Friday, June 29, 2007

Kevin Zeese, Joseph W. Elder

Sunny picked the "best" e-mail of the ones that have come in the last two days. (To repeat, she reads the e-mails because she enjoys it. I have not asked her to. She was kind enough to fill in for me last summer and enjoyed reading them during that period.) Her pick for the best was the one that made her laugh the loudest. A Ruth, not our Ruth, e-mailed to say of Wednesday's post, "If the CIA had asked me to join, I would've been flattered! I certainly would not have taken offense! There is nothing I wouldn't do for my country!" Well, Ruth, as the courts and the Congress found, the CIA wasn't do much of anything that was LEGAL for the country during that period.

But it's no surprise to know that attempts to blackmail MLK, attempts to convince him to kill himself, spying on him, working with some of the press to destroy him would still find support from some delusional cases today. That apparently wouldn't have bothered Ruth. Nor would she bothered by infiltrating meetins of the women's movement because that was such a "threat" to the country as well. Nor would she bothered by breaking the law. Nor would she be bothered by the assassination of Fred Hampton. Go down the list, and it's a long list, of crimes, Ruth, and figure out which you are on board with, dash off an e-mail to the White House and I'm sure they'll find a spot for you somewhere.

It's the people like Ruth, confronted with not merely allegations, but proof of criminal activities and confessions of some, who want to confuse support for undemocratic and criminal actions with a belief in democracy that allowed our country to go so far backwards so quickly.

Ruth signs off: "More American than you, Ruth." Even in my darkest moments, I do not believe that's true. Were I to, I'd probably be packing my bags now. However, those who choose to live ignorance and play dumb are probably no more than 30% of the country -- about the same number that still believes in the current illegal war.

"A Different Kind of Peace Candidate" (Kevin Zeese, CounterPunch):
Dal LaMagna (rhymes with Lasagna) is running for president by working to end the Iraq War. The independently wealthy businessman just returned from a trip to Amman, Jordan and Baghdad, Iraq where he met with members of the Iraq Parliament, Iraqi tribal leaders, representatives of the resistance and U.S authorities, including Generals Petraeus, Lamb and Newton. He told me that the road to the White House is through Iraq. Dal has been working to end the war for several years. He was the executive producer of three feature length Iraq War movies: The Ground Truth, The War Tapes, and Iraq For Sale. I met Dal when he moved to Washington, DC to work with Congress to end the war. He was hopeful that after the Democrats 2006 victory the party leadership would move to end the war.
Dal developed a niche for himself in Washington, DC by playing the role of bringing the voices of Iraq to the United States. He developed a power point presentation of his previous trips to the region, created a satellite video conference between Iraqi Parliamentarians and a bi-partisan groups of Members of Congress. But, Dal learned the frustration of getting things done in official Washington. And the media, rather than covering the momentous event of legislators from both countries talking --ignored the whole thing.
Dal is not one to give up. He wants the "killing and maiming" in Iraq to end. And, after meeting with many key people in Iraq he has come to the conclusion that a complete U.S. withdrawal from Iraq has the best chance of ending the violence. His experience with Iraqis dispels many myths that Americans have about Iraq. Two key myths are particularly important:
First, Iraqis consistently tell him that the violence will start abating when the U.S. announces plans to leave. One Iraqi tribal leader reversed Bush's rhetoric and said "when the U.S. stands down Iraqis will stand up." The consistent view is that the root cause of the violence is the occupation.
Second, there will not be a civil war if the U.S. leaves in fact the chance of civil war increases if the U.S. stays. Iraqis do not need the U.S. to deal with the sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shia. There is not a sectarian civil war in progress nor will one erupt. Over and over Dal heard from Iraqis that they have mixed marriages. One quipped "I am Sunni my wife if Shia I don't need American soldiers to protect me from my wife." What is brewing is a political civil war the nationalists vs. the separatists.
Dal has provided transcripts, video tapes and summaries of his meetings with Iraqis on his website.

The silence on Iraq is really appalling in this country. The nonsense about "the US is staying for the Iraqis" is a complete repeat of Vietnam. It wasn't true then either. Hard to believe that a lot of people of the left and 'left' who lived through that period stay silent. Maybe they had a nasty bong accident back in the day that caused brain damage? The same nonsense arguments made for continuing that illegal war are made for continuing the current one. But, as someone who lived through the earlier one, let me be clear that we had leadership from left and 'left' voices.

It really is amazing to see how little anyone with a voice cares. They keep pushing for these tiny legislation 'victories' that aren't really wins for anyone and fail to see that if legislative action is their goal, nothing got people more passionate than Vietnam back in the day. As that movement to end the war built and built, it was able to support other issues and inspire further activism. But most media, especially independent media, is in clampdown mode today. They'll never see any real action as a result of that. They won't see whatever the pet legislative project is get put through. Timidity does not lead to people making demands. It only leads to further timidity. The Iraq war needs to end and needs to end now. Not a year from now. Not a year after a Democrat is sworn in as president in 2008. This nonsense that the Iraqi lives are being improved while the illegal war and the illegal occupation continues is just nonsense. People play like they don't know what Iraqis want but it's been clear for years now, Iraqis want the US out. Any occupied people would want that. Iraqis have spoken. "But the other side has responded." You can apply that to Kevin Zeese's piece that I excerpted above. But it's actually a quote from an article written during Vietnam.

C.I. highlighted The Progressive archives today and Lynda e-mailed me to say she knew C.I. wouldn't be doing an evening entry but could I note something she found today? Yes. C.I. was hoping to note the archives weeks ago. Whatever Sunday we were on the phone together while C.I. was doing one of the "And the war drags on . . ." entries, C.I. was trying to work that in but there was a lot of violence to cover (and C.I. was attempting to track down whether one incident was being billed in two different locations by two different media outlets) so there just wasn't time. C.I. intended to highlight it last night but with the appeal from The Nation, it couldn't have been highlighted without pointing out the obvious (which C.I. did this morning): The Progressive is making their archives available to all. It's not everything in the magazine and I (hopefully wrongfully) picture Matthew Rothschild typing up pieces from old volumes to get them online. The Nation, by contrast, wants you to pay for their archives which are available online. As C.I. worded it today, "The website of the magazine has been posting more from their archives. This is not 'BUY A DIGITAL PACK BECAUSE LOOK HOW DAMN GREEDY WE ARE!'. They are making these archived writings available online to all." If you subscribe to the New York Times, you get X number of free reads each month from the archives (I believe it's 100 a month if you're a 7 day a week subscriber). But if you subscribe to The Nation, you get nothing. You get no free articles from the archives, not even two, a month. But you can buy their pass. I keep expecting Katrina vanden Heuvel to offer an exclusive web cam tour of the manse for just $59.99 a month. That's pure greed. So that's my way of noting that there are archived articles available at The Progressive and all you have to do is go to the website. No fee. No sign up. Below is the one Lynda wanted noted.

"Vietnam: the Other Side IS Responding" (Joseph W. Elder, The Progressive):
During the past year the Vietnamese we are fighting offered President Nixon a handle which, if grasped, might provide the means to end the war. But so far he has apparently rejected-and possibly not even seriously explored-this opportunity for peace.
Meanwhile, thousands of Americans and Vietnamese have died, while U.S. spokesmen contend that the war goes on because the other side will not respond to any of our peace proposals and will make none of its own.
But the other side has responded, as I had a chance to observe first hand on two visits to Hanoi. However, this response, which I helped convey to the President's foreign policy advisers twice, has been ignored by the Administration.
I first visited Hanoi for one week last June on behalf of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) to discuss Quaker assistance to civilians in North Vietnam. (AFSC was already assisting civilians in both Saigon-controlled and NLF-controlled portions of South Vietnam.) While in Hanoi, I conferred with North Vietnam's foreign minister, Nguyen Duy Trinh. During our conversation, I mentioned that I was part of an AFSC committee scheduled to meet with President Nixon's foreign policy advisers in July. "Are there particular points," I asked, "you would like me to stress on your behalf during the meeting?"
The foreign minister paused a moment. Then he said, "Tell President Nixon's advisers that if the United States is seriously interested in holding elections in South Vietnam, it should recognize the importance of the Provisional Revolutionary Government in South Vietnam."
I had first heard of the Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG) when its formation was proclaimed only five days earlier at a Hanoi press conference. Facing a bank of lights and movie cameras, Nguyen Van Tien, the National Liberation Front (NLF) Party's representative to Hanoi, had announced that eighty-eight delegates and seventy-two guests, representing a range of anti-Thieu-Ky viewpoints, had met in a conference June 6-8 "somewhere in South Vietnam." The conference had been convened jointly by the NLF and the VNANDPF (the Vietnam Alliance of National, Democratic, and Peace Forces, an urban-based anti-Thieu-Ky party formed during the 1968 Tet offensive). From the June 6-8 conference emerged what was proclaimed to be a new government in South Vietnamthe Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam, headed by the prime minister of an eleven-member cabinet.

