Friday, June 20, 2008

Public financing

First off, I'm voting for Ralph Nader and feel I need to add that for any slow readers. I will not be voting for Barack and I will not be voting for John McCain.

Thursday, Barack Obama decided he would opt out of public financing, go back on his word, and help destroy the system put in place to curtail exactly the kind of big-money abuse he, no doubt, would like to bring back to the White House.

Everyone weighed in on this yesterday (everyone in the community: "see Wally's "THIS JUST IN! DNC OR GOP? WHO CAN TELL?," Cedric's "Extreme DNC Makeover!," Mike's "LAT and Barack -- liars liars pants on fire," Ruth's "Barack sells out, Matthis stands firm," Kat's "Glen Ford, Kevin Zeese" and Rebecca's "the liar barack" and yesterday's snapshot" -- from C.I.'s snapshot today). However, I have a group Thursday evenings and I do not journal on Thursdays. So I am picking it up today.

I would love to be able to steer you to some left voices outside the community; however, they're all playing cat-got-our-tongues. Hey, Laura Flanders and Tom Hayden, what happened to your lie that you'd hold Barack's feet to the fire? I guess Tom Hayden can't say a damn word since his 1988 race set a record for the amount of money spent on a statewide, non-gubantorial race. But they all have their excuses to stay silent.

So I'm highlighting John McCain. John McCain is right on this and if the pathetic and subserviant 'left' doesn't have the guts to call Barack out, that just leaves McCain.

Barack Obama Breaks Promise On Public Fundraising

HARRISBURG "Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Robert A. Gleason, Jr. issued the following statement after hearing the news that Barack Obama flip-flopped on his earlier promise to participate in the public financing system:"Barack Obama continues to say one thing and do another, further proving that his rhetoric just doesn't match his record. Obama continues to claim that he is ushering in a new day in politics, but this latest flip-flop proves that he is nothing more than a typical old-fashioned politician.“Pennsylvanians are tired of candidates who take the route that is politically expedient, especially when they are contradicting themselves. The hardworking people of this great Commonwealth are looking for a Presidential candidate that is going to stick to his word, and that is why I am confident Pennsylvania voters are going to pull the lever for John McCain this November."
In the fall of 2007, Barack Obama pledged to accept public financing.
Throughout the primaries, Barack Obama claimed to support the public financing system and even co-sponsored legislation to preserve the system.
Throughout 2008, Barack Obama has said he would pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee on public financing. In The Fall Of 2007, Barack Obama Pledged To Accept Public Financing:In The Fall Of 2007, Obama Answered "Yes" To Question "Will You Participate In The Presidential Public Financing System" If His Opponent Likewise Agreed. "The [Obama] campaign went even further in answers to a questionnaire sent to the various political campaigns in September 2007 by the Midwest Democracy Network. The questionnaire posed a very simple question to the candidates: 'If you are nominated for President in 2008 and your major opponents agree to forgo private funding in the general election campaign, will you participate in the presidential public financing system?' You can read Obama's response here. The candidate highlighted the simple answer 'Yes' and elaborated as follows: …" (Michael Dobbs, "The Obama 'Pledge,'" The Washington Post's Fact Checker, 2/20/08)

Read Obama's Full Response Answering "Yes" He Would Participate In Public Financing In General Election If His Opponent Agreed To Do So:

QUESTION: "If you are nominated for President in 2008 and your major opponents agree to forgo private funding in the general election campaign, will you participate in the presidential public financing system?"

OBAMA: "Yes. I have been a long-time advocate for public financing of campaigns combined with free television and radio time as a way to reduce the influence of moneyed special interests. I introduced public financing legislation in the Illinois State Senate, and am the only 2008 candidate to have sponsored Senator Russ Feingold's (D-WI) bill to reform the presidential public financing system. In February 2007, I proposed a novel way to preserve the strength of the public financing system in the 2008 election. My plan requires both major party candidates to agree on a fundraising truce, return excess money from donors, and stay within the public financing system for the general election. My proposal followed announcements by some presidential candidates that they would forgo public financing so they could raise unlimited funds in the general election. The Federal Election Commission ruled the proposal legal, and Senator John McCain (r-AZ) has already pledged to accept this fundraising pledge. If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election." (Sen. Barack Obama, "Midwest Democracy Network Presidential Candidate Questionnaire: The Responses Of John Edwards And Barack Obama," Midwest Democracy Network, Released 11/27/07)Throughout The Primaries, Barack Obama Claimed To Support The Public Financing System And Even Co-Sponsored Legislation To Preserve The System:"Mr. Obama Was The Candidate Who Proposed The [Public Financing] Pledge In The First Place, In February 2007, A Time When He Was Not Raising The Prodigious Sums He Is Now." (Elisabeth Bumiller, "Skirmishing By McCain And Obama On Financing," The New York Times, 2/15/08)
Obama Spokesman Bill Burton In March Of 2007: "If Senator Obama is the nominee, he will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election." (Jim Kuhnhenn, "Federal Regulators Rule Candidates Can Return Donations For General Election," The Associated Press, 3/1/07)

In Response To A Midwest Democracy Network Questionnaire, Obama Said He Would Accept Public Funding In The General Election. Question: "If you are nominated for President in 2008 and your major opponents agree to forgo private funding in the general election campaign, will you participate in the presidential public financing system?" Obama: "Yes. I have been a long-time advocate for public financing of campaigns combined with free television and radio time as a way to reduce the influence of moneyed special interests." (Sen. Barack Obama, "Presidential Candidate Questionnaire," Midwest Democracy Network,{fb3c17e2-cdd1-4df6-92be-bd4429893665}/MDNNATIONALRELEASE.PDF, 11/27/07)
Barack Obama Even Referred To His Plan As A "Fundraising Pledge" For His Opponents To Accept. Obama: "In February 2007, I proposed a novel way to preserve the strength of the public financing system in the 2008 election. My proposal followed announcements by some presidential candidates that they would forgo public financing so they could raise unlimited funds in the general election. The Federal Election Commission ruled the proposal legal, and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has already pledged to accept this fundraising pledge." (Sen. Barack Obama, "Presidential Candidate Questionnaire," Midwest Democracy Network,{fb3c17e2-cdd1-4df6-92be-bd4429893665}/MDNNATIONALRELEASE.PDF, 11/27/07)

Barack Obama: "If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election." (Sen. Barack Obama, "Presidential Candidate Questionnaire," Midwest Democracy Network,{fb3c17e2-cdd1-4df6-92be-bd4429893665}/MDNNATIONALRELEASE.PDF, 11/27/07)

In February 2007, Obama Co-Sponsored Sen. Feingold's Legislation Designed To Keep Current Public Funding System Relevant. "Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) added his name to legislation overhauling the public financing of presidential elections this week, earning him plaudits from watchdog groups. … Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer yesterday urged Obama's presidential rivals to follow his lead and cosponsor this session's bill from Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.). It would raise significantly the spending cap for candidates accepting public funds during their White House campaigns in an effort to keep the system relevant." (Elana Schor, "Obama Co-Signs Bill To Publicly Fund Campaigns," The Hill, 2/16/07)
Sen. Feingold Highlighted One Section Of The Bill That Would Force Candidates To Opt In Or Out Of The System For The Entire Election Before The Primaries. Sen. Feingold: "One very important provision of this bill ties the primary and general election systems together and requires candidates to make a single decision on whether to participate. Candidates who opt out of the primary system and decide to rely solely on private money cannot return to the system for the general election. And candidates must commit to participate in the system in the general election if they want to receive Federal matching funds in the primaries." (Sen. Russ Feingold, Congressional Record, 1/30/07, p. S1346)

Throughout 2008, Barack Obama Has Said He Would Pursue An Agreement With The Republican Nominee On Public Financing:In June 2008, Barack Obama Tells The USA Today That He Would Pursue A Public Financing Agreement With John McCain. "On campaign finance. Obama said he'll accept public financing for his campaign -- which would limit the amount of spending -- only if McCain agrees to curb spending by the Republican National Committee. 'I won't disarm unilaterally,' he said." (Kathy Kiely, "Obama Reaching Out To The White Working Class," USA Today, 6/6/08)

In April 2008, Barack Obama Says "I Have Promised That I Will Sit Down With John McCain And Talk About Can We Preserve A Public System."

FOX NEWS' CHRIS WALLACE:" Wall Street Journal says that you are prepared to run the first privately financed campaign, presidential campaign, since Watergate. True?"

OBAMA: Well, look. We've done a wonderful job raising money from the grassroots. I'm very proud of the fact that in March -- in February, for example, 90 percent of our donations came over the Internet. Our average donation is $96, and we've done an amazing job, I think, mobilizing people to finance our campaigns in small increments. I have promised that I will sit down with John McCain and talk about can we preserve a public system, as long as we are taking into account third party independent expenditures. Because what I don't intend to do" (Fox News' "Fox News Sunday," 4/27/08)
Barack Obama: "I Would Be Very Interested In Pursuing Public Financing" "

MR. WALLACE: "If you can get that agreement, you would go for a publicly financed campaign?"

OBAMA: "What I don't intend to do is to allow huge amounts of money to be spent by the RNC, the Republican National Committee, or by organizations like the Swift Boat organization, and just stand there without -- (cross talk)."

