Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tom Hayden, Michael Ratner, Iraq

Tuesday and I'm not good with PST time. Blogger/Blogspot has a message about an outage tonight. Since they know my time zone (Eastern), seems like they could save me the trouble of the math. But I'm going to rush for this post, don't expect a whole lot.

C.I. mentions this in the snapshot but I wanted to give a bigger taste of it, this is from Tom Hayden's "Anti-war movement deserves some credit Some call it marginal, but organized push swayed world opinion:"

Although rarely credited, the anti-war movement has been a major factor in mobilizing a majority of the American public to oppose the occupation and killing in Iraq.
To many observers, the movement seems feckless and marginal, its rallies an incoherent bazaar of radical sloganeering. Yet according to Gallup surveys, a majority of Americans came to view Iraq as a mistake more rapidly than they came to oppose the Vietnam War more than three decades ago. So how could there be a peace majority without a peace movement?
Foreign Affairs, the journal of the foreign policy establishment, wondered about this riddle in a 2005 essay by John Mueller reporting a precipitous decline in public support for the war even though "there has not been much" of a peace movement.
In January, when congressional opinion was shifting against the war, a Washington Post analysis made eight references to "public opinion," as if it were a magical floating balloon, without any mention of organized lobbying, petitioning, protests or marches. That was consistent with a pattern beginning before the invasion, when both the New York Times and National Public Radio reported that few people attended an October 2002 rally in Washington, only to admit a week later that 100,000 had been in the streets.

It's not credited and it's not covered. He's right that the shift didn't happen on its own. It really didn't happen with reporting. This came from all of us doing the work in our cities and towns.
We can do that with the war resisters in the military too. That's why it's important to be your own media in your circle.

Calvin e-mailed about John Murtha being mentioned yesterday. He wondered why I wouldn't be all, "Well what's wrong with him?" Who cares? Seriously. I have a limited amount of time. I can get all bogged down with this Congress member or that one, or I can focus on the stuff that I think matters. For all I know, Murtha's been in Congress longer than I've been alive. I wasn't interested in covering him. He came up once and C.I. made comments that told me there was no point in getting on the bandwagon others were creating for him. So I used my time to focus on more important stuff.

When time's limited, you have to go with what you care about. I'm trying to focus on the war. And I know it makes a difference not just with Friday's study group but also with people on campus. For over a year now, one guy's been listening when we're having conversations about Iraq on campus. He never had anything much to say. Now he's usually got some news of something that just happened in Iraq. So it's important to get the word out but while you're doing that, you're also helping to create interest.

I have no idea what stuff Tony, Chad and me were talking about (it's usually us three getting together on campus) that caught this other guy's attention but I know it wasn't me giving a history lesson on John Murtha.

So we all do what we can. If Calvin's interested in John Murtha, like I said yesterday, listen to Law and Disorder because Anthony Arnove breaks it down real clear. I'll probably talk about the episode more this week but not tonight. There may not be enough time and I've also got something by one of the show's co-hosts that I want put up here. This is from "The War Crimes Case Against Rumsfeld" and it's an interview with Michael Ratner about the lawsuit against Donald Rumsfeld and others in the administration:

Question: Let's begin with the nature of this complaint and what it's designed to accomplish. Rumsfeld is a major focus, but the lawsuit seems to go well beyond him in its scope and intentions.
Michael Ratner: Well, European countries have a way of going after people in criminal cases that we're not familiar with in the U.S. They have a procedure where human rights groups and others, as well as the victims themselves, can go and ask a prosecutor to investigate someone for criminal liability. In the U.S., of course, you can knock on a prosecutor's door but then he shuts it in your face and it's all over. In Germany and other European countries, if the prosecutor shuts the door in your face you can go to court and the prosecutor must have a valid reason for not investigating. So that's a big difference. Germany also has a law, like some other European countries are beginning to have, that says certain crimes are subject to prosecution no matter where in the world they're committed, and even if there's no connection between that particular country and the alleged crime. And certain crimes are considered so serious and so heinous that every country is considered to have an interest in prosecuting them. One of those crimes involves violation of the Geneva Conventions. And these countries have universal jurisdiction, which means they can prosecute the person no matter where he or she committed the war crimes. Germany has very good law on that, and that's why we decided to go there to try to get an investigation of the key U.S. government officials who were involved in setting up and implementing what I call the torture program in the U.S. post-9/11.
Normally, you would stay in the U.S. to do that if you could, but of course there's now a complete block here. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is on one side as the person who would have to prosecute people criminally, but he's deeply involved himself in the torture program. And on the other side there's Rumsfeld, who has resigned but is still in office at this time and is also deeply involved in the torture program. And Congress has done nothing, with neither Republicans nor Democrats issuing a complaint about this. There's also Bush, who's insisting he wants to continue to have the right to use torture. And my view, and the view of the others who have filed this complaint, is that you must have accountability on the part of those in this country who have supported torture. We still have a torture program in place and we have to do something about it.
Question: Who, exactly, are the plaintiffs and defendants in this case?
Michael Ratner: We decided to go after people high up in the chain of command, led by Donald Rumsfeld. In regard to Rumsfeld himself, we're alleging that he committed war crimes by approving various interrogation techniques. That's what he and the others call them, interrogation techniques, but they're really torture techniques--everything from stress positions, stripping, sexual humiliation, dogs, hypothermia, sleep deprivation, etc. And we have Rumsfeld approving, essentially, using these techniques, in his own handwriting. Rumsfeld has been involved, clearly, with Guantánamo and Iraq, as well as Baghram prison in Afghanistan.
And among the other named defendants we also have General Ricardo Sanchez, who was in charge of the Iraq war at the outset and authorized these torture techniques. There's also George Tenet, who was head of the CIA, and that of course involves the CIA's secret detention sites around the world, where waterboarding and other kinds of torture went on. Those are three of the people at the top who we've named as defendants. Then we have the lawyers, former Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo in particular, who basically set up the legal framework. There was a case during the Nuremburg trials in Germany after World War 2 in which German lawyers were gone after because they implemented the Nazi program of murder. People like Bybee and Yoo argue they're just lawyers giving their legal opinions, but when you look at the context that's not what happened. What happened is that some people resisted using torture, both in the CIA and the military. They said we're not going to do this because we might get prosecuted, and therefore we want legal protection, so write us something that allows us to do this. So that's where the lawyers like Bybee and Yoo come in.
Those are the main defendants, plus a few others further down the chain who were in Iraq and responsible for carrying out the orders, like Colonel Thomas Pappas. And we have a couple of people from Rumsfeld's office, like Stephen Cambone, the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, and a couple of Cheney people. There are 12 defendants in all. As plaintiffs, we have 11 Iraqi prisoners and one from Guantánamo. The Iraqis were in Abu Ghraib and other Iraqi prisons, and they tell devastating stories. For example, there was an insurgency in one village and the U.S. troops came in and targeted this particular guy's house and bombed it and went in and killed his 80-year-old father and tortured him for a week and then let him go and basically said they had the wrong guy. They never said they were sorry, just that they had the wrong guy.
With the Guantánamo prisoner, we have the most direct link to Rumsfeld, although all of the plaintiffs and what happened to them represent pretty direct links to him. But for the Guantánamo prisoner, Mohammed al-Qahtani, we have an interrogation log which, while it reads with a certain banality, describes a two-month period of 48 days in which he endured sleep deprivation, was chained to a chair, had intravenous water retention so that he was forced to urinate on himself, and was stripped and had a female straddle him and abuse him sexually. And there were things done to him that are probably even much worse that we don't yet know about for sure. For example, a fake rendition, we think, where he was put on a plane and flown around and taken back to Guantánamo, but he didn't know that and thought he was in some other country, like Egypt, where he would be tortured even further. And with this Al-Qahtani interrogation, we actually have Rumsfeld essentially approving and/or supervising it in some way. And that came out not from our papers, but from the government's own report, saying that Rumsfeld was involved in that interrogation. So Rumsfeld had very, very direct links with these people in the torture program. People in Germany, when we filed our complaint on November 14, and including the press, were no longer even disputing that the U.S. has been involved in war crimes, including torture.
The plaintiffs also include various human rights groups, and other organizations like the CCR (Center for Constitutional Rights), as well as a couple of Nobel Prize winners. And the other important factor is that we had Janis Karpinski as a witness on November 14. [Karpinski was commander of all U.S. military prisons in Iraq at the point that the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib was revealed.] The first time we brought the case, in 2004, we had Janis as a defendant. But this time, she actually came to Germany and spoke about the need for people to go up the chain of command, and she said she actually saw a set of interrogation procedures taped up in Abu Ghraib, and Rumsfeld had signed off on this.

