Friday, March 09, 2007

Anthony Arnove & Left Forum events Sat. & Sun.

Two great events coming up in NYC. Please announce and forward widely!

Readings from Voices of a People's History of the United States

With performances by Staceyann Chin, Deepa Fernandes, Brian Jones,
Erin Cherry, Najla Said, Mario. A Murillo, Deepa Fernandes, and other
special guests

Narration and introduction by Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now! and
Anthony Arnove

Saturday, March 10
8 pm
The Great Hall, Cooper Union

as part of Left Forum 2007 ( ), March 9-11 at
Cooper Union

Free for conference participants and the general public.

(Anthony Arnove also will be on the panel "Iraq: What's at Stake?"
Sunday, March 11, 10 am, at Left Forum, with Gilbert Achcar,
Christian Parenti, Nir Rosen, and AK Gupta. Info at: )


An Independent Journalist's Story of Being Abducted in Iraq, Rescued,
and Shot by U.S. Forces

Wednesday, March 14
7 pm
Judson Church
55 Washington Square South
New York, NY

with Giuliana Sgrena, journalist, Il Manifesto, and author, Friendly
Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now! (
Vince Warren, executive director, Center for Constitutional Rights

sponsored by the Center for Constitutional Rights and Haymarket Books

About the book:

While reporting the effects on civilians of the U.S. bombing campaign
in Falluja, Giuliana Sgrena was taken hostage in Iraq on February 4,
2005, and held for one month. On the day of her release, as she was
being escorted to Baghdad Airport by Italian security, U.S. forces
fired on her vehicle, killing Major General Nicola Calipari, as he
shielded Sgrena.

Mario Lozano, the soldier who shot at her vehicle, will be placed on
trial April 17th for voluntary manslaughter. Giuliana Sgrena demands
that the Pentagon be held responsible for the shooting-a product of
the U.S. occupation of Iraq, and not the actions of an individual

About the author:

An expert on the Arab world, Sgrena has reported frequently from
Afghanistan and Iraq, for which the president of Italy awarded her
the prestigious Cavaliere del Lavoro prize. In her book Friendly
Fire: The Remarkable Story of a Journalist Kidnapped in Iraq, Rescued
by an Italian Secret Service Agent, and Shot by U.S. Forces
(Haymarket), Sgrena describes her experience as a hostage and
provides unique insights into the situation of Iraq under occupation,
exposing U.S. war crimes there.

Friendly Fire
The Remarkable Story of a Journalist Kidnapped in Iraq, Rescued by an
Italian Secret Service Agent, and Shot by U.S. Forces
by Giuliana Sgrena
Introduction by Amy Goodman
ISBN 9781931859394 $20.00 Trade Cloth

I'm opening with that for a reason. It came in Tuesday to my e-mail account. Sunny had jury duty this week and I'm so lazy that I didn't bother to check my own account. She was back this morning and saw it. She immediately fowarded it to C.I. who was kind enough to include it in the snapshot but my apologies for not noting it sooner. Ty had actually passed it on to C.I. from an e-mail to The Third Estate Sunday Review on Thursday and it was too late for the snapshot but C.I. hoped to include it in the "And the war drags on . . ." entry Thursday night; however, Danny Schechter has a campaign (last item in the snapshot) regarding the mainstream media and C.I. opened with that and tried to structure all of "And the war drags on . . ." to explain the importance of the campaign. (I think the point was made beautifully.) So, my apologies and regrets that I didn't see it until today. I'm lazy. Sunny loves reading the e-mails (including right-wingers who are unhappy with what I write) and I'll grab any excuse to avoid going through what is often hate mail. (Hint to right wingers, threatening me -- no matter how colorful your language is, does not and will not my change my mind. I am opposed to the illegal war. I was opposed to it before it started.)

Speaking of C.I., the article C.I. and Ava wrote awhile back, "TV: Boys' WB!," came up in an e-mail. Joe'l e-mailed to ask if I had caught "Actor Geena Davis on Her Quest to Reduce Gender Stereotyping in Media forChildren" on Democracy Now! yesterday? I caught the last half of the show, so, yes, I did hear that. She thinks it is a serious problem and notes that she had never considered it until Ava and C.I. tackled cartoons. She wrote, "After I read their article, I really thought about it. I have three kids, two sons and one daughters, the oldest is nine-years-old and the youngest is five-years-old. Saturday morning cartoons have basically vanished but there's still enough on for this Mom to enjoy sleeping a little later as the kids park in front of the TV. After reading Ava and C.I.'s article, I wondered what cartoons my kids were watching, we do block some channels, and they watch Kids WB! straight through because it is one of the longest block of cartoons. So the first Saturday after I read the article, I made a point to get up and watch the cartoons with them. I was very bothered by what I saw. I was bothered because my daughter's being socialized to believe that she's a tag along and an exception and my sons are being socialized to believe that too. I think both points are important and I'm really glad Ava and C.I. made them. Could you pass that on to Ava and C.I. and also recommend that everyone read their article and watch or listen to the speech on Democracy Now!?" Yes, I can.
I believe Sunny already did that but I will mention it when we're all working on the edition this weekend. I will also urge everyone to check out both reports.

It is important. I know Ava and C.I. weren't planning on writing about cartoons. They're delaying 30 Rock because they've been told it's 'safe' in terms of not being cancelled. So they're hoping to save that for the summer. (They only review network shows and they need to things to grab over the summer. I'm amazed when I realize how many reviews they have done. A point that Joe'l made as well.) There were some e-mails about cartoons that had come in and they decided, at the last minute, to tackle that. I think they did a wonderful job of it and wonder why there is not more outcry. In her speech, Geena Davis makes the point about young girls being almost invisible in films for children and how it's surprising that reviewers don't note that when they write about a film. The same point is true of television and, let me toot their horn, Ava and C.I. always note it. I think they have an amazing body of work and that their feminist critiques are incredible contributions. I always think of, for instance, their review of "Threshold" and remember how some sites with strong feminists writing at them (I'm not referring to the Mud Flap Gals, I'm talking adult women) were praising that show. Joe'l noted
"Katie Was a Cheerleader" as her personal favorite and it's on my list of favorites too. I was talking to Kat briefly about her wonderful "It's about perspective and humanity" and she really nailed it when she said, "I think Ava and C.I. really set the mark for all of us." I would agree with that. I think MADRE's report fits with the points Ava and C.I. were making in "TV: Aftermath leaves an aftertaste." Their reviews have a huge audience and I think they've had a huge impact. (The last one noted, on Jericho, is being re-printed in a pamphlet by a group of feminists in New York. Kat told me about that. That's like the fifth or sixth time that's happened. They always say yes and ask only that, if there are typos, they get cleaned up.)

"Making Democrats Pay the Price" (Kevin Zeese, CounterPunch):
Tina Richards son, Cloy, is a corporal in the U.S. Marines. He is facing his third tour of duty in Iraq. He and his mother oppose the war. Ms. Richards is living in Maryland lobbying Congress to end the war. She has joined Maryland voters who are occupying the office of Maryland's senior senator, Barbara Mikulski.
Tina saw Sen. Mikulski leaving a hearing recently going to the women's room. She followed her and mentioned that protesters were occupying her office to protest the war. Mikulski said she did not understand why they were protesting her saying "I voted against the war." Tina answered "That is no longer enough."
She's right. Now, as we approach the fourth anniversary of the war it is time for the Congress to end it. Senator Barbara Mikulski, like most Democrats, has been a critic of President Bush, describing him as a reckless and irresponsible commander in chief. But she has voted to give this reckless commander in chief more than $420 Billion, as have almost all Democrats.
That is the problem ­ Democrats like Mikulski say they are opposed to the war but keep appropriating more money for the war. They need to realize that if they pay for it, it's theirs.
Maryland voters have occupied the office of Senator Mikulski twice so far in what will be a series of efforts to convince Mikulski to lead efforts to end the Iraq War. At the second occupation Sen. Mikulski had four of her constituents arrested after they occupied her offices for three hours placing photographs of all the Maryland soldiers who had died around her office, and reading the names of soldiers and Iraqis killed in the war. (Links to videos of the two occupations are at the bottom of this article.)
Her constituents are holding Sen. Mikulski accountable for her actions. When she votes to fund the war she is putting U.S. troops in harms way and adding to the quagmire of the Iraq War. If Mikluski votes for this next supplemental she will be sending under-trained troops with inadequate equipment and an unclear purpose into an unwinnable quagmire. Real support for the troops requires more than criticizing Bush, it requires acting to remove the troops from harms way.
It would take only 41 votes to stop the war in the U.S. Senate. A filibuster of Iraq funding would not even require all of the 51 Democrats in the Senate to support it in order to succeed. If the Senate filibustered the president's $99 billion request it could then pass an alternative that would really support the troops by bringing them home safely, reduce the violence in Iraq by providing funds to allow Iraqis to re-build their own country and underwrite a regional peace keeping force. If this exit were combined with a diplomatic surge in the region the U.S. could bring greater stability to the Middle East. Those steps would restore U.S. leadership and prevent further U.S. and Iraqi casualties. This approach would also save tax payers tens of billions of dollars in 2007 alone.

Tina Richardson and her son Cloy were noted in "Flashpoints, Impeachment, etc." after she spoke Monday on KPFA's Flashpoints. If you missed it, her son is seriously suffering from PTSD and another son, who has served in Iraq, is now going to be serving in Afghanistan. If you think that she's treated with any respect by elected officials, think again.

"Shocking Video of the Dark Side of the Democrats: Rep. David Obey: 'Idiot Liberals' Need to Support War Money" (David Swanson, CounterPunch):
House Appropriations Chair David Obey (Dem., Wisc.) ran into woman in the hallway in Washington recently and ended up yelling at her and her friends, accusing them of "smoking something that's not legal" if they disagreed with him, and denouncing "idiot liberals."
The woman, Tina Richards, introduced herself to Obey as the mother of a Marine about to depart for his third tour of Iraq, and as someone who has tried to communicate with Obey but received no response. Then she
watch the video yourself. It may be depressing, but it's certainly entertaining (just like network television).

