Friday, April 06, 2007

Cindy Sheehan, Helen Redmond

With Thursdays off each week (due to group), I always think, "Friday, I'll have something really strong." Instead, I'm always left rushing to the laptop and trying to blog something quickly. This Friday is no different. C.I. was speaking in the area (including to Mike's college class) and Mike talked and pleaded until C.I. agreed to skip the flight out and catch one tomorrow morning. Friday's are always fun because of the Iraq study group but it is a treat to have C.I. here and it will be a great deal of fun hanging out afterwards. So those are my excuses before moving quickly through.

"Heroes, Sung and Unsung" (David Swanson, CounterPunch):
Last night in a bar in Austin, Texas, we held a family reunion for the peace movement. The occasion was the presentation of the Camp Casey Peace Awards. Much of the evening was devoted to the incredibly powerful anti-war music of Carolyn Wonderland, Emma's Revolution , Hank Woji , and Jesse Dyen, each of whom had a crowd on their feet and moving as well as sitting and feeling like crying. Carolyn sang Willie Nelson's "What Happened to Peace on Earth" beautifully with Willie and his wife Annie sitting ten feet away and cheering.
The Nelsons were given an award for all the work they've done to promote peace and all the help they've given to Camp Casey. Cindy Sheehan presented the award. Mimi Kennedy presented an award to the amazing Jodie Evans, co-founder of Code Pink. Jim Hightower presented an award to Ann Wright and Veterans for Peace, without whom I don't think we'd have a peace movement or a Camp Casey. Ann Wright presented an award to the Crawford Peace House and its leaders, who brought peace activism to Crawford before Camp Casey and made Camp Casey work when it arrived. And Cindy gave an award to the young creator of online peace videos Ava Lowery. It would be hard to imagine a more deserving bunch.
But appreciation was handed out also to many of the people in the room, which was filled with a mix of Texans and peace activists from around the country. I was especially pleased to meet for the first time a member of the Texas state legislature, Lon Burnam. Burnam was already a hero of mine for having introduced into the legislature this year a resolution to petition the U.S. House of Representatives to impeach Bush and Cheney. Between this year and last, nine states have seen such resolutions introduced, two of which have come close to passing.

Cindy Sheehan doesn't wait for things to happen, she makes them happen. That's not because she's a super hero. It's because she's putting her all into ending the war. We are all learning a great deal from her. There's been talk of a film about her and I hope that happens. I see it as a classic in the spirit of Norma Rae and a way to make sure she's remembered.

I'm not speaking about by anyone reading this. If you're old enough to know who she is, you should have some idea 20 or 30 years from now; however, her story is important not only to today but also for the future because there will be more illegal wars. She's offered a wonderful example and though those fighting the illegal wars of the future will need to choose their own roads, they can find inspiration from her.

If you feel as strongly about Sheehan as I do, please make sure that you pass her story on. I don't just mean in the present but also in the future. Hopefully, you'll live many, many years. Never forget the lesson of power, personal power, that she's taught us and don't fail to share it with others. (Someone give Cindy Sheehan an award.)

"Female Chauvinist Pigs?" (Helen Redmond, CounterPunch):
Ariel Levy's book
Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture rips the lid off the stunning rise and widespread acceptability of sexist culture in the United States. It investigates a number of cultural phenomena that reveal how pervasive and commonplace the objectification of women is, how normal it has become. It's about time someone took notice and wrote about the myriad ways that sexist ideas continue to saturate our society. The mainstream media either ignores or endorses these sexist trends. Moreover, for those of us who still believe women are oppressed, the book is a sharp rebuke of the ludicrous idea that raunch culture is a sign that women are liberated - which is what those who produce and profit from the objectification of women would have us believe - both men and women.Raunch culture is everywhere and impossible to avoid. Its toxic presence is found in all mass media outlets: internet, television, radio, films. And even bars and restaurants.
There has been a truly staggering explosion of television shows whose plots brazenly and unapologetically revolve around displaying women's body parts. Not a brain to be found. Fembots. Stepford Wives. The success of these shows depends on the copious use of soft-core pornographic imagery. Shows like: Girls Gone Wild, The Real World, Pussycat Dolls Present: Search for the Next Doll, The Bachelor: Officer and a Gentleman, America's Next Top Model, Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire, and The Girls Next Door. Notice how often women are referred to as "girls." Decades after the movement for women's liberation, even a seemingly simple change like referring to females correctly has not been achieved. In most of these programs women compete against each other for male approval and attention. The contestants reinforce the worst female stereotypes, that women are conniving, backstabbing, jealous, insecure, and crybabies. And they are also "bitches," the second most popular word to refer to women, after "girls."
The female body has never been under such extreme scrutiny. A punishing beauty and weight standard has been established that doesn't exist in nature - pert, symmetrical features atop an anorectically thin body with large breasts (pejoratively called "tits-on- sticks," think Pamela Anderson). Television, Hollywood (with its obsessive and sick celebrity culture), advertising, music, and the fashion industry all promote these images of women. In order achieve the body type two things are necessary: starvation and surgery. Starving is free, surgery costs money. Enter the cosmetic surgery industry which creates and defines images (often unattainable) of women's beauty, and depends on women feeling insecure and dissatisfied with their bodies. Dolly Parton said in an interview that when she sees a part of her body that is "dragging, sagging or bagging," she opts for surgery.
The latest offering from the industry: labiaplasty. It's a surgical reduction and reshaping of the labia minora--the "inner lips" that cover the vaginal opening and clitoris. Lovely. No one really noticed a woman's labia minora until the waxing-off of all pubic hair (the infamous Brazilian bikini wax) became the rage. What's next? What's left? Surgical interventions are not being offered to modify men's genitalia, of course. But what about all those hanging, swinging, and sagging scrotal sacks? Surely there is a surgical procedure to lift and tighten up those "balls-in-a-bag."

I am 99% sure I have read this. That's not an insult to CounterPunch which often features online content that's a best of from elsewhere. But I can't remember where I read it. C.I.'s taking a shower (to wake up, C.I.'s exhausted) or I would ask, "Where did I read this?" I'm pretty sure it was in a print magazine. Return on Monday and I'll tell you whether I was right or wrong and, if right, where it appeared.

I think it's a wonderful article but, before someone e-mails to pass it on, I am fully aware that testicles hang low in adulthood because otherwise they won't produce sperm. I'm also sure the writer is aware of that as well. I was going to say that she's not writing about the descent from puberty (that she was referring to the increasing descent that goes on in later adulthood) but I'm not sure now. The surgeries proposed for women have little to do with women, they're about returning to a 'girlhood' or idealized version of it. So possibly she does in fact mean a non-descended testicle. If women are encouraged to revisit the pre-puberty days, why not the same for males?

Of course, I agree with the thrust of her article. I think far too many today mistake 'raunch' for feminism and it goes to the fact that feminism does say every woman should make her own choices about her life but every choice is not a feminist choice, a feminist embracing choice or even a nonhurtful choice. Yes, we're back to the Mud Flap Gals and all the damage they do.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills)
Friday, April 6, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, lies of war get exposed but Cheney continues to lie, the US military aids a terrorist group (designated as such by the US State Department) in Iraq -- aids and escorts, and airstrikes hit the Diwaniya province.

Starting with war resistance, approximately 40 US war resisters have self-checked out, moved to Canada and filed paperwork to be legally granted asylumn in Canada. (Approximately 40 have filed papers, hundreds have gone to Canada and are not attempting to go through the legal process.)
Reuben Apple (Eye Weekly) notes that war resisters appearing before the Immigration and Refugee Board to argue their case are prevented from saying "We think this killing is unlawful" and they "are asking our Federal Court of Appeal for the right to say" those six words. Apple notes that attorney Jeffry House -- who represents many war resisters -- is a Canadian citizen today because of the country's policies during an earlier illegal war (Vietnam) when a real prime minister, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, didn't cower before Tricky Dick Nixon but instead declared, "Canada should be a refuge from militarism." Tricky Dick's response to that statement and policy was to call the Canadian prime minister an "asshole" and Trudeau's comeback was that he'd "been called worse things by better people."

