Friday, March 30, 2007

Kevin Zeese, Veteran Intel. Professionals for Sanity

Melanie asked for a highlight here and offered a bribe. First, the bribe:

This is no April Fool! Alexander Cockburn live for three hours on C-SPAN-2, April 1, Noon (EST), repeated at midnight.

She saw that at CounterPunch and wondered if I had? I didn't and I was there today twice. (It really wasn't a bribe. But I do enjoy Alexender Cockburn. So I'm including it first.) That is this Sunday.

What she wondered was if I could highlight something she had C.I. highlight in "And the war drags on . . ."? She said she was sure it was too busy to included in the snapshot today.

"Is Bush Lame or is Congress?" (Kevin Zeese, CounterPunch):
While the headlines will read that the Senate voted to withdraw U.S. troops in Iraq, the peace movement recognizes that the Senate bill will extend the war not end it. The exit date in the bill is merely a goal for the removal of combat troops, and there are large loopholes that would allow a commander in chief to keep as many troops as s/he wants in Iraq. The bill provides $123 billion to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ­ nearly $20 billion more requested by Bush.
The real issue now is whether the Democrats will cave into President Bush's threatened veto by providing a funding bill with no exit requirements or whether they will challenge the president further. If they cave they will have given Bush new life ­ he will no longer be a lame duck, but rather will remain "the decider." The Congress will be seen as a "lame Congress." How they respond will be determined after their April recess.
Many peace advocates held a demonstration shortly after the vote to protest the extension, rather than end of the war. The demonstration emphasized that the Democrats have the power to end the war and highlighted the deaths of U.S. soldiers and Iraqis with a series of gravestones and photos. The Hill described the protest as an "occupation" of the Hart Senate office building.

That was a strong piece. Kevin Zeese's is a pretty strong writer. (I agree with what's written, for the record.) I'm not in the mood for the Dems just yet, let me ease into that cess pool. But as for being busy, yes.

First, let me note that the community, as of next Tuesday, has another newsletter. Hilda's Mix. Hilda's focus will be in serving the disabled members of the community. The articles should be of interest to every member of the community so I hope you'll sign up for it. (See C.I.'s column in today's gina & krista round-robin for Hilda's e-mail address if you don't have it yet.)

For Hilda's Mix, Ava and C.I. will provide an overview/review of radio programs. The community has members with hearing issues and sight issues. Members with sight issues are able to listen to radio programs which is why C.I. has heavily increased the links to audio over the life of The Common Ills. People with hearing issues can read excerpts from a discussion on a radio program but most of the radio covered doesn't even have an individual website. So Ava and C.I. will do a piece each week explaining the focus and format of various radio shows. With those with sight issues in the community, they're part of a couple and their partner reads The Common Ills to them. I think there were only three couples when C.I. became aware of that (there are more now) and that's when there was a real move on C.I.'s part to include links to audio. The community has always included members with hearing issues and I've always assumed that came from a very early entry where C.I. was addressing that issue (I believe in terms of a magazine article). We're a diverse community and each newsletter ends up underscoring that. I don't have the time to do a regular feature but I will be doing a piece in the second newsletter with Three Cool Old Guys. Cedric told me they wanted to do something with me and I was flattered. We've got that roughed out but it still needs a polish.

Now I just said "I don't have the time to do a regular feature" and my point in this section is "busy" and that's C.I. I should probably say, "I won't make the time." C.I. has far less time than me and is doing The Common Ills 7 days a week -- no day off since it started, Ava and C.I. do the TV commentary at The Third Estate Sunday Review each Sunday, C.I. also works on all the pieces that go up there, C.I. does a weekly column for the gina & krista round-robin, a weekly column for Polly's Brew, a weekly column for El Espirito, Ava and C.I. do two TV reviews each week for El Espirto, Ava and C.I. will now be doing a weekly feature on radio for Hilda's Mix and C.I. will be doing a weekly column for Hilda's Mix.

So C.I. is busy? Yes. Also very tired this week. That's why, in the roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin, Krista asks C.I., "Are you okay?" C.I. was speaking (we did that over the phone on Wednesday) and had to stop to repeatedly clear the throat. Okay? Rundown is my guess. I really wish C.I. would take some time off. (Time off to C.I. was only speaking on campuses within an hundred mile radius of home this week.)

When we all went to Texas for that week, C.I.'s schedule was really overwhelming (from my vantage point). Dona made up a schedule before we headed to Texas (and did a great job) but C.I. was always picking up one or two more each day. We'd all here, "No, no, no, you go have some fun. Treat this as a fun trip."

Along with addressing the busy, I'm also addressing Ethan's question about whether or not The Common Ills goes dark in November of 2008? If today was November of 2008, I would say yes. As for come November 2008, I have no idea. I relate the site to C.I.'s speaking out against the war. That started in February of 2003 and was just filling in for a friend who wasn't able to at the last minute. When it 'ended,' there were requests and C.I. ended up doing that repeatedly. (Except for Alaska, C.I. visited every state from Feb. 2003 through November 2004.) When it expanded past February 2003, at some point, it was heavily advised that getting Bully Boy out of the Oval Office would greatly help end the illegal war so C.I. said fine, I'll go through the November election.

Bully Boy didn't get kicked out. A group of friends who had worked on that got together to analyze what had worked, what had reached people, what hadn't worked and what had sent people flying. Long before that, many people (I was one) were telling C.I., "You need to do a blog." C.I. (a) didn't have the time and (b) didn't know what a blog was.

So at the meeting that was brought up and C.I. begged off with, "I don't know the first thing about blogs." But ended up starting one that night. The speaking was back on before the end of November. At that point, it was speaking and one or two entries a day. It didn't last like that very long, as anyone who visits the site now can tell you.