David Obey is such a manly man wanting to demonstrate that he respect the troops and he does that by . . . treating the mother of two soldiers like dirt. What a big, brave, manly man he is. I know some people aren't able to watch (or listen) due to computer issues. For those people and for anyone who needs or prefers a transcript due to hearing issues, please refer to David Swanson's transcript of the exchange between Tina Richards and David Obey.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, March 9, 2007. Chaos and violence (though little reported) continues, protests continue, the country of Georgia provides mirth in the illegal war (if not genuine support for the Bully Boy), a US marine is announced dead, footage of another US service member's death is supposedly set to be released, Dems plan receives muted response, and the veterans health care crisis moves from Walter Reed to VA hospitals.

Starting with war resistance.
Agustin Aguayo was court-martialed and sentenced Tuesday. Circles Robinson (Ahora) notes: "Doing the right thing can be costly, but in the end one can at least sleep at night. Ask Spc. Agustin Aguayo, 35, a U.S. citizen born in Guadalajara, Mexico, who was just sentenced by a US military court in Wurzburg, Germany. His crime was a gut feeling shared by a growing number of ordinary citizens and soldiers alike: President Bush's war in Iraq isn't their war." He was sentenced to eight months but given credit for the days he had already served since turning himself in at the end of September. Rosalio Munoz (People's Weekly World) sees a victory in the outcome: "The March 6 military court conviction of pacifist soldier Agustin Aguayo was reversed in the court of public opinon as Amnesty International officially recognized him as a 'prisoner of conscience,' and a battery of progressive attorneys began efforts to get a federal court to reverse the Army's denial of conscientious objector status to Aguayo." Stefan Steinberg (World Socialist Web) sees the line of continuity from one war resister to another, "Aguayo has become the latest in a growing list of US soldiers who are facing trials and courts-martial for refusing to serve in Iraq. Recently, Lt. Ehren Watada, 29, became the first US officer to be tried for refusing to obey a command to return to Iraq. In his defence, Watada argued he was merely following his constitutional rights to oppose fighting in a war he regarded as illegal. The Japanese American described the US invasion and occupation of Iraq as 'an illegal and unjust war ... for profit and imperialistic domination.' Watada's attorney Eric Seitz, had sought to defend his client on the basis of the Nuremburg Principles -- i.e., that soldiers have the duty to disobey unlawful orders in the case of an illegal and unjust war."

Steinberg is correct,
Agustin Aguayo is part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as Ehren Watada, Kyle Snyder, Agustin Aguayo, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

It is vital that we build a strong counter-recruitment movement to expose lies used by the military to send working-class and poor children to war. We must also lend our full support to the soldiers and reservists who are refusing to fight in Iraq.
[. . .]
During the Vietnam War, the U.S. government learned how quickly the discipline of an army fighting an unjust war can break down. Today soldiers in the field can see the contradictions between the claims of their officers and especially the politicians who sent them to war and the reality of the conflict on the ground. They now know that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and posed no imminent threat. And as the Iraqi resistance to occupation grows, more soldiers have come to see that they are fighting not to liberate Iraqis but to 'pacify' them. To end this war, more will need to follow their conscience, like [Camilo] Mejia and the other soldiers who have refused to die -- or kill -- for a lie.

The excerpt above is from Anthony Arnove's
IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal. Arnove has an event on Saturday the 10th and on Sunday the 11th (Ty and Sunny -- for Elaine -- passed on the following):

Saturday, March 10
8 pm
Readings from
Voices of a People's History of the United States
The Great Hall, Cooper Union
as part of the
Left Forum 2007
Free for conference participants and the general public.
With performances by Staceyann Chin, Deepa Fernandes, Brian Jones, Erin Cherry,
Najla Said, Mario A. Murrillo, and other special guests.
Narration and introduction by Amy Goodman, host of
Democracy Now! and
Anthony Arnove (who, with Howard Zinn, authored
Voices of a People's History of the United States)

Sunday, March 11
10 am
Iraq: What's at Stake?"
Cooper Union
Left Forum 2007
Anthony Arnove, Christian Parenti, AK Gupta, Nir Rosen, and Gilbert Achcar.

Wednesday, March 14
7:00 pm
"Friendly Fire: An Independent Journalist's Story on Being Abducted in Iraq,
Rescued, and Shot by U.S. Forces"
Judson Church
55 Washington Square South
featuring: Giulian Sgrena the Il Manifesto journalist and author of
Friendly Fire who was abudcted in Iraq, rescued by Italian security forces only to be shot at (Nicola Calipari would die from the gun fire) by US forces while en route to the Baghdad Airport; Amy Goodman and the Center for Constitutional Rights' executive director Vince Warren.
Sgrena is calling for the Pentagon to take responsibility for the shooting.

Yesterday, in the United States, Democrats in the US House and Senate unveiled their plans for Iraq.
Michael Rowland (AM, Australia's ABC) explains the House legislation: "Democrats have been talking about setting a troop withdrawal deadline ever since opposition to the war swept them to power in last year's congressional elections. Today they bit the bullet, unveiling legislation that sets down actual dates. . . . The legislation sets out a set of benchmarks that must be met in Iraq in the coming year. They're mainly to do with quelling the sectarian violence on the streets of Baghdad, the very objective of the president's plan to send an extra 22,000 US troops to Iraq. The House of Representatives speaker, Nancy Pelosi, says the strategy will be given time to work. But she warns the troop withdrawal will be fast-tracked if the re-enforcements fail to make any difference." John Nichols (The Nation), picking up at the benchmarks: "If those benchmarks remain unmet, a slow process of extracting troops would begin under the plan favored by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, Wisconsin's David Obey and Pennsylvania's John Murtha, the chair and defense subcommittee chair respectively of the appropriations committee; and Missouri's Ike Skelton, who chairs the armed services committee. The fact that Democratic leaders are talking about attempting to impose a timeline for withdrawal is good. It puts the opposition party in a position of actually opposing an unpopular president's exceptionally unpopular policies. Unfortunately, because the president wants to maintain the occupation on his terms, Bush can be counted on to veto legislation establishing benchmarks and a timeline. So the Democrats find themselves in a difficult position. They plan to expend immense time and energy -- and perhaps even a small measure of political capital -- to promote a withdrawal strategy. Yet, the strategy they are promoting is unlikely to excite Americans who want this war to end. In other words, while Pelosi and her compatriots propose to fight for a timeline, it is not the right timeline."

John A. Murphy (CounterPunch) observes, "The Democratic House has drafted legislation which has no chance of surviving a presidential veto and at the same time does not meet the hopes and aspirations and demands of the overwhelming majority of the American voting public. They have however drafted legislation that makes them feel good. Somehow or other the so-called 'liberal Democrats' are going to be happy about supporting a bill which would kill 60,000 Iraqis and 1,800 Americans because the bill will not alienate the 'more moderate Democrats'." Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) points out: "Anti-war Democrats have also come out against the plan. New York Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, a member of the Out of Iraq caucus, said: 'All this bill will do is fund another year of the war, and I can't vote for that'."

NYU professor Stephen F. Cohen (writing at The Nation) notes: "Unless the United States withdraws its military forces from Iraq in the near future, a war that began as an unnecssary invasion based on deception and predictably grew into a disastrous occupation will go down in history as a terrible crime, if it hasn't already. For Americans of conscience, Iraq has therefore become the paramount moral issue of our time."

On that note, we'll return to
MADRE's "Promising Democracy, Imposing Theocracy: Gender-Based Violence and the US War on Iraq" (which can be read in full in PDF format or, by sections, in HTML). Wednesday, section one ("Towards Gender Apartheid in Iraq") was noted and, Thursday, section II, "Iraq's Other War: Impsoing Theocracy Through Gender-Based." Section III is "The Rise of US-Backed Death Squads" which further documents how the US equipped, trained and facilitated the ongoing femicide in Iraq.

The femicide has its roots in "The Salvador Option," so, as the report notes, it is not surprising to find the same actors involved. Just as James Steel and John Negroponte were involved in the death squads in El Salvador during the 1980s, they teamed up in Iraq with Negroponte acting as US ambassador to the country and James Steele commanding the US troops who trained the Badr and Mahdi militias. While the Bully Boy made noises to domestic audiences about 'freedom' and 'liberation,' "on the ground in Iraq, the Islamist militas were wholly tolerated." Backing, training and arming them "offered an enticing advantage over government troops. For a time, their quasi-official status allowed the US to out-source the violence of its count-insurgency operations without having to answer for the militias' gross human rights violations, including their campaign of terror against the women of Iraq." When not training these militias themselves, the US out-sourced the training to DynCorp which

Working women have been especially targeted because "they commit a double offense -- by advocating a secular society and by being accomplished, working women." But the press has refused to cover this campaign of violence against women as one of the stories coming from Iraq and treated acts of violence against women as incidental to the larger story (it is the story). "To cite just one example, in October 2005, journalist Robert Dreyfuss, known for his authorative and critical analysis of Iraqi politics, reported that in addition to targeting Sunnis, the Shiite Badr Brigade was 'terrorizing Iraq's secular, urban Shiite population.' Although gender-based violence was a central tactic of this terror campaign, Dreyfuss does not mention it. Nor does he explore why a supposedly sectarian militia was terrorizing members of its own sect. Like most media accounts, Dreyfuss' report fails to consider the Badr milita from the perspective of Shiite women. From women's vantage point, the militia is typical of theocratic fundamentalists everywhere. For such groups, asserting control over members of their own religion -- especially women, who are seen as the carriers of group identity -- is a prerequisite to extending control over society at large, including, ultimately, the institutions of the state."

