Friday, August 10, 2007
William Blum has a good piece at AfterDowningStreet. I can't really excerpt from it because it is hard to pull out one section. But read it. He's covering about a million things and doing so historically. He's talking about withdrawal and the realities of Vietnam since that's always used (in distortions) as an example and he's talking about pretty much everything. It's a must read so check it out.
Now if Phyllis Bennis don't mind, and Katha Pollitt don't mind, we can take a little time and learn a little about the Iraqi resistance. From Willi Langthaler's "Extraordinary interview with pro-resistance Iraqi Nationalist:'
Abduljabbar al Kubaysi, influential political leader of the Iraqi resistance and secretary-general of the Iraqi Patriotic Alliance (IPA) elaborates on the new situation evolving in Iraq
Q: In the last period the European media when touching Iraq have been speaking only on a sectarian civil war. What is really happening?
Actually the US occupiers as well as the government imposed by them are pushing for this sectarian civil war. Also the Iranians have interest in this as they are looking for a federation in the South as well. Their attempt is to make the Sunni, the Christians, the Mandeans leave to have a purely Shiite zone. Under the conditions of war this sectarian drive has an immediate effect.
The US uses this as an argument to stay in Iraq as they claim that they would be needed to settle this strife.
There is, however, so much evidence that the intelligence services of the US, of the Iraqi as well as of the Iranian government are the real source of the violence. They plant bombs or pack them into cars which are then being exploded by remote control or by helicopter in both Shiite and Sunni areas deliberately killing civilians not involved in politics. Thus, they try to spark the sectarian conflict.
In the beginning, the media used to check on the site of the blast and often eye witnesses contradicted the official version that a person exploded himself. Now they use to cordon off the area and impede questions to the locals. They want to have the news spread that militants did the massacre while it was governing forces or the US who planted explosive loads. In most of the cases there is no person involved killing himself. In these cases you can be sure that the ruling coalition is involved.
For example, they changed the name of an important road in the Al Adhamiye district in Baghdad from a Sunni religious figure to a Shiite one during the night. It was the Shiite community of al Adhamiye itself to change it back to the original name. Then they came again with their Hummers…
If Phyllis Bennis don't mind, and Katha Pollitt don't mind, we can take a little time and play one more song . . . :D
By the way, I saw Pollitt's latest column, it was e-mailed to me. If someone thought I was linking to that crap, they're wrong. Alleged feminist Pollitt has written "Let Us Now Praise Child Molestors." That's what that crappy column is as she praises a pedophile for being right. Some feminist. You Go Useless Pollitt!
Matthew Rothschild, who doesn't look like left over chicken parts, just FYI, has something worth noting and Beau passed this on to me. It's from "The U.N. Mirage in Iraq:"
The U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expects to send all of thirty more U.N. personnel to Iraq. But the staff union at the U.N. opposes this, and even wants those currently in Iraq to be withdrawn until the safety situation there improves.
Sounding like a mouthpiece of the Bush Administration, the Secretary-General said he would urge "Iraqi government leaders to do their own part in promoting and engaging in inclusive political dialogue."
This is the blame-Maliki first strategy, which Hillary Clinton has also signed on to.
The Secretary-General is supposed to involve himself in regional dialogue, as well, though it’s difficult to imagine how he’ll be able to succeed there, as Bush and Cheney are threatening to attack Iran virtually every day now.
It's also difficult to imagine how the U.N. will be able to help the security situation any. The response by Britain's U.N. ambassador, Emyr Jones Parry, was laughable. He said he hopes "the U.N. will soon be able to redeploy a contingent to Basra, where its expertise would be helpful in delivering capacity building in Iraq's southeast."
The illegal war is lost and the US wants to hide the problems by pushing the appearance that the UN is in control in some way. They aren't. They won't be. More smoke and mirrors from the administration that's been blowing smoke up all of our asses for six years now.
I'm going to take a few seconds real quick to talk about Cindy Sheehan who's declared her run for Congress. I think she has a real shot at winning and think just by running she's raising the stakes again. She's sending a message that going-along-to-get-along won't come easy. The people want change and, yet again, Cindy Sheehan's leading the way. She's talked about how others should run and I agree with that. If you know someone qualified that would do a good job of representing the people, tell him or her to run. And take some time this weekend to tell everyone you know that Cindy Sheehan's running (and running to win) because this isn't just about Sheehan's race, it's about our character as a country. If we had real people who took their jobs seriously, we'd have impeachment hearings right now. Instead, we've got no impeachment, no end to the illegal war, no telling Bully Boy the illegal spying is over, we got nothing. We'll continue to have nothing until we start demanding more. Get the word out on Cindy.
Now the snapshot. They got here this evening and C.I. was just getting time to work on it during the ride over. It was funny to watch because C.I. was in the back seat on both cell phones, typing away furiously and saying, "Give me a second" to me. A second was thirty minutes later. :D But it's a great snapshot. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Friday, August 10, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military starts another whisper campaign about al-Sadr, a US helicopter goes down, Joe Biden comes out against the privatization of Iraqi oil, and the draft is in the (US) air again.
Starting with war resisters. Agustin Aguayo served as a medic in Iraq and refused to load his weapon. He had applied for CO status but was told he'd have to wait until after deploying to Iraq to find out the status. His CO status was denied and he took the issue to the civilian courts. After serving one tour in Iraq and while his case was working through the courts, the military expected him to deploy a second time. Aguayo self-checked out and was gone for less than thirty days before turning himself in. Despite being gone less than thirty days (September 2nd through September 26th) and turning himself in, the US military prosecuted Aguayo for desertion (the general rule is that you have to be gone 30 or more days for desertion). Aguayo and his wife Helga Aguayo are now telling his story and how it effected their family. Rosalino Munoz (People's Weekly World) reports that Agustin and Helga are attempting to decide what to do with regards to the civilian case and must decide by September 5th whether or not to appeal to the Supreme court. Munoz notes, " At issue is whether a soldier's conscienctious objection to war can develop after enlistment and outside of an organized religion, as well as whether the Army can deny a soldier's claim to conscientious objection without a response to the soldier's arguments."
Were the military to follow their own stated policies, there would be no questions as to what qualifies for a CO but they don't, as Aguayo, John A. Rogowsky Jr. and many others have discovered. From the US military's "Selective Service System: Fast Facts:" "Beliefs which qualify a registrant for CO status may be religious in nature, but don't have to be." Despite that basic reality, Aguayo, Rogowsky and others have been told that they're not religious enough, that their religion is not recognized, when religion really is NOT required for CO status. In Aguayo's case, the military refused to recognize that time in Iraq deepened Aguayo's faith (already present when he enlisted).
Munoz notes that Aguayo's attorneys believe he has a strong case but Aguayo wants to review the strengths with them before going further with the case due to a concern that a loss in the Supreme Court could reverse the gains that service members had made during Vietnam. Aguayo is a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War and another IVAW member, provides an update on war resister Marc Train. Adamo Kokesh (Sgt. Kokesh Goes to Washington) reports that Train has been charged "under Article 15 of the UCMJ for being AWOL for 114 days . . . They are now in the process of kicking him out under Chapter 12-14. . . . So a little soft time at Fort Stewart and he should be home free." Train self-checked out after taking part in the DC actions to end the illegal war in March of this year. Kokesh also reposts Eli Israel (the first service member to publicy refuse to continue serving in the illegal war while stationed in Iraq) story, told in Israel's own words. Sarah Olson (Political Affairs) reported on Train in June and quoted him stating, "Just because we volunteered, doesn't mean we volunteered to throw our lives away for nothing. You can only push human beings so far. Soldiers are going to Iraq multiple times. The reasons we're there are obviously lies. We're reaching a breaking point, and I believe you're going to see a lot more resistance inside the military." Tran is a member of IVAW (and was on his way to being discharged from the military -- by mutual agreement between him and the brass -- until he signed on to Appeal for Redress) and, like other IVAW members, has posted about his experiences and observations there. At the end of April, he wrote, "This Administartion has been emboldened by the lack of effective mass outrage. Now, what I mean by that is that our country as a whole has not effectively demonstrated its outrage about the policies of this Administration; the workers are still going to their jobs, the traffic is still flowing; products are still being consumed. As long as this is all functioning and every measure of control is in place, and as long as Congress continues to nervously shift about and take no determined action, the Administration does not feel threatened by the anger of its opposition."