The Vietnamese, like Iraqis today, were talking long before the US finally left. But who was listening. So pay attention to the above and Kevin Zeese's article.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, June 29, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, Liam Madden gets some news, tensions continue between Turkey and northern Iraq, Bully Boy's lips are flapping so you know what that means and more.

Starting with
Iraq Veterans Against the War's Liam Madden. Madden and two other members of IVAW, Cloy Richards and Adam Kokesh, have been targeted by the US military brass in an attempt to silence and cow them. They have been threatened with the loss of benefits (Cloy Richards is classified as 80% disabled), loss of their honorable discharges and more. Kokesh participated in street theater in DC and then found himself facing the theatrics of a kangaroo court -- proving there is no bigger drama queensthan those commanders in the marines. Kokesh recevied a general discharge from the IRR -- meaning he's twice discharged: honorably from the marines, general from the IRR -- and Richards reached an agreement where he would not wear any part of his fatigues in public (his mother, Tina Richards, now usually wears his Marine Corp boonie cover at rallies and marches). Madden was being tarred with the usual trumped up charge that fatigues are the equivalent of dress uniforms and the added bonus that his speech was "disloyal" (which may echo the questioning in Kokesh's kangaroo hearing where he was asked if he was "a card carrying member of Iraq Veterans Against the War"). Now comes the news via the AP's own Ethel Mertz (Heather Hollingsworth) that although "[a]n investigating officer had recommended in May that Liam Madden, 22, of Boston receive an other-than-honorable discharge, the worst discharge possible under non-court martial conditions" the Marines issued a press release stating "that they were dropping the case because they had 'received sufficient indictation' from Madden . . ." of something. Of what? Madden has been very clear that he'll come to terms with them provided they put in writing that he made no disloyal statements about the US. He tells Hollingsworth that he's received nothing in writing but, "I think it's a total victory. The country is on our side and it really puts the Marine Corps in a bad light if they try to intimdate".

Madden and other members of
Iraq Veterans Against the War are currently conducting a summer base tour that takes them next to the US Social Forum in Atlanta, GA on June 30th at 7:00 pm; Fort Benning in Columbus, GA on July 1st at 7:00 pm; a fundraiser in Philadelphia on June 3rd at 6:00 pm; a fundraiser in NYC on July 5th at 7:00 pm; the Naval Sub Marine Base in Groton, CT on July 6th at 7:00 pm; and concluding at Fort Drum in NY on July 8th at 4:00 pm.

And in news of resistance within the military (IRR is a way station -- Richard, Madden and Kokesh were all discharged and the brass had no reason to screw with them), we'll turn to Eli Israel. Eleonai "Eli" Israel is stationed and Iraq and has announced he can no longer take part in the illegal war. He is also a supporter of
2008 presidential candidate Mike Gravel having noted, "I am taken away by the truth and clarity that is spoken by Sen. Gravel. He has my vote. The National Initiative that he proposes is what this country needs." And: "My paychecks currently comes from the Army. I have worked with and trained with Blackwater in the past, among others. I have seen this war (and it's orchestrators) from the inside out, and I'm telling anyone who has 'ears to hear', that Mike Gravel is the only voice of reason that is speaking." Those were both noted in May. In April, he posted, "My name is Eli Israel, and yes, you probably guessed it, I'm very much Jewish. I'm also a soldier in Iraq, and I'm also a HARD CORE Mike Gravel supporter." In an update at Iraq Veterans Against the War, Eli notes, "I have been in Iraq for over a year. I have served in combat. I have been awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, for my actions in Combat. I have been recommended for other medals, that I will now probably never see (nor do I want) . .. It would have been a lot 'easier' for me to simply keep doing combat missions for a couple more week, and be done with things. Moral convictions are not based on timing or convenience". Courage to Resist has more information here.

Eli Israel is part of a movement of resistance within the US military grows and includes Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Care, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

In Iraq, where all business seems to stop anytime Moqtada al-Sadr deliberates . . .
Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Stephen Farrell (New York Times) report that Nouri al-Maliki is all but on his hands and knees regarding a planned al-Sadr march for next week (July 5th). Mike Drummond (McClatchy Newspapers) judged that "the march poses a test of his [al-Sadr's] popularity. A peaceful demonstration could arm him with broad political clout, which has eluded other Iraqi leaders so far, including Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki. A low turnout could underscore the limites of Sadr's ability to marshal ordinary citizens." AP reported this morning that al-Sadr had called off the march and cited Sheik Asad al-Nassiri's statement: "Muqtada al-Sadr has decided to postpone the march to Samarra for several reasons, including the government's inablity to secure the route and many officials' appeals for a postponement."

When not begging al-Sadr,
Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reports, the puppet was attempting to sideline him via an attempted partnership with alleged moderate bloc in Parliament who would make it their business to take up the "oil revenue-sharing law". However Asad al-Hashimi remains 'at large.' With Iraq's Culture Minister out and about, better hide those copies of Ram in the Thicket. Worse for al-Maliki, as he's attempting to realign himself, BBC reports that the Iraqi Accord Front and its six minister "will boycott government meetings because of legal steps being taken against one of its ministers." That would be al-Hashimi who, this week, suddenly became the main suspect in a 2005 assassination (he is now said to be in Jordan). Waleed Ibrahim and Alister Bull (Reuters) observe "the move is a blow to Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki at a time when he is under U.S. pressure to push through laws" and that this is the second time the bloc has gone on strike this month -- last week they objected to the removal of Mahmoud al-Mashhadani who held the post of Speaker in the Parliament. In terms al-Hashimi, they further note that "there has been some confusion about the warrant. Police and court officials have not been able to confirm such a warrant has been issued for Hashemi."


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 mortar attacks in Baghdad. CBS and AP report that "the British military issued a statement saying all of its bases came under attack from mortars or rockets in the past 24 hours". Reuters notes a Tikrit roadside bombing that left three wounded and a Kut roadside bombing that left a woman wounded. CBS and AP report a bombing on an oil pipeline in Haswa "spilling crude oil and sparking a huge fire".


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 women ("one of them pregnant") and 1 man were shot dead in Baghdad, two police officers were wounded in Kirkuk and "A U.S. military convoy killed an Iraqi man in Al Rashad neighborhood, Iraq police said."


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 7 corpses were discoved in Baghdad today. Reuters notes 3 corpses discovered in Balad and the corpse "of a university lecturer" found in Kut.

US military announced today, "Five Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldiers were killed when a roadside bomb detonated near a combat patrol in a southern section of Baghdad June 28. Small arms and rocket-propelled attacks followed shortly after the blast. Seven other Soldiers were wounded in the attack." The deaths bring to 3577 the total number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war and to 100 fatalties for the month of June. June is the third deadliest month for US service members so far this year. June 2007 is also the deadliest June for service members stationed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war. The attack was one of the combination attacks that isn't new and has been going on for over a year. BBC notes their "Baghdad correspondent Andrew North says that incidents like Thursday's, in which insurgents first use roadside bombs to attack US troops, then exploit the confusion afterwards to fire on them, have become more common. . . . Our correspondent says this is a sign yet again of how the conflict here keeps changing, with insurgents often one step ahead."

