The weekend at last! :D It's been a great Friday.
Michael Ratner was on Democracy Now! today and this is noted in the snapshot but I wanted to pick another part. This is the section on Michael Mukasey who Bully Boy has nominated as Attorney General and who the cowardly Dems will not take a stand against:
JUAN GONZALEZ: Michael, I'd like to ask you on another issue, the Michael Mukasey nomination -- Patrick Leahy, the head of the Judiciary Committee, has said he's going to hold up a vote on him until he adequately answers his position on whether waterboarding is torture, constitutes torture. Your assessment of what's going on there?
MICHAEL RATNER: Right, you know, what's going on there, as I've said on this program before, is the Democrats have essentially caved in. Finally, Mukasey, when he made an answer to the question of waterboarding, you know, that "Well, I'm not sure what the technique is." And then he says, "Well, you know, I don't really know. If it's torture, then, yes, I’m against it," which is, you know, a ridiculous comment. And even then, the Democrats, like Leahy, you know, then have to say, "Well, if he's not going to say waterboarding is torture, you know, how can we really go forward?" because that's just too embarrassing for the Democrats.
So the question is how he answers that letter. He’ll probably evade it, much like he did there, which it’s just to say, "I don't really know how it’s being done. It's national security," etc., which, as I said to you when we started, that's like saying to somebody, "Well, is crucifixion torture?" and then they’re saying, "Well, it depends on how it's done. It's classified. I don't know how it's done." So it's an outrageous thing, and if he's not held up for this, Juan, you have to say -- when the New York Times starts saying we have one party in the country, you realize that this sadly may be the case.
In the Iraq study group tonight, one thing C.I. brought up was a Los Angeles Times poll, a new one, that found something like 65% of Democrats say that Congress is not doing their job. If Congress is confused why America feels that way it's because of their refusal to end the illegal war and crap like refusing to stand up to Mukasey. If they want to (if they're not complete cowards -- and maybe they are -- or in the same bag as the Republicans -- and maybe they are), then maybe it's just that they haven't fought in so long that they've forgotten how to?
They don't have to learn (or re-learn) how to unless they're expecting anyone to vote for them. I can't think of one reason to vote for them these days. And I don't need to hear, "Imagine how much worse Republicans would be!" That's not a reason to vote for them. That's a reason to vote against Republicans. It's easy to stand against the Republicans because they are so vile. But there's really been little reason to stand with the Democrats. It's like going to football game not to root for one team but to boo one. You really can't cheer the Democrats anymore because they do nothing worth cheering.
Different topic. Yesterday I put in David Rubenstein's opinion and there were a few e-mails on that. Leigh Ann e-mailed that she thought I liked David. I did like him. That may be a result of how awful the other people who e-mail to defend Carrie Nations are. But he wrote a e-mail that offered his opinion and I was fine with sharing it but, as Beau guessed in his e-mail, I wasn't going to be Ken Silverstein and play like it couldn't be determined. It can be determined. It has been determined. I didn't just stumble onto this topic. I've written about here repeatedly for like two years now. If I had more time last night, I could've offered even more links refuting his e-mail.
That's one good thing about Silverstein's backing down. If he hadn't, I would've just posted David's e-mail and not said anything. I would have felt like, "Everyone reading this should know my opinion on the subject and they should have seen all the stuff I've highlighted and written on it here." But because Silverstein backed down, I did grasp how it would read if I just put up David's e-mail without commenting on it.
But, like Leigh Ann wondered, I do think he's sincere. And he's probably a cool person (if you'd read the other e-mails that came in, it would be more clear probably). So I didn't have a problem with letting him have his say. My concern was over not just giving the impression, "David says this so I guess we just don't know." Like the way the mainstream media plays 'balance' and acts like their are two equal sides to issues.
I did worry that he was going to feel like, "Man, I got slammed." Which is why I didn't use any humor last night. I love being funny (or trying to) but I do think David's sincere and I didn't want to risk him thinking he was being slammed. A lot of people deserve it but, based on his e-mail which is all I know of him, he didn't. He was serious and sincere. What I've just written should cover not just Beau and Leigh Ann's e-mail but four others from people I've never heard from before. To repeat, I will only reply in e-mails to people who are regular readers or community members (or both). Anyone else writing only gets a reply up here.
