Friday, October 12, 2007

Najad Abdullahi, Danny Schechter

Friday at last! :D Great day. Elaine and I teamed up with Kat, Ava and C.I. for seven groups today (speaking with seven groups). Rebecca and Ruth joined for five. (Ruth has her Iraq study group on Friday mornings and Rebecca and Flyboy usually go to that.)

I grabbed C.I.'s thing about Democrats in the morning entry because I was still pissed off that Congress Dems think they can whine and attack the base. That was a big topic each time I brought it up. We started with a high school group and this senior asked, "Just who do they think they represent?" and this other student yelled back, "Not us!"

C.I. had told Elaine there were a lot of questions popping up about PTSD these days, so she decided before we started out that she'd make that her issue and just speak for a few minutes and open it to questions. There were a LOT of questions about that. Kat's main issue was about the glorification of the military and that went over really well too -- how we're treating generals like they are rock stars. That's proved today by all the nonsense over what the ex-general said. C.I. dictated the snapshot quick (there wasn't a lot of time) and that issue was brought up and C.I. goes, "Sanchez? Pass." :D So the ex-general doesn't think there's a "win" in Iraq and think that's been true since 2003 but he wants the US to stay in Iraq. And we're wasting time on this? He's not saying (in the first half) anything that most people weren't saying publicly (people on the left) for years and the second part is one more reason not to glorify.

Rebecca grabbed the finanical aspect and that was going to be a tough sell -- because that's over so many of our heads (I'll talk about that later) -- but she really knows how to get people excited about a topic. (And she knows all about economics -- maybe because she used to run her own business.) Ruth wanted Blackwater and the mercenaries. Ava and C.I. were wiped out (they and Kat have done this all week and Kat points out, when she's got nothing left, she heads back to the hotel -- unless they're staying at a friend's -- and gets some down time while Ava and C.I. are usually lining up two or three night groups on the fly -- someone will say, "I wish my friends could have heard this." Ava and C.I. will be, "Okay, well what about tonight?" And bam, they've got several people saying they want to bring friends and have to split it up into two or three.) So Ava and C.I. did resistance within the military and outside of it and did it jointly. They'd trade off. If you didn't know they were tired (by them telling you they were), you wouldn't believe it. They are so polished. I don't mean slick. They speak very sincerely. But they can do this in their sleep. (I'm not saying they phoned it in.) And they can get a crowd motivated. Everytime I see C.I. speak to a group, I learn a little more. I was telling Ava that and she said, "Everything I know now, I stole from C.I." :D Which really is true because if you just watch, you'll see how C.I. varies things in a day with different groups, taking in what someone's brought up earlier in the day to touch on that. Ava said Kat prepares like crazy but they (Ava and C.I.) really don't. That's because (this is me talking, not Ava), they know their stuff. We spoke to two high school groups (the others were college) today and my favorite one was the second one where a 16 year old stood up and she says, "I don't mean to be negative here and I'm sorry for bringing this up but it really disturbs me." What was she about to say? "My parents subscribe to The Nation and it is the most disappointing magazine that rarely seems aware a war is going on." I laughed so loud when she said that. I had to explain that I wasn't laughing at her but she wasn't saying anything that we were going to be offended by. :D So that made her less nervous and she just started listing all the nonsense The Nation covers and all the serious stuff they ignore. I made a point to talk to her after to make sure she knew I wasn't laughing at her and to also tell her that her topic wasn't minor and to think about how many people read that magazine thinking they're getting reality so her talking about it really was important.

On Democrats, if students were polled (college and high school), they'd have a lot lower approval ratings -- in fact their low approval ratings might go into the negative. Betrayal was probably the key word used to described the Dems in Congress.

Okay, CCR's representing family members from the September 16th slaughter by Blackwater. There was also a slaughter of two women this week by another mercenary company. This is from Najad Abdullahi's "Family question Iraq security firm:"

The brother of a woman killed by the Australian security company Unity Resources Group (URG) says he will not stop until those responsible are held accountable for their actions. Paul Manook's comments come as Iraqi officials demand an explanation URG over the killing of two Marou Awanis, Manook's sister, and another Iraqi Chrsitian woman.
Manook told Al Jazeera on Friday that he and his family intend to pursue legal action against the company."I will [pursue legal action], but it is not only compensation I am after. It is a review, and a thorough investigation into the practices of these companies in Iraq," he said.Manook said he had received no communication from URG since the incident on Tuesday.

Over at News Dissector, Danny Schechter's got a ton of things being discussed today (Friday's post). Read this:

Some months ago, I was on a well known progressive radio/TV show to talk about my film IN DEBT WE TRUST as all hell was breaking loose in the markets. A Proucer left me for last because "our audience doesn't really understand these issues." Why? Because we are not educating our own movements and constituencies.

I believe that's Democracy Now! :D Seriously what else is a "radio/TV show"? I asked C.I. who said Danny was on in August and April but August was where he was the last guest and April was where he discussed In Debt We Trust. C.I. said in April's broadcast it was Josh Wolf and a broadcast of MLK's Beyond Vietnam speech that followed Danny but a story on subprime lending was right before Danny and the person speaking was Keith Ernst. Who? I don't know. :D I got C.I. to spell the last name. So it's probably the April one he's talking about if he's talking about Democracy Now!

So I tossed that out to catch your attention. If you read his post today, you'll see he's talking about the need to combat the new Fox channel on finances. (It doesn't sound like a 'business' channel to me. And it won't be about labor.) I wish he would do a a program. There are a lot of people like me who don't "understand these issues." Here's what I would like if he did a program like that, focus on one issue a day and walk us through at the start. He's talking about the realities of business that don't get discussed so I'd guess we'd hear about things like Chevron polluting. I'd like him to have guests like Dalia Hashad and she's an attorney not a lawyer so that might not fly but I can't imagine listening in to economists. And Dalia knows about the human costs so someone like her would be really great. I've also been listening to some stuff (like speeches) by an attorney named Nancy Chang (C.I. passed them on to me) and she'd be another good guest. I'd like people who weren't going "blah blah blah blah." Something like the Law and Disorder format where you've got people who are really passionate and when you're done listening you think, "Yeah!" and have all this energy and desire to focus.

I think he could do it as a radio or TV program (or web program) without any problem because of his background in radio and TV news.

Here's my nightmare version of it: He has a panel and it's four boring men.

I don't think that would be his style but if it was something like the PBS nonsense, it would put me right to sleep. But PBS is the perfect example of why a show like he's talking about is needed. In junior year of high school, we were working on some projects for class and I knew (and know) nothing about economics. So I turned on PBS's 'business' show and it was just blah-blah enthusiasm on corporations. Not rah-rah because they were so low key. But even I could pick up on the enthusiasm and distortions.

Now some people may be really interested in economics and they might sit through that crap just because that's all there is. If that's the case, then think of all the damage (in a "They're going to the dark side!" kind of way) that is done.

I think he'd do a really good job of it if he started the program and I know I'd learn (finally!) about economics.

