Saturday, March 21, 2009


Rebecca: Welcome to the Friday Iraq roundtable. This should be our fifth. We've done these for the last six Fridays -- we skipped one Friday -- to help put a spotlight on the Iraq War and to note the March on the Penatagon which takes place tomorrow in DC. We'll have more on that in a moment. But we are in DC for tomorrow's March. Today's if this posts on Saturday. Participating tonight are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim and Ava; me, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Trina of Trina's Kitchen, Wally of The Daily Jot and Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts. This roundtable will also be posted at the sites of Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man, Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills), Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends, Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ and Ruth of Ruth's Report. For Stan and Marcia, it's their first group trip to DC. Ruth's also brought four grandchildren. Tracey and Jayson have been here with all of us before but the other two are new to DC. C.I. had offered to guest post at other sites if anyone wanted to go out and felt like they had to post as well. Marcia asked if it would be possible just to cross-post the roundtable at her site and then the others agreed that was a great idea. Jim's participating mainly to make sure C.I. doesn't talk about something Jim wants saved for Third on Sunday. I am not joking. Ty, Jess, Dona and Dallas are out with the gang seeing the nightlife in DC, in case anyone wonders. Ava and C.I. are taking notes and will type this up. This is a rush transcript. With that lengthy intro, I can't imagine that I've forgotten anything. Okay, where do we want to kick this off at?

Trina: I want to start with Kristoffer Walker because of the fact that I think it's an important issue and I also want to be sure it's covered at my site. We don't have to go into great detail, I know Jim wants a piece at Third, but I do want it noted and noted at the start.

Rebecca: No problem, Trina. We're going to toss to Ava for the background.

Ava: Okay, Kristoffer Walker is a 28-year-old Iraq War veteran. He had attempted to get discharged through channels. He was ignored. He returned on a pass last month and declared that he would not be returning to Iraq. He stated the Iraq War was illegal and immoral. Upon returning home, he advised the military of his decision and saw his local Guard to see about duties he might be able to do but was cursed out there. The Associated Press covered his story and was the only national domestic news source to do so. That includes small media and I have to leave it at that on that because we will be addressing that at Third. This week he was back in the news. With the military threatening and -- my opinion -- little supoort, he decided to return to Iraq. He is still opposed to the illegal war and stands by his statements.

Mike: This really ticked off my mother, this topic.

Rebecca: Trina is Mike's mother.

Mike: Right, sorry. And he didn't get any support, Ava's right. Courage to Resist, for example, an organization that is supposed to get the word out on service members who resist, never mentioned him. We're talking weeks where he wasn't mentioned. Media ignored him. It was disgusting. And they ignored him after he announced his decision.

Wally: And to be really clear here, AP covered that and covered him. Other than them, he was covered by Wisconsin media. He was also covered by right-wing websites which slammed him repeatedly. Can I toss to you on that, Jim?

Jim: Sure. C.I. covered Kristoffer repeatedly at The Common Ills --

C.I.: Interrupting to note that Jim and Dona filled in for me the night of the Academy Awards and they covered it the night they filled in. That was the first time it was covered at The Common Ills. Credit where it's due.

Jim: Thank you. But C.I. covered it repeatedly. And because of that, the nasty e-mails came in. Dona and I help out with the e-mails at the public account for The Common Ills. There are others who help out like Jess, Martha, Shirley, Eli, Ava and C.I. But there were really disgusting e-mails. On Kristoffer Walker, on C.I. for covering Kristoffer. And they'd usually note, these nasty e-mails, what this right-wing web site said or that one said. To be clear, no right-wing blogger, that I know of, e-mailed to attack. But it was obvious that the right-wing was covering Kristoffer Walker and, as is their inclination, they were slamming him. So with no left defense, he was pretty much on his own.

Trina: There's a mother that writes me regularly. Her son self-checked out and has gone elsewhere, outside of the US, not to Canada, and is now engaged to a woman in that country. He's been 'underground' bascially this whole time and hopefully he'll be able to go above ground after the wedding. But, she wrote just outraged each week over the refusal by so many media outlets to cover Kristoffer Walker and she was especially outraged by the silence. As am I.

Rebecca: It really was something and I tossed to Ava because she could do background but nothing else. Ditto C.I. The reason is Jim wants a piece on it for Third and if we run out of time or can't get it to work when we're writing it, he wants Ava and C.I. to be prepared to grab it in their TV piece.

Jim: If I could add one more thing. A number of e-mails came into The Common Ills on KPFA and I am lobbying Ava and C.I. to do two features -- the second would be on KPFA's hideous performance this week that just played out like a "We do not deserve tax payer funding."

Rebecca: I agree that would be interesting. Let's turn to stop-loss. Isaiah hasn't spoken and said he wasn't sure how much help he'd be so let me toss to him to give us some background on stop-loss.

Isaiah: Stop-loss is the backdoor draft. You enlist and you sign a contract. Say for eight years. That would usually mean six years of service and two years inactive at the end of your contract. In many cases, when your contract was coming to an end for active duty service, you would be informed you had been stop-lossed. In other cases, your contract might be up. C.I. had this in the snapshot but pulled it because there wasn't enough room, the snapshot was too many K, but look at Camilo Mejia. His contract had completely expired. He was serving in Iraq and he was stop-lossed there.

Jim: If I could, I'll recommend Kimberly Peirce's Stop-Loss which was insulted by KPFA today, by two people, as C.I.'s pointed out in replies to e-mails complaining about Aimee and her guest's little stunt, who didn't know what they were talking about. I don't just mean about the film, I mean about stop-loss. They may get busted by C.I. and Ava and I'm pushing for that.

Elaine: I'll jump in because I know Ava and C.I. can't address this subjet -- in case they're covering it Sunday at Third. As C.I. pointed out in today's snapshot, Robert Gates has repeatedly said the army would work to eliminate stop-loss. It hasn't happened yet. Nor is he making a promise that will cease. The best, kicking out all qualifiers, is he can guarantee a few months will not utilize stop-loss. Thomas E. Ricks has also pointed out that when stop-loss is supposedly being phased out, Robert Gates is out of the job as Secretary of Defense so it will actually be the next Secretary of Defense that will be over it.

Trina: To me, it's still the same thing it always is which is Barack gets applauded for doing nothing. A vague announcement is made and everyone tosses aside the vagueness and cheers madly.

Wally: Exactly. You've got liars praising Barack for something that, if it happens, IF, will not happen until January 2010. This is insane. It's the lazy child theory that C.I.'s friend was talking about.

Trina: Exactly. You sit there and praise the lazy child for something they say they will do and then, because they got their praise, they avoid doing a damn thing. How about we start waiting to see what's happening, to see something implemented, see if it's done?

Mike: I will not say whether it is a sister or brother but I will say my mother knows of what she speaks. I have a sibling that you do not praise for what will be becuase if you do ___ will not do what ____ said they would.

Elaine: You can take it to a relationship as well -- a love relationship. Think of the guy you dated who never did a thing. Think of how he meant to get you flowers for Valentine's Day or he meant to take you out to eat on your birthday or whatever. That is one of the most common problems among women that I have seen in all my years of practice. I always advise the same thing, which is what Trina's advocating right now, don't praise. Don't say, "Oh, that's so nice that you were going to" whatever. They get that bit of nice and they don't care. This isn't all men. It's not Mike and it's probably 2% of the men I've been involved with. But I think probably 65% of women can tell you of at least one relationship they've had where this took place.

Ava: I would agree with that and include myself on that list; however, I'm not talking about Jess, I'm talking about before I was involved with Jess.

Rebecca: Okay. The sixth anniversary of the illegal was Thursday. Saturday actions take place. The National Assembly to End the Wars, the ANSWER coalition, World Can't Wait and Iraq Veterans Against the War -- all are taking part in a real action. Iraq Veterans Against the War explains: IVAW's Afghanistan Resolution and National Mobilization March 21st As an organization of service men and women who have served in Iraq, Afghanistan, stateside, and around the world, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War have seen the impact that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have had on the people of these occupied countries and our fellow service members and veterans, as well as the cost of the wars at home and abroad. In recognition that our struggle to withdraw troops from Iraq and demand reparations for the Iraqi people is only part of the struggle to right the wrongs being committed in our name, Iraq Veterans Against the War has voted to adopt an official resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and reparations for the Afghan people. (To read the full resolution, click here.) To that end, Iraq Veterans Against the War will be joining a national coalition which is being mobilized to march on the Pentagon, March 21st, to demand the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and further our mission and goals in solidarity with the national anti-war movement. This demonstration will be the first opportunity to show President Obama and the new administration that our struggle was not only against the Bush administration - and that we will not sit around and hope that troops are removed under his rule, but that we will demand they be removed immediately. For more information on the March 21st March on the Pentagon, and additional events being organized in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Orlando, to include transportation, meetings, and how you can get involved, please visit: or

Rebecca (Con't): So that's Saturday afternoon. If you're not in one of the cities listed above that doesn't mean there's not an action in your area. I'm going to swipe this from C.I.'s snapshot today, "In addition, IVAW's Dustin Alan Parks has organized a demonstration in Fort Worth, Texas. Chris Vaughn (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) reports 'the Rock Bottom Peace March" will take place "at 10 a.m. in General Worth Square in downtown Fort Worth'." So that's another event and there will be events in most areas. I want to talk about the People's Mujahideen of Iran, though, right now. I know very little of them. I know C.I. was holding to give time for the issue to be addressed and I know they appeared in today's snapshot so I want to discuss them.

C.I.: Okay, they've been in Iraq for approximately 23 years. They are Iranians. After the Shah was overthrown, they were welcomed into Iraq by Saddam Hussein who was not fond of Iran, to put it mildly. They have remained in Iraq all this time. Some countries see them as a terrorist organization. They have publicly renounced violence and the European Union decided not to list them as terrorists; however, the US continues to list them as such. That's more of a Bush era determination. I'm not saying that Barack's administration will change the listing -- or should -- I'm trying to make it clear as to what's going on. If there's a question, ask because I don't know how indepth we want to get on this?