WALLACE: "But if you get that agreement?"

OBAMA: "I would be very interested in pursuing public financing, because I think not every candidate is going to be able to do what I've done in this campaign, and I think it's important to think about future campaigns." (Fox News' "Fox News Sunday," 4/27/08)

In February 2008, Obama Wrote Op-Ed In USA Today Stating That He Would "Agressively Pursue" And Agreement With The Republican Nominee Guaranteeing "A Publicly Funded General Election In 2008 With Real Spending Limits." "In 2007, shortly after I became a candidate for president, I asked the Federal Election Commission to clear any regulatory obstacles to a publicly funded general election in 2008 with real spending limits. The commission did that. But this cannot happen without the agreement of the parties' eventual nominees. As I have said, I will aggressively pursue such an agreement if I am my party's nominee. I do not expect that a workable, effective agreement will be reached overnight. The campaign-finance laws are complex, and filled with loopholes that can render meaningless any agreement that is not solidly constructed. ¦ I propose a meaningful agreement in good faith that results in real spending limits. The candidates will have to commit to discouraging cheating by their supporters; to refusing fundraising help to outside groups; and to limiting their own parties to legal forms of involvement. And the agreement may have to address the amounts that Senator McCain, the presumptive nominee of his party, will spend for the general election while the Democratic primary contest continues. In l996, an agreement on spending limits was reached by Sen. John Kerry and Gov. William Weld in their Massachusetts Senate contest. They agreed to limits on overall and personal spending and on a mechanism to account for outside spending. The agreement did not accomplish all these candidates hoped, but they believe that it made a substantial difference in controlling outside groups as well as their own spending. We can have such an agreement this year, and it could hold up. I am committed to seeking such an agreement if that commitment is matched by Senator McCain. When the time comes, we will talk and our commitment will be tested. I will pass that test, and I hope that the Republican nominee passes his." (Barack Obama, Op-Ed, "Opposing View: Both Sides Must Agree," USA Today, 2/20/08) Read the full text at PA

If you use the links (community links) before the statement from the McCain campaign, you'll see Mike calling out the Los Angeles Times. As he should. The McCain campaign should call out the Los Angeles Times which apparently thought they were Jossip on Thursday using "hissy fit" in a headline and applying it to McCain.

The facts are:

1) Barack promised to use public financing.

2) Barack broke his word.

3) No presidential candidate has opted out of public financing since it started.

4) It was created both to limit big money's influence and to track the money. Under Richard Nixon, you couldn't track the money. Suitcases of it just flowed in and flowed out.

So this is not a minor thing. At its most basic, Barack lied again. In the bigger picture, Barack's doing his part to rip apart a reform that the country needed. In the long-range picture, in 2012 and 2016, don't whine when your (Democratic) candidate can't raise big money and the Republican one can. Don't say, "We're doing public financing! The Republicans aren't!"

Barack gets to break all the rules. He gets to use homophobia to scare up voters in South Carolina and no one can call him out. Barack isn't just destroying the Democratic Party in 2008, he is doing long range damage.

I have no plans to highlight McCain again. (I do know Cindy McCain, as I've disclosed before.) But I can't promise that I won't. If the pathetic 'left' 'leaders' refuse to call out nonsense and McCain's calling it out, I may very well highlight him again.

In terms of The Common Ills community, the community voted (I voted in that) and we are all supporting Ralph Nader (C.I. didn't vote in the poll). But if you're someone who reads this site and are supporting McCain, I'm not going to make it a point to trash him. I'm not a Republican. I'm not a Republican because I disagree with their policies. So I would disagree with McCain on every issue. To call him out, I'd have to see him doing something that went beyond the pale even for a Republican.

Sunny read an e-mail Thursday from one of my readers and he isn't a community member. He is a long term reader. He said he was voting for John McCain. He was a huge Hillary supporter (since at least November -- that's the first time he wrote about supporting Hillary) and he can't vote for Barack. He was wondering if he was going to feel welcome here or not?

I can't vote for Barack. I don't blame you at all. Barack's a liar. I've shared the story of C.I. and I going to the private fundraiser for Barack's Senate run and finding out what a LIAR he was and leaving immediately.

You will never come to this site and see me pulling a Taylor Marsh. Unlike, Marsh, I've looked in the devil's eyes. If Nader's not your choice, he's not your choice. If McCain feels right for you, that's who you should vote for. Though I will not vote for him, C.I. and I both know Cindy McCain and she does many wonderful things. So although I don't see anything to support in McCain, he must have qualities invisible to me because he and Cindy are very happy together. If he feels right for you, that's who you have to vote for in November.

The only time we lose in a democracy is when we vote out of fear. I don't want anyone coming here who supports Hillary (and most of my readers did long before I supported her) and is dealing with the reality that -- barring a floor fight or another Barack scandal -- she's not going to be the nominee to fear that I'm judging their vote. If you can't vote for Barack, I hear you. I can't either. For me, the vote that feels right is Ralph Nader. If that's the vote that feels right to you, great. If John McCain is the vote that feels right to you, that's great as well.

Your vote is your vote. You own it. No political party owns it. Just you. You need to use it in the way that feels right to you.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, June 20, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, today is World Refugee Day, and more.

Starting with war resistance.
Matthew Chiroux was the subject of a broadcast CBS 23 News (WIFR, link has text and video) last night:

Mike Garrigan: 24-year-old Matthis Chiroux says he will not deploy to Iraq. The young soldier was asked to report to duty June 15th but he refuses, calling the war in Iraq and illegal war. Chiroux has been in the US army for five years and has completed a tour of Afghanistan; however, he says he has no intentions of returning.

Matthis Chiroux: My decision was entirely based on my desire to no longer continue to violate my core values to support an illegal and unconstitutional occupation.

NBC's WAFF 48 also reported on Matthis last night (link has text and video):

Kimberly Essex: An army Sergeant is refusing to deploy from Iraq and his family is dealing with his decision to do so. WAFF 48 reporter Eric Sollman joins us now and, Eric, you spoke with the soldier's father.

Eric Sollman: Yes, Kim, and being a military man himself, Robert Chiroux, he has mixed -- mixed reactions to the whole ordeal. His son Matthis, a military photo journalist, is one of thousands of military ready reserve troops recalled to combat and now, according to army officials, he's one of about 700 called from this group that have failed to report in the last seven years. Last time Matthis Chiroux made local news was when [clip from December 2004 shown] was four years ago. The story involved his girlfriend at the time and a car break-in. Now this US army Sergeant is making national headlines for refusing to redeploy to Iraq. He's not hiding his protest and his family isn't dodging questions either.

Robert Chiroux: My son made the decision not to report. He feels that the war in Iraq is unconstitutional and unjust.

Eric Sollman: His father Robert is a navy veteran who lives in Huntsville [Alabama]. He said his son was to report to Fort Jackson Sunday for reactivation from the Individual Ready Reserve. Matthis refused.

Robert Chiroux: My son has certainly indicated that if he had been called back from the Inactive Ready Reserve to active duty to serve in Afghanistan, he would not have hesitated to go. So I know that my son -- inspite of things that I have heard said of him -- he's certainly not a coward. He just has decided that he feels this war is illegal and he's taking a stand.

Eric Sollman: While Robert doesn't necessarily agree with his son's stand, he stands by him.

Robert Chiroux: My son asked me to come to Washington [DC] to be with him on Father's Day. I had some reservations about standing behind my son while he made his statement but he's my son and, of course, I love him and I'm going to stand with him.

Eric Sollman: And Robert says he would gladly take his son's place and serve if he could and, Kim, of course there were a lot of issues that we talked about that we couldn't fit into the story so we put
his interview in its entirity on our website at

Kimberly Essex: Well your heart just goes out to this father because he really is in a tough position. He wants to support his son but it doesn't coincide with maybe what he really believes.

Eric Sollman: And he says it's something that only a parent could understand.

Brett Haas notes, "The 24-year-old is in Washington lining up support from like-minded members of Congress." AFP explains, "Chiroux served five years in the army, with tours in Afghanistan, Japan, Germany and the Philippines."

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Megan Bean, Chris Bean, Matthis Chiroux, Richard Droste, Michael Barnes, Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb,
Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Jose Vasquez, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Jason Marek, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

Today is World Refugee Day. The
United Nations' IRIN notes that "Iraqi experts have been urging the government and international community to do more to help the large number of Iraqi refugees in the Middle East" and quote Iraqi Parliamentarian Abdul-Khaliq Zankana stating, "Day after day Iraqi refugees in neighbouring countries are getting more frustrated by the harsh conditions in which they live. Sooner or later they are going to have a negative impact on the stability of the whole region." Amnesty International has released Iraq: Rhetoric and Reality: The Iraqi Refugee Crisis (here for HTML and here for PDF) this week. Picking up with obligations: "Under international law a duty exists to not send or force a person to return to a situation where they would be at risk of serious human rights abuses. This principle attaches to all states as a principle of customary international law, as well as to state parties to the ICCPR, Convention against Torture and Refugee Convention and Protocol." But as the report points out the resposibility isn't just to host countries, the international community has an obligation to provide assistance as well.