I joke that, like Cher's farewell tour, there's no end.

I mention all of that for Ethan, to explain why a set end date is needed. It may not hold. Some days, I think C.I.'s going to continue The Common Ills until the war ends. (Congress has demonstrated that the war will be going on past 2008.) (Which C.I. noted in 2005. That's when the date was picked. Jim has written about how he was shocked by the fact that C.I. didn't think the war would be over then. I wasn't shocked when C.I. would make similar comments to me but I did hope/think the war would be over by then.) So I really can't give you an answer. Rebecca and I have been friends with C.I. for years and year and years and . . . But I don't know what's going to happen and, on a good day, C.I. really doesn't either. (On a bad day? C.I.'s saying, "I just have to do this until November 2008.")

Another reason I mention all of the above is because Ava read to me a nasty e-mail from a reporter who files a few stories a week -- for which he is paid -- and wanted to go to town on how much better he believes he is than C.I.

First of all, Reporter X does it for money. C.I. doesn't need money. Reporter X has an editor (and people below) to assist him. As I said before, Reporter X writes only a little each week. Reporter X is read because of his paper. C.I.'s read because of the community C.I. has created.

Back in the day, we used to stress "contributions." Was someone making a contribution? C.I.'s making contributions. Rushing to catch a flight while the laptop doesn't want to cooperate (or worse), C.I.'s still making a contribution. Reporter X couldn't handle C.I.'s schedule. (C.I.'s offline schedule or online, let alone both combined.)

Reporter X doesn't read too well because he felt the need to say that, unlike C.I., his writing isn't all about getting Democrats into office. Ava was furious at the e-mail but she and I both had to laugh when she read me that part. Unlike many sites online, C.I.'s not burping Democrats. C.I.'s not saying, "Way to go!" C.I. calls Dems out.

I think C.I. does amazing work at The Common Ills and that's before I even factor in all the other things C.I.'s writing for newsletters, The Third Estate Sunday Review, etc.

So I just found Reporter X to be really stupid -- as well as foul mouthed. I found him extremely stupid in the section where he was questioning C.I.'s "dedication." To repeat, C.I. doesn't get paid for The Common Ills. C.I.'s doesn't accept payment for speaking (or even allow anyone to cover travel expenses). I'll end my lecture on that note.

"Intel Vets Question the Iraq-UK Crisis" (Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, Consortium News):
The frenzy in America's corporate media over Iran's detainment of 15 British Marines who may, or may not, have violated Iranian-claimed territorial waters is a flashback to the unrestrained support given the administration’s war-mongering against Iraq shortly before the attack.
The British are refusing to concede the possibility that its Marines may have crossed into ill-charted, Iranian-claimed waters and are ratcheting up the confrontation. At this point, the relative merits of the British and Iranian versions of what actually happened are greatly less important than how hotheads on each side--and particularly the British--decide to exploit the event in the coming days.There is real danger that this incident, and the way it plays out, may turn out to be outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair's last gesture of fealty to President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and "neo-conservative" advisers who, this time, are looking for a casus belli to "justify" air strikes on Iran.
Bush and Cheney no doubt find encouragement in the fact that the Democrats last week refused to include in the current House bill on Iraq war funding proposed language forbidding the White House from launching war on Iran without explicit congressional approval.If the Senate omits similar language, or if the prohibition disappears in conference, chances increase for a "pre-emptive" US and/or Israeli strike on Iran and a major war that will make the one in Iraq seem like a minor skirmish. The impression, cultivated by the White House and our domesticated media, that Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-majority states might favor a military strike on Iran is a myth.
But the implications go far beyond the Middle East. With the Russians and Chinese, the US has long since forfeited the ability, exploited with considerable agility in the 70s and 80s, to play one off against the other. In fact, US policies have helped drive the two giants together. They know well that it’s about oil and strategic positioning and will not stand idly by if Washington strikes Iran.

I'm highlighting that for a number of reasons. First of all, let's note that the Democrats could be saying "no" to Bully Boy declaring a unilateral war on Iran. They can't because they won't. They'll allow him to make that decision because they're too afraid to excercise their own power.
A third war? This country needs or can afford to be in a third war? The Democrats are as foolish as Katrina vanden Heuvel. I'm thinking of her offensive remark about Harry Belafonte who's never been afraid to use his voice -- a gift that vanden Heuvel wasn't blessed with. They won't take a stand and you know vanden Heuvel won't take a stand against them. It's amazing how that magazine has nose dived so quickly. All the little boys she's rounded up, none of whom appears to have writing talent, but she keeps publishing their crap like a proud mother posting crayola drawings on a fridge. I really think if you went back a few years and studied what was done then compared with what is done now, you'd feel like you were reading Junior Nation. It's that juvenile. Little Boys who burped out the Democratic Party's talking points much to the pleasure of vanden Heuvel. Harry Belaftone is and has been an important voice. I think it was an act of extreme cowardice (or worse) for vanden Heuvel to go after him.

Like the Democrats, she's just not up to the job. They're incapable of leading and so is she. They've allowed the country to be run into a ditch (if not over a cliff) and she's done the same with The Nation. I think the enabling of the party has allowed it to be so weak and useless.

The second reason I wanted to highlight the above is because of the fact that Ray McGovern is a part of it and he credited women for all the hard work they've done -- he named Cindy Sheehan, Ann Wright and CODEPINK, among others. Those women, and many more, have done hard work. They deserve to be applauded. (Not ignored, but that would take us back to The Nation so let's avoid going there.)

