Saturday, September 09, 2006

Lotta Links, Smonkette, Iraq and more

Saturday. Long day. The Iraq discussion group went great and I just want to crawl into bed right now but am trying to stay up long enough to get something posted.

Lotta Links. Yep, I saw it. Rebecca and I were talking about it Friday night. I checked the e-mails before I logged into Blogger and I see a lot of you saw it as well. Lotta Links is a link whore. "Oh look, Wonkette linked to us! That is so cool!" No, it's not. Wonkette has slammed Cindy Sheehan at least twice now. They're just ripping her to shreds and if you're linking to them, you're condoning their behavior. So I didn't care much for Lotta Links before but their decision to hop in bed with Wonkette surprised even me.

C.I. served Wonkette wonderfully last night:

But then there's little reason for the likes of Alex Pareene & co. to care about anything. The chin-challenged, college drop out is in charge of Wonkette these days. We didn't link to that site when all it wanted was to be Cindy Adams with just a hint of nipple (the AMC days) and we don't link to it today. But the man who would be Cindy Adams (if she were a really ugly woman who couldn't write) can't stop slamming Cindy Sheehan and that puzzles some. It shouldn't puzzle you. Just don't give him the pennies he gets with each click. Then he might have to attempt to get a real job. While the likes of Pareene swirl through the sewers, there are a few things worth reading online.

Here's something worth reading, Joe Conason's "White House Guilt in CIA Leak Case Remains:"

To observe the Washington press corps is to wonder why so many people who don't remember what happened yesterday and can't master basic logic are expected to analyze politics and policy. The latest developments in the Valerie Plame Wilson case--as revealed in "Hubris," a new book by Michael Isikoff and David Corn--proved once more that the simplest analysis of facts is beyond the grasp of many of America’s most celebrated journalists.
What Corn and Isikoff report is that the first official to disclose Valerie Wilson's covert identity as a CIA operative to columnist Robert Novak in June 2003 was Richard Armitage, who then served as deputy secretary of state. Unlike other Bush administration figures who were involved in leaking Ms. Wilson’s identity, such as Karl Rove and Lewis (Scooter) Libby, Armitage was known to be unenthusiastic about the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
From those two facts, many commentators have deduced that Rove and Libby are guiltless, that there was no White House effort to expose Valerie Wilson, and that the entire leak investigation was a partisan witch hunt and perhaps an abuse of discretion by the special counsel, Patrick Fitzgerald. The same pundits now proclaim that Armitage's minor role somehow proves the White House didn’t seek to punish Ms. Wilson and her husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, for his decision to publicly debunk the presidential misuse of dubious intelligence from Niger concerning Iraq's alleged attempts to purchase yellowcake uranium.
But whatever Armitage did, or says he did, in no way alters what Rove and Libby did in the days that followed, nor does it change their intentions. It's a simple concept--two people or more can commit a similar act for entirely different reasons--but evidently it has flummoxed the great minds of contemporary journalism.
In this instance, Armitage says he was merely "gossiping" with Novak, who seems to have been primed to question him about the Wilson affair. But both Rove and Libby sought to undermine Joe Wilson’s credibility--and perhaps to victimize him and his wife--by revealing her identity to two reporters. Rove gave that information to Time reporter Matt Cooper, who got confirmation from Libby. And Libby provided the same poisonous tip to New York Times reporter Judith Miller.
Almost from the beginning of his investigation, Fitzgerald has known about the blabby Armitage, who promptly came clean to his boss. But Fitzgerald understood that the Armitage confession was of limited relevance. It didn’t discourage the special counsel from conducting a thorough probe that uncovered the secretive effort, emanating from Vice President Dick Cheney’s office, to discredit Joe Wilson and use his wife’s two decades of dangerous devotion to her country as a weapon against him. Indeed, the only reason Armitage knew about Valerie Wilson was that he had read a negative dossier on Joe Wilson prepared at Libby's behest.

Now Rebecca's "plamegate, bully boy and iraq" goes over this topic and she wrote before me. So she was probably almost fully awake. So what do you think of Dirty Depends? Is Bully Boy standing on his last leg?

I really think he may be overplaying it. I think what he's doing probably appeals to the core he still has, that 38% (maybe less) but for everyone else, I think they're just hearing it and thinking, "More lies." It feels like something he could have rallied with in 2002 when a lot more people believed in him. But right now, it just seems like empty words and I'm having trouble believing many people are buying this.

I was running my sister around this afternoon. She needed some junk for school. And while she was looking at bras or whatever, I was looking at the plasma TVs and they were doing a story about the report from the Senate Intelligence Committee about how Saddam Hussein had no links to al-Qaeda and all. There was this old guy standing a few TVs away, he was probably like late 50s or early 60s and he goes, "Bush is liar." I go, "You got that right." So the guy walked over and he was telling me about how Bully Boy was a liar and it was real obvious that he had a lot to get off his chest so I listened. The old guy had been a Bully Boy supporter and when he was done listing all of Bully Boy's lies, I asked him when he started seeing through the lies and he goes probably right before the 2004 election but he still voted for Bully Boy. He goes that after, when the Iraq war just kept going on and all, and people kept dying, he started thinking about his great nephew who signed up right after 9-11 and started asking how he'd feel if something happened and all? He goes, "The country needed Cindy Sheehan before that election." Meaning before the 2004 election.

And this works into Wonkette smearing Cindy! He goes that because his great nephew is in the navy, he can picture why she would be so hurt and all because it is a war of lies. He said it really pisses him off when people start trashing her "like that drug addict Rush Limbaugh who hasn't lost anything in this war." So that was pretty cool. And I think he's more common than most people realize, a lot of people are like him.

Now here's an e-mail from John Kerry's website and the "tomorrow" in it is today and Kerry's one of my senators so I want to note this:

The topic of this email -- and the subject of a major speech I will deliver in Boston's Faneuil Hall tomorrow -- is national security.
If you think I'm planning to alert people to Republican pre-election fear-mongering on this vitally important issue, you're only half right.
Of course, we need to reject the Republicans' idea that a "debate" on national security involves them demanding another book of blank checks for policies that don't work. And, needless to say, we can't tolerate them smearing any Democrat who stands up to their miserable record of failure.
I will be campaigning for Democrats all across the country this fall. And, everywhere I go, I will talk about the Bush national security disaster and the need to change course in Iraq. They don't want Americans to remember that Osama bin Laden is still on the loose, the Taliban is gaining strength in Afghanistan, Iran is closer to nuclear weapons, and the mess in Iraq has become a recruitment poster for terror. There is no way to overstate how Iraq has damaged our efforts to actually fight global terror. It has overstretched our military, divided and pushed away our allies, and diminished our moral authority in the world.
But, here's the other half of the story. As Democrats, we have to do more than oppose what has failed. We have to actively propose a new course that can clean up the disaster in Iraq, and defeat jihadist terrorism once and for all.
We must offer the American people the kind of real national security debate they deserve -- and that the Republican Party, top to bottom, would deny them.
Tomorrow I will share my ideas on how we can do just that, achieving a more secure future for America. If you'd like to receive an emailed copy of this important address after it's delivered, please sign up here.
I look forward to working side-by-side with you on this critical issue in the weeks ahead.
John Kerry
P.S. Remember, we'd be glad to email you the speech after it's delivered. And we'll also be posting it on our website at I hope you'll read it yourself and share it as widely as possible.

I'll talk more about reps on Monday (or next week if I forget on Monday). But I'm just too tired tonight.

This is from Reuters:

Miami - At least 10 Florida journalists received regular payments from a U.S. government program aimed at undermining the Cuban government of Fidel Castro, The Miami Herald reported on Friday.
Total payments since 2001 ranged from $1,550 to $174,753 per journalist, according to the newspaper, which said it found no instance in which those involved had disclosed that they were being paid by the U.S. Office of Cuba Broadcasting.
That office runs Radio and TV Marti, U.S. government programs broadcast to Cuba to promote democracy and freedom on the communist island. Its programming cannot be broadcast within the United States because of anti-propaganda laws.
The Cuban government has long contended that some Spanish-language journalists in Miami were on the U.S. government payroll.
The Herald said two of the journalists receiving the payments worked for its Spanish-language sister publication, El Nuevo Herald, and a third was a freelance contributor for that newspaper, which fired all three after learning of the payments.
Journalism ethics experts called the payments a fundamental conflict of interest that undermines the credibility of reporters meant to objectively cover issues affecting U.S. policy toward Cuba.

