Friday, October 05, 2007

Jeff Cohen, Helen Thomas, Dennis Kucinich

Jeff Cohen wastes everyone time with a column. We get it. You're in the Hillary Haters Club. No problem on that, I'm not fond of Hillary myself. But I don't feel the need to alter reality to take her down. That's not me saying, "How dare he take on Hillary!" That is me saying how dare he present John Edwards or Barack Obama as the alternative ["Given the conservative tilt of the punditocracy, it doesn’t surprise me that many in the media are seeking to anoint Clinton as the Democratic nominee, or that they (including at Fox News) tend to side with her in disputes with Edwards or Obama."] Hillary Clinton shouldn't be ripped apart to shore up either man. They are all three the exact same. I'm tired of this nonsense that "Bambi" is caring. He is a War Hawk. I've said it here before he decided to run for president. C.I.'s said it at The Common Ills. We both met with the empty suit at a big money fundraiser for his 2004 Senate run. He was not supporting withdrawing from Iraq. He was advocating against it.

I'm really sick of this idea that we can take all of our frustrations out on the woman. Hillary Clinton is, in my opinion, a pig. So are John Edwards and Barack Obama. I'm tired of it. All this nonsense does if fuel sympathy towards Hillary because anyone with a half a brain who reads this sort of nonsense is going to grasp that the three 'front runners' are not significantly different and rightly wonder if this is all about sexism?

I don't care if Cohen calls Hillary out or not. I do care that he applies a standard of equality and, if he can't, otherwise he is just assisting Hillary's nomination.

Jeff Cohen is often an astute critic. If he really intends to put people wise to Hillary, he better take a moment to grasp that the method he is using is doing nothing but creating sympathy for Hillary. It's not effective and it's not truthful because Edwards and Obama are just as disgusting as Hillary Clinton. Chris Dodd, Dennis Kucinich (whom I'm supporting in the primary), Mike Gravel and Bill Richardson are the oppenents for the three 'front runners.' If any of the four got half the attention from independent media that the 'front runners' do, they would likely be able to be a 'front runner' as well.

Bill Richardson had a strong week, a very strong week. He has thrown down a marker and said he is for ending the illegal war and, in doing so, called out his oppenents. Dennis Kucinich really hasn't done that. Nor Gravel. Nor Dodd. Bill Richardson called out Hillary, yes, he also called out Obama and Edwards.

Jeff Cohen is far too smart to come off like Katrina vanden Heuvel (who gushes this week that two of the front runners "get it on nukes"). His columnn wasn't something I went in search of. In a session today, a veteran brought it up and asked me to read it (he was very bothered by it) and to write about it. So there it is. I will also note his question, "When did ending the Iraq War stop mattering?" He wanted that in to. When he was deployed, Iraq was a topic of independent media. He assumed that was still the case and then he returned from Iraq and saw that was not the case.

Now United for Peace and Justice. An angry e-mail came in Thursday asking me why I sleighted UPFJ? I provided links and didn't link to UPFJ. I wasn't aware I hadn't. The woman was also mad at C.I. for not linking (it was a joint entry by C.I. and myself). We wrote it together, I typed it up. I thought I had provided a link to UPFJ. I support UPFJ and was not attempting to favor other organizations over them. I obviously took more care in attempting to do that which is why the other links did go in but I assumed I had linked to United for Peace & Justice when I had not. Thanks to ___ for e-mailing and raising the issue. Hope that clears it up.

"The Democrats Who Enable Bush" (Helen Thomas, Seattle Post-Intelligencer via Common Dreams):
President Bush has no better friends than the spineless Democratic congressional leadership and the party's leading presidential candidates when it comes to his failing Iraq policy.
Those Democrats seem to have forgotten that the American people want U.S. troops out of Iraq, especially since Bush still cannot give a credible reason for attacking Iraq after nearly five years of war.
Last week at a debate in Hanover, N.H., the leading Democratic presidential candidates sang from the same songbook: Sens. Hillary Clinton of New York, and Barack Obama of Illinois and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards refused to promise to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq by 2013, at the end of the first term of their hypothetical presidencies. Can you believe it?
When the question was put to Clinton, she reverted to her usual cautious equivocation, saying: "It is very difficult to know what we're going to be inheriting."
Obama dodged, too: "I think it would be irresponsible" to say what he would do as president.
Edwards, on whom hopes were riding to show some independence, replied to the question: "I cannot make that commitment."
They have left the voters little choice with those answers.
Some supporters were outraged at the obfuscation by the Democratic front-runners.
On the other hand, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, and Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., are more definitive in their calls for quick troop withdrawals.

Just to clarify that exchange, I'm including this from "Strangely familiar" (The Third Estate Sunday Review):

Richardson was followed closely by Chris Dodd who declared, "The idea that we could be emborlied in combat for at least another five years should set off alarm bells for anyone with a modicum of foreign policy experience. Sacrificing American lives to engage in a civil war is a deeply corrupt strategy and one I have been working to combat in Congress. I call on my fellow candidates to help me bring and end to this war before 2013 -- we need to end this war now before it passes Vietnam as the longest war in American history."
[. . .]
Candidate Joe Biden hedged the answer. He said yes and he said no. He declared, "Just from Iraq. You're going to bring all troops home from Iraq. If in fact there is no political solution by the time I am president, then I would bring them out because all they are is fodder.But -- but -- if you go along with the Biden plan that got 75 votes today and you have a stable Iraq like we have in Bosnia -- we've had 20,000 Western troops in Bosnia for 10 years. Not one has been killed -- not one. The genocide has ended. So it would depend on the circumstances when I became president. " He would bring them all home . . . unless his plan to partition Iraq into three sections came to be and since it won the support of 75 idiots in the Senate, it's very likely that Iraq will be carved up into three areas if the US has the last say. In which case, Biden's answer is "no."

On the subject of Dennis Kuinich, this is a press release he issued today.

"Bush Administration Needs To Come Clean To American Public On Torture"
WASHINGTON, DC -- October 5 -- Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) called on the Bush Administration to come clean to the American people and stop condoning the use of torture.
"This government does not torture people," President Bush claimed this morning in a brief news conference. "You know, we...stick to U.S. law and our international obligations."
Yesterday, The New York Times reported that despite the Justice Department’s 2004 public legal opinion that torture was "abhorrent," only a year later the Justice Department under then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales issued a secret opinion that permitted the "harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the CIA."
"The Justice Department tried pulling a cloak over Americans’ eyes by declaring torture 'abhorrent' in a public declaration, and then secretly permitting it," Kucinich said.
"How can the President say 'we do not torture,' when at the same time he is condoning it?" Kucinich asked. "This type of deception and brutality is costing America our moral standing and our friendships all over the world.
"President Bush needs to come clean to the American people. Torture is not an American value. Congress needs to confront the President over the Administration's repulsive use of torture and end this abhorrent technique once and for all."

So that's Kucinich speaking on the torture Bully Boy has made "the American way."

"Dennis Kucinich" (John J. Ray, Forbes):
As the outspoken chairman of the Progressive Caucus, Kucinich, 60, advocates nonviolence and diplomacy above all. If elected president, he promises to reduce the Pentagon's budget and proposes the creation of a Department of Peace. He was the only presidential candidate for 2008 who voted against authorizing the war in Iraq and he continues to speak out in strong opposition to the war. Kucinich also opposes the U.S.A. Patriot Act.
A staunch environmentalist, Kucinich will make it a priority to rejoin the Kyoto treaty on global warming. He champions unionized labor and working families and would immediately cancel U.S. participation in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the World Trade Organization (WTO), claiming that they push American jobs overseas. He has a plan for a universal health care system and believes that marijuana should be decriminalized. Kucinich, a vegan, married for the third time in 2005.

Forbes is apparently covering all the candidates (at least with a profile and a scorecard). Something our independent media -- or our alleged independent media (and I am not referring to Jeff Cohen in "alleged" but you can apply that to the likes of The Nation) -- should be able to do but it is apparently a task far out of their reach.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, Ocotber 5, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the US military announces more deaths, Ehren Watada's court-martial is still set to start next Tuesday, the bait and kill teams get a white wash, and more.

Starting with war resistance. In June 2006,
Ehren Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to the Iraq War. As Aaron Glantz (The War Comes Home) notes Ehren Watada's second court-martial is scheduled to begin this coming Tuesday. And if it takes place and the prosecution is trailing, Judge Toilet (aka John Head) can call another "do over." Glantz reported on the first court-martial each day of the court-martial (as well as on the Sunday rally of support that preceded the court-martial) and you can click here for some of that audio. Truthout also covered the court-martial daily and they announce: "Truthout will be covering the court-martial from Fort Lewis, Washington, beginning Monday." Their coverage last time provided both video and text reports. Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) reports on yesterday's events, "U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle on Thursday afternoon heard arguments from Watada's lawyers and a lawyer from the U.S. Attorney's Office about whether he has jurisdiction in the case. Settle held the hearing after Watada's defense attorneys, Jim Lobsenz and Ken Kagen, sought an emergency halt to next Tuesday's court-martial. They said they were compelled to go to federal court after receiving no word from the military justice system's highest appellate court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, concerning Watada's challenge to his court-martial." AP reports that a decision by Settle may come down today; however, Michael Gilbert (Washington's The News Tribune) reports, "A federal judge indicated he won't likely decide whether to halt Lt. Ehren Watada's second court-martial until Tuesday morning, when the proceeding is scheduled to begin in an Army courtroom at Fort Lewis." Meanwhile, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorializes "Watada Court-Martial: Let him go:"However the defense appeals turn out, we think there is a case for letting Watada leave the Army without further ado. That could be taken as a statement of higher-level confidence, a choice to focus on the larger military mission that President Bush and Gen. David Petraeus insist is making new progress. At a minimum, many of those who oppose the Iraq war would welcome the leniency for someone they view as a person of conscience."

In Canada this week, war resister Robin Long was arrested this week.
Charlie Smith (Vancouver's Straight) reports that when twenty-year-old war resister Brad McCall attemptedto enter Canada on September 19, 2007, he was arrested "and driven to a jail in Surrey" with McCall telling him, "I don't know what kind of police officer he was. He put me in handcuffs in front of all these people that were watching that were trying to get into Canada also" and McCall aksed the Canadian Border Services Agency, "I told them, 'Why are you playing the part of the hound dog for the U.S. army?' They didn't know what to say. They just started stuttering and mumbling." Brad McCall did make it into Canada and is staying with Colleen Fuller in Vancouver. As is very common in stories of war resisters going to Canada "over the Internet". McCall also speaks of hearing about atrocities/war crimes in Iraq as participants bragged about the actions. Robin Long also cited that in his interview for CBC Television. McCall explains he was interested in CO status but when he raised the issued with "his commander and sergeants," the dismissed it which has happened repeatedly with many war resisters. Aiden Delgado and Camilo Mejia are among those who can share their struggles to receive CO status -- Delgado was one of the few to be successful in his attempt. Robert Zabala has the distinction of being awarded CO status by the US civilian court system. Agustin Aguayo attempted the process both within the US military and within the civilian court system.