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum. Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. IVAW and others will be joining Veterans For Peace's conference in St. Louis, Missouri August 15th to 19th.
Meanwhile, the US military is trumpeting the news that the Army met its targeted recruitment goals for the month of July . . . while hoping no reporters note that the target was brought down some time ago both in terms of numbers and qualifications. And hoping no one notices how much money is being spent on a still non-existant draft in the US. In an indication of things being explored and floated, if not yet on the way, Bully Boy's assistant and deptuty National Security Director on Iraq and Afghanistan Lt. General Douglas Lute spoke with Michelle Norris on NPR's All Things Considered today where he pushed the draft
("a national policy decision point that we have not yet reached, Michelle" -- note, "not yet reached") and declared of the draft, "I think it makes sense to certainly consider it and I can tell you, this has always been an option on the table, but ultimately, this is a policy matter between meeting the demands for the nation's security by one means or another." While "one means or another" may be a nicer way of saying "by all means necessary," there's no denying that draft boards have been set up, that tax payer monies are being spent on them and that Bully Boy's assistant is now floating the option which -- pay attention, Nancy Pelosi -- unlike impeachment is not 'off the table.' Returning to the issue of the qualifications waived to meet the targets, Stephen D. Green, fingered as the ring leader by others who participated in the war crimes against 14-year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi and her family (Abeer was gang-raped while her parents and five-year-old sister were murdered in the next room, then she was murdered and her body set on fire to destroy any evidence) is an example of the lowering standards since he went from jail to the military via a 'moral waiver' that overlooked not only his most recent arrest but his prior arrests. In other military crime news, Feminist Wire Daily reports that Cassandra Hernandez' rape by "three of her malecounterparts" in the US Air Force has led not to punishment for the alleged rapists, but instead to charges against Hernandez with the three alleged rapists being "granted immunity from the sexual assault charges" for agreeing to testify against Hernandez. This assault on Cassandra Hernandez is only a surprise to those who have looked the other way while the US military brass has regularly and repeatedly excused and ignored the assualts on women serving in the military. The assault by the brass on Suzanne Swift is only one of the more recent public disgraces. The US military brass has repeatedly and consistently refused to address the assaults on women (and on gay male victims of assualt) and Congress has repeatedly and consistently refused to excercise their oversight obligations.
On a related crime note, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today: "In other news on Iraq, the U.S. military has dropped all charges against two Marines connected to the shooting deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha. Lance Cpl. Justin Sharratt had been charged with three counts of premeditated murder and Capt. Randy Stone with dereliction of duty for failing to properly report the civilian deaths. Five Marines still face charges for shooting dead two dozen unarmed men, women and children in Haditha on November 19, 2005."
Goodman also notes Joe Biden's nosies with regards to punishments for the Bully Boy (we'll get back to that) but that's not really the big news regarding US Senator and 2008 Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden. Appearing yesterday on PBS' The Charlie Rose Show, Biden discussed the upcoming September 'progress' reports to Congress and noted that there has been no military progress in Iraq though he understood why Gen. David Petraeus would attempt to finesse that bit of reality. Biden then went on to offer his take on the administration's political attempts (which have failed, as Biden noted) in Iraq and identified Dick Cheney as the one blocking progress. (I'm not endorsing that, or endorsing Biden's kind words for US Secretary of State and Anger Condi Rice, et al.) Rose questioned whether Cheney could really be against progress and Biden utilized the oil revenue sharing 'benchmark'. We've heard that utilized before by all Dem candidates for president except Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich in a manner that lumps the oil revenue sharing and the theft of Iraqi oil into one provision. Biden didn't lump them together -- a possible sign that other candidates may also join Kucinich and Gravel in calling out the theft of Iraqi oil. Biden delcared, "Look at what we keept trying to write into the law: privatization. Who are we to tell them to privatize?"
Biden's comments come as growing resistance mounts in the US (led by United Steel Workers) to the theft of Iraqi oil and as news of a poll gains traction. Aaron Glantz (OneWorld via Common Dreams) reports on the Oil Change International poll of Iraqis that "found nearly two thirds od Iraqis oppose plans to open the country's oilfields to foreign companies. The poll found a majority of every Iraqi ethnic and religious group believe their oil should remain nationalized. Some 66 percent of Shi'ites and 62 percent of Sunnis support government control of the oil sector, along with 52 percent of Kurds." Glantz quotes Antonia Juhasz (author of The BU$H Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time) explaining, "We're talking about opening up the second largest oil reserves in the entire world to foreign investment. It costs about $75 a barrel -- and about 60 cents to get it out of the ground. Do the math."
As Great Britain's Socialist Worker reports, "The pro-US Iraqi government has outlawed the country's oil workers' union under a law passed during the regime of Saddam Hussein. The order comes as opposition is mounting to a proposed oil law that would hand over the country's natural resource to foreign companies. The Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions (IFOU) has spearheaded opposition to the proposed law."
On February 23, 2007, Antonia Juhasz spoke with Kris Welch on KPFA's Living Room
about the oil law and explained the basics:.
Antonia Juhasz: It's really American, and let me clarify that as Bush administration, propaganda that this law is the path towards stability in Iraq. It is absolutely propaganda. This law is being sold as the mechanism for helping the Iraqis determine how they will distribute their oil revenue. That is not what this law is about. That is the bottom end of an enormous hammer that is this oil law. This oil law is about foreign access to Iraq's oil and the terms by which that access will be determined. It is also about the distribution of decision making power between the central government and the region as to who has ultimate decision making power and the types of contracts that will be signed. There are powers that be within Iraq that would very much like to see that power divvied up into the regions, between the Kurds and the Shia in particular, and then there are powers that would like to see Iraq retained as a central authority. The Bush administration would like the central government of Iraq to have ultimate control over contracting decisions because it believes it has more allies in the central government than it would if it was split up into regions. The Bush administration is most concerned with getting an oil law passed now and passed quickly to take advantage of the weakness of the Iraqi government. The Iraqi government couldn't be in a weaker negotiating position and the law locks the government in to twenty to thirty-five year committments to granting the most extreme versions of exploration and production contracts to US companies or foreign companies. Meaning that foreign companies would have access to the vast majorities of Iraq's oil fields and they would own the oil under the ground -- they would control the production and they would in contracts yet to be determined get a percentage of that profit but they'd be negotiating essentially when Iraq is at its weakest when Iraq is hardly a country. And that's what this oil law is all about. What Iraqis are saying very clearly and have said to Raed [Jarrar] and, in particular, to the loudest voices being the Iraqi oil unions is that the only people who want to see this law passed now are the Americans. There's no other reason to push that law through."
Turning to some of the violence on the ground in Iraq . . .
CBS and AP report a US helicopter that went down in Kirkuk, wounding two Americans on board, cite the Iraqi military as the source for the news that the helicopter hit an electric pole and note that on July 31st and July 3rd US helicopters were brought down "after coming under fire".
Reuters reports a Kirkuk car bombing that claimed 11 lives (with at least 45 more people wounded). CBS and AP report a Baquba roadside bombing that claimed the lives of 2 bus passengers and left at least four others wounded.
Reuters reports Wisam al-Maliki (the son of sheikh over puppet Nouri al-Maliki's tribe) was shot dead in Garna. CBS and AP report a man was shot dead in Baquba.
Reuters reports that three corpses were discovered in Rutba.
In other news, Reuters reports that the UN Security Counsel has backed a proposal for a slightly more visible United Nations role in Iraq and denies charges that the US strong-armed the proposal in order to shift the responsibilites off on the UN; however, they do note that Hoshiyar Zebari, Iraq's Foreign Minister, has stated the obvious via a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that "prior consent" for any authorization having to do with Iraq needs to have the "prior consent" from Iraq's government. Iraqi's Parliament was rightly outraged when the US government got the UN to extend authorization for their role as 'peace keepers' in Iraq without either the US or the UN bothering to seek the input or authorization of the Iraqi government.