C.I. just came through and said it could be "radio or TV" show in which case, it might be radio. If it is C.I. said it's probably a KPFA show. I know which one because I asked, "Which one?" C.I. doesn't say a bad word about that show. So when C.I. goes, "I'm not saying," I knew which one. :D The host once had on a supposed 'peace' guest (that Naomi Klein wiped the floor with on another show) and an Iraqi rich kid (who was over here) and they were speaking out against withdrawal. That show pissed the community off. It pissed off Jim as well. (He wasn't the only one.) And there was a big to do at Third about whether or not to note it because they'd just recommended the show the week before. Kat, C.I. and Ava were of the opinion, "Not a word about the show" in terms of trashing it. They agreed it was not a great moment in radio (and C.I. pointed out that some of the calls were people at the alleged 'peace' guest's alleged 'peace' organization). But they all like the host and didn't want to go there. It's someone who came up in a special KPFA program and they were factoring that in and other similar issues. And also, and I think this was Kat, pointing out, "Do you realize how little programs even focus on Iraq?"
They wish the host had been more skeptical but pointed out it was more of a conversational program. Once the host had an idiot on who wrote a book saying that the US answer on health care was the Veterans Administration. C.I. noted that at The Common Ills, that the guest was nonsense, without naming the show. (And noted, this was before the big Washington Post series by a couple of months, that the VA had HUGE problems and wasn't a model for anything.) C.I. said Danny was the last guest on that too and it was a Friday. (And he was talking about his documentary.) C.I. also noted, "I'm about to fall over, Mike, my memory can be faulty." :D Yeah, right. :D

(About the faulty. Not about being tired.)

Danny ends with an e-mail from a reader who is with a peace organization and questions Al Gore (and the filmmakers) winning a Nobel Peace Prize. I agree with that letter. But I'll also note that planting trees isn't about peace either and doesn't live up to what the peace prize is supposed to be. That's not saying, "So Al did deserve it!" It's me saying that the tree woman should have been called out as well. The e-mail is from Jan Olberg and here's a bit of it:

Alfred Nobel wrote in his will that the Peace Prize should be awarded to "the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."
Without diminishing the importance of global warming and the work done by this year’s recipients -- the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changes (IPCC) and Al Gore Jr. -- it is highly disputable whether it qualifies as a PEACE prize in the spirit of Alfred Nobel -- even if interpreted in the contemporary world situation and not that of 1895 when Nobel formulated his vision.
The concept and definition of peace should indeed be broad. But neither of the recipients have made contributions that can match thousands of other individuals and NGOs who devote their lives to fighting militarism, nuclearism, wars, reducing violence, work for peacebuilding, tolerance, reconciliation and co-existence -- the core issues of the Nobel Peace Prize.

So that's a good point. By the way, I know what Ava and C.I. are reviewing this week. :D They excused themselves from the study group tonight to go off and watch and I checked on them during the break. They were both on cell phones asking, "What is this sh*t?" :D They were doing their research. They miss being able to do the "So we did what the Times calls research, called people." :D They think they've used that too often now. But they were talking to people at the network and with the show and at least one of the remarks C.I. made will probably go into it (a reference to a Rogers and Hart song). If they had time, they'd write it tonight. Instead they came back to the group to do their presentation. And I was thinking, "This is the eighth group they've talked about Iraq with today."

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

Friday, October 12, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, a new possible outbreak in Iraq, Democrats in Congress no longer just cave -- now they whine too, torture continues and women remain under attack.

Denise Winebrenner Edwards (People's Weekly World) notes, this was to be the week of the second court-martial of Ehren Watada until US District Court Judge Benjamin Settle granted a stay through at least October 26th. Ben Hamamoto (Nichi Bei Times) reports on an October 8th San Francisco press conference held by Pacific Islanders Resist and the Watada Support Committee where Luke Hiken (of the National Lawyers Guild Military Task Force) explained, "Under our constitution, the military is under the judiciary of the United States. In other words, all federal court systems, up to the United States Supreme Court, have authority over the conduct of military personnel when appropriate. Accordingly, federal district courts, all the way up to the courts of appeal and U.S. Supreme Court, intervene when there are violations of U.S. military regulations or laws that contravene the U.S. Constitution. The trial council indicated that there was no jeopardy attached to the case, because the defense had not completed its entire presentation, which is nonsense. In (such a case) jeopardy is attached the second the first witness is called by the prosecution." Hiken is referring to the double-jeopardy issue. In February, Watada was court-martialed. Judge Toilet (John Head) presided. Opening arguments were presented. The prosecution called their witnesses. And their witnesses did a pretty good job of making the defense's case. That was day two. Day three was when Watada was supposed to testify. Instead, Judge Toilet was suddenly shocked by a stipulation he had read, he had agreed to, and he had explained to the jury. Despite his own involvement at all steps of the stipulation, suddenly Judge Toilet wanted to say Watada didn't understand it. This was the excuse Judge Toilet created to call a mistrial. He did so over defense objection. Because the trial had started, double-jeopardy had attached -- as National Lawyers Guild president Marjorie Cohn has pointed out since the start.

Through Thursday, November 1st, we'll be including, in the snapshots, this National Lawyers Guild Military Law Task Force announcement: The Military Law Task Force and the Center on Conscience & War are sponsoring a Continuing Legal Education seminar -- Representing Conscientious Objectors in Habeas Corpus Proceedings -- as part of the National Lawyers Guild
National Convention in Washington, D.C. The half-day seminar will be held on Thursday, November 1st, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the convention site, the Holiday Inn on the Hill in D.C. This is a must-attend seminar, with excelent speakers and a wealth of information. The seminar will be moderated by the Military Law Task Force's co-chair Kathleen Gilberd and scheduled speakers are NYC Bar Association's Committee on Military Affairs and Justice's Deborah Karpatkin, the Center on Conscience & War's J.E. McNeil, the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee's Peter Goldberger, Louis Font who has represented Camilo Mejia, Dr. Mary Hanna and others, and the Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's James Feldman. The fee is $60 for attorneys; $25 for non-profit attorneys, students and legal workers; and you can also enquire about scholarships or reduced fees. The convention itself will run from October 31st through November 4th and it's full circle on the 70th anniversary of NLG since they "began in Washington, D.C." where "the founding convention took place in the District at the height of the New Deal in 1937, Activist, progressive lawyers, tired of butting heads with the reactionary white male lawyers then comprising the American Bar Association, formed the nucleus of the Guild."

Watada is only one Iraq War resister.
Courage to Resist reports on James Circello Jr. who self-checked out in April of 2007 and writes about his experience in the poem "I saw kids turn into animals:"

I saw kids turn into animals.
Members of my own unit, who I will never speak negatively about,
doing things that one day I know
will haunt them.

I saw soldiers mistreating detained Iraqis.
Detained on nothing more than pure suspicion in some cases.
But why not, it was the Old West, anything goes and anything did go.

Questionable shootings.
Questionable decisions by superior commanders.
Nothing ever questioned by your superiors.
You as the Soldier were always in the right.