Mike: Okay, Let me ask about the State Dept. I know this but for late comers.

Elaine: Let's back up a second. C.I. was asked by friends in the current administration not to write about this topic while they were attempting to deal with it. Right after the election, this became a huge problem in Iraq. And they were not in power, the new administration, and it was just a huge mess. C.I. agreed -- and this was noted at The Common Ills -- not to weigh in until February unless the refugees were attacked. You had Arianna's motley crue of uninformed bloggers weighing in at some point with alarmist posts that never include facts but make appeals to base emotions via 'creative' writing. C.I. stayed out of it until March. Until today. So let's start with why today?

C.I.: The Iraqi government made clear that they want the People's Mujahideen of Iran out of Iraq. They're asking for other countries to take them in. That means that it's an issue that has to be addressed now. Mike, you were asking about the State Dept?

Mike: Right. Talk about what was going on then and what's going on now.

C.I.: Well then was Bush. The State Dept knew the flare up was coming, the military knew it and was advising on it. They had months and months worth of heads up and they refused, the Bush White House, refused to address the situation. As Elaine pointed out, it finally flared up after the election and before Barack was sworn in. Even the flare up didn't prompt the Bush White House into action. A number of people at the State Department had prepared various options over the summer. The Bush administration wasn't interested then or at anytime else. I've even been told there was a certain glee over the fact that the flare up was taking place as the handover to Barack was about to take place.

Mike: Glee on the part of the Bush administration.

C.I.: Yes. Though not yet sworn in, this was one of the many foreign policy issues regarding Iraq that the Barack administration was discussing. They have various ideas and I have no idea which one they're getting behind but they are going to have to do something now that Iraq's government is saying the refugees have to leave. And "they are going to have to do something now" is not my attempting that they have dragged their feet. This is a very complicated issue and the US military has been able to protect the refugee camp. But that can't go on forever and it's not fair to the US military because the surrounding areas want the refugees out so it's only antagonizing relationships in that area, it's only builidng up ill will for US forces. So the refugees are in danger, al-Maliki wants them out and the US forces are risking garnering more animosity for protecting the Iranian refugees. For those three reasons, something has to be done. Now, one thing that can be done, is to talk to Nouri al-Maliki and make it clear that he needs to back off. If that happens, there may be more time to address the situation. But by sending out his spokespeople to make the announcement and with Iran's reaction -- they want the Iranian refugees out of the region -- not just out of Iraq -- unless they're going to be able to try them. So by sending out his spokespeople and with Iran's public reaction,the stakes got raised and in many ways it's worse than when the violence was more intense a few weeks ago, violence aimed at the refugees.

Mike: So what do you think will be done or what you guess will be done?

C.I.: I have no idea. I believe several options are being worked right now with the hopes that traction will start on one of them. If you want my opinion on what the Barack administration would prefer right now, it would be getting al-Maliki to cool down and back off the they-must-leave talk. Doing that would allow more time for the US to go into talks with other countries about accepting the refugees.

Wally: Can the refugees come here?

C.I.: Children and women, possibly. Not likely. But possibly. That was the opinion of State -- career employees -- under the previous administration and they continue to think maybe. But it's a weaker maybe now because Bush, as a Republican, might have been able to sell it to Congressional Republicans. Democrats might not like it but, out of humanitarian desires, might have allowed it. But Barack's a Democrat. He really can't propose that they come over and not expect major objections from the Republicans. They are still considered a terrorist group, that's how the US lists them. So it's very unlikely that under Barack, any could come to the US. The Republican reaction would most likely be to take the floor and denounce this admission of 'terrorists.' I'm not saying they're terrorists, I'm not saying they're not. They are refugees. I don't think that can be debated. It also can't be debated that the US has classified them as terrorists because that is the classification. So I don't see them coming here. Not in the current climate. You would have Republicans going on TV, they would make this Guantanamo issue. With Guantanamo, the talking point -- the Republican talking point is, "These are terrorists! Barack's making us unsafe!" Forget the fact that nothing's been closed and no one's been set free. But that's the talking point. They would combine that if the People's Mujahideen of Iran were allowed -- even in part -- to come to the US. They would tie it together and go to town on it. So, my opinion, it's not likely.

Wally: You're not taking an opinion on whether they're terrorists or not?

C.I.: No. I'm not disputing that they are classifed as such by the US government. But I'm not making a call on whether that's appropriate or not. That's me. Anyone in the community that wants to make a call one way or the other is welcome to do so.

Trina: You made a point in the snapshot that needs to be repeated here. This needs to be dealt with now while US forces are on the ground. Talk about that.

C.I.: The US forces are the only thing that have kept the refugees alive. There is tremendous ill will towards them in the region their camp is. A small drawdown of approximately 10,000 US forces are supposed to take place between now and December 31st. If violence flares up before or after or if al-Maliki needs US forces for another assault on Basra, you're putting the refugees at risk. Ideally, before any drawdown begins, this should be taken care of because its been ignored and ignored. And Iraq's now made a decision. That decision is the Iranian refugees leave. The US nees to faciliate that.

Trina: And you're not saying that US forces should remain for a longer period or anything like that.

C.I.: No. I'm saying the issue has been pushed by al-Maliki and has to be dealt with, that the US forces are the only thing that have kept the refugees safe and that the issue of their departure now has to be managed. The only thing that would change that would be al-Maliki backing off.

Ava: And if he did, he wouldn't be trust worthy. He's blown that with the US. They're very wary of what he might do in the lead up to the planned December elections.

Rebecca: Good point. I think we're going to wrap up. I'm going to let Isaiah and Trina give some closing thoughts or a topic we didn't grab that the might want to now.

Isaiah: Trina's nodding to me so I'll just say I can't believe what's going on. I can't believe how little attention the sixth anniversary of the start of the illegal war has received this week. I really think that if the left doesn't get over their infatuation with Barack real quick this country's going to be in huge trouble.

Trina: I would agree with Isaiah. Daniel Ellsberg has been pointing out that the illegal war is not ending and he is being ignored. Outlets that couldn't miss a word he said when Bully Boy Bush was in the White House now work overtime to ignore him. It's very telling and very sad. I would encourage everyone to get active tomorrow.

Rebecca: Well said. Thank you to everyone for participating. We're going to wind down now. I can tell you that three topics discussed will be pulled by Jim because he wants them covered at Third.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, March 20, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, an Abu Ghraib lawsuit can proceed, media coverage of the sixth anniversary is sparse (but out there if you hunt), things heat up in England, and more.

"It is now six years since we went into Iraq,"
writes Rose Gentle (UK's Military Families Against The War). "On June 28th it will be five years to the day since I lost my boy. It's a day I can't get away from. I can remember watching the news when it said that a British soldier had been killed. I looked at the TV and saw the body of a boy on the ground. No, it can't be Gordon, I thought, as I would have been told by now. But it was. Four hour later I was told it was Gordon." Gordon Gentle died June 28, 2004 at the age of 19, in a Basra roadside bombing. Rose Gentle concludes, "One day we will know why we went there and we can all make up our own minds. But as a mum I have to know now." Rose Gentle is not the only one asking for answers. Nigel Morris (Independent of London) reports Carne Ross ("formerly Britain's top Iraq specialist at the United Nations) joined the cry "for a full public inquiry into the war" yesterday. The BBC informs that Brian Jones ("former senior defense intelligence expert") "also made the case for a public inquiry and shared that before the illegal war started he had already complained about the false claims the Tony Blair government was pushing such as Iraq's supposed WMDs. Monday Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) reported 72% of respondents in a new BBC survey support an inquiry into the Iraq War. BBC explained that the 18-24 years-old group supports an inquiry by 81%. Last week, government e-mails from the period leading up to the illegal war were released demonstrating that the case Tony Blair was making for war was not valid and that these bogus claims were called out by intelligence experts.

The release of those e-mails followed the
February 26th declarations made by John Hutton, UK Sec of Defense, on the floor of the House of Commons:

During the final stages of the review of records of detentions, we found information about one case relating to a security operation that was conducted in February 2004, a period which honorable members I'm sure will recall saw an increased level of insurgent activity as the transfer to Iraqi sovereignty drew closer. During this operation, two individuals were captured by UK forces in and around Baghdad. They were transferred to US detention in accordance with normal practice and then moved subsequently to a US detention facility in Afghanistan. This information was brought to my attention on the first of December, 2008. And I instructed officials to investigate this case thoroughly and quickly so I could bring a full account to Parliament. Following consultations with US authorities we confirmed that they transferred these two individuals from Iraq to Afghanistan in 2004 and they remain in custody there today. I regret that it is now clear that inaccurate information on this particular issue has been given to the House by my department. I want to stress however that this was based upon the information available to ministers and those who were briefing them at the time. My predecessors as secretaries of state for defense have confirmed to me that they had no knowledge of these events. I have written to the honorable members concerned, correcting the record, and am placing a copy of these letters also in the library of the house. And again, Madame Deputy Speaker, I want to apologize to the House for these errors. The individuals transferred to Afghanistan are members of Laskar-e-Taiba, a proscribed organization with links to al Qaeda. The US government has explained to us that they were moved to Afghanistan because of a lack of relevant linguists necessary to interrogate them effectively in Iraq. The US has categorized them as unlawful enemy combatants and continues to review their status on a regular basis. We have been assured that the detainees are held in a humane, safe and secure environment meeting international standards which are consistent with cultural and religious norms and the International Committee of the Red Cross has had regular access to the detainees. A due diligence search by the US officials of the list of all those individuals captured by UK forces and transferred to US detention facilities in Iraq has confirmed that this was the only case in which individuals were subsequently transferred outside of Iraq. This review has established that officials were aware of this transfer in early 2004. It has also shown that brief references to this case were included in lengthy papers that went to then-Foreign Secretary and the Home Secretary in April 2006. It is clear that the context provided did not highlight the significance at that point to my right honorable friends. In retrospect, it is clear to me that the transfer to Afghanistan of these two individuals should have been questioned at the time. We have discussed the issues surrounding this case with the US government and they have reassured us about their treatment but confirmed that, as they continue to represent significant security concerns, it is neither possible or desirable to transfer them to either their country of detention or their country of origin.

