Thursday, September 06, 2007

Reports are due

It's Thursday at last. Almost the weekend. The week wasn't that bad but that's probably because Monday was a holiday. Okay, let's dive into Iraq. A lot of reports are coming out this month. Some semi-independent and some are just White House talking points like what Ryan Crocker, David Petraues and various Secretaries of will be delivering.

Now with the reports coming from the White House, Allan J. Lichtman drops back to explain why historically we shouldn't put much weight into the nonsense. This is from his "When General Petraeus Speaks, Don't Listen ...:"

On the cusp of General David Petraeus' report on the "surge" of American troops in Iraq we should recall one of the most important if neglected lessons of the war in Vietnam: Don't listen to generals.
During the Vietnam War, America's top generals were consistently wrong in their assessments and recommendations. The generals' display of bad judgment began a dozen years before America's withdrawal from Vietnam in 1975. In October 1963, with about 17,000 U. S. military "advisers" in Vietnam, the top U. S. commander, General Paul D. Harkins said, "I can safely say that the end of the war is in sight." General Charles J. Timmes the head of America's Military Assistance Command added, "we have completed" the job of training the South Vietnamese Army.
A month later, the situation had become so desperate in Vietnam that President John Kennedy approved a coup by South Vietnamese generals that led to the assassination of President Ngo Diem. It didn't help.
Two days after Lyndon Johnson's inauguration in 1964, Ambassador Maxwell Taylor cabled from Vietnam: "We are presently on a losing track To take no positive action now is to accept defeat in the fairly near future. The game needs to be opened up." Johnson responded by commencing a major America ground and air war in Vietnam.
Yet the president knew that short of nuclear war ("blow them out of the water in ten days," he said) America could not achieve a military victory in Vietnam. Rather, he hoped only to force a negotiated settlement by raising the costs of war for the North Vietnamese. In June 1965, he told his cabinet: "Our objective is just that: to convince them that they can't win there. We think we can achieve this objective my moving toward a stalemate." But how could a president ask Americans to sacrifice their lives to tie one for the Gipper?
Johnson took the nation to war on what he knew was a false pledge of victory, backed by his generals. In late 1966, as the United States was expanding its troop strength in Vietnam to 360,000, General Earle G. Wheeler, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Americans, "I was able to report to the President that the war in my judgment continues in a very favorable fashion."
In November 1967, with 467,000 U. S. troops in Vietnam, the American commander General William Westmoreland said, "I have never been more encouraged in my four years in Vietnam." A point in the war had been reached," he added, "where the end comes into view."

General's aren't 'independent.' They're supposed to work for the people but they work for the White House. So when Petreaus shows up flapping his gums, remember that. There are a few semi-independent reports that have come out. AP has a thing where they bring together all the reports that have been coming out and I'll put in the first part:

The Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq, chaired by retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones, released Sept. 6:
-Iraq's security forces will be unable to assume control of the country without U.S. help in the next 12 to 18 months.
-Reduction of U.S. forces and handing off combat mission to Iraqis is ``possible and prudent,'' and changes could begin in early 2008.
-The national police force is rife with corruption and infiltrated by militia forces and should be disbanded.
-An adequate logistics system to support the Iraqi army is at least two years away.
-On the Web:

That's important to know and pay attention to because already the press is trying to spin it as "Army is success!" No, it's not. After all this time, the Iraqi Army is still a shambles (and has a high self-check out rate). It's only because the police are so corrupt that they look better by comparison. As these reports are coming down, where's the Bully Boy?

Out of the country. When it's time for Petreaus to mouth the words the White House says, Bully Boy will be back. Instead, he's off in Australia basically campaigning for his little War Hawk buddy John Howard. This is from ABC in Australia:

Federal Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd has reiterated Labor's position on Iraq, saying Australian troops are needed closer to home.
Mr Rudd today met US President George W Bush, and while he would not reveal the details of their conversation, it is understood he made it clear that Labor would negotiate a staged withdrawal from Iraq if elected to government.
The Labor leader says it is in Australia's national interest to leave Iraq in order to deal with enormous security challenges in the Asia Pacific region, including the Solomon Islands, East Timor and Fiji.
"We do not have a huge army. Ask any defencey [defence force personnel] or army expert how we are coping with our operating budget for army, the equipment with which our troops are being sent abroad," he said.

