Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Marjorie Cohn, Iraq

Hump day. I'm going to talk a bit by Iraq and bear with me if you're a regular reader. I'll bounce back shortly. Hopefully tomorrow or Friday.

This is from National Lawyers Guild president Marjoie Cohn's "The Drift Toward War with Iran:"

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to the United States has prompted an outcry, including protests and tabloid headlines calling him "evil" and a "madman." As Juan Cole says, "The real reason his visit is controversial is that the American right has decided the United States needs to go to war against Iran. Ahmadinejad is therefore being configured as an enemy head of state." The Bush administration, which maintains that "all options" remain on the table with Iran, should vigorously pursue the diplomatic option, instead of moving inexorably toward the military option.
Ahmadinejad said in a "60 Minutes" interview, "It's wrong to think that Iran and the U.S. are walking toward war. Who says so? Why should we go to war? There is no war in the offing." Iran has not threatened to attack the United States, or Israel for that matter, except if it is attacked first. Iranian authorities sent a proposal to the United States in May 2003 offering negotiations on a deal for Iran to freeze its nuclear program if the United States would end its hostility against Iran. The Bush administration thumbed its nose at the Iranian proposal, then tried to cover up the story, according to Trita Parsi, in his new book, Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States.
Bush has pursued a belligerent policy toward Iran ever since he inaugurated it into his "axis of evil" in January 2002. General David Petraeus and Bush both menacingly mentioned Iran five times in their respective August speeches touting how well things are going in Iraq. Petraeus referred to "malign actions" by Iran; Bush discussed Iran and al-Qaeda in the same breath even though Iran has never attacked us.
U.S. plans for war with Iran continue to escalate. Centcom (U.S. Central Command) has engaged in detailed contingency planning for an attack on Iran for more than two years. In June, the U.S. Air Force established Project Checkmate tasked with "fighting the next war." The Pentagon is building a military base near the Iran-Iraq border. Earlier this month, British forces, at the request of the Americans, were sent from Basra to the Iranian border. Two aircraft carrier groups (USS Nimitz and USS Truman) are reportedly en route to the Persian Gulf to join the USS Enterprise.

If you read on, you'll see that Hillary Clinton's on board with war with Iran, with baiting them into war, and so is Wesley Clark. Doesn't surprise me with either. And maybe Wes Clark shouldn't have been turned into such a hero last presidential election cycle. Maybe he's the best example of why this "Listen to the generals" nonsense needs to be stopped? I don't need a general to tell me Iraq is lost and that the US staying there only makes things worse. And I'm a citizen so in the United States, I'm not supposed to take a back seat to the military. Citizens are supposed to be behind the steering wheel, making the choices, driving the car.

C.I. was really pressed for time today and, I think, to make sure I blogged, asked me to grab Reuters on Iraq. To make sure I blogged because I really am not into this right now. I'm still upset about ___ and it really doesn't make me even want to blog. C.I. pointed out that when Wally was convinced the Dems would have a spine and block one of Bully Boy's Supreme Court nominees (Alito or Roberts, I forget which now), Wally took a break and I should think about taking a break if I wanted one. I appreciate that and know it was meant and know when Wally was on his break, C.I. told everyone, "Do not ask him when he is going to blog, do not pressure him." C.I. ran interference and gave support and I know I'd get that as well. But I was telling C.I. on the phone that I thought if I took a break, I'd just stop completely.

The whole thing that happened left a really sour taste and words like "crushing" come to mind. And if I walk away to take a break, I know me, I won't come back.

I called C.I. about something else this afternoon (a question about a court case we're studying in one of my classes) and C.I. said the snapshot would be late and asked if I would be able to cover Reuters on Iraq? (C.I. also answered my question about the court case in full.) I know it is busy on the road this week talking about Iraq but I also know C.I. was trying to help me out.

So here's Reuters' summary of what happened in Iraq today (and some of this is in the snapshot via McClatchy Newspapers' reporting): 32 people dead from 2 car bombs in Baghdad (twenty-eight wounded), 4 dead from a bombing in Basra, 7 dead from two car bombs in Shirqat, 3 dead from a truck bombing in Mosul, 1 person dead from a Mosul car bombing, 10 dead from a car bombing by Sinjar, the corpse of a 3 year old was found in Baquba and the corpse of a man was found in Laitifya.