There has been no oversight or accountability with the illegal war. As this has continued to be the case, public outraged has boiled resulting in the large majority who want a full and public inquiry into the Iraq War. Gordon Gentle is one of
179 British soldiers who have died in the illegal war.

This morning, USA Today's Susan Page filled in as host on
The Diane Rehm Show. Iraq was brought up in the second hour and the discussion included:

Susan Page: Yesterday was the sixth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq and it's interesting that looking for what stories might be on the front page today they deal more with the politics in Iraq than with the war and violence. I wonder, Michael Hirsh, at this moment, do we see the war actually coming to an end?

Michael Hirsh (Newsweek): Well I don't know if I would go quite that far but, um, but the Washington Post [
click here for Anthony Shadid article Hirsh is referring to] did have did have an excellent piece on the front page this morning, summing up how new coalitions seem to be forming, cutting across sectarian lines with Prime Minister Maliki bringing some important Sunni politicians onto his side. And uh that -- it's remarkable the amount of progress that has occured.

Karen DeYoung (Washington Post): I think that it's not that it's how much violence can be -- is tolerable. You had Prime Minister Maliki last week in an interview coming back from Australia saying that he expected to ask the American troops to stay in certain places even after combat troops were supposed to withdraw and I would presume that would be around Mosul where al Qaeda is - has withdrawn too. Perhaps in Diyala. Places where you still see a relatively high level of violence. But I think the question of "Is the war over or not?" it depends on what is toleratable level and that obviously is relative to what was clearly an intolerable level before.

Yochi Dreazen (Wall St. Journal): You know statistics obviously lie and are deceptive but there are some that are really striking. One that sticks out in my mind that pertains to this is the casulty level in January. The number of troops who died in Iraq was smaller signficantly than who died in Afghanistan but also smaller significantly, unfortunately, than the number who committed suicide. So six years in, you not only have Afghanistan outstripping it but in some months military suicide outstrips the death toll in Iraq which when you think about where we were a year ago, two years ago, is a staggering change.

What? The suicide rate did not hold steady, it has climbed and climbed to the point that it is now a crisis as was admitted
this week in the Congressional hearing. Yochi's first sentence sounds like the clue that he's about to use statistics that are deceptive. They also go to the fact that journalists are not social scientists and are not trained in much more than note taking. You need months and months to track a pattern. What Yochi is 'observing' may or may not be pattern. It may be a blip. But no social scientist would call it a pattern at this point. Only a general studies major would. Yochi can take comfort in the fact that something else happened that was so jaw droppingly appalling, his own sleight-of-hand with the numbers probably faded from memory quickly.

Susan Page: Talk about the treatment of US soldiers this week we had an important announcement by the US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates about a committment to phase out this policy of stop-loss that is so controversial. Michael Hersh tell us exactly what stop-loss is?

Michael Hirsh: Well that was a program the Bush administration put in place to extend the deployments of US soldiers beyond uh there alotted one year, two years and, uh, Gates in announcing the end of this described it basically as you know as a breach of the understanding the Defense Department had with its troops. During the worst years of the Iraqi insurgency from 2004, [200]5, [200]6 and [200]7 say, through that period there were, there were a lot of concerns that you might be gutting the army, that the career officers, particularly NCOs, non-coms, would start to leave because they were being asked to do more than they had in the past which was to do -- string together three overseas deployments in a row. So Gates is putting a stop to that and he's able to do it because of this draw down plan and because of the increased stability of the country.

Suddenly everyone else looks like a genius. Note to Hirsh, it is perfectly acceptable to use the sentence, "I don't know." In fact, that sentence is preferrable to, "Let me b.s. my way through an answer over the airwaves." This has nothing to do with three overseas deployments in a row. In its earliest usage in the Iraq War (and it predates George W. Bush which Hirsh also seems unaware of), it was used not to bring troops back into a theater of war but to keep them there. Camilo Mejia was in the earliest group of soldiers stop-lossed. The 'war' on 'terror' 'required' he be stop-lossed for over ten years. (That wasn't legal in any way with Camilo's case. Many issues applied and even a court that upheld stop-loss would have to address how it did not cover Camilo.) Camilo was in Iraq when he was stop-lossed. He was not home and deployed to Iraq. Where Hirsh is getting his 'information' is something only he can answer. He appears to either be pulling it out of thin air or his butt. We could continue to correct him but the program did self-correcting while broadcasting. Susan would note later in the hour (this is the second hour of today's show and about 14 minutes in) that they had gotten twitters and e-mails and she would ask Yochi Dreazen to explain stop-loss. He would note it came about after Vietnam, used in "the first Gulf War but not to the degree that it was used in the Iraq War. What it means is when you commit to serve in the US army, you typically committ to do a five or six year committment [of active service, C.I. note] so if you go in 18 you would serve out until you're 24 and then you could do whatever you wanted to do, re-enlist or leave. What stop loss does is it prevents you from leaving. So if you want to leave the Army, if you want to leave the Marine Corps, you can't the Army can keep you in some what indefinately though typically it's been six months to a year of extra service And what that means is if you want to get out of the army, you've done two tours in Iraq, your marriage is falling apart, whatever the issue, you can't do it. This is the policy John Kerry described in 2004 as a backdoor draft. because it forces you to serve when you don't want to serve." Susan Page would then note, "Secretary Gates didn't say that there would be absolutely no one effected by stop-loss but that he would restrict the number that get caught in this."

Thank you, Susan Page. All week long we've heard these lies of stop-loss is ending! It's over! Not really. Let's go first to
the official announcement from the Defense Dept:

The Department of Defense announced today a comprehensive plan to eliminate the current use of Stop Loss, while retaining the authority for future use under extraordinary circumstances. This is an important step along the path in adapting the Army into an expeditionary force.
The Army Reserve and Army National Guard will mobilize units without employing Stop Loss beginning in August and September 2009, respectively. The Regular (active duty) Army will deploy its first unit without Stop Loss by January 2010.
For soldiers Stop Lossed during fiscal 2009, the department will provide a monthly payment of $500. Until the department is able to eliminate Stop Loss altogether, this payment will serve as an interim measure to help mitigate its effects.
"Stop Loss disrupts the plans of those who have served their intended obligation. As such, it is employed only when necessary to ensure minimal staffing in deploying units, when needed to ensure safe and effective unit performance," said Bill Carr, deputy under secretary of defense for military personnel policy. "It is more easily rationalized in the early stages of conflict when events are most dynamic; but tempo changes in this war have frustrated our efforts to end it altogether."
The department intends to provide Stop Loss Special Pay to eligible service members until the point of separation or retirement, to include that time spent on active duty in recovery following redeployment. Stop Loss Special Pay will begin on the date of implementation, and will take effect for those impacted on or after Oct. 1, 2008.
Stop Loss Special Pay implements the authority granted by Section 8116 of the "Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriation Act, 2009." The appropriation is available to secretaries of the military departments only to provide Special Pay during fiscal 2009.

That's Wednesday March 18th. Now let's go to what Gates said exactly about stop-loss.

Secretary Gates: Good afternoon. Today I have three major announcements to make. First, since assuming this position, I've wanted to dramatically reduce the number of soldiers who are stop-lossed. As of the end of January, there were 13,200 soldiers in stop-loss. I am pleased to announce that I have approved a plan to eliminate the use of stop-loss for deploying soldiers. Effective this August, the US Army Reserve will no longer mobilize units under stop-loss; the Army National Guard will stop doing so in September, and active Army units will cease deplying with stop-loss starting next January. Our goal is to cut the number of those stop-lossed by 50 percent by June 2010 and to eliminate the regular use of stop-loss across the entire Army by March 2011. We will retain the authority to use stop-loss under extraordinary circumstances.

And the legal definition of "extraordinary circumstances"? Thus far the courts have held that the answer to that is "the US military says so." So don't expect any end to stop-loss. We noted this nonsense Wednesday and assumed people had followed the story. Few could even get their facts right. So let's walk this through slowly.
Jeff Schogol (Stars and Stripes) reported Jan. 27, 2007: "Defense Secretary Robert Gates has instructed all branches of the service to minimize the controversial 'stop-loss' program, under which U.S. troops can be involuntarily kept in the service for deployments." And how was this minimize wish (the same thing the Defense Dept wants now) received in the press? Roxana Tiron (The Hill) filed "Pentagon cuts stop-loss" January 25, 2007. What actually happened was that stop-loss was accelerated. But, hey, the headlines were so pleasing who bothered to count the numbers? Pauline Jelinek (AP) reported at that time (January 29, 2007): "Gates has asked the chief of each service branch for a plan by the end of February on how they would rely less on stop loss." I could be wrong on this but my understanding was that it was only the Army that was utilizing stop-loss -- only the army beginning in 2003. Other branches have used it since Vietnam but I'm referring to its current incarnation. Gates comments Wednesday applied only to the Army. If other branches are using it (I don't believe they are currently), Gates' speech wouldn't cover those branches.

WAMU's Metro today, the issue of dignified transfer was addressed. David Furst explained "a new Pentagon policy allows news organizations to photograph the homecomings of fallen service members -- if families agree." He further noted that Gates declared (Wednesday) that arrangements would be made for families who wanted to be present. Kavitha Cardoza spoke with four Marines who received the fallen and their feelings were that they were a part of something honorable. General requirements include that they need to be physically fit and approximately the same height (within four inches) and training is eight hours a week. A phone call alerts them when a dignified transfer will be taking place and they report. They spoke of the process which for them includes reporting not knowing who will be arriving at Dover, walking up and seeing the coffins "on the side of the plane lined up, metal caskets with a flag over it . . . in person it's different," there's a prayer and the coffins are transferred with the Army going first. Cardoza then spoke with Furst about details she observed about the Marines handling the transfer:
". . . they were so young, you know, they just had baby faces. There was one -one man actually , he was 19. And we were interrupted a few times talking, so I lost my train of thought. And so I said, 'Where was I?' And he started laughing and said, 'Ma'am, you were telling me how young I looked'."