The third reason I wanted to include the highlight is I get the same response from people about Iran that I remember getting regarding Iraq in the lead up. "Oh, he's not stupid enough to start a war." That was the typical comment regarding Iraq and there appears to be a sense of disbelief that a war with Iran is even possible as we move closer and closer to it.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
March 30, 2007. Chaos and violence continues in Iraq, war resister Corey Glass appears before a supposed independent body, and the puppet of the occupation plays catch & release while the 'crackdown' again cracks up.

Starting with war resisters. In Canada, a US war resister appeared before the Immigration and Refugee Board today.
Matthew Chung (Toronto Star) reports that Corey Glass and his attorney, Jeffrey House, will attempt to argue that the Iraq war is illegal. Chung notes: "Glass joined the National Guard in Indiana four years ago to, so he says, fill sand bags and help guard U.S. soil. Instead he was sent to Iraq, a war he said he doesn't believe in. He fled during a two-week leave." So he says, Chung? He's maintained that repeatedly including when he spoke at Tilley Hall Auditorium in October of last year "filling sand bags to stop a flood on American soil". After self-checking out, Glass was underground for seven months before going to Canada and, during that time, the Army (which supposedly just waits for traffic violations to catch self-check outs) was visiting his parents, calling phone numbers trying to track him down. As October started last year, Corey Glass, Justin Colby, Ryan Johnson and other war resisters in Canada were considering returning to US as a result of the way Darrell Anderson's discharge was resolved. However, once the military attempted to screw over Kyle Snyder, that changed. Glass told Brett Barrouqere (AP) at the start of November, "After what they did to him, I don't see anybody going back." In September of last year, Glass stated, "I knew the war was wrong before I went, but I was going to fulfil my end of the bargain, right or wrong and eventually my conscience just caught up with me. . . I felt horrible for being a part of it. If I could apologise to those people [Iraqis], every single on, I would." The supposed independent body of the Immigration and Review Board has refused to grant asylum thus far to every Iraq war resister who has come before it.

Staying on war resistance, Joshua Key, who is in Canada with his wife Brandi Key and their children, wrote, with Lawrence Hill, his story in the new book
The Deserter's Tale which has been receiving favorable reviews across the political spectrum. Karen Alego Krizman (Rocky Mountain News) is the latest to review the book and observes, "Key admits he believed the recruiter who promised he wouldn't have to go overseas or into combat if he joined the Army - mere months after 9/11. Couple this naivete with the steady dose of racism Key says the Army fed recruits and it's no wonder that abuses such as Abu Ghraib occur." Paul Gessel (Ottawa Citizen) notes the Ottawa International Writers Festival from April 15-22 will include Lawrence hill, David Suzuki, Tom Harpur, Roy MacGregor and Barbara Gowdy and reports: "Hill is riding high this year with two books, one a novel about the slave trade called The Book of Negroes and the other a non-fiction story called The Deserter's Tale, about an American soldier who went AWOL while home on leave from fighting in Iraq. That soldier, Joshua Key, is trying to obtain refugee status in Canada and will be joining Hill at the festival April 16."

On Monday, CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees took a look at Kyle Snyder and other war resisters who were making a life in Nelson British Columbia. Cooper noted, "We all know the stories about Vietnam War-era deserters who fled to Canada. But less well-known are the members of today's armed forces who are refusing to serve in Iraq. Many have fled to the same town in Canada where they're being welcomed with open arms." Thelma Gutierrez was the reporter for the segment.

Kyle Snyder: I joined when I was 19. . . I sat back, I put my weapon down beside me, and then, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, real quick, very, very loud, I could just remember the look on the man's face. . . . I was a .50 cal. machine gunner and I was an escort for very high-ranking officials. What drew the line for me was one mission in particular where I had witnessed an innocent civilian shot in front of me. . . . I was first angry at that. And then I became angry at the fact that there were no repercussions. This -- there was nothing done to prevent this from happening again. . . . I made my decision off of the things that I personally witnessed in Iraq. I didn't just wake up one morning and say, 'I'm going to leave my country, I'm going to leave my friends behind, I'm going to leave everything that I know and everything that I love and built my entire life on,' nobody does that. . . . I can walk around shops here and, you know, I see "war resisters welcome here" signs. I see community getting involved and getting together. High schoolers come up and say, what can I do to support the anti-war movement?

Meanwhile, Canada's
Chronicle Herald reports, "Police have initiated an investigation into" Snyder's arrest "which will be conducted by the Abbotsford police". Snyder was pulled from the home he shares with Ryan and Jen Johnson, the day before his wedding, arrested in his boxers and carried to a jail where he was held (still in his boxers) for several hours as a result of some sort of 'special' and 'unofficial' deal between the police and the US military.

Glass, Key, Snyder and Johnson are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes
Ehren Watada, Darrell Anderson, Joshua Key, Dean Walcott, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, 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.

In the United States, the press continues to believe that claims of a withdrawal garner more interest than headlines of "Some Troops May Come Home . . . Someday." The realities were addressed on yesterday's

Meanwhile in Washington the Senate a sort time ago passed a long discussed resolution that ties military funding to non-specific suggestions that President Bush accept the goal but not the requirement of removing less than half of the 150,000 US occupation troops from Iraq by the unenforceable deadline of March 2008. Nevertheless, President Bush has promised a veto. Today's 51 to 47 vote was mostly along party lines and now the Senate and House must resolve their respective legislation neither of which require a full withdrawal of US troops from Iraq till well after the installation of the next American president. And that's some of the news this Thursday, March 29th, 2007. From exile, I'm Robert Knight.