Apple notes war resisters Ryan Johnson ("wake up and get involved with something, nuclear disarmament, the Canadian Peace Alliance, the War Resisters Support Campaign, anything, because it's the people that can end this"), Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key: "Two weeks ago, three big men in trench coats, claiming to be 'Toronto police,' came with questions to the home of Winnie Ng, a campaigner who once hosted Key. According to Toronto Star reports of the incident, it seems American military authorities would like to speak with Key. If they want to discuss The Deserter's Tale with its author, they can go to his next talk, or they can call his lawyer, Jeffrey House. Key has legal status in Canada as a refugee claimant, and officials should tell the American government that our police, if those men were our police, are not their messengers."

Earlier this week, Monday, on Canada's
Gorilla Radio, host Chris Cook interviewed the War Resisters Support Campaign's Lee Zaslofsky on the topic of US war resisters in Canada. Zaslofsky spoke of what was known and what wasn't known -- such as Kyle Snyder was detained by Canadian police (and that was on the US military's orders though Zaslofsky didn't note that) but he was not deported. During this "mistaken arrest," Snyder was told he was being deported. (He legally cannot be deported.) Cook noted that when a war resister appears before the Refugee and Immigration Board, they are not appearing before a group of people, the board has one person designated to hear that case. Like attorney Jeffry House, Zaslofsky came to Canada during Vietnam as a war resister. Zaslofsky noted that Synder's status in Canada has changed as a result of the fact that he is now married. (That would be to Maleah Friesen, whom Zaslofsky didn't note.) As Friesen's spouse, Snyder has more avenues available to Canadian citizenship. March 19th, Zaslofsky noted, Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey were before the Federarl Court of Appeals and are awaiting a decision which, if necesarry, Zasolfsky states, "We'll appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada."

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

From war resistance to reality as we dig into some of the lies of the illegal war. From yesterday's

Robert Knight: Also in Iraq, a spokesperson for Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is today denying reports that Sistani rejected a new draft law that would allow former members of the Baath party to retain or regain government employment. Sistani's Beriut based representive, Hamed al-Kafaf said, "What some news agencies said, quoting who they described as an aide to al-Sistani about his position on the de-Baathification law was not true." Recent reports that Sistani was against the draft law can be traced to a meeting earlier this week between Sistani and the prevaracating US intelligence asset Ahmed Chalabi who heads the so-called de-Baathification commission and who remains dead set against an easment of the anti-Baath legislation imposed by the occupation forces. Sistani's representative added, "We are surprised by attempts trying to get the Shia clerical establisment involved in a case which is the speciality of constitutional organizations."
And in other news, the overnight release of 15 British sailors by the Iranian government has generated mixed signals in what some say was a quid pro quo that in regard to the 5 Iranian diplomats who were seized last Janurary by American forces in Iraq. Iranian media reported overnight that an Iranian diplomatic official would be allowed to meet with the five diplomatic detainees. But Secreatary of Defense Robert Gates said today that the Bush administration was not planning to release the five who were abducted in a raid on the Iranian consulate's office in the northern Iraqi city of Ibril.
And in a related note, a captain among the detained British sailors who were released was revealed to have admitted that there mission the Shaw al abray waterway between Ira1 and Iran, unsurprisingly did indeed involve elements of intelligence gathering Britain' s Murdoch owned Sky News is reporting today that Sky News went on patrol with Captain Chris Air and his team in Iraqi waters close to the area where they were arrested and just five days
before the crisis began, in an interview recorded the Thursday before the seizure that happened two weeks ago, Captain Air stated to the interviewer that his crew's assignment was "To gather intelligence. If they do not have any information because they're there for days at a time, the people on the boats can share it with us. Whether it's about piracy or any sort of Iranian activity in the area obviously we're right by the bufferzone with Iran." And that's some of the news of this Thursday April 5, 2007. From exile in New York, I'm Robert Knight for

Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes today that "British Defense Secretary Des Browne defended the intelligence operation. Browne said it was important to gather intelligence to 'keep our people safe'." Goodman also noted that Sky News sat on the story "until the release of the sailors."

Turning to other lies of war,
R. Jeffrey Smith (Washington Post) reports today that a US Defense Department report (declassifired yesterday and written by Inspector General Thomas F. Gimble) states the obvious -- in 2002 the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency both knew the claims that Saddam Hussein had a links to al Qaeda were incorrect. Smith notes the report was released yesterday, "on the same day that Vice President Cheney, appearing on Rush Limbaugh's radio program, repeated his allegation that al-Qaeda was operating inside Iraq 'before we ever launched' the war". Dick Cheney's remarks are not merely 'incorrect,' they are lies. Peter Speigel (Los Angeles Times) reports that "The Defense Intelligence Agency and the CIA each 'published reports that disavowed any "mature, symbiotic" cooperation between Iraq and Al Qaeda,' the inspector general's report found." AP notes that US Senator Carl Levin "requested that the Pentagon declassify the report prepared by acting Defense Department Inspector General Thomas F. Gimble. In a statement Thursday, Levin said the declassified document showed why a Defense Department investigation had concluded that some Pentagon prewar intelligence work was inappropriate." Strangely in the face of Cheney's lies about terrorism, Michael Ware (CNN) reports that the US military is currently protecting a non al Qaeda group in Iraq that the US State Department has "labeled a terrorist organization" -- Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) -- and that "[t]he U.S. military . . . regularly escorts MEK supply runs between Baghdad and its base, Camp Ashraf." Why? MEK is an anti-Iranian group. Ware reports that the Iraqis government wants the group out and quotes Iraq's National Security Minister Shirwan al-Wa'eli stating, "We gave this organization a six-month deadline to leave Iraq, and we informed the Red Cross. And presumably our friends the Americans will respect our decision and they will not stay on Iraqi land."

Returning to the topic of the lies that led to war, they were lies in real time -- scary lies to some -- they're sad lies now. Another popular lie is "if only we knew then . . ."
US Senator and 2008 presidential candidate Chris Dodd tells that sweet little lie: "Had we known before the war what we know today -- that there were no weapons of mass destruction; that there were no links between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda; that there was no imminent threat from Iraq to America's security or vital interests -- Congress would never have considered, let alone voted to authorize, the use of force in Iraq." A comforting lie to some, but a lie nonetheless. In October 2002, (PDF format warning) US House Rep Dennis Kucinich provided an analysis of the US administration's false claims and noted, among other things: "There is no proof that Iraq represents an imminent or immediate threat to the United States. A 'continuing' threat does not constitute a sufficient cause for war. The Administration has refused to provide the Congress with credible intelligence that proves that Iraq is a serious threat to the United States and is continuing to possess and develop chemical and biological and nuclear weapons. Furthermore there is no credible intelligence connecting Iraq to Al Qaida and 9/11." The analysis makes the point repeatedly: "There is no credible intelligence that connects Iraq to the events of 9/11 or to participation in those events by assisting Al Qaida. . . . There is no connection between Iraq and the events of 9/11." 125 Democrats in Congress voted against the Iraq war resolution. Kucinich, who is running for President, was among the 125.

