Friday, October 05, 2007

Lee Sustar, Bill Richardson

Friday at last! :D I'm back home (this was our last stop on the road). I only read the top 20 e-mails so if you're past that, I didn't get to you. But one thing I found out from the e-mails was that Bill Richardson is being seriously considered by the community (the first 20 e-mails were from community members). So I thought we'd focus a little on that tonight.

But for that, Susan Faludi was a guest on Democracy Now! yesterday ( "Author and Social Critic Susan Faludi on 'The Terror Dream: Fear and Fantasy in Post-9/11 America'" and that was a really great interview if you missed it. You should also check out her book The Terror Dream: Fear and Fantasy in Post-9/11 America.

For set up of tonight's post, this is from Lee Sustar's "The Democrats and Iran:"

At a debate on September 25, the top three Democratic presidential candidates--Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards--all refused to declare that they'd have pulled U.S. troops out of Iraq by the end of their first term, if elected.
"I think it would be irresponsible" to promise a pullout by January 2013, Obama said. "I cannot make that commitment," said Edwards. For her part, Clinton, typically, dodged a direct answer: "It is very difficult to know what we're going to be inheriting."
Earlier that day, a majority of Senate Democrats supported a measure sponsored by Sens. John Kyl and Joe Lieberman declaring Iran's Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization--and calling on the U.S. government to "combat, contain and roll back the violent activities" of Iran.
Thanks to the Democrats, the referendum--which at least some observers likened to an authorization for war--won by an overwhelming 76-22 margin. Clinton voted yes; Obama, in what is becoming a habit, skipped the roll call.
To top it off, tacked onto the measure at the last minute was a resolution expressing support for the partition of U.S.-occupied Iraq into ethnic and sectarian cantons--a ratification of the process of ethnic cleansing that has driven millions of Iraqis from their homes and claimed the lives of untold numbers.
Not quite one year after they took control of Congress, thanks to a huge antiwar vote in the 2006 congressional elections, the Democrats have not only failed utterly to stop the war on Iraq--they've caved in one confrontation after another with the White House. Party leaders who once claimed they would force the Bush White House to "change course" have come to resemble their loser of a presidential candidate in 2004, John Kerry.
When criticized by opponents of the war, the Democrats respond in almost a single voice that they don't have the votes to override a Bush veto--or even win a procedural voice to end debate in the Senate and come to an up-and-down vote on controversial legislation.
That's blatantly dishonest--as insider journalists Jim VandeHei and John Harris pointed out in the online Beltway gossip publication The Politico.
"There is a lot more Democrats could do to change, or at least challenge, the politics of the war in Washington, even if they do not have the numbers to impose new policies on President Bush," VandeHei and Harris wrote.
"House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) could force a vote a day over Iraq. She could keep the House in session all night, over weekends and through planned vacations. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) could let filibusters run from now till Christmas rather than yield to pro-war Republicans...[A]ntiwar lawmakers can hardly say they have done everything possible to challenge the war and bring attention to their cause."

So that's where we're at. Elaine told me about some candidate sketches at Forbes, so we'll highlight their sketch of Richardson:

As for Iraq, Richardson wants to pull out troops as quickly as possible. "I will do it quickly--in a matter of months, not years," writes Richardson. Highlights of his plan for Iraq involve leveraging our planned withdrawal to bring all factions in Iraq and nearby countries--including Syria and Iran--to the negotiating table. He also proposes setting up a conference to convince wealthy Arab states to chip in for the reconstruction of Iraq, and creating a multilateral UN-led all-Muslim peacekeeping force to help prevent a civil war. "As someone who has successfully negotiated with some of the world's toughest tyrants, I know face-to-face diplomacy can work."
Among Richardson’s ideas for dramatically reducing our dependency on foreign oil and greenhouse gas emissions are a proposal to raise the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for all vehicle manufacturers to 50 miles per gallon by 2020. Richardson also proposes the implementation of a market-based cap and trade system for greenhouse gas emissions in order to create incentives for the electric and industrial sectors to make significant reductions in their carbon emissions. In addition, Richardson is in favor of creating a North American Energy Council with Canada and Mexico, the two countries that supply the biggest part of our oil imports.