Australia's suffered enough. And, under John Howard, the parents of Jake Kovco never got the truth about how their son died. For that reason alone, John Howard's ass should be kicked out of office. If there's any justice (and free elections where ballots get counted), Howard will be out of office after the election.

Let me do my apologies to Australian community members because Bully Boy's got no right to butt into their elections and show up in their country to prop up the dottering fool John Howard.
But fools must flock together if Bully Boy and John Howard are having a meeting of the non-minds.

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

Thursday, September 6, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, Paul Bremer gets slapped upside the head by reality, and more.

Staring with war resisters,
Carolyn Nikodym (Canada's VUE Weekly) reports that the bands Nikki's Trick and Skull Device are getting the word out on war resisters in Canada via a cross country tour in Canada and that war resister Patrick Hart is Skull Device's lead guitarist. The tour is called "The Refuse and Resist Tour" and kicks off September 8th with a performance at The Office, 16 Cumberland Street South, Thunder Bay, Ontario. Nikodym writes, "Patrick Hart's days in Canada are numbered. The AWOL American soldier applied for refugee status here. His application was denied. He filed an appeal. His appeal was denied. It's his story, and similar stories of the other 30 or so soldiers seeking asylum in Canada, that the Refuse and Resist Tour wants to spread." Nikodym explains how, after nine years of service, Hart decided he couldn't fight in the illegal war and he, Jill Hart and their child Rian made the decision to leave Fort Campbell and go to Canada. Meanwhile People's Voice (Political Affairs) lists fifty-two reasons why the conservative Tory government in Canada needs to go including: "12. Nothing on Iraq disaster Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians have died as a direct result of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, which violated the most fundamental principles of international law. Nearly half a million Iraqis have fled their homes and registered for government aid. Even though most Iraqis feel their situation was better before the U.S.-led invasion, Harper, who supported the American-led Iraq War in 2003 even before becoming PM, has said nothing about the disastrous military occupation of that country. [;] 13. Ignoring war resisters Canada has granted asylum to only 14 of 740 U.S. refugee claimants in the past three years -- all of them babies born in the United States to foreign couples. All claims filed by U.S. Army war resisters have been rejected, even as the Iraq disaster rages on." Currently, Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey are waiting to hear if Canada's Supreme Court will hear their appeal on their refugee status.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes 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, 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. The G.I. Rights Hotline link has been included in the snapshots forever now, but please note that this is a new website. The new website is still being upgarded (but working) and with the new website comes a new phone number (877) 4474487 which is "GI RGHTS" the name but missing the second "I". To make sure everyone's aware that there is a new number and a new (toll free) number, we'll included this notice in the snapshot all week. Again, The G.I. Rights Hotline is a new and improved (and new and improving) website that will begin replacing the old site.

yesterday's snapshot, Zach was quoted regarding NOW with David Brancaccio having profiled war resisters and used the term. This week (Friday night on most PBS stations), NOW with David Brancaccio takes a look at another issue in today's military:

Roughly one in seven of America's active duty military soldiers is a woman, but a NOW investigation found that sexual assault and rape is widespread. One study of National Guard and Reserve forces found that almost one in four women had been assaulted or raped. Last year alone, almost 3,000 soldiers reported sexual assault and rape by other soldiers. On Friday, September 7 (check your local listings), in one of the only national television broadcasts of the issue, NOW features women who speak out for the first time about what happened. One woman recounts her ordeal of rape by her superior officer. Many more don't report the incidents for fear of how it will affect their careers. The shocking phenomenon has a label: military sexual trauma, or MST. NOW meets women courageously battling to overcome their MST, bringing light to an issue that's putting the army in shame. A NOW exclusive investigation. The NOW website at will offer the latest statistics on MST and insight into the challenges of reporting sexual abuse in the military

That's this weekend (Friday on most PBS stations) on
NOW with David Brancaccio. Today on Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman spoke with student Kot Hordynski about what it's like to be part of a group spied on by the US government (Students Against War):

KOT HORDYNSKI: Uh-huh. Yes, of course. I mean, you know, it was a pretty startling notion to realize that our peaceful protest made it onto a government database. But we realized that we had to do something about it, and so we organized, and we started speaking with the ACLU and basically trying to get to the bottom of how our group made it onto that list.

