead Strike? I could not stop laughing. I kept going back to that one section in my head throughout the day because it is so funny and it is so cutting. (A professor once told C.I., in college, in front of the entire class, "You have a very cutting sense of humor" -- to which C.I. replied, "Yes, but some feel the blade a little deeper than others.") (The professor was attempting to save face after his string of 'jokes' -- sexist and racist, which back then were a lot more prevalent than some may realize -- were met with rejoinders by C.I. that, joke by joke, turned the entire class against the professor.)

Then there are the final paragraphs in the snapshot today. I was about to go into my last session today and Sunny knew I didn't have time right then for the entire snapshot. She read that last part to me. I ended up having to take five minutes to compose myself before going into the session because you don't want someone thinking you're laughing at them while they're sharing.

The snapshot was dictated and I couldn't have typed that up. If C.I. was dictating that to me over the phone, I would've been laughing so hard at some portions I would've missed what was being said.

Tonight, I'm in agreement with Mike, "What do you write after something like that?" Making matters worse, my brother called during lunch to tell me when he'd be arriving next month and, in the middle of our conversation, he starts quoting funny sections of C.I.'s "2006: The Year of Living Dumbly (Year in Review)" and following up with, "Remember back when . . .?" He has circulated print copies of "2006: The Year of Living Dumbly (Year in Review)" to just about everyone he knows and says it is a "huge" crowd pleaser in Europe. He was talking about those moments when you just know it's coming, even though the one about to '"beaned" has no idea and he was making these comments about how it was like watching Sandy Koufax pitch.

So, point, don't expect anything from me tonight. In fact, expect even less than usual.

"Obama and the Middle East: The Next Big Bamboozler" (Joshua Frank, CounterPunch):
So I guess we know what the buzz is going to be for the next, ah, year or so. It looks like Barack Obama, the rookie Senator from Illinois, is going to run for president. He has received a plethora of accolades from key primary states in recent weeks for his (alleged) tenacity and willingness to shoot it straight -- not unlike the great bamboozler before him, Bill Clinton, who seemed to fool most everyone into believing his words actually meant something.
The gift Obama has is unique but potentially dangerous. A taste of his personal appeal: "Politics has become so bitter and partisan, so gummed up by money and influence, that we can't tackle the big problems that demand solutions," he said in a video on his website. "And that's what we have to change first."
What are the problems the Senator plans on tackling? Certainly not the big one: U.S. policy in the Middle East. While assuring us that he supports the troops in Iraq, he's made it quite clear he won't bring them home, and instead has pressured the White House to come up with a plan on the matter of their own. How Obama, or anyone, can possibly believe that the Bushites could come up with a worthwhile strategy for Iraq is beyond me.
On Iran Obama also serves the status-quo with the kind of hawkish zeal we are used to seeing in most Republicans. He's admitted he may favor surgical missile strikes on Iran and Pakistan if that’s what it takes to fight the war on terror. And Obama even boasts that Bush hasn’t taken a hard enough line on the foreign menaces.

Joshua Frank, pointing out what others stay silent on. Anybody remember how the press made such a big deal in the 2006 elections trying to pin Hillary Clinton down on how if she won the election (which she did) would she serve out her full term or run in 2008 for president? Doesn't appear to be a concern for Obama, does it? He has served two years in the Senate and will now be announcing he's running for president. Does that bother anyone? He has no positions. Betty got to the heart of that in the December "Roundtable." Speaking of Betty, be sure to check out her latest chapter, "The Force Majora Friedman"

"The Shame of Guantanamo Exposed in Cuba" (Medea Benjamin, Common Dreams):
"This is the closest I have been to my son in almost 5 years," said Zohra Zewawi, the mother of Guantanamo prisoner Omar Deghayes, as she stood in front of the gates of the prison on the Cuban side. "On the one hand I feel incredibly sad that I am so close but can’t see or hold him; on the other hand I am happy because focusing the world’s attention on this shameful place might help get my son out of prison."
While protests were happening all over the world to commemorate the 5th anniversary of the first prisoners taken to Guantanamo on January 11, 2002, a group of us traveled to the city of Guantanamo to bring our protest close to the gates of the US prison. The group, organized by CODEPINK and Global Exchange, included U.S. activists such as retired US Colonel Ann Wright, peace mom Cindy Sheehan, mother of 9/11 victim Adele Welty, and constitutional lawyer Bill Goodman. But the most compelling members of the delegation were three people most directly affected by the prison: Zohra Zewawi and Taher Deghayes, the mother and brother of a current prisoner; and Asif Iqbal, a former prisoner who spent 2 ½ years locked up in the cages of Guantanamo.
Zohra Zewawi and her son Taher Deghayes traveled all the way from Dubai to shine light on the plight of Omar Deghayes. Omar had been captured in Pakistan in September 2002, accused of being an enemy combatant. While his family is convinced that Omar never committed any crimes and was picked up merely for the $5,000 bounty the US military was offering, they were not in Cuba to plead his innocence. "We are simply asking for due process and fair trials for my son and all detainees at Guantanamo," said Zohra.
This is not the first time tragedy has befallen the Deghayes family. Zohra's husband, a labor lawyer in Libya, was killed by the government of Col. Omar Qaddafi. Zohra fled to England to raise her five children. "The dictator Qaddafi tortured and imprisoned my husband; now the U.S., a country I thought was civilized, is doing the same thing to my son," she said.
The other member of the delegation most directly is Asif Iqbal, who was captured in Afghanistan when he was 20 years old. Asif and the two friends imprisoned with him, all from Tipton, England, became known as the Tipton 3 and their plight became the subject of the powerful docu-drama Road to Guantanamo.