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

Friday, September 8, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, bits of the long over due US Senate reporton the lies that led to war (they're calling it a look into the intell) are scattered like crumbs, US soldier Mark Wilkerson reflects on how he reached the decision not to take part in the illegal war, US soldier Darrell Anderson is reportedly headed back to the United States after attempts to be granted asylum in Canada,
and Australia's Bully Boy says Brendan Nelson is doing a "fantastic job."
In the United States,
AP was first out of the gate with: "A senate intelligence committee report says there's no evidence Saddam Hussein had a relationship with terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi or his al-Qaida associates before the Iraq war." CBS and AP quote US Senator John D. Rockefeller stating of the report: "Ultimately, I think you will find that administration officials made repeated prewar statements that were not supported by underlying intelligence" and that it shows "the administration pursued a deceptive strategy abusing intelligence reporting that the intelligence community had already warned was uncorroborated, unreliable and in some critical circumstances fabricated."
Reuters notes that US Senator Carl Levin has pointed to the Bully Boy's statement on August 21st and attempted (yet again) to make an unfounded link. Levin: "The president's statement, made just two weeks ago, is flat-out false."
Though the press wants to play Levin's statement as an allegation, public record shows
Bully Boy stated: "I square it because imagine a world in which you had Saddam Hussein, who had the capacity to make a weapon of mass destruction, who was paying suiciders to kill innocent life, who had relations with Zarqawi." As Levin pointed out, that "is flat-out false."
The lies that led into illegal war. Yesterday,
AP notes, the Senate passed a spending measure to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with another $63 billion dollars.
As the cost in blood and currency continues to add up, more and more people turn against the illegal war. In the United States,
Byron Pitts (CBS) reported on the mood in Jacksonville, North Carolina and spoke with retired Marine Colonel Jim Van Riper who admits to vote for Bully Boy twice but intends to vote Democratic for the first time. Van Riper tells Pitts: "I've turn him [Bully Boy] off. I've tuned him out." The cost in blood? AFP notes the Baghdad morgue body count for August stands at 1,584. It also includes 2666 US troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the war, 118 British troops (that includes the one who died Thursday) and 115 "other" for a total of 2899.
Of the US fatality count,
Emil Guillermo (Asian Week) notes, "Ironically, of the Iraq war deaths, over 2,500 came after" Bully Boy's "declared on May 1, 2003, 'Mission Accomplished'."
CNN reports that, in Baghdad, a roadside bomb left six injured and killed three ("including a mother and child" among the dead) and that a US soldier died "south of Baghdad" from a roadside bomb. Reuters reports a car bomb in Baghdad that killed a police officer "and a bystander". Sami al-Jumaili (Reuters) reports the death of eight in Kerbala from mortars.
CNN reports that three people were shot dead in Baquba and a sunni tribal chief was shot dead in Hawija. Reuters identifies the man as Ibrahim al-Khalaf and notes that an Iraqi soldier was shot dead near Samarra (with two others wounded).
AFP reports six corpses were found in Baghdad ("tortured . . . shot to death"). Reuters reports the corpse of Haider Hamza was discovered "shot dead in front of his house" and that he had been "an interpreter working for Danish troops in Iraq".
AFP reports that Brigadier Muzher Kamel Mohammad ("head of the police force protecting Iraqi courts") was kidnapped in Baghdad. This as Reuters reports the US is clashing with people in Falluja and "U.S. troops used loudspeakers to demand people turn in 'insurgents' or face a 'large military operation'." Falluja. Again. As if November 2004 wasn't destructive enough. Hearts and minds, as Mark Wilkerson has noted, are not being won.
And the much touted non-handover? As
Jim Sciutto (ABC) notes: "Watching the headlines in the American media today, you might think the U.S. military handed over military control in Iraq to Iraqis. There was certainly a ceremony yesterday -- a handshake at a military base where Iraqi commanders took control of an Iraqi army division from coailtion commanders -- but the real story is the arithmetic. Yesterday's handover affects the tiny Iraqi navy and air force, with a few hundred folks in each, and a single Iraqi army division, the 8th Army with 5500 to 7000 troops. This means only about five percent the 115,000 regulars in the Iraqi army now take their cues from the Iraqi prime minister. The rest remain firmly under foreign control -- and so do the most dangerous areas of the country, such as Baghdad and the volatile Anbar province in the west. The 8th Army operates in the relatively small -- and relatively quiet -- Diwaniyeh province in southern Iraq."
In peace news,
Diana Welch (Austin Chronicle News) reviews the case of war resister Mark Wilkerson noting his disillusionment ("When we went, our general mission was to win the hearts and minds of the people. But when I got there, and I saw the people and how we were treating them, I thought, 'We're doing exactly the opposite'."), his awakening (finding out who was profitting -- "certain individuals were making on this war, how much money the corporations like Halliburton were making"), having his conscientious objector application rejected as he was called up for another tour of duty, and then deciding to check himself out. Alan Gionet (CBS4) reports that Rebecca Barker, Matt Wilkerson's mother, stated, "I think the public is looking at anyone who goes AWOL as cowards and it goes much deeper than that." Welch notes that Wilkerson could face a special court-martial (if found guilty, one year sentence is the maximum) or a general one (which would led to seven years if found guilty). Gionet reports: "Wilkerson is confined to base while his unit faces what could be its third deployment."
Phinjo Gombu (Toronto Star) reports that war resister Darrell Anderson will be leaving Canada and returning to the US, according to his mother Anita Anderson. This should take place during the last weekend of September and he will be met at the border by peace activists and Vietnam veterans as well as by Jim Fennerty, his attorney. "If he is not arrested immediately, Anderson plans to travel to Fort Knox in Kentucky to turn himself in. It is one of the two army bases where deserters are kept while the army decides whether to court-martial or discharge a soldier."
In Washington, DC
Camp Democracy continues through September 21st. It is free and open to the public. Today's events focused on labor issues. Saturday, September 9th, many events will be taking place and among those speaking will be Antonia Juhasz (The BU$H Agenda), Ray McGovern and Bill Moyers. The events will kick off at 9:00 a.m. in preparation of the 9:30 a.m. march around the Capitol Building "To remember the fallen and remind Congress and the public of the human cost of the War on and Occupation of Iraq." Sunday, September 10th will feature Juhasz, Ann Wright, Raed Jarrar and others. A complete schedule can be found here.
And beginning September 21st (International Peace Day), via
United for Peace & Justice:
It's time to answer fear with courage, to step out of our personal comfort zones and take bold action to end the Iraq War.
Join us in a week of nonviolent action, including civil disobedience, from September 21-28, and in pressuring pro-war politicians all this fall through the Voters for Peace pledge.
In Australia, Defence Minister Brendan Nelson continues to be a subject of discussion over his role as self-designated media spokesperson for the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco.
First into the fray was prime minister John Howard who has "full confience" in Brendan Nelson. Of course he also claims to have "full confidence" in Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston whose testimony directly contradicts Nelson. And it's also true that Howard is the Bully Boy down under. So no one really cares what he says as he speaks from both sides of his mouth except possibly for this statement which has strong echoes of "Heck of a job, Brownie" -- from ABC's The World Today, Howard: "Dr Nelson is doing a fantastic job." Fantastic of a job, Brendie!
For those who missed it,
yesterday Houston told the hearing that he had repeatedly warned Nelson not to speak to the press because the events of Jake Kovco's death were not clear. Or as WA Business News sums it up: "Defence force chief Angus Houston has directly contradicted the Defence Minister's statement to police about private Jake Kovco's death, saying Brendan Nelson ignored repeated warnings not to speculate about the shooting."
Samantha Hawley summarizes (on ABC's PM) thusly: In a witten submission to the Military Board of Inquiry, Dr Nelson says it was Air Chief Marshal Houston who told him that Jake Kovco had been handling his loaded weapon in some way when it discharged. But Angus Houston directly contradicts that claim. In his own submission, the Defence Force Chief indicates he repeatedly urged the minister against speculating about the cause of death, saying it appeared to have been a tragic accident but this would need to be confirmed by the Board of Inquiry."
We turn to this statement from
April 27, 2006: "Of course we are, and I'm personally, very angry about it. I'm very disappointed. The inquiry and the investigation will get to the bottom of it. But I just ask Australians, it's very easy to criticise Defence. It's a large organization. It does wonderful things for Australians and for people in times of trouble, but don't just, I just say to Australians, don't just take a free kick here."
A free kick? Hasn't Brendan Nelson earned it? The statement above was when he went to the press to announce that Jake Kovco's coffin had returned home but not his body. It's been one mix up after another. Put yourself in the Kovco family's place, think of all the mix ups/screw ups Nelson's overseen and been responsible for and wonder if Brendan Nelson is the poor-put-upon he'd like to paint himself or someone performing their job very poorly.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Bully Boy's still in his Dirty Depends

Oh that wacky web. It's Thursday, 2006; but you'd think it was the height of the Clinton impeachment the way the left grabs for crumbs. An exchange took place behind White House front person David Gregory and White House spokesperson Tony Snow. The exchange is being hailed as some sort of victory. For who? Read the exchange yourself:

Q Actually, Tony, I don't think that's fair, if you look at the facts. If you look at the facts.

MR. SNOW: Well, I do, because -- no, because, for instance --

Q No, no, no. No, I don't think you should be able to just wipe that, kind of dismiss the question --

MR. SNOW: Well, let me --

Q It's not a Democratic argument, Tony.

MR. SNOW: Let me answer the question, David.

