Saturday, March 17, 2007


Monday. We're in DC. We're all tired. Elaine and I are both going to try to blog tonight. After DC, I head home and I'm exhausted!!!! :D Seriously.

So this is light blogging. I'm going to talk about Dallas which was a lot of fun. I did get to see where John F. Kennedy was shot. I even got to see where the Texas Book Depositry is. It was closed (it's a museum now) so I didn't get to go in. (We went around Dallas Thursday night checking out different things with Eddie.) What else did I get to see?

The West End isn't far from that and we went to eat there and look around and that was pretty cool. It's a long stretch that's closed to cars so you walk through and there are these different places to eat and all. Then we went to Deep Ellum which is kind of like the West End but younger and wilder. Eddie's car didn't get towed but there were some guys my age who were really bummed because their car got towed. They didn't want to pay for parking so they'd parked at this lot (a lot of people had) and when they came back, all the cars were towed. This one guy was freaking out saying his dad was going to kill him. It was like going to be $200 bucks just to get his car back. He grew up in Dallas and lives in Dallas but he goes to school somewhere else. I forget the college he said. And he was just home visiting and he needed his car to get back to school and just knew he was going to hear about it.

Eddie said they really tow like crazy so it's better to just find somewhere and pay to park. (He didn't say that to the guy who had enough troubles and didn't need a lecture.) He also said that the houses around Deep Ellum were always complaining about how people were peeing in their yards and they were taking pictures of it and posting it online. (I don't know where, you can probably search "Deep Ellum" and "piss" and find it, if you want to look at it for some reason.)
What else did we see? I'm trying to think.

Eddie couldn't believe I never watched the TV show Dallas but that's like when I was a little kid or something. If I was watching TV when it was still on, I was watching TGIF on ABC each Friday.

Friday, we were speaking and all and I saw a lot of things then. I liked El Centro College. It's downtown Dallas (and we probably drove past it Thursday night but I didn't notice it then). It's pretty much straight up in the air. Their campus isn't spread out wide so it's spread up high. Downtown Dallas may be one of the few places where people walk! :D Seriously, they do a lot of walking downtown. There are places to eat and other stuff like the City Hall and federal buidings and the college, and the city's only newspaper and a train station and a Greyhound Bus station and who knows what else?

I'll probably write about Dallas next week sometime when I'm wide awake. I'm forgetting a lot right now because I'm tired. But I really did love the Texas trip period and every place had some really amazing stuff. Before I went, I really did think everyone would be wearing cowboy hats and boots and I really didn't see that a lot. More cowboy boots in East Texas probably than anywhere else we went. It was more rural in East Texas.

I can compare Tyler to Dallas, if that helps. Tyler's a big city in East Texas. Population wise and also because it has all these towns around it but it's a city. So like Tyler has a few areas that are packed in, like the south side of the loop that runs around the city and like downtown. But it's also got, even when you've got like a grocery store and stuff, these wide, open spaces. That's not really true of Dallas. Dallas is just packed tight. Oh, they've got horses downtown. I saw those and said, "What are horses doing downtown?" It's this one little lot and that's because you can take a horse carriage ride downtown at night. I hope I remembered that right. The expensive area in Dallas that we went to was Turtle Creek and it's pretty pricey. It's uptown from downtown. Somewhere in there or in Oak Lawn, George Michael's partner/boyfriend has his art gallery. (I say "partner/boyfriend" to make it clear. If I just say "partner," someone might think it's a business partner that the singer is in business with. But the guy, Kenny something, is from Dallas. Goss. Kat just reminded me of Kenny's last name.) A lot of people are from Dallas. Norah Jones. Morgan Fairchild. Eryka Badu. Trying to think who else but forgetting. Billie said you can see Badu pull her car (I think it's a jeep) into a South Dallas car wash and wash it herself. Badu still lives in Dallas. I got to see where the Dallas Mavericks used to play (Reunion Arena) and where they play now American Airlines. Both are in downtown.

I'm yawning and ready to get some Zzzs. So let me note Betty's "Couching with a Potato Head,"
Rebecca's "he shredded the constitution, now it's him in the shredder" is the latest on Alberto and she's been covering that all week, and the joint-post from Cedric ("So that's what "AP" stands for!") and Wally ("THIS JUST IN! AP SLIMES VALERIE PLAME AGAIN!").

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

Friday, March 16, 2007. Chaos and violence continues in Iraq; US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid proclaims "The war has gone on too long. We must change direction in Iraq" but apparently can't control senators in his own party; protests rock Sadr City in Baghdad; Vicky Toejam will have to think of a new falsehood now that Valerie Plame has testified to the US Congress that she was a covert CIA agent; and the health 'care' for veterans remains a scandal.

Starting with war resistance, today on
KPFA's Making Contact, Aaron Glantz addressed the topic of Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq (June 2006) and the first to be court-martialed (last month). Glantz noted that before the court-martial began, on a rainy Sunday night, people gathered to show their support. Among those speaking were retired Lt. Col. and retired State Department Ann Wright, "
I have been here so many times and so many times for justice and principle." Glantz noted how the presiding judge, Lt. Col. John Head (aka Judge Toilet) refused to allow Watada to put foward his best defense -- explaining why he refused to deploy. A review of the court-martial's second day included Geoffrey Millard's observations (
Millard reported on the court-martial for Truthout) that the prosecutions' own witnesses backed up Watada under cross examination. This point was echoed by Jeff Paterson who told Glantz, "All the prosecution's witnesses stood up there and said miltary service are important oaths are important but on cross examination they explained how Ehren Watada was trying to fulfill his oath." (Paterson covered the court-martial for Courage to Resist.) Glantz noted that the prosecution witnesses had stated that intent was important as the second day ended so there was a belief that Watada might be able to present his motivations when he took the stand the following day.

"On Wednseday morning the court room was filled with anticipation," Glantz noted. But that quickly changed as Judge Toilet zeroed in on a stipulation where Watada agreed to making public statements. Judge Toilet had seen the stipulation the week prior, on Monday he had instructed the jury on the stipulation. On Wednesday, it was suddenly an issue. Judge Toilet declared a mistrail (over the defense's objections). Eric Seitz, Watada's civilian attorney, notes that double-jeopardy should prevent Watada from being court-martialed again; however, the military has scheduled Juyl 16th for the start of his second court-martial.

US war resister Joshua Key has told his story in the new book
The Deserter's Tale. In addition, he is also one of the war resisters profiled in Peter Laufer's Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq, from page 14:

Joshua still does not understand what he was doing in Iraq in the first place. "I still couldn't tell you why I was there. What purpose was it for? Whose gain was it for? I don't know the truth to it. Like I tell my wife, that's the problem with war -- your president, your generals, they send you off to go fight these battles. And all the way down to your commanding officers, they don't go out there with you. They send you out there to fight and do the crazy sh*t and do the dirty stuff. You're the one who has to live with the nightmares from it. You come back, you're nothing, you know? Guys are living on the streets that fought in Iraq just as well as I did. I mean it's horrific."

Ehren Watada and Joshua Key are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes Darrell Anderson, Agustin Aguayo, Kyle Snyder, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Joshua Key's statements ("You come back, you're nothing, you know? Guys are living on the streets that fought in Iraq just as well as I did. I mean it's horrific.") are the jumping off point to the realities now more openly addressed: what passes for 'care' that many returning receive (or 'receive'). In light of the recent scandals about Walter Reed Army Medical Center,
Gregg Zoroya (USA Today) establishes the point that not all have to deal with mold, rats and roaches -- some quarters are very nice such as the Esienhower Executive Nursing Suite (Ward 72) which "features heightened security, including bullet-proof windows and secure telephone lines. Among the other touches are flat-panel television and curio cabinets filled with gifts from foreign leaders." This is the VIP suite but US Rep John Tierney feels "the true VIPs" are the returning service members and not the ones who get the Esienhower Executive Nursing Suite: "the presidents, the vice president, federal judges, members of Congress and the Cabinet, high-ranking military officials and even foreign dignitaries and their spouse. The only enlisted members of the military who are eligible to stay there are receipients of the Medal of Honor." Conn Hallinan (Berkeley Daily Planet) observes that the problems with Walter Reed require more than show firings, "'addressing' the problem will require jettisoning former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's high-tech subsidies to the nation's arms makers at the expense of the grunts, as well as the White House's mania for privitaziation. [Francis] Harvey [Army Secretary until recently] was brought in by Rumsfeld specifically to reduce the federal work force and, as he said in a speech last year, 'improve efficiency.' A former executive for one of the nation's leading arms producers, Westinghouse, Harvey hired IAP Worldwide Services -- run by two former Halliburton executives -- which promptly reduced the number of people providing service at Walter Reed from 300 to 60. The cutback and resulting increase in workloads kicked off an exodus of trained personnel, which an in-hospital study just released by the House Committee on Oversight and Governance found could lead to 'mission failure'."

One person who has been fighting for better service and for an end to the illegal war is Tina Richards whose son Cloy Richards has served two tours of duty in Iraq and now suffers from PTSD.
Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) spoke with Richards today and she explained what was next for her son in the Veterans Affairs system: "On March 24th, he's supposed to report in with documentation from Veterans Affairs as to his disabilities. The problem is, is that he doesn't have that documentation, because we've ben fighting with the VA system for close to a year now, just trying to get him treatment. Recently, I've been sitting in on the hearings, and I was interviewed by a Veterans Affairs Committee on the House. And it appears that a lot symptoms that my son has is actually from traumatic brain injury, which can sometimbes be confused with PTSD, or it can be a combination of both. You know, he definitely has undiagnosed traumatic brain injury."