In the snapshot, C.I. notes this, but I will too. It's a big deal. The Pentagon is asking for $190 billion to fund the illegal war for the next fiscal year that starts October 1st. An update to the snapshot is that Reuters reports -- on the cholera outbreak in Iraq -- that if 'more' (not specified how many more) cases of cholera are discovered in the country, there will be travel restrictions put in place. What a great job Bully Boy and the Dems have done, right?

3800 dead
Keep the number in your head
36,943 maimed
They will never be the same
1.06 million Iraqis 'liberated' from their lives
It was all based on lies
It was all based on lies.

Kat wrote about the above lyrics last night. She, C.I. and Jess wrote it. I got to hear them sing it over the phone yesterday -- along with Ava and Maggie. It was good. It's got a nice melody but they sang it like a choir and kind of spooky, I think. C.I. asked me if I wanted to hit the road next week and I may do that to snap out of my current funk. If I haven't snapped out of it by Friday, I will. Ava's really the only one who can always go out on the road with C.I. Everyone else rotates. That's cause she's not going to law school or grad school. And I do think that's a big thing. I don't mean that as an insult to anyone else. Ava's got money and can afford to wait and other people couldn't. But she's committed to speaking out against the illegal war and is going to basically put everything else on hold the way C.I. has. I got a rude e-mail about how they "ditched" DC to go to the Emmys. They were there before the Saturday rally and they left on Sunday. They didn't "ditch" anything. They give their time every week to speaking out against the illegal war and it's not like they were going, "Oh, I've got to look good in my dress! I'm going to bed!" They stayed working on the edition for Third except the two hour break when Dona got sick. Ava took a nap like most of us. Jim and C.I. were taking care of Dona. So this idea that they just dropped everything is really ridiculous unless you think waking up Saturday morning and going to a Sunday event with nothing but a two hour nap in between (for Ava, C.I. didn't take a nap) then you have some tripped out ideas on what 'fun' is. They give everything. C.I.'s lucky to have one night at home most weeks. Since Feb. 2003, C.I. has been on the road speaking out against the illegal war at least 2 out of every 4 weeks a month and if you think that's taking it easy (like the idiot who wrote did) then I really wonder what you do with your time.

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

Wednesday, September 26, 2007. Chaos and violence continue; the 3800 mark was reached, little noted and already passed; coverage of the 'Kill Teams' setting up Iraqis for murder continue to ignore the statements of James Burmeister; Baghdad gets its first cholera death; the US military announces another death; and more.

Starting with war resistance. Have you heard of Arizon's Tent City? It's a federal facility that's now being used to house US service members from Fort Huachuca who go AWOL.
Not all service members who go AWOL or self-checkout are war resisters. Some are. And some will no doubt end up in Tent City.
Nikki Renner (The Arizona Republic) reports that the publicity flack for Fort Huachuca, Tanja Linton, is thrilled with Tent City and believes "that the AWOL soldiers' experience in Tent City will be close to the living accomodations of soldiers in Iraq." Well let's hope Tanja keeps her legs crossed because what she considers "justice" is the sort of thing others would see as The Scarlet Letter type 'justice'. She's not the most jazzed in public, however. That dishonor goes to Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County. Phoenix's KPHO reports not only has he "agreed to accept all Fort Huachuca soldiers convicted of being" AWOL but he's also panting hot and heavy over how Tent City's "top bunk in each pod is 150 degrees. Meals given to inmates are worth 30 cents a day." But Joey saves most of his panting for Nikki Renner, he's all excited about putting these service members into 'pink panties.' As he drools over the prospect, possibly someone might want to note that he couldn't get away with that with the prisoners the prison normally deals with. As Little Joey nealy creams his shorts over the prospect of becoming 2007's Lynndie England, people might want to show some concern over the fact that Abu Ghraib is being set up in Arizona. And there's no attempt to hide that, in fact, abuse and degradation of those convicted of going AWOL appears to be getting Little Joey aroused. AP noted Tent City earlier this week (in terms of boxer Mike Tyson), described it as "an open-air jail near a dog pound and a trash dump," note Little Joey self-describes as "America's Toughest Sherrif," included Little Joey referring to Tyson gleefully as a "crook," that Little Joey was salivating over the prospect of Tyson forced "to wear pink jail-issue underwear and eat bargain-basement meals that cost taxpayers 30 cents a day," and bragging -- while apparently humping the reporter's leg, "If I put him in the tents, I might have him on a chain gang." We're not a sports site, but for the record, Tyson is an addict. He's not convicted of a violent crime. Nor are the service members who go AWOL. Bully Boy's already led the US into the gutter and now Little Joey appears eager to roll around in it in public -- apparently because the cesspool is currently full.