Q But hold on, let's not let you get away with saying that's a Democratic argument.
MR. SNOW: Okay, let me -- let's not let you get away with being rude. Let me just answer the question, and you can come back at me.

Q Excuse me. Don't point your finger at me. I'm not being rude.

MR. SNOW: Yes, you are.

Q Don't try to dismiss me as making a Democratic argument, Tony, when I'm speaking fact.

MR. SNOW: Well, okay -- well, no --

Q You can do that to the Democrats; don't do it to me.

"You can do that to the Democrats; don't do it to me." That's brave? If the Democrats are right, Tony Snow can dismiss their points as the Democratic argument and that's cool with so-called reporter David Gregory?

Well, is he a reporter? He'd probably like to be. But for 6 years now at NBC, when there's been a rumor or smear to plant, David Gregory's been there. What you've got in the exchange is a lackey get slapped down by a flack and the lackey's pride is injured because hasn't he always served the White House well? Hasn't he? So it's really unfair of mean old Tony Snow to call him a "Democrat." In fact, David Gregory can probably think of no word worse than "Democrat." To old Stretch, them are fighting words. Bully Boy coughs and Gregory's there holding his balls.
Stretch earned his place in the pool and he can't believe Tony Snow would diss him, publicly diss him, as a "Democrat." He's enraged.

Maybe it's not fair to blame the web for being so stupid? David Gregory doesn't have breasts or a vagina (that anyone knows of, anyway), so, like most of the 'mainstream' boys, he gets a pass. If Elisabeth Bumiller had done even a third of the things Stretch had done, there would 20 million posts and action alerts on it. But Gregory gets away with it. Day after day.

This week, he and Tony Snow both publicly express their disgust with Democrats and some in the wacky web hail it as a BIG MOMENT for the left. Morons.

Bully Boy hopes the entire country is morons that's why September is "Dirty Depends" and Bully Boy's crapping out all over the place. William Branigin's "Bush Urges Congressional Approval of Eavesdropping Program:"

President Bush urged Congress today to give him "additional authority" to carry out a controversial warrantless eavesdropping program directed against international terrorists and to approve "broader reforms" in the 1978 law that regulates domestic surveillance of foreign agents' communications.
In the latest of a series of speeches on the war on terrorism ahead of Monday's fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Bush said in Atlanta that his policies have made America safer by closing security gaps exploited by the country's enemies.

He thinks if he can dirty up the country with fear, Fear, FEAR!, we'll all going running to him. But stinky adult diapers don't do it for me and I doubt they do it for many people. The more he plays the fear card, the more Americans should say, "Hey, go change your diaper and when you get back we can talk about how you're supposed to obey the Constitution."

Military lawyers are telling him that. This is from Kristin Roberts' "Bush criticized over terrorism suspects trial plan:"

U.S. military lawyers on Thursday challenged President George W. Bush's plan to try terrorism suspects, including the accused September 11 mastermind, as Democrats charged the White House with election-year fearmongering.
In a fourth speech highlighting a tough-on-terror image that helped Republicans win elections in 2002 and 2004, Bush tried to shift attention from the unpopular Iraq war and emphasize protecting the United States from new attacks as his party fights to keep control of Congress.

[. . .]
Pentagon lawyers balked at Bush's proposal to limit the terrorism suspects' access to evidence.
"I'm not aware of any situation in the world where there is a system of jurisprudence that is recognized by civilized people where an individual can be tried and convicted without seeing the evidence against him," Brig. Gen. James Walker, U.S. Marine Corps staff judge advocate told a Congressional hearing.

If Pentagon lawyers can call him out on his Dirty Depends, you can too. Don't buy the hype, don't buy the fear. Bully Boy is bound by the Constitution just like the rest of us.

Now Tony's always on me to note "our local gal" Joan Vennochi. Do you know the name Phil Dunkelbarger? You should know about him. This is from Vennochi's "Lynch's misplaced entitlement:"

STEPHEN F. LYNCH is entitled to his evolving opinions regarding war with Iraq. But why is the congressman from South Boston entitled to duck an opponent who questions his role as the Joe Lieberman of Massachusetts?
This week, Lynch had time to endorse Tom Reilly in the Democratic primary race for governor -- but no time to debate Phil Dunkelbarger , his primary opponent for the Ninth Congressional District seat.
Dunkelbarger is trying to apply Ned Lamont's script in Connecticut to Massachusetts. Lacking Lamont's money, he isn't getting the media attention Lamont enjoyed, and he is further handicapped by an odd surname. Even so, he manages to pose a legitimate question to Joe Moakley's successor: Why did Lynch back President Bush's policies in Iraq as recently as June 16, by voting in favor of a so-called "stay the course" resolution championed by Republicans in the House of Representatives?
Lynch was one of 42 Democrats -- and the only member of the Massachusetts delegation -- to join a virtually united Republican Party to declare that the United States must complete "the mission to create a sovereign, free, secure and united Iraq" without setting "an arbitrary date for the withdrawal or redeployment" of US troops.

Bully Boy's not the only one who doesn't want to talk Iraq. And that's why we need to talk it. Hopefully, after taking the summer off on Iraq, independent media can talk Iraq? (I won't hold my breath.)

Some people never stop talking Iraq. They don't chase down the 'hot' topic or whatever else. They remember this is a war the Bully Boy started. They get that 800 dead a week adds up to over 40,000 a year. They're not off grabbing their axe to march with the Sammy Powers movement because they know this is a crisis the US started and one the US has to stop by leaving Iraq. A lot people don't defocus or try to sing "On Christian Soldiers" while preaching "Military! Military! Send in the marines!"