On today's Democracy Now!,
Gonzalez and Goodman also spoke with Jean Stentz whose husband, Vietnam vet Willie Dougherty, died last year in a series of injustices that began when he was denied a VA hospital in his area -- Jean Stenz: "Because the VA hospital was full, and they wanted him to go to another one. And so, Beaumont's two hours away from us, and Houston's an hour away, but they sent him to Beaumont. And then, when they released him, I took him down by ambulance to the VA hospital emergency room, who refused him at that time, because they said he wasn't sick enough. He had an infection. He was perspiring profusely. I mean, the pillows were wet. He had fever. He had trouble breathing. But he wasn't sick enough. So we came home. We called on the phone -- in fact, my daughter and I had two phones going, the cell and the home phone -- trying to find help for him. Finally, the VA doctor in Lufkin decided that he should be put in a nursing home. He was in a nursing home in Huntsville less than two days and was very sick, was transferred to the Huntsville emergency room, who transferred him finally to the VA hospital in Houston, where he was in ICU -- very ill -- and transferred to their hospice room and died."

And though the US administration shows no genuine efforts at caring for those injured in combat, they're more than prepared to send even more over to Iraq.
Bryan Bender (Boston Globe) reports the escalation goes on, the escalation goes on: "The top US commander in Iraq has requested another Army brigade . . . . The appeal -- not yet made public -- by General David Petraeus for a combat aviation unti would involved between 2,500 and 3,000 more soldiers and dozens of transport helicopters and powerful gunships, said the Pentagon sources. That would bring the planned expansion of US forces to close to 30,000 troops." Meanwhile, Pauline Jelinek (AP) reports that an additional 2,600 troops "from a combat aviation unit" are going to Iraq "45 days earlier than planned" and that the excuse for not including it in Bully Boy's January numbers was because, Col. Steven Boylan, "This was requested over a month ago as part of the surge." For those who've forgotten, in January Bully Boy announced his intentions to send 21,500 more US service members into Iraq. The response from the American people was "NO!" The US Congress couldn't find it's spine and now that number is not threatened so Bully Boy's upped it. Bender reports that it's about to be upped again and Jelinek reports that in addition to those numbers made public, the White House has numbers they have not made public -- apparently to the people or the Congress.

Edward Wong and Damien Cave (New York Times) and Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) reported, yesterday Rahim al-Daraji was attacked (mayor of Sadr City) and Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reports that, today, Moqtada al Sadr "denounced the presences of U.S. troops in his Baghdad stronghold of Sadr City, and thousands of his followers waved banners and marched through the neighborhood to back his call for a withdrawal of foreign forces." Prior to the attack, al-Sadr was widely reported to have instructed his militia to lay low during the US sweeps of Sadr City.

In violence today . . .


Reuters notes a mortar attack in Baghdad that killed one and wounded five "in southern Baghdad" and a Kirkuk roadside bomb the resulted in the deaths of two police officers and left three wounded. Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) notes the Baghdad mortar attack was on a Sunni mosque. Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reports that the mortar attack on the mosque found two mortars landing behind the structure and an third landing in front and Susman also notes another mortar in Hillah which killed one person. Mohammed al Dulainy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a roadside bombing in Baghdad damaged a US military vehicle, a mortar attack on a home "in Al Muasllat neighborhood" killed three members of one family, and three police officers were wounded id Diyala when a man with a "vest bomb" staged an attack.


Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) notes the shooting death of "a member of the governmental facilities protection service in Suwayrah, 25 miles south of Baghdad." Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a fake checkpoint was set up in Diyala and "3 Kurd brothers" were shot dead -- "two of them were less than 10 years old" -- and that, in Kirkuk, an attack on police officers that started with a roadside bomb ended in gunfire with two police officers being killed, and 10 people wounded (6 of whom were police officers).


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) notes that 9 corpses were found in Baghdad and 2 corpses were discovered in Kirkuk today.

Also today, the US military made announcements: First,
they announce: "A Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West died March 14 in a noncombat related incident in Al Anbar Province." Then they announce: "One Soldier died as a result of injuries sustained from an explosion when Task Force Lightning Soldiers were attacked while conducting combat operations in Salah ad Din Province, Thursday."

Noting yesterday's US Congressional news,
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) summarized today: "On Thursday, Democrats advanced an Iraq withdrawal resolution in the House but failed to pass a similar measure in the Senate. The House Appropriations Committee voted to send the military spending bill to the House floor. The vote was thirty-six to twenty-eight. The bill would link war funding in part to the withdrawal of combat troops by September of 2008. Democratic Congressmember Barbara Lee of California broke party ranks to vote against the measure. Lee says the resolution doesn't go far enough to end the war. Lee said: 'I believe the American people sent a mandate to us to bring home our men and women before the end of the year.' Meanwhile, the Senate voted down a measure to withdraw troops by April of 2008. The final vote was fifty to forty-eight. Before voting, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid hailed the measure as an opportunity to change course. . . . Two Democratic Senators -- Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Ben Nelson of Nebraska -- joined Republicans in voting against the proposal. Independent Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut also sided with Republicans." As noted on page A8 of today's New York Times (AP box, lower left hand corner), Republican Gordon Smith (Oregon) voted in favote of the measure and was the only Republican to do so. In addition, Socialist Bernie Sanders (Vermont) voted for the measure. AFP reports that Senator and 2008 presidential hopeful Joe Biden stated those who voted against the measure would hear from their constituents on the vote; therefore, "It is ony a matter of time before our Republican colleagues come to that conclusion . . . In the meantime a lot of innocent lives are going to be lost."

The day prior, US House Rep and 2008 presidential hopeful
Dennis Kucinich proposed an amendment to the supplemental which would address the Iraqi oil law: "The United States should not be requiring Iraq to open their oil fields to private foreign companies as a condition of ending our occupation. The Administration's strong push to enact a hydrocarbon law has little to do with the needs of the Iraqi people. Instead it is a concerted effort to ensure that American oil companies are granted access to Iraqi oil fields. By adopting this benchmark in the supplemental, and requiring the enactment of this law by the Iraqi government, Democrats will be instrumental in privatizing Iraqi oil. We must remove this benchmark from the supplemental and work to ensure any hydrocarbon law put in place is truly the best interests of all Iraqi people."

The House bill that passed the committee vote yesterday does not include any statement regarding the Bully Boy to get Congressional authorization should he decide to go to war on Iran next. Kucinich: "
The House Appropriates Committee removed language from the Iraq war funding bill requiring the Administration, under Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution, to see permission before it launched an attack against Iran. Since war with Iran is an option of this Administration, and since such war is patently illegal, then impeachment may well be the only remedy which remainst to stop a war of aggression against Iran."

CNN reports that Valerie Plame testifed to Congress today (a) that she was a covert agent and that (b) the outing of her for political reasons was harmful not only to her but to other (and that it hurt morale). In addition, CNN reports that she "testified her work involved gathering intelligence on weapons of mass destruction." Plame is married to former ambassador Joe Wilson who went to Niger to determine whether or not Iraq had attempted to obtain yellow cake uranium from that country. Wilson found no evidence of an attempt. Despite that fact (which was reported back, through channels, up to the administration), Bully Boy elected to include the false claim (known false) in his 2003 State of the Union address as part of his attempt to scare a nation into war. Wilson would speak privately to Nicholas Kristof (New York Times) about the falsehood and then write his own New York Times op-ed entitled "What I Didn't Find In Africa." The result was the White House conspired to out a CIA covert agent. The Vicky Toejam brigade has long tried to obscure the realities with false claims and the press has often helped them playing fast and loose with the facts -- such as Darlene Superville (AP) -- see Wally and Cedric's entry from yesterday.

kpfaaaron glantz
joshua key

Thursday, March 15, 2007

North Texas and Ira Chernus

Day four and we're in North Texas! :D First, an apology to Fort Worth because I was sleeping on the way there. I know it's got a lot of concrete. :D Seems like a lot of building were glass and concrete. That may be about all I noticed. I can tell you more about Denton because I was wide awake by then. Denton? It's too the north of Dallas. It's a college town and their colleges are Texas Womens University and North Texas University which is where Mean Joe Green played. We had a lot of fun on that campus. That's a pretty cool campus and, like Texas, spread out!!!! Okay, there's the football field and I'll start from there. I'm going to call it South West but I don't know if it was. I'm just doing that to give you an idea of what it's like. So it's in this extreme south west corner. Then further up you had a gym/auditorium thing that, the prof told us, Pearl Jam played at in the 90s. Rockin! :D The tennis courts are across from that. And you're still not at the heart of the university. I think the center is the library. They've got two or three, but I'm talking about the main library. And you've got all these campus buildings all over. We were there for a long time because we spoke to three groups and Dona had scheduled a fourth where it was more waves (we weren't all in that group at the same time) so we really got to see the campus. It is really cool. But it was hot today and I bet it gets really hot there. There's a lot of glass and brick and if something's a color, it seemed like it was usually white. So I bet the sun just reflects like crazy. They have dorms but I guess everyone drives or most of them because they had parking lot after parking lot after parking lot after . . .

What else? Some of us grabbed something to eat at . . . Hold on. Let me talk about this first because we were with three community members and they really liked this part about their campus so let me give it credit and all. You can live on campus without a car and still eat. They've got all these places you can walk to that are on the edge of campus (you can also eat on campus). They had fast food and other stuff too. We went to a place, if I got the name right, that was called The Flying Tomato. That was pretty cool. The food was really good and no asking for coke refills, they were on your table constantly. So if you're ever in Denton, check out The Flying Tomato. Especially on a hot day because it was hot to me and as soon as you go inside the Tomato, it's like you can feel the temperature drop. If I remember right, it's by the Science building. Like diagonal from it. Or if you use the football stadium as being on the south west, The Flying Tomato is on the north east corner of the university, or just off the university. You're on the curb of the campus and it's right across the street.