AMY GOODMAN: And what did you find out?

KOT HORDYNSKI: Well, you know, not very many conclusive things so far. The government has, of course, come out now and said that the TALON database will be closed. They've also in the past have said that all of those groups that made it onto the list that were peaceful groups that didn't belong there were put there on by mistake. But, you know, I think in many ways, as much as the TALON closure is a really good thing, I think that in many ways it's too little, too late, because I think, you know, in many ways the damage has been done. And I think --

AMY GOODMAN: Did it damage your group? Did you get distracted from organizing?

KOT HORDYNSKI: No. You know, I think we were actually very fortunate that we didn't. We didn't get distracted, and I think as soon as we realized that this was something that was a lot more real than we had thought, that government spying was actually happening in this country, I think we realized that that meant we had to persevere and that we had to keep on doing what we were doing, because, you know, if we were doing these things that we saw as right and they were being seen as something that was a deviation from the party line, we knew that we had to keep on doing these things. But I think in a lot of other instances, you know, things like this could have a really chilling effect on society.

AMY GOODMAN: Tell me what you actually did, what Students Against War did -- yes, protesting the war, but the whole issue of focusing on recruitment.

KOT HORDYNSKI: I think, you know, simply put, if we stop recruitment, we stop the war. That's why we do counter-recruitment work. We focus a lot in the local community around the Santa Cruz area. There's a lot of recruitment that goes on in high schools, not only on college campuses. And so, what we did was we formed a group that would organize against recruitment wherever it happened. And so, even though not much recruitment goes on at the UC Santa Cruz campus, we thought that if recruiters were going to be there, it was our duty and our responsibility to confront them.

This follows up
Goodman's interview yesterday with Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU on, among other topics, the government documents the ACLU obtained via FOIA about Iraqi civilians killed by US forces (Afghanistan civilians as well, just FYI). Today's broadcast also included excerpts of a discussion with Paul Ehrlich and Reagan loving George Shultz on global warming and global warring (in addition the excerpts taped last night, Goodman also interviewed Ehrlich). Ehrlich from that disccusion:

I think Stanford Professor Gretchen Daily said it very well: if you think we're invading Iraq -- or would we be planning to invade Iraq if their major export were broccoli? We would just have left it. I'm not saying that this was in George Bush's head. God knows what was in his head. But certainly everybody who knew the history knew what would happen. We're now in a situation where the knowledgeable people haven't got a clue what to do, even though every person I know personally, Republican and Democrat, were opposed to the idea to begin with. Now we're in a mess where we're waiting for General Petraeus to come back and see if he's going to betray us.

Turning to retired generals,
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reported today, "A panel of retired US generals is urging the United States to disband and reorganize the Iraqi police force because of infiltration by sectarian militias. The generals also report Iraq's security forces will be unable to fulfill their essential security responsibilities independently for at least another twelve to 18 months." Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) explains that the national police force as well as the Iraq Interior Ministry are "riddled with sectarianism and corruption" by the Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq headed by James Jones (Marine general) in there 150-plus page report which also finds the Iraqi army at least a year to 18 months away from being able to handle "internal security". Tim Reid (Times of London) reports, "The 20 member-panel also said today that the Iraqi Amry was incpable of acting independently from US forces for at least another 18 months, and 'cannot yet meaningfully contribute to denying terrorists safe haven'." In a bit of bad timing, news of the panel's report comes as Paul Bremer tries to stay in the news. In Tuesday's snapshot, we noted:

Edmund L. Andrews (New York Times) reports that the former "top Iraq envoy" was not flying solo. Paul Bremer has provided the paper with correspondence which "shows that President Bush was told in advance by his top Iraq envoy in May 2003 of a plan to 'dissolve Saddam's military and intelligence structures'". Andrews writes, "In releasing the letters, Mr. Bremer said he wanted to refute the suggestion in Mr. Bush's comment that Mr. Bremer had acted to disband the army without the knowledge and concurrence of the White House." In one reply, Bully Boy lays it on thick writing, "Your leadership is apparent. You have quickly made a positive and significant impact. You have my full support and confidence."