The report repeatedly stresses that refugees cannot be returned to Iraq because the country is not stable. On Northern Iraq, they note: "There have been acts of political violence between Iraqi Arabs and Iraqi Kurds and against members of the Yazidi religious minority in several areas along the border between Kurdistan and Nineweh (Mosul) governorate. Tension and insecurity also increased when attacks by a Turkey-based armed group, the Kurdistand Workers Party (PKK), against Turkish troops stationed near the border with Iraq were followed in October 2007 by Turkish military operations against PKK bases in northern Iraq." When even the highly touted 'safe' region of Iraq is not safe, there's no 'safe' area. Despite that reality, many countries are attempting to send Iraqi refugees back to Iraq.

Norway was attempting to do that but, the report notes, it appears to have stopped. Other countries continue attempting deportation. Among the offenders are Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the United Kingdom, Greece and the Netherlands.

"Instead of avoiding the reality," the report notes, "the international community should be confronting a medium- to long-term displacement crisis, in view of the likelihood that Iraqi refugees will need sancturay for years to come. Recognition of the on-going nature of the crisis must be grasped now if the suffering of the millions of displaced Iraqis is to be ameliorated. Host nations need to be provided with on-going assistance and support from the international community through increased and sustained funding."

US senators Hillary Clinton and Ben Cardin and House Representatives Alcee Hastings and John Dingell sent a letter to the White House today on the refugee issue (Barack Obama refused to sign on). Here's the letter sent to the White House:

As you know, the Iraq War and subsequent ethnic and sectarian conflict has caused the displacement of millions of Iraqis. While we have great concerns about the United States response to this humanitarian crisis, we write to you about a specific population of especially vulnerable Iraqis: those who have worked for our government and American organizations in Iraq and whose lives have been placed in grave danger because of that service. Recent statistics and reports have indicated that the current system of identifying and resettling our Iraqi allies has structural complications and procedural inefficiencies. Since March 2003, the United States has admitted fewer than 8,000 Iraqi refugees in total. Your Administration's goal of admitting 12,000 Iraqi refugees during this fiscal year seems an unlikely goal, given that less than 6,000 have been resettled to date. At a recent Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) briefing, one panelist, an attorney providing pro bono legal services to help resettle Iraqi refugees noted, "unresponsiveness and protracted delays in interviews and processing have themselves contributed to…individual emergencies…The cost in human lives and suffering due to institutional breakdowns in such aberrational instances speaks to the pressing need to ensure that our system is better equipped to respond to these challenges." The role our own government has played in prolonging the suffering of our courageous Iraqi allies who risked their lives to assist our country is troubling and simply unacceptable. To better understand why the Administration continues to delay processing our Iraqi allies for resettlement, we respectfully request that you provide us with the necessary information in response to the following: • While we are pleased that the United States has opened a processing center in Baghdad to assist Iraqis at risk in applying for resettlement to the United States, we remain concerned by reports that the office lacks the necessary personnel and resources at this time to quickly and efficiently process those Iraqis who are in imminent danger. It is most troubling that only Iraqis with sufficient connections to enter the Green Zone are able to receive help. What is the Administration's immediate and long-term strategy to improve and increase the efficiency of the current processing system? • At the Baghdad center, in particular, significant problems inhibit expeditious and efficient processing of our Iraqi allies. For example, logistical and security issues prevent access to the Green Zone for many applicants and contribute to complications with assisting applicants with medical conditions. In light of the inherent difficulties of in-country processing, what is the current status of a proposal by State Department officials to allow the Department of Defense to airlift Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants for expedited processing to a central processing center at the United States Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base in Kuwait? As you know, this past April, England's Prime Minister Gordon Brown ordered an airlift of British-affiliated Iraqis to a military airfield in Oxfordshire, England in order to expeditiously and safely process them there. Denmark also evacuated and resettled 370 Iraqi interpreters and other Iraqis who worked for Danish troops prior to the Danish contingent's departure from Iraq last year. We strongly urge your consideration of a proposal similar to those that are now being successfully implemented by our Coalition partners. • The appointment of Ambassador James Foley at the State Department and Lori Scialabba at the Department of Homeland Security as senior coordinators within those agencies with respect to Iraqi refugee issues was an important and useful step. However, it appears as if there are still problems with respect to interagency cooperation. One particular problem that has been identified is that FBI background checks, even for those Iraqis who have been working directly with the United States military in Iraq, are subject to inordinately lengthy delays. To address this ongoing issue, we strongly urge you to appoint a Senior Coordinator for Iraqi Refugee Issues in the White House. • When will the Department of Homeland Security issue its policy directive to implement the provisions of Sections 1241-1249 of Public Law 110-181, the "Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act," for which it is responsible? • What is your Administration's policy regarding medical parole for those Iraqis whose cases are of high priority due to serious medical conditions? Our government has a moral responsibility to provide aid and protection to those courageous Iraqi allies who have risked their lives and the lives of their families to assist American efforts to build a democratic and stable Iraq. We are deeply concerned that, to date, you have not acknowledged their sacrifice or effectively marshaled the assets of our government to help them. We urge you to speak out about the service of our brave Iraqi allies and direct the appropriate agencies in your Administration to take immediate steps to provide them with the attention and resources they desperately need and deserve. Each day, more Iraqi allies face increased danger or even murder for their service to the United States. To ensure that more do not suffer because they chose to help us, a prompt response to these concerns is appreciated and we believe appropriate. Sincerely,
Alcee L. Hastings, M.C.
Benjamin L. Cardin, U.S.S.
John D. Dingell, M.C.
Russell D. Feingold, U.S.S.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S.S.
Robert P. Casey, Jr., U.S.S.
John W. Olver, M.C.
Janice D. Schakowsky, M.C.
G.K. Butterfield, M.C.
James P. McGovern, M.C.
Timothy H. Bishop, M.C.
Joseph Crowley, M.C.
Diane E. Watson, M.C.
Earl Blumenauer, M.C.
Peter Welch, M.C.
Hilda L. Solis, M.C.
Ike Skelton, M.C.

Repeating, Barack elected not to sign. Consider it another skipped vote -- or, dropping back to the Illinois state legislature, a "present" one.
William C. Mann (AP) observes, "A half-million Iraqis fled their embattled country in 2007, the third consecutive year more Iraqis were displaced than any other nationality, a survey of the world's refugees reported Thursday." The organization is US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) and they also rank the ten worst countries. For Iraq, they note: "Shia militias in Iraq have particularly singled out Palestinians for retribution since the fall of the Hussein regime in 2003. From 2004 to 2007 more than 85,000 Palestinians fled targeted violence, leaving only 15,000 in Iraq. Gunmen in Ministry of the Interior uniforms have killed Palestinians, firing on UN buildings in the process. Insurgents have tortured Palestinians to death and fired mortars into Palestinian neighborhoods." IRIN notes the UNHCR's findings that 50% of the 50,000 Iraqi refugees in Lebanon are children. Citing the International Organization for Migration, Kim Gamel (AP) explains, "But women and children who have been forced to flee their homes are particularly vulnerable because the men in the family have often been killed or abandoned them in a conservative Islamic society that generally doesn't value women in the workplace." Adnkronos International notes the Spanish Commission of Refugee AID (CEAR) which found that "All 1600 refugees who sought asylum in Spain in 2007 were rejected by the government."

On refugees, the
Times of London's Deborah Haynes won an award from Amnesty Interntaional for her coverage of Iraqi collaborators who face obstacles to safe harbor from the United Kingdom. Haynes wrote multiple articles on the topic. As noted before, we're not concerned with the plight of the collaborators. They have their champions -- such as Haynes.

Meanwhile, the invasion of Amara continues with Iraqi troops and US troops taking part in the 'crackdown.'
Hannah Allam and Ali al Basri (McClatchy Newspapers) quote Faiq Hanoun declaring yesterday, "The city is quiet even though the operation has started, and I haven't heard a gun-shot or the sound of a plane. Life is going on in the normal fashion. Markets are open and movement in and out of the city hasn't stopped." Ernesto London and Aahad Ali (Washington Post) note the arrest of the vice governor which "angered followers of anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr . . . Sadrist leaders in Maysan have vowed to cooperate with Iraqi troops but have suggested that the government is trying to expand its presence in Sadr strongholds to weaken the movement politically before provincial elections scheduled for the fall." Alissa J. Rubin and Suadad Salhy (New York Times) discover, "There were reports of rough treatment and especially of arrests of eminent followers of Mr. Sadr. It was unclear whether the units making the arrests had warrants, as required under Iraqi law. If so, Mr. Sadr's followers said they would not protest the detentions. However, Mr. Sadr's supporters protested at least two cases in which Iraqi troops seized family members of wanted figures when they could not find the person they were seeking. Iraqi military leaders responded that they had arrested only one relative of a wanted man. The American military has used similar tactics, drawing criticism from Iraqis in and out of the government." ANTARA NEWS and AFP explain that today saw the arrests of five more aides to al-Sadr. Aref Mohammed (Reuters) quotes Adnan al-Selawi ("head of the Sadr movement's office in Amara) stating that "we found many breaches and violations" in the 'security sweep.'

Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing that claimed 3 lives and left seven people wounded, a Nineveh roadside bombing left eleven Iraqi soldiers wounded, a Mosul car bombing left six police officers wounded and, dropping back to yesterday, Diyala Province home bombings left one person wounded.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse was discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes 2 corpses discovered in Iskandariya.