Like I said last week, I wasted time on 13 e-mails from whiners. I thought they were sincere and I wasted my limited time replying to them and asking them for suggestions of how I could cover their candidates better. They didn't care enough to respond. They just wanted to whine that their candidate wasn't getting attention. Well boo-damn-hoo.
I was sincere in my replies and made a point not to use humor and to be very direct. I shouldn't have written them back to begin with both because (a) I don't have the time and (b) community wide, we've gotten burned enough over e-mails. But I took them at their word that they were sincerely concerned -- in their love of Dennis Kucinich, their hatred of Bill Richardson, their love of Chris Dodd, etc. -- and was willing to talk with them about how their candidates (or the ones they were against) could get better attention here.
They weren't concerned about that. They just wanted to, especially one woman, gripe. Something like, "You may not know it but Bill Richardson is really . . ." You know what? Start your own damn blog. I haven't endorsed anyone and I probably won't endorse any of your faves now because your rudeness reflects on those candidates to me now.
And on the Dennis Kucinich lovers, I have covered him before here, first off. Second, your long e-mails about how Dennis does this and Dennis does that, were just wastes of time. You should have known something about me before you wrote to whine. You don't even have to go to my profile. On the page you're reading right now, on the left, under "about me," it says Trina's Kitchen is the site run by mother. If you'd even bothered to click on that site and just quickly glance through, not even read, just glance, you'd have seen she supports Dennis Kucinich. I know all about Kucinich from the dinner table. There was nothing in your dopey e-mails that told me anything new about Kucinich (though a few of you didn't seem to know as much as you thought you did).
They could have saved themselves a long lecture if they'd bothered to do even a second of glancing --- not even research, just glancing. But all they wanted to do was whine about a candidate not getting attention or about how much they hated so and so.
I don't have time to waste on your nonsense. I have more respect for David than I do for any of the 13 cry babies.
I got one e-mail saying Betty's son did a good drawing. I'll tell Betty about that tomorrow so she can pass it on. He did do a good drawing. He's got a lot of talent. C.I. showed him some guitar chords two summers ago and he's been taking lessons since then and he can really play now. He's got lots of talent and is also pretty outstanding in sports too. The woman who wrote that said she'd seen something up at Third in Jim's note about the way everything came to a halt over that. What Jim's talking about is Betty passed on that her oldest was still up and wanted to talk to C.I. about something which wasn't a problem. But he was asking about his drawings and C.I. guess right away that what was going on was that he wasn't believed by his classmates. What followed was C.I. put everyone on notice that we weren't doing a thing until we got some of those drawings out, got them scanned and figured out how to work in at least one in that edition. The one I posted yesterday was the moon and stars and somebody, maybe Rebecca or Elaine or Jess, pointed out that there's a thing called "the judgement of moon and stars" and that we could use the illustration for an editorial. But we all knew during this that nothing was getting written until we figured that out. This wasn't people going, "Oh, C.I., it's not a big deal." We have done that on some stuff before only to realize after that it was a big deal. But we've all learned a lot since then and we knew this was a big deal. When you've told your friends that you did drawings in DC and they're going up at a website and then, a month or so later, they haven't, it will look to some like you weren't telling the truth. And that may seem like a "Who cares" or something. But that is a big deal when you're in school and you're hearing about it at lunch and stuff. And none of us needed to have that explained to us. We were all in agreement that no matter how long it took to find the illustrations and to get some scanned and to figure out what they could be used on, it was important that we do that. C.I. tried to be very specific in the credits (on Flickr) for that reason too, to make sure none of Betty's son's classmates were saying, "Wait, you said you did this with ___ and it just says you did it."
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Friday, October 26, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, Turkey says it will wait for a bit more, the US military announces another death, IVAW gears up for more action, the Center for Constitutional Rights files suit against Donald Rumsfeld and more.