Today the
US military announced: "BAGHDAD -- A Multi-National Divsion- Center Soldier died March 19 from non-combat related causes. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The incident is under investigation." The announcement brings to 4260 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war. Another death and on the sixth anniversary. This as the Seattle Times reports that next month there will be ceremonies for South Dakota's Army National Guard's 300 members who are deploying to Iraq ("for a year"). No, the Iraq War has not ended. No, the US service members have not all come home.

Saturday, those wanting to call out the illegal war can join with groups such as
The National Assembly to End the Wars, the ANSWER coalition, World Can't Wait and Iraq Veterans Against the War -- all are taking part in a real action. Iraq Veterans Against the War explains: IVAW's Afghanistan Resolution and National Mobilization March 21st As an organization of service men and women who have served in Iraq, Afghanistan, stateside, and around the world, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War have seen the impact that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have had on the people of these occupied countries and our fellow service members and veterans, as well as the cost of the wars at home and abroad. In recognition that our struggle to withdraw troops from Iraq and demand reparations for the Iraqi people is only part of the struggle to right the wrongs being committed in our name, Iraq Veterans Against the War has voted to adopt an official resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and reparations for the Afghan people. (To read the full resolution, click here.) To that end, Iraq Veterans Against the War will be joining a national coalition which is being mobilized to march on the Pentagon, March 21st, to demand the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and further our mission and goals in solidarity with the national anti-war movement. This demonstration will be the first opportunity to show President Obama and the new administration that our struggle was not only against the Bush administration - and that we will not sit around and hope that troops are removed under his rule, but that we will demand they be removed immediately. For more information on the March 21st March on the Pentagon, and additional events being organized in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Orlando, to include transportation, meetings, and how you can get involved, please visit: or

In addition, IVAW's Dustin Alan Parks has organized a demonstration in Fort Worth, Texas.
Chris Vaughn (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) reports "the Rock Bottom Peace March" will take place "at 10 a.m. in General Worth Square in downtown Fort Worth". Kristy Kuhn (Deseret News) reports that Iraq War veterans spoke out at Salt Lake Main Library yesterday where the message was that the US is occupying Iraq and doing so for profit -- no liberation involved. Jeff Key is quoted stating, "People are getting extraordinarily rich off the blood of the soldiers." Heather Lockwood (Scripps Howard Foundation Wire) reports DC Students for a Democratic Society (DC chapter of SDS) protested last night with "loud funk music" and quotes Lehana Penaramda stating, "Basically the message is war is a waste of our youth." That was yesterday (and there were many other events) but on Wednesday the Grannies Peace Brigade stood up against the Iraq War with a demonstration in NYC. They explain what happened:
PEACE GRANNIES ARRESTED IN TIMES SQUARE WEDNESDAY, OCT. 18 Relax, everyone! The New York City police are solidly on the job these days. With rapists, murderers, bank robbers and dope peddlers, not to mention corporate thieves, rampant throughout the City, they made a significant dent in the crime statistics yesterday, March 18, when they arrested seven grandmothers aged 67 to 90 in Times Square. The grannies, all members of the Granny Peace Brigade, were sent to jail while protesting at the Times Square recruiting station. Their arrest occurred during what is believed to be the first antiwar protest of the Obama Administration, in an attempt to urge the President to reconsider his decision to retain 50,000 troops in Iraq after the official withdrawal scheduled to be completed in the next 18 months and his order for 17,000 more troops sent to Afghanistan. The women feel strongly that these measures will only result in increased death and destruction for Americans, Iraqis and Afghanis and further solidify anti-American feeling throughout the world. Said 94-year-old Brigadier Marie Runyon, "Peace can only be achieved through diplomacy and humanitarian aid." The Granny Peace Brigade women are mostly strong supporters of Barack Obama but were responding to his request that his constituency pressure him to do the right thing when they feel he is on the wrong path. The Brigade is not new to demonstrating at the Times Square recruiting station -- eighteen of the grannies were arrested and jailed on Oct. 17, 2005, when they attempted to enlist in the military to replace America's grandchildren in harm's way in Iraq. After a six-day trial in criminal court, they were acquitted.The seven grannies were arrested at approximately 1:45 p.m. and taken to the Midtown South police precinct. They were not all released until early the next morning, a total of approximately 12 hours. Some of them became shaky and weak after many hours of not eating, but were given no food for another hour and a half. Prior to the arrest, about 50 grannies and their supporters gathered on Military Island at which a press conference was held including speeches by mayoral candidate Rev. Billy, legendary Broadway actress and activist Vinie Burrows (one of the original 18 granny jailbirds), and a young member of Iraq Veterans Against the War,
Matthis Chiroux. A sister group, the Raging Grannies, performed some of their original anti-war songs. During the press conference, grandmothers wrapped yellow police crime scene tape around the ramp near the recruiting center, after which a group, some in wheelchairs and hanging on to walkers, assembled on the ramp leading to the center. The team of Norman Siegel and Earl Ward, who successfully defended the grannies in 2005, will represent them in their current case, for which the grandmothers are profoundly grateful. Siegel, currently a candidate for New York City Public Advocate, is a favorite of the ladies for his continuous support of them.

Matthis also took part in an action in NYC yesterday.
Jennifer Mascia and Jason Grant (NYT online) quote him explaining, "Obama's policies just confirmed to me that the president may hvae changed, but the war is the same. Just because we have a black president now, doesn't mean that we don't have a racist war."

Meanwhile, in Iraq, the illegal war has created a refugee crisis number over four million internal and external refugees. That estimate does not include a group of Iranian refugees who have been in Iraq since long before the start of the illegal war.
Mohammed Abbas (Reuters) reports that these refugees, the People's Mujahideen of Iran, find themselves unwelcomed by the new Shi'ite controlled government "which has mostly warm times with neighbouring Shi'ite Iran" and that al-Maliki's government is now asking that other countreis take them in, "Human rights groups say forcing the 3,500 PMOI members out of their base at Camp Ashraf in northeastern Iraq would violate international law." Iran's Press TV notes, "Iran has long called for the expulsion of MKO members from their headquarters and training center, Camp Ashraf, in Iraq. Tehran says the members of the group who do not have blood on their hands are allowed to return home but others have to stand trial in Iran." Meanwhile, in England, a protest is taking place. Aidan Jones (London Informer) reports that the country's Iraqi Embassy is the site of a protest by exiles in England who are calling for the refugee camp in Iraq to remain open. One protestor, Fatemeh, is quoted stating, "The Iraqis say they want to close the camp. If they close it thousands of people will be sent back to Iran where they will certainly face jail, if not death because the government there sees them as traitors." Al Arabiya News adds, "In 2001 the group renounced violence paving the way for the European Court of First Instance to rule in Dec. 12, 2006 against the inclusion of PMOI on the European Union's 'terrorist list'." At present, the US lists the group as a terrorist organization. The listing may or may not change under the Barack Obama administration. At present, these refugees have been protected by US forces. Actions taken in the last year (especially at the end of the year) have made it clear that without US protection, the refugee camp would have turned into a slaughterhouse. Whether or countries will take them in or not, the issue must be addressed while the US is present. Most issues should (my opinion) be decided by Iraqis because it is their country. The decisions of their puppet government and of the ones launching attacks on the camp are the Iranian refugees must go. The US (and the State Dept knows this) must faciliate the next moves because the US military has been the only thing keeping the refugees alive. The George W. Bush administration allowed this situation to fester and refused to address it. It exploded after the 2008 election and Barack Obama's administration has been attempting to figure out viable options to address the safety concerns of these refugees. This is a problem that was dumped on the current administration. I am not a rescuer of Barack Obama. I have no problem holding him or his administration accountable. However, this is a problem that the State Dept was aware was boiling and about to explode and they were aware of that as early as June of last year. The then-administration refused to deal with it even when it was raised in talks about the Status Of Forces Agreement and the Security Agreement all last year and two months of 2007. They knew this was going to explode and it did after the election. It did not concern them and they did nothing -- not even casual exchanges -- on this issue.

The previous US administration also did a hideous job of assisting external Iraqi refugees. That includes limiting the target numbers of Iraqi refugees who could be admitted to this country to a tiny, insulting number and still being unable to meet that target most years. Whether the current administration will do better on admitting Iraqi refugees to the US or not is an unknown at this point. (And if they stick to fiscal year figures, as the Bush administration did, they will be stuck with October, November and December of 2008 when Barack was not in the White House.) What is known is that today the US State Dept announced that for 2009 fiscal year, $141 million dollars are being added to the $9 million already promised. The State Dept states the money will go to funding:

continued provision of emergency relief supplies to the most vulnerable Iraqis;
rehabilitation of water systems for internally displaced persons and local communities in Iraq;
informal education activities for Iraqi students unable to attend public schools in Jordan and Syria;
school reconstruction to support the influx of Iraqi students into Syrian public schools;
mental health services for displaced Iraqis;
repairs to clinics in Iraq, including donation of medical equipment; and
mobile health units for Iraqi refugees in Jordan and Syria.

The bulk of the money is to go to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. In May of last year,
UNHCR noted they were $127 million short on money needed to assist the internal and external Iraqi refugees.

Xinhua reports that the US bombed homes in Diyala Province last night and killed at least "13 suspected militants". Turning to other reported violence . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 Baghdad roadside bombings which left three people wounded and a suicide bomber in Anbar Province who apparently "tried to attack Sheikh Hasnawi Efan" -- he was shot dead by police but a grenade the bomber tossed claimed the life of 1 police officer and left two more wounded. Reuters notes Thursday events -- "fierces clashes" in which the 10 people were shot dead in Baquba and a Ramadi roadside bombing which left three people injured.