[. . .]
Richardson writes to Forbes on his vision for America: "Our next president must be able to bring a country together that is divided and partisan. That's the way I've operated as governor and that's what I'll do as president. Frankly, I think Washington is broken and it's going to take a return to bipartisanship and simple respect for each other's views to get it fixed."

Please check out Forbes. For Richardson or any candidate that you're interested in. They've done what The Nation won't do, provide some basic coverage on all the presidential candidates who have declared (in the two main parties).

If you watch the Sunday Chat & Chews, Bill Richardson will be a guest on ABC's This Week. John Edwards will be a guest on NBC's Meet the Press.

How is Richardson talking to his supporters? What's his campaign emphasizing? I told C.I. I was wondering about that and C.I. e-mailed community member Melanie who is declared as supporting Richardson. Melanie was kind enough to forward the most recent campaign e-mail she'd received from the Richardson campaign:

Ending the war in Iraq is a cornerstone of Bill Richardson's campaign for President.
As last week's debate made clear, the other candidates would only change the mission in Iraq; Bill will end the war. The media are starting to get the message, and this week has turned out to be a triple play for Bill, with three important public appearances scheduled that are drawing coverage and praise.
I want you to watch the videos I've linked to in this email, and then forward this message to five friends. Together, we can turn this great week into a turning point for our campaign.
First, yesterday at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., the Governor gave a major policy address on Iraq and defense modernization.
(Watch the video here.) Taking our troops out of Iraq, he said, is only the first step. We must follow up by restoring stability to the region, reclaiming our position in the international community, and reshaping our military for a post-Iraq-war world.
Watching the video of the speech reminded me that as a former Congressman and Ambassador, Governor Richardson has a depth of foreign affairs experience that no other candidate can match. He's gone beyond empty rhetoric, and set forth a clear vision for what to do next.
Also yesterday, the Governor was featured in a profile on ABC's "World News Tonight with Charlie Gibson." It described aspects of Bill's past that most people don't know enough about -- how he met Barbara, his memories of his father in Mexico, his school years in Massachusetts.
Watch the video, and you'll understand why Bill was drawn into a life of public service.
Finally, the Governor will be a guest on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" Sunday morning (check your local listings for time and station). I know he's fired up to draw a sharp distinction between his own clear position on the war and the doubletalk of the other candidates. It will be worth watching -- and we'll post the video on our website on Monday.
Help us get the word out about this week's triple play in the press. Please watch these videos, and then forward this email to five friends. It takes just a moment -- and it makes a difference.
Together, we can help others see what we see in Bill Richardson: our next President.
Thank you,
Dave Contarino Campaign Manager

Again, thanks to Melanie (and to C.I.). "Ending the war is the cornerstone." How many other candidates are saying that? None of the three 'front runners.' By the way, C.I. told me another guest on This Week Sunday. Katrina vanden Heuvel. So you can watch Richardson to find out about him and then, in the roundtable, you'll get to laugh at Katrina vanden Heuvel. It's win-win. (I probably won't be watching. We work all night on The Third Estate Sunday Review and I crash when that's over.) If it goes up online, I'll watch it then.