Starting with war resisters. Agustin Aguayo will be taking part in an Impeach Bush and Cheney Meetup with Ann Wright and David Swanson on November 2nd (6:30 pm) at the Veteran's Memorial Building in Santa Barbara (112 West Cabrillo Boulevard). That's next Friday, November 2nd. In other war resister news, Ontario's OPIRG Brock notes that war resister Michael Espinal and his partner Jennifer Harrison spoke at Brock University on Tuesday: "Michael put a very real human face on the horrors that are being committed everyday in Iraq. He spent 14 months as an explosives expert doing house raids, disarming landmines, and other explosives. Michael was reprimanded for breaking military procedure for only placing enough explosives on the doors to open them, rather than blowing the entire door and frame in the houses. If you use the amount of explosives the military states you should in its procedurces, "anyone within 5 feet of the door would be killed instantly." According to Michael most of the intelligence they relied on was from other Iraqi's who told US forces of locations where 'bad' people were. Those informants were paid about $5.00 'In all the raids I found only two grenades, and a few guns . . . if you were a male over 5 feet you were bound and taken away.' Michael said. Bibles were regularly shoved in the pockets of Iraqi's as soldiers would taunt them and tell them their religion was wrong. We constantly hear on the news of deaths and injuries of Coalition Forces in Iraq due to roadside bombs. From Michael's experience 'Most of the IED's (Improvised Explosive Device), I found were unexploded US ordinance,' or US placed landmines. When convoys would drive near the ordinance sometimes the vibration of vehicles passing would be enough to detonate it. Regardless of the source of the explosive, it is always blamed on 'terrorists'."
Meanwhile, Iraq Veterans Against the War is taking part in an event on Saturday, October 27th:
If you are a soldier or veteran who has served on active duty or in the Reserves or National Guard since 9/11, and your are frustrated and angry with the way our military has been used and abused to wage an occupation against the people of Iraq, then know that you are not alone. On October 27th, veterans, soldiers, and citizens will gather in 11 cities around this country in a national expression of the breadth and depth of antiwar sentiment in this nation. One of the biggest gatherings of IVAW members will be in Boston, where IVAW members from across the Northeast will come together for a fundraiser on Friday night, the march on Saturday, and a regional meeting immediately following the march. If you area aveteran or active duty person interested in meeting IVAW members in Boston, please e-mail newengland [at] ivaw.org or boston [at] ivaw.org. The seattle chapter has also been integral in the planning of their regional march, please contact seattle [at] ivaw.org to connect with fellow veterans in the Northwest. For additional information on regions and chapters participating in the October 27 marches and demos, including those in NYC, LA, and Orlando, please contact the regional coordinator or chapter in your area, http://www.ivaw.org/chaptersandregions. Check www.Oct27.org for directions to the events and addtional information.
Also, Wally has discussed how he made his own support IVAW t-shirt to wear on campus. IVAW now has t-shirts that read "I SUPPORT IRAQ VETERANS AGAINST THE WAR."
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, 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, at least fifty 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.
The National Lawyers Guild's convention begins shortly: The Military Law Task Force and the Center on Conscience & War are sponsoring a Continuing Legal Education seminar -- Representing Conscientious Objectors in Habeas Corpus Proceedings -- as part of the National Lawyers Guild National Convention in Washington, D.C. The half-day seminar will be held on Thursday, November 1st, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the convention site, the Holiday Inn on the Hill in D.C. This is a must-attend seminar, with excelent speakers and a wealth of information. The seminar will be moderated by the Military Law Task Force's co-chair Kathleen Gilberd and scheduled speakers are NYC Bar Association's Committee on Military Affairs and Justice's Deborah Karpatkin, the Center on Conscience & War's J.E. McNeil, the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee's Peter Goldberger, Louis Font who has represented Camilo Mejia, Dr. Mary Hanna and others, and the Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's James Feldman. The fee is $60 for attorneys; $25 for non-profit attorneys, students and legal workers; and you can also enquire about scholarships or reduced fees. The convention itself will run from October 31st through November 4th and it's full circle on the 70th anniversary of NLG since they "began in Washington, D.C." where "the founding convention took place in the District at the height of the New Deal in 1937, Activist, progressive lawyers, tired of butting heads with the reactionary white male lawyers then comprising the American Bar Association, formed the nucleus of the Guild."
From the National Lawyers Guild to the Center for Constitutional Rights. On October 11th, CCR filed suit against Blackwater over the September 16th slaughter of civilians in Baghdad by Blackwater USA on behalf of the families of Himoud Saed Atban, Usama Fadhil Abbas and Oday Ismail Ibraheem (all three killed in the slaughter) and Talib Mutlaq Deewan who was wounded in the attack. Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) broke the news that day and interviewed CCR's Susan Burke who explained, "We were approached by the families of three gentlemen who were shot and killed, as well as a gentleman who was very seriously injured. They came to us because they know of our work representing the torture victims at Abu Ghraib, and they asked us whether it would be possible to try to get some form of justice, some form of accountability, against this rogue corporation." CCR continues to pursue the issue of torture. Today Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) interviewed CCR president Michael Ratner and Jeanne Sulzer of the International Federation of Human Rights about the lawsuit filed by CCR and IFHR.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Jeanne, I'd like to ask you, what happened this morning in France?