Another who attempted CO status is Kevin Benderman. Monica Benderman, Kevin's wife, addressed Congress in May of 2006 noting, "My husband violated no regulations. His command violated many. The command's flagrant disregard for military regulations and laws of humanity sent my husband to jail as a prisoner of conscience. Times have changed -- and so has conscientious objection. What has not changed is the Constitution, the oath our volunteer soldiers take to defend it, and every American citizen's right to freedom of choice. This conscientious objection goes beyond religious teaching. It is not dramatic. There is no epiphany. There is reality. Death is final, whether it is your own or you cause the death of another. No amount of field training can make up for the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of a real battlefield, and no amount of threats, intimidation, and abuse from a command can change a soldier's mind when the cold, hard truth of an immoral, unethical justification for war is couple with real-life sensations." Monica, and not Kevin, addressed Congress because Kevin was still serving the sentence on the kangaroo court hearing he was subjected to when he attempted to be granted CO status by following every detail by the book with no margin for error. But the US military brass doesn't like to issue CO status and they were willing to manuever and lie in their attempts at retribution towards Kevin Benderman. The laughable charge of "desertion" (which has no basis in reality) was shot down (he was acquitted of that ludicrous charge) but the brass was successful with other charges (trumped up charges) and that goes to how they control the court-martials, how they refuse to allow evidence to be entered and arguments to be made in an arrangement that's already stacked against the individual. (For instance, in Ehren Watada's trial, Judge Toilet was known to report to his superiors who, presumably, gave him orders throughout the February court-martial. In a civilian court, a judge reporting to a 'superior' and taking advice from one would be grounds for an aquittal.) Kevin and Monica Benderman fought the brass and continued fighting when others might have given up.
Letters from Fort Lewis Brig: A Matter of Conscience is the new book, out this week from The Lyons Press (US $24.95), in which they tell his story. Letters from Fort Lewis Brig: A Matter of Conscience is also the fourth book by a war resister of the Iraq War to be published this year. The other three are Aidan Delgado's The Sutras Of Abu Ghraib: Notes From A Conscientious Objector In Iraq, Camilo Mejia's Road from Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia and Joshua Key's The Deserter's Tale. Early on as the brass was targeting her husband, Monica Benderman visited bookstores attempting to learn more about CO status and similar topics and she couldn't find anything. The four books rectify that and join Peter Laufer's
Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq which covers the stories of variety of war resisters and was released in 2006. In an ideal world, bookstores across the country would stock all five and no Monica Benderman, in search of information, would ever be greeted with "We don't carry anything like that." Kevin and Monica Benderman have done their part to make sure it doesn't happen. Again, Letters from Fort Lewis Brig by Kevin Benderman with Monica Benderman was released this week, is available at bookstores and online and it'll be the focus of a book discussion at The Third Estate Sunday Review this weekend.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

Canada's in the news not only for the arrest of war resisters these days but also for their oil deal. In
a curious press release that proclaims "THIS PRESS RELEASE IS NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION TO THE UNITED STATES NEWSWIRE SERVICE OR FOR DISSEMINATION IN THE UNITED STATES" at the top, Canada's Heritage Oil Corporation declares (to "Business Editors") that they are "pleased to announce that it has executed a Production Sharing Contract with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) over Miran Block in the south-west of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and that Heritage will be operating as a 50/50 partner with the KRG to create a 20,000 barrel per day oil refinery in the vincinity of the license area. . . . Heritage will join the existing and increasing presence of international oil exploration, development and production companies operating in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. . . . Heritage will commence geological work immediately, having established its local office in Erbil in 2005, and aims to commence a high-impact exploration drilling program in 2008." Last month a deadly clash took place on Lake Albert between "Congolese troops and the Ugandan army" which Heritage Oil has denied any part in despite media reports. Andy Rowell (Oil Change) notes that the Kurdish government has "announced four new oil exploration deals with international energy companies. The news is likely to upset the central government in Baghdad and the US." In addition, this week Canada refused entry to CODEPINK's Media Benjamin and retired US State Dept and army colonel Ann Wright. Today, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) interviewed Wright:

AMY GOODMAN: So, Ann, you were turned back at the border. You go back to Washington, D.C. You meet with Canadian officials at the embassy. What did they tell you?
ANN WRIGHT: Well, they told us that any time that the FBI puts people on this NCIC list, they just accept it at face value, that they don't really investigate things. And we kept saying, "Well, you ought to, because a lot of these things appear to be going onto this list because of political intimidation," because, indeed, the list itself for the database says that people like foreign fugitives, people on the ten most-wanted list or 100 most-wanted list, people that are part of violent gangs and terrorist organizations, are supposed to go on that NCIC list. It didn't seem like that we were a part of -- we haven't done anything to be on the list. And since this thing is just now -- we are the first ones that we know of that have been formally stopped from going into Canada. In fact, it happened to me in August, when I went up to Canada to participate in the Security and Prosperity Partnership. I had to buy my way in, $200 for a three-day temporary resident permit. "If I'm so dangerous, why would they even give me that permit?" I asked the immigration officer in the Canadian embassy.

Turning to the Iraqi puppet government
Susan Cornwell (Reuters) reported: "Widespread corruption in Iraq stretches into the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, an Iraqi investigating judge told U.S. lawmakers on Thursday, and an American official said U.S. efforts to combat the problem are inadequate. Judge Radhi Hamza al-Radhi, who was named by the United States in 2004 to head the Iraqi Commission on Public Integrity, said his agency estimated corruption had cost the Iraqi government up to $18 billion." Renee Schoof (McClatchy Newspapers) adds, "Enormous sums of oil revenues ended up in the hands of Sunni and Shiite militias, he said. Radhi Hamza al-Radhi, who is seeking U.S. asylum because of death threats against him, said that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his government prevented al-Radhi's U.S.-backed Commission on Public Integrity from taking action against top national officials."

Turning to the topic of violence,
AP notes that the mercenary corporation Blackwater USA has a new p.r. flack -- Burson-Marsteller -- and that, "The State Department, which pays Blackwater hundreds of millions of dollars to protect U.S. diplomats in Iraq, has stringent rules barring the private security contractor from discussing with the media the details of its work, according to those familiar with the arrangement." While Sudarsan Raghavan, Joshua Partlow and Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) explain the latest reports on the September 16th slaughter Blackwater conducted in Baghdad, "U.S. military reports from the scene of the Sept. 16 shooting incident involving the security firm Blackwater USA indicate that its guards opened fire without provocation and used excessive force against Iraqi civilians, according to a senior U.S. military official. The reports came to light as an Interior Ministry official and five eyewitnesses described a second deadly shooting minutes after the incident in Nisoor Square. The same Blackwater security guards, after driving about 150 yards away from the square, fired into a crush of cars, killing one person and injuring two, the Iraqi official said. The U.S. military reports appear to corroborate the Iraqi government's contention that Blackwater was at fault in the shooting incident in Nisoor Square, in which hospital records say at least 14 people were killed and 18 were wounded."

Staying on violence . . .

"Shams survived, but is now blind. She is one of hundreds who were injured, but survived this attack. More than 200 others died. This is her story," so begins Alive in Baghdad's video report this week entitled "
Car Bomb Survivors, No Longer Statistics" which focuses on the aftermath of the November 23rd bombing for the year-old Shams whose mother died shielding her from the blast and whose brother Ghaith was left with shrapnel. Her father, Hesham Fadhel Karim, explains his wife, Shams, and Ghaith and Taif (two sons) were in their car in Sadr City when three bombs went off, "My baby girl Shams was injured and lost her two eyes, her mother was killed and my older son Ghaith was injured by shrapnel in his back. . . . Shams face was injured because she was beside her mother who was burning. As for my wife, the fireman came to extinguish her and I carried her to the ambulance which brought her to the hospital. We took her out of the ambulance into the hospital. I was trying to extinguish her but I could not, because she burnt my hands, legs, and shoulder. At last, she died. As for Shams, I didn't know which hospital she was in. I searched for her in every hospital in Sadr City but I couldn't find her because she was carried to the Adnan Khairallah Martyr hospital." The search for Shams was made more difficult by the night time curfews forbidding travel. After finding her, her family attempted to get treatment for her in Jordan and Iran but were told there was nothing that could be done about her eyes. Shams' grandfather declares, "In fact, I appeal to this world and the humanitarian world to care for the children of Iraq because there are millions of children who are without eyes, deformed or having their arms or legs amputated."

In some of today's reported violence . . .


Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reports, "Up to twenty-four Iraqi civilians are reportedly dead following a U.S. air strike near the city of Baquba. Another twenty-seven people were wounded. The toll is said to include women and children. Witnesses say at least four homes were leveled in the attack. Some of the victims were killed after rushing out of their homes to help those hurt in the initial bombing." AFP reports, "Witnesses said US helicopters attacked Jayzani, northwest of the mainly Shiite town of Al-Khalis, at around 2:00 am (2300 GMT), destroying at least four houses. An AFP photographer saw at least four trucks, each carrying several bodies from Jayzani, being driven through Baghdad to the Shiite holy city of Najaf for burial. One of the dead was clearly an elderly man" and AFP quotes Ahmed Mohammed saying, "There are 24 bodies on the ground in the village and 25 others wounded in Al-Khalis hospital." Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a bombing today "near Latifiyah Bridge" outside Babil left three people injured while a Tuz Khurmatu bombing left three wounded. Reuters notes that a Laitifya roadside bombing left three people injured.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Sheikh Yasir Al Yasiri was shot dead yesterday and Sheikh Khalid was shot dead last night, both in Basra, both were professors at "Al Sadr religious university".


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 corpses discovered in Baghdad and 2 corpses were discovered in Kifil.

Today the
US military announced: "Two Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldiers were killed and two others were wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated during operations in the southeastern region of the Iraqi capital Oct. 5." And the US military announced: "One Multi-National Corps - Iraq Soldier was killed and three were wounded in Salah Ad Din province today when an improvised explosive device was detonated near their vehicle." ICCC's total number killed in the illegal war since it started (March 2003) stands at 3813 and Reuters stands at 3812.

