Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Dave Zirin, Guantanamo, Agustin Aguayo

Tuesday. Not such a great day. First because of what happened and second because I've been to BuzzFlash and Truthout and see nothing on it. If you haven't seen C.I.'s snapshot yet,
Agustin Aguayo has been sentenced to eight months in prison in his court-martial that was held today. I think all the news is Scooter, Scooter, Scooter. He is the left's Britney. Which is really too bad because Agustin Aguayo showed real bravery and strength and courage. We should all be proud of him and I know I am, I know the community is and I know everyone in my house is.
The snapshot was really late today and that was largely due to the weaklings of Appeal to Redress. C.I. wanted to check with everyone and make sure they were okay with it. I think that's my fault because I think everyone else will just post the snapshot regardless.

My only thing I've ever taken out is to a link that I think C.I.'s being fair about but I don't care for the thing being linked to. So I made a real point to explain that I wouldn't edit out opinions (we all want C.I. to offer opinions in the snapshots -- that's community wide, not just people who run blogs) so I also made it clear that I'd never edit out an opinion. I pipe off here all the time and I know there are times when C.I. hears about it and always stands with me. So I'm not editing out anything from the snapshot anymore even if I don't like the link. I felt really bad that C.I. felt the need to check with everyone that would be posting the snapshot.

Of course, we all agree with what's said. Appeal to Redress is a joke. It's made itself that. It's useless and it's not anti-war or about peace. They prove that everytime they open their mouths. I know The Nation pushes it but that's their sort of thing. They want you to beg elected officials, to scrape and bow before them and to never do anything that really matters. So this nonsense that is Appeal to Redress is right up their alley.

They've put nothing on the line with their Appeal to Redress. They've put nothing on the line and when they speak, their members say crap like, "I'll take orders, no matter what." This is nothing but some "Sign a petition! Now you're an activist!" Nonsense. And by refusing to put anything on the line, they made it easy for Congress to ignore them which, reality check, Congress has.

This is the weakest petition in the world and even so you still have people that are being picked to speak for the petition who can't even support the very basics. It's been a waste of time. It's taken attention away from real efforts to end the war. It's stripped people of their power. We'll probably be doing an editorial on this nonsense at The Third Estate Sunday Review.

When C.I. was reading me that part of the snapshot I was really shocked. C.I.'s really held back on that petition at The Common Ills. So I was surprised it was that hard hitting (I agreed with it). I think it needed to be said and I think the people they choose to speak have taken enough pot shots at Ehren Watada and others who have actually stood up. They didn't hide behind "I'll do whatever I'm ordered to do. It's my job." The war resisters stood up. These whiney little goons don't do anything but jaw bone about "We've gotten 200 more signatures!" To a useless petition! It's like a Senate resolution on Iraq -- it does nothing and it's meaningless.

Okay, this has sports and it has history. Best of all it's by Dave Zirin. It's from "Resurrecting Don Barksdale:"

Should someone who averaged 11 points and eight rebounds over a four-year NBA career make the Basketball Hall of Fame? I'm not talking about Chris Kaman or the immortal Eddie Lee Wilkins. This is the story of a gentleman named Don Angelo Barksdale and a movement to compel the NBA to do right by their own past. Today, Don Barksdale is sports history's invisible man, a trailblazer who resides in shadows.
Everybody knows Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball's color line in 1947. Fewer will know the NFL was desegregated by Robinson's UCLA teammate Kenny Washington and future Hollywood actor Woody Strode. The more serious sports fan will also will tell you that Nate "Sweetwater" Clifton was the first African American to sign a contract with an NBA team and Earl Lloyd the first to actually get off the bench and log some playing time. More will know the immortal Bill Russell was the first black basketball head coach.
But I challenge even the most die-hard hoops junkie - someone who mainlines Allen Iverson youtube videos in their lunch hour - to name the first black NCAA All American. I challenge you to name the first African American to make the U.S. Olympic team. I challenge you to name the first black man to play in the NBA All-Star game. Go on, ask your most hoops-fiending friend and I promise you'll get that "Bush in the headlights" look. The answer to all these questions is Don Barksdale. Barksdale died in 1993 of throat cancer at the age of 69, and there is a push simmering to make sure the history he represents doesn't die with him.
The charge to put Barksdale in Springfield is being led by a 6 foot 6 inch former pro baller named Doug Harris. Harris is the executive director of Athletes United for Peace, and works teaching videography skills to underprivileged kids who otherwise would never see a camera. He also directed a documentary on Barksdale called Bounce.