That's Medea Benjamin reporting on the trip she and others took this month to demand justice for those imprisoned without trial at Guantamo. The five year mark was passed last week, January 11th.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, January 17, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; two more US troops are announced dead; Mad Maddie sticks up for her daddy's favorite pupil; Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey and Maxine Waters stand strong in the US Congress; the US military is accused of again breaking diplomatic policies and flouting the law in Iraq; and US war resister
Ehren Watada learns just how hollow 'justice' can be.
Starting with the latest news of
Ehren Watada who, in June of last year, became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. A strong stand that took tremendous courage (even his parents, Bob Watada and Carolyn Ho, have spoken of how they attempted to talk him out of it because of the scorn, silence and hostility he'd be greeted with). He faces a court-martial on February 5th and Lt. Col. John Head -- the so-called judge -- has issued a decision based on arguments presented in the pre-trial hearing earlier this month. As Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) summarized it today: "The judge in the case has ruled Watada's defense won't be able to present evidence challenging the legality of the war nor explain Watada's motive to resist deploying to Iraq." Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) notes it is "a major blow to the court-martial defense," which is putting it mildly, and quotes Watada's attorney Eric Seitz who declares, "We have been stripped of every defense. This is a disciplinary system, not a justice system. Otherwise, we would have been entitled to defend ourselves."
Which they are not. Ehren Watada was just stripped of any defense. As
noted on January 4th when the prosecution presented their pre-trial arguments: "What the military would like to do in today's pre-trial hearing is reduce everything to whether or not Watada deployed with his unit? The answer, of course, is that he did not. The military does not want the issue of the legality of the war addressed. By closing off this discussion, they not only would destroy Watada's right to defend himself, they would be able, as the Bully Boy long has been able to, set the terms of the discussion and control what is and is not discussed."
Political Affairs offers a survey of the travesty and notes that Head's ruling reads: "The defense motion for a hearin gon the 'Nuremberg defense' is DENIED. The government motion to prevent the defense from presenting evidence on the legality of the war is GRANTED." Of the political prosecution (let's be honest, Watada's being politically prosecuted), Political Affairs notes that, in the pre-trial hearing, "Kueker replied that there are two separate prosecutions going on. The first is for Lt. Watada missing movement to Iraq -- a prosecution where his MOTIVE is so irrelevant that it needs to be barred from the military jury. The second prosecution will be for Lt. Watada publicly explaining his MOTIVE! Apparently this Orwellian formulation passes for military justice."
Apparently and sadly it does. It's complete nonsense. It's doesn't remotely resemble justice. It's a political prosecution of
Ehren Watada where he is silenced to the point of being gagged. (Shades of the Chicago Eight.) He can be charged with crimes that, if convicted, carry six years of prison time, the prosecution can do whatever they want in the court-martial, but Ehren Watada cannot make the best defense he is entitled to. Not only can his attorney not put forth the best defense, the reasons for the actions he is now being persecuted for, those reasons cannot be discussed by the defense.
The prosectution can discuss it. They'll be discussing what
Ehren Watada said here or there and why it is supposedly so objectionable but Ehren Watada will not be allowed to explain why he acted as he did, why he said what he did.
That's not justice. It's railroading him. It's denying him the right to offer any response to a government case against him. But the
Coward's Silence will continue to cause many in independent media to ignore Ehren Watada. Follow that closley and note who stays silent. Those that stay silent are useless. They'd stay silent if you needed them as well.
Ehren Watada has been prevented from arguing any kind of defense. His court-martial now consists of nothing more than "yes" and "no" answers from him. That's not a defense. He took a stand. He's shown bravery. There is no hemming or hawwing, there is only standing up on his part. And for doing that, for saying no to an illegal war, he faces six years in prison -- all the more likely when he's not allowed to make his case.
To repeat, during
the Article 32 hearing, Watada's defense called three witnesses, Francis A. Boyle of the University of Illinois' College of Law, Champagne; Denis Halliday, the former Assistant Secretary General of the UN; and retired Colonel Ann Wright. These three witnesses addressed the issue of the war, it's legality, and the responsibilities of a service member to disobey any order that they believed was unlawful. The testimony was necessary because Watada's refusing to participate in the illegal war due to the fact that he feels it is (a) illegal and (b) immoral. That will not happen now, 'judge' Head has denied that, has denied Watada the right to argue any sort of defense.
While the military attempts to throw the book at him (and asks that he stand still and repeat, "Thank you, sir. May I have another?") and independent media plays dumb (with few exceptions) the people react differently. On Saturday,
Ehren Watada spoke at the Coupeville Recreation Center in Washington. Paul Boring (Whidbey News-Times) reports that over a 100 people showed up to hear him and burst into applause at various intervals. Watada asked: "Do we wanta a military that without hesistation, will turn on people simply because they ordered to do so? . . . What I have embarked upon and what I sacrifice today is for those who have lost their lives and for those still struggling to stay alive. . . . I do have the power to make you aware of why soldiers are dying and why this war is unjust. I do have the power to compel you to care. It is the American people who have the power to end this war. . . . They can try me, convict me or acquit me. My life does not matter. The lives of thousands of soldiers do . . . it is one thing to end a war. It is another to ensure it never happens again. We have the power to change history."
We do have that power. But only if we use it. Mark Taylor-Canfield reported for
Free Speech Radio News and The KPFA Evening News yesterday on a speech Ehren Watada
gave as part of Seattle's MLK celebration where, no surprise, he received a standing ovation. The people are hearing him (which no doubts scares the military to death). Taylor-Canfield also noted