Turning to world leaders do the craziest things . . .

As an election looms in Australia and (Australia's)
ABC News reports Labour's Kevin Rudd has declared John Howard (prime minister) will reduce the number of Australians stationed in Iraq "as an election ploy, but his overall strategy is to keep them there indefinitely." Last week, Bill Taylor's remarks, such as "The majority of Australians across the country would very much like to see us come out of that mess as soon as possible," caused a stirbecause it was seen as coming from within Howard's own party (Liberal). Ed Johnson (Bloomberg News) reports today that Alexander Downer, the country's Foreign Minister, has announced, "I made it clear that Australian troops would stay" in Iraq and dismissing Rudd's observations that any of the country's approximately 1,500 troops would be leaving Iraq.
That would be the same Alexander Downer who was in Iraq yesterday meeting with Iraq's Foreign Minister to discuss trade.
Iraq's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which must be the country's equivalent of Liz Smith, announces, "Mr. Downer thanked Mister Zebari for the briefing he gave concerning the latest developments, and assured his country's obligations in supporting the new Iraq, and to develop relations between Canberra and Baghdad."

Moving from the satellite of Howard to the Bully of them all, Bully Boy gave more of the same yesterday at the Naval War College in Rhode Island.
Jim Rutenberg and Jeff Zeleny (New York Times) report: "Mr. Bush in effect pleaded for more time on Thursday, saying that the deployments in Iraq he ordered in his so-called troop surge have only recently been completed and were already producing positive results. . . .Even at this pre-screened location, Mr. Bush faced some skepticism from questioners in the audience, including a woman who asked him pointedly if he was indeed listening to the advice of his commanders (yes, he said) and a professor who asked if the Iraq campaign was stretching United States forces too think to cope with other challenges elsewhere (no, he said)." Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) noted that Bully Boy wants the US to support death globally and focus locally as evidenced by Bully Boy's claim that "citizens are forming neighborhood watch groups" in Baghdad is a sign of encouragement. Ricks notes, "It is not clear what the difference is between those groups and armed militias, which U.S. officials have said in the past must be disbanded or incorporated into Iraqi security forces."
Flashback to almost exactly this time last year (July 2006) when al-Maliki was claiming his 'plan' would create just that -- only, they were all created. Bully Boy's seeing 'progress' in a questionable development and one that existed before the June 2006 'crackdown' began on Baghdad.
Jonathan S. Landay (McClatchy Newspapers) points out that Bully Boy did his usual stunt: "Facing eroding support for his Iraq policy, even among Republicans, President Bush on Thursday called al Qaida 'the main enemy' in Iraq, an assertion rejected by his administration's senior intelligence analaysts. The reference, in a major speech at the Naval War College that referred to al Qaida at least 27 times, seemed calculated to use lingering outrage over the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to bolster support for the current buildup of U.S. troops in Iraq, despite evidence that sending more troops hasn't reduced the violence or sped Iraqi government action on key issues." And despite the fact that Iraq had no connection to 9-11. Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) observed, "The President went on to say he views Israel as a model for what Iraq should become. Bush says Israel is able to carry out its democratic functions despite the constant threat of attacks." Along with the massive insult such statements are to the region (maybe Bully Boy feels at this late date, there are no hearts and minds left to win?), it's also true that the Israeli government is in the news today for actions/behaviors that hardly deserve copying. Donald Macintyre (Independent of London) reports how Moshe Katsav (Israel's president) "yesterday escaped jail by agreeing a plea bargain under which rape charges against him will be dropped. In return he is admitting charges of lesser sexual offences against former employees."

And turning to England, we find Blair-lite.
Kim Sengupta and Colin Brown (Independent of London) observe, "Yesterday should have been a day of political triumph for Gordon Brown. Instead events in Basra provided a brutal and intimate reminder of the scale of the challenge he faces in Iraq." Scott Kennedy, James "Jamie" Kerr and Paul Joszko, three British soldiers, were all announced dead. Andrew Pierce and David Blair (Telegraph of London) note that Jamie Kerr was "from Mr Brown's Cowdenbeath constituency" and that "Mr Brown, as a local MP, will now face the dilemma of whether to be present when the body of his constituent is flown home." Richard Beeston, Michael Evans and Melanie Reid (Times of London) quote John Paul Ward, Jamie Kerr's step-father, on the soldier's last phone call to his mother, "Jamie said being out there was not what he thought it would be. He didn't want to be there. He was more scared than anything else. He said he wanted to come home and I think being out there was a reality check for him."

For those who have forgotten, the 156 British troops who have died and the 3577 US troops who have died, the nearly one million Iraqis who have died, and others, all died because Tony Blair and Bully Boy insisted that Iraq had WMD and that we couldn't wait for a "mushroom cloud."
CBS and AP report: "The Security Council voted Friday to immediately shut down the U.N. bodies key to monitoring Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs under Saddam Hussein, a decision an Iraqi diplomat said would close 'an appalling chapter' in his country's history."

Meanwhile, tensions between Turkey and the northern section of Iraq continue with
Reuters reporting that Masoud Barzani ("head of the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq") has declared there will be a "catastrophe" should Turkey enter into the region.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Spying, Marjorie Cohn

"On the Dangers of an Unchecked Bully Boy" is where you need to start. C.I. wrote that back in February of 2006. I'd also recommend you read C.I.'s "NYT: In a Dispute, Army Cancels Rebuilding Contract in Iraq (Glanz and Rhode)" from May of 2006 because toll slips are addressed. Sunny greeted me between morning sessions with, "I think you just got homework." She was referring to a comment in C.I.'s "NYT sells the war again and plays damage control for the 'family jewels" this morning that noted:

*I'm guessing Elaine will write something about this topic tonight so check out Like Maria Said Paz later today.

I was actually considering writing something (and had mentioned that to C.I. last weekend) but was hesitating to avoid butting in. Friday Kat's "Ford and CIA discuss Jane Fonda, Kissinger tries to cover his own War Criminal ass" covered this. Then, yesterday, Rebecca's "gonzales & other scandals" covered it. They're both fine with it (as was C.I. when I brought it up last weekend).

If you're late, we're talking about governmental spying. Those who lived through the Vietnam period should expect a file was kept on them by some governmental agency if they ever marched, spoke, signed a petition, wrote a letter to the editor or did anything to attempt and end that illegal war. There were spies all around.

When C.I. took the GRE -- and got those high scores, but amazing on analytical -- we were all shocked by what happened next. This story is shared with C.I.'s permission, by the way. A professor of the 'left,' one that was admired on campus by students, wanted C.I. to meet someone only C.I. wasn't in class. Neither was I. We were making signs if I remember right and had skipped class. Rebecca was in class and she took the message. It was for lunch the next day. Rebecca being Rebecca, had several dates that day and forgot all about the message until the next day. When C.I. got it, it was too late to cancel and C.I. was honestly confused why a professor wanted to set up a meeting. Was this some sort of fix up? That was Rebecca's guess. C.I. doubted that (and noted it would be over real quick if it was) but did do the lunch meeting. At the meeting, C.I. learned the man was with the CIA.

I was not present so I cannot speak to the volume deployed when that came out. I do know that C.I. was furious and very loud after (and I can guess C.I. was loud and vocal at the lunch). We were all shocked. Here was this professor that students thought was so cool and so liberal and he was recruiting for the CIA? We were all outraged because the CIA's reputation was well known (and would only become better known -- which may be what finally killed the TV show Mission Impossible which was never as 'wonderful' as some thought if you paid attention to reality or, for that matter, the television program). By the way, it was the incredible analytical scores on the GRE that interested the CIA.

That evening, the professor had received word from his friend (or employer?) of how it went and rushes over to our apartment (he'd never been there before) and was rushing to apologize and begging C.I. not to say a word. This was an admired academic (he still is) and he was a recruiter for the CIA. In classes and conversation, he would speak about the importance of self-determination for various regions. In reality, he was in bed with the agency subverting democracy around the world. Everyone thought he was "hip" -- to use the vernacular of the time -- and the only professor who "got us." The reality is he was probably "getting us" for something other than educating us.

