Friday, April 10, 2009


Rebecca: We hadn't planned on a roundtable tonight but Trina asked and we all agreed. She'll tell you why in a minute and this is an Iraq roundtable. Participating tonight are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ava, Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man, C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review, Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills), Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Trina of Trina's Kitchen, Wally of The Daily Jot, Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends, Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ, Ruth of Ruth's Report and me, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude. Betty and Cedric join us by phone. Trina, how about you kick things off?

Trina: Today 5 US soldiers died in Iraq. As the snapshot notes the world wide web has other things to talk about. Not much of it important or useful. How many times did we all watch as they mounted their high horses and acted like they gave a damn about the Iraq War from 2003 through 2007? Maybe some extended it a little further. But apparently for them the Iraq War was actually nothing but a political football to toss around in the hopes of advancing a few yards for Team Democrat. It's disgusting, it's appalling and it needs to be called out.

Cedric: I agree and that piece of trash, rip-off site Corrente? They used to pretend to care about the Iraq War. They never did a thing on the deaths of the five. But tonight that loony Sarah did find time to write, with no irony, "Style over Substance" -- about Michelle Fashion Plate. Yeah, that was the most imporant thing in the world today. I'm counting 23 blog posts they posted today and not one of them mentioned the death of the five US soldiers. If you ask me, 23 posts in one day and not one of you damn hypocrites mentions that 5 soldiers died in Iraq, you can go rot in hell but truth of the matter is you're pathetic ass is already there.

Elaine: It really is amazing how the blogs, like the media, ran from Iraq as soon as Barack got into office. It doesn't matter if they're pro-Barry blogs, anti-Barry blogs, or in the middle from the center posing as left all the way to the left, they don't give a damn about Iraq and I am mentioning Kimberly Wilder so she can take any problems she has with my remarks up with me by e-mailing me although I probably won't even read it and I won't reply because I don't like having my e-mails passed on. You slammed Hillary and trashed her and did so over her 2002 vote on the Iraq resolution. If that mattered at all to you, you would have found time to note the deaths. You want to self-present as "social justice"? Then cover the damn war. You're disgusting and you're little blog posts about Barry and how Barry's going to do this and do that, spare us all. As Kathy Kelly said on KPFA's Flashpoints Wednesday, "Well I think that Barack Obama is the world's chief exporter of weapons. I mean that goes with the job. And I think that you can't look at attacks on civilian populations using conventional military force and not discuss War Crimes." The peace movement's goals have not changed just because the White House flipped and it's been appalling to watch people like Kimberly Wilder -- an alleged Green Party member until her recent break -- go out of her way to praise a War Hawk named Barack Obama.

Mike: The Iraq War has not ended and you have to be a stupid idiot like Phyllis Bennis to say, "Well I'm happy that Barack's said he's going to end it and the time doesn't really matter." The time doesn't matter to you Phyllis? In 2007, he was promising the Iraq War would be over by now.

Rebecca: Stopping you for a minute, Mike. C.I.?

C.I.: Right. They can click here for Jake Tapper's 2007 story about Barack having just launched his presidential campaign and I quote, "Obama, often criticized for his lack of foreign policy experience, had his plan to withdraw troops from Iraq by March 2008 attacked by an unlikely source -- the Australian Prime Minister John Howard, an ally of President Bush."

Rebecca: Thank you. I know someone's going to question Mike's statement and I knew C.I. would be able to pull it up. Mike?

Mike: Well, he's promised everything and he's never delivered a damn thing and we can see that even more this week with his 'state secrets' excuse to cover up for the illegal spying on Americans that the government did. He lied on the campaign trail non-stop and you've got idiots like Phyllis Bennis saying it doesn't matter when Barack pulls the troops out and that is what she said when he went to 18 or 19 months for a withdrawal and she said it didn't matter if it was longer than what was promised. That's pathetic Phyllis Bennis. It does matter. And if he'd stuck to what he was saying in 2007, the US would have been out of Iraq already and those 5 dead soldiers wouldn't be dead.

Marcia: It just seems to me that there is a detachment about the Iraq War, a distance from it, as if it were a game. I'd honestly appreciate sell outs a lot more if they'd just say, "I'm a sell out, I didn't give a damn about the Iraq War, I just wanted to elect Democrats." If they'd say that, I wouldn't expect a thing from them. I wouldn't be outraged and angry. But they're liars. They want to pretend like they still care about ending the Iraq War and they can't even write about it. They can't cover it, they can't talk about it, they're just a huge disgrace because they're all wanting to act like they're still trying to end the Iraq War. And they're not doing a damn thing.

Ruth: Well actually, what Marcia's discussing is sort of what Stan and I were talking about earlier this evening. We had both read Norman Solomon's embarrassing "Getting a Death Grip on Memory" at CounterPunch and he and I had strong opinions on it. Stan?

Stan: Okay, So Norman Solomon's riding his high horse about how Real Media wants to forget their crimes. That would be Norman Solomon, pledged delegate for Barack Obama. That would be Norman Solomon who lied for Barry and who did everything he could to get Barry elected. He cut off people when he was a guest on the radio and tried to rip their character apart when they questioned Barack. He cut them off and launched personal attacks on them, the sort of thing he maintains he never does, he maintains he debates the issues, but that's not what he did on KPFA. And he's a liar because he'd go on KPFA to 'analyze' the race and 'forget' to tell listeners that he was a pledged delegate for Barck. For that reason alone, he shouldn't have been on. And he knows that. He knows all about media ethics. He just doesn't practice any. He's a disgusting whore and for him to talk about Real Media's memory lapses, what he needs to do is write a column on how someone betrays every thing they supposedly believe in to whore out for a candidate. He's a whore, a cheap, trashy, disease ridden whore.

Rebecca: And Ruth, you say what?

Ruth: I would have to agree with Stan. We were talking about this and how Norman Solomon must wake up every morning convinced that he has really put one over on everybody.

Ava: Or maybe doubting it? Maybe that's why he lays it on so thick.

Ruth: Good point. And, as Stan said, he broke every ethic regarding media in 2008. He knows those ethics, he lectures on those ethics. He might try getting honest about that.

Rebecca: Because confession is good for the soul?
Ruth: Because a blistering confession might allow someone tempted in the future to avoid the path he went down. It would be like a drug addict sharing with people how low he sunk while active in his disease.

Rebecca: Okay. Kat and Wally haven't spoken. Betty hasn't but she and I talked ahead of time and she has a topic she's bringing in. But I'm letting Wally and Kat know they need to speak if they're planning to. Ava and C.I. are taking notes and will type up this rush transcript. They can speak whenever they want but we all doubt they'll speak much. Betty?

Betty: I wanted to talk about Iraq's LGBT population. In the April 2nd snapshot, C.I. noted the reports that they were being executed. No one followed that story this week until we found out, see yesterday's snapshot, that US House Rep Jared Polis went to Iraq and was given information about a gay man sentenced to death for being gay. Why isn't anyone writing about this? Michael Riley (Denver Post) was covering it but I'm not even sure if he grasped all of what he was reporting and, if he did grasp it, I think he intentionally downplayed it. Maybe because he thought if he didn't downplay it, it might be seen as too explosive for print. But read his article. A member of the US Congress has been given information that states a gay man is going to be put to execution because he is gay. The Congress member finds the information and documentation so convincing that he raises the issue on his Iraq trip. I'd say this is pretty big news.

Cedric: I'd agree with you Betty and I'd argue that if all the people writing last week about the executions hadn't been doing that. and that includes C.I. doing the why-are-we-silent writing, we wouldn't have gotten Timothy Williams and Tareq Maher's "Iraq's Newly Open Gays Face Scorn and Murder" in the New York Times this week. That's really the strongest article on this subject that paper has published. And, speculating, I'm wondering is it that the paper previously didn't care about the issue, thought readers didn't care about the issue, thought it wasn't among the important issues or what?