There's also at least one club that's close by. There's a grocery store on the south side of campus, if I heard that right, but otherwise, you need to use the car to go the store or you can take the Trolley. Their public transportation includes buses but it also includes these old wooden trolleys. And I'm not trying to insult them by calling them "old." They look really nice. They're big and wide and the first time I saw one, I was pointing and going, "What is that?" :D

So it's a really cool campus but, like a lot of things in Texas, it's really, really spread out. I'd hate to have a class on one end and be due for another class right after that was on the opposite end of campus. And that could happen real easy.

Like I said, it was hot again today. Maybe it was because of where we were and all. But it was really hot. And I kept thinking, "This is just March!" How do people survive the summer heat?
There are lots of lakes out in that area. We passed one on the way to Lewisville which was our last stop. (C.I.'s doing another thing this evening which usually happens. The rest of us stick to the day schedule and look around during that and then go have exploring and stuff after. That's what we're doing tonight.)

We're in Dallas tonight and everything tomorrow is in Dallas so this should be easier. But Dallas may be bigger than I know in which case it may be a lot of rushing and stuff tomorrow too. My big thing here is I want to see where JFK was shot. I've heard about that, we all have, so I really do want to see that and all. I'm sure there are lots of things worth seeing. The Dallas Cowboys aren't one of them because they are not in Dallas! Either they are in Irving, Texas right now or they just left. I can't follow the story. But they are not in Dallas. The Mavericks are. Marc Cuban's basketball team is in Dallas. So, like I said, we're headed out to catch some sights and all. Eddie and some other members are going to show us around.

Okay this is from Ira Chernus' "The 'Support our Troops' Myths:"

Are you hoping those spineless Democrats in Congress will cut off the money for the war? Well don't hold your breath. Even a stalwart liberal like Barney Frank demurs, explaining that "it's a high-risk thing" -- a high risk to the Dems’ chances of winning next year's election, because most voters clearly do not want war funds cut now. That includes a surprisingly big chunk of voters who oppose the war. They say openly that it's a disastrous mistake, but they don't want Congress to best thing it can do to end the war.
Though the Bush administration can't figure out how to win in Iraq, it is scoring a big victory on the public relations battlefield with its favorite myth: If you cut funding for the war you are not "supporting our troops." If you support the troops you have to keep on paying billions for a failed war.
To believe that one, you've got to believe several other myths.
Myth one: The Bush administration does support the troops. In fact, of course, they've shorted the troops on everything from body armor to medical care for four years now.
Myth two: The only way to support the troops is to put them at risk of death or grievous injury and leave them there, for no good reason. If that's "support," then I'm glad I'm not being supported.
Myth three: Either we keep war funding at its present astronomical level or we won't be supporting the troops at all. In fact, there is plenty of room to find a middle ground, to cut the funding by some amount yet still give the troops what they need to stay safe.
These are myths that are out and out falsehoods. Why would so many people buy into them? As a historian of religions, I suspect that it has a lot to do with other powerful myths that have always been woven around soldiers and the military.
Here I don't use the word "myth" to mean a lie, but rather the way we use it in my field of study: A myth is a story that is widely believed because it expresses people's basic worldview and values . People who live by a myth don't care whether it is factually true or logically consistent, as long as it gives them a way to make sense out of their world and find meaning in their lives.
In an age when it’s hard to believe in heroes, the mythic "GI" of the American media is someone people want to identify with and emulate. When you can imagine yourself as the main character in the myth, that’s when the myth really grabs hold of you.
I suspect that is what's happening to a lot of people who oppose the war but insist on "supporting our troops." They see their soldiers as uniquely admirable role models. In the popular imagination, these soldiers are ordinary youngsters (thus easy to identify with) who have extraordinary character. They are "just plain kids" who have the kind of heroic virtues that most kids don’t seem to have anymore -- unless they go into uniform.
The mythic soldier's virtues are all about caring for others -- buddies, the outfit, the service, the nation -- more than self. After all, no one forces them to serve. They volunteered. (The myth conveniently ignores the economic pressures that drive people into the military.) And the news media give us an endless parade of these uniformed heroes, all looking noble and handsome, telling us that it doesn’t matter whether or not they approve of the war. "I made a commitment. I have an obligation to serve. I have to do my duty," is their constant refrain.

I think the whole thing is worth quoting, so check it out. This is a really strong article that's getting to a lot of things and not just the lies of war but the lies (or myths) that continue it.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, March 15, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces the deaths of more US service members, Hillary Clinton gives bad press, and the Senate says "no" and the House says "yes."

Starting with news of war resistance.
Dean Kuipers (LA City Beat) examines the war resistance within the military and notes AWOL figures (8,000 since the start of the illegal war according the US Defense Department), desertion figures (40,000 since 2000) and that: "Several hundred of those soldiers have fled to Canada, according to unconfirmed reports, but only a few have identified themselves and thus face prosecution." On the issue of the sentencing of war resisters who go public, attorney Jim Feldman, who represents Agustin Aguayo among others, sees the sentencing as encouraging, noting that, "People who really are sincere, the Army judges are not going to come down hard on 'em. The judges seem to recognize that as a mitigating circumstance." Agustin Aguayo's recent court-martial in Germany found him sentenced to eight months and the time he had been in custory already (since turning himself in at the end of September 2006) was credited to his sentence. Iraq Veterans Against the War's Kelly Dougherty shares her view with Kupier, "At the same time, I think they are taking a tough stand because eight months in prison is still a long time in prison, especially for refusing to serve in a war because your conscience says it's wrong to kill people, or because you reel that this particular war is illegal. They could certainly be prosecuting people more. But the sentences that they are giving are being handed down as a message to others serving in the military not to apply for CO status and not to refuse to go to Iraq."

Ehren Watada, the first commissoned officer to publicy refuse to deploy to Iraq, is but one example of the attempt to "send a message." His second court-martial is scheduled to begin July 16th. The double jeopardy issue (a Constitutional issue) is something the military seems determined to ignore. Courage to Resist is asking that a mail campaign (snail mail) be used to demonstrate to Lt. Gen. James M. Dubik how much support there is for Watada. Dubik "has the power to drop all charges and let Lt. Watada out of the army". You can write to Lt. Gen. Dubik at: Bldg 2025 Stop 1, Fort Lewis, WA 98433.

In other news,
Vue Weekly reports: "Toronto hip-hop artist Mohammad Ali is about to release his new album at an event here in Edmonton for the War Resisters Support Campaign, a coalition of indivduals supporting US soldiers seeking asylum in Canada because they refuse to fight in Iraq. The self-proclaimed in-your-face activist ('I write about names, events and dates -- specifics.') is highlighting some of the controversial politics behind the war in Iraq, drawing some examples from the experiences of Darrell Anderson, an Iraq combat veteran." Darrell Anderson is the US war resister who served in Iraq, was awarded a Purple Heart and then self-checked out in January 2005 and moved to Canada. In September of last year, Anderson announced that he was returning to the US to turn himself in. On October 3rd, he turned himself in at Fort Knox. He was released by the military on October 6th and, as expected, he was not charged and was given an other-than-honorable discharge.

Darrell Anderson,
Agustin Aguayo and Ehren Watada are part of a movement of resistance within the military that includes Joshua Key*, Kyle Snyder, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

[*Yesterday, the third time I mentioned Joshua Key, I wrongly called him Josh Wolf. Wolf is a reporter who has been imprisoned for refusing to roll over on the First Amendment -- imprisoned "
longer than any other reporter in U.S. history for refusing a federal grand jury subpoena" as Howard Vicini notes.]

Turning to the selling of the illegal war,
a wave of Operation Happy Talk hit big media and they suited up, grabbed the Sticky Bumps and rushed to ride that wave. The talking point was that the ongoing crackdown in Baghdad (which began in June of last year and has been beefed up and juiced up ever since) had achieved real results! It was a success! This was true because they were told it was true! One of the few who remembered he was a reporter and that the occupation entails more than mere stenography was Damien Cave (New York Times) who noted problems with the announcement that violence had declined: "But the degree of improvement was unclear, partly because of the continued confusion over casualty counts here, and an American general cautioned against reading too much into optimistic reports, given that January and February were two of the worst months for car bombings since the invasion. The Iraqi review came from Brig. Qassim al-Moussawi, a military spokesman, who said at a news conference that civilian deaths since the start of the plan on Feb. 14 were counted at 265 in Baghdad, down from 1,440 in the four weeks before. He said 36 car bombings struck the capital over the past four weeks, down from 56. [. . .] It was not clear what his statistics were based on, though, and they may not have taken into account the bodies found strewn around the capital each day. An analysis by The New York Times found more than 450 Iraqi civilians killed or found dead during the same 28-day period, based on initial daily reports from Interior Ministry and hospital officials." While Cave reported, many of his cohorts were at the beach (mentally, if not physically).

The wave came rolling in despite a new report from the Pentagon. (Or maybe because of a new report from the Pentagon. Operation Happy Talk has always attempted to counter reality.)
Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reported on the Pentagon's "bleakest assessment of Iraq yet" which found: "record levels of violence and hardening sectarian divisions in the last quarter of 2006 as rival Sunni and Shiite militiias waged campaigns of 'sectarian cleansing' that forced as many as 9,000 civilians to flee the country each month. Weekly attacks in Iraq rose to more than 1,000 during the period and average daily casualties increased to more than 140, with Iraqi civilians bearing the brunt of the violence". Also noted was that the assement acknowledged "Those figures may represent as little as half of the true casualties because they include only violence observed by or reported to the U.S.-led military coalition". That obvious fact was ignored by those pushing the wave of "violence is down" due to the latest version of the crackdown (this version was 'released' in February of this year). Of the Pentagon assessment, Reuters noted, "There was an average of 1,047 attacks per week on U.S.-led forces and Iraqi soldiers, police and civilians in January and early February, according to statistics released with the report." The report also notes the civil war aspect raging in Iraq. This as the AFP notes Mister Tony's denials of civil war: "British Prime Minister Tony Blair insisted that despite the raging violence four years after the invasion, Iraq is not in a state of civil war. 'not a country at civil war'."