Now we weren't naive. We knew then that, for instance, diplomats and journalists were often also CIA. We weren't surprised by the notion of a traitor in the midst, by that point the peace movement was very aware that there were many traitors in the midst and that, along with spies, there were also those advocating actions that would subvert or disgrace the movement.
But it was a shock that the professor everyone thought of as so left, so against the illegal war, so pro-democracy, was nothing but a CIA asset.

C.I. told us to do what we wanted "but I'm withdrawing from the class tomorrow." Rebecca pointed out that it might be too late and C.I. replied something about going to dean and explaining that this wasn't why the university was being paid tuition. (C.I. did do that. We were all dropped from the class with no other questions or issues raised.)

But that was the first real sign of how deep the spying could go. Growing up, C.I. and I both knew of certain people who were said to be with "The Agency." But they were, again, diplomats and journalists, for the most part. To find someone in our own midst, someone that, prior to that lunch, we would have all vouched for, with that connection was a real testament to the agency's reach and an eye opener.

During the Church Committee, I believe, Ms. magazine published an article about the vast efforts to spy on the women's movement. The women's movement was actually an obsession with J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI was the agency there. I remember reading that article and not being at all surprised and that was partly because so much had come out to confirm most people's suspicions and partly because after the incident with the professor, I don't think I was shockable again on the topic of spying.

Spying's going on now, of course. One of the funniest things, sidebar story, was during Watergate, C.I. developed this coded way of our talking -- Rebecca, C.I. and myself -- in case we ever needed it. We now generally speak that way on the phone now (and lots of luck to anyone who listens in and tries to figure out when it pops in and what we're discussing). Rebecca and I would tease C.I. back then and laugh about how there was no need for it. All the exposures, all the revelations, these bad days were gone. The American people had seen what had gone down (some of what had gone down) and we would never again tolerate it. In fact, we argued, if it started to creep in, people would be so outraged that it would lead to a huge uprising.

Well, Rebecca and I were wrong on that. C.I. was right.

In terms of the revelations [PDF format warning] you can click here. There's an attitude regarding the released papers (CIA papers) that "It's nothing new." Well, most of us are well aware of a lot more than what's in the papers (reading over them, I felt we came close to a confession of the sort of spying done on Jean Seberg) and we were aware of that during the days of the Church Committee (Frank Church's Congressional committee).

The Defense Department spied, the FBI spied, the CIA spied, I'm sure the NSA spied and who knows what other organizations. We're back in a period, we've allowed it to happen, where spying goes on again. There is little outrage over it. People behaved like scared rabbits, for the most part, for the last few years and that allowed the spying (already existing -- it predates the Bully Boy's occupation of the White House) to become more widespread.

The power the limited release has in terms of today is what I'm concerned with and, like Rebecca and C.I., I see a lot of management of the release in the domestic press. I see a lot of efforts to steer the public towards minor trivia. I agree that journalists are being presented as brave when the reality is that spying on journalists wasn't common place. It didn't have to be. As Carl Bernstein demonstrated in Rolling Stone back in the seventies, many journalists were on the payroll and, of course, others were just 'helpful' and 'patriotic.'

Along with US big media's attempt to bury the Castro revelations (plots by the CIA to kill a leader of another country), what I think is being missed by the coverage, but will come through if you review even a small part of the PDF format release, is how wasteful it was.

National security gets tossed around a great deal as the great cover all for information to be kept from the public. Well, read the report and ask yourself why, for instance, the CIA needed to spy on Stokely Carmichael and notice how there was nothing of use from that. But a lot of people would like to pretend that these were missions undertaken with the best of the intentions. That's a lie. These were missions undertaken by a government that feared, basically, every citizen and thought they had the right to spy. This was KGB territory and that may not mean much these days, but for people of a certain age, it does. We remember all the lies about the Soviet Union, we remember all the lies about how the US didn't spy on its citizens and Americans had freedom while Russians were constantly followed by the KGB.

The reality is both governments mistrusted their citizens, both governments spied on them and both governments broke the law. C.I. and I have a mutual friend who was very close to the folk singer Phil Ochs. He firmly believes that when Ochs was out of this country and attacked, that was done by the US government. Reading about the following of Carmichael and other details made me wonder how correct he might be? (I've never said, "You don't know what you're talking about!" I've never said, "You're paranoid." I've listened when it came up and allowed that it could be possible. I'd argue what's been released makes it even more possible.)

If you don't get that the government abused the citizens, read the section about drug testing. Drugs that weren't fit for use as prescriptions were tested on Americans without their knowledge by the CIA in, I believe the wording was, the best interest of the country because if someone ever used it on the American people, the CIA would be prepared. In "With Release of “Family Jewels,” CIA Acknowledges Years of Assassination Plots, Coerced Drug Tests and Domestic Spying" (Democracy Now!) today, Amy Goodman touches on this aspect. During that interview, Amy Goodman makes a statement that I think deserves clarification.

She notes how many people may not be aware of this period. She stopped too soon. She failed to note that alone among Big independent media, she and Juan Gonzalez have addressed that. We've noted this before, and I think C.I. was the first to point it out at Third Estate Sunday Review, but she and Gonzales really do stand alone on this. The Nation? It's been AWOL on this. When the current stories began breaking, they might do a nod to history, a shout out, but they refused to explore it. Not only that, they made a huge effort to celebrate Mark Felt as a hero when, reality check, he was a disgusting pervert (stealing Jennifer Dohrn's panties) who authorized illegal activities on American citizens.

Another person telling the truth about those days is worth excerpting and this focuses on FBI spying.

"Targeting Dissen: FBI Spying on the National Lawyers Guild" (Marjorie Cohn, CounterPunch):
In 1937, the American Bar Association refused to allow people of color to join its ranks. With the blessing of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the National Lawyers Guild was founded as a multi-racial alternative to the ABA. The Guild's founding members included the attorney general, several judges, some congressmen, and the head of the National Labor Relations Board.
Three years after the creation of the National Lawyers Guild, the FBI began to conduct secret surveillance of the Guild. From 1940 to 1975, the FBI wiretapped Guild phones, burglarized Guild offices, and sent informers into Guild meetings. The June 25, 2007 New York Times report on the FBI's program of spying on the Guild omits FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover's primary rationale for undertaking this surveillance: "to blunt the Guild's criticism of the FBI and, if possible, to destroy the organization," in the words of Michael Krinsky, one of the lawyers who filed the 1977 lawsuit against the FBI.
The Guild, which provided legal support for the people, was a thorn in Hoover's side. In 1950, the Guild was about to release a big exposé on the FBI, prepared by Yale law professor and ex-Guild president Thomas Emerson. No other organization was undertaking such a comprehensive criticism of the FBI. Through illegal wiretaps and informants the FBI learned of the Guild's impending report. In advance of the report's release, the FBI launched a pre-emptive strike at the Guild by causing people in the press and the Senate to denounce the report. "So the story became the Lawyers Guild, not the FBI," Krinsky said.
The FBI asked Richard M. Nixon, a member of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), to call for an investigation of the Guild, on the eve of the release of the Guild report. The investigation led to the 1950
HUAC report titled, "National Lawyers Guild: Legal Bulwark of the Communist Party." It concluded with a call to the attorney general to designate the National Lawyers Guild a "subversive organization." The AG complied in 1953, but when no evidence to support the designation was forthcoming, he dropped it in 1958.
From the 1950s through the early 1970s, the FBI continued to focus on the National Lawyers Guild. The FBI had a list called The Security Index, which identified people, including Guild leaders, to be rounded up in the event of a national emergency.
Hoover's COINTELPRO (Counter-Intelligence Program) engaged in illegal surveillance of other organizations and individuals as well as the Guild. For example, in a program called Racial Matters, the FBI wiretapped Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s hotel rooms and tried to drive him to divorce and suicide. Dr. King's voter registration campaign and especially his vocal opposition to the Vietnam War incurred the wrath of J. Edgar Hoover, who went after Dr. King with a vengeance. Groups such as the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES) were also on Hoover's surveillance list.