The report notes that the press is not the only grouping that has failed to draw attention to the ongoing femicide and notes the anti-war movement has also ignored the gender violence that is taking place. The clampdown, by the US, on the Iraqi Health Ministry has prevented already faulty data on the attacks from being released. The report uses Maha as an example of how the militias and the police work together in Iraq -- Maha "was abducted from her home in Najaf and trafficked from brothel to brothel in Baghdad for nearly two years. She managed to escape twice and flee to the police station in Baghdad's Amiriyah neighborhood. Both times the police forcibly returned her to the brothel."

Noting the report,
Laura Flanders (writing at The Notion -- Nation's blog) pointed out that 100 female corpses were left unclaimed in a Basra hospital "mutilated . . . families are too scared to pick them up." Flanders is the host of RadioNation with Laura Flanders which airs each Saturday and Sunday, 7:00 to 10:00 pm EST, on Air America Radio, XM radio and online. Saturday's guest will include one or both of her uncles as guests -- Andrew Cockburn and/or Patrick Cockburn. The program's website says Andrew, the blog post says Patrick. Either (or both) will be worth hearing.


AFP reports at least one person died from a roadside bombing in Kirkuk. CBS and AP report that Donald Neil, civilian contractor, was killed while trying to dismantle a bomb. (Location given is "Iraq.")


AFP reports that, in Kirkuk, two Iraqi soldiers were shot dead. Sami al-Jumaili (Reuters) reports that one police officer was shot dead and three more wounded when a police station in Hibhib was attacked -- ten police officers are missing and assumed/feared kidnapped. Australia's The Daily Telegraph reports that the attack included "setting fire to vehicles and destroying the building".


Reuters reports that ten corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Voices of Iraq reports seven corpses were discovered today in the Diala province.

Today, the
US military announced: "A Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West was killed March 9 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province." In addition, CBS and AP report: "On Friday, the Islamic State of Iraq announced it would soon be releasing a video on the death of a U.S. Air Force pilot whose F-16 jet crashed Nov. 27 north of Baghdad, according to the IntelCenter, which monitors insurgent Web sites. The pilot, Maj. Troy L. Gilbert, was listed officially as 'whereabouts unknown' but then reported by the U.S. military as dead following DNA tests from remains at the scene."

Meanwhile, in military news,
Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) reports that David Petraeus' much noted Thursday press converence "did not offer . . . a strategy for dealing with such attacks, underscoring a major dilemma facing U.S. and Iraqi forces as they carry out what has been described as a last-ditch effort to curb the deadly civil war." Ernesto Londono and Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post), on the same press conference, noted the fact that not only has Petraues upped the escalation numbers but he's dropped Casey's talk of "the summer, late summer" when the supposed, alleged accomplishments of the latest crackdown version will be visible. And the escalation continues to add numbers. Yesterday, it was an additional 2,000. Today, Andrew Gray (Reuters) reports that Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon is requesting more troops for the Diyala province.

BBC notes that Georgia (the country) "will more than double the number of troops it has in Iraq" from 850 to 2,000. 2,000 isn't a large number and some wonder what the US government offered to get the small figure doubled? (Georgia's population is estimated to 4.6 million.)

Things not worth noting in depth. Puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki toured Baghdad -- with a heavily armed squad of bodyguards numbering at least six who shadowed him at all times as he shook hands with Iraqi soldiers at checkpoints. US forces announced another al Qaeda (alleged) leader captured. Don't they get tired of selling that nonsense?

Turning to the issue of health care for veterans,
Ian Urbina and Ron Nixon (New York Times) report on the Veterans Affairs where the government is slow to respond and refuses to anticipate or calculate need resulting in various horror stories such as prolonged waiting for claims to kick in (James Webb returned from Iraq injured from a bombing and had to wait 11 months for the promised and obligated payments to kick in while Allen Curry fell "behind on his morgage while waiting nearly two years for his disability check"). Hope Yen (AP) reports that, testifying before US House Veterans Affairs committee yesterday, Paul Sullivan (one time VA project manager) stated he repeatedly "warned officials" at the VA that "there would be a surge in claims as veterans returned from Iraq and Afghanistan," and that he began sounding the alarm in August 2005. Joel Connelly (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) notes that US Senator Patty Murray, who severs on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, has drawn comparisons to today's health crisis for veterans with the illegal war itself: "They have lowballed the cost of this war, and the cost of caring for our soliders. . . . It goes to the top, to the highest level. The Bush administration wants the country to feel there is no cost to war." Rick Maze (The Navy Times) covers an idea by US Senator Larry Craig which would require "issuing veterans an authorization card that would allow them to seek care anywhere could address two longstanding complaints: long waits to see a VA doctor, and long trips for veterans who live far from a VA hospitals." Based on Urbina and Nixon's reporting, 'portability' might be besides the point when "the current war has nearly overwhelmed an agency already struggling to meet the health care, disability payment and pension needs of more than three million veterans." Zooming in on one VA center, Mike Drummond Peter Smolowitz and Michael Gordon (The Charlotte Observer) discover that a 2005 inspection of North Carolina's Hefner VA Medical Center found a substandard facility: "Using the clinically blunt language of the medical bureaucracy, the team describes a facility with poorly trained doctors and nurses who, among other things, cut corners on treatment, manipulated records and did't talk enough with paitents and families." In one tragic example, they note 41-year-old Robert Edward Lashmit who died: "Lashmit's condition and vital signs were not updated during his 19-day stay. Instead, investigators found, his doctor 'copied and pasted the same daily progress note for the entire hospitalization.' That meant information vital to Lashmit's treatment remained the same even as his condition deteriorated. He died of live failure. Later, when investigators asked Lashmit's doctor about pasting outdated records, they said he told them: 'no one told him he could not do it'."

Turning to the scandal of Walter Reed Army Medical Center,
Brooke Hart (NBC News) reports on the scramble as the army attempts to address the disgrace -- the army willl institute a "30-day study of problems at major military facilities" and will establish a complaint hotline for veterans that will be allow for complaints to be registered twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. In another quick fix measures, Alana Semuels (Los Angeles Times) reports that Michael Tucker ( a brig. general) will move from Fort Knox to become the "deputy commanding general of the Walter Reed Army Medical Ceneter." Interviewed by Jake Stump (Charleston Daily Mail), US Senator Jay Rockefeller declares that "[t]he real question is not necessarily what happens at Walter Reed," but the refusal of the US Defense Department to meet the needs of veterans. US Rep Kirsten Gillibrand tells Albany's Time Union that she hopes the Walter Reed scandal starts a new debate on topics such as funding of the VA and veteran's' benefits. Walter Reed Army Medical Center, FYI, is funded by the Defense Department, not the VA. Interestingly, one Congressional rep wanted answers but he appeared to have had them some time sgo. Adam Schreck (Balitmore Sun) reports that US House Rep C.W. Bill Young made frequent visits to Walter Reed with his wife where they "found wounded sholdiers who didn't have adequate clothes, even one doing his rehabilitation in the bloody boots he had on when he was injured. One soldier, ashamed that his mattress was soaked with urine, tried to turn Young's wife away, the Florida Republican recalled yesterday. Another with a serious brain injury fell out of bed and his head three times before someone was assigned to make sure it didn't happen again." For those who've forgotten, Dana Priest, Anne Hulle (Washington Post for the first two) and Bob Woodruff (ABC News) shined the light on the issues in the last few weeks. What did US House Rep Young do since, by his own accounting, he was familiar with many issues that needed addressing? As Florida's Star-Banner notes in an editorial: "The St. Petersburg Times and other media reported on Thursday that U.S. Rep Bill Young, a Republican from Indian Shores and formerly one of the most powerful members of Congress, acknowledged that he knew of the squalid conditions at Walter Reed but failed to disclose them. In one instance, Young recalled one soldier who was sitting his his bed in a pool of urine when Young's wife discovered him. Hospital staff, Young noted, did nothing and when questioned told him, 'This is war. We have a lot of casualties. We don't have enough sheets and blankets to go around.' Young, according to the Times, kept quiet because he wanted to respect family privacy and 'did not want to undermine the confidence of the patients and their families and give the Army a black eye while fighting a war'." What a load of hogwash. By staying silent he allowed the problem to continue and worsen. Staying silent helped no one and, were it not for the press doing their job and his, he'd probably still be silent today.

In protest news,
Frederic J. Frommer (AP) reports that the Occupation Project (ongoing visits, sit-ins, and of sustained nonviolent civil disobedience to put the pressure on elected officials to stop funding the war) continues and focuses on actions in Wisconsin and Minnesota. In Wisconsin, US House Rep David Obey has not met with them but did have four arrested on Monday including Joy First. In Minnesota, US Senator Herb Kohl did meet with them but is quite happy to continue funding the illegal war and play stupid (all his life). Frommer notes that every Tuesday, two nuns, Kate and Rita McDonald, are occupying the office of US Senator Norm Coleman who is a Republican but also "a former anti-war protester himself from the Vietnam era". Despite knowing better, Coleman remains firmly behind funding the illegal war. Also in protest news, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) interviewed Wally Cuddeford about the protests going on in Tacoma which resulted in four arrests Sunday night. Cuddeford explains the purpose behind the protests: "Our goal is to stop military shipments from Fort Lewis going to Iraq. We were successful stopping the shipments through the Port of Olympia and now we're helping our friends in Tacoma stop the shipments there. The shipments are Stryker vehicles, they are speedy combat trasnprots, armed transports. They are the back bone of the occupation.
Half of all the Stryker vehicles to Iraq. If we are able to cut off Stryker vehicles to Iraq we could easily end this occupation."
Clear Channel reports that Ann Wright (retired Army colonel and retired State Department) spoke to the Jefferson Community College about the war ("For us to have gone into Iraq, invaded and occupied it, and not even with the agreement of the UN Security Council, unfortunately it falls into the category of a war of aggression and in my opinion is a war crime.") in an event sponsored by Veterans for Peace and Different Drummer Cafe. She will be speaking at Different Drummer Cafe today at 6:00 pm at 12 Paddock Arcade, 1 Public Square, Watertown, NY.

