Friday, November 24, 2006

Robert Parry, Iraq

Day after Thanksgiving. If you celebrated, I hope you had enough to eat and people you cared about with you. Holidays can be rough and sometimes other people don't even notice that they are rough. I was all over the place Thursday morning, running errands, carrying things into the house, helping Dad set up in the backyard and probably a hundred other things. It wasn't until we were sitting down to eat that I even knew what Elaine wrote about in "Thanksgiving" was going on. I'd love to tell you I took care of it, but I was on my way out to talk to Elaine. While I was outside, Ma took care of it. Like Elaine says, no one was trying to be mean or rude, but sometimes (me talking) people don't have to try to be those things. I'm glad she wrote about and I know Ma's writing about it this weekend too. I do bet that happened to others as well. When you get a lot of people together, you really need to pay attention and I didn't. Yeah, I was helping to unload cars and all that stuff but I should have been paying attention.

It's one of those things you realize after the fact. I've apologized for not noticing it while it was going on and I bet a lot of people feel bad about not noticing it. If you're like me, we can either beat ourselves up or learn from it. So I'm going to try to learn from it.

Know what else we can learn from? The past. And Robert Parry's not throwing in the towel. He continues to explain why Robert Gates is a bad choice for Secretary of Defense, I hope people are paying attention. Here's a bit of his latest called "Gates & the Iran Arms Sales:"

In November 1987, as the Reagan administration was still scrambling to contain the Iran-Contra scandal, then-deputy CIA director Robert M. Gates denied that the spy agency had soft-pedaled intelligence about Iran’s support for terrorism to clear the way for secret U.S. arms shipments to the Islamic regime.
"Only one or two analysts believed Iranian support for terrorism was waning," Gates wrote in articles that appeared in the Washington Post and Foreign Affairs magazine. "And no CIA publication asserted these things."
However, a month earlier, an internal CIA review had found three reports from Nov. 22, 1985, to May 15, 1986, claiming that Iranian-sponsored terrorism had declined, according to a sworn statement from veteran CIA analyst Ray McGovern, who prepared the review for senior officials in the Directorate of Intelligence [DI].
"My findings uncovered an unexplained discontinuity," McGovern's affidavit said. "To wit on 22 November 1985, in an abrupt departure from the longstanding analytical line on Iranian support for terrorism, DI publications began to assert that Iranian-sponsored terrorism had 'dropped off substantially' in 1985. I recall being particularly struck by the fact that no evidence was adduced to support that important judgment.
"This new line was repeated in at least two additional DI publications, the last of which appeared on 15 May 1986. Again, no supporting evidence was cited. After May 1986, the analytical line changed, just as abruptly, back to the line that had characterized DI reporting on this subject up to November 1985 (with no mention of any substantial drop or other reduction in Iranian support for terrorist activity)."
The timing of CIA's dubious reporting in 1985 about a decline in Iranian-backed terrorism is significant because the Reagan administration was then in the midst of secret Israeli-brokered arms shipments of U.S. weapons to Iran.
The shipments not only were politically sensitive, but also violated federal export laws -- in part because Iran was officially designated a terrorist state. So, playing down Iran’s hand in terrorism worked for the White House whether supported by the facts or not.
At that time, Gates was deputy director in charge of the DI, putting him in a key bureaucratic position as the CIA worked to justify geopolitical openings to Iran. Even earlier, in spring 1985, Gates had overseen the production of a controversial National Intelligence Estimate that had warned of Soviet inroads in Iran and conjured up supposed moderates in the Iranian government.
That Gates, two years later, would make exculpatory claims about the CIA's reporting -- assertions contradicted by an internal DI report -- suggests that he remained more interested in protecting the Reagan administration’s flanks than being straight with the American public.

It does matter. But we're all supposed to toss in the towel and act like it's not important. I guess that's more of that sort of 'we won because voters wanted a change but we prefer to ignore that and play patty cakes with the Republicans.'