Turning to news of white wash,
Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) 'investigates' the bait and kill teams of US snipers in Iraq by . . . reading court transcripts. Work that will no doubt to elevate him to the level of Maury Povich or at least Ted Baxter. Parker writes: "Interviews and court transcripts portray a 13-man sniper unit that felt under pressure to produce a high body count, a Vietnam-era measure that the Pentagon officially has disavowed in this war. They describe a sniper unit whose margins of right and wrong were blurred: by Hensley, if you believe Army prosecutors; by the Army, if you believe the accused." Wow, shock and dull, shock and dull. In June of this year, James Burmeister went public with the news of the kill teams. All Things Media Big and Small ignored it in this country. Last week, a court-martial forced them to cover it with limited hangout. Now it's time for the white wash and Parker shows up in flip flops, a half-shirt and Daisy Dukes, scrub brush in hand.

James Foley (Medill Reports) quotes Kelly Dougherty (IVAW) declaring, "People say it's an all-volunteer army, but the truth is many people's contracts have been extended, some involuntarily extended. That's not only against an all-volunteer military, but putting the same people in a combat zone again and again . . . We get a lot of calls (asking) 'What should I do? Should I go back.'" Tim Dickinson (Rolling Stone) highlights two articles -- First, Philip Dine (St. Louis Dipatch) reveals that "Thousands of U.S. soldiers in Iraq -- as many as 10 a day -- are being discharged by the military for mental health reasons. But the Pentagon isn't blaming the war. It says the soldiers had 'pre-existing' conditions that disqualify them for treatment by the government." This is an effort to deny treatment for service members suffering from PTSD by claiming that the PTSD is actually a prior condition. Dikinson then notes a report on the number of service members who are deployed "for only 729 days. . . exactly one day short of the 730 days needed to guarantee thousands of dollars a year for college."

Today on the second hour of
NPR's The Diane Rehm Show, Rehm's roundtable guests were McClatchy Newspapers' Warren P. Strobel, the Washington Post's Keith Richburg and UPI's Martin Walker.

Diane Rehm: Let's talk about what's happening in Iraq with Iraq buying $100 million worth of weapons from China.

Martin Walker: Well you go to the best. I mean if you want, if you want the kind of material you need to supress people and maintain an authoritarian state where do you go? China. The point that the US wasn't able to supply the weaponry required and the Chinese are able to supply cheap knock-offs of AK-47s.

Diane Rehm: But haven't the Iraqis had terrible trouble keeping track of weapons to begin with?

Martin Walker: The place is awash in weapons but don't forget it also took place as we've got this new report about corruption in Iraq and about the way in which corruption is being covered up and protected by al-Maliki's government and I would be amazed if some of that money for the Chinese weaponry doesn't matter to leak out some way or another.

Diane Rehm: At twenty-seven before the hour, you are listening to The Diane Rehm Show. Do you want to add to that, Keith?

Keith Richburg: Just to add, it's ironic that these weapons are supposedly going to be going to the Iraqi police which is the one unit that all US investigators going in there have said is the most corrupt, the most inept and basically should be abolished and reconstituted from scratch. Here's Talibani saying, "Actually we need weapons to arm this force."

Diane Rehm: Warren?

Warren P. Strobel: Yeah, absolutely. There was a hearing in Congress this week that highlighted the issue of corruption and a report, the State Department's own report, shows that virtually every ministry has just massive corruption problems. It's hard to believe that lots of the weapons won't end up in the street. It's hard to believe there won't be huge kickbacks, as Martin said, for the weapon sale.

A caller brought up Seymour Hersh's report that the administration is planning to start a war with Iran.

Diane Rehm: Didn't Sy Hersh also go on to say that many in the administration know we don't have the resources to go into Iran, Warren?

Warren P. Strobel: Which is true, we don't in any serious way. Diane, if I had a dollar for every tip I got, or every e-mail I got, or every caller I got that the administration was about to launch another war on Iran, I'd be a rich man. I think we have to be very careful here. Some people in the administration, close to it, say "yes," some say "no." Cheney is said to be pushing this -- I'm not so sure. I think it's a debate that's going to go on right till the very the end of administration.

[. . .]

Keith: I would just add, well, two things. First, I agree that the resources, the troops aren't there for an invasion. If you're talking about some kind of an airstrike, I would just say the most dangerous period I think you can be in is when you've got a lameduck president with nothing to lose, facing a military catastrophe in Iraq at the moment. And secondly, I find this demonization of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a new Hitler and a new dictator a bit curious because within Iran he's not a dictator. They're all kinds of other institutions that are keeping him relatively constrained including the various ayatollahs who actually run the country. He's not a dictator and also he's not incredibly and also he's not incredibly popular as well.

[. . .]

Martin Walker: There's another factor which tends to get forgotten here, which is that Iran has bought -- and had delivered last year -- from the Russians a state of art anti-aircraft missile system called the S300 which is probably better than the Patriot. Now that's now installed. It's being made operational. Even before that, I was told by a former head of the Air Force that the US Air Force would need a US air strike would need something like three days to suppress the anti-aircraft to be able to go in and hit the targets. What's going to happen on Capitol Hill in those three days on that kind of suppression of the anti-aircraft system? He would be impeached.

Keith: Just to add one quick thought there as well, I think one reason you can see the echo chamber of hostility towards Iran building is because

Diane Rehm: Could or would the US go to war against Iran without total Congressional support?

Keith: Well it depends on "What is war?" Are a series of air strikes war?

Diane Rehm: A series of air strikes.

Keith: Well I think some might argue that he needs Congressional approval, I think others might say that's within his perogative as commander-in-chief to do that. I think within Congress you're going to see a lot more, it's a Democratic Congress first of all, and you're already hearing a lot more people saying, "Wait a minute. North Korea has already exploded a nuclear bomb, Iran is still ten years away, why are they the greater threat?"

Martin Walker: Well it depends. I think one could certainly see and envisage some kind of provocations taking place or perhaps being concoted and engineered under which there's an exchange of fire on the border, US marines get arrested in the way that those British navel personnel were so you can see something being whipped up along those lines. But I was at, I was at an event, a social event recently with two former National Security Advisors and one of them said, "These guys ain't nuts." And the other one replied, "Yes, but they aren't sane either."

Which works as a transition to PBS'
Bill Moyers Journal (Friday in most markets, check local listings -- and it's a listen, watch and read online after the episode airs) when Moyers explores the group Christians United for Israel and also speaks to Rabbi Michael Lerner and Dr. Timothy Weber on the topic of? Should the US strike Iran. A YouTube preview is up and, at the program's website, essays on the topic will be posted as well. Again, the hour long show begins airing on most PBS markets on Friday (check local listings -- and at the website, you can also locate the airtime for your local PBS station). Also Friday on most PBS markets, NOW with David Brancaccio airs their latest half hour installment and this week interview Michael Apted about his owngoing documentary where he tracks a group of British people every seven years, energy conversation will be addressed with a report on Decorah, Iowa and Ken Burns will be interviewed about his latest documentary The War. On October 12th, NOW with David Brancaccio will air a one hour program, "Child Brides: Stolen Lives" documenting "the heartbreaking global phenomenon of forced child marriage, and the hope behind breaking the cycle of poverty and despair it causes." They've created an e-Card you can send to friends and family or to yourself to provide a heads up to the broadcast (and there is no cost to send the e-Card). Last (and one time only) we're tossing a link to the Democratic magazine American Prospect. Due to the fact that it has David Bacon's "Mexican Miners' Strike for Life". Excerpt:

In a well-run mine, huge vacuum cleaners suck dust from the buildings covering the crushers, mills and conveyer belts. The Cananea miners call these vacuums colectores, or dust collectors. Outside the hulking buildings of the concentrator complex, those collection tanks and their network of foot-wide pipes are five stories tall. But many of the tanks have rusty holes in their sides the size of a bathroom window. And the pipes, which should lead into the work areas inside, just end in midair. None of the dust collectors, according to the miners' union, have functioned since the company shut them down in 1999.
So for the past eight years, the dust that should have been sucked up by the collectors has ended up instead in the miners' lungs. That is the most serious reason why the miners are out on strike. But there are other dangers. Many machines have no guards, making it easy to lose fingers or worse. Electrical panels have no covers. Holes are open in the floor with no guardrails. Catwalks many stories about the floor are slippery with dust and often grease, and are crisscrossed by cables and hoses. Not long ago, one worker tripped and fell five stories to his death onto a water pump below.

The community is a left community, it is diverse and American Prospect is geared towards Democrats. That's their right and we don't spend time knocking them for it. We're covering mainstream media and independent media and we really aren't able to note things from Democratic Party magazines because we do have Greens and other political party members. Bacon's written an important article -- that was the first and last exception for American Progress. (Short of them hiring Bacon to blog or to be a regular contributor. He's a labor beat reporter and there are so few of them that such a move would probably alter the above and members would be fine with it.)


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Reuters covers the peace movement -- badly!

This is a joint-entry by C.I. and Elaine.

Reuters ran an interesting article today that had some observations worth thinking about and some 'facts' which were flat out wrong. The article is entitled "U.S. protests shrink while antiwar sentiment grows" and the byline credits Andy Sullivan.

Antiwar rallies drew hundreds of thousands of people at the war's start in 2003, although only 23 percent of Americans then said the invasion was a mistake, according to a USA Today/Gallup Poll. That figure is now 58 percent.

Yes, there pre-war rallies did turn out massive numbers and among the reasons were young people were lied to and hyped. They were told that just turning out would end the illegal war before it started. Getting the numbers out for those protests became more important for some than telling the truth. After the illegal war started, students and first time participants felt not only lied to but powerless as well. As a result, picking up the pieces was extremely difficult. Since there may or may not be a war launched on Iran, the peace movement should damn well learn a lesson and not again sell protests against an impending war as anything other than registering opposition.

Reuters argues that turn out in DC has "dwindled" and notes that a Troops Out Now Coalition rally in DC last weekend drew less than one-thousand. That figure may or may not be correct. The figure they offer here is incorrect: "Saturday's protest, sponsored by the Troops Out Now Coalition, came two weeks after an antiwar event sponsored by the ANSWER Coalition, which drew roughly 10,000 people." That figure is wrong and it's hard to believe it's wrong by accident. They contrast that with the January 2006 UPFJ rally -- featuring Iraq Veterans Against the War, Jane Fonda, Bob Watada, Susan Sarandon, Medea Benjmain, Sean Penn, Liam Madden and others. (See The Third Estate Sunday Review's "How Not To Stage A Rally.") Of that rally, Reuters notes, "United for Peace and Justice, which has tried to focus on ending the Iraq war, drew 100,000 people to a January protest." 100,000 at the start of the year, ANSWER only had 10,000 last month! It's a decrease!