Danny Schechter and have started a new campaign:

It's Time to Make the US Media Accountable!Are you willing to join and support Mediachannel's "
TELL THE TRUTH" campaign? Help us press the press and move the media to tell the truth and report in more balanced manner, the way so many Canadian and European outlets seem to be able to do.Click here to send an email to U.S. media outlets now!

agustin aguayo

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Aguayo, Madre, more

The illustration is of Agustin Aguayo and from "War resister Agustin Aguayo to be court-martialed Tuesday" (The Third Estate Sunday Review). Aguayo was court-martialed yesterday. Mike and I almost ran the illustration yesterday but there are these rules you have to agree to if you have a Flickr account. We've heard C.I. complain about them. (It's very different from Hello! which used to be used before they broke with Blogger/Blogspot.) Mike mentioned that to C.I. and C.I. said, "Those rules apply to me, I have the account. You and Elaine can post it however you want." So we're doing that. See, the way Flickr appears to work is that people have no choice about whether text runs along side or not. You also have to have an account and log in to get the code to post the visual. So we're using it the same we would Hello! and, as C.I. pointed out, Mike and I do not have Flickr accounts and are under no obligation to follow their rules. Aguayo does matter (and I think the gang did a great job with the illustration). He stood up and he's made a difference. His children get that, even if e-activists don't.

A US Army medic who refused to fight in Iraq has been sentenced to eight months in prison. Agustin Aguayo went AWOL last year just before he was to return to Iraq for a second deployment. He had made several unsuccessful requests for conscientious objector status.
Aguayo's attorney David Court: "We are both very grateful that the military judge gave a relatively light sentence. As you all know, he could have done seven years based upon the findings. I believe that based upon his sentence of only eight months he accepts that Aguayo believes that he is a conscientous objector."
David Court expects Aguayo to serve six more weeks of his sentence because he's already been jailed for one-hundred sixty-one days. The military hearing was held in Germany where Aguayo's unit is based. Kelly Dougherty of Iraq Veterans Against the War was there to support Aguayo.
Kelly Dougherty: "While Agustin is first and foremost a man who is sincerely and morally opposed to war in all forms, he is also a proud example to other soldiers who are also questioning the war in Iraq and who feel like they might want to refuse or they might want to apply for conscientious objector or in some way object and resist this war in Iraq."
In a statement, Amnesty International said Aguayo is a legitimate conscientious objector who should not be imprisoned for his beliefs. Democracy Now! interviewed Aguayo and his wife Helga the day before he turned himself in to a California base last September.
Agustin Aguayo: "It's not my job to decide who's going to live or who's going to die. That's something that I’ve had to deal with morally and that I’m convinced of. Nothing is more clear in my mind that war is wrong. And I won't be a tool of war anymore. And the end result of war is the destruction of human life, and governments use that to solve problems. And I think it's a great tragedy of our lifetime, with so much technology, that we still feel that that solves problems."

Individual actions do matter and there is no mass movement without individuals. There is also no movement without inspiration and Aguayo, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Ehren Watada, Ivan Brobeck, Mark Wilkerson and others have provided that and more.

Demonstrations, street clashes, and property takeovers have erupted in South America in the run-up to an official visit by President Bush to the region. University students clashed with riot police in the Colombian city of Cali yesterday during a 5 hour protest against Bush's visit. In Brazil, hundreds of small farmers with the Via Campesina organization occupied an iron ore mine this morning as well as a sugar and ethanol mill owned by the US agribusiness giant Cargill. Bush will kick off his Latin American tour in Brazil tomorrow and will then travel to Uruguay, Colombia, Guatemala, and Mexico.
This is a light item. We're limited in what we can highlight tonight because there's something already claimed for Sunday and it knocks out about three highlights I would have used otherwise. (Do not miss The Third Estate Sunday Review this Sunday if you're sick and tired of The Elector.) So this is more of a ha-ha, can't go anywhere without protests sort of item. Bully Boy has not fooled the world and if he thinks it's rough right now, he better get ready for life after the White House because the reality is that even with crowds turning out to protest him, most people are still in the dark about some of the things he has done. I believe they will be exposed before he leaves office and there will be much more (and things already suspected that get confirmed) to draw the protests.

"Human Rights Group Signals Iraq is becoming a Theocracy" (Free Speech Radio News):
A report released by Madre, the international women's human rights organization, shows that Iraq is fast becoming a theocracy - one financed, armed and trained by the United States, and which threatens the rights of women like those theocracies established in Iran, Algeria and Afghanistan. Rebecca Myles has more.
If you can listen to Myles' story, you should. The report is very important and it gets to who is responsible -- the United States government. This should be a very big story and you'd think it would be at least in feminist circles, right?
So I checked out the Mud Flap Gals to see if, between fixing their push-ups, they had time to note this? No. They were too busy with a nipple makeup and apparently that's more important than the United States' trashing life as we know it for Iraqi women.
They do, however, want you to support an action. It's supposedly, blog against sexism and one of the last points is this:
Slavery still exists! Women and girls are the majority of the 800,000 to nearly 4 million people trafficked (bought and sold as property) internationally every year.
Oh, so it's not just the United States, it's global? Then where the hell is Iraq?
Not a mention about Iraq. I don't think the Mud Flap Gals know we're at war -- probably why Katha Pollitt says she learns from them everyday. Sadly, I believe that since Pollitt never wrote a single word about Abeer. What's happening to the women in Iraq is happening and has happened because of the US government. This isn't an "over there" kind of thing, it is directly related to actions taken by the United States. The administration wasn't in the dark about what would happen in Iraq by taking these actions, they had the blue print from Afghanistan.
It's becoming sadly obvious why Pollitt's considered so wonderful (after her worst year), the Mud Flap Gals don't know 'real much' about feminism. They don't know 'real much' about the world either, but they're young. So maybe Pollitt should stop bragging that she learns from them and starting writing about topics that adults do? Here's a hint, no lists passing off as columns. Here's another, the NAACP really doesn't need to hear from a White woman that she doesn't think media portrayals are important.
Kat wrote a thing last night that I compliment her on and she said it wasn't worth reading. It was. You can see her weighing and formulating through the post. But her comments regarding Pollitt of late (Kat says of late) go to the point that Pollitt's writing is just cold these days. With everything going on in the world, her book reviews and her top ten lists just don't cut it. It's a bit like the embarrassing drivel "Stab" writes.
The US government has destroyed Iraq and that shouldn't be ignored. Women are losing their rights and that shouldn't be ignored. The crimes against women are a direct result of the illegal war and the US government's goals. The Mud Flap Gals had many other things to cover and, too often, that's true of everyone. So when you wonder why the illegal war has lasted for nearly four years, look at the Mud Flap Gals.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, March 7, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, pilgrims continue to be targeted; a US war resister was sentenced to 8 months yesterday; in Santa Barbara, JROTC out and The Peace Academy; 3 US service members die; and MADRE charts the violence against Iraqi women.

Starting with news of war resistance. Yesterday, in Germany,
Agustin Aguayo was court-martialed and sentenced. Agustin Aguayo served in Iraq as a medic and attempted to be granted c.o. status. As the military repeatedly refused to do so. Bertrand Benoit (Financial Times of London) notes "Aguayo, a US citizen born in Mexico who enlisted in 2002, had twice failed to obtain an honorable discharge as a conscientious objector and refused to load his weapon while on his first tour to Iraq." That count fails to factor in the civilian court attempts. As his case was winding through the civilian courts and as the military threatened to drag him to Iraq in chains and handcuffs, Agustin Aguayo self-checked out --September 2nd through September 26th. Reuters notes: "A deserter is defined by the U.S. Department of Defense as a member of the armed forces who is absent from their unit or post without authorization, quits their unit to avoid duty or enlists improperly in another service. It can also apply to people who are absent without leave for 30 straight days or more." Obviously, Aguayo was not absent without leave for 30 or more days. The 30 days is a rule of thumb and not etched in stone. However, the military elected to toss that standard out the window.

With his parents present, his wife Helga and his two eleven-year-old daughters Rebecca and Raquel, Aguayo stood trial. In addition,
Charles Hawley (der Spiegel) notes, "thrown in among the couple dozen journalists on hand for the trial were those for whom Aguayo symbolizes a much broader message. They were representatives of the anti-Iraq War movement in the US and in Europe. For them, Aguayo is something of a hero." George Frey (AP) reports that Aguayo (with "a shaky voice") declared: "I respect everyone's views and your decision, I understand that people don't understand me. I tried my best, but I couldn't bear weapons and I could never point weapons at someone. The words of Martin Luther come to mind, 'Here I stand, I can do no more'." Aguayo acknowledged missing movement and pleaded guilty to AWOL, but the judge (Colonel Peter Masterton) found Aguayo guilty of desertion.

On Tuesday,
Ashraf Khalil (Los Angeles Times) reported Courage to Resist's Jeff Paterson expects "Aguayo will get up to a year in jail followed by a less than honorable or bad conduct discharge." Paterson guessed well. The judge sentenced Aguayo to eight months, reduced him in rank (down to private) and he will receive a bad conduct discharge upon completition of his jail time. Bertrand Benoit (Financial Times of London) reports: "Anti-war activists, who had followed the case closely, said the mild sentence was a positive signal to the rapidly increasing number of Germany-based US military personnel who are seeking to avoid serving in Iraq."