To suggest that 'we were all wrong' is to replace one lie with another. Professor Francis Boyle was interviewed by Bonnie Faulkner for the March 28, 2007 broadcast of
KPFA's Guns and Butter and he shared the experience, from March 13, 2003, of joining former Attorney General Ramsey Clark for a meeting with Congressional Democrats where the subject was impeachment of the Bully Boy and how impeachment could stop the war. Though there was strong interest in that, an appearance by John Podesta deralied it as he screeched that doing so would hurt the Democrats 2004 election chances. As Kat notes of that interview, Boyle and Clark "were both getting their cabs" after and Boyle asked Clark what had happened? Clark explained that Democratic leadership wanted the illegal war. Boyle also discussed the meeting with Dori Smith for Talk Nation Radio in May 2006 (link takes you to audio and transcript via Information Clearing House) where he noted: "The main objection" to impeachment "was political expedience and in particular John Podesta was there. He had been [Bill] Clinton's White House chief of staff. He stated he was appearing on behalf of the Democratic National Commitee and that as far as the DNC was concerned it was going to hurt their ability to get whoever their candidate was going to be in 2004 elected President if we put in these bills of impeachment. I found that argument completely disingenuous when the Democrats had no idea who their candidate was going to be in 2004 as of March 2003."

From Howard Zinn's A Power Governments Cannot Suppress (
City Lights Press), pp. 199-200:

Now that most Americans no longer believe in the war nor trust Bush and his administration, and evidence of official deception has become old news, we might ask: why were so many people so easily fooled?
The question is important because it might help us understand why Americans -- members of the media as well as the ordinary citizen -- rushed to declare their support as the president was sending troops halfway around the world to Iraq.
A small example of the innocence (or obsequiousness, to be more exact) of the press is the way it reacted to Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation in February 2003 to the UN Security Council, a month before the invasion, a speech that may have set a record for the number of falsehoods told in one talk. In it, Powell confidently rattled off his "evidence": satellite photographs, audio records, reports from informants, with precise statistics on how many gallons of this and that existed for chemical warfare. The New York Times was breathless with adminiration. The Washington Post editorial was titled "Irrefutable" and declared that after Powell's talk "it is hard to imagine how anyone could doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction."
The truth was that a small army of UN inspectors could not find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. A large army of 100,000 soldiers marauding through the country could not find them. But back in February 2003 the White House said: "We know for a fact that there are weapons there." Vice President Dick Cheney said on Meet the Press: "[W]e believe Saddam has in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons." On March 30, 2003, Rumsfeld said on ABC TV: "We know where they are." And Bush said on Polish TV: "We've found the weapons of mass destruction."
The only weapons of mass destruction in Iraq turned out to be ours: bombs and missiles raining down by the thousands, cluster bombs spewing out deadly pellets, the arsenal of the greatest military power on earth visiting destruction on yet another country.
Self-determination for the Iraqis becomes an ironic claim as the new officialdom, headed by wealthy exiles, is flown by U.S. planes into Iraq and positions of power. In Vietnam there was a similar claim as Ngo Dinh Diem was flown into Saigon to rule South Vietnam in the interest of U.S. hegemony in Southeast Asia.

Which brings us back to the points Robert Knight was making earlier about Chalabi. On Tuesday,
Edward Wong (New York Times) reported that Ahmad Chalabi was stating that al-Sistani was opposed to allowing former members of the Baath party to rejoin the government (Wong notes that Chalabi heads up the commission and that it was "set up L. Paul Bremer III, the American pro-consul who governed Iraq from May 2003 to June 2004. Mr. Bermere's very first order was to purge former Baathists from the government, a task that Mr. Chalabi's commission pasisonately carried out"). On Wednesday, Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reported that: "An official spokesman for Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani distanced the ayatollah from reports published Monday and Tuesday saying that the marjiay, the most senior Shiite clerics, disagreed with the plan, which was proposed jointly by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki and President Jalal Talbani." Which begs the question why any serious outlet would take a word from Chalabi's mouth seriously? The exile who helped sell the war is attempting to position himself back to the top of the puppet regime. But, as Joshua Partlow (Washington Post) notes today, Chalabi's got competition from another US backed exile: "Some politicians say they believe the talk of a new parliamentary alliance is a cover for an attempt by Allawi to take another run at ruling Iraq. Allawi was installed as interim prime minister in mid-2004 by the U.S.-led government in Iraq, but he was swept from office by the groundswell of support for religious parties in January 2005." That's Iyad Allawi a one time prime minister of Iraq who was then and is now also a citizen of Britain. Allawi and Chalabi aren't only exiles (heavily funded before the illegal war with US tax dollars), they're also related. The current puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki (emphasis on "current") is another exile who returned to Iraq only after the US invaded. Which must mean that around kitchen tables across Iraq, children are being told, "Clean your plate, spend some time in exile, and some day you can grow up to be Prime Minister."


Most attemtnion is on Ramadi today where a bombing has claimed multiple lives.
CBS and AP report the death toll at "at least 27" and many more are wounded from "A suicide bomber driving a truck loaded with TNT and toxic chlorine gas [who] crashed into a police checkpoint in western Ramadi". CNN notes at least 30 wounded and that two police officers are among the dead. AFP calls it "the biggest chemical attack by insurgents in Iraq since the invasion" and notes that it took place "next to a market and residential buildings".

Reuters notes a Hawija bombing that left four police officers wounded, two Kirkuk bombings that left six people wounded and mortar attacks in Baghdad which killed three and left five wounded.

Al Jazeera reports that "in the city of Diwaniya, Iraqi and US forces clashed on Friday with fighters loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr, the Shia leader in a major operation. . . . Residents and an Iraqi security source in Diwaniya said a curfew had been imposed and that troops were blocking streets and conducting house-to-house searches." DPA notes "at least 30 men were killed and many others wounded" and that "US military aircraft flew over the city and all roads were sealed off . . . The local authorities also imposed a curfew all over the city." Steven R. Hurst (AP) reports: "Dr. Hameed Jaafi, the director of Diwaniyah Health Directorate, said an American helicopter fired on a house in the Askari neighborhood, seriously wounding 12 people as the assault began." Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reports, "A man named Jassim, from Sadr's Diwaniyah office, said that U.S. troops had entered the city before dawn from three locations with tanks and helicopters flying overhead, taunting the Mahdi army fighters. . . . He claimed that two civilians had been killed by snipers as they tried to go to work" which the US military denies. AFP notes at least one dead and that "Polish aircraft dropped leaflets over the city ordering local police officers to stay home, warning that anyone who went out with a weapon will be considered a target, a military spokesman confirmed."


Reuters reports Sheikh Ghazi al-Hanash was shot dead in Mosul, three police officers were wouned by gunfire in Baghdad, Sheikh Karim Omran al-Shafi was injured in an attack in Hilla, and two people were shot dead "in the Amil District in southwestern Baghdad."


Reuters notes four corpses discovered in Tal Afar. As noted in yesterday's snapshot, the corpse of Khamail Khalaf was discovered yesterday. Bloomberg News reports: "An Iraqi reporter for a U.S.-backed radio station has been found dead in Baghdad after going missing two days ago. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty said on its Web site that the body of Khamail Khalaf was found with bullet holes in her head and wounds on her body" and the article notes she had worked for RFE "since 2004." This was noted yesterday but she has been reported as a TV journalist -- which she was until the start of the war.

Finally, on Thursday,
Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) explored the latest developments in governmental spying "a secret FBI intelligence unit helped detain and question a group of protesters in a downtwon parking garage in April 2002. Some of the protesters were interrogated on videotape about their political and religious beliefs." Excerpt:

Amy Goodman: We're also joined by Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, an attorney and co-founder of Partnership for Civil Justice. Mara, talk about the significance of this, of the years of denial that the FBI were involved.