In legal news,
Bill Mears (CNN) reports that US District Court Judge Gerald Bruce Lee has allowed a lawsuit against CACI over the torture at Abu Ghraib with 4 Iraqis stating that contractors took part in the torture "subjected them to beatings and mental abuse, then destroyed documents and video evidence and later misled officials about what was happening inside the facility." The Center for Constitutional Rights notes:

The plaintiffs are Suhail Najim Abdullah Al Shimari, Taha Yaseen Arraq Rashid, Sa'ad Hamza Hantoosh AI-Zuba'e and Salah Hasan Usaif Jasim Al-Ejaili – all of whom are Iraqi citizens who were released from Abu Ghraib between 2004 and 2008 without being charged with any crime.
The former detainees are represented by attorneys Susan L. Burke, William T. O'Neil and William F. Gould of Burke O'Neil LLC, of Washington, D.C.; Katherine Gallagher of the Center for Constitutional Rights; and Shereef Akeel, of Akeel & Valentine, PLC, of Troy, Mich.
The lawsuit alleges that the CACI defendants not only participated in physical and mental abuse of the detainees, but also destroyed documents, videos and photographs; prevented the reporting of the torture and abuse to the International Committee of the Red Cross; hid detainees and other prisoners from the International Committee of the Red Cross; and misled non-conspiring military and government officials about the state of affairs at the Iraq prisons.

The sixth anniversary took place and where was the coverage? Reduced to a daily headline by Amy Goodman. (No, I haven't forgotten her, Ava and I address Pravda on the Hudson this weekend.) Some did file reports yesterday. "It's so deadly now for U.S. troops,"
Lara Logan reported on The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric yesterday (link has video and text), "that even rebuilding work has to be done at night. U.S. engineers work in the dark to repair a bridge that was blown up by terrorists." She was reporting from Mosul and, no, that doesn't sound like the Iraq War is ending. But that report didn't make it on ABC or NBC so those watching their evening broadcasts were fed 'comfort food' passed off as news. That was only one of the disturbing bits of reality Logan offered. Another was this, "What you can't see in Mosul are the Iraqi soldiers who captured the suspect and then handed him over to their U.S. counterparts. They asked not to be identified, for fear of being killed." The Iraqi soldiers are scared to be seen on camera. For fear of being killed.And the spin is supposed to be "Iraq War Over, Rejoice!" It's an important report and Mosul overtook Baghdad for violence last year though few bothered to notice. (That does not mean things turned to milk & honey in Baghdad. It means Mosul grew ever more violent.) Along with CBS Evening News, the only other broadcast news to offer Iraq coverage was PBS. The NewsHour's Ray Suarez moderated an Iraq roundtable (link has text and audio):
RAY SUAREZ: Let's go to some of our viewer questions. Armeney writes from Okemos, Mich.: "What's the probability that Shiite-Sunni strains will reemerge when the Americans downsize their forces? Will al-Qaeda in Iraq prey upon Sunni discontent to strike back at the Shiite government?" Ambassador, why don't you take that first? FEISTAL ISTRABADI: Well, I mean, you know, this of course is the $64,000 question. I don't think any serious observer of the Iraqi security and armed forces believe that they're going to be ready in June of this year or by the end of next year to provide security in Iraq. And what happens when the Americans withdraw? If I can comment on what was said a moment ago about Maliki taking on the militias in Basra; what he has done is taken on the Jaish al-Mahdi, the Sadrists - what we often call the Sadrist militia in Basra and in Baghdad. He has not yet taken on the militia of his principal coalition partner, in Baghdad, that is to say the militia of the Supreme Council - the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, the Badr brigade. And it's not clear that he can because much of the security forces are in the hands of the Badr brigade militia hierarchy. So we don't really have a taking on of militias in Iraq. What we have is a choosing of which militias are going to be in ascendancy in Iraq. And this is a real problem.When American forces start to withdraw, if you still have several militias intact, which can get back to the business of slaughtering the other side's civilians, which is what we had in 2006 and 2007 - and that's my real fear for the future of Iraq in the immediate post-withdrawal. For the record, disarming the militias? Also a benchmark. For those playing on the home editions, that would be benchmark seven (disarming) and benchmark thirteen was ensuring that the militias do not have "control of local security." And these benchmarks? They are not supposed to be 'near' them today. The 'surge' was done to create the political space for the 18 benchmarks to be achieved. All of the 18 were supposed to have been achieved before January 1st. They were not. That is why the 'surge' was a failure.

Others reporting on the Iraq War included Denise Davidson (San Diego Union-Tribune) who offered "
Iraq War milestones" and Gregg Zoroya (USA Today) reports an 11.2% rate of unemployment "for veterans who served in Iraq and and Afghanistan and who are 18 and older" which may impact the Army's current re-enlistment goal have reached 152%. Howard LaFranchi (Christian Science Monitor) spoke with three people about the Iraq War, we'll note this section:

When Ms. Naar-Obed returned from Iraq in 2004, she brought with her news that would shake America and the world -- reports from Iraqis of abuse in the US detention facility in Abu Ghraib. "My hope was that whatever pressure I could bring to bear, either [in Iraq] or by speaking out about it when I was back home, would help put an end to the abuses we were hearing about," says Naar-Obed, who has spent several months of every year since 2002 in Iraq. Once again in Iraq, Naar-Obed is impressed not by any progress she sees, but by the challenges Iraq still faces. Iraq's sectarian tensions eased when ethnic cleansing led to migration and segregation. But the underlying tensions among Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds remain. "There may be a current marked reduction in violent acts [because of the new segregation of sectarian populations], but there has been little in the way of political or personal reconciliation," she says by phone and e-mail. Currently in the Kurdish north, she says she senses "great fear and concern about what will happen when the walls that physically separate people come down, and when the forces that keep those walls erected leave."

Aamer Madhani (USA Today) speaks with Azher Amin, who is a steel fabricator in Iraq, and is told, "Right now, things in Iraq are 70% good and 30% bad, which is much better than it was just two years ago. But if the Americans leave too quickly, the siutation will reverse itself. I don't think anyone -- Iraqi or American -- believes realistically that by 2012 our army will be good enough to protect the people internally or to secure our borders."

NOW on PBS looks at the economy heading to Nevada where "the only public hospital in Las Vegas had to shut its doors to cancer patients and pregnant women." Dr. Howard Dean is a guest on the program. Washington Week also focuses on the economy and Gwen sits down with Jackie Calmes (New York Times), Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times), Alexis Simendinger (National Journal) and Pierre Thomas (ABC News). Bill Moyers Journal offers Socialist historian Mike Davis (who will hopefully speak of more than the economy), a segment billed as "American Dissidents: Against the Tide, From Thomas Paine to Ralph Nader" (and we may crucify this, Ava and I, on Sunday -- Ralph? Ralph whom Bill couldn't have on throughout 2008 when he was running for president?) and Marta Pelaez of Family Violence Prevention Services. Will Bill's commentary this week note the illegal war or will he be one more voice of silence? Tune in tonight. (Or catch it online -- transcript, audio and video are the options and Moyers' program is the only PBS one that strives to serve all segments online.)All three begin airing on most PBS stations tonight. Moving over to commercial broadcast TV, Sunday, on CBS' 60 Minutes:President ObamaThe president discusses the most pressing issues of his first two months in office, including the economy, the bailouts, his budget and America's involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Steve Kroft will talk to Barack Obama in the Oval Office for the interview, expected to be longer than any other he has granted.
Mr. Ayers And Mr. LopezDiscovered living on the streets by Los Angeles Times newspaper columnist Steve Lopez, mentally ill musician Nathaniel Ayers has become the subject of a book by Lopez and now a Hollywood film. Morley Safer reports. Watch Video

nigel morris
the diane rehm show
karen deyoungthe washington post
heather lockwoodkristy kuhn
the seattle timeslara loganthe cbs evening news with katie couricthe newshourray suarez
iraq veterans against the warmilitary families speak outveterans for peacehayder al-khoeithe new york timesjennifer masciaanthony shadidthe washington postdenise davidsongregg zoroyahoward lafranchi
the center for constitutional rights
60 minutespbswashington weeknow on pbs

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Neil Young, Andy Worthington, Iraq

I am opening with an e-mail. "Thank you for calling Mitch Jeserich out. When Nike used the Beatles' 'Revolution' for a commercial, I stared at the TV screen in shock and then started screaming. As awful as that was, it was nothing compared to hearing Mitch used 'Don't Let Me Down' to sell Barack. In fact, there may be something much worse about that due to the fact that John and Yoko stood for peace and Barack's a nasty little war hawk. When I heard that pouring out of my speakers on Tuesday, I just put my head down on the table and cried. I felt personally offended and can't even stand to listen to KPFA now. Thank you for calling it out. I feel John's grave has been violated by this. Feel free to share this at your blog and my name is Caroline Chang, I live in San Francisco and you can include that as well."

I thank Caroline for her e-mail and I agree with her completely. In fact, she says what I was trying to say laast night so much better. Thank you, Caroline.

I was shaking when I wrote the post last night and I was shaking when I heard "Revolution" used to sell sneakers. My reactions to both were similar but I hadn't even thought of that until reading Caroline's wonderful e-mail.

John Lennon is probably my favorite male singer and tonight's a theme post. Your favorite singer and the worst recording he or she ever made? I can't think of anything by Lennon that's not listenable. So I was trying to figure out who else there was?

Okay, I'm pulling a blank. To meet the theme, I'm going with Neil Young's On The Beach. Specifically "Vampire's Blues" which I couldn't stand for ever. I can take it now but for the longest, that song ruined the album for me with it's meaningless music and "Good times are coming, I hear it everywhere I go. Good times are coming, I hear it everywhere I go . . ." The guitar work thought it was playing on a much better song than it was. Neil just droned on and on and I would rush to the stereo (record player) to grab the arm and pull the needle up before the second to last track on the second side played. I truly hated that song.

I can now listen to On The Beach all the way through. I like Neil Young and I'll pretend like this fits the theme because I'm pulling a blank.