One of those people is C.I. and here's the latest "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, September 7, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, in Australia -- Brendan Nelson learns the morning after isn't always pleasing; a US soldier who went AWOL to Canada may be returning; Bully Boy & the GOP continue "Dirty Depends" actions, in Baghdad -- puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki closes a TV station, al-Maliki also calls it "a great day" as Iraqis and US soldiers die throughout Iraq; and Camp Democracy continues in Washington, DC.
Starting with the US soldier who may be returning.
Jim Warren (Lexington Herald-Leader) breaks the news that war resister Darrell Anderson "wants to come home." Anita Anderson tells Warren that she's urging her son Darrell not to come back "because he's probably going to get sponsorship in Canada now that he is married to a Canadian girl. But he's constantly stressed out and worried, and he feels like he can't live out the rest of his life this way."
War Resisters Support Campaign notes this of Darrell Anderson: "Darrell Anderson arrived in Toronto from Lexington, Kentucky in Januray 2005. He served 7 months in Iraq and was awarded a Purple Heart after being wounded by a roadside bomb. When faced with a second deploymnet to Iraq, he chose instead to come to Canada. His experience in Iraq convinced Darrell that the war was unjustified. Innocent civilians are being killed, and young soldiers are dying for an illegal war. 'Coming to Canada doesn't ruin your life,' said Darrell, 'it saves lives.'"
On the redeployment,
Anderson told Gary Younge (Guardian of London): "I was supposed to leave for Iraq on January 8th. On the 3rd I started to talk to people about the war. By the 6th I woke up and had hit a brick wall. I just knew I wasn't going to be able to live a normal life if I went back."
His mother Anita Anderson cites his reasons for wanting to return as economic, his PTS has gotten worse and that he wants to make.
Darrell Anderson needs to make the choice that will serve him best. Should he remain in Canada, he will be part of a movement that includes Brandon Hughey, Kyle Synder, Jeremy Hinzman, Patrick Hart and others. He will also be part of a historic movement. (And it needs to be remembered that even in the wake of Watergate, Jimmy Carter, as president, would not grant an amnesty to those who checked themselves out. The amnesty only covered those who avoided the draft, not those who enlisted and checked out.) If he returns to the US, as his mother fears, he will be part of a movement of refusal. This summer has seen
Ehren Watada become the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. We also saw Ricky Clousing and Mark Wilkerson turn themselves in.
There is bravery in either stand and Darrell Anderson needs to make the choice that's right for him. Like
Cindy Sheehan, he's already done his part and then some.
Turning to cowardice, the Bully Boy continues his
Dirty Depends campaign with the hope that it will scare up votes for the GOP in November. Which is why he boasts of his unconstitutional secret prisons, extends the national emergy act from 9-11 and attempts anything to change the topic away from Iraq. As Matthew Rothshchild noted on The KPFA Evening News yesterday, Bully Boy can't run on the war. How true that is gets brought home in a recent report by the AP that notes Bully Boy is losing his "once-solid relationship with Southern women" and quotes "self-described Republican since birth and the mother of three" Barbara Knight stating, "I think history will show him to be the worst president since Ulysses S. Grant. He's been an embarrassment."
AP notes: "The movement of some Southern women away from the Republican Party tracks with national poll results showing that women have become more disillusioned with the war and were more likely than men to list the conflict as the important issue facing the country." AP cites their own polling numbers and they track with Ms. Magazine's poll which earlier (poll conducted from May19th to 22nd) found 55% of women (43% of males) wanted US troops withdrawn "immediately or next year."
And in Iraq?
KPFA's Flashpoints yesterday Nora Barrows Friedman spoke with Dahr Jamail about life on the ground in Iraq. Jamail: "Overall the situation in Iraq is worse than ever . . . but particularly in al-Anbar province the US military really doesn't have much control of anything there, outside of the areas around their immediate, or inside, I should say, their immediate bases. . . . It's important the people remember that Ramadi is the capital of al-Anbar province. So what the US has done there to try to get control of that city is there's an area right in the middle where the government offices are centrally located in Ramadi and the US has been unable to keep people, resistance fighters, from attacking the government offices so, as a result, what they're doing is literally demolishing, making a no-man's-land between, all of the buildings between the government offices in the middle of the city and then the rest of the city. So they're literally leveling at least eight city blocks, an area of at least eight city blocks, around those government offices to try to prevent them from being attacked so regularly. Of course what this is doing is infurating people of Ramadi who are saying, 'Look, you've already destroyed so much of our city, you've already launched massive operations in here . . .' Recently snipers, US snipers have killed at least four people there, mostly women and children. Just one travesty after another has been occurring inside Ramadi. The people are angry and now this takes it to a whole nother level where the people are outraged, they don't really know what to expect next. And, of course, the end result of these brutal, heavy-handed military tactics, just like we saw in Falluja, it doesn't actually stop the resistance. It maybe pauses it for a few days, or a few weeks. But then in the end it generates more people. It really causes more people to join the resistance or become sympathetic towards them if they're not already."
Two of the three US troops (one Marine, two soldiers) who died on Wednesday (
US military announced deaths today) died of wounds received in al-Anbar province. The US government has announced that another Marine has died today from "wounds sustained from enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province September 6."
Oh, but, as the BBC reported, Nouri al-Maliki called it a "
great day". He was referring to supposed "control" handed over by the US (to him, the puppet) of the Iraqi military. It's not really a handover. It's more like, "Here are the keys to the car and if you do everything we say, we might let you take it for a spin on the weekend but, right now, it's still our car." Which is why "[a] BBC correspondent in Baghdad says the transfer of control could be long, slow and fraught with problems."
AFP notes "a suicide bomber ploughed his explosives-laden car into a police fuel depot in the town centre, killing at least 12" police officers in Baghdad. AP notes another bomb, also in Baghdad ("hidden under a parked car") that killed three and wounded 20. Reuters notes two roadside bombs, also in Baghdad, that claimed the lives of two and left seven wounded while another roadside bomb, still in Baghdad, killed one person and left two wounded and, still in Baghdad, another roadside bomb left four wounded. Outside of Baghdad? Reuters notes four police officers were wounded by a roadside bomb in Kirkuk.
Reuters notes that two police officers were shot dead in Baghdad (four civilians wounded); a police officer was shot dead in Hay; and, in Mosul, a man and a woman were shot dead in parking lot while a father and his teenage son were shot dead elsewhere in the city.
CNN reports four corpses were discovered today in Baghdad. Reuters notes six corpses discovered in Mosul ("multiple gunshot wounds"), three corpses were discovered (one, a female, was beheaded) in the Tigris river near Suwayra and two were discovered in Kirkuk ("signs of torture").
On the subject of deaths,
AP is reporting that contrary to the hype, there was no decrease in the figures for violent deaths in Baghdad. As Aileen Alfandary noted on KPFA's The Morning Show today, the US government had attempted to earlier say the numbers had lowered as a result of the 'crackdown' when in fact, August's actual numbers were "the same number as July."
And the
BBC reports that Mahmoud al-Mashhadani's nephew has been kidnapped in Baghdad. al-Mashhadani is the speaker of Iraq's parliament and was also the target of a He's-Out-Of-Here-So-Out-Of-Here campaign at the end of July and start of August. al-Mashhadani remains in parliament, his nephew Ahmed al-Mashhadani has been kidnapped.
al-Mashhadani is Sunni and switching to parliament news, yesterday
AFP reported: "Iraq's dominant Shiite alliance submitted a draft of a new law to govern the division of the country into autonomous regions". Today the Associated Press notes that Mahmoud al-Mashhadani "interrupted a stormy legislative session on Thursday after a draft bill submitted by the largest Shia party led to accusations from Sunni Arabas that they were trying to divide the country." al-Mashhadani: "The parliament speaker does not know about this draft bill. Is that credible? Who else should know about it if the speaker does not know? When was it announced?"
Switching to the issue of broadcasting, were they showing episodes of Barney Miller or NYPD Blue? Who knows but police pulled the plug on the satellite network al-Arabiya in Baghdad.
CNN was told by a company official (Najib Ben Cherif) that the offices "is being shut for a month." AP is iffy on who gave the order but notes that Nouri al-Malike started making warnings/threats to television stations back in July. CNN reports: "A news alert on Iraqi State TV said the office of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered the office closed for a month."
In the United States,
Camp Democracy continues, free and open to the public, five tents worth of activity and more in Washington, DC. Tomorrow's activities include a focus on labor issues. A complete schedule can be found here.
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco continues -- probably much to the regret of Chuckles Brendan Nelson.
Yesterday, Nelson, the Defence Minister, sought to deny statements, credited to him in the press, made back when he saw himself as Johnny-On-The-Spot and felt that the nation needed each unparsed idea that tumbled from his mouth. Today?
Malcolm Brown and Cynthia Banham (Sydney Morning Herald) report that "Chief of Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, has contradicted the Minister for Defence, Brendan Nelson on key events surrounding the death of Private Jacob Kovco." How so? Dan Box (The Australian) sums it up as Houston states Nelson "had ignored repeated warnings not to speculate about the death" and that Houston denies evey telling Nelson that Jake Kovco had been "handling his weapon in some way and it discharged."
AAP notes this "directly contradicts" Nelson's statement yesterday and, in addition, Houston states that he "told the minister several times that a proper investigation was needed". What was Chuckles Nelson, the 'rising star,' doing issuing those statements (statements he had to retract and yesterday attempted to disown)? Justin Vallejo (Daily Telegraph) notes that the statements came after Nelson was warned not once, not twice, but three times (by Houston) "that it was too early to speculate". But when your a 'rising star' and you can interject into a national story, even if your actions cause more pain to the mourners, why sit on the sidelines waiting for information to come in? Russell Skelton (The Age) reports that the three warnings were given the day after Jake Kovco's death "[b]ut Dr Nelson went ahead and told the media that Private Kovco was shot while 'maintaining' his nine-millemetre Browning pistol -- a statement he was forced to retract five days later."
Let's be clear. No one knows what happened in the room where Jake Kovco died. (Or, if they do, they're not telling.) However, the reason polls demonstrate Australians haven't bought the official story (whatever it was from week to week) goes directly to Brendan Nelson, with all the authority of his post, declaring X one week and then saying Y the next. Now Houston
and Lieutenant-General Peter Leahy have both denied that they ever provided Nelson with any of the information he (Nelson) took to the airwaves with.
If the grief and heartache his statements have inflicted upon the Kovco family isn't enough to give pause, it needs to be noted that the doubts about the inquiry have their roots in Nelson's very public, ever changing story.
Anthony McClellan (The Australian) lays it out very cleary noting: "It has taken a clear cry this week from the Kovco family to help us understand how bad this is. The family is sitting there every day in Victoria Barracks in Sydney, listening, I would think with increasing incredulity, as incompetence after incompetence, and worse, is documented. The family has now taken its criticism even further from its intital rage over the mishandling of his body." McClellan notes the need for transperancy and calls the 'national security' claim (the excuse for not giving the names of the soldiers testifying) "plain bunkum" and closes with this:
To sum up, here's a short competency primer for Defence headquarters at Canberra's Russell Hill:
* Wrong body.
* Initial investigators underfunded, obstructed and overruled by army command.
* Interference in the investigation.
* Death scene not preserved; forensic evidence removed.
* Those present in the room allowed to clean up.
* A litany of miscommunication.
Can it get any worse? Yes. If we do not find out what really happened.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Kovco, Lindorff and Iraq

"Hearing the testimony of the soldiers directly involved with Jake on April 21st was frustrating in the extreme. To touch on the absurdity of their evidence, we have Jake killed by a gunshot wound while in very confined quarters with two other individuals, soldiers 17 and 19. Soldier 19 claims to be looking away from Jake when he heard the gun shot yet says he reacted and turned quickly enough to see Jake falling to the floor. Soldier 17 openly admits to have been facing Jake, sitting so close that he was almost in bodily contact, yet saw nothing. In fact, the claim is that he heard the gun shot and was completely unaware of an imposing six-foot tall man falling to the floor practically on top of him. Difficult to stomach from professional soldiers, whose training equips them better than most to observe and report.
"Soldier 14 is then unable or unwilling to adequately explain the presence of his DNA in larger quantities than Jake's own DNA on the weapon that killed Jake ... He also offers an account of Jake supposedly mishandling his pistol the week before his death, accounting in detail an event that has been demonstrated in the inquiry to be physically impossible. Furthermore, Soldier 14, via his legal representative refuses to co-operate with the NSW Police.
"Soldiers 14, 17 and 19 have provided all this to the board as their sworn testimony, but as conscious individuals, it is absolutely insulting to have this evidence put to us as the full and honest truth. Perhaps these soldiers can live with the decisions they have made and the effect it may have on finding the truth about Jake's death. Likely, it will play on their minds for the rest of their lives. I hope they can live with that because we cannot. Not knowing exactly what happened to our son and brother will haunt us for the rest of our lives."