And the violence continues today.


BBC reports that a bombing in the Karrada district of Baghdad has killed a least eight Iraq police officers and left 25 civilians wounded. Kim Gamel (AP) reports the death of a man (unnamed) in Baghdad who was "vegetable seller" who discovered a package which contained a bomb that "exploded as he was trying to carry it away from a populated area in Sadr City." Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) identifies the man as "Ahmed Draiwel, 18" an dnotes that he "was able to hurl it [the package containing the bomb] into a distant trash pile. His brother, who was trying to help him, lost his arm, witnesses said." Reuters notes a bombing in "the western Yarmouk district of Baghdad" which killed an Iraqi soldier and left two people wounded, while a car bombing in Mosul wounded a police officer.

CNN reports: "At least five people were killed and 21 wounded when a parked car packed with explosives detonated Thursday morning next ot a minibus in Iskandiriya, south of Baghdad, police said. The vehicle was carrying employees of the state-run National Car Industry Co. Police also said the manager of the company was shot dead this past week, while driving to work." The BBC notes this blast took place "outside one of the few factories still operating in Iraq."


AFP reports five shooting deaths in Baquba "by gunmen who attacked a string of gas stations and set them on fire". They also note that, in Baghdad, Rakim al-Darraji's car was attacked and he was wounded while a police officer traveling with al-Darraji was killed -- "Darraji had helped the US military in setting up a security centre in the district [Sadr City] as part of the crackdown in Baghdad". AP notes two deaths ("bodyguards") in the attack. Reuters notes a police officer and a cook were shot dead in Mosul while, also in Mosul, "U.S. forces targeting al Qaeda militants in the northern city of Mosul killed one Iraqi soldier and wounded three after thinking they were insurgent".


Kim Gamel (AP) reports: "Twenty bullet-riddled bodies also were found, most of them in Baghdad". The corpse count in Iraq for Thursday will, no doubt, be reported by others (and a higher number) on Friday. (Reuters is currently reporting corpses from yesterday.)

Today, the
US military announced: "A Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West died Mar. 14 in a noncombat related incident in Al Anbar Province." And they announced: "A Soldier assigned to Multi National Force-West was killed Mar. 14 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province." ICCC puts the total number of US service members who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war at 3203. And, most recently, the US military has announced: "Four Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldiers died when two roadside bombs targeted their vehicles in an eastern section of the Iraqi captial, March 15."
What? In Baghdad? But the Happy Talkers couldn't stop bragging about the crackdown!
Kim Gamel (AP) notes that 2 US service members were wounded. The number of US service member deaths announced toay now stands at six.

In the United States, news from both house of Congress.
Reuters reports the Senate plan (withdrawal of US troops by March 31st of 2008) did not pass. AP reports that the vote was 50 to 48 (50 voting against the measure).

Meanwhile, in the lower house, a bill passed a committee vote and will now go to the full house.
Al Jazeera reports that the "Democratic party plan to withdraw US combat troops from Iraq by September 2008 has been approved by a House of Representatives committee. The House approriations committe approved a $124.1 bn emergency spending bill, including around $100bn to continue fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan by 36 votes to 28." David Espo (AP) notes US Rep Jose Serrano stating: "I want this war to end. I don't want to go to any more funerals." This led to a rejoinder from US Rep C. W. Bill Young who claimed he wanted troops out more than anyone. C.W. Bill Young is most infamous for refusing to call out the scandals at Walter Reed Army Medical Center (which he admitted last month he'd seen himself months prior). His "support" of anyone is curiously exhibited. Espo notes that US Rep Barbara Lee voted against the plan and stated, "I believe the American people sent a mandate to us to bring home our men and women before the end of the year" which Lee (and many others) do not believe the bill honors.

In other political news,
Michael Gordon and Patrick Healy (New York Times via Common Dreams) report on their sit down with US Senator and 2008 presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton who told them that leaving out Iraq was out of the question -- "It is right in the heart of the oil region." Well you go, gas guzzling War Hawk. Her sit down position of some US will remain in Iraq if she's elected president is, as the writers note, in contrast to her campaign stop speech where she claims, "If we in Congress don't end this war before January 2009, as president, I will."

Turning to Iraq, Yes! magazine has the second part of a three part feature. It's worth noting for a number of reasons but, chiefly, due to the overly praised Rolling Stone roundtable which was all male and nothing you really couldn't have seen by turning on cable TV.
In the second part, Lisa Farino and Dal LaMagna discuss their meeting with Iraqi parliamentarians and "ambassadors and leaders from other Middle East cocuntires." Also interested in listening, Ali al-Fadhily (IPS) who reports on what Iraqis are saying they want from leaders and, bad news for exiles, "Iraqis have little faith in people who fled and left them to face the situation." Yesterday on KPFA's Flashpoints, Robert Knight noted that Ayad Allawi was in Saudi Arabia attempting to drum up support for his challenge to Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister/puppet of the occupation.

iraqagustin aguayo

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

East Texas

Okay, so East Texas today. What was it like? This was what I expected Texas to look like. Lots of wide open spaces. At one point, I think this was between Tyler and Longview or Tyler and Kilgore or somewhere! At one point, there was this train car we passed that had been turned into a food place. That was pretty cool. :D What else? Lots of cows. Okay, I knew they had to be keeping the cows somewhere! :D There were black top roads and dirt roads and it was like, "This is what I thought Texas would look!" They've got cities and a lot of other stuff and all but East Texas was more the way I pictured it. I-20 is interstate and you can drive along that and just see cows and all this land and land it's really pretty cool. And does every town have a Dairy Queen? :D I had a blizzard, a hamburger and fries. :D

The other big thing, and it seemed like there were almost as many of these as DQs, was a grocery store called "Brookshires." Now how would you pronounce that? I thought brook-shiiires, with the long "i." But they pronouce it brook-sheers.

Trying to think what else? Did I mention it was cooler? I'm not sure if that's cause it was "East" Texas or if it was just a cooler day. Oh, they call it the Piney Ridge or something like that. Because it's got trees and stuff. And you can tell when you leave East Texas because you do stop seeing the trees and all.

Oh, they also have some oil wells. In Kilgore, they even have an oil museum.

One thing I really got was what community members always talk about, how you've got to drive. You really do. Like if you live in a small town, you probably don't work there (most small towns don't have a lot of companies), so you've got to drive. They spend a lot of time in their cars and the public transportation in East Texas may just be Tyler and Longview. You really need wheels if you live in East Texas. So I get now about how they spend so much time in their cars. Like you might drive an hour just to see a movie. Like if you wanted to see The Shooter and lived in a small town, you'd have to drive to Longview or Tyler and that could take an hour. And those are the only places with malls. Most of the towns have Wal-Marts. I'm not a fan of Wal-Marts but I don't blame anyone who shops in them in small towns because if you need something at the last minute that's the only thing you've got unless you want to drive an hour. Like the Brookshires close at nine-thirty. After that it's gas stations or Wal-Mart.

I asked a lot of people my age what they did for fun and stuff and they'd usually talk about "the loop." Seems like all the towns have this area that you drive around on the weekend. So, there's another reason you need a car. If I understood right, everyone gathers in a parking lot of some place and you park there and talk and stuff.

The other big thing I noticed was how 'hilly' it was, it's all like up and down. Like there are flat areas but it seems like you leave that and you're higher or lower, like rolling. It's really green.

So that's some of it. Now for my big news, rode a horse. Rode a horse in Texas. :D My things to do list is complete. It was a "quarter horse" and that doesn't mean it was all grown! :D It's a kind of horse. It had a reddish brown mane (that's the hair fringe on top) and like a white diamon on its forehead. C.I. made me go over the basics over and over because, "As soon as you get going, you're going to want to race and then you're going to be thinking, 'Now how do I stop?'" :D So I reviewed the basics and then did just like C.I. said. I was galloping all over the place. Clicking to get her to go faster. This was my second time riding a horse (I also got to ride in California) but this was my first time really just cutting loose. It was a lot of fun. When you're galloping it's like Bump-Ba-Bump. They put their legs out and it's like they're leaping.

So that was a lot of fun and the whole thing's been a lot of fun. I really am enjoying this trip. I'm enjoying getting to see Texas, hanging out with everybody, talking about Iraq, listening, all of it. I'm taking so many pictures and I'll put some of them in my column for Polly's Brew this Sunday.

