Thursday, June 08, 2006

Ehren Watada & violence continues in Iraq

First, thank you to Nina. Isn't she the best? I didn't even ask her to cross post my post from last night. She didn't even toot her own horn and tell me that she'd done it. I heard about it from Tony. So thank you to my girlfriend who actually spoke to you enough to say "Hi." :D I thought that was so cute. (She wrote: "'Hi'" to everybody.) She's really not shy face to face. She's outspoken and will speak her mind in class, anywhere. She even put things in italics for the snapshot. I don't bother with that. :D

So it's Thursday and I'm typing this outside of Blogger to copy and paste (hopefully).

Blogger/Blogspot is still screwy. It has been for most of the day. Kat called and said she tried to post at noon because she wanted to weigh in on a few things. It took forever for her to log into her site. Then when she clicked on "create entry," she got taken to "Page cannot be displayed." Then she tried again every hour on the hour.

I had just gotten out of class when she called and she said she was thinking I was already out of class so she was glad she waited. But she wanted to give me a heads up that Blogger still hadn't fixed their problem so I didn't lose a post. She'd already called Rebecca and said I was supposed to call.

I did and Rebecca said if Blogger's not working by nine p.m. (our time, hers and mine, we're in the same time zone) then she wasn't posting tonight. I'm posting. It may only go up at the mirror site for The Common Ills, but I'll post. Hopefully, no one will give me any grief if I'm only able to post there. (Thanks to C.I. for letting me post there. But, as was pointed out to me, we were all given the code so we could cross post anytime we wanted.) I got some e-mails from European members who really do prefer the mirror site and were glad to have "new content." (They were also glad C.I.'s carried the Iraq snapshot over there each day.)

So let's do Democracy Now!

US Troops Accused of New Civilian Killings
Meanwhile in Iraq, US troops are being accused of a new round of killings of Iraqi civilians. On Wednesday, the Iraqi Islamic Party, Iraq's main Sunni group, said it had evidence US troops killed more than two dozen Iraqis in incidents last month. According to the group, the most deadly attack occurred in a house in Yusifiyah south of Baghdad -- killing 13 people, including women and children.

Will anyone pay attention to this now? Probably not cause we got to stay with Operation Happy Talk. It's nonsense and C.I. called it at the start of today.

Instead of a second headline, I want to note a story.

Army Lieutenant Becomes First Commissioned Officer to Refuse Deployment to Iraq
For the first time since the start of the war, a commissioned officer is refusing deployment to fight in Iraq. On Wednesday U.S. Army 1st Lieutenant Ehren Watada announced his intention to disobey what he says are illegal orders to deploy to Iraq. We speak with 1st Lieutenant Watada and his lawyer, Legrand Jones.

This is an important story and we discussed it in my study group this afternoon. Everybody felt it should be big news like C.I.'s wrote this morning. Nina printed it up and brought it for discussion. There are two people who are for the war, everyone else is against it.

But everyone agreed this is news. The two for the war felt it was something Watada should be ashamed of and that it was news. The rest of us felt it was news because someone was saying no.

But we don't get that in the paper and we don't really get the news at a lot of websites.

We get a lot of junk, a lot of gossip and really very little that matters.

When Amy Goodman interviewed him, he said, "Probably the maximum penalty I face, when I refuse orders to board the plane to go to Iraq, would be anywhere from two to five years, maybe more, in a military stockade. Dishonorable discharge and loss of all pay and allowances. There could be other punishment."

This is news, even if a lot of people want to waste their time and your's by focusing on nonsense.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