Robert Knight has been one of the consistent voices throughout. (Also on yesterday's
Flashpoints, Dennis Bernstein interviewed the Washington Post's Peter Eisner. Rebecca will be covering that late tonight.) This week's CounterSpin (which began airing today) featured a discussion on the issue of what the US House and Senate bills actually state as opposed to the way the press has portrayed them. Co-host Janine Jackson spoke with The Institute for Policy Studies Erik Leaver. Leaver noted that
the bills' "terms of reference only are for combat troops and if you look at the current number of troops deployed in Iraq only half of them would be considered as are combat troops." Jackson, noting reality versus coverage, asked, "Well then are some of the press characterizations or glosses of this as a withdrawal bill, it sounds as though that's not quite on the money?" To which Leaver responded, "That's exactly correct."

Janine Jackson: Well looking at that broader context and we don't have much time left, the majority of the population want an end to the occupation and the war and media acknowledge that, it's their polls that show that, but it doesn't seem somehow guide the questions that they ask or the sources that speak to and I wonder in this case were there not other pieces of legislation that maybe came closer to what the public was calling for? Was there no way for journalists to kind of put this in the context of: "Is this going to end the war sooner?"

Eric Leavler: I think that is the missing element in the story. Again, if the news media reported on: "This brings half the troops home" I think you would see a lot more public discontent about the bill and they would perhaps I think there would be a lot more dissatisfied with Democrats than they are.

Michael Shank (Foreign Policy in Focus) interviews US House Rep and 2008 presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich explains why he refused to vote 'yes' on the House bill, "It's very simple: the bill kept the war going. I want to see this war end. I have created, with the help of people who worked on security and peacekeeping missions for years, a plan to end the war. It's embodied in H.R. 1234. It would end the U.S. occupation, close the bases, bring the troops home, establisha parallel process creating a peacekeeping and security force, reach out to the nations of the region and the international community for help -- something we won't get as long as we continue to occupy Iraq. That plan is much more expansive and in the course of this interview I'd be happy to over it with you but in short, I oppose the resolution because it kept funding the war. And I say we need to the war now. Not a year from now, not two years from now, not five or ten years from now, but now."

Military Families Speak Out issued (PDF format) "Military Families Speak Out Responds to Senate Vote To Continue Funding For Iraq War" yesterday which notes:

"People across this nation voted in November for an end to the war, not for Congress to provide President Bush with the funds to continue it. Our loved ones were first betrayed when they were sent off to fight a war based on lies. Congress is now continuing that betrayal by failing [to] cut off funding for this unjustifiable war."Miliary Familes Speak Out renews our calls for Congress to use their 'power of the purse' to support our troops and de-fund the war. We call on Congres to fund our troops by funding a safe and orderly withdrawal from Iraq and by funding care for our troops when they return home. This is the 'funding for troops' that is desperately needed."Leadership and courage, two character traits that our loved ones rely on every day as they put their lives on the line, seem to be in short supply on Capitol Hill. We hope that as the Supplemental Appropriations bill goes through the House-Senate Conference Committee and then back to the floors of the House and Senate, we will see our elected officials stand up for our troops and for our nation by ending the funds that allow this unjustifiable war to continue and providing the funds for a safe and orderly withdrawal and the care they need when they get home."

Richard W. Behan (CounterPunch) zeroes in on one aspect of both the Senate and the House's measures, the privatization of Iraq's oil law, defined by the Bully Boy and both houses of Congress as a 'benchmark' Iraqis must meet, "If passed, the law will make available to Exxon/Mobil, Chevron/Texaco, BP/Amoco, and Royal Dutch/Shell about 4/5's of the stupendous petroleum reserves in Iraq. That is the wretched goals of the Bush Administration, and in his speech setting the revenue-sharing 'benchmark' Mr. Bush conscisously avoided any hint of it. The legislation pending now in Washington requires the President to certify to Congress by next october that the benchmarks have been met -- specifically that the Iraqi hydrocarbon law has been passed. That's the land mine: he will certify the American and British oil companies have access to Iraqi oil. This is not likely what Congress intended, but it is precisely what Mr. Bush has sought for the better part of six years." Steve Kretzmann (Oil Change) notes that the Iraqi oil unions were locked out of the drafting process but they are quite clear where they stand on the law: "The British and American oil companies were the first to obtain the concession to extract and invest Iraqi oil, nearly 80 years ago. After Iraq got rid of this octopus network, these foreign oil companies have again attempted to dominate this important oil wealth, under numerous pretexts and invalid excuses."

The House and the Senate managed to endorse the privatization of Iraq's oil even if they didn't bother to address the malnutrition --
Cartias Internationalis reports "[o]ver 11 percent of newborn babies are born underweight in Iraq today," that one third of Iraqi children now suffer from malnutrition, and quotes President of Caritas Middle East North Africa Claudette Habesch stating, "Iraq has the second largest oil supplies in the world, but it has levels of poverty, hunger and underdevelopment comparble to sub-Saharan Africa. The last four years, but in particular 2006, we have seen life get worser rather than better for the ordinary Iraqi. And people are voting with their feet. Everday 5000 people leave Iraq. In 2007, one in ten Iraqis is expected to leave the country. We are seeing minority groups such as Christians completely disappear from the country or leave their homes for safer areas."