Courage to Resist also has an interview (transcript and audio) with war resister Mark Wilkerson conducted by The War Comes Home's Aaron Glantz. At one point, Wilkerson explains, "I discussed many of these issues with a lot of other soldiers there [in Iraq]; a lot of them just didn't want to think about it at all. And then when I got back, to see the way the media portrayed the war and the way many people thought the war was going on, and then finally, after a few months, seeing some resisters coming on television -- I remember seeing Camilo Mejia in an interview and thinking, 'Wow, there are people out there like me, who are confused and angry and upset.' This 'conscientious objector' that I applied for, it was a very rough patch for me. It was a period of -- I ended up applying for conscientious objector in June. I took the rules fo conscientious objector home, and in the course of one night, I answered all the questions. I filled out my form. It was mostly seething. I was very angry, so I put all the emotion into what should be a very proper, very well thought-out document and application. I turned it in. I was told that I had a week to fill it out. And then over the next several months, I sometimes got in many arguments and heated debates with my chain of command -- my first sergeant, my platoon sergeant, some military chaplains, military investigators, military psychologists . . ." November 2005, he was denied CO status -- as most who apply are -- and decided to self-check out. He announced he was turning himself in August 2006 at Camp Casey and was eventually sentenced to imprisonment in Fort Still, OK.

in Corvallis, Oregon (a college town not far from Portland) Gerry Condon will speak at the Odd Fellows Hall, 223 S.W. Second St. at 7:00 pm. Gerry Condon is a war resister from the Vietnam era and he's very active in war resistance today. He can speak about war resisters in Canada -- not just Kyle Snyder, but he knows Snyder's case front to back -- and about the legal process in Canada which has thus far refused to grant any war resisters of this era refugee status. Along with a can't-miss-speech, those attending will also be able to see Michelle Mason's Breaking Ranks -- a documentary about war resisters in Canada today. Paul Fattig (Mail Tribune) reports that Condon will also "give a talk about his work at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Medford Congregational United Church of Christ."

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

Earlier this week,
National Lawyers Guild president Marjorie Cohn (at Truthout) addressed the issue of torture noting that the administration continues to deny it tortures when the reality is the White House has okayed torture for some time, "Torture is a war crime. Those who commit or order torture can be convicted under the U.S. War Crimes Statute. Techniques that don't rise to the level of torture but constitute cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment also violate U.S. law. Congress should provide for the appointment of a special independent counsel to fully investigate and prosecute all who are complicit in the torture of prisoners in U.S. custody." AP quoted former president Jimmy Carter declaring this week on CNN, "Our country for the first time in my life time has abandoned the basic principle of human rights. We've said that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to those people in Abu Ghraib prison and Guantanamo, and we've said we can torture prisoners and deprive them of an accusation of a crime." Yesterday the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq released (PDF format warning) "Human Rights Report 1 April -- 30 June 2007" which found many human rights abuses but let's zoom in on the issues having to do with imprisonment. Those being held went from 17,565 in March to 21,112 by the end of June leading to overcrowding in holding facilities across Iraq, prolonged periods of waiting for something resembling justice to arrive, denial of "access to legal counsel and to family visits," and "reports of the widespread and routine torture or ill-treatment of detainees, particularly those being held in pre-trial detention facitilities under Ministry of Interior facilities, including police stations. Several such cases were document during the reporting period, where UNAMI was able to interview and examine victims of physical abuse shortly following their release or following their conviction and transfer to a Ministry of Justice prison." So torture and abuse is alive and well in Iraq. For all the Bully Boy's grand words of creating a torture free Iraq, Abu Ghraib (and other earlier, less well known events) demonstrated that the US will torture so it's no surprise that the Iraqis placed in charge (by the US and its puppets) will as well. Dropping back to the snapshot on September 6th:

Turning to retired generals,
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reported today, "A panel of retired US generals is urging the United States to disband and reorganize the Iraqi police force because of infiltration by sectarian militias. The generals also report Iraq's security forces will be unable to fulfill their essential security responsibilities independently for at least another twelve to 18 months." Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) explains that the national police force as well as the Iraq Interior Ministry are "riddled with sectarianism and corruption" by the Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq headed by James Jones (Marine general) in there 150-plus page report which also finds the Iraqi army at least a year to 18 months away from being able to handle "internal security".

The US is as aware of what's going on as is the United Nations -- in fact the US is aware of their own tactics and, if the United Nations knows about the US tactics, it's doubtful they would report them.
Joshua Partlow and Column Lynch (Washington Post) report today that the UN report was ready months ago (August) "but release of the final version was delayed for more than a month following a request by the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan C. Crocker, according to a confidential account by a senior U.N. official." Of course, the delay was really to make sure nothing flashed a little reality while Crocker and David Petraeus were in the midst of Operation Happy Talk on Congress. But the reality is that, forget what the US itself does, torture being conducted by Iraqis placed in charge -- known torture -- reflects back to the US and turning a blind eye does not make it any less culpable of War Crimes charges for the torture.

Sticking with war crimes, yesterday
Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit against the mercenary company Blackwater USA. More information can be found here at CCR and in Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez' "EXCLUSIVE - Family Members of Slain Iraqis Sue Blackwater USA for Deadly Baghdad Shooting" (Democracy Now!) from yesterday. The lawsuit is over the September 16th Baghdad slaughter where Blackwater employees killed as many as 17 Iraqi civilians. Anne Penketh (Independent of London) quotes Ivana Vuco ("the most senior UN human rights officer in Iraq") declaring, "For us, it's a human rights issue. We will monitor the allegations of killings by security contractors and look into whether or not crimes against humanity and war crimes have been committed" and -- pay attention because this applies to torture as well -- there is a "responbility to investigate, supervise and prosecute those accused of wrongdoing." "I don't recall" and "To the best of my memory" may have allowed the Reagan administration to avoid convictions but possibly Bully Boy should just stick with the classic "I am not a crook"?

Stayin with the UN report and human rights issues, one of the key areas to emerge in the report is Kurdistan which -- despite the p.r. hype -- has never been 'safe.' Human rights organizations have long been documenting the problems in the northern region. The new UN report (
PDF warning) notes the 'peaceful region':The human rights situation in the Kurdistan region remains of concern in a number of areas, including continuing incidents involving violence against women, the abuse of detainees and the prolonged detention without charge or trial of hundreds of detainees held on suspicion of terror-related offences. UNAMI is encouraged, however, by sveral measures adopted by the KRG authorities in recent months in an effort to address some of these concerns, including the review of long-standing detention practices followed by the regional authorities' security forces. UNAMI hopes that such measures, if seriously followed up, would pave the way for greater accountability for government officials suspected or known to have abused their authority.Along with the targeting of journalists (and the Kurdish response that 646 licenses have been given to news outlets -- and how that has nothing to do with the targeting -- arrests and detentions -- of journalists) and the persecution of Assyrians and Turkoman, the region has an 18% increase in violence against women ("15 deaths caused by blunt objects, 87 deaths by burning and 15 deaths by shooting for the first quarter of 2007; for the second quarter, there were 8 deaths caused by blunt objects, 108 deaths by burning and 21 deaths by shooting"), a serious lack of punishments for these deaths (both in arrests and -- when the rare arrest is made -- in sentencing). The situation for women throughout Iraq is awful. Earlier this week, Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reported on Article 41 in the still unfinalized constitution which "women's rights activists and legal scholars" argue "opens the door to rule by draconian interpretations of Islamic law that could sanction the stoning of adulterous women, allow underage girls to be forced into marriage and permit men to abandon their wives by declaring, 'I divorce you,' three times" while Basra is demonstrating "signs of religious extremism being used to rein in women. Police say gangs enforcing their idea of Islamic law have killed 15 women in the last month" -- over "what the women wear or because they are using makeup." It smells like 'freedom' to Bully Boy and Laura Bush. To the rest of the world, it smells like something else.

Turning to some of today's violence . . .


AFP reports, "Iraqi civilians bore the brunt Friday of a bloody start to Eid al-Fitr, as a US air raid killed 15 women and children, and a sinister suicide attack on a playground shocked a northern town." This is the attack noted in yesterday's snapshot. Deborah Haynes (Times of London) notes this is "one of the highest civilian death tolls acknowledged by the military since the March 2003 invasion" and also notes the playground attack which claimed the lives of 2 children with seveteen wounded. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing that claimed 4 lives (Iraqi police officers) and left fifteen more injured and a Salahuddin bombing ("inside a bag of flour on a handcart") in which "[a] woman was killed and 16 people most of them children".