The issue of how much time Aguayo will serve appears to be settled.
Mark St. Clair (Stars and Stripes) reports, "Aguayo was credited with 161 days of pre-trial confinement and will serve 79 more days, according to Hilda Patton of the V Corps public affairs office." Or, as Courage to Resist observes, "he should be free within a few weeks!" Present for the court-martial was Iraq Veterans Against the War's Kelly Dougherty. Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) quotes Dougherty: "While Agustin is first and foremost a man who is sincerely and morally opposed to war in all forms, he is also a proud example to other soldiers who are also questioning the war in Iraq and who feel like they might want to refuse or they might want to apply for conscientious objector or in some way object and resist this war in Iraq." Iraq Veterans Against the War reminds: "A critical part of the GI movement to end the war in Iraq is service members' refusal to participate in it. Agustin's stance against the war, and his moral decision to refuse re-deployment, sends a message to others in the military that they can refuse to go to Iraq. Agustin is a brave leader, IVAW commends and fully stands behind him."

It is a critical part and it is a movement. Aguayo is part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as
Ehren Watada, Kyle Snyder, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Turning to Iraq,
MADRE has released a report entitled "Promising Democracy, Imposing Theocracy: Gender-Based Violence and the US War on Iraq." The report can be read in full in PDF format or, by sections, in HTML. The report is divided into seven sections. We'll focus on the first section today ("Towards Gender Apartheid in Iraq"). The sections covers the destruction of women's rights and the gender-based attacks that have largely gone unnoticed and unremarked upon. The family law of 1959 (which predated Saddam Hussein's rule) resulted from mass protests by women and allowed women to have their full voices heard in a court of law as opposed to in a religous hearing. This law gave women equal voices, allowed them to divorce, to retain custody, the right to inherent property, etc. Even in the lead up to the illegal war, women still retained rights in Iraq. That would quickly change. First, the appointed (by the US) Director of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, Paul Bremer, made it clear that women would be sacrificed to public relations spin. Bremer "hand-picked" the members of the Iraqi Governing Council and was happy to side with them (such as when they did away with "Iraq's observance of International Women's Day") -- most obviously with regards to the proposed Resoultion 137 which would have been constitutional law and would replace the 1959 family law and was stopped not due to any concern for women but as a result of Iraqi women taking to the streets and calls from women's organizations and members of the US Congress.

Though Resolution 137 was stopped, it was more important to get a puppet government in place quickly to pass the laws the US wanted passed and "liberation" and "democracy" were not the concerns of the US. That was made obvious by Bremer's refusal to answer the cries for help as violence against women grew more common, by his refusal to "appoint women to the drafting committee of Iraq's interim constitution" or "guarantee that 40 percent of US appointees to Iraq's new government women were women" or "pass laws codifying women's rights and criminalizing domestic violence" or "uphold UN Security Council Resolution 1325 which mandates that women be included at all levels of decision-making in situations of peacemeaking and post-war reconstruction."

Women were targeted for violence and Bremer refused to address it (thereby encouraging the violence by sending the message that attacks on women would not be punished) and he refused to allow them a seat at the decision-making table. This wasn't "liberation" and it wasn't "democracy." As the report underscores, "rather than support progressive and democratically minded Iraqis, including members of the women's movement, the US threw its weight behind Iraq's Shiite Islamists, calculating that these forces, long suppressed by Saddam Hussein, would cooperate with the occupation and deliver the stability needed for the US to implement its policies in Iraq."

In 2005, the US's puppet government began work on Iraq's constitution. "Throughout the summer 2005, the Bush Administration exerted tremendous pressure on Iraqi politicians to complete a draft of the constitution within three months (though the same process took more than 10 years in the United States). At the time, the Bush Administration was in desperate need of a public relations victory in Iraq: it needed a display for US audiences of the 'democratic progress' that had replaced the 'threat of weapons of mass destruction' as the rasion d' etre for attacking Iraq. The Administration was also afraid that failure to meet the timetable for drafting a constitution would trigger new elections in Iraq, which would have likely produced a less compliant government."

Enter Zalmay Khalilzad who sold women out in Afghanistan and apparently was sent to Iraq for the same results. "As in Afghanistan, Khalilzad supported the Islamist factions of the Iraqi constitutional drafting committee. The result was a new constitution that declared Islam to be the official religion of the state and a fudnamental source of legislation." And women were sold out as the US government -- while talking liberation and democracy -- yet again through their lots in with radical zealots who would destroy women's rights.

Page 6 lists examples of how the US allowed the legalization of "Violence against Women" which includes establishing Islam as the Iraq's national religion, barring free speech if it might hamper "public order and morality," allowing the federal court to not be made up solely of judges but by "judges and experts in Sharia" (the report notes that these are "presumably clerics"). Artilce 39 refutes the 1959 family law by turning all matters of "marriage, divorce, alimony, inheritance, and other presonal status issues" over to religious courts where "a woman's legal testimony is worth half that of a man's."

The report documents the reality of life for women in Iraq -- a reality that has been dismissed as "personal problems" by the likes of Bremer and others but the abuses and the violence are rooted in the non-democratic laws that the US government has applauded or looked the other way on and the abuses and violences are rooted in the US government tossing their lot in with religious zealots that they thought would be compliant to their larger goals (which never included liberation or democracy).

How much attention will the report receive? Last week the Minority Rights Group International's
(PDF format) report "Assimilation, Exodus, Eradication: Iraq's minority communities since 2003" which did include a discussion of the realities now facing women (click here for a summary of that section). The report was largely ignored. Patrick Cockburn did write of it (one of the very few) but he made no mention of the realities facing women in Iraq.

Publications such as the New York Times spent the bulk of 2003 and 2004 ignoring women. Women weren't just targeted for attacks, didn't just see the loss of rights from a US selected government, they also saw themselves rendered invisible by the so-called watchdog. It was as though they no longer existed and it's very likely this report will get no more than one day's attention because Iraqi women have been on their own in terms of the mainstream press throughout this illegal war. It's why the New York Times would say "14-year-old girl" in their laughable articles that were supposed to be covering the Article 32 hearing into the rape and murder of
Abeer and the murder of her five-year-old sister and her parents. It's always a "personal problem" with them, it never results from actions backed by the US, from actions encouraged and endorsed by looking the other way when women are raped, murdered, attacked . . .

What did the US government care about, what did the mainstream press gush over? If you've paid attention at all in the last month and a half, it's the Iraqi oil law that now awaits approval from the Iraqi parliament. Last week,
Antonia Juhasz (writing at The Huffington Post), addressed the proposed law: "If passed, the law would transform Iraq's oil system from a nationalized model all-but-closed to U.S. oil companies, to a commercialized model, all-but-fully privatized and opened to U.S. corporate control. Before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, U.S. oil companies were shut out of Iraq's oil industry with the exception of limited marketing contracts. As a result of the invasion, if the oil law passes, U.S. oil companies will emerge as the corporate front-runners in line for contracts giving them control over the vast majority of Iraq's oil under some of the most corporate-friendly terms in the world for twenty to thirty-five years. The law grants the Iraq National Oil Company oversight only over "existing" fields, which is about one-third of Iraq's oil. Exploration and production contracts for the remaining two-thirds of Iraq's oil will be opened to private foreign investment. Neither Iraqi public nor private oil companies will receive any preference in contracting decisions." Echoing that is the Green Party (US) which warns that a "new 'hydrocarbon law' up for approval in Iraq would lead to a prolonged, possibly permanent U.S. presence in Iraq, with U.S. military and Iraqi civilian casualties for years to come" and quotes Liz Arnone ("co-chair of the Green Party of the United States") stating: "The Iraqi hydrocarbon law, if approved by Iraqi lawmakers, will provide lucrative profits for U.S. energy corporations by placing up to 2/3 of Iraqi oil resources under foreign control. The U.S. government, whether led by Democrats or Republicans, will be committed to protecting American energy company operations and investments in Iraq by keeping U.S. troops there."

The warning comes as as The No Bases Network is created.
Kintto Lucas (IPS) reports that, in Ecuador, an international conference has created The No Bases Network (some countries, such as Ecuador, already had a national movement) out of concerns, citing Lina Cahuasqui, "that most of the 1,000 foreign military bases on the planet belong to the United States, which has 737 in different countries. Others belong to Russia, China, the United Kingdom and Italy." Among those attending the ongoing conference is Cindy Sheehan.

Sheehan was recently in Vermont drawing attention to the issue of impeachement and
she wrote about that (at Common Dreams) noting: "We made 13 stops across Vermont (which is bigger than it looks) and found ourselves settling into a routine. First the Iraq Vets would speak. Adrienne was an Arabic linguist for 10 years and knew the intelligence that our country was gleaning from such sources as Ahmed Chalabi was false because she, using her brain, figured out that he had much to gain from the invasion of Iraq. When she brought this up to her commander he accused her of not supporting their unit or the mission. Adrienne now works in a VA hospital in Vermont and hears tragic tales of why our vets have PTSD. Stories of soldiers who were driving down the road in a sandy country that they had no business being in one minute and who awaken to find themselves covered in blood with a body parts in their laps, not knowing if it was their own or one of their buddies." Shay Totten and Christian Avard (Vermont Guardian) report that the results have been 36 towns voting in favor of impeachment hearings for the Bully Boy: Bristol, Burke, Calais, Craftsbury, Dummerston, East Montpelier, Greensboro, Guilford, Grafton, Hartland, Jamaica, Jericho, Johnson, Marlboro, Middlebury, Montgomery, Morristown, Newbury, Newfane, Peru, Plainfield, Putney, Richmond, Rochester, Roxbury, St. Johnsbury, Springfield, Stannard, Sunderland, Townshend, Tunbridge, Vershire, Warren, Westminster, Wilmington, and Woodbury

Turning to Iraq, where the violence continues. Commenting on yesterday's violence targeting pilgrims,
Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General, issued a statement condeming "these heinous acts which appear to be aimed at provoking sectarian strife." As Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) notes the count of Shi'ite pilgrims killed on Tuesday is now at "more than 150". As AFP notes, "The killings continued on Wednesday as -- undaunted -- thousands of pilgrims continued their march of devotion, carrying banners and copies of the Koran and marching hundreds of kilometres to Karbala's revered shrines."