Camp Resistance had set up "just outside the gates of Fort Lewis where Watada's hearing is being held." So that's two independent media outlets that have noted Camp Resistance -- will anyone be next? In a show of support for Ehren Watada, Iraq Veterans Against the War started Camp Resistance and intend to maintain it through the court-martial. They need money, volunteers and press attention.
Yesterday, we noted that Agustin Aguayo has received not the expected charge of being AWOL but the charge of "desertion." With Aguayo the US military is attempting to send a message both due to Aguayo's standing up and saying "no" and due to the fact that (as Mike pointed out last night) Aguayo didn't just sue the US military, he's made it up all the way up to the DC Court of Appeals. With Ehren Watada the US military is also attempting to send a message, to initmidate and frighten others from following in Watada or Aguayo's footsteps. Guess what? It's too late. It's already happening. (About the only one scared at this point is a healthy chunk of independent media.) Watada and Aguayo are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes Kyle Snyder, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske 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.
Today on
KPFA's The Morning Show, US Congress member Barbara Lee discussed the Bring the Troops Home and Iraq Sovereignty Restoration Act. Which is? Legislation proposed by Lee and fellow Congress members Lynn Woolsey and Maxine Waters calling for the start of troop withdrawal and the start of "work with the regional countries in the Middle East to come up with a multilateral solution," Lee explained. Repeatedly, Representative Barbara Lee noted that the presence of US troops was fueling the violence. In addition, she noted that the violence "is only going to escalate as long as US troops are there," that "there is no 'win'" and that Bully Boy mentions mistakes but "whether than talk about to rectify it, he's talking about escalating the war." Andrea Lewis asked what everyone could do to support Lee, Waters and Woolsey's proposal and Lee responded that "the bill needs co-sponsors, the more co-sponsors you build, the more chance the bill will get a fair hearing" so start contacting your Congressional reps (especially the House because this is a House proposal) -- get on the phone, on the fax, on your feet, into your e-mail account . . . and tell them you want to see some support for Waters, Woolsey and Lee's bill -- Bring the Troops Home and Iraq Sovereignty Restoration Act.
Also appearing on
The Morning Show was Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) stated, "I hope she gets a whole lot more signers on that" and that "This is what we need. This is what we must from our leadership, we must have courageous leadership." He then discussed how when the talk of escalation was first being floated, US Senator Harry Reid (Majority Leader) was all ready to go along publicly but public outrage changed that. "The Democratic Leadership, if left to their own devices will go along with Bush on that". Rothschild stated he is for all avenues ("Bascially, I'm for everything") including phone calls and e-mails (which he believes are counted -- they are, a tally is kept by your rep) but it's time to get "past the passive protests." He shared how he was speaking with an activist about the events to note the 3,000 mark for number of US troops killed in Bully Boy's illegal war. The activist stated, "We got to do more than candle light vigils 'cause they're fine with candle light vigils" and that until the actions turn to massive civil disobedience ("until we start interrupting Wall St.," his friend told him) "this war's going to go on" -- instead "the volume needs to go up, needs to increase and just passive resistance to this war" will not change anything.
Philip Maldari raised the issue of the way Bully Boy continues to attempt to sell the escalation on every and any outlet that will have him. Maldari noted that Bully Boy was on the NewsHour as part of the push and "he says he has faith in generals -- well, he just changed the generals." Rothschild responded that "The reason they can't defend the policy is its indefenseable" but Bully Boy "views himself as The Great Liberator -- he thinks he's got God talking to him in one ear and Cheney in the other" which is why he can drop the number of Iraqis killed into a speech (Rothschild was referring to last year when Bully Boy decided to use the Iraqi Body Count figure) and "it didn't have an impact on him . . . he just dropped it off . . . At what point will these catostrophic casualty figures coming out of Iraq really make an impact on Bush?"
In Iraq, the chaos and violence continue following what
Leila Fadel and Zaineb Obeid (McClatchy Newspapers) term the "worst day of carnage in more than a month".
Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports that 17 people have died from a car bombing "in the Shiite district of Sadr City". Mariam Karouny and Claudia Parsons (Reuters) report that the bombing left a "mangled wreckage of a white and orange taxi and blood on the street". The BBC notes that this took place "near the outdoor Mereidi market, one of the neighbourhood's most popular commerical centres" and that "[t]he force of the blast shattered windows of nearby stores and restaurants."
Al Jazeera notes a truck bomb which claimed 10 lives in Kirkuk with at least 42 wounded and "[r]escuers are still searching for bodies." CNN notes that the truck bomb was "detonated remotely, police said. The blast heavily damaged the station, leaving a number of people trapped under the rubble and causing structural damage to other buildings."
Reuters notes a roadsidebomb in Basra has left "two coalition force soldiers" wounded in Basra and it is presumed those are British soldiers, while, in Baghdad, one roadside bomb killed a police officer and left three more wounded, another roadside bomb ("near a minibus") left six people wounded and mortar rounds are being used in the continued assault on Haifa Street.
Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports in an attack on two brothers who were construction workers, one was killed and the other wounded in Mahaweel,
Reuters reports a corpse was discovered (police officer) in Iskandariya. Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) notes five corpses were discovered in Baghdad.
In addition,
Reuters reports that a "local government official in Mansour district of Baghdad was kidnapped" along with four his body guards.
Today, the
US military has announced: "One Soldier assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died Monday and one Soldier assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division died today from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." The two deaths bring the ICCC count to 3028 (3028 is the AP count today as well).
Returning to the bill Barbara Lee spoke of, The Bring the Troops Home and Iraq Sovereignty Restoration Act,
AFP reports that it is "calling for a full withdrawal of US forces from Iraq within six months" and that it "would repeal congressional authorization for the use of force in Iraq . . . [,] would also force the withdrawl from Iraq of US military contractors, and would prohibit permanent US military bases there, while continuing economic and political aid to the country."