al-Zarqawi is dead. Maybe. As **Sandra Lupien noted**, this is the second "death" of al-Zarqawi, according to the US government ("Earlier this year the military thought it had killed Zarqawi in another operation but later announced it had been mistaken."). Also noted by Goodman was Thomas E. Ricks "Military Plays Up Role of Zarqawi: Jordian Painted As Foreign Threat To Iraq's Stability" (Washington Post). In that article, Ricks wrote of "a propaganda campaign" run by the US military "to magnify the role of the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq." Andrew Marshall (Reuters) notes that "the Zarqawi myth" was fed by "U.S. forces" despite the fact that "[m]ost experts believe his foreign fighters make up only a fraction of the insurgency". The Financial Times of London is calling it "one of the biggest propaganda coup's for the US since the capture of Saddam Hussein in 2003."Brian Whitaker (Guardian of London) notes the build up "by the US and sections of the media . . . [to turn al-Zarqawi] into the main bogeyman, but the war, or civil war as it is increaingly regarded, has a momentum of its own." Whitaker goes on to note the daily deaths of "[d]ozens of ordinary people" in Iraq including the targeting of ice vendors. Jonathan Wright (Reuters) reports that news of the death has resulted "in deep splits on Thursday" among Arabs outside of Iraq and quotes Arab analysts including Diaa Rashwan ("expert on Islamist groups at the al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo") saying, "Zarqawi in recent times did not represent an important element in violent operations on the ground in Iraq. Other groups which are not extreme, resistance groups not terrorist groups, have grown in strength."
The military strike which may or may not have killed al-Zarqawi involved "[
t]wo F-16 warplanes [which] dropped two 500-pound bombs" on the area (China's People Daily). Reuters' Hilmy Kamal reports from that area and is told by a teenager there, "The Americans have a habit of bombing places and then claiming Zarqawi or others were there." Kamal notes that residents are "sceptical" of the claim that al-Zarqawi was there. On KPFA's The Morning Show, Sandra Lupien noted that the US military "called the operation a precision airstrike," that a woman and child died in the attack and that among the rubble/ruins of the attack were "a child's sandal" and "a backpack with a teddy bear on it." The Financial Times notes that "Television pictures of the site of the raid on the village of Hibhib showed an extensive area of destruction and a US Centcom official confirmed to al-Jazeera television that not all the casualties inflicted during the raid were inside the house targetted." KUNA reports that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was asked about the reported killing in terms of whether or not it would be a violation of the Geneva Convention and he responded he didn't think so, "if indeed he is the one who has been killed, has been at war, in a fight. I don't think you can equate it to targeted assassinations of the kind we have seen elsewhere."
Brian Conley notes that Al Jazeera was attempting to interview Zarqawi's brother in law Abu Qudama but the interview was stopped, Abu Qudama "was arrested by Jordanian police. Just before he was arrested he was denouncing members of the press for not always speaking truth about his brother-in-law, making him into an evil man, and not just a fighter for god." Conley notes that "at least one Al-Jazeera correspondent" was arrested as well.
the BBC reports that two posts have been filled in occupation puppet and Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki. Actually, three posts were (finally) filled as the Guardian reports: "General Abdul-Qadre Mohammed Jassim, a Sunni Arab, . . . named as the new defence minister . . . Jawad al-Bolani named as the interior minister and Sherwan al-Waili as national security minister" (both al-Bolani and al-Waili are "Shia Muslims"). This comes after many missed deadlines that al-Maliki set for himself as well as seventeen days after the constitutional deadline of May 22nd.
Associated Press reports on the bombs in the Baghadad that killed "at least 19 people . . . wounding more than 40." The bombs went off at in a section known as New Baghdad. Ignoring this and other realities allows Sally Buzbee (Associated Press) to declare Thursday "good news Thursday" indicating that possibly she's auditioning for a TV chat gig since such a statement has little resemblance to reporting. (In one of her most non-reporting remarks, she concludes of al-Maliki: "Thursday's events just made clear he's bound and determined to jump in and try." Well Yippee-ki-yay, Cowgirl!)
What Iraq was she speaking of? Along with the bombing noted already,
Reuters reports thirteen were wounded from a bomb "planted inside a building" in Baghdad, that four corpses were discovered, that police announced today that (yesterday) Ahmed Kurdi ("judge of Dujail court") had been kidnapped . . . Fredrik Dahl (Reuters) reports that: "Gunmen shot and seriously wounded a senior Defence Ministry official . . . General Khalil al-Ibadi, in charge of food supplies for the armed forces, and his driver . . ."
This as the
BBC reports that the British Ministry of Defence is investigating the death of a thirteen-year-old boy. As noted yesterday, "The Associated Press reports that British soldiers fired on civilians and did so because 100 people (presumably adults) were stoning them, Iraqi police say that the "people" were children and that a thirteen-year-old boy was killed and a twelve-year-old girl was wounded." A spokesman acknowledges to the BBC that they "are aware of reports that a 13-year-old has been killed" and states that British troops "reported that two teenage boys had been hit."
Terri Judd reports on the continued deterioration for women in Iraq. Noting that Iraq was "once the envy of women across the Middle East," Judd offers a look at the new realities which include women's heads being forcibly shaved after they refuse to "refuse to wear a scarf," being "stoned in the street for wearing make-up," being nothing but tokens who make up "25 per cent of Iraq's Provincial Council" . . . On the last item, Judd notes that women's faces are "blacked out" with the slogan "No women in politics" on "[p]osters around the city" and that women serving on the council have been told "you don't know anything" so "they just agreed to sign whatever they were told."