Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tony Blair needs to be tried for War Crimes

"Chilcot Inquiry: Tony Blair's second appearance" (Paul Reynolds, BBC News):

Mr Blair was forced to concede that, in both public comments and private meetings in early 2003, he claimed that the UN had authorised military action when he knew that his attorney general was saying that it had not. Lord Goldsmith later fell into line.

Mr Blair also conceded that Lord Goldsmith should have been brought into the UN discussions more fully - but only, Mr Blair argued, because then the attorney general would have agreed to the policy more quickly.

The War Hawk lied and lied some more to the Inquiry. Tony Blair is really a piece of work. C.I. covers the day's events in the snapshot and my favorite part is when Tony -- who avoided the protesters in the morning -- had to walk past them to leave and they called out "War criminal!"

He is and this nonsense that some spinners are promoting that you can't know if a war is illegal or not? Yes, you can.

It's Bellum iustum ("Just War Theory"). In addition, there is international law. A country that chooses to attack another country without cause (cause being you have been attacked). If the US were attacked, it can respond in kind. But if the US is the aggressor without cause, that's an illegal war.

Just cause is not what might happen to you someday if all a list of variables on a checklist hold true.

Tony Blair's a War Hawk and he is a War Criminal.

He needs to be tried for his War Crimes.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Friday, January 21, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Tony Blair goes before the Iraq Inquiry again, Nouri's leadership may be in question, guess who has left Iraq (no, not US troops) and more.
Chicken Hawk Tony Blair testified before the Iraq Inquiry. Before we get to the latest round of lies from Blair, let's get into what happened inside the hearing and outside. Alex Barker (live blogging for Financial Times of London) reported, "Details are emerging from the room. The atmosphere was obviously more fraught than it appeared on telly. The mood changed as soon as Blair started talking tough on Iran. Peple began to fidget more and sigh. Then when Blair expressed regrets about the loss of life in Iraq, a woman shouted: 'Well stop trying to kill them.' Two women stood up and walked out; another audience member turned her back on Blair and faced the wall. As Blair began to leave the room, one audience member shouted 'It is too late', another said 'he'll never look us in the eye'. Then Rose Gentle, who lost her son in Iraq, delivered the final blow. 'Your lies killed my son,' she said. 'I hope you can live with it.'"
Rose Gentle's son Gordon Gentle died June 28, 2004 in Basra at the age of 19. Before the hearing, she told Mustafa Khalili and Laurence Topham (Guardian -- link is video) that her son was the driving force in her actions, "It's definitely Gordon that kept me going." She is a co-founder of Military Families Against The War. After the hearing, she noted of Tony Blair, "I don't think I could ever forgive him to be honest." She explained, "He can look at his sons grow up, get married, have kids. We've lost that. We'll never have that."
Because of the illegal war (yes, it was illegal despite spin from the Independent's resident idiot columnist and others -- "just war theory" was not created in the post-WWII period) and those who started it and those who continue it, many have experienced the tragic loss Rose Gentle lives with. But, as she notes, Tony Blair is never haunted by the coffins.
Entrances and exits can be very telling. With a fake, plastered grin on his face and a security detail, Tony Blair walked briefly in the sunlight as cries of "WAR CRIMINAL!" were repeatedly and loudly shouted.
His entrance? Blair snuck in. Like the criminal he is. He snuck in and did so early thereby avoiding the protests. Still they turned out to bear witness on his War Crimes and the destruction that they brought about. Protestors chanted next to a man in a Tony Blair mask holding onto wooden bars (indicating Blair was behind bars).
Call: Tony Blair!
Response: Is a liar!
Stop The War was one of the organizers of the protests. Bryony Jones (CNN -- article has a photo of another man masked as Tony Blair behind bars) reports, "Protesters dressed in Tony Blair masks staged mock arrests as the former British Prime Minister appeared before an inquiry into the Iraq War. [. . .] Waving banners featuring bloody images of the carnage that followed, activists shouted: 'Blair lied -- thousands died' and "Justice prevail -- Blair in jail'." Ruth Barnett and Mark Stone (Sky News) note that Chickenhawk Tony is accused of sneaking into the Inquiry this morning to avoid the protest outside and they have video of protesters offering their take on Blair including this one, "Historians will judge him as a War Criminal as somebody who has lied to the public who has now -- He has -- Who tried to redefine the word lie: 'When is a lie not a lie?' And also I think history will judge him very, very harshly -- very harshly." Peter Walker (Guardian) reports on those protesting:

While many were clearly veteran activists -- the Socialist Workers party had a notable presence -- the crowd was mixed. Jackie, from Essex, had stopped by to wave a "Bliar" placard for 20 minutes before heading to her job at a City law firm.
"I'm not ashamed of it but I don't make a point of publicising it," she said. "I don't think there is much hope anything will come of this. It's all starting to look very much like an establishment cover-up."
More hopeful was the veteran peace campaigner Bruce Kent, who said he believed Chilcot's blocked attempts to release the former prime minister's correspondence with President George Bush, plus doubts about Blair's testimony raised by the former attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, indicated the establishment was starting to turn on Bair.
He said: "I'm not so interested in seeing him in court. I think Blair now knows that the infamy will follow him around forever. I think he's starting to realise that the end is not coming -- that lovely smile is not going to see him through this time,
"It's something of a Shakespearean tragedy. He came into power with such possibilities to transform the country. All those things he could have done and he squandered billions of pounds and thousands of lives to be a sort of second lieutenant to Bush"
Inquiry Chair John Chilcot noted at the start of today's hearing, "We heard some six hours of evidence from Mr Blair a year ago. We have also heard from many other witnesses and have amassed a very considerable body of documentary evidence. As I made clear in launching this round of hearings, there are a number of areas where we need to clarify what happened. We need to find the lessons to be learned and to do that we need to construct as reliable and accurate account as possible and reach our own conclusion." Did that happen?
Not for the public. But they did get to see Tony visibly squirming, his voice go to higher levels than normal and break little a pubescent boy's at one point. A few key exchanges. All testimony quotes are from the Inquiry's official transcript unless otherwise noted. And, also, we're not promoting Blair's book so I'll edit out the title.
Committee Member Martin Gilbert: Mr Blair, the very powerful speech you made to the House of Commons on 18th March 2003 was of critical importance. Without Parliament's approval our troops would not have been able to participate in the invasion. In your speech you drew an analogy with the 1930s, the moment you said when Czechoslovakia was swallowed up by the Nazis. That's when we should have acted. This was not the first that analogy had been made. Jack Straw, for example, recalled the descent into war in the 1930s when he spoke on 11th February. Comparing Iraq with Nazi Germany has enormous emotive force with the British public. It also heightens perceptions of the level and imminence of the threat. In your book [ . . .] you say that you regretted and almost took out that reference and the almost universal refusal, as you put it, for a long time for people to believe Hitler was a threat. Can you tell us why you regretted saying that?
War Criminal Tony Blair: I think I actually said in the speech in the House of Commons on 18th March -- I don't have it in front of me -- we have to be aware of glib comparisons, but there was one sense in which I think there was still valid point to be made about how we perceive threat and that is in this sense, my view after September 11th was that our whole analysis of the terrorist threat and that extremism had to change, and at that point I was most focused on this, that the single most important thing to me about September 11th, as I have often said; that 3,000 people died, but if they could have killed 300,000, they would have.
And he went on to babble repeatedly and at lenght, a non-stop, stream of random babble, never addressing the question asked led to his declaring this final sentence, "So in that sense in a way I would say there is an analogy, but you have to careful of bringing it out too broadly, otherwise you make a point that suggests the circumstances of Nazi Germany were the same as Saddam Hussein and I didn't really mean to suggest that."
Committe Martin Gilbert: So that's what you regretted?
War Criminal Tony Blair: Yes, but I don't -- let me just make on thing very clear, I don't reget the basic point I am making, which is that this is a time in which even though many people would say this extremism can be [. . .]
And he continued to waffle. So the takeaway is that, no, Tony Blair didn't regret making the comparison. His ghost writer and publisher thought it would be a thing that would help paint him as someone who agonized then and now over the decision, someone thoughtful, but that's just not who Tony Blair is. He established and underscored that throughout the hearing.
Committee Member Martin Gilbert: The Cabinet paper for conditions on military action which was issued on 19th July 2002, a version of which has appeared in the press, recorded that you had told the President at Crawford in April 2002: "United Kingdom will support military action to bring about regime change provided certain conditions were met." Was that a turning point?
War Criminal Tony Blair: It wasn't a turning point. It was really that all the way through we were saying this issue now has to be dealt with. So Saddam either comes back into compliance with UN resolutions or action will follow.
So all along they were saying that Hussein had to be dealt with?
Next we'll emphasize this.
Committee Member Roderic Lyne: Just a short question on the Attorney General's involvement in advising on Resolution 1441, as you will have seen, Lord Goldsmith said in his statement that he was not being sufficiently involved in the meetings and discussions about Resolution 1441 and the policy behind it that were taking place at Ministerial level, and he says: "I made this point on a number of occassions." Given the importance that you have placed on Lord Goldsmith's understanding of the negotiations, why wasn't he allowed to be more closely involved in the negotiation of 1441 as well as in the discussions which lay behind it.
War Criminal Tony Blair: Well, I have to say I think I had more to do with Peter Goldsmith on this resolution than I can ever recall on any previous military action that we took. Now --
Committee Member Roderic Lyne: 1441?
War Criminal Tony Blair: Yes. Now I have read what Peter has said now, and obviously that's something it would be sensible to have the Attorney General -- I think in retrospect it would have been sensible to have had him absolutely in touch with the negotiating machinery all the way through, because I think then we wouldn't probably have got into the situation where he thought provisionally, at least, that we needed another resolution, because I think had he known of the negotiating history real time as we were going through it we could have avoided some of the problems later.
Committee Member Roderic Lyne: Yes. I mean, I think he would agree with you there. [. . .] I mean, in his statement he says that he wasn't involved in discussions about 1441. Between the time of his meeting with you on 22nd October, when he told you that the draft then in contemplation did not authorise the use of force, until 7th November when the text was, as he puts it, all but agreed, but you say you were very much involved with him over this resolution. These two statements don't seem to fit together.
War Criminal Tony Blair: No. What I am saying is I was more involved -- I recall having more meetings with Peter about the legality of this issue than I did on any of the other occasions. I did actually -- there was a meeting I think on 17th October, which we then minuted out, including to Peter, where we set the objectives for the resolution. Then he and I had the meeting on 22nd October, and -- I mean, I agree in retrospect it would be better if he had been there, because we would have then -- he would have been sensitised to the evidence that has been given to you by Stephen Pattison and by Iain Macleod, Stephen Patterson being the head of the then Department of the Foreign Office, and Iain Macleod being the legal advisor and the legal counsellor for the UN process and they explained why the Resolution 1441 did meet our objectives and significantly changed in the days leading up to its adoption.
Committee Member Roderic Lyne: Iain Macleod is the legal counsellor advising Jeremy Greenstock in New York. The Foreign Office legal advisors working in London, Sir Michael Wood and those working to him, as has come out from the respective evidence, took a very different view. They took the same view as the Attorney General, and the Attorney General took the view, as you know, that at this time he took the view that 1441 did not authorise use of force unless there was a further resolution, but you have said in your statement that 1441 "Achieved our objectives". Now how could it have achieved our objectives if your Attorney General, your senior legal officer was telling you that it hadn't?
We're not wasting time dictating in Blair's fumbling response. If you know this issue is going to be raised -- and it was known, it was the biggest Blair story in the press all week long beginning at the start of the week, you do not show up and fumble and offer, "I mean, I can't remember exactly what I said after 22nd October [. . .]" You don't do that. Unless you're lying, there's no possible reason to do that. And if you're wondering about my critque of the rambling say nothing Blair, the Guardian headlines their editorial "Blair at the Chilcot inquiry. Jaw-jaw, war-war and law-law." From the editorial:

Whether he led straight, however, is more doubtful. It is becoming ever clearer that No 10 spun the country along, not merely by hyping intelligence, but also by committing to the Americans in private while at the same time insisting to people and the parliament that no decision had been made. The general idea of a promise as an undertaking that is not to be given until it is certain it can be honoured was yesterday turned on its head by Mr Blair. "I was going to continue giving absolute and firm commitment until the point at which definitively I couldn't," he explained. He was free, easy and indeed creative with the detail – for example, singling out Iraq's bar on scientists meeting UN inspectors as the "key issue" on the eve of war, when that problem had in fact been resolved by then. It will be open to the committee to damn him with the detail should it choose to do so.

The excerpts from the hearing I selected were are among the things that stood out to me. Joshua Norman (CBS News) was most focused on Tony Blair's claim that the "wretched policy of apology" (Blair's words) must end. And that and the Goldsmith issue are paired up in Emma Alberici's report for Australia's AM (ABC -- link has text and audio):
EMMA ALBERICI: A month before the Iraq war began in 2003, one million people marched through the streets of London.

Almost eight years later, there were barely 100 protesters gathered outside the conference centre at Westminster as Tony Blair returned to the Iraq inquiry for the second time.

The five member panel led by Sir John Chilcot were seeking some clarifications, specifically about private letters between the former Prime Minister and the then President of the United States George Bush - correspondence written, in the year before the war.

TONY BLAIR: So what I was saying to him is, 'I'm going to be with you in handling it this way', right? 'I'm not going to push you down this path and then back out when it gets too hot, politically, because it is going to get hot politically, for me very, very much so'.

EMMA ALBERICI: Earlier in the week, Tony Blair's own attorney general told the inquiry that Mr Blair's claims in the House of Commons that Britain did not need a United Nations resolution explicitly authorising force were not compatible with his legal advice.