From legal news to diplomatic news, the US military stands accused of raiding another diplomatic mission in Iraq.
Al Jazeera reports that: "Sudan has summoned the senior US diplomat in Khartoum after it said American troops raided the Sudanese embassy in Baghdad, violating diplomatic conventions, a foreign ministry spokesmen has said." Last week, an Iranian consulate was stormed by US forces and diplomatic staff rounded up. Five still remain in US custody.
Staying with the topic of bully diplomacy, Mad Maddie Albright, the Sanctions Queen whose policies under Bill Clinton led to the unnecessary deaths of many Iraqis, marches her bald spot into the US House's Foreign Relations Committee today and, as
KUNA's report demonstrates, proceeds to prop up Condi Rice (who studied with Mad Maddie's Daddy) and to boo and hiss the idea of cutting off funding for the illegal war. Cut off funds? Never says Mad Maddie who cut off medicine and a great deal more while once famously bragging, in an interview with Lesley Stahl (60 Minutes) that a half-million dead Iraqi children was "a very hard choice, but the price -- we think the price is worth it."
asked about that by Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Mad Maddie showed her churlish side as she snapped and attempted to avoid making eye contact with Goodman. The neo-liberal is here to sell the war and while she may present herself as a disinterested party, Naomi Klein's groundbreaking reporting as 2004 wound down was not just on James Baker's efforts to make a quick buck in Iraq, Mad Maddie was a part of the effort as well. It should also be noted that Mad Maddie argued, immediately prior to the war, for Iraq to be broken up into three regions. She's hardly the disinterested diplomat she attempts to present herself as. But she's never been a honest broker.
While Mad Maddie laughably attempts to portray Condi Rice's Middle East trip as proof the Condi understands the importance of "a meaningful peace process," the reality of the trip?
Paul Richter (Los Angeles Times) observes that "Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and five other neighboring states" have issued a statement "warning against foreign interference in Iraq" (excluding the US, of course) and that Rice was "traveling the region this week to build support for President Bush's new Iraq policy." That's why Rice has been traveling to the areas, to drum up support for Bully Boy's desired escalation, it's not about peace in the region. Mad Maddie also burped and growled about NATO.
Turning to true diplomacy,
yesterday we noted the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq's report and this statement was included: "Well they have the option of 'honour killings' which, the UN report tells us, led to, in the first months of 2006, 239 women attempting to kill themselves -- burning yourself to death may be among the most popular 'roles' for Iraqi women in the public sphere" -- first eight months of 2006 -- it was the first eight months. We'll pick back up on the topic of Iraqi women in a moment. But, if you missed it, the reports states that 34,452 Iraqis died in 2006 and 36,685 were wounded and that the US led forces "restrict the enjoyment of human rights and . . . cause severe suffering to the local population." As Borzou Daragahi (Los Angels Times) notes: "The report paints a harrowing picture of life in Iraq. At least 470,000 Iraqis have become refugees in their own country" and that "Baghdad accounted for about 75% of all deaths in the last two months of 2006".
The report is harrowing and
Sabrina Tavernise (New York Times) interviewed Um Qasim (who lives on Haifa Street in Baghdad) whose life demonstrates the realities -- since the illegal war began, Qasim has seen three brothers die, a sister-in-law die, a nephew, a step-son a son . . . while two of her own sons are imprisoned and her 16-year-old son was just shot dead.
So we've noted that. When will the press get serious about the report and note its findings on honor killings and sucides among Iraqi women? The rapes, the kidnappings, the attacks on women and the destruction of women's rights?
December 9th, on
RadioNation with Laura Flanders, Flanders and MADRE's Yanar Mohammed spoke about these killings. Mohammed described an 'honor' killing in November where a woman was taken from her home by fundamentalists and then beaten and flogged "in the middle of the street. Then they brought a cable and wrapped it around her neck" and used that cable to pull her to the "nearest football field and they hanged her". That's not isolated. Yanar Mohammed could speak of two other 'honor' killings in November as well.
While grateful that Flanders and Mohammed can discuss it, when will the mainstream media? These crimes are in the UN report.
Ehren Watada is on trial, not Sarah Olson. Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) writes about Olson today (that's not a slap at Rothschild) and let's note this, while remembering Rothschild is not a 'creative' journalist (meaning he doesn't invent facts): "Olson says she is not in a position to discuss what she is ultimately going to do or 'what kind of legal strategy I will employ,' she says. But she appears to give a hint when she adds: 'My duty as a journalist is to the public and to their right to know, and not to the government."
Okay, are we all confused again?
She can't support her sources one moment, then the next
she's telling Aaron Glantz she has always supported Ehren Watada and doesn't know why anyone would suggest otherwise. Rothchild writes today and Olson's doing what? Saying she can't declare what she intends to do. And yet . . . Olson goes on RadioNation with Laura Flanders and declares she will not testify. (This page takes you to archives where you can listen or just note "Journalist Sarah Olson on why she won't testify against Lieut. Ehren Watada.")
After we're all over the what-mixed-message-is-she-sending-now moment, it bears repeating that Olson is NOT the story. She is a reporter. Her public drama is boring, tiring and embarrassing. She needs to take herself off the public stage because Ehren Watada is facing six years in prison, not Sarah Olson. Or as Dolly Parton says in Straight Talk, "Climb down off the cross, honey. Somebody needs the wood."
Olson tells Rothschild, she's 'holding up' "just fine." Good. Good to know she's maintaining. Now how about remembering that reporters are not the story? Gregg Kakesako, also subpoenaed, told Rothschild "no comment" -- two words Olson would do well to learn unless "Naval Gazer" is the new occupation she intends to list on her passport. All journalists, say it together, "We are not the story. We are not the story. We are not . . ."
Programming note, tomorrow
KPFA presents LIVE, gavel-to-gavel coverage of the US Senate's Judiciary Committee meeting entitled "Oversight of the U.S. Department of Justice." Larry Bensky will host the KPFA coverage which will begin at 6:00 am PST. Alberto Gonzales is scheduled to testify before the committee.