But it's not. Refer to Associated Press' "100,000 March Against Iraq War in Washington: 200 Arrested in Dramatic Mass Die-In" and you see that "10,000" isn't correct for ANSWER's September rally.

This is a "trend story" and "trend stories" are notorius for fixing the facts. Troops Out Now Coalition may or may not have had a small turnout last weekend. ANSWER did not have a small turn out. We were there and it was 100,000 people. If Reuters were to include the actual figure, the "trend story" would fall apart which is why we believe an intentional decision was made to 'fix' the numbers.

Troops Home Now Coalition doesn't want to work with ANSWER. Well then live with numbers you get. ANSWER can put out a call and people do show up. ANSWER knows what it is doing. Some groups may not know what they are doing. We do not know that this is the case for Troops Home Now Coalition. We do know it is the case for the miserable rally in Fort Worth, Texas on September 1st. Despite big name speakers, including Cindy Sheehan, despite being held on a Saturday, the rally was sparsely attended (less than 300 was the estimate). We flew out to Texas, landed at DFW and did so because the organizers of that "rally" did a s**t poor job. They failed to get the word out. The Tuesday Iraq snapshot before the rally was the first announcement -- the organizers didn't even put out a press release until the Wednesday prior. They did not post fliers at the many public libraries in the Dallas - Fort Worth area. They did not visit the colleges to put up fliers or speak to students despite the fact that the area has many, many colleges. They had a designated media contact person at their website who did not respond to e-mails -- from individuals wishing to attend as well as from the big, mainstream press. They scheduled a nine to five event on what was for many people a day off. Instead of using a city that was well known to all in the surrounding areas (Dallas was the city to use), they went with Fort Worth. They instructed people to use public transportation. But Fort Worth has a bus system only and no bus dropped off at the rally site. Dallas has a bus system and it has a light rail. People from the surrounding areas could park at any of the train stations (as many commuters do) and catch a train had the event been held in Dallas. The rally itself started at 12:30 p.m. with the march to follow. On a hot, summer, Texas day they decide the noon time heat is the perfect time for a rally to be followed by a march. Yet, they also wanted people there as early as nine a.m. Instead of encouraging those willing to show up to attend, they issued a cry that you needed a ticket. You could print the ticket up online . . . if you had a printer. If you didn't have a printer, you needed to find one to attend. If you heard about the rally in casual conversation and did not have a computer, you better beg that stranger or acquaintence to print you up a ticket. With the organizers insistence on public transportation, how were people outside Fort Worth encouraged to get into the city? Via the Trinity Express -- a train that did not run as often as the organizers posted it did on their website.

Bad planning, failure to get the word out, failure to respond to requests to take pictures, failure to do anything other than book speakers led to a low turnout. Hopefully, none of these mistakes were made by the Troops Home Now Coalition but everyone's point in reporting "How Not To Stage A Rally" was to make sure that it was understood, if an event has low turnout, that's not necessarily a reflection on the public sentiment but it may be a reflection on the abilities of the organizers.

"The base that we work with was saying to us, 'We've been to Washington a lot in the last four years, we don't want to go to Washington again,'" national coordinator Leslie Kagan said.

Leslie Kagan? Is that Robert's sister?

Leslie "Cagan." C-A-G-A-N. With United For Peace and Justice. Leslie Cagan is correct. Those speaking on campuses have heard this complaint repeatedly throughout the year. Students complain (rightly) about having to skip work (a lot more students have to work their way through college these days and many are dependent upon weekend work hours due to class schedules), about having to raise money for trips when they're already struggling with the ever sky rocketing tuition, and about arriving for a big rally that ends up being the same speeches they've heard before and no real actions. Leslie Cagan is 100% correct and United For Peace and Justice demonstrated wisdom in calling for local actions next month. Hopefully, local organizers will actually work at getting a turn out and not just in lining up speakers for what turns out to be a private party.

United For Peace And Justice, as the article tells you, isn't sure whether or not it wants to work with ANSWER. It needs to decide pretty quick. Students are getting damn tired of it. If United For Peace and Justice doesn't want to work with ANSWER, many students could live with it. It wouldn't be the end for UPFJ. They might have a smaller turnout or they might not, but making a decision would be an improvement. As a student in Madison said last week, "It's like when Dad told us he was separating from Mom but they might get back together. We were strung along for months. They got a divorce. Just do it already, quit stringing us along." It should be noted that UPFJ will take the blame for the split. They are the 'parent' wanting to move on and seen as such. But a decision needs to be made because the repeated refusal to make a decision is getting on students nerves. Many feel a decision has already been made but they're being treated like children and not informed of the decision.

We're not saying that's what happened. We're not slamming UPFJ (or ANSWER). We are noting the mood on campuses. UPFJ can decide to work with ANSWER or not, but the attitude is a decision needs to be made.

We're not weighing in on the decision and appreciate the work that both organizations do individually and the work they've done when they've combined their resources.

We will, however, weigh in on one thing. Common Dreams has reposted the Reuters article. Others may end up reposting it as well. Leslie Cagan's name is mispelled and the number for ANSWER's turn out last month is a HUGE error. The Troops Home Now Coalition number may be a mistake as well. We did not attend or follow that rally. But when obvious mistakes are made in an article, at the very least a footnote is required. People trust Common Dreams and they will read the article there and assume that "10,000" is correct when it is not.

As to the issue the Reuters article skirts about splintering -- the peace movement is splintering. That's not necessarily a bad thing. A lot of "VOTE" groups have been wrongly billed as the peace movement. They push "VOTE DEMOCRAT." They are not the peace movement and students are aware of it. We both saw it during Vietnam, groups faded when they were timid or foolish. New groups sprung up to replace them.

Tina Richards' Grassroots America, Iraq Veterans Against the War and Military Families Speak Up are among the groups most admired on campus that were created after the illegal war began. Among student organization, SDS is the most talked about. They are admired because they call out Congress, not just the Republican side of the aisle. They are admired because they tell it like it is. They are seen as independent because they act independently. Norman Solomon and Phyllis Bennis have both repeatedly warned against the peace movement confusing itself with the Democratic Party. We join with them in saying that would be a huge mistake. It's dishonest and always has been but it's also a tactical mistake today because sentiment against the illegal war is so broad that it's not confined to Democrats and third parties who will put up with sitting in the back of the bus. Ralph Nader has consistently called out the illegal war. Any event that does not invite him to speak is making a mistake. At the ANSWER rally, there were boos last month when he started speaking. Nader's not a novice. He continued speaking and the applause when he finished was overwhelming.

On the subject of fears or hurt feelings, we condemn the article that FAIR ran in Extra! which whined about the attention Jane Fonda received for participating in the January rally. Sour grapes was how it read. Fonda has spoken out against the illegal war all along including doing a campus tour before the illegal war began. She has kept a low profile out of concerns that she might damage the effort. While that was very nice of her, it's a real shame that Extra! couldn't show the same niceness. Instead it was whine that Fonda got on the evening news. That all the TV clips showed her. As opposed to? Exactly how often does a peace rally get that kind of attention? Not very often. She put herself out there and she knew the right wing would slam her for it (which they did). The last thing she deserved was that snotty little piece in Extra! whining that she got attention. We were at the rally and she was the second most popular speaker [we wrote about that in "Show Me What Democracy Looks Like (1-27-07) "]. She reached a huge cross-section with her speech. (Bob Watada was the most popular speaker for those wondering -- Ehren Watada's father.) She put herself out there knowing the attacks would come. That FAIR elected to join in those attacks was very disappointing.

Yes, she is a two-time Oscar winning actress but she is also a lifelong activist and even in the 90s, when she feels she did little, she was working with the United Nations. Reducing her to an "actress" or, worse, a "Hollywood actress" dishonors her and all activists who have additional jobs. Fonda's clip did get massive attention from the TV industry and the clip came with audio. It was a powerful moment and that many not attending actually heard about the rally was a plus. There was no reason to treat it, as the Extra! article did, as a minus. No reason, that is, except sour grapes on the part of the author. As two who were active during Vietnam, we remember those same sour grapes about Fonda then as well. It was petty 'back in the day.' It's embarrassing as well as petty today when so few in the arts will use their voice to speak out. Slamming Fonda -- actress, feminist, best selling author, business woman, and actvist -- makes it all the more difficult to convince other artists to speak out. If you don't grasp the value in artists speaking out, you obviously have either forgotten the Vietnam era or didn't live through it. The right-wing has never forgotten and that's why they slam a Fonda or Penn or Janeane Garofalo or . . . .

Sidebar, Kat's review of Stephen Stills and Ani DiFranco's latest CD releases went up last night and Kat reviewed Joni Mitchell's Shine on Monday and Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals' Lifeline on Sunday.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, October 3, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, Robin Long's supporters rally, more officials targeted in Iraq, and more.

Starting with war resistance. Yesterday, NDP (New Democratic Party of Canada) announced their support for war resister Robin Long arrested in Nelson British Columbia citing Olivia Chow (iimigration critic) and parliament member Alex Atamanenko (
click here for release in English, here for release in French). The War Resisters Support Campaign also issued a statement of support. Today a support rally was held in Toronto. Timothy Schafer (Vancouver Sun) reported yesterday on Long's arrest "on Baker Street by police on a nation-wide warrant" according to Klaus Offermann who visited the jail to protest and tells Schafer that, "The city of Nelson is arrest-central for war resistors in Canada" -- referencing the February 23rd arrest of Kyle Snyder (hauled off in his boxers at the request of the US military). Today, Schafer (at Canada's Globe and Mail) cotinues covering the story and notes the cover story just issued by police chief Dan Maluta: Robin Long was smoking pot in public with four other people and that's why he was arrested! Of course the reality from eye witnesses is different and of course three others weren't arrested with Long. But it's more of the lies the Nelson city police have become famous for. Did that announced investigation in Maluta and the department ever get completed? Yes, it was signed to one of Maluta's personal friends, which should only mean the white wash moved even faster than usual. The cover story comes out after last night's strong show of support for Robin Long at the police station. Now LIAR Maluta said what about the arrest of Kyle Snyder? Oh, that's right, he repeated lies non-stop and that's why an investigation was required because it got so bad there was no doubt he was lying.