On four (out of forty? I have no idea how many groups we spoke to this week), we were asked who we were supporting for president? The question usually was asked by someone looking at or else directly asking C.I. so C.I. would go first and explain, "Do your own research and vote for who you want or not vote if no one speaks to you. Your vote is your business." C.I. then would toss to us. Kat would explain she's supporting Dennis Kucinich. I'd explain that I like what I saw in Kucinich and Gravel and I had thought I'd be following John Edwards closely until he (a) wimped out in one debate by refusing to discuss Iraq and (b) showed no grasp that the US needs to get out of Iraq and do so immediately (as the top exceprt noted, he can't guarantee that if elected, he'd pull out all US troops by the end of his four year term). I said Bill Richardson was someone I really wasn't interested in when he announced but the last few months, I'd started to think of him as a really serious candidate and am now making an effort to follow him. Ava echoed C.I. and they both noted (one would say something, then the other) that the issue of importance to them is ending the illegal war and if a candidate speaks to you enough to earn your vote (Ava: "On one issue, on many issues"), that's great but don't think voting is "the answer" because it's not and it's important not to fall into the trap of refusing to call for an end to the illegal war out of fears that some candidate might be hurt by the people demanding an end to the illegal war.

I'm including that because I think it is important. We really need to understand that our candidate of choice -- even if it's Kucinich or a Green Party candidate -- will need to feel the pressure to end the illegal war. The Greens or Kucinich might not need the pressure as much but with the DC conventional wisdom to go up against, they'll need to be reminded of what the majority of Americans want. We need to hold our choice (who ever it is accountable).

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

Friday, Ocotber 5, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the US military announces more deaths, Ehren Watada's court-martial is still set to start next Tuesday, the bait and kill teams get a white wash, and more.

Starting with war resistance. In June 2006,
Ehren Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to the Iraq War. As Aaron Glantz (The War Comes Home) notes Ehren Watada's second court-martial is scheduled to begin this coming Tuesday. And if it takes place and the prosecution is trailing, Judge Toilet (aka John Head) can call another "do over." Glantz reported on the first court-martial each day of the court-martial (as well as on the Sunday rally of support that preceded the court-martial) and you can click here for some of that audio. Truthout also covered the court-martial daily and they announce: "Truthout will be covering the court-martial from Fort Lewis, Washington, beginning Monday." Their coverage last time provided both video and text reports. Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) reports on yesterday's events, "U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle on Thursday afternoon heard arguments from Watada's lawyers and a lawyer from the U.S. Attorney's Office about whether he has jurisdiction in the case. Settle held the hearing after Watada's defense attorneys, Jim Lobsenz and Ken Kagen, sought an emergency halt to next Tuesday's court-martial. They said they were compelled to go to federal court after receiving no word from the military justice system's highest appellate court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, concerning Watada's challenge to his court-martial." AP reports that a decision by Settle may come down today; however, Michael Gilbert (Washington's The News Tribune) reports, "A federal judge indicated he won't likely decide whether to halt Lt. Ehren Watada's second court-martial until Tuesday morning, when the proceeding is scheduled to begin in an Army courtroom at Fort Lewis." Meanwhile, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorializes "Watada Court-Martial: Let him go:"However the defense appeals turn out, we think there is a case for letting Watada leave the Army without further ado. That could be taken as a statement of higher-level confidence, a choice to focus on the larger military mission that President Bush and Gen. David Petraeus insist is making new progress. At a minimum, many of those who oppose the Iraq war would welcome the leniency for someone they view as a person of conscience."

In Canada this week, war resister Robin Long was arrested this week.
Charlie Smith (Vancouver's Straight) reports that when twenty-year-old war resister Brad McCall attemptedto enter Canada on September 19, 2007, he was arrested "and driven to a jail in Surrey" with McCall telling him, "I don't know what kind of police officer he was. He put me in handcuffs in front of all these people that were watching that were trying to get into Canada also" and McCall aksed the Canadian Border Services Agency, "I told them, 'Why are you playing the part of the hound dog for the U.S. army?' They didn't know what to say. They just started stuttering and mumbling." Brad McCall did make it into Canada and is staying with Colleen Fuller in Vancouver. As is very common in stories of war resisters going to Canada "over the Internet". McCall also speaks of hearing about atrocities/war crimes in Iraq as participants bragged about the actions. Robin Long also cited that in his interview for CBC Television. McCall explains he was interested in CO status but when he raised the issued with "his commander and sergeants," the dismissed it which has happened repeatedly with many war resisters. Aiden Delgado and Camilo Mejia are among those who can share their struggles to receive CO status -- Delgado was one of the few to be successful in his attempt. Robert Zabala has the distinction of being awarded CO status by the US civilian court system. Agustin Aguayo attempted the process both within the US military and within the civilian court system.