amy goodmandemocracy now

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Comics -- Celibacy in the City

The above is from Isaiah's "Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts 'Celibacy in the City (Series Finale)'." It's actually the ending of the strip. Call it my You Tube moment. I really did enjoy this one and I also enjoyed the original back in 2005. I had just started up this site back then and I don't think it noted it -- I was mainly trying to get something up and not bore everyone. So let me talk about it now.

Harriet Miers, the unmarried Harriet Miers, was nominated for the Supreme Court. Like Dick Cheney in 1999, she was actually tasked with finding someone for Bully Boy to go with, and like Dick Cheney who decided he was the best, Miers appeared to decide she was the best as well. She had no real experience. There was the Texas Lotto scandal and other things as well. She was anti-choice though they tried to mask that, and sadly several women's groups were fooled in real time, she was completely unqualified. I remember the news of how, suddenly, she was the longtime romantic girlfriend of a man who was at least in his 50s, went to her church, like her had never married, and was a choir director.

I have nothing against people who are not married. Probably would have been smarter on my point to avoid marriage at one point in my life. However, I don't attend an extreme church that believes you procreate, procreate, procreate. I'm sorry, but when two 50+ year-old people who believe in marriage for straight people never marry, who are supposed to be highly religious, are suddenly a couple, my first question is always, "Who's the gay one? Or is both of them?"

Neither may have been gay. Certainly not all higly religious, elderly bachelor choir diretors are gay. I can't think of any, but law of averages, there has to be at least one. But . . .

So we knew she was anti-choice, knew she was beyond pro-business, and if she was in the closet herself, that likely meant a set back for gays and lesbians who had only recently had a real victory with Lawrence v. Texas. (Closeted individuals, of that age, tend to overcompensate to stay in the closet. That's my professional opinion based upon behaviors I've observed. They are the most difficult to provide assistance to because every question, every remark has to be filtered through their lens of "How will this make me look" -- I'm speaking of a verbal response in a therapy session.) It's also true that as Bully Boy's personal council, we were putting someone on the bench who would more than likely rule for the administration on issues like illegal wiretaps, Guantanamo and more.

So I wasn't for Harriet Miers. Condi Rice was another high profile single woman. I didn't doubt that Condi Rice was straight (though I could be wrong) but I kept thinking that if she was in another administration, she could do something more than cook meals at night with Gwen Ifell of The NewsHour. She could have the kind of social life that a Henry Kissinger had in an earlier administration, if nothing else. (Might as well live it up while you're committing the war crimes because there's always a chance that after you're out of power, you'll be behind bars.) But in that administration? Not a chance of having a personal life when you were their high profile person of color. Which is why, as Maureen Dowd documented years ago, Condi Rice referring to Bully Boy as her husband (she stopped herself with "my hus-"), didn't send me thinking, "She's having an affair with him!" (Though she could be.) It just made me think that this was a woman who wanted work and a social life and was chafing under what was being imposed upon her. It was also true that John Kerry noting the obvious in a debate (and John Edwards had noted it in a debate immediately prior), that Mary Cheney was gay, led to fake outrage from Dick and Lynne Cheney over how dare someone say publicly that their out of the closet, openly gay daughter was gay . . . when Bully Boy was campaining on a ban to same-sex marriage.

So there you had three single, adult women in DC, tied to an adminstration that kept selling how Christian it supposedly was, selling no-sex before marriage with their laughable AIDS 'policy,' selling hatred of gays and lesbians, and much more.

So Isaiah took these three women and did the converse of Sex in the City, entitled Celibate in the City. Instead of designer shoes, low rent Harriet Miers (Harri) was addicted to Payless Shoes. Condi treated excercise workouts as though they were sex (sublimation) and no one asked and no one told about Mary. (In the original, Harri notes with awe that there are rumors Mary's never even kissed a man and it's like she's married to God.) The three meet up each night at Denny's (those with longer memories will remember Denny's racial problems in the 90s -- to put it mildly -- which made that a hilarious choice for the location) and 'dish' about things like a coup against Hugo Chavez, how wonderful GOP pin-up Patricia Heaton is and the latest track suit in the Karen Hughes collection.