Okay, there's an action this weekend and you can find out about it in Sunsara Taylor's "The Democrats and Iran:"

You could close your eyes and pretend it isn't happening.
Pretend that the new Democratic Congress -- after four years of torture, mass murder and war crimes against the people of Iraq -- didn't just promise the War-Criminal-In-Chief that they would do nothing to stop a new and even more dangerous war against Iran.
Pretend that these same Democrats -- who have sold you out so many times and at the cost of so many lives -- didn't just promise to give the president more money than he even asked for to fight his current wars!
Pretend that somehow history -- and the people of the Middle East -- will forgive you for meeting this news with passivity, silence or at best "protest as usual."
Or you could open your eyes and confront the nightmares engulfing millions of people in the Middle East and endangering people around the world that only people living in this country can bring to a halt.
You can get on a bus, hop on a train, purchase an airline ticket, or pile into a van and get your butt to Washington DC on March 17t to march across the bridge and encircle the Pentagon, on March 17th before the eyes of the world!
Forty years ago, a generation who refused to accept an unjust and murderous war on Vietnam descended on the Pentagon. They looked out at the villages being razed, the children burning alive by napalm, and the blood that would be on their hands if they didn't bring this to a halt and they declared it was time to go "from protest to resistance."
Now, at a time when the Bush regime, with the silence and complicity of the Democrats, are escalating their assault on Iraq and aggressively preparing a new war against Iran, it is wrong not to be at the Pentagon.
It is wrong to hide behind the lie and excuse that "protest doesn't make a difference." It is wrong to despair because "they're not listening to us." And it is wrong to dismiss the real danger of a new war against Iran simply because Bush is having so much trouble in Iraq.
The problem has never been that "protest doesn't work." The problem is that there haven't been nearly enough protests and they haven't been nearly demanding enough.
The campuses across the country have not yet been shut down in massive student strikes demanding an immediate end to the war. The Oscars weren't filled with movie stars and directors giving heart to millions around the world by demanding impeachment right now. The anti-war vets -- while way ahead of most of the movement and of where the Vietnam vets were at this far into the war then -- haven't yet staged their equivalent of the Winter Soldiers testimonials about the war crimes they witnessed or Dewey Canyon protest where the Vietnam Vets threw back their medals. We haven't yet seen this war's Daniel Ellsberg -- someone willing to risk 150 years in prison or more to disclose and disrupt the administration's ability to lie their way into more war. Hundreds of thousands haven't yet, in the words of Cindy Sheehan, "turn[ed] off your TV and carri[ied] a sign or a banner and descend[ed] on the White House as oppressed peasants descending on the castle of the lord of the realm with pitchforks and torches?"

That's going to be it for me. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, March 14, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the puppet teeters, 3 US service members are announced dead, US Congressional Dems see that when you cave in public you don't get a free pass, and guess which Iraqi exile wants to lead again.

Staring with news of war resistance, Joshua Key's book
The Deserter's Tale receives a favorable review from Peter Darbyshire (The Vancouver Provence) who concludes it is "a documentary" while War Pornographer Michael Gordon's Cobra II is a "feature film." Considering the estranged relationship with the truth that Gordo's writing has, that pretty much says it all. Key is in Canada with his wife Brandi and his children after self-checking out of the US miliary. Eric Ruder (Socialist Worker) draws links between the historic resistance within the military during the Vietnam era and with the resistance today, noting that "more than 20,000 soldiers have gone AWOL". Iraq Veterans Against the War's Kelly Dougherty states: "I think there probably are a lot of soldiers who left because they don't want to participate in the war in Iraq. The reason that only a handful have come out publicly is that it's really hard to put yourself in that position. If you come forward, you are exposing yourself to criticism and more extreme punishment from the military. One friend told me that he went AWOL because he didn't want to go to war in Iraq, and when he later turned himself in, he didn't tell anyone that he felt that way."

Joshua Wolf is a part of a movement of resistance within the military tha includes
Agustin Aguayo, Ehren Watada, Kyle Snyder, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Yesterday on
KPFA's Flashpoints, Dennis Bernstein again spoke with Tina Richards whose son Cloy has already served two tours of duty in Iraq. Richards: "My son can't face a third tour there. He barely made it home alive after the second tour." Cloy Richards suffers from PTSD. Richards is currently in DC and those wishing to join her or find out more information can click here for her website. She's not sure what her son will do but noted that he might decide to self-check out and due to his medical needs that would mean the threat that he would lose his benefits and health care. Noting the 'actions' of the US Congress on Iraq, Richards stated, "What confuses me is that George Bush's bill was not dead on arrival when it showed up at Congressman [David] Obey's office? Why his supplemental wasn't thrown in the trash and rewritten so that it would really benefit our troops and that it would bring them home. And the fact that they're looking like, that they're acting like they have to work off of President Bush's bill is just wrong. This is what a lot of political analysts have said -- that they can write their own bill."

Bernstein asked her if she felt that elected officials were putting "politics before humanity"? Richards noted that some members of Congress were standing up; however, "there's a lot of other ones that are so disappointing because they are not standing up for what is right but they are working around what is going to make sure that they get a president in '08 and how are they going to increase their majority? And it's coming directly from the leadership of the Democratic Party. And other Congress people have told me, this is being run like a hierarchy, it's not run like a democracy and that to me is just . . . Every single one of those represenatives needs to stand up and represent the people in their district not get told by the leadership of the Democratic party what and how to vote to me any congress that does not stand up to their leadership and speak to truth to power then I just cannot, I don't think that they should be re-elected."

David Swanson ( notes: "The House Appropriations Committee is taking up the 'Supplemental' spending bill for the war at 9 a.m. on Thursday. Whatever comes out of that committee will go to the full House for a vote. Please call 202-224-3121 today and ask for your congress member's office. Or find their number" here.

The Congressional Dems refusal to tell Bully Boy he needs authorization to go to war with Iran or to utilize their power of the purse to end the illegal war on Iraq is resulting in some strong commentaries.
Linda O'Brien (Common Dreams) observes Congress wouldn't stand up to the Bully Boy in 2003 and won't now and wonders how things would be different if Congress had found their spines in 2003: "A fourteen-year-old Iraqi girl would not have been raped by three or more men, her father, mother and little sister would not have heard her scream from the next room; she would not have heard themb eing murdered and then been raped again, and killed, and set on fire. Cindy Sheehan's life could be about long telephone calls, laughter, arguments, joy and the normal sorrows of loving her child, instead of about spending her life struggling with that empty space in her soul filled with questions that can't be answered -- all the things that will never, ever be right. Tens of thousands of American young and middle aged men and women would spend the rest of their lives walking and seeing and thinking instead of living without legs or arms or memories or brains. Hundreds of thousands -- hundreds of thousands -- of Iraqis, half of them children, would still be alive. Living restricted lives, but alive." John V. Walsh (CounterPunch) feels Congress proposals "are designed to do no more than save face for the Dems and allow them to continue to bash Bush. But the bills will not and cannot end the war. There is but one way for the Democratically controlled Congress to end the war and that is to stop the funding. So far the 'antiwar' Democrats refuse to do that. So they now own the war every bit as much as Bush does."

US House Rep and 2008 Democratic presidential hopeful
Dennis Kucinich states: "I have just come from a Democratic Caucus meeting where I raised this issue: Democrats are pushing President Bush's benchmarks in the supplemental as milestones which must be reached by a certain time. One of the first milestones or benchmarks involveds the privatization of Iraqi oil, in the form of passage of a so-called Hydrocarbon law. Democrats are now in a position of legitimatizing the very reason why George Bush took the US to war against Iraq. To grab the oil. Call your Member of Congress now and tell them to not permit the war funding bill to become the vehilce for the privatization of Iraq's oil." The Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Out of Iraq Caucus have a plan and they presented it some time ago. The Dems in leadership choose to look the other way. Which is at the source of the 'flared tempers' that Julie Hirschfeld Davis (AP) reports on: "Tempers flared on Iraq among Democrats on Tuesday as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi fielded criticism from an anti-war congresswoman over liberals' concern that the party is not doing enough to end the war. Pelosi's behind-closed-doors exchange with Rep. Maxine Waters of California -- described as heated by lawmakers and aides who asked not to be identified because of the session's private nature -- came as House leaders made progress in their quest for votes on a war spending that would require U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq by 2008." Does it do that? The bill needs reauthorization (in August) so it's hard to see how a bill in need of reauthorization in August 2007 can accomplish a 2008 withdrawal.

While the Dems in leadership posts posture and preen, life in Iraq continues as usual.


Reuters notes a car bomb in Baghdad "near an Iraqi army checkpoint" that claimed one life and left four more wounded, a roadside bomb outside Kirkuk that killed one person, a mortar attack in Mosul that killed "a man and his child" and left four wounded, and a bombing in Tux Khurmato that killed 10 and left 15 wounded.


CNN reports: "In Diwaniya, the Shiite provincial capital of the southern Iraqi province of Qadisiya, insurgents Wednesday dragged three Iraqi policemen and shot them. Two of them were killed and one was wounded. Police found the bodies and the inured officer near a canal." CBS and AP report the shooting deaths of "a municipal council chief and three other people . . . in the Sunni neighborhood of Azamiyah in Baghdad." Reuters reports, in Baghdad, that Mudhafer al-Ubaidi and a guard were shot dead and al-Ubaidi's on was injured -- al-Ubaid heads the Adhamiya Municipality in Baghdad while, in Mosul, two police officers were shot dead, and, in Kirkuk, a man was shot dead in his story (his brother was kidnapped).


Reuters notes "four decapitated heads" were discovered in Baquba and two corpses were discovered near Falluja.

Today, the
US military announced: "March 13, a MND-B unit struck a roadside bomb while on a combat patrol in a southern section of the Iraqi capital, killing one Soldier and wounding three others." And they announced: "March 13, a MND-B unit struck a roadside bomb while conducting these types of combined security operations in a northeastern section of Iraqi capital, killing one Soldier and wounding another." And they announced: "A Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West was killed Mar. 13 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province."

In addition,
CBS and AP note: "The head of the local Iraqi Red Screscent Society branch, Jassim al-Jubouri, in Tikrit was abducted by gunmen on Monday night."