Meanwhile, as the government of US puppet Nouri al-Maliki is in disarray (while he visits Iran), Sue Pleming (Reuters) reports that the US administration continues to (publicly) stress their support for al-Maliki while Olga Oliker (Rand Corporation) notes that replacing the puppet now would "backfire" on the administration and states, "To be a colonial puppet master you need a much stronger understanding and subtle knowled of the culture and history than the U.S. has demonstrated over the past few years in Iraq." In an apparent move to defocus attention from the US puppet government's many failures (security, electritcy, water, food, etc.), AFP reports that Col. John Castles is the point-person to restart the whisper campaign that Moqtada al-Sadr is in Iran. Though the allegations earlier this year were never proven, they did serve to distract for a number of weeks. No doubt that is again the hope with the latest whisper campaign.
In political news, Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan officially announced her candidacy for California's 8th Congressional District in the 2008 election yesterday in San Francisco. Sheehan will be competing with other candidates including US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi who currently holds the seat. Among those present for the announcement was whistle blower Daniel Ellsberg who endorses the run. Sheehan will be running as independent candidate and for more on this see Rebecca's post from last night.
Sheehan declared last month that she would run for Congress if Pelosi refused to put impeachment back on the table by July 23rd after repeated (and rightful) anger over the Democratically controlled Congress' refusal to end the illegal war. As legal scholar Francis A. Boyle (Dissident Voice) observes, ."Despite the massive, overwhelming repudiation of the Iraq war and the Bush Jr. administration by the American people in the November 2006 national elections conjoined with their consequent installation of a Congress controlled by the Democratic Party with a mandate to terminate the Iraq war, since its ascent to power in January 2007 the Democrats in Congress have taken no effective steps to stop, impede, or thwart the Bush Jr. administration's wars of aggression against Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, or anywhere else, including their long-standing threatened war against Iran. To the contrary, the new Democrat-controlled Congress decisively facilitated these serial Nuremberg crimes against peace on May 24, 2007 by enacting a $95 billion supplemental appropriation to fund war operations through September 30, 2007." Or as veteran DC correspondent Helen Thomas (Seattle Post-Intelligencer via Common Dreams) points out, "President Bush has the Democrats' number on Capitol Hill. All he has to do is play the fear card and invoke the war on terror and they will cave.What's more, the president has found out that he can break the law and the rubber stamp. Democratic Congress will give him a pass every time." Sheehan's announced candidacy comes as Matt Renner (Truthout) reports, "The Blue Dogs have apparently informed the Democratic leadership in the House that they support the ongoing occupation of Iraq. According to Mahoney, he met with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and told her 'The president should be free to maintain troops in Iraq, if the purpose is to thwart terrorism'." The Blue Dogs are War Hawks (and include Loretta Sanchez whose greedy hands would rather grabs billions in pork than end the illegal war) and centrists who have repeatedly stabbed the Democrats base in the back. The 2004 demise of Blue Doggie Martin Frost should have been a lesson -- a Republican-lite running against a Republican will lose every time. That's what happened to Texas' Frost who shortly before his political demise was toying challenging Pelosi for the House leadership post. Frost, like most Blue Dogs, runs from the Democratic Party while taking the national monies. Frost's campaigns were noted by Texas community members for their use of yard signs and campaign materials that never mentioned Frost was a Democrat and for slurs and slams against other Democrats perceived as liberal (such as Pelosi) to assure voters he wasn't one of those 'crazy Democrats'. Long term Congress member Frost went up against newbie incumbent Pete Sessions thanks to the illegal redistricting of Texas' congressional lines (assisted in the process by the US Homeland Security Dept. which spied on state Democrats). Voters presented with wishy washy Frost and proud-to-be-a-Republican Sessions chose Sessions. There's a moral in the story. There's a moral in the story of St. John Conyers as well as in some outlets rush to claim that racism is involved in expecting a senior member of Congress who has repeatedly advocated impeachment of the Bully Boy, who has written a book about the necessity to impeach the Bully Boy, and who shows up at various gatherings (such as the large peace rally in DC this year) to state the people can fire Bully Boy. St. Conyers wants all the applause and refuses to do anything. For some reason, some outlets see themselves as defenders not of the people or the Constitution but as St. Conyers' personal fan club. The reality is Conyers could move on impeachment and, by his public statements (which his office often later recants or distorts) but elects not to. Disgusing those realities by suggesting a racist attack is going on against Conyers is really pathetic and, interesting to note, that many suggesting that lie were no where to be found when Cynthia McKinney was twice ousted from the House of Representatives via racial slurs. As Betty, Cedric and Ty have noted: "As we said last week, he's old, he's tired, it's past time he gave up his seat and let some new blood in. The only disgrace has been what he has done to his own image." (Betty's seen the latest nonsense and notes that it will be addressed by her in Sunday's roundtable.) The topic of impeachment wasn't avoided on PBS where Bill Moyers examined it seriously last month. That one hour look (including guests such as John Nichols) at impeachment on Bill Moyers Journal is repeating and can also be viewed, listened to or read online currently. As a weak alternative to impeachment, Senator Joe Biden is floating 'later actions.' As Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today: "Impeachment has been making headlines recently in the city of Kent, Ohio. Democratic Presidential candidate Senator Joe Biden has suggested criminal charges could someday be filed against members of the Bush administration. In a recent interview with Newsweek, Biden said there are alternatives to the impeachment of President Bush. Biden said: 'I think we should be acquiring and accumulating all the data that is appropriate for possibly bringing criminal charges against members of this administration at a later date'." This 'later' nonsense has also been floated by St. Conyers is nothing but nonsense. The 1992 elections gave Democrats the control of Congress and the White House and they unwisely decided to put Iran-Contra behind them. The crimes of Reagan and Bush were swept under the rug and we're all paying for that today. By the same token, in January 2009, after Bully Boy leaves office, the DC conventional wisdom (that so many elected Dems are held hostage by) would be, "He's out of office, leave it alone." If impeachment does not take place, Bully Boy walks and anyone suggesting otherwise is taking an ahistorical view of the situation.
the common illsmikey likes it
adam kokeshmarc traineli israel
amy goodmanantonia juhasz
the socialist worker
feminist wire daily
bill moyersbill moyers journal
sex and politics and screeds and attitude
cedrics big mixthomas friedman is a great manthe third estate sunday review
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Let's focus on the illegal spying that Bully Boy's doing. FISA is a rubber stamp court. They rarely ever turn down any warrant request. The only thing FISA does is make the government go through a review process where the FISA court reviews the paper work and stamps it. Now this is from Marjorie Cohn's "FISA Revised: A Blank Check for Domestic Spying:"
Responding to fear-mongering by the Bush administration, the Democrat-led Congress put its stamp of approval on the unconstitutional wiretapping of Americans.
George W. Bush has perfected the art of ramming ill-considered legislation through Congress by hyping emergencies that don't exist. He did it with the USA Patriot Act, the authorization for the Iraq war, the Military Commissions Act, and now the "Protect America Act of 2007" which amends the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
FISA was enacted in 1978 in reaction to excesses of Richard Nixon and the FBI, who covertly spied on critics of administration policies. FISA set up a conservative system with judges who meet in secret and issue nearly every wiretapping order the administration requests.
But that wasn't good enough for Bush. In 2001, he secretly established his "Terrorist Surveillance Program," with which the National Security Agency has illegally spied on Americans. Instead of holding hearings and holding the executive accountable for his law-breaking, Congress capitulated once again to the White House's strong-arm tactics. As Congress was about to adjourn for its summer recess, Bush officials threatened to label anyone who opposed their new legislation as soft on terror. True to form, Congress - including 16 Senate and 41 House Democrats - caved.
In 2005, the New York Times exposed Bully Boy's illegal spying program. They had the story since before the election but refused to run it. So they finally run it (after the 2004 election) and the Democrats weren't in control of Congress then. The November 2006 elections put the Dems in charge. In January 2007, they were sworn in. Where are the hearings? A federal judge found the spying program illegal. Where are the hearings?