It was hilarious. 2007 has brought changes. Mary's pregnant. I assume since Bully Boy talked to People magazine about it, the Cheneys won't scream and hiss if we note that it's a baby she's having with her partner. Since they've made it public, you might think the press would be allowed to ask the sort of questions that they did with Melissa Etheridge and other lesbian couples who had children -- such as who's the donor? But no. Also apparently off limits is any real discussion of it although Mary Cheney was hawking her personal life and the really bad book she wrote about it mere months ago. Suddenly, we're supposed to respect her privacy. (A bit hard to do when someone's tried to cash in on their name with a book.) Harriet Miers? She had to withdraw her name. (That may be Harriet Myers. I don't care.) Alito got the vacany she was once nominated for. So she announced recently she was leaving the administration and DC to return to Texas.

In the gina & krista round-robin last week, two of the questions Gina and Krista got were whether or not there would be an update? So, since it was wanted, Isaiah did a "series finale."
By the way, Harriet really did go to Denny's. Days after Isaiah's first comic went up, the press started carrying accounts about that. I thought that was a case of life imitating art.

It wrapped up Sunday (I use a piece of it above) and I did enjoy the way it ended. I e-mailed Isaiah about it and he said he thought that, unlike a show about real friendship, they three should end up estranged and not liking each other. That is how it ends and I think that's perfect.

"Another War the Voters Hoped to End" (Roger Morris, CounterPunch):
There are no good options in Iraq, the President admitted between his lines. But that is not because Syria and Iran are hostile, or because Washington is not talking to them (one has to wonder what the demonstrably inept diplomats of this regime could be trusted to say to them). Nor because 21,000 or 40,000 more U.S. troops cannot meet even the Pentagon's optimistic ratios to "clear and hold." No, the war was lost before it began, in the simple ancient equation of power. In the overthrow of Ba'athist rule, its replacement by an armed, vengeful Shia majority (vengeance the U.S. fed by its covert installation and support of Saddam’s tyranny), all amid a politically ignorant, plundering and inevitably blundering occupation, the nightmare of Iraq and the chaos following a U.S. withdrawal have been as predictable as anything in world politics. Depending, that is, on one's universe.
It hardly matters whether Mr. Bush's speech is to salvage some "victory," or is mere cover for defeat and retreat. There in the library the President had to admit Iraq will bleed on, and America with it. Unspoken, an attack on Iran by Israel or the U.S. hovered like a leering ghost over the "way forward." And the tortured universe of Palestine, the bondage of America to Israel's tragedy, waits beyond as it has for sixty years.
Anthropologists may attribute this persistent folly of policy, these universes, not simply to ignorance or our irremediable bipartisan provincialism, but to a deeper failure of sensibility, warriors afraid to leap beyond their worlds, where empathy must war with distaste and fear. There will surely be more awkward White House speeches. Having been there, I can tell you that the occupants do not really read the books in the library, and we do not do well with lost wars, at home or abroad. We will not soon bridge those universes so comfortably, fiercely, fearfully separate.

Now you won't read the above in the New York Times, or, for that matter, probably not in The Nation. So if you liked it, remember it's CounterPunch. I had an e-mail last week from someone noting that their subscriptions were "high." That may be true for some (I believe it's less than forty dollars but I buy it issue by issue -- I'm not big on subscriptions, I love my trips to bookstores) and if that's true for you but you enjoy CounterPunch, you can e-mail things to friends and you can give the website your traffic. That's it for me tonight. I started late and I'm tired.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, January 16, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the United Nations issues a report that seems to go unread (or maybe the news industry has decided, yet again, to ignore Iraqi women?) , US war resister Agustin Aguayo has been charged by the US military, Bully Boy explains to 60 Minutes that the ten words last week were meaningless, the US military announces the death of four US soldiers, and the New York Times is going to have actually report on the chaos and violence in tomorrow's paper because with over 100 dead in Baghdad alone today even the desperate to sell the war Timid can't look the other way.
Starting with war resistance within the military, US war resister Agustin Aguayo, a medic with the US army, gave his reasons for refusing to redeploy to Iraq for a second tour in a statement to the US Court of Appeals in DC which was preparing to hear his appeal to be designated a conscientious objector:

With or without non-combatant status I will not deploy to Iraq. I have been to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom II, and I know what to expect. I know what will be expected of me. And because of this first-hand knowledge, I simply cannot take part in this deployment. Some people might think that a fear of death is the reason for refusing to deploy. But that is incorrect. I have to be true to myself and do what is right. Even though I deployed as a non-combatant in 2004-05 I still carry guilt from my participation. While there as a non-combatant, I was still required to do guard-duty, although I chose to carry only an unloaded gun. While there as a non-combatant, I was still required to patch-up, treat, and help countless soldiers for "sick-call" in order to facilitate their prompt return to combatant duties. While there as a non-combatant, I was asked to drive soldiers around on patrols, patrols which could have been deadly to Americans and Iraqis alike. I regret involvement in those activities, because ultimately I was contributing to the war mission and enabling others to do what I oppose. By doing guard duty, appearing to be armed, even without bullets, I gave the false impression that I would kill if need be. I am not willing to live a lie to satisfy any deployment operation. By helping countless soldiers for "sick-call" as well as driving soldiers around on patrols I helped them get physically better and be able to go out and do the very thing I am against -- kill. This is something my conscience will not allow me to do. Although I myself did not pull the trigger, I now realize that what I did as a non-combatant nonetheless supported and enabled these missions. I cannot carry that burden on my conscience. When you know better you do better.