Reuters reports six pilgrims were killed in Iskandariya (13 wounded) in a mortar attack, seven dead and 27 wounded in Baghdad from a roadside bomb, seven shot dead in Baghdad with 3 wounded. Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) notes that four pilgrims were shot dead in Dora (8 were injured).


Lauren Frayer (AP) reports on a bombing in Balad Ruz where a man walked into a cafe, set off a bomb, killing himself and at least 30 other people. Mohammed al Dulainy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a mortar attack in Baghdad that wounded a police officer, a Baghdad roadside bomb that killed one person, a car bomb that killed 10 people ("including 6 policemen") and left 42 wounded.


Mohammed al Dulainy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that two police officers were wounded in an attack "in Al Abara town," while a person was shot dead in Muqdadiyah, a person was shot dead in Jurf Al Milah and a person was shot dead in Khaniqeen. Lauren Frayer (AP) notes a butcher was shot dead in his shop in Ramadi.


Mohammed al Dulainy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 10 corpses were discovered in Baghdad,

Today, the
US military announced: "On March 7, an MND-B unit was conducting a route clearance patrol in order to secure a commonly traveled route of improvised explosive devices northwest of the Iraqi capital when they were struck by a roadside bomb, killing three Soldiers and wounding another."

In peace news,
Mary Johnston-de Leon (Veterans for Peace) reports Santa Barbara High School has a new development -- The Peace Academy. After mobilization led to lack of interest in the Junior ROTC program at the high school, it was shut down and Veterans for Peace's Lane Anderson and Babatunde Folayemi have helped the school start The Peace Acadmy which "will provide classes in mediation and conflict resolution, boxing, aikido, martial arts, sailing, fishing, outdoor activities including indigenous rites of passage ceremonies," etc.

Finally, the United Nations will be closing its weapons inspection commission in Iraq.
Evelyn Leopold (Reuters) reports: " The staff of the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Agency, known as UNMOVIC, had not been allowed to return to Iraq by the United States since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003." they have not been back since, in the midst of their inspections, Bully Boy gave his 'get out in 48 hours' bullying speech. No weapons were ever found, by the UN or the US, because WMD ever existed.

iraqagustin aguayo

antonia juhasz

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Cindy Sheehan, Patrick Cockburn, war resistance

Do you ever feel you set a friend up? I tried to call C.I. last night and couldn't get through. (One cell was being used to relay something to Rebecca, the impeachment special, one main line was used to pick up the impeachment special from a friend in NYC, a cell was on the charger and C.I. was letting the service pick up the other landlines.) Rebecca asked me to cover KPFA's Flashpoints since she's on the road. (She told me today not to worry about it and I don't plan to.) The Appeal For Redress nonsense ticked me off but I just avoided it. I meant to give C.I. a heads up. I wasn't able to do so last night and I kept missing today. By the time I was able to, C.I.'s friend who always tapes Flashpoints had already brought the tape of yesterday's show over. I think C.I. handles it perfectly in the snapshot. I agree with everything that's said. (I could also add a bit more to it.) That petition is nonsense and it doesn't need any more encouragment from the left. It's not about ending the war.

Actually, I'm going to start with the snapshot tonight. There's the commentary I've already noted and there's also news about the court-martial.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, March 6, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the US military announced the death of 9 service member, a US war resister is court-martialed and sentenced to 8 months, Bully Boy invents a committe to distract the press from the Walter Reed scandal,
tears in the White House as one of their own is found guilty in a court of law, and, despite the 'crackdown,' over 100 are dead in Iraq today.

Starting with war resistance, today, in Germany
Agustin Aguayo's court-martial began.
Ashraf Khalil (Los Angeles Times) reports that Courage to Resist's Jeff Paterson expects "Aguayo will get up to a year in jail followed by a less than honorable or bad conduct discharge." Agustin Aguayo faces charges of missing movement and desertion. And Paterson made a strong guess. Catherine Hornby (Reuters) reports that Aguayo was convicted of the charges: "Aguayo, 35, pleaded guilty to going absent without leave and missing his deployment, but denied charges of full desertion. But Colonel Peter Masterton, the judge at the court-martial in southern Germany, said the court had found Aguayo guilty as charged and sentenced him to eight months in prison." AP notes that with the 161 days already served, Aguayo "could be free within a few weeks" and quotes Aguayo: "I respect everyone's views and your decision. I understand that people don't undestand me. I tried my best, but I couldn't bear weapons and I could never point weapons at someone. . . . The words of Martin Luther come to mind, 'Here I stand, I can do more'."

Agustin Aguayo did enough. He stood up and he was counted. The father of two eleven-year-old girls, husband of Helga, used his voice and refused to take part in an illegal war. As his two daughters wrote in a letter to him, which Helga spoke about in a video posted at Courage to Resist, that said "We are strong. We will get through this. Never forget that." Aguayo reasons may not be understood by all (and some pretend not to understand them) but he made his point and he stood up. That's a lot more than many do.

Yesterday on
KPFA's Flashpoints, Dennis Bernstein and Nora Barrows-Friedman hosted a speak out on the war. Of course some speak out and some whimper. The whimpers came first. Yes, it's the e-activists, the WalkOn kids, doing nothing but eating up air time. Listen, if you dare, to hear statments glorifying following orders (even when you think the war is illegal and/or immoral), statements of "I do the job I was hired for," statements of wimpering little children who take swipes at Ehren Watada more and more. As though their bended knee plea to a Congress shows any strength or has made a damn bit of difference.

Jonathan Hutto "But at the same time we have to make it clear that we're not" a long list of nots -- things they are not. And they're not smart and they're not accomplishing anything and they need to find a better use for the time. Hutto on Watada: "I personally don't believe that individual acts of refusal or desertion is what's going to change the actual culture of our country, the actual mission of the military."

"Is"? I guess the revision/recast of Hutto is so out of control that now he isn't even a college graduate who grasps subject-verb agreement? It is honestly hilarious to watch Hutto come off less and less educated with each interview. And you have to wonder what anyone thinks that will accomplish? (Or if they believe that past interviews aren't archived for those who want to seek them out?)

The e-activists aren't accomplishing anything. How many, Dennis Bernstein asked, Congress members had signed up to their plea? There was a long list of ones who had handed out 'atta boys, but in terms of actual support? Ten? Beg on your bended knees, boys and girls, but don't kid yourself that you're accomplishing anything with your anonymous activism (which applies not just to the signature but the marketing as well). You've been ignored by Congress, you've been brushed off. A few patted you on the head and that's it. Aguayo stood out, as have others, they wait on bended knee.

The e-activists were supposed to produce a petition and supposed to deliver it to Congress on MLK day but someone in the brain trust was too stupid to grasp that MLK Day is a holiday and Congress would be out of session. So they delivered it on the 16th of January. Why are they still boring everyone with their petition?

Is it 200 more signatures to a useless petition since then? "Patriotic!" they keep insisting! "Wouldn't want to do anything that wasn't okay with the military!" they brag. Is that really something to brag about, 200 more? Almost two months later? Does the toothless, symbolic petition have a point because most points have an ending but this is never ending -- or maybe the egos are just too mighty to nah-nah-nah-good-bye already. "I support continuing to do the mission," an e-activst with Appeal to Whimper told Dennis Bernstein. That would be the illegal war. It's past time that the peace movement and the anti-war movement stopped promoting those people who can't call the war out. Patrick Buchanan showed more bravery than these supposed anti-war activists. Dennis Bernstein attempted to bring up the issue of the principles outlined in the Nuremberg Trials. And the response?

"I chose to wear this uniform and I'm going to continue to do what I'm paid to do. But at the same time, I don't think there's anything wrong with petitioning Congress in this appeal for redress to say 'Hey, we could use a little help over here.' So that's my thing, I think that we should be able to appeal for redresses and at the same time getting on with the business of what we volunteered and are paid to do and that's uh go where we're told and do what we're told" at which point Jonathan Hutto tries to rescue his pro-war buddy. It's too late for a rescue. And it's past time that the left leave the nonsense e-activism to the 'left'.

Segment one plays out like a joke. Segment two is worth hearing (featuring
Iraq War Veterans Against the War) as Garrett Reppenhagen, Prentice Reid and Jason Lemieux speak strongly (no whimpers in this segment). (This is the section Elaine chose to start with when she wrote about the broadcast last night.) Reid spoke of participating in a protest in support of Mark Wilkerson because he feels the war is wrong. He feels the war is wrong. It's not that difficult to say -- unless, like the Hutto crowd, you've attempted to pass yourself off as something you're not and surrounded yourself with War Hawks just to get a electronic signature on your petition. (What might you do for a wet signature!) Reid's not been polished and doesn't have a crew of advisors, but he can speak proudly and strongly. Garrett spoke of his service and how Iraq was different from the way it was sold,
"I think that the administration bascially abused our sense of patriotism our sense of courage and our sense of values to motivate this nation to back the war.
And I wasn't happy about it. So the people I killed in Iraq and the missions I went on I don't feel supported American security, I don't think that it was very moral and just what we did,
and it went against what I was actually being trained for, as far as army values,
and as far as the characteristics of what a soldier represents and the values of the country."

Segment three features a heartbreaking story told by Tina Richards about the struggles her son Cloy had after returning from Iraq: "When he got back from Falluja he was completely broken, he suffered severe PTSD. He often called me where he was doing his MP duty at Camp Pendleton to tell me he had a gun in his mouth, he had to pull the trigger, he could no longer live with all of the innocent women and children he killed over in Iraq and that he didn't deserve to have a mother and a sister. And that is . . . It just, as a mother, tears you apart.
and you don't know what to do. And when he was deployed I was torn apart because I felt so helpless. And when I was trying to get him help through the VA system which, first the military and then the VA system which completely failed him I finally started getting involved with varioius activist groups such as
Veterans for Peace , Military Families Speak Out."