Instead of hearing, we got Congress rubber stamping a law as they rushed off to vacation, a law that the White House apparently wrote and I thought Congress wrote legislation. The new law, Cohn explains, means that now the approval for spying comes from Alberto Gonzales (or who ever is the Attorney General) and the Director of National Intelligence.
Marjorie Cohn is the president of the National Lawyers Guild. Another strong organization is the Center for Constitutional Rights and this is from their "CCR IN COURT TODAY TO CHALLENGE NSA DOMESTIC SPYING PROGRAM AND NEW FISA LAW:"
On August 9, 2007, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) appeared before Federal District Judge Vaughn R. Walker to argue that the NSA’s program of warrantless surveillance is unconstitutional and should be struck down. The argument in CCR v. Bush comes days after Congress and the Bush administration passed the Protect America Act of 2007 which broadly expands the government’s power to spy on Americans without getting court approval.
According to attorneys, there are substantial questions about whether the new law, which is temporary and due to expire in six months, is constitutional, and they will seek permission to file additional legal papers to that effect today. The law effectively removes oversight for spying from the FISA court and leaves it up to the Executive Branch to monitor itself, with Attorney General Gonzales having the primary responsibility for oversight. For that reason, CCR attorneys will argue in court today that the new law violates the Fourth Amendment's requirement that judges approve warrants for surveillance and do so only on evidence of probable cause.
The administration has continued to claim that the NSA program was always legal and that they have the inherent right to resume such surveillance at any time regardless of what the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) says. CCR attorneys therefore argue that their case has not been rendered moot by the new law, which in any event will expire in six months.
According to CCR attorney Shayana Kadidal, "Congress has ceded further power to an administration that has done nothing but abuse its power and betray the trust of the American people. Congress has given the President and Attorney General virtually unchecked power to spy on international calls of Americans without any oversight or accountability from the courts."
Now why does CCR have to do the fight Congress should be doing?
We've all heard the excuse, the whine from Democrats in Congress that "We don't control a house." Now they control two. Where are the hearings?
We can't get impeachment, but we can't even get public hearings on Bully Boy's illegal spying. That's crap. Democrats need to worry less about the 2008 election and concentrate a little more on doing their damn job. Chief among them is John Conyers who could put impeachment on the table any time he wants. But he won't do that. He doesn't do a lot of things. Like why did John Conyers agree to an interview with Ken Silverstein, request that it be by e-mail and then, four months later, still not reply? I think the answer is in the questions. Here are two of the six questions Silverstein was asking in "Six Questions (Without Answers) for Congressman John Conyers on Impeachment and Alberto Gonzalez:"
Is President Bush (and/or Vice President Cheney) guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors in regard to leading the country into the war in Iraq?
Polls show that impeachment of President Bush is supported by a notable section of the public. Why isn’t impeachment on the table? Have the Democrats decided for political reasons that impeachment should not be pursued? Was the congressman pressured by the party leadership to steer clear of the topic, as has been reported?
Conyers won't answer questions. And Congress won't do anything. This is from John Nicols'
"Bush More 'Disastrous' Than Nixon" and the link goes to David Swanson's site:
"The system worked in Watergate," Bernstein told the Denver Post.
Even after Nixon was reelected in a 49-state landslide in 1972, Bernstein said, the president was checked and balanced in the manner intended by the founders of the American experiment.
The news media investigated Nixon, and editorialized boldly when the president's lawless behaviors were exposed.
The Congress responded to those revelations with hearings and demands for White House tapes and documents. When the materials were not forthcoming, Congress went to court to force Nixon and his aides to meet those demands.
The courts responded by aggressively and consistently upholding the authority of Congress to call the president to account.
And when it became clear that Nixon was governing in contradiction to the Constitution, the U.S. House took appropriate action, with Democrats and Republicans on the Judiciary Committee voting for three articles of impeachment. Congressional Republicans, led by Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater, then went to the White House to inform their party’s president that he stood little chance of thwarting an impeachment vote by the full House or surviving a trial in the Senate.
Nixon resigned and so ended a constitutional crisis created by a president's disregard for the rule of law -- a crisis that was cured by an impeachment move by House members who respected their oaths of office.
Today, says Bernstein, the system that worked in the 1970s is failing as the country witnesses presidential and vice presidential misdeeds that former White House counsel John Dean has correctly characterized as "worse than Watergate."
The system isn't working. Congress refuses to do their job. We can put pressure on them and maybe if we put enough pressure on them they'll finally act. But it says a great deal about how little they respect the rule of law, the Constitution, and our system that they require so much pressure to do their job.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Thursday, August 9, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Bully Boy says Iran is the cause of the destruction of Iraq, talk of installing a new dictator surfaces, impeachment remains 'off the table,' and more.
Starting with war resisters. Camilo Mejia is the first known Iraq War veteran to become a war resister. At the end of last month, Maria Hinojosa of NOW with David Brancaccio interviewed Mejia (transcript, audio, excerpt) about his time in Iraq, his determining that the war was illegal and his book Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia (The New Press) which was published in May. "When you join the military," Mejia declared, "you think that you're going to do it to protect freedom to fight for democracy. And finding yourself in a war that's not legitimate by international law standards, where you're abusing prisoners in a war that's being fought in the streets, and you see that the bulk of the human loss, it's civilian, it's very difficult to conciliate your participation in that war and what you're doing in that war with the reasons that led you to -- to sign a military contract." And in Mejia's case (and many others), a contract that is worthless for the signee because the US military isn't bound by it. (Mejia, a non US citizen, had reached the end of the 8 year contract but was the victim of 'stop loss' despite the fact that, as a non citizen, this was not allowed under prior or existing policies.) Noting that Amnesty International declared him a prisoner of conscience (following his was court-martialed and sentencing), Hinojosa asks him where he see his "place now in the year 2007 in these United States?" Mejia responds, "I see myself as part of a movment. And the number of people -- deserting the military when I returned from Iraq was 22. And I believe the number is up to nine -- 9,000 or more soldiers who have deserted or gone AWOL since the beginning of the Iraq war. And I see a l-long way ahead of us. I see a long struggle. And I see myself as part of that struggle."
Amnesty International also supported Abdullah Webster who was court-martialed in June 2004 after he refused to serve in Iraq citing religious reasons (Webster is Muslim) for refusing to serve in the illegal war. Webster joined the US military in 1985 and was set to retire in 2005. The came the illegal war. Webster had served in the first Gulf War but had converted to Islam (1994). Webster first attempted (September 2003) to be granted CO status and then followed that with a request for assignment to non-combat services. Instead, the US military said he would deploy to Iraq (Feb. 2004). His wife Sue spoke of the June 3, 2004 court-martial and his being sentenced to 14 months noting, "An abiding memory I have is of him being led off back to his cell as I watched distraught, in tears, holding our 22-month-old daughter in my arms." In April of 2005, Webster was released from military prison.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. IVAW and others will be joining Veterans For Peace's conference in St. Louis, Missouri August 15th to 19th.
To stay on PBS' NOW with David Brancaccio for a moment before moving on, this week's show will feature David Cay Johnston (New York Times) and Beth Shuman discussing with Brancaccio "the state of our country's vast income divide and how it's hurting those just trying to make ends meet." The program begins airing Friday on most PBS stations, check your local listings.