Mara Verheyden-Hillard: Well, as Nat said, the FBI and the Metropolitan Police Department have steadfastly held that it didn't happen. We believe our clients. We know that this happens. We have evidence in other cases of FBI involvement in intelligence gathering on political protesters. And in discovery request after discovery request, in sworn responses in hearings before the court, over and over again, the FBI, the MPD have done everything they can to suggest that this is somehow complete fabrication. And we have sought for years, as well, to get a particular document, the document that now places the FBI squarely at the scene of the arrests and doing intelligence gathering. And that's the running resume. It's a document that indicates, line by line, what the MPD and federal police and other law enforcement agencies are doing during protests. We've been able to obtain them in virtually every protest case we're litigating in D.C. And in this case, they actually told us it didn't exist, and they swore it didn't exist -- and now we know why. This document says very clearly FBI intelligence is on the scene and the protesters are being questioned. And the only way this finally came up is they gave it to us the one business day before a deposition we were taking of one of the MPD members who's responsible for developing this document.

Juan Gonzalez: And what has been the response of the law enforcement officials who kept saying that they didn't have any records of this?

Mara Verheyden-Hillard: Well, we want a response. We have filed a motion for sanctions with the court. As well, the FBI has filed a motion to dismiss themselves from the case. We don't see that there can be any basis for their dismissal -- and this situation is really important, because we think it's sort of the tip of the iceberg. We think it's one tentacle coming up that's quite visible of a larger operation. The questions that they were asking protesters, the questions about who were you with, what are your political beliefs, where are you staying -- associational, political questions -- that's programmatic questioning. It's not random questioning. It's the kind of information you collect when you're building a database, an associational database and a network database of information. And it's all purely political. It's all First Amendment-protected political activity, political association.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Cindy Sheehan

Okay, the plan for tonight is one link, the snapshot and, in between, a little talk from me. Nothing ambitious.

"10,000 Mother of a March" (Cindy Sheehan, Information Clearing House):
I submit that "women" like Hillary, Condi and Madeline are "female" and not "women" Just because one has a female reproductive system and outward female sexual characteristics does not make one a "woman." A true woman is someone like our very first female Representative in Congress, from the state of Montana: Jeannette Rankin. She was elected to national office even before suffrage was granted to women in the rest of the country. She was an early feminist beginning the debate to ratify the 19th Amendment to the Constitution righting an injustice whose timing was far overdue.
Four days after she arrived in Washington, DC, in 1917, she was one of 50 Congressional Reps who voted "No" to the USA entering WWI. She was vilified by even Woman Suffragettes but she explained: "This is no time to be polite." She was the ONLY person in Congress to vote "No" on entering WWII and in casting her vote she said: "As a woman, I can't go to war and I refuse to send anybody else. I vote NO." In an even more heightened period of insane nationalism and fear of the bogey-man du jour, this was an extra-ordinarily courageous and responsible thing to do.
Jeannette Rankin continued to work for peace until her death in 1973 at the age of 92. The Jeannette Rankin Brigade of 5,000 women descended on Congress during the Vietnam War and she said: "If we had 10,000 mothers willing to go to prison, we could end the war."
The time for being polite to our war-mongering politicians and organizations which support them is over. The time has been up for years now: over four to be exact. Women in Iraq are afraid to go to the market or send their children to school. Our occupation has killed many babies and destroyed many Anglo-Christian families and brown Muslim families and, really, families of all color schemes and religious/non-religious persuasions.
We mothers have to stand up and put our bodies on the line for peace and humanity. We must look into the best parts of ourselves that make us mothers willing to care for and protect all children of the world, not just our own. We need to access our hearts and souls to lead from a place of compassion and love not from war/fear mongering hatred and disgraceful threats and use of bullying force.
I am calling on a new Jeannette Rankin Brigade to rise up and have join us on our "10,000 Mother of a March" on Congress on Monday, May 14th, 2007, which is the day after Mother's Day. Marches on the weekends are not effective. We need to shut the city of DC down and we need to show people like Hillary Clinton and NOW that there are true women/mothers who want the needless and indiscriminate killing of our world's children to end. We need to surround Congress, demand an end to this evil occupation and refuse to leave until the Congressional leadership agrees with us, or throws us in jail!
I am calling on Mothers of the world to join us in DC, if they are able…or descend on US embassies all over the world that day. I would love to see at least 10,000 Iraqi women marching on the Green Zone that day: marching in solidarity with us to end the slaughter of their children. I believe millions of mothers around the world are tired of their children being used as cannon fodder and political tools in the games of war and killer sanctions.
Mothers united will never be defeated! It's time.
Please go The Camp Casey Peace Institute for more info.

Cindy Sheehan being her usually amazing self. I really love the opening, by the way. But as someone who signed on to "NOW members endorse Dennis Kucinich" (Kat's Korner), and wrote "I endorse Dennis Kucinich for the 2008 primary" -- plus many of you also read Rebecca's "this now member is endorsing kucinich" and C.I., though not endorsing anyone, was highly vocal in the two snapshots last week about how the endorsement from NOW PAC (of War Hawk Hillary) arrived just as the NOW web page stripped the slogan "PEACE IS A FEMINIST ISSUE" and the dove that has accompanied it for how many years? It vanished.

Maybe War Hawk Hillary ate is. We should check her teeth for blood and bones.

But with all of that already known to this community, I felt it was more important to go with the second part. I do, however, love (and agree with) all that precedes the excerpt above. When Kat was pulling together her entry, she remembered a TV commentary and then asked C.I. if it was fine to use it? Due to the fact that C.I. couldn't endorse. C.I. told her she didn't have to ask. I want to include it as well. This is from Ava and C.I.'s "TV Review: Commander-in-Chief aka The Nah-Nah Sisterhood" (The Third Estate Sunday Review):

What really frightens us, besides the fact that a backlash only takes root when people who should know better applaud this junk, is an elitist attitude that seems to greet this show."We got our woman president!"
Consider us too grass-rooty but we don't see that as an end all be all. We weren't among the ones saying "At least we still got Martin Sheen on TV" so maybe we're missing it. But honestly, we'll take an Alice over a Commander-in-Chief. Give us working class women who pull together over a queen bee living a rarified life.
We've never doubted that a woman could be president (and at some point will be). But we've never assumed that gender would be an answer. A woman who supports equality? Absolutely, that's a great thing. A woman who makes her way as an exception, backs up an agenda she doesn't believe in and does nothing to help other women? We don't see the point in applauding that.
It's a pertinent issue as two women are repeatedly named as potential candidates in the real world: Condi Rice and Hillary Clinton. If either woman (or both) runs, will we get the same giddy "It's a woman!" nonsense? Under no circumstance would either of us vote for Rice. We'd be reluctant to vote for Clinton considering her waffles on the issue of choice and her stance on the war. But will those issues be silenced in the giddy cry of, "It's a woman! It's a first!"
That's troubling.

They wrote the above in November of 2005. How true it turned out to be, eh? But, and not to take anything away from Ava and C.I., no crystal visions were required, you just had to pay attention. There was the idiotic White House Project, or whatever it was called, which existed solely to get a woman into the White House.

Is that not the most insulting thing? Actually, I can think of something more insulting, feminist praising the non-feminist Commander-in-Chief. That happened and NOW started a campaign to save that show.

Is that, or endorsing Hillary, what feminism is about? That's not what I signed up for. I'm not about to disown my feminism but I do think it's past time that a lot of this nonsense got called out. I had no problem with NOW endorsing CMB in 2004. But I felt she was endorsed for something other than just being a woman. I thought we were endorsing what she was propsoing. With Hillary, why the hell did she get endorsed other than the fact that she has a vagina?

Ava and C.I. called it out in November of 2005, the giddy cry of "It's a first!" I've lived long enough to see how those "firsts" don't pan out for women in most cases. I saw that Geraldine Ferraro was bragging that she had Hillary's back. My honest impression? Crawl back under your rock, Gerry.