Meanwhile, in the US,
Robert O'Harrow Jr. (Washington Post) reveals that the Democrats have set up a panel to investigate the contracts 'awarded' throughout the illegal war. The press release at US Senator Jim Webb's online office notes, "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosi have named a co-chair and three additional commissioners to the Commission on Wartime Contracting. Established as the result of legislation introduced by Senators Jim Webb (D-VA) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) last spring and signed into law January 28, 2008, the Commission is charged with addressing the systemic problems associated with the federal government's wartime-support, reconstruction, and private security contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Today the
US military announced: "One Soldier was killed and five wounded in three roadside bomb attacks on Coalition force patrols in Diyala province June 20. All casualties were evacuated to a Coalition hospital."

Turning to US politics, Barack Obama's decision to opt out of public financing [see Wally's "
THIS JUST IN! DNC OR GOP? WHO CAN TELL?," Cedric's "Extreme DNC Makeover!," Mike's "LAT and Barack -- liars liars pants on fire," Ruth's "Barack sells out, Matthis stands firm," Kat's "Glen Ford, Kevin Zeese" and Rebecca's "the liar barack" and yesterday's snapshot] leads the New York Times to editorialize "Public Funding on the Ropes" and Team Nader notes:
Ralph Nader stands for shifting the power from the big corporations back to the people.
Full stop.
End of story.
Contrast that with Senator Obama.
The old Obama said that he thought NAFTA was a "big mistake."
The new Obama
isn't so sure.
The old Obama said he would abide by public spending limits in this election.
The new Obama he says
he won't.
The old Obama said he was for a change in foreign policy and surrounded himself with innovative thinkers with a chance to make a difference.
The new Obama has surrounded himself with veterans of the military industrial complex
status quo.
The old Obama talked economic populism.
The new Obama talks corporate-speak and surrounds himself with economists from the
Chicago School.
You know where Nader and Gonzalez stand on corporate power.
And that
isn't changing.
We're at six percent nationwide in the most recent
CNN poll.
We're going to be on ten state ballots by the end of June.
And we're shooting for 40 by the end of the summer.
Together, we are moving forward.
And together, we will make a difference in November.

Non-Iraq related, independent journalist
David Bacon continues to explore the issue of immigration. And his latest is "HOW DO YOU SAY JUSTICE IN MIXTECO?" (TruthOut). NOW on PBS (airs tonight in most markets) asks: "Will a booming worldwide middle class drive up consumer costs?" PBS' Washington Week will include AP's Charles Babington, Los Angeles Times' Doyle McManus and CNBC and the New York Times' John Harwood.

iraqmatthis chiroux
mcclatchy newspapershannah allemali al basrithe washington posternesto londonoaahad alidavid baconalissa j. rubinthe new york times
washington weekpbscharles babingtondoyle mcmanusnow on pbs

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ralph and the race for president

Sunny flagged an e-mail from someone I've never heard from before. He wrote that I supported Mike Gravel in the Democratic primaries (that's true) and I should be outraged by what C.I. wrote.

"Matthis Chiroux" is what the man was referring to. I'm not outraged, I agree with C.I. Mike Gravel came off like a crazy man on Democracy Now! saying that Ralph Nader would be a wasted vote.

Maybe the man's not aware that after Gravel dropped out of the Democratic race, he then attempted to become the Libertarian Party (that may be mispelled) candidate for president. Bob Barr got the nomination. But what if Gravel had received the nomination?

Would he show up on Democracy Now! telling people that you had to vote for McCain or Obama (he's clearly going to vote for Obama) and that to do otherwise would be to waste your vote?

If Mike Gravel had just dropped out of the Democratic race, it would be one thing. But he dropped out and actively sought the nomination of that third party.

So are we supposed to believe that he has any respect for third parties? In his interview, he praised the Green Party and that's a bit much. They're falling apart before your eyes but no one's supposed to notice. They're having huge problems raising money and there are rumors (unfounded I'm sure) that if something doesn't change quickly, Cynthia McKinney (the presumed nominee) will be dropping out of the race.

Sorry, I agree with C.I. I voted for John Kerry in 2004 and Al Gore in 2000. Like C.I., I did not believe Ralph cost Al the election. We did have friends who supported Ralph in 2000 and, the big shock there, some are not supporting him this year. They're buying into the crap that Mike Gravel was tossing out this week: Voting for Ralph is waisting your vote and McCain could become president!

John McCain may very well become president. That could happen if Ralph wasn't in the race. When you choose the weaker of two candidates from a primary and install them as the nominee, you've created your own problems.

When do people think Barack's going to become a strong candidate? He can't debate. He's got nothing to offer thus far but catty put-downs. He's a joke.

I have seen enough elections to know that the summer month is the Democrats strongest. The lead up to the convention and the convention is as high as they get. The takedown comes very quickly. Some are fighters . . . Well, Bill Clinton was a fighter, anyway. So set aside Clinton and you've seen Obama's campaign over and over.

One year his name was Walter Mondale. Four years later, he was Michael Dukakis. In 2000, he was Al Gore and, in 2004, he was John Kerry. As in 2004, all these 527s will work like crazy to pump him up and, just like John Kerry, he will then open his mouth and shoot himself in the foot. He ran through the primary as the right-wing candidate and he can't suddenly become a left-winger now. (Though it's a hard reality for his fan base in the press to grasp.)

His polling right now is awful. He is not an unknown. He has gotten more ink -- and more cushy, fan pieces -- than any Democratic candidate nominee I can remember. Yet despite that he is still polling in the low numbers.

The reality is people do not like him.

They know him and they do not support him.

That's "dislike" and "distrust."

It's not going to change in the bat of an eye. It's unlikely to change anyway.

He did some really offensive things during the campaign for the nomination. He used homophobia, he used sexism and he screamed (he is his campaign) "racism" falsely and over and over. All of those create a backlash.

This is not, "Let's meet the Obamas and everything will be great!" This is, "We know them, we don't like them."

I'm not giving the DNC a cent. I'm not giving Obama a cent.

I've always been happy to max out each presidential year. John Kerry wasn't my choice in 2004, Howard Dean was. But I was happy to max out for Kerry then. I do not believe Al was my choice in the 2000 primary. But I was happy to max out for him (and to donate to the recounts as well). I was also very happy when Al Gore got the nomination.

Hillary won the nomination.

The reality is Barack and Hillary tied on pledged delegates and it should go to the convention floor -- which is the only time super delegates are allowed to vote.

But Hillary got more votes.

I don't want to hear the nonsense -- FAIRVOTE lies very well, don't they -- that it's not fair to Barack because he won caucuses and they don't release a real tally. They released the same tally they do every four years. Never whined about it before.

So those are the tallies you go by and Hillary won the popular vote.

Hillary won the big states.

Hillary polled better against McCain.

All that was ignored to install Barack as the nominee.

If the Democrats lose, they won't be able to blame Ralph Nader.

Even with Barack being crowned by the press, Hillary continued winning the primaries. West Virginia. No Democrat has lost that and won the election. Hillary won that in the double digits. She won Kentucky. She won South Dakota. She won Indiana. She won Puerto Rico. Over and over, Democratic voters were saying, "She's our nominee." The party chose not to listen.

If Barack loses, and I would guess he will, the issue is not Ralph, Bob Barr, Cynthia McKinney or even John McCain. It's that the Democratic Party did not go with their strongest nominee who connected with the base of the party. They are making a huge mistake strategically in the long range because Hillary was the choice of Latinos and they've just told Latinos: "We don't care!" Many of them will vote for McCain. Many will be voting for the first time and become lifelong Republicans as a result.

The Latino population is the largest growing segment of the population. When it becomes the determining factor in the near future and Democrats are stuck losing, people will look back to the 2008 and say, "We really erred strategically."

They have erred.

Unless they fix it, they don't get any money from me. I am far from alone on that. They allowed the radical fringe that cannot seek (let alone get) gainful employment in real media to be the segment that was represented. As far as I am concerned, they need to learn a lesson, the same one they had to learn with George McGovern. I'm not going to bail out their mistakes so Barack can come within 10% of winning instead of losing by 20%. I think they need to learn a lesson.

You don't go with someone with no experience. You do not pick the less popular candidate. You do not let deadbeats in 'public' radio and print magazines (that depend upon donations) dictate the world to you.

I believe Barack will lose. Donating money at this point would allow them to get closer to winning but it will not allow them to win. If that happens, the take-away will be, "If only we had more money!" It's not about finances, it's not about 527s, it's about a loser of a candidate who peaked in February and never had the nomination sewn up but was given it by the likes of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Howard Dean.

Heads should roll over this.

Maybe if Barack would drop out of the race, he wouldn't 'spoil' the election for Ralph?

Ralph's a real candidate and he will get the votes he has earned.

Barack's going to be crying because what the DNC did was take the votes he earned and give him more. They counted Florida as if each voter was half a person (Dred Scott!) and they allowed Barack to get more delegates than Hillary from Michigan. Barack pulled his name off the Michigan ballot. He shouldn't get any delegates at all.