Moving to the New York Times, has the new, smaller size resulted in less need for facts? Damien Cave semi-reports on the US bombing a resedential section of Baghdad but forgets to list the number of civilians local authorities say died. This is the same Damien Cave who couldn't tear himself away from any detail in February 2005 (including the very serious crime -- we're sure -- of manure being flung in Ohio) to push the "ATTACKS ON US MILITARY WITHIN THE US" alarmist nonsense that (we're sure) he wishes everyone could forget. Ladies and gentlemen, the Divine Damien, Dung Will Be Flung Tonight. When it comes to vandalism (being passed off as terrorism), Cave doesn't miss a detail. When it comes to human lives, he apparently misses 17. That is the number of civilians Megan Greenwell (Washington Post) reports killed in the US air strike on Sadr Ctiy citing "military and Iraqi police". Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted that "U.S. troops and warplanes have waged a major attack on the Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City in Baghdad. . . . The Washington Post described the raid as one of the largest in a series of U.S. attacks against Shiite militias. The raid on Sadr City came shortly after Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki left Baghdad for Tehran where he met with several Iranian leaders. Hundreds of Baghdad residents held protests last night against the U.S. for attacking Sadr City less than 24 hours before the start of a major Shiite holiday. Meanwhile Iraqi officials have imposed a strict curfew and banned all vehicular traffic in Baghdad until Saturday in an attempt to prevent car bombings during the holiday." Also in today's Washington Post, Ann Scott Tyson reported on the lastest switcheroo by the US which is now backing the Sunni leading to worries and concerns within the puppet government and, presumably, within the US military. Col. Steve Townsend seems rather blase as he tells the Post, "I assume they . . . have killed some of us [US troops]. We have killed a lot of them. If they are willing to move foward with us, I'm willing to keep an open mind." Of course, "Col" Townsend won't be the one doing any training, that will fall to lower leveled service members. While any meaningful peace plan would have to pull him the resistance (which the US has been in talks with for over a year now), there is a difference between that and what's being done here. It's equally true that the real point is to keep everyone off balance -- or at least Sunni and Shia (the US has operated the illegal war as if no one else was present in Iraq). You can apply the "learned helplessness" technique Jane Mayer discussed with Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) yesterday. Keep 'em off balance, keep 'em guessing. Pit Sunni against Shia, Shia against Sunni, let chaos and violence run free and maybe the US won't be seen as the illegal invader it is but instead as the great savior.
On the topic of Iraqi deaths, Patrick McElwee appeared on KPFK's Uprising today where he spoke with host Sonali Kolhatkar about the 'benchmark' the US administration probably won't flaunt. Next week, Iraqi fatalities since the start of the illegal war are expected to reach the one million mark. Where is the coverage? McElwee noted that Fox "News" recently had Britty Hume embed in Iraq where he was on US aircraft while it dropped around 25 bombs and though there was time for rah-rah, there was not one report about where the bombs landed and what happened to the people present. McElwee declared that's "what's needed now is some organized pressure on our leaders to end this war." McElwee is with Just Foreign Policy and you can learn more by visiting this page of their site.
As the deaths pile up, so do the insults. Kim Gamel (AP) reports that Saad Eskander, director of the Iraqi National Library, has repeatedly attempted to get US and Iraqi troops to leave the facilities but has been ignored while windows have been broken and US forces have repeatedly "entered the building without permission".
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Basra mortar attack that wounded a police officer "and other civilians." Reuters notes a Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed 3 lives and a Baghdad mortar attack that killed 1 person and left 2 more injured and that "two small bridges in Salahudding province" were blown up. AP reports a bombing "near the house of a Shiite family" which claimed the lives of a wife and husband and left their child injured.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 Iraqi soldiers wounded by gunfire. Reuters notes a man shot dead in Najaf.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 9 corpses discovered in Baghdad.
Yesterday, the UK Ministry of Defence announced the death of one British soldier in Basra. Today, they identified him, 20-year-old Martin Beard. And they announced two more deaths: "It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the deaths of two British soldiers from 1st Battalion The Irish Guards in Basra, southern Iraq in the early hours of this morning, Thursday 9 August 2007. The soldiers were killed, and another two seriously injured, when an Improvised Explosive Device detonated next to their patrol just after midnight local time." This announcement brought the total number of British soldiers killed in the illegal war to 168. David Byers (Times of London) notes, "Britain has now lost four soldiers in Basra in one week, as the Shia Mahdi Army increases its attacks in the southern city."
Today, the US military announced: "A Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West died Aug. 7 in a non-combat related incident in Al Anbar Province." And they announced: "A Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West died Aug. 7 in a non-combat related incident in Al Anbar Province." And they announced: "A Multi-National Division - Baghdad soldier died from a non-combat related cause Aug. 8." ICCC's total for US service members killed in the illegal war thus far this month is 25 and is 3684 since the start of the illegal war.
In the Joke for the Day news, Matt Spetalnick (Reuters) reports the Bully Boy of the United States has stated "Iran is a destabilizing force in Iraq". Not since Bully Boy joked about WMD in public has he made a bigger fool of himself. As The Toledo Blade editorialized yesterday, "the United States has essentially destroyed Iraq as a country".
Meanwhile Damien McElroy (Telgraph of London) reports that NYU's Michael Oppenheimer is arguing that the answer for Iraq is a dictator. Oppenheimer is an associate professor has been arguing that since at least mid-July when he declared following a workshop, "The best idea we were able to generate -- a National Unity Dictatorship -- is the only plausible route to stability in both Iraq and the region, and one we can make more likely if we choose to. This would, of course, represent the failure of democratization in Iraq, at least in the short term." McElroy notes that Oppenheimer believes the US could 'create' "a viable dictatorship in Iraq." So now the US is going to explore imposing a dictatorship?
In activism news, members of Military Families Speak Out were among those arrested at the Garden Grove office of US House Rep. Loretta Sanchez yesterday, Jennifer Delson (Los Angeles Times) reports, after Sanchez refused to agree not to vote for the $145 billion funding bill for the Iraq war noting that "$2.1 billion for C-17 production" -- pork she steered her own way via her spot on the House Armed Services committee -- was too important to her, more important than any deaths in Iraq. "Funding the war is killing the troops!" cry Iraq Veterans Against the War and Tina Richards and Military Families Speak Out while Sanchez plays Gimmie! Gimmie! Gimmie! How proud she must be and how untroubled her sleep.
In news of other cowardice, St. John Conyers, burned at the stake of his own words, is the Congress member who could start impeachment. He refuses to. He refuses a great deal. Ken Silverstein (Harper's magazine) reports that he was supposed to interview Conyers back in May and, as requested, he did it via e-mailed questions. Despite following up repeatedly, Conyers still hasn't replied. Possibly questions about whether "leading the country into the war in Iraq" constitutes high crimes and misdemeanors and why impeachment isn't "on the table" are questions St. Conyers prefers to avoid? The topic of impeachment wasn't avoided on PBS where Bill Moyers examined it seriously last month. That one hour look (including guests such as John Nichols) at impeachment on Bill Moyers Journal is repeating and can also be viewed, listened to or read online currently.
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Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Okay, Silly Tomasky wrote in the Washington Post last weekend that impeachment would destroy the Democrats chances in 2008. Which really isn't true but it also beside the point. If you don't get it, this is from Ken Silverstein's "Keep Your Politics Out of My Impeachment:"
There are other arguments I have with the Post piece. Tomasky acknowledges that Republicans didn't suffer politically when they impeached President Bill Clinton in 1999 and even "retained control of both houses of Congress" in the following year’s election. But he says the reverse would happen now because the Republicans are ruthless whereas "defensive Democrats" are always quick to scamper back to the safety of "bland [political] terrain." So maybe the Democrats should be more like the Republicans instead of following Tomasky’s advice and scurrying back to bland terrain.
He also says with alarm that the country is evenly split on the question of impeachment, and predicts a bloody fight if impeachment goes forward. "Do we really want to drag the country through that?" he asks. "The thought of it--months of rancor, name-calling and mud-slinging that would almost certainly end in defeat for the impeachers--depresses me beyond words." I would expect (and hope) that the 2008 elections will be filled with rancor, name-calling and mud-slinging. Should the Democrats spare the country that and just concede defeat now?
Finally, Tomasky blasts the administration, writing, "Bush and Cheney--and conservatism in general--have wrecked our civic institutions and darkened our civic impulses. Nothing is beyond politicization . . . When everything is subordinate to politics, civic institutions and impulses suffer." But the whole crux of Tomasky's argument is that in the case of impeachment, everything should be subordinate to a politics, specifically an analysis of what's best for the Democratic Party.
In the end, impeachment should be pursued if Bush violated the constitution and put aside if he did not. No one knows for sure what the political consequences of that course would be but that’s not the fundamental question. And here's one thing we do know: when the Democrats decided not to seek the impeachment of President Reagan following the Iran/contra affair, the result was the weakening congressional branch and enablement of the all-powerful executive as practiced under George W. Bush.
I think Silverstein's right. If the Democrats ever actually stood up for the people (instead of against the people), there might not be 'close' (or stolen) elections anymore. Back in May, we wrote "Editorial: The Party of Stella Toddler" (The Third Estate Sunday Review) and that's really still true. The Democrats refuse to act and always promise they'll act next time. Then next time comes and they're still not acting. That's why there's still no end to the illegal war. And saying it better than I just did is Dave Lindorff. Here's a part of his "Democrats Aren't Wafflers, They're Wifflers:"
If you assume that the Democratic Party leadership is not a bunch of idiots, then the only alternative theory has to be that they think that we are.
How else to explain this continuing failed "policy" of so-called progressive Democrats in Congress of passing terrible legislation and claiming that they will "fix it" later?
The approach seems to have first been developed early in the 1990s, when Bill Clinton came up with his disastrous "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy for gays in the military. Everyone knew it was a shameful climbdown from his campaign promise to end discrimination against gays and lesbians in the military, but the claim, and that the policy was doomed to failure, but Clinton and his supporters claimed that they’d "at least" get that lousy policy adopted and then they'd "fix it" later.
They never did.
The same approach was taken to welfare "reform." Everyone could see that throwing people off of welfare after one five-year stretch in an economy that had no jobs and no childcare to offer was going to create more poverty and hardship, but Democrats promised that before that dire day came, they’d "fix it."
They never did and poverty rates have soared in America.
Likewise with the Clinton-era "Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act," which pandered to right-wing clamor for get-tough laws after the Oklahoma City bombing by undermining habeas corpus. "We'll fix it," the liberals promised.
They never did, and it paved the way for the vitiation of habeas under President Bush.
Democrats in Congress since 9-11 have continued with this cheap ploy, hoping that by voting for crappy legislation, they can get "cover" from attacks from the right, while hanging on to liberal support with the false promise that later they will "fix it."
They did this when they provided their overwhelming backing for the USA PATRIOT Act and for its extension. They did it with the Military Commissions Act that seeks to retroactively legalize torture,
And now they've done it with the revision--destruction really--of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
In a sense, the Democratic backing for full funding of the Iraq War and occupation through September was the same kind of thing. "We'll fix this in October," was the mantra, as they provided Bush with all the money he wanted to keep the slaughter and killing going through the summer.
What makes this "strategy" (if it can even be graced with such a name) so shameless and deceptive is that the Democratic leadership knows that with their slim majority in House and Senate, they don't have a chance in hell of passing any corrective legislation, any more than they did when they were in the minority. Even with their small majority, if they could manage to pull together enough Democratic and liberal Republican votes to pass a bill, for example, to "fix" the FISA law and bring presidential spying under some kind of oversight, that bill would be vetoed in a flash by the president, with no chance of an override.
Here's one point I would add to the above. If Democrats had passed their own legislation and gone on vacation, Bully Boy would have vetoed it and they could have screamed, "Look who's not making America safe!" It's like they try to play his game but they're too stupid to know how to play to win. Instead of standing up to him, like Lindorff points out, they go to the right of him to tell voters "US TOO!!" and then they get all bent out of shape when people point out how little (or no) difference there is between the two parties.
Now, a question, why is it every time I do an excerpt of Dave Lindorff's writing, Elaine and I both end up with people e-mailing who hate him? I'm not talking about community members or my regular readers, I'm talking about the freaks (they love the Chipster!) who just seem to hate Dave Lindorff. I saw the message at his site this week about how it had been hacked and my first thought was, "Could it be that guy that keeps e-mailing trying to tell me 'the truth' about Dave Lindorff?"
So is impeachment going to move? I don't think it has to do with what the people want because I say we want it. Who's standing in the way? Dems in Congress. And put Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoywer and John Conyers at the top of the list. Okay at The Third Estate Sunday Review this weekend, we didn't have time for a roundtable we'd planned. There were a lot of issues we wanted to roundtable on. When there were problems getting pieces up online (Flickr kept refusing to load illustrations), Betty, Cedric and Ty wrote "John Conyers Is No MLK (Betty, Cedric & Ty):"
Last week, we shared our feelings regarding a member of Congress, John Conyers. During the pieces that addressed Conyers, we made clear our opposition to sicking the police on activists practicing civil disobedience. For reasons that only Rev. Lennox Yearwood can answer, he's decided to back away from an intial strong stand.
Regardless of what his reasons were (and we are aware that he was under attack), we stand by our statements. We don't give a damn what anyone says about us. As African-Americans, we're fully aware that at least a third of the discussions going on in our community are 'ranking' and 'scoring' and 'cracking.' You can listen to a five minute burst of flow on Aretha Franklin's weight with cracks about her eating only to hear the dee jay then play one of her records and talk about how amazing her voice is.
So if anyone thinks our Black voices will be silenced, think again.
In a supposed piece on race, we felt Yearwood was cracking . . . on Whites. Yearwood offers that Whites writing things like 'Conyers is no MLK' was "deeply disrespectful" to "many" in the community. Gee, our phones didn't ring once. Was this a national poll?
No one in our families complained, no one in our (Cedric and Betty's) churches complained when we shared print outs of that column and similar ones. Apparently a Black Bougie-Bougie got a hold of Yearwood's ear and he's confused that with actual African-Americans.
While we missed that version in Gladys and the Pips' song, we're not surprised.
Yearwood writes, "I would say to my White progressive friends that they should be careful who they condemn for not following in the steps of the late Dr. King if they themselves have not been prepared to walk in those steps and be champions of the consistent fight for social justice." Well let these two Black brothers and this Black sister say it: John Conyers is not following in the footsteps of MLK.
Let us all note our OUTRAGE that MLK is being reduced to something that can be cited (as a comparison) by only African-Americans. That notion is deplorable. We encourage everyone to use MLK as a touchstone. He does not "belong" to one segment of the people, he belongs to all and we will not stand silent while he is ghetto-ized or his status as an international hero is reduced to "Black guy who marched."
John Conyers is no MLK. Your first clue is that MLK couldn't have been elected to Congress. Even were he alive today, it wouldn't happen. That's because MLK wasn't Marty & The March the way he is Disney-fied today. He was against illegal wars. He was against imperialism. He was against injustice. Reducing him solely to race does him a HUGE disservice and that bull might fly with the mainstream media but it doesn't belong among the left.
John Conyers is no MLK. Your second clue is that he stood. He didn't cower. Not even when he was shot down. He knew that day was coming and he didn't sit around wondering how to protect himself. He was on a mission to make the world a better place. Conyers is a coward who will not stand up to Nancy Pelosi. She took impeachment "off the table." If he put it back on the table, he'd find he had too much support from the people for Pelosi to monkey around with his seniority rights to chair a committee.
John Conyers is no MLK. Your third clue is that MLK stood up even when he knew the risks. He was slammed by the press in his final years and that was due to the fact that he refused to be silent. Conyers operates by political calculations. He is a COWARD.
John Conyers is no MLK. Your fourth clue is that the powers-that-be saw MLK as a threat that needed to be cut down while Conyers, over 70-years-old, retains his seat in Congress. Cynthia McKinney may have lost her seat but she never lost her voice even when the same sort of elements that cut down MLK during his life went after McKinney. And, if you missed it, Yearwood, when Pelosi gave the orders that there would be no support for McKinney, Conyers didn't violate that rule either. She'd announced she's be speaking about the incident with the police and she WAS SUPPOSED TO HAVE THE FULL SUPPORT OF THE BLACK CAUCUS. She didn't have any of their support. It was a White woman, Marcy Kaptur, one member of Congress and only one, who had the guts and convictions MLK lived by, who said, "I will stand with you, Cynthia" while her colleagues avoided McKinney like she had the plague. After Kaptur made it safe, a few others joined McKinney.
So save the speeches about how noble John Conyers is and how it's wrong to say he's not like MLK. MLK stood for what was right and Conyers has lived his Congressional life refusing to rock the boat.As we said last week, he's old, he's tired, it's past time he gave up his seat and let some new blood in. The only disgrace has been what he has done to his own image.
-- Betty, Cedric and Ty
I get mad all the time. I've only seen Cedric upset a few times. One when Koo Koo Katrina was dissing Harry Belafonte and another time was when people were trying to say Rosa Parks only mattered to African-Americans. He wrote about being pissed about that and he talked about it in roundtables. He was really mad about what Yearwood wrote. So were Ty and Betty, but he was really, really mad. We'll probably address that this weekend.
And that's it for me tonight. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" and there's a link to Bill Moyers because the impeachment special is being re-run so heads up to that:
Wednesday, August 8, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military and the British military both announce deaths, a dawn air attack by the US on a residential area kills civilians, war resister Eli Israel tells his story, meet "The Other Iraq," and more.
Starting with war resisters. Camilo Mejia is the first war resister to return to the US and refuse to return to the US. Stephen Funk is the first war resister to refuse to to Iraq period. Eli Israel is the first known war resister to refuse while serving in Iraq. At Courage to Resist, Eli Isreal tells his story. He writes of growing up "in the custody of state of Kentucky," living on the streets, attempting to join the Marines at 16 but having no diploma and no GED so being turned down. Israel got his GED, took some college courses and, at 18, enlisted in the military. After leaving the military, he re-enlisted in 2004. In Iraq he was "a JVB Agent -- the JVB (Joint Visitors Bureau) served as protective service for 'three star generals and above' and their 'civilian equivalents'. This included the Vice President, the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff," etc. and "when we didn't have any missions at JVB, it was common for us to be called on for 'search and cordon' operations and other infantry assignements". Israel writes:
I claimed like many that my actions during these missions were justified in the name of "self-defense." However, I came to realize it was that my perception was wrong. I was in a country that I had no right to be in, violating the lives of people, and doing so without regard to the same standards of dignity and respect that we as Americans hold our own homes and our lives to.
I had taken and/or destroyed the lives of people who were defending their families from being the "collateral damage" of the day. Iraqi boys are joining groups like "Al Qaeda" for the same reason street kids in the U.S. join the "Crypts" and the Bloods". It's about self protection, a sense of dignity, and a way of making a stand.
The young man whose father and cousin we "accidentally" killed, and whose mother and siblings cry every time the tank rolls through the neighborhood, doesn't care about who Osama Bin Laden is.
Israel writes of the destuction of Iraq, the daily deaths of Iraqis, martial law, the denial of basic services, and more leading to a realization: "The day I saw myself in the hateful eyes of a young Iraqi boy who stared at me was the day I realized I could no longer justify my role in the occupation." So Eli Israel attempted to become a CO but when he informed his superios of that decision, he was immediately isolated and placed under military guard for two weeks after which he was sent to Camp Arifjan for 30 days in prison which became 25 and he's now discharged and "scheduled to be out-processed from the Army within the month and plan on joining forces with anti-Iraq-War movements, such as Courage to Resist and Iraq Veterans Against the War." That's a synopsis and, again, you can read his story in his own words at Courage to Resist. He concludes, "Objecting to the war and standing up to the miliary was without question, one of the best decisions I have ever made. I made a stand that was the right one, and I have my freedom back as a bonus. Maybe ten years from now those of us resisting from within the military today will be seen as some of the first few to speak the truth and to follow up with action. Even now I have many to remind me that I'm not alone in my thinking, even a majority of Americans who know that all the pieces of this conflict simply don't add up."
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. IVAW and others will be joining Veterans For Peace's conference in St. Louis, Missouri August 15th to 19th.
Turning to Iraq where the air war continues. CBS and AP report that a dawn attack on the Sadr City section of Baghdad, a US helicopter attack, has left at least 9 civilians dead (2 women included in the fatalties). Reuters says the number, according to hospital officials, is 13 and note: "Hundres of angry mourners later marched chanting through the streets of the slum after the raid on the eve of a major Shi'ite holy day." BBC offers a series of photos of the mourners which include (a) a man seated on the ground holding his head while a small boy cries next to him, three boys and a man slumped over a table while two women cry, and a photo of marchers which numbers over a thousand -- not the "hundreds" billed -- taking to the treets, walking around buses, clutching their chests and their heads. BBC reports eye witnesses stating children were also killed and that the US military does conceed the point that women and children were present -- obvious point, this is a residential area that was bombed at dawn -- they assert none died. Later the US military is expected to also issue assertions that the Easter Bunny exists. Jaime Tarabay (NPR) notes that officials in "Sadr City say that there were no 30 terrorist killed there were acutally 9 civilians killed and among those were women and children and there were also six people that were injured."
In other violence . . .
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports four Baghdad mortar attacks that claimed 2 lives and wounded twelve, a Baghdad roadside bombing that left three Iraqi soldiers wounded, a Kirkuk roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer (six more wounded), a Kirkuk car bombing left four police officers and a civilian wounded. Reuters notes a bombing in a Baquba barbre shop that claimed 5 lives and left eight more wounded, a Samarra mortar attack that claimed 7 lives, and a Hawija roadside bombing that left one person dead.
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports two women wounded ("a mother and her daughter") in a shooting attack, while attorney Emad Dosh was shot dead in Najaf and Talai Bilal was attacked in Kufa but survived -- two security guards were wounded. Reuters notes a police officer was shot dead in Dujail and one person was shot dead in Jurf Al-Sakhar and another in Mahaweel.
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 11 corpses discovered in Baghdad and the corpse of Muthhir Ali was discovered in Kirkuk.
Today the UK Ministry of Defence announced: "It is with deep sorrow that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of a British serviceman from 1 Squadron, RAF Regiment in Basra City, southern Iraq last night, Tuesday 7 August 2007. The serviceman died as a result of small arms fire attack which occurred at approximately 2030 hours local time during an operation in the Karmat Ali district of Basra City." ICCC's total for the number of British soldiers killed in Iraq is now 166. This follows Monday's announced death in Basra of 20-year-old Craig Barber whom, the UK Ministry of Defense notes, "leaves behind his loving family, including his wife Donna and son Bradley."
And today the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier was killed and four others wounded during combat operations in a western section of the Iraqi capital when an improvised explosive device detonated near their patrol Aug. 7." ICCC pegs the number of US service members killed in Iraq this month at 22 thus far and since the start of the illegal war at 3681.
As all this goes on, Bernd Debusmann (Reuters) offers a story on tourism in Iraq or to what is billed as "The Other Iraq" -- the Kurdish area. Why not? asks the headline. Gee, maybe because of the cross border struggles with Turkey that yesterday's meet and greet with al-Maliki didn't solve. Maybe because, as Steve Negus (Financial Times of London) pointed out a week ago, the census that was supposed to be taken of the area never was and December is when a vote is supposed to "determine the fate of a large oil-rich and bitterly disputed swathe of the country". Or how about James Cogan (WSWS) noting that Massoud Barzani ("president of the autonomous Kurdish Regional Government") has called for "a real civil war" if Kirkuk ("oli-rich" Kirkuk) does not become part of the Kurdish territory.
Turning to Japan where recent elections shifted the power. David Pilling (Financial Times of London) reports that the Democratic Party of Japan "took control of the upper house Tuesday" and "is considering introducing a bill to end Tokyo's logistical support in Iraq" meaning curtailing "the supply flights the Japan Air Self-Defence Force flew to Baghdad and northern Iraq from Kuwait."
Could that increase the cost of the illegal war for the US? On the topic of the cost . . . On July 31st, Gordon England, the US Dept. Secretary of Defense, appeared before the House Budget Committee of the US Congress and declared, "As Secretary Gates has said, the Department is firmly committed to an open and transparent dialogue with the Congress about war costs." Though only 8 days ago, England's remarks are already laughable. Today Tom Vanden Brook (USA Today) reports that the Pentagon is now insisting that $750 million is needed immediately in order "to urgenly airlift needed armored vehichles to troops facing roadside bombs in Iraq." As Cedric and Wally pointed out Monday, the House just approved $459.6 billion in funding to military spending. Nicholas Johnston (Bloomberg News) reported this was "for fiscal year 2008". John Nichols (link goes to CBS) observed there was "virtually no debate" before the House approved the bill and that the "amount does not include the extra $147 billion Iraq war funding that the Bush administration has demanded that Congress approve when the Congress returns from its August recess." This latest last minute funding request comes as the cost of the illegal war continues to mount and not that long after noises about how Americans would not be paying for the illegal war in piecemeal, that the American people needed to know the true costs of the illegal war. In fact, one of the people decrying this sort of "haphazard, piecemeal funding" was the Bully Boy of the United States himself on May 10th. At the end of last month, Walter Pincus (Washington Post) noted Congress gave the Defense Department "$1.7 billion for military construction in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2007, according to CRS [Congressional Research Service], but offered no breakdown of how the money was spent." Dropping back to December 2006, Carl Hulse (New York Times via IHT) noted that the Democrats who had just won control of both houses in the November elections were "planning to assert more control over the billions of dollars a month being spent on the conflict [Iraq] when they take charge of Congress in January." Hulse quoted two tough talkers. In the Senate, Kent Conrad declared, "They have been playing hide-the-ball, and that does not serve the Congress well nor the county well, and we are not going to continue that practice." From the House, John Spratt who stated, "We need to have a better breakout of the costs -- period." Possibly, Hulse misquoted Spratt and he really said "breakout of the costs -- period period period"? Ellipses would certainly make more sense when Spratt is quoted by Tom Vanden Brook today sounding ready to toss around the (public's) money without asking any questions such as why the Pentagon's only now interested in shipping the vehicles or what pork the Pentagon can eliminate on their own instead of expecting the US tax payers to foot the bill for every goody on their wish-list. Noting the waste in the bloated budget, John Nichols wondered "why was there no serious debate on the Pentagon budget? It's not just that the Bush administration and its Republican allies in Congress continue to use the war on terror as an excuse to enrich defense contractors such as Dick Cheney's Halliburton. As Winslow Wheller, a veteran of 31 years working with mostly Republican senators on defense issues and a former assistant director of evaluations of national defense programs with the U.S. Government Accountablility Office, 'Now in control of Congress and having made multiple promises to restore oversight of the war in Iraq and the executive branch in general, the Democrats have been successfully rolled by the White House, the military services, and the big spender pundits'." To repeat, July 31st, Dept. Secretary of Defense Gordon England stated to Congress that "the [Defense] Department is firmly committed to an open and transparent dialogue with the Congress about war costs."
Turning to US politics. Yesterday the AFL-CIO hosted a 'debate' with Democratic hopefuls for the 2008 presidential nomination (Mike Gravel was not present). US Senator Barack Obama is hindered by how much of his genuine rage (and he's got rage) he can show. He declared, at one point, "I find it amusing that those who helped to authorize and engineer the biggest foreign policy disaster in our generation are now criticizing me". He declared? Well, he moved his lips. Samantha Power scripted that line. Samantha Power who immortalized herself with the autobiography A Problem From Hell (oh, it's not an autobiography? well with that title . . .) Barack Obama yesterday: "the biggest foreign policy disaster in our generation are now criticizing me." Samantha Power August 3rd "the worst strategic blunder in the history of US foreign policy." Sammy, get your axe. Or at least your Blackberry. The odor of Samantha Power lingers over the Barack Obama campaign and not merely because she was perviously an advisor to Obama. It's also because you look a bit unhinged when you mass mail, as Power did last week, your thoughts on Obama to "Interested Parties." Where Babmi can't show more than spunk, Power can. She will do it, she can do it, and she will bloody well control the White House!
That's actually how the unhinged Samantha Power plays out to many -- and for good reasons that aren't limited to the fact that she fires off those e-mails not from her own personal e-mail account but from the account she has as "Founding Executive Director, Harvard University Carr Center for Human Rights Policy". As Noam Chomsky (ZNet) noted, in response to a question about Sammy Power, "A little more interesting is Power's tacit endorsement of the Bush doctrine that states that harbor terrorists are no different from terrorist states, and should be treated accordingly: bombed and invaded, and subjected to regime change"; "It's of some interst that Power is regarded -- and apparently regards herself -- as a harsh critic of US foreign policy. The reason is that she excoriates Washington for not paying enough attention to the crimes of others."; and "From a desk at the Carr Center for Human Rights at the Kennedy School at Harvard, that's doubltess how it looks."
The Carr Center? Tom Hayden (writing at The Nation, link goes to Hayden's site) asked last month: "Should a human rights center at the nation's most prestigious university be collaborating with the top U.S. general in Iraq in designing the counter-insurgency doctrine behind the current military surge?" Hayden goes on to reveal how The Carr Center's Sarah Sewell steered the creation of "the new Army-Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual" which not only white washes the US involvement in the Salvadorian death squads of the Reagan years, it also seeks to use academic discipline to abuse a people. Hayden cites Stephen Biddle ("Baghdad adviser to Gen Petraues") explaining the real purpose of the plan the Carr Center took part in: "to manipulate both Shi'as and Sunnis into depending on the US occupation for self-protection." As Hayden points out, "counter-insurgency, being based on deception, shadow warfare and propaganda runs counter to the historic freedom of university life." As noted before the academy is abused today by the US military recruiting anthropologists to figure out how to lie and trick Iraqis. They've also found some psychologists eager to do their bidding and encourage torture which is a topic Amy Goodman again revists on today's Democracy Now! with The New Yorker's Jane Mayer and the ACLU's Jameel Jaffer.
But let's not leave Sammy Power just yet. Hayden notes: "Power is a close adviser to Sen. Barack Obama who supports a withdrawal of US combat troops by next year with exceptions for 'advisers' and special units to battle al-Qaeda. Power, who worked last year in Obama's Washington DC office, writes that even the proposed combat troop withdrawal can be reversed if Iraq's condition continues to worsen. Intentionally or not, the cautious, complicated Obama proposal as described by Power leaves open the likelihood of thousands of American troops remaining in counter-insurgency roles for years ahead. If that is the limit of legitimate debate at Harvard, the Pentagon occupation of the academic mind may last much longer than its occupation of Iraq, and may require an intellectual insurgency in response." The Carr Center is a collaborator in an illegal war and that reality is only surprising to anyone who doesn't grasp the realities of Sammy "Get me the axe!" Power.
While the War Hawk Loons seek ever more war, today The Toledo Blade editorializes on "Iraq's demise" noting that "the United States has essentially destoryed Iraq as a country" and concluding, "The only action left, assuming that the people of the United States do not want to take on Iraq as a project for the next 20 or 30 years, is to state categorically that we have done all that we are going to do there and leave."
In other news, Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) notes that even on something as mild as censure ("just a public spanking"), the Dems in Congress can't get it together and that if they really believe impeachment "would tie up" everything, what's their problem with censure? Cynthia Cooper (FAIR's Extra!) points out that the mainstream media ignores the prospect of impeachment or mocks it and makes false comparisons such as claiming Bully Boy isn't as awful as Tricky Dick: "But the 'consensus' on Nixon came after five months of inquiry by the House Judiciary Commitee, complete with subpoenas, sworn testimony and a staff of 100. A full consensus only emerged days later, when the U.S. Supreme Court ordered Nixon to release tapes that contained damning comments by the president, and Nixon resigned." In disgrace, he resigned in disgrace. No offense, but let's not forget that detail. He was a petty crook and he left in disgrace. On PBS, Bill Moyers offered a serious discussion on impeachment. That one hour look (including guests such as John Nichols) at impeachment on Bill Moyers Journal is repeating and can also be viewed, listened to or read online currently.
thomas friedman is a great manthe third estate sunday review
the toledo blade
the washington post
bill moyers journal
the new york times
the daily jot
cedrics big mix