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a police officer shot dead in an attack in Qadisiyah. Reuters notes a police officer shot dead and his wife injured in a home invasion in Kut.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes a corpse was discovered in Mahaweel.

Torture, bombings, lack of potable water, cholera, what else?
Reuters reports the latest issue, "The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Friday it had asked Iraqi authorities to probe media reports of several cases of Rift Valley Fever in animals. The viral disease primarily affects animals but can infect humans through handling of blood or ogans of infected animals, leading to high rates of disease and death, according to the United Nations health agency."

Turning to US politics. As
Cedric and Wally noted yesterday US Senator Barack Obama who would like to be the 2008 Democratic nominee for president has a new "trust me" campaign. Having repeatedly run on the fact that he was against the illegal war in 2002 but unable to vote because he wasn't in the Congress, he's now taking Senator Hillary Clinton -- who would also like to be the 2008 Democratic presidential nominee -- to task for voting for what some see as an authorization for war on Iraqn. Obama is highly offended by Clinton's recent vote in the Senate. So offended that some might wonder how he voted? Answer: He didn't vote. He's taking her to task for what is a bad vote but he didn't care enough about the issue to be present to vote. That's leadership?

Leadership? Let's turn to other non-leaders. US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. On Wednesday,
David Swanson (AfterDowningSt) noted Pelosi's latest bits of insanity including her despair that people would protest outside her mansion ("If they were poor and they were sleeping on my sidewalk, they would be arrested for loitering!" hissed our modern day Marie) and how people like her weren't "advocates. We are leaders." Rebecca noted in her post to Pelosi, "poor nancy. oh the horror! in her botox mansion with americans outside! she might have been so troubled by the sight that her frozen face almost registered emotion. the horror! 'they are advocates,' sputters the cowardly trash, 'we are leaders!' well where the hell are you leading the country, princess crap?" Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan notes (at CounterPunch) that Pelosi's attitude "is truly the problem with what was once a Representative Republic and now is a country run by 'elected' officials who believe that they, indvidually and collectively, are above any accountability and are not answerable to their constituents. Our public servants erroneously believe that they are leaders! . . . No, Ms. Pelosi, you are not a leader. You have proven time and again in what you laughably believe is a 'mistake' free run as Speaker of a Democratic House that you will do anything to protect an Imperial Presidency to the detriment of this Nation and the world, particularly the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. This Democratic Congress supported BushCo's disastrous and deadly surge; handed him over billions of their constituent's tax dollars to wage this murder; have by their silence and votes countenanced an invasion of another country; approved more restrictions on the rights of the citizenry to be protected against unreasonable search and seizure; Ms. Pelosi does not even know if 'torture' (which violates international law and the 8th Amendment in our Bill of Rights) is an impeachable offense; and worst of all the impeachment clauses were taken 'off the table' in an ongoing partnership with BushCo to make the office of the presidency a Congressionally protected crime conglomerate that is rapidly sending this Nation down a crap-hold of fascism."

Meanwhile the Dems in leadership are crying.
David M. Herszenhorn (New York Times) notes that there is "tension between Democratic lawmakers and their base" and provides the opportunity for Dems to once again blame the voters as opposed to taking a look at their own actions. The Republican base gets frustrated with their leadership all the time. And Republicans generally respond to that. They don't blame the base, they don't whine about the base, they don't publicly insult the base. But, taking the lead from Pelosi, Democrats in Congress have no problem hectoring and trashing the voters who put them in power. When you have to make non-stop excuses for your actions, then the problem is probably you and not the base. When you're so ineffectual that you continue to cite the minimum wage nonsense as your point of pride (blood money because Dems snuck it into an Iraq bill), you've got nothing to be proud of. Instead of whining at and blaming the base, Democrats in Congress need to grow up real damn quick and grasp that the 2008 elections that they feel are the end-all-be-all are not going to benefit from the repeated trashing of Democratic voters. Leadership needs to take some accountability and Pelosi especially needs to stop trashing Democratic voters publicly.

And for those who don't get how weak Congressional Dems have been, note
this from Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez' interview with the Boston Globe's Charlie Savage (Democracy Now!):

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about wiretapping, the controversy now, the frustration that people have with the Democrats, supposedly the opposition party, going along with the Republicans.

CHARLIE SAVAGE: Well, the background is that after 9/11, as we all know now, Bush gave the military the authority to wiretap phone calls without warrants, in defiance of a 1978 law that required warrants for that situation. And he used a very aggressive legal theory about the President's powers as commander-in-chief to bypass laws at his own discretion. Because that program was only legal if that theory were true, that meant that the fact that they did this set a precedent that says that theory is true, and future presidents will be able to cite that precedent when they want to evade any other law that restricts their own authority.
So now, going forward, one of the ways this agenda has been able to be so successfully implemented was that there was no resistance from Congress. At the very moment there was this stronger push coming out of the Vice President's office to expand the presidential power as an end to itself in any way possible, because of one-party rule for six years and because of the atmosphere of crisis after 9/11, there was no push back. And that's how the ball was moved so far down the field.
And one of the things that's been very interesting about the last year is now we have split control of government again, and so the question was, how is that going to change things? And what we've seen from the Protect America Act in August and the dynamic going forward is that even with split control of government, the dynamic is still there. Congress is just as it was for the first twenty or thirty years of the Cold War, when the original imperial presidency was growing under presidents of both parties, by the way. Congress is again unwilling to push back against the White House's assertion that it needs ever more authority, and checks and balances will result in bloodshed. And so, I think, going forward, that you can see that this dynamic is going to be with us. And, of course, two years from now, we may have one-party control of government again, the other party, but that will just sort of hurl us further down this path, I think.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And this issue of the President seeking to protect those in the corporate world who go along with his policies -- well, first of all, obviously, there was the retroactive immunity to the airline companies after 9/11 for their failure to act to provide a kind of security on their planes, giving them immunity from any possible lawsuits, and now this effort by the administration to try to provide retroactive immunity to the telecom companies that went along with his surveillance program.

CHARLIE SAVAGE: Well, and what this is, is because Congress has demonstrated that it's really not going to do anything about the basic fact that the President asserted he could bypass a law and then he acted on that assertion, and, you know, that established he can do that, or whoever else is president at any given moment from now on can do that, that the one sort of last place where critics of this sort of extraordinary development could still have some traction was the lawsuit against the companies, which had also evidently broken privacy laws by going along with this. So, by seeking retroactive immunity, it's sort of the last place closing off the possibility of accountability.

Meanwhile the
Illinois Green Party holds a fall membership meeting Crystal Lake, IL October 13th and 14th at the McHenry County College.