Don Barksdale? Did you know about him? I didn't. (If you don't follow sports, you've got an excuse.) (I don't.) Tony just came in to ask me if I'd heard something? I hadn't. They're not going to allow reporters to cver the Guantanamo hearings. They'll release a transcript that they censor first. And it's supposed to be a democracy? I hadn't heard that. Here's the latest press release from the Center of Constitutional Rights on Guantanamo but it doesn't say anything about Guantanamo. Tony was eating and thinks he heard it on NPR so I'll check that in a second. This is "GUANTÁNAMO DETAINEES RETURN TO SUPREME COURT FOR THIRD TIME IN CHALLENGE TO MILITARY COMMISSIONS ACT:"

March 5, 2007, Washington, DC and New York, NY -- The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) joins co-counsel today in petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari, asking it to review a lower court decision dismissing the cases Al Odah v. United States and Boumediene v. Bush filed on behalf of detainees at Guantánamo Bay. The Supreme Court is being asked to grant review and hear the cases on an expedited basis in May.
CCR, which represents many of the detainees at Guantánamo and coordinates the work of nearly 500 pro bono attorneys, is seeking Supreme Court review on behalf of many of the same men who were part of its landmark case Rasul v. Bush. The Supreme Court held in Rasul in 2004 that Guantánamo is not beyond the reach of U.S. law and that the detainees there have the right to challenge their detention in U.S. courts, and directed the lower courts to consider the merits of those challenges. The Court invalidated the Guantánamo military commissions process in a habeas challenge brought by a detainee in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld in 2006. This would be the third time the Court addresses challenges to the legality of government practices at Guantánamo.
These would be the first cases argued before the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA). The MCA, which was signed into law by President Bush on October 17, 2006, is the second attempt by the Bush administration to strip detainees of their statutory right of access to the courts through habeas corpus, a right that the Supreme Court affirmed both in CCR's landmark case Rasul v. Bush in 2004 and in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld in 2006. Attorneys for Hamdan filed papers last week seeking review by the Court again as well. Despite the Court's two previous rulings, nearly 400 detainees still remain imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay without charge or trial, never having had any meaningful chance to show that they deserve to be released.
On February 20, 2007, a divided panel of three judges of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that the Guantánamo detainees have no constitutional right to habeas corpus review of their detentions in federal court. Because the court also found the MCA eliminated any statutory right of access to the courts under habeas corpus, it dismissed their cases. The Center for Constitutional Rights is challenging the majority's decision.
"We look forward to being heard by the Supreme Court as soon as possible," said Shayana Kadidal, supervising attorney of CCR's Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative. "The Supreme Court has twice ruled in favor of the detainees. Yet hundreds of men have been imprisoned for more than five years without ever having a fair hearing because the administration, the lower courts and Congress have effectively ignored those rulings. The Court needs to make plain for the third time that it meant what it said."
Attorneys submitted an accelerated briefing schedule to ensure that the cases will be heard before the Supreme Court goes on summer recess; otherwise, the question of whether Guantánamo detainees still have the right to challenge their indefinite detention through habeas corpus might go unanswered until 2008. The Solicitor General's Office has agreed to expedited briefing of CCR's request that the Supreme Court hear the case, and will file its response on March 21, 2007. The parties have asked the Court to consider the detainees' request for review at its next conference on March 30, 2007. Attorneys for the detainees have also proposed that briefing on the merits of the cases be completed by May 1, and that the Supreme Court hear oral argument on May 7. Under this schedule, the Court would likely hand down a decision in June or July 2007.
CCR Executive Director Vincent Warren said, "It has been almost three years since the Supreme Court's Rasul decision and not a single detainee has had a meaningful chance to argue in federal court that he deserves to be released. Every significant legal issue here was resolved by the Supreme Court in 2004. Now it should restore the right to habeas corpus and give our clients their day in court."
Al Odah v. United States, filed jointly by CCR, co-counsel Shearman & Sterling LLP, and a number of other law firms, consists of eleven habeas petitions, including many of the first ones filed after the Supreme Court's Rasul decision. The Boumediene appeal, filed by Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP and heard with a case brought by Clifford Chance LLP, is on behalf of six Bosnian-Algerian humanitarian workers seized by the U.S. military in Sarajevo after Bosnian courts determined that a three-month investigation had unearthed no evidence to support their continued detention and ordered local authorities to release them. In Al Odah, Senior U.S. District Court Judge Joyce Hens Green held that detainees possess "the fundamental right to due process of law under the Fifth Amendment" and that certain detainees are protected by the Geneva Conventions. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon reached the opposite conclusion in Boumediene, ruling that the detainees possess no substantive rights to vindicate through habeas corpus. The two cases were argued together on appeal. The Court of Appeals took nearly two years to decide the cases.

