Friday, March 09, 2007

Anthony Arnove at Cooper Union Saturday & Sunday

Two great events coming up in NYC. Please announce and forward widely!

Readings from Voices of a People's History of the United States

With performances by Staceyann Chin, Deepa Fernandes, Brian Jones,
Erin Cherry, Najla Said, Mario. A Murillo, Deepa Fernandes, and other
special guests

Narration and introduction by Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now! and
Anthony Arnove

Saturday, March 10
8 pm
The Great Hall, Cooper Union

as part of Left Forum 2007 (, March 9-11 at
Cooper Union

Free for conference participants and the general public.

(Anthony Arnove also will be on the panel "Iraq: What's at Stake?"
Sunday, March 11, 10 am, at Left Forum, with Gilbert Achcar,
Christian Parenti, Nir Rosen, and AK Gupta. Info at: )


An Independent Journalist's Story of Being Abducted in Iraq, Rescued,
and Shot by U.S. Forces

Wednesday, March 14
7 pm
Judson Church
55 Washington Square South
New York, NY

with Giuliana Sgrena, journalist, Il Manifesto, and author, Friendly
Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now! (
Vince Warren, executive director, Center for Constitutional Rights

sponsored by the Center for Constitutional Rights and Haymarket Books

About the book:

While reporting the effects on civilians of the U.S. bombing campaign
in Falluja, Giuliana Sgrena was taken hostage in Iraq on February 4,
2005, and held for one month. On the day of her release, as she was
being escorted to Baghdad Airport by Italian security, U.S. forces
fired on her vehicle, killing Major General Nicola Calipari, as he
shielded Sgrena.

Mario Lozano, the soldier who shot at her vehicle, will be placed on
trial April 17th for voluntary manslaughter. Giuliana Sgrena demands
that the Pentagon be held responsible for the shooting-a product of
the U.S. occupation of Iraq, and not the actions of an individual

About the author:

An expert on the Arab world, Sgrena has reported frequently from
Afghanistan and Iraq, for which the president of Italy awarded her
the prestigious Cavaliere del Lavoro prize. In her book Friendly
Fire: The Remarkable Story of a Journalist Kidnapped in Iraq, Rescued
by an Italian Secret Service Agent, and Shot by U.S. Forces
(Haymarket), Sgrena describes her experience as a hostage and
provides unique insights into the situation of Iraq under occupation,
exposing U.S. war crimes there.

Friendly Fire
The Remarkable Story of a Journalist Kidnapped in Iraq, Rescued by an
Italian Secret Service Agent, and Shot by U.S. Forces
by Giuliana Sgrena
Introduction by Amy Goodman
ISBN 9781931859394 $20.00 Trade Cloth

That was sent to Elaine and she didn't read her e-mail this week! Sunny usually screens it for her and Sunny had jury duty until Friday. So Sunny found that today and they passed it on to C.I. immediately (it's in the snapshot) but Elaine feels awful that it came in Tuesday and didn't get noted until Friday so, being a good boyfriend, I told her I'd note it at the top of my post tonight. So it's Friday! And I'm about to be in Texas! :D That's going to be so cool. I can't wait to see what it's like. I have all these stereotypes, I know, of people in cowboy hats and boots. :D
I'm really looking forward to meeting a lot of community members. The schedule's pretty tight and Dona took over scheduling that. It's going to be so much fun.

If you're grossed out hearing Newt talk about his affair, be sure you check out Wally's "THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY SHOCKED BY NEWT NEWS! " and Cedric's "No, Newt!" because you will laugh.

Now in news of another supid ass, David Obey. Obey screamed and yelled at Tina Richards, mother of two soldiers, and this is the weak ass explanation he offers:

When The Hill contacted him Friday about the videotaped encounter, Obey immediately apologized for getting angry with the woman, saying that his immense frustration about "this stupid war" boiled over.

Instead of apologizing to The Hill, Dumb Ass Obey needs to apologize to Tina Richards for yelling and screaming at her.

"Once in a while that frustration boils over, I wish it hadn't but you cannot continue conversations forever," he said. He also continued to skewer "liberal groups" for failing to inform the members and the public that the war supplemental spending bill contains language aimed at ending the war.

Maxine Waters is a "liberal group"? Lynn Woolsey is a "liberal group"? Jerry Nadler is a "liberal group"? Funny, I thought they were all members of Congress. And I also thought a GROWN MAN HOLDING ELECTED OFFICE HAD ENOUGH SENSE NOT TO YELL AT A WOMAN. But David Obey is a DUMB ASS and he only knows how to be a DUMB ASS PIECE OF CRAP.

"Let me be frank: That kind of encounter is the kind of frustration this stupid war is causing across the board," he said in an interview with The Hill.

Let me be frank, DUMB ASS, you are a member of Congress and have been for some time. If the stupid war is causing this, maybe you should have gotten off your CANDY ASS a long time ago to do something but you can't even get off it now as you give Bully Boy cover to continue the illegal war because DUMB ASS that you are, you refuse to end the war and refuse to offer legislation that would do that. Chicken Shit Obey.

"I'm trying to figure out how to get the votes [for a spending bill] that is going to try to end our participation in that Iraq war."

Hey Dumb Ass, that's your job. If you can't handle the basic duties of your job, resign.

When the woman asked him whether he was going to vote for the supplemental, that further aggravated him because, as the lead sponsor, of course he was.

Is every person supposed to know what every Congress member is doing every day?

DUMB ASS didn't even have anything up on his website about it before he exploded at Tina. If he wants everyone to know what he's doing, maybe his DUMB ASS should put it up on his website? Or is he so stupid that he thinks he's been on the front page of the New York Times? No one cares about Dumb Ass in the mainstream media. Instead of screaming at Tina, maybe he should take accountability for the fact that his Dumb Ass website didn't say what he was sponsoring? Or maybe he's just so damn self-centered that he thinks the whole world follows his every move?

What he did have up at his website when he screamed at Tina was a piece noting he was one of two Congress members who got an award from the Army. The other one? The liar who kept his trap shut about the problems at Walter Reed. How proud DUMB ASS must be to get an award with someone as useless as C.W. Bill Young.

Tensions had already been riding high, he said, because this week protesters had been "sitting in" his district office and have refused to leave at the end of the business day and were arrested.

Oh, how awful. You mean voters want to be heard. Poor Old Man Obey. If only those constiuents would mind their own business and let him do whatever he wants! What a dumb ass. He hates voters but he wants to be in Congress.

"What so frustrated me about the encounter is that it became apparent that she had no idea that the bill she was being asked to tell me to vote against would set a deadline for our getting out of Iraq," he said. "So many of these liberal groups don't adequately inform their members. They don't have the full story about what we’re trying to do and they wind up not being able to distinguish their friend from their enemy. These people won't take yes for an answer."

"These people" won't take your DUMB ASS yelling at them. Stupid ass. If you want people to know what you're working on, put it up at your website. Otherwise, shut your damn pie hole.
And Obey's measure is weak-assed as the leadership (not too focused on ending the war) tried to appeas the Blue Dog Idiots.

Our study group's about to start. So here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, March 9, 2007. Chaos and violence (though little reported) continues, protests continue, the country of Georgia provides mirth in the illegal war (if not genuine support for the Bully Boy), a US marine is announced dead, footage of another US service member's death is supposedly set to be released, Dems plan receives muted response, and the veterans health care crisis moves from Walter Reed to VA hospitals.

Starting with war resistance.
Agustin Aguayo was court-martialed and sentenced Tuesday. Circles Robinson (Ahora) notes: "Doing the right thing can be costly, but in the end one can at least sleep at night. Ask Spc. Agustin Aguayo, 35, a U.S. citizen born in Guadalajara, Mexico, who was just sentenced by a US military court in Wurzburg, Germany. His crime was a gut feeling shared by a growing number of ordinary citizens and soldiers alike: President Bush's war in Iraq isn't their war." He was sentenced to eight months but given credit for the days he had already served since turning himself in at the end of September. Rosalio Munoz (People's Weekly World) sees a victory in the outcome: "The March 6 military court conviction of pacifist soldier Agustin Aguayo was reversed in the court of public opinon as Amnesty International officially recognized him as a 'prisoner of conscience,' and a battery of progressive attorneys began efforts to get a federal court to reverse the Army's denial of conscientious objector status to Aguayo." Stefan Steinberg (World Socialist Web) sees the line of continuity from one war resister to another, "Aguayo has become the latest in a growing list of US soldiers who are facing trials and courts-martial for refusing to serve in Iraq. Recently, Lt. Ehren Watada, 29, became the first US officer to be tried for refusing to obey a command to return to Iraq. In his defence, Watada argued he was merely following his constitutional rights to oppose fighting in a war he regarded as illegal. The Japanese American described the US invasion and occupation of Iraq as 'an illegal and unjust war ... for profit and imperialistic domination.' Watada's attorney Eric Seitz, had sought to defend his client on the basis of the Nuremburg Principles -- i.e., that soldiers have the duty to disobey unlawful orders in the case of an illegal and unjust war."