Another who attempted CO status is Kevin Benderman. Monica Benderman, Kevin's wife, addressed Congress in May of 2006 noting, "My husband violated no regulations. His command violated many. The command's flagrant disregard for military regulations and laws of humanity sent my husband to jail as a prisoner of conscience. Times have changed -- and so has conscientious objection. What has not changed is the Constitution, the oath our volunteer soldiers take to defend it, and every American citizen's right to freedom of choice. This conscientious objection goes beyond religious teaching. It is not dramatic. There is no epiphany. There is reality. Death is final, whether it is your own or you cause the death of another. No amount of field training can make up for the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of a real battlefield, and no amount of threats, intimidation, and abuse from a command can change a soldier's mind when the cold, hard truth of an immoral, unethical justification for war is couple with real-life sensations." Monica, and not Kevin, addressed Congress because Kevin was still serving the sentence on the kangaroo court hearing he was subjected to when he attempted to be granted CO status by following every detail by the book with no margin for error. But the US military brass doesn't like to issue CO status and they were willing to manuever and lie in their attempts at retribution towards Kevin Benderman. The laughable charge of "desertion" (which has no basis in reality) was shot down (he was acquitted of that ludicrous charge) but the brass was successful with other charges (trumped up charges) and that goes to how they control the court-martials, how they refuse to allow evidence to be entered and arguments to be made in an arrangement that's already stacked against the individual. (For instance, in Ehren Watada's trial, Judge Toilet was known to report to his superiors who, presumably, gave him orders throughout the February court-martial. In a civilian court, a judge reporting to a 'superior' and taking advice from one would be grounds for an aquittal.) Kevin and Monica Benderman fought the brass and continued fighting when others might have given up.
Letters from Fort Lewis Brig: A Matter of Conscience is the new book, out this week from The Lyons Press (US $24.95), in which they tell his story. Letters from Fort Lewis Brig: A Matter of Conscience is also the fourth book by a war resister of the Iraq War to be published this year. The other three are Aidan Delgado's The Sutras Of Abu Ghraib: Notes From A Conscientious Objector In Iraq, Camilo Mejia's Road from Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia and Joshua Key's The Deserter's Tale. Early on as the brass was targeting her husband, Monica Benderman visited bookstores attempting to learn more about CO status and similar topics and she couldn't find anything. The four books rectify that and join Peter Laufer's
Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq which covers the stories of variety of war resisters and was released in 2006. In an ideal world, bookstores across the country would stock all five and no Monica Benderman, in search of information, would ever be greeted with "We don't carry anything like that." Kevin and Monica Benderman have done their part to make sure it doesn't happen. Again, Letters from Fort Lewis Brig by Kevin Benderman with Monica Benderman was released this week, is available at bookstores and online and it'll be the focus of a book discussion at The Third Estate Sunday Review this weekend.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, 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, Blake LeMoine, 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, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, 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.

Canada's in the news not only for the arrest of war resisters these days but also for their oil deal. In
a curious press release that proclaims "THIS PRESS RELEASE IS NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION TO THE UNITED STATES NEWSWIRE SERVICE OR FOR DISSEMINATION IN THE UNITED STATES" at the top, Canada's Heritage Oil Corporation declares (to "Business Editors") that they are "pleased to announce that it has executed a Production Sharing Contract with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) over Miran Block in the south-west of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and that Heritage will be operating as a 50/50 partner with the KRG to create a 20,000 barrel per day oil refinery in the vincinity of the license area. . . . Heritage will join the existing and increasing presence of international oil exploration, development and production companies operating in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. . . . Heritage will commence geological work immediately, having established its local office in Erbil in 2005, and aims to commence a high-impact exploration drilling program in 2008." Last month a deadly clash took place on Lake Albert between "Congolese troops and the Ugandan army" which Heritage Oil has denied any part in despite media reports. Andy Rowell (Oil Change) notes that the Kurdish government has "announced four new oil exploration deals with international energy companies. The news is likely to upset the central government in Baghdad and the US." In addition, this week Canada refused entry to CODEPINK's Media Benjamin and retired US State Dept and army colonel Ann Wright. Today, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) interviewed Wright:

AMY GOODMAN: So, Ann, you were turned back at the border. You go back to Washington, D.C. You meet with Canadian officials at the embassy. What did they tell you?
ANN WRIGHT: Well, they told us that any time that the FBI puts people on this NCIC list, they just accept it at face value, that they don't really investigate things. And we kept saying, "Well, you ought to, because a lot of these things appear to be going onto this list because of political intimidation," because, indeed, the list itself for the database says that people like foreign fugitives, people on the ten most-wanted list or 100 most-wanted list, people that are part of violent gangs and terrorist organizations, are supposed to go on that NCIC list. It didn't seem like that we were a part of -- we haven't done anything to be on the list. And since this thing is just now -- we are the first ones that we know of that have been formally stopped from going into Canada. In fact, it happened to me in August, when I went up to Canada to participate in the Security and Prosperity Partnership. I had to buy my way in, $200 for a three-day temporary resident permit. "If I'm so dangerous, why would they even give me that permit?" I asked the immigration officer in the Canadian embassy.

Turning to the Iraqi puppet government
Susan Cornwell (Reuters) reported: "Widespread corruption in Iraq stretches into the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, an Iraqi investigating judge told U.S. lawmakers on Thursday, and an American official said U.S. efforts to combat the problem are inadequate. Judge Radhi Hamza al-Radhi, who was named by the United States in 2004 to head the Iraqi Commission on Public Integrity, said his agency estimated corruption had cost the Iraqi government up to $18 billion." Renee Schoof (McClatchy Newspapers) adds, "Enormous sums of oil revenues ended up in the hands of Sunni and Shiite militias, he said. Radhi Hamza al-Radhi, who is seeking U.S. asylum because of death threats against him, said that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his government prevented al-Radhi's U.S.-backed Commission on Public Integrity from taking action against top national officials."

Turning to the topic of violence,
AP notes that the mercenary corporation Blackwater USA has a new p.r. flack -- Burson-Marsteller -- and that, "The State Department, which pays Blackwater hundreds of millions of dollars to protect U.S. diplomats in Iraq, has stringent rules barring the private security contractor from discussing with the media the details of its work, according to those familiar with the arrangement." While Sudarsan Raghavan, Joshua Partlow and Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) explain the latest reports on the September 16th slaughter Blackwater conducted in Baghdad, "U.S. military reports from the scene of the Sept. 16 shooting incident involving the security firm Blackwater USA indicate that its guards opened fire without provocation and used excessive force against Iraqi civilians, according to a senior U.S. military official. The reports came to light as an Interior Ministry official and five eyewitnesses described a second deadly shooting minutes after the incident in Nisoor Square. The same Blackwater security guards, after driving about 150 yards away from the square, fired into a crush of cars, killing one person and injuring two, the Iraqi official said. The U.S. military reports appear to corroborate the Iraqi government's contention that Blackwater was at fault in the shooting incident in Nisoor Square, in which hospital records say at least 14 people were killed and 18 were wounded."

Staying on violence . . .