Marjorie Cohn is the president of the National Lawyers Guild. I hope I wrote enough tonight. If you're pissed off or scared, I did. If you're not, either nothing's going to reach you or I failed. I really hate blogging and am so bad at it that I've also forgotten, the past two days, to note three things. Betty's "What a drag, he is getting old" is the latest chapter and Betinna, tracking down her husband Thomas Friedman, decides to don drag. Trina's "Mandarin Oranges & Wild Rice in the Kitchen" is both powerful for what it says as well as what it doesn't. "Ruth's Report" once again demonstrates there's no one like our Ruth -- a true asset to the community.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills) :
Wednesday, June 27, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, Turkey makes noises about an armed mission into northern Iraq, the US military announces another death, Falluja remains under siege, a paper editorializes in favor of Adam Kokesh, Gordon Brown is a 'new man' acting just like the last one, and more.

Starting with war resistance,
Ehren Watada has provided a spark fueling actions in Washington. Watada is the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq (June 2006) and the first to be court-martialed for it (a kangaroo hearing that ended in a mistrial back in February). Linda Averill (ZNet) observes that Watada's "defiance, amplified by an effective defense effort, inspired many anti-war activists, including Gibbs" referring to Molly Gibbs who attempted to get Congressional attention for Watada but only "got the runaround" from Senator Patty Murray and decided, "I'm done dealing with my congressional representatives. It is in our hands. We have to do something." Which for Gibbs including counter-recruitment at high schools and joining with others in SDS, Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace and United for Peace of Pierce County in actions like shutting down ports which, Averill observes, take those participating "from demonstrators and lobbyists into direct actors against the war masters, blocking streets and facing arrest as needed." And, in Hawaii, Watada is hailed as a hero at a "War and Peace Art Exhibit." Gary T. Kubota (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports the Maui event brought over "100 artists and writers" to 1134 Makawao Ave (exhibit closes Saturday -- may move to "galleries in California, Oregon and Arizona") and included a piece by Tom Seweel involved the "scanned . . . faces of more than 3,00 American soldiers who have died in Iraq into the stars and stripes of the U.S. flag." Along with adult artists, the exhibit in Maui (closes Saturday, repeating) also included artwork done by children. Watada inspires as do others standing up.

The movement of resistance within the US military grows and includes Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Care, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Iraq Veterans Against the War have been targeted by the US military brass in an attempt to force them to stop speaking out. The three targeted are Liam Madden, Cloy Richards and Adam Kokesh. Bob Audette (Brattleboro Reformer) speaks with Madden who explains he will not enter agree to any deals to end the matter -- deals offered by the military brass -- until the note in writing "that my statements are neither disloyal nor inaccurate." Madden also discussed the strong reception to Iraq Veterans Against the War's summer base tour which goes to Camp Lejune in Jacksonville, NC tonight at 7:00 pm and follows with: Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina on June 18th 7:00 pm; the US Social Forum in Atlanta, GA on June 30th at 7:00 pm; Fort Benning in Columbus, GA on July 1st at 7:00 pm; a fundraiser in Philadelphia on June 3rd at 6:00 pm; a fundraiser in NYC on July 5th at 7:00 pm; the Naval Sub Marine Base in Groton, CT on July 6th at 7:00 pm; and concluding at Fort Drum in NY on July 8th at 4:00 pm. And Kokesh is the subject of an editorial from the Charleston Gazette which basically states that the brass needs to back off and cites
VFW head Gary Kupius' statements echoing that ("These Marines went to war, did their duty, and were honorably discharged from the active roles. I may disagree with their message, but I will always defend their right to say it.") before concluding: "Kokesh and Kurpius both merit praise for defending free speech as guaranteed in America's Bill of Rights."

In Iraq,
Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "Governmental and political parties' sources in Khalis disputed a U.S. military statement that was issued a few days ago; the statement said that a U.S. helicopter killed 17 terrorists but these sources say these men were protecting their own town from terrorist attacks. They said that Abbas Muthafar Hashim, Shakir Adnan, Ali Jawad, Jassim Jaleel, Abbas Jaleel, Kamal Hadi, Jamal Hassan and Mohammed Abdul Kareem were killed and 8 others were injured. They noted that the killed were members of what is called the popular committees that protect the area from the terrorists attacks, as they said." The US military press release on that incident was issued Friday, June 22nd and noted that those killed were "17 al-Qaeda gunmen" and that they US forces "observed more than 15 armed men attempting to circumvent the IPs and infiltrate the village. The attack helicopters, armed with missiles, engaged and killed 17 al-Qaeda gunmen and destroyed the vehicle they were using." Obviously the people of town differ with the US military on the dead and, since they knew the dead and didn't just observe them from the air, one would assume a follow up by the military is in order. Those very likely wrongful deaths make the news as Molly Hennesy-Fiske (Los Angeles Times) reports this from today, "Witnesses said U.S. troops opened fire on civilians in the sprawling Sadr City neighborhood of the capital after a passerby fired a revolver into the air to settle a family dispute. The ensuing gunfire left two men dead and three injured, witnesses said. A spokesman for the U.S. said he had not received reports of soldiers firing at civilians."

Meanwhile the tensions between Turkey and northern Iraq continue.
Al Jazeera reports that Turkish General Yasar Buyukanit declared today, "I have said [in April] that we need a cross-border operation and that this would bring benefits. I repeat this view now." "BBC correspondents say attacks in Turkey by rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) have increased recently, sometimes carried out by rebels based across the border in northern Iraq," notes the BBC as well as the fact that Buyukanit's statements may also have Parliamentary intent (attempting to prove the controlling party -- AK party -- is "weak on terrorism") right before the elections scheduled for the fourth week next month. Damien McElroy (Telegraph of London) reports that Turkey is shelling villages in Iraq currently as "part of an effort by Turkey to create a de facto 10-mile buffer zone inside Iraq and stop terrorists of the Kurdish independence movement, PKK, infiltrating its borders from their mountain training camps. Turkey has mobilised more than 20,000 of its soldiers in an operation to stop the PKK using Iraq as a staging post for a new campaign of violence. Yesterday Turkish newspapers sounded an alarm over the terrorist group after it staged an Iraqi-style suicide truck bomb attack on Turkish troops for the first time." Iraq's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which generally announces every visit in Iraq or abroad with a dignitary, carries no annoucement of this meeting. The alleged statements come at a time when the US is not seen positively around the world. Alan Fram (AP) reports that an international poll ("46 nations plus the Palestinian territories") found that "wide-ranging majorities think the U.S. does not consider their intersts when formulating policy; worry that U.S. customs are hurting their countries; and think the U.S. contributes to the gap between rich and poor nations", that even the 'coalition' partner England has gone from "75 percent favorable" opinion "in 2002 to 51 percent now".

In news of other neighboring countries,
Al Jazeera reports that during a visit to Iran by Jalal Talabani, Iraq's president, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared, "The main elements of insecurity in Iraq which are behind the current atrocities are the US and the Zionist regime intelligence services and some accompanying nations."

Meanwhile in the US,
Bill Schneider (CNN) reports on CNN's latest polling which has found
54% "of Americans do not believe U.S. action is morally justified," support for the illegal war has now fallen to an "all-time low of 30 percent," 69% "of Americans believe the war is going badly" and that Republicans are among those (obviously, when approximately 70% of Americans are against the illegal war) and 42% of them "support some form of troop withdrawal."
CBS, MTV News and the New York Times did a joint poll of young adults (17 y.o. to 29 y.o.) on their attitudes today. In the Times write up, Adam Nagourney was doing his usual spin but the real news (unreported by the Times) was that 58% of young people say that the US should have "stayed out" of Iraq and 72% say that the illegal war is going badly (34% "somewhat badly" plus 38% "very badly").