"Guantánamo: The Nobodies Formerly Known As Enemy Combatants" (Andy Worthington, World Can't Wait):
Changing the names of things was a ploy that was used by the Bush administration in an attempt to justify some of its least palatable activities. In response to the 9/11 attacks, for instance, the nation was not involved in a limited pursuit of a group of criminals responsible for the attacks, but instead embarked on an open-ended “War on Terror.” In keeping with this “new paradigm,” prisoners seized in this “war” were referred to as “detainees,” and held neither as criminal suspects nor as prisoners of war, protected by the Geneva Conventions, but as “enemy combatants,” without any rights whatsoever. Later, when the administration sought new ways in which to interrogate some of these men, the techniques it endorsed were not referred to as torture -- even though many of them clearly were -- but were instead described as “enhanced interrogation techniques.”
The Obama administration has clearly learned a trick or two from its predecessors. In its response to a court request for clarification of the meaning of the term “enemy combatant,” for use in the Guantánamo prisoners’ habeas corpus reviews (which were triggered by a momentous
Supreme Court decision last June), the new government has responded to the challenge with a cunning sleight of hand. In a press release, the Department of Justice announced that it had dropped the use of the term “enemy combatant,” and that it had adjusted its definition of those who can be detained so that, instead of holding people who were “part of, or supporting, Taliban or al-Qaeda forces or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners,” individuals who supported al-Qaeda or the Taliban “are detainable only if the support was substantial.”

There was no change between Bully Boy Bush and Bully Boy Barack. They are twins. Soul twins. You can nod along or you can get motivated to do something about it. Tomorrow demonstrations will take part around the country and they will also take place on Saturday. Let's show the White House that America will not stand for more war, that it is time to bring the US troops home and that six years is six too many years for an illegal war.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wendesday, March 18, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the damage to Iraqi and US women continues, Congress holds a hearing on military suicides, and more.

Friday's snapshot noted a video of US forces 'training' Iraqi police. We're revisiting the video because the critique offered Friday of how damaging it is for women when the US military condones that behavior is only more obvious today. At his site Adam Kokesh - Revolutionary Patriot, Adam Kokesh has posted the video so you can stream it there if you're able to stream and/or enjoy streaming. For those who can't, a transcript is below and, as noted Friday, the US service member mentions three areas that we're calling A and B and C (I have no idea what he's taling about):

We're going to talk a little about how you are conducting yourselves as Iraqi police. Raise your hand if you're in the Mahdi militia. Let's see it. Who's in the militia? Who has militia ties? Which one of you are more loyal to the militia than to your own country? None of you? Bulls**t. Some of you in this formation are f**king lie right now. You know why I'm pissed off? I've come down here with my soldiers to try and train you and you're trying to f**king kill Americans, you're trying to kill your fellow f**king Iraqis cause you got no f**king backbone. You want everything from me. You want weapons and ammunition. You want fuel, you want trucks. But you're too f**king p**sy to go three kilometers down the road and go get the people that are tearing this f**king town apart. That's pure f**king cowardice. I'll take three g**damn trucks down the road any f**king day.
[To an Iraqi, thumping him on the chest] You think this is f**king funny? You want to call me out? You think it's f**king funny? Why don't I take your ass out back and kick your little f**king ass? You better shut the f**k up. F**king pay attention.
[To all] I have no problems beating anyone of your asses, not one. Because I don't give a f**k. Because you're acting like a bunch of f**king women.
[To one Iraqi] Shut up when I'm talking. Shut your f**king mouth.
[To all] I'm not going to come down here and waste my f**king time or my soldiers' lives because you don't want to do s**t. You guys better figure out where your loyalties lie. Are you loyal to Iraq, Shia, Sunni, what is it? You want to fight for your country or are you better off having me die for your country because you're too much of a f**king woman to do it yourself? You love seeing Americans die for your f**king country, you won't die for it yourself. I don't see your ass in my hometown.
[Turning around] And you f**king leadership [ought to?] get off your ass too. Lead from the f**king front. When's the last time you went on patrol? Probably never. When's the last time you went these guys down to A, when did you take them to A and lead 'em on a f**king patrol? You never did, did you? Because you're too chicken s**t.
[Facing front] Figure out what the f**k you want from us or I'm going to stop coming down here. And when the Sunnis from A come down here and cut your f**king heads off, I'm not going to do a g**damn thing about it. I'm going to let them bomb your f**king ass into oblivion with their mortars because you will not do s**t about it. I will not help people that will not help themselves. Get your heads out of this f**king bulls**t Mahdi militia and start fighting for Iraq. What do you want? Questions? . . . . [Question asked, then translated.] You wanna erase that image, you want to fix your image.
This group right here, f**k your stupid checkpoints, they're worthless. Get together, get all your weapons and start marching south towards the river. I guarantee you'll get into a gunfight and I guarantee you'll f**k some people up. Get down there and kick some ass. What? You don't need trucks. Take some water, take some food. [shouting over him] Hey, quit making excuses. Don't f**king talk about US patrols. I never saw your ass down in ledge, where the f**k were you? I never saw you in B, C, so shut the f**k up. When I tell you to man up, you shut the f**k up. You guys want to be men, go down there and start beating some f**king asses. You're supposed to be Iraqi police. Why don't you try acting like it? You sit her with your thumb up your ass because you're too f**king scared to do your jobs.

Those are the remarks. They're offensive and appling on every level including what a police force actually does, law and order and so much more. [See "
Iraq," "Iraq roundtable," "The Iraq roundtable," "iraq roundtable," "Iraq," "Iraq in the Kitchen," "Talking Iraq," "Iraq around the table," "Roundtable on Iraq," "The roundtable," "Roundtable," "Friday roundtable," "Iraq roundtable" and "Talking Iraq".] They are also sexist remarks and, as such, they are offensive and damaging. For Iraqi women and for American women. The US military has no right to use female as a curse word, to use gender as a put down. MADRE's Yifat Susskind explains at CounterPunch how the illegal war and the US have impacted Iraqi women's lives:

If you haven't thought about the Iraq War as a story of US allies systematically torturing and executing women, you're not alone. Likewise, if you were under the impression that Iraqi women were somehow better off under their new, US-sponsored government.
In the spring of 2003, Fatin was a student of architecture at Baghdad University. Her days were filled with classes and hanging out in her favorite of Baghdad's many cafes, where she and her friends studied, shared music, and spun big plans for successful careers, happy marriages, and eventually, kids.
Today, Fatin says that those feel like someone else's dreams.
Soon after the US invasion, Fatin began seeing groups of bearded young Iraqi men patrolling the streets of Baghdad. They were looking for women like her, who wore modern clothes or were heading to professional jobs. The men screamed terrible insults at the women and sometimes beat them.
By the fall, ordinary aspects of Fatin's life had become punishable by death. The "misery gangs," as Fatin calls them, were routinely killing women for wearing pants, appearing in public without a headscarf, or shaking hands and socializing with men.
As the occupying power, the US was legally obligated to stop these attacks. But the Pentagon, preoccupied with battling the Iraqi insurgency, simply ignored the militias' reign of terror.
In fact, some of the most treacherous armed groups belonged to the very political parties that the US had brought to power. By 2005, the Pentagon was giving weapons, money and military training to these Shiite militias, in the hope that they would help combat the Sunni-led insurgency.

And after destroying women's lives, the US military thinks it is acceptable for one of their own to 'train' Iraqi police officers to further disrespect women? Train them to think that female is the ultimate insult? Really? That's acceptable?

The US war destroyed the rights of women in Iraq and someone wants to pretend it's 'acceptable' for US service members to further destroy the lives of Iraqi women with little stunts like that 'training'? And what about the women in the US military?
wowOwow notes, "A Pentagon report released Tuesday claims one in three women soldiers will be victims of some sort of sexual assault during their service, compared to one in six women civilians. In fiscal 2008, 2,923 sexual assaults were reported -- an 8 percent spike over the prior year; 63 percent were rapes or aggravated assaults. Also, 251 incidents occurred in combat areas, with 141 in Iraq and 22 in Afghanistan -- a 26 percent increase from fiscal 2007." On yesterday's CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, (here for text, here for video), Katie Couric reported on sexual assault and the principal Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Michael Dominguez told her, "Sexual assault injures troops, injures readiness. So regardless of the numbers we have, it is by definition too much." Katie observed that 2007 saw 2,200 reported sexual assaults and "only 181 were prosecuted" to which Dominguez responded, "Yes, we absolutely have to get better. Secretary Gates himself is driving this initiative this year to improve our ability to investigate, to prosecutre and convict." Remember that point, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is driving it. NBC Nightly News also offered (video only) a look at sexual assault in the military yesterday. Jim Miklaszewski filed the report and started with Angela Peacock who was sexually assaulted while serving.Angela Peacock: You want to stay in the army keep your mouth shut, suck it up and drive on.Jim Miklaszewski: Angela did drive on and later deployed to Iraq but under the lingering trauma of the sexual assault and the horrors of war she cracked.Angela Peacock: I started having panic attacks and like sleepless nights. I was spiraling down pretty fast.Jim Miklaszewski: She was diagnosed with post traumatic stress and discharged from the army. A Pentagon report on sexual assaults released today shows Angela is not alone. In 2008 there were more than 2900 sexual assaults in the military -- an 8% jump over the previous year. Perhaps more alarming, the number of sexual assaults in the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan spiked by 26%. Pentagon officials insist they're taking the disturbing trend seriously. US House Rep Jane Harman smells a cover-up and tells Miklaszewski, "And anyone in the chain of command who covers up the act, and says 'Oh, it's just boys will be boys,' which is what has been happening, also should be prosecuted." Exactly but it's equally true that when a member of the US military -- in a training position -- insults women, makes it so that the worst thing in the world to be is a woman, he is encouraging assaults on women serving in the military. He's encouraging it and so is the military command which lets him get away with. If Robert Gates is seriously concerned, he'll need to address the culture. Mike Mount (CNN) speaks with the idiot Kaye Whitley ("director of the Pentagon's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office) and Whitley is part of the problem as anyone who has attended a Congressional hearing on this issue knows. A victim provides testimony -- tears herself up to provide testimony -- and Kaye Whitley comes along on the next panel and gets all these little jabs in discrediting the witness -- out of compassion, you understand. She tells Mount that there's no increase in actual assaults, there's just an increase in them being reported. She's a damn fool, a damn liar and someone who should have been kicked off the tax payer payroll a long time ago. It's past time Kaye Whitley got a real job and stopped living off tax payers. Whitley pulled that crap most recently on January 28th where she pretended to be 'concerned' about Laura Waterson. Whitley was pimping for the military (and pimping's the only word) to push for more use of the trial programmed "restricted reports." What this does is allow a rape to go unreported. It counts . . . as a statistic. The women (and male victims as well) are 'counseled' by the military about this option and how it can 'help' them. And throughout their 'counseling' with the military's untrained (a seminar is not training, nor is reading a notebook) 'clinical staff' they will be counseled on whether they're prepared to step forward now or not. It's a crime. Crimes need to be reported. For the victim and especially for the attacker. A rapist may walk -- many do. But if I'm at Fort Lewis and I prosecute my rapist, even if he walks, that follows him because he's not just going to rape once. So the next victim who steps forward has a little easier way to go. As US House Rep Niki Tsongas pointed out to the dithering Whitley, with 1,896 Restricted Reports, "It means a significant number of people who committed these assaults are not accountable." They are not. Whitley wasn't concerned about the victim or about future victims. She declared that if you didn't have that restricted option (where no crime is reported and prosecuted) you would be left with something that "just tears a unit apart." Guess what, Dumb Ass Whitley, maybe it needs to. Maybe it f**king needs to. Maybe if enough units are "torn apart" by these sexual assaults, the military will get serious about preventing them. But that won't happen as long as apologists like Kaye Whitley are allowed to continue in their jobs. The woman needs to be removed from her job immediately. And civilian clinicians need to be brought in because we are talking about crimes and the military's history is one of hiding sexual assaults. Civilians who do not answer to the military chain of command need to be brought in as counselors. As Niki Tsongas also explained to Whitley "we do have new women coming into the military who have no real understanding of the threat that might exist" and "we have many young people coming into the services who we want to protect." "Restricted Rape" assists no one except the US military command which is already well versed in how to cover up sexual assault crimes.