While Long is under attack in Canada, in the US
Ehren Watada is scheduled to face court-martial number two next week -- despite the very clear Constitutional provision against double-jeopardy. Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports that the court-martial is scheduled to begin next Tuesday, that Watada will be represented by Ken Kagan and James Lobsenz, that Watada service contract ended in December 2006 but the US military elected to extend it and that, "The Army has refiled four charges against Watada, including one count of missing a deployment and two counts of conduct unbecoming of an officer. Those counts cover statements Watada made criticizing the Iraq war and President Bush. Conviction on all counts could mean nearly eight years in prison and a dishonorable discharge." AP's brief story is only six sentences long. It will pop up everywhere which is why the factual mistakes in it are all the more glaring. Ehren Watada is the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to the Iraq War. He will also be the first officer in which double-jeopardy is tossed out, in which the Constitution is completely shredded, if the second court-martial goes through. The more war resisters there are, the more nervous the military brass gets.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

Turning to the topic of Blackwater,
John M. Broder (New York Times) and Peter Spiegel (Los Angeles Times) got into a nasty slap fight today as both used their papers to argue, "No! I love Erik Prince more!" Broder apparently sat through yesterday's House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform fantasizing about Erik Prince (Blackwater CEO) instead of paying attention (maybe he's turned on by the crook of a neck?). Spiegel saw him as really, really cool and not suffering from the big head at all, but, like, a guy you can really, really talk to! which is why he referred to Prince answering "questions politely" -- in what world is repeatedly rolling your eyes, smirking and turning your head in disgust "polite"? Desperate to proclaim (in his very best Melrose Place manner), "Paws off, Petey, I saw Prince first," Broder raves over Prince's attire ("trim") and "blond hair" with "a fresh cut."

In the real world,
Jeremy Scahill offered his evaluation of yesterday's hearing to Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!):

JEREMY SCAHILL: When Erik Prince stepped into the room, he was mobbed by photographers, and he came in, not with an army of armed mercenaries, but with an army of lawyers and advisers. And one of the people with him was Barbara Comstock, who's a well-known Republican operative and a crisis management consultant. Blackwater had the first and second rows basically empty behind Mr. Prince, with the exception of his team of advisers and his consiglieri, and an unidentified man on several occasions during the course of the hearing himself interrupted the hearings and asked Henry Waxman to be able to consult with Prince. And then, what would result from that is that Erik Prince would turn around, and his advisers and lawyers would pile around him like a sports team plotting out their next play. It was very dramatic.
And I think that the issue here is that the Democrats really, I feel, dropped the ball on many of the most important issues surrounding Blackwater. Yes, there were some important questions raised. But for the most part, they steered away from some of the most devastating and violent incidents involving the company. The ambush at Fallujah in March of 2004, for instance, wasn't addressed at all, except in passing. And there were a number of family members of the four Blackwater operatives who were killed in that incident. That's a crucial one for the Congress to investigate, not only because of the allegations that Blackwater sent those four men into Fallujah in unarmored vehicles, short two men, and without heavy weapons, but because of the enormous price that Iraqi civilians paid for the deaths of those four corporate employees, the Bush administration ordering the leveling of Fallujah and, of course, the inflammation of the Iraqi resistance. There are a number of other incidents that never came up in the hearing.
I think that what needs to happen is that Erik Prince needs to become a more frequent visitor to Capitol Hill than his industry lobbyists have been over the past several years, and his visits should always begin with his right hand raised and cameras in front of him.

In other news of violence,
Robert Parry (Consortium News) explores the death squads Bully Boy has created for Iraq and Afghanistan. These are the "kill teams," the "bait and kill teams," the teams war resister James Burmeister went public on last June and the mainstream media 'discovered' last week. Parry writes, "The ugly image of Americans killing unarmed Iraqis also helps explain the growing hostility of Iraqis toward the presence of U.S. troops. While the Bush administration has touted the supposed improved security created by the 'surge' of additional U.S. troops into Iraq, a major poll found Iraqis increasingly object to the American occupation." On a related note, Steve Negus (Financial Times of London) reports: "US military officials in Baghdad on Wednesday defended their support of local anti-insurgent volunteer organisations, the day after the country's largest political bloc attacked the programme as an 'adventure' and accused participants of kidnap and murder. The controversy over the scheme, which is a centrepiece of the US military's new strategy in Iraq, has flared as these local alliances against al-Qaeda spread from their point of origin in the western province of al-Anbar to other Sunni and even some Shia parts of Iraq."

In some of today's reported violence . . .


Yasser Faisal and Mussab Al-Khairalla (Reuters) report that Poland's General Edward Pietrzyk (ambassador to Iraq) was wounded in Iraq today in what the Polish government is calling "an assassination attempt" that also claimed the lives of at least one of Pietrzyk's bodyguards and one Iraqi civilian. NPR and AP report, "The attack took place a few hundred yards from the Polish embassy." Deborah Haynes (Times of London) notes the attack utilized three roadside bombs and that Pietrzyk "was being treated for burns at a hospital inside Baghdad's fortified Green Zone." CBS and AP put the bombs at two and note at least 11 more people were wounded in the bombings. CNN goes with three bombs being used in the attack and states that "three others in the entourage, including one of his bodyguards" were killed as well as "two Iraqi civilians". Katya Andrusz (Bloomberg News) reports being told by Robert Szaniawski (spokesperson for Poland's Foreign Ministry) that there were three bombs and Andrusz notes that while 53% of Poles were against the illegal war in January 2004, opposition now stands at 80%. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that the ambassador and his entourage "were leaving the Polish embassy" when the attack happened and also notes a Baghdad car bombing that claimed 2 lives (five more wounded), 1 dead from a Falluja bombing that left four more injured, and thirteen were wounding by a bombing "inside an in internet cafe" in Jalawa. Reuters notes the AIR WAR continues with "five suspected insurgent bombers" being shot dead by US helicopters in Baghdad, a Baquba mortar attack claimed 3 lives, while a Kirkuk roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer (left another injured) -- Reuters also notes that yesterday saw "the local senior figure in Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council" shot dead in Ifach. DPA reports a roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer in Kirkuk.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports "the official of tribes in Diwaniyah city local council" was shot dead in Qadisiyah. Reuters notes, "Three people were killed, including a girl student, during clashes between police and gunmen in Baquba" and a police captain was shot dead in Tikrit. KUNA reports an Iraqi "army officer was shot dead" in Mosul by unknown assailants "in a speeding car".


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 6 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes a police officer's corpse was found in Ishaqi.

Turning to politics,
The Peace Resister Katrina vanden Heuvel (you can use the link -- it's Common Dreams and KvH is providing plenty of laughter) is on her Barack bandwagon and determined to make sure that when her ass is finally kicked out of The Nation, no one else will touch her. KvH wants credit (she links to her self) for "an under-reported event" at the Council On/For Foreign Relations and considers her policy of under-disclosure (KvH probably 'reported' on it in real time due to the fact that she is a Council On/For Foreign Relations member). If a New York Times columnist attempted to give a 'shout out' to an organization they were a member of without disclosing it, it would be considered news. But maybe no one sees Katrina vanden Heuvel as a journalist? The friend I'm dictating this to says the comments left are hilarious so check those out: "Just another article from The Nation pandering to the impotent Democratic Party." And why is that? Or how about the recent commentary that borrowed heavily from The Search For Signs of Intelligent Life In The Universe -- Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner's masterpiece -- from Trudee's scene at the end where the aliens tell her the audience was art. But is there really a need for this nonsense of cheerleading Barack Obama or (in Flanders' case) his supporters? Here's the thing (and include John Nichols and others in this -- in fact David Corn appears to be the only one at the magazine not wearing a "Barack Has My Vote And Body" t-shirt), this time next year, a HUGE number of people will be telling you that you have to vote for Candidate X -- whomever the Democratic Party nominates. You've got to, you've just got to, they'll insist sounding like a deranged Miss Manners. And for those who elect not to and decide to be upfront about that, they'll still hear the mantra: "Vote Democratic to save the Republic!" You'll get the faux sympathy, the nod of the head, and the same damn sermon trotted out every four years, "Well we'll do that next time but vote Democratic, it's really, really important." If Candidate X is a War Hawk (very likely since Hillary Clinton, Obama and John Edwards refuse to promise that, if elected president, they would end the illegal war by the end of their first four years), you'll be told to hold your nose and vote for someone who disgusts you and that 'next time' everyone will get it together to make sure it doesn't happen. Those speeches were given in 2004 too. The Nation proves those speeches are hollow (at best) or flat out lies (at worst). They started their 2008 presidential coverage days before the November 2006 election took place and what do they have to show for it? Not a damn thing. The magazine hates Hillary Clinton and appears to see Barack Obama as having the best shot to take her out. So they've pushed Obama like crazy. Even though he's a War Hawk who is on record being against withdrawal since 2004. Had they used the last months (or the ones remaining) to cover Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel or Bill Richardson they wouldn't be playing the lesser of two evils currently. They're playing it in the primary and they'll play it in the general election. (And the Green Party will be as non-covered by the magazine as it was in 2004 or 2006.) "Power" to The Nation has meant "Do anything to take Hillary out." It's really disgusting. Kucinich has been covered more by our own Trina (who blogs once a week) than by The Nation. That's not just print, that's "online exclusives" and blog posts. Even lumping all of that together, Trina's still provided more coverage of Dennis Kucinich in 2007 (with her once a week posts) than The Nation. Sharon Smith (CounterPunch) does a good summary of Kucinich versus the press reinforced candidates. She notes the 2004 cave by Kucinich (Democratic National Convention) and thinks expecting a similar cave in 2008 isn't going out on a limb. One factor she may miss on that is Kucinich may not be a House candidate. By the time of the Democratic National Convention, Kucinich may have lost the primary for his House seat (the party is offering 'advise' to his opponent). If that happens, there should be very little reason for Kucinich to back down from his supporters demands. Regardless, and here's the point, in 2008, your vote is your vote. Vote for who you want (or don't vote, your business). And if you hear the "Hold Your Nose" speech and don't wish to hold your nose, just remember that The Nation elected to ignore candidates offering real opposition to the illegal war. Their anti-stories have revolved repeatedly around Hillary Clinton and their pro-coverage has been Obama (after earlier flirting with John Edwards). Free press? Be great to have one but let's not pretend we do as not one of them will tell you the truth about Barack Obama but will let him continue to repeat his stale talking point of being against the war (he doesn't say "illegal") before it began without ever noting the very obvious fact that, once he began his 2004 Senate campaign, he was on record as against withdrawal. That's why no one should be surprised that -- despite all the hype for an empty suit -- he declared in last week's 'debate' that, if elected, he couldn't promise to end the illegal war by the end of his first term.