In Iraq, Asad al-Hashimi remains 'at large.' al-Hashimi is Iraq's Culture Minister.
Richard A. Oppel Jr. (New York Times) notes the arrest warrant issued yesterday for al-Hashimi resulted in a raid on the minister's home and that some Sunnis are seeing the efforts against al-Hashimi as "a trumped-up attempt to discredit a Sunni leader." John Ward Anderson (Washington Post) reports, "A statement by Hashimi's party, the Iraqi Accordance Front, the largest Sunni bloc in parliament, said two gunment involved in the attack had been tortured into falsely implicating Hashimi. The minister, in a telephone interview with the al-Jazeera satellite television network, said the case was 'fabricated' to damage his party and 'to run us out of the country'." AP notes the incident in question took place Feburary 8, 2005 and was an "ambush against then-parliamentary candidate Mithal al-Alusi, according to governmental spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh. Al-Alusi escaped unharmed but two of his sons were killed." Al Jazeera quotes Mithal Allusi stating, "He is on the run now and hiding in one of the houses of an Iraqi official in the Green Zone." Ned Parker and Saif Hameed (Los Angeles Times) observe that Mithal al-Alusi is yet another exile who came back to Iraq after the US invaded -- could we poll on how many holding powerful positions in the puppet government actually never went into exile -- and "Returning to Baghdad from exile in Germany he headed a committee that purged thousands of Iraqis from government jobs because of their membership in Iraq's ousted ruling party. He allied himself with Iraq's Shiite Muslim majority, the kingmakers in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq".


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing that claimed the lives of 3 people and left ten more wounded, a Baghdad car bombing "targeting an Iraqi police checkpoint on the western side of Al Jadiriyah Bridge" which left 1 police officer dead and 3 more wounded as well as 3 civilians wounded, a Diyala attack using gunfire and a mortars with the mortar attack resulting in 5 deaths and fifteen being wounded. Molly Hennessy-Fiske (Los Angeles Times) reports a Samarra roadside bombing that killed "four Iraqi police commandos" and wounded three more. Reuters reports a Baghdad car bombing that claimed 7 lives.


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that the combined mortar and gunfire attack in the Diyala province resulted in 14 Iraqis being shot dead (thirteen more wounded), an attack on a Kirkuk police station that left 4 police officers dead, an Iraqi soldier was shot dead in the Salaheddin province, two men were shot dead in Basra, a police officer was shot dead in Al Zubair and "Men in Iraq Ministry of Interior commandos uniforms executed a 60 year-old-man in front of his grocery shop in Mariam makret in central Samara this afternoon." Reuters notes that "two members of the Assyrian's Beth-Nahrain Association Union" were shot dead in Mosul.


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 21corpses discovered in the capital today, while in Tikrit the detached head of someone "wearing an Iraqi military hat" was discovered in a bus station, and 1 corpse was discovered in Kirkuk.

Today, the
US military announced: "One Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West was killed June 26 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province." The announcement brings the total number of US service members killed in the illegal war to 3568 since the start of the illegal war (ICCC). The monthly total thus far is 91 which puts June (so far) behind May (126) and April (104) but ahead of March, February and Januray. The total thus far also makes June 2006 the most deadly June for US service members since the war began. In June of 2003, 30 US service members were announced dead, in June of 2004 42 were announced, in June of 2005 78 were announced dead, and in June of 2006 61 were announced dead (ICCC).

Yesterday, Ellen Massey (IPS) article on Iraqi women was noted but the link was included.
Click here to read Massey's article. Today Ali al-Fadhily (IPS) reports on the two month seige of Falluja (attacked in April of 2004 and destroyed in November of 2004) noting that "Cars have not been permitted to move on the streets of Fallujah for nearly a month now. A ban was also enforced on bicycles, but residents were later granted permission to use them" which prompts a school teacher named Ala to say (this is sarcasm for any who miss it), "Thank God and President Bush for this great favour. We are the only city in the liberated world with the blessing now of having bicycles moving freely in the streets." al-Fadhily notes that aid is being prevented (by the US military) from reaching the city and that "[m]edical services are inaccessible".

Finally, the poodle is no longer prime minister.
In England, Gordon Brown has succeeded Tony Blair as prime minister. As Chris Bambery (Socialist Worker) observes, don't throw the confetti just yet: "Yet in accepting the leadership, Brown made clear his devotion to Blair's policies -- in particular to the 'strong relationship' with the US, and to Britain continuing to play a central role in the global 'war on terror'. The closest he came to acknowledging the failure of the war was when he said that Iraq had 'been a divisive issue for our party and our country' and that his government would 'learn lessons that needed to be learned'. But he then concluded that the war had been 'necessary'." For corporate economic enrichment?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Tony Peyser, Corporate Crime Reporter

I think the snapshot today is wonderful but C.I. doesn't and that's due to hearing about a column. I'm highlighting the column (and I'm sure C.I. will tomorrow as well). Something's just aren't funny. Some two-bit comics may think they are, but they just aren't funny. Tony Peyser's offended and has every right to be. Hopefully, you will be too or, better yet, you will be enraged the way C.I. was/is.

There is something very disgusting about people who feel there is no "off limits." If you want to mock, ridicule make sport with any public figure, have at it. That's part and parcel of being a public figure. Making fun of people with special needs is just disgusting. Ryan Reynolds is not a stand up comic. He's an actor only if you stretch the term. That's my set up to this excerpt.

"The Column Arianna Huffington Doesn't Want You To Read" (Tony Peyser, BuzzFlash):
I contacted the higher-ups at HuffPo to complain about a recent guest column by actor Ryan Reynolds in which he used this arguably inelegant phrase:
"f***ing super-retards"
Should someone who appeared in 81 episodes of "Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place" be passing judgments of any kind on his fellow man? I think not but I digress. Reynolds' comment was in the context of the absurdity of competitive eating competitions but for those of us who have children with developmental disabilities, "retards" is a fighting word.
It's often hard for people outside my part of the population to connect the hate speech dots. But from where we sit, "retard" is the new "ni**er." It's also the new "k*ke" and the new "f*gg*t." It's a slur that knows how to multi-task. And the fun part is the people at whom it's directed often lack verbal skills and can't talk back. S-weet! It's like picking a fight with Stephen Hawking.
The special needs community has long been shamed into thinking we should just remove ourselves from the culture at large. That position -- and calling people "retards" --is so last century. Bear in mind that it wasn't all that long ago when Blacks, Jews, and gays were routinely referred to with vile epithets. For many Southern Republicans and members of country clubs, those troubled times had a name: "the good old days."

I'm going to assume Mike is highlighting it as well. Here's the thing, you may never hurt the intended with the kind of 'humor' Ryan Reynolds traffics in; you do stand a good chance of hurting people around them: their parents, their siblings, their family members, etc.

Along with being hurtful to others, I believe it's cowardly and shameful. What a funny guy or gal you must be to tell jokes about a group of people, many of whom may not get the joke, but that just makes it funnier right? Wrong. It makes you a coward. A grown man who doesn't grasp that's not funny and it's not needed is a spoiled little boy who has never thought of anyone else but himself. Ryan Reynolds can continue to use the term all he wants.

That's free speech.

My free speech allows me to call him an idiot, a coward and pretty much a reject when it comes to the human race. I also find it very offensive that this passed The Huffington Post's standards for commentary.

You want to make fun of Hillary Clinton, Trent Lott, Paris Hilton, Henry Kissinger, or any other public figure, by all means have at it. It might actually be funny (it might not). But there's really not a gray area for me when it comes to people with special needs. Peyser's written a must read column and it's doubtful that a Ryan Reynolds will read it, but I hope you do.

"Which Side Are You On, Michael Moore?" (Corporate Crime Reporter, CounterPunch):
Michael Moore has made a great movie.
Everyone should see it.
And take the kids.
The movie's message in a nutshell -- we need single payer.
In the United States.
But Senate Democrats are trying to co-opt the message.
On Capitol Hill today, SEIU held a rally for a couple of hundred health care workers.
The group was addressed by six Senators.
None support single payer.
Senator Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) -- does not support single payer.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) -- does not support single payer.
Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) -- does not support single payer.
Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada) -- does not support single payer.
Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) -- does not support single payer.
Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) -- does not support single payer.
We asked Dawn Lee, a spokesperson for SEIU, whether SEIU supported HR 676 -- the single payer bill in the House.
She said SEIU takes no position on that bill.
SEIU -- does not support single payer.
At the SEIU rally, all spoke in favor of "universal health care."
That is code for -- keep the insurance companies in the game.
Single payer would take them out.