That was long but it's important. Like Kat wrote last night about Rumfled the war criminal:

May that hang on his name the way it hangs on Henry Kissinger's. He'll probably walk, they usually do. But, if nothing else, he can live the rest of his days with every knowing what he did (how he degraded the country with his war crimes that destroyed people) and knowing that everyone knows it.

I hope they win the case but this is something that should follow him around and Kissinger's not in jail but he can't travel wherever he wants these days. That's a point Michael Ratner made on Monday's Law and Disorder. Hopefully, he'll be prosecuted and found guilty but he needs to be guilty, regardless, in the court of public opinion. We don't want him popping back up in a year or two as an 'expert' on TV doing more damage. Haul your butts over to Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's thoughts. And that's it for me. It takes me forever to type and I don't know exactly when Blogger/Blogspot goes out tonight. Oh, Rebecca's grabbing Robert Parry tonight. We both like him and I just called her to tell her Blogger/Blogspot was going down. She wasn't sure what she had to write about and I told her I wanted to note Parry but didn't have time, so she's going to grab him.

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

Tuesday, November 28, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Bully Boy plays petulant and ignorant (well . . . maybe he's not playing), freedom of speech takes another blow in Iraq, the US Air Force asks for more money, Tony Blair takes a leak in public, and who gave what orders?

Starting with children's games, the US administration remains in denial about the civil war raging in Iraq.
Peter Walker (Guardian of London) reports Bully Boy says Iraq is not in a civil war. It's not, it's not, it's not, and if you don't stop saying it is, he's going to run to Big Babs and you'll be sorry. Bully Boy pins the blame on al Qaeda. He's 'assisted' by the likes of Michael R. Gordon and Dexy-Dexy "Pads a Million" Filkins (New York Times) who take dictation very well in this morning's paper as they single-source the 'news' with an anonymous source who just happens to pin the blame on "the Iranian-backed group Hezbollah." Congratulations to Gordo and Dexy for proving that the male secretary is far from a thing of the past.

While the stenogs provide cover for the Bully Boy,
Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London via CounterPunch) reports: "Iraq is rending itself apart. The signs of collapse are everywhere. In Baghdad the police often pick up over 100 tortured and mutiliated bodies in a single day. Government ministries make war on each other. A new and ominoous stage in the disingration of the Iraqi state came earlier this month when police commandos from the Shia-controlled Interior Ministry kidnapped 150 people from the Sunni-run Higher Education Ministry in the hear of Baghdad. Iraq may be getting close to what Americans call 'the Saigon moment, the time when it becomes evident to all that the government is expiring." All but the stenogs.

Sunday's stoning of and jeeering and shouting at the puppet of the occupation in the Sadr City section of Baghdad demonstrates the risks of reality intruding when Nouri al-Maliki leaves the heavily fortified Green Zone. And outside of Baghdad, Dafna Linzer and Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) report, things are as bad if not worse. Linzer and Ricks report on a Marine Corps intelligence report, "State of Insurgency in Al-Anbar," which finds that Al-Anbar Province is beyond US control, that it's become "a failed province" and that the Sunnis in the region are fleeing.

On the subject of fleeing,
The Arizona Daily Star reports that the lifting of the cufew in Baghdad on Monday resulted in "[h]undreds of Iraqi families . . . [making] a beeline for the airport, where they handed over their savings for one-way tickets to anyplace safe. Others ran for the border, with suitcases strapped to cars bound for Syria and Jordan. Families that stayed stocked up on food, kept their children home from school and waited for another round of sectarian bloodshed." IRIN reports that Human Rights Watch is calling "on Jordan to provide a Temporary Protection Regime (TPR) for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees living in its territory."