In the new issue of
The Progressive (October 2007), Ruth Conniff contributes "Doing the Hillary Dance" (pp. 16-17). She notes US House Rep Tammy Baldwin is on board with support for Hillary even thought it means "on the Iraq War, Baldwin gives Clinton a pass." For the piece, Conniff also interviews Iraq Veterans Against the War's Garrett Reppenhagen and the Center for Media and Democracy's John Stauber. Conniff notes that Reppenhagen "has hopes that the Internet could be a powerful tool for getting the U.S. out of Iraq. Now a member of Iraq Vets Against the War, he doesn't want to see the blogosphere hijacked by the Democratic Party." He tells Conniff, "I worry because more and more people start endorsing candidates and we become like sports enthusiasts." Stauber, who was refused a forum on Iraq by The Daily Toliet Scrubbers (but created a forum on his own), "concurs. As Stauber sees it, the idea that the Democrats, if only they can get elected, will end the war is 'just the blue Kool-Aid talking'." Stauber tells Conniff, "There's a delusion that there are going to be sweeping reforms once the Democrats have more power. But looking back over the last several decades, I don't see any reason for that optimism."

Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) opened her conversation with Norman Solomon today by quoting from his new book Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State, "The warfare state doesn't come and go. It can't be defeated on Election Day. Like it or not, it's at the core of the United States -- and it has infiltrated our very being." From their conversation today:

NORMAN SOLOMON: Just a few minutes ago, we heard a clip from the Blackwater hearing yesterday about the way in which, supposedly, Blackwater, as one Congressperson put it, a Democrat, a critic of Blackwater, said that Blackwater is undermining the US mission in Iraq. And all too often the insidious nature of the warfare state gets us to at least tacitly accept the idea that there is something in that mission to be supported. And yet, $2 billion a day going into the Pentagon's coffers, that's our money. That's money that should belong to the people of this country for healthcare, education, housing.
And yet, we are tamped down, our numbing process, which is part of the warfare state, gets us to be passive, to accept. And often, you know, Amy, I travel around the country. I talk with people. Many are concerned. They watch this program. They're active. We get in a room. There's fifty, there's five, there's five hundred people. And often, the question comes up: "Well, aren't we just preaching to the choir?" And that is a concern. We have to go outside our own constituencies as progressives. But the reality is that the choir needs to learn to sing better, to challenge more fundamentally the warfare state, because right now it's our passivity, our acculturated acceptance, that's causing so much damage.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you really think that it's a choir right now that is a very confined to a certain group of people? I mean, in this country now, the level of opposition to the war in Iraq, doesn't it go far beyond any particular category of people?

NORMAN SOLOMON: The opposition is registered in opinion polls, but largely quiescent, and if we look at the progression of the Vietnam War, year after year, from the late '60s through the first years of the '70s, opinion polls show that most Americans were opposed to the war, even felt it was immoral. You fast-forward to this decade, for years now most polls have shown most people are opposed. But what does that mean? Our political culture encourages us to be passive, not to get out in the streets, not to blockade the government war-making offices, not to go into the congressional offices and not leave, not to raise our voices in impolite or disruptive ways. We have to become enemies of the warfare state, not in a rhetorical way, but in a way that speaks to the American people in terms of where our humane values are and should be.

the los angeles times

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Sick of all of it

TORONTO -- Following the arrest of US war resister Robin Long yesterday in Nelson, B.C., NDP immigration critic Olivia Chow (Trinity-Spadina) and NDP MP Alex Atamanenko (British Columbia Southern Interior) are calling on the Harper government to reexamine their decision to deport Long and allow him to stay in Canada.
"Canada has always been a country that stands up for basic human rights. Conscientious objectors who have fled George W. Bush’s illegal war in Iraq should be allowed to stay," said Chow.
"Two war resisters' cases are currently before the Supreme Court of Canada," pointed out Atamanenko. "No one should be arrested or deported before the Court has a chance to make a decision."
Robin Long, from Boise, Idaho, received his orders in March 2005 and left for Canada the following June, believing the war in Iraq was illegal. He lives in Canada with his Canadian partner Renee and their young son. The Immigration and Refugee Board did not find his claims to be untruthful but ruled against his case and his deportation is imminent.
"Canada has always been a place of refuge for war resisters who refuse to fight in illegal wars," noted Chow. "From Vietnam to now, Canada has a proud and distinguished history of putting justice first, and allowing people of conscience to seek refuge in our country. Canada has to release Mr. Long and allow him to stay in Canada."
Chow noted that a recent poll taken in Ontario showed that almost two thirds of Ontarians believe that Canada should allow war resisters to stay in Canada.

That is "NDP calling for the release of US war resister Robin Long" and it should make you very angry. The same police went after Kyle Snyder. I believe they are also the ones who escorted two US military people around and let the US military pose as Canadian police officers while they asked about Joshua Key's where abouts.

Now can someone tell me where the hell independent media is?

I heard Sy Hersh embarrass himself yet again today on Democracy Now! as he went on and on about the war on Iran that he's been covering since 2004 despite the fact that it still hasn't broken out. Possibly that's why he was providing cover for Robert Gates and insisting Gates would make a great Secretary of Defense? Possibly his mind has cracked?

Three years of filing reports on a war that still hasn't started. Imagine if he'd spent that time covering reality? He broke the Abu Ghraib story -- sort of. It was well known long before he covered it. Independent media was already reporting it before he got to it. There's also the fact that he claims a child was sodomized and that rapes took place.

Claims? Well he didn't bother to write about that. He'd already moved on to Iran but every now and then, in a speech, he'll talk about that. How very useless Hersh is.

Now if he has proof of rapes (I am sure rapes did occur), as a reporter isn't it his responsibility to write about it?

Instead, he's blown three years covering Iran.

His reports haven't accomplished a damn thing. Someone needs to break the news to him. But instead of covering an ongoing war, he's stuck to "The War With Iran Is About to Break Out" . . . for three years.

If Bully Boy leaves office without starting a war with Iran, will he realize then how much time he wasted? It shouldn't take that. A real reporter should grasp that whether or not a war with Iran starts tomorrow, wasting three years saying, "The war's about to start! The war's about to start!" is the biggest jerk off in the world when an illegal war is ongoing and you're not covering it.

There's another point here. Everytime he wastes our time with another of his unsourced, unnamed reports, it prepares the public for war with Iran. It prepares us all to accept it. Because after three years of him and Pig talking it up, there's a level of acceptance about it in the public. People may not want it, but there's no shock if it does come to pass. This is similar to a point Elizabeth De La Vega was making with regards to Scooter Libby. Immediately, people began writing things (over and over) about how Bully Boy would pardon him. They were letting the public grow accustom to it. When it came, the pardon, it was far less offensive and far less shocking than it would have been if we hadn't had so many on the left doing a roll out for the pardon day after damn day.

Today, Sy Hersh was back on Democracy Now! again to talk about the war on Iran again and this was his who knows what appearence. But Robin Long?

He's not news to Democracy Now! He's not to be covered. Or James Burmeister. Or Ross Spears or Eli Israel or the three Kamunen brothers who all reached the decision to self-check out. Kyle Snyder being arrested NEVER got mentioned -- even in a headline -- on Democracy Now! That's sick, that's disgusting and when they bring Sy Hersh (sainted Sy) back on again to chat about a war that has STILL not started, they waste all of our time.

Democracy Now! is far from alone. But I'm sick of it. I'm sick of lazy independent media that can't cover Iraq seriously. I'm sick of hearing about wars that haven't started when I can't get coverage of a war that's going on.

I'm sick of Sy Hersh talking about the latest whispers he's gotten when Kevin Benderman and Monica Benderman have a book out and who the hell is interviewing them?

Kevin Benderman going to prison isn't a hypothetical. It happened. He was railroaded. He stood up to the military brass and they tried to destroy him. He (and Monica) were too strong to be destroyed. But others would have been and you can be sure others have.

Instead of another lengthy segment of Speculation With Sy, I would strongly suggest that independent media attempt to live in the reality based world and start covering what's actually going on around us.

Not stroking fears and, let's be honest, that's all this Iran nonsense is from the left. It's no different than Bully Boy's ridiculous terrorist chart where we're in the yellow or the red or whatever.

I'm sick of it. I'm sick of CODEPINK's nonsense of Stop the War with Iran!

I'm sick of all the nonsense I'm seeing, I'm sick of all the crap I'm seeing. I'm sick of the fact that an illegal war isn't interesting enough to independent media to cover so they will instead cover things that MIGHT HAPPEN IN THE FUTURE.

Is it Democracy Now! or is it Dionne Warwick's Psychic Hour?

News is what happens. News isn't unsourced speculation about something that might happen. Pig and Sy have told us for three years now that war with Iran would break out any minute. It still hasn't but haven't that eaten up airtime and print space with their nonsense?

For those who wonder why we haven't been able to force Congress to end the illegal war it's because we aren't focused and we drop everything to rush off on another tangent.

NOW drops their anti-war stance to endorse Hillary Clinton (the NOW Pac endorsed her) and the illegal war drops off their radar. (Last month, they sent out an alert at the last minute. It was the first time they'd bothered to consider the illegal war since endorsing Hillary months and months ago.) CODEPINK wants us to focus on the Iran war that has not started. There are about 100 pet causes that get pushed every other week and an ongoing illegal war -- an actual war -- has to repeatedly take back seat to all of that and to speculation that another war might start.

I'm sick of it and I'm sick of all the useless asses.

C.I. can correct me on this if I'm wrong but the way I remember Hersh before Ring Around Congress (during Vietnam) was amused. Amused in the lead up. That wasn't 'amusing.' But maybe that's what he needed, the chuckles. Laughing at threats -- very real threats -- and treating it with bemusement? If so, that attitude is now the hallmark of Hersh as a 'reporter.' Not unlike his pumping people for sex details about JFK for that book. His eyes would glaze over when he could get one of those stories. He appears, more and more, to be an entertainment junkie. He needs to be entertained.

The illegal war doesn't entertain him. The next renewal note I get from The New Yorker will be returned with a note I scrawl across it, "I don't waste my money on hypotheticals."

Robin Long is arrested and the really sh**y thing is most Americans don't know who he is. The reason for that is because independent media couldn't make time for war resisters. They are disgusting and they will beg for money and they will gladly bleed you dry. They got millions out of C.I. in the 70s. C.I. gave every cent away (also gave to causes) and the end result? They didn't do damn thing with it. That's not true. They got some nice offices, they got some staff, they got to play like they were 'professional' and the more 'professional' they played, the more cowardly they became and the more they refused to cover the stories that matter.