Today L. Paul Bremer III learns that even writing so recklessly self-serving doesn't work out so well. In today's New York Times, A25, he contributes "How I Didn't Dismantle Iraq's Army" which should contain the sub-heading "By Myself -- I Didn't Do It By Myself!" The usual cast of criminals shows up -- Walter Slocombe, Paul Wolfowitz (no mention of his 'companion'), Donald of Rumsfled, Tommy Franks (& Beans), Bully Boy, etc. Bremer wants to refute 'conventional wisdom' (someone tell him to put the gun down because conventional wisdom is the only thing keeping his public name on life support!) and spread the blame around. That in and of itself is fine (if true) but Bremer admits he was for it then: "And it was the right decision." He's not done: "Moreover, we were right to build a new Iraqi Army. Despite all the difficulties encountered, Iraq's new professional soldiers are the country's most effective and trusted security forces." Really? What is that, a predicition? Since they can't even "take over internal security" for at least 12 months more, what scale is Bremer grading on? Conventional wisdom?

CBS and AP report that the testimony of the panel to Congress today emphasized that the wrong message was being sent with the bases and the presence itself giving the image (true) that the US was an "occupying force". Meanwhile, DeYoung also reports on the assertion that the violence in Iraq has dropped citing problems intelligence analysts have with the US military's figures "over how the military designated attacks as combat, sectarian or criminal, according to one senior intelligence official in Washington. 'If a bullet went through the back of the head, it's sectarian,' the official said. 'If it went through the front, it's criminal. Depending on which numbers you pick, you get a different outcome." DeYoung also notes: "In an e-mailed response to questions last weekend, an MNF-I spokesman said that while trends were favorable, 'exact monthly figures cannot be provided' for attacks against civilians or other categories of violence in 2006 or 2007, either in Baghdad or for the country overall."

Repeatedly this week, the press has acted like immature school children rushing down the hall with bits of gossip over a 'drawdown.' The escalation, as US generals in Iraq have publicly noted since July, cannot go past April without straining the US military. But every pause and wink from the administration sets the media's hearts a-flutter as they rush out their "Bully Boy Indicates Some Troops May Leave!" For those who still don't get it, Bill Clinton appeared on CNN's Larry King Live yesterday (
click here for audio-video and here for transcript) and noted, "Furthermore, I don't see any alternative consistent with the responsibilities for national security to a susbstantial withdrawal of troops this year, because the military is so overstressed. If we had a big national security emergency now, we would be virtually compelled to meet it with Naval and Air Force forces, because the Army, the Marine Corps, the National Gurad, the Reserves are all overstretched, all deeply stressed." Bill Clinton is not declaring anything that's not already public. As noted in Tuesday's snapshot, "Ken Fireman and Nicholas Jordan (Bloomberg News) provide the context of Bully Boy's 'draw-down' talk: 'Bush, for all his 'stay-the-course'' rhetoric, is constrained by a troop-rotation schedule that requires pulling out some forces early next year -- as well as the need to outline an exit strategy for Republicans eyeing the 2008 elections.' It's equally true that on August 17th when Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno spoke with reporters and made it very clear that he'd always been told the escalation would end in April stating 'what I'm talking about is drawing down to the pre-surge levels,' 'The surge we know, as it is today, goes through April of '08,' etc."

While all the 'chatter' about a slight drawdown takes place, the air war Norman Solomon has often warned of goes on (Solomon's point, made consistently for well over two years, is that as US fatalities lead to public outcry, an administration shifts more and more to an air war to reduce the number of troops on the ground in an effort to clamp down on public outrage over the illegal war). [
Norman Solomon's latest column takes a look at air war cheerleader Thomas Friedman -- Betinna's bigamist husband.] Conn Hallinan (Foreign Policy In Focus) offers a primer on the air war (actually air wars, but our focus is Iraq) noting the increased amount of bombs being dropped in Iraq ("five-fold increase" when you contrast the first six months of 2006 with the first six months of this year and it comes to over "30 tons" being dropped), US aircraft being added, runways being strengthened, etc. Hallinan notes that while the US "appears to be settling in for a long war", Iraq's own "air force is virtually non-existent" and this "step-up in air attacks is partly a reflection of how beaten up and overextended U.S. ground troops are. While Army units put in 15-month tours, Air Force deployments are only four months, with some only half that. And Iraqi and Afghani insurgents have virtually no ability to inflict casualties on aircraft flying at 20,000 feet and using laser and satellite-guided weapons, in contrast to the serious damage they are doing to the US ground troops." Halin also notes that while the Predator is already being used in Iraq, the US also has the "Reaper" -- "a robot capable of carrying four Hellfire missiles, plus two 500 lb. bombs". These robot weapons are part of the air war. And early this morning, the air war claimed more lives.

