Saturday, September 16, 2006

Murtha, Medals, Parry and Iraq

Saturday morning. Early Saturday morning at that. Tonight was the discussion group (on Iraq). C.I. was kind enough to pass on about fifteen items that, if there had been more time today, would have made the snapshot. Since they didn't make the snapshot and since Mike and I both had the discussion group (and Rebecca already had her topic), C.I. thought we might be tired and needing something to grab from. I did. I'm exhausted. We went through and each picked out two so please visit Mikey Likes It! to read Mike's thoughts and see his choices.

"Murtha Lays the Dead at Rumsfeld's Door" (Jason Leopold, Truthout):
Democratic congressman John Murtha released a 12-page report outlining severe shortfalls plaguing the US Army as thousands of troops prepare to be deployed to Iraq.
Murtha, a 37-year Marine Corps veteran who entered the political arena in 1990, said Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld bears full responsibility for the military's consistent readiness failures and demanded that the Defense Secretary resign.
"Many Army combat and support units scheduled to deploy to Iraq in 2007 will have less than the required one year period for rest and re-training," the report says. "This is one of the key indicators that lead many Army officials to conclude that current deployment rates cannot be sustained without breaking the force."
Murtha publicized the report at a news conference Wednesday where he was joined by Congressman David Obey, D-Wisconsin. Murtha read the most explosive parts of the report, much of which is based on detailed, internal Army documents his staff requested over the past few months.
The findings are damning.
"In effect, the Army has become a 'hand-to-mouth' organization," Murtha said, reading from the report. "Its inability to get ahead of the deployment and training curves is rooted in the Secretary's miscalculations and blind optimism about troop and industrial surge requirements for the US occupation of Iraq."
Murtha added that "thousands of key Army weapons platforms - such as tanks, Humvees, Bradley Fighting Vehicles - sit in disuse at Army maintenance depots for lack of funding ... there are over 600 tanks - enough for one full Army division - sitting at Anniston Army Depot."

I was happy to grab Leopold's because I'd noted Murtha the last time I blogged ("ACLU, Peltier and Iraq"). There are so many attacks on Murtha lately. In fact, to try to stem the Not So Swift Floaties, Max Clealand and others are going to be part of a campaign next month (I believe next month). The same group that went after John Kerry now has their sights set on Murtha.

On the topic of elections, Billie listened to a show Robert Parry (Consortium News) was a guest on in June and e-mailed all of us a mini-transcript. This was back in June, that the show aired. Parry was speaking of the beancounters (he mentioned Carville by name) and how they assumed that if they could get that 52% leaning towards them, the Dems would win. But the reality, Parry pointed out, was that the Republicans launch attacks at the last minute (aided by the media) and three or so percent can get lost in the last minute smear campaigns. He made some really strong points which surprised me only because he was discussing elections. Rebecca gifts with his books. I am sure I have all of his books (I think there are four) on my shelves. He's a strong writer and I've enjoyed the books. But he's written of Iran-Contra and the Bush family, and topics such as that from a journalist's perspective so I was surprised -- not that he could observe the problem (which is up his alley), but that he had recommendations.

I doubt they'll be listened to. There's a whole cottage industry of bean counters and, as C.I.'s pointed out (sometime in November of 2004, I'm too tired to hunt it down but it's part of the four-part "Red" State series), the bean counters really don't care about a huge turn out. They want those easy numbers they can massage which is why they target the easy voters who will turn out to vote hell or high water. It's easier for them to try to peel off swing-voters than to work to actually come up with a campaign that will bring in new voters or voters who've grown disenchanted with the candidates (the watered-down candidates).

Reading the transcript, I didn't just think, "Parry's made some good observations"; I also feared that his words could very well be an explanation of why the Democrats lose in November. I hope I'm wrong. I also believe Parry talked about the need to build a team of candidates via the states but that was a point C.I. made so I may be confusing Parry's comments with the four-part series. It's too late for me to be blogging and offering any semblance of coherence.

"Two few Medal of Honors ... Will Tai Shan stay? ... More" (Lisa Hoffman, Scripps Howard News Service):
Gripes are growing in the ranks of some U.S. troops and veterans about the virtual absence of Medals of Honor bestowed upon a growing list of those who have performed extraordinary acts of combat valor in Iraq and Afghanistan.
So far, just one of the nation's top decorations has been awarded, and that was posthumously to Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith, who died in the early days of the war while protecting fellow soldiers from enemy attack near the Baghdad airport.
Critics are especially ticked that no living hero has been selected for the award, and note that - if the medal were awarded at the same rate at which it was during the Vietnam War - at least 30 would have been presented so far.
The Pentagon says the process for awarding Medal of Honors is necessarily painstaking, but is proceeding.

When I read that, I thought of C.I.'s "'Soldier describes anguish in revealing murder allegations' (Gregg Zoroya)" on Zoroya's article about Justin Watt. Watt came forward when he found out what was allegedly done to Abeer and her family. Where is his medal of honor? By coming forward, doesn't he deserve one? Isn't that a core value that the military instills? Isn't bravery something they applaud and responsibilty? If it weren't for Justin Watt, the 'story' would still be that Abeer, her parents and her sister were killed by 'insurgents.'

I also wonder about the lack of medals and whether it has anything to do with the fact that the Bully Boy has none? He always seems to be engaged in games of one-up-manship. Was John Howard, Australia's Prime Minister, the leader Bully Boy needed to say was ugly? Or was it fat? Or something else? He does that all the time. Press conferences are a joke with the press licking his boots and him trying to make them laugh. So is the low rate of medals resulting from the fact that Bully Boy's competative instincts make him feel less than those he'd hand out the medals too?

On the press conference Friday, can someone do something about his hands. I know he's trying to look "manly," but he just looked, as he pivoted with palms facing, as though he were about to break out in a cheer of "Ready? Okay!" I thought Kat's "Ann Richards" called it correctly: "So Ann Richards, the woman Bully Boy wishes he were -- but he's not fit to carry her pumps."

That's it for me this morning.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, September 15, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq and among the dead are US troops; the count of discovered corpses in Baghdad continue to rise, meanwhile the latest US 'answer' is "Castle!"; war resister Darrell Anderson prepares to return to the United States; and
Camp Democracy continues in Washington, DC.
Starting with the violence (stick around for the 'answer'),
CBS and AP report that five US troops died on Thursday ("making it a particularly bloody day for U.S. forces" -- well not to the New York Times) and that a marine has died today in al Anbar province. al Anbar? For those who missed it, Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) reported Monday that that Marine Col Pete Devlin's assesment "that the prospects for securing that country's western Anbar province are dim and that there is almost nothing the U.S. military can do to improve the political and social situation there, said several military officers and intelligence officials familiar with its contents." Today Will Dunham (Reuters) reports: "U.S. commanders in Iraq have demoted their long effort to subdue insurgents in Anbar province . . . 'Baghdad is our main effort right now,' Army Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the top U.S. operational commander in Iraq, told Pentagon reporters in a briefing from Iraq."
Staying with the violence.
A senior Interior Ministry official
remarks to Reuters, on the continued discovery of corpses, "Forty bodies, 60 bodies -- it's become a daily routine." Friday started with Rebecca Santana (AP) noting the discovery of 30 corpses in Baghdad. AFP gives the announced figures for the last three days as 64 (Wednesday), 20 (Thursday) and 51 (last 24 hours). In addition to those corpses which were discovered in Baghdad, Reuters reports that in Mussayab a corpse "with a missing head" was discovered.
Reuters reports one person was shot dead and five others wounded in Baghdad. AP reports the incident: "In central Baghdad, a gunman opened fire from the top of an abandoned building in a Sunni Arab neighborhood, killing an Iraqi civilian and wounding five others, said police Lt. Ahmed Mohammed Ali."
Reuters reports a car bomb in Mosul that left nine wounded, while, in Mussayab, a roadside bomb "late on Thursday" left three police officers wounded.
In addition,
Al Jazeera reports that a US soldier is missing after Thursday's car bombing in Baghdad that left two troops dead on Thursday and 25 others wounded. AP raises the wounded from that bombing to 30 and notes the missing soldier "has been reported as Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown".
AFP reminds: "The United Nations has also warned that Iraq could slide into civil war as the daily bloodshed shows no signs of abating despire political efforts for national reconciliation." CBS and AP report that John Bolton told the UN Security Council yesterday "that Iraq's sectarian killings and kidnappings had increased in the last three months, along with a rise in the numbef of displaced people."
So where does it stand? Even John Bolton's sounding alarms, US troops are pulling out of al Anabar,
Reuters reports that the 147,000 American troops in Iraq are "the most since January," and the violence and chaos continue.
But don't fret 'a new plan' finally emerges as the 'answer.'
It's being called trenches which is really implying something it's not. When people think of trenches, they tend to think of trench warfare. What's being described is more along the lines of a mote --
AFP reports that Brigadier General Abdel Karim Khalaf described it this way, "We will surround the city with trenches. The entry to the captial will be permitted through 28 roads, as against 21 at the moment, but at the same time we will seal off dozens of other minor roads with access to Baghdad."
Quote: "We will surround the city with trenches." That's the 'new plan.' Baghdad goes from capital to castle. But not overnight.
Al Jazeera notes "an operation of this scale would take months to complete."
In the real world,
Cal Perry (CNN) takes a look at the wounded US troops ("more than 20,000" have been "wounded in Iraq") at the 10th Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad.
In peace news,
Courage to Resist has reported that war resister Darrell Anderson will return to the United States (from Canada): "Support is mounting for Darrell and his courageous stand. Two events are planned in conjunction with his return to the U.S. In Fort Erie on Saturday, Septemeber 30 at Noon there will be a rally in Lions Sugar Bowl and then supporters, including Iraq war veterans and military family members, will accompany Darrell as he crosses the border back into the U.S. over Peace Bridge."
Other peace actions are going on and will be going on including a three-day event in NYC that begins this evening at 7:00 pm, continues Saturday at 7:00 pm and concludes on Sunday at 3:00 pm. What is it? The People Speak directed by Will Pomerantz and Rob Urbinati. This is a workshop adaptation of
Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove's Voices of a People's History of the United States. The workshop will take place at The Culture Project's Bleecker Street Theater on 45 Bleecker Street. Tickets are ten dollars and can be ordered online here or here or purchased in person at the box office (box office does not take ticket orders). For those in NYC, or who will be during those dates, click here for a map. The presentation is part of the Impact Festival.
In Washington, DC,
Camp Democracy continues, free and open to the public. Today's events have focused on Electoral Reform and include an 8:00 pm (EST) showing of the film Stealing America, Vote by Vote." Among those speaking today were Bob Firtakis. Saturday is peace day and will include Kevin Zeese, Nadine Bloch, Allison Hantschel. CODEPINK's Gael Muphy will report on the visit to Jordan at the start of last month to meet with Iraqis as well as the trip to Lebanon. And war resister Ricky Clousing will discuss the court-martial he's facing. (This may be the first major discussion he's given publicly on the topic since August 11th.)
And on Sunday,
Camp Democracy will host a number of events and the theme will be Impeachment Day. Among those participating: Elizabeth Holtzman, Michael Avery, Ray McGovern, David Green, John Nichols, Marcus Raskin, Elizabeth De La Vega, Dave Lindorff, David Swanson, Jennifer Van Bergen, Geoff King, David Waldman, Dan DeWalt, Steve Cobble, Anthony St. Martin, Cindy Bogard, Mubarak Awad, Susan Crane, Frank Anderson. The camp has daily activities and admission is free. A complete schedule can be found here. Free and open to the public with daily activites.
Finally, in Australia,
ABC reports that Brendan Nelson (Defence Minister) will be expanding their role in Iraq when "Italian forces withdraw at the end of next month." Reuters notes this will be 20 troops added to "the extra 38 troops announced on Sept. 4". The 58 need to be weighed next to the intent, as Dan Box (The Australian) reported earlier this week, the Australian government wants to up the army from 2,600 to 30,000 ("its biggest intake since the Vietnam war")

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

ACLU, Peltier and Iraq

There's a lot going on today. I want to start with a press release, in full, from the ACLU about the illegal spying.

"ACLU Slams Senate Judiciary Committee’s Approval of NSA Spying Bills" (ACLU via Common Dreams):
WASHINGTON -- September 13 -- The American Civil Liberties Union today strongly rebuked the Senate Judiciary Committee for adopting legislation that approves warrantless spying on Americans by the National Security Agency. The move follows a recent court decision finding the surveillance both illegal and unconstitutional. The Bush administration has thus far stonewalled efforts by the committee to conduct meaningful oversight over the program.
"Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee acted as a rubber stamp for the administration’s abuse of power," said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "Congress has a right and obligation to conduct meaningful oversight on the unlawful actions of the president. But instead of investigating lawbreaking, the Senate Judiciary Committee wants to make it legal. We urge the full Senate to reject any attempts to ratify this illegal program."
By a vote of 10 to 8, the committee approved S.2453, the "National Security Surveillance Act." That bill, crafted by Vice-President Dick Cheney and Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) gives the president the option of complying -- or not -- with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the protections of the Fourth Amendment.
The bill would also: vastly increase the government's statutory power to examine all international phone conversations and emails, making warrantless surveillance of Americans' conversations the rule rather then the exception and expand the ability to conduct warrantless physical searches of Americans' homes. Senator Mike DeWine's (R-OH) "Terrorist Surveillance Program Act of 2006" (S. 2455) was approved by a vote of 10 to 8. This bill would weaken the probable cause requirement for spying on people in the US -- sweeping in innocent Americans -- allow extended warrantless surveillance, limit judicial review and punish whistleblowers.
Senator Dianne Feinstein's (D-CA) "Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Improvement and Enhancement Act of 2006" (S. 3001), co-sponsored by Senator Specter, was also approved today in the only bipartisan vote taken by the Judiciary Committee, with the support of Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Specter, on a vote of 10 to 8. Her bill would restore the rule of law by requiring the president to follow the exclusive procedures set by Congress for wiretapping Americans and it would also streamline the procedures to seek a FISA warrant.
The ACLU has urged Congress to reject any legislation that would authorize the president's continued warrantless surveillance of Americans, as the Specter and DeWine bills would do, and has noted that Congress has failed to thoroughly investigate the secret programs authorized by the president. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has disclosed that President Bush personally interfered to stop an investigation by the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility into the NSA's warrantless surveillance. Vice President Cheney also personally intervened to block telecommunications companies from giving any testimony to Congress about the extent of the warrantless surveillance of Americans they have assisted the administration in obtaining. And, recently, a federal court in Detroit found the program to be both illegal and unconstitutional. That case is stayed pending appeal.
"The approval of partisan bills to ratify the illegal spying on Americans demonstrates cowardly obedience to the president, to the detriment of the liberty and privacy of the American people and the rule of law," said Lisa Graves, ACLU Senior Counsel for Legislative Strategy. "Stonewalling and illegal spying have been rewarded with the Senate Judiciary Committee's partisan approval of administration misconduct. Only Senator Feinstein's bipartisan bill would help restore the rule of law. We call on the Senate to stand up for the Constitution and reject the Big Brother bills as non-starters that give the administration a blank check."
For more on the ACLU's concerns with the warrantless NSA eavesdropping program, go to:

This is important and something you need to pay attention to. The attempts to make Bully Boy's illegal actions retro-actively legal were going to come this month regardless, but you do have to wonder if the results of the primaries yesterday pushed the legislation up on the schedule. Today, Republicans should have just continued the lie that Saddam Hussein and 9-11 were linked. They did that in the House. On the radio, there was a report on that and that John Murtha had called for the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of State. Robert Byrd, in the Senate, also called for Romsfeld to resign but I heard that over and over today so I thought I'd emphasize John Murtha's resolution in the House. To return to the topic of the illegal spying, if you haven't read C.I.'s "On the Dangers of an Unchecked Bully Boy" please make a point to read it tonight or tomorrow. There's a great deal at stake. Obviously Bully Boy is attempting to head off a very likely impeachment charge should Democrats win control of the House. Beyond his personal motives, there is the very real danger to Americans when a government is no longer answerable to the people.

"30 Years in Prison and the Struggle Continues" (Leonard Peltier, CounterPunch):
Well here it is another year. Another birthday. This one makes me 62 years old. Also this makes it my thirty plus years in prison. I believe it was right after I was illegally convicted in Fargo, North Dokota when I wrote a statement telling everyone that my freedom would only come after the masses had demanded it. But first we would have to unite and organize, to reach them.
[. . .]
I continue to pray and hope that one day I will get the support I need from the American people and one day I will still be able to walk out of prison. So my hopes and spirits are still high at my 62 years of age. I continue on this continued struggle.
We are still finding bits and pieces of new evidence to file new appeals on. Those of you who have followed my case closely I can imagine are thinking How can this be, as there has been so many constitutional violations already. But the same old problem exists. The courts continue to cover up the continued criminal acts of my conviction committed by my prosecutors.
Your help is needed, Give what you can to

So what will it take? A presidential pardon after he's dead? After he's dead and all the ones involved in railroading him are as well? Did you know that in February of this year, his defense was denied FBI papers on the ground of "national security"? Thirty-one years after the alleged crime, what is in those papers, about a domestic event, that rises to the level of "national security"? It's a question to ponder as Republicans in the Senate attempt to wallpower over Bully Boy's own crimes.

Sunny printed up the e-mails today for me and thank you to everyone who wrote. There were three e-mails where I wrote back the sender (community membres) asking them to share their comments about Conniff in the gina & krista round-robin and C.I. told me that the three had passed those on. I think they were much funnier in their comments than I was in mine so, on Friday, if you're a community member, be sure to read the gina & krista round-robin. Also, please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, September 13, 2006 and chaos and violence continue in Iraq claiming the lives of
at least 39 Iraqis (AP), occupation puppet Nouri al-Maliki continues his Tehran visit, the US military announces two deaths (one soldier died Monday, the other Tuesday), United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Anan tells some hard truths, and Camp Democracy continues in Iraq.
reported by CNN yesterday, at least 60 corpses were discovered in Baghdad on Tuesday. The BBC reports: "They were found all over the city, from Sunni areas in the west to Shia districts in the east -- but most were found in largely Sunni west Baghdad. Secretarin killings are not unusal in the city but this is a large number for oen day, a BBC corrspondent says." Reuters reminds of the UN estimate in July (100 people killed each day in Iraq from violence) and notes that "[m]orgue officials" have stopped providing figures. CBS corrspondent Pete Gow provides an audio report here that calls into question the 'success' of the 'crackdown' that's been going on in Baghdad since June. CNN also raises questions about the 'crackdown' and notes: "On Monday, the U.S. Command acknowledged that its [own] report of a dramatic drop in murders in Baghdad last month did not include people killed by bombs, mortars, rockets or other mass attacks, The Associated Press reported. The count only included victims of drive-by shootings and those killed by torture and execution."
Puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki continued the second day of his visit to Tehran.
Devika Bhat (Times of London) reports: "Yesterday, Washington reacted with caution to comments from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran that he would offer full support in restoring security to Iraq. . . . A member of Mr al-Maliki's Dawa party said . . . Today Ayatollah Ali Khameni, Iran's supereme leader, . . . [blamed] US troops for Iraq's misfortunes and [told] Mr al-Maliki that the way to end instability was for American forces to withdraw altogether." CNN quotes Kahmenei: "A major portion of Iraq's problems will be solved when the occupying forces leave that country, and that is why we desire and hope that occupiers leave Iraq."
Kahmenei's opinions are hardly surprising and,
Nick Wadhams (AP) reports, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, declared today "that most leaders in the Middle East believe the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and its aftermath" is "a real disaster". Annan: "Most of the leaders I spoke to felt the invasion of Iraq and its aftermath has been a real disaster for them. They believe it has destabilized the region."
So it's also not surprising that the
AP reports "a resolution setting a timetable for the withdrawal of all foreign troops" managed to get 104 members of the 275 member Iraqi parliament "before [it] was effectively sheleved by being sent to a committe for review."
In the United States, as Robert Knight noted on
KPFA's Flashpoints yesterday, the Government Accountability Office issued a report on Monday that also recommended Congress members ask themselves several questions such as:
-- What political, economic and security conditions must be acheived before the United States can draw down and withdraw military forces from Iraq?
-- Why have security conditions continued to worsen even as Iraq has met political milestones, increased the number of trained and equipped forces and increasingly assumed the lead for security?
Drew Brown (McClatchy Newspapers) reports on the findings and notes: "Though the Bush administration has hailed each political milestone in Iraq as another step on the march to freedom, the report cited a Defense Intelligence Agency finding that 'the December 2005 elections appeared to heighten sectarian tensions and polarize sectarian divides'."
AFP reports that the US military "announced the deaths of two of its servicemen, taking its total losses in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion to 2,670, according to an AFP count based on Pentagon figures. A soldier was killed on Tuesday, south of Baghdad, while another died of wounds on Monday in the western Al-Anbar province, the military said."
Al-Anbar? On Monday,
Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) reported on the assessment of Col. Pete Develin, "chief of intelligence for the Marine Corps in Iraq,"
that "prospects for securing that country's western Anbar province are dim and that there is almost nothing the U.S. military can do to improve the political and social situation there". Today,
Ricks reports that Marine Maj. Gen. Richard C. Zilmer "agrees with the findings of a pessimistic classified report recently filed by his top intelligence officer but also insisted that 'tremendous progress' is being made in that part of the country." Ricks also notes: "According to several Defense Department officials who have read the report, Devlin also argued that the lack of political progress has crated a political vacuum in the province."
And as the war drags on . . .
In Baghdad, as
reported by Amit R. Paley (Washington Post), "a car bomb exploeded near an indoor stadium" killing and injuring a number of people and then, as people came forward to help, "another bomb detonated". CNN puts the toll at 14 dead and 67 wounded. AP later raised the death toll to 19 and noted "[b]ut the U.S. military reported the death toll at 15 killed and 25 wounded, and said the blast was caused by two car bombs."
Also in Baghdad,
Reuters reports a car bomb that was aimed at "police protecting an electricity distribution plant [which] killed eight people and wounded 19." The AP reports that the U.S. military states the bomb ended up "killing at least 12 people and wounding 34."
Still in Baghdad,
Al Jazeera notes two separate mortar attacks the claimed one life (police officer) and left six wounded. Reuters reports that mortar attacks wounded four in Samawa. Back to Baghdad, Demka Bhat (Times of London) reports a mortar attack that killed "[a] further two police" officers.
AP reports that, in Falluja, "two pedistrians were killed and two others injured apparently in the crossfire between U.S. troops and unidentified gunmen" and that a man in his car was shot dead in Baghdad. Reuters reports that an attempted kidnapping of "the owner of a currency exchange shop" in Baghdad resulted in the death of "[t]wo bystanders" and two more wounded.
Reuters reports four corpses were discovered in Suwayra. Reuters also notes that Safaa Ismail Inad's corpse was discovered ("journalist at al-Watan Newspaper") in Baghdad.
In peace news,
Cindy Sheehan (Common Dreams) advises: "Don't wait until the creeping militarism and budding fascism of the Bush State comes knocking at your door for one of your loved ones. It will happen unless we stand up and say 'no' with our loudest and most annoying voices" and urges people to take part in Camp Democracy which is ongoing in Washington, DC and free and open to the public.
Ann Wright (Scoop) writes of the genesis for the Camp (from Camp Casey to Camp Democracy): "Since we were in Bush's backyard in Crawford, why not bring our concerns on the direction of America and the need to use and preserve our democracy to the backyard (or frontyard) of Bush in the White House and to other government officials and lawmakers? Well, that's what Camp Democracy is doing right now. Every day concerned Americans are coming to Camp Democracy to think, listen, and act on important concerns."
Today's events included
The Commission of Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration release of their verdict: GUILTY: "The panel of jurists consisted of Adjoa A. Aiyetoro, William H. Bowen School of Law, Little Rock; former executive director, National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL). Dennis Brutus, former prisoner, Robben Island (South Africa), poet, professor emeritus, University of Pittsburgh. Abdeen Jabara, former president, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Ajamu Sankofa, former executive director, Physicians for Social Responsibility-NY. Ann Wright, former US diplomat and retired US Army Reserve Colonel."
Tomorrow's events include peace and election education with
Danny Schechter scheduled to be among the participants with a screening of his documentary WMD: Weapons of Mass Deceptions. And on Sunday, Camp Democracy will host a number of events and the theme will be Impeachment Day. Among those participating: Elizabeth Holtzman, Michael Avery, Ray McGovern, David Green, John Nichols, Marcus Raskin, Elizabeth De La Vega, Dave Lindorff, David Swanson, Jennifer Van Bergen, Geoff King, David Waldman, Dan DeWalt, Steve Cobble, Anthony St. Martin, Cindy Bogard, Mubarak Awad, Susan Crane, Frank Anderson. The camp has daily activities and admission is free. A complete schedule can be found here.
In election,
John Nichols (The Nation) examines the primary win of Keith Ellison in Minnesota: "The Ellison victory was one of several for anti-war Democrats seeking open seats. Others came in in New York, where City Council member Yvette Clarke won a fierce fight for a Brooklyn seat once held by Shirley Chisholm, and in Maryland, where John Sarbanes, the son of retiring Senator Paul Sarbanes, led in a crowded House race. In Maryland's highest-profile race, however, former NAACP head Kweisi Mfume, who was outspoken in his opposition to the war, lost to the decidely more cautious Representative Ben Cardin by a 46-38 margin."

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Because of Kat, because of boredom with 'tales of every day housewife' . . .

I'm late blogging tonight because Ty phoned and Mike I both decided to wait and see what Kat wrote. Though Mike didn't have The Progressive on his blogroll, I did and I also had Ruth Conniff and Mr. Drip. They have been pulled. I know C.I.'s being supportive to Kat but I also know C.I. would prefer that Matthew Rothschild not be criticized (due to his work on the war) so applaud Kat for her bravery and C.I. for sticking with her. The Progressive of late, with their 'free lancer' being the best example (Pru loathes him and gave the dirt in the gina & krista round-robin), has had very little to do with progressive unless progressive means slightly to the left of the Democratic Party. Kat's piece is entitled "Enough of the Mindless Blather, Already" and you should read it.

This is not a slam at C.I. but I do think it bears noting that while C.I. would argue that Rothschild speaks around the country and whatever else, the fact of the matter is while Rothschild's largely sat on his butt, C.I.'s been speaking around the nation (everywhere but Alaska) since Feb. 2003. That's every month. Nobody pays a speaking fee, nobody pays for travel or pays for lodging. Rothschild is presumably paid to do what he does in print (possibly online as well) but C.I. doesn't get paid for it. C.I. was supposed to have minor surgery in July. That got postponed and it still is. It had been scheduled (in May) for July 5th. Then a number of things came up including Rebecca and I both deciding to go on vacation. Before the thought had been that, if there was any "out of it" moments post-surgery, the rest of the community could pick up the slack. As the date approached, too many things were coming up for C.I. to be able to risk being "out of it." That's only one example of how C.I. has put things on hold to stand and be counted in opposing the war -- none of which results in payment. So I'd argue that, when you're in charge of a left magazine, you should be doing more than what Rothschild has.

As I noted earlier here, the magazine has not been worth the cover price of late. I can get Howard Zinn elsewhere and be spared the "tales of the everyday housewife" via Ruth Conniff. I will be doing that. This was my decision and one Mike was in agreement with. (He was so in agreement, he was ready to pull his links as well and then he found that he didn't link to them on his blogroll.) That's not to put pressure on C.I. to do the same.

Quite the contrary, Kat will make that decision. But knowing how this will play in the community, and knowing that C.I. has been ill for the last two days, I'm pulling tonight and will hope that those who have an opinion on the issue will write Kat or someone else. (I'm saying: Don't bother C.I. with this.)

That's really all I have to say tonight. Possibly, if I lived on the "cutting center" or had a desire to rush towards "respectable" ground, I too could write line after line slamming people who are only attempt to get answers from a government that has so obviously lied to them. Lied about what exactly? I don't claim to know. But the same administration that blocked an investigation itno 9/11 is the same administration that demanded the Bully Boy and Dick Cheney testify together like conjoined twins. What they're hiding may be something very simple. It may be something large. I have no idea nor do I have the time to become a researcher. Therefore, I'll be the last to slam the very genuine, very heartfelt motive that drives those seeking answers. It's a shame that Matthew Rothschild feels he's given enough that he can take swipes at people who are dedicating so much time to finding out the truth of 9-11.

If he thinks his contributions re: Iraq put him in a position to criticize anyone, he needs to be aware of the fact that some people don't focus on Iraq on alternating weeks. Some people live with it every day. (I think Rebecca will probably touch on that tonight.)

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, September 12, 2006 chaos and violence continue in Iraq with
AFP estimating that at least 27 Iraqis were reported dead today, in the United States the divider shows his ugly/only face again, CODEPINK asks that you Give Peace a Vote,
In the United States, Bully Boy is coming under fire for a speech given Monday night in front of photos of his twin daughters who were apparently supposed to represent Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. Speaking to the nation in a nineteen minute pitch during the second night of ABC's VOTE GOP! infomercial, Bully Boy attempted to sell his illegal war on the shaky grounds that "I know I said it would make things worse not to invade and I was wrong, but it will make things worse to leave, forget that I was wrong before."
Using his circular illogic in his seventeen minute pitch, as the
AP notes, "most of his 17-minute speech was devoted to justifying his foreign policy since that day. With his party’s control of Congress at stake in elections less than two months away, Bush suggested that political opponents who are calling for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq would be giving victory to the terrorists."
Sounding like Ike Turner (or any other abusive husband), Bully Boy looked a nation of soul-surviving Tina Turners in the face and dared to offer, "
Whatever mistakes have been made in Iraq, the worst mistake would be" to leave.
Leave it to
David Stout (New York Times) to play Ben Fong-Torres, embrace the tawdry and notice nothing while concluding, "Democrats have long accused Mr. Bush and his top aides of disingenuously implying a link between the Iraq of Saddam Huessien and the 9/11 attacks."
To clarify for Stout and other would be Fong-Torreses, the two latest sections of the
Senate Intel Report (released Friday) once again found no link, none, between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda -- no links, none, between Saddam Hussein and 9-11.
On the fifth anniversary of 9-11, in the midst of a myth-series, Bully Boy elects to address the nation in some sort of effort to offer Frito Pie for the Soul and he is yet again spending "most of his time," talking about? Iraq.
It's not reporting. It's saying that Democrats called heads in the coin toss and now Democrats charge that they won the coin toss without ever noting the fact that, yes, heads won. [
David Corn (The Nation) addresses Dick Cheney's only loose grasp of reality regarding the fact that there is no link.]
Among those Democrats rightly calling the Bully Boy out on his continued and false linkage of 9-11 and Iraq are US Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Reid spoke of 9-11 on Monday at the Palo Verde High School in Las Vegas and nowhere in the nineteen lines did he seek to slam Americans or cite Iraq. Pelosi's sixteen line statement on Monday also failed to politicize the anniversary. By contrast, the Bully Boy offered 31 lines that directly brought Iraq, which, again, has nothing to do with 9-11, into the anniversary.
Even a he-said/she-said press could point out that obvious fact. Possibly all the time spent on Iraq prevented the Bully Boy from noting the obvious, which
Greg Palast has,
"It's been five years and the Bush regime has not done that. Instead, the War on Terror is reduced to taking off our shoes in airports, hoping we can bomb Muslims into loving America and chasing journalists around the bayou. Meanwhile, King Abdullah, the Gambino of oil, whose princelings funded the murderers, gets a free ride in the President's golf cart at the Crawford ranch." No word on what's preventing the so-called mainstream press for noting that reality on the fifth anniversary of 9-11. An earlier BBC News Night report by Palast on the Bully Boy's blocking bin Laden probes can be viewed
Bully Boy did get one thing right in his Monday speech: "
America did not ask for this war". No, but the administration did and resorted to lies, then and now, to have their request granted and continued.
In other "I can't believe it's not butter moment"s,
Reuters reports that Richard Zilmer (Marine Major General in Iraq) declared from Baghdad, outside the al Anbar Province, that the Marines have not lost the province. Citing unspecified "areas," citing them from Baghdad, outside the al Anbar Province, Zilmer stated all was going swimmingly in some "areas" -- unspecified areas. Reuters notes: "The statement did not indicate which parts of the province he believed had effective local government." Prepare for tomorrow's audio-visual presentation where Zilmer, using a projection screen and pointer demonstrates that he can find the province on a map so, therefore, it has not been lost.
Zilmer was attempting to spin
Thomas E. Rick's (Washington Post) Monday report of Marine Col. Pete Devlin's assesment that "that the prospects for securing that country's western Anbar province are dim and that there is almost nothing the U.S. military can do to improve the political and social situation there, said several military officers and intelligence officials familiar with its contents."
The violence and chaos continues throughout Iraq.
CNN reports six dead in Baghdad when "a car bomb exploded at a busy shopping district" and that fifteen were left wounded. AFP notes that a police officer and a civilian were killed by a roadside bomb "near Baghdad's University of Technology" and left seven more wounded, while, in Abu Sayda, a bomb took the life of "Brigadier General Ali Hassan Jubur, head of operations in Muqdadiyah's police headquarters" and the deaths from roadside bombings of a police officer (in Samarra) and an Iraqi soldier (in Kirkuk). CBS and AP report a bombing in Middadiyah resulted in at least 4 dead and 24 wounded (and that the same location resulted in gunfire Monday night leaving seven dead). Reuters reports that, in Kirkuk, a roadside bomb wounded Kassem al-Bayati and that three other roadside bombs in Baghdad left at least eight Iraqis wounded.
KUNA reports that, in Mosul, Iraqi police captain Ziad Ramzi was shot dead and, in a separate attack, four other people were shot dead. Reuters reports that they were four family members and that a fifth was wounded. CNN reports that a police officer was shot dead in Baghdad ("outside his house"). Reuters reports: "Dolonel Abbas al-Nuaimi was gunned down Monday outside a jail in Hindiya" while "in police custody" to stand "trial for crimes committed during Saddam Hussein's rule."
CNN reports that 60 corpses were discovered around Iraq and one severed head carried the message: "This is the fate of those who deal with the U.S. forces." AFP reports three corpses were discovered in the Diyala province. Remember that discovered corpses never make the media's daily tabulation of the death toll.
On the issue of corpses,
CNN reports: "Of the bodies taken to the morgue last month, 90 percent had been shot, the official said. The other 10 percent were killed by other means, such as torture, beheading and stabbing, the official said. The official noted that the morgue figures do not include most bombing victims, as that number is calculated separately."
CBS and AP report that Sunnis in the parliament are attempting "to work together to prevent" a bill that would turn the occupied nation into a federation "from being implemented without changes." This as puppet of the occupation is once again out of the country. CNN notes that Nouri al-Maliki is in Tehran establishing relations with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of Iran. As the BBC notes, al-Maliki "lived in Iran during the 1980s" and he will be meeting "Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, on Wednesday."
In peace news,
Camp Democracy continues in Washington, DC. Today's events focus on the environmental crisis caused by global warming and this evening Mark Karlin (the editor and publisher of BuzzFlash) will be presenting. Tomorrow is verdict day and Ann Wright and Ray McGovern are among the scheduled participants of the Bush Crimes Commission and World Can't Wait sponsored events. While on Thursday, Danny Schechter is scheduled to be among the participants with a screening of his documentary WMD: Weapons of Mass Deceptions. On Sunday, Camp Democracy will host a number of events and the theme will be Impeachment Day. Among those participating: Elizabeth Holtzman, Michael Avery, Ray McGovern, David Green, John Nichols, Marcus Raskin, Elizabeth De La Vega, Dave Lindorff, David Swanson, Jennifer Van Bergen, Geoff King, David Waldman, Dan DeWalt, Steve Cobble, Anthony St. Martin, Cindy Bogard, Mubarak Awad, Susan Crane, Frank Anderson. The camp has daily activities and admission is free. A complete schedule can be found here.
Events are scheduled through September 21st, the same day that
CODEPINK's Troops Home Fast concludes. Troops Home Fast is currently on day 69 with at least 5023 people participating. CODEPINK is also promoting Give Peace a Vote (Medea Benjamin: "Part of a coalition effort of Voters for Peace designed to create a strong anti-war voting bloc, the petition asks people to pledge that they will only vote for candidates who support a speedy withdrawal from Iraq and no future wars of aggression.") which over 14,000 people have currently pledged to support.
Writing in The Nation, John Nichols reminds Americans to watch the results of the primaries today and zooms in on the Maryland Congressional race John Sarbanes is running in. (He also notes other races.)
Meanwhile, in Australia,
Dan Box (The Australian) reports that the government wants to up the army from 2,600 to 30,000 ("its biggest intake since the Vietnam war") and that this comes while there seems to be no accountability for officers as evidenced by the abuse of Charles Williams and the hearing into the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco ("Last week, the family of Private Jake Kovco accused a military board of inquiry into his death of being a 'face-saving exercise' to protect officers.").

The fear

I got stuck in traffic (which I thought I'd be avoiding) and am tired so don't expect too much (or really anything at all). I spent the evening . . . How? Rejecting fear.

Fear allowed us to be lied into war, fear allowed illegal wiretapping to spy on Americans, fear allowed the Patriot Act, fear allowed the Bully Boy to be seen as an action hero, fear led to many people losing jobs because they refused to live by fear or to act as though Bully Boy were king.

When you live in fear, you'll settle for anything. It's really a form of mental torture when it's dished out by a government. A people in fear are less likely to dissent, less likely to demand that their government serve the people.

It's been quite a fear ride for the last few years and, hopefully, most Americans have had enough. What's really scary is to imagine where we could end up if we wanted to continue to wallow in fear.

"Imagine all the people living for today," as John Lennon wrote. That was a rejection of fear as well, the song "Imagine." Not surprising that Clear Channel attempted to ban it immediately after 9-11 because when you're marketing fear, you can't very well allow people to visualize an alternative.

So let's all take a moment this week to try to picture how our lives could be different today if we rejected fear. Another thing to take a moment for is Danny Schechter's latest News Dissector which recounts his own 9-11 experiences and what he noticed in the news coverage that day.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Monday September 11, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, military intelligence declares al-Anbar province lost, a
US soldier was shot dead on Sunday, Ehren Watada's parents continue to get the word out on their son and the White House offers a divided front as various spinners rush to figure out the party line on the revelations from last week that there was no link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda.
In the United States, Friday saw the release of the latest two sections of the
Senate Intel Report which underscored there was no link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. As outlined by Jonathan Weisman's (Washington Post) report, the committee findings were based on CIA assessments before the war and (2002 assessments) and during (most recently in October 2005). US Senator Olympia Snowe specifically cited that "the report concluded that Colin Powell recieved his "blot," when testifying to the United Nations before the illegal war, by citing information that "two April 2002 CIA assessments, a May 2002 Defense Intelligence Agency fabrication notice and a July 2002 National Intelligence Council warning" had already refuted.
At the White House, flack Tony Snow Job decired the report as "
nothing new" (BBC News) apparently of the opinion that all Americans already grasped that the nation was lied into war.
On Sunday, fear's playground pusher Condi Rice stormed the airwaves like the star of a tanking big-budget film (think Ahnuld and Last Action Hero) desperate to goose the gross. The always good for a laugh US Secretary of State Rice assured Americans that Iraq still made Speed look like a slow ride to Grandma's; that they should forget the gross, the net on this war was going to be unbelievable; and, oh yeah, forget what the Senate report said, it was wrong. Rice, as
reported by the AFP, stated, "There were ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda" and "We know that Zarqawi was running a poison network in Iraq." So much 'knowledge,' so little awareness. One more time, Condi, for chuckles, what was the name of the August 6, 2001 PDB that you apparently also 'knew' was nothing to fret over?
A White House in shambles divided further on Sunday. After offical flak Tony Snow Job said "nothing new" about the Senate report, after Condi Rice followed that Sunday with her assertion that the report was just plain wrong, the man a heart beat away from the Bully Boy went a different way. Looking America in the face, Dick Cheney basically said, "So f**king what?"
Steven Thomma (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Cheney's money-quote (pay attention, America): "It was the right thing to do and if we had it to do over again, we'd do exactly the same." But would the 2669 Americans who lost their lives in the illegal Iraq war, would they? While Rice tried to dispell the stench of bad box office, Cheney came off like a never-was whose lingered too long and is desperate for that best supporting actress nomination. He's busy preparing his "For your consideration" ad and will probably use this tagline: "Clearly, the intelligence that said he [Hussein] did [have WMD] was wrong." An understatement to be sure and, as Thomma notes, the Dickster failed at "elaborating on his own role or the White House decision to later honor [George] Tenet with the Medal of Freedom."
On Monday,
Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) reported that a military assessment has written off al Anbara Province in southern Iraq. Ricks reports that Col. Pete Devlin, "chief of intelligence for the Marine Corps in Iraq," wrote a report on August 16th of this year "concluding that the prospects for securing that country's western Anbar province are dim and that there is almost nothing the U.S. military can do to improve the political and social situation there".
On the ground in Iraq today, the violence and chaos continued.
CBS and AP note a mini bus bomb in Baghdad that has killed at least 16 Iraqis. BBC says it resulted from a "bomber, who was wearing an explosive belt . . . reported to have boarded the bus at the centre." AFP states: "The minibus was rammed by a car rigged with explosives right next to Muthanna recruiting center". The bus was carry army recruits and CBS and AP state: "Although further details were not avaialbe, such mini buses are often used by suicide bombers."
In addition to the above bombing,
Reuters notes a two in Baghdad (one in Talbiya district, the other in Jihad district) that left at least six wounded while one in Mosul left one person wounded.
In Baghdad, the
AP reports a man and a woman were shot dead "at a telephone exchange center". Reuters reports a police officer (Hasan Radhi al-Azzawi) was shot dead in Kut, a civilian was shot dead ("outside his home") in Iskandariya, a female postal worker was shot dead in Baghdad and a person was shot dead in Hilla.
AFP reports a corpse was discovered in Suweira, two in the Diyala province and three in the Babel province. Reuters reports a severed head was discovered in Hindiya.
Not taking into account the corpses,
CBS and AP report that at least 20 died in Baghdad today and at least nine more elsewhere in Iraq.
In peace news,
Ehren Watada's parents continue getting their word out on their son, the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy in Iraq. Speaking with Sandip Roy (Asian Weekly), father Bob Watada explained his son's decision, "It's in the code of military justice, it's in the field manuals that you have a duty to disobey an unlawful order. The Nuremberg Tribunal that we signed on to and probably drafted parts of, clearly says any military official can be prosecuted if they are complicit in war crimes and clearly we have massive war crimes going on in Iraq."
While Bob Watada gets the word out in the mainland, Ehren Watada's mother Carolyn Ho has been speaking in Hawaii.
Amanda C. Gregg (Kauai News) reports on one recent gathering where Ho spoke of, "The [United Nations] charter . . . expressly states that countries cannot go to war unless the security council votes for it. . . . People say the U.S. Congress can allow the president to make war, but the U.S. Congress was given information that was deceptive -- that there was evidence of weapons of mass destruction -- and it made a decision on that basis." Ho hopes for the response to the growing awareness is as follows: "What we've envisioned is to have thousands of people come out to the highway and the streets that surround Fort Lewis and have a group that plans to do so with demonstrations."
That is in the case that Ehren Watada is scheduled for a court-martial. An
Article 32 hearing, heard testiomony Thursday August 17th and the presiding officer's recommendation was to proceed with a court-martial. Lt. Col. Mark Keith's recommendation is now winding its way through the chain of command and, as Gregg notes, a court martial is "expected to be scheduled within the next few months." More information on Watada can be found at Courage to Resist and
Writing for Op-Ed News, David Swanson notes, "Only, we the people of the United States, getting off our couches and acting will put an end to this growing nightmare."
And one way to act (and one of the many ways Swanson is making a stand) is via
Camp Democracy in DC which is free and open to the public and continues daily through September 21st. As David Ceasar (GW Hatchet Online) notes, today's activities revolve around "an all-day festival with workshops, speakers and entertainment on the National Mall between 3rd and 7th streets." Tomorrow's activities include Climate Crisis Day (sponsored by Rainforest Action Network) and an evening presentation by Mark Karlin (the editor and publisher of BuzzFlash). A complete schedule can be found here.
CODEPINK's Troops Home Fast action continues and is on day 68, and due to continue like Camp Democracy, is set to wrap run through September 21st (International Peace Day). Currently, at least 5023 people are participating. Those wanting to fast can grab a one-day fast at any point between now and the 21st or grab a one-day a week fast. Long term fasts are also possible but seek out advice before embarking on any long term fast.
Other peace actions are going on and will be going on. In a correction to an NYC event
noted last week, one that starts this Friday, all performances do not start at 7:00 pm each night. Friday September 15, Saturday September 16 will start at 7:00 pm; however, Sunday September 17's performance will begin at 3:00 p.m. What are we speaking of? The People Speak directed by Will Pomerantz and Rob Urbinati. This is a workshop adaptation of Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove's Voices of a People's History of the United States. The workshop will take place at The Culture Project's Bleecker Street Theater on 45 Bleecker Street. Tickets are ten dollars and can be ordered online here or here or purchased in person at the box office (box office does not take ticket orders). For those in NYC, or who will be during those dates, click here for a map. The presentation is part of the Impact Festival.

They're still trying to make us scared to face reality. "They" being the administration. In the car, I heard a replay of Bully Boy's Scare America Speech. To leave, he falsely asserted, was to embolden terrorists. He lied us into war with fear and now he lies to us, trying to again scare us, by telling us that the US must remain in Iraq or terrorism will take over. He has only one song and it's an old one. (He truly speaks like a child of the Cold War who lapped up every bit of fear mongering from his plate.)