The biggest problem, the biggest obstacle today, is our independent media. People honestly wanting to create change are steered towards Obama or Clinton or someone else. An empty suit stuffed with corporate money. If the bulk of them went belly up tomorrow, I don't know that we'd suffer a loss. They have wasted the last four years repeatedly.

"Let's try partitioning the US" (Linda S. Heard, Gulf News via Information Clearing House):
As if they haven't done enough damage bombing and invading a country on false pretences, destroying its culture and leaving it a charred shell of its former self, they - American lawmakers who gave President George W. Bush authority to go to war - now want to divide Iraq up into easily manageable bite size entities.
Isn't Iraq supposed to be a sovereign nation with an elected government? If so, then why is the US Senate attempting to meddle in its affairs by overwhelmingly passing a resolution calling for the country's partition into three, which is tantamount to ethnic cleansing? Not to put too fine a point the shape of Iraq to come isn't their business.
Moreover, even if they had a stake in the country they are responsible for destroying, which they certainly do not, American senators who may or may not have enjoyed a two-day jaunt to Baghdad's Green Zone are not qualified to be the deciders.
The Iraqi government was quick to put a damper on the proposal. Its spokesman Ali Al Dabbagh said "It's the Iraqis who decide these sorts of issues, no-one else".
According to a recent ABC/BBC poll a mere nine per cent of Iraqis favour the break-up of their country.
The Arab League was equally condemnatory. Its Iraq representative Ali Al Garush called upon Arab nations to stand by the Iraqi people in their opposition to the proposal.
Secretary-General of the GCC Abdul Rahman Al Attiyah said partition would make the situation in Iraq more difficult and complicated. Official statements from Syria and Iran were even more scathing.
With so much Iraqi and regional hostility against the plan what are those 75 senators that voted in favour of it thinking? It was Democratic Senator Joseph Biden a presidential hopeful who initiated the vote.
Biden explained his rationale during a news conference. He maintains his proposal offers a way to bring home American troops while leaving behind a stable Iraq. It's evident that his thinking is based on a series of false premises.

Ron Jacobs has written about that. Was it seriously addressed by independent media? See any cover stories? Hear any hour long discussions.

The net will probably be killed off (in it's current form) in a matter of years but the online sites have been the only place you could find reality. Not at the "big" independent media (magazines and programs). They've wasted four years.

If there was a revolution tomorrow, they'd all be beheaded publicly for their crimes of apathy and distraction.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, October 2, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, war resister Robin Long is arrested by the same creeps who pulled the stunt earlier with Kyle Snyder, Blackwater's Erik Prince testifies to Congress, the UK announces a drawdown, the US Congress (Democratically led) keeps buying into the illegal war, and more.

Starting with war resistance. Robin Long was arrested yesterday. War resister Long went to Canada in June 2005. He applied for refugee status. Like everyone who has applied thus far, Long was denied.
The New Democratic Party of Canada issues a statement "calling on the [prime minister Stephen] Harper government to reexamine their decision to deport Long and allow him to stay in Canada." It's noted that Long "lives in Canada with his Canadian partner Renee and their young son." So the Canadian government has arrested Long, intending to deport him and thereby split up a family. Olivia Chow points to "a recent poll taken in Ontario [which] showed that almost two thirds of Ontarians believe that Canada should allow war resisters to stay in Canada." The War Resisters Support Campaign notes that the poll was "conducted by phone from June 5 to 11, 2007" and that "close to two thirds of Ontarians favour letting US Iraq War resisters settle in Canada" and that polling was "conducted by the national research firm Strategic Communications Inc". Shirley Douglas (who worked her butt of during Vietnam and is as dedicated today) is quoted declaring, "This poll shows that the Canadian tradition of welcoming Americans who dissent from the policies of war is still important to us. The Canadian government should move now to make it possible for the war resisters to settle in this country, as so many did during the Vietnam War." The Christian Radical notes that Nelson was "arrested by the Nelson B.C. Police who intend to take him to Vancouver and hand him over to the US authorities at the border nearby. He was seized as he walked along a street. He is now detained in the local jail. Robin was not allowed to receive visits from friends; however he was able to call his spouse. She says that he is calm and hopeful that he will soon be released." The is the same Nelson B.C. Police that arrested Kyle Snyder on the orders of the US military -- in direct violation of Canadian soveriegnty. In the US, Gregory Levey (Salon) becomes the first at a US news outlet to cover that and he is also the last because it's just too much work for independent media apparently. Now a similar thing has happened to Robin Long. Exactly when the hell does independent media in the United States intend to do its damn job? The Christian Radical notes: "The War Resisters Support Campaign is urging all our friends and supporters to CALL THE NELSON POLICE AT 250-354-3919 AND TELL THEM TO RELEASE ROBIN LONG. We urge you as well to contact your local Member of Parliament and ask her or him to help release Robin."

Along with Kyle Snyder being arrested in a similar stunt (on his wedding day), the US military itself crossed over into Canada and posed as Canadian police officers -- harassing Winnie Ng at her home and demanding to know where war resister Joshua Key was. As independent media in this country -- including the "Nobody owns The Nation" useless piece of crap -- has refused to cover this story, the US has grown ever more bold about issuing orders to lackeys in Canada who aren't concerned with upholding Canadian law, just with being suck ups to the United States.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko,Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

Blackwater USA. Today, Erik Prince -- CEO of the mercenary company -- popped into Congress for a hearing on the issue of private security in Iraq held by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform chaired by Rep Henry Waxman. Prince fidgeted throughout, used the phrase "I don't know" repeatedly, showed his disdain for Congress by frequently rolling his eyes, smirking and, when Rep Peter Welch was questinging him, combined the two with an extended head turn to the right and away from Welch. With his disain on full display, the obvious question was for committee members to ask him about his physical presentation. No one did. A lot of representatives wasted time. Rep Diane Watson was the best example of wasted time on the Democratic side and Prince's nonstop smirks during that exchange may have been warranted as Watson went on and on (about topics that had nothing to do with Blackwater such as the MoveOn ad and Rush Limbaugh) only to suddenly declare "And so my question to you" before going back to yammering on. Each time she would say "my question to you," Was there a point to her remarks? It was the embarrassment from the Democratic side as she seemd determined to deliver a free association monologue. Each time she would use the term "question," Prince would lead forward, open his mouth, then close it because Watson wasn't interested in an answer and wasn't interested in getting to a question. What was her point? Who knows with lines like "You are providing a service." At one point, around the fourth or fifth time Prince had leaned in to answer only to grasp she wasn't yielding, he looked around and as if he was about to laugh. Across America -- to the left, to the right, to the center -- many others may have been laughing as well.

On the Republican side? They win as ensemble, too many did far too much for just one to be signaled out. Top honors within the ensemble go to Lynn Westmoreland who wasted everyone's time by putting on his glasses and reading his remarks from prepared text. If you can write down everything ahead of time, don't even show up, just fax your prepared remarks to the media. And that was honestly a problem for most. Those who didn't so obviously read from their prepared remarks for their entire allotted time also didn't appear to listen too closely. That was true regardless of political party. Democrats John Sarbanes and Peter Welch deserve (positive) notice for questions and comments that demonstrated they were aware of what had been asked as well as what had been asked but not answered. Bruce Braley (Democrats) also deserves credit for not wasting his allotted time with a bunch of sop but instead tearing away at the issue of the laws that would or would not govern Blackwater in Iraq -- tearing away at the topic and refusing to let go. Noting the Blackwater employee -- allegedly drunk, who shot dead an Iraqi bodyguard on Christmas Eve 2006 (the committee agreed not to ask about the September 16th incident where Blackwater slaughtered at least 11 innocent Iraqis at the request of the Justice Department) and what passed for 'punishment' --Braley pointed out the message to take away was, "If I screw up . . . the worst that's going to happen is I have to give up a window seat for an aisle seat."

Braley was referring to the fact that Blackwater didn't discipline him. Prince repeatedly -- throughout the hearing -- would immediately go to flogging insisting (over and over) "We can't flog". The inablity to flog appears to be a big issue with Prince. Prince explained (at several points) that -- though they couldn't flog -- what Blackwater did with the employee was pull his plane ticket, withheld the employee's paycheck and the employee's bonus. Prince -- falling back on the flogging -- declared that Blackwater did all they could. Witholding earned wages is supposed to be against the law so it's a shame no one asked Prince what law Blackwater was operating under when they made that decision. A bonus can be given or taken away and any dispute over it can be handled by the courts but earned wages are earned wages and companies do not have the right to withold them.

What Price left out was that the employee didn't just leave. He was proud that the employee's security clearence was pulled. But he failed to show the public his pride over the fact that Blackwater hustled the employee out of Iraq before any serious questions could be asked. Price -- noting he watches crime shows on TV -- begged off ruling whether it was murder, homicide or manslaughter but didn't quibble that, in fact, it was a crime. That being the case, why an employee who had committed a serious crime was being whisked out of Iraq is a question he should have been asked repeatedly.

The point Braley was making was US service members -- in the same situation -- would be facing a court-martial but all the Blackwater employee basically lost was a window seat on the trip home. Throughout it at all, regardless of any question other than about his time in the US Navy Seals, Prince repeatedly fell back on "I don't know." On violence, on whether Chilean thugs who worked for Pinochet were now working for Blackwater (Jan Schakowsky brought that issue up and hit hard repeatedly on the human rights issue), what the make up of the Blackwater force in Iraq was, etc. It was left to Chris Murphy (after many had left the hearing -- press and committee members) to state the obvious, "Certainly as CEO you can tell us what your profit has been?" No, he couldn't.