Josh White and Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) report on the "Kill Teams"
noting, "Officers described the program, in unclassified statements obtained by The Post, as involving the placement of the items in insurgent areas and killing those who picked them up." And
Kim Sengupta (Indepent of London) reports, "A US military source said "baits" had been left by a number of units. 'The guys picking them up are sometimes bad guys. But how do you know each time?' Robert Emerson, a British security analyst, said: 'This seems a highly arbitrary and suspect way of carrying out counter-insurgency operations'." But neither outlet notes war resister James Burmeister who went public about the "Kill Teams" in June. And, in fact, cited them as one of the reasons he decided to self-checkout and move to Canada with his family.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Derek Hess, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko,Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

As noted in yesterday's snapshot, the 3800 mark for US service members killed in Iraq was passed on Tuesday. Wednesday morning's papers didn't run that headline.
Alan Zimmerman (C-Ville) notes it at the end of his column. James Gerstenzang and Alexandra Zavis note it in the 24th paragraph of their article in today's Los Angeles Times. Now let's be really clear here Cuba's Prensa Latina can note it and others can't? And this is not a problem with just one branch of media, this is a problem with All Things Media Big and Small.

"I am optimistic because I believe I am right. I am at peace with myself,"
AFP quotes Bully Boy declaring February 22, 203 as he met with the then prime minister of Spain, Jose Maria Aznar, and explained that despite his public statements, the illegal war was 'on': "There are two weeks left. In two weeks we will be ready militarily. We will be in Baghdad at the end of March." Although prepared to tell the Spanish prime minister that the illegal war was a sure thing, Bully Boy used March 6, 2003 primetime address to state that it might be likely or, as Duncan Campbell, Michael White and Patrick Wintour (Guardian of London) worded it, "President George Bush last night indicated that war was very close in an address to the American people on prime time television." In Baghdad, March 20th would be the day the illegal war started. Or, as Tom Brokaw dubbed at the opening of his interview with Bully Boy "that first night, when you surprised us all by launching the preemptive strike against the residence of Saddam Hussien." That's the same April 24, 2003 interview where -- one month into the illegal war -- Bully Boy declared he "had obviously made up my mind that if we needed to, we would use troops to get rid of weapons of mass destruction to free the Iraqi people. But the actual moment of making that decision was a heavy moment." It should be an even heavier moment for him today for a number of reasons including that he lied, that he's been caught in his lies, that 3800 US service members have died in the illegal war and over 1,066,817 Iraqis have died in the illegal war.

Though All Things Media Big and Small elected not to note the 3800 mark, the deaths didn't stop to wait for them to get off their lazy, pathetic asses and catch up. Today the
US military announced: "A Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was killed during a small-arms fire attack while conducting combat operations in an eastern section of the Iraqi captial Sept. 25."

Yesterday the Bully Boy spoke to the United Nations and today it was puppet Nouri al-Maliki's turn.
Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) observes that yesterday Bully Boy selectively cited the Universal Declaration of Human Rights -- omitting articles "that he's been violating . . . over and over again." Meanwhile, does the Puppet Love the Bully Boy? If so, Lebanon's The Daily Star tells us the love is strained: "During their face-to-face meeting Tuesday, Bush pressed Maliki to enact long-delayed laws and reforms seen as key to national reconciliation, telling the premier he may find the next US leader less sympathetic to his government's struggles, a senior Iraqi official said." USA Today reports that the puppet addressed the United Nations today and included this bit, "We have a long way to go to reach our goals for a secure, stable and prosperous Iraq".