Turning to news of the puppet of the occupation.
After David Petraeus held Nouri al-Maliki's hand for the helicopter ride to and from Ramadi yesterdy, you might think there's strong support for ht puppet. But AP reports things are far from pretty: "Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki fears the Americans will torpedo his government if parliament does not pass" the Iraqi oil law "by the end of June, close associates of the leader told The Associated Press on Tuesday. . . . Passage of the oil law . . . has become a major issue for the United States".
Antonia Juhasz, writing for Tuesday's New York Times, examined the obvious inequalities of the law the US wants to force through and notes: "Iraqis may very well choose to use the expertise and experience of international oil companies. They are most likely to do so in a
manner that best serves their own needs if they are freed from the tremendou external pressure being exercised by the Bush administration, the oil corporations -- and the presence of 140,000 members of the American Military."

But could al-Maliki really be out? His dismissal has been floated some time and
AP notes the drama's own Darth Vader has returned: Ayad Allawi. Allawi? Where to start? Something mild like 'related' to Ahmed Chalibi by marriage? Or maybe that in the days before he became Iraq's the prime minister/puppet in 2004, Paul McGeough (Sydney Morning Herald) was among the reporters noting that eye witnesses stated they watched as Allawi "pulled out a pistol and execute as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad polices station, just days before Washington handed control of the country to his interim government, according to two people who allege they witnessed the killings. They say the prisoners -- handcuffed and blindfolded -- were lined up against a wall in a courtyard adjacent to the maximum-security cell block in which they were held at the Al-Amariyah security centre, in the city's south-western suburbs." McGeough appeared on Australia's Lateline in July 2004 to discuss the shootings:

MAXINE McKEW: And just take us through the events as they were accounted to you?

PAUL McGEOUGH: Well, I'll take you through what the two bits of pieces of what the two witnesses said to give you the full chronology as I understand it. There was a surprise visit at about 10:30 in the morning to the police centre. The PM is said to have talked to a large group of policemen, then to have toured the complex. They came to a courtyard where six, sorry seven prisoners were lined up against a wall. They were handcuffed, they were blindfolded, they were described to me as an Iraqi colloquialism for the fundamentalist foreign fighters who have come to Baghdad. They have that classic look that you see with many of the Osama bin Laden associates of the scraggly beard and the very short hair and they were a sort of ... took place in front of them as they were up against this wall was an exchange between the Interior Minister and Dr Allawi, the Interior Minister saying that he felt like killing them on the spot. It's worth noting at this point in the story that on June 19, there was an attack on the Interior Minister's home in the Sunni triangle in which four of his bodyguards (inaudible) -- Dr Allawi is alleged to have said (inaudible) -- .
MAXINE McKEW: Paul, you just dropped out there. You were just beginning to describe in fact how this incident, this alleged incident, took place. What was the action taken?
PAUL McGEOUGH: Um, after a tour of the complex, the sort of official party, if you like, arrived in a courtyard where the prisoners were lined up against a wall. An exchange is said to have taken place between Dr Allawi and the Interior Minister. The Interior Minister lives to the north of Baghdad, and on June 19, four of his bodyguards were killed in an attack on his home. He expressed the wish that he would like to kill all these men on the spot. The PM is said to have responded that they deserved worse than death, that each was responsible for killing more than 50 Iraqis each, and at that point, he is said to have pulled a gun and proceeded to aim at and shoot all seven. Six of them died, the seventh, according to one witness, was wounded in the chest, according to the other witness, was wounded in the neck and presumed to be dead.

And of course, Allawi is an exile -- like al-Maliki -- and was
an asset to both the CIA and M16. In terms of the false claim that Saddam Hussein could depoly weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes of the order being given, as Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London) noted in 2004 leads back to Allawi: "The choice of of Iyad Allawi, closely linked to the CIA and formerly to M16, as the Prime Minister of Iraq from 30 June will make it difficult for the US and Britain to persuade the rest of the world that he is capable of leading an independent government. He is the person through whom the controversial claim was channeled that Iraqi weapons of mass destruction could be operational in 45 minutes."

With the above in mind,
Ned Parker (Times of London) reports that Allawi "is pushing for a return to power after assembling a parliamentary coalition of more than 80 steats" and "presenting himself as a secular alternative to Mr Maliki" and that he's seeking out groups to join his coalition at a time when al-Maliki's coalition is 113 seats in parliament -- a loss of 15 seats resulting from Shia Fadhila walking out of al-Maliki's coalition last week. In January of this year, the strain between the puppet and the US became highly public as al-Maliki publicly took offense at comments made by US Secretary of State (and Anger -- as Wally and Cedric say) Condi Rice that his government was on "borrowed time" and al-Maliki also criticized the Bully Boy's 'plan' which al-Maliki felt left Iraqi soldiers "under-armed." The Secretary of State and Anger's response was that "there is a sense of urgency there". As opposed to here?

Turning to
MADRE's "Promising Democracy, Imposing Theocracy: Gender-Based Violence and the US War on Iraq" (which can be read in full in PDF format or, by sections, in HTML). Wednesday, section one ("Towards Gender Apartheid in Iraq") was noted, Thursday, section II, "Iraq's Other War: Impsoing Theocracy Through Gender-Based." Section III is "The Rise of US-Backed Death Squads" was noted Friday, section four, "Violence Against Women Within Families" was noted Monday and yesterday part five is "Gender War, Civil War," part six is "Gender-Based Violence Against Men," and part seven "Violence Against Women in Detention." Which leaves "Conclusion: Standing With Iraqi Women In A Time Of War" which pulls all the sections together and notes that lofty rhetoric about women's rights by the Bully Boy do not translate into advances for women (the loft rhetoric is for domestic audiences) because the words are cover for a continued embrace of totalitatrian leadership in the regime and efforts to snuff out any progressive movements or forces. The violation of Iraqi women's rights and the violence aimed at them results from the encouragement and actions of the US. When women attempt to speak out, the US media refuses to report it or else rushes to "implicitly cast doubt on the veracity of the allegations." Even in one of the big stories of last year, the kidnapping of Jill Carroll, the media consistently refused to explore the kidnapper's sole demand: "the release of Iraqi women in US custody." The report notes the connections between "honor killings" and the US crimes. The media tends to play the "honor killings" in isolation and fails to explore that "the crimes of the occupation reinforce crimes of honor and how repressive codes of family honor have made all Iraqis more vulnerable to abusive authorities, whether they are US occupiers or their Iraqi successors."

Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted, "The US military is expanding two major prisons in Iraq ahead of an expected rise in Iraqi prisoners from the new crackdown in Baghdad. Thousands of prisoners are expected on top of the 17,000 already behind bars."
Those prisoners include women and young girls. Focusing on just two prisons (Al-Rusafah in Uma Qasr and Al-Kadhmiya) MADRE's report noted there were over 1300 women and girls in the two prisons and: "They range from girls of twelves to women in their sixties." Yet still the US military wants more prisons.

iraqagustin aguayo

joshua key

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Matthew Rothschild, Texas, etc.

Tuesday! :D Last night was fun and then was wild! :D Seriously, we had a lot of fun in Austin and we get back and C.I.'s whispering to Elaine about something. I don't think much of it and didn't put it together until I was being pantsed.

Here's the story. In "Roundtable" (which we started Saturday night), I said I had a headache, which really wasn't true. Tony and I'd been playing basketball after class on Friday with some friends and I got fouled and slid hard. I end up ripping my skin open. The trip was about to start so I didn't want to say anything about it and just figured it would be okay. Plus, it was in an embarrassing place. I ripped the skin right where your leg meets your groin, just ripped it open. I put a bandage on it and was changing it and all and figured that was enough. Then all day Monday, C.I.'s going, "What is that smell?" (C.I.'s got a good sense of smell or I would've been really embarrassed thinking everyone could smell.) So anyway, Elaine's like trying to get me undressed last night and I'm all, "Oh, I'm tired, I got a headache" and all. And she leaves the room and comes back with C.I. and C.I. pants me and says, "Where's the infection?"

I can laugh about it now. I didn't realize it was getting infected. So, long story short, we ended up going to the emergency room, I got stitches and some anti-biotics. Should have gotten that to begin with but I was worrying it would be something where I'd be told, "You can't go on a trip."

Elaine goes, "Were you planning on avoiding me all week?" No, cause I kept thinking it had to start healing at some point. Not to gross anybody out, but it was weird looking. The skin split and there's this like red skin and it's got the thick layers of where it split on either side. I was trying to keep it from getting infected by pouring rubbing alcohol on it each morning and at night and that burned like crazy! But anyway, all's fine now.

Now Jess told me the AIPAC crowd sent over 60 e-mails to the public account of The Common Ills griping about C.I. mentioning AIPAC in the snapshot yesterday. Poor AIPAC. Boo hoo. So I was looking for something to highlight on AIPAC and found this by Matthew Rothschild, "Cheney at AIPAC: It’s the U.S. and Israel Against All Comers:"

The Bush Administration seems to believe that a belligerent United States and an intransigent Israel can take on all comers.
So it was that Dick Cheney went to AIPAC's convention in Washington on Monday to heap praise upon this lobby, which defends every illegal act that the government of Israel commits.

Said Cheney: "I commend AIPAC for the fine work you do," adding, "I bring warm regards from the President of the United States. . . . He asked me to convey to this gathering his great appreciation for your efforts."
One of those recent efforts has been to oppose Congressional attempts to make Bush get legislative approval before he goes out and bombs Iran. This is the cozy, symbiotic relationship that AIPAC has with the Bush Administration: AIPAC wants Bush to eliminate the Iranian threat to Israel, and Bush wants AIPAC to pressure Congress so he can play out his macho fantasies worldwide.
In his talk, Cheney linked Israel and America arm in arm as the bastions of all that is good in the world.

I really do wonder how much AIPAC still has to do before it gets barred. Their employees (former! they insist) passing state secrets to Israel from Larry Franklin doesn't seem to have harmed them if Dick Cheney wants to grovel before them.