Carrie e-mailed about the guest post last week, "Ty, Jess and Ava filling in for Elaine," where Ava explained why she wondered if it was me and Wally that were the couple. Carrie wanted to know if I really wasn't offended? I really wasn't. In fact, while Wally was staying here this summer, we joked about doing a post about being lovers and then, at the end, noting I was with Elaine. Elaine didn't want to make a big deal about announcing it and also wanted to be sure not to make Nina uncomfortable. So me and Wally were going to do this whole thing about how we were lovers and argue about who Brokeback whose Mountain! :D, then, at the end of the post, say, "Fooled ya!" :D

But like, Ty's a good friend and he's gay and I don't think there's anything insulting about it. I did get a lot of e-mails about it and a number of people were all, "How dare Ava think that about you!" It wasn't supposed to be an insult. I'm glad people cared about my feelings, but it wasn't an insult and I wasn't insulted.

Time to wind down, here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, November 24, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, over 200 die in Baghdad on Thursday, war resister John A. Rogowskyj Jr. finds that the US military feels no obligation to follow even their own written policy, Bully Boy's meet up in Jordan comes under attack, and is Nouri al-Maliki on the way out?
Starting with resistance within the US military. Conscientious objector John A. Rogowskyj Jr. was deployed to Iraq at the start of this month. The twenty-two-year-old Marine was deployed, as the Associated Press notes, after a Marine captain recommended he be discharged, after a major said he couldn't serve in compbat duty in June, because a D.V. Odell Jr. ("commander of the Fourth Marine Division") doesn't seem to grasp what a c.o. is the policy that the US military has on them. The AP notes that Odell, a major general, found Rogowskyj to be "theologically confused and [he] does not reflect any officially recognized faith group."
Take that, America's fore fathers. The slow witted Odell Junior might also make some time to check out "Selective Service System: Fast Facts" which notes: "Beliefs which qualify a registrant for CO status may be religious in nature, but don't have to be. Beliefs may be moral or ethical; however, a man's reasons for not wanting to participate in a war must not be based on politics, expediency, or self-interest." By the military's own guidelines, Odell Junior's statements are not only insulting but ignorant. "May be religious in nature, but don't have to be." Rogowskyj was deployed as a result of Odell Junior's failure to grasp the policies the military has set in place. There ought to be disciplinary actions for Odell (busted back down to a New Orleans post?). More likely, everyone will play stupid (well the tone is set from the Oval Office).
Edward Colimore (Philadelphia Inquirer) reports that Rogowskyj declares in the court papers: "I see now that I must separate from the military with all due haste, or suffer without the forgiveness of grace, for defying the truth that I see plainly before me, that violence as a means or end cannot be tolerated."
To repeat for the slow witted Odell Junior, who not only fails to grasp the freedom of religion clause in the Constitution but also fails to grasp official military policy, Rogowkyj need not belong to any church or faith, need not subscribe to Odell Junior's notions of 'old time religion,' in order to be granted c.o. status.Rogowskyj signed up for the reserves in 2002 thinking he would be helping stateside during national emergencies.
In Iraq, yesterday the violence prompted ABC to break in to their daytime lineup with a breaking news announcement by Elizabeth Vargas on what is being called the most deadly attack in Iraq since the illegal war began. For which ABC got the usual number of complaints, though nothing like the concerned and outraged comments they received in 2003 when they broke in to announce that Bully Boy was carrying a fake turkey around a base in Iraq.
Kirk Semple (New York Times) reports that 144 people were killed. That number is incorrect today and was wrong yesterday as well when AFP reported that 152 were already dead. Today, All Headline News reports that the death toll is now 202, that at least 250 more are injured with doctors not expecting all to live and that "Officials said that the death toll could rise, as body parts and bodies are dispersed throughout the city and could not be counted." The BBC reports that "at least three" car bombs were used in the cooridnated attacks on Thursday followed by mortar rounds and quotes photo journalist Kareem al-Rubaie on witnessing the violence, "I saw a car from a wedding party, covered in ribbons and flowers. It was burning. There were pools of blood on the street and children dead on the ground." Reuters places the number of bombs at six. CNN reported Thursday: "Thursday's attacks, launched within the course of half an hour, were part of a spasm of violence that shook two Baghdad bastions of support for anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr -- the Sadr City slum in the Iraqi capital's northeast and the Health Ministry compound, controlled by the cleric's political movement."