Okay, nothing on NPR's website and Tony's freaking out so I called C.I. (I believe Tony.) Dona's getting C.I. Okay, C.I. says Tony isn't crazy, that is correct, the media's been banned from the trials and said to check All Headline News. Yeah, I see they've got something. It's called "Pentagon Says 14 New Terror Trials At Guantanamo Will Not Allow Media" and like Tony said, the media's banned, the press will get transcripts only after the trials are complete and the transcripts will be censored by the US government. Don't you love what Bully Boy thinks passes for open government?

I believed Tony and kept telling him I did. But when we couldn't find it at CCR or NPR or BuzzFlash, he started saying he must have heard wrong and "Take it out!" No way. He's my best bud. He's not crazy. If he says he heard it, he heard it. I guess most people just don't consider it news. But it's covered. And you've got your link so you know it's true! :D

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

Tuesday, March 6, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the US military announced the death of 9 service member, a US war resister is court-martialed and sentenced to 8 months, Bully Boy invents a committe to distract the press from the Walter Reed scandal,
tears in the White House as one of their own is found guilty in a court of law, and, despite the 'crackdown,' over 100 are dead in Iraq today.

Starting with war resistance, today, in Germany
Agustin Aguayo's court-martial began.
Ashraf Khalil (Los Angeles Times) reports that Courage to Resist's Jeff Paterson expects "Aguayo will get up to a year in jail followed by a less than honorable or bad conduct discharge." Agustin Aguayo faces charges of missing movement and desertion. And Paterson made a strong guess. Catherine Hornby (Reuters) reports that Aguayo was convicted of the charges: "Aguayo, 35, pleaded guilty to going absent without leave and missing his deployment, but denied charges of full desertion. But Colonel Peter Masterton, the judge at the court-martial in southern Germany, said the court had found Aguayo guilty as charged and sentenced him to eight months in prison." AP notes that with the 161 days already served, Aguayo "could be free within a few weeks" and quotes Aguayo: "I respect everyone's views and your decision. I understand that people don't undestand me. I tried my best, but I couldn't bear weapons and I could never point weapons at someone. . . . The words of Martin Luther come to mind, 'Here I stand, I can do more'."

Agustin Aguayo did enough. He stood up and he was counted. The father of two eleven-year-old girls, husband of Helga, used his voice and refused to take part in an illegal war. As his two daughters wrote in a letter to him, which Helga spoke about in a video posted at Courage to Resist, that said "We are strong. We will get through this. Never forget that." Aguayo reasons may not be understood by all (and some pretend not to understand them) but he made his point and he stood up. That's a lot more than many do.

Yesterday on
KPFA's Flashpoints, Dennis Bernstein and Nora Barrows-Friedman hosted a speak out on the war. Of course some speak out and some whimper. The whimpers came first. Yes, it's the e-activists, the WalkOn kids, doing nothing but eating up air time. Listen, if you dare, to hear statments glorifying following orders (even when you think the war is illegal and/or immoral), statements of "I do the job I was hired for," statements of wimpering little children who take swipes at Ehren Watada more and more. As though their bended knee plea to a Congress shows any strength or has made a damn bit of difference.

Jonathan Hutto "But at the same time we have to make it clear that we're not" a long list of nots -- things they are not. And they're not smart and they're not accomplishing anything and they need to find a better use for the time. Hutto on Watada: "I personally don't believe that individual acts of refusal or desertion is what's going to change the actual culture of our country, the actual mission of the military."

"Is"? I guess the revision/recast of Hutto is so out of control that now he isn't even a college graduate who grasps subject-verb agreement? It is honestly hilarious to watch Hutto come off less and less educated with each interview. And you have to wonder what anyone thinks that will accomplish? (Or if they believe that past interviews aren't archived for those who want to seek them out?)

