Friday, June 29, 2007

Kevin Zeese, Joseph W. Elder

Sunny picked the "best" e-mail of the ones that have come in the last two days. (To repeat, she reads the e-mails because she enjoys it. I have not asked her to. She was kind enough to fill in for me last summer and enjoyed reading them during that period.) Her pick for the best was the one that made her laugh the loudest. A Ruth, not our Ruth, e-mailed to say of Wednesday's post, "If the CIA had asked me to join, I would've been flattered! I certainly would not have taken offense! There is nothing I wouldn't do for my country!" Well, Ruth, as the courts and the Congress found, the CIA wasn't do much of anything that was LEGAL for the country during that period.

But it's no surprise to know that attempts to blackmail MLK, attempts to convince him to kill himself, spying on him, working with some of the press to destroy him would still find support from some delusional cases today. That apparently wouldn't have bothered Ruth. Nor would she bothered by infiltrating meetins of the women's movement because that was such a "threat" to the country as well. Nor would she bothered by breaking the law. Nor would she be bothered by the assassination of Fred Hampton. Go down the list, and it's a long list, of crimes, Ruth, and figure out which you are on board with, dash off an e-mail to the White House and I'm sure they'll find a spot for you somewhere.

It's the people like Ruth, confronted with not merely allegations, but proof of criminal activities and confessions of some, who want to confuse support for undemocratic and criminal actions with a belief in democracy that allowed our country to go so far backwards so quickly.

Ruth signs off: "More American than you, Ruth." Even in my darkest moments, I do not believe that's true. Were I to, I'd probably be packing my bags now. However, those who choose to live ignorance and play dumb are probably no more than 30% of the country -- about the same number that still believes in the current illegal war.

"A Different Kind of Peace Candidate" (Kevin Zeese, CounterPunch):
Dal LaMagna (rhymes with Lasagna) is running for president by working to end the Iraq War. The independently wealthy businessman just returned from a trip to Amman, Jordan and Baghdad, Iraq where he met with members of the Iraq Parliament, Iraqi tribal leaders, representatives of the resistance and U.S authorities, including Generals Petraeus, Lamb and Newton. He told me that the road to the White House is through Iraq. Dal has been working to end the war for several years. He was the executive producer of three feature length Iraq War movies: The Ground Truth, The War Tapes, and Iraq For Sale. I met Dal when he moved to Washington, DC to work with Congress to end the war. He was hopeful that after the Democrats 2006 victory the party leadership would move to end the war.
Dal developed a niche for himself in Washington, DC by playing the role of bringing the voices of Iraq to the United States. He developed a power point presentation of his previous trips to the region, created a satellite video conference between Iraqi Parliamentarians and a bi-partisan groups of Members of Congress. But, Dal learned the frustration of getting things done in official Washington. And the media, rather than covering the momentous event of legislators from both countries talking --ignored the whole thing.
Dal is not one to give up. He wants the "killing and maiming" in Iraq to end. And, after meeting with many key people in Iraq he has come to the conclusion that a complete U.S. withdrawal from Iraq has the best chance of ending the violence. His experience with Iraqis dispels many myths that Americans have about Iraq. Two key myths are particularly important:
First, Iraqis consistently tell him that the violence will start abating when the U.S. announces plans to leave. One Iraqi tribal leader reversed Bush's rhetoric and said "when the U.S. stands down Iraqis will stand up." The consistent view is that the root cause of the violence is the occupation.
Second, there will not be a civil war if the U.S. leaves in fact the chance of civil war increases if the U.S. stays. Iraqis do not need the U.S. to deal with the sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shia. There is not a sectarian civil war in progress nor will one erupt. Over and over Dal heard from Iraqis that they have mixed marriages. One quipped "I am Sunni my wife if Shia I don't need American soldiers to protect me from my wife." What is brewing is a political civil war the nationalists vs. the separatists.
Dal has provided transcripts, video tapes and summaries of his meetings with Iraqis on his website.

The silence on Iraq is really appalling in this country. The nonsense about "the US is staying for the Iraqis" is a complete repeat of Vietnam. It wasn't true then either. Hard to believe that a lot of people of the left and 'left' who lived through that period stay silent. Maybe they had a nasty bong accident back in the day that caused brain damage? The same nonsense arguments made for continuing that illegal war are made for continuing the current one. But, as someone who lived through the earlier one, let me be clear that we had leadership from left and 'left' voices.