JEANNE SULZER: Well, the complaint was filed yesterday before the Paris prosecutor around 5:00 p.m. Paris time. This morning, Rumsfeld was present at the conference where he was scheduled. So what we are awaiting now is signs from the prosecutor to know whether an investigation has been opened or not. So what we needed here in France was to make sure that Rumsfeld was actually present on the French territory, which is the case. He's still here in Paris.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And now, was he actually served with any papers there, or what happened when he actually spoke?
JEANNE SULZER: Well, actually, the information we have is that the complaint has not been served on him. He has not been yet asked to account for the accusations in the complaint. So, as of now, again, we are waiting to see whether the prosecutor is still reviewing the complaint, and hopefully he will not wait too long, because our fears are that Rumsfeld will escape as soon as he can. So now the big issue is the pressure on the prosecutor and, of course, the higher-ups of the French authorities to take a decision on the complaint. But France has a very clear obligation to investigate and prosecute into this case under the torture convention, as Rumsfeld is present on the French territory.
Gonzalez noted that this is case number five against Rumsfeld.
MICHAEL RATNER: The big difference with this case and the other cases is Rumsfeld is actually in France. And when an alleged torturer goes into a country, but particularly France, the obligation on the prosecutor to begin an investigation is much stronger than in other cases of so-called universal jurisdiction. We brought two cases in Germany; one of those is still on appeal. There's a case in Argentina, and there's a case in Sweden.
I think the point of all of this is to really give Rumsfeld no place to hide. And the French case, really, because he is there, is extraordinary. I mean, that he was, in my -- in a sense, Juan, dumb enough to go to France, knowing that they have this kind of jurisdiction, is shocking. And, you know, I think one of the things that people can do right now is to put pressure on the French prosecutor to make sure he opens an investigation. We're going to have that fax number, etc., on our website, which the Center has a new website now: ccrjustice.org, ccrjustice.org, which in a couple of hours you can go to to fax materials. So this is a very, very exciting effort, and I think we're going to really pin Rumsfeld in in this.
I have a question, Jeanne: if they somehow don't open the prosecution and he leaves, do they still have an obligation to open the prosecution, even after he's gone?
JEANNE SULZER: In theory, there is, because what you need is, when the complaint is being filed, that the person, the alleged person, is present on the territory, and he was when the complaint was filed. So, yes, but they could, of course, say that now that he is not present on the territory anymore, there is no jurisdiction. But, yes, they should -- actually, the investigation should be opened now. If he escapes today, there is still basis for the French jurisdiction.
CCR notes that they and IFHR have joined with the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and the French League for Human Rights in the filing "charging former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld with ordering and authorizing torture. . . . The criminal complaint states that because of the failure of authorities in the United States and Iraq to launch any independent investigation into the responsibility of Rumsfeld and other high-level U.S. officials for torture despite a documented paper trail and government memos implicating them in direct as well as command responsibility for torture -- and because the U.S. has refused to join the International Criminal Court -- it is the legal obligation of states such as France to take up the case. In this case, charges are brought under the 1984 Convention against Torture, ratified by both the United States and France, which has been used in France in previous torture cases. . . . Former U.S. Army Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, former commander of Abu Ghraib and other U.S.-run prisons in Iraq, submitted written testimony to the Paris Prosecutor for the plaintiffs' case on Rumsfeld's responsibility for the abuse of detainees."
Dorren Carvajal (International Herald Tribune) notes Karpinski "contended that the abuses started after the appearance of Major General Geoffrey Miller, who was sent as an emissary by Rumsfeld to assist military intelligence interrogators. Miller crticized the interrogators for 'being too nice to the prisoners,' she said, and promised more resources. In her statement, Karpinski said he summed up the new approach in two sentences: 'Look, you have to treat them like dogs. If they ever felt like anything more than dogs, you have effectively lost control of the interrogation.' Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said in a statement that the aim of the latest legal complaint was to demonstrate 'that we will not rest until those U.S. officials involved in the torture program are brought to justice'."