Like C.I., I supported Elizabeth Holtzman in the 90s race, not Ferraro. I strongly resented the women pushing that Ferraro "owned" the nomination or that it was "owed" to her. Holtzman would have made a wonderful Senator. That wasn't allowed to happen. Instead women worked to actively derail her campaign because we "owed" Ferraro something due to her being the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 1984 -- for younger readers asking, "Who is Ferraro?"

It's a fair question, by the way, because Ferraro has done nothing. Holtzman has called out the war, has called out the Bully Boy and called for his impeachment. Many people who know her name today may not know that she was a member of Congress or other details of her public life, but Holtzman is a figher (and that's why C.I. and I supported her run). Ferraro could have used her voice to call out the war in Iraq. She didn't. She did nothing. In fact, she only resurfaced, after years of doing nothing, to let it be known that she's for Hillary.

That alone should make people question that endorsement. The non-active politically, the ones who shirk their public duties, come forward to endorse Hillary. Ferraro smiled nicely and gave a prototype for Hillary (the wife trying not to be embarrassed by her husband's scandolous press) and then she went away, never to be heard from again until it was time to say, "You go, Hillary!"

So, in the early 90s, we were dealing with a very vocal group telling us that Holtzman should drop out of the race because the nomination was Gerry's due. She was a lousy candidate in that race. Now some in that same group are pushing Hillary. It's Hillary's "due" now as well, apparently.

Hillary is a War Hawk. She does not represent all women. She doesn't even stand up for us. She backed off reproductive rights in 2005 (at the start of it) to reposition herself while her kiss ups (don't think they're handlers, they've orbited the queen's sphere forever) rushed to say Hillary wasn't retreating, that she'd always talked like this. No, she did not. She's sold out reproductive rights and she gets rewarded for that by NOW?

In the excerpt, I agree strongly with Cindy Sheehan that now is the time for voices, not silence. I am appalled that so many women will not speak about the war. I don't mean in daily life. I know many women who are passionate about the war. I'm referring to our pundit class on the left who won't say a word. "Stab" is the perfect example. (Sunny read me the thing C.I. wrote about "Stab" this morning -- about Jet Blue and how "Stab" seemed to be in a contest to see who could go the longest without mentioning Iraq.)

So I'm sick of that. I'm sick of Katha Pollitt and her silence on the war. I'm sick of all the supposed brave women who want to bore us all with their jaw boning that has nothing to do with the big issues of the day. By all means, get hot under the collar over a Vanity Fair cover . . . if you've bothered to cover the war. If you haven't, and your nation is at war, then you're just an immature child. You're not a feminist. You're not even wearing a feminist training bra. You're just boring the world and hurting it with your silence.

I love how Katha and "Stab" are supposed to be brave "feminist" voices but they won't cover the war. "Stab" has written another bad book (and, again, it's not selling) that tries to help us connect with our joy . . . via a male god from mythology because, apparently, there are no female goddesses in Greek or Roman mythology. Does "Stab" even grasp that she's accepted the male measurement while presenting as a feminist?

A war's going on and, let's be clear, the only feminist view is to oppose it. Women's lives have been destroyed in Iraq. There is no "all opinions are valid" if you're a feminist. If you are a feminist, you are opposed to the war. (Opposition to war is at the root of feminism. But some of the children today don't appear to know their feminist history.) If you're opposed to it, it is your responsibility to use your voice and call it out.

If you're not doing that, you're wasting your time and your life and you are wasting the time and lives of others. Your silence says the war is okay and, if that's what you are saying, you are not a feminist.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, April 4, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the court battle US war resister Robert Zabala won gets more attention, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates plays Psychic -- or Belated Psychic, and forty years ago today MLK gave his historic "Beyond Vietnam" speech.

Starting with war resisters, yesterday
Free Speech Radio News filed report on Robert Zabala by Aaron Glantz:

Aura Bogado: A federal judge in nothern California has over-ruled the military justice system, and ordered the Marine Corps discharge a soldier who says he wouldn't be able to kill. In his ruling, US District Court Judge James Ware of San Jose ruled reservists Robert Zabala whould be discharged from the military as a conscientious objector. It's extremely rare for civilian courts to over-rule military courts, but Zabala's attorney says it's at least the second time it's happened during the Iraq war.
FSRN's Aaron Glatnz reports.

Aaron Glantz: University of California Santa Cruz student Robert Zabala received money for school because he joined the military. He entered the Marine Corps thinking it would be a place where he could find security after the death of his grandmother in 2003. But when he came to boot camp that June, Zabala said he had an ethical awakening that would not allow him to kill other people. Zabala was particularly appalled by boot camps' attempts to desensitize the recruits to violence.

Zabala: The response that all the recruits are supposed to say is "kill." So in unison you have, maybe 400 recruits, you know, "Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill!" And after awhile that word almost becomes nothing to you. What does it mean? You say it so often that you don't really think of the consequences of what it means to say kill over and over as you're performing this, you know, deadly technique, a knife to the throat."

Glantz: In his ruling, Judge Ware noted Zabala's experiences with his first commander, Capt. Sanchez during basic training, Sanchez repeatedly gave speeches about blowing BLEEP up or kicking some BLEEP. In 2003 when a fellow recruit committed suicide on the shooting range Sanchez commented in front of the recruits BLEEP him, BLEEP his parents for raising him, and BLEEP the girl who dumped him. Another boot camp instructor showed recruits a motivational clip video showing Iraqi corpses, explosions and gun fights and rockets set to heavy metal songs that included the lyrics "Let the bodies hit the floor." Zabala he abhored the blood lust his commanders seemed to posses. Aaron Hughes served six years in the Illionis Guard, including one tour as a military truck driver in occupied Iraq. He says Robert Zabala's experiences are typical of basic training.

Hughes: It's a lot of competition and a lot of learning how to not see yourself as a person or others as human beings. It's just, you're a piece of property and that's the way it functions and that's your job is to function like an object under command. I mean, it's a really simple life though when you're under complete complete orders.

Glantz: Hughes says at the time he believed basic training helped capture manhood
he felt he lacked being raised by his mother but after being sent to Iraq, he changed his mind.

Hughes: I think it's wrong now looking back at it. How can you not be see it as a step away from your humanity? I mean basically you get in there and they -- you go -- you -- automatically start isolating you and they tell you how your girlfriend's not going to be there and she doesn't matter when you get home or your husband. Like don't trust anyone but the military. They really start fostering that as . . . your sole relationship in life.

Glantz: When Robert Zabala realized he couldn't kill another human being he submitted a written application to the reserves. He saw two chaplains and a clinical psychologist who all agreed his moral objections were legitimate and that he should be discharged from the Marine Corps. But his platoon commander . . . called Zabala insincere and recommended his petition be denied. So Zabala went to federal court. Geoff Millard is the Washington DC representative for
Iraq Veterans Against the War. He says Judge Ware's decision to force the military to discharge Zabala will make an impact.

Geoffrey Millard: Someone who's sitting back and thinking about c.o. and they really are very sincere, but they're not sure if their claim will make it, then this may give that person hope and will not have them violating their conscience. That's the reason why we have a c.o. process in military relgulations is so that you make sure that you don't ask people to violate their conscience.

Glantz: The Marine Corps has yet to say whether they will appeal Judge Ware's decision. For
Free Speech Radio News, I'm Aaron Glantz.

Todd Guild (Santa Cruz Sentinel) quotes Stephen Collier, Zabala's attorney, "This ruling is important because it lets other potential conscientious objectors know that there is hope." L.A. Chung (San Jose Mercury News) reports, "Steve Collier, Zabala's attorney, hopes the ruling will make it easier to obtain conscientious objector status. And it is a victory for those who do not cite religious beliefs as the reason for appying for conscientious objector status. Judge Ware, who teaches federal jurisdiction at Golden Gate University, took the unusual step of holding the hearing here, so that students could attend. 'The judge thought it was an interesting case,' Collier said."