The e-activists aren't accomplishing anything. How many, Dennis Bernstein asked, Congress members had signed up to their plea? There was a long list of ones who had handed out 'atta boys, but in terms of actual support? Ten? Beg on your bended knees, boys and girls, but don't kid yourself that you're accomplishing anything with your anonymous activism (which applies not just to the signature but the marketing as well). You've been ignored by Congress, you've been brushed off. A few patted you on the head and that's it. Aguayo stood out, as have others, they wait on bended knee.

The e-activists were supposed to produce a petition and supposed to deliver it to Congress on MLK day but someone in the brain trust was too stupid to grasp that MLK Day is a holiday and Congress would be out of session. So they delivered it on the 16th of January. Why are they still boring everyone with their petition?

Is it 200 more signatures to a useless petition since then? "Patriotic!" they keep insisting! "Wouldn't want to do anything that wasn't okay with the military!" they brag. Is that really something to brag about, 200 more? Almost two months later? Does the toothless, symbolic petition have a point because most points have an ending but this is never ending -- or maybe the egos are just too mighty to nah-nah-nah-good-bye already. "I support continuing to do the mission," an e-activst with Appeal to Whimper told Dennis Bernstein. That would be the illegal war. It's past time that the peace movement and the anti-war movement stopped promoting those people who can't call the war out. Patrick Buchanan showed more bravery than these supposed anti-war activists. Dennis Bernstein attempted to bring up the issue of the principles outlined in the Nuremberg Trials. And the response?

"I chose to wear this uniform and I'm going to continue to do what I'm paid to do. But at the same time, I don't think there's anything wrong with petitioning Congress in this appeal for redress to say 'Hey, we could use a little help over here.' So that's my thing, I think that we should be able to appeal for redresses and at the same time getting on with the business of what we volunteered and are paid to do and that's uh go where we're told and do what we're told" at which point Jonathan Hutto tries to rescue his pro-war buddy. It's too late for a rescue. And it's past time that the left leave the nonsense e-activism to the 'left'.

Segment one plays out like a joke. Segment two is worth hearing (featuring
Iraq War Veterans Against the War) as Garrett Reppenhagen, Prentice Reid and Jason Lemieux speak strongly (no whimpers in this segment). (This is the section Elaine chose to start with when she wrote about the broadcast last night.) Reid spoke of participating in a protest in support of Mark Wilkerson because he feels the war is wrong. He feels the war is wrong. It's not that difficult to say -- unless, like the Hutto crowd, you've attempted to pass yourself off as something you're not and surrounded yourself with War Hawks just to get a electronic signature on your petition. (What might you do for a wet signature!) Reid's not been polished and doesn't have a crew of advisors, but he can speak proudly and strongly. Garrett spoke of his service and how Iraq was different from the way it was sold,
"I think that the administration bascially abused our sense of patriotism our sense of courage and our sense of values to motivate this nation to back the war.
And I wasn't happy about it. So the people I killed in Iraq and the missions I went on I don't feel supported American security, I don't think that it was very moral and just what we did,
and it went against what I was actually being trained for, as far as army values,
and as far as the characteristics of what a soldier represents and the values of the country."

Segment three features a heartbreaking story told by Tina Richards about the struggles her son Cloy had after returning from Iraq: "When he got back from Falluja he was completely broken, he suffered severe PTSD. He often called me where he was doing his MP duty at Camp Pendleton to tell me he had a gun in his mouth, he had to pull the trigger, he could no longer live with all of the innocent women and children he killed over in Iraq and that he didn't deserve to have a mother and a sister. And that is . . . It just, as a mother, tears you apart.
and you don't know what to do. And when he was deployed I was torn apart because I felt so helpless. And when I was trying to get him help through the VA system which, first the military and then the VA system which completely failed him I finally started getting involved with varioius activist groups such as
Veterans for Peace , Military Families Speak Out."

Then a speech by Cloy Richards was played where he discussed being told that they were shooting advancing insurgents and, looking at the bodies later, it was "women and children, elderly," about how his brother served in Iraq and has been torn apart by it (and is now headed to Afghanistan).