Karpinski (PDF format warning) notes, "MG Miller was working almost exclusively with the military intelligence people and the military intelligence interrogators during the course of his visit. He was not interested in assisting with detention operations; rather he was focusing on interrogation operations and teaching interrogators harsher techniques as a means to obtain more actionable intelligence. MG Miller was spending almost all of his time with the Military Intelligence Officers (J2) BG Barbara Fast and the Commander of the Military Intelligence Brigade, Colonel Pappas. During his in-brief, his introduction when he first arrived there with his team, he responded to a military interrogator's question. . . . Then MG Miller said, 'My first observation is you are not in charge of the interrogations.' He said they were being too nice to the prsioners. MG Miller said they the interrogators were not being aggressive enough. He used an example from Guantanamo Bay." In addition, Karpinski notes the Rumsfeld Memo -- "a memo posted on a column just outside of their small administrative office. The memorandum was signed by the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, and it discussed Authorized Interrogation techniques including use of loud music and prolonged standing postions, amongst several other techniques. It was one page. It mentioned stress positions, noise and light discipline, the use of music, disrupting sleep patterns, those types of techniques. There was also a handwritten note out to the side in the same ink and in the same script as the signature of the Secretary of Defense. The notation written in the margin said 'Make sure this happens!' And people understood it to be from Rumsfeld. This memorandum was a copy; a photocopy of the original, I would imagine. I thought it was unusual for an interrogation memorandum to be posted inside of a dtention cell block, because interrogations were not conducted in the cell block, at least to my understanding and knowledge."
Rumsfeld served as Secretary of the Defense under both Gerald Ford and the Bully Boy. On May 7, 2004 Rumsfeld testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee then examining the Abu Ghraib torture and declared, "Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, in recent days there has been a good deal of discussion about who bears responsibility for the terrible activities that took place at Abu Ghraib. These events occurred on my watch. As secretary of defense, I am accountable for them and I take full responsibility." Rumsfeld was replaced with Robert Gates on December 18, 2006. There was not and has not been any accountability. [FYI, Ratner is also a co-host -- along with Heidi Boghosian, Dalia Hashad and Michael Smith -- of WBAI's Law and Disorder -- which also airs online and on other radio stations across the US.]
From Rumsfeld to more current violence . . .
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Kirkuk bombing that left two police officers injured. Reuters notes an Adhaim roadside bombing that claimed the lives of 6 truck drivers and injured five more, a Muqdadiya bombing that claimed 1 life and injured four, a Buhriz roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left three others, a roadside bombing outside Kirkuk that left two police officers injured and a Dagghara roadside bombing that claimed the lives of 2 police officer and injured three more.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports nurse Fahima Hussein Mohammed was shot at her home in Hawija "and she died while moving her to the hospital."
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes 2 corpses discovered in Latifya.
Today, the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was killed and four others wounded when their unit was attacked with an explosively-formed penetrating device in a southern section of the Iraqi capital Oct. 25."
Turning to the continued tensions between northern Iraq and Turkey which have proved to be very beneficial to some. This morning, the New York Times noted that oil topped $90 a barrel (90.46 ) and may hit $100 a barrel before the end of the year. Reuters tells you it's already gone above ninety and change: "Oil rallied to a fresh record high above $92 a barrel on Friday as the dollar tumbled to a record low, Washington imposed new sanctions on Iran and gunmen shut more oil production in Nigeria." From David R. Baker (San Francisco Chronicle) explains, "Crude prices are within easy striking distance of inflation-adjusted records set in 1981 after the start of the Iran-Iraq war. Direct comparisons are impossible, because the market for buying and selling oil has changed radically in the past 26 years. Estimates of the all-time high, however, range from roughly $92 per barrel to $104. . . . Speculators who use oil solely as an investment have been latching onto any news that could drive the price higher - such as Turkey's threats to attack Kurdish rebels inside oil-rich Iraq - and ignoring everything else."