So where are we? Houston. Dona's planned the whole trip out and so far it's worked really good, she put a lot of thought and energy into deciding the scheduling and all that. Today, in Houston, I was all excited thinking, "Look, it's a cowboy!" It was just an "urban cowboy." :D
But, until community member Bill told me it wasn't a real cowboy, I was thinking we were seeing a cowboy. I just expected the streets of Texas to be filled with cowboy hats and boots and jeans and all of that. :D

What is it filled with? A lot of good people. I don't know how they take it though. Maybe it was humid and not hot (I always get that mixed up) but I was thinking, "Man, this is just March!" There was rain to the north somewhere and it may be moving in. That would be cool. And it would cool things off.

Houston's got it's own Pacifica radio station. How the hell did that happen? I'm not angry but Houston's got one and the only one on the East Coast is in NYC? What's up with that? KPFT is Houston's station and members here listen to that for Democracy Now! and other stuff but Bill's pissed that they stopped airing Flashpoints.

Leigh Ann e-mailed and wanted to know about the trip and all. It happened because of the DC trip in January and The Nation's crap. There were a number of community members from Texas who went to DC to protest the war and we were talking and all about how the press distorts them and stuff and somebody, maybe Billie, said, "We need you to visit." Now C.I.'s been to Texas a number of times but I'm not sure if anyone else had been. But right after DC, C.I., Ava and Jess came down here and got caught in an ice storm -- in Texas! That shocked me when I heard about it and it shocks me now because it's pretty hot here.

So the plan was that we'd come down in March and that we'd go around and speak to various groups (not just students). What's in Houston? They've got a space center, I didn't know that. Saw the outside of it today. It's named after LBJ. They have a lot of big stuff here. It's not like this open range like "Home on the Range" like I was expecting. There's a mall (The Galleria?) and even it's huge. They've got an old battleship that they've turned into a museum, it's right next to the San Jacinto Monument which is like a huge tower. They're on the water which I also didn't know. They've got like a port and stuff.

I'm looking through my e-mails and In Dallas sent me something from MoveOn. He wrote, "Are they not pathetic?" They are pathetic. They're trying to get people to participate in a candle cremony on Monday to show the, hold on, let me get this right. Okay, direct quote from their dopey e-mail: "Next Monday will mark the fourth anniversary of the war in Iraq. Across the country, MoveOn members and our allies will join together at candlelight vigils to commemorate this day," blah, blah. They're so "good," MoveOn. They "honor" the "sacrifice." It's a sacrifice in the sense of tossing someone in a live volcano. You can't "honor" this illegal war. And when you read the damn thing, try to find one word about Iraqis in it. Try to find one point where MoveOn notes that Iraqis have died? I'm having trouble copy and pasting tonight but I'll try again tomorrow. The whole thing is so pathetic. BuzzFlash says: "Bush lied, people died." I agree with that. But go honor his illegal war, MoveOn, go do your little candlelight vigil where you note all the deaths . . . of American soldiers. They really are pathetic and nothing but an arm of the Democratic Party at this point.

In Austin, I was excited when we got to C.I.'s friend's place. I thought, "A Texas ranch!" Then I found out it wasn't a working ranch. :( But it did have horses. We'll see some more of those tomorrow. And I want to ride! Really, that's the one thing I don't want to leave Texas without doing, riding a horse. I want to be able to say, "Yep, I saddled up in Texas." :D We're in a hotel tonight and Rebecca packed a ton of CDs but she and Elaine are singing along with Elton John. ("Tiny Dancer" right now. C.I. says, "When 'Rocket Man' comes on, I'll join in." :D) So it's a lot of fun. I may end up staying in. I'm kind of tired and there's enough fun going on here. I know Wally and Cedric are planning to go out, there getting spiffed up. And Betty's going out too because Rebecca and C.I. had already said they were staying in. (C.I.'s got some stuff to take care of.) So C.I.'s watching Betty's kids so she can have some fun. If I'd stayed home last night, I could have ridden horses! :( C.I. took them for a ride. Betty's oldest rode one (a really nice mare -- that's a girl horse, see how much I'm learning!) and C.I. rode one with Betty's youngest son and Betty's daughter. They had a blast and I was all "Uh-uh" when I heard about it this morning. But they did it. They've even got pictures. Lucky! :D

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

Tuesday, March 13, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, two new polls have bad results for Bully Boy, Nouri al-Maliki begins a whisper campaign to smear a woman, and Dems cave again.

Starting with
MADRE's "Promising Democracy, Imposing Theocracy: Gender-Based Violence and the US War on Iraq" (which can be read in full in PDF format or, by sections, in HTML). Wednesday, section one ("Towards Gender Apartheid in Iraq") was noted, Thursday, section II, "Iraq's Other War: Impsoing Theocracy Through Gender-Based." Section III is "The Rise of US-Backed Death Squads" was noted Friday, section four, "Violence Against Women Within Families" was noted Monday. Part five is "Gender War, Civil War," part six is "Gender-Based Violence Against Men," and part seven "Violence Against Women in Detention." We're grabbing all three sections today because five and seven fit with something in today's news. Due to that, we'll start with section six.

US tax dollars pay for what in Iraq? Homophobia. (Peter Pace must be so proud.) Recently,
the US military expressed concern over the effects TV's cess pool 24 was having on US troops. But what about inside Iraq? As the report outlines one of Iraq's most popular TV shows is Terrorists in the Hands of Justice which -- mini-American Idol -- "airs six nights a week on the Iraqiya television network, which was created by the US Pentagon." The show ("financed with US tax dollars") features an interrogation of real prisoners who have the wounds to prove they've been tortured into confessing -- confessing to whatever the bullies want them to say. (Bullies, again, paid with US tax dollars.) So they confess to many things include "gay orgies" -- Sunnis make up the prisoners, interrogators are Shia. Think the program (US backed) doesn't create further tensions (while also marketing and condoning tension)?

The report notes that target groups for "torture and killing are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, and intersex". Those who attempt to receive help or protection realize there is none to be had: "US authorities have responded to Iraqis seeking protection or justice in the wake of homophobic attacks with derision and outright mockery. The US-backed Iraqi police stand accused of rape and extortion by gay men." (Again, Peter Pace must be so proud.)

Now we're going to combine sections five ("Gender War, Civil War") and six ("Violence Against Women In Detention"). Here the report addresses the realities of the gender war which is intertwined with the civil war even if the media and others refuse to acknowledge it. The report notes Haifa Zangana's research which found that the first question asked of any female taken prisoner in Iraq is "Are you Sunni or Shia?" The second? "Are you a virgin?" The report notes the photos of US troops raping women in Abu Ghraib which the US Congress refused to release. The photos are noted in the Taguba report but not as rape, as "sex." That results from the 2006 US Military Commissions Act.

For those of who've forgotten, the
Showboat Express (John McCain) had this to say about the 2006 US Military Commissions Act: "Simply put, this legislation ensures that we respect our obligations under Geneva, recognizes the President's constitutional authority to interpret treaties, and brings accountability and transparency to the process of interpretation by ensuring that the executive's interpretation is made public. The legislation would also guarantee that Congress and the judicial branch will retain their traditional roles of oversight and review with respect to the President's interpretation of non-grave breaches of Common Article 3."

Far from the Showboat Express, US Senator Patrick Leahy opposed the bill in strong language and concluded: "
I am sorry that the Republican leadership squandered the chance to consider and pass bipartisan legislation that will make us safer and help our fight against terrorism. There was an opportunity today for the Senate to provide the tools we need to fight terrorism while showing the world the values we cherish and defend . . . I will not participate in a legislative retreat out of weakness and fear that undercuts everything this nations stand for and that makes us more vulnerable and less secure. Consistent with my oath of office, my conscience, my committment to the people of Vermont and the nation, I cannot and will not support this bill."

US Senator John McCain is also attempting to win the Republican 2008 presidential nomination. Would be voters might want to ask him why he pushed an act that effectively removed rape? Prior to the US Military Commissions Act of 2006, rape was on the list of acts of torture. Thanks to McCain and his ilk, it was watered down to the point that it's meaningless. Guards having sex with prisoners? Maybe it was boredom? Not rape, never rape.

Before Abu Ghraib became the scandal that shocked the world, in December 2003, a letter was smuggled out of the prison, penned by "Noor." She wrote of "women . . . being systematically rped by US soldiers . . . and that some detainees were pregnant as a result of these rapes." Noor's claims were backed up after the fact. But no US troop was punished. Along with rape, female prisoners were urinated on, beaten and much more. Women and girls were often imprisoned not for any act they had committed but because US forces wanted their male relatives so women and girls became bargaining chips -- in violation of international law. Once imprisoned, the dangers didn't stop. Women (and their husbands) would be threatened with women not only being raped but being raped in front of their husbands who would be forced to watch.

Many examples of abuse are given but we'll focus on the case of Kahdija Mohammed Mhawish who was held in several jails for over two years and tortured the whole time: "She reported being flogged with cables, having her fingernails pulled out, and being forced to stand naked before prisoners who were urged to rape her. Khadija, who was sexually assaulted in front of her son (also a prisoner), identified the following men as her rapists: Fifth Branch officers Major Raid, Captain Nabeel, First Lieutenant Saad, and non-commissioned officers Abdilamir and Raad."

Into that climate comes news of Sabrine Janabi. She was the woman who publicly stated she had been raped on television -- by Iraqi security forces. As noted in
the first snapshot she was mentioned in last month: " . . . an Iraqi woman (whose real name has not been given in press reports) has stated she was raped by Shia military forces in Baghdad on Sunday." Thug-puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki promised an investigation and of course changed his mind. As Riverbend (Baghdad Burning) noted, "It was less than 14 hours between Sabrine's claims and Maliki's rewarding the people she accused. In 14 hours, Maliki not only established their innocence, but turned them into his own personal heroes. I wonder if Maliki would entrust the safety of his own wife and duaghter to these men. This is meant to discourage other prisoners, especially women from coming forward and making claims against Iraqi and American forces." Well al-Maliki can't stop smearing the woman.