The above is from a statement Ben Kovco, step-brother of the late Jake Kovco, read to the hearing on Jake Kovco's death this week. C.I. ended the snapshot yesterday with it. I think the Kovco family got and is getting a raw deal. Olive e-mailed me to note some stuff. She said that we'd all be surprised by how some blogs in her country (Australia) haven't even noted Jake Kovco's death on April 21st, let alone everything that's happened since. She complained about a blog, but didn't name the blog but I think I know which ones she means, that's supposed written by a man in Australia who writes about Bully Boy and Tony Blair but never about John Howard. Olive: "That is our prime minister. If he's really writing his blog from Australia, his silence on Australia's involvement in the war is cowardly but most of us no longer believe he is in Australia." She said that she appreciates all the work C.I. has done on the issue and that if any of the rest of us posting the snapshots ever feel like we're not doing anything on the issue ourselves, that's wrong "because you are getting the word out. My friends and I are all aware of who has provided any space to Jake Kovco and who hasn't."

If you're just passing by, Jake Kovco is the first Australian to die in the Iraq war. He was shot in his barricks room. His two roommates were in there but claim they saw nothing. Soldier 14 (that's how the chicken press in Australia is identifying the witnesses) claims he never touched Jake Kovco's gun but his DNA was on it and the expert testified that he would have had to have touched it. No one knows what happened and the hearing has been one big joke as one witness after another has contridicted each other and as witnesses have been allowed to deterimen what they would answer and what they wouldn't.

The family has been put through hell. That started with the death of Jake Kovco, then their person who is like our Donald Rumsfeld, started saying Jake was cleaning his gun and then he made nosies about suicide and now he's trying to deny it all. And Jake Kovco's coffin arrived in Australia but they had the wrong body in it. It's been one ordeal after another for his wife Shelley and his parents Judy and Martin and everyone involved.

So I agree with Olive. Anybody claiming to be blogging from Australia who writes about the Iraq war and about the Bully Boy and Tony Blair but never writes about John Howard or Nelson or Jake Kovco is either a really bad blogger or not really in Australia.

So it's Wednesday and we're almost to the weekend. How's it going for you? Rebecca's "dirty depends" nailed this so-called Security September. I'm with her, I'm just going to call it "Dirty depends" too. Wally ("THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY HOLLERS 'I AM A CROOK!'" ) and Cedric ("The Dirty Depends (humor)") are using it too and C.I. plans on it (and hoped to in today's snapshot but didn't have time). We should all be using. If you hear someone say, "Security September," shout back "Dirty depends!"

How come? Bully Boy's bragging about having secret jails today. "Dirty Depends!" They're going to air their dirty laundy to try to scare us and we need to realize it's nothing but unconstitutional, illegal activities. So holler "Dirty Depends!"

Want some more of their dirty laundry? Here's David Lindorff's "Bombing Without Regrets:"

In fact, back in early 2003, when the Australian government agreed to send some troops to join Bush's "Coalition of the Willing" in Iraq, it first had first to assure the troops and the people of Australia that Australian soldiers would not participate in American actions that involved the laying of mines or the use of cluster weapons.
Shock and Awe, the initial aerial bombardment of Baghdad and other cities of Iraq at the start of the U.S. invasion, reportedly led to tens of thousands of civilian casualties, and one reason was the heavy and indiscriminate use of cluster weapons, which disperse hundreds of little fragmentation bombs over a wide area, many of which explode when a person disturbs them. The Christian Science Monitor, which investigated civilian deaths in the first year of the Iraq War, found that the U.S. was killing Iraqi civilians at the astonishing rate of 30 for every enemy fighter. That's a civilian slaughter that would have made even Hitler's SS envious. One reason for this high "collateral damage" kill rate was almost certainly the use of cluster weapons, some of which spread hundreds of their little bomblets over a 20-acre area, with between 5-30 percent of these secondary weapons failing to explode on impact.
There are a number of reports suggesting that the U.S. used cluster weapons extensively later on in carpet bombings that preceded assaults on Al-Qiam, Ramadi, Tal Afar and of course Fallujah, all cities where the civilian casualties were horrific.
So where is the outcry against this criminal U.S. use of cluster weapons? Most Americans don't even know about it. The media have largely blacked the story out. The Pentagon won't talk about it. When Agence France Presse back in April 2003 ran photos of US cluster weapons stockpiled for use in Iraq, no major media outlet in the US picked them up. The only report on cluster weapons at the time in Amnerica came from CNN reporter Peter Arnett. But of course, the Iraqis and the Afghanis know all about it.
It seems particularly inappropriate for the U.S. to be using such munitions in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq, where we are supposedly there to help the people of the country against alleged "terrorist" forces within their borders. Killing the people of the country you are "helping" would seem to be operating at cross-purposes. But it does explain why every time there is some "mistake" reported, where the U.S. bombs a wedding or an innocent town square, the death toll is so astoundingly high.