AFP reports, "US combat helicopters and tanks bombarded a Baghdad neighbourhood in pre-dawn strikes on Thursday, killing 14 sleeping civilians and destroying houses, angry residents and Iraqi officials said." The BBC adds that nine Iraqis were also wounded in the early morning attack. Haider Salahaddin (Reuters) notes the news agencies own "footage showed at least 11 buildings caved in or levelled in three adjoining streets in the densely packed neighborhood" and that an agency's "camerman saw residents pulling the body of a woman from the rubble of one house, while one man picked up flesh from the street and placed it into a plastic bag." At seven p.m. tonight in Baghdad, the temperature had dropped to 97 degrees (F). Electricity continues to be provided for only a few hours each day. The point here is that, due to the heat, many sleep on the roof. As is often the case, this morning, people were sleeping on roofs when the US attack took place. AFP quotes survivor Abu Ali Saad explaining, "We are a peaceful neighbourhood. There are no militia here. There were no exchanges of fire. We were all sleeping" and that, "The tanks started firing then the helicopters came. Missiles were fired from the air. Houses were destroyed. A family of five were killed in this house" referring to a neighbor's home. Al Jazeera cites "unamed interior ministry official" for this quote, "The attacks on the houses took place while people were sleeping. There were no clashes. The area had been quiet. Two to five houses were destroyed. Among the wounded are several women." AFP notes, "Amid the rubble of one house was a mattress covered in blood with human body parts scattered about. Neighbours said a family of six had been killed in the house, including a 12-year-old girl." The US military maintains that the "operation targeted only those who were breaking the law" and lists crimes such as "extortion". They fail to reveal whether the 12-year-old girl was a juice man for the mob, a mafia don or exactly how using bombs on alleged 'criminals' reinforces Iraq's struggling legal system.

In other news of violence . . .


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Kirkuk roadside bombing that wounded three people and a Basra roadside bombing that claimed the lives of 2 of Col. Jabar Al Saad's bodyguards.
AFP notes a Tikrit car bombing that claimed 2 lives and left seventeen injured and a Baghdad bombing that claimed 1 life and left five injured "near a line of workers seeking daily employment".


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "Around 1 p.m. Gunmen kidnapped Dr. Riyath Ramo after they stormed his clinic in Al Jumhouriya neighborhood in Kirkuk."


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 12 corpses discovered in Baghdad today.

Megan Greenwell (Washington Post) notes, yesterday "the U.S. military announced the deaths of eight American soldiers." [In the New York Times, Sabrina Tavernise waits until the seventh paragraph of her article to note any deaths and then notes only four. However, the Los Angeles Times manages to cover all eight deaths.] Today, CNN reports: "A U.S. soldier died 'from a non-battle related cause,' on Wednesday, the US military said Thursday. The military is investigating."

At Baghdad Observer,
Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) writes about the realities she sees while reporting from Iraq, "I grew embarrassed looking at the wonderful people I work with. I thought about the hundreds of Iraqis that were killed in one attack in two impoverished Yazidi villages, a minority religious community in the north. The families torn a part and the piece of a woman, they pulled from the rubble. She was probably a mother, she was someone's daughter, cousin and sister. My American life if not worth more than an Iraqi life. An Iraqi life is not worth more than mine. Life is never cheap." Making a similar (and needed) point are Adil E. Shamoo and Bonnie Bricker (Foreign Policy in Focus) who offer that the detachment (in the US) may result from "at least two reasons why many of us, including Mr. [Robert] Gates, do not cry when hearing of the deaths of innocent Iraqis. The first reason is exemplified by the fighter pilot who drops bombs from the plan knowing there is a good chance that innocent people would get killed. However, at the same time, the same pilot cannot and will not take a knife and directly kill the same innocent people with his own bare hands. The second reason is nationalism. Americans care more about our own people than others. The first reason probably will never change and it is for the good of our humanity. But after nearly five years of war, we must break through our national sentiments and start seeing the war through Iraqi eyes as well. Too much attention during this war has been paid towards fighting, leaving the task of protecting the innocent to no one. It's time to stop." On the CBS Evening News (a-v and text), Katie Couric spoke with an eleven-year-old boy in Baghdad who told her, "Yesterday a little kid got killed, got shot right here. . . . A baby. . . . Small arms fire between two groups and she got caught in the middle."