Ned Parker (Times of London) reports on the whisper campaign against the woman whom, they claim, has been under arrest for some time and had made a confession they videotaped. To show it on US-backed Iraqi television? They're probably not going to show the tape, they've decided, and instead push the whisperer campaign. They tell Parker the woman is actually Shia (if true, that appeared in the press the same week she went on TV), that she worked as a prostitute, that she was paid by Sunnis to make these charges and that Sabrine is not her real name! Not her real name! Oh, we should issue a correction right now . . . except that anyone paying attention when the story broke knew "Sabrine" wasn't the name of the woman. Of course, the campaign wants you to believe that when not turning tricks, Sabrine also has time to play the medical nurse to the "insurgency" and don't forget she has also been alleged to have been the chief chef of the "insurgency."

In the real world,
Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reports not just on the whisper campaign ("leaked information to discredit her" and adds that they're also accusing Sabrine of bigamy) but also notes the Iraqi Islamic Party's denial of hiring and and, most important, reminds that despite the puppet's minions saying the woman is liar, "U.S. rape experts told McClatchy Newspapers that the report, filled out after the woman was taken to a U.S. military hospital by the American patrol who picked her up from the Iraqi police station, showed that she had extensive injuries consistent with sexual assault, including bruises on her thigh."

That's in reference to a report that ran in February --
noted in Feb. 22nd's snapshot:

What he [al-Maliki] did do was release something -- a second page of a three page report on someone -- that he said was proof that the woman wasn't raped. It wasn't proof of anything. And it doesn't even prove that whatever woman the report is on wasn't raped.
Richard Mauer (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that rape experts who have looked at the page say it "didn't disprove the woman's allegations, . . . and it indicated that the woman suffered extensive injuries, including at least eight bruises on the front of her thighs consistent with a sexual assualt."

Only McClatchy Newspapers had the brains to take the released page to rape experts, everyone else allowed the puppet government to spin the single page they had released. Sadly, only McClatchy Newspapers has noted this fact -- that the single medical page doesn't disprove Sabrine's statements but, in fact, backs them up.

On the topic of crimes in Iraq,
Paul von Zielbauer (New York Times) examined criminal convictions of US troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and found "240 of the 665 cases" ended in conviction and that alcohol "is involved in a growing number of rimes committed by troops deployed to those countries." In the case of Abeer Qasim Hamza (not mentioned by name in the article -- this is the Times which has gone out of its way to avoid giving the victim a name), based on the confessions of James P. Baker and Paul Cortez, alcohol was involved prior to after the gang rape of the 14-year-old Abeer by US forces, the murder of her and the murders of her parents and five-year-old sister. So was chicken, they grilled chicken afterwards -- so alcohol's link (or "link") may or may not be a major mitigating factor.

Turning to news of war resistance,
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today that Helga Aguayo, the wife of Agustin Aguayo, has stated they will "continue to fight for her husband's release from a military prison" and quotes Helga Aguayo stating: "What I do want now is my husband to be released which will happen in 40-45 days. We pursue it legally and that he is found to be a conscientious objector, one, that his conviction of desertion is overturned, two, and that he is given an honorable discharge. That's all I hope for." Agustin Aguayo was court-martialed March 6th in Germany and was sentenced to 8 months in prison but given credit for the 161 days he had already served while awaiting his court-martial.

Another US war resister,
Ehren Watada was the subject of a short film noted by Jeff Yang (San Francisco Chronicle) today:

CAAM's evolutionary throughline might be visible in its production of Curtis Choy's "
Watada, Resister," an 18-minute mini-film documenting the historic conversation between Lt. Ehren Watada, the Japanese American soldier who is facing court martial as the first U.S. commissioned officer to refuse deployment to the Iraq War, and Frank Emi and Yosh Kuromiya, Nisei resisters of a generation before, who rejected service in the U.S. military as a protest against the internment of their friends and family.By connecting Watada with these moral forebears, the work connects yesterday to today, bringing the legacy of history to the dynamic, shifting playing field of the present. The medium is as much a message as the content: "Watada, Resister" was released directly to the Internet as a streaming and downloadable video."Curtis came to us saying, 'We have to tell this story, but I don't want to wait two years to do this for PBS, and I don't want to raise a lot of money,'" says [Stephen] Gong. "We pulled together a few thousand dollars to cover the costs of a crew up in Seattle and in L.A., and Curtis did his own editing, while our staff pulled together the contextual narrative to give people a way to understand the material. And literally, that was it. This was a story that needed to be told now, and this gave us a way to tell it."

Agustin Aguayo, Ehren Watada are part of a movement of resistance within the military that includes Kyle Snyder, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.


CBS and AP report that a roadside bomb in Baghdad left two Industry Ministry workers dead and six more injured. Lauren Frayer (AP) reports a mortar attack in Mosul that claimed one life and left four wounded. Reuters notes a rocket attack in central Baghdad that killed 2 people and left two more wounded (although one source told Reuters 4 died and 4 were wounded).


CBS and AP report that an interpreter working for occupation forces was shot dead in Kut. Reuters notes that a judge (Omar Abdul Nabi) and two people with him were shot dead in Baghdad while another person was wounded, an attack on a police car that killed 3 police officers and left 2 wounded, that Hatam Mushin ("general director of mechanical industries company") was shot dead in Iskandariya, and, in Kirkuk, one police officer was shot dead and three more wounded.

AFP reports four people were shot dead in Baghdad and Lauren Frayer (AP) notes that they were shot dead in "a Sunni mosque in the southwest of the city".


Reuters reports 17 corpses were discovered in Baghdad, 2 near Kut, 1 in Diwaniya and 4 in Mosul. Lauren Frayer (AP) notes that the number of corpses in Kut rose from two to eight and, in Mosul, from 4 to 5.

Turning to US politics. As
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted, "Democratic leaders have announced they're now abandoning an effort to put limits on President Bush's authority to take military action against Iran. Democrats had included a provision in the new military spending bill that would have required Congressional approval for any military confrontation with Iran.But the requirement was dropped after several Democrats argued it would take away the use of force as a bargaining tool over Iran's nuclear program." Peter Grier (Christian Science Monitor) observes what this may means in terms of leadership issues:
"The provision's removal shows how difficult it may be for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) of California and Senate majority leader [Harry] Reid to keep Democrats together in the coming debates over further Iraq restrictions. It may also show how hard it is for Congress to strike a consensus over difficult questions of war and peace." If it is a leadership issue, it's one for Congress to fret over, not one for peace activists to wring their hands over.
Norman Solomon (CounterPunch) makes this point very well: "Pelosi and Reid have a job to do. The antiwar movement has a job to do. The jobas are not the same. This should be obvious -- but, judging from public and private debates now fiercely underway among progressive activists and organizations, there's a lot of confusion in the air. No amount of savvy Capitol-speak can change the fact that 'benchmarks' are euphemisms for more war. And when activists pretend otherwise, they play into the hands of those who want the war to go on . . . and on . . . and on." Kevin Zeese (Democracy Rising) also offers reality, "The headline that the Democratic leadership would like voters to hear" from last week's nonsense measure, " is 'troops out of Iraq by August 2008.' But the headline is more a wolf in sheep's clothing than a reality. After hearing details of the bill from Obey's appropriations staff person the loopholes may define the law more than the headline. From most in the peace movement an August 2008 deadline for withdrawl is already way too slow. . . .
But, that is not the worst of it. As Rep. Maxine Waters, the Chair of the Out of Iraq Caucus point out, a few weeks ago the Congress passed a non-binding resolution against the so-called "surge" but this appropriation will actually pay for the surge – which has grown since their vote by
more than 8,200 troops. Indeed, the Democrats are poised to give Bush up to $20 billion more than he asked for!" Mike addressed the Obey nonsense last week. Others offered cover for Obey (for comments on Sirota's cover, see this roundtable). As Solomon points out: "Pelosi and Reid have a job to do. The antiwar movement has a job to do. The jobs are not the same."

Meanwhile, two news polls continue to demonstrate Americans want US forces out of Iraq.
CNN has a new poll which has found: "Nearly six in ten Americans want to see U.S. troops leave Iraq either immediately or within a year, and more would rather have Congress running U.S. policy int he conflict than President Bush". The same poll finds that American want US troops out of Iraq -- 21% immediately and 37% advocating "within a year". CBS and the New York Times poll finds that 59% oppose Bully Boy's escalation plan of sending more troops to Iraq (36% approve -- so sign up to fight!) while 76% of those polled said that the administration had not "done enough for Iraq war vets."

Nor for their families.
Speaking with Amy Goodman (Democracy Now) Carlos Arrendo explained how the military told him his son Alex had died serving in Iraq (they told him of the death then stayed out on the street in a van, refusing to leave -- with his ex-wife, Marines sat down with her and brought a chaplain) Arrendo is currently taking part in the Endless War Memorial in NYC (Times Square) which is multi-day reading of the known names of those who have died in Iraq.

Finally, the puppet left the Green Zone and went to Ramadi where he exclaimed, "
I haven't been to Ramadi since 1976!" reports al Jazeera. How could he? He fled Iraq in 1980 to escape criminal charges, ran to Iran then Syria, and lived there until after the start of the current illegal war. Now Nouri al-Maliki has to face that life can be confining in the cage that is the Green Zone. At least he has his whisper campaigns.

iraqagustin aguayo