That's the war you hear some people saying we need to 'stay the course' on. They pray to God with that mouth? Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, September 6, 2006, chaos and violence continue in Iraq, England's Tony Blair and the United States' Donald Rumsfeld cause waves, Condi Rice -- who failed at national security -- fails at US history, Australia's Defence Minister Brendan Nelson tries to pretend he didn't say what he said and peace activities are ongoing at Camp Democracy.
In Iraq, the parliament yesterday,
Al Jazeera reports voted to extend the state of emergency for the country (not for Baghdad as I noted yesterday). AP reports that the measure "has been renewed every month since first being authorized in November 2004" before the slaughter of Falluja. Edward Wong (New York Times) notes that
"[t]here has been no serious move to roll it back" and that "[d]espite the affirmation of emergency powers, violence continued to roil Iraq." Also raised yesterday was the issue of breaking up the nation into a federation.
Al Jazeera reports: "Abbas al-Bayati, spokesman for the largest Shia bloc, the United Iraqi Alliance, predicted: 'In the next few sessions the parliament will discuss the law for the formation of provinces.'" Also making predictions is Mahmoud al-Mashhadani (whom many predicted would be gone when parliament resumed -- they were wrong). CNN reports that al-Mashhadani, the speaker of parliament, estimates that Iraq has "three to four months" before collapse if the warring factions persist.
Over the weekend, "
Iraqi army boasts they squeezed out Number Two -- but did they remember to wipe?" and the boast was called into question by Richard A. Oppel (New York Times) who reported that an unnamed American official expressed doubts as to the man being a "top-tier guy" and stated "I'm not sure we are ready to put a number on him." Now Qais al-Bashir (AP) is reporting that the arrest did not take place recently, it "took place in June" -- June 19th. A battle of spinmeisters causes William B. Caldwell IV to emerge and state that fellow spinner Mowafak al-Rubaie was wrong that the so-called "number two" was squeezed out this weekend, but that "permission to announce the arrest . . . had been given a few days earlier." For those assuming that he truly is number two . . . if he were flushed down June 19th, it obviously didn't make a damn bit of difference since the violence and chaos hasn't been effected (or diminished) by his June 19th arrest.
Their eyes are all asking
Are you in, or are you out
And I think, oh man,
What is this about?
-- "In or Out" written by Ani DiFranco
Tony Blair, is he in or out? Should he stay or should he go?
Nick Assinder (BBC) reports that while Blair wants another year as prime minister, "Senior party figures were openly arguing over whether prime minister should be allowed to stay for another 12 months or beforced out, in a Thatcher-style coup, much sooner." CNN reports that: "The acrimonious row over the timing of the departure . . . has grown with the resignation of a dissident minister and six ministerail aides." A memo has been leaked, reportedly detailing the plans for his exit, and Blair refuses to comment on it. Gulf News says the plans "will see him treated like a rock star, with slots on popular TV shows and a stage-managed farewell tour. It opened the Prime Minister to charges of vanity and ruined his attempts to douse speculation of an imminent departure that he fears could turn him into a lame duck." Commenting on attempting to sell Blair as a much wanted rock star, Iain Macwhirter (The Herald) points out: "Where have these people been for the last two years? The crowds aren't calling for more, they're calling for Tony Blair to go -- now." Fiona Hudson (Herald-Sun) reports, if the memo is accurate, Blair would "step down as Labour leader on May 31 next year and quit as PM on July 26."
And, in the United States, Donald Rumsfeld? The Secretary of Defense was rumored to face Democratic opposition in the Senate but
Andrew Taylor (AP) reported it was a ceremonial measure (nonbinding resolution) and that "Democrats conceded there's not likely to be any vote whatsoever." White House Lap Dog Tony Snow says, "It's not going to happen." David Lightman (Hartford Courant) reports that Ned Lamont, who is vying with Joe Lieberman for the Senate seat Lieberman currently occupies, has stated that if he wins the race and Bully Boy attempts to replace Donald Rumsfeld with Joe Lieberman "he would probably not vote to confirm" No-mentum.
Meanwhile the
AP reports that Condi Rice, US Secretary of State, is comparing the current on the ground realities in Iraq to the US Civil War. While it is true that the Bully Boy, in March 2003, issued what could be termed an Obliteration Proclamation, no foreign invasion is known to have started the US Civil War.
Turning to Iraq . . .
Xinhua reports that, in Nineveh, a car bomb killed six police officers and left an additional six wounded. AFP reports that at least six people died "in twin bombings in Baghdad." AP notes that nine people died from the Baghdad bombings (not six) and 39 were wounded. Al Jazeera also reports nine dead and notes that they included two Iraqi soldiers. CBS and AP report that: "Mortar attacks in residential areas in Diyala province, north of Baghdad, killed three people: a two-year-old child in the Khan Bani Saad area and two people in Muqdadiyah". Reuters notes a bomb took the lives of two and left eight wounded when it went off near a funeral tent in Baghdad.
In Baquba,
AFP reports a woman was shot dead and a the owner of a store was shot dead as well. AP notes that "three construction workers waiting for a bus" in Baquba were shot dead. Reuters notes that two people were shot dead in Mosul. (The total for the above, bombings and shootings, should add up to twenty-seven reported dead from bombings and shootings.)
CNN reports that 19 corpses were found in Baghdad ("Overnight . . . signs of torture"). Reuters reports the 19 and notes that 15 more corpses were found in Baghdad today ("blindfolded with some showing signs of torture").
Still a wee bit touchy about abandoning a base (see
August 24 and August 25), AFP reports that the British continue to maintain that, basically, they left because they felt like it. Of course they did.
In peace news,
Camp Democracy is up and running and "free and open to the public."
Petula Dvorak (Washington Post) quotes Charlie Richardson (Military Families Speak Out) stating, "Every day, we realize there is a war in Iraq. But the vast majority of Americans don't; the forget. Less than 1 percent of this population has gone to war. And we need to get those troops out now." Australia's The Advertiser reports that the
"[f]ive tents will be open until at least September 21 for panels, protests and press conferences" and quotes Charlie Anderson stating, "This administration does not want to have a discussion especially with those of us who have lived the nightmare of what this war is really about." Anderson was also quoted on
The KPFA Evening News yesterday where he spoke about his growing realization that the war was wrong and what encouraged him to speak out.
Tomorrow is Immigrants' Rights Day at
Camp Democracy and director Robert Greenwald (The Burning Bed, Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War; Uncovered: The War on Iraq; Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism, Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices and the upcoming Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers). A complete schedule can be found here.
Other peace actions are going on and will be going on. In NYC, Friday September 15, Saturday September 16 and Sunday September 17 (7:00 pm each night), The People Speak directed by Will Pomerantz and Rob Urbinati. This is a workshop adaptation of
Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove's Voices of a People's History of the United States. The workshop will take place at The Culture Project's Bleecker Street Theater on 45 Bleecker Street. Tickets are ten dollars and can be ordered online here or here or purchased in person at the box office (box office does not take ticket orders). For those in NYC or that will be during those dates, click here for a map. The presentation is part of the Impact Festival.
CODEPINK's Troops Home Fast action continues is on day 64, and due to continue through September 21st, with at least 5,023 people participating. Those wanting to fast can grab a one-day fast at any point between now and the 21st or grab a one-day a week fast. Long term fasts are also possible but seek out advice before embarking on any long term fast.
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco continues.
Another soldier has testified via videolink. This one, Soldier 20, shared a room with Soldier 14 whose DNA was found on Jake Kovco's pistol. Soldier 20 appears to have left himself ample wiggle room.
The Advertiser reports that Soldier 20 stated Soldier 14 was in the room with him, that they both yelled at the room next door (Kovco's) due to the "loud music, singing and 'obnoxious digger s**t" and that he was attempting to sleep and Soldier 14 was on a laptop. But when asked "if Soldier 14 could have left the room while he was trying to sleep" the response from Soldier 20 to this yes or no question was, "To the best of my knowledge sir, he didn't leave the room."
More wiggle room could be found in the testimony of Brendan Nelson, Defence Minister and "
star on the rise in the Government" (Michael Edwards, ABC's PM). Nelson's come under considerable heat for issuing statements, attention getting ones (well he's a 'star on the rise,' isn't he?). So Brendy gave his statement to the inquiry and, guess what, it wasn't him. Malcolm Brown reports (Sydney Morning Herald) that "Brendan Nelson, has distanced himself from a story that circulated soon after Jacob Kovco was killed in Iraq -- that he [Kovco] accidentally shot himself while cleaning his weapon." Nelson's statement contains this laughable statement: "The media used the term, 'cleaning his gun,' I never did, now was I told by any person." Fortunately for Chuckles Nelson, ABC is more than ready to clean up after him. On PM, Michael Edwards states Nelson's laughable claim (we'll get to it -- it's laughable) and then an actor recites Nelson's statement (in a re-inactment). That passes for reporting.
Will it pass for the truth? Only if ABC scrubs their own earlier stories. Nelson's trying to deal reality. We noted reality here
on April 27th:
"As noted by Australia's ABC and
WBAI's Wakeup Call, Jake Kovco remains in Iraq. Kovoco died in Iraq last week. Jacob Bruce Kovco was twenty-five years old and was to be honored this week in the Gippsland community of Briagolong. For that to happen, Kovco's body would need to make it to Australia. The wrong body was in the coffin. Brendan Nelson, Australia's Defense Minister, tells of breaking the news to Shelley Kovco and when the widow demanded to speak with Prime Minister John Howard, Nelson dialed the number. Nelson then angered family members (brother of the deceased, Benn Kovco, and mother of the deceased, Judy Kovco) by making statements regarding the death (which is still under investigation)."
From ABC's "
Kovco's family demands answer" (April 27, 2006 8:12 pm): "Defence Minister Brendan Nelson has further angered the family of dead Australian soldier Jake Kovco with comments about the manner of the Private's death in Iraq last week. . . . . Dr Nelson had previously said Private Kovco was maintaing his weapon when it discharged, killing him, but today he told Macquarie radio that is not the case. 'He wasn't in fact cleaning his weapon,' he said. There was obviously a live round in it which there should not have been.' His comments have angered Prviate Kovco's mother Judy."
While his original statements did use "maintaining" (as opposed to "cleaning"), it is the same difference. And when he felt the need to take to the airwaves with new statements, he clearly stated "cleaning." AAP reports that Nelson's statement also included this: "I would like to say there was no attempt at cover-up, deceit or misinformation." Presumably, he means then because his statement to the inquiry seems to attempt several.
Brendan Nelson's original statement: "I am advised that the soldier was simply handling his weapon and maintaining it as soldiers are required to do and for some unexplained reason, the firearm discharged and the bulletin unfortunately uh-uh entered the soldier's head.
Brendan Nelson's second statement (April 27, 2006): "He was in a room, uh, with two of of his mates who were doing other things, working on a computer and so on, and he was, it appears, the information I now have, is he wasn't, in fact, cleaning his weapon. It was near him, in his vicinity, and he made some kind of movement which suggest that it discharged. Obviously there was a live round in it which there should not have been. That's as much as I should probably say right now."
Or maybe it was more than you should have said to begin with? The media used the term because Nelson used "maintaining" and Nelson used "cleaning" himself. Take some accountability.
Things just happen under Chuckles Brendy Nelson's watch. Things just happen and they're never his fault. The Kovco family is obvioulsy overreacting. So is the Lawton family, we're sure. The Lawton family? Oh, Paul Lawton died August 31st.
Mark Dunn (Herald Sun) reports that his mother and his "former wife" learned of his death via . . . a cell phone calls (no sympathies expressed). So, no, it's not just the Kovco family. Nelson's department appears as unwilling/unable to learn from mistakes as he does. (Hint: First step is accepting the blame for your actions.)
The hearing also heard from someone many Americans probably hoped never to hear from again: Robert Jensen. Speaking in his role as mouth piece, president and CEO of
Kenyon International, Jensen told the hearing the mix up between the corpses of Jake Kovco and Juso Sinanovic wasn't his company's fault. Michael Edwards reported to Eleanor Hall (The World Today) that Jensen blamed (a) "the lack of experience within the Australian Defence Force," (b) the use of visual identification [which apparently wasn't used -- but it's clear you can say anything to this inquiry board and never be challenged], (c) Australia lacks clear guidelines on how to "repatriate bodies" [which one might assume is something Kenyon International should have pointed out when they won the contract] and (d) "unreal expectations."
Flashback to Robert Jensen jawing in the after effects of Hurricane Katrina a year ago: "
This is not going to be quick or easy. It is not something that will be handled in a couple of weeks." Well he got that right. While he was jawing away, it's surprising no one asked him to offer a theory as to how Soldier 14's DNA ended up on Jake Kovco's gun because Jensen is a forensic scientist (or was i.d.ed as such plenty of times on CNN prior to Hurricane Katrina). But apparently physical evidence, like shifting stories, are something the inquiry will ignore.
Russell Skelton (The Age) reports that Jake Kovco's father-in-law, David Small, has termed Jensen's comments "pathetic nonsense" and stated, "We are utterly disgusted. The contract was to bring Jake Kovco home and they failed to do that. They had an obligation to check the contents of the casket. . . . Kenyon was not hired just to bring a casket home."