Mike: Well when they can write that stupid article on the Humvee dealership in Iraq then if it's that the paper didn't think LGBT was an "important issue," that's saying a lot. And none of it good about the paper.

Ruth: I honestly think that there is a 'queasy' aspect to it -- I am talking about among the press. It happens far too often, an issue involving an attack on the LGBT community in any country, even our own, never gets the kind of attention it deserves. Never. I think a large portion of the press, especially above the reporters' level, are uncomfortable with LGBT issues and the LGBT community.

Ava: Well, in terms of the New York Times, they have a shameful history on AIDS in the eighties and I would argue that's because of the "queasy" aspect Ruth's talking about. They didn't see gays and lesbians as 'real human beings' so when a disease that wasknown as the "gay cancer" struck, they didn't want to devote the kind of attention they would have if the same disease had targeted red-headed-four-year-old boys, for example.

Mike: I don't want to dominate the roundtable but if I can make another point, and I'll try to be quick, homophobia is out there and it's not going away. It might get reduced, but it's not going away any time soon. And if we're not willing to combat it, then I don't know what's going to happen. I am eager about one thing that's coming up.

Marcia: I agree with you, Mike, but I want to also say how important it is that someone like Mike says that and not just me. I'm a lesbian. It's important that I speak out. But Mike's a straight man and it's really important that he speak out as well. I think the gay community is something like one in ten. The LGBT community needs to speak up but we also need support from the straight community. In terms of what Mike's talking about coming up, I agree. And I'm excited about it as well. It's something we're going to be doing at Third. A regular feature. But I would agree there's a silence and, like Ruth, I would have to say it's because it makes some straight people uncomfortable.

Betty: If I can say one more thing on this topic, I'd just like to point out that gays are being targeted in Iraq. By the clergy, by the police and apparently by their state government. And the fact that so many -- including Liar Barack -- have taken to tossing around terms like "democracy" at a time when homophobia is expressed with criminal intent is appalling. And it's disgusting to see US leaders hail a country where homophobia and homophobic murders are condoned by the governemtn. It's disgusting.

Wally: Well the silence goes beyond the press and it also includes our own State Dept which has never condemened the murders. It didn't condemn under the homophobe Colin Powell, it didn't condemn then under Condi Rice and it's not condemning them under Hillary Clinton. Now I happen to like Hillary and, as most people reading this will know, from something like January through the primary in Puerto Rico, I was on the road campaigning for her. I ended up taking off the semester to do that. I believed in her campaign that much. She's being silent. Now I could be an Obot and say, "She needs more time to speak! She needs to get comfortable!" I could offer a million excuses but the reality is she has not spoken out against it and that's not right, and there's no excuse for it, and I'm embarrassed and ashamed for Hillary. And I'll tell you one more thing, I'd be talking about that like her if she was president. Because I don't believe in hero worship. Unlike the Cult of St. Barack, I don't offer excuses. And I believe Hillary would make a great president. But I believe that because I think she's smart. So when someone that smart and that wise doesn't speak out against the murders, it is appalling and I will call out. I will repeat, Hillary Clinton, I am ashamed and embarrassed by your silence. I am fully aware that there are issues that are policy and that come above Hillary. That would include the Israel situtation, for example. There she's merely executing policy. However, in terms of this issue, in terms of condemning any murders in any country -- I'm talking warfare, supposed or otherwise -- she has the power, due to the office she holds, to issue a state condemning the murders. She hasn't done it. I'm appalled. Shame on you, Hillary, you know better. And Kat I knew Betty's topic, Rebecca, which is why we were holding off on talking.

Kat: Right. And it is an important topic but just to back up a second, I agree with Wally and if Hillary had gotten the nomination, she would be president, we all know that, we all know she got more votes than Barack in the primaries and we all know she would have done better than he did in the general. But if she was president, we wouldn't be playing fan club to Hillary. We'd be doing what Wally just did right now. And Wally gave his all to getting the word out on Hillary. He dropped out of college because he took some weeks off and ended up deciding that it was more important that he campaign for her. The original plan was just to campaign for her for a few weeks, he ended up dropping out to campaign for her. And he still believes she would make a wonderful president but that didn't prevent him from calling her out on her silence and doing so strongly. And if she were president and going back on her word to withdraw one brigade a month from Iraq, we'd all be calling her out. The Obots aren't politically educated or smart. They needed a crush, an empty vessel upon which they could impose their dreams of love and romance. It and they are disgusting. Now in terms of the LGBT community in Iraq, I don't want to hear any garbage about Muslim religion or any of that other s**t. We don't use "Muslim religion" or "Muslim culture" to hide behind murdering Jews or Christians. Murder's wrong. That's not open to debate. That the US has installed a regime in Iraq which thinks it's okay to murder gays and lesbians -- and even if the government is not executing them, they are turning a blind eye to their murders -- explains how sick and perverted this illegal war really was. And to be clear "Muslim religion" or "Muslim culture," gays and lesbians still were in Iraq. They are Iraqis. And they had acceptance before the illegal war. They are a part of Muslim culture whether fundamentalists want to accept it or not. And they are a part of Iraq and they should have been protected.

Rebecca: I did not know that Kat and Wally were waiting for Betty's topic. And thank you to Betty for introducing it because that was a very lively discussion. We need to wind down and I want to let Trina have the last word since she grabbed the first. Trina, a lot's been said since you explained why you wanted this roundtable. Closing thoughts?

Trina: I think we have shown that there is so much still to discuss about the Iraq War and there's so much that we didn't even get to. We didn't talk about how the violence this week has been so great that even the press has a hard time pretending it's not happening, for example. We didn't talk about the targeting of Sahwa. There are so many topics that we didn't have time for, all Iraq related, and that's going to be true every day because it is an ongoing war and it is a real shame that the people who supposedly wanted to end it have moved on to other things while over 130,000 US troops remain on the ground in Iraq. The illegal war has not ended and it's appalling to grasp how little that matters to so many who used to pretend they gave a damn.

Rebecca: And on that note, we'll wrap up. As stated before, this is a rush transcript. This roundtable will be posted at the sites of all participating. And, in closing, C.I. asked me to note the Center for Media and Democracy's "Common Purpose: Another Cog in Obama's PR Machine" on the sell out of our so-called left. It's a very important piece and I'm sure will be addressing it at Third on Sunday.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, April 10, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces multiple deaths, violence strikes a Baghdad neighborhood for the third time this week, the US employment crisis' impact on the military, Diane Rehm's embarrassing embarace of sexism, and more.

Today the
US military announced: "Five U.S. Coalition Soldiers were killed, and one wounded from a suicide vehicle borne improvised explosive device attack earlier today in Mosul. Two Iraqi Security Forces were also killed and 20 wounded. The suicide truck bomb exploded near the Iraqi National Police headquarters in the southwest section of the city. At least two individuals suspected of being involved in the attack were detained, and the incident is under investigation. The names of the deceased are being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense." The five deaths bring the total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4271. Leila Fadel, Corrine Reilly and Ali Abbas (McClatchy Newspapers) observe, "It is the single deadliest incident to befall American troops here in more than a year." They also note that two other US soldiers -- not one -- were injured the bombing. Jomana Karadsheh (CNN -- link has video option which is a report by Frederik Pleitgen) notes one Iraqi soldier was killed in the bombing as well. Frederik Pleitgen explains the bomber "steered his truck into the compound of the National Police in southwestern Mosul. He then breached the sort of first layer of security in that compound and detonated his charge and we know five US soldiers have been confirmed dead, two US soldiers have been confirmed wounded also at least two Iraqi security forces have been confirmed dead and several dozen have been confirmed wounded -- most of those civilians -- is what we're hearing from the Iraqi security forces." Following the breach "of first layer of security," apparently, Deborah Haynes (Times of London) reports, "US and Iraqi forces opened fire on the truck after it ignored a request to stop at a checkpoint on the approach to the base." Haynes quotes Interior Ministry spokesperson Karim Khalaf stating, "The truck exploded 50 metres before reaching its target." BBC states, "Reports said the bomber made a sharp turn as he neared the station and charged the truck through an iron fence, careering into a sandbagged wall beyond." Sam Dagher (New York Times) adds, "The Interior Ministry's spokesman, Maj. Gen. Abdul Karim Khalaf, told the state television station network Iraqiya that the truck was packed with about 2,000 pounds of explosives." Xinhau states "the police station and some nearby buildings in the neighborhood were severely damaged by the explosion". In a news brief, PBS' The NewsHour notes three buildings were brought down and apartments were rattled while quoting Amjad Akram stating, "Everything was broken in my home, my refrigerator, my TV, my furniture. The smoke was so thick we couldn't see each other." Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) explains, "The attack comes a day after the six year anniversary of the fall of Baghdad. Many hard-line supporters of Saddam Hussein found refuge in Mosul after the U.S. invasion. Crackdowns on other insurgent strongholds in Iraq prompted extremists to move to that area in recent years." (Ned Parker, Los Angeles Times, filed on the bombing as well.) Amanda Ruggeri (US News & World Reports) observes that the bombing "comes on the heels of a particularly bloody few days. Most of the violence had been focused in Baghdad, where more than 50 people were killed in bombings this week." Sahar Issa and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) report the death toll as 5 US soldiers and 2 Iraqi National Police with sixty-two people injured ("20 of whom were Iraqi security personnel"). (They note one US soldier wounded, that number has risen to two.)

Deborah Haynes notes that the bombing comes after the top US commander in Iraq has stated that US forces may remain in Iraq cities past June.
Haynes interviewed Gen Ray Odierno who said "that US combat troops might have to stay beyond June 30 in Mosul and Baqubah, where al-Qaeda retains an active presence. 'The two areas I am concerned with are Mosul and the Baqubah and [other] parts of Diyala province,' he said. 'We will conduct assessments and provide our assessments when the time is right'." The June 30th removal from Iraqi cities (and retreating to US bases within Iraq) is in the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement. For some time, chatter has been that the June 30th removal would not be kept and puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki has even suggested publicly that US forces remaining in some Iraqi cities might be a good idea; however, this is the first on-the-record floating by a named member of the US military. (We went over the SOFA last night. For those drive-bys who couldn't grasp it or didn't want to, this AP article on the 5 deaths explains the same point -- third paragraph from the end.) Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) adds Odierno "said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was expected to ask US forces to stay in Mosul and in Baquba in Diyala Province, where Iraqi security forces need more time to be able to hold neighborhoods American troops have helped them clear."

It also underscores that the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement was never etched in stone, despite claims otherwise.
Yesterday Baghdad saw a huge rally calling for the withdrawal of US forces. Toss that back to the Status Of Forces Agreement. al-Maliki had to promise Parliament that the thing could be put to a vote (al-Maliki and the US State Dept had to promise Iraq's Parliament that). That vote was supposed to take place in July. Where are the preparations for that? The Kurdistan Regional Government will be holding provincial elections shortly (May 19th) and they are making their preparations. Where are the preparations for the Iraqi people to vote on the Status Of Forces Agreement? For those who don't remember the January 31st provincial elections in 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces required extensive work and planning. If you've forgotten the legislation finally passed Parliament September 24, 2008. They moved to hold elections as quickly as possible and all the work required meant as quickly as possible was January 31st. And that work was after considerable work had already been done. In July of 2007, the White House issued a press release declaring, "On January 23, 2007, the COR passed the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) Law, which the Presidency Council (the President and two Deputy Presidents) approved on February 27, 2007. On April 28, 2007, the COR [Council of Representatives] appointed the nine IHEC Commissioners in a process that the U.N. deemed fair and transparent. The Commissioners have completed appropriate training and are in the process of selecting representatives to oversee elections in the provinces. A Provincial Powers Law that defines the authorities and structures of local governments has been read twice in the COR, but changes are being considered, particularly related to the powers of the governor and the reach of the central government at the local level. At the highest levels, the Embassy is urging the Iraqi Government to take the legislative and administrative action necessary to ensure timely and fair elections. The Embassy is intensively engaged with the GOI and the COR at all levels to expedite legislation or amendments to existing legislation that will allow provincial elections to take place. New legislation or amendments to the existing law are required to set a date and secure funding for elections, as well as to establish the electoral system to be used for the vote, among other issues." The link won't work anymore, take it up with Barack. All of that work, all of those preparations. And yet Iraq's supposed to hold a national referendum on the SOFA this July and there's no indication that any prepartion is being done on that. They have not, for example, asked the United Nations for any help on the issue. For those thinking, "Well the ballot will be simplified . . ." The ballot wasn't the issue. Who was on it and campaigning were issues for candidates. The govermnent and the election commission required all those months to set up for the elections.

Now let's turn to the pathetic websites. Shirley says a record number of e-mails came in today on how useless the pathetic web sit and giving specific examples. Let's start with the sewer of all sewers, Mark Karlin's ugly BuzzFlash. I'm dictating this snapshot and I'm not going to ask my friend to count them all but he's counted the top 112 headlines on BuzzFlash -- all it is is headlines -- and not a damn one notes that 5 US soldiers died in Iraq today. They have time to whine and beg for money (and to lie, people left them because of their sexist attacks on Hillary Clinton, not because they criticized her -- and Mark Karlin, the sexist pig, never felt the need to do an editorial telling men of color how to vote, but he felt he had the right to tell women of all races how to vote, he's a sexist pig and a great deal more). So that's Butt Ugly BuzzFlash and Butt Ugly Mark Karlin. Let's see what those hard working Lambert groupies (and Lambert himself) are doing at Corrente? More bad health care blogging (probably should try understanding health care if you want to advocate on behalf of it), a video of Larry Summers, more bad health care blogging, Lambykins taxing himself with those brief blog entries. Go on and on and you'll never find that 5 US soldiers died in Iraq today. Once upon a time, Corrente cared about the Iraq War and cared about ending it. But those people bailed on Lambert and on the site and, judging by the brief 'page 6' like items they now pass off as 'writing,' those who left did so for good reasons. No Quarters all over the banks and the pirates and for some reason 'Uppity Woman' feels the need to trash Ralph Nader for a vehicle GM's proposing. That certainly helped . . . no one. Over at The Confluence, they're apparently tired of trying to prioritize their world -- they've confused themselves with a PAC -- and so you've got one post by Riverdaughter from this morning and, no, it has nothing in it about five US soldiers dying. Riverdaughter, when she blogged at the other site, used to care about the Iraq War. You'll search in vain for Iraq at The Confluence. Over at
Little Dicky's Daily Toilet Scrubber, they have time for Sex In The City videos, health care, gas bagging about tea bagging (they're obsessed with that and it has to do with their male-centric ways and their own latent desires) and on and on but, nope, not a word about Iraq. Once upon a time Arianna Huffington pretended she cared about ending the illegal war. Maybe one of her spritual guides suddenly materialized to tell her to cover other things? Today's big concern for Arianna at Aging Socialite's Cat Litter Box is, as always, Arianna. You're cluded into that when she can't stop name dropping . . . herself: "The conversation continued last night when Charlie Rose invited me to discuss the issue with Tom Curley, AP's president and CEO. For me, the key . . . reminds me . . ." Poor Arianna. No manners in the cat litter box. What about the 'anti-war' Nation magazine (The Nation supported the slaughter of Aghanistan which is why it's so damn funny to read Katrina's efforts to back peddle today)? Not a damn thing at The Nation -- not just "not a damn thing worth reading" as usual, but "not a damn thing on Iraq." Though visitors can laugh at Larua Flanders' latest make over. Apparently, she asked to look like Patty and Cathy Lane's ugly awkward brother. (The woman who played Patty and Cathy is interviewed by wowOwow here. And for what a piece of trash Laura Flanders is, be sure to read Kat's entry on Laura -- who attacked Hillary in the most sexist terms -- pretending she was offended by sexist attacks on Hillary. She'll say anything in front of a crowd of women. Oh well, maybe she was just trying to get laid that night.)

And as bad as the 'brave' online world is, can anything top
The Diane Rehm Show today where, second hour, a conversation about Iraq could have taken place but so damn desperate to forever sing and act out "The Boys in the Backroom" is Diane that not only did we not get a conversation on Iraq, we got leering sexism which Diane refused to call out. Even when a caller phoned in to object, Diane couldn't call it out and in fact, excused it by lying. She wasted our time with a made-up cat fight (proposed by a man) between Carla Bruni and Michelle Obama. It was sexist and it was insulting (to both women as well as all women) and it didn't belong on NPR. And when it was called out, the pig's response that he was being "cheeky" was as offensive as Diane's attempts to excuse it. If that's all you've got left to offer, Diane, retire because the world doesn't need you.

Why don't we get Iraq War coverage? One reason is that when there is actual news from Iraq, it's not amplified. The 'brave' online world would rather bore us all with 'tea bagging' because they are obsessed with their own and their friend's testicles. They don't give a damn about the Iraq War. It's not just that they won't show up for a protest, it's that they don't give a damn about ending the Iraq War or about whether anyone lives or dies. It's all so 'yesterday' for them.
Alsumaria reports over 243 journalist have been killed so far in Iraq during the illegal war. Reporters Without Borders goes with the more conservative estimate of 225. And if any of them has an America's Funniest Home Video like clip, our 'brave' online world may find time to cover them. Translation, they'll be ignored the same way they ignored Bilal Hussein's false imprisonment. But don't worry, they're advancing the cause of making "tea bagging" a socially acceptable term.

On Saddam Hussein,
Alsumaria has a report (text and video) on Jawad Amer who lived underground for approximately 23 years (until the 2003 invasion) for joining the Dawa Party. A large tile in his living room floor lifted up and led to his crawl space where he had keroscene, pots and pans, a toilet and more. The fifty-something year-old man lived in that space below the home of his mother, Azeeza Masikh Dehash. During his time underground, he lost all of his teeth (his teeth are the items in the matchbox he displays on camera). Meanwhile at Fog el Nakhal, Touta shares a story of a family who were victimized under Saddam Hussein and were happy when the US invaded Iraq:

They rejoiced. Freedom to go the the Kharij (outside Iraq), Freedom for the father finally to be able to get the job he deserved. Instead, the father got kicked out of his job. He was a 'saddamist'-living in Al Aathamiya and having a job-he had to be one of Saddam's favoured right? Wrong. His older brother had been killed by Saddam. That's how favoured he was.
No job, and a family to feed, he resorted to selling everything. First the furniture went, the car, the extra fridge, but soon he ran out of stuff to sell. He sat on the kerbside and sold vegetables and herbs.
During a particularly nasty time in 2006, he was shot by american soldiers. His wife complained, the soldier's reply-he was about to attack them.
Yes, with that deadly broccoli and lethal courgettes.
It was concluded he was shot accidently, as there were many militia men in the area. The wife had no qualifications and could not get a job. The recompensation was equivalent to $100.
For a while, the family depended on their uncle. Who was then kidnapped by militia men, and beaten to the point that he couldn't walk, by his fellow country men. His ransom was so high, that it cost them everything.
And yes, its a true story, and no they had no reason to lie, and yes i met the mother and her orphaned children. What made me smile, is I met the two girls. One is the age of my little sister, and the other is around 9.

The violence continues every day. Even the myth of the 'peaceful' January 31st didn't actually mean no one died in Iraq that day (for example McClatchy's
Sahar Issa reported two Kirkuk roadside bombings that resulted in one person being wounded. McClatchy's Laith Hammoudi noted a tribal fight in Baghdad that resulted in one death and one person injured.).


Sahar Issa and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) report Dhafir Hashim Al Jumayl was shot dead in Mosul today. He had been the "cousin of the parliament member Usama Al-Nijaifi and his brother Atheel Al-Nijaifi who headed Al-Hadbaa list which won 48% votes of the last provincial elections".


Sahar Issa and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) report a Baghdad missile attack which left two women wounded, a Baghdad roadside bombing which claimed 2 lives and left four people wounded, a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 woman and left her daughter injured and a Diyala Province roadside bombing which claimed 2 lives -- a woman and a man -- and left "their three children" wounded. Aseel Kami, Tim Cocks, Abdul-Rahman Taher and Michael Christie (Reuters) report a Baghdad car bombing which claimed 9 lives and left twenty people injured: "Eyewitnesses told Reuters Television that the mother of a 7-month-old baby died in the blast and the father was critically wounded when the explosion struck the front of their car." The attack took place in the Kadhemiyah (also spelled Kadhimiya) neighborhood of Baghdad bombed. Wednesday's bombing claimed 7 lives and left twenty-three wounded. Tuesday's bombing claimed 9 lives and left eighteen wounded. In that neighborhood of Baghdad, there have been three bombings this week, 25 deaths and sixty-one people wounded this week alone.

The Tuesday bombing resulted in one known orphan.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reported that the Tuesday car bombing set another car on fire. In the car were three people, a woman, a man and an infant. Hammoudi said the man and the woman were the parents -- that may or may not be correct. He also identifies someone who rescued the infant. That may or may not be correct. There is a dispute over who rescued the child (three names have been mentioned in press coverage). But the child was rescued. The infant, a baby boy, was taken in by Umm Assad al-Khafaji. We know that for a fact because Sam Dagher (New York Times) reported on it and Chrisoph Bangert provided a photo of her feeding the child. Dagher estimated the child to be around six-months-old. He noted the man was driving the car and the woman was in the back with the baby and that it appeared the man was a driver the woman had hired. Someone rescued the child and Dagher observed, "In that sense, the baby was luckier than others who had been wounded in the bombing. After Iraqi security forces arrived, they fired shots to disperse the crowd and scuffled withs ome of the rescuers, witnesses said, preventing many of the wounded from getting help." Christoph Bangert offers another photo of the baby here. A man claiming to be the baby's uncle later came forward to claim him.

March 27th we noted that New York Times Iraqi correspondent Sahar S. Gabriel had been granted refugee status in the United States. April 4th Mudhafer al-Husaini, another Iraqi correspondent, wrote about his news: "Leaving Iraq is not something easy, and going to America is a good opportunity. I know that many people around the world would wish to be in my place and travel to America. But Iraq is not a poor, unkown country. It has a great civilization and it's one of the oldest on the planet. It's a very rich country with two great rivers. The Iraqi people are kind and generous; we're really not bad people." I'm using the term "correspondent." I also use the term "reporter." The Iraqis -- for all outlets -- have been the eyes and ears and they are as much responsible for the reports as anyone who gets mentioned in a byline. And I find it strange that the Times credits Mudhafer (at the Baghdad Bureau blog post) as "an Iraqi tranlator with the NYT in Baghdad". January 5th the paper ran Sam Dagher and Mudhafer al-Husaini's "Bomber at Iraqi Shrine Kills 40, Including 16 Iranian Pilgrims." June 25th it ran Alissa J. Rubin and Mudhafer al-Husaini's "Baghdad Blast Kills Four Americans." January 8, 2008 it was Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Mudhafer al-Husaini's "Suicide Bomber Kills Key Sunni Leader." We can go on and on. Mudhafer was not just credited in the end notes to some articles, he regularly received a byline -- one he earned. It's a bit insulting to refer to him solely as "an Iraqi translator with the NYT in Baghdad." He reported and he got credit for it. If we want to get really ugly, I can write about the Iraqis who made John F. Burns and Dexter Filkins' articles and got nothing -- not even end credit -- we can talk about where they ended up (refugees in Syria, for example) and how they feel they were used. We can make a point to dig up all these stories (we don't have to dig too deep, they began contacting me in December of 2004) and talk about them here or the paper can start giving credit where it's due. A start would be referring to Mudhafter as a "reporter." That's what he is.

Staying on the topic of the New York Times,
Saul Landau (CounterPunch) examines the continued selling of the illegal war:

The New York Times Op-Ed page editors seemed undaunted about printing columns on the surge's success by the very pundits who had only recently assured the public of the biggest lies of the young 21st Century: Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and links to Al Qaeda. Among the surge proselytizers, emerged Kenneth Pollack. In The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq (2002), he wrote: "The only prudent and realistic course of action left to the United States is to mount a full-scale invasion of Iraq to smash the Iraqi armed forces, depose Saddam's regime, and rid the country of weapons of mass destruction." He dismissed wusses who "exaggerated the danger of casualties among American troops."
Pollack even helped persuade Times columnist Bill Keller to support the Iraq war. "Kenneth Pollack, the Clinton National Security Council expert whose argument for invading Iraq is surely the most influential book of this season," wrote Keller (February 8, 2003), "has provided intellectual cover for every liberal who finds himself inclining toward war but uneasy about Mr. Bush."
After expressing absolute certainty about Saddam's WMD, Pollack threw his enthusiasm behind the surge -- without apologizing for his role in helping to perpetuate destruction and death. Again using the Times as his propaganda organ, Pollack offered new dogma. The surge had provided "the potential to produce not necessarily 'victory' but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with." ("A War We Just Might Win" with Michael O'Hanlon, June 30, 2007)

Turning to the military and the economy, yesterday at the Washington Post online,
Dana Priest did another of her Thursday webchats on national security and international issues. Here's one section of the exchange:
Stafford, Va.: Dana, part of Gates' budget includes an increase in spending to support planned expansion of the Army and USMC. Do you know what the actual size of these forces would be once the plan is achieved and when that might be? Will the military have any difficulty in achieving this goal? Thanks. Dana Priest: Sorry, I don't know the numbers answer. I don't believe they will have problems with recruiting. The economic downturn is driving more people into the military.

Edward Colimore (Philadelphia Inquirer) reports on the unemployment crisis and how it worries those in the service:

John Roscoe of Swedesboro trained hard over the last 70 days at Fort Sill, Okla., and isn't worried about heading to Iraq this month. The Army private is more concerned about finding employment when he returns in nine months.
For now, deployment means employment.
"I volunteered to go, and one of the biggest reasons is the economy," said the 26-year-old, who recently lost a private security job. "It's an entire year I'm getting paid and don't have to worry about looking for a job."
One comrade, Sgt. Rockyfeller Mensah of Atco, is hoping to hold on to his civilian job. "I'm real, real concerned with everybody losing their jobs," said the 43-year-old sanitation truck driver. "I hope I can come back to work again."
Mensah and Roscoe, a recent college student, yesterday were among more than 250 members of the New Jersey Army National Guard's 150th Assault Helicopter Battalion who took part in a farewell ceremony - attended by Gov. Corzine - at Fort Sill.

Public television notes.
NOW on PBS offers a look at coal (no, I'm not optimistic either, NOW on PBS is highly 'business' friendly):Can America's cheapest and most plentiful energy resource be produced without burning the environment? Americans are addicted to coal--it powers half of all our electricity, and is both plentiful and cheap. In fact, some call America the "Saudi Arabia of Coal." But are we paying too high an environmental price for all this cheap energy? With carbon emissions caps high on the Obama Administration's agenda, coal is in the crosshairs of the energy debate. This week, NOW Senior Correspondent Maria Hinojosa travels to Wyoming to take a hard look at the coal industry there and its case that it can produce "clean coal"--coal that can be burned without releasing carbon into the atmosphere. President Obama has been outspoken in his support for "clean coal" technology, but some say the whole concept is more of a public relations campaign than an energy solution. As part of the report, Hinojosa talks with Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal and Jeff Goodell, the author of "Big Coal," who says that carbon dioxide emissions generated from coal contribute to global warming. Our investigation is part of a PBS-wide series on the country's infrastructure called "Blueprint America."

This week on
Washington Week (begins airing tonight on most PBS stations, check local listings) Gwen sits down with NYT's David Sanger, Chicago Tribune's Christi Parson, LAT's Doyle McManus and US News & World Reports and CNN's Gloria Borger. Also, I was asked to note that Washington Week has given their site some "tweaks," so check that out. Bonnie Erbe sits down with Eleanor Holmes Norton, Ruth Conniff, Star Parker and Karen Czarnecki to discuss this week's news on To The Contrary. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:The DEKA ArmNew technology is making it possible for amputees to pick up small, delicate objects they never thought they would master thanks to the biggest innovation in prosthetic arms since World War II. Scott Pelley reports. Watch Video
Gun RushAmericans are snapping up guns and ammunition at an increasingly higher rate despite the economic downturn. But as Lesley Stahl reports, the economic downturn, as well as the election of Barack Obama, may be the reason for the run on guns. Watch Video
Steve WynnThe casino mogul most responsible for taking Las Vegas to new heights of gaming and glitter talks to Charlie Rose about his spectacular success and the eye disease that's slowly robbing him of his ability to see the fruits of his labor. Watch VideoAmong those interviewed by Lesley Stahl for her report on guns is Senator Dianne Feinstein whose remarks will, no doubt, be news at home (the Bay Area) due to her days in municpal government when Harvey Milk was assassinated. At wowOwow, Lesley writes about the 60 Minutes segment and also offers a video preview. And as the wowOwow friend who requested that link notes, "You can join the conversation and leave your comments" at wowOwow.

jane arraf
deborah haynes
corinne reilly
sahar issa
hussein kadhimmcclatchy newspapers
laith hammoudi
leila fadel
the washington post
ernesto londono
dana priest
sam dagher
the new york timesalissa j. rubinmudhafer al-husaini
richard a. oppel jr.
60 minutescbs newsnow on pbspbsto the contrarybonnie erbelesley stahlwowowow
kats korner

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Kathy Kelly on Flashpoints

Kathy Kelly was on KPFA's Flashpoints tonight speaking with Dennis Bernstein. "An illegal war that destroyed a country and resulted in the deaths of over a million people," Dennis said (paraphrase) about Barack's lack of grasp when it came to the Iraq War which Barack said yesterday in Baghdad, 'job well done.' He pointed out how little value is placed on human lives when they are non-American.

Kathy Kelly agreed and noted that Pakistan is under attack and they are treated as if they are "expendable, cheap if you will." She discussed how people in Pakistan were having to flee their homes because of the predator drones flying overhead. What if we looked up in the sky, she asked, and saw a Predator? "We'd be terrified." So are they.

Do their lives not matter?

Are they unimportant?

Dennis referred to his interview with Adam Kokesh the night before (C.I. offers a full transcript of it in today's snapshot which, for the record, is why I'm listening). He asked Kathy Kelly when the War Crimes become Barack's?

She replied, "I think that Barack Obama is the world's chief exporter of weapons, that goes with the job and I think you can't look at attacks on civilian populations using conventional force and not discuss war crimes."

She declared that the job for those of us who want to "abandon the military, our work is the same as it was under [. . .] Bush." I pulled a word. I do not use the "p" word to describe Bully Boy Bush. He was the occupant of the Oval Office. That's the most I'll call him. C.I.'s the same way, which is why it was "Bully Boy." We wouldn't use the "p" word but we did give him his own title.

If you missed it or would like to hear it again, the broadcast is archived at KPFA and at Flashpoints.

Yesterday was the poetry posts and to be sure you didn't miss one, here's the list:

Cedric's Big Mix
Barack's yellow fever
10 hours ago

The Daily Jot
10 hours ago

Thomas Friedman is a Great Man
Helen C. Harris
10 hours ago

Mikey Likes It!
Anne Sexton
10 hours ago

Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude
marvin bell
10 hours ago

Patricia Smith
10 hours ago

Trina's Kitchen
Gwendolyn Haste
10 hours ago

Ruth's Report
Dorothy Parker and Daniel Brown
10 hours ago

Oh Boy It Never Ends
10 hours ago

Like Maria Said Paz
Katie Ford
10 hours ago

Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills)
D.A. Levy
10 hours ago

I hope you enjoyed reading them. I know I did and was really impressed with the diversity. I didn't know, for example, the poems Trina and Betty highlighted -- or the poets for that matter. So it was a great deal of fun to read all of them.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, April 8, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, Falluja goes under crackdown, Barack returns to the US, the attacks on Iraq's LGBT community gets some serious attention, and more.

The devil went down to Georgia, or you might have thought something similar must have happened as all three commercial broadcast networks suddenly rediscovered Iraq last night. Not much of value despite the Big Three basically over approximately sixteen minutes when you combine all their reports.
CBS Evening News with Katie Couric (here for video of the episode) offered a report by Bill Plante which folded in Chip Reid's audio report (noted in yesterday's snapshot) which was the breaking news on the trip. Reid's biggest contribution (post flooded zone with everyone covering the topic) is probably his noting the number of US troops Barack spoke to (five hundred to seven hundred) -- a basic fact and one that the White House didn't try to keep secret but, amazingly?, some print outlets attempted to triple the number. NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams (here for video page) offered a report from Richard Engel which folded in NBC's Chuck Todd and also offered an exchange between Engel and anchor Brian Williams. Value in the report? Only this from Engel: "Tonight Air Force One took off with its lights turned off apparently out of security concerns as President Obama began the twelve hour trips back to Washington." ABC World News Tonight with Charlie Gibson offered a report from Jake Tapper. There were a few bits of value in Tapper's report. Sadly this is one: "The visit was kept secret for security reasons." Sadly? Despite the fact that the visit was kept secret some outlets (New York Times) had to pretend that wasn't the case. Pretend? Let's call it what it was: LYING. Helene Cooper can take the fall for that. Tapper, Sulen Miller and Karen Travers wrote up the vists and link includes video. No network posted a transcript of their report and their online streaming does not offer closed captioning. Those needing transcripts can click here (consider those rush transcripts). PBS' The NewsHour covered the stop-over and, as usual, they have the option of transcript, audio or video. Accessible to all, as PBS programs should be -- should all be. But apparently commercial networks feel no such obligation?

They felt no obliation for real much -- including no obligation for reality. Barack landed at the airport surrounded by Camp Victory, quickly hightailed it in an armed motorcade to a palace on Camp Victory and received people there. He could not venture out. The excuse the White House tried to float was "dust". Golly, dust didn't prevent Nouri or Iraqi President Jalal Talabani from meeting with him on the safety of the US military base. And who knew "dust" grounded flights in Iraq? For those who can remember, March 2003 did see a dust storm that grounded some helicopter flights. The dust storm knocked over a fuel tanker. So it was, in fact, more than dust. It was a sandstorm. There was no sandstorm in Iraq yesterday. As every reporter on that trip (and I've spoken to three) damn well knows, there was no "dust" excuse, let alone a sandstorm. You can read Andrew
C. Revkin (New York Times) reporting in 2003 on that impending sandstorm because that was actual news. Did you see any reports Monday predicting a sandstorm? No. Did you read any reports of a sandstorm yesterday or today? No. You were played for a fool if you bought into the lie. Barack couldn't travel to Baghdad. He could only land in and stay on the US military base. And they want to pretend that things are safe in Iraq? And they want to pretend that Barack represents change? The US media continues to LIE and play like this is normal. It's not normal. It was never normal. Foreign leaders go to Iraq all the time. They actually visit Iraq.Those who pay attention will remember this issue coming up in April of last year. April 8, 2008, Ryan Crocker, US Ambassador to Iraq, and General David Petraeus were doing their days of testimony and that afternoon popped in on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Senator Barbara Boxer had some questions and observations:She then focused on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad noting, "The Bush administration told the American people more than five years ago that we would be greeted as liberators in Iraq and supporters of the war said that they would be dancing in the street with American flags." That didn't happen and not only did that not happen but when Ahmadinejad goes to Iraq, he's greeted warmly while Bully Boy has to sneak "in, in the dead of the night." She wondered, "Do you agree that after all we have done, after all the sacrifices, and God bless all of our troops . . ., that Iran is stronger and more influential than ever before?"Crocker wanted to debate that reality. He stated it was just militias. Boxer pulled out reports that demonstrated it wasn't, where Ahmadinejad was greeted warmly even by children who gave him flowers, kissed him on both cheeks. "I'm saying that after all we have done," Boxer declared, "the Iraqi government kissing the Iranian leader and our president has to sneak into the country -- I don't understand it." Crocker still wanted to argue leading Boxer to respond, "I give up. It is what it is. They kissed him on the cheek. . . . He had a red carpet treatment and we are losing our sons and daughters every day for the Iraqi people to be free. . . . It is disturbing."Last year, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad could walk (with his guards) throughout Baghdad and be greeted warmly. Barack can't even be Humvee-ed into Baghdad. And Ahmadinejad didn't keep his visit a secret. It was known well ahead of time.Like a coward, the US president had to slink into Iraq and had to remain hidden away on the US military base. That's disgusting. All the more so when you grasp how other leaders move freely. And Tony Blair did. Bush's poodle moved freely. Yesterday, Adam Kokesh spoke with Dennis Bernstein on KPFA's Flashpoints.

Dennis Bernstein: Well President Barack Obama made a surprise visit to Iraq today talking about withdrawals but his policy appears to be widening the war, privatizing it and expanding in Afghanistan. We want to continue to get the views of those who strongly oppose this war, those who opposed it first inside and now outside. Adam Kokesh is joining us. He is an Iraq veteran and a member of the board of
Iraq Veterans Against the War. Kokesh said, "Today Obama's plan is to continue the indefinite presence of 50,000 troops in Iraq, have an increased reliance on private contractors." Adam Kokesh, welcome back to Flashpoints. It's good to have you back. You did serve in Iraq. Your initial response to Obama's visit and what he's saying?

Adam Kokesh: Well I appreciate what you said about -- by way of people that truly oppose the war as opposed to Kool-Aid drinkers who drank the Obama Kool-Aid and are still on their various stages of hangover at this point, realizing that he really didn't mean to change anything. But there are still those of us out here who truly believe in non-interventionism, who truly believe in respecting the people of the rest of the world and that our foreign policy should only represent the truly benevolent will of the American people and not the interest of the American empire or the military-industrial-complex. The thing about this trip though that Obama just made to Iraq is what's so interesting is how much it stands in stark contrast to his trip of last July when he was still at least broadly seen as an anti-war candidate. Now, I mean, I read the fine print from the beginning. And really didn't believe him when he said "I would like to end the war" because I read the fine print. And the fine print said twelve months, forty to sixty-thousand troops and, you know, an increased reliance on private contractors. So I knew he wasn't about ending the war from the beginning but at least when he was able to fool enough people into believing that that's what he wanted to do, when he went to Iraq as a senator, and as an anti-war candidate, he didn't need anymore security than the troops on the ground or the generals at least, generals on the ground, as they're called, who really run our foreign policy. But now, as president, when people know what he really stands for and what he's actually planning on doing there, he's got to go in in secret and with super intense security. Now I understand there's some increased security necessary when you're the president as opposed to a candidate but by stark contrast, Ahmadinejad walks around the streets of Iraq like it's cool because they respect him there. They're not going to respect the next imperialist American president no matter what his skin color is.

Dennis Bernstein: Well let's talk just a little bit more about what he's saying here. He's really talking about private contractors. He's talking about the continuing expanding privatization of US foreign policy. How does that play into this for you?

Adam: Well it's really scary. I mean the idea of what is government and what is it that we give the government the power to do and that is, you know government is an idea, it is a group of people that have a socially granted monopoly on the use of force. What we are doing now is allowing the government to use force to tax and exploit the American people and then give that money specifically to other people to do violence on other people. And that's a whole other separate move from the what is socially acceptable to what is the appropriate role of government. And this is, of course, nothing new. But a lot of this centers around Blackwater and of course Blackwater 'ah they changed their name so they're not a threat anymore!' right? Well the contract that Blackwater had in Iraq went to other companies. Blackwater, by the way, was never the biggest one. One of the bigger ones was Triple Canopy and Triple Canopy just got some of the contracts that Blackwater had. So what Blackwater had to do because they damaged their brand so much, they lost a lot of contracts, they had to lay a lot of people off -- but when those contracts go to another corporation that's doing the exact same thing, they're hiring the exact same people that Blackwater laid off with the exact same mentality of "We're the American Big Guns, no laws apply to us here, we can run roughshod over this country and do whatever we want." And the fundamental responsibility for that is still with us the American people and we are falling down on the job. We fell down on the job when we elected Barack Obama president and we continue to do so by failing to hold him accountable and bring about the appropriate pressure to really change our foreign policy.

Dennis Bernstein: We're speaking with Adam Kokesh. He is an Iraq War veteran. He is on the board of
Iraq Veterans Against the War. He has been among the most outspoken veterans standing against this war. Now, and I don't want to play around with hyperbole, but let me ask you the question this way, Adam: When does this illegal war -- obviously we all remember we were lied into a war, nothing was ever founded in terms of the claims, so in terms of this illegal war and occupation, when does it become a crime also of the Obama administration?

Adam Kokesh: Oh, I would say it became a crime the day that he took office and didn't demand that it stop. If you want to say -- and that's not hyperbole. You know, I said that Obama is as much a War Criminal as Bush ever was. Now if you want to debate the scale of those war crimes for initiating a war versus perpetuating it, okay, I can give you a little slack there. Bush was a bigger War Criminal than Obama perhaps but they are still squarely in the same category. They're both War Criminals. And what Obama is doing in terms of allowing the occupation to continue, you know, you might say is not criminal if it doesn't involve a deliberate act but I think being president you take on a greater responsibility in that role. More specifically though, as putting Obama squarely in that category his plan, or his current escalation, in Afghanistan and the attacks he's order by unmanned drones into Pakistan. You know the specific violation of the sovereignty of Pakistan. That in and of itself constitutes a War Crime. By all the international law standards, that's a War Crime. Every attack into Pakistan is a violation of their sovereignty. Those are War Crimes. You know, let's not pull punches here just because he's an African-American or because he's a Democrat. People are dying. And in Pakistan, when they were protesting a few months ago, before Obama even was elected, when he was just vocally supporting the attacks that Bush had going into Pakistan, they were burning effigies of Obama right next to the American flag and the people that are suffering at the hands of our imperialist foreign policy, they don't care about the skin color of our president. And in terms of Iraq, the criminality there is that it's not about how many troops are there or what you call them because we know the idea of re-designating troops "non combat" isn't going to change anything about how the Iraqis resent our presence or the fundamental fact that this an occupation. And there were a number of presidential candidates that pointed out, that pointed this out. And I'm going to single out John Edwards here who I've met and talked about this and thanked him for taking a stand because one thing that he said very specifically was that he would immediately end all combat operations. That is really the crux of what is this occupation. It is the forceful interference with the sovereignty of the Iraqi people. And that is something that Obama could change at the snap of his fingers, with an executive order. And that he has not done that, maybe it's less technically, is he being less of War Criminal by not ending it immediately? I don't know. The way that he is deliberately perpetuating it, the way that he is escalating Afghanistan and the violation of the sovereignty of Pakistan? Those are War Crimes. Those are very distinctly, technically War Crimes. And that is not hyperbole.

Dennis Bernstein: Alright, Adam. I want to ask you two more questions and they really focus in on your active resistance to the war and the different stands that you've taken. First of all, let me take you back to Iraq. When you talk about War Crimes, do they include that which you witnessed yourself?

Adam Kokesh: Yeah. Our presence there, when we are not welcome, is in and of itself a War Crime. So let's make that clear, first of all, our presence there by force, against the will of the Iraqi people although it might have been less harder when I was there in 2004 in Falluja to quantify what was the will of the Iraqi people but at this point it is -- there is no doubt to the fact that they would rather have us not in their country. During the siege of Falluja there were definitely the indiscriminate use of artillery and air fire power into the city of Falluja that was by its nature bound to lead to civilian casualties. And I believe that that constituted a War Crime as well.

Dennis Bernstein: Alright and finally, sort of looking back at your last day in Iraq and your life now that includes a whole bunch of resistance, arrests, being tracked by various levels of the National Security State, has anything changed at the core of you since then, since you left? And what is it that's driving you now?

Adam Kokesh: Well I've always been a libertarian and the core of that philosophy -- and at first, at least, before I went to Iraq -- and for the record I was against the war before the war as someone who believes in the foreign policy of non-interventionism. But before I went to Iraq, being a libertarian was more of an intellectual thing than an emotional thing or a spiritual thing. And having come back from Iraq and joined
Iraq Veterans Against the War and gone through the ensuing process of personal exploration and discovery and all the ways that I've grown and been challenged by taking on these huge issues and doing my best to be an effective organizer, I've come to realize in a very visceral way that the issues that we debate are not just a matter of academics or debate or interpretation or anything like that -- they really are a matter of life and death. It really is a matter of what is morally right and wrong. And at the corp of my political philosophy is the principle of self-ownership. That you, as a human being, own yourself, and any violation of that by force is fundamentally immoral. And for me, it is based on a choice you know the difference between state-ism or liberty is a matter of choosing to really love humanity or not. And I fully make that choice to express as much as I can in my life a full, complete, courageous love for humanity. And out of that love is a natural faith that the better nature of humanity will triumph in the long run, that humanity progresses, that things will get better, that we are able as a species to live lives based on a greater love. And from that faith inherently leads me to a lifestyle of respecting the people I come into contact with, an innate respect for fellow human beings. And that respect that we all seek, that we all want and desire as basic human beings, to not have our lives forcefully interfered with by anybody, I think the way that we talk about liberty and freedom in society are mere measurements of that respect because obviously our government does not respect us. Our gov -- the people that make up our government think that they have some divine right to claim ownership over our bodies, you know, with the drug war, with our system of taxation, with our system of foreign policy, they demonstrate that they feel they have some claim to the lives of people in the rest of the world, that they have some divine right as the American government to do that. And so, that's what I want to do with my life and that's how I've changed, deciding that I want to apply my life to taking on the greatest injustices to those core values of faith and respect. And I see them all sourced out of Washington, DC. The United States Federal Government is the greatest source of injustice in the world today. And so, you know, that's how I've changed, that's how I've brought in and how I've really got in touch with the truly philosophical spiritual basis of my politics, if you will. And that's what motivates me, my love for humanity.

Dennis Bernstein: Alright well, Adam Kokesh, I hope that we can continue this dialog and maybe talk more maybe about a transformation that we see happen somewhere but I'm going to keep just some hope alive there but we thank you for laying it down and giving us a perspective that we really need to be thinking about as we face so much war, expanded military budgets, so on and so forth, we're going to leave it --

Adam Kokesh: Well I take it you're smart enough to not be hoping for any more 'change' from Obama or have any more hope in him but my hope, and I believe yours too, comes from the people first.

Dennis Bernstein: Adam Kokesh is an Iraq War veteran and a member of the board of
Iraq Veterans Against the War and I think you can tell he's against these wars. Thanks for being with us.

Adam Kokesh: Hey, man, thank you.

The hour long, Monday through Friday program is archived at
KPFA and at Flashpoints. Yesterday's NewsHour found Judy Woodruff interviewing US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and she asked him about Barack's trip, specifically, "What is his message to the Iraqis?" Despite being asked that, Gates instead went to the troops and then came to Iraqis. Apparently, they are bad children and certainly Barack's scolding of them yesterday, from one of their palaces which the US occupies, about their need to be responsible and take control, lecturing from one of Iraq's palaces which the US occupies, was all about saying Iraqis are the second-class citizens of the world. That was Barack's patronizing message. Gates told Woodruff, "I think his message to the Iraqis is, almost certainly, keep on doing what you're doing; keep on resolving problems politically; keep on working at reconciliation; get ready for your elections. We are going to keep our side of the bargain in terms of the agreement, in terms of draw-downs of troops and you have to step up to your responsibilities now, too." A question Gates should be asked, in light of the footage, is whether the for-show troops at Barack's political rally yesterday should have behaved the way they did. Their behavior was shameful, however, I will offer a semi-apology on calling that out. They were ordered, as various e-mails have explained (and I confirmed it with a friend at M-NF and two friends at the White House) to, quote, "whoop it up" for the cameras. The US military was ORDERED to behave in that embarrassing fashion. You've never seen anything like that before and you never should again. Gates might need to be questioned about that and certainly Barack should be questioned as to why his meeting with the troops required that they be instructed to "whoop it up" for the cameras? The troops came off embarrassing and, since they were ordered to behave that way, someone up the chain needs to take accountability.

Woodruff did note that violence was on the rise in Iraq and asked what this meant regarding Barack's "pledge to get most of the troops out -- 19 months, most of them will be out by next year. But if this violence were to step up considerably, is there a contingency plan?" Gates replied, "I think the president always has the authority to, as commander-in-chief, to change his plans." As always with the US officials, he went on to blame al Qaeda in Mesopotamia for any violence. He did not however use that term. He just tossed out al Qaeda. He did not notice this was a homegrown group and that it did not exist until after the start of the Iraq War.

While Gates blamed al Qaeda,
Rod Nordland (New York Times) reports in this morning's paper on an audio message released by Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, former deupty chair of Saddam Hussein's Revolutionary Command Council: "Mr. Douri called Mr. Maliki's government and Iraqi elections illegitimate because they were a result of the American military occupation. Americans were withdrawing, he said, because they failed in Iraq but hoped to leave a puppet government in place." Nordland reports that the statemetn (released on Tuesday) made no mention of Monday's Baghdad bombings or yesterday's. Meaning if any "Baathist elements" led by al-Douri was responsible for the bombings, they most likely would have claimed creidt. Nordland reports, "Mr. Douri's statement rejected any possibility of negotiations unless the Iraqi government met a series of conditions, which included allowing armed Baathists to take over the government and disbanding all institutions created after the American invasion." No, it has nothing to do with religious factions. Yes, Barack did present the sects as the only thing blocking progress in Iraq in his speech yesterday.

United Nations Secretary-General issued the following on Monday:

The Secretary-General strongly condemns the string of bombings that struck a marketplace and other locations in Baghdad today, killing a large number of civilians and injuring many others. The Secretary-General extends his condolences to the families of the deceased. The Secretary-General is confident that the people of Iraq will reject these reprehensible attempts to provoke sectarian violence in the country. He urges them to continue undeterred in their efforts to achieve lasting peace and national reconciliation. The United Nations remains committed to supporting the Iraqi people toward these ends.

While those statements are very common, the Secretary-General has been silent on the non-stop attacks on the LGBT community in Iraq. Also silent is the White House and the US State Dept and, apparently, the topic is so 'icky' to those reporters who attend press breifings, that no one ever bothers to ask about it under the current administration.
Timothy Williams and Tareq Maher give serious attention to the issue as does their paper, the New York Times, which front paged the issue this morning. The reporters explore the ongoing attacks on Iraq's LGBT community and point out that the last two months have seen at least 25 allegedly gay males turn up dead in the Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad: "Most have been shot, some multiple times. Several have been found with the word 'pervert' in Arabic on notes attached to their bodies, the police said." They speak with 23-year-old Basima who explains he's lost three friends who were killed en route to a cafe. Iraqi police say the ones doing the killings are family members -- the same police who go on the record, by name, stating that gay males are "disgusting." Not much protection they're going to get from that police department. The police department is now in the midst of another crackdown on the LGBT community, which is also bragged about by them in the article. Prior to the start of the illegal war, Iraq had a thriving LGBT community. The reporters note Naomi Klein's BFF Ali al-Sistani issuing his fatawa on gay people ("The people should be killed in the worst, most severe way of killing.") Naturally, Naomi never said a peep. Even though this fatawa was issued long after she'd begun praising al-Sistani in public. Some people believe 'democracy' starts and ends with them and screw everyone else. It's a major story and one that deserves serious attention. UPI offers a summary of Williams and Maher's report. David Warner (Creative Loafing) observes, "Openly gay Iraqis are being murdered with the tacit and sometimes overt approval of police and families."

Violence continues today.
Laith Hammoudi and Corinne Reilly (McClatchy Newspapers) report the Kadhemiyah neighborhood of Baghdad was bombed again today (bombed yesterday as well) with 7 people dead and twenty-three injured and speculation flying as to who is responsible. Mohammed Madhi states it's Baathists while Mohammed Salman blames the government. Jomana Karadheh (CNN) adds today's bombing, like yesterday's, took place "near a Shiite holy shrine". Fadhel al-Badrani (Reuters) reports Falluja is under 'crackdown' as automobile and foot traffic is banned, schools and shops are ordered closed and the city is placed under curfew. By? Nouri and his goons. 35 people have been arrested: "Most of those arrested had recently been freed by the U.S. military from its detention centres or were suspected in the past of being al Qaeda sympathisers, said Lieutenant-Colonel Aziz Faisal of Falluja police." Hussien Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an armed clash "took place between gunmen and an Armeican military unit in the New Mosul neighborhood" and that there have been no reports (thus far) of casualties.

Claudia Parsons (Reuters) has a review of the Iraq War and how it's currently seen. We'll note this section:

But Alissa Rubin, New York Times bureau chief in Baghdad, said Iraq was in a dynamic and critical phase leading up to the drawdown of U.S. troops. "It's only as they pull out you see just how bad the violence might be," she said.
"If you're sitting in New York or Washington or small-town Kansas, you look at Iraq and think 'OK, well, that war is kind of over...,' and you move on," Rubin said.
"That's clearly the way most Americans see it, it's not on the front burner. But the reality is different," she said.
The New York Times keeps at least three international reporters and a photographer in Baghdad in addition to locally hired personnel. But most U.S. media outlets, facing pressure to cut costs, have trimmed overseas staff, relying on agencies such as Reuters and the Associated Press.

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