Or even an "Iraq".
Ken Strickland (MSNBC) reports that US Senator Joe Biden (and hopeful for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination) paln to divide Iraq into three sections reached the US Senate floor today in a symbolic measure and received 75 votes in favor and 23 votes against. It should be noted that all of those votes came from US senators and, possibly, the Senate could grasp that determining Iraq's future is not allowing self-determination in Iraq. James Oliphant (Baltimore Sun) notes that the measure (non-binding) is an amendment that "requires the United States to work to support the division of Iraq into three semi-autonomous regions, each governed locally by its dominant ethnic and religious factions, the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds." Aaron Blake (The Hill) provides humor by suggeting that this (non-binding) amendment "could be part of the political solution for his flagging presidential candidacy." Yes, because the destruction of the Ottoman Empire is something that's not only looked back on so fondly but also something that voters consistently cite as their number one issue.

In Iraq today, Army Major General Kevin Bargner gave a press briefing with the usual fluff and nonsense that will make tomorrow's paper such as "583 Freed!" for the nonsense about 583 Iraqi prisoners -- never tried but held behind bars -- being released since the start of Ramadan (75 last week alone). Don't expect to see the 'reports' probe the issue of how this latest wave of Operation Happy Talk qualifies as 'happy' news since -- again -- the reality is that these prisoners have never been tried. Great example of 'justice' being set. Wasn't it just Monday that US Rear Adm Mark Fox was declaring to the press, "Our assessment is that the overal trend lines, in terms of the numbers of attacks and the numbers of violent incidents in Iraq, is on the downtrend." Are you done laughing yet? In the press conference today, Bergner had the never to claim of the increased violence, "We had been expecting it." Someone forgot to tell Mark Fox!

The actual trend? As
Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) notes today there appears to be "a systematic campaign to assassinate police chiefs, police officers, other Interior Ministry officials and tribal leaders throughout Iraq". The trend continues today. Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "Suicide car bomb slammed into a construction contractor's house who is the son of one of the tribal Sheikhs of Shammar tribe, one of the largest tribes in the country in Um al-Diban village near the Iraqi Syrian border to the west of Sinjar at 7:30 this morning. The Kia minibus detonated killing 8 civilians and injuring 10." BBC notes that the "attacker drove his vehicle up to the house before detonating his explosives" and states "Tribal leader Kanaan al-Shimari was injured in the blast".

In news of other violence . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad mortar attack that destroyed a home, two Baghdad car bombings that claimed 32 lives, a Mosul car bombing claimed the lives of 2 police officers while another Mosul car bombing claimed the lives of 4 civilians and a third Mosul car bombing claimed 3 lives and a Basra bombing claimed 5 lives. Press Latina explains that the Mosul bombings resulted in the city's mayor (Duraid Kashmula) putting the city under curfew and "that security closed roads leading to all bridges above the Tirgris River."


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 7 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

In other news, the cholera outbreaks in Iraq continue to get little attention despite long having left the northern region and turning up elsewhere.
Al Jazeera notes, "Eleven people have died and new cases of the disease have been confirmed in Baghdad, Basra and for the first time the northern districts of Tikrit, Mosul and Dahuk, according to a WHO report."
For those who've forgotten,
two weeks ago (September 12th) the wave of happy talk on the outbreak was that it was confined to the northern region of Iraq. That is no longer the case.
At least twelve people have died from cholera and the twelth was outside the original area.
BBC reports, "A woman has died of cholera in Baghdad, Iraq's health ministry says, the capital's first confirmed fatality in the country's recent outbreak."