Turning to US politics,
Nadine Elsibai (Bloomberg News) reported earlier this week that US Senator and 2008 presidential hopeful Joe Biden called Sunday (on CBS' Face The Nation) for the Iraqi police to be disbanded -- that would be the recommendation the 20-member is in today's news for. Biden declared on Face The Nation, "The purpose of this surge was to give breathing room to acquire some political reconciliation. There is no political reconcilliation. And the total number of Iraqi civilian deaths are up around Iraq, not down. The number of people fleeing their homes has gone from 50,000 a month to 100,000 a mont since the surge" (link goes to text and audio-video). Biden does not favor a withdrawal (he wants troops left in Iraq for training) and he favors partioning Iraq into three parts. Meanwhile 2008 presidential hopeful John Edwards issued a statement today as a result of Carl Hulse's New York Times front page report that Democrats in Congress may once again cave on the issue of Iraq. Edwards declared, "In 2006, the American people elected a Democratic Congress to change course and end this war. It's the whole reason the American people voted for change. Yet, 10 months after the election, we still have the status quo and Congress has still failed to do the people's will. That might be the way they do it inside the Beltway, but it's not the American way. It's time to stand up for the American people and against President Bush's failed, stubborn policy. Without a firm deadline, a small withdrawal of only some of the surge troops won't cut it -- that's not a solution, it's an excuse. Congress must not send President Bush any funding bill without a timeline to end this war. No timeline, no funding. No excuses." Edwards staffer Tracy Russo explains one way the campaign hopes to get the message to Congress here. Before getting to the topic of Congress, Bill Richardson, who is also a Democratic presidential hopeful has a petition noting his own "position on ending the war is clear. From the beginning of the campaign he has been calling for complete withdrawal of ALL troops. No excuses. No delays. No troops left behind. In the most recent debate, he asked the other major candidates a clear question: how many troops would you leave behind and for how long? We have yet to hear an answer." The petition online calls for all Democratic candidates at the next debate (or 'debate') to answer "How many troops would you leave behind? For how long?" In that 'debate', Richardson declared, "Here's my plan: My plan is that, to end this war, we have to get all the troops out, all of them. Our kids are dying. Our troops have become targets. My plan has diplomacy, a tri-partite entity within Iraq, a reconciliation among the three groups. I would have a division of oil revenues. I'd have an all-Muslim peacekeeping force, headed by the United Nations, a donor conference. But none of this peace and peace building can begin until all of our troops are out. We have different positions here. I believe that if you leave any residual forces, then none of the peace that we are trying to bring can happen. And it's important. And it's critically important that we do this with an orderly timetable. But what is key is all of the troops out -- no residual forces. You leave residual forces behind, the peace cannot begin." Meanwhile, US House Rep and 2008 Democratic presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich spent the Labord Day weekend in the Middle East where he and his wife Elizabeth visited Lebanon and Syria -- in Syria he met with Bashar al-Assad, the president. Later today on CBS Evening News will air Katie Couric's interview with Bashar al-Assad.