Aguayo self-checked out of the US military on September 2nd and turned himself at Fort Irwin on September 26. Aguayo has argued that his Last Friday, Kevin Dougherty (Stars & Stripes) reported that the US military has charged Aguayo with desertion and missing movement and that conviction on both charges "could receive a maximum prison term of seven years". The charge of desertion is interesting in that (a) Aguayo turned himself in, (b) he was gone less than 30 days, and (c) the US Court of Appeals was set to hear his case. Also of interest is that, though no date's been set for the trial/court-martial, the military's decided to announce charges when his claim for c.o. status still awaits a ruling from the US Court of Appeals.
Turning to other war resistance news, Iraq Veterans Against the War started Camp Resistance to show their support for Ehren Watada who faces a court-martial February 5, 2007. damon reports that they intend to stay "outside the gates of Fort Lewis and on the streets across the nation" in order "to make an impression large enough to influence the outcome of the trial". What do they need? They need:

financial support for getting IVAW members here at Fort Lewis, particularly on the day of the trial. Also, we envision Camp Resistance FOBs (Forward Operating Base) starting all over the country; in front of recruiter's offices, military bases, etcetera. When we got kicked out of our campsite, we came to the realization that Camp Resistance is not a physical place, but a place within our hearts and minds. If your heart is filled with resistance to this illegal war and Love for LT, you can start a daily vigil in your local area or join us here at Fort Lewis.

They also need attention -- make sure your friends know and start demanding that media, big and small (also known as Useless & Useless) cover Camp Resistance.
Agustin Aguayo and Ehren Watada are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes Kyle Snyder, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske 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.
Meanwhile Bully Boy does his War Dance In The Pants and claims, that as "The Destroyer," this dance is tyrant's choice. Appearing Sunday on CBS' 60 Minutes (pre-taped, Bully Boy doesn't do live well), Bully Boy again attempted to pump his ten word teeny, tiny, little culpa into a thing of significance. Scott Pelley asked Bully Boy about the ten words -- the 'mistakes were made' shrug that the press thought was just AMAZING all last week. ["Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me."] It wasn't. And for the fools who didn't grasp it in real time, Bully Boy demonstrated in Sunday night's broadcast.

PELLEY: You mention mistakes having been made in your speech. What mistakes are you talking about?
BUSH: You know, we've been through this before. Abu Ghraib was a mistake. Using bad language like, you know, "bring them on" was a mistake. I think history is gonna look back and see a lot of ways we could have done things better. No question about it.
PELLEY: The troop levels . . .
BUSH: Could have been a mistake.
PELLEY: Could have been a mistake?
BUSH: Yeah. [General] John Abizaid, one of the planners, said in front of Congress, you know, he thought we might have needed more troops. My focus is on how to succeed. And the reason I brought up the mistakes is, one, that's the job of the commander-in-chief, and, two, I don't want people blaming our military. We got a bunch of good military people out there doing what we've asked them to do. And the temptation is gonna find scapegoats. Well, if the people want a scapegoat, they got one right here in me 'cause it's my decisions.

A scapegoat is someone wrongly blamed. Before anyone points to the obvious (Bully Boy has had a highly abusive relationship with the English language), let's note that you don't go to the well on the Bible as often as the Bully Boy has publicly without being expected to know the story Aaron. Bully Boy knows full well what a scapegoat is and, Sunday on 60 Minutes, he was revealing the obvious, his ten words were sop tossed out and not heartfelt. But thank you, US press, for wasting nearly a week promoting it as ground-breaking news. It's not as though anything better couldn't have been covered in that time, is it?
In the same 60 Minutes interview, Bully Boy rejected the notion that he might "owe the Iraqi people an apology" for not doing "a better job in providing security after the invasion" with "Not at all. I am proud of the efforts we did. We liberated that country from a tyrant."
Shh, don't wake the tyrant. In the real world the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq has released a report and, yes, it declares that 34,452 Iraqis died in 2006 with 36,685 wounded. The report also states that: "Armed operations by MNF-I continued to restrict the enjoyment of human rights and to cause severe suffering to the local population" -- MNF being the US led 'coalition'.
The tyrant thinks he 'liberated' does he? The UN report also covers the realities for Iraqi women -- new realities, post-invasion realities, brought to them by Bully Boy Inc. That includes vanishing rights, women's rights are disappearing and they "are reportedly living with heightened levels of threats to their lives and physical integrity, and forced to conform to strict, abritrarily imposed morality codes" which allows them new 'role' -- unclaimed corpse. Women are kidnapped and abused, sexually and then murdered, their corpses don't get buried by the families because to note that is your daughter, your sister, etc. would be to risk family shame. Those women who have been 'liberated' to mass sexual assault and abuse but aren't murdered? Well they have the option of 'honour killings' which, the UN report tells us, led to, in the first months of 2006, 239 women attempting to kill themselves -- burning yourself to death may be among the most popular 'roles' for Iraqi women in the public sphere. Thanks, Tyrant Bush.
Turning to today's violence which claimed over 100 lives in the capital alone.
CNN reports a coordinated attack on the Mustansiriya University involving two bombs (bomb vest and car bomb) with one "at the back entrance of the school" and the other at the "main gate under a pedestrian bridge where students and employees get public transit." Claudia Parsons and Alastair Macdonald (Reuters) note that at least 65 are dead and "many of them young women students". CNN notes that the count rose to 70 dead and at least 169 were wounded.
Also in Baghdad, Reuters notes a roadside bomb and a motorcycle bomb claimed the lives of at least 15 and left at least 70 wounded in an attack "near a Sunni mosque"; another roadside bomb claimed four lives and left ten more wounded in an attack on a police patrol, while a "bomb inside a car" left six dead and at least 11 wounded in the Sadr City section of Baghdad.
Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports five mortars left 10 people wounded in west Baghdad and notes that bomb that exploded inside a car in the Sadr City section of Baghdad "exploded inside a KIA minibus".
Reuters notes a person shot dead in Hawija and three were shot down in Mosul. CNN reports that "gunmen on motorcycles opend fire on a maketplace in the Mehdi Army-controlled Bunouk area of eastern Baghdad and killed 12 civilians. Seven others were wounded."
The BBC reports that 25 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes that two corpses were discovered in Diwaniya.
Not covered in the above is the fact that the slaughter of Haifa Street (a residential street -- or residential before the slaughter began) continues. Nancy A. Youssef and Zaineb Obeid (McClatchy Newspapers) report: "Eight days after a joint U.S.-Iraqi offensive began to take control of the Haifa Street area in central Baghdad, residents said they had no water and no electricity and that people seeking food had been shot at random. They said they could see American soldiers nearby, but that the Americans were making no effort to intervene."
In addition, Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports: "according to a medical source from karbala health directorate, the directorate yesterday received 80 anonymous bodies from Baghdad morgue with the help of sadr office. those bodies were found 3 months ago in Baghdad and were not be able to be recognized by their families. usually after 3 month of the bodies being at Baghdad morgue if nobody claim them are sent to karbala grave yard to be buried but now the period have been lessen to one month only. this grave yard in karbala is called the anonymous grave yard. also today 85 anonymous bodies were received from Baghdad morgue to be buried at karbala anonymous grave yard."
Meanwhile the US military announces: "Four Task Force Lightning Soldiers assigned to the 4th Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division were killed Monday as a result of an improvised explosive device while conducting operations in Ninewa province, Iraq."
Addressing the escalation, Ron Jacobs (CounterPunch) observes that the escalation is Bully Boy's plan and the US, not Iraqis, are in charge:

Initial reports from the US powers running the war explain that the first neighborhoods to be attacked will be primarily Sunni in makeup. Once these neighborhoods are pacified--gunships attack, soldiers come in, the men rounded up and the areas locked down and fenced in, the remaining residents will be issued identification cards which will most likely include retina scans and will be limited in their travels outside of the region assigned to them by the US command. The plan then apparently calls for a similar effort in the Shia areas of Baghdad, including the area known as Sadr City. This is when the Green Zone regime of al-Maliki will be challenged. Will he give in to US demands and support the almost certainly bloody raids into this part of the city? Will he accept the US plan to turn the Shia regions of Baghdad into the equivalent of the Vietnam war's strategic hamlets? Since it is quite unlikely that Muqtada al-Sadr or his followers will, if al-Maliki were to do so, he would most certainly lose the support of this important bloc of Iraqis. If he opposes US attacks and lockdowns of Shia areas of the city, then he would most likely lose his job.
The scenarios outlined above do enough to prove that it is Washington that really runs the war in Iraq. The major difference between the situation before Mr. Bush's speech and now is that the post-speech plan strips away even the pretense that the Iraqi Green Zone government is in control. What this means on the ground is that the US command will no longer even pretend to ask the Green Zone government for permission to conduct its activities. This change was graphically illustrated almost immediately after Mr. Bush's speech when US troops raided the Iranian diplomatic mission in Irbil and hijacked six Iranian consular officials. No Iraqis even knew about this raid until after the fact. In fact, the Kurdish military units guarding the region almost killed some US troops trying to enter the region because they were unaware of their intentions. We will surely see more examples like this in the coming weeks and months.

Turning to financial news, Sunday, Stephen Foley (Independent of London) reported the GOP donor Bearing Point was having problems which included "falling more than a year behind in reporting its own financial results, prompting legal actions from its creditors and shareholders". Who is Bearing Point? A company that the US administration has been very happy to give contracts (and tax dollars) to for their work on Iraq ("on" being key). On Sunday's The KPFA Evening News, Antonia Juhasz (author of The BU$H Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time) noted that among the contracts Bearing Point currently has one for privatizing Iraq and one of their own employees sitting on Iraq's Oil Ministry. Juhasz explained:

Bearing Point has played the role on the ground in Iraq as the company tasked with the job of making sure that Iraqi's new oil law is passed. So essentially there's been a Bearing Point employee who's had no other job but to make sure that Iraq passes an oil law that supports the Bush administration's agenda for Iraq which is to get Iraq's oil as privatized as possible and into US corporate hands. And that has been Bearing Point's job and it seems that BP has done that job quite well. Bearing Point has essentially been the workhorse on the ground and also the constant threat the constant presence of the Bush administration on the ground in Iraq, doing nothing but focusing on getting this law completed and potentially passed in Iraq. [. . .] The Bechtels and the Halliburtons and the oil companises, Chevron, Exxon , Connoco, and Marathon. Those companies have all been beneficiaries of policies that Bearing Point helped develop and Bearing Point was developing policies that simply, again, serviced the Bush administration's interests. It's definitely just a tool of the administration whereas the other companises definitely had their own agendas that the administration in some ways was a tool servicing their interests like, in particular, the oil companies.