Though there's been no money used to guarantee potable water to Iraqis or to provide them with more than a few hours of electricity each day. Despite that fact,
Tony Capaccio and Nicholas Johnston (Bloomberg News) break the news that $190 billion is what the Pentagon wants "for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in fiscal year 2008, which would be the largest annual expenditure since the conflict begins." As Peace Mom and Congressional candidate for California's eighth district, Cindy Sheehan, explained yesterday on KPFK's Sojourner Truth, the Iraq war is about the destruction going on in Iraq but it is also about the decaying infrastructure in this country, the programs the people need -- such as universal health care -- but are told there is no money for while the illegal war continues to suck up ever more billions and trillions. Sheehan was host Margaret Prescod's guest for the full hour and they addressed a number of issues including Sheehan's desire to step back when it was obvious that if you call out Republicans on their support for the illegal war, you get applause but if you call out the Democrats who support and prolong the illegal war you get attacked. She spoke of her trip this summer to the Middle East where she visited with refugees who had been driven out of Iraq and how these events and the maiming and the killing don't seem to register in the US Congressional leadership. Sheehan spoke of the credit the peace movement has earned for carving out a space where the illegal war could be addressed and sees her run for Congress as another step towards peace because she is taking on the military-industrial complex.

On the greed that enriches a select few off the blood of others, US House Rep Henry Waxman has a few questions for US Secretary of State and Anger Condi Rice. As
Cedric's "
Busy Condi" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! WAXMAN EXPECT RICE TO READ!" noted yesterday, Waxman, chair of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform sent a letter to Rice:

Since your testimony at the Committee's hearing on July 26, 2007, current and former employees of the Office of Inspector General have contacted my staff with allegations that you interfered with on-going investigations to protect the State Department and the White House from political embarrassment...The allegations made by these officials are not limited to a single unit or project within your office. Instead, they span all three major divisions of the Office of Inspector General -- investigations, audits, and inspections. The allegations were made by employees of varied rank, ranging from line staff to upper management... Some of the specific allegations include the following: Although the State Department has expended over $3.6 billion on contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan, you refused to send any investigators to those countries to pursue investigations into wasteful spending or procurement fraud and have concluded no fraud investigations relating to the contracts. You prevented your investigators from cooperating with a Justice Department investigation into waste, fraud, and abuse relating to the new U.S. Embassy in Iraq and followed highly irregular procedures in exonerating the prime contractor, First Kuwaiti Trading Company, of charges of labor trafficking. You prevented your investigators from seizing evidence that they believed would have implicated a large State Department contractor in procurement fraud in Afghanistan. You impeded efforts by your investigators to cooperate with a Justice Department probe into allegations that a large private security contractor was smuggling weapons into Iraq. You interfered with an on-going investigation into the conduct of Kenneth Tomlinson, the head of Voice of America and a close associate of Karl Rove, by passing information about the inquiry to Mr. Tomlinson. You censored portions of inspection reports on embassies so that critical information on security vulnerabilities was dropped from classified annexes and not disclosed to Congress.You rejected audits of the State Department's financial statements that documented accounting concerns and refused to publish them until points critical of the Department had been removed.

Warren P. Strobel (McClatchy Newspapers) discovers additional details in the story which includes that the US State Dept's contract officer, Kiazan Moneypenny, wrote the mercenary company Blackwater USA on September 20th instructing them "not to disclose information about the contract" they had with the State Department and referred to phone conversations between the mercenaries and the State Dept "on September 19 and 20". Blackwater was the subject of an investigation in Iraq earlier this month following the slaughter of at least 11 Iraqi civilians. The Iraqi investigation found that Blackwater was at fault. Puppet Nouri al-Maliki was insisting that Blackwater leave Iraq. Instead, under heavy pressure from Rice, he put a smiley face on the White House's decision to allow Blackwater to continue operating in Iraq. With the State Dept now coaxing and coaching Blackwater the alleged 'investigation' that was allegedly going to be conducted by the US and Iraq is even more of a joke.

In book news,
Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine: The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism came out last Tuesday. Arianna Huffington (Huffington Post via Common Dreams) examines the book and finds, "It's a brilliant dissection of what Naomi Klein calls 'disaster capitalism,' an economic philosophy born half a century ago at the University of Chicago under Milton Friedman. It holds that the best time to institute radical free-market policies is in the aftermath of a massive social crisis, such as a terrorist attack, a war, or a natural disaster like Katrina. Klein shows how the crony capitalists running the Bush administration saw post-invasion Iraq as the perfect proving ground for all their pet free-market policies. The fantasy was that a privitazied and corporatized Iraq would become a free-market utopia that would spread the gospel of the market throughout the Middle East. Democracy would reign, and Halliburton and Bechtel would stand supreme."