"Shams survived, but is now blind. She is one of hundreds who were injured, but survived this attack. More than 200 others died. This is her story," so begins Alive in Baghdad's video report this week entitled "
Car Bomb Survivors, No Longer Statistics" which focuses on the aftermath of the November 23rd bombing for the year-old Shams whose mother died shielding her from the blast and whose brother Ghaith was left with shrapnel. Her father, Hesham Fadhel Karim, explains his wife, Shams, and Ghaith and Taif (two sons) were in their car in Sadr City when three bombs went off, "My baby girl Shams was injured and lost her two eyes, her mother was killed and my older son Ghaith was injured by shrapnel in his back. . . . Shams face was injured because she was beside her mother who was burning. As for my wife, the fireman came to extinguish her and I carried her to the ambulance which brought her to the hospital. We took her out of the ambulance into the hospital. I was trying to extinguish her but I could not, because she burnt my hands, legs, and shoulder. At last, she died. As for Shams, I didn't know which hospital she was in. I searched for her in every hospital in Sadr City but I couldn't find her because she was carried to the Adnan Khairallah Martyr hospital." The search for Shams was made more difficult by the night time curfews forbidding travel. After finding her, her family attempted to get treatment for her in Jordan and Iran but were told there was nothing that could be done about her eyes. Shams' grandfather declares, "In fact, I appeal to this world and the humanitarian world to care for the children of Iraq because there are millions of children who are without eyes, deformed or having their arms or legs amputated."

In some of today's reported violence . . .


Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reports, "Up to twenty-four Iraqi civilians are reportedly dead following a U.S. air strike near the city of Baquba. Another twenty-seven people were wounded. The toll is said to include women and children. Witnesses say at least four homes were leveled in the attack. Some of the victims were killed after rushing out of their homes to help those hurt in the initial bombing." AFP reports, "Witnesses said US helicopters attacked Jayzani, northwest of the mainly Shiite town of Al-Khalis, at around 2:00 am (2300 GMT), destroying at least four houses. An AFP photographer saw at least four trucks, each carrying several bodies from Jayzani, being driven through Baghdad to the Shiite holy city of Najaf for burial. One of the dead was clearly an elderly man" and AFP quotes Ahmed Mohammed saying, "There are 24 bodies on the ground in the village and 25 others wounded in Al-Khalis hospital." Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a bombing today "near Latifiyah Bridge" outside Babil left three people injured while a Tuz Khurmatu bombing left three wounded. Reuters notes that a Laitifya roadside bombing left three people injured.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Sheikh Yasir Al Yasiri was shot dead yesterday and Sheikh Khalid was shot dead last night, both in Basra, both were professors at "Al Sadr religious university".


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 corpses discovered in Baghdad and 2 corpses were discovered in Kifil.

Today the
US military announced: "Two Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldiers were killed and two others were wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated during operations in the southeastern region of the Iraqi capital Oct. 5." And the US military announced: "One Multi-National Corps - Iraq Soldier was killed and three were wounded in Salah Ad Din province today when an improvised explosive device was detonated near their vehicle." ICCC's total number killed in the illegal war since it started (March 2003) stands at 3813 and Reuters stands at 3812.

Turning to news of white wash,
Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) 'investigates' the bait and kill teams of US snipers in Iraq by . . . reading court transcripts. Work that will no doubt to elevate him to the level of Maury Povich or at least Ted Baxter. Parker writes: "Interviews and court transcripts portray a 13-man sniper unit that felt under pressure to produce a high body count, a Vietnam-era measure that the Pentagon officially has disavowed in this war. They describe a sniper unit whose margins of right and wrong were blurred: by Hensley, if you believe Army prosecutors; by the Army, if you believe the accused." Wow, shock and dull, shock and dull. In June of this year, James Burmeister went public with the news of the kill teams. All Things Media Big and Small ignored it in this country. Last week, a court-martial forced them to cover it with limited hangout. Now it's time for the white wash and Parker shows up in flip flops, a half-shirt and Daisy Dukes, scrub brush in hand.