Those who missed Laura Watterson's powerful and moving testimony can refer to Jan. 28th's "
Iraq snapshot," Kat's "When I tried to smoke a banana," Jan. 29th's "Iraq snapshot," Ruth's "Laura Watterson's testimony and its meaning" and Kat's "Laura Watterson's testimony."

We're not done with the 'training' the US military is giving the Iraqi police. It disrespected the traditions of law and order, it confused the role of a civilian police. The US military -- which is not a trained civilian police force -- is giving 'training' lessons on topics they know nothing of. The civilian police force, in any country, is not supposed to attack civilians or suspects. They can arrest suspects but the US service member in the video isn't recommending that anyone be arrested, he is recommending that police become a viligante force.
Rob Nordland (New York Times) reported earlier this week that six prisoners from Camp Bucca were released by the US military and they returned home. That was not the end of the story for them. A Haditha police "posse" was after them and "hunted them down, hancuffed them and shot them repeatedly, killing all six, according to a leader of their Al Bonemir tribe, Salal Rasheed al-Goud, was interviewed Saturday." al-Goud explains, "One of the police officers thought they had killed his brother more than a year ago." That's not justice and the US military is part of the problem when a US 'trainer' tells the Iraqi police, "This group right here, f**k your stupid checkpoints, they're worthless. Get together, get all your weapons and start marching south towards the river. I guarantee you'll get into a gunfight and I guarantee you'll f**k some people up. Get down there and kick some ass." The military is not the police and people who can't grasp that -- including the service member and all those ranking above him -- do as much longterm damage to Iraq as do any bombs dropped. This kind of 'training' -- with all the 'benefits' -- is why the US military needs to leave Iraq immediately.

Tomorrow marks the sixth anniversary of the illegal war. Some will say it's going into year seven! We won't say that. When it comes to the basics, we stick with the basics. If you were born in 2003, let's say I gave birth to you, I would be throwing you your sixth birthday this year. If your birthday was tomorrow, you would be turning six years old. No one would say, "S/he's starting her/his seventh year!" If they said that, we'd probably all encourage them to leave the birthday party -- we certainly would serve them dry cake without ice cream. The Iraq War turns six-years-old tomorrow. It is the anniversary of the start of the illegal war. March 19, 2003, Bully Boy lied the world into war with the help of an eager and compliant media. It's Barack Obama's illegal war now. He has trashed all of his promises from the campaign (as we all knew he would) including removing a brigade a month. Barack Obama is not ending the illegal war, he is continuing it. If George W. Bush told us he needed 19 months to get US forces down to 50,000, the peace movement wouldn't have gone for it and wouldn't have mistaken that for ending an illegal war.

If you want to live in the real world,
World Can't Wait offers a list of other cities holding demonstrations. Saturday, those wanting to call out the illegal war can join with groups such as The National Assembly to End the Wars, the ANSWER coalition, World Can't Wait and Iraq Veterans Against the War -- all are taking part in a real action. Iraq Veterans Against the War explains: IVAW's Afghanistan Resolution and National Mobilization March 21st As an organization of service men and women who have served in Iraq, Afghanistan, stateside, and around the world, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War have seen the impact that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have had on the people of these occupied countries and our fellow service members and veterans, as well as the cost of the wars at home and abroad. In recognition that our struggle to withdraw troops from Iraq and demand reparations for the Iraqi people is only part of the struggle to right the wrongs being committed in our name, Iraq Veterans Against the War has voted to adopt an official resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and reparations for the Afghan people. (To read the full resolution, click here.) To that end, Iraq Veterans Against the War will be joining a national coalition which is being mobilized to march on the Pentagon, March 21st, to demand the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and further our mission and goals in solidarity with the national anti-war movement. This demonstration will be the first opportunity to show President Obama and the new administration that our struggle was not only against the Bush administration - and that we will not sit around and hope that troops are removed under his rule, but that we will demand they be removed immediately. For more information on the March 21st March on the Pentagon, and additional events being organized in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Orlando, to include transportation, meetings, and how you can get involved, please visit: or

Today the US Senate's Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Personnel held a hearing on suicides in the military. Senator Lindsey Graham is the Ranking [Republican] Member on the Subcommitee and he noted early on that the Army suicide rate has doubled since 2004, that the Air Force rate has been "neglible" (and he pointed out that the Air Force has had just as many deployments as other branches, he also noted that the Army deployments were longer than some branches), he felt the Marines and the Navy had a "pretty consistent rate" over the last years. US Marine Corps Assistant Commandant Gen James F. Amos explained that the Marine's rate went up in "'06, '07 and '08." This is a problem throughout the branches -- even in the Navy which has had a more steady rate (a steady rate is not zero).

Republican Senator John Cornyn does not serve on the Committee or the Subcommittee. He participated in the meeting because he has pressed the military to investigate the suicides among recruiters stationed in Texas -- pressed them last fall. Cornyn spoke briefly, noted he was intrested in finding out the why and hows and spoke of "saving families." He stated, "It doesn't seem taking one's life is what you would call a normal response" and he pointed out that not everyone in the service (or civilian life) takes their own life. He wondered, "Is this something you think we need to do a better job of identifying on the front end when someone is recrutinged into the military . . . [or] when they return from deployments?" He wanted to know what 'the key" was for intervention.

"That is a tough question," the Army's Vice Chief of Staff, Gen Peter Chiarellis said. "70% of those or greater, a little bit greater than that, had some sort of a relationship problem" at the time of their suicides. But these relationship problems were not the only factor, "it was compounded with something else" like deployments. Chiarellis wanted a "multi-discplinary approach" which would all for "attacking" it all points. "It's going to take a multi-disciplinary approach across the entire career of the soldier."

The Navy's Vice Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Patrick Walsh spoke of influencing factors such as alcohol, it's "glamorization," the stigma attached to asking for help and noted the differences in what the individaul reports and what the family does. Amos would echo the reporting issue when later replying to Senator Susan Collins' questions and note that family members -- wives and mothers -- were more likely to disclose more about the stress or behaviors of the individual than was the individual. (Would this include husbands disclosing more? That wasn't addressed.) To Cornyn, Amos wanted to make it clear that he did not feel there was a problem at the intake end -- meaning he refuted the notion that the problem was the 'wrong' people were being admitted. Amos referred to boot camp and how it was "designed to do a whole lot of things," to put an individual through "a stressful environment" for the purpose of identifying "those areas where he or she needs improvement -- where he or she needs our help". As for Cornyn's "why," the Air Force's Vice Chief of Staff Gen William Fraser declared, "There's no one suicide that's exactly the same as another" which is why they investigate.

Senator Ben Nelson is the Committee Chair and he wanted to know what role help or assistance played in some of the suicides since "medical record reviews indicate of the recent victims that a majority" of those who took their own lives while serving had utilized some programs -- for drinking or other preventions -- and "while it's clear that they reached out for some help -- as their medical records would indicate, they still committed suicide. [. . .] What are your throughts on that fact? Prior use of the mental health services and yet it was not sufficient or may not have been sufficient -- it may have been something else that came along?"

"That is something that we are trying to understand better," Fraser responded and noted that a suicide case where the deceased attempted to receive help "automatically triggers a mental health investigation" that attempts to discovere "was there something that happened in their care?" He was not clear in response initially, so let's be clear here. This automatic investigation does not start when someone in the military seeks help or after they have received help. This investigation only kicks in if someone takes their own life (or is thought to have taken their own life) and records show that they sought help or assistance of some form -- at that point the investigation automatically kicks in.

Also of interest is that early on, Fraser would tell Senator Nelson, "We, too, are experiencing a shortage of mental health care providers . . . due to the shortage going on across the country."

The hearing is ongoing and the second panel is doing opening statements as I dictate this. Staying with the US military,
Adam Levine (CNN) reports that Secretary Robert Gates declared today that stop loss is being phased out. Stop loss is the back door draft. When someone's service is over, they are informed that there service has been extended. Camilo Mejia was stop lossed -- and he was stop lossed illegally because he was not a member of the US and could not therefore be stop lossed. Levine notes that 13,217 service members have been stop-lossed as of January. Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) quotes Gates stating, ""I felt particularly in these numbers that it was breaking faith . . . [stop lossing them] To hold them against their will is just not the right thing to do." She also notes:

About 13,000 soldiers are serving in the Army under the stop-loss policy, nearly double the number of two years ago. Gates said the goal is to reduce that number by 50 percent by June 2010 and to bring it down to scores or less by March 2011.