And when someone tries to return?
Edward Wong and Ashley Gilbertson (New York Times -- Wong text, Gilbertson photos) report on Suaada Saadoun, a 49-year-old Iraqi woman who made the mistake of believing a wave of Operation Happy Talk that the latest juiced up version of the eternal 'crackdown' would make Baghdad safe. Suaada returned to her home last month amidst the big talk of the protection and how things would be safer. She, her four daughters, her son-in-law, and grandchildren returned to her Baghdad home after fleeing Iraq for Syria when the Shia gangs and militias became too threatening. Upon returning, Suaada attempted to deal with the new threats by notificing the Kurdish and US military. When two thugs, Abbas Radhi and Zuhair Naama, showed up with papers from the Ministry of Finance (which, make the connection, they obviously worked for), she phoned the Kurdish and American military. The Kurdish military was able to stop the two men at a checkpoint. They and the US military arrested the two men. Suaada was shot dead the next morning in front of a bakery. Her family has now fled the home.

But it was safer, said US military flacks, things were better in Baghdad -- this version of the crackdown was really something, really accomplishing something . . . Really nothing but more of the same. Oh, there is a difference. More attacks. Attacks on the fortified Green Zone are up.
Kristin Roberts (Reuters) reports the US military is saying that car bombs have "soared 30 percent since the start of a security crackdown in Iraq last month" -- since the start of the latest version of the crackdown that's been ongoing since June of 2006 is ther reality. David Byers (Times of London) reports that "the death toll rose to nearly 400 in four days following a multitude of deadly bomb and shooting attacks." Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that "violence is returning to previous levels throughout the country. The number of unidentified bodies found dumped on Baghdad streets, which had dropped to an average of 13 per day in the weeks just after the plan began, has averaged 19 a day for the past two weeks. The average numbers of people killed and of car bombs also have increased slightly, according to statistics that McClatchy compiled."

CNN reports that Moqtada al-Sadr "is calling for an anti-American protest in the Iraqi city of Najaf on April 9, the fourth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad." Sounds like Clear Channel needs to get off their asses and head on over to Iraq to stage some of their propaganda rallies they held in the US during 2003. CBS and AP note that al-Sadr's call comes as "Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose backing is dropping even among fellow Shiites, issued an angry statement pledging to bring the bombers responsible for Thursday's attacks to justice." That apparently means al-Maliki will make a big show about detaining them and then release them hours later with no fanfare. Kirk Semple (New York Times) reports that the 18 police officers who went on a massacre in Tal Afar, dragging people from their homes, killing at least 70 people, the ones identified by survivors, the ones who were taken into custody with much, much fanfare -- "had been freed after being detained for only a few hours." CNN reports that they were arrested (re-arrested) today. No word yet on whether they've also already been released.


CNN reports: "A U.S. airstrike in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood about 2 a.m. Friday killed at least 16 people and wounded 14 others, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said. He said all of those killed were guards who protect neighborhoods in Sadr City. The U.S. military said it is looking into the report."


Reuters reports two police officers were shot dead in Hilla.


CNN reports 25 corpses were discovered in Mosul.

Today, the
US military announced: "While conducting a combat security patrol, a MND-B Soldier died and another was wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated near the Soldiers in a southern section of the Iraqi capital March 29." AP notes this brought the total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal to 3,245.

CBS and AP report that six weeks after the Washington Post (Dana Priest and Anne Hull) and ABC News Brian Woodruff put the scandals of veterans health 'care' front and center, Bully Boy mosied down to Walter Reed Army Medical Center to throw some empty words around about how "we're going to fix the problem" and that he toured an "empty" patient room. Hopefully, his prepared remarks weren't delivered there but with the Bully Boy who knows . . .

Finally, students in the US have been protesting and continue to protest the Iraq war. The latest indication that gas bags need to rethink is The Nation magazine which makes the new SDS (
Students for a Democratic Society) their latest cover and includes a sketch (no articles -- it's fastly becoming the Highlights of the political set). Been there, done that and never awarded a student, as The Nation did not that long ago, for writing an essay spitting on her peers, LeftTurn was there first and best with Doug Viehmeyer's article "Steppin It Up: The New SDS." From the article: "SDS has gone forward, with 250 chapters springing up nationwide (and internationally). The most surprising aspect of the growth of SDS has been the number of chapters established at high schools and community colleges. When compared with the initial years after the founding of the original SDS, we are ahead of the curve. The spring and summer of 2006 was the incubation period for SDS, with the initial chapters getting off the ground and spreading via word of mouth and the web, participating in joint actions with other groups, and beginning the slow development of organizational vision and strategy." Applause to Viehmeyer and LeftTurn for doing such an amazing article that The Nation (already suffering bad campus cred -- for good reason) had to rush to copy.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I endorse Dennis Kucinich for the 2008 primary

Trina's most recent post is "Bean Salad in the Kitchen." She posts on Saturdays and she's for
Dennis Kucinich. I haven't made up my mind yet on who I'll vote for in primaries but I Kucinich is a candidate I wouldn't have any qualms about voting for. I should disclose to anyone visiting for the first time that Trina's Mike's mother and, of course, I'm seeing Mike. But on a day when I am so opposed to NOW's endorsement (Kat's going to have a lot to say on this matter tonight), it seems like a good time to note Kucinich. In addition, Mike and I are both noting impeachment tonight.