James Foley (Medill Reports) quotes Kelly Dougherty (IVAW) declaring, "People say it's an all-volunteer army, but the truth is many people's contracts have been extended, some involuntarily extended. That's not only against an all-volunteer military, but putting the same people in a combat zone again and again . . . We get a lot of calls (asking) 'What should I do? Should I go back.'" Tim Dickinson (Rolling Stone) highlights two articles -- First, Philip Dine (St. Louis Dipatch) reveals that "Thousands of U.S. soldiers in Iraq -- as many as 10 a day -- are being discharged by the military for mental health reasons. But the Pentagon isn't blaming the war. It says the soldiers had 'pre-existing' conditions that disqualify them for treatment by the government." This is an effort to deny treatment for service members suffering from PTSD by claiming that the PTSD is actually a prior condition. Dikinson then notes a report on the number of service members who are deployed "for only 729 days. . . exactly one day short of the 730 days needed to guarantee thousands of dollars a year for college."

Today on the second hour of
NPR's The Diane Rehm Show, Rehm's roundtable guests were McClatchy Newspapers' Warren P. Strobel, the Washington Post's Keith Richburg and UPI's Martin Walker.

Diane Rehm: Let's talk about what's happening in Iraq with Iraq buying $100 million worth of weapons from China.

Martin Walker: Well you go to the best. I mean if you want, if you want the kind of material you need to supress people and maintain an authoritarian state where do you go? China. The point that the US wasn't able to supply the weaponry required and the Chinese are able to supply cheap knock-offs of AK-47s.

Diane Rehm: But haven't the Iraqis had terrible trouble keeping track of weapons to begin with?

Martin Walker: The place is awash in weapons but don't forget it also took place as we've got this new report about corruption in Iraq and about the way in which corruption is being covered up and protected by al-Maliki's government and I would be amazed if some of that money for the Chinese weaponry doesn't matter to leak out some way or another.

Diane Rehm: At twenty-seven before the hour, you are listening to The Diane Rehm Show. Do you want to add to that, Keith?

Keith Richburg: Just to add, it's ironic that these weapons are supposedly going to be going to the Iraqi police which is the one unit that all US investigators going in there have said is the most corrupt, the most inept and basically should be abolished and reconstituted from scratch. Here's Talibani saying, "Actually we need weapons to arm this force."

Diane Rehm: Warren?

Warren P. Strobel: Yeah, absolutely. There was a hearing in Congress this week that highlighted the issue of corruption and a report, the State Department's own report, shows that virtually every ministry has just massive corruption problems. It's hard to believe that lots of the weapons won't end up in the street. It's hard to believe there won't be huge kickbacks, as Martin said, for the weapon sale.

A caller brought up Seymour Hersh's report that the administration is planning to start a war with Iran.

Diane Rehm: Didn't Sy Hersh also go on to say that many in the administration know we don't have the resources to go into Iran, Warren?

Warren P. Strobel: Which is true, we don't in any serious way. Diane, if I had a dollar for every tip I got, or every e-mail I got, or every caller I got that the administration was about to launch another war on Iran, I'd be a rich man. I think we have to be very careful here. Some people in the administration, close to it, say "yes," some say "no." Cheney is said to be pushing this -- I'm not so sure. I think it's a debate that's going to go on right till the very the end of administration.

[. . .]

Keith: I would just add, well, two things. First, I agree that the resources, the troops aren't there for an invasion. If you're talking about some kind of an airstrike, I would just say the most dangerous period I think you can be in is when you've got a lameduck president with nothing to lose, facing a military catastrophe in Iraq at the moment. And secondly, I find this demonization of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a new Hitler and a new dictator a bit curious because within Iran he's not a dictator. They're all kinds of other institutions that are keeping him relatively constrained including the various ayatollahs who actually run the country. He's not a dictator and also he's not incredibly and also he's not incredibly popular as well.

[. . .]

Martin Walker: There's another factor which tends to get forgotten here, which is that Iran has bought -- and had delivered last year -- from the Russians a state of art anti-aircraft missile system called the S300 which is probably better than the Patriot. Now that's now installed. It's being made operational. Even before that, I was told by a former head of the Air Force that the US Air Force would need a US air strike would need something like three days to suppress the anti-aircraft to be able to go in and hit the targets. What's going to happen on Capitol Hill in those three days on that kind of suppression of the anti-aircraft system? He would be impeached.