Jeff Paterson pointed out that
Courage to Resist is a resource for everyone -- it provides information, it raises money, it provides support. Most of all, Jeff Paterson pointed out,
"We heard a soldier earlier speak saying individual resistance doesn't matter. It doesn't
matter unless there's a community, a movement, backing them up. That they're part of something, that they're part of stopping a war. And that's what
Courage to Resist is dedicated to." Ramon Leal (Iraq Veterans Against the War) spoke of how the war was illegal and how "now that we know it's illegal, what to do about it?"

Amnesty International had an observer in the court room where
Agustin Aguayo's court-martial took place today and they have issued a statement:

Agustin Aguayo is a legitimate conscientious objector who should not be imprisoned for his beliefs, Amnesty International said today after Aguayo, a U.S. Army medic, was sentenced by U.S. court martial to eight months in prison for his refusal to participate in the war in Iraq. The organization considers Aguayo to be a "prisoner of conscince" and calls for his immediate and unconditional release.
"Refusing military service for reasons of conscience isn't a luxury -- it's a right protected under international human rights law," said Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA. "
Agustin Aguayo wasn't just complaining about his assignment -- he clearly made the case that he objects to war itself. He should be released."
It is evident from the statements made by Aguayo and members of his family that he is a legitimate conscientious objector whose opposition to war developed over the course of time and evolved further in response to his experiences in Iraq. Amnesty International believes that he took reasonable steps to secure release from the army through applying for conscientious objector status.

Aguayo stood strong and stood up today. He didn't whimper. He didn't say, "Give me my orders." He didn't, as an e-mail activist told Bernstein, say of course the war is illegal but he's happy to serve in it. Aguayo is part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as
Ehren Watada, Kyle Snyder, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Speaking of history, in these past months, while the world watched, the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq was broadcast on live TV. Like Osama bin Laden and the Taliban in Afghanistan, the regime of Saddam Hussein simply disappeared. This was followed by what analysts called a "power vacuum." Cities that had been under seige, without food, water, and electricity for days, cities that had been bombed relentlessly, people who had been starved and systematically impoverished by the U.N. sanctions regime for more than a decade, were suddenly left with no semblance of urban administration. A seven-thousand-year-old civilization slid into anarchy. On live TV.
Vandals plundered shops, offices, hotels, and hospitals. American and British soldiers stood by and watched. They said they had no orders to act. In effect, they had orders to kill people, but not to protect them. Their priorities were clear. The safety and security of Iraqi people was not their business. The security of whatever little remained of Iraq's infrastructure was not their business. But the security and safety of Iraq's oil fields were. Of course they were. The oil fields were "secured" almost before the invasion began.
On CNN and the BBC the scenes of the rampage were played and replayed. TV commentators, army and government spokespersons portrayed it as a "liberated people" venting their rage at a despotic regime. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said:
"[I]t's untidy. . . . [F]reedom's untidy. And free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things." Did anybody know that Donald Rumsfeld was an anarchist?
-- Arundahti Roy,
An Ordinary Person's Guide To Empire, "Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy (Buy One, Get One Free) pp. 46-49. The essay is from the a speech "first delivered May 13, 2003, at the Riverside Church, New York City, and broadcast live on Pacifica Radio. The lecture, sponsored by the Lannan Foundation and the Center for Economic and Social Rights, was delivered as an acceptance speech for the 2002 Lanna Prize for Cultural Freedom."

Rumsfeld, as Roy notes further in, refers to footage and basically claims that Iraq had just one vase in the entire country. That's not all that different from, in the face of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center scandal, claiming that the press is offering "one-sided" coverage which, as
Zachary Coile's (San Francisco Chronicle) points out, is just what Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley (army's surgeon general) did early on as the scandal was breaking. Yesterday, a House subcommittee asked questions and heard testimony, today, it was the Senate's turn with US Senator Carl Levin. Anne Flaherty (AP) reports that Levin stated the purpose early on, "Today's hearing is about another example of the lack of planning for a war that was premised on the assumption that combat operations would be swift, casualties would be minimal, and that we would be welcomed as liberators, instead of being attacked by the people we 'liberated'." AP also notes US Senator John McCain's comments: "I am dismayed this ever occurred. It was a failure in the most basic tenets of command responsibility to take care of our troops."

If you don't hear a great deal about the Senate committee's hearings, there's a reason for that. Bully Boy attempted to shift the topic and the press went along with it. He's created another one of his non-impressive commissions, this time chaired by former Britney Spears drooler and Viagra spokesperson Robert Dole and Donna Shalala who served as the Health and Human Services Secretary in former president Bill Clinton's administration.
CBS and AP report the commission is to be called The Wounded Warrior Commission.