Zabala is a part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes
Ehren Watada, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Joshua Key, Corey Glass, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Dean Walcott, 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.

CBS and AP report on Bully Boy's White House nonsense yesterday where he called the Democrats "irresponsible." Apparently, the man who convinced himself that WMDs were found has now convinced himself that someone else occupied the White House in 2003 when he illegally went to war on Iraq. Staying on topics of the unhinged, Robert Gates, US Secretary of Defense has issued a predicition. Reuters reports that Gates announced today that "one real possibility" of the US withdrawing from Iraq is that it could cause "ethnic cleansing." After sharing that vision, Gates predicted the Indianapolis Colts to win the February 4, 2007 Superbowl and that the Democrats would gain Congressional seats in the November 2006 elections. Going into a deep fugue state, Gates advised that JFK would be shot in Dallas and that Time Warner would merge with AOL "sometime around January 2000" and would live to regret the merger but "I see a rebounding for the long maligned victrola."

In the real world,
Tom Hayden (The Huffington Post) observes: "The time has come to understand the new de facto US policy in Iraq: to support, fund, arm and train a sectarian Shi'a-Kurdish state, one engaged in ethnic cleansing, mass detention and murder of Sunni Arabs. If this description seems harsh, it is only because our minds are crowded with false or outdates paradigms. First was the dream of Baghdad as an sexemplary democratic domino. Then the kumbaya notion of a unitary neo-liberal state with proportional representation and revenue-sharing among Shi'a, Kurds and Sunnis. All along, the US has described itself as a neutral arbiter among warring factions, a promoter of the rule of law and human rights in the Iraqi jungle. Even as former US ambassador Khalilzad left Baghdad, he was struggling to clinch deals over oil revenue-sharing, reversal of de-Baathification laws, and inclusion of Sunni interests in constitutional reform and local governance. The Shi'a, muttering that Khalilzad was a Sunni apologist, seemed uninterested in anything but window-dressing reforms. Whether by accident or design, the reality since 2006 is that the Shi'a, with Kurdish approval, are carrying out a sectarian war against the Sunni population with American dollars and trainers." Who are US tax dollars supporting?

Why is that lost in a fog of war? That's a very straightforward question that should, after four years and counting of an illegal war, be easily answered.

Also in the real world, today is the 40th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's "Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break Silence" speech.
Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon (CounterPunch) note that the "TV ritual" of noting MLK's death doesn't include this speech given April 4, 1967 and observe "You haven't heard the 'Beyond Vietnam' speech on network news retrospectives, but national media heard it loud and clear back in 1967 -- and loudly denounced it. Time magazine called it 'demogogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi.' The Washington Post patronized that 'King has diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people'." The historic speech can be read at Black Agenda Report, at CounterPunch and an excerpt can be read, or listened to -- video of archival footage can also be watched as you listen to the speech -- at Democracy Now! Excerpt:

If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately, the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horrible, clumsy and deadly game we have decided to play. The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways. In order to atone for our sins and errors in Vietnam, we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war and set a date that we will remove all foreign troops from Vietnam in accordance with the 1954 Geneva Agreement.

The speech big media would like to forget. The lessons hidden away. In Iraq today . . .


Reuters notes a bombing in Mosul that "killed a police major and wounded a civilian" and another one that wounded two bodyguards of Major General Wathiq al-Hamadani. Bushra Juhi (AP) reports, "A suicide car bomber and a mortar attack also hit a police station being manned by U.S. and Iraqi forces in the Shiite Sadr City enclave in Baghdad, wounding two policemen and two civilians, police said," a mortar attack in Khalis killed a woman, left 2 more "and a 4-year-old boy" wounded, while a mortar attack in Baghdad left five wounded.


CNN reports, "Gunmen killed 11 electricity plant workers in northern Iraq on Wednesday after stopping their vehicle and machine gunning them as they sat inside, Iraqi police and army said." Kim Gamel (AP) reports that it's six dead (with 34 reported deaths in Iraq today) and also notes 22 shepherds were kidnapped today. Most reports have the kidnapping taking place on Tuesday. (Reuters asserts 11 shot dead near Hawija and that 18 goat-herders ere kidnapped Tuesday.) Laura King (Los Angeles Times) also reports 11 were shot dead and that "Power plant workers said they would strike in protest of poor security in the area." Bushra Juhi (AP) reports four police officers were shot dead near Baquba and that six of the assailants were killed by police officers, a man traveling in his car through western Baghdad was shot dead, a man driving his car through Falluja was shot dead, and an attack "in the mainly Shiite Kobat area near Baquba" claimed one life and left 7 others injured ("most children").


Bushra Juhi (AP) reports a woman's corpse was discovered "west of Hillah" and two corpses (headless) were discovered not far from Suwayrah.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Isaiah, Brian M. Downing, Cindy Sheehan

The illustration is Isaiah's latest The World Today Just Nuts and I held off on posting it yesterday because I knew Rebecca was going to use it with the post she was doing. Also, click here if you'd like to see the "Imagine Peace," 55 foot sign Yoko Ono put up. To get to peace, we'll need to shine some honesty on the lies.

"The Army's Road to Iraq" (Brian M. Downing, CounterPunch):
Our generals might have asked questions of the administration, which conveyed skepticism but not disloyalty, before crossing the Iraqi frontier. Will an Arab people accept an American army on their soil, regardless of its intentions? Are the Iraqis capable of mounting an effective guerrilla war? Will the invasion revitalize al Qaeda? Will long-standing allies, whose help even we may one day need, distance themselves from us? Men who had studied Clausewitz might have voiced doubt that Iraq fit in the war on terror and that public support would endure. Those who had read Sun Tzu might ask how much we really knew about our enemy. Those who had studied history at prestigious universities at public expense might have known the region as the graveyard of British, Ottoman, Mongol, Abassid, Persian, and Assyrian ambitions.
Questions and arguments are not outside the norms of American civil-military relations. Roosevelt and MacArthur argued over budgets and strategy; Truman famously delineated a rather high limit to such arguments. Forthright military professionals, active duty and retired, are especially needed in a republic in which the public is susceptible to exhortations by inept strategists, and Congress by adept lobbyists. Generals may voice frank views on proposed military operations to the National Security Council or directly to the president. They may speak forthrightly and skeptically to Congressional committees. They may apprise journalists of institutional concerns. Should circumstance and conscience dictate, they may resign--perhaps in numbers--an action often prescribed in the writings of officers who rebuilt the military after Vietnam.
Instead, our senior generals' lack of resolve figured highly in getting us into our third land war in Asia. They are now the silent management team of an institution they painstakingly restored, which dilettantish directors with little practical experience are now running. American soldiers fight relentlessly, bravely, but fruitlessly in a thousand winding alleys across dozens of increasingly hostile towns. Our security is weakening, our enemies strengthening. Generals are citizen-soldiers, not impassive observers of a remote democracy and its foreign policy. They have been rewarded with resources and honors and entrusted with the lives of our young men and women. They owe the nation more than demurrals.

So why didn't they loudly object? It could be, as the article argues, that what appeared to be a quick and easy victory in Afghanistan lulled them into feeling invincible. It could also be that they were too scared to speak out. But it could also be that they wanted the war on some level and that some wanted it very badly. Iraq wasn't a threat to the US. But it was also a country that would be easy to storm into. It was already suffering under the sanctions and the non-stop bombings. If someone was in the mood to, as Poppy Bush would put it, 'kick a little ass,' Iraq could satisfy that urge.

The focus on that urge could allow some to ignore the obvious, the same level of resistance on the ground in Vietnam. I have no idea why they went along, why they refused to protect the institution they are supposed to love so much. But I wouldn't rule out that, for some, the 'kick a little ass' aspect factored in.