"'This Isn't American Idol, We're Choosing the President of the United States' -- Kucinich on Corporate Media Campaign Coverage" (Democracy Now!):
AMY GOODMAN: Speaking of the President, what do you think should happen to President Bush? Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, said that impeachment is off the table. What are your thoughts?
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: I don't think that it's wise for the House and the Congress, for co-equal branches of government, to essentially give the President carte blanche in his decision making by saying no matter what you do, impeachment is off the table. I think that impeachment has to be on the table, and I also think that it's time to have a national conversation in cities, in towns all over America about the appropriate conduct for a President and a Vice President, about whether it's right for a President and Vice President to lie to the American people and take us into war. About the erosion of civil rights in America and how that's come about as a result of this administration's conduct of the war.
I think that it's time to have that kind of a discussion, and I've urged that from my website at, and I'm asking to hear from people about what they think, and I think that we need to make sure that this President understands that he can't do whatever he wants, that he is bound by the constitution, that he is bound by national and international law.
AMY GOODMAN: Congressman Kucinich, you've mentioned the word treason. What do you mean?
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: I don't think I mentioned the word treason.
AMY GOODMAN: Have you talked about President Bush and treason?
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: No, I've never -- I never mentioned the word treason. I do think that accountability is a key word here. And I think the President and the Vice President must be held accountable. That's why I think it's a mistake for anyone to say impeachment is off the table. At the same time, we have to take a responsibility as members of Congress to uphold the constitution of the United States. That's our obligation as a co-equal branch of government.
So I’m waiting to hear from the American people. I would ask people who are listening or watching to go to my website at: I'd like to hear from you. What do you think? Should the House move forward with a resolution of impeachment and what do you think the dimensions of it should be? I want to hear from the American people on this.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you think of the Center for Constitutional Rights going to Germany to file a complaint against former Congress member -- or rather, former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld? It's not only against him, it's against Alberto Gonzales, it's against General Sanchez and Miller for torture, over the issue of torture.
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: I think that all members of this administration, including the President, the Vice President, and all the other officials you mentioned, should be held accountable under international law, and that that accountability does not expire with the expiration of the term of this President. America at some point is going to have to restore its moral equilibrium, which has been lost, because this administration took us into a war based on lies. They all have to be held accountable. They must be held accountable, not only under national, but international law.

You can click on Dennis Kucinich's name to go his 2008 campaign site. You know what? I am endorsing him. For the Democratic primary, I am endorsing Dennis Kucinich. I need to call Kat.
Why am I endorsing him? Partly because of what Kat intends to write (both what is written and the point behind it). Also because he is the only one running on the Democratic side that is trying to end the war. No loopholes, no allowing Bully Boy to certify 'benchmarks.' He's wants the troops out of Iraq, he wants to prevent the theft of Iraq's oil, he wants to put an end to military bases in Iraq and he wants to stop the impending war on Iran.

In 2003, when he ran before, I was leery for one reason only and that was the issue of pro-choice. He's now maintained that position and I believe he will be pro-choice.

As Trina will tell you (and she's blogged on this repeatedly), he is the only Democratic candidate who is seriously addressing the health care crisis in this country. He addressed that very strongly today:

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, it differs in every way. Everyone in this campaign is for universal healthcare. But what Senator Clinton, Senator Edwards, and others are talking about is having the insurance companies still in charge of healthcare, of having the government subsidize the insurance companies or forcing people to buy insurance or have the government subsidize the purchase of insurance.
Look, the President of the United States shouldn't be an insurance salesman. The President should stand for a position where everyone is covered, that's what my bill does. The Conyers-Kucinich Bill, HR 676, Medicare for all, it ends for-profit medicine, it is a single-payer system which recognizes we're spending $2.2 trillion a year on healthcare, but 31% of that, or $660 billion, goes for the activities of the for-profit system.
Take that money, put it into healthcare, and you have enough money to cover every medical need, including dental care, vision care, mental health, prescription drug, and long-term care. Healthcare is a right, it's not a privilege. Senator Clinton's plan helps the insurance companies, it keeps the for-profit system going, and my plan ends the for-profit system and uses the savings to provide healthcare for everyone.

So I am endorsing. I honestly hadn't intended to; however, I'm offended by the Hillary Clinton endorsement NOW has made and mainly that they've done so while they've stripped their website of the white dove and the slogan "PEACE IS A FEMINIST ISSUE." I am someone who pays dues to NOW and donates to them. When C.I. mentioned it this weekend, that the endorsement was coming, I was rolling my eyes but it wasn't until the snapshot (see below) that I found out the slogan was now MIA. I support peace (and Kucinich supports a peace department). Had NOW not done that, I'd be blogging about something else tonight. But they have done it and, since I do support peace and ending this illegal war, I can't be silent. Kucinich is the only Democratic candidate who is serious. I am endorsing him for the Democratic primary and proud to be. I need to call Kat so that's going to be it for me tonight. C.I.'s got the important things covered in the snapshot.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, March 28, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, The John McCain Showboat Express continues chug-chugging into Crazy Town, the National Organization for Women endorses Hillary Clinton as the dove on their website vanishes and the US Senate pretends to take action.