It really is amazing to see how little anyone with a voice cares. They keep pushing for these tiny legislation 'victories' that aren't really wins for anyone and fail to see that if legislative action is their goal, nothing got people more passionate than Vietnam back in the day. As that movement to end the war built and built, it was able to support other issues and inspire further activism. But most media, especially independent media, is in clampdown mode today. They'll never see any real action as a result of that. They won't see whatever the pet legislative project is get put through. Timidity does not lead to people making demands. It only leads to further timidity. The Iraq war needs to end and needs to end now. Not a year from now. Not a year after a Democrat is sworn in as president in 2008. This nonsense that the Iraqi lives are being improved while the illegal war and the illegal occupation continues is just nonsense. People play like they don't know what Iraqis want but it's been clear for years now, Iraqis want the US out. Any occupied people would want that. Iraqis have spoken. "But the other side has responded." You can apply that to Kevin Zeese's piece that I excerpted above. But it's actually a quote from an article written during Vietnam.

C.I. highlighted The Progressive archives today and Lynda e-mailed me to say she knew C.I. wouldn't be doing an evening entry but could I note something she found today? Yes. C.I. was hoping to note the archives weeks ago. Whatever Sunday we were on the phone together while C.I. was doing one of the "And the war drags on . . ." entries, C.I. was trying to work that in but there was a lot of violence to cover (and C.I. was attempting to track down whether one incident was being billed in two different locations by two different media outlets) so there just wasn't time. C.I. intended to highlight it last night but with the appeal from The Nation, it couldn't have been highlighted without pointing out the obvious (which C.I. did this morning): The Progressive is making their archives available to all. It's not everything in the magazine and I (hopefully wrongfully) picture Matthew Rothschild typing up pieces from old volumes to get them online. The Nation, by contrast, wants you to pay for their archives which are available online. As C.I. worded it today, "The website of the magazine has been posting more from their archives. This is not 'BUY A DIGITAL PACK BECAUSE LOOK HOW DAMN GREEDY WE ARE!'. They are making these archived writings available online to all." If you subscribe to the New York Times, you get X number of free reads each month from the archives (I believe it's 100 a month if you're a 7 day a week subscriber). But if you subscribe to The Nation, you get nothing. You get no free articles from the archives, not even two, a month. But you can buy their pass. I keep expecting Katrina vanden Heuvel to offer an exclusive web cam tour of the manse for just $59.99 a month. That's pure greed. So that's my way of noting that there are archived articles available at The Progressive and all you have to do is go to the website. No fee. No sign up. Below is the one Lynda wanted noted.

"Vietnam: the Other Side IS Responding" (Joseph W. Elder, The Progressive):
During the past year the Vietnamese we are fighting offered President Nixon a handle which, if grasped, might provide the means to end the war. But so far he has apparently rejected-and possibly not even seriously explored-this opportunity for peace.
Meanwhile, thousands of Americans and Vietnamese have died, while U.S. spokesmen contend that the war goes on because the other side will not respond to any of our peace proposals and will make none of its own.
But the other side has responded, as I had a chance to observe first hand on two visits to Hanoi. However, this response, which I helped convey to the President's foreign policy advisers twice, has been ignored by the Administration.
I first visited Hanoi for one week last June on behalf of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) to discuss Quaker assistance to civilians in North Vietnam. (AFSC was already assisting civilians in both Saigon-controlled and NLF-controlled portions of South Vietnam.) While in Hanoi, I conferred with North Vietnam's foreign minister, Nguyen Duy Trinh. During our conversation, I mentioned that I was part of an AFSC committee scheduled to meet with President Nixon's foreign policy advisers in July. "Are there particular points," I asked, "you would like me to stress on your behalf during the meeting?"
The foreign minister paused a moment. Then he said, "Tell President Nixon's advisers that if the United States is seriously interested in holding elections in South Vietnam, it should recognize the importance of the Provisional Revolutionary Government in South Vietnam."
I had first heard of the Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG) when its formation was proclaimed only five days earlier at a Hanoi press conference. Facing a bank of lights and movie cameras, Nguyen Van Tien, the National Liberation Front (NLF) Party's representative to Hanoi, had announced that eighty-eight delegates and seventy-two guests, representing a range of anti-Thieu-Ky viewpoints, had met in a conference June 6-8 "somewhere in South Vietnam." The conference had been convened jointly by the NLF and the VNANDPF (the Vietnam Alliance of National, Democratic, and Peace Forces, an urban-based anti-Thieu-Ky party formed during the 1968 Tet offensive). From the June 6-8 conference emerged what was proclaimed to be a new government in South Vietnamthe Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam, headed by the prime minister of an eleven-member cabinet.