But he could indicate that he believes Blackwater employees are destroying Blackwater equipment intentionally. That probably wasn't his intent but he declared, to Murphy, that "Our helicopters get fragged." "Frag" is internal not external. If the Blackwater helicopters are being "fragged" then the "fragging" would have to be done by a Blackwater worker. Listening to Prince go on and on about Blackwater's "costs" What costs? That's a serious question. Replacing a helicopter? Well talk to anyone in the trucking industry or the delivery industry and they'll tell you equipment's replaced all the time. But the point was driven home best when Jan Schakowsky was asking (repeatedly) how Blackwater checks out their employees. According to Prince, they basically just run Social Security numbers. So Glory, Glory Private Business . . . as it still depends upon all the tools of the federal government. As Henry Waxman noted in his opening statement, "Over the past 25 years, a sophisticated campaign has been waged to privatize government services. The theory is that corporations can deliver government services better and at a lower cost than government can. Over the last six years, this theory has been put into practice. The result is that privatization has exploded. For every taxpayer dollar spent on federal programs, over 40 cents now goes to private contractors. Our government now outsources even the oversight of the outsourcing. At home, core government functions -- like tax collection and emergency response -- have been contracted out. Abroad companies like Halliburton and Blackwater have made billions performing tasks that used to be done by our nation's military forces. What's been missing is a serious evaluation of whether the promises of privatizing are actually realized." Instead of addressing the reality, Prince elected to play like he didn't know, couldn't recall and invent fantasies. Such as when he wanted to tale the tale of his proudest moment of life. Picture it, if you could, because he couldn't. A man, an officer, unnamed, but this is the most vivid moment of Prince's life, right? So the officer tells him that all the troops serving under him know that if they get into trouble into Iraq, call Blackwater first. A lie and an obvious one. But if Prince wants to stick by it, then the US military might want to address policy with those serving because troops do NOT first call mercenaries when they are in need of help. In fact, to do so is a violation of the chain of command.

House Rep and 2008 presidential Democratic hopeful Dennis Kucinich attempted to seriously address the issue of the contracts Blackwater has been awarded by the federal government. He raised serious issues (including the huge increase Blackwater sees each year -- $48 million in 2004, $500 million last year). Prince told Kucinich these weren't "no bid" contracts, that Kucinich misunderstood. He fell back on that repeatedly allowing him to avoid Kucinich's questions. Then, after several other members had their turn at questioning, Prince wanted to clarify the record, turns out some of those contracts he was declaring weren't no-bid, were no-bid contracts.

It was very similar to his appalling response to US service members being scapegoated for the actions of Blackwater: "I don't believe that false story lasted in the media for more than a few hours." But when you're attempting to hustle someone out of the country, every hour counts. And what's a lie to Blackwater? Prince did the same thing with Kucinich's questions. He lied. Then, after he'd eated up the time on the clock, he would clarify his statements on the no-bid contracts. In fairness, if Prince is the idiot he pretended for the committee, then his lawyer assisted him because his attorney (seated to the left of him) was advising him throughout. But that is Blackwater for you. Lying doesn't matter if they correct it . . . after they've gotten what they wanted whether it's time to whisk an employee out of the country or to run down the clock on questions.

He smirked when the e-mail on the shooting was read, when "At least the ID of the shooter will take the heat off us" was read into the record. The heat was off Blackwater and it was placed on the US service members. But Prince thinks it's fine because it -- the lie -- was just out there for "a few hours." At another point, Prince would declare (of this same incident), "Look, I'm not going to make any apologies." No, he wasn't going to. And that he hasn't been forced to goes to how little accountability there is. Which is why he could also declare, "I believe we acted appropriately at all times."

If there was a more appalling moment than that -- to hear a CEO responsible for a company where an employee killed someone (they were focusing on the one death) declare he had no apologies to make -- it was when Mike Turner elected to whine about all the sympathy being shown. Why, he insisted, no one was even noting al-Qaeda. The issue wasn't al-Qaeda. The issue was a US company (of mercenaries) are harming Iraqi civlians (specific instances cited), not facing any punishment for it and it's the US service members that get blamed for it and have to deal with the further hostilities. But Turner -- who appeared genuinely stupid -- couldn't grasp that at and let his whine continue to declare that the focus on Iraqi civilians killed by Blackwater bothered him because "I think it crosses the line between our team and their team." Fortunately for Turner, there were other moments that people will probably zoom in on.Such as Lynn Westmoreland's crack-pot theories about a menace (Red?) in cahoots with trial attorneys across the nation. Thankfully, Westmoreland assured the country that this unnamed menace was not serving in the legislative branch ("There is a party not in Congress . . .").Less concerned with finger pointing within the halls of Congress, Darrell Issa attempted to paint the entire motive for the hearing as partisan, insisting that the hearing was being held because Blackwater has given so much money to Republicans. Erik Prince rejected that, noting, "Blackwater is not a partisan company." It flew over Issa's head. "I think you're exactly right!" Issa crowed, ignoring what Prince had just stated, and insisting this was an attempting to turn it into a partisan issue. Henry Waxman rightly pointed out, "The only one who's done that is you."Christopher Shays, before all but falling to his knees to praise the military, declared, "I was a conscientious objector. I was in the Peace Corp!"

As noted earlier, the September 16th slaughter was taken 'off the table'.
Demetri Sevastopulo (Financial Times of London) reports that the FBI's plans to open an investigation into the incident ("last month shot and killed 11 Iraqi civilians") and "send a team to Iraq to assist a State department investigation." There are plenty of witnesses for them to talk to. Jomana Karadsheh and Alan Duke (CNN) report that the Iraqi police officer operating in the square asserts Blackwater "became terrorists" and that "they entered the square, throwing water bottles at the Iraqi police posted there and driving in the wrong direction." The police officer explains, "I saw parts of the woman's head flying in front of me, blow up and then her entire body was charred. What do you expect my reaction to be? Are they protecting the country? No. If I had a weapon I would have shot at them."

After Eric Prince completed his testimony, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform heard from US ambassadors David M. Satterfiled, Richard J. Griffin and William H. Moser. This aspect of the hearing was much shorter than Prince's and that may be due to the fact that even the most basic questions from US Representatives were met with obstruction from the three employees of the State Department. As Jan Schakowsky declared during her questionign, "I have heard all of that." One typical exchange went Q: "Are you refusing to answer" A: "I'm not able to confirm the details."

Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer (five more wounded), while 5 other Baghdad roadside bombing claimed 2 lives (twelve wounded). Reuters notes a Khalis bomber killed himself as well 4 civilians "outside a police station" (one woman and one child were among the four dead) and a Jalawla roadside bombing left eleven injured. KUNA reports 6 dead with ten more injured in an Al-Khalis car bombing.


Reuters notes "a businessman and his son" were shot dead in Wihda while "primary school teacher Alaa al-Zubaidi" was shot dead in Suwayra, one person was shot dead in Hilla, an armed struggle in Abbasi claimed 2 lives


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 9 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes 2 corpses discovered outside Kirkuk.

Mark Deen and Kitty Donaldson (Bloomberg News) report, "Prime Minister Gordon Brown, preparing for a possible election in the U.K., said he plans to pull 1,000 troops out of Iraq by the end of this year. The withdrawal would leave about 4,250 U.K. soldiers stationed near the city of Basra and put Iraqi forces in charge of day-to-day security across the south of the country." AFP notes, "In policy terms, Brown has so far shown little divergence from Blair on Iraq, although he has accepted the issue has been politically 'divisive' and that 'mistakes' were made in the post-war planning and reconstruction."

Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) notes, "The Democratic-led Senate has voted to authorize spending another $150 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Senate passed the spending measure by a 92 to 3 vote. Democrats Robert Byrd of West Virginia and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma voted against the war spending. While the Senate bill authorizes the money to be spent, it does not guarantee it. President Bush will have to wait until Congress passes a separate appropriations bill before war funds are transferred to military coffers." On Bill Moyers Journal (last Friday in most markets and available online A/V and transcript) the issue of the financial costs of the illegal war were addressed:

BILL MOYERS: You said the other day to someone that we think we can fight the war in Iraq without paying for it. JOHN BOGLE: Well, we borrow the money to fight the Iraq War by some estimates and they're not absurd estimates is running now towards a $1 trillion. We could be doing what the British empire did. We could be bankrupting ourselves in the long run. And-- BILL MOYERS: You see us as an empire? JOHN BOGLE: Well, of course it's an empire. We reach all over the world. We thought of ourselves in many, many respects as the policemen of the world. God knows we know we're the policemen of the Middle East. And there are those say, even from Alan Greenspan on up or down, that oil is the root of that. I mean, these are great societal questions. Protecting oil, which is in turn polluting the atmosphere.We have problems as a society. And we don't have to surrender to them. But, we have to have a little introspection about where we are in America today. We've go to think through these things. We've got to develop a political system that is not driven by money. I mean, these are societal problems for us that don't have any easy answers.But you don't have to be an economist to know that a great deal of or a minimum in our economy is coming from borrowed money. People are spending at a higher rate than they're earning, and we're starting to pay a price for that now. Particularly in the mortgage side. But, eventually, that could easily spread and people won't be able to do that anymore. You can't keep spending money you don't have. It gets a lot of it, you know, and it wasn't that many years ago -- maybe a couple of generations ago -- that if you wanted something, you saved for it. And when you completed saving for it, you bought it. Imagine that. And that wasn't so bad. But, now, we know that we can have the instant gratification and pay for it with interest payments, of course, over time, which is not an unfair way to do it. We're going to pay a big price for the excessive debt we've accumulated in this society both in the public side and the private side.And it's no secret that this lack of savings in our economy -- just about zero -- is putting us at the mercy of foreign countries. China owns -- I don't know the exact number -- but, let me say about 25 percent of our federal debt. China does. What happens when they start to buy our corporations with all those extra dollars they've got there? I mean, I think that's very-- these problems are long term, are very much worrisome and very much intractable.

And, finally, tomorrow is an anniversary.
As Dennis Kucinich's presidential campaign reminds: "Five years ago tomorrow (Wednesday, October 3), Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich stood on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to deliver an impassioned, point-by-point refutation of the Bush Administration's arguments seeking passage of the Iraq War Resolution. For days leading up to that moment, Kucinich also widely circulated his own independently conducted analysis of the 'intelligence' that the Administration had presented to Congress in support of the resolution. Eight days later, despite the warnings of Kucinich and 132 other members of the House whom he had managed to persuade to oppose this prelude to war, the majority of the House and the majority of the Senate gave the President the war powers he sought. Among those supporting the 'Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002' were Senators Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Chris Dodd, and Joe Biden, all of whom spoke forcefully in favor of the President's strategy -- all four of whom are now Democratic Presidential candidates. All four subsequently approved additional measures for supplemental appropriations to fund the war, as did Democratic Senator Barack Obama after he was elected to the Senate in 2004. Now, five years after they approved a war that should never have been authorized in the first place, those same Democrats are scrambling to explain, excuse, or defend their votes. At the same time, the foremost among them are refusing to pledge an end to the war, admitting that it may extend well beyond 2013. Kucinich, the only Democratic candidate for President who voted against the original war authorization and every war-appropriation since, has recently raised loud warnings, in the Congress and in public statements, that House-approved and Senate-approve measures targeted towards Iran are 'dangerously and frighteningly similar' to those anti-Iraq resolutions approved five years ago." PDF warning: here for the independent analysis, here for the floor speech.