Starting with war resistance. US war resister
Mark Wilkerson speaking about the military's record keeping, "When I was AWOL I called this Army deserter's hot line about once every two weeks to see if my name would ever show up on the list. I deserted in January 2005 and I started calling this list in February. What I found was that I would call and give them my Social Security number and they would come back and say, 'No you are not on the list yet. You are present for duty'." Mark Wilkerson quoted by Cox News Service in their story on how: "The Army, which has been stressed by repeated deployments in Iraq, is no longer classifying some soldiers as deserters even though they have run away, according to those who counsel deserters and deserters themselves. It is unclear how widespread the practice is but counselors say they believe the Army has failed to classify hundreds of soldiers as deserters even though they have been gone for more than six months." The article also quotes Brian C. Hilferty (Army spokesperson, lt. colonel) stating that "the military no longer tries to hunt down deserters. Instead, it assumes that deserters will eventually run afoul of police who check the NCIC computer." Of course, that's not true either AEB by the military's attempts to bring in the California police while war resister Kyle Snyder was speaking there at the end of last year, by the military's ordering the Canadian police to arrest Kyle Snyder in Canada and by the still unexplained issue of three US military members posing as Canadian police officers and attempting to locate US war resister Joshua Key. Speaking with US House Rep and 2008 presidential contender Dennis Kucinich, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted that "the men and women who have gone AWOL, there have been thousands of them, some are bing count-martialed, like Lieutenant Ehren Watada, will be court-martialed again -- it was a mistrial in his first trial -- first officer to say 'no' to war, to deployment to Iraq. What do you think should happen to these men? Agustin Aguayo, an Army medic who applied for CO status, didn't get it, and is now in prison in Germany. Do you support their saying 'no'? Do you support their refusing to go to Iraq or redeploy to Iraq?" Dennis Kucinich's response: "I support the troops who serve and also those who don't feel it's right to serve. I think we have to ask our troops to be able to reserve the right of their conscience, and if they feel it's the right thing, we should support that, too. I think we're in a point in the history of this country where many people have looked at the war and realized that it's wrong. Some of those people are soldiers. Soldiers are put in an impossible situation, not only those who are committed to serving in Iraq, but also those who know that the war is wrong and who question the war. I think we have to love our troops, whatever situation they find themselves in. And the way to support them is to bring them home. . . . . You know, I don't think that anyone who's taken a principle and conscientious position should be subject to a court-martial. They should be permitted to leave the service if they so desire, but not be forced through that kind of a process. I think, you know, there has to be an underlying truth here, and the underlying truth is the war was wrong, period. The war is based on lies. We should support our troops by bringing them home, and we should support those who have challenged the war by giving them a chance to leave honorably."

Wilkerson, Watada, Aguayo, Snyder and Key are Clousing and Wilkerson are a part of movement of resistance within the military that also includes Darrell Anderson, Dean Walcott, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Ricky Clousing, 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-nine US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
As the Cox News Service report indicates, the number of those self-checking out is far greater than the US military admits to.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.

In the US, the Senate passed (50 to 48) an ammendment yesterday on Iraq. As
Andrew Ward (Financial Times of London) observes that "both houses of Congress must first reconcile their differing bills in conference" and Republican senators dropped their "attempts to remove the nonbinding timeline from a $121.6 bn war-funding bill". Non-binding once again being the key point. Robert Knight (Flashpoints) yesterday observed that the "Senate bill . . . is even weaker than the House bill since it only expresses the uneforceable goal, but not requirement, that most troops leave Iraq by March 31, 2008. As with the House's war preservation bill, the Senate version would enable an unknown number of US troops to remain in Iraq beyond April 2008 for counter-insurgency training and security operations. . . . The final legislation will almost certainly be met with a veto from President Bush." [Note:
Flashpoints can be heard over the airwaves and online at KPFA and KFCF. Archived broadcasts can be found at Flashpoints and in the KPFA archives. Yesterday's snapshot included links to Flashpoints that were wrong. My apologies for my mistake. Thanks to Kyle for pointing that out.] Larry Everest (CounterPunch) reminds, "In November, millions voted for the Democrats to protest Bush and the war, and in hopes they would end it. Today, many -- including people who worked energetically to elect Democrats and who've been lobbying them to cut off war funding -- feel bitter, betrayed, and outraged. They should be outraged. The lesson is not that the Democrats 'sold out' or are 'spinless.' The lesson is that the Democrats are a ruling class party (and this is deeply institutionalized, regardless of the desires or intentions of its supporters or even some elected Democrats), acting to advance the interests of a capitalist-imperialist system they're part of and represent."

The attempts to trick the people could backfire on the Democrats who see this non-binding, toothless nonsense as a sure vote-getter for 2008. As
Rebecca (Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude) argued, this can be a sold as 'victory' for the GOP come 2008: "bully boy should sign it into law. i'm not in the mind to help bully boy but, seriously, he should do it. and if the dems don't offer anything stronger between now and august 2008, when they start finger pointing, he should say, 'look, i lived up to your bill.' it won't be hard to do. he's the 1 who gets to judge if the benchmarks have been met. he can override things by declaring 'national security'. the dems, if they offer nothing else, have set their own trap."
In one of the more interesting developments,
as Mike (Mikey Likes It!) notes, as more and more people catch on to the realities of the Democrats' measures, one of the biggest cheerleaders of the House action, someone who lectured and hectored people about how they weren't as realistic or as smart as he was, is now attempting to play populist of the people: "How stupid does Stupid Ass [David] Sirota think we all are? Does he think we've all forgotten his attacks on everyone who had the strength to point out that the Pelosi measure did nothing? Does he htink we've forgotten his pompous lectures? Today he wants to play 'one of you'." And some by it. Though Mike didn't link to "Democracy Haters" (nor will we) some are happy to link the nonsense as the political hack now attempts to recast himself yet again.

So-called independent media made a big deal, rightly, about the mainstream media repeating Bully Boy's claims as facts. That criticism looks far less strong when so many supposedly "independent" outlets rush to provide the Democrats spin while presenting themselves as factual outlets. Meanwhile big media has failed repeatedly on the discussion in another regard. Like US Senator and 2008 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, they all rush to affirm Bully Boy's right to chart the illegal war. A president's commander-in-chief role applies to the battle field -- a recognized and defined one -- and the people of the United States are the check on that. Congress, representing them, can set dealines and should set them considering the 2006 election results. Parroting Hillary, many media outlets rush to state that timelines could interfere with Bully Boy's ability to wage war. The people have decided. In the 2006 elections, in the polls consistently. The one interfering is the Bully Boy who wants to continue his illegal war. (And Congress is certainly aiding him in that.) Bully Boy is not King of America. There is no king in the United States.