"Three Years Ago Today" (Cindy Sheehan,
Three years ago today I was a "normal" American mother with four children, a marriage of almost 27 years and a boring 8 to 5 job. On April 3, 2004, I went to a nearby mall and bought a new outfit for work and two c.d.s: Evanescence and White Stripes. I was dreadfully worried about Casey, but I didn’t know that my world was about to be turned upside down.
Three years ago today, my oldest son was deployed to a war zone in a conflict that never should have happened and because of the illegal invasion and immoral occupation, was soon to be killed. My oldest daughter, Carly, was excited about transferring to university soon; my 2nd son, Andy, was doing well as a surveyor’s apprentice; and my youngest daughter, Janey, was on spring break in her senior year of high school.
Three years ago today if I thought about my marriage at all, being so distracted by my worry for Casey, I would have imagined Pat and I growing old(er) together with a passel of grandchildren we could spoil surrounding us. I always dreamed of 2 daughters-in-law and 2 sons-in-law to increase our happy family. Unfortunately, our marriage was a victim of King George's war of terror. I never understood why marriages break up after the death of a child, until I experienced it. After surviving so many other stressors, Casey's death was the proverbial straw that broke our marriage's back.
Three years ago today, the light green spring suit that I bought for work became the suit I wore on the sunny-surreal day that we buried Casey. The men looked so handsome in their new dark suits and the girls also looked beautiful in their new outfits which part of the "death benefit" purchased. Casey looked so peaceful in his dress greens; lying in his coffin like he was asleep. He was asleep---asleep forever at the age of 24 before he could marry that daughter-in-law for us or have those grandchildren. Asleep forever before he could finish college and become an elementary school teacher. Asleep forever before he could become a permanent Deacon in the Catholic Church. Unnaturally asleep forever before three of his grandparents and his mother and father.
Three years ago today I disagreed with the occupation of Iraq and with King George, but I never raised my voice; wrote a letter; or marched in protest. I didn't believe that my voice could have one slight bit of effect on the discourse in this country. After all, King George had called millions of people around the world who marched in protest of the impending invasion, a focus group. What would he call one more voice? A flea? I bought into the propaganda that one person can't make a difference and spent my entire adult life protecting my own family and circling the wagons around my own children and our comfort. Three years ago today, I didn't know that my tunnel vision was going to cost Casey his life and my family our comfort and would end up tearing us apart.

Cindy Sheehan really is amazing. She's never afraid to put herself out there. She doesn't just focus on the mistakes of others. In the excerpt above, she's taking herself to task for not realizing the power of one voice. She shouldn't rake herself over the coals, we're taught to believe that one voice doesn't matter. We saw, with the actions of the Party Hacks last month, that not only are we told one voice doesn't matter, we're expected to sit back and let Congress do whatever it wants. We can cheer along if we want, but that's really all we're allowed to do, according to the Party Hacks.

We weren't supposed to use our voices to tell Congress, "That's not good enough!" Let alone tell them that what they were offering was nothing. The system teaches you that one person can't make a difference. History divorces us from the power of movements. Add to all of that, you can always count on the Party Hacks to storm in, barking orders, thinking just because they take orders from above, they can issue orders to the rest of us.

So the last person Cindy Sheehan should blame is herself. A government that was intent on lying, intent on war, a military that was more than willing to go along with it, a press that wanted to cheer it, and a lot of bullies (from all sides) who wanted to shut people up. I'm honestly not sure what Cindy Sheehan or anyone could have done differently. Today's lie is that "we were all wrong." But "we" were not all wrong. There were many people objecting and calling out the "proof" in real time. The government wanted this illegal war and the press did as well. I don't know that we the people could have stopped it. But we can end it. Enough people know the truth now (or parts of it) and we do have the power to end it.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, April 3, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, a US war resister receives conscientious objector status, the puppet gets his strings pulled tighter and the lies that led to illegal war.

Starting with news of war resistance, Robert Zabala has received his conscientious objector status.
Tony Parry (Los Angeles Times) reports that the C.O. status was granted, not by the military, but instead by U.S. District Judge James Ware who "ordered the Marine Corps to discharge Zabala within 15 days." Zabala's long journey is outlined in Peter Laufer's Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq. Zabala comes from a military family, finished boot camp "at the top of his class"
as he grew more and more sure that he could not participate in warfare.

Zarbala tells Sandra Gonzales (San Jose Mercury News) that 'motivational' shorts (music videos) and seeing the swapping of photos picturing dead Iraqis made him sent him on his journey and that, although "evaluated by a pshychologist and chaplains who believe he was qualified" for c.o. status, "the commandant of the Marine Corps" thought otherwise. Henry K. Lee (San Francisco Chronicle) reports a 2004 excahnge "with a fellow Marine" which prompted even more contemplation -- Zabala, "I began to think about the thousands of people who died in the past year in war, who didn't die due to just one soldier or suicide bomber, but largely by an organization. This organization trains to kill human life."

Zabala tells Peter Laufer that about discovering the classification of C.O., "You ever heard that song 'Pina Colada'? The singer is reading off that description and he realizes, 'Hey, this is my wife!' I was reading the CO description and I realized -- hey, this is me! I wanted my conscientious objector discharge. If they put me in a nonfighting job, I still saw myself as a cog in the Marine Corps machine." In 2003, Robert Zabala completed his C.O. paperwork ("I will no longer participate in an organization that sustains war.") Zabala told Laufer, "I will get my conscientious objector discharge. I will make the Marine Corps see me as a conscientious objector regardless of what anybody says. If they reject my claim I'm going to appeal." It took the federal court system's help but Robert Zabala was awarded C.O. status.

Peter Laufer's book is
Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq and it provides an overview of various war resisters and peace efforts. Norman Solomon provides the foreward and the list price (US) is fourteen dollars.

Zabala is a part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes
Ehren Watada, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Joshua Key, Corey Glass, 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.

Moving to the lies of an illegal war, last Thursday, on
Flashpoints, Dennis Bernstein interviewed Peter Eisner -- deputy foreign editor of the Washington Post and co-auther with Knut Royce of The Italian Letter: How the Bush Administration Used a Fake Letter to Build the Case for War in Iraq. As Rebecca noted last week, Bernstein and Eisner discussed the false claim by the Bully Boy that Saddam Hussein was seeking yellow cake from Niger. To back and give the briefest overview, one of the lies the US administration used to scare a nation into war was the repeated use of "mushroom cloud" (Condi, Bully) and the claims that Saddam Hussein was reconstituting nuclear programs, biological weaponry, WMDs, blah, blah, blah. In 2004, Joe Wilson began discussing his earlier trip to Niger. He was sent by the CIA to check the validity of a claim coming from Italian intelligence that Hussein was attempting to purchase yellow cake uranium (which would then be used in nukes -- according to the lie). Wilson went, found no proof of the claim. (The claim was false from the start.) As the falsehood continued to be repeated, Wilson spoke with Nicholas Kristof (New York Times) who penned a column. Eventually, Wilson would write "What I Didn't Find In Africa" for the New York Times. Elements in the White House became nervous as Wilson was speaking the truth and an effort was made to send a message. Hence the floating of Valerie Plame's name. Plame is married to Wilson, she was a covert CIA agent. The US administration elected to out her as part of their petty war on the truth. To be clear, that is my summary of the events. For Eisner's thoughts and summary of the events, listen to the interview. (Community members who signed up for Hilda's Brew can read a transcript of it by checking their inboxes.)