Check out Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's thoughts and I'm rushing tonight because there's a leak in my sister's sink and I told her I'd see if I could fix it. She says the hot water won't shut off all the way, it drips.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Long weekend

Tuesday and I hope everybody had a good holiday. One of the big things I did over the long weekend, was get some sleep, believe it or not. I had a lot of fun but I also logged a lot of Z-hours. :D

It was pretty cool and I hadn't realized how tired I was. The Third Estate Sunday Review were working on a goodbye New York edition to their friends and all so they insisted everybody take the night off. Which ended up being pretty cool. Rebecca ended up scoring everyone tickets to a play so we got to see Mother Courage with her and Fly Boy. That was pretty cool.

The Third Estate Sunday Review saying goodbye to New York? Yep, I told you it was happening, remember? They told me Saturday morning -- or confirmed I had been right all summer. I'm happy for them. I'm going to miss having them pretty close but I know they liked California and all. And especially started liking it better than New York, so I'm happy for them.
They write about it in "Relocation" so check that out. Check it all out but be sure to check out
"TV: Swift Justice" -- Dad was hoping against hope that Justice would be a show worth watching and he hated the show. He says the review captures the show perfectly.

Speaking of reviews, you gotta check out "Kat's Korner: Michael Franti & Spearhead Yell Music! (Are you listening?)" because you gotta get Yell Fire! That is probably my favorite CD of the last few months if not the whole year. Be sure to check out Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's thoughts.