Staying on the subject of politics for a moment, Hillary Clinton has been
endorsed in her 2008 presidential bid by NOW -- the National Organization For Women. As to whether or not the endorsement required that they remove "Peace is a feminist issue" -- a slogan displayed on their site for years -- is a question someone should ask NOW. Where the dove and slogan used to be, visitors are now told "Love Your Body" and apparently that somehow factored into the decision process by which War Hawk Hillary Clinton won an endorsement from what was an organization strongly dedicated to ending the war. Again, NOW has removed the dove and slogan "Peace is a feminist issue" from their website and they have endorsed War Hawk Hillary Clinton for 2008.

Today on Democracy Now!, Dennis Kucinich addressed the realities of what was being promised and reality:

Dennis Kucinich: Well, we were given false choices. We were told that we either buy into president Bush's plan, which is keep the war going indefinitely, or accept the Democratic version of the war in Iraq, which would keep the war going for another year or two. I say those choices weren't sufficient. The Democrats could have refused to send a bill forward. We didn't have to fund this war. We're not under any obligation to keep the war going. And yet our leaders took another path. Furthermore, Amy, you may be interested to know that the 2008 budget, which is before Congress today and will be voted on tomorrow, contains another $145 billion for the war, and on top of that, they're putting another $50 billion for the war in fiscal year 2009. So this talk about ending the war by March or by September belies the fact that the budget has money in it to keep the war going into 2009. And I think that's wrong. I think the American people will reject that type of thinking. And I'm standing strong to say "Get out now." I put forth a plan embodied in HR 1234 to accomplish just that.

Amy Goodman: But what do you say to those make the argument that, if president Bush has on his desk a bill that gives money, gives a fortune in continuing the war, and he has to veto it because he doesn't like the timetable, that this puts him in a very difficult position?

Kucinich: Our decisions have to be way above politics. We have the lives of our troops at stake here. There's no military victory in Iraq. We're there illegally. The occupation is fueling the insurgency. Democrats can still, after president Bush vetoes the bill -- which he will -- Democrats can still take the right position, which is refuse to fund the war, use money in the pipeline to bring the troops home.

Kucinich addressed how Bully Boy's not ending the war and how the current legislation isn't addressing it. He noted he "crafted my plan with the help of the people at the UN, and I will tell you that they say that it would take about two months, three months to mobilize a sufficient force that would replace US troops leaving. So I say two, to three months, we could have troops home and have an international force that would help stabilize Iraq. But the international community will not become involved as long as the United States intends to occupy Iraq and keep bases open. So we need to take a new direction. My plan would be as follows: to put in place the provisions of HR 1234, which ends the occupation, closes the bases, sets in motion a plan to bring the troops home, bring in international peace keepers, and stop the privatization of Iraqi oil. One of the things in the bill that passed the House was a demand that the Iraq government pass a hydrocarbon act which sets the stage for broad privatization of trillions of dollars of Iraqi oil interests. Now think about it. If Democrats had told the American people last October that, 'If you vote Democrat in November, we'll not only give you enough money to keep the war going through the end of President Bush's term, but we'll also privatize the oil of Iraq and then help the US oil companies' -- with the prize that I think the war was all about from the very beginning -- I don't think the people would have voted Democrat. So Democrats have to keep faith with the American people."

Interviewed by Bonnie Faulkner (
KPFA's Guns and Butter) today, professor Francis Boyle discussed how a 2003 exploration of impeachment by the Democrats was cut short when John Podesta announced that there would be no introduction of bills of impeachment because it would harm Democrats chances in the 2004 election. Speaking of the measures being applauded by much in the media, big and small, Boyle declared, "It's all baloney. All they had to do was just do nothing and Bush would have run out of money. . . . The DNC fully supports the war, that was made clear to Ramsey [Clark] and me on 13 March 2003 and nothing's changed." John Podesta, former Clintonista, is with the Democratic talking point mill (that attempts to pass itself as a think tank) Center for American Progress -- with an emphasis on "Center" and not "Progress."

Meanwhile The John McCain Showboat Express chugged back into DC in time for US Senator and presidential wanna-be to issue a statement (much more important than his vote).
David Esp (AP) quotes McCain's laughable claim that "we are starting to turn things around" which may strike some as McCain trying out a new campaign slogan: "Vote Insane, Vote John McCain."

In Iraq today . . .


Reuters notes truck bombings involving chlorine Falluja, outside a government building, wounding "15 Iraqi and U.S. security forces," a car bomb in Mahaweel killed five and left 25 wounded, a car bombing in Baghdad killed 2 and left 10 injured, a rocket attack in the fortress that is the Green Zone killed one "U.S. government contractor" and a car bombing near Ramadi "killed one civilian and wounded seven others".


Following yesterday's bombings in Tal Afar, more violence took place.
AFP reports that 75 are dead from the Tuesday's bombings and that at least 45 people were "massacred" today and the town is now under "a strict curfew". Kim Gamel (AP) reports that the violence was launched by "Shiite militants and police" in response to the Tuesday bombings, that 40 people are believed to be kidnapped and that 18 police officers have been arrested "accused in the shooting rampage after they were identified by Sunni families."


Reuters reports five corpses were discovered in Suwayra.

AP reports that Gale Polluck ("Maj. Gen.") who is the acting surgeon gneral for the Army told the US House Armed Service Committee, "When the original plans were made, we did not take into consideration we could be in a long war" and therefore at question is if "the military lacks money to hire enough nurses and mental health specialists to treat thousands of troops coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan." If the sudden concern strikes you as familiar, it's because Elaine's long made this point (most recently yesterday), Monica Benderman covered it this week in "On Ending War" (CounterPunch).

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Joshua Frank, Monica Benderman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Starting with
this from Iraq Veterans Against the War:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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