Then a speech by Cloy Richards was played where he discussed being told that they were shooting advancing insurgents and, looking at the bodies later, it was "women and children, elderly," about how his brother served in Iraq and has been torn apart by it (and is now headed to Afghanistan).

Jeff Paterson pointed out that
Courage to Resist is a resource for everyone -- it provides information, it raises money, it provides support. Most of all, Jeff Paterson pointed out,
"We heard a soldier earlier speak saying individual resistance doesn't matter. It doesn't
matter unless there's a community, a movement, backing them up. That they're part of something, that they're part of stopping a war. And that's what
Courage to Resist is dedicated to." Ramon Leal (Iraq Veterans Against the War) spoke of how the war was illegal and how "now that we know it's illegal, what to do about it?"

Amnesty International had an observer in the court room where
Agustin Aguayo's court-martial took place today and they have issued a statement:

Agustin Aguayo is a legitimate conscientious objector who should not be imprisoned for his beliefs, Amnesty International said today after Aguayo, a U.S. Army medic, was sentenced by U.S. court martial to eight months in prison for his refusal to participate in the war in Iraq. The organization considers Aguayo to be a "prisoner of conscince" and calls for his immediate and unconditional release.
"Refusing military service for reasons of conscience isn't a luxury -- it's a right protected under international human rights law," said Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA. "
Agustin Aguayo wasn't just complaining about his assignment -- he clearly made the case that he objects to war itself. He should be released."
It is evident from the statements made by Aguayo and members of his family that he is a legitimate conscientious objector whose opposition to war developed over the course of time and evolved further in response to his experiences in Iraq. Amnesty International believes that he took reasonable steps to secure release from the army through applying for conscientious objector status.

Aguayo stood strong and stood up today. He didn't whimper. He didn't say, "Give me my orders." He didn't, as an e-mail activist told Bernstein, say of course the war is illegal but he's happy to serve in it. Aguayo is part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as
Ehren Watada, Kyle Snyder, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Speaking of history, in these past months, while the world watched, the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq was broadcast on live TV. Like Osama bin Laden and the Taliban in Afghanistan, the regime of Saddam Hussein simply disappeared. This was followed by what analysts called a "power vacuum." Cities that had been under seige, without food, water, and electricity for days, cities that had been bombed relentlessly, people who had been starved and systematically impoverished by the U.N. sanctions regime for more than a decade, were suddenly left with no semblance of urban administration. A seven-thousand-year-old civilization slid into anarchy. On live TV.
Vandals plundered shops, offices, hotels, and hospitals. American and British soldiers stood by and watched. They said they had no orders to act. In effect, they had orders to kill people, but not to protect them. Their priorities were clear. The safety and security of Iraqi people was not their business. The security of whatever little remained of Iraq's infrastructure was not their business. But the security and safety of Iraq's oil fields were. Of course they were. The oil fields were "secured" almost before the invasion began.
On CNN and the BBC the scenes of the rampage were played and replayed. TV commentators, army and government spokespersons portrayed it as a "liberated people" venting their rage at a despotic regime. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said:
"[I]t's untidy. . . . [F]reedom's untidy. And free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things." Did anybody know that Donald Rumsfeld was an anarchist?
-- Arundahti Roy,
An Ordinary Person's Guide To Empire, "Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy (Buy One, Get One Free) pp. 46-49. The essay is from the a speech "first delivered May 13, 2003, at the Riverside Church, New York City, and broadcast live on Pacifica Radio. The lecture, sponsored by the Lannan Foundation and the Center for Economic and Social Rights, was delivered as an acceptance speech for the 2002 Lanna Prize for Cultural Freedom."

Rumsfeld, as Roy notes further in, refers to footage and basically claims that Iraq had just one vase in the entire country. That's not all that different from, in the face of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center scandal, claiming that the press is offering "one-sided" coverage which, as
Zachary Coile's (San Francisco Chronicle) points out, is just what Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley (army's surgeon general) did early on as the scandal was breaking. Yesterday, a House subcommittee asked questions and heard testimony, today, it was the Senate's turn with US Senator Carl Levin. Anne Flaherty (AP) reports that Levin stated the purpose early on, "Today's hearing is about another example of the lack of planning for a war that was premised on the assumption that combat operations would be swift, casualties would be minimal, and that we would be welcomed as liberators, instead of being attacked by the people we 'liberated'." AP also notes US Senator John McCain's comments: "I am dismayed this ever occurred. It was a failure in the most basic tenets of command responsibility to take care of our troops."

If you don't hear a great deal about the Senate committee's hearings, there's a reason for that. Bully Boy attempted to shift the topic and the press went along with it. He's created another one of his non-impressive commissions, this time chaired by former Britney Spears drooler and Viagra spokesperson Robert Dole and Donna Shalala who served as the Health and Human Services Secretary in former president Bill Clinton's administration.
CBS and AP report the commission is to be called The Wounded Warrior Commission.

Bully Boy, announcing the laughable commission, said something akin to, "Listen I am, I am as concerned as you are. My decision that put our kids in hard way."
On Democracy Now! today, Amy Goodman noted of the scandal: "Meanwhile Vermont Congressman Peter Welch said a major factor in the conditions at Walter Reed might be the result of the privatization of services. Welch cited a five-year $120 million contract given to a company called IAP Worldwide Services, which is operated by a former Halliburton executive. The Corporate Research Project is reporting IAP has close ties to the Republican Party. Ownership of the company is controlled by the giant hedge fund Cerberus, whose chair is former Bush Administration Treasury Secretary John Snow. The IAP board of directors includes former Vice President Dan Quayle and retired Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Michael Hagee."

When you're up to you neck in the scandal because it happened on your watch, because complaints were made and ignored, because cronies filled positions and because you turned over government's business to inept campaign contributors, start a faux commission quickly and hope the press stamps a happy face on it.

Bully Boy addressed the American legion today and, looking drunk or as though his face got run over,
CBS and AP report that he said he sees "encouraging signs" in the so-called crackdown. Well, as noted, he did look possibly drunk.

This on the day when the US military announces the deaths of 9 US service members in Iraq --
announced: "Task Force Lightning Soldiers were attacked while conducting combat operations in Salah ad Din province Monday. Six Task Force Lightning Soldiers died as a result of injuries sustained following an explosion near their vehicles. Three other Soldiers were wounded and taken to a Coalition medical facility for treatment."; and announced: "Task Force Lightning Soldiers were attacked while conducting combat operations in Diyala Province Monday. Three Task Force Lightning Soldiers died as a result of injuries sustained following an explosion near their vehicles. One other Soldier was wounded and taken to a Coalition medical facility for treatment." Both announcements came well before his laughable speech.

In addition, the ridiculous statement came on a day when there were over 100 reported deaths in Iraq.
CNN reports that, in Hillah and elsewhere in Iraq, a series of attacks ("bombings and small arms attacks") "left over 120 dead and more than 200 wounded." This Bully Boy reads as "encouraging"? CBS and AP note: "Hours after the attack, boys used long-handled squeegees to push pools of blood off the road. The shoes and sandals of the victims were gathered in haphazard piles." Habib al-Zubaidi (Reuters) reports that the number of Shi'ite pilgrims killed is now at 149.

In addition to the mass attacks on Shi'ite pilgrims . . .


Reuters reports, in Mosul, five Iraqis were killed and 18 wounded by a "car bomb targeting an Iraqi army patrol," an attack on Iraqi soldiers in Baghdad killed four as well as "two civilians and wounded 11 others." Daliah Hassan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports (in addition to the four Iraqi soldiers killed) a car bomb targeting a check point killed 1 Iraq soldier and left 3 wounded, while a mortar attack in Basra injured a child and an adult and killed one person


Dalia Hassan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "The head of relations and media department in touriscm committee Ahmed Gati'a was killed when gun men shot him in Al-Iskandariya district (South of Baghdad)" and two police officers "were injured in an armed attack" in al-Abara.


Dalia Hassan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 24 corpses were discovered in Baghdad.

The topic of the care for veterans was the subject on today's
KPFA's The Morning Show, and among the guests were Peter Laufer, author of Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq, and Michael T. McPhearson of Veterans for Peace.

McPhearson noted that Walter Reed is "considered the jewel" so if the scandal's happening there, imagine what it's like elsewhere. Laufer noted a "Daniel" profiled in his book who was scheduled for his third tour of duty in Iraq and wanted out so he took cocaine, knowing he had a drug test coming up, to be "mustered out." After he was out, he attempted to get help in San Jose but "they refused him attention because he had been mustered out for failing one drug test." Philip Maldari (who co-hosts with Andrea Lewis) and McPhearson discussed the issue of how medical discharges can be held up if your unit doesn't have enough people with McPhearson adding, "You have pressure on you to meet an expectation. It's similar to the recruiters and then they end up maybe going across the line ethically." The comparisons to the care scandals during the Vietnam era and today were brought up and Laufer noted that the scandal was unfolding "at Walter Reed, right in the shadow of the White House, right in the shadow of the Pentagon". On this topic,
Danny Schechter (News Dissector, notes: "250,000 -- Roughly, the number of American servicemen and women struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), 60,000 -- Almost the number of military marriages that have been broken by this war".