That's exatly right and if you expand Medicare to cover all, you don't even need to create a new system. It's already in place. We don't need a study group, we don't need a new plan, we just need to expand coverage in a plan that already exists.

Hillary Clinton, before Bill was elected in 1992, went off wheeling and dealing with insurance. She then insulted the American public further by insisting that her records were not public and should not be made public. (Shades of Dick Cheney.) As if the American people should be kept in the dark on how decisions were being made about what would be their healthcare?

There was no need for her closed door meetings. There is no need for anyone else's. All we need is for Congress to pass legislation expanding Medicare so that it covers all.

I really think that's do-able. I don't think you have to spend time educating people about the Candian model or what single-payer means. Most have some idea of what Medicare is, even young adults if only in the, "That's what my grandparents have." Expand it and cover all. I'm not a genius or an original thinker. So believe me, if it's obvious to me, it's obvious to our elected officials. But they won't do it. If you want to be insured, you need to advocate for this. If you want it when you're older, you need to advocate for it.

I make the latter point because Big Business knows the easiest way to destroy something is to make it available only to a few. That can build resentment and an attitude of, "Well I don't have it, so why should they?" Big Business uses that technique regularly to phase out benefits. First, they'll say, "Okay, we'll keep it but only for employees hired by ___." What happens is that the workforce grows and you end up with less and less employees having a benefit which makes it easier for Big Business to trim it and, eventually, do away with it. They set groups against each other. (Much the same as some try to do repeatedly with Social Security.)

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, June 26, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, Liam Madden gets an offer from the US military, a faux left think tank blathers, and more.

Starting with news of war resistance. Eli Israel is an Army Specialist resisting the illegal war while stationed in Iraq.
Iraq Veterans Against the War and Courage to Resist (among others) have been getting the word out on the 26 year-old who "told his commanding officer and sergeants that he will no longer be a combatant in this illegal, unjustified war." Courage to Resist notes that he did have a MySpace blog until the military cracked down on that and includes these statements:

I want you all to know, that most of us that are over here, came to Iraq, with the very best of intentions, and really thought that the Iraqi people wanted us here. Now that I'm here, I realize that they want to work it out themselves, and I know we should respect that.

We'll return to that later on, for now note the wisdom -- far more wisdom than some paid for 'insight' can manage. Resisting the war takes courage and the stand not only results in attacks from the right, it leads many on the left and 'left' to play mute. But covered or not, it remains an important action.

The movement of resistance within the US military grows and includes Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Care, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

In addition to highlight Eli Israel's brave stand,
Iraq Veterans Against the War are also launching a new action -- a summer base tour and have already visited Washington DC (June 23), Norfolk, VA (June 24). Next up? Camp Lejune in Jacksonville, NC on June 27th at 7:00 pm; Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina on June 18th 7:00 pm; the US Social Forum in Atlanta, GA on June 30th at 7:00 pm; Fort Benning in Columbus, GA on July 1st at 7:00 pm; a fundraiser in Philadelphia on June 3rd at 6:00 pm; a fundraiser in NYC on July 5th at 7:00 pm; the Naval Sub Marine Base in Groton, CT on July 6th at 7:00 pm; and concluding at Fort Drum in NY on July 8th at 4:00 pm.

In addition to the bus tour,
Iraq Veterans Against the War continue to fight the US military brass that is both (a) scared of them and (b) attempting to silence them. Liam Madden, Cloy Richards and Adam Kokesh have all been targeted. At his site, Kokesh gives a heads up to the latest on Madden via Madden's reply to Lt Col Blessing:

This letter is in response to the offer of the Marine Corps Mobilization Command relayed to me via my military appointed attorney. I am prepared to accept the settlement proposed in which the Marine Corps agrees not to continue with the discharge proceeding regarding my alleged disloyal statements and protest activity. I understand that this is contingent on my oral promise not to engage n further political protest while wearing articles of my Marine uniform.
I will make such an oral agreement and stand by my good word if the Marine Corps is prepared to meet the following condition.
I will orally agree to not wear my military uniforms while engaged in any political protests, hell, I'll have it carved into stone if you'd like, upon receiving a signed, written statement on official USMC letterhead acknowledging that my statements in question were neither disloyal nor inaccurate. If the Marine Corps issues this statement, apologizing for erroneously (or possibly vindictively) accusing me of disloyalty to my country, I will not share it with another living soul.

Madden's letter continues at Kokesh's site.

Turning to Iraq and focusing on trends of violence, in yesterday's New York Times,
Alissa J. Rubin noted, "Farther north, in Mosul, a policewoman was shot to death by gunmen as she left home for work. A 35-year-old Iraqi journalist was also shot to death on her way home from work in Mosul, The Associated Press reported. The journalist, Zeena Shakir Mahmoud, had been writing about women's affairs for the newspaper Al Haqiqa." Ellen Massey (IPS) reports on the "one important group that has largely been left out of the process: women. But they are refusing to be left behind. With little international support or media attention, a network of more than 150 women's organisations across Iraq is fighting to preserve their rights in the new constitutional revision." And, Massey reports, they are attempting to enlist support from US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. Not all have been silent on the attacks on women and women's rights. In March, MADRE issued "Promising Democracy, Imposing Theocracy: Gender-Based Violence and the US War on Iraq" (which can be read in full in PDF format or, by sections, in HTML). RadioNation with Laura Flanders' Laura Flanders (writing at The Huffington Post) observed: "Call me crazy but it still gets my goat that the entire Iraq debate takes place without the input of the female majority." Flanders also interviewed MADRE's Yanar Mohammed on RadioNation with Laura Flanders in December (December 9, 2006).
May 14th,
Amy Goodman spoke with Yanar Mohammed (Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq). In April, Bay Fang's "The Talibanization of Iraq" (Ms. magazine, spring 2007 issue) addressed the issue. Yifat Susskind, author of the MADRE report, wrote, at CounterPunch, a very realistic look at the attacks on women and their rights in Iraq and notes: "The US has empowered Islamist political parties whose clerics promote 'honor killing' as a religious duty. The US has empowered Islamist political parties whose clerics promote 'honor killing' as a religious duty. . . The US also destroyed the Iraqi state, including much of the judicial system, leaving people more reliant on conservative tribal authorities to settle disputes and on unofficial 'religious courts' to mete out sentencing, including 'honor killings'." To be fair, those and others have noted to attacks on women. Most media has sat out (big and small) but it's equally true that so have the faux think tanks. Women are also facing other problems created by the US war and occupation (illegal war, illegal occupation). Last month, Katherine Zdepf (New York Times) examined life for Iraqi demale refugees and found . . . prostitution. Nihal Hassan (Independent of London) addressed the topic this week and noted, "There are more than a million Iraqi refugees in Syria, many are women whose husbands or fathers have been killed. Banned from working legally, they have few options outside the sex trade. No one knows how many end up as prostitutes, but Hana Ibrahim, founded of the Iraqi women's group Women's Will, puts the figure at 50,000." In a further sign of how bad things are for women in Iraq, the US military reports that an Iraqi women "safely delivered a newborwn thanks to the efforts of Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soliders and the Iraqi Army." A pregnant woman nows needs "the help of troops from 2nd Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division" in order to avoid a home birth. Speaking in Chicago last week, Dahlia Wasfi (via the US Socialist Worker) summed the situation up: "Women have all but disappeared from their roles in the workforce. Once contributors to Iraqi society as teachers, judges, lawyers, doctors, engineers, traffic police and more, the threat of violence and kidnapping now imprisons many women in their homes. But even there, they are not safe from the terrorism of daily house raids by American soldiers and their subordinate Iraqi police."