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

It is vital that we build a strong counter-recruitment movement to expose lies used by the military to send working-class and poor children to war. We must also lend our full support to the soldiers and reservists who are refusing to fight in Iraq.
[. . .]
During the Vietnam War, the U.S. government learned how quickly the discipline of an army fighting an unjust war can break down. Today soldiers in the field can see the contradictions between the claims of their officers and especially the politicians who sent them to war and the reality of the conflict on the ground. They now know that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and posed no imminent threat. And as the Iraqi resistance to occupation grows, more soldiers have come to see that they are fighting not to liberate Iraqis but to 'pacify' them. To end this war, more will need to follow their conscience, like [Camilo] Mejia and the other soldiers who have refused to die -- or kill -- for a lie.

The excerpt above is from Anthony Arnove's
IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal. Arnove has an event on Saturday the 10th and on Sunday the 11th (Ty and Sunny -- for Elaine -- passed on the following):

Saturday, March 10
8 pm
Readings from
Voices of a People's History of the United States
The Great Hall, Cooper Union
as part of the
Left Forum 2007
Free for conference participants and the general public.
With performances by Staceyann Chin, Deepa Fernandes, Brian Jones, Erin Cherry,
Najla Said, Mario A. Murrillo, and other special guests.
Narration and introduction by Amy Goodman, host of
Democracy Now! and
Anthony Arnove (who, with Howard Zinn, authored
Voices of a People's History of the United States)

Sunday, March 11
10 am
Iraq: What's at Stake?"
Cooper Union
Left Forum 2007
Panelists: Anthony Arnove, Christian Parenti, AK Gupta, Nir Rosen, and Gilbert Achcar.

Wednesday, March 14
7:00 pm
"Friendly Fire: An Independent Journalist's Story on Being Abducted in Iraq,
Rescued, and Shot by U.S. Forces"
Judson Church
55 Washington Square South
featuring: Giulian Sgrena the Il Manifesto journalist and author of
Friendly Fire who was abudcted in Iraq, rescued by Italian security forces only to be shot at (Nicola Calipari would die from the gun fire) by US forces while en route to the Baghdad Airport; Amy Goodman and the Center for Constitutional Rights' executive director Vince Warren.
Sgrena is calling for the Pentagon to take responsibility for the shooting.

Yesterday, in the United States, Democrats in the US House and Senate unveiled their plans for Iraq.
Michael Rowland (AM, Australia's ABC) explains the House legislation: "Democrats have been talking about setting a troop withdrawal deadline ever since opposition to the war swept them to power in last year's congressional elections. Today they bit the bullet, unveiling legislation that sets down actual dates. . . . The legislation sets out a set of benchmarks that must be met in Iraq in the coming year. They're mainly to do with quelling the sectarian violence on the streets of Baghdad, the very objective of the president's plan to send an extra 22,000 US troops to Iraq. The House of Representatives speaker, Nancy Pelosi, says the strategy will be given time to work. But she warns the troop withdrawal will be fast-tracked if the re-enforcements fail to make any difference." John Nichols (The Nation), picking up at the benchmarks: "If those benchmarks remain unmet, a slow process of extracting troops would begin under the plan favored by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, Wisconsin's David Obey and Pennsylvania's John Murtha, the chair and defense subcommittee chair respectively of the appropriations committee; and Missouri's Ike Skelton, who chairs the armed services committee. The fact that Democratic leaders are talking about attempting to impose a timeline for withdrawal is good. It puts the opposition party in a position of actually opposing an unpopular president's exceptionally unpopular policies. Unfortunately, because the president wants to maintain the occupation on his terms, Bush can be counted on to veto legislation establishing benchmarks and a timeline. So the Democrats find themselves in a difficult position. They plan to expend immense time and energy -- and perhaps even a small measure of political capital -- to promote a withdrawal strategy. Yet, the strategy they are promoting is unlikely to excite Americans who want this war to end. In other words, while Pelosi and her compatriots propose to fight for a timeline, it is not the right timeline."

John A. Murphy (CounterPunch) observes, "The Democratic House has drafted legislation which has no chance of surviving a presidential veto and at the same time does not meet the hopes and aspirations and demands of the overwhelming majority of the American voting public. They have however drafted legislation that makes them feel good. Somehow or other the so-called 'liberal Democrats' are going to be happy about supporting a bill which would kill 60,000 Iraqis and 1,800 Americans because the bill will not alienate the 'more moderate Democrats'." Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) points out: "Anti-war Democrats have also come out against the plan. New York Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, a member of the Out of Iraq caucus, said: 'All this bill will do is fund another year of the war, and I can't vote for that'."

NYU professor Stephen F. Cohen (writing at The Nation) notes: "Unless the United States withdraws its military forces from Iraq in the near future, a war that began as an unnecssary invasion based on deception and predictably grew into a disastrous occupation will go down in history as a terrible crime, if it hasn't already. For Americans of conscience, Iraq has therefore become the paramount moral issue of our time."

On that note, we'll return to
MADRE's "Promising Democracy, Imposing Theocracy: Gender-Based Violence and the US War on Iraq" (which can be read in full in PDF format or, by sections, in HTML). Wednesday, section one ("Towards Gender Apartheid in Iraq") was noted and, Thursday, section II, "Iraq's Other War: Impsoing Theocracy Through Gender-Based." Section III is "The Rise of US-Backed Death Squads" which further documents how the US equipped, trained and facilitated the ongoing femicide in Iraq.

The femicide has its roots in "The Salvador Option," so, as the report notes, it is not surprising to find the same actors involved. Just as James Steel and John Negroponte were involved in the death squads in El Salvador during the 1980s, they teamed up in Iraq with Negroponte acting as US ambassador to the country and James Steele commanding the US troops who trained the Badr and Mahdi militias. While the Bully Boy made noises to domestic audiences about 'freedom' and 'liberation,' "on the ground in Iraq, the Islamist militas were wholly tolerated." Backing, training and arming them "offered an enticing advantage over government troops. For a time, their quasi-official status allowed the US to out-source the violence of its count-insurgency operations without having to answer for the militias' gross human rights violations, including their campaign of terror against the women of Iraq." When not training these militias themselves, the US out-sourced the training to DynCorp which

Working women have been especially targeted because "they commit a double offense -- by advocating a secular society and by being accomplished, working women." But the press has refused to cover this campaign of violence against women as one of the stories coming from Iraq and treated acts of violence against women as incidental to the larger story (it is the story). "To cite just one example, in October 2005, journalist Robert Dreyfuss, known for his authorative and critical analysis of Iraqi politics, reported that in addition to targeting Sunnis, the Shiite Badr Brigade was 'terrorizing Iraq's secular, urban Shiite population.' Although gender-based violence was a central tactic of this terror campaign, Dreyfuss does not mention it. Nor does he explore why a supposedly sectarian militia was terrorizing members of its own sect. Like most media accounts, Dreyfuss' report fails to consider the Badr milita from the perspective of Shiite women. From women's vantage point, the militia is typical of theocratic fundamentalists everywhere. For such groups, asserting control over members of their own religion -- especially women, who are seen as the carriers of group identity -- is a prerequisite to extending control over society at large, including, ultimately, the institutions of the state."

The report notes that the press is not the only grouping that has failed to draw attention to the ongoing femicide and notes the anti-war movement has also ignored the gender violence that is taking place. The clampdown, by the US, on the Iraqi Health Ministry has prevented already faulty data on the attacks from being released. The report uses Maha as an example of how the militias and the police work together in Iraq -- Maha "was abducted from her home in Najaf and trafficked from brothel to brothel in Baghdad for nearly two years. She managed to escape twice and flee to the police station in Baghdad's Amiriyah neighborhood. Both times the police forcibly returned her to the brothel."

Noting the report,
Laura Flanders (writing at The Notion -- Nation's blog) pointed out that 100 female corpses were left unclaimed in a Basra hospital "mutilated . . . families are too scared to pick them up." Flanders is the host of RadioNation with Laura Flanders which airs each Saturday and Sunday, 7:00 to 10:00 pm EST, on Air America Radio, XM radio and online. Saturday's guest will include one or both of her uncles as guests -- Andrew Cockburn and/or Patrick Cockburn. The program's website says Andrew, the blog post says Patrick. Either (or both) will be worth hearing.