Candidates in attendance will hold a press conference Saturday from 1 to 2 pm at McHenry County College and they include:Kent Mesplay (Presidential)Jerome Pohlen (U.S. Congress, 3rd District)Moe Shanfield (U.S. Congress, 9th District)Dave Kalbfleisch (U.S. Congress, 10th District)Rodger Jennings ( U.S. Congress, 12th District)Steve Alesch (U.S. Congress, 13th District)Tony Cox (State Representative, 9th District)Kevin O'Connor (State Representative, 41st District)Sandy Lezon (State Representative, 50th District) Charlie Howe (State Representative, 115th District) James Geocaris (McHenry County Board, 3rd District)

On PBS this weekend, Friday October 12th in most markets,
NOW with David Brancaccio will air a one hour program, "Child Brides: Stolen Lives" documenting "the heartbreaking global phenomenon of forced child marriage, and the hope behind breaking the cycle of poverty and despair it causes." They've created an e-Card you can send to friends and family or to yourself to provide a heads up to the broadcast (and there is no cost to send the e-Card). Maria Hinojosa will report from Niger, Guatemala, India, etc.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Center for Constitutional Rights, Marjorie Cohn

So it's Thursday. One more day to the weekend and a lot's going on. I'm at Elaine's office while she's doing group. She's coming back with me and taking off Friday because we want to speak with the gang. Kat, Ava and C.I. are on the road again. :D Rebecca's going to speak tomorrow to and so is Ruth.

Last week was so cool. We were at all the college campuses, in several states, speaking with people who care about ending the illegal war. I'm doing that on spring break but I want to grab a week or so again before then. Whenever they hit Florida, Wally joins them. He'll drop classes and sports and anything else to be there. And he's also able to swing a week or a partial week during a semester pretty easy.

But it's real easy to think, "Well that's just how I feel." Or, if you're in college like I am, "That's just how it is on my campus." Because the media really doesn't cover it and you can really get this idea that the whole country is suddenly on board with the illegal war. That's not true but by the media coverage, that's what you'd think. So when you get to hear people talking about the illegal war and talking about the need to end it and what they're doing to try to end it, it really gives you a perspective that you are not getting from the media.

I do worry about portions of the peace movement because they really aren't tapping into what's out there. I think some are trying to. But I think a lot just don't get it or don't get that college students are real tired of not being in positions of leadership where they can make decisions. That's not a minor thing. There are a lot of student organizations doing great work. But at this point, the fact that we still don't see any of us reflected in leadership roles of other organizations is a BIG problem with students. This isn't sour grapes. This is noting that if you want students at your demonstrations, you better have students up on stage.

I used to get really frustated with C.I. for not being a 'leader.' C.I. would say (and this is up in roundtables and stuff so I'm not saying anything that's a secret) something like, "I'm old. This is their world. It's not my job." And I'd hear that (I worded it badly) and not really get it. I mean, obviously C.I.'s not using that as an out to do nothing. But the whole point in these almost 5 years of repeatedly visiting campuses was about getting students to talk and discover their own power. Now that I've been able to do that for some time now (two years) and witness it, I see the point. And I agree with it. That's why it's a conversation and not a speech. It's not about students being passive and listening. Or listening for about an hour and then getting to ask questions real quick. (C.I. says that after the illegal war started -- from March to April of 2003, it was speeches because students were really depressed and disappointed after they'd been told "do this big rally and the war won't start!") So people talk about what they're doing and about questions and issues they have. And it's really a lot of fun. But I'm not on the road all the time like Ava and C.I. are. (Ava's putting everything else on hold to work on the issues of the war and immigration.) Kat's on the road as much as possible but will have to take some time off pretty soon because she's got some photo shoots lined up. But if you're doing it like they are it probably does get old even though it's fun. I know Ava and C.I. can't wait for Thanksgiving. Ava's spending it at C.I.'s and her family in California will be over. But she's not going to New York. They both can't wait to sleep in their own beds. As it is now, they get back on Friday night if they're lucky and most of the time it's Saturday afternoon or so when they get back. Then it's the all night session at Third. Then it's one night of sleep (Sunday) and back on the road by Monday. C.I.'s 'big plans' for Thanksgiving (other than having a lot of guests) is cleaning the closet (thinning the wardrobe). I'm not joking. Everything's on hold these days.

So I do understand why C.I. needed an end date and why C.I.'s planning to stop in November 2008. That will be five years and how many months? And it's a lot of work to do the speaking and the website. So if the website does stop in November of 2008, I will understand. I don't know what I'm doing. I'll be in grad school then and maybe I'll keep posting. (C.I. might as well. Don't all start e-mailing C.I. saying, "Don't stop!") But The Common Ills started because people were telling C.I. to start a blog (it's not a blog today) and that's really the only thing C.I. could think of that hadn't been tried. Since then, it's been post after post. Every day. No week off, no day off. Even on the holidays, C.I.'s got something up. And like Jim always points out, Ava and C.I. are the drawing card at Third. Their TV commentaries are the biggest draw. And they've not missed a week (one week they dealt with a movie). So it's just pressure, pressure, pressure. Ava told me today that they still don't know what they're writing about Sunday and she's about to panic. She said she deals with it by not thinking about it. But they've got a lot of pressure on them to match their body of work and they've been doing the commentaries every week since January 2005 and it's been just them doing the commentaries since February 2005. It's coming up on three years and Ava said tonight, "I don't know how anyone does this for life." :D Add in that Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I. have all been doing research this week for a feature at Third Sunday. And the research has also included contacting over a thousand bloggers for this feature (about 200 have replied so far). They've also done some interviews. So that will be something to look for Sunday (as well as the TV commentary).

Some people are coming out. Thursday nights are Elaine's vet group. So she's probably going to be done in about ten minutes. I need to hurry now! :D

This is the Center for Constitutional Rights' "Blackwater USA Sued for Firing on Iraqi Civilians, According to Legal Team for Injured Survivor and Families of Three Killed:"

Washington, D.C., Oct. 11 -- Blackwater USA, the private military contractor whose heavily armed personnel allegedly opened fire on innocent Iraqi civilians in Nisoor Square in Baghdad on Sept. 16, was sued today by an injured survivor and three families of men killed in the incident, according to the legal team representing the civilians. The case was brought be the Center for Constitutional Rights and the firms of Burke O’Neil LLC and Akeel & Valentine, P.C.
Filed in Washington, D.C. federal court by Talib Mutlaq Deewan and the estates of the deceased men -- Himoud Saed Atban, Usama Fadhil Abbass, and Oday Ismail Ibraheem -- the lawsuit claims that Blackwater and its affiliated companies violated U.S. law and “created and fostered a culture of lawlessness amongst its employees, encouraging them to act in the company’s financial interests at the expense of innocent human life."
The complaint alleges that Blackwater violated the federal Alien Tort Statute in committing extrajudicial killing and war crimes, and that Blackwater should be liable for claims of assault and battery, wrongful death, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, and negligent hiring, training and supervision.
Susan L. Burke, of Burke O'Neil LLC, stated, "This senseless slaughter was only the latest incident in a lengthy pattern of egregious misconduct by Blackwater in Iraq. At the moment of this incident, the Blackwater personnel responsible for the shooting were not protecting State Department officials. We allege that Blackwater personnel were not provoked, and that they had no legitimate reason to fire on civilians. We look forward to forcing Blackwater and Mr. Prince to tell the world under oath why this attack happened, particularly since a Blackwater guard tried to stop his colleagues from indiscriminately firing."
Michael Ratner, of the Center for Constitutional Rights, stated, "Blackwater's repeated and consistent failure to act in accord with the law of war, U.S. law, and international law harms our nation and it harms Iraq. For the good of both nations, as well as for countless innocent civilians, the company cannot be allowed to continue operating extra-legally, providing mercenaries who flout all kinds of law. This lawsuit, like the ongoing U.S. and Iraqi government investigations, cannot bring back those killed at Nisoor Square but it can make Blackwater accountable for its actions."
Shereef Hadi Akeel, of Akeel & Valentine, P.C., stated, "Mr. Deewan and the families of the men killed deserve to know the truth about what happened at Nisoor Square, and they deserve justice. Incidents like this one and the many others that have made their way into government reports and news accounts must end. To let the extreme and outrageous conduct alleged in this lawsuit continue only diminishes the work of the Iraqi people and the many honorable men and women in uniform who have paid such a high price in their efforts to stabilize Iraq."
The lawsuit seeks compensatory damages for death, physical, mental, and economic injuries, and punitive damages.
The defendants include Blackwater USA, Blackwater Security Consulting LLC, The Prince Group LLC, a holding company, and Blackwater founder Erik Prince.
Mr. Deewan and the estates of the dead men are represented by Susan L. Burke, William T. O’Neil, Elizabeth M. Burke, and Katherine R. Hawkins of Burke O’Neil LLC, of Philadelphia; Michael A. Ratner and Vincent Warren, of the Center for Constitutional Rights, of New York; and Shereef Hadi Akeel, of Akeel & Valentine, P.C., of Birmingham, Mich.
The case is Estate of Himoud Saed Atban, et al. v. Blackwater USA, et al. in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

About CCR
The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) is a non-profit legal and educational organization dedicated to protecting and advancing the rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights demonstrators in the South, CCR is committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change."

They didn't just cry, they got active! (I think that's what the ad said.) It's all lawyers tonight. :D This is from National Lawyers Guild president Marjorie Cohn's
"Torture Endorsed, Torture Denied:"

The April 2004 publication of grotesque photographs of naked Iraqis piled on top of each other, forced to masturbate, and led around on leashes like dogs, sent shock waves around the world. George W. Bush declared, "I shared a deep disgust that those prisoners were treated the way they were treated." Yet less than a year later, his Justice Department issued a secret opinion endorsing the harshest techniques the CIA has ever used, according to a report in the New York Times. These include head slapping, frigid temperatures, and water boarding, in which the subject is made to feel he is drowning. Water boarding is widely considered a torture technique. Once again, Bush is compelled to issue a denial. "This government does not torture people," he insisted.
This was not the first time the Bush administration had officially endorsed torture, however. John Yoo, writing for the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, penned an August 2002 memorandum that rewrote the legal definition of torture to require the equivalent of organ failure. This memo violated the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, a treaty the United States ratified, and therefore part of U.S. law under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution.
In December 2002, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld approved interrogation methods that included the use of dogs, hooding, stress positions, isolation for up to 30 days, 20-hour interrogations, deprivation of light and sound, and water boarding. U.S. Navy General Counsel Alberto Mora told William Haynes, the Pentagon's general counsel, that Rumsfeld's "authorized interrogation techniques could rise to the level of torture." As a result, Rumsfeld rescinded some methods but reserved the right to approve others, including water boarding, on a case-by-case basis.
When Bush maintained last week that his government doesn't torture prisoners, he stressed the necessity of interrogation to "protect the American people." Notwithstanding the myth perpetuated by shows like "24," however, torture doesn't work. Experts agree that people who are tortured will say anything to make the torture stop.

Thanks to Rebecca because I saw that after I posted last night and was like, "Damn! I should have included it." I called Rebecca and she said she'd include it in her post. And she mentioned it to C.I. and it was in an entry this morning at The Common Ills. So hopefully you've already read it. If you haven't, you should.

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

Thursday, October 11, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, Big Monty plays with her own feces on NPR, pretend not to notice the lowering standards for US enlistment, the US military announces another death, the Center for Constitutional Rights files a law suit against Blackwater USA, and more.

Starting with war resistance. Sunday
in Corvallis, Oregon (a college town not far from Portland) Gerry Condon will speak at the Odd Fellows Hall, 223 S.W. Second St. at 7:00 pm. Gerry Condon is a war resister from the Vietnam era and he's very active in war resistance today. He can speak about war resisters in Canada -- not just Kyle Snyder, but he knows Snyder's case front to back -- and about the legal process in Canada which has thus far refused to grant any war resisters of this era refugee status. Along with a can't-miss-speech, those attending will also be able to see Michelle Mason's Breaking Ranks -- a documentary about war resisters in Canada today.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) broke the news that the Center for Constitutional Rights was filing a lawsuit against the mercenary company Blackwater USA. CCR's Susan Burke explained that, "We were approached by the families of three gentlemen who were shot and killed, as well as a gentleman who was very seriously injured. They came to us because they know of our work representing the torture victims at Abu Ghraib, and they asked us whether it would be possible to try to get some form of justice, some form of accountability, against this rogue corporation. So we put together a lawsuit that is being filed this morning in federal court in the District of Columbia on behalf of the families of three gentlemen who were killed: Mr. Atban, Mr. Abbass and Mr. Ibraheem The three gentlemen, amongst them, had fourteen children, including one, Mr. Atban, had a newborn baby daughter. So, needless to say, we are very interested in holding this company accountable and in pursuing the lawsuit vigorously." This is relation to the September 16th incident where the mercenaries slaughter at least 17 people in Baghdad. CCR explains that they filed the case and joining them in the filing were the firms of Burke O'Neill LLC and Akeel & Valentine, P.C.: "Filed in Washington, D.C. federal court by Talib Mutlaq Deewan and the estates of the deceased men Himoud Saed Atban, Usama Fadhil Abbass, and Oday Ismail Ibraheem the lawsuit claims that Blackwater and its affiliated companies violated U.S. law and created and fostered a culture of lawlessness amongst its employees, encouraging them to act in the company's financial interests at the expense of innocent human life. The complaint alleges that Blackwater violated the federal Alien Tort Statute in committing extrajudicial killing and war crimes, and that Blackwater should be liable for claims of assault and battery, wrongful death, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, and negligent hiring, training and supervision." Among Paul Bremer's orders was CPA Order 17 and the latest report from the United Nations (more on that later in the snapshot) notes, "While CPA Order 17 also enables the US Government to waive a contractor's immunity, to UNAMI's knowledge it has not done so to date." Susan Burke explained on Democracy Now! that "one of the interesting things to point out is that the Bremer order, which is widely viewed as immunizing these contractors, actually just says that the Iraqi courts will not have jurisdiction over them. So I think as a practical matter that the general choice of law principles still apply that Iraqi law would apply. But in addition, the conduct that we're talking about offends and violates the law of every nation. So when we bring the lawsuit here, whether you apply, you know, the law of the District of Columbia or the law of Iraq, you come to the same conclusion: you're not allowed to gun down innocents." CCR's president Michael Ratner declares, "Blackwater's repeated and consistent failure to act in accord with the law of war, U.S. law, and international law harms our nation and it harms Iraq. For the good of both nations, as well as for countless innocent civilians, the company cannot be allowed to continue operating extra-legally, providing mercenaires who flout all kinds of law. This lawsuit, like the ongoing U.S. and Iraqi government investigations, cannot bring back those killed at Nissor Square but it can make Blackwater accountable for its actions." (Ratner is also a co-host -- along with Heidi Boghosian, Dalia Hashad and Michael Smith -- of WBAI's Law and Disorder -- which also airs online and on other radio stations across the US.) Meanwhile the Blackwater 'investigations' become more of joke. Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Michael Gordon (New York Times) report Iraqi investigators and the US military are both complaining about the US State Dept which is not sharing information from their own alleged investigations and Iraqi investigators see the same stalling from the FBI. And in other non-communicating, non-sharing news, Farah Stockman (Boston Globe) reports that,"US military officials say they have launched a successful effort to reduce the number of such shootings by training soldiers to give more visible warnings, but the Pentagon so far has declined to release data to back up the assertion. That refusal has sparked a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union seeking copies of military reports on such escalation-of-force shootings. Key members of Congress have also called for the release of the documents."

On Tuesday, Geneva Jalal Antranik and Marani Awanis Manouik were killed for the 'crime' of driving with approximately 30 bullets fired into their vehicle. As
Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) noted today, "Meanwhile in Iraq, mourners buried two Iraqi women killed Tuesday by guards with another private military firm. The victims were driving home from work when their vehicle came under fire by guards with the Australia-based Unity Resources Group." Andrew E. Kramer (New York Times) reports, "Mournful members of Iraq's Armenian Christian population bowed their heads and recited the Lord's Prayer over an altar of burning incense at a funeral here on Wednesday for two Armenian women killed by private security contractors, the second such fatal shooting in less than a month. Relatives also called for justice on Wednesday, though security contractors are immune from prosecution under Iraqi law." Scott Horton explains to Alissa J. Rubin and Paul von Zielbaer (New York Times) that
despite all the violence contractors have inflicted on Iraqis, "there has yet to be a prosecution for a single incident of violence." Kramer reports that Marany Awanees was a cab driver and "the youngest of nine children in the Momook family, including three brotehrs who are part of the Armenian diaspora in Europe and the United States" and quotes Paul Mammok stating, "She was a lovely sister, my younger sister, a lovely, lovely sister."
Democracy Now! quotes an unidentified relative (presumably of Geneva Jalal Antranik) declaring, "They called me to Basra and told me that the security firms have shot them dead. She is a housewife." As Jeremy Scahill noted (on Democracy Now!) today re: Blackwater USA's September 16th slaughter, "We have to remember that upwards of a million Iraqis have died since the beginning of the US invasion and the names of the victims of both the US military and these private military companies are almost never reported." [Jeremy Scahill is the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army.] Christian Berthelsen and Said Rifai (Los Angeles Times) report that Marani Oranis had been a scientist with the country's Agriculture Ministry until she and her husband Azad decided to start a family (Nora, Karon and Alice are the three daughters) but in 2005 her husband died and she began using her 1990 Oldsmobile as a cab to support herself and her three daughters and Marani's niece tells the Times, "She was forced to traverse the roads of Baghdad on a daily basis in order to provide for her daughters. This turn of fate is something that every single one of us Iraqis expects on a daily basis. We are all targets for elimination, leaving for work and school in the mornings and not knowing whether we will make it back home safely."

Today the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq released a (
PDF format warning) report "documenting widespread human rights abuses and recommending specific measures in response, including due process for detainees, punishment for perpetrators of 'honor killings,' and investigations into deaths caused by private military firms operating in the country." The UN report ("Human Rights Report 1 April -- 30 June 2007") finds, "Daily life for the average Iraqi civilian remains extremely precarious. The violence remains in large part indiscriminate, targeting public places where large numbers of people gather to inflict maximum casualties and foment fears of further descent into chaos and loss of any semblance of state control. The violence has affected all of Iraq's ethnic groups and communities, including minority groups. Targeted assassinations, abductions for ransom or other motives, and extrajudicial executions, continued to be reported on a regular basis. As in the past, professional groups remained a prime target of such attacks, among them media professionals and members of the leagl profession, as highlighted in this report." During the period of the report, UNAMI found that "88 civilians were reportedly killed during air strikes conducted by MNF forces. They included the following: nine civilians killed in five villages in the al-Anbakiya area near Ba'quba on 11 March; two civilians killed in Dulu'iya in Salahuddin Governorate on 15 March; 16 civilians killed in Sadr City in Baghdad on 30 March; 27 civilians killed in Khaldiya, Ramadi, on 3 April; four civilians killed in Sadr City and four others west of Taji on 26 April; three civilians killed in Basra on 30 April; seven civilians killed east of Baghdad on 5 May; one civilian killed in Sadr City on 6 May; and eight civilians killed in Basra on 26 May. On 8 May, seven children were reportedly killed when helicopters attacked an elementary school in a village in Diyala Governorate near the Iranian border. Following this incident, a spokesperson for US forces in Iraq, Lieutenant-Colonel Christoper Garver, announced that the MNF authorities were conducting an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of the children. However, the findings of such investigations are not systematically publicized. On 28 June, UNAMI wrote to the MNF Chief of Staff, seeking further information on all these recorded incidents in which civilians were said to have been killed during air strikes." BBC reports today that the US military is admitting that even if they killed 19 'insurgents' in Lake Tharthar, they also killed "15 civilians, including nine children" in an air strike (that happened when? -- no date given).

In other violence reported today . . .


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports three Baghdad roadside bombings resulted in nine people being injured (two were police officers), while a Baghad car bombing claimed 8 lives with twenty-five more left wounded, a Mosul truck bombing targeting the PUK party headquarters left eight wounded and a Kirkuk car bombing aimed at Col Salar Ahmed ("head of Kirkuk traffic police") claimed 7 lives ("two of his guards and five civilians") and left thirty-five people wounded. Reuters notes 8 dead and twenty-five wounded from a car bombing targeting a Baghdad internet cafe. And Reuters reports: "Wednesday night's rocket or mortar attack on Camp Victory, the sprawling U.S. base near Baghdad airport that houses the U.S. military headquarters, killed two coalition soldiers and wounded 38 others, the U.S. military said. Two foreign civilian contractors were also wounded." To which the Los Angeles Times adds: "The victims' nationality was not specified. The military also said two 'third-country nationals' were injured in the "indirect fire" attack at Camp Victory, near the Baghdad airport." With CBS and AP adding it's still not known whether it was a rocket or mortar attack and "No further details on the attack were immediately released."


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Kirkuk police shot dead 3 suspects. Reuters notes "the son of an Islamic Party official" was shot dead in Mosul and an attack on a police station outside of Tuz Khurmato that left 1 police officer dead.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 5 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes that the corpse of Haythem Nadeem ("former Iraqi athlete") was discovered in Mosul "five days after he was kidnapped' and two corpses were discovered in Latifiya. Jenny Booth (Times of London) notes that the last attack on Camp Victory to have resulted in a death was on a rocket attack. And the US military announced today: "One MNC-I Soldier died of wounds suffered during combat operations in eastern Baghdad Oct. 10."

Staying on the topic of the US military. Having already lowered standards and reduced target goals, the US military managed to squeak back with a little good news this year though there are already concerns about recruitment in 2008. Which may explain some new 'efforts.'
Aamer Madhani (Chicago Tribune) reports that they have "enlisted thousands of new soldiers with criminal records and fewer who have earned high school diplomas" via what's known as a "character waiver" (FYI, that's how Steven D. Green -- accused of being the mastermind behind the gang-rape and murder of 14-year-old Abeer and the murder of her parents and her five-year-old sister -- got it into the military) with "[m]ore than 11 percent of the Army recruits . . . [needing] waivers for problems with the law -- up from 7.9 percent the previous year and more than double the percentage in 2003, the year the U.S. invaded Iraq." So if everyone's comfortable with the US military is allowed to sign up felons (1,620 for the Army alone in 2007), they can meet the reduced target goals. But can they keep them (provided they aren't court-martialed for war crimes)? Richard Lardner (AP) reports one plan for keeping members of the Green Berets and Navy Seals -- give 'em big bucks "more than $100 million in bonsuses" and the Pentagon expects "to spend another $43.5 million on commando bonuses in fiscal year 2008, which began Oct. 1". This as the commander of the US marines, Gen James Conway, is calling for marines stationed in Iraq to be sent to Iraq and leave Iraq in the (foreign) hands of the US army, CNN reports. Of course, also the US air force but that must have slipped Conway's mind. Fortunately, AFP remembers what the brass forgot and reports that "the shift would mean changes as well for the air force. The army relies on the air force in both countries for combat air support, while the marines have their own air operations." On recruitment, AP reports that 6 "main Iraqi insurgent groups" are forming a "political council" with a "political program to liberate Iraq" and the spokesperson (unidentified) explains, "First, the occupation is an oppression and aggression, rejected by Islamic Sharia law and tradition. Resistance of occupation is a right guaranteed by all religions and laws. Second, the armed resistance . . . is the legitimate representative of Iraq. it is the one that bears responsibility for the leadership of the people to achieve its legitimate hope." The six groups are the Islamic Army of Iraq, the Mujahideen Army, Ansar al-Sunna, the Islamic Front for the Iraqi Resistance, the Islamic Movement of Hamas-Iraq and Ansar al-Sunna.

Meanwhile, the violation of anthropology continues. Yesterday on
The Diane Rehm Show, chubby little Montgomery McFate -- still a fat child on the inside but "senior advisor to the US Army" is how Susan Page billed her -- worked out her grudge against her parents yet again. (Page was filling in for Diane Rehm.) McFate had one laughable claim after another -- but didn't she reach the height of lying when she claimed her 'schoolmate' was someone five years younger than her?. So poster child for Lifestyles of the Plain & Stupid finally got the spotlight she's so long craved and isn't that really what it's all about? That and landing a blow against the sixties and her parents? How did she word it to War Hark George Packer? " I'm engaged in a massive act of rebellion against my hippie parents." How transparent do your motives have to be before the mainstream press says, "Hey, this nut doesn't belong on the air?" Petty, 'creative' Monty made it onto radio. And insisted to anthropologist David Price (St. Martin's University) that the reason he doesn't know more about the program is because it has "been in existence less than a year." The program -- even just the aspect she was discussing yesterday -- has been going on for more than a year and Monty knows that.

Even with the program stacked in her favor, Monty yet again found herself with feces in her hands. During the first section of the show, listeners heard no dissenting viewpoint as the US military presented their version via Monty Col John Agoglia and Lt Col Edward Villacres. At fourteen minutes and seventeen seconds, David Price was allowed to present some of the serious issues such as the need for "meaningful, voluntary, informed consent. This is a fundamental Principal of all human research in the social sciences. And if populations are being studied in theater there are big questions about how you get voluntary informed consent for research. Now the military doesn't really have to worry about these sorts of things but social sciences do."

Monty spun, "they are not conducting covert or clandestine activities. They identify themselves by name and the unit that they're with to anyone they talk to so it's not a secret program by any means." She then declared that "no one is forced" to talk to the anthropologists and everyone who does is making a choice which completely ignores the issue Price was raising (maybe not intentionally -- Monty's never been all that bright) which is how do you get consent in a war zone? How does someone tell you "no" when you roll up to their home with the US military? Monty says that people can tell the difference between "a lethal unit of the US military and a non-lethal unit of the US military" and that's HIGHLY DEBATABLE but more to the point, do countries that are occupied by a military contain an occupied people and it is the height of stupidity for anyone to claim that an occupied people can refuse to be test subjects without fearing that doing so will result in retribution towards them from the occupiers.

On the issue of anthropologists identifying themselves, Price pointed to David Rohde's "
Army Enlists Anthropology in War Zones" (New York Times) and declared it "talks about an anthropologist I think named Tracy and that's the only name that's given. So anthropologists need to be transparent about who they are and who they're working for. . . . But I worry how transparent the program is if the people who are doing it aren't being self-identified? Now the story says it's being done for security reasons and so on. But if you go to the New York Times story and look at the nifty, little video they have -- you know backing the story, it's very strange because they don't show the anthropologist -- they intentionally withhold the person's identity. Yet they show all these people who are talking to the anthropologist which of course they're doing so at some personal risk, one would assume, in Afghanistan. And I worry about any sort of program where there's a one-way mirror that's going on."

Susan Page: . . . there was a New York Times article last week which actually prompted us to do this show today. And it did talk about this anthropologist named Tracy, but it wasn't clear to me, Montgomery McFate maybe you know, whether her [full] name was just not disclosed to the New York Times article, or if her full name is not being disclosed to the people she's interatcing with in Afghanistan. Do you know -- do you know the answer to that.

Monty [quick intake and slow first word -- always a clue Monty's inventing -- seriously, that was evident when she was a child]: Her name was held from the New York Times story and in other media that's come out of Afghanistan at her own request.

Susan Page: But does she give her [full] name to the Afghanis that she's talking with.

Monty: Yes, she does.

Remember that. Monty is wrong as usual. David Rohde joins the panel late, after the above exchange took place, and it turns out Monty's inventing again.

About Tracy in the Times' story, Susan Price asked, "But the Afghans -- the Afghanis that she's dealing with, do they know her name, her full name, does it seem transparent for them or does she also go just by her first name?

David Rohde: Um, she was transparent with them. I don't think she gave her full name, I think she does identify herself as an anthropologist. I saw her briefly, but I don't know what she does at all times. She personally, um, actually chose to carry a weapon for security that's not a requirement for members of the team, I've been told. And she wore a military uniform which would make her appear to be a soldier, um, to Afghans that she wasn't actually speaking with.

Susan Price: And so you think Aghans knew that she wasn't a soldier even though she was wearing a military uniform and carrying a weapon? Or do you think that they just assumed that she probably was?

David Rohde: I would think that they assumed that she was.

Earlier, Monty declared that an anthropologist (cited in an article by the New York Times) in Afghanistan was 'transparent' and gave her full name. Turns out, Monty was wrong. Gives her first name, wears a military uniform and carries a weapon. And yet wants to pretend she's a social scientist and Monty wants to pretend that people who encounter these 'weaponized' anthros feel they can reasonably refuse to participate in a scientific study. There's also the issue (and Packer had the same problem) that the majority involved in this don't want to be identified. Why? Because they fear the backlash from their own peers. And that backlash started long before it was known that antro "Tracy" is suiting up in military drag and carrying a weapon. That's not science. That's not 'embedded.' A reporter who put on a uniform would not be considered an 'embed.'

Rohde would also explain "From the reaction of American military officers, they seem very interested in a new approach. One UN official said basically that the [US] military's realized that they can't end these insurgencies by military means and they're desperate for finding other ways to counter the insurgency." Monty loves her 'influence' and being 'an angel' but she should worry about her responsibilities in terms of War Crimes.

Price and Roberto J. Gonzalez (at CounterPunch) tackled this issue last month, "The Department of Defense, intelligence agencies, and military contractors are aggressively recruiting anthropologists for work related to counter-insurgency operations. These institutions seek to incorporate cultural knowledge and ethnographic intelligence in direct support of US-led interventions in the Middle East and Central Asia. The Pentagon is increasingly relying on the deployment of 'Human Terrain System' (HTS) teams in Afghanistan and Iraq to gather and disseminate information on cultures living in the theatre of war. Some of these teams are assigned to US brigade or regimental combat units, which include 'cultural analysts' and 'regional studies analysts'." Concerned Anthropologists is attempting to raise awareness on this issue and to insist upon ethical anthropology.

andrew e. kramer

david h. price