Meanwhile, CBS and AP report that Turkey has decided to put on hold the decision of what to do about or not do "until the prime minister visits Washington in November before deciding on a cross-border offensive into northern Iraq, the country's top military commander said Friday." The decision (or announced 'decision') comes on the same day that Turkey sends even more troops to the border. Thomas Grove (Reuters) notes, "Turkish helicopters ferried more troops to the border with Iraq on Friday . . . Turkey has massed up to 100,000 troops along the mountainous border before a possible cross-border operation to crush about 3,000 guerrillas of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) who launch deadly attacks into Turkey from northern Iraq." Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London) continues reporting on the PKK and noted early this morning that "PKK leaders do not feel themselves in much danger. The mountains and gorges have been a redoubt for guerrillas for thousands of years." On the situation the US has allowed to rage while repeatedly claiming to address, Vera Beaudin Saeedpour (Institute for Public Accuracy) declares:
"Ironic. The PKK is on the State Department's terrorist list; the U.S. claims it doesn't 'talk with terrorists.' But the U.S. -- and Israel -- aids and abets the PKK through local Iraqi Kurds. And why? The PKK arm, Pejak, attacks Iran. For services rendered, while the PKK attacks Turkey the administration winks and has kept the Turkish military from retaliating. ... For giving safe haven to the PKK/Pejak, for doing Washington's bidding in Baghdad, [Massoud] Barzani and [Jalal] Talabani have been more than amply rewarded. In 2003 the U.S. military facilitated their takeover of 'security' in Kirkuk and even in Mosul. Now, under the pretext of fighting al Qaeda, units of the U.S. military have been joining Kurdish fighting units (veiled as members of the 'Iraqi' military) in ethnically cleansing 'contested areas' of non-Kurds in advance of a referendum that will determine under whose jurisdiction these parts of Diyala and Nineveh provinces will fall. Perhaps it all depends on who's doing the cleansing. In 1992 Armenians in Nagorno Karabagh aided by the Republic of Armenia ethnically cleansed Red Kurdistan, the largest and oldest Kurdish community in the Caucasus -- 160,000 Kurds simply disappeared. With few exceptions, Kurds elsewhere said nothing. Kurdish Life did a detailed report on the issue and distributed it to members of Congress, not least Rep. Tom Lantos, Sen. Ted Kennedy and Sen. Joe Biden, all still in office. President Bill Clinton did nothing. Instead, Armenians were rewarded with direct U.S. foreign aid."In addition to the White House meetup next week, US Secretary of State and Anger Condi Rice, CNN notes, is planning to visit Ankara next Thursday to meet with the Turkish president and prime minister. Yesterday, Condi Rice met with the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (one of the many committees she stonewalls). When confronted with charges and documents alleging that puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki may be something than a prince, Condi hit the roof. John M. Broder (New York Times) reports she responded, "To assault the prime minister of Iraq or anyone else in Iraq with here-to-date unsubstantiated allegations or lack of corroboration in a setting that it would simply fuel those allegations, I think, would be deeply damaging, and frankly, I think it would be wrong." To address serious charges, to do her job, would be "deeply damaging?" Remember this is the person in charge of national security on 9-11, no-one-could-have-guessed Condi. Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) reports, "Democrats focused on an April 1 memo from Maliki's office forbidding investigation of anyone in the government or cabinet without the prime minister's approval. The memo was turned over to the committee by Judge Radhi Hamza al-Radhi, the former head of the Iraqi Commission on Public Integrity, who is seeking U.S. political asylum. Radhi testified to the committee early this month that his investigators had uncovered 'rampant' corruption in Iraqi ministries and that nearly four dozen anti-corruption employees or members of their families had been murdered." Condi's concern for al-Maliki and his potentially hurt feelings is all the more touching as Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) reports, "Iraqi insurgents and sectarian militias are funding their deadly activities by muscling in on Mafia-style rackets involving everything from real estate and oil to cement and soft drinks, U.S. commanders say." Zavis quotes Lt. Col. Eric Welsh declaring, "If you think that the majority of money is coming from outside the country to fund the insurgency, you'd be wrong." Don't say that around Condi, she might burst into tears despite the fact that "[a]n internal U.S. Embassy assessment leaked to the media in August said endemic corruption was crippling the government and providing a major source of funding to insurgent groups and sectarian militias."
Turning to peace news, Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) noted today, "An American peace activist denied entry into Canada earlier this month has again been detained by Canadian authorities on her first attempt to return. Ann Wright, a retired Army colonel and former diplomat, was scheduled to speak an anti-war news conference Thursday with Canadian lawmakers in the capitol of Ottawa. Wright and the CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin were denied entry earlier this month after their names appeared on an FBI criminal database that the Canadian government is using at its borders. Wright and Benjamin have nine convictions between them -- all involving civil disobedience while protesting the war in Iraq."
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