The Vietnamese, like Iraqis today, were talking long before the US finally left. But who was listening. So pay attention to the above and Kevin Zeese's article.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, June 29, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, Liam Madden gets some news, tensions continue between Turkey and northern Iraq, Bully Boy's lips are flapping so you know what that means and more.

Starting with
Iraq Veterans Against the War's Liam Madden. Madden and two other members of IVAW, Cloy Richards and Adam Kokesh, have been targeted by the US military brass in an attempt to silence and cow them. They have been threatened with the loss of benefits (Cloy Richards is classified as 80% disabled), loss of their honorable discharges and more. Kokesh participated in street theater in DC and then found himself facing the theatrics of a kangaroo court -- proving there is no bigger drama queensthan those commanders in the marines. Kokesh recevied a general discharge from the IRR -- meaning he's twice discharged: honorably from the marines, general from the IRR -- and Richards reached an agreement where he would not wear any part of his fatigues in public (his mother, Tina Richards, now usually wears his Marine Corp boonie cover at rallies and marches). Madden was being tarred with the usual trumped up charge that fatigues are the equivalent of dress uniforms and the added bonus that his speech was "disloyal" (which may echo the questioning in Kokesh's kangaroo hearing where he was asked if he was "a card carrying member of Iraq Veterans Against the War"). Now comes the news via the AP's own Ethel Mertz (Heather Hollingsworth) that although "[a]n investigating officer had recommended in May that Liam Madden, 22, of Boston receive an other-than-honorable discharge, the worst discharge possible under non-court martial conditions" the Marines issued a press release stating "that they were dropping the case because they had 'received sufficient indictation' from Madden . . ." of something. Of what? Madden has been very clear that he'll come to terms with them provided they put in writing that he made no disloyal statements about the US. He tells Hollingsworth that he's received nothing in writing but, "I think it's a total victory. The country is on our side and it really puts the Marine Corps in a bad light if they try to intimdate".

Madden and other members of
Iraq Veterans Against the War are currently conducting a summer base tour that takes them next to the US Social Forum in Atlanta, GA on June 30th at 7:00 pm; Fort Benning in Columbus, GA on July 1st at 7:00 pm; a fundraiser in Philadelphia on June 3rd at 6:00 pm; a fundraiser in NYC on July 5th at 7:00 pm; the Naval Sub Marine Base in Groton, CT on July 6th at 7:00 pm; and concluding at Fort Drum in NY on July 8th at 4:00 pm.

And in news of resistance within the military (IRR is a way station -- Richard, Madden and Kokesh were all discharged and the brass had no reason to screw with them), we'll turn to Eli Israel. Eleonai "Eli" Israel is stationed and Iraq and has announced he can no longer take part in the illegal war. He is also a supporter of
2008 presidential candidate Mike Gravel having noted, "I am taken away by the truth and clarity that is spoken by Sen. Gravel. He has my vote. The National Initiative that he proposes is what this country needs." And: "My paychecks currently comes from the Army. I have worked with and trained with Blackwater in the past, among others. I have seen this war (and it's orchestrators) from the inside out, and I'm telling anyone who has 'ears to hear', that Mike Gravel is the only voice of reason that is speaking." Those were both noted in May. In April, he posted, "My name is Eli Israel, and yes, you probably guessed it, I'm very much Jewish. I'm also a soldier in Iraq, and I'm also a HARD CORE Mike Gravel supporter." In an update at Iraq Veterans Against the War, Eli notes, "I have been in Iraq for over a year. I have served in combat. I have been awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, for my actions in Combat. I have been recommended for other medals, that I will now probably never see (nor do I want) . .. It would have been a lot 'easier' for me to simply keep doing combat missions for a couple more week, and be done with things. Moral convictions are not based on timing or convenience". Courage to Resist has more information here.