I think the Jake Kovco hearing is coming to a close. He's the Australian soldier who died on April 21, 2006 and he's their first soldier to die in Iraq. They still don't seem to know what killed him. I'm not sure they are very concerned with that. I'm not impressed with the hearing at all. Jake Kovco's family really let the hearing have it and you can find out about all that and more in
C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Tuesday, September 5, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Bully Boy spouts hot air, the so-not-successful 'crackdown' in Baghdad is extended for another month, Ehren Watada and others rally in Seattle, Washington and, in Australia, the family of Jake Kovco delivers a blistering evaluation of the hearing into the death of Kovco.
As already noted, 29 US troops have died in the last ten days (that's counting today). The figure has already risen. Centcom reports that: "Two Marines and one Sailor assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died Monday due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." 32 in ten days -- and where is the coverage? The total number of US troops who have died in Iraq since the beginning of the illegal war now stands at 2656 (three up since this morning as a result of Centcom's announcement of three more deaths on Monday). (117 is the number of British troops killed thus far, including the two who died on Monday Retuers reports a British soldier has been shot north of Basra and is "seriously wounded.".)
China's People's Daily reports that three are dead and five wounded from a roadside bomb and a car bomb in Samarra. AP reports that "a house explosion" in Mosul left two wounded.
CNN reports that a drive-by shooting left three dead in Baghdad while four drive-bys resulted in seven deaths in Baquba. Tthe sevend dead includes three police officers. Reuters reports that they were killed by "a rocket-propelled grenade" aimed at their car and that, near Latifiya, a Shi'ite pilgrim was shot dead and three others wounded.
Reuters reports five corpses ("blindfolded . . . gunshot wounds . . . signs of torture) were discovered near Suwayra and seven corpses discovered in Baghdad. And the BBC reports the kidnapping, on Friday, of Ghanim Khudayer, 22-year-old football player/star who had been planning to sign with a team in Syria to escape the violence in Iraq. Khudayer was kidnapped in Baghdad.
Baghdad, city of the fabled 'crackdown' that began on June 14th and has been so 'successful.' Baghdad is also where the Iraqi parliament is meeting for the first time in a month (a month's vacation when your country is falling apart seems more than a bit indulgent -- to put it mildly).
AP reports that their first act was to renew the so-called crackdown for another month. Al Jazeera reports that "a possible federal break up of the country at the top of its agenda." AFP reports that discussion times was also devoted to the issue of a new flag, this on the day when at least twenty Iraqis have been killed. No word as to whether or not Nouri al-Maliki should sport mutten chops is also on the agenda.
Alastair MacDonald (Reuters) reports that Iraqi president Jalal Talabani has stated that all British forces in Iraq could leave by the end of 2007; however, like the last guest who won't take a hint no matter how you yawn to indicate the hour is late, Margaret Beckett, England's Foreign Secretary pooh-paed the notion and termed progress on the ground in Iraq "very slow." Yes, but you were all but ordered to leave.
In the United States,
AP reports that Bully Boy has delcared the nation to be "safer but not safe" which is either an attempt to, yet again, personally profit from fear or he's got a self-destruct wish and continues to feel the need to feed fuel to the impeachment efforts.
In peace news,
Jennifer Sullivan (Seattle Times) reports that a march and demonstration for immigrant rights, reproductive rights, an end to the war and more led to a thousand participating including Ehren Watada and eleven members of The Raging Grannies Action League who sang, as Raging Granny Carolyn Hale put it, "for peace and justice for all. We have a lot to sing about."
Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing, heard testiomony Thursday August 17th and has since recommended a court-martial for Watada. As the recommendation works through the chain of command, more information on Watada can be found at Courage to Resist and
In Washington, DC,
Camp Democracy is up and running and "free and open to the public" though they caution you should bring your own chair if possible. Among today's scheduled activities was a march and tomorrow Congress members Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey, Maxine Waters, Jim McGovern and Bob Filner are among those scheduled to be participating in events. A complete schedule can be found here.
One person who is not at Camp Democracy is Cindy Sheehan.
Speaking to Bill Whitaker (Waco Tribune-Herald), Cindy Sheehan explained that due to her surgery and (intense) activity over this summer, she's going to be taking some time to heal and rest in the immediate future. Sheehan noted that Camp Casey is a permanent presence and, on the subject of the Bully Boy's avoidance of Crawford this year, stated: "I don't see it as so much a victory as just proof that our presence is very effective. I would rather he was here because then he would see us and we would still be out at the (ranch) checkpoint all the time protesting and things like that. I believe they (the White House) changed their schedule constantly when we changed our schedule." Reflecting on the differences between last summer's Camp Casey and this summer's Camp Casey III, Sheehan noted: " Well, if you look at the past year, so many things have happened. When I came to Crawford last year, 51 percent (of the American public) disapproved of the war. Now I've seen some as high as 67 percent. I'm seeing so much grass-roots activism all over the country. Just this past week there were thousands of people protesting in Salt Lake City."
Sheehan is the subject of a song on
David Rovic's new CD out today. "Song for Cindy Sheehan" is among the tracks appearing on Halliburton Boardroom Massacre.
In legal news,
Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi (usually reduced to "14-year-old girl") was raped and murdered in Iraq on March 12, 2006. Also murdered were her parents Qassim Hamza Raheem and Fakhriya Taha Muhasen and her five-year-old sister Hadeel Qassim Hamza. On June 30th, Steven D. Green was arrested in the United States and will be tried in federal courts for his alleged role in the rape and murders. Green had been discharged from the military. On August 17th, an Article 32 hearing was held in Baghdad for five soldiers still serving in the military. One of the five, Anthony W. Yribe, was charged with failure to report the alleged crimes (dereliction of duty). The other four were charged with rape, murder and arson and the Article 32 hearing was to determine whether the evidence merited moving forward with the charges.
Rebecca Santana (AP) reports that Col. Dwight Warren has recommended that the other four (James P. Barker, Jesse V. Spielman, Paul E. Cortez, and Bryan L. Howard) face a court-martial because, his report states, "reasonable grounds exist to believe that each of the accused committed the offense for which he is charged." During the Article 32 hearing, the defense argued stress, fatigue, etc. (And, in fact, the New York Times, with Robert F. Worth and Carolyn Marshall's "G.I. Crime Photos May Be Evidence," manged to argue that defense before the hearing could even commence.) As CNN reported, Captain Alex Pickands' counter argument to those claims was, "Murder, not war. Rape, not war. That's what we're here talking about today. Not all that business about cold food, checkpoints, personnel assignments. Cold food didn't kill that family. Personnel assignments didn't rape and murder that 14-year-old little girl." Santana reports that David Sheldon, attorney for James P. Barker, intends to arguein a court-martial that, in the field and in the Article 32 hearing, his client didn't get the support he needed.
Turning to Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco continues. Yesterday,
Sydney's ABC reports, military psychologist Col. Peter Murphy testified that Jake Kovco "was not behaving in a way that would suggest he was likely to commit suicide" and that he did not display any of the known indicators of sucide.
Jake Kovco was killed by a bullet to the head, the gun used was his own and that's about all, after all this time, that anyone's been able to establish. A variety of contradicatory testimony has been given throughout the hearing.
Last week, Soldier 14 admitted that he and Kovco's roommates, Soldiers 17 and 19, "had discussions on a numerous occassions trying to work out what happened." Unlike Soldier 17's claim that Kovco was a 'cowboy' with his pistol, this statement wasn't amplified (or headlined). For any who have fogotten, though Soldier 17 admitted he never saw any such behavior himself (and remember that Jake Kovco was well versed in guns long before he joined the military), he stated he'd 'heard' about it from people that he couldn't name -- and he got away with that. (And his charge, about something he'd never seen, was amplified and headlined.)
If all the numbers leave you confused, you're not the only one.
Last week, Australia's Nine Networks aired footage of Soldier 14 (whose DNA was found on Kovco's pistol) and they were the first to break the policy not to identify (by name) anyone testifying or to show them. (Those wishing to see the video, this page has a link.) The Australian reports that Australia's Defence Minister Brendan Nelson is making noises of how such actions (showing the footage or revealing names) could destroy morale and therefore security and blah, blah, blah. They're witnesses in a public hearing. No one's argued that they need any sort of witness relocation program after the hearing. And Nelson was far from worried about morale when he made (obviously false) claims to the media (for which he had to issue a retraction). Were a screen capture possible from the footage, we would have posted Soldier 14's face here last week.
Soldier 14 was on duty with Kovco the day he died. He was "two-seconds away" from the room Kovco died in. His DNA is on the gun. His 'excuse' for why it was on the gun was deemed ridiculous
by the DNA expert. (He stated he must have touched a bullhorn, radio, or something that Kovco did while they were both on duty. Then Kovco must have touched it and then Kovco must have transferred it to the gun. The DNA expert, Michelle Franco, stated that was unlikely to have occurred and noted that Soldier 14's DNA on the pistol's slide was greater than Kovco's which, even if a transfer had been likely, means that it did not get on the gun via a transfer of the sort Soldier 14 describes. For it to have been on the slide in the concentration it was, she stated, he would have had to have touched the gun.) But he and all other soldiers testifying are numbered and not named. National security? Morale?
On the latter, since it seems very likely (
best explanation for the bungles) that the early investigation and Jake Kovco's body were rushed so he could arrive home by Aznac Day (only he didn't, the body of Bosnian carpenter Juso Sinanovic was mistakenly sent to Australia instead) to score a p.r. coup (even Juso Sinanovic didn't arrive then, he arrived the day after), morale is a laughable resort at this late date. Morale probably also went out the window when Nelson claimed on national TV that Kovco had killed himself while cleaning his gun (he had to retract that false claim).
Australia's ABC, which has followed the strange guidelines to the letter, reports that "director-general of the Defence Community Organisation, Janet Stodulka, says it is a common sense decision, appreciated by soldiers and their families" -- it being the decision not to identify witnesses in the PUBLIC hearing. Australia's ABC was where Nelson made his (false) claim about how Jake Kovco had died -- back when "morale" and "national security" weren't apparently a big concern and "common sense" was in short supply.
Meanwhile, Amanda Dynes (who for some strange reason, can be identified with no risk to national security or morale) has testified.
ABC reports that Group Captain Dynes, a military doctor, testified that she doesn't understand how the mix up of Juso Sinanovic and Jake Kovco occurred -- noting that there was a twenty year age difference between the two (Sinanovic was twenty years older), that she observed an identification tag on Juso Sinanovic's arm properly identifying him, and that Juso Sinanovic had a "thick moustache and a hairy body, while there was little hair on the body of Private Kovco" -- leading her to wonder if anyone had even bothered to open the body bags before sending what was thought to be Jake Kovco's body to Australia?
Belinda Tasker (NewsCom) reports that Dynes also testified to an identification tag on the body bag containing Juso Sinanovic, the fact that he had intravenous tubes, while Kovco had a tatoo and "badly bruised eyes." But supposedly, the body was checked -- that's what previous testimony has noted. If Dynes is being truthful (not doubting her), the question remains as to how anyone could have done their assigned duty (and it was an assigned duty, not a favor, they were ordered -- that includes not just Soldier 2) and Juso Sinanovic's body could have been shipped to Australia by mistake.
Judy Kovco, mother of Jake Kovco, previously referred to the "Keystone Cop" mentality at play and had to leave the hearing because she was so upset by the bungles and what she saw (which this community agrees with) as ineptitude continuing throughout the hearing. What's being called a family statement (and apparently represents the parents of Jake Kovco, Judy and Martin, Shelly Kovco, Jake's widow, as well as Jake Kovco's siblings) was read by Jake Kovco's step-brother Ben to the inquiry Monday.
Tracy Ong and Dan Box (The Australian) provide the background to the statement noting the stripping of Jake Kovco's room (where he died -- before forensic tests could be conducted, and the clothes he was wearing were also destroyed before testing) and note that the Kovco family has termed this a "face-saving exercise" on the part of senior officers of the Australian Defence Force and that the actions indicate "negligence that defies belief." Belinda Tasker (The Age) reports the statement included: "Though we would like to believe otherwise, it is very difficult to move beyond the undesirable idea that the ADF and its representatives have gone out of their way to destroy as much evidence as possible in an attempt to protect the organisation and its personnel from any implication of wrongdoing." Malcolm Brown (Syndey Morning Herald) reports: "Mr [Ben] Kovco said he believed there had been a conspiracy to cover up, collusion between soldiers, that the room had been contaminated as a crime scene and the Defence Force had waited for nine days before interviewing witnesses."
ABC reports the response of the Australian Defense Association disputes the statement and that the head, Neil James (and remember these are his words), stated of the integrity issue, "We don't have too much of a concern about it, remembering that of the three-man board of inquiry, one of them is an outsider, is an independent member, a retired New South Wales coroner and one of the other two members, whilst he is in the military as a reservist, is a respected New South Wales judge in civilian life," Well, they certainly haven't conducted themselves as if they ever had "too much concern".
Via The Australian (which provides extracts of the Kovco's family statement), we'll close with (some of) their words read to the inquiry by Ben Kovco:
"Given the current evidence of Jake's roommates, at the time officers in Iraq would have very soon after the incident been aware that neither could, or was willing to say, how Jake was killed. Under these circumstances, even the most ill-informed, indeed an individual who had never before investigated a potential crime scene, would know better than to allow the only potential witnesses to wash their clothes and themselves, return to their daily duties and then allow the clothing of the deceased to be destroyed.
"Trained military officers and MPs have no excuse. They are not new to this environment. It is hard to imagine what the NSW Police officers must have thought, arriving to a fully stripped, effectively sterilised room with a couple of blood stains on the carpet and a hole in the ceiling. "Hearing the testimony of the soldiers directly involved with Jake on April 21st was frustrating in the extreme. To touch on the absurdity of their evidence, we have Jake killed by a gunshot wound while in very confined quarters with two other individuals, soldiers 17 and 19. Soldier 19 claims to be looking away from Jake when he heard the gun shot yet says he reacted and turned quickly enough to see Jake falling to the floor. Soldier 17 openly admits to have been facing Jake, sitting so close that he was almost in bodily contact, yet saw nothing. In fact, the claim is that he heard the gun shot and was completely unaware of an imposing six-foot tall man falling to the floor practically on top of him. Difficult to stomach from professional soldiers, whose training equips them better than most to observe and report. "Soldier 14 is then unable or unwilling to adequately explain the presence of his DNA in larger quantities than Jake's own DNA on the weapon that killed Jake ... He also offers an account of Jake supposedly mishandling his pistol the week before his death, accounting in detail an event that has been demonstrated in the inquiry to be physically impossible. Furthermore, Soldier 14, via his legal representative refuses to co-operate with the NSW Police.
"Soldiers 14, 17 and 19 have provided all this to the board as their sworn testimony, but as conscious individuals, it is absolutely insulting to have this evidence put to us as the full and honest truth. Perhaps these soldiers can live with the decisions they have made and the effect it may have on finding the truth about Jake's death. Likely, it will play on their minds for the rest of their lives. I hope they can live with that because we cannot. Not knowing exactly what happened to our son and brother will haunt us for the rest of our lives. "Though we would like to believe otherwise, it is very difficult to move beyond the undesirable idea that the ADF and its representatives have gone out of their way to destroy as much evidence as possible in an attempt to protect the organisation and its personnel from any implication of wrongdoing. The actions described above (among many others) coupled with the disturbing inability of the witnesses to the event to provide any credible account of what happened, makes it very nearly impossible to reach the truth of what occurred in room 8 and in this the ADF is solely responsible and their actions have almost ensured that the truth may never be found.''