In other presidential news, the
Green Party of the United States announces they will run a candidate in the 2008 election. In addition, they have selected Chicago as the site for their convention which will take place July 10th through July 13th noting, "As news reports in Illinois have alluded to, there is symbolism in holding the Green Party's presidential convention in Chicago. Chicago was the site of the 1968 Democratic presidential convention, where the Democrats inside nominated a pro-war candidate, while the anti-Vietnam war movement was left to protest outside. The protests led to the trial of several progressive leaders of the anti-war movement, who came to be known as the 'Chicago 8'. Ian Wilder, GP-US Presidential Campaign Support Committee member, stated, 'Now the tables are turned in an interesting way. One of the key values of the Green Party is peace/non-violence. So, in 2008, in Chicago, the peace movement will be inside the convention hall, nominating an anti-war, Green Party Presidential candidate. Democrats who are for peace may want to join with the Green Party, rather than be subjected to the kind of treatment they received at the hands of their own party in 1968 in Chicago; or in 2004, when the Democratic leaders corralled the anti-war Democratic activists into a barbed wire 'Free-Speech Zone' near the Fleet Center in Boston'." The Green Party notes Jared Ball, Ralph Nader, Cynthia McKinney, Jesse Johnson, Elaine Brown, Kent Mesplay, Joe Schriner, Kat Swift and Rebecca Rotzler have either declared or are the subject of campaigns to draft them to run. More information can be found at the Green Party website and On the Wilder Side is a Green Party site zooming on the Green Party chapter in Suffolk but also with news and coverage of the national party.

Turning to the US Congress which is allegedly about to roll over again. Congress rolling over again and doing nothing to end the illegal war really doesn't strike me as "news" since it's a prediction of an expected (and not surprising at this point) event, so no links there. We'll note
US House Rep Barbara Lee wrote an op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle (link goes to Common Dreams) Tuesday where she noted the 'data' offered by the White House is "suspect" and that "the debate about military progress" is "a distraction -- a smokescreen -- put forth by an administration that finds it rhetorically convenient to speak in terms of 'victory' and 'defeat.' It serves to obscure the basic, fundamental fact that there is no military solution to the situation in Iraq. . . . Congress has the power to bring a responsible end to the Bush administration's failed policy. We should not approve another penny to continue that policy. Instead, we should use our constitutionally-mandated appropriations power to provide all the money necessary to fully fund the safe, timely and responsible redeployment of our troops and contractors from Iraq. In July, U.S. Reps. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, and Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, and I, led a group of 70 members of Congress in writing to the president to tell him we would only vote to provide funds to do two things: protect our troops and contractors and bring them home. As we return to Washington, I will continue that fight." Who is Barbara Lee going to have to fight?

Not just the administration but also her own party unless some magical event has given Nancy Pelosi a spine and leadership skills.
Ben Terrall (CounterPunch) reports on a Thursday rally outside of US House Speaker Pelosi's home office in San Francisco where many activists gathered including members of CODEPINK and members of A.N.S.W.E.R., Daniel Ellsberg, Medea Benjamin and more. Norman Solomon correctly stated that "it's a travesty and a tragedy for San Francisco to be represented in Congress by someone who doesn't represent the views of the people in San Francisco." From Terrall's report, we'll note this section in full:

Antonia Juhasz, activist, policy analyst, and author of The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time, spoke next. She described Pelosi as "the most powerful Democrat in Washington, DC," and said, "if I had the ultimate joy and privilege of being able to talk to her in her esteemed majesty I would tell her that Iraq's oil is not ours." Juhasz noted that Pelosi has said the oil law under consideration in Iraq, which was drafted and written in English by U.S. contractor BearingPoint and reviewed by the Bush Administration and the International Monetary Fund months before Iraqi legislators saw it, "is about revenue sharing." But Juhasz argued, "what we want them to do is to share the 2 cents they have left after we take the $200 billion away," since the law puts as a "benchmark" for the Iraqi government "that it must privatize its oil and turn its oil over to US oil corporations."

Cindy Sheehan is running for the US House of Representatives out of the eighth district in California. John Nichols (at Common Dreams) notes that "Like the progressives of old, and like anyone who tries to push the boundaries not merely of electioneering but of our imaginations, Sheehan is taking her hits for daring to make this run. But even those people of good will who choose not to support Sheehan -- either because they honestly prefer Pelosi or because they think that it is more important to fight the political battles of 2008 elsewhere -- should recognize that the principled determination of the nation's best-known anti-war activist to seek a more meaningful politics is worthy of respect." For those thinking, "Take that, Katha Pollitt!" -- remember that Nichols said "people of good will" which leaves Pollitt out.