Those numbers have climbed. And they have climbed as the Defense Dept has repeatedly told Congress that stop loss was ending. As noted in the February 26, 2008 "
Iraq snapshot," the Senate's Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on the Defense Authorization Request for Fiscal Year 2009 and the Future Years Defense Program:
In regards to the issue of the months involved in a tour, the committee chair, Carl Levin, had to be rather specific repeatedly finally asking "shorthand, you have to drawdown to what level?" Levin also had to pin Casey and Geren down regarding stop-loss. Beaming, Geren declared that the Army will get the number of stop-lossed soldiers down to "a little less than 8,000 today" and insisted -- at length -- that the Army wanted to "move away from" using stop-loss. Stop-loss is the backdoor draft. It's when you're service contract is ending and you're told, "Forget what your contract says, you're staying." Pressed by Levin about the decrease in the number of soldiers stop-lossed that Geren was so optimistic about, the Secretary of the Army swallowed and stated, "It might get to 7,000." Wow. It might drop to 7,000. To hear him spin and spin before Levin pinned him down you would have thought the figure was going to be significantly below 5,000. Geren insisted, "We're growing this Army faster than we planned."
Hopefully Gates is being serious but this song and dance has taken place over and over and all that happens is the number of service members stop lossed continues to increase.

Maj Gen David A. Rubenstein, in his opening statement to the committee, just revealed that a soldier who was a motivational speaker with the PBI committe committed suicide. I believe he stated yesterday but he is saying 'We lost a soldier today'.

Let's go into some of today's reported violence in Iraq . . .

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad sticky bombing that wounded one police officer, a Mosul "suicide car bomber" who took his/her own life and the life of 1 police officer with three more and one civilian left wounded, a Baquba sticky bombing which claimed 1 life, a Baquba roadside bombing which claimed the lives of "a husband and wife," and dropping back to yesterday, "A roadside bomb targeted a U.S. military convoy near al Gzaiza Bridge, northern Basra at around 5 p.m. Tuesday. No comment was available from the U.S. military at time of publication." Reuters notes a Kirkuk bombing which left three people wounded.

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad attack on a vehicle with employees of the Interior Ministry which left two passengers wounded, a Mosul shooting that wounded "an employee of the displaced and emigration department," and 1 person shot dead in Mosul. Reuters notes 1 Iraqi soldier was shot dead in Mosul.

Matthew Schofield (McClatchy Newspapers) reports on the lack of potable water in Iraq, "Everybody complains about the water in Baghdad, and few are willing to risk drinking it from the tap. Six years after the U.S. invaded Iraq, 36 percent of Baghdad's drinking water is unsafe, according to the Iraqi Environment Ministry -- in a good month. In a bad month, it's 90 percent. Cholera broke out last summer, and officials fear another outbreak this year." And yet the UN will allow their WHO head in Iraq to blame the cholera outbreaks on Iraqi women. Schofield does the sort of reporting we might have expected all outlets to do as the sixth anniversary approached. Instead we get silence and we get ABC's World News Tonight. Charlie Gibson was huffing about "Dramatic changes, no where more dramatic than in Baghdad" last night as he rushed to set up Terry McCarthy for another "I was in Baghdad [with three bodyguards]. I'm not now. I will proclaim it safe now that I am out of Baghdad and no one should wonder why ABC and I have refused to do live reports from Iraq." Terry opened last night's 'report' with, "Snapshots of a city reborn. Speed. Light. Style. This is Baghdad today. Where car bombs give way to car races. Where a once looted museum has been restored and reopened. Where --"Stop the tape and zoom in on Terry McCarthy's last lie. Baghdad's museum -- the "looted museum" -- has been restored and reopened? In what world? Reality from when the museum 'opened' for one day (Feb. 23rd). "As for when the rest of Iraq will be able to see the museum, that's unclear. Iraqi guards Monday afternoon told journalists it would be a couple of months," notes the Los Angeles Times' Babylon & Beyond (credited that way here and in the snapshot Feb. 23rd because no writer is named in the blog post). That's really the heart of the story. You had a limited, for-show opening. Sudarsan Raghavan and K.I. Ibrahim's "Six Years After Its Pillage, Iraqi Museum to Reopen" (Washington Post) reported puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki insists the 'opening' indicates an "embrace of democracy" -- embrace by who and of what by whom? Democracy for invited guests only? The reporters provide this background:Founded in 1923, the museum in central Baghdad once contained important pieces from the Sumerian, Assyrian and Babylonian periods, as well as from the Stone Age. After the collapse of Saddam Hussein's government, thieves carried away thousands of important artifacts; U.S. troops did nothing to stop the looting, drawing intense criticism from Iraqis as well as the international community. Since then, a massive effort has been underway by Iraqi ministries and foreign governments to restore the stolen pieces, which Iraq estimated at as many as 15,000. According to the United Nations' cultural arm, UNESCO, as many as 7,000 pieces are still missing, including 50 items of historical importance. Steven Lee Myers' "Far From Whole, Iraq Museum That Was Looted Reopens" covered the topic for the New York Times and Myers has previously covered the topic for the paper. His best moment may be his judgment call that "2,700-year-old stone reliefs from the palace of the Assyrian king Sargon II at Khorsabad . . . eerily recalls the blast walls that protect buildings and divide streets in today's Baghdad." Terry stated last night on network TV that the museum was reopened and citizens were visiting it. LIE. It reopened for one day and it was the press and dignitaries only that could visit it. Check Myers' report on the woman outside the museum. They should be ashamed of themselves at ABC 'News.' Dahr Jamail is back in Iraq and without any bodyguards. He doesn't get to be on ABC News. He doesn't get to be much of anywhere but that may come from reporting on the ground from Iraq and not including the happy spin that people like Charlie Gibson are so in need of. From his latest report:

For centuries, artists, writers, and intellectuals have been meeting in Baghdad's teahouses over tulip-shaped glasses of sweet lemon tea, cigarettes, and shisha pipes.
A car bomb detonated near one of the oldest teahouses a year-and-a-half ago, causing massive destruction around the area. When it reopened recently, Mohammed Al-Mumain, a 59-year-old biology teacher resumed his visits there. The portly, jovial teacher brought tea for my colleague and I before settling to talk, "The mind needs art and education. I come here because the lamp needs electricity. The lamp of my mind, like that in all of us, needs to discuss and review life continually. That feeds me. When I come here I feel like a teenager again. All that I need, the old culture along with the new, I find here."
His eloquence was a pleasure as he proceeded, "Life is interaction. Anywhere, anytime, any moment, we are changing. Our biology and blood pressure changes, and interactions, whether positive or negative, bring us change. Some people resist change, others accept it. It depends upon the culture of the man or woman. This is why we need our art, because it connects us with what has brought us here, and reminds us of where we are headed."
By exploring the human condition, art brings about new insights into the human ability to relate and communicate. By appealing to finer human emotions, it creates a framework of values in society, while giving us a context in which to grasp our relationship to the universe.

While Dahr offers reality and real reporting, you need to consider how many are staying silent and read Betty's "
Our childish press" which really says it all.

In other news, we don't cover scandals or 'scandals' so we've ignored the attempts to attack one of the hardest working members in Congress but
Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report) has weighed in and his article is essential reading. The same people were behind other attacks, for example, they derailed the anti-war Jack Murtha and allowed Steny Hoyer to be installed as Nancy Pelosi's right hand (and they continue to attack Murtha). Maybe it's time they were examined because those losers have done a lot of damage. Who do they work for, this 'organization' that just suddenly sprouted up? It's a question to ask and it's one the DC press is whispering about. We'll note this from Bruce Dixon (Black Agenda Report) on the response to Rev Jesse Jackson's people-empowered campaigns:

The threat to Democratic party leaders faded after the '84 and '88 elections, when Jackson demobilized his people into the existing structures of the Democratic party. But the lesson was not lost on Democratic Party leaders. In the wake of the small-d democratic upsurge of the 1980s they cemented their hold on the Democratic Pary by founding the Democratic Leadership Council. The DLC assured them access to the same sources of corporate funding as Republicans, and on the same basis. As long as Democrats carried the water of big insurance, big pharma, the airlines, the energy companies and Wall Street, as long as DLC-funded candidates could speak for the party's base rather than allowing that base to speak for itself, and as along as the Democratic base was sent home between elections, Democrats would be assured a steady stream of corporate funding.
In a generation, the nation's elite educational institutions along with think tanks from the Manhattan Institute to the Rand Institute, and funding from corporate foundations, would incubate a new generation of "black leaders," the Cory Bookers, the Artur Davises, and finally Barack Obama. While paying expert lip service to the tradition of African American struggle for human rights and economic justice, the new-style leaders declare themselves "pragmatic, not dogmatic," and actively oppose the interests of the constituents that make their careers possible.The so-called New Democrats with whom Barack Obama identifies are, next to the House Blue Dogs, the most rightwing of Democratic reps in Congress, with considerable overlap between the two groups. In fact, several House New Democrats are also Blue Dogs. New Democrats supported the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, and continual increases in the military budget. They all supported the bailout, and uphold No Child Left Behind and favor the gradual dismantling and privatization of public education in the US which NCLB set in motion. New Democrats are tepid at best on the Employee Free Choice Act, which would give workers across the country the legal standing workers have in many other advanced industrial countries to fight for wage and benefit increases and respect and dignity on the job.

adam kokesh
cbs newsthe cbs evening news with katie courickatie couric
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abc world news tonightcharlie gibsonterry mccarthy
the new york timesrob nordland
the washington postann scott tyson
sahar issa
matthew schofield
mcclatchy newspapers
dahr jamail
steven lee myersk.i. ibrahimsudarsan raghavan
glen fordbruce dixon
iraq veterans against the can't wait
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