Keith: Just to add one quick thought there as well, I think one reason you can see the echo chamber of hostility towards Iran building is because

Diane Rehm: Could or would the US go to war against Iran without total Congressional support?

Keith: Well it depends on "What is war?" Are a series of air strikes war?

Diane Rehm: A series of air strikes.

Keith: Well I think some might argue that he needs Congressional approval, I think others might say that's within his perogative as commander-in-chief to do that. I think within Congress you're going to see a lot more, it's a Democratic Congress first of all, and you're already hearing a lot more people saying, "Wait a minute. North Korea has already exploded a nuclear bomb, Iran is still ten years away, why are they the greater threat?"

Martin Walker: Well it depends. I think one could certainly see and envisage some kind of provocations taking place or perhaps being concoted and engineered under which there's an exchange of fire on the border, US marines get arrested in the way that those British navel personnel were so you can see something being whipped up along those lines. But I was at, I was at an event, a social event recently with two former National Security Advisors and one of them said, "These guys ain't nuts." And the other one replied, "Yes, but they aren't sane either."

Which works as a transition to PBS'
Bill Moyers Journal (Friday in most markets, check local listings -- and it's a listen, watch and read online after the episode airs) when Moyers explores the group Christians United for Israel and also speaks to Rabbi Michael Lerner and Dr. Timothy Weber on the topic of? Should the US strike Iran. A YouTube preview is up and, at the program's website, essays on the topic will be posted as well. Again, the hour long show begins airing on most PBS markets on Friday (check local listings -- and at the website, you can also locate the airtime for your local PBS station). Also Friday on most PBS markets, NOW with David Brancaccio airs their latest half hour installment and this week interview Michael Apted about his owngoing documentary where he tracks a group of British people every seven years, energy conversation will be addressed with a report on Decorah, Iowa and Ken Burns will be interviewed about his latest documentary The War. On October 12th, NOW with David Brancaccio will air a one hour program, "Child Brides: Stolen Lives" documenting "the heartbreaking global phenomenon of forced child marriage, and the hope behind breaking the cycle of poverty and despair it causes." They've created an e-Card you can send to friends and family or to yourself to provide a heads up to the broadcast (and there is no cost to send the e-Card). Last (and one time only) we're tossing a link to the Democratic magazine American Prospect. Due to the fact that it has David Bacon's "Mexican Miners' Strike for Life". Excerpt:

In a well-run mine, huge vacuum cleaners suck dust from the buildings covering the crushers, mills and conveyer belts. The Cananea miners call these vacuums colectores, or dust collectors. Outside the hulking buildings of the concentrator complex, those collection tanks and their network of foot-wide pipes are five stories tall. But many of the tanks have rusty holes in their sides the size of a bathroom window. And the pipes, which should lead into the work areas inside, just end in midair. None of the dust collectors, according to the miners' union, have functioned since the company shut them down in 1999.
So for the past eight years, the dust that should have been sucked up by the collectors has ended up instead in the miners' lungs. That is the most serious reason why the miners are out on strike. But there are other dangers. Many machines have no guards, making it easy to lose fingers or worse. Electrical panels have no covers. Holes are open in the floor with no guardrails. Catwalks many stories about the floor are slippery with dust and often grease, and are crisscrossed by cables and hoses. Not long ago, one worker tripped and fell five stories to his death onto a water pump below.

The community is a left community, it is diverse and American Prospect is geared towards Democrats. That's their right and we don't spend time knocking them for it. We're covering mainstream media and independent media and we really aren't able to note things from Democratic Party magazines because we do have Greens and other political party members. Bacon's written an important article -- that was the first and last exception for American Progress. (Short of them hiring Bacon to blog or to be a regular contributor. He's a labor beat reporter and there are so few of them that such a move would probably alter the above and members would be fine with it.)