Bully Boy, announcing the laughable commission, said something akin to, "Listen I am, I am as concerned as you are. My decision that put our kids in hard way."
On Democracy Now! today, Amy Goodman noted of the scandal: "Meanwhile Vermont Congressman Peter Welch said a major factor in the conditions at Walter Reed might be the result of the privatization of services. Welch cited a five-year $120 million contract given to a company called IAP Worldwide Services, which is operated by a former Halliburton executive. The Corporate Research Project is reporting IAP has close ties to the Republican Party. Ownership of the company is controlled by the giant hedge fund Cerberus, whose chair is former Bush Administration Treasury Secretary John Snow. The IAP board of directors includes former Vice President Dan Quayle and retired Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Michael Hagee."

When you're up to you neck in the scandal because it happened on your watch, because complaints were made and ignored, because cronies filled positions and because you turned over government's business to inept campaign contributors, start a faux commission quickly and hope the press stamps a happy face on it.

Bully Boy addressed the American legion today and, looking drunk or as though his face got run over,
CBS and AP report that he said he sees "encouraging signs" in the so-called crackdown. Well, as noted, he did look possibly drunk.

This on the day when the US military announces the deaths of 9 US service members in Iraq --
announced: "Task Force Lightning Soldiers were attacked while conducting combat operations in Salah ad Din province Monday. Six Task Force Lightning Soldiers died as a result of injuries sustained following an explosion near their vehicles. Three other Soldiers were wounded and taken to a Coalition medical facility for treatment."; and announced: "Task Force Lightning Soldiers were attacked while conducting combat operations in Diyala Province Monday. Three Task Force Lightning Soldiers died as a result of injuries sustained following an explosion near their vehicles. One other Soldier was wounded and taken to a Coalition medical facility for treatment." Both announcements came well before his laughable speech.

In addition, the ridiculous statement came on a day when there were over 100 reported deaths in Iraq.
CNN reports that, in Hillah and elsewhere, a series of attacks ("bombings and small arms attacks") "left over 120 dead and more than 200 wounded." This Bully Boy reads as "encouraging"? CBS and AP note: "Hours after the attack, boys used long-handled squeegees to push pools of blood off the road. The shoes and sandals of the victims were gathered in haphazard piles." Habib al-Zubaidi (Reuters) reports that the number of Shi'ite pilgrims killed is now at 149.

In addition to the mass attacks on Shi'ite pilgrims . . .


Reuters reports, in Mosul, five Iraqis were killed and 18 wounded by a "car bomb targeting an Iraqi army patrol," an attack on Iraqi soldiers in Baghdad killed four as well as "two civilians and wounded 11 others." Daliah Hassan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports (in addition to the four Iraqi soldiers killed) a car bomb targeting a check point killed 1 Iraq soldier and left 3 wounded, while a mortar attack in Basra injured a child and an adult and killed one person


Dalia Hassan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "The head of relations and media department in touriscm committee Ahmed Gati'a was killed when gun men shot him in Al-Iskandariya district (South of Baghdad)" and two police officers "were injured in an armed attack" in al-Abara.


Dalia Hassan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 24 corpses were discovered in Baghdad.

The topic of the care for veterans was the subject on today's
KPFA's The Morning Show, and among the guests were Peter Laufer, author of Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq, and Michael T. McPhearson of Veterans for Peace.

McPhearson noted that Walter Reed is "considered the jewel" so if the scandal's happening there, imagine what it's like elsewhere. Laufer noted a "Daniel" profiled in his book who was scheduled for his third tour of duty in Iraq and wanted out so he took cocaine, knowing he had a drug test coming up, to be "mustered out." After he was out, he attempted to get help in San Jose but "they refused him attention because he had been mustered out for failing one drug test." Philip Maldari (who co-hosts with Andrea Lewis) and McPhearson discussed the issue of how medical discharges can be held up if your unit doesn't have enough people with McPhearson adding, "You have pressure on you to meet an expectation. It's similar to the recruiters and then they end up maybe going across the line ethically." The comparisons to the care scandals during the Vietnam era and today were brought up and Laufer noted that the scandal was unfolding "at Walter Reed, right in the shadow of the White House, right in the shadow of the Pentagon". On this topic,
Danny Schechter (News Dissector, MediaChannel.org) notes: "250,000 -- Roughly, the number of American servicemen and women struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), 60,000 -- Almost the number of military marriages that have been broken by this war".