But it was time to baby Barack yet again. Guess what? The general electorate will not baby him. He has no experience (and still hasn't released his papers from his time in Illinois). He is a spoiled rotten baby who whined and stomped his feet and was handed the nomination because there are no grown ups in charge of the Democratic Party.

You have to be firm with children and I will be firm with my party now run by children. No money. No votes. Get used to it. He is Michael Dukakis about to step into the tank. He is a train wreck. The Dems cannot blame Nader for 2008.

But if you want a winner, vote for Ralph. He actually has plans. He's actually done community work (as opposed to signing up voters which is all Barack's 'community work' was -- Get out the vote). He's a distingushed individual with a long list of accomplishments and America would be very lucky to have him as president. When the next Barack scandal breaks, that's really going to be it. It probably won't break until after the convention -- to make sure he gets the nomination. When he's polling in the low thirties and high twenties then as a result of the die-hard Dems who will vote for anyone, voters should especially realize the sink is shipping and hop on board Ralph's campaign.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, June 18, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the refugee crisis continues, Nader confronts myths, and more.

Starting with war resistance.
Courage to Resist reports the latest on James Burmeister:

James Burmeister was serving in Baghdad, Iraq when his humvee was caught in an IED explosion and he was hit in the face with shrapnel. Suffering from the physical wounds, as well as emotional ones resulting from his injury and working with the military "bait and kill" teams, James went to Canada and was AWOL until earlier this year when he decided to turn himself in.
At this point, his fate is undecided. Because of his PTSD, James and his family are requesting that the Army gives him an "Other Than Honorable Discharge" in leiu of a special court martial which could send James to a military prison for up to a year. You can help!
1. Please contact the Post Commander General Campbell to request a speedy discharge for James. Contact the Fort Knox Public Affairs Office at 502-624-7451 or and demand better treatment for our soldiers. Ask that they discharge PFC James Burmeister now so that he can get the help that he needs.
2. Attend a Press Conference at Fort Knox, KY on Thursday, June 19, at 11am.At N Wilson Rd & Knox Blvd, Radcliff, KY 40160 (
map with directions)
3. Write James and give him words of support and encouragement. PFC James Burmeister; HHC - Building 298, Gold Vault Road; Fort Knox KY 40121

Meanwhile on Firday, war resisters in Canada will share their stories.
Stathroy Age Dispatch reports that war resisters Josh Randall, Tim Richard and Rich Droste will share their experiences and answer questions and Michele Mason's Breaking Ranks documentary will be shown. The event will take place at the Quaker Meeting House, 359 Quaker Lane Coldstream in Ontario. What time? No time's given in the report at the Quaker Meeting House. You can use both links to continue checking for when a time is posted.

What is known is that Canada's House of Commons passed a motion to grant war resisters safe harbor and you can keep pressure on the Harper government right now.
Gerry Condon, War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist all encourage contacting the Diane Finley (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration -- 613.996.4974, phone; 613.996.9749, fax; e-mail -- that's "finley.d" at "") and Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, 613.992.4211, phone; 613.941.6900, fax; e-mail -- that's "pm" at "").

Matthis Chiroux announced
May 15th that he would not deploy to Iraq. The day he was due to report was June 15th and he did not deploy and explained why in a public statement. Leo Shane III (Stars & Stripes) quotes him explaining, "I don't feel like I'm doing illegal at all. We basically have no cause for military presence in Iraq. I'm making this decision because I believe my first loyalty is to the higher ideals of this country, which are being blatantly violated by our leaders. . . . It's not about what job I'd do. Any order to deploy there is unlawful."

Courage to Resist interviewed Matthis ahead of June 15th and in one section he explains how he came to learn about his rights and how he enjoys getting that information out to others:

I went to a peace event in Brooklyn where I met up with a number of
Iraq Veterans Against the War and this is an organization that that I completely agree with all their basic points of unity. I basically felt like 'wow this is maybe the most intelligent and well spoken and in touch group of soldiers that I have ever seen in my life and they are all speaking out freedom and justice and peace in the wake of having their rights so violated and having violated the rights of others so badly." And one soldier in particular really, really did it for me. And her name is Selena Coppa and she's actually an active duty soldier who is stationed in Germany and she was on leave speaking out against the war in Iraq. And she started off with a disclaimer where she said you know 'the opinions expressed here are my own and not of the US military' and went on to talk about her feelings about the Iraq War and I looked at that and said, 'Oh my goodness. Here is an active duty soldier with the courage to speak up and speak out and, then you know return from leave to uniform and face her command afterwards.' And I looked at that and I said if she can do it then there's absolutely no reason I can't do it. And furthermore, I've been wasting my time with silence these last five years because somehow I've been convinced that I didn't have a right to participate in speaking for peace and justice at all because I had signed away those rights when I listed. And so many people believe this is true. And I have such a good time actually informing soldiers of what their actual rights are and then pointing them out in the regulations because a lot of it is jaw dropping when they realize 'Oh, you mean even as an active duty soldier you mean I can participate in peace protests as long as they're non-partisan and I'm not in uniform and I'm not speaking for the army? I had no idea that was possible.' And so I started there and I started going to IVAW meetings and I started planning an IVAW beneift at my college which finally came to fruition May 13th and I started speaking on the radio about my feelings concerning the Iraq occupation and why it broke my heart that I would have to deploy there June 13th.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Megan Bean, Chris Bean, Matthis Chiroux, Richard Droste, Michael Barnes, Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb,
Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Jose Vasquez, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Jason Marek, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

Yesterday's snapshot noted the Baghdad bombing.
NPR's Corey Flintoff (All Things Considered) reported, "Judging by the length of time it took for police and rescue teams to sort through the remains to arrive at a casualty count it was also extraordinarily destructive." Ned Parker and Usama Redha (Los Angeles Times) highlight "A 14-year-old girl, dressed in a black headdress and robe, towed a boy by hand and searched for her father. 'Where are they going to take the injured?' the weeping girl asked other distraught pedestrians." Hannah Allem (McClatchy Newspapers) quotess eye witness Muhannad Mahmoud: "People were screaming. A taxi driver pulled over and got out, with his face covered with black smoke. He asked me to check whether he was injured or not. One of the people told me he was hit by something really hard. He looked to see what had hit him and it was a man's arm." Richard A. Oppel Jr., Mudhafer al-Husainia and Ali Hameed (New York Times) quote survivor Ali Mustafa, "My shop collapsed on my head. There was a huge hole and a lake of blood [in the street] and burnt flesh of men and women and kids." Ali Mustafa also maintains the US military was present and caught off guard by the bombing: "They went crazy, but they tried to help people."

In some of today's reported violence . . .


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing left four people injured, a Mosul car bombing injured 14 people and a car bomb in a suburb of Mosul resulted in four people being wounded, a Kirkuk roadside bombing left three police officers wounded and another resulted in the death of 1 police officer and another being wounded.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Monday Amnesy International issued
reports on the Iraqi refugee crisis (text, photos, videos) and noted: "Iraq remains one of the most dangerous places in the world. Its refugee crisis is worsening. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), since the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003, an estimated 4.7 million have been displaced both within and outside Iraq and for many the situation is desperate."

The first report is entitled Iraq: Rhetoric and Reality: The Iraqi Refugee Crisis (
here for HTML and here for PDF). It notes how very "little or nothing" governments around the world have done to assist the refugee crisis (externally and internally displaced) that has reulted in at least 4.7 million people displaced. Those attempting to leave the country encounter numerous blockades and those who leave their homes and have not been able to leave the country are estimated to be 2.77 million. The blockades and obstacles in other countries mean many Iraqi refugees have to consider returning to Iraq which is still not a safe place but food and financial assistance is in short supply in the limited number of host countries an Iraqi refugee can enter. Amnesty observes:

Resettlement is a small but essential part of the response needed. Despite repeated calls for this option to be taken seriously, most states have ignored the calls and some of the most able to help have agreed only to minimal quotas. The UK, for example, a key player in the invasion that sparked the current refugee crisis, has an overall resettlement quota of 750, which includes places for Iraqis. The authorities in Chile and Brazil, however, have made positive moves in their approach to resettlement that deserve to be commended.

Iraqi widow Zahra and her family moved to Syria and she told Amnesty, "I will never return to Iraq where they killed my husband and took our house away." Amnesty notes that for all the talk of a decline in violence, the first portion of 2008 has already seen an increase from the Operation Happy Talk Wave of "violence is down!" only mere months ago. Along with violence, there is a lack of potable water in Iraq and there is lack of food (and remember that the rations program is being chipped away bit by bit by the puppet government to please the White House). Of countries taking in Iraqi refugees, Syria has "the largest Iraqi refugee population" with an estimated 1.5 million. Due to the large flow into Syria and due to al-Maliki insisting that Syria alter their visa program (remember
The Myth of the Great Return?), many who previously could have gained asylum and entry to Syria are now rejected.

Today, some categories of people can obtain a visa. These include academics and their immediate families; Iraqi students enrolled in Syrian universities and other higher education institutions; children attending schools; truck and passenger drivers operating on the Baghdad-Damascus route; Iraqis who need medical treatment in Syrian hospitals, provided they have relevant official documentation; members of cultural and sporting delegations visiting or passing through Syria; and traders and business people with commercial interests needing to travel to Syria.
Families with children attending schools in Syria or with family members in need of medical treatment can apply for temporary residence permits, which must be renewed monthly and only for up to a year. Such permits allow Iraqis to obtain permission from the Syrian authorities to travel to Iraq with an option of returning to Syria within three months. With the school year nearing an end, concern is growing in the refugee community about the future of visas obtained this way.

