Friday, December 15, 2006

Black Agenda Report, Pinochet, Amy Goodman

First off, regarding Wenesday's entry, when I was talking with Kat about it she mentioned all the warm e-mails Maria, Francisco and Miguel had received for the newsletter -- which they hadn't mentioned to me. I stated that I enjoyed it but, had I spoken with Kat about the newsletter before blogging Wednesday, I would've made a point to include that point.

Second, apologies to Carl. Black Agenda Report is now linked to on my list of sites/blog roll. It was a case of meaning to but not having the time. C.I. called me about that yesterday and left a message (I was doing the group session). C.I. said, "You don't have to do it tonight." I knew that. But I also knew I would forget about it if I didn't do it right away. C.I. and Cedric did it right away. The rest of us had notes to ourselves to link to it but hadn't gotten around to acting on our notes. Since I've just added it last night, let me talk a little bit about Black Agenda Report. I like Bruce Dixon's radio commentaries. Those have moved over to the new site. In addition, you have his writing, Glen Ford's and Margaret Kimberley's plus various other writers whose names I will grow to know, I'm sure. They are a once week site (they're an online magazine) and they post their new content each Thursday.

Black Agenda Report is not a site for people who want their lollypops and don't mind handing them over when a playground bully tries to boss them around. What I'm saying is, Dixon, Ford and Kimberley call it what it is. This isn't a site for squeamish people who get nervous if Tim Russert's brow furrows when a guest slightly strays from the talking point.

I'm not remembering the three ever having pieces that disagreed with one another, but if it was an issue that was important to them, they would most likely post three articles with conflicting viewpoints because the only "agenda" at Black Agenda Report is to call it the way they see it.

When the three disappeared from the former site I was wondering what was going on? Like most people in the community, I do count on Margaret Kimberley's weekly breakdown. Ford and Dixon have done strong things as well but it may be an editorial or a feature or "Bruce's Beat." Kimberley's "Freedom Rider" was an established forum that I honestly expected to be there. At first, I assumed she was working on something else, like a book or another writing project, but as week after week passed at the old site and there was no "Freedom Rider," I started to worry, like many in the community, that something had happened to her.

It's great to have the three as a resource again -- looking at the supposed obvious and showing you a new angle. I really did enjoy their work at the other site and I'm glad to know the team ("core three"?) have continued their work at their new site.

Now Amy Goodman's latest column is on Pinochet and I grabbed Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove's Voices Of A People's History Of The United States off the bookcase last night thinking I'd have time to read over the section and highlight. I didn't. I'm at Rebecca's, by the way. Mike and I are here this weekend, I'll be here all next weekend and we'll both be here the weekend after.

So, since I didn't have time to read over and don't now (Rebecca was taking a nap when we arrived so Mike and I are trying to do our entries quickly and have them finished by the time she wakes up), I'll just note this from page 506:

Following the September 4 elections, the United States government adopted a policy of economic pressure direct against Chile and in this connection sought to enlist the influence of [Harold] Geneen [ITT Chairman of the Board] on other American businessmen. Specifically, the State Department was directed by the 40 Committee to contact American businesses having interests in Chile to see if they could be induced to take actions in accord with the American government's policy of economic pressure on Chile. On September 29, the Chief of the Western Hemisphere Division of the CIA met with a representative of ITT [International Telephone and Telegraph, Inc.]. The CIA official sought to have ITT involved in a more active way in Chile. According to CIA documents, ITT took note of the CIA presentation on economic warfare but did not actively respond to it.
One institution in Chile which was used in a general anti-Allende effort was the newspaper chain EL MERCURIO. Both the United States government and ITT were funneling money into the hands of individuals associated with the paper. That funding continued after Allende was in office.

Now the point of that was to note the reality that, indeed, there are plots. The CIA and big business were in bed together (Allende had talked of nationalizing industries such as telephone service.) As Rosemary (Mia Farrow) says in Rosemary's Baby, "There are plots against people."

"Ask Kissinger about Pinochet's regime" (Amy Goodman, Seattle Post-Intelligencer):
On Sept. 11, 2001, as the planes hit the towers of the World Trade Center, on our daily broadcast of "Democracy Now!,"
we were looking at the connection between terrorism and Sept. 11, 1973. It was on that day that the democratically elected government of Chilean President Salvador Allende was overthrown in a violent coup, and the forces of Pinochet rose to power. The coup was supported by the U.S. government. Henry Kissinger, national security adviser and U.S. secretary of state, summed up the policy this way:
"I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves."
As Pinochet seized power, first among the dead was the president himself, Allende. Then there were the thousands rounded up. Among them was Victor Jara, the legendary Chilean folk singer. Jara was beaten, tortured, then executed. His body was dumped on a Santiago street and found by his wife in the morgue.
Charles Horman was a U.S. journalist working in Chile. He, too, disappeared in those days following the coup. His body was found buried in a cement wall. His story was immortalized in the Academy Award-winning Constantin Costa-Gavras film "Missing." His widow, Joyce Horman, sued not only Pinochet for the death of her husband but also Kissinger and others at the U.S. State Department.
Pinochet's reign of terrorism extended beyond Chile's borders. On Sept. 21, 1976, the former foreign minister of Chile, Orlando Letelier, and his American colleague, Ronni Moffit, died in a car bombing, not in Chile, but on Embassy Row in Washington, D.C.