Eli Israel is part of a movement of resistance within the US military grows and includes Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Care, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

In Iraq, where all business seems to stop anytime Moqtada al-Sadr deliberates . . .
Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Stephen Farrell (New York Times) report that Nouri al-Maliki is all but on his hands and knees regarding a planned al-Sadr march for next week (July 5th). Mike Drummond (McClatchy Newspapers) judged that "the march poses a test of his [al-Sadr's] popularity. A peaceful demonstration could arm him with broad political clout, which has eluded other Iraqi leaders so far, including Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki. A low turnout could underscore the limites of Sadr's ability to marshal ordinary citizens." AP reported this morning that al-Sadr had called off the march and cited Sheik Asad al-Nassiri's statement: "Muqtada al-Sadr has decided to postpone the march to Samarra for several reasons, including the government's inablity to secure the route and many officials' appeals for a postponement."

When not begging al-Sadr,
Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reports, the puppet was attempting to sideline him via an attempted partnership with alleged moderate bloc in Parliament who would make it their business to take up the "oil revenue-sharing law". However Asad al-Hashimi remains 'at large.' With Iraq's Culture Minister out and about, better hide those copies of Ram in the Thicket. Worse for al-Maliki, as he's attempting to realign himself, BBC reports that the Iraqi Accord Front and its six minister "will boycott government meetings because of legal steps being taken against one of its ministers." That would be al-Hashimi who, this week, suddenly became the main suspect in a 2005 assassination (he is now said to be in Jordan). Waleed Ibrahim and Alister Bull (Reuters) observe "the move is a blow to Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki at a time when he is under U.S. pressure to push through laws" and that this is the second time the bloc has gone on strike this month -- last week they objected to the removal of Mahmoud al-Mashhadani who held the post of Speaker in the Parliament. In terms al-Hashimi, they further note that "there has been some confusion about the warrant. Police and court officials have not been able to confirm such a warrant has been issued for Hashemi."


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 mortar attacks in Baghdad. CBS and AP report that "the British military issued a statement saying all of its bases came under attack from mortars or rockets in the past 24 hours". Reuters notes a Tikrit roadside bombing that left three wounded and a Kut roadside bombing that left a woman wounded. CBS and AP report a bombing on an oil pipeline in Haswa "spilling crude oil and sparking a huge fire".


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 women ("one of them pregnant") and 1 man were shot dead in Baghdad, two police officers were wounded in Kirkuk and "A U.S. military convoy killed an Iraqi man in Al Rashad neighborhood, Iraq police said."


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 7 corpses were discoved in Baghdad today. Reuters notes 3 corpses discovered in Balad and the corpse "of a university lecturer" found in Kut.

US military announced today, "Five Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldiers were killed when a roadside bomb detonated near a combat patrol in a southern section of Baghdad June 28. Small arms and rocket-propelled attacks followed shortly after the blast. Seven other Soldiers were wounded in the attack." The deaths bring to 3577 the total number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war and to 100 fatalties for the month of June. June is the third deadliest month for US service members so far this year. June 2007 is also the deadliest June for service members stationed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war. The attack was one of the combination attacks that isn't new and has been going on for over a year. BBC notes their "Baghdad correspondent Andrew North says that incidents like Thursday's, in which insurgents first use roadside bombs to attack US troops, then exploit the confusion afterwards to fire on them, have become more common. . . . Our correspondent says this is a sign yet again of how the conflict here keeps changing, with insurgents often one step ahead."

Turning to world leaders do the craziest things . . .

As an election looms in Australia and (Australia's)
ABC News reports Labour's Kevin Rudd has declared John Howard (prime minister) will reduce the number of Australians stationed in Iraq "as an election ploy, but his overall strategy is to keep them there indefinitely." Last week, Bill Taylor's remarks, such as "The majority of Australians across the country would very much like to see us come out of that mess as soon as possible," caused a stirbecause it was seen as coming from within Howard's own party (Liberal). Ed Johnson (Bloomberg News) reports today that Alexander Downer, the country's Foreign Minister, has announced, "I made it clear that Australian troops would stay" in Iraq and dismissing Rudd's observations that any of the country's approximately 1,500 troops would be leaving Iraq.
That would be the same Alexander Downer who was in Iraq yesterday meeting with Iraq's Foreign Minister to discuss trade.
Iraq's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which must be the country's equivalent of Liz Smith, announces, "Mr. Downer thanked Mister Zebari for the briefing he gave concerning the latest developments, and assured his country's obligations in supporting the new Iraq, and to develop relations between Canberra and Baghdad."

Moving from the satellite of Howard to the Bully of them all, Bully Boy gave more of the same yesterday at the Naval War College in Rhode Island.
Jim Rutenberg and Jeff Zeleny (New York Times) report: "Mr. Bush in effect pleaded for more time on Thursday, saying that the deployments in Iraq he ordered in his so-called troop surge have only recently been completed and were already producing positive results. . . .Even at this pre-screened location, Mr. Bush faced some skepticism from questioners in the audience, including a woman who asked him pointedly if he was indeed listening to the advice of his commanders (yes, he said) and a professor who asked if the Iraq campaign was stretching United States forces too think to cope with other challenges elsewhere (no, he said)." Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) noted that Bully Boy wants the US to support death globally and focus locally as evidenced by Bully Boy's claim that "citizens are forming neighborhood watch groups" in Baghdad is a sign of encouragement. Ricks notes, "It is not clear what the difference is between those groups and armed militias, which U.S. officials have said in the past must be disbanded or incorporated into Iraqi security forces."
Flashback to almost exactly this time last year (July 2006) when al-Maliki was claiming his 'plan' would create just that -- only, they were all created. Bully Boy's seeing 'progress' in a questionable development and one that existed before the June 2006 'crackdown' began on Baghdad.
Jonathan S. Landay (McClatchy Newspapers) points out that Bully Boy did his usual stunt: "Facing eroding support for his Iraq policy, even among Republicans, President Bush on Thursday called al Qaida 'the main enemy' in Iraq, an assertion rejected by his administration's senior intelligence analaysts. The reference, in a major speech at the Naval War College that referred to al Qaida at least 27 times, seemed calculated to use lingering outrage over the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to bolster support for the current buildup of U.S. troops in Iraq, despite evidence that sending more troops hasn't reduced the violence or sped Iraqi government action on key issues." And despite the fact that Iraq had no connection to 9-11. Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) observed, "The President went on to say he views Israel as a model for what Iraq should become. Bush says Israel is able to carry out its democratic functions despite the constant threat of attacks." Along with the massive insult such statements are to the region (maybe Bully Boy feels at this late date, there are no hearts and minds left to win?), it's also true that the Israeli government is in the news today for actions/behaviors that hardly deserve copying. Donald Macintyre (Independent of London) reports how Moshe Katsav (Israel's president) "yesterday escaped jail by agreeing a plea bargain under which rape charges against him will be dropped. In return he is admitting charges of lesser sexual offences against former employees."

And turning to England, we find Blair-lite.
Kim Sengupta and Colin Brown (Independent of London) observe, "Yesterday should have been a day of political triumph for Gordon Brown. Instead events in Basra provided a brutal and intimate reminder of the scale of the challenge he faces in Iraq." Scott Kennedy, James "Jamie" Kerr and Paul Joszko, three British soldiers, were all announced dead. Andrew Pierce and David Blair (Telegraph of London) note that Jamie Kerr was "from Mr Brown's Cowdenbeath constituency" and that "Mr Brown, as a local MP, will now face the dilemma of whether to be present when the body of his constituent is flown home." Richard Beeston, Michael Evans and Melanie Reid (Times of London) quote John Paul Ward, Jamie Kerr's step-father, on the soldier's last phone call to his mother, "Jamie said being out there was not what he thought it would be. He didn't want to be there. He was more scared than anything else. He said he wanted to come home and I think being out there was a reality check for him."

For those who have forgotten, the 156 British troops who have died and the 3577 US troops who have died, the nearly one million Iraqis who have died, and others, all died because Tony Blair and Bully Boy insisted that Iraq had WMD and that we couldn't wait for a "mushroom cloud."
CBS and AP report: "The Security Council voted Friday to immediately shut down the U.N. bodies key to monitoring Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs under Saddam Hussein, a decision an Iraqi diplomat said would close 'an appalling chapter' in his country's history."

Meanwhile, tensions between Turkey and the northern section of Iraq continue with
Reuters reporting that Masoud Barzani ("head of the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq") has declared there will be a "catastrophe" should Turkey enter into the region.