Lord Goldsmith told the inquiry that he felt uncomfortable about the way the Prime Minister ignored his official legal advice when making his case for war to the British people.

Tony Blair, who is now the Special Envoy to the Middle East representing the United Nations, the US, the European Union and Russia, said the war in Iraq could not be used to explain the rise in Islamic extremism. And he told a shocked roomful of grief stricken relatives of those killed in Iraq, that the experiences there should not make the world reluctant to invade Iran.

And it's that never-ending impulse to send more people into war, a blood lust, that causes Catherine Mayer (Time magazine) to term Blair "unchanged and unrepentant."
Iraq Inquiry Digest's Chris Ames has been following the story since long before the Iraq Inquiry. At the Guardian, he shares his take:

The specifics and the evidence, including new evidence published today, are against Blair. The evidence makes clear that he was seeking regime change from an early stage.

Opening questions sought to establish when Blair took the decision to pursue a policy that was likely to lead to war and what part the cabinet played. Martin Gilbert asked exactly when Blair took this decision. Blair waffled and evaded the question.

When it came to the way that Blair kept most of his cabinet out of the loop, the tables were turned. Had the cabinet seen the March 2002 options paper, leaked but still officially unpublished, which set out the plan that led to war? Could Blair point to a cabinet discussion of the paper? He could not. So how did Blair expect the cabinet to take an informed view? Blair waffled further, disputing "the notion that people weren't debating and discussing the issue". The cabinet knew what the policy was.

Next week, hopefully Monday's snapshot, we'll address the remarks he made in relation to other issues and how Tony Blair may not be the poodle because a good argument can be made that he's the one who pushed and prodded War Criminal Bush along the path to illegal war. (Bush may have been a dupe, but he was a willing dupe.) And we'll close out on the Inquiry with Mary Riddell (Telegraph of London) offering her take:
The sheer gall of Tony Blair never ceases to startle. And he gets away with it. Once, the revelations emerging from the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war would have been dynamite. The attorney general's advice that the invasion would not, without a second UN resolution, be legal; the Foreign Secretary's worries about the whole enterprise -- these are yesterday's sensations, neutralised by time and by inertia.
And yet there is still something awesome about Mr Blair's intractability. On he marched, in thrall to the US president and unhindered by his supine government and a credulous opposition who have never squared up to their faults either. Blair's lack of remorse and his adamantine belief that he was right cannot be dented now. The loss of the lives of British forces and of Iraqi civilians were, in his view, a wholly necessary price.
To say that Blair is unrepentant does not begin to explain his intransigence. Having prosecuted one disastrous war, he is now squaring up for the next dust-up, with a renewed warning that Iran, a "looming challenge" has got it coming. With luck, the leaders who followed Blair, on both sides of the Atlantic, will shake their heads in disbelief at this madness.
On the second hour of today's The Diane Rehm Show (NPR), Diane and her guests Abderrahim Foukara (Al Jazeera), Elise Labott (CNN) and Moises Naim (El Pais) addressed Iraq. Pay attention to the style of the transcript, I'll explain why in a moment. We're starting with Elise Labot speaking of Lebanon.

Elise Labott: The fear is right now is -- the future of Lebanon is either in the hands of Syria or it's in the hands of Iran. And you have countries like France, like Saudi Arabia, and to some extent even the United States, that really hasn't given Syria a real firm message about meddling in Lebanon. That Syria might be more of a benign force back in Lebanon than Iran. I mean, it's certainly, as Abderrahim said, it's a football right now. Lebanese does not have the sovereignty of its own government, of its own people, because Hezbollah is a proxy of Iran. And Syria wants to meddle as well. So it's really -- the Lebanese people have been fighting for so many years for their own independence, even after the Syrians were thrown out in 2005.
Diane Rehm: And talk about a bloody fight, look at Iraq this week, Elise.
Elise Labott: Well, you had a bombing in Baghdad that killed 60 -- over 60 people as police recruits were waiting to sign up. This really shows that the government -- there's the idea that the government has been able to provide security and you saw that violence in Iraq, for the most part, has been decreasing. December was one of the least violent months since the war really began. But by showing that these police recruits are not safe, the government cannot provide security, they're trying to sow a little discontent with the government as the U.S. is trying to withdraw its troops.
Diane Rehm: And will that change the date at all for US withdrawals, Moises?
Moises Naim: Well, it depends because it's not only the bombs that killed the police, their recruits waiting at a police station on Tuesday. Yesterday, there was another attack on pilgrims -- on Shiite pilgrims going to Karbala in what -- it was a very important pilgrimage that was banned under Saddam Hussein.
Diane Rehm: And who perpetrated all of this?
Moises Naim: And so no one has taken credit for it, but is widely suspected that this is either Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia or remnants of the Ba'ath Party and Saddam Hussein's supporters. But the fact of the matter is that in -- yesterday, 52 people -- 52 innocent pilgrims were assassinated and 150 were wounded. Two days before 52 police recruits waiting to the -- at the police station were also killed. So if this continues, these are the typical events that spark reactions and counterattacks. And if the thing escalates, then I guess there will be some rethinking of what needs to be done.
Diane Rehm: Abderrahim.
Abderrahim Foukara: Well, two things. One is the United States and the other one is Iran. The United States -- the Obama Administration has been saying that Iran is no longer the war that used to be. And these events actually are a disavowal of that. Iraq continues to be a security problem, not just for the Iraqis, but also for the Americans. As to whether that's going to change the calendar, I don't think -- I personally don't think it will, particularly that now in the next two years -- we're already talking about the election of 2012 -- and the Obama Administration is on the record as saying that he's moved on. And I don't think he would want to make -- to go back to changing and fiddling with the dates in -- of withdrawing from Iraq. Iran. The event that Moises was referring to yesterday in Kabala has been a lot of fear that the Iranians have all this strength in their hand in Iraq. And just today we heard from the Iraqi government, basically, a position which is tantamount to giving the Iranians licenses to protect their own pilgrims in Iraq. And it just gives you the extent of the complexity of the situation and of the stronger impact influence that the Iranians wield nowadays in Iraq.
Why did I mention the style? If I'd done it, we would have included repeat words such as "the-the thing I wanted to note . .." That's not to pick on people, that's to give an accurate descriptionof the conversation. Also we all have various vocal tics and some times they are telling, some times they are interesting (some times they are irritating). So I didn't do that trancript. That's the show's transcript.

The program has always made a transcript available at a price Diane Rehm's program is now listen and text. Just go to The Diane Rehm Show website and chose the "transcript" option the way you would "listen." The program is now listen and text and available to all including those who cannot stream and those for whom streaming is useless due to hearing issues. Next Friday, we'll go back to transcribing but try to get the word out on the site offering transcripts.

Violence has swept and slammed Iraq all week. Yesterday's Karbala bombings continued the string of deadly attacks in Iraq. Ali Qeis and Liz Sly (Washington Post) report, "Despite initial reports that the bombings were suicide attacks, investigations showed that they were not, [Maj. Alaa al-] Ghanemi said. Two parked cars and a motorcycle had been rigged with explosives and detonated within quick succession in the three locations, he said." If true, that's even more damning for Nouri al-Maliki. See, when you're dealing with someone willing to take their own life, a considerable segment of the public will see that person as irrational and/or insane and they will allow that there's little you can do to put up prevention obstacles that would halt those people (that once they're in that stage, it's too late). But this wasn't someone waiting until the last minutes to run out among a crowd.

If these bombings were as al-Ghanemi describes, then they were planned ahead of time -- well thought out indicating not just a level or precision but a level of rationality -- and since they were done ahead of time, they should have been prevented by extra security measure which should have been taken due to the religious holiday and the knowledge that over a million Shi'ite pilgrims would be taking part in the religious observation. That steps were not taken reflects very poorly on Nouri. John Leland (New York Times) offers, "The annual pilgrimage, banned under Saddam Hussein, is expected to draw as many as 10 million people this year to the city of Karbala over 10 days. It has long been a target of sectarian violence. Until this week, the holiday had been free of major bloodshed, and Iraqi security forces had claimed progress in their ability to protect the populace from violent extremist groups." Those numbers, and the holiday itself, argue for governmental anticipation and preparation.

Tracey Shelton (Asia Times) offers:

Some blame the recent uptick in violence on the nascent administration that has yet to fill its top security slots, namely the ministers of defense, interior and security. There have been allegations that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is keeping the posts for close confidantes, but others say the same partisan bickering that kept a government from solidifying for 10 months is preventing the appointments of these ministers - and endangering the public.
[. . .]
According to senior Kurdish lawmaker Mahmoud Othman, among others who spoke to Asia Times Online, the clear instigator of these crimes is al-Qaeda and its affiliate ISA. However, as Othman pointed out: "They are supported by elements inside the security apparatus."
The claim of collusion within the ranks of the yet unformed government has become a rallying cry for Maliki's opposition - the Iraqiya bloc of mostly secular Iraqis and Sunnis led by former prime minister Ayad Allawi.
Iraqiya's chief security advisor, Hani Ashor, said many Iraqis have already been murdered due to intelligence leaks within their own government. He and other politicians are calling for the fast-tracking of appointments for the security portfolios.

CNN has a photo essay of the post-bombings scene here.

Friday's violence? We'll most likely hear about it Saturday. But there is big news today out of Iraq. Khaled Farhan, Suadad al-Salhy, Michael Christie and Janet Lawrence (Reuters) report that Moqtada al-Sadr, who returned to Iraq January 5th after being out of the country for over two years, has again left the country and gone back to Iran. For a brief visit? Time will tell. But even a brief visit won't play well with the throngs of admirers who gathered around him and treated his home coming as a major moment. They may feel a little silly now. Those who might have had questions before probably have more now. And al-Sadr may emerge with a reason to explain his sudden departure. But it wasn't strategically smart on his part if he was intending to become an Iraqi leader from inside the country of Iraq.
We'll note two upcoming actions in the US. First, this is the upcoming Iraq Veterans Against the War event:

February 25, 2011 9:30 - 10:30 am
Busboys & Poets, Langston room
14th & V st NW Washington DC
This report back will be to answer questions from media and the peace movement about the recent trip back to Iraq by members of Iraq Veterans Against the War. The war is not over but it is not the same as it was in years past. What is the humanitarian situation in Iraq?
How can we do reparations and reconciliation work?
Speakers are all returning from this delegation and include:
Geoff Millard (IVAW) Hart Viges (IVAW) Haider Al-Saedy (Iraqi Health Now)
Richard Rowely (
Big Noise Films)
The following month, A.N.S.W.E.R. and March Forward! and others will be taking part in this action:

March 19 is the 8th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Iraq today remains occupied by 50,000 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of foreign mercenaries.

The war in Afghanistan is raging. The U.S. is invading and bombing Pakistan. The U.S. is financing endless atrocities against the people of Palestine, relentlessly threatening Iran and bringing Korea to the brink of a new war.

While the United States will spend $1 trillion for war, occupation and weapons in 2011, 30 million people in the United States remain unemployed or severely underemployed, and cuts in education, housing and healthcare are imposing a huge toll on the people.

Actions of civil resistance are spreading.

On Dec. 16, 2010, a veterans-led civil resistance at the White House played an important role in bringing the anti-war movement from protest to resistance. Enduring hours of heavy snow, 131 veterans and other anti-war activists lined the White House fence and were arrested. Some of those arrested will be going to trial, which will be scheduled soon in Washington, D.C.

Saturday, March 19, 2011, the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, will be an international day of action against the war machine.

Protest and resistance actions will take place in cities and towns across the United States. Scores of organizations are coming together. Demonstrations are scheduled for San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and more.

Click this link to endorse the March 19, 2011, Call to Action.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Killer Claims Not To Understand English

Warning, this journal entry may offer nothing. I've got the worst headache and am not having a good week.

How bad?

Today, just to make it to work (nothing against work, just one of those days where you want to pull the sheets over your head and stay in bed), I had to stop and get a malt. Actually a shake because they don't have malts at Jack-In-The-Box which I did not know until I went in there.

Like an idiot, I grabbed the red straw and didn't realize until I pulled the wrapper off that I had. (That's a coffee stirrer and not a real straw. I had to let the shake melt down before I couldstart sipping.)

Currently, I am wishing my head were a jigsaw puzzle and I could grab the piece in back of my ear on the right side and pull it out to get rid of the headache that is located precisely there.

"'The CIA Taught Us Everything' CIA-trained 'Terrorist' in US Court" (Chris Arsenault, Al-Jazeera via Information Clearing House):

El Paso, Texas - Margarita Morales Fernandez couldn't be in court to see the former CIA agent who allegedly killed her father and 72 others aboard a Cuban airplane in one of the world's worst airline attacks before September 11, 2001.

Fernandez and hundreds other victims are carefully watching the trial of former CIA operative Luis Posada Carriles in US federal court.

His 11 charges include perjury for lying to US immigration officials, but terror-related offences are not on the docket.

"It will be 34 years since the terrorist attack that killed my father, but I remember it like it was yesterday, "Fernandez told Al Jazeera in a phone interview from Havana, Cuba. "I don't think this trial takes us closer to justice."

Victims of terrorism

On October 6, 1976 a bomb exploded on Cubana Airlines flight 455, blowing it out of the sky and into the waters off Barbados, killing everyone on board, including Fernandez's father, the captain of Cuba's national fencing team.

Posada, 82, a Cuban-born Venezuelan-citizen, was considered the mastermind— a CIA-trained explosives expert who would stop at nothing in his personal vendetta against Cuban president Fidel Castro. Planned in Venezuela, the attack killed mostly Cuban nationals.

"The terrorist activities of Posada Carriles are part of the [current US court] indictment, but they are not what he is being prosecuted for," said José Pertierra, a Cuban-born Washington lawyer who is representing Venezuela's interest at the trial. "He is only being prosecuted for lying about them [attacks]… to an immigration judge in a naturalisation hearing."

Louis Posada was a very good friend of George H.W. Bush's. Maybe Bush trained him when Bush was in the CIA? Wouldn't be at all surprised. (Bully Boy Bush -- George W. -- publicly defended Posada -- that never bothered me because I never thought Bully Boy Bush knew a thing including what truth was.) Posada should have been turned over to Venezuela and it is hilarious that while the US government (including members of Congress) demand that Julian Assange be extradicted to the US, they never seem to grasp that Killer Posada should have been turned over to Venezuela long ago.

He's a killer and he's a terrorist. He shouldn't be in this country. He should be in a Venezuelan prison for his crimes.

The CIA trained the killer and they and the US government have long covered for him.

He has been claiming that he didn't lie in his interviews, he just didn't understand the English language. That's a lie. AP reports that the court today heard tapes of Posada's immigration interviews. AP also notes, "During more than half a dozen exclusive interviews with The Associated Press over the last year -- which were conducted both in Spanish and English -- Posada spoke mostly in Spanish but clearly understood English."

Posada's a cold-blooded killer. The US has used drug convictions to try to keep people out (John Lennon, Keith Richards, etc.) and they'll let Posada stay? That's very telling of our values.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, another suicide bombing leads to mass casualties, though Tony Blair's people insist they weren't on a path to war documents released from 2000 and 2001 tend to indicate otherwise, the US Army brass talks suicides, and more.
This morning at the Pentagon, Gen Peter Chiarelli, Maj Gen Ramond Carpenter and Lt Gen Jack Stultz held a press conference on suicides in the Army. Chiarelli noted at the top that the statistics being used "includes soldiers from the Guard and Reserve [. . .] So when I say 'active component,' I also include members of the Army Reserves and the Army National Guard who are mobilized during that year." The take away the military wanted to emphasize was a small dip (Chiarelli called it a "modest decrease") in the number of suicides last year from the last five and not the news that the Guard and Reserve saw a doubling in the number of suicides for non-active duty members in 2010 (from 82 suicided to 122 in 2010). If you don't divide the numbers -- sequester? -- as the military wants you to do, you notice that theme is the number of suicides increased in 2010. That is the bottom line and one that escaped Chiarelli even when he claimed to be providing context, "And I just, you know, to try to put this in context, we're talking about 343 suicides here. But some of the numbers that I've seen in the country last year, the numbers could be as high as 35,000. So we're talking less than 1% of that total number. And it will be interesting when the CDC catches up -- if they ever do catch up -- to then go back and --"
Stop. Chiarelli is counting on people just nodding along. I don't know why he does this sort of thing. He knows he's full of it everytime he does. He is saying that 343 isn't that high because he's heard there might have been as many as 35,000 suicides in the general population in the US. Do the math. He claims 1.1 million is the Army population and, out of that 1.1 million (we're using his figures), 343 committed suicide in 2010. (Not attempted, these people took their own lives.) And he wants you to believe that, golly, gee, that's not such a big number because, in the total population for the US, (his number) it's 35,000 for 2010. Now we have to provide a non-Chiarelli number. The 2010 census found that the US population was 311,919,805. Do you see the problem? Yes, 35,000 is a larger number than 343. It's approximately 10 times greater, in fact. But 311,919,805 is approximately 300 times greater than 1.1 million. His little number exercise did not prove what he thought it did.
Chiarelli stressed a number of factors he credited for the decrease in suicides among active duty soldiers including marriage and family life counselors and he noted the need for substance abuse counselors which he insisted the military had the money for but they were short on them to demands of the market ("It's not a money issue. It's a supply issue.") He said, "It seems like everytime I hire ten, I lose ten and it's not because" they get hired somewhere else as substance abuse counselors it's because they become behavioral life counselors. That is because of the licensing requirements for counselors. A substance abuse counselor -- in most states -- is lower ranked (therefore requiring less hours of education and training) and most of them (for their own education, fulfilment and for money desires) get additional training and education which allows them to move up to higher license or certificate. Some are ideally suited for substance abuse and perfectly content in that field but it's not at all surprising that some people would choose to move up the accreditation ladder.
Noting the number of hours any soldier will be spending with their families, Lt Gen Jack Stultz insisted that "We've got to make the suicide prevention plan a family plan." They would the ones, he pointed out, that would first see "the signs, the high-risk behavior."
Gen Peter Chiarelli: The bottom line is that this is a significant issue and clearly there is much to be done. But I am confident many of our nation's very best and brightest men and women from academia, industry, the medical community, DoD and government as a whole are working tirelessly in this seminal area. I assure you, we remain committed to finding further ways to promote resiliancy, reduce the incidents of high risk behavior, improve the quality of family and soldier support programs and eliminate the stigma associated with seeking and receiving help across our force of 1.1 million and beyond to include our department of the Army's civilian and family members.
If anyone's wondering Carpenter spoke about "high risk" behavior like motorcycle riding. He had an analogy he kept circling but never parked the car by.
Charley Keyes: I was wondering if you can share your own personal reaction and level of frustration as the suicide numbers became clear over the course of the year and also identify any particular installation -- maybe Fort Hood, for instance -- has taken particular steps to combat the suicides.
Gen Peter Chiarelli: What you learn when you do this over time -- it's been two years now -- is that every year there's going to be one post that has more than any other post, that's just the nature of the business and that's how we keep track. And Fort Hood was our highest post this year. And do you immediately go back and say, "Well wait a second now, we had the events of November 5, 2009 is there any link to that and what occurred?" And I can tell you of the 21 suicides we had at Fort Hood last year, we only know of one individual who was remotely uhm associated with that horrific event and that was an individual that was being seen in the emergency room for something totally different at the time that people were being brought into the emergency room. So we were watching Fort Hood very, very carefully and as the numbers started to go up at Fort Hood we were, in every single case, trying to see if there was any connection between those two events and -- or the event of the individual suicide and what happened November 2009. And there clearly wasn't.
November 2009? What's he talking about? The Fort Hood shooting. Charley Keyes brought up Fort Hood because it's had the highest number of suicides in 2010. He didn't bring up the 2009 shooting. Chiarelli did and somebody needs to tell him: Name and claim.
If you're going to talk about therapy and tools and blah, blah, blah, you damn well better be able to name and claim because while talking about the need to be upfront and address anguish and a crisis, if you yourself can't even say "the Fort Hood shooting," you've got problems and you're conveying problems to others. Charley Keyes has a write up at CNN here. He does not note the question he asked or Chiarelli's curious response.
Yesterday a suicide bombing in Tikrit resulted in at least 60 deaths with over one hundred-and-fifty more left injured. AP reports today that the death toll has risen to 65. Since The NewsHour (PBS) couldn't get the death toll accurate yesterday, possibly they will tonight? Today's big bombing in the Iraq War is in Baquba. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports a suicide bombing involving a vehicle attack on Baquba's Force Protection Services resulted in at least 13 deaths with seventy people left injured while, "south of Baquba," a suicide bomber possibly targeting Sadiq al-Husseini ("deputy head of Diyala's provincial council") injured al-Husseini and fourteen other people and claimed the lives of 2 people (in addition to the life of the suicide bomber). Independent Television News notes, "An Iraqi police training centre has been attacked by a suicide bomber driving an ambulance killing 12 people and wounding more than 50." Aseel Kami, Ahmed Rasheed, Suadad al-Salhy and Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) quoted an unidentified police officer stating, "I can see hands and legs of dead policemen sticking out from under the rubble." Ali al-Tuwaijiri (AFP) reports that the hospital notes 14 deaths and 120 injured and quotes Sumaya Sabr, "I was on my way to the market close to the building when I saw the ambulance arrive at the entrance. The guards tried to speak to the driver, and when they got close to the ambulance, it blew up. I can't remember anything else -- I woke up in the hospital." BBC News reports, "Two attackers were thought to have been involved. One stepped out of the ambulance and opened fire on guards at the entrance of the city's special security police centre before the vehicle was driven into the compound and detonated, reports said." Ned Parker and Salar Jaffe (Los Angeles Times) add that "the bomber had sped his car inside the headquarters compound of the Facilities Protection Service, a special force responsible for guarding public buildings and smaller state offices. The blast flattened the building in Baqubah, Diyala's capital."
John Leland (New York Times) notes, "The three-month gap since the last major attack, a siege on a Baghdad church that left nearly 60 people dead, demonstrates the progress made by Iraq security forces as American troops prepare to withdraw at the end of this year, said Lt. Gen. Robert W. Cone, deputy commanding general for operations of American forces in Iraq." No, it doesn't. And it's really sad if that's the best thinking the US military can offer.
First, it's not a three month gap -- don't they teach the brass how to count -- and second it's completely predicatable and you only have to look 2009's major attacks to see that pattern. How stupid is the brass or are they just lying for public consumption? And if they still can't figure it out, they can start by examining the pattern of the late summer through fall 2009 attacks. If you don't remember -- and apparently the US military doesn't . . .
You had the "Bloody Wednesday" -- Baghdad bombings (two) August 19, 2009 that claimed at least 100 lives (over 600 people wounded -- Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) sums up, "At the site of the deadliest Baghdad bombing in 18 months, Iraqi faith that their security forces could protect them lay shattered in the wreckage."). This was followed (next massive bombing) by "Bloody Sunday" -- the two Baghdad suicide bombings of October 25, 2009 which claimed at least 155 lives (over 700 injured -- Eleanor Hall (Australia's ABC's The World Today -- link has text and audio) explained, "Twin suicide bombers targeted the Iraqi Ministry of Justice all but destroying the government department's headquarters, which are just outside the high-security 'green zone' in the centre of Baghdad."). That was followed by "Bloody Tuesday" -- the December 8, 2009 multiple bombings in Baghdad which claimed at least 120 lives (over 400 injured -- Natalia Antelava (BBC News -- link has text and video) emphasizes, "All five explosions targeted symbols of this state. Not only ministries but also a university and Baghdad's Institute of Fine Arts."). Three months apart, insists Lt Gen Robert W. Cone today, "demonstrates the progess made"? No, demonstrates 2011 is not all that different from 2010. There is no progress and I'm so sorry, Lt Gen Robert W. Cone, my home edition of Let's All Play Stupid* didn't arrive in the mail yet so you'll have to play that board game all by yourself. [*Trademark and patent pending.] Or, as Jason Ditz ( puts it, "But what is clear is that despire official claims of major progress, the insurgnecy remains able to launch major attacks against security forces."
Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) also reports, "south of Baquba," a suicide bomber possibly targeting Sadiq al-Husseini ("deputy head of Diyala's provincial council") injured al-Husseini and fourteen other people and claimed the lives of 3 people (in addition to the life of the suicide bomber -- and the three were Shi'ite pilgrims). Ali al-Tuwaijri (AFP) notes this attack took place in Ghalbiyah and "Mr al Husseini was visiting with worshippers as they gathered ahead of commemorations for Arbaeen, which marks 40 days since the anniversary of the death of the revered seventh century Shiite Imam Hussein." Liz Sly (Washington Post) explains, "It was not immediately clear whether the bomber was targeting the official or the pilgrims, who are frequently attacked by Sunni extremists. Attacks on pilgrims are expected to escalate in the coming days as people set out to participate in commemorations for the Shiite religious holiday of Arbaeen next week."
In other violence . . .
Reuters notes a Mosul roadside bombing injured two civilians. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) notes a Taji bombing wounded five Sh'ite pilgrims.
Reuters notes 1 person was shot dead outside his Mosul home, police shot dead 2 Mosul bombing suspects.
Coming to Iraq? WRAL reports that an estimated 750 Fort Bragg soldiers are headed to Iraq for "a yearlong deployment." Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick is quoted stating, "The Iraqis will be the ones to determine whether we vacate or not. It's not going to be us." In addition, WMAZ reports that the Macon-based 352nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion is sending 120 reserve members to Iraq.

While the US continues sending troops to Iraq, Sweden continues forcibly deporting Iraqis.
DPA reports, "Swedish police Wednesday briefly detained 25 activists who attempted to block the entrance to an asylum centre to prevent a pending repatriation of some 20 Iraqi refugees. About 50 activists took part in the protest, police said. The Iraqi asylum seekers were taken to Stockholm's Arlanda Airport." Iraq is not safe and the United Nations has repeatedly called out forced deportations. Yesterday in Geneva, UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming stated:

UNHCR is very concerned by reports that Sweden plans to send around 25 Iraqis back to Baghdad tomorrow, Wednesday 19th January. We understand that a number of those scheduled for return belong to religious and ethnic groups targeted by violence in Iraq. They, and others slated for return, appear to have profiles that would warrant protection under the 1951 Refugee Convention or the European Union's Qualification Directive.
We are troubled that our advice, including on the situation of minorities in Iraq, is not sufficiently taken into account by Sweden when reviewing negative decisions that were made in 2008 and 2009. We believe that the recent deterioration in the situation of minorities in Iraq has not been adequately taken into account.
UNHCR has frequently appealed to states to ensure that asylum applicants originating from Iraq's central governorates of Baghdad, Diyala, Ninewa and Salah-al-Din, as well as from Kirkuk province, benefit from international protection in the form of refugee status under the 1951 Convention or another form of protection depending on the circumstances of the case. We understand that many of those being returned on Wednesday come from these areas.
Our position reflects the volatile security situation and the still high level of prevailing violence, security incidents, and human rights violations taking place in these parts of Iraq. UNHCR considers that serious – including indiscriminate – threats to life, physical integrity or freedom resulting from violence or events seriously disturbing public order are valid reasons for international protection.
UNHCR offices in Syria, Jordan and Turkey have recently registered a number of Iraqi refugees who left Iraq after they have been forcibly returned by European countries. One Christian man fled again after he narrowly escaped an attack on a church in Baghdad in October 2010, shortly after being sent back by Sweden. We are pleased that Sweden has now agreed to re-admit him.
In England on Friday, former prime minister, forever poodle and eternal War Hawk Tony Blair is set to reappear before the Iraq Inquiry to offer additional testimony after his testimony last year just didn't appear to add up. Stop the War UK is organizing protests against War Criminal Tony Blair.

Reasons to protest when Tony Blair is recalled to give evidence to the Iraq Inquiry on 21 January:

QEII Conference Centre 8am-2pm
London SW1P 3EE

(Tube Westminster or St James's
Please publicise as widely as you can
Today the Iraq Inquiry heard from Tom McKane (held the post of Deputy Head of Defense & Overseas Secretariat from 1999 to 2002) and Stephen Wall (Prime Minister's Adviser on European Issues and Head of the Cabinet Office's European Secretariat, 2000 - 2004). Before we get to an exchange from McKane's testimony, we need to note a few documents the Inquiry published today. All are PDF format. First, a letter from Alan Goulty (Director Middle East and North African Department) dated October 20, 2000 to McKane. Most important part is: "Containment, but a looser version, remains the best option for achieving our policy objectives towards Iraq. International support is vital if this is to be sustained. SCR 1284 delivered the balanced package envisaged in the May 1999 DOP paper. Need for some tactical adjustments to make policy sustainable in the medium term."
SCR 1284 is United Nations Security Council Resolution 1284. Of the five permanent Security Council members, only the US and England voted for it. (France, Russia and China chose not to vote. Had any one of them voted against it, it would not have passed.) This turns weapons monitoring duties over to the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission. Previously, United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) had done the monitoring. (In March of 1999, Barton Gellman reported for the Washington Post that "United States intelligence services infiltrated agents and espionage equipment" in UNSCOM.) The October 20, 2000 letter from Alan Goulty notes that international support for SCR 1284 is weakening but calls it "the best means of pursuing our policy objectives" and insists "It would get us off the hook of responsibility for the humanitarian situation. It provides Iraq -- and us -- with an exit route out of sanctions. But its shelf life is limited. If there is no progress by next summer, SCR 1284 is likely to lose credibility, lending to growing pressure for a change of approach." The British government -- as evidenced by the letter -- assumed that whomever emerged as the Oval Office occupant in 2001 (Al Gore or George W. Bush), it wouldn't make a difference and the US would maintain a hard position against Iraq:
Most commentators (inside and outside the Administration) point out that either a Gore or a Bush Administration could be expected to be 'tougher' on Iraq. Bush's team includes noted hawks, and Gore (with [Leon] Fureth, his National Security Adviser) has consistently been at the harder end of the spectrum within the Clinton Administration. But neither has come up with specific policy directions. Bush attacks Clinton/Gore for failing to get rid of Saddam for eight years, but under the rhetoric, he goes no further than Clinton's stated red lines for military action, and he has avoided endorsing the "rollback" (regime change) philosophy of some of his advisers. Gore has made a big show of backing the Iraqi Opposition, but has also stressed continued containment, along the lines pursued by the current Administration.
Regardless of who wins, the letter cautions, "We cannot wait until the new Administration beds down to tackle them on Iraq policy. We need to get in early, before they make too many public policy statements from which it would be difficult to draw back, and be prepared to press them hard." Why? International support is waning, "sanction busting" is increasing.
February 15, 2001, McKane wrote John Sawers and noted, among other things, that sanctions were in danger of losing support because "there is an increasing sense that economic sanctions are unfair to the Iraqi people, ineffective as a means of pressuring the regime, and indeed counter-productive because Saddam and his cronies benefit disproportionately from the smuggling which undermines the sanctions." Now from today's hearing.
Committee Member Martin Gilbert: In February 2001 on the eve of the first meeting between the Prime Minister and the newly elected President Bush you were asked to produce a note by officials to highlight the key issues.
Tom McKane: Yes.
Committee Member Martin Gilbert: That were going to be settled in the course of the review of Iraq policy in order to basically inform the Prime Minister for the meeting. That note has been published today. Can you tell us who contributed to.
Tom McKane: It was the same group of people who had been engaged in the discussions on the Foreign Office's draft paper the previous autumn. So it would have been pulled together and coordinated in the Secretariat, but it would have included contributions from the Foreign Office and from the Ministry of Defence principally, but others would have seen the draft, other departments around Whitehall.
Committee Member Martin Gilbert: Were suggestions being put forward by Number 10?
Tom McKane: there was a sense in Number 10 I think that the official machine was running too much along well-worn tracks and that it needed a bit of a jolt, that, you know, there was -- that the way the options had been reviewed in the first draft of the paper looked too much like a regurgitation of what we'd been doing up until then. So the paper was sharpened up at the request of Number 10, although my memory is that they were not the only people who thought the first draft was deficient, and it was quite frequent in that job to find quite a lot of comopetitive drafting going on, departments offering their version of the paper that you were trying to produce. That was a perfectly normal part of the way we did our business, but the end result, which I suppose is then encapsulated in the 7th March note, still is focusing on a policy of containment, not a policy of regime change.
And he keeps insisting that throughout his testimony. However, they knew sanctions were "increasingly" unpopular as was the UN Security Council resolution and they knew the No-Fly Zones patrols were also unpopular (one plan was to suggest to the US that British military fly them only) so for all of his talk about regime change not being a policy, you see that they are walling themselves off -- intentionally or not -- from maintaining what they had and, as for what replaces, it, they really only see war. That's most obvious in the sections of the February 20, 2010 letter which are edited out but indicate that, for example, to remove Saddam Hussein from Kuwait would require war and, specifically, the military of a neighbouring country (the country is whited out).
New developments also emerged (in the press, not from the Inquiry) on the private correspondence of Bush and Blair. From yesterday's snapshot:
Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) reports, "Britain's top civil servant, Sir Gus O'Donnell, is preventing the official inquiry into the Iraq invasion from publishing notes sent by Tony Blair to George W Bush -- evidence described by the inquiry as of 'central importance' in establishing the circumstances that led to war. O'Donnell, the cabinet secretary, consulted Blair before suppressing the documents, it emerged tonight." John Chilcot is the Chair of the Iraq Inquiry and, in his opening statement at today's session, he commented on the efforts to keep things from the public: [. . .]
Rosa Prince (Telegraph of London) notes today that the letters are quoted in recent books by Alastair Campbell (his published diary) and Jonathan Powell and she notes: "Sir Menzies Campbell, the former Liberal Democrat leader, criticised the ban. He said: 'It is a bit thick that Mr Blair and Mr Bush have been able to draw on these documents for their own memoirs and to be entirely selective in the use to which they have put them'." Rosa Prince goes on to demonstrate just how much Bush and Blair have quoted from the (private) letters in their books.
Moving to the US, on Antiwar Radio, Scott Horton spoke with John V. Walsh and we'll note this section (we're editing Horton's use of term because we don't allow any deity's name to be used in vain):
Scott Horton: And it really is just amazing how you can have Barack Obama who we all know for a fact with no exceptions -- every single one of us knows -- that this guy kills people every day. And then he can go and give this speech and cry all of these crocidile tears about "Oh my G**! An employee of the State was on the receiving end of some violence one day." And according to all the polls and TV and the newspapers and whatever this has really done good for him and given him a bump in the polls and he needs to exploit this tragedy the way Bill Clinton did the Oklahoma City bombing, a Democratic strategist told the Politico. And apparently it's working. In fact -- I'll say one more thing before I turn it back over to you, John -- I only heard a small bit of Obama's speech in Arizona. And the small bit I heard, all I heard from him was blah, blah, blah, whatever. But what was interesting to me was the audience. They were whooping and cheering and whistling and celebrating and clapping and acting like it was a campaign appearance. "Oh my G**! There he is in real life!" Like he's a TV star or whatever. And here he is trying to eulogize the dead and exploit this tragedy and they're sitting there like literally whistling and yelling "WOO!" and things at him.
John V. Walsh: Well actually, I would also say that in the antiwar sentiment that we see on the left and the right, I have been impressed that there is much -- if I read the or the Future Freedom Foundation or Lew Rockwell, there's much more concern about the loss of human life in war than I see very often on the left, I'm sad to say. Because very often the left is talking about the cost of the war and how we could have more if only we weren't killing people over there. But that's true. We're a pretty wealthy country to begin with, that's true. But it certainly is not as important -- important though it may be -- as the loss of innocent life, the loss of life in general. Probably a million in Iraq alone. Certainly hundreds of thousands, there's no question about it. And people displaced by the millions -- four million in Iraq. Who knows what is going on? So there has to be some morality and concern for life attached to this. And it's kind of outside the discourse of the mainstream media. And it really almost has to be if we're going to continuing waging war because too much attention on that is going to distrub the average person. And so it's almost that we've fallen into a culture of -of irreverance for human life. It almost follows from having an empire. And that's very sad, it's of our own doing. Actually, in the Boston area, there's a syndicated NPR program called On Point and it's a talk show and you know, they have been, the host Tom Ashbrook, has been over -- all over this [Tuscon] story and the concern about guns and the Congresswoman's life. Yes, all of that is terrible. But it took him, I think, until something like 2006 before he ever had on his program anybody who was against the war.
Scott Horton: Huh.
John V. Walsh: He had experts that were for it in various ways. But not until well after there was a majority against the war did you ever one voice. And you rarelyl hear it anymore.
Scott Horton: Welcome back to the show. This is Antiwar Radio. We're talking with John V. Walsh of CounterPunch and about the permanent crisis and, I guess, the partisanship that is at the root of why we can't seem to get anything about it done. I mean, you think back, John, to the antiwar, anti-Bush rhetoric of the last decade and it wasn't just, "Well geez, we don't like this guy because he pretends to be a hick even though he's from Connecticut and we want power, not him." The criticism was that he's tapping our phones, he's murdering people, he tells lies all day, he's spending way too much money and breaking the dollar and real criticism. Yet when Barack Obama does all of these exact same things -- including killing kids like, I don't know, right this minute -- "Oh, no, we still love him. We woop and cheer and whistle." Just like the idiots who loved George Bush.
John V. Walsh: Yes. Well, you know, actually that brings me to another thing I wanted to mention while I was here. And that is one of the guarantees to make sure that this does not become a partisan issue -- that backing Obama or backing Bush or whatever -- doesn't take precedence over opposing war is to have -- as has been pushing for for a long time -- is to have a right-left coalition against war. And I just wanted to mention, I don't know if you've had this on yet or not, but you know that a year ago there was the conference in Washington, DC. There were about 40 of us, people who write and talk and do some organizing with respect to war -- to oppose war. And we came from left and right and there is now a book out called Come Home America and it's a book of essays from the people who participated from the left and from the right. I have a piece in there. Justin Raimondo has a piece in there. Ralph Nader has a piece in there. The editor of The Nation who was not as enthusiastic as the people on the right about this project but nevertheless she came. And the editor of the
American Conservative and so on and so on.
Scott Horton: Is David Beito's piece in there?
John V. Walsh: I'm not, I don't recall. [C.I. note, Beito's piece is on the American Anti-Imperalist League and it is in the book.]
John V. Walsh: I need to get a copy of that book soon.
John V. Walsh: It is available. And if people want to get it you can find it -- well, you can find it on Amazon. But I would recommend you buy it from another source.

Scott Horton: Right. Agreed.
John V. Walsh: But if you write the -- it's a little tricky to get the title. It's Come Home America all one word or if you write it in three words it's Come Home America.US. And there are the rationales and the ideas of people who want to do this and I think it's right-on. There are people who blame Bush -- and I would say that's -- antiwar people who blame Bush and cannot bring themselves to utter a word against Obama. Or if they do, it is so gentle and so muted and so in the vein of "Well he really means well, he just can't do anything about it." Which is baloney. He has the power to stop the conflict at once. Just like Dwight Eisenhower had the power to stop the Korean War and was elected to do that and did it.
Scott Horton: Right.
John V. Walsh: So you can't say -- which, by the way, was the first undeclared [by Congress] war -- you can't say it is impossible. It is quite possible and, as a matter of fact, that was the reason that a lot of people -- not myself because I never believed it -- went out and worked for Obama because they thought they would get peace.
ComeHomeAmerica features many essays including one by Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan. It came out at the end of 2010, don't accidentally confuse it with Will Grider's 2009 book Come Home, America. For more from John V. Walsh on the topic you can refer to his "Sarah Palin's Cross Hairs -- and Obama's."
MFSO has partnered with Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) and other ally organizations for a weekend of actions, training, and lobbying in Washington DC to mark the 8th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Join us and make your voice heard!
A brief overview of the schedule....
  • Saturday, March 19th - actions to mark the anniversary of the Iraq War, TBD
  • Sunday, March 20th - MFSO meet-up and issue-area trainings
  • Monday, March 21st - lobbying, media, and organizing trainings
  • Tuesday, March 22nd - opportunity for lobby visits, and we will be delivering 20,000 postcards to members of Congress with the message "Bring our troops & tax dollars home!"
Some logistical info (more details coming soon)...
  • Housing - we are working to find homestays and affordable housing for as many Military Families and Gold Star Families as possible. Please indicate below if you need housing, can offer housing in DC, or already have a place to stay.
  • Travel - Please indicate below if you need financial assistance to get to DC. We will have limited scholarships available for Military Families and Gold Star Families.
  • Trainings - the trainings are being organized by FCNL for a small fee of $20 (this price includes lunch and refreshments on Sunday and Monday)
Using the link will allow you to find more information and also to sign up if you'd like to.