If you have trouble with the link above, I stole it from C.I., go to the show itself and download it. The show for September 11, 2001. I'd spoken about Pinochet in a roundtable last month for the gina & krista round-robin and Billie e-mailed today saying she hoped I'd note the column that C.I. had noted and that she'd had difficulty listening at the link. So, again, if you have trouble, go to the show (link goes to the segment from the show) and download. Billie wrote that worked for her. Billie also noted that the column was available at Common Dreams. It is. But when the column started up, C.I. asked that if we linked to any, we go to a newspaper. That's not an attempt to be rude to or overlook Common Dreams -- that is because if we see a column by Goodman worth highlighting, the link to a newspaper will be more helpful in keeping the column in newspapers.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, December 15, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the Iraqi Red Crescent states it's been attacked repeatedly by the US military, the US military announces that three troops have died, the US media attempts to ignore the big Iraq story of the day,
Kyle Snyder continues speaking out and Donald the Rumsfled leaves an appointed office but he does not complete a 'tour of duty.'
Starting in England, with the big story.
Colin Brown and Andy McSmith (Independent of London) report that Carne Ross ("Britain's key negotiator at the UN") statement in the Butler inquiry (2004) that's only now been revealed and it exposes the lies behind the 'case' for war in England. AFP reports that Ross declared "at no time did HMG [Her Majesty's Government] assess that Iraq's WMD (or any other capability) posed a threat to the UK or its interests." Ross also declared that: "It was the commonly-held view among the officials dealing with Iraq that any threat had been effectively contained" (Al Jazeera).
Though Carne Ross' statements have been kept secret (swept under the 'national security' rug), Last month,
he did speak to the House of Commons' Foreign Affairs Committee and note that the intel offered to the public was "manipulated." As Brown and McSmith note, the Commons Select Committee is the body that's brought the information public while an unidentified member of the Foreign Affairs committee states: "There was blood on the carpet over this. I think it's pretty clear the Foreign Office used the Official Secrets Act to suppress this evidence, by hanging it like a Sword of Damacles ovre Mr Ross, but we have called their bluff." The Irish Times declares: "British Prime Minister Tony Blair's case for attacking Iraq has been dealt a new blow with the release of once-secret evidence from a former British diplomat who dismissed the threat of weapons of mass destruction."
As the mainstream media in the US bends over backwards to note Ross' statements, many may be reminded of the Downsing Street Memos and how they were greeted with silence and then derision. AP was the excuse many hid behind with DSM -- claiming they would have run a story if AP had covered it -- if only a wire story . . . Well
AP has covered it.
Turning to peace news,
Alex Zdan (Trenton Times) notes Tuesday speech Carolyn Ho, mother of Ehren Watada, gave to the Nassau Presbyterian Church where she described how her son became the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq ("In studying all the literature, he was stunned by what he saw") which included refusing to accept a "desk job" in Iraq. On last Saturday's RadioNation with Laura Flanders, Carolyn Ho explained that the refusal was for himself as well as those serving under him, "He felt the best thing he could do for his men was to remain behind and speak truth." She is asking for everyone to contact their members of Congress and put pressure on Congress to carry out their oversight role. Monday, Carolyn Ho appeared on Democracy Now! and discussed her own progress when meeting with members of Congress. Outside of Maxine Waters, not much. So those who haven't contacted their Congress members should considering doing so.
Ehren Watada, as Aaron Glantz (IPS) reported, is also the subject of subpoenaes -- the US military is attempting to compell three journalists to testify in court: Sarah Olson, Dahr Jamail, and Gregg Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin). Jason Leopold (Truthout) notes that Olson is "one of few reporters covering the anti-war movement and the voices of dissent" and that she has not decided yet how to respond to the subpoena -- Sarah Olson: "Once you involve a reporter in prosecution, you turn that reporter into the investigative arm of the government."
Another US war resister continues speaking out:
Kyle Snyder Washington's Bellingham Herald notes an appearence at the Whatcom Peace and Justice Center. Last weekend, at a speaking appearance, police showed up. Snyder continues speaking out.
Watada and Snyder are part of a movement of resistance within the military that includes
Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman.
Information on this movement of war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress next month.
As Aileen Alfandary noted on
KPFA. this morning ( The Morning Show), two car bombs went off outside US bases in Ramadi.
Qais al-Bashir (AP) reports that Muhsin al-Kanan, a cleric who was tight with British forces, was shot dead in Basra and that a civilian was shot dead in Kut. Reuters reports that "a member of the Iraqi intelligence agency" was shot dead in Diwaniya as was an oil company guard.
Reuters cites hospital sources in Mosul having received 13 bodies today.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi Red Crescent states it's the target of US forces.
Stephanie Nebehay (Reuters) reports that that the IRC states there has been "a spate of attacks on its offices over the last three years" and in the most recently, according the the IRC's vice president (Jamal Al Karbouli), about a week ago, "US forces had occupied and nearly destroyed its Falluja office, held staff for hours, and burned two cars clearly marked with its neutral symbol." CBS and AP report: "'We have flags, we have everything, we have (the) logo, so they (U.S. forces) know everything, but unfortunately they come again and attack us many times,' Al-Karbouli said. He complained that U.S. forces broke doors and windows at the Red Crescent headquarters "and they didn't find anything, and they left.'"
Today, the
US military announced: "One Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5and one Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died Thursday from woundssustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." The US military also announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier assigned to 4th Brigade Combat Team,1st Cavalry Division, died Tuesday as a result of enemy fire while conducting operationsin Ninewa Province. Two other Soldiers were wounded and transported to a Coalition Forces medical treatment facility."
Tomorrow is the first of two 'big meets' for puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki.
KUNA reports that he "will convene another National Reconciliation Conference for political leaders from across Iraq." While he gears up for his conference, Jawad al-Bolani is in Syria apparently not overly concerned with the opinions of US Secretary of State Condi Rice. KUNA reports the Interior Minister of Iraq is there "to discuss security issues as the first Iraqi official to visit Damascus since diplomatic relations were resumed between the two neighboring countries." This comes at a time when Tareg al-Hashemi, one of Iraq's vice-presidents, is in the US and criticizing Bully Boy's 'plan' Al Jazeera quotes him saying: "Imagine one day waking up and finding out that your nation's leaders had completely dismantled all police and military. As a result, there is no one policeman, or state, or federal law enforcement agent, or even one national guard or any soldier to protect you from criminal elements, or terrorists. It will be total chaos. Then imagine that instead of calling back the army and security forces, the authorities in this imaginary scenario decided to form a new army and police from racist militias, some mercenaries and organized crime gangs. . . . This is exactly what has happened in Iraq."
In a
lengthy talk/performance with the Washington Post editorial board, Condi Rice attempted to buff her image a bit but mainly demonstrated (yet again) that even her fabled 'expertise' in Russia/the Soviet Union is inflated. The take away should be Rice's declaration, "I find Prime Minister Maliki a strong man." A statement so laughable it begs for a remix and one that will come back to haunt her.
In other things that should haunt, Donald the Rumsfled began a three-day farewell while most Americans wonder, "I thought he'd left already." Today it was time to 'salute' him and watch for the media that makes (at best) an idiot of itself or (at worst) spits on democracy by referring to the soon to be former US Secretary of Defense's 'tour of duty.' The Rumsfled was a civilian. Civilians are in charge of the military in the US. He did not complete a 'tour of duty' but fools and those with no respect for democracy will repeat the nonsense.
Roger Runningen and Brendan Murray (Bloomberg News) note this remark by the Bully Boy: "He spoke straight. It was easy to understand him." File it away from the future War Crimes Tribunal should Bully Boy attempt to say he was confused about what was being discussed.


kyle snyder

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Maria, Francisco and Miguel

El Espiritu. What am I writing about? The new community newsletter that started the first Sunday of the month (December 3rd). Maria, Miguel and Francisco are the ones in producing it. My Spanish is poor but I can follow it and I know those with stronger Spanish skills are really enjoying it. This is the fourth newsletter for the community. With two under their belt, Francisco, Miguel and Maria felt comfortable discussing it.

The UK Computer Gurus do a technical newsletter. Polly does Polly's Brew (which also comes out on Sundays) and Gina and Krista do the gina & krista round-robin. Francisco said they appreciated all the help they received on their newsletter.

How did it come about? Since March of 2005, Maria, Franciso and Miguel have been among the committee members attempting to find a Spanish language periodical for The Common Ills to link to and have had very little luck because it needs to serve the community and it's very difficult to find one publication that's not going to offend someone. So with month after month of ideas shot down, they finally decided the best thing to do was to create their own newsletter.

One thing they do is translate the Iraq snapshot into Spanish. Miguel's grandmother was already doing that for some of her friends and then e-mailing it to them so this is her area with Francisco as primary backup designate. If you use the e-mail address for El Espiritu, you can get a daily version of the snapshot in Spanish.

Miguel, Maria and Francisco do an editorial each week together. Ava's aunt is doing a column, Ava and C.I. are doing a weekly TV review (this was supposed to be a bi-weekly), Diana is writing about immigration issues in her area of Texas and interviewing members about their areas (this Sunday, the focus is on Michigan), Domingo is doing "an absurdist take on history," C.I. is doing a weekly column, Isaiah is doing a weekly comic, and, each week, Franciso, Miguel and Maria each write about what they think was the biggest news story of the week and why.

The biggest surprise is how much work it is. Francisco said they "plan or hope to do more once we get it down." When that happens, Miguel says, Ava and C.I. will drop back down to a biweekly contribution: "But, we really needed it and Ava said they could probably handle this for six weeks. " Maria said, "We have new appreciation for the writing sessions each week for The Third Estate Sunday Review." She also said she spoke with Dona who gave her a two-word suggestion, "Short features." They're going to try to do that both for the mix and to be able to provide more content.

"We're not going to stop," Francisco told me, "but I don't think we realized how much work it was going to be. But Gina pointed out that their round-robin wasn't what it is today when they started it. Diana and her family have a photo essay of the May rally coming up the week after next and that's when we're hoping things will pick up."

Maria echoed that and noted that Kat's already started contirbuting art for next week's newsletter and that will help as well. Their logo will get tweaked next week and Miguel says he's happiest about that. He also noted that C.I. suggested that they start running more contributions from members. That's already allowed them "to sweat Sunday's edition a lot less."

One thing the three of them have decided is to schedule time for writing together so they can do the editorial and some short features together. So they're planning group calls for that. If they sound down, note that I spoke with all of them on Monday. Working with The Third Estate Sunday Review each weekend, I know how tired I can get. I spoke with Miguel today and he's charged and ready for this weekend.