Turning to another Iraq topic that trends repeatedly, bridges. What should now be apparent is that Iraqi bridges are being targeted not by accident or whim but with an intent to control the traffic flow and deny access.
IRIN reports today that the destruction of and to bridges is impeding "delivery of humanitarian aid in war-torn Iraq" and "Some analysts see the attacks on the bridges as an attempt to make it difficult for Iraqi and US troops to bring supplies from one side of the [Tigris] river to the other. Others believe the goal is to divide the city's predominately Shia east bank, known as Risafa, from the mostly Sunni west bank, or Karkh." And for those who still can't grasp how serious the issue is, note that the US military has issued a press release on it in which the world learns that, following the June 2nd bombing of the Sarihah Bridge, the US military and Iraqi forces were able to create "a critical bypass road to reestablish traffic around the Sarihah Bridge near Tuz Khurmatu, Iraq, June 24." Now potable water, among many other things, the Iraqis have waited and waited in vain for. But on June 2nd a bridge is bombed and within three weeks a "critical bypass" had been completed. Even if some still do not grasp what's going on, the US military brass grasps the danger.

Another trend story that can't be captured in the daily violence summaries is life for Iraqi children.
IRIN noted in May that Iraqi's vaccination supplies have been largely destroyed. In April, IRIN sounded the alarm for the increased risk of "[d]ehydration, cholera and bacterial infections" which would impact children (and the elderly) in greater numbers. And near the middle of this month, IRIN noted that thousands of Iraqi children now live on the streets and are forced to work, as young as 12, to provide family income. As Dahlia Wasfi observed last week, "For the children . . ., during the first three and a half years of occupation, 270,000 newborns received no immunizations. Eight hundred thousand Iraqi children are not in school due to the chaos, lack of security and severe poverty. According to the State of the World's Mothers report, released last month by Save the Children, the chance that an Iraqi child will live beyond age 5 has plummeted faster in Iraq than anywhere in the world since 1990. In 2005, one in eight Iraqi children died of disease or violence before reaching the age of 5. Operation Enduring Freedom would more appropriately be named Operation Dead Children." And today, Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) reported on the "immense and largely unnoticed psychological toll on children and youth that will have long-term consequnes" and noted: "Since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, 4 million Iraqis have fled their homes, half of them children, according to the United Nations Children's Fund. Many are being killed inside their sanctuaries -- at playgrounds, on soccer fields and in schools. Criminals are routinely kidnapping children for ransom as lawlessness goes unchecked. Violence has orphaned tens of thousands."

The above three trends result from the illegal war and occupation. But no 'benchmarks' address women, children or infrastructure. Faux think tanks are happy to press for
the theft of Iraqi oil but no interest at all in something as basic as vaccinations for children.

The violence continued today and among the events were . . .


Reuters reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that left three wounded. The US military notes that British Royal Air Force GR-4 Tornado bombed a building "near Slman Pak" today with a "2,000-pound bomb" and, with the help of two OH-58D helicopters, killed at least six people who they hope, really, really hope were so-called 'insurgents.'


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Dr. Nihad Mohammed Abdul Rhman ("assistant dean of Al Nahrain college") was shot dead in Baghdad, that Hussein Al Najjar ("Iman of Al Arab msoque") was shot dead in Basra and Hamid Abid Sarhan Al Shijiri ("sheikh of Shijirat tribe") was shot dead in Baghdad. Following yesterday's Baghdad hotel bombing, which claimed the lives of four sheikhs, this 'random act of violence' might not be so random. Reuters note a police officer shot dead in Baghdad (three more injured) and a student shot dead in Mosul.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 21 corpses were discovered in the capital.

Turning to faux think tanks, allegedly on the left. Today, on NPR's
The Diane Reham Show, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Republican Lawrence Hart (there will be no correction to that characterization, words and actions indicate he remains a member of the Reagan cabinet in heart and mind). Now if our goal was to waste time, we could gush and note every word out of Brezezinski's mouth. But we don't give a damn. Similarly, we do not give a damn about a xenophobic, faux peace plan coming out of the centrist Democratic think tank known as The Center for American Progress. Yes, some of the left are stroking it. We won't.

A few basics. You cannot say you are opposed to "permanent bases in Iraq" (as the laughable report claims) and that this a 'troops home now' proposal when the reality is, your plan staffs the "embassy" with troops and the Baghdad embassy is not an embassy,
it is a fortress -- 104 acres. In addition, the report would allow troops to be left in Iraq in order to "work with Kurdish peshmerga in protecting Iraqis who have fled to northern Iraq to escape the violence . . ." Oh, are we still serving that lie? Are we still pretending that there's any real difference in that section?

There's not. The attention's been on the Shi'ite and Sunni conflict, the bloodbath in nothern Iraq's never received much attention outside of a few human rights organizations. That region, and the people holding power in it, got the gold star and the US looked the other way. The reality is the same competition of resources and power going on throughout Iraq (and instigated and stoked by the US) is going on there as well (and expected to increase).

It's one falsehood after another from the laughable report put out by the laughable Center for American Progress. Take the claim that moving thousands of US troops (remember -- people are calling this a 'peace plan') to "Afghanistan to complete the unaccomplished missing of eradicating Al Qaeda there." Eradicating al Qaeda? First of all, the US military is currently responsible for more deaths in Afghanistan than any other group or grouping. Second of all, the problems throughout the 90s are the same problems today and you can thank the US administration for bombing an already war torn country, strutting around with big words, only to turn the country back over to the same war lords.

Now the centrist Center may not be stupid. They may just be attempting to take the easiest road. Or they may be attempting to clampdown on very real outrage (the Center includes a lot of Council for Foreign Relations types including Lawrence J. Korb)? It doesn't matter.

If you have any respect for Iraqis, for Americans, for humanity, read through the 61 page (counting end credits) report and try not to be offended. It won't be easy and what the Center is STILL selling is the notion that the US can or should dictate terms to Iraqis. Equally appalling is that the report fails to note that the US presence fuels the resistance (let alone why that reaction is). When you can't even talk that reality, you have nothing worth saying.

Last week, a report was issued [PDF format warning] that did actually attempt to address reality, the "
Independent Report on Iraq:"

Executive Summary [
Read] [French]Map of Major Coalition Attacks, Bases and Prisons [See map]Political Map of Iraq [See map]1. Introduction [Read]2. Destruction of Cultural Heritage [Read]3. Indiscriminate and Especially Injurious Weapons [Read]4. Unlawful Detention [Read]5. Abuse and Torture of Prisoners [Read]6. Attacks on Cities [Read]7. Killing Civilians, Murder and Atrocities [Read]8. Displacement and Mortality [Read]9. Corruption, Fraud and Gross Malfeasance [Read]10. Long-Term Bases and the New Embassy Compound [Read]11. Other Issues [Read]- Iraqi Public Opinion and the Occupation- Cost of the War and Occupation12. Conclusion and Recommendations [Read]

CounterSpin is to be the only national media that will cover it?

Meanwhile the faux think tank gets attention, gets coverage and the reality is that it has nothing to offer. Assume for a moment that the plan was not so offensive and did not assume Iraqis are 'bad' children, is Bully Boy going to implement it? No. It's nothing but cover. "We had a plan!" And, apparently, if a Dem gets in the White House, this 'plan' will allow the Dem to propose another year of illegal war?

As is too often the case,
Ron Jacobs (CounterPunch) is ahead of the curve. Today he addresses the realities of neocons ("their goals for the US are no different than the goals of the rest of the Washington establishment. Only their means differ at times.") and the realities of the lead up to this war which did not come in 2002 or 2001:

But, someone might say, Al Gore wouldn't have invaded Iraq. Yet, Bill Clinton and Al Gore attacked Iraq several times, maintained an illegal flyover program on the country that bombed the country almost daily, and enforced sanctions that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. All of these policies along with others not mentioned created the situation George Bush and his administration found themselves in in March 2003.

That's why the
left doesn't need faux 'left' think tanks and why the left shouldn't be in bed with them. Yes, so-called "Student Nation" that means you.