In the face of reality, Bully Boy turns a blind eye.
CBS and AP quote him stating, "There's one thing I'm not going to do, I'm not going to pull our troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete." Ask him what the mission is and prepare for vague statements with no concrete markers. As Bully Boy gets pouty, Tony Blair takes a leak on Des Browne and the British public. Yesterday, England's Defense Secretary Des Browne stated, "I can tell you that by the end of next year I expect numbers of British forces in Iraq to be significantly lower -- by a matter of thousands”. Reuters reports today that Blair has declared, "We will remain there (in Iraq) in significant numbers even if there is . . . an adjustment to our role, there will still be a requirement." The promised handover of Basra will apparently change nothing. Meanwhile, AFP reports that South Korea has decided "to extend the mission for another year" in Iraq but will be cutting it's troops from 2,3000 "to around 1,200".

Andy Sullivan (Reuters) reports Bill Keller has issued a statement stating that the New York Times will call Iraq what it is, a civil war. Keller is quoted: "It's hard to argue that this war does not fit the generally accepted definition of civil war." The article notes LA Times has been doing so since October and that McClatchy Newspapers, The Christian Science Monitor, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Sacremento Bee have called it a civil war. Yesterday, NBC became the first network to officially call it what it was.]

Meanwhile, in Australia, Peter Tinley, former Australian soldier who served in Iraq and declared the illegal war "morally bankrupt,"
tells ABC's Lateline that Australian forces are maxed out: "I'm not talking about the number of troops on the ground . . . I'm talking about the span of command, the span by which the Defence Force can operate and manage the number of operations."

Can Baghdad be 'managed'?
Ned Parker and Ali Hamdani (Times of London) report that
"In the war for Baghdad, mosques serve as garrisons. Sunnis use religious sanctuaries as strongholds to fight for mixed neighbourhoods. Shia extremists covert their mosques and prayer rooms, called husseiniyas, into execution chambers. As Iraq falls apart, people like [Hassan] Mahmoud are now terrified by Baghdad's places of worship, which they regard as potential gulags and gallows in the Sunni-Shiar war."

But the problem? The media. Apparently. As Sandra Lupien reported onn yesterday's
The KPFA Evening News, "Iraq's parliament speaker implemented new rules banning reporters from the legislative building and imposed a thirty minute delay on broadcast of sessions This in an apparent bid to hide from the public what are increasingly bitter debates between Shi'ite and Sunni lawmakers." "Freedom" still doesn't include a free press in Iraq.


BBC reports the deaths of at least four in Baghdad with at least seven wounded as a results of car bombs outside Yarmouk hospital. Reuters raises the wounded from those bombings to 40 and notes a home in Tal Afar which had been "booby-trapped with explosives" and left two police officers wounded while another two police officers were wounded in Mosul from a roadside bomb. Peter Walker (Guardian of London) reports that Kirkuk was the site of an assassination attempt on the governor of the province -- "The attacker, wearing a hidden explosives belt, tried to get inside the governor's car, but when he found the door locked he detonated his explosives, killing one civilian and wounding 17 other people, police said." AP notes three dead from a roadside bomb in Baladrooz (four more were reported wounded). And Reuters reports mortars injured 23 people in Baghdad.


AFP notes the shooting deaths of five in Mahmudiyah and seven people shot dead in Baquba.


Reuters reports thirty-six corpses were discovered in Baghdad.

US military announced today, "One Marine assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division died Nov. 27 from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." The announcement comes as Aaron Glantz (OneWorld) reports on "a new study by the Caresey Institute" which finds that "[t]he mortality rate for soldiers from rural America is about 60 percent higher than the mortality rate for soliders from metropolitan areas." Glantz notes that the study finds that those "from rural Vermont have the highest death rate in the nation followed by Delaware, South Dakota, and Arizona."

Andrea Shalal-Esa (Reuters) reports that the United States Air Force says it needs "$33.4 billion in extra funding for fiscal 2007 to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and costs related to the 'longer war on terror'."

Current cost of the illegal war,
via counter on Tom Hayden's website, $346,000,000,000.

And all the money going to support the illegal war couldn't be used in a better way, right?
New Orleans?