Gina and Krista both shared with them and with me that they have had many Thursdays ("and still do," Krista added) where they think, "We're not going to have anything!" I can echo that feeling for The Third Estate Sunday Review. Jim will say, time and again, "At least we'll have Ava and C.I.'s TV review." What will happen, and Polly agreed with this in an e-mail, is that once they have a few more newsletters behind them, they'll have things they know work and things they know won't work. When that happens, they'll emphasize what they enjoy and try for other pieces but each weekend, readers will know, "Oh ___'s going to be in there."

The reaction has been very positive and Maria admits that surprised them but says Jess told her that there were things he really didn't care for at the time but when he sees them now (he was speaking of pieces at The Third Estate Sunday Review) he can enjoy them. Francisco says they're going to adopt Kat's motto of "It is what it is" and remember what Ty said which is at the end of the month, there will be things you look back and and think worked and there will be things that didn't but before you have time to worry it to death, you're already facing the next month.

Filling in for Kat, C.I. wrote about the plans for El Espiritu and Maria, Miguel and Francisco have said the biggest lesson in the last two weeks was that you adapt. I think they're doing a wonderful job and intend to get them to share again in January.

"Army Targets Truthout for Subpoenas in Watada Case" (Jason Leopold, Truthout):
In a case that cuts right to the heart of the First Amendment, a US Army prosecutor has indicated he intends to subpoena Truthout Executive Director Marc Ash, a Truthout reporter, and two of the nonprofit news organization's regular contributors, to authenticate news reports they produced and edited earlier this year that quoted an Army officer criticizing President Bush and the White House's rationale for the Iraq War.
Captain Dan Kuecker, the Fort Lewis, Washington-based Army prosecutor, has stated his intent to compel Ash, Truthout reporter Sari Gelzer, and contributors Dahr Jamail and Sarah Olson to testify at the court-martial of First Lieutenant Ehren Watada. Kuecker is actively seeking the journalists' testimony so he can prove that Watada engaged in conduct unbecoming an officer, directly related to disparaging statements the Army claims Watada made about the legality of the Iraq War during interviews with Truthout and his hometown newspaper, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, in June.
At a hearing earlier this year, a military court determined there was sufficient evidence to charge Watada with intentionally missing his deployment, contemptuous speech toward officials, and conduct unbecoming an officer, and proceed with a general court-martial. In September, those charges were amended to include an additional count of conduct unbecoming an officer. The contempt charges were dropped in November. Watada faces a maximum six-year prison sentence if he is convicted. The trial is expected to begin in February.
Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, who for years has been arguing in favor of a shield law to protect journalists from testifying against their sources, said what's distressing about the Watada case is that the government is trying to use a reporter to build its case.
"The last thing a reporter wants to be identified as is an investigative arm of the government." Dalglish said.
In his aggressive attempt to haul members of Truthout's editorial staff into court, Kuecker bypassed corresponding with the organization's attorney and sent Ash a series of emails - one of which was sent late Sunday evening, December 10 - insisting that Ash provide him with information about the reporters so Kuecker can prepare his case against Watada.
"This information is required as a part of an ongoing criminal investigation and prosecution," Kuecker wrote in that December 10 email to Ash. "Please respond as soon as possible."
Ash said he repeatedly referred Kuecker to Truthout attorney Bill Simpich. Ash said in an interview that he is determined to resist any attempt by the US Army to compel him to testify against Watada or to provide the Army with any physical evidence it may seek.

Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts. He'll talk about the above highlight. I'm wiped out from a very long day and from pulling together from the notes I made when I was speaking to everyone.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, December 13, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Tuesdays bombings repeat today (on a smaller scale which is the pattern), Saudi Arabia whispers to Dick Cheney, the US military wants more, the Iraqi military has their own laundry list, and is Emily Greene a liar, a fool, a tool, a stooge or an enabler as she rushes to deny abuses of Iraqi women?

Starting with reality, on yesterday's
KPFA's Flashpoints Dahr Jamail summarized conditions in Iraq:

What we do have is a situation that's well beyond the control of the US military . . . The two hottest spots we can talk about are Baghdad and Al-Anbar Province. One thing that people tend to overlook is that Al-Anbar Province is one third of the geographic area of the entire country, so that just right off form starters, we can say is completely out of control of the US military. Marines are being killed there every day. Dozens are wounded every single day and we're not getting this information. And it's very interesting. If you look at the news, we see this kind of unquestioning reporting going on where another US soldier killed or marine killed in A-Anbar but what it doesn't say is that it's typically in one of two cities, that's either Falluja or Ramadi almost every single time. So it really indicates how high the level of violence is there. Recently, 3,000 more marines were called off of ships in the Gulf and sent into Ramadi specifically, which, ironically, just yesterday the first female marine [officer][
Megan M. McClung] was killed in that area as well. So we have a situation where, as you [Nora Barrows-Friedman] described in the highlights, where, really hundreds are dying every single day, it's not "scores," it's not "tens," it's not "dozens." It's hundreds of Iraqis are dying every single day. On average, it's well over a hundred a day just in Baghdad alone. And then if you look what's happening in places like Ramadi and Falluja which are under a consistent -- somewhere between 'low burn' and 'high burn' seige by the US military -- we have snipers killing many people in each city every single day, US snipers. We still have medical workers being harrassed. We still have all of the things you and I have talked about from almost the very beginning, Nora, back in January 2004, but on a much, much broader level, not just in one city, and not just even in one province, but really across all of Iraq -- even now bleeding into the Kurdish controlled north."

Staying with reality, we'll move to today's violence.


CBS and AP note a Baghdad bombing "near a crowded bus stop" that left at least 11 dead and at least 27 more wounded. Ammar Karim (The Australian) describes the scene: "Bodies of the victims lay scattered around the street amid pools of blood and the burning wreckage of at least two cars and a row of market stalls set up by a nearby bus stations." AP quotes eyes witness Abu Haider al-Kaabi: "A Volkswagen car exploded right near the bust stop, hitting a group of people, including women and children who were waiting to take a bus to a fruit and vegetatble market".

CNN notes two car bombs that exploded in the capital's New Baghdad district resulting in at least five deaths and an additional 10 people wounded. Xinhua puts the count of car bombs in Iraq today at seven (seven total for the entire country) and counts 29 dead from them which includes an attack on an Iraqi army base in Kirkuk that left ten Iraqi soldiers dead. Sameer N. Yacoub and Qais al-Bahsir (AP) report that another bombing, in Baquba, resulted in no physical deaths or injuries but it "destroyed a small Shiite shrine" while, in Musayyib, three roadside bombs exploded resulting in one death and one wounded. Kirk Semple (New York Times) reports a mortar attack in Baladiat that killed one and left six more wounded. Reuters notes a roadside bomb in Jurf al-Sakar left one person dead and three wounded.


Sameer N. Yacoub and Qais al-Bashir (AP) report a home invasion in al-Hesna resulted in assailants shooting dead nine members of a family. Reuters notes the family members killed were "four men, two women and three children" and that, near Balad, an attack on an Iraqi check point resulted in the wounding of four Iraqi soldiers.


Thomas Wagner (AP) reports that seven corpses ("tortured") were discovered in Mosul. Reuters notes that a corpse was discovered in Kirkuk, two corpses were discovered in Mahmudiya, and four corpses were discovered near Falluja.

As the chaos and violence continues day after day, both
Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) and John F. Burns (New York Times) report a new 'plan' to cut down on the violence: provide jobs! As Kurdish legislator Mahmoud Othman tells Raghavan, "It's a bit late, as usual. They should have done this three years ago. In this country, they have spent so much on security without results. If they had spent one-tenth of that on creating jobs, more projects and fighting unemployment, things would have been better now."

The stop-gap measure (it's not a plan and it's not implemented) comes as
Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reports that both the US marines and army are advocating that Congress provide them with "permanent increases in personnel" and while, as Michael R. Gordon and Sabrina Tavernise (New York Times) point out, 'readiness' is just around the corner for Iraqi armies according to the country's national security advisor.

Did someone say, not quiet, not right?
AFP reports this 'readiness' isn't just conditional upon future predictions, it also includes a list of wants: "more arms for the Iraqi army, more powers and training in order to be capable of handling security missions all over the country." Those are the words of the puppet Nouri al-Maliki and appear to indicate that when ousted by the US, he may not even grasp it, so removed from reality is he already.

The puppet reflects his master -- Bully Boy -- and shares company with a lazy press that can't stop jaw boning about toothless, idiotic 'reports.' Noting the 'snowjobs' weren't reality on yesterday's
KPFA's Flashpoints, Dahr Jamail declared, "The reality is this a permanent occupation. They don't give a damn about the Iraqi people. They're not going to leave They're just trying to get the oil set up. And they're going to stay there until that happens and until it's all extracted."

But all the defocusing on 'listening tours' and 'reports' and other nonsense allows the Bully Boy to give the impression that he's 'active' and 'involved' -- so involved that, possibly, next year he can come up with a 'plan.'
Danny Schechter (News Dissector) notes: "I can't wait for the Decider to Decide and for President Bush to announce his new revised version of his unrevised war plan. We will will have to wait a bit longer, perhaps to next year. And no matter that OVER SEVENTY PERCENT of the American people disagree with the current policy, he is not to be hurried with the media still taking him at his word as a rational decision maker. He is stuck. That's for sure. And anyone expecting new leadership in the White House might want to consider buying a bridge I am selling to Brooklyn."

While Bully Boy stalls the (willing) press, Saudi Arabia's not so patient. This morning,
Helene Cooper (New York Times) reported that last month (after Thanksgiving), Dick Cheney was told by King Abdullah that if US forces withdraw from Iraq, the Saudi government will back the Sunnis. Cooper's story comes out just as Robin Wright (Washington Post) reports on the fast exist of the Saudi ambassador to the US, Prince Turki al-Faisal, who "flew out of Washington yesterday after informing Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and his staff that he would be leaving the post after only 15 months on the job, according to U.S. officials and foreign envoys. There has been no formal announcements from the kingdom."

Returning to yesterday's
KPFA's Flashpoints, Nora Barrows-Friedman and Dahr Jamail discussed the issue of women's rights in Iraq and noted the steady decline since the beginning of the illegal invasion. Prior to that, there were no "dress restrictions on women, they didn't have to cover up or wear a hijab," they could attend school, college, they held doctorates, they held postions in the government ministries. That's all changed. Dahr noted (and pay attention to this for later in the entry) "One of the first things that the US appointed Iraqi governing councile was to pass laws that would have done away with the laws that protect" the rights of women in Iraq. Though that was stopped it did "set the tone of what was going to happen in this inccreasingly fundamentalist" society where "There are no women's rights. Nothing is protected. It's a very fundamentalist government."

Nora Barrows-Friedman: I remember during the invasion and war against Afghanistan. Laura Bush was touting that country as a horrible place for women's rights and she herself was going to personally liberate the women. And now, after the invasion the Taliban has come back ten, a hundred-fold, it is worse for women in Afghanistan. Would you say the same is happening for women in Iraq?

Dahr agreed and noted "one of the consistent things we can see" using Afghanistan and Iraq as an example is that "if you're a woman you might want to seriously consider leaving because it's only a mtter of time before your rights are basically in the waste basket and horrible things are going to start happening to you."

Also addressed were the fact that the daily kidnappings in Baghdad (conservative estimate is thirty per day) target women more and more due to the fact that Bully Boy's 'liberation' has left them with no rights and little safeguards.

Today, the United Nations'
IRIN attempts to report on the realities for female prisoners in Iraq. Standing in the way is one Emily Greene, described as "a spokeswoman for the US military in Iraq" who is a liar, a fool, a tool or an enabler? While Green offers denials/lies, Faten Abdul Rhaman Mahmoud, one of the few women in the puppet government with any power (she heads the Ministry of Women's Affairs), attempts to address the situation. There's something very vile about the US government, whose actions have destroyed the rights of women, using a woman as window dressing to hide behind and there's something even more disgusting about a woman who allows herself to be used in a such a manner. Greene lies/misinforms/disinforms that there's no information of any women held prisoner "in Iraqi prisons. The ones that had been held for investigation by them had all been released months ago and no torture has occurred, she said."

Emily Greene meet
Um Ahmed who spoke with IPS about her imprisonment that did not take place "months ago" and that involved US forces who "told me they would rape me if I didn't tell them where my husband was, but I really didn't know." When her husband surrendered to the US military, the 'fun' just kept coming. Um Ahmed told Dahr Jamial and Ali al-Fadhily: "They told him they would rape me right in front of him if he did not confess he was a terrorist. They forced me to watch them beat him hard until he told them what they wanted to hear."

IRIN quotes Faten Abdul Rahman Mahmoud: "We don't know the exact number of remale prisoners but there are many being held in different prisons -- even though the [other ministries in the] government and US forces deny it. They are afraid of a counterattack from the country's conservative society." And though they may fear an attack, as noted by Dahr Jamail in his conversation with Nora Barrows-Friedman, the 'new' government set up post-illegal invasion has not given a damn about women's rights. IRIN also notes that Sarah Abdel Yassin of the Organization for Women's Freedom (OWF) whose own research backs up Faten Abdul Rahman Mahmoud's findings and she states, "The Ministry of Interior, [Ministry of] Defence and US forces are denying that there are female prisoners in Iraq but we have enough proof that they are there and that they suffer daily humiliation." An example is Samira Abdallah who was hooded for the entire four moths she was held, released in November only to find that her husband was now dead ("killed by the Iraqi army") as was her oldest daughter ("raped by a soldier" and then the daughter, 16-year-old Hania, killed herself) so it's now just her and her seven-year-old son.

When the Emily Greene's are presented with this 'choice' positions, the smart thing would be to turn them down. It should be perfectly obvious that Willie Caldwell gets all the 'prime' assignments and that they're being used as mere window dressing. By participating in the con, women like that not only enable the destruction of the rights of others, they make it all the less likely that a Faten Abdul Rahman Mahmoud will come along to speak out against abuses to women. But that's the point of using US women in window dressing roles, isn't it?

In war resister news,
Jane Cutter (PSL) reports on Saturday's actions in Seattle (despite "rain and wind") which including distributing brochures featuring war resisters such as Ehren Watada and Kyle Snyder and collecting "postcards to be hand delivered to pro-war Democratic senator Maria Cantwell." Meanwhile Lydia Lum (Diverse Education) explores past the 300 Japanese-Americans who refused to serve in WWII due to their families being (illegally) interned. Lum notes that 120,000 Japanese-Americans were held in internment camps, explores the "no-no boys" and ends in the present noting UCLA's Dr. Lane "Hirabayshi says the current case of U.S. Army Lt. Ehren K. Watada, who is of Japanese and Chinese descent, is the first commissioned officer to refuse deployment to Iraq, callin the war illegal and immoral. He faces court-martial and a possible prison term."

kyle snyder

the new york timessabrina tavernise
john f. burns
the washington postsudarsan raghavan

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

My mind is elsewhere tonight

I believe Mike's opening with this and I will as well, Rebecca is pregnant. This morning, she blogged early ("can bill clinton explain to bully boy what a 'listening tour' actually is?"). C.I. saw it and thought, "That's no flu." It wasn't, it was morning sickness. When I spoke with Rebecca my first question was, "I thought you were getting your tubes tied?"

She had put that off. C.I. left an urgent message this morning and I called back as soon as I came out of the session and got the message. C.I. also phoned Flyboy and said, basically, "Get your ass home, I think Rebecca's pregnant." Flyboy did just that. C.I. was on the phone to Rebecca's mother-in-law while waiting for me to return the call, asking her who she recommends, as a doctor, in the area. Rebecca's mother-in-law had the appointment (for today) set up before I got out of my session. (Also before anyone knew for sure whether or not Rebecca was pregnant -- but always trust C.I.'s gut.)

She and Flyboy have already seen the doctor today. There are a number of steps she will be taking to try to prevent a miscarriage. We have already figured out a schedule so she won't feel she has to post if there's a night where she can't or doesn't want to. I'll be a guest this weekend because travel is one thing she's going to be curtailing. Lately, she's been coming into Boston and attending the group meeting on Iraq at Mike's. I'll probably also skip our planned trip to DC next month and stay with her and Flyboy.

Please read Kat's "This is justice?" about the nonsense trial of peace activists Medea Benjamin, Cindy Sheehan, Missy Comley Beattie and Patti Ackerman. The excerpt below offers more on that topic.

"Convicted for Our Convictions" (Missy Comley Beattie, CounterPunch):
The Manhattan criminal trial of Cindy Sheehan, Medea Benjamin, Rev. Patricia Ackerman, and Missy Beattie is over, ending in a "guilty" verdict on the charge of trespassing and a "not guilty" on four more serious counts. Yes, we were relieved but a "guilty" on any is absurd because the arrest, itself, was dead wrong. Just call it another example of George Bush's post-9/11 reign of terror, aggression, and disregard for civil liberties. Another George-Orwell-must be shouting from the grave, "Don't say I didn't warn you."
We four women for peace were arrested in March of 2006 in front of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. Yes, that's right-the U.S. Mission-our mission for which we pay rent and whose employees we compensate with our tax dollars. The U.S. Mission to the United Nations should not be housed, even temporarily, in a commercial building with a security staff that can determine who is allowed to enter.
Prosecutor William Beesch requested five days of community service for each of us. Cindy Sheehan's attorney, Robert Gottlieb, said, "My client does community service every single day and the prosecution just doesn't get it. She spends every day trying to end the war."
Judge Kirke Bartley agreed with our attorneys that the night we spent in jail after our arrest was punishment enough. He ordered each of us to pay $95 for court costs and as we moved to the hallway, peace advocates from an array of groups reached into their wallets and purses for money to cover this.

Meanwhile, word comes via AP that Bully Boy will announce his 'new' 'plan' for Iraq . . . next month. Well thank goodness there's no sense of urgency, right? I mean, things are so peaceful as it is, why hurry, why worry? Possibly, if another bombing in Baghdad went off today killing a huge number of people Bully Boy might need to actually do some work but since . . . Of course, bombs did go off in Baghdad today and, in one attack, at least 70 people are dead. The US military also released the news of more US soldiers dying. An AP journalist was shot dead. But nothing should distract Bully Boy this time of year -- there are only 12 days left for him to write Santa Clause and at his usual speed, one word a day, he'll need every one of those days to compose his letter.

The news of the pregnancy has thrown me today. I am so happy but I am also worried. Rebecca says not to worry but my mind's on that tonight. I'll try to be more focused tomorrow night.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, December 12, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; Dennis Kucinich declares his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for the 2008 presidential race; a bombing takes place in Baghdad that's so severe, with at least 70 now declared dead and at least 236 wounded, even the New York Times will have to take notice; the US military announces the deaths of four troops in Al-Anbar Province; a new report finds that the conditions for women continue to decrease worldwide; in the US, Medea Benjamin and Cindy Sheehan address the war; and impeachment continues to be discussed outside the halls of Congress with
Elizabeth Holtzman declaring, "Frankly, if we had really debated whether there should be a war in Iraq, we may not have gone into Iraq. If the American people had been told the truth, if the Congress had been told the truth, I doubt very much that we’d be in this pickle now. How do you put a price tag on that? How do you estimate the consequences of going into a whole war from scratch on the basis of deceptions and lies?"

Starting with impeachement.
BuzzFlash interviews Elizabeth Holtzman on the topic. Holtzman is a former district attorney and a former member of Congress. As a member of Congress, the committee she served on was the one that drafted impeachment charges against "Tricky Dick" Nixon. In January, Holtzman penned "The Impeachment of George W. Bush" which not only remains the strongest piece to run in The Nation throughout the 2006 year, it also kicked off the discussion (which had seemed dormant after the 2003 invasion of Iraq) and Lewis Lapham's "The Case for Impeachment" (Harper's), the Center for Constitutional Rights's Articles of Impeachment Against George W. Bush, David Lindorff and Barbara Olshansky's The Case for Impeachment (Olshansky is an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights) would quickly follow. More recently, Holtzman's published the book The Impeachment of George W. Bush.

In an
exclusive interview with BuzzFlash, Holtzman was asked about pundits who say that impeachment will not happen and the fact that Nancy Pelosi took impeachment 'off the table' (in an October interview with Lesley Stahl on CBS' 60 Minutes). Holtzman responded:

We can't start and end the conversation with what political pundits have to say. First of all, our generation -- the American people living right now -- have a responsibility for preserving and maintaining our Constitution. Are we going to allow it to be shredded by a president? Then, if this president can get away with starting a war based on lies, with breaking the law willfully, what's the next president going to do? What’s the precedent that's started here?
Secondly, it really doesn't matter what the pundits say, and it doesn't really matter what members of Congress have to say about impeachment. If the American people want impeachment, it's going to happen. The real problem is that the mainstream media won't take the issue seriously. They don't want to spend the time to understand it. And they've decided it's not going to happen, so they're not going to write about it.
The consequence is that many Americans don't understand that the framers of this Constitution 200 years ago understood that there would be a Richard Nixon, and they understood that there would be a George Bush. And they said: American people, you have a remedy. We're giving you a remedy. It's 200 years old. It's called impeachment. That's designed to remove a President who threatens our Constitution and subverts our democracy.
Watergate didn't start because the Congress wanted impeachment. Left to its own devices, Congress never would have done anything on impeachment. Left to its own devices, the press never would have investigated, except for Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. The rest of the press was completely unconcerned on the subject. They didn't care. They weren't aggressive. But the American people understand that this is their Constitution, this is their democracy, this is their country, and they have the power to do something about it.

On the issue of Congress, Ann Wright told
The KPFA Evening News Monday, ". . . they're going to just let things evolve. And what we the people have to do is to put pressure on all of these oversight committees to have continual oversight committees investigations and I think there's going to be overwhelming evidence, through these investigations, so damning to the administration that, at that point, there will be a collective effort by the Congress to hold accountable people who have broken US law and that, probably, will lead to impeachment."

Echoing that thought, Cindy Sheehan
stated on Democracy Now! today that the movement for impeachment has to come from the people and then "Congress will have the courage to do the same thing." On the same broadcast, Medea Benjamin noted that "nothing is off the table."

Also yesterday on
The KPFA Evening News, a news conference was held on The Lancet Study and among those attending was US Congress member Dennis Kucinich who declared, "There have been a staggering amount of civilian casualites." The Lancet Study found over 655,000 Iraqis had died since the beginning of the illegal war. Also noted was that Kuccinich would declare his candidacy for the Democrat 2008 presidential nomination today. Mark Mericle reported that Kucinich "doesn't think his fellow Democrats are heeding what he called the anti-war message sent by the voters this year."

Joe Milicia (AP) reports on Kucinich's announcement today quoting from the presidential primary candidate stating, "I am not going to stand by and watch thousands more of our brave, young men and women killed in Iraq. We Democrats were put back in power to bring some sanity back to our nation.We were expected to do what we said we were going to do -- get out of Iraq."

Kucinich's declaration comes at a time when the deaths of US troops continue to mount.
Michael R. Blood (AP) reports on the Santa Barbara display of white crosses, each marks the death of a US soldier, that began in November 2003 (when the death toll stood at 340)
and last weekend numbered 2928.
Blood notes that "the nation approaches the grim milestone of 3,000 war fatalities" and ICCC's current count of US troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war is 2936 with the count for the month of December thus far standing at 46.

The count includes
today's announcement by the US military: "One Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died Monday from non-hostile causes while operating in Al Anbar Province.Three Marines assigned to 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing died Monday from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." The US military also annouced today: " A 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Soldier died of apparent natural causes near Diwaniyah Dec 11. The Soldier lost consciousness andwas transported to a Troop Medical Clinic where medical personnel were unable torevive him."

As all of the above is announced and violence again rocks the capital in Iraq, Alexander Downer, Australia's foreign minister, grasps desperately for a little face time by
declaring that the United States cannot withdrawal from Iraq.

Back in the real world, the chaos and violence continue.


In Baghdad's Tayaran Square today, many have died and many more were wounded as a result of a bombing that may have resulted from more than one bomb.
Sudarsan Raghavan and Debbi Wilgoren (Washington Post) report that it was a car bomb -- "265 pounds of explosives packed into a Chevrolet pickup truck" while Thomas Wagner and Qais Al-Bashir (AP) report this was followed by another car bomb ("thirty yards away") and the two "shattered storefront windows, dug craters in the road and set fire to about 10 other cars." Ross Colvin (Reuters) notes that the pickups was used to lure day laborers to the truck.
Raghavan and Wilgoren quote eyewitness Jabbar Yousef who states: ""People were running in every direction . . . They were clutching their heads, legs and hands. There was blood everywhere." The Times of London reports that the first explosion came from a BMW that hit a police car, drew a crowd and then the Chevy pickup "ploughed into the crowd and exploded." They quote eye witness Khalil Ibrahim stating, "When the other bomb went off seconds later, it slammed me into a wall of my store and I fainted" (Ibrahim has "shrapnel wounds to his head and back"). The Times of London describes the scene: "Mangled bodies were piled up at the side of the road partially covered with paper and the impact of the blast severely damaged two nearby buildings." Reuters places the toll thus far at 70 dead and 236 wounded.

Wagner and Al-Bashir also note the exposions of two roadside bombs ("about a mile away") that wounded at least two police officers and seven other civilians. Reuters reports a "sucide car bomb" in the Radwaniya section of Baghdad that wounded eight and killed one person (besides the driver of the car), while in Kirkuk five people were left dead and 15 wounded in another car bombing and a mortar attack in Riyadh that killed "a mother and her two children and wounded two others".

Thomas Wagner and Qais Al-Bashir (AP) report that the AP's Aswan Ahmed Lutfallah was shot dead in Mosul while filming a "clash" that broke out between police and another group.
Reuters reports that two police officers were shot dead "near the town of Hawija."


Reuters reports that 47 bodies were discovered in the capital, four in Mosul, and on in Kirkuk (the last five were all shot). Yesteday's corpses didn't make the snapshot. Sandra Lupein noted on Monday's The KPFA Evening News that at least 46 corpses were discovered in Baghdad alone.

Meanwhile, a new report by
Unicef notes the underrepresentation of women in the political process. The report is entitled "The State of World's Children 2007: Women and Children: The Double Dividend of Gender Equality." [An overview can be found here and a link to the report in PDF form as well.]

Al Jazeera notes Unifem's Noeleen Heyzer who told the UN Security Counil two months ago, "What Unifem is seeing on the ground -- in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia -- is that public space for women in these situations is shrinking. Women are becoming assassination targets when they dare defend women’s rights in public decision-making." [On Saturday's RadioNation with Laura Flanders, MADRE's Yanar Mohammed addressed the issue of the assassinations of women in Iraq.]

Reuters reports that the United Nations cited the report today in their comments on life in Iraq for women "where violence is curtailing their freedoms and poverty is limiting their access to basic services including health care, the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) said in a statement" and "their rights risk slipping away" as a mere "14 percent of Iraqi women between 16 and 60 years old are currently employed, against 68 percent of men, U.N. figures show. Women leaving home to find work puts both them and their children at risk
. . . threats to girls attending school on the increase, more and more families are being forced to choose between education and safety for their daughters'. The UN also noted that 25% representation of women in Iraq's 'government' remains "disproportionately low".

Two women in this country continuing to activism are
Cindy Sheehan and Medea Benjamin who were convicted of trespassing at the UN Mission yesterday in a Manhattan court along with Missy Comley Beattie and Rev. Patti Ackerman for the apparent 'crime' of delivering a petition (with approval from the UN Mission ahead of time). Benjamin and Sheehan were interviewed by Amy Goodman on today's Democracy Now! addressing the trial and trespassing conviction. [Click here and here for the interview -- audio, video or text.] Sheehan observed that possibly the United States' UN Mission was attempting to demonstrate that "there agressive policies towards the world are the same they use towards peace woman at home." Sheehan noted that the charge of trespassing was what they were originally charged with and should have meant they were issued a court summons; however, they were told by police that higher ups had decided to add charges (these were the charges the jury found the four women not guilty of) so that the women could be held in jail overnight.

Sheehan noted that the US is spending ten million dollars (US) an hour on Iraq. Sheehan: "We can't allow our elected officials to say that they are against the war if they vote for more money" for the war. Benjamin "I think our role in the peace movement is to say 'Bring the troops home now.'

Of the obstacles to the peace movement in the near future, Medea Benjamin observed that "what I see as the real danger ahead is the peace movement thinking 'Ah the democrats are coming to power. Oh, there's a plan out there. Let's give them a little time.' This is the hardest time for the peace movement and this is when we we have to be the strongest. We have possiblities now coming up in January as soon as they are sworn in in the new Congress -- we have to be there January 3rd and 4th,
Gold Star Families for Peace, CODEPINK and other groups are planning on being in Wahsington DC we have a big mobilzation. United for Peace and Justice is organizing for January 27th. We have the next anniversary of the war coming up, March 17th. We've got to be out on the streets. We've got to be in the offices of our Congress people. If not this war is going to go on and on and we're going to be facing another presidential election with two pro-war major candidates, from the Democrats and the Republicans."

Also on today's Democracy Now!,
Amy Goodman interviewed lefty mag Poster Boy Sherrod Brown and asked him what he would say to US war resisters such as Ehren Watada who think the war is immoral and illegal and the poster boy replied, "I don't know, I don't know what you say to them." [Goodman interviewed Watada's mother, Carolyn Ho, yesterday.] When asked by Goodman if there should be "pressure on the military not to prosecute these men and women who . . . are saying the war is wrong," Poster Boy replied, "I don't know. . . . I don't know the answer to that."

Possibly had the leading magazines of the left, The Nation and The Progressive, put war resisters on the cover or printed even one article on them in 2006, the Poster Boy might have been prompted to consider the issue?

The Progressive ran two photos, November 2006 issue, in their multi-page photo eassay. The two photos (by Jeff Paterson of
Not In Our Name), on a page of five photos, were of war resister Ricky Clousing. The Nation has provided nothing in their print edition. ["Leading" is based on circulation. Left Turn has published an article, in print, on Watada.Off Our Backs and Ms. have dedicated entire issues to war and peace this year.] While the New York Times and the Washington Post, two leading mainstream, daily papers, have covered the war resisters (the Times has done major stories on both Watada and Clousing) and a leading wire service (the Associated Press) has significantly covered the war resistance within the US military, leading magazines of the left continue to avoid the topic and 2006 may end without either The Nation or The Progressive providing one single print article on war resisters. No wonder the Poster Boy feels comfortable avoiding the issue.

While the magazines have repeatedly avoided the issue, one of the Iraq stories of 2006 has been the war resistance within the military.
Kyle Snyder, Ehren Watada, Darrell Anderson, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman are part of an ever growing movement of resistance within the military. Speaking last Thursday with Nora Barrows-Friedman on KPFA's Flashpoints, Kyle Snyder noted that more war resisters who have not yet gone public are planning to in the coming months. (Snyder also noted that he meets war resisters who have self-checked out as he speaks around the country.)

The failure of the leading magazines of the left to cover this story stands as one of the biggest barriers of a free flow of information on the issue of the illegal war. It also calls to question, for many politically active college students across the United States, the magazines' committment to ending the illegal war -- more so for The Nation which is a weekly and which managed to mention Carl Webb in an article this year but failed to note that he was a war resister. (Webb was quoted in the context of an article on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.) [For what is focused while Iraq is avoided see the parody "
The Elector."]

While they've played the quiet game on the topic, information on this movement of war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. And Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress next month.

the washington postsudarsan raghavancindy sheehanmedea benjamindavid lindorffelizabeth holtzman
buzzflashcenter for constitutional rightslewis laphamamy goodmandemocracy now
radionation with laura flanderslaura flanders
sex and politics and screeds and attitude

Monday, December 11, 2006

Stop the gas bagging on and attention to the Circle Jerk

Sunny greeted me at the office today with, "If I hear one more damn word about the James Baker Circle Jerk, I'll scream." She asked that I "please address this" today. The illustration is from The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Bully Boy amused by the Beltway Babies" (I only worked on the text -- it's a great illustration).
C.I. also addressed this nonsense this morning in
"NYT: Lost in the Circle Jerk" -- and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY'S BAIT & SWITCH!" and Cedric's "Bully Boy manages the press again" addressed the nonsense this evening.

Why do we all think the psuedo report and the psuedo coverage is nonsense? Because it provides cover, it provides the Bully Boy with the appearance that something's happening. Nothing's happening.

Today, Bully Boy visited the State Dept. to discuss the war. How nice of him. How nice, as we gear up for the four year anniversary (in March) to drop by the State Dept. and do a check in. It certainly gives the appearance that he might do something . . . someday.

He'll do similar things all week and get press on it. People will write it up in an effort to lull the public into a comfort zone that something might be done. It's a nice little 'gift' for the holiday season.

This is nonsense. Bully Boy goes to the State Dept. to talk to them and this is being puffed and praised?

Where the hell's he been for the last three years plus?

He started the illegal war and he's treating with a blase attitude that possibly someday, in the future, he'll do something. People need to be demanding that he do something. If nothing else, today should have begun with an annoucement that he would declare a new policy by mid-week.

That didn't happen because he's just going to jerk us all along and the press, as usual, is along for the ride like the good like sevants of the court they are.

A real press would stop the puff pieces but, then, a real press would grasp that they are not insiders (no matter how well fed with quotes) and they never will be. I see that same ignorance at The Nation -- a lot of scraping, begging and bowing.

C.I.'s decision this morning to stop offering links to commentary on the James Baker Circle Jerk was a good one. I agree. The only way this nonsense gas baggery stops is if we do our part to stop it. I won't link to anyone (pro or con on the Circle Jerk). I also agree 100% that, for independent media, coverage of the Circle Jerk allows them to pretend they've covered Iraq but all it's doing is eating up the tiny sliver of space that might have gone to Iraq -- or might not have, there's no driving force covering Iraq in independent media.

I remember the hoseanas on Ted Koppel's Nightline. Has The Nation or The Progressive bothered to run all the names of the dead? (US troops, there's no full listing of dead Iraqis.) I'm sick of it. I'm sick of their garbage that they foist off on a public where they encourage the readers to root for Democrats and rob the people of their power.

I knew one of them as a 'tot' and wasn't impressed then, I'm even less impressed with the adult. I'll echo C.I.'s comment Sunday night, "No, your grandfather would not be proud of you." In fact, he would be disgusted.

I am disgusted. Mike and I were discussing this and I know he's going to grab the topic so I'll stop here. Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts. I had planned to discuss the community's newest newsletter but I wasn't able to get ahold of Miguel in time. We'll be talking tonight (I've already gotten input from Mria and Francisco) and I'll write about that tomorrow.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Monday, December 11, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; as the civil war in Iraq continues, families are forced to flee their homes due to sectarian violence;.in the United States, a verdict is delivered in the trial against
Cindy Sheehan, Medea Benjamin, Missy Comley Beattie and Rev. Patti Ackerman; Alive in Baghdad is recognized for its groundbreaking coverage of on the ground reporting from Iraq; and, even when the police circle, US war resister Kyle Snyder continues speaking out.

Starting with news from New York, a verdcit has been announced in the free speech trial.
On March 6th, Patti Ackerman, Missy Comley Beattie, Medea Benjamin and Cindy Sheehan were among
100 women attempting to deliver a petition signed by 72,000 people to the United Nations Mission . The delivery should have taken place with no great stir as it did in 2005. The women had contacted the UN Mission, spoken with Peggy Kerry (sister of US Senator John Kerry) and been told she would accept the petition. Then on March 6th, Peggy Sheehan decided she couldn't stand the sight of peace and Cindy Sheehan or what she termed "the gaggle" of press present accomanying the women so she did what any unhinged, morally corrupt person would do and went back on her word by refusing the petition and calling in law enforcement. Missy Comley Beattie, Cindy Sheehan, Patti Ackerman and Medea Benjamin were arrested and charged with obstructing government business, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and trespassing.

Last week, the trial began on the fourth floor of the 100 Centre Street, Manhattan court room and was
most notable for Bitter, Bitter, Bitter, Bitter, Peggy Pooh's court testimony was deemed "combative" by the AP. Clearly the years had not been kind and Pegs Kerry was apparently determined to grab the national attention she'd always courted but never received (for obvious reason). Snarling on the witness stand about how she'd been wronged by not being informed that Cindy Sheehan would be among the women (apparently Pegs allergy to peace requires that every group dropping off a petition provided an active roster of who may or may not be attending), Pegs got her moment and is now dealing with the fallout she never expected -- being the new Bay Buchanan isn't as easy as it looked.

On Friday afternoon, the jury went into deliberations. This morning they returned a verdict.
AP reports the jury dismissed three charges but did convict Medea Benjamin, Patti Ackerman, Cindy Sheehan and Missy Comley Beattie of trespassing. The women were ordered to pay $95 in court costs and could face imprisonment if arrested in the next *6 months.* Bitter, Bitter, Bitter, Bitter Peggy Pooh? She's sentenced herself to her own personal hell and while she attempts to tell friends some sort of "Both Sides Now" excuse the reality is she will continued to be "looking strange" and social pariah is own sentencing.

CNN reports that Cindy Sheehan, Missy Comley Beattie, Patti Ackerman and Medea Benjamin delivered the petition today after they left the court room and it was accepted by
the apparently less pry shy and less peace allergic Pegs and UN Mission director of extermal affairs Richard A. Grenell.
CNN quotes Sheehan stating: "We should never have been on trial in the first place. It's George Bush and his cronies who should be on trial, not peaceful women trying to stop this devastating war. This verdict, however, will not stop us from continuing to work tirelessly to bring our troops home."

The petition was calling for an end to the war and as it drags on still, the number of US troops killed in Iraq this month
stands at 42. Yesterday, the US military announced: " An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier west of the Iraqi capital Dec. 10. As the patrol was finishing its early morning security mission west of the city, the roadside bomb detonated killing one Soldier and wounding another." Today, the US military also announced that "A Marine Corps CH-53e Super Stallion helicopter . . . executed a hard landing at approximately 12:00 p.m. . . . in the Al Anbar Province" and "Marines in the area secured the landing site shortly after the" crash landing that left 18 of the 21 on board the helicopter injured "with 9 treated for minor injuries and returned to duty" which translates as nine were injured so badly that they are unable at present to return to duty (but the announcement doesn't translate the obvious). CBS and AP note the crash landing "was the third U.S. military aircraft to go down in the province in two weeks."

US military announced: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing three Soldiers in the northern part of the Iraqi capital Dec. 10. As the Soldiers conducted a late night combat patrol, the roadside bomb detonated killing three Soldiers and wounding two others." Earlier today, the US military released another statement about an attack on a "Baghdad national police training tream" today which resulted in "the 2nd Brigade, 1st National Police Training Team" requesting "aviation support" who put on "a show of force"

Over 655,000 Iraqis have died in the illegal war and today offered no break from the daily violence and chaos.