On the heels of one report that sounded the alarms re: life for women in Iraq, another report is released. Last week, Minority Rights Group International's
(PDF format) report "Assimilation, Exodus, Eradication: Iraq's minority communities since 2003" focused on religious and ethnice minorities as well as women (click here for a summary on the section on women). Now MADRE has released their report. Interviewed today by Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) with Houzan Mahmoud (Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq), MADRE's Yifat Susskind explained, "There's been, since the US invasion, a virtual epidemic of all forms of gender-based violence in Iraq, a sharp rise in violence against women in the public sphere, women being harassed, beaten, assassinated, raped. Much of it is directed by Islamist militias on both sides of the sectarian divide. But what is really remarkable is that much of the violence -- in fact, the most widespread violence -- in many instances is being carried out by these militias who are essentially the armed wings of the political parties that the US has boosted to power in Iraq. So these are sort of shock troops of political parties that are closely allied with the United States. At a certain point, the US was providing military training and arms and money to these militias, in the hopes that they would sort of step up where the official Iraqi army had not and were to combat the anti-US insurgency. You know, there's a lot of pieces that, you know, we've seen in the press sort of in bits and pieces. But what we haven't seen is kind of the story of the Iraq war told from the perspective of Iraqi women, and that's what we aim to do in the report."

From the Executive Summary of "
Promising Democracy, Imposing Theocracy: Gender-Based Violence and the US War on Iraq:"

Amidst the chaos and violence of US-occupied Iraq, the significance of widespread gender-based violence has been largely overlooked. Yet, Iraqi women are enduring unprecedented levels of assault in the public sphere, "honor killings," torture in detention, and other forms of gender-based violence. Women are not only being targeted because they are members of the civilian population. Women--in particular those who are perceived to pose a challenge to the political project of their attackers--have increasingly been targeted because they are women. This report documents the use of gender-based violence by Iraqi Islamists, brought to power by the US overthrow of Iraq's secular Ba'ath regime, and highlights the role of the United States in fomenting the human rights crisis confronting Iraqi women today.
drives that home.

And finally, the jury is no longer out on Scooter Libby. As noted October 31, 2005 on Democracy Now!:

Libby Resigns After Five Count Indictment in CIA Leak CaseFor the first time in 130 years, a White House staff member has been indicted for crimes committed in the office. On Friday, Lewis "Scooter" Libby was indicted on five counts of obstruction of justice, perjury to a grand jury and making false statements to FBI agents during the CIA leak investigation. If convicted, he faces up to 30 years in prison and $1.25 million in fines. Until Friday Libby was a central figure in the Bush White House holding three top positions: chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, national security adviser to the vice president and assistant to the president. Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald announced the indictment on Friday. President Bush's chief advisor Karl Rove has so far escaped indictment for his role in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame, the wife of Ambassador Joseph Wilson. But Rove remains under investigation. On Sunday Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid called on Bush to apologize and for Rove to resign. Bush and Cheney have both praised Libby for his service. The top candidate to replace Libby is David Addington who currently works as the vice president's legal counsel. Three years ago he wrote a memo that asserted the war on terrorism renders obsolete the Geneva Convention's limitations of questioning detainees. Ambassador Wilson accused Libby and the White House of outing his wife, Valerie Plame. He said, "Senior administration officials used the power of the White House to make our lives hell for the last 27 months. But more important, they did it as part of a clear effort to cover up the lies and disinformation used to justify the invasion of Iraq. That is the ultimate crime."

That was 2005. Today? He'll need a new nickname in prison, but the jury has decided and found him guilty of all but one charge.
CNN reports that the jurors "were certain of the former vice presidential aide's guilt, but they also harbored sympathy for him as a 'fall guy'." David Corn (The Nation) notes, "The ruling: Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff lied to federal investigators." Rory O'Connor (Media Is Plural, MediaChannel.org) notes that the jurors wondered where Karl Rove was and observes "Libby, of course, is the only person ever indicted after a multi-year investigation which ultimately reached deep inside the White House. The central issue in that investigation revolved around allegations that someone within the White House illegally disclosed classified information during the late spring and early summer of 2003, when it was revealed that Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who had criticized the Iraq policy, was married to an undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame."

agustin aguayo