Kyle Snyder: There are over 20 engineering units, there's more than 20 engineering units in the U.S. military. I was part of an engineering unit. And to see places that look worse than Iraq in my own country makes me sick, it makes me disgusted, that they're not doing any rebuilding effort for the poor, for the African-American community. It's like they just left it there. They're not even cleaning it up. It's a disaster area. It's, logistically, it's the most horrible thing I've seen because we have engineering units in Iraq when they should be here. . . . This should be first priority. . . . Start pulling troops from Iraq and rebuilding in New Orleans.

US war resister Kyle Snyder spent Thanksgiving week by joining with
Iraq Veterans Against the War, Col. Ann Wright, war resister Darrell Anderson and others to protest the School of Americas in Georgia and then going to New Orleans with Iraq Veterans Against the War to work on the rebuilding. Video clips are available at Soldier Say No! and the one quoted from is also available at Google Video. Snyder self-checked out of the US military in April of 2005, moved to Canada and then returned to the US and turned himself in at Fort Knox on October 31st, only to self-check out again after discovering the military had lied yet again. Snyder is now underground and on the road.

Also traveling is
CODEPINK's Medea Benjamin who was recently in South Korea and spoke with Christopher Brown (OhmyNews International): ". . . the job of the peace movement is going to be not [to] put down its guard, to really be forcing the Congress to carry out what is a mandate for radical change, and the radical change is to bring the troops home, to stop allocating money for this war and to have no permanent bases in Iraq. And I think the issue of more money for the war will come up very soon in January when the new Congress reconvenes because they are going to be asked for over a hundred billion dollars more for this war."

Benjamin and others were in South Korea to support the people objecting to US base being expanded and asking that South Korea's troops be brought home from Iraq. Other activists on the trip included Cindy Sheehan who was interviewed about it by Jennifer Veale (Time magazine). In her latest column (BuzzFlash), Sheehan considers the proposal of returning to the draft and is "100% categorically opposed to forced conscription" and outlines her reasons which include that the draft didn't stop earlier wars, the "draft will never be fair and balanced," and that "a draft will only give the war maching more of our children to consume to generate its wealth."

The peace movement includes Cindy Sheehan (who sparked it back to life), Medea Benjamin, Ann Wright, Diane Wilson, Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Camilo Mejia,
Alice Walker, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Parades, Missy Comley-Beattie, Agustin Aguayo, Stephen Funk, Carl Webb, Stan Goff, David Swanson (who examines war resistance here), . . . and many more (hopefully including you).

Writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, Tom Hayden notes that "the anti-war movement has been a major factor in mobilizing a majority of the American public to oppose the occupation and killing in Iraq" and, noting the failure of media to cover the movement: "the only recourse is to prepare widespread demonstrations and ground organizing in the key presidential primary states, to make it impossible for any candidate to become president in 2008 without pledging to end the war and occupation. If there is no peace movement, there will be no peace."

What would there be instead? More abuses, probably done more openly. On Saturday,
Reuters reported Janis Karpinski's statement about the letter "signed by Rumsfeld which allowed civilian contractors to use techniques such as sleep deprivation during interrogation." (Karpinski wrote about that in her book, spoke about it with Amy Goodman and Dennis Bernstein.) We can pair that with The Socialist Worker's report on British major Antony Royce's statements in the court-martial for the abuses of Iraqi prisoners where he testified that he was instructed "by Major Mark Robinson, a brigade intelligence adviser, to 'condition' prisoners. Royce said that he then checked with Major Russel Clifton, the brigade's legal adviser, and was again told that 'conditioning' and hooding were acceptable."
[Pru highlighted the article on Royce.]

Lastly, the
Pacifica's Archives is presenting a two-day special: Pacifica Radio Archives Presents Voices For Peace And Non-Violence. It is airing on all Pacifica stations (KPFA, KFCF, KPFT, WBAI, KPFK, WPFW), many affiliates and online. The special started today and pulls from the fifty plus years of archives. (Donations made during this two day period go to preserve the archives.) Among the voices heard today were MLK, Coretta Scott King, Rosa Parks, Camilo Mejia, Lena Horne, Fannie Lou Hamer, Gore Vidal, Kurt Vonnegut, Jane Fonda, and many others.

tom hayden
kyle snyder
the new york times
dexter filkins
the washington post
dafna linzer
thomas e. ricksdavid swanson
aaron glantz
the kpfa evening news
sandra lupien
cindy sheehan
medea benjamin
the socialist worker