On the heels of one report that sounded the alarms re: life for women in Iraq, another report is released. Last week, Minority Rights Group International's
(PDF format) report "Assimilation, Exodus, Eradication: Iraq's minority communities since 2003" focused on religious and ethnice minorities as well as women (click here for a summary on the section on women). Now MADRE has released their report. Interviewed today by Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) with Houzan Mahmoud (Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq), MADRE's Yifat Susskind explained, "There's been, since the US invasion, a virtual epidemic of all forms of gender-based violence in Iraq, a sharp rise in violence against women in the public sphere, women being harassed, beaten, assassinated, raped. Much of it is directed by Islamist militias on both sides of the sectarian divide. But what is really remarkable is that much of the violence -- in fact, the most widespread violence -- in many instances is being carried out by these militias who are essentially the armed wings of the political parties that the US has boosted to power in Iraq. So these are sort of shock troops of political parties that are closely allied with the United States. At a certain point, the US was providing military training and arms and money to these militias, in the hopes that they would sort of step up where the official Iraqi army had not and were to combat the anti-US insurgency. You know, there's a lot of pieces that, you know, we've seen in the press sort of in bits and pieces. But what we haven't seen is kind of the story of the Iraq war told from the perspective of Iraqi women, and that's what we aim to do in the report."

From the Executive Summary of "
Promising Democracy, Imposing Theocracy: Gender-Based Violence and the US War on Iraq:"

Amidst the chaos and violence of US-occupied Iraq, the significance of widespread gender-based violence has been largely overlooked. Yet, Iraqi women are enduring unprecedented levels of assault in the public sphere, "honor killings," torture in detention, and other forms of gender-based violence. Women are not only being targeted because they are members of the civilian population. Women--in particular those who are perceived to pose a challenge to the political project of their attackers--have increasingly been targeted because they are women. This report documents the use of gender-based violence by Iraqi Islamists, brought to power by the US overthrow of Iraq's secular Ba'ath regime, and highlights the role of the United States in fomenting the human rights crisis confronting Iraqi women today.
drives that home.

And finally, the jury is no longer out on Scooter Libby. As noted October 31, 2005 on Democracy Now!:

Libby Resigns After Five Count Indictment in CIA Leak CaseFor the first time in 130 years, a White House staff member has been indicted for crimes committed in the office. On Friday, Lewis "Scooter" Libby was indicted on five counts of obstruction of justice, perjury to a grand jury and making false statements to FBI agents during the CIA leak investigation. If convicted, he faces up to 30 years in prison and $1.25 million in fines. Until Friday Libby was a central figure in the Bush White House holding three top positions: chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, national security adviser to the vice president and assistant to the president. Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald announced the indictment on Friday. President Bush's chief advisor Karl Rove has so far escaped indictment for his role in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame, the wife of Ambassador Joseph Wilson. But Rove remains under investigation. On Sunday Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid called on Bush to apologize and for Rove to resign. Bush and Cheney have both praised Libby for his service. The top candidate to replace Libby is David Addington who currently works as the vice president's legal counsel. Three years ago he wrote a memo that asserted the war on terrorism renders obsolete the Geneva Convention's limitations of questioning detainees. Ambassador Wilson accused Libby and the White House of outing his wife, Valerie Plame. He said, "Senior administration officials used the power of the White House to make our lives hell for the last 27 months. But more important, they did it as part of a clear effort to cover up the lies and disinformation used to justify the invasion of Iraq. That is the ultimate crime."

That was 2005. Today? He'll need a new nickname in prison, but the jury has decided and found him guilty of all but one charge.
CNN reports that the jurors "were certain of the former vice presidential aide's guilt, but they also harbored sympathy for him as a 'fall guy'." David Corn (The Nation) notes, "The ruling: Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff lied to federal investigators." Rory O'Connor (Media Is Plural, notes that the jurors wondered where Karl Rove was and observes "Libby, of course, is the only person ever indicted after a multi-year investigation which ultimately reached deep inside the White House. The central issue in that investigation revolved around allegations that someone within the White House illegally disclosed classified information during the late spring and early summer of 2003, when it was revealed that Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who had criticized the Iraq policy, was married to an undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame."

Okay, first off, his name is Cloy Richardson, not Coy, as I wrote last night. I had an e-mail asking if his mother's last name was "Richardson," why wouldn't that be his last name? What world does that person live in?

Parents get divorced, some remarry. Not everyone today has the same last name as their mother.

Secondly, again, I agree with the commentary. Appeal has wasted everyone's time. I didn't note it last night because I was so angry. I couldn't believe the nonsense I was hearing from the spokespeople for the petition that supposedly wants to end the war. I couldn't believe the insults to war resisters, I couldn't believe the blind faith in orders. I thought they revealed a very hollow, very shallow side on 60 Minutes but this was even worse.

The war is illegal, it's immoral, people are dying every day, people are wounded every day (physically and mentally). Those who think the war is illegal (as one Appealer said he did last night) but then go on to say that they will do what they're told are not working to end the war. They're making themselves useless. Worse, if they're taking time away from people truly trying to make a difference, their nonsense is preventing information about real efforts from getting out.

In addition the illegal war not only breeds tensions in Iraq, it does so all over the world.

"The 'War on Terror' is a Bust" (Patrick Cockburn, CounterPunch):
Innocent people across the world are now paying the price of the "Iraq effect", with the loss of hundreds of lives directly linked to the invasion and occupation by American and British forces.
A US study of terrorist attacks after the invasion in 2003 contradicts the repeated denials of George Bush and Tony Blair that the war is not to blame for an upsurge in fundamentalist violence worldwide. The research is said to be the first to attempt to measure the "Iraq effect" on global terrorism. It found that the number killed in jihadist attacks around the world has risen dramatically since the Iraq war began in March 2003. The study compared the period between 11 September 2001 and the invasion of Iraq with the period since the invasion. The count - excluding the Arab-Israel conflict - shows the number of deaths due to terrorism rose from 729 to 5,420. As well as strikes in Europe, attacks have also increased in Chechnya and Kashmir since the invasion. The research was carried out by the Centre on Law and Security at the NYU Foundation for Mother Jones magazine.
Iraq was the catalyst for a ferocious fundamentalist backlash, according to the study, which says that the number of those killed by Islamists within Iraq rose from seven to 3,122. Afghanistan, invaded by US and British forces in direct response to the September 11 attacks, saw a rise from very few before 2003 to 802 since then. In the Chechen conflict, the toll rose from 234 to 497. In the Kashmir region, as well as India and Pakistan, the total rose from 182 to 489, and in Europe from none to 297.

Do you get it? I'm sure you do. But the people with Appeal For Redress do not. They've gotten their pats on the head, now it's time for everyone who cares about peace and ending the war to stop patting their heads. The children need to grow up and do something if they want more head pats. E-activism won't cut it.

Jonathan Hutto believes in collectives and that may be very well and good (though perhaps he should explain why he believes in them?) but individuals do make a difference as well and if he truly believes they do not, then he's not just shading the truth with his presentation, he's an idiot. I'm not in the mood for nonsense. The illegal war hits the four year mark this month and idiots aren't ending it. Being stupid won't stop the war.

Can an individual make a difference? Of course. Two words: Cindy Sheehan.

"Vermont: The Land of Hope" (Cindy Sheehan, Common Dreams):
My recent trip to Turkey opened my eyes further to anti-American hatred. As more and more people in the occupied countries of Afghanistan and Iraq are being killed by American troops or by violence that didn’t exist before America existed in their countries, the intensity of the hostility is escalating along with the escalating violence. At a “peace” conference that I attended in Istanbul I was appalled when attendee after attendee rose up from the audience to commend my fellow panelist, an Iraqi scientist, on the insurgency in Iraq which was giving the world “hope” by staving off the self entitled “mightiest military in history”. I was as appalled because a violent insurgency was applauded as I am appalled that a violent regime in DC is still in power to continue devastating the world which encourages people to place their hope in the Iraqi resistance.
I want to live in a country that gives hope to the world. I want to live in a country that decreases world instability instead of foments and celebrates it. I want to live in a country that listens to its citizens and not the lobbyists of the war profiteers. I want to live in a country that doesn’t use its precious sons and daughters to kill other people’s precious sons and daughters. I want to live in the USA and that’s why I want Bloody George and Doomsday Dick to be impeached.
I had the honor over this past weekend to travel the state of Vermont (in the Yellow Rose of Texas VFP and Camp Casey Bus) with impeachment activists which included Dan DeWalt who began the impeachment movement in Vermont, John Nichols who is an associate editor of The Nation magazine and author of
The Genius of Impeachment which puts the impeachment of the Bush Regime in crystal clear historical focus; along with three superbly intelligent and articulate Iraq Vets Against the War: Drew Cameron, Matt Howard and Adrienne Kinne.
We made 13 stops across Vermont (which is bigger than it looks) and found ourselves settling into a routine. First the Iraq Vets would speak. Adrienne was an Arabic linguist for 10 years and knew the intelligence that our country was gleaning from such sources as Ahmed Chalabi was false because she, using her brain, figured out that he had much to gain from the invasion of Iraq. When she brought this up to her commander he accused her of not supporting their unit or the mission. Adrienne now works in a VA hospital in Vermont and hears tragic tales of why our vets have PTSD. Stories of soldiers who were driving down the road in a sandy country that they had no business being in one minute and who awaken to find themselves covered in blood with a body parts in their laps, not knowing if it was their own or one of their buddies.

Cindy Sheehan has made a difference. How did she do it? By standing up, by taking a stand. Her position isn't, "The war is wrong but listen to me say that and then, if you want to continue the illegal war, just tell me what you need me to do." Here's the thing about Sheehan, or Kyle Snyder, or Ehren Watada or Agustin Aguayo, or Darrell Anderson or anyone who takes a brave stand. It is noted. People note it. It gives them something to think about. It plants a seed. Many people will do something as a result. It may be a smaller stand, but they'll see the stands people have taken, they'll admire the bravery and they'll emulate it. It's modeled behavior.

Which is why The Nation is so dangerous. The behavior they model is: "You have no power except as a voter." It goes without saying that they won't threaten to withold a vote. Even their overly praised 2005 editorial didn't play out in such a way to prevent them from offering softball coverage of pro-war Democrats. But they won't even address the issue of withholding your vote. It's all about vote and, if you're disappointed, write a letter, start a conversation, and vote for the same losers all over again.

agustin aguayo