CBS and AP report a man with a car bomb used the armed vehicle to attack a house in Dora that was being used by police officers and the explosion killed one police officer and left 5 others wounded, while a roadside bomb and a car bomb went off near two colleges in Baghdad (Mustasiriyah University and al-Maamoun college) killing a college student, wounding nine civilians and two police officers. In addition the US military announces an attack on a police barracks center in al-Jaza'ir: "A blue van reportedly rammed four National Police vehicles parked at the entrance to the barracks and detonated. Two of the vehicles were destroyed. Four policemen suffered minor injuries in the attack and were evacuated to alocal hospital for further treatment." al-Jazair is a district in the city of Al-Musayyib so, if the US military has issued the correct location, there were two bombing attacks on police buildings in Iraq today. (Remember the "if." Last week, the US military issued their "woopsie" stating that they had announced the same two deaths of US troops twice leading to the two being counted as four.) (Dora -- other spellings include Dura and Doura -- is a section of Baghdad.) The BBC reports four died in Baghdad from a mortar attack. Reuters notes two other bomb explosions in Baghdad that killed one and left seven wounded.


Daily Star reports: "Armed men burst into the home of a pregnant Shiite Kurdish woman and sprayed her and her children with bullets in the town of Salaja, 75 kilometers south of Kirkuk, Iraq's northern oil city. Three of her children, aged between 5 and 13, were killed while two other daughters survived the fusillade." The Daily Star also notes nine people were shot dead in the Diyala Province. Reuters reports a police officer was shot dead in Mosul, four men in a car were shot dead in Mosul. a home invasion in Tuz Khurmato that killed six family members and left the father of the family wounded,


Meanwhile the
BBC reports that, in Baghdad, a one million dollar robbery occurred today when ten assailants (in Iraqi soldier unifornms) abmushed a "security vehicle" and kidnapped four guards in the vehicle. Also kidnapped, and also reported by the BBC, were five primary school teachers in Dujail.

Not all violence is reported in real time. As
covered by The Third Estate Sunday Review, Saturday's RadioNation with Laura Flanders Saturday featured MADRE's Yanar Mohammed who addressed the targeting of and murdering of women in Iraq by fundamentalists. Of the three known murders last month in Baghdad, Mohammed focused on the November 19th one.which began with a woman being "dragged out of her house" by fundamentalists who proceeded to "beat her, they flooged her in the middle of the street. Then they brought a cable and wrapped it around her neck" which they used to pull her to the "nearest football field and they hanged her . . . They bring their machine guns and kill her." They also killed the woman's brother who attempted to stop them. Mohammed stated that the fundamentalists were "political groups who are ruling right now under the blessing of the US administration."

And the approval of the puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki. As the puppet continues to dangle in the wind, the future looks less bright.
AP reports that following last week's meeting with the Bully Boy, Shi'ite parliamentarian Abdul Aziz Hakim has begun meeting with "[m]ajor partners in Iraq's governing coalition" for "behind-the-scenes talks to oust Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki" and form "a new parliamentary bloc that would seek to replace the current government and that would likely exclude supporters of the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr".

While they talk, violence continues including sectarian attacks in Baghdad.
John F. Burns (New York Times), Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) and Nancy A. Youssef and Zaineb Obeid (McClatchy Newspapers) have all reported on the Shi'ite militias attacking Sunni neighborhoods in Baghdad. Burns noted a Saturday attack that led to over 100 Sunnis fleeing their neighborhood and refusing to return even when the US military stated they could promise protection. Youssef and Obeid reported on the Hurriyah section of Baghdad and note: "Shiite militiamen loyal to rebel cleric Muqtada al-Sadr openly admit to entering their homes and forcing them to leave. That speaks to the ongoing open battle for control of the capital and the apparent domination by the Mahdi Army, Sadr's militia." Raghavan interviewed Ali "Farouk, a Sunni Muslim, [who] fears his home might be targeted next. In the past two months, Shiite militiamen have tightened their grip on his central Baghdad neighborhood of Tobji, purging dozens of Sunni families, by fear and by threats. His world has become even more precarious since a barrage of car bombs, mortar shells and missiles killed more than 200 on Nov. 23 in Sadr City, the Baghdad slum that is home to many of Sadr's loyalists."

While the violence, like the war, continues, some attempt to end the war. This weekend,
Courage to Resist held national days of action across the country in support of US war resisters. Cecilia M. Vega (San Franciso Chronicle) reports that US war resister Darrell Anderson spoke to a crowd in San Franciso Saturday in front of the War Memorial Veterans Building where he declared that "Action is the only thing that's going to stop this war." Vega reports that war resister Kyle Snyder was unable to attend the event following Friday's Alameda event where police were looking for him after being tipped off by "somebody in Kentucky" so, instead, Synder called in and delivered a speech that way.

The police were looking for Kyle Snyder because there is a warrant for his arrest. Returning the United States in April of 2005 from Iraq, Snyder self-checked out while on leave and went to Canada. In October of this year he returned to the US after working out an agreement with the military and,
on October 31st, turned himself in at Fort Knox only to self-check out again when the military refused to live up to the agreement. Since then, a warrant has been issued for Snyder's arrest as he has continued to speak out against the illegal war. He spent Thanksgiving week in New Orleans doing reconstruction to areas destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and still not repaired. Currently, he is on a West coast tour speaking out against the war. Last Thursday, on KPFA's Flashpoints, Nora Barrows-Friedman interviewed Snyder.

Saturday, on
RadioNation with Laura Flanders, Flanders interviewed Carolyn Ho, mother of Ehren Watada who became the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to the illegal war in June of this year. A court-martial is scheduled for Watada in February.

Carolyn Ho told Flanders that her son refused deployment because it wasn't an individual issue, he would be responsible not only for himself but for those serving under him. Ho stated she would be appealing to Congress to intervene noting that they have yet to conduct their promised investigation into the war (and the lies that led to it) but a military court will decide in February whether or not her son had a right to refuse to serve in an illegal war. Ho also appealed for people and groups to contact their Congressional representatives and ask that Congress perform the oversight function they have thus far failed today. (This is
covered in greater detail at The Third Estate Sunday Review and an archived broadcast of Flanders' program will go up by Wednesday for those who missed it.)

Carolyn Ho appeared on Democracy Now! and told Amy Goodman that she'd met with several members of Congress and been largely rebuffed with the excuse that it's not Congress' job. US representative Maxine Waters was the only one who told Ho she would have her staff examine the issue.

Anderson, Snyder and Watada are not three resisters within the military standing alone. This is a movement of resistance that also includes Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman.
Information on this movement of war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress next month.
In military legal news, there's a new development in the case of Suzanne Swift.
Speaking with Amy Goodman on today's Democracy Now!, Sara Rich spoke of the agreement that her daughter Suzanne Swift has reached with the US military. While serving in Iraq, Swift was sexually harrassed and sexually abused. Swift attempted to go through the chain of commaand but, no surprise, the military was interested in ignoring the problem. While on leave in the US, Swift self-checked out and returned only when arrested at her mother's house. A military investigation (ha) found proof of some of Swift's claims (an independent investigation would have found more proof). Rich told Goodman today that her daughter signed a statement on Friday -- one that originally had her agreeing that her sexual abuse was consensual but Swift refused to sign on to that and made changes -- so the next step is a summary court-martial this week which will not be a trial, just a sentencing, where Swift will be sentenced to thirty days of imprisonment and will then be assigned to another base and serve in the US military through January of 2009.

Finally, the
BBC reports that Alive in Baghdad has "won a crop of 'Vloggie' industry awards for showing the human face behind Iraq's daily toll of deaths and kidnappings.". Founder Brian Conley reported on Iraq and other issues for Boston IMC and, the BBC reports, he is currently in Mexico setting up a citizen journalism website for that area while Omar Abdullah (cooridnator) and staff continue the project of real reporting from the ground in Iraq. The Vloggies were presented last month in California Alive in Baghdad won awards for best vlog, best group vlog, best political blog and favorite interview vlog. Alive in Baghdad is funded by donations. For those without the capability to stream on their computers, a recent Alive in Baghdad report was covered in the December 1st snapshot.

kyle snyder