After Syria, Jordan hosts the largest number of Iraqi refugees (450,000 to 500,000). The report notes Jordan's new restrictions. (These are also restrictions imposed by al-Maliki at the White House's insistence. All parentheticals are me and not the report.) Now for an Iraqi to be allowed to enter Jordan, they need to apply for a vise before leaving Iraq. (That would be done at Jordan's embassy. And that's outside the Green Zone in a very violent section of Baghdad.) The report notes that one plus to life in Jordan is universal education for all children. However, Iraqis in Jordan are like other refugees in that the economic opportunties are highly limited and they must live off savings.

Lebanon has the third largest number of Iraqi refugees (50,000) where they "suffered from a lack of legal status, detention and deportation, particularly in 2007. Until February 2008, Iraqi refugees in Lebanon were not given a secure legal status nor recognized as refugees by the state." Egypt has 10,000 -150,000 Iraqi refugees. Those living there do so without employment because they are not able to legally be employed, their children are not allowed to attend schools, they have no "official status" and cannot receive any social services. From the report, debunking The Great Return, we'll note:

The international community has failed to respond adequately to the Iraqi refugee crisis. Rather, governments have tended to ignore the crisis or distort reality for political reasons – for example, to try and back up claims of military "successes" or to distance themselves from the issue.
In this respect, examples of Iraqi refugees returning home have received substantial media coverage, particularly since October 2007, while little attention has been given to the limited choices available to the refugees or the dangers they might face back in Iraq.
The Iraqi authorities too have an interest in promoting an overly positive and optimistic picture of Iraq's security situation and expectations. The Syrian government's introduction of strict visa regulations in October 2007 followed a visit to Damascus by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who requested closure of the border. The request appeared to be aimed at limiting the negative press coverage spurred by the continuing mass exodus from Iraq – the most visible indicator of the continuing high level of danger and insecurity in Iraq.
Following this, the focus shifted to highlighting what were portrayed as widespread "voluntary" returns of refugees to Iraq as a sign of improved security. Amnesty International was informed by the Iraqi Embassy in Damascus that three private coaches were being used to take hundreds of people back to Iraq. The Iraqi government has strongly encouraged "voluntary" returns, particularly since the end of 2007. Such encouragement has taken the form of advertisements on state-owned television channels, asking people to tell friends and relatives to return because of the perceived decrease in violence, and an organized return convoy. There have also been official statements at the highest level, including Prime Minister al-Maliki's April 2008 speech to the European Parliament in Brussels, which called for Iraqis to return home. Figures given by the Iraqi authorities of the numbers returning continue to be much higher than those provided by other sources, including UNHCR and the Iraqi Red Crescent.

We'll return to the reports throughout this week and next.

Turning to the US presidential race,
Ralph Nader notes:

Here is a counter-intuitive story for you. Why don't organized corporate interests challenge damage or risks to their clear economic interests?
Think about oil prices for big consumers, not just your pocketbook. Airlines are groaning, limiting flights, and laying off employees because of the skyrocketing price for aviation fuel. Executives in that industry say that fuel costs are close to 40 percent of the cost of flying you to your destination.
The powerful chemical industry is under pressure from the prices they're paying for petroleum-probably their main raw material.
The powerful trucking industry is beside itself with diesel fuel going to $5 per gallon.
You can add your own examples-cab companies, tourist industry, auto companies, etc.
Why aren't these very influential lobbies throwing their weight around Washington to get something done about the speculators on Wall Street determining what is paid for gasoline and related petroleum products? It is in their own economic interests.

Nader is running for president as an independent. Matt Gonzalez is his running mate. Today
Amy Goodman interviewed him for approximately a half-hour on Democracy Now!. Earlier this week she asked someone who had not served in Iraq to tell her about his service in Iraq. This morning Goody got off another groaner:

AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, you said in 2000 it doesn't really matter whether Gore or Bush is president. Do you feel that way today?

RALPH NADER: I didn't say that. I said the similarities between Bush and Gore tower over the dwindling real differences that they're willing to argue over. And, of course, my focus is not on some of the single issues. Obviously, Gore is better on Social Security, better on Medicare, better on gay, lesbian rights. Obviously in those areas, the Democrats have a much clearer position, better position, than the corporate Republicans. But in the gross area of corporate power and domination of every agency and department in our government, from the Department of Defense and Department of Labor, the Democrats are moving in the direction of the Republicans. It's quite clear in terms of their voting record. There are exceptions, like Henry Waxman and Ted Kennedy, Ed Markey. But for the most part, these parties have moved very heavily into the grip, the iron grip of corporate power, corporate money, corporate ultimatums on globalization, for example, and above all, the distortion of the federal budget in the direction of corporate contracts, subsidies, handouts, giveaways, and the swelling of this enormous, corrupt, wasteful military budget that's draining money.

We're going to repeat this reality: Candidates get the votes they win. The ones they lose go to another candidate. Goodman repeatedly used the angle that Nader's taking votes from Barack Obama. Well, if Barack would drop out of the race right now, think of all the votes Ralph could get! It's nonsense. Candidates earn your vote or they don't. They are responsible (and the media). Ava and I will address the interview Sunday at Third. Here is Nader responding to the issue of Iraq:

Six-month corporate and military withdrawal from Iraq, during which we negotiate with the Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis for modest autonomy, which they worked out in the 1950s before the dictators took over. Under a unified Iraq, continue humanitarian aid, some peacekeepers from nearby Islamic countries, and UN-sponsored elections. That's the way you knock the bottom out of the insurgency. That's the way you get the authority figures, the tribal leaders and the religious leaders and others, who still have authority over millions of Iraqis, to get together, because the alternative is constant bloodshed and civil strife. So you give them a stake by using the only chip we have, which is to give back Iraq to the Iraqis, including their oil. Now that--otherwise, it's constant, constant strife.
You saw that huge explosion in Iraq, in Baghdad, yesterday. The Pentagon doesn't count Iraqi civilian tolls. They don't even count officially US injuries unless they occur right in the middle of combat. So US injuries are triple what their official figure is. And all the press, including the liberal press and the indie press, still uses that figure of some 32,000 injured soldiers, when it's triple that. I don't understand why they follow that kind of Pentagon line. So that's the way to deal with it.

iraq veterans against the war
matthis chiroux
leo shane iii
hannah allemmcclatchy newspapersthe new york timesrichard a. oppel jr.usama redhaned parkerthe los angeles times

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

No bouncing bounce

"Obama leads but struggles with key groups" (ABC News):
In an exclusive network interview with ABC News, Obama said that his long Democratic primary battle with Clinton, which wasn't settled until early June, spared McCain critical scrutiny.
"While we were doing that, John McCain basically was getting a pass, both from the media . . . as well as from other opponents. And so I think that explains it," said Obama of the close race.
It is an ironic accusation from Obama.

Yes, it is ironic and no one likes a spoiled brat whining. Barack's had nothing but gushing press. What a whiner.

The entries at The Common Ills weren't up this morning until I was already at work and Sunny asked me after the first session why C.I. didn't talk about a poll other than in terms of Iraq? (It was the Washington Post-ABC poll.) I said, "Well the focus is Iraq, what's missed in the poll?" Sunny said, "Well it's just what C.I. said at Third Sunday. Barack got no real bounce."

That's why C.I. didn't mention it. If any of the rest of us in that roundtable had made the observation, C.I. would have typed, "As Betty pointed out Sunday, there was no big bounce and, if you doubt it, check out this poll . . ." But C.I. doesn't do the horn tooting.

We looked at the poll together, Sunny and I, at lunch and it is just like C.I. said. Sunny was confused only in that the press was reporting (last week) a huge bounce. The press reports many things that are not true. Sometimes that is an intentional lie, sometimes it is just their reporting what they think they see and they think they see it because it is what they want to see.

I agreed with Sunny that C.I. being on the road each week provides a perfect measure for the pulse of America but it's also true that C.I. can generally spot hype a mile away when the press decides to glom on something minor and inflate it to something large.

I'm sure it was a combination of the two.

But if you read the ABC News article (which also has video at the link), you will see there was no big bounce despite last week's hype. Barack's still in trouble with the same groups as before and a huge number of Americans (general election voters, not primary ones) think he lacks experience.

They are, of course, correct. He hasn't even finished his first Senate term and he's trying to run for president? He has no accomplishments to point to in the Senate and, right before his run, was being castigated by the likes of Ted Kennedy for showboating on the legislation they'd pushed through.

Experience and maturity remain his biggest weaknesses as a candidate.

Turns out some women are supporting McCain. Shocking only if you bought into last week's hype.

Turns out a huge number of voters are undecided. Again, general election voters.

Guess Bambi shouldn't have been so quick to write off the idea that he needed to address the sexism used against Hillary. White married women are among his weakest groups and the article notes that a number of them supported Bully Boy in 2004.

Anything can change between now and November but when you realize how hard the press -- big and small -- has worked to push Barack for so many months and how popular they insist on saying he is, the results may be shocking.

But he's never been that popular. Even when his cult was flocking to his rallies, it was about him. If he were selling a product, he'd be successful. His fan base would allow him to be an infomercial huckster that really cleaned up; however, that same fan base turned off a lot of people and it's really not something to influence voters. I know the Matthew Rothschilds and Katty-van-van think mass hysteria is something to desire. But, from outside the hysteria, it looks juvenile and disgusting.

So if you're not willing to join the Church of Obama, you're left thinking, "There's a sucker born every minutes." What the press really did was create a strong backlash for him and that's the point C.I. and Rebecca have long made about the trap Barack helped create for himself.

Again, things could change between now and November. But it is disturbing that having been crowned by the press for the last few weeks he is polling so low among the general electorate.

But it's the point Ava and C.I. made Sunday ("TV: Strength greeted with confusion, attacks & silence") about how he thinks insults and gripes make a campaign. In the ABC News story, he's tearing into McCain's record trying to run off female support from McCain. But he has nothing to offer women and, when you insult someone, people will listen and wait for how you are better but when you never have anything to offer there, they don't rush to you.

Blogger/Blogspot is acting up tonight and I lost my entire post. So I am rushing through this one. It's not just me. We've all been on the phone with each other asking, "Did it happen to you too?" It did.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, June 17, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, another journalist is killed in Iraq, a bombing with mass fatalities in Baghdad reminds the press the Iraq War drags on still, the US Senate examines torture, and more.

Starting with war resistance.
June 3rd Canada's House of Commons voted (non-binding motion) in favor of Canada being a safe harbor for war resisters. The vote found all the other parties outvoting the Conservative Party. That is the party of Stephen Harper who is the country's prime minister. On Saturday, rallies took place. Mario Cootauco (Canwest News Service) reported on one in British Columbia that US war resister Rodney Watson attended. Watson explained that he didn't want to return to Iraq, "There's no need for us to be over there and I saw that first-hand. I decided I needed to get out of there. I wanted to go just to be a support. I didn't want to go kicking down doors, killing children or innocent people or getting my hands dirty or anything. I support my country, but I don't support the way we're going about it." As Cootacuo observes, "It's now up to the Conservative government to implement the decision."

Joan Wallace wrote to Nanaimo Daily News over the weekend to share her opinion:

I agree with the writer who urges our government to comply with the recent vote in the House of Commons, in which a motion passed allowing U.S. war resisters to stay in Canada. Phone calls and e-mails from thousands of Canadians went a long way in achieving this first step to open our doors to these men and women. Some of them have been in Iraq and seen the horrors of war and cannot with conscience support it any longer. Our doors must also open to those who enlisted to serve their country, but who came to the realization later that they could not go through with their commitment to fight in an illegal war that continues to breach international and human rights law. Thanks to the NDP for putting this motion forward and also to the other opposition parties for supporting the motion. It is now up to us to keep this issue on the radar. We need to write to our prime minister, to our MPs, and to the Minister for Citizenship and Immigration and urge them to create the legislation necessary to grant a permanent haven in Canada to all U.S. war resisters.

To keep the pressure on,
Gerry Condon, War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist all encourage contacting the Diane Finley (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration -- 613.996.4974, phone; 613.996.9749, fax; e-mail -- that's "finley.d" at "") and Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, 613.992.4211, phone; 613.941.6900, fax; e-mail -- that's "pm" at "").

Turning to the US. Matthis Chiroux announced
May 15th that he would not deploy to Iraq. The day he was due to report was June 15th, Sunday, and he delivered a speeh explaining why he wouldn't be deploying (see yesterday's snapshot). Iraq Veterans Against the War advises:

IVAW members Matthis Chiroux and Kris Goldsmith have been
pounding the pavement in Washington DC, with the help of IVAW's DC chapter, to get members of Congress to support Matthis in his refusal to deploy to Iraq. Matthis was honorably discharged from the Army in 2007 after five years of service, but he received orders in February 2008 to return to active duty from the IRR for deployment to Iraq.
On Sunday, June 15th, the day he was due to report for active duty, Matthis stood with his father and supporters in DC and reaffirmed that he is refusing his orders on the grounds that the Iraq war is illegal and unconstitutional.
How you can help:
Contact your congressional representatives and ask them to publicly support Matthis.
Contribute to IVAW's legal defense fund to help Matthis and other resisters.
Send a message of support to Sgt Matthis Chiroux at
Find out more about Matthis Chiroux.

On Democracy Now! today, Matthis explained, "OK, I was supposed to report Sunday, Father's Day. I did not. I was in Washington, D.C. with the Iraq Veterans Against the War at their chapter house. I gave a short speech on the porch of our house there, and I stood with my dad, and I kept my promise to the military, I kept my promise to my country, to refuse an illegal order to participate in an unlawful occupation. . . . Well, right now it's turned into a bit of a waiting game, as far as the military goes. You know, I made my intentions clear, and then I followed through on them, and I'm waiting to hear from the military. There's no real way I can know what consequences to face here. You know, many, many members of the Individual Ready Reserve, about 15,000 of them, have been called up since the beginning of this occupation of Iraq, and only 7,500 of them have reported. So there's about half there that's unaccounted for. And many of those individuals have been ignored by the military, as they should be. It is an illegal order to call up and deploy to Iraq. Others have been charged with desertion. So, during a time of war, actually, desertion can be punishable by death. So, you know, my spectrum of consequence is in the situation range literally anywhere from nothing to death. So I will wait faithfully in the United States, as I promised to do, to see how the military will react."

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Megan Bean, Chris Bean, Matthis Chiroux, Richard Droste, Michael Barnes, Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb,
Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Jose Vasquez, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Jason Marek, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

Turning to Iraq, where the
Times of London reports, "The most deadly Baghdad attack since March ripped through a crowded market today killing at least 51 people in the Iraqi capital." BBC notes, "The bomba appeared to have been timed to go off during the early evening rush hour, when the bus stop was crowded with waiting passengers." The toll for the wounded is currently seventy-five. Both figures may rise. Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Ali Hamid (New York Times) declare, "Survivors and relatives of the victims in the Tuesday blast were enraged and on edge. One man lost 11 relatives, including five female cousins. At a courtyard in front of the Kadhimiya Hospital morgue, people screamed, wept and shrieked. Some cursed the government for allowing the blast to happen while others called on God for revenge. People fleeing the balst site who were interviewed by a New York Times reporter at a cordon set up around the scene of the attack said there had been two boms, not the single explosion that Iraqi officials described." Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) informs, "Many victims were trapped in their apartments by a raging fire that engulfed at least one building, according to police and Interior Ministry officials".

Turning to some other reported violence today . . .


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad motorcyle bombing that claimed the lives of 4 "Awakening" Council members and left two other peoplw ounded, a Bahgdad roadside bombing that wounded one police officer "and three civilians" and another Baghdad roadside bombing resulted in one person being wounded a Diyala Province car bombing wounded eighteen people.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad armed attack on "two employees of the prime minister's office" resulting in the death of 1 employee and the other being wounded. Bushra Juhi (AP) reports that Muhieddin Abdul-Hamid, an Iraqi TV reporter/anchor, has been shot dead in Mosul. Al Dulaimy explains the journalist was "a newscaster at a local station called Nineveh Television". Reporters Without Borders explains that he is the 216th journalist killed in Iraq (they divide up the category, here we just count all working on news as journalists because they're all doing more than one job) and they quote Samir Slouki explaining that threats had come in on on Al-Nakib. Reporters Without Borders states, "The journalist was ambushed in front of his home, an attack which bears the hallmarks of a number of armed groups that are the scourge of the press in Iraq. Even without any claim of responsibility, it is highly likely that the journalist was targeted because he worked for a state media. We urge the government of Nuri al-Maliki to open an investigation into who was responsible and to bring them to trial. The impunity that has prevailed in the country for more than five years only encourages the killers of journalists to continue their evil work." Reuters notes 1 "municipal worker" shot dead in Tuz Khurmato while a Mosul home invasion resulted in 1 woman being shot dead and another Mosul shooting resulted in 1 police officer being shot dead..


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 6 people were kidnapped in Kut by unnamed assailants who then set the kidnapped victims vehicles ablaze luring the police to the scene but a roadside bombing claimed the life of Col Ali Mohammed and left six other police officers wounded.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad

"It never entered my mind." "I had no knowledge of it." Either statement pretty much sums up the stonewalling the US Senate Armed Services Committee received today. The first statement was made by Retired Lt. Col Daniel J. Bumgartner Jr. and the second was by the DoD's former Deputy General Counsel for Intelligence Richard L. Shiffrin. They and the laughable "Dr." Jerald Ogrisseg ("Former Chief, Psychology Services" for the Air Force) made a mockery not only of the US Congress but also of humanity. Helping with that were Senators Jeff Sessions and Lindsey Graham. That said, there weren't a lot on the committee doing anything to take pride in.

SERE stands for Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape. The lie is that the military and psychologists -- some with the military, some brought in -- are doing something good. No, they're not. And several times during the first panel today, someone would almost reach that line before rushing away from it. The SERE program tried waterboarding on US service members. Why?

That's the question that no one wanted to ask. The implied reason is that SERE is attempting to study . . . What? You can have sat through the entire hearing and you never got an answer. You got lies. You heard talk of "survival" and "resistance." Gee, POWs can -- and historically -- have been shot. Does that mean the US needs to begin shooting service members for a study?

The big OH-NO! in the hearing was how SERE had mission creep. And that is appalling. But it crept from somewhere. It never should have been a program. No one, not even the chair Carl Levin, wanted to question SERE. SERE would not be acceptable in any civilian setting. The 'tests' being done -- such as water boarding -- would result in legal charges if implemented in a civilian setting. With the government and the military behind it, they are doing tests that are brutal. In the hearings, Richard L. Shiffrin and Jerald F. Ogrisseg tried to minimize what was going on and referred to . . . What they wanted to say was "safe word". They backed off because "safe word" will remind most people of S&M. And that's really what this is. Non-consensual S&M which is also known as torture.

You heard a great deal in the hearing from well meaning Senators where they decried what was done in Guantanamo or Iraq. But everyone needs to grow up enough to grasp that what SERE is doing -- and has done -- is not science anymore than Nazi Germany's 'experiments' were science. (I'm not referring to concentration camps in the Nazi illustration. I'm referring to the very well known torture techniques.) Shiffrin played with himself (scratching his chest, his left nipple) and smirked throughout. To Levin he would insist that things like "good cop/bad cop" have "been around for years." We're not talking a lawful interrogation; however. We're not talking about a one interrogator plays the nice one and the other the menacing. What SERE does is devise "bad cop" techniques and punishments. Until that's addressed, don't expect to see any real changes in the US.

Jerald Ogrisseg would use strange words for an alleged pshychologist. He would refer to his group as "the good guys" and he would float al Qaeda to try to spin the minds. For the record, al Qaeda didn't run the SERE program.

Senator Claire McCaskill would bring up the issue of "immunity in advance" annd wonder "what planet are we on? There is no such thing as immunity in advance?" Shiffrin found that so amusing, he not only chuckled, he played with his left nipple repeatedly. Despite, like McCaskill, having been a prosecutor, he attempted to dance around the issue forever. But, no, immunity in advance -- the White House policy -- has no known legal standing and goes against the rule of law as McCaskill pointed out. Shiffrin just wanted to be vauge (and to touch himself). McCaskill would ask for "the names of people" and point out -- as did other senators -- that they were looking for accountability and responsibility: then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, president of vice Dick Cheney, then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, then-Homeland Security chief Michael Cherton. Others? "There are still people involved at the periphery of this that are in positions of responsiblity in today's government, so our frustration is that we would like to hold someone responsible, and i's like trying to catch shadows here," McCaskill noted. When pressed, Shiffrin defocused and tried to dance away. "Could you give me the names of other lawyers that were there when you were given the impression . . . besides, Jim [William] Haynes, who was in the room?" He finally moved away from "a number of people" to Charles Allen. He actually named others but he stated Allen was "in some of these meetings" plural which took the conditional "I believe" off the statement. McCaskill asked him about a meeting with Haynes and Shiffrin responded he would need a date.

Shiffrin: "If you give me the day of -- of course I met with Mr. Haynes every day.

McCaskill: November 27, 2002.

Shiffring: I don't have a recollection.

"I think you're probably a really good lawyer and probably care deeply about your country," McCaskill told him but "we're trying to figure out here who decided that we're going to go ddown this road and when did it get decided?"

In the third 'panel' -- which consisted solely of William Haynes (fromer general counsel to the DoD), McCaskill pointed out that as senior lawyer William Haynes was over those under him. She noted the questions coming into him, "You had received the information from various lawyers . . . asking legal questions about these techniques?" ("This is again six years ago, so my memory is not perfect," was his nonsense reply.) The point McCaskill was making was the he was in charge of all legal issues for the Defense Department and (my point) he didn't do his job no matter how often he said "I take my, and I took my, responsibilities very seriously" (which he said later to Senator Jack Reed). McCaskill's point was that, reviewing all the documents available, she found no legal opinion other than Lt Col Beaver. She asked, "You have said the you relied on the legal advise of Lt. Col Beaver, is that correct?" He agreed it was and she pointed to the one page memo he wrote (that he would brag he typed himself during his exchange with McCaskill) which cites no legal precedent, doesn't cite Geneva, the US Constitution, any legal opinions. He tried to weasel out, he tried to cut off McCaskill. She would interrupt him with, "Wait, wait, there was no legal opinion in that package other than her [Beaver] legal opinon. Was there any other legal opinion that you relied on . . . written legal opinion that you relied on other than Lt Col Beavers' opinion?" He attempted to weasel out of that but, as McCaskill pointed out, no one he was naming was a lawyer. McCaskill's point was that this was a huge shift in the law (to put it mildly) and the Defense Department's chief lawyer created and/or waived through a policy (with questionable legal basis -- to put it mildly) and did so without any effort to create a legal opinion of his own. He would tell Reed he did an "analysis" but any attorney attempting to justifying billing by providing that one page memo would be laughed at. To Reed he would insist that the US Constition didn't apply nor did Geneva. Where is that analysis in writing? With Reed, he would finally admit, "I didn't write a memorandum to that effect." Reed would ask, "Did you write any memorandum?" Referring to the one page memo, Haynes would point to "that memorandum you have in front of you." The issue is did he blow off responsibilities or are there additional documents that have not been provided to the Congress.

Lt Col Diane Beaver participated in the second panel and told the Senate that she didn't believe the opinion she prepared "would become the final word. I did not expect to be the only lawyer to write an opinion on this monumentally important decision." Nor should she have expected that. Her argument should have been explored further up the line by people higher than her including Haynes. Reed would ask about these conditions placed on the torture techniques that Haynes referred to. Haynes stated everyone knew them, that it was obvious. Reed flipped a mountain of pages and noted that there were no conditions in them and asked Haynes to discuss the conditions which a testy Haynes refused. If they were so readily apparent to all involved, Reed would wonder, why was it that Haynes couldn't list them? In response, Haynes attempted to suggest Reed's comments were insulting to the US military to which Reed responded, "Don't you go around with this attitude that you protect the integrity of the military, you degrade the integrity of the military."

An out of control administration with no respect for the Constitution or the rule of law stained the reputation of the United States at home and abroad. The US government has been utilizing torture and the White House worked to create a fake legal basis for it. There was none. Those involved need to be held accountable but the Senate has accepted the idea that SERE isn't the problem. SERE is the problem. Without SERE, it wouldn't have happened. SERE argues it is defensive (it's trying to find out how to protect people from torture or prepare them for it -- reality, there is no prep and there is no protection if someone's captured). The committee wants to act shocked that a defensive research program would be used for offensive (illegal) actions. There's no shock there. It just took one out of control administration and SERE is as much an issue as is the White House. Repeatedly the first panel would say they never could have guessed (did Condi coach them?) that their work would be used for offensive actions. Reed would ask if it ever entered thier minds "when you were sending this information over to the General Counsel office why they needed it?" No. Never. They did their jobs, they insisted. And, in a way, they're right. But those jobs should never have existed. Experiments on humans that involve torture are not 'medical' and are not needed. McCaskill made the point that lawyers know about interrogations and know what works. She's right. And the medical field is not about creating harm to figure out how much a human being can hold up to. Again, those type of experiments took place in Nazi Germany, they are not supposed to take place in the United States. Punishing those responsible for implementing torture needs to take place but allowing SERE to continue just means someone else will come along at some point who will do the same as the current occupant of the White House.
Warren P. Strobel (McClatchy Newspapers) reported this morning that today's hearing was expected to undersorce "that the use of the aggressive techniques was planned at the top levels of the Bush administration and were not the work of out-of-control, lower-ranking troops" and that the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency was "asked . . . for help devising the techniques." If SERE had not existed, it couldn't have been utilized.

Turning to the US race for president. Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader will be on Democracy Now! tomorrow. Today
Team Nader notes:

You've asked for it.
Now, you've got it.
More videos.
More videos.
More videos.
Here's a brand new one featuring Ralph with Patti Smith singing "Awake from Your Slumber."
Here's one of Ralph shooting hoops.
Here's one of Ralph responding to someone who told him "Don't Run."
Here's one of Ralph in Googleland being interviewed by the staff at Youtube.
here's one of Ralph outside the Bush compound in Kennebunkport, Maine urging the impeachment of Bush.
As a result of these and other videos, Ralph's probably the hottest politician - along with McCain and Obama - on the Internet.
Check out all of our campaign videos at the
Nader/Gonzalez Youtube video page.
Now, we need your help to spread these videos far and wide.
Forward them to your friends and family to strike up that discussion you've been meaning to have.
Rate the videos, add your comments, and give the thumbs-up to other good comments.
Also, we need your help to put together a team of people to help push our Youtube videos, to help build our social networking sites, and to get as many people as possible to learn about the Nader/Gonzalez platform.
So, if you have some experience and are interested in helping do online activism for the campaign, please contact now.
Together, we are making a difference.

iraq veterans against the war
matthis chiroux
rodney watsonmario cootauco
richard a. oppel jr.the new york times
mcclatchy newspapers