Two points from the interview that we'll note here:

1) On the chances that the steps to the illegal war can be unraveled publicly

Peter Eisner: And there are lower ranking people that have stepped foward, many other are bureacrats that . . . fear for their jobs or fear that their lives would be made difficult by stepping forward. But even someone like [former CIA director] George Tenent, interesting case, he's also about to come out with a book. His book has been stopped up in CIA vetting for months and one would think maybe that at the end of the vetting process, he might be toning down some of the other things that he might otherwise be able to say about the Bush administration's march towards war. He, because of CIA rules, he can't speak out openly without getting CIA approval on what he says in his book. So there are many people that are capable of speaking and will speak especially if they're placed under subpoena and required to speak. Remember that during the Iran-Contra period people were called before Congress and ended up, as you and I well remember, talking about an off the shelf operation which basically was an extra-Constitutional to try to do . . . what needed to be done to win support for the Contras and deal with Iran at the same time. Some of the same players are still in place. Cheney among them. So there are chances to get people to speak, Royce and I didn't have the ability to go beyond those who were brave enough to speak, but under subpoena more people would speak.

2) On press coverage.

Dennis Bernstein: There was a huge publicity campaign at a lot of levels, not only to support the information, get the United States into a war, but also to attack the credibility of those calling into question who knew best about it, like Joe Wilson, calling into question what this information was about, whether it was real and whether the Bush administration was misusing it? And among the things that occurred was an extraordinary disinformation campaign against Joe Wilson which, for instance, found its way into the pages of your newspaper the Washington Post. And your, I guess, op-ed director was willing to stomp all over Wilson to go with the information. So tell us about the selling of this story and how that occurred that anybody who tried to resist got nailed.

Peter Eisner: Uh, the news, fortunately I can say that the news pages of the Washington Post were, uh, skeptical all along about the information. Not only about the purchase of uranium but overall of the concept of Iraq trying to restart its nuclear program. There was another item that included the so-called reconditioning of aluminum tubes that Iraq had purchased for the creation of centrifuges that would spin down lightly processed uranium into
bomb grade uranium and that material was also being bandied, uh, about in the fall of 2002, populary reported in September 2002 by the New York Times --

By Michael Gordon and Judith Miller only one of which no longer works for the New York Times. (I'm cutting it off there. Every community member knows it wasn't just Miller -- or just Miller and Gordon.) Today in the Washington Post,
Peter Eisner probes the subject of the false claim further.

Staying with
Flashpoints, US Senator and presidential candiate John McCain's antics were addressed by Robert Knight on yesterday's program:

In tonight's Knight Report, more turmoil in Somolia and Iraq as John McCain celebrates April Fool's Day in Baghdad. I'm Robert Knight in New York. . . . And finally there was yet another major American deployment Sunday in a Baghdad market where Senator John McCain engaged on a walking tour to promote the Bush administration's current escalation in Iraq. McCain, in defiance of various independent reports that Iraq's daily death toll actually increased last month, nevertheless declared that the so-called 'surge' was "making progress" and that Americans were "not getting the full picture of what is happening in Iraq"; however a zoom out from McCain's photo op shows that he was actually surounded by orbiting F16 fighter planes, three Black Hawk attack helicopters, 2 Apache gun ships, more than 100 US troops, snipers and armed vehicles, a flak jacket and personal body armour. The presidential contender and Congressional comedian concluded his celebration of April Fool's Day by declaring with a straight face that "There are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods today. These and other indicators and reasons for cautious optimism about the effects of the new strategy." And that's some of the news for Monday, April 2, 2007. From exile in New York, I'm Robert Knight.

Also noting the realities of
Crazy John McCain and The John McCain Showboat Express trip to Baghdad on Sunday is Kirk Semple (New York Times) who notes that the stroll through the market required "more than 100 soldiers in armored Humvees -- the equivalent of an entire company -- and attack helicopters circled overhead, a senior American military . . . The soldiers redirected traffic from the area and restricted access to the Americans, witnesses said, and sharpshooters were posted on the roofs. The congressmen wore bulletproof vests throughout their hourlong visit." Semple also quotes Ali Jassim Faiyad ("owner of an electrical appliances shop in the market") on the just-an-average-stroll-according-to-McCain visit, "The security procedures were abnormal! They paralyzed the market when they came. This was only for the media. This will not change anything." CBS and AP report Iraqis residing in Baghdad have called McCain's visit "propaganda" and quote Jaafar Moussa Thamir who states, "They were just making fun of us and paid this visit just for their own interests. Do they think that when they come and speak few Arabic words in a very bad manner it will make us love them? This country and its society have been destroyed because of then and I hope that they realized that during their visit." Michael Luo (New York Times) notes that "365 members of Congress . . . visited the country since May 2003, when Mr. Bush declared the end of major combat operations. But it is unclear just how illuminating the trips have been. The duration and scope of Congressional visits are tightly controlled. Lawmakers from opposing parties often travel together, but draw opposite conclusions from the same trip on the war's progress."

In Iraq today there is news of kidnappings.
CNN reports Jalal Sharafi, Iranian diplomat, was released by kidnappers today after have been kidnapped on February 4th. He should not be confused with the Iranian diplomats the US is holding after storming their consulate and abducting them; however, the Iranian Foreign Ministry sees a pattern between the kidnappings and argues that the US was responsible for the kidnapping of Sharafi. Laura King (Los Angeles Times) reports that video of Hannelore Krause and Sinan Krause (mother and son) has surfaced with a demand that if Germany does not "withdraw troops from Afghanistan" in ten days, the two, kidnapped February 6th, will be killed. Finally, on the subject of kidnapping, Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspaper) notes the kidnapping of Sheikh Wisam Sadoon ("iman of Al Salam mosque") along with a bodyguard following "the afternoon prayers". Turning to other violence . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports: "Two young men (students in the college of pharmacy) were killed in an IED explosions" and that 3 people were killed (2 wounded) in a south Baghdad explosion. DPA reports a US air attack in Falluja that killed six people.


Laith Hammoud (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that a police officer was shot dead in Tikrit, a person was shot dead on his way to work in Karkuk, another man was shot dead in Baquba (with two more wounded) and, in Baghdad, a police officer was shot dead. Reuters notes two police officers were shot dead in Latifiya, a guard of a gaas station was shot dead in Kut (one more wounded),


CNN reports the discovery of an eleven-year-old's corpse and Reuters notes the discovery took place in Taji. Laith Hammoud (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 10 corpses were discovered in Baghdad and 5 in Hibhib.Reuters notes 5 corpses discovered near Ramadi and 7 corpses discovered in Baquba.

Today the
US military announced: "A Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West died April 2 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province." And they announced: "A large truck bomb exploded at a police station in Kirkuk, Monday, killing two Iraqi police officers and 10 local nationals. Three coalition Soldiers were injured by the blast and one later died of wounds." And they announced today: "An MNC-I Soldier died at approximately 4:00 pm Monday. The Soldier was wounded earlier in the day when a vehicle-born bomb exploded near his location in Kirkuk." The last two announcements cover the same death.

On the subject of Kirkuk, as Robert Knight (
Flashpoints) noted yesterday, "Kirkuk has become a hotbed of tribal conflict due to the US installed occupation's regime's policy of ethnic cleansing whereby Arabs are now being intimidated or offered payment to move out of Kirkuk" as a result of an "initiative . . .intended to reverse the Baath party's policy of integrating the Kurdish enclave with Arab residents and to stack the voter rolls prior to a referendum over ceding the city to . . . the northern province of Kurdistan." Bassem Mrolie and Wassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) report that puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki had the decision "forced on him" at the threat of Kurd walking "out of his ruling coalition" which would "bring down the government".

Finally, noting US Senator Barack Obama's decision to tell AP that the Bully Boy supplemental would go through regardless (see
yesterday's snapshot), Robert Naiman (Common Dreams) observes: "The question here is not just what one predicts will be the outcome of the confrontation between Congress and President Bush. Obama, as a member of the Senate and as a leading Democratic presidential candidate, is a key protagonist in the confrontation. What kind of organizer confides to the media that when push comes to shove, his side is going to back down?"