The BBC reports that Baghdad is now under curfew and the Baghdad Airport has been closed. Reuters states that all vehicle traffic is banned in Baghdad for Saturday as well. AFP adds that the airport in Basra has been closed as well as well as "its southern seaports."
The 202 dead and counting from Thursday's attack surpasses the previous reported most violent day in Iraq. The BBC notes September 14, 2005 as a day when there were 182 reported deaths in Baghdad.
As if the violence on Thursday wasn't bad enough, rumors floated that Dick Cheney was in Iraq on Thursday. CBS and AP report that the White House denies those rumors. Current rumor is that Cheney was supposed to be in Baghdad and the press would be alerted after landing; however, the violence on Thursday resulted in the trip being cancelled.
Press reports continue to caution that Iraq might be on the brink of civil war which leaves one wondering how they might have reported Sherman's March to the Sea?The violence and chaos continued today.
CBS and AP report that a mortar attack was launched at the Association of Muslim Scholars in Baghdad leaving four guards injured. This is seen as a retaliation for Thursday's attack as are the multiple attacks, noted by Al Jazeera, in the Hurriay district of Baghdad that targeted "four Sunni Mosques with rocket-propelled grenades" and claimed the lives of at least thirty. Reuters reports one dead and two wounded from mortar attacks in Diwaniya and the bombing of "an office of radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's . . . in . . . Baquba". CNN reports that a man set off a bomb "strapped to his body" and one in his car in a parking lot in Tal Afar and killed at least 22 people while wounding 30 more.
Reuters reports that at least two funeral goers are wounded in Baghdad after a US helicopter fired on a funeral.
Reuters reports that thirty corpses were discovered in Baghdad while three were discovered in Mosul. Reporting on Wednesday's UN report, Sabrina Tavernise (New York Times) noted that, in the September and October period studied by the UN, "Sixty-five percent of all deaths in Baghdad were categorized as unindentified corpses, the signature of militias, who kidnap, kill and throw away bodies at a rate that now outstrips the slaughter inflicted by suicide bombers."They do so even when the capitol is under 'curfew' (and the never ending 'crackdown').
In addition, AP reports: "Militiamen grabbed six Sunnis as they left Friday worship services, doused them with kerosene and burned them alive as Iraqi soldiers stood by, and seven Sunni mosques came under attack as Shiites took revenge for the slaughter of 215 people in the Sadr City slum."
The BBC reports the death of a British solider in Basra and notes that 126 British soldiers have been killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war. The British military announces: "The soldier sustained gunshot wounds during the operation and was evacuated to a nearby military hospital. Despite the best possible medical care, the soldier later died from his injuries. The soldier was a member of the Parachute Regiment, on secondment to Headquarters Multinational Division South East, Iraq."
Thursday's attacks and today's is having ripple effects in Iraq that go beyond bombs and bullets.
Tuesday, Charles Wolfson (CBS) reported on next week's planned meet up in Jordan between Bully Boy and puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki. The meet up was quickly announced following the announcement of al-Maliki going to Tehran for a Saturday meeting with the presidents of Iran and Syria. The meet up with the Bully Boy is now in question.
CNN reports that, today, "Muqtada al-Sadr's bloc threatened to withdraw support for Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki should he meet President Bush as planned next week" and quotes spokesperson Salih al-Aleiki stating: "We announce that if the security situation and the basic services do not improve, and if the prime minister goes ahead and meets with the criminal Bush in Amman, then we will suspend our memberships with the Iraqi parliament and the government." As Robin Stringer (Bloomberg News) notes, it's not an idle threat: "The United Iraqi Alliance, a coalition of Shiite political parties, won 128 of the 275 seats in the Iraqi parliament in December's elections." Should the al-Sadr block withdraw their support, the United Iraqi Alliance would fall from a 128 member bloc to a 98 member one. That's on the condition that all 98 remain behind al-Maliki -- should he find new support his bloc could increase. The second largest bloc, with 53 members, is the Democratic Patriotic Alliance of Kurdistan which successfully backed (with US support) Jalal Talabani for president of Iraq.
The above follows on the heels of Tom Hayden's report (for Common Dreams) that the US is putting out feelers for new governing officials in Iraq which could include the disposing of al-Maliki.

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