AFP reports at least one person died from a roadside bombing in Kirkuk. CBS and AP report that Donald Neil, civilian contractor, was killed while trying to dismantle a bomb. (Location given is "Iraq.")


AFP reports that, in Kirkuk, two Iraqi soldiers were shot dead. Sami al-Jumaili (Reuters) reports that one police officer was shot dead and three more wounded when a police station in Hibhib was attacked -- ten police officers are missing and assumed/feared kidnapped. Australia's The Daily Telegraph reports that the attack included "setting fire to vehicles and destroying the building".


Reuters reports that ten corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Voices of Iraq reports seven corpses were discovered today in the Diala province.

Today, the
US military announced: "A Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West was killed March 9 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province." In addition, CBS and AP report: "On Friday, the Islamic State of Iraq announced it would soon be releasing a video on the death of a U.S. Air Force pilot whose F-16 jet crashed Nov. 27 north of Baghdad, according to the IntelCenter, which monitors insurgent Web sites. The pilot, Maj. Troy L. Gilbert, was listed officially as 'whereabouts unknown' but then reported by the U.S. military as dead following DNA tests from remains at the scene."

Meanwhile, in military news,
Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) reports that David Petraeus' much noted Thursday press converence "did not offer . . . a strategy for dealing with such attacks, underscoring a major dilemma facing U.S. and Iraqi forces as they carry out what has been described as a last-ditch effort to curb the deadly civil war." Ernesto Londono and Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post), on the same press conference, noted the fact that not only has Petraues upped the escalation numbers but he's dropped Casey's talk of "the summer, late summer" when the supposed, alleged accomplishments of the latest crackdown version will be visible. And the escalation continues to add numbers. Yesterday, it was an additional 2,000. Today, Andrew Gray (Reuters) reports that Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon is requesting more troops for the Diyala province.

BBC notes that Georgia (the country) "will more than double the number of troops it has in Iraq" from 850 to 2,000. 2,000 isn't a large number and some wonder what the US government offered to get the small figure doubled? (Georgia's population is estimated to 4.6 million.)

Things not worth noting in depth. Puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki toured Baghdad -- with a heavily armed squad of bodyguards numbering at least six who shadowed him at all times as he shook hands with Iraqi soldiers at checkpoints. US forces announced another al Qaeda (alleged) leader captured. Don't they get tired of selling that nonsense?

Turning to the issue of health care for veterans,
Ian Urbina and Ron Nixon (New York Times) report on the Veterans Affairs where the government is slow to respond and refuses to anticipate or calculate need resulting in various horror stories such as prolonged waiting for claims to kick in (James Webb returned from Iraq injured from a bombing and had to wait 11 months for the promised and obligated payments to kick in while Allen Curry fell "behind on his morgage while waiting nearly two years for his disability check"). Hope Yen (AP) reports that, testifying before US House Veterans Affairs committee yesterday, Paul Sullivan (one time VA project manager) stated he repeatedly "warned officials" at the VA that "there would be a surge in claims as veterans returned from Iraq and Afghanistan," and that he began sounding the alarm in August 2005. Joel Connelly (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) notes that US Senator Patty Murray, who severs on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, has drawn comparisons to today's health crisis for veterans with the illegal war itself: "They have lowballed the cost of this war, and the cost of caring for our soliders. . . . It goes to the top, to the highest level. The Bush administration wants the country to feel there is no cost to war." Rick Maze (The Navy Times) covers an idea by US Senator Larry Craig which would require "issuing veterans an authorization card that would allow them to seek care anywhere could address two longstanding complaints: long waits to see a VA doctor, and long trips for veterans who live far from a VA hospitals." Based on Urbina and Nixon's reporting, 'portability' might be besides the point when "the current war has nearly overwhelmed an agency already struggling to meet the health care, disability payment and pension needs of more than three million veterans." Zooming in on one VA center, Mike Drummond Peter Smolowitz and Michael Gordon (The Charlotte Observer) discover that a 2005 inspection of North Carolina's Hefner VA Medical Center found a substandard facility: "Using the clinically blunt language of the medical bureaucracy, the team describes a facility with poorly trained doctors and nurses who, among other things, cut corners on treatment, manipulated records and did't talk enough with paitents and families." In one tragic example, they note 41-year-old Robert Edward Lashmit who died: "Lashmit's condition and vital signs were not updated during his 19-day stay. Instead, investigators found, his doctor 'copied and pasted the same daily progress note for the entire hospitalization.' That meant information vital to Lashmit's treatment remained the same even as his condition deteriorated. He died of live failure. Later, when investigators asked Lashmit's doctor about pasting outdated records, they said he told them: 'no one told him he could not do it'."

Turning to the scandal of Walter Reed Army Medical Center,
Brooke Hart (NBC News) reports on the scramble as the army attempts to address the disgrace -- the army willl institute a "30-day study of problems at major military facilities" and will establish a complaint hotline for veterans that will be allow for complaints to be registered twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. In another quick fix measures, Alana Semuels (Los Angeles Times) reports that Michael Tucker ( a brig. general) will move from Fort Knox to become the "deputy commanding general of the Walter Reed Army Medical Ceneter." Interviewed by Jake Stump (Charleston Daily Mail), US Senator Jay Rockefeller declares that "[t]he real question is not necessarily what happens at Walter Reed," but the refusal of the US Defense Department to meet the needs of veterans. US Rep Kirsten Gillibrand tells Albany's Time Union that she hopes the Walter Reed scandal starts a new debate on topics such as funding of the VA and veteran's' benefits. Walter Reed Army Medical Center, FYI, is funded by the Defense Department, not the VA. Interestingly, one Congressional rep wanted answers but he appeared to have had them some time sgo. Adam Schreck (Balitmore Sun) reports that US House Rep C.W. Bill Young made frequent visits to Walter Reed with his wife where they "found wounded sholdiers who didn't have adequate clothes, even one doing his rehabilitation in the bloody boots he had on when he was injured. One soldier, ashamed that his mattress was soaked with urine, tried to turn Young's wife away, the Florida Republican recalled yesterday. Another with a serious brain injury fell out of bed and his head three times before someone was assigned to make sure it didn't happen again." For those who've forgotten, Dana Priest, Anne Hulle (Washington Post for the first two) and Bob Woodruff (ABC News) shined the light on the issues in the last few weeks. What did US House Rep Young do since, by his own accounting, he was familiar with many issues that needed addressing? As Florida's Star-Banner notes in an editorial: "The St. Petersburg Times and other media reported on Thursday that U.S. Rep Bill Young, a Republican from Indian Shores and formerly one of the most powerful members of Congress, acknowledged that he knew of the squalid conditions at Walter Reed but failed to disclose them. In one instance, Young recalled one soldier who was sitting his his bed in a pool of urine when Young's wife discovered him. Hospital staff, Young noted, did nothing and when questioned told him, 'This is war. We have a lot of casualties. We don't have enough sheets and blankets to go around.' Young, according to the Times, kept quiet because he wanted to respect family privacy and 'did not want to undermine the confidence of the patients and their families and give the Army a black eye while fighting a war'." What a load of hogwash. By staying silent he allowed the problem to continue and worsen. Staying silent helped no one and, were it not for the press doing their job and his, he'd probably still be silent today.

In protest news,
Frederic J. Frommer (AP) reports that the Occupation Project (ongoing visits, sit-ins, and of sustained nonviolent civil disobedience to put the pressure on elected officials to stop funding the war) continues and focuses on actions in Wisconsin and Minnesota. In Wisconsin, US House Rep David Obey has not met with them but did have four arrested on Monday including Joy First. In Minnesota, US Senator Herb Kohl did meet with them but is quite happy to continue funding the illegal war and play stupid (all his life). Frommer notes that every Tuesday, two nuns, Kate and Rita McDonald, are occupying the office of US Senator Norm Coleman who is a Republican but also "a former anti-war protester himself from the Vietnam era". Despite knowing better, Coleman remains firmly behind funding the illegal war. Also in protest news, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) interviewed Wally Cuddeford about the protests going on in Tacoma which resulted in four arrests Sunday night. Cuddeford explains the purpose behind the protests: "Our goal is to stop military shipments from Fort Lewis going to Iraq. We were successful stopping the shipments through the Port of Olympia and now we're helping our friends in Tacoma stop the shipments there. The shipments are Stryker vehicles, they are speedy combat trasnprots, armed transports. They are the back bone of the occupation.
Half of all the Stryker vehicles to Iraq. If we are able to cut off Stryker vehicles to Iraq we could easily end this occupation."
Clear Channel reports that Ann Wright (retired Army colonel and retired State Department) spoke to the Jefferson Community College about the war ("For us to have gone into Iraq, invaded and occupied it, and not even with the agreement of the UN Security Council, unfortunately it falls into the category of a war of aggression and in my opinion is a war crime.") in an event sponsored by Veterans for Peace and Different Drummer Cafe. She will be speaking at Different Drummer Cafe today at 6:00 pm at 12 Paddock Arcade, 1 Public Square, Watertown, NY.

Danny Schechter and have started a new campaign:

It's Time to Make the US Media Accountable!Are you willing to join and support Mediachannel's "
TELL THE TRUTH" campaign? Help us press the press and move the media to tell the truth and report in more balanced manner, the way so many Canadian and European outlets seem to be able to do.
Click here to send an email to U.S. media outlets now!

agustin aguayo

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Michael Ratner, MADRE

Thursday, best time of the week, knowing Friday's about to be here, like waiting for Christmas the night before. :D Okay, let me talk a little about Guns and Butter. It airs each Wednesday and it's hosted by Bonnie Faulkner. It's an hour show and pretty cool, so check it out. It's five p.m. my time (EST) and Kat usually calls me and says, "Listen to this!" on Wednesdays when she thinks there's something I'll really like. She puts the phone up to the radio and Wednesday Faulkner's guest was Michael Ratner who is the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights and he is a host of WBAI's Law and Disorder (Mondays). He's smart, of course, but he's really good to listen to because he keeps it understandable. You don't need to be pre-law to follow his arguments when he's being interviewed or hosting.

So Kat covered some of it already and I told her I would grab some stuff she hadn't. I'm going to go with Guantanamo, the prisoners there, because that was a big part of the show. The Supreme Court has sided with Ratner and other lawyers about the fact that the prisoners have a right to habeus corpus. But Bully Boy went to Congress last time and they went along with him and stripped it. So now it's headed back to the Supreme Court.

He thinks it will be a five to four decision this time because Sandra Day O'Connor is off the bench. This means the decision will hang by one judge. He thinks that they'll win again and the Court will back up h.c. but that will be this year or in 2008. Meanwhile the prisoners have already been held for five years.

So this is really dangerous and so is Bully Boy's self-declared right to declare Americans "enemy combatants." This goes to the bedrock of our court system and to what we stand for as a country -- innocent until proven guilty and the right to a fair and speedy trial.

These things are what Ratner calls the "fundamental building blocks to a police state." Bonnie and him talked about how when someone gets picked up, there's not even a requirement that their families be informed. He also talked about the round ups of immigrants and how, when Bill Clinton came into office, that was about 3,000 people but, when he left, it was up to 9,000. Under Bully Boy's it's grown even more to over 20,000. He wondered where the outrage was?

The show airs every Wednesday on KPFA and you can use the archives there or at Guns and Butter if you want to catch this week's show or any others.

Now this is from Yifat Susskind's "Iraq's Other War:"

Last week, Houzan Mahmoud* opened her e-mail and found a message from Ansar al-Islam, a notoriously brutal Sunni jihadist group. The message read simply, "we will kill you by the middle of March." Houzan is an outspoken Iraqi feminist. The 34-year-old journalist and women's rights activist believes that hope for Iraq's future depends on building a society based on secular democracy and human rights. For this, she has been condemned to death.
Houzan is hardly alone in this regard. Since the US invaded Iraq, women there have endured a wave of death threats, assassinations, abductions, public beatings, targeted sexual assaults, and public hangings. Much of this violence is systematic-directed by both Sunni and Shiite Islamist militias that mushroomed across Iraq after the US toppled the mostly secular Ba'ath regime. We've heard about the brutality of the Sunni-based groups, but much less about the Shiite militias that are the armed wings of the political parties that the US boosted into power. Their aim is to establish an Islamist theocracy and their social vision requires the subjugation of women and the elimination of anyone with a competing vision for Iraq's future.
The "misery gangs" of these Shiite militias now patrol the streets of Iraq's major cities, attacking women who don't dress or behave to their liking. In many places, they kill women who wear pants or appear in public without a headscarf. In much of Iraq, women are virtually confined to their homes because of the likelihood of being beaten, raped, or abducted in the streets. As the occupying power, the US was obligated by the Hague and Geneva Conventions to provide security to Iraqi civilians, including protection from violence against women. But the US military, preoccupied with battling the Iraqi insurgency, simply ignored the reign of terror that Islamist militias were imposing on women. In fact, the US enabled these attacks: in 2005, the Pentagon began providing the Shiite Badr Brigade and Mahdi Army with weapons, money, and military training in the hope that these groups would help combat the Sunni-based insurgency.
Today, we are told that the Shiite militias are a threat, that they have used Iraq's police and security forces to wage a sectarian civil war against Sunnis, and that new formations of radical Shiite groups are attacking US soldiers. Bush's new Baghdad security plan is aimed in part at reigning in the Mahdi Army in particular, though the group has been systematically torturing and killing women for more than three years.
So, has the Bush Administration finally realized that we shouldn't be supporting people who assassinate human rights workers and feminists? Hardly.

She wrote the MADRE report C.I. covered in yesterday's snapshot (and covers today as well). If you read the report, you may figure ou why the mainstream media is ignoring it. It doesn't kiss ass. It doesn't play like Bully Boy isn't responsible. He is responsible. A decision was made that the rights of women (and their lives) weren't as important as getting into bed with Shi'ites who, they thought, would do just what the US wanted.

It's a really strong report and you should read it. You'll find out that the White House was warned before the illegal war started that women's lives would be destroyed, that Iraq would go theocracy and much more. They blew off those warnings. How come? They thought they could control the theocracy if it was one they created. So they put their puppets in charge and let Paul Bremer do what he wanted. Just like they ignored the theft of the all the artifacts, they looked the other way intentionally as it became less and less safe for women, as women were being killed, raped, they just looked the other way.

It was okay if women lost everything as long as Bully Boy could get his hands (and his friends' hands) on the oil. Women were sold out. It's blood oil. Maybe they weren't sold out? There was a promise of democracy but the administration never gave a damn. What they cared about was getting the oil so they turned the rights and lives of women into slavery to be sold to get the oil.

That's it for me tonight. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, March 8, 2007, International Women's Day. Chaos and violence continue, the US Congress takes some action, David Petraeus says war is not the answer to Iraq, over 2,000 more US service members will be heading to Iraq, and Maxine Waters cuts through the nonsense.

Starting with news of war resistance.
War Resisters Support Campaign's Lee Zaslofsky writes to the (Canadian) Embassy news weekly regarding the issue of passports: "The fact that the United States requires everyone entering the U.S. to show a passport does not cause problems for AWOL soldiers seeking to enter Canada. Canada does not now have any such requirement. . . . . [I]t seems unlikely that Canada would itself impose a passport requirement on American visitors. For one thing, it would seriously damage tourism to Canada, a major industry that is already in difficulty because of American security concerns. Absent a Canadian passport requirement, Canada will continue to admit Americans on the basis of other forms of ID, as is done now. That means that U.S. soldiers will continue to be able to come to Canada, as do thousands of other Americans, without much difficulty, regardless of whether they are AWOL or not."

War Resisters Support Campaign is an organization in Canada that assists US service members who self-check out the military. This evening, they are holding a benefit feauturing US war resister Joshua Key, Ann-Marie Macdonald and Lawrence Hill. With Hill, Joshua Key wrote The Deserter's Tale and Canada's Macleans offers an excert of it here covering the first house raid Key went on. No quote because there will be a lengthy excerpt from the book shortly.

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

Today is
International Women's Day and we'll focus on women for the next sections. Iraqi women, US women serving in Iraq and young girls whose deaths go unnoted.

Starting with
MADRE's "Promising Democracy, Imposing Theocracy: Gender-Based Violence and the US War on Iraq" (which can be read in full in PDF format or, by sections, in HTML). Yesterday, section one ("Towards Gender Apartheid in Iraq") was noted and and today, section II, "Iraq's Other War: Impsoing Theocracy Through Gender-Based." This section notes how the violence arrived with the start of the illegal war and, originally, it was hoped that the targeting of women was due to the initial upheavel with normalcy to return shortly. Those hopes vanished quickly: "It is estimated that more than 400 Iraqi women were abducted and raped within the first four months of U.S. occupation."

The violence as a means to control is explored and, along with planting flags (a serious issue in the Kurd areas currently), one visual that says "I control this area" is veiled women. Yanar Mohammed explains, "When a political party gains control of an area, it puts its flag everywhere. The flag is a message to your opponents that this is your area and they should not dare to step into it. The veil on women is lifke a flag now."

There was a two-pronged attack here by Iraqis on Iarqi women. The first involved the militias (which the US allowed to flourish): "By summer 2003, Islamist 'misery gangs' were patrolling the streets in many areas, beating and harassing women who were not 'properly' dressed or behaved. The gangs swept through areas and imposed veils, banned women from wearing makeup or pants, and imposed their reign of terror that prevented women from taking part in daily life. When this happened, the hope is, "This will pass." The hope is the American military will do something or the Iraqi government or someone. No one does a damn thing to stop the situation.

But the Iraqi government did all they could to turn this terrorism into legal behaviors: "The US-backed Iraqi government has largely reinforced the Islamist call to restrict women's rights and bar women from the public sphere." This happened repeatedly (maybe Paul Bremer was napping?). Among the examples given is the decision/order given by the Secretary General of the Iraqi Ministers' Council (Khdeir Abbas) issued an order that all female employees would "wear headscarves or be fired." This was followed a year later with an order (from the Interior Ministry) that women should "not leave their homes alone and echoing the directives of religious leaders who urge men to prevent women family members from holding jobs." So the women who hoped the restoration of even a puppet government might bring some "safety" to Iraq quickly learned that the militias and the puppet government were all in it together to terrorize and demonize women. Returning to the women's street protests against Resolution 137 mentioned in section one (which would have stripped women of rights immediately), the report notes that such a protest would not even possible today due to the dangers that were imposed by the militias and then, later, condoned by the US installed government: "Iraqis' US-allied political and religious leaders clearly benefit from the reign of terror imposed by their followers, for as long as women are preoocupied with merely surviving, they are unable to demand accountability from the government for the broad range of economic, social, and political rights that they are denied."

Noting that this pattern/model can be found in Iran and Algeria as well as Afghanistan (which the US more recently swore would provide would provide 'democracy' and 'liberation,' and the US government's long history of backing brutal regimes in order to have access to the area's natural resources, this section concludes: "This economic interest has trumped ideological concerns about 'freedom' or 'democracy' (though US actions are always presented in these lofty terms at home). On the ground, the US cultivated Islamists as an alternative to the rule of socialists or Arab nationalists (like Saddam Hussein), who were less amenable to US control over their countries' reserves of oil and natural gas. Despite the myth of a 'clash of civilizations' between Islam and 'the West,' the US has been very comfortable with reactionary, theocratic leaders in the Middle East."

Mithre J. Sandrasagra (IPS) covers the findings of the report and the presentation of it on Tuesday: "Unfortunately, neither the mainstream press, the alternative media, nor the anti-war movement has identified the connections between the attack on Iraqi women and the spiraling violence that has culminated in civil war, according to MADRE. But, violence against women is not incidental to Iraq's mountin civilian death toll and civil war -- it is key to understanding the wider crisis. Indeed the twin crises plauging Iraqi civilians -- gender based violence and civil war -- are deeply intertwined, the report said."

That describes much of the coverage but seems especially important with regards to
Allison Stevens (Women's eNews) who writes: "Preoccupied with the Sunni-led insurgency, the U.S. military has not been able to stem the rising tide of gender-based violence, according to the report." According to the report? Try reading the report. There's no basis for that bit of nonsense. The report clearly conveys warnings were made before the illegal war started, the US government elected to ignore the warning. On the ground in Iraq, the US military and US provisional government chose to look the other way. Where Stevens is getting that the U.S. military would be doing something about this continued targeting and terrorizing of women were it not for a Sunni-led insurgency is a mystery, but it's not to be found in the report. (In fact, section three, which we'll go over tomorrow, refutes that claim but the claim has been refuted in every section.) The results in Iraq today are not accidental and they are not incidental -- they are the result of a clear, historical policy. That point is made in the conclusion, it is made throughout the report. Reporting yesterday for Free Speech Radio News, Rebecca Myles conveyed that point -- how the theocracy has come into being not in spite of the US but via financing, arms and training from the US.

Yifat Susskind, the author of the report,
writing at Common Dreams, does write "But the US military, preoccupied with battling the Iraqi insurgency, simply ignored the reign of terror that Islamist militias were imposing on women" which is followed immediately by "In fact, the US enabled these attacks: in 2005, the Pentagon began providing the Shiite Badr Brigade and Mahdi Army with weapons, money, and military training in the hopes that these groups would help combat the Sunni-based insurgency."

That is how life became deadly for Iraqis and, specifically, Iraqi women. But what about when their attackers are not Iraqi but American? The case of
Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi demonstrates that, in the US domestic media, outrage and sympathy are in short supply. The New York Times could and did write of her while repeatedly referring to her as a "14-year-old girl," apparently a nameless girl. Carolyn Marshall and Robert Worth were more than willing to leave Abeer faceless and nameless because it's all the easier to sell an illegal war if you render the victims invisible. They could, and somehow did, make the defense's case for them (in supposed reporting -- not opinion writing) despite the fact that the defense hadn't presented their case and despite the fact that it wasn't a known defense. But psychic reporters that they were, they couldn't name Abeer. Nor was the Times interested in telling their readers when James P. Barker confessed to his role in the gang-rape of Abeer. Nor was the Times interested in telling readers when Paul Cortez confessed to his role in the gang-rape. Both men confessed to raping and to holding her down while the other took their turn. Though Steven D. Green denies any involvement, Barker and Cortez have both testified that he shot Abeer's parents and five-year-old sister (while Barker and Cortez were raping Abeer) and that Green then joined them for the gang rape and that Green then shot Abeer dead. Green's involvement will be determined in a civilian court shortly (he had been discharged before the war crimes were common knowledge so he will face a civilian court) but Barker and Cortez confessed to gang raping Abeer. As Captain Alex Pickands noted in the Article 32 hearing: "They gathered over cards and booze to come up with a plan to rape and murder that little girl. She was young and attractive. They knew where she was because they had seen her on a previous patrol. She was close. She was vulnerable."
The world heard about this act of violence (despite the New York Times). There are many more that are never heard of. In his book,
The Deserter's Tale, Joshua Key recounts the murder of a young Iraqi girl (pp. 118-124):

One such distraction that I learned to anticipate and enjoy came in the form of daily visits from a young Iraqi girl who lived with her family in a house across the street from the hospital.
I wish I knew the girl's name, but she spoke almost no English and I knew no Arabic. She was about seven years old. She had dark eyes, shoulder-length brown hair, and -- even for a young child -- seemed impossibly skinny. She usually wore her school uniform -- a white shirt with a blue skirt and a pair of sandals. Every time I was stationed outside the hospital, the girl would run up to the fence that ran between us and call out the only English words, she knew: "Mister, food." Over and over she would say that, and I can still recall her high-pitched, breathless enthusiasm. She seemed fearless, full of energy, and not the least bit frightened by my M-249. She acted as if she didn't even know that she lived in a war zone, and she ran to the fence the same way my own children might have approached a sandbox, piping out, "Mister, food."
[. . . .]
The first time she ran up to me I tried to ignore her. We were under orders not to speak to Iraqi civilians at all, unless authorized to do so by one of our officers. I knew that it would be better for me to have nothing to do with her, and it didn't seem like a good thing for a seven-year-old child to be anywhere near American soldiers standing with assault rifles locked and ready at all times.
"Mister! Food!"
"Go away," I said.
"Mister, food."
I waved my hand to tell her to go away because she cleary wasnt' getting my words.
She kept at me, and I started mumbling at her, "Come on, little sister, you've really got to get out of here."
She stood motionless, kept smiling, and would not leave. Finally, I reached over the four-foot-high, chain-link fence and handed her my MRE.
[. . .]
The girl always ran home with them. She never walked. It seemed like running was the only speed she knew. It didn't matter if it was 125 degrees in the afternoon sun. When the girl moved, she ran. It made me happy to see her flying across the street on those light brown legs.
I wondered what sort of life she would have when the war ended. Would she continue in school? Would she end up becoming a doctor or a teacher?
Her visits were the best part of my days at the hospital, and she was the only person in Iraq -- officer, civilian, or fellow soldier -- whose smile I enjoyed. From my earliest childhood, I have distrusted the smiles of adults because I always wonder they know that I don't. The smile of this child in Ramadi brought me to thoughts of my own wife and children. I wished that Brandi could see this girl and discover what I was coming to know: it was not true that all Muslims were terrorists, children included. The truth was that this little girl was the same as any child growing up in Oklahoma, Colorado, or any other part of the world: all she needed was a little food, a little schoolings, a clean supply of water, and some loving adults to take care of her. She was no terrorist. She was nothing but a child, and everything about her -- waving arms, uncombed hair, and torn sandals -- reminded me that she and her family had the same needs as I did. All they wanted was food, water, shelter, safety, school, and work -- who didn't?
[. . .]
The next week, I was back at my post in front of the hospital. I saw the girl run out of her house, across the street, and toward the fence that stood between us. I reached for an MRE, looked up to see her about ten feet away, heard the sound of semiautomatic gunfire, and saw her head blow up like a mushroom.
Her death was so abrupt and such a shock that I couldn't believe what I had seen. I looked around immediately after she was killed. There were no armed Iraqis within sight, and I had not heard any of the steady drilling sound made by the Iraqi AK-47s. The only thing I had heard was the distinctive sound of an M-16, which doesn't give off a loud, sustained burst of gunfire. It sounds much weaker than the AK-47 and shoots just a few bullets at a time. Pop pop pop. Break. Pop pop pop. Break.
I looked in every direction. The only armed people in the area were my squad mates, posted at various points around and on top of the hospital. My own people were the only ones with guns in the area, and it was the sound of my own people's guns that I had heard blazing before the little sister was stopped in her tracks.
I saw her mother fly out the door and run across the street. She and someone else in the family bent over the body. I could feel them all staring at me, and I could say nothing to them and do nothing other than hang my head in shame while the family took the child away.
Even today I can't help thinking that it was one of my own guys who did it. And I can't help feeling that I was responsible for her death. If I hadn't been feeding her, and allowing her to believe that it was safe to come by daily to say "Mister, food" and to scoop up the MREs that I'd give her, little sister might be alive today. She would be about ten years old now, around the same age as my eldest son, Zackary.

Turning now to the issue of the treatment of US female service members serving in Iraq.
Today on Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman hosted a discussion with Eli Painted Crow (22 years in the Army, served in Iraq in 2004), Mickiela Montoya (deployed to Iraq in 2005) and Helen Benedict (Columbia University professor). Eli Painted Crow discussed how when another woman reported a rape, it wasn't kept confidential, it was base gossip and everyone knew. Benedict raised the issue of the bathroom buddies. This is the nonsense that's supposed to pass as a response by the military to the assualts on women by the males serving with them [see "Women and the military," The Third Estate Sunday Review). Benedict notes the long shifts served in Iraq (daily shifts) and notes that you can be forced to wake someone to go to the latrine with you. Montoya addressed how some women would use water bottles to urinate in at night in order to avoid going to the latrines and how she carried a knife for protection from males serving with her, not from Iraqis, "That's why I would carry the knife. I remember it was really late and, over there, they don't have electricity. So we run off generators. And, if you scream or if you were to yell for help or anything like that, nobody could hear you" over the generators. Eli Painted Crow noted, "And we're in a hostile environment. So, to imagine, that when you teach a soldier to hate and to be violent, that you can control that on any level is very difficult. You have to remember that we're going over there to kill. We lose a lot of value -- when you're out there -- and so you become this predator, this aggressor, this whole thing that just don't work out, what you consider the enemy. It just become who you are."

Helen Benedict has written (at Salon) on this topic this week: "At the moment, the most shocking case of military sexual assualt is that of Army Spc. Suzanne Swift, 21, who served in Iraq in 2004. Swift was coerced into sex by one commanding officer, which is legally defined as rape by the military, and harassed by two others before she finally broke rank and told. As a result, the other soldiers treated her like a traitor for months. Unable to face returning to the assailant, she went AWOL during a leave at home, and was arrested and put in jail for desertion. At first the Army offered her a deal: It would reduce her punishment if Swift would sign a statement saying that she had never been raped. She refused, saying she wouldn't let the Army force her to lie. The Army court-martialed Swift, and stripped her of her rank. She spent December in prison and was then sent to Fort Irwin in the Mojave Desert, far away from her family. She must stay in the Army for two more years, and may face redeployment. The men who assualted her received nothing but reprimanding letters." As noted before, justice would be an immediate, honorable discharge for Suzanne Swift. But 'military justice' is a dirty joke which is why someone who attempted to rape a woman serving under him in Iraq, Daniel Edwards Franklin, was "punished" last month by losing his rank -- not one day of jail time. That is 'military justice.'

And in Iraq?


AFP reports five Iraqi soldiers dead from a roadside bombing in Tuz Khurmatu and two police officers from a car bombing in Mosul. Reuters notes that seven people were wounded in the Mosul bombing (in addition to the two deaths).


Reuters notes two police officers were shot dead in Shirqat, two Iraqi soldiers were shot dead in Balad (three more wounded) and two Iraqi soldiers shot dead in Hawija.

And? Nobody's working, nobody's doing anything on Iraq. Not a damn thing. They're all drooling over Petraeus.
Dan Murphy and Gordon Lubold (The Christian Science Monitor) get giddy over his obvious statement that "there is no military solution to a problem like that in Iraq." How do you solve a mystery named Maria? Not by filing press releases but Demetri Sevastopulo and Steve Negus (Financial Times of London) don't want to be left out so they treat it like news, news, news!

Mark Tran (Guardian of London) notes the cracked-up 'crackdown' hasn't prevented the Pentagon from deciding to throw 2,200 more US service members into Iraq. Trans, who filed earlier than most, gets credit for noting that Petraues also spoke of 'encouraging sings' (that was Bully Boy's talking point -- word for word -- earlier this week for those who've forgotten -- and for those wondering why the talking point now comes out of Petraues' mouth in Iraq, buy a clue) but reality on the ground didn't bear that out. The latter point is skipped by the fluffers.

Meanwhile, Democrats in the US House of Representatives have agreed on what to propose with regards to Iraq.
CNN reports that the proposal includes a withdrawal date of August 2008 and that there are "benchmarks." Richard Cowan (Reuters) reports that US Senator Harry Reid elected to unveil the Senate's plan "begin withdrawing soldiers from Iraq within four months and pull all combat troops out by March 31, 2008." Nicholas Johnston (Bloomberg News) writes: "House Democrats said they will seek to force the withdrawal next year of U.S. combat troops from Iraq, a proposal that President George W. Bush's aides immediately said he would veto. The Democrat's withdrawal requirement will be attached to a war-spending measure and is intended to refocus military attention on the U.S. fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan, Democrats said."

But the details?
William S. Lind (CounterPunch), writing before the plans were officially announced, noted: "That's not pushing a plan, it is pushing on a rope, and the House Democratic leadership knows it. You can almost hear their giggles as they offer the anti-war voters who gave them their majority one of Washington's oldest dodges, 'requirement' the Executive Branch can waive if it wants to." CNN quotes US House Rep Maxine Waters on the proposed House legislation: "This plan would require us to believe whatever the president would tell us about progress that was being made. This is the same president that led us into a war with false information, no weapons of mass destruction, said we would be [welcomed] with open arms, said that the mission had been accomplished. Now we expect him to give us a progress report in their plan by July?"

joshua key

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

War resisters, Free Speech Radio News

Wednesday, Wednesday. Middle of the week and it feels like it. Sometimes that's bad but today, it's more like "On your marks, get set . . ." :D What's one of the most important stories of our times? Iraq. And at the top of my list of Iraq stories that matter, you'll find war resisters. They are courageous, they risk a lot to take a stand, they get called names but they still stick to their guns. If you think about, these are the type of people you heard about when you were a little kid. They were called "heroes." Appeal For Redress calls them cowards and worse. Because, of course, it takes real courage to anonymously sign a petition. War resisters are the real heroes.
Agustin Aguayo is a hero. This is from Democracy Now! today:

War Resister Agustin Aguayo Sentenced to 8 Months in Prison
A US Army medic who refused to fight in Iraq has been sentenced to eight months in prison. Agustin Aguayo went AWOL last year just before he was to return to Iraq for a second deployment. He had made several unsuccessful requests for conscientious objector status.
Aguayo's attorney David Court: "We are both very grateful that the military judge gave a relatively light sentence. As you all know, he could have done seven years based upon the findings. I believe that based upon his sentence of only eight months he accepts that Aguayo believes that he is a conscientous objector."
David Court expects Aguayo to serve six more weeks of his sentence because he's already been jailed for one-hundred sixty-one days. The military hearing was held in Germany where Aguayo's unit is based. Kelly Dougherty of Iraq Veterans Against the War was there to support Aguayo.
Kelly Dougherty: "While Agustin is first and foremost a man who is sincerely and morally opposed to war in all forms, he is also a proud example to other soldiers who are also questioning the war in Iraq and who feel like they might want to refuse or they might want to apply for conscientious objector or in some way object and resist this war in Iraq."
In a statement, Amnesty International said Aguayo is a legitimate conscientious objector who should not be imprisoned for his beliefs. Democracy Now! interviewed Aguayo and his wife Helga the day before he turned himself in to a California base last September.
Agustin Aguayo: "It's not my job to decide who's going to live or who's going to die. That's something that I’ve had to deal with morally and that I’m convinced of. Nothing is more clear in my mind that war is wrong. And I won't be a tool of war anymore. And the end result of war is the destruction of human life, and governments use that to solve problems. And I think it's a great tragedy of our lifetime, with so much technology, that we still feel that that solves problems."

That's a story and I checked BuzzFlash and Truthout and they don't seem to think so.

Like I said yesterday, Scooter is the left's Britney.

But war resisters will make a difference. Scooter? Long after all the opining over what Bully Boy will do and what the verdict means (uh, it means guilt), war resisters will have chanced the nation. They already are doing that.

Ma talked about this in "Egg and Onion Soup in the Kitchen" on Saturday and did a great job. She's done with Joshua Key's The Deserter's Tale so I'm reading it now. She warned me that it would be hard to put down and she wasn't kidding. I didn't have time to read it Sunday (she started it Friday night and was done by Saturday afternoon) and then it was back to the college grind. But I threw it in the backpack and I was waiting (and waiting!) for Tony on campus today so I fished it out and was really pissed when Tone showed up because I wanted to keep reading. This is really good book. I'm only up to the part where he's visited the recruiter and is trying to sign up but as soon as I get done blogging tonight, I'm cracking the book open. Camilo Mejia has a book coming out soon and Kevin and Monica Benderman either do or they are working on one right now. I'm looking forward to reading those books as well.

I hope you will too. If you picked up The Deserter's Tale, I guarantee you wouldn't regret it. He's really telling an involving story. Josh's childhood was real interesting. (The recruiter asked him if it was okay to call him Josh and he said everyone does so I'll probably call him Josh here.)
And Brandi Key seems like a really great person too. She'd have to be because a lot of people wouldn't say, "Okay, the kids and I will drop everything and hit the road with you." But she did. (They're in Canada now but I'm not up to that part.) It's just a really good book. And you really won't be able to put it down.

There was a documentary that was made in Canada and I mentioned it last year. Josh is the one who talks about being disgusted because people (US soldiers) were kicking around Iraqi heads like they were soccer balls. There are a lot in Canada and I wish I knew about their stories more. I know Jeremy Hinzman's story. I kind of know Brandon Hughey's. I know Patrick Hart's wife is Jill and that's mainly because of The Common Ills. I'm used to seeing "Patrick and Jill Hart" up there. Of course I know Kyle Snyder. He's so powerful the US military won't stop trying to break him. Ryan Johnson and his wife are sharing a place with Kyle and his wife to be or his wife now. Darrell Anderson was in Canada and he came back and he's speaking out still. Ivan Brobeck I know almost nothing about. I know he's married. I know he's out of the military and out of prison. But there are a lot of them up there. C.I.'s how we ended up with Key's book and C.I. says Peter Laufer's book was sent awhile back. I really need to go through the books. Last semester wiped me out. I've let my folks, Tony, my brothers and sisters grab anything that interests them and all but I just didn't have time to read -- classes were kicking my ass. So I need to look for that book. I also need to install my new drive! :D

I'm so far behind in everything! But people aren't protesting me around the world! This is from Free Speech Radio News, "PROTESTS IN SOUTH AMERICA AHEAD OF BUSH VISIT:"

Demonstrations, street clashes, and property takeovers have erupted in South America in the run-up to an official visit by President Bush to the region. University students clashed with riot police in the Colombian city of Cali yesterday during a 5 hour protest against Bush's visit. In Brazil, hundreds of small farmers with the Via Campesina organization occupied an iron ore mine this morning as well as a sugar and ethanol mill owned by the US agribusiness giant Cargill. Bush will kick off his Latin American tour in Brazil tomorrow and will then travel to Uruguay, Colombia, Guatemala, and Mexico.

That's a headline and it's all of it. They also did a report and here's there summary of it:

Human Rights Group Signals Iraq is becoming a Theocracy
A report released by Madre, the international women's human rights organization, shows that Iraq is fast becoming a theocracy - one financed, armed and trained by the United States, and which threatens the rights of women like those theocracies established in Iran, Algeria and Afghanistan. Rebecca Myles has more.

The report by MADRE is pretty important. C.I. covers it in the snapshot. I know Elaine's going to talk about it tonight too. I'll talk about it on Thursday. (I'll also talk about Bonnie Faulkner interviewing Michael Ratner on KPFA's Guns and Butter. Kat called me today so I could hear that.) But here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, March 7, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, pilgrims continue to be targeted; a US war resister was sentenced to 8 months yesterday; in Santa Barbara, JROTC out and The Peace Academy; 3 US service members die; and MADRE charts the violence against Iraqi women.

Starting with news of war resistance. Yesterday, in Germany,
Agustin Aguayo was court-martialed and sentenced. Agustin Aguayo served in Iraq as a medic and attempted to be granted c.o. status. As the military repeatedly refused to do so. Bertrand Benoit (Financial Times of London) notes "Aguayo, a US citizen born in Mexico who enlisted in 2002, had twice failed to obtain an honorable discharge as a conscientious objector and refused to load his weapon while on his first tour to Iraq." That count fails to factor in the civilian court attempts. As his case was winding through the civilian courts and as the military threatened to drag him to Iraq in chains and handcuffs, Agustin Aguayo self-checked out --September 2nd through September 26th. Reuters notes: "A deserter is defined by the U.S. Department of Defense as a member of the armed forces who is absent from their unit or post without authorization, quits their unit to avoid duty or enlists improperly in another service. It can also apply to people who are absent without leave for 30 straight days or more." Obviously, Aguayo was not absent without leave for 30 or more days. The 30 days is a rule of thumb and not etched in stone. However, the military elected to toss that standard out the window.

With his parents present, his wife Helga and his two eleven-year-old daughters Rebecca and Raquel, Aguayo stood trial. In addition,
Charles Hawley (der Spiegel) notes, "thrown in among the couple dozen journalists on hand for the trial were those for whom Aguayo symbolizes a much broader message. They were representatives of the anti-Iraq War movement in the US and in Europe. For them, Aguayo is something of a hero." George Frey (AP) reports that Aguayo (with "a shaky voice") declared: "I respect everyone's views and your decision, I understand that people don't understand me. I tried my best, but I couldn't bear weapons and I could never point weapons at someone. The words of Martin Luther come to mind, 'Here I stand, I can do no more'." Aguayo acknowledged missing movement and pleaded guilty to AWOL, but the judge (Colonel Peter Masterton) found Aguayo guilty of desertion.

On Tuesday,
Ashraf Khalil (Los Angeles Times) reported Courage to Resist's Jeff Paterson expects "Aguayo will get up to a year in jail followed by a less than honorable or bad conduct discharge." Paterson guessed well. The judge sentenced Aguayo to eight months, reduced him in rank (down to private) and he will receive a bad conduct discharge upon completition of his jail time. Bertrand Benoit (Financial Times of London) reports: "Anti-war activists, who had followed the case closely, said the mild sentence was a positive signal to the rapidly increasing number of Germany-based US military personnel who are seeking to avoid serving in Iraq."

The issue of how much time Aguayo will serve appears to be settled.
Mark St. Clair (Stars and Stripes) reports, "Aguayo was credited with 161 days of pre-trial confinement and will serve 79 more days, according to Hilda Patton of the V Corps public affairs office." Or, as Courage to Resist observes, "he should be free within a few weeks!" Present for the court-martial was Iraq Veterans Against the War's Kelly Dougherty. Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) quotes Dougherty: "While Agustin is first and foremost a man who is sincerely and morally opposed to war in all forms, he is also a proud example to other soldiers who are also questioning the war in Iraq and who feel like they might want to refuse or they might want to apply for conscientious objector or in some way object and resist this war in Iraq." Iraq Veterans Against the War reminds: "A critical part of the GI movement to end the war in Iraq is service members' refusal to participate in it. Agustin's stance against the war, and his moral decision to refuse re-deployment, sends a message to others in the military that they can refuse to go to Iraq. Agustin is a brave leader, IVAW commends and fully stands behind him."

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

Turning to Iraq,
MADRE has released a report entitled "Promising Democracy, Imposing Theocracy: Gender-Based Violence and the US War on Iraq." The report can be read in full in PDF format or, by sections, in HTML. The report is divided into seven sections. We'll focus on the first section today ("Towards Gender Apartheid in Iraq"). The sections covers the destruction of women's rights and the gender-based attacks that have largely gone unnoticed and unremarked upon. The family law of 1959 (which predated Saddam Hussein's rule) resulted from mass protests by women and allowed women to have their full voices heard in a court of law as opposed to in a religous hearing. This law gave women equal voices, allowed them to divorce, to retain custody, the right to inherent property, etc. Even in the lead up to the illegal war, women still retained rights in Iraq. That would quickly change. First, the appointed (by the US) Director of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, Paul Bremer, made it clear that women would be sacrificed to public relations spin. Bremer "hand-picked" the members of the Iraqi Governing Council and was happy to side with them (such as when they did away with "Iraq's observance of International Women's Day") -- most obviously with regards to the proposed Resoultion 137 which would have been constitutional law and would replace the 1959 family law and was stopped not due to any concern for women but as a result of Iraqi women taking to the streets and calls from women's organizations and members of the US Congress.

Though Resolution 137 was stopped, it was more important to get a puppet government in place quickly to pass the laws the US wanted passed and "liberation" and "democracy" were not the concerns of the US. That was made obvious by Bremer's refusal to answer the cries for help as violence against women grew more common, by his refusal to "appoint women to the drafting committee of Iraq's interim constitution" or "guarantee that 40 percent of US appointees to Iraq's new government women were women" or "pass laws codifying women's rights and criminalizing domestic violence" or "uphold UN Security Council Resolution 1325 which mandates that women be included at all levels of decision-making in situations of peacemeaking and post-war reconstruction."

Women were targeted for violence and Bremer refused to address it (thereby encouraging the violence by sending the message that attacks on women would not be punished) and he refused to allow them a seat at the decision-making table. This wasn't "liberation" and it wasn't "democracy." As the report underscores, "rather than support progressive and democratically minded Iraqis, including members of the women's movement, the US threw its weight behind Iraq's Shiite Islamists, calculating that these forces, long suppressed by Saddam Hussein, would cooperate with the occupation and deliver the stability needed for the US to implement its policies in Iraq."

In 2005, the US's puppet government began work on Iraq's constitution. "Throughout the summer 2005, the Bush Administration exerted tremendous pressure on Iraqi politicians to complete a draft of the constitution within three months (though the same process took more than 10 years in the United States). At the time, the Bush Administration was in desperate need of a public relations victory in Iraq: it needed a display for US audiences of the 'democratic progress' that had replaced the 'threat of weapons of mass destruction' as the rasion d' etre for attacking Iraq. The Administration was also afraid that failure to meet the timetable for drafting a constitution would trigger new elections in Iraq, which would have likely produced a less compliant government."

Enter Zalmay Khalilzad who sold women out in Afghanistan and apparently was sent to Iraq for the same results. "As in Afghanistan, Khalilzad supported the Islamist factions of the Iraqi constitutional drafting committee. The result was a new constitution that declared Islam to be the official religion of the state and a fudnamental source of legislation." And women were sold out as the US government -- while talking liberation and democracy -- yet again through their lots in with radical zealots who would destroy women's rights.

Page 6 lists examples of how the US allowed the legalization of "Violence against Women" which includes establishing Islam as the Iraq's national religion, barring free speech if it might hamper "public order and morality," allowing the federal court to not be made up solely of judges but by "judges and experts in Sharia" (the report notes that these are "presumably clerics"). Artilce 39 refutes the 1959 family law by turning all matters of "marriage, divorce, alimony, inheritance, and other presonal status issues" over to religious courts where "a woman's legal testimony is worth half that of a man's."

The report documents the reality of life for women in Iraq -- a reality that has been dismissed as "personal problems" by the likes of Bremer and others but the abuses and the violence are rooted in the non-democratic laws that the US government has applauded or looked the other way on and the abuses and violences are rooted in the US government tossing their lot in with religious zealots that they thought would be compliant to their larger goals (which never included liberation or democracy).

How much attention will the report receive? Last week the Minority Rights Group International's
(PDF format) report "Assimilation, Exodus, Eradication: Iraq's minority communities since 2003" which did include a discussion of the realities now facing women (click here for a summary of that section). The report was largely ignored. Patrick Cockburn did write of it (one of the very few) but he made no mention of the realities facing women in Iraq.

Publications such as the New York Times spent the bulk of 2003 and 2004 ignoring women. Women weren't just targeted for attacks, didn't just see the loss of rights from a US selected government, they also saw themselves rendered invisible by the so-called watchdog. It was as though they no longer existed and it's very likely this report will get no more than one day's attention because Iraqi women have been on their own in terms of the mainstream press throughout this illegal war. It's why the New York Times would say "14-year-old girl" in their laughable articles that were supposed to be covering the Article 32 hearing into the rape and murder of
Abeer and the murder of her five-year-old sister and her parents. It's always a "personal problem" with them, it never results from actions backed by the US, from actions encouraged and endorsed by looking the other way when women are raped, murdered, attacked . . .

What did the US government care about, what did the mainstream press gush over? If you've paid attention at all in the last month and a half, it's the Iraqi oil law that now awaits approval from the Iraqi parliament. Last week,
Antonia Juhasz (writing at The Huffington Post), addressed the proposed law: "If passed, the law would transform Iraq's oil system from a nationalized model all-but-closed to U.S. oil companies, to a commercialized model, all-but-fully privatized and opened to U.S. corporate control. Before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, U.S. oil companies were shut out of Iraq's oil industry with the exception of limited marketing contracts. As a result of the invasion, if the oil law passes, U.S. oil companies will emerge as the corporate front-runners in line for contracts giving them control over the vast majority of Iraq's oil under some of the most corporate-friendly terms in the world for twenty to thirty-five years. The law grants the Iraq National Oil Company oversight only over "existing" fields, which is about one-third of Iraq's oil. Exploration and production contracts for the remaining two-thirds of Iraq's oil will be opened to private foreign investment. Neither Iraqi public nor private oil companies will receive any preference in contracting decisions." Echoing that is the Green Party (US) which warns that a "new 'hydrocarbon law' up for approval in Iraq would lead to a prolonged, possibly permanent U.S. presence in Iraq, with U.S. military and Iraqi civilian casualties for years to come" and quotes Liz Arnone ("co-chair of the Green Party of the United States") stating: "The Iraqi hydrocarbon law, if approved by Iraqi lawmakers, will provide lucrative profits for U.S. energy corporations by placing up to 2/3 of Iraqi oil resources under foreign control. The U.S. government, whether led by Democrats or Republicans, will be committed to protecting American energy company operations and investments in Iraq by keeping U.S. troops there."

The warning comes as as The No Bases Network is created.
Kintto Lucas (IPS) reports that, in Ecuador, an international conference has created The No Bases Network (some countries, such as Ecuador, already had a national movement) out of concerns, citing Lina Cahuasqui, "that most of the 1,000 foreign military bases on the planet belong to the United States, which has 737 in different countries. Others belong to Russia, China, the United Kingdom and Italy." Among those attending the ongoing conference is Cindy Sheehan.

Sheehan was recently in Vermont drawing attention to the issue of impeachement and
she wrote about that (at Common Dreams) noting: "We made 13 stops across Vermont (which is bigger than it looks) and found ourselves settling into a routine. First the Iraq Vets would speak. Adrienne was an Arabic linguist for 10 years and knew the intelligence that our country was gleaning from such sources as Ahmed Chalabi was false because she, using her brain, figured out that he had much to gain from the invasion of Iraq. When she brought this up to her commander he accused her of not supporting their unit or the mission. Adrienne now works in a VA hospital in Vermont and hears tragic tales of why our vets have PTSD. Stories of soldiers who were driving down the road in a sandy country that they had no business being in one minute and who awaken to find themselves covered in blood with a body parts in their laps, not knowing if it was their own or one of their buddies." Shay Totten and Christian Avard (Vermont Guardian) report that the results have been 36 towns voting in favor of impeachment hearings for the Bully Boy: Bristol, Burke, Calais, Craftsbury, Dummerston, East Montpelier, Greensboro, Guilford, Grafton, Hartland, Jamaica, Jericho, Johnson, Marlboro, Middlebury, Montgomery, Morristown, Newbury, Newfane, Peru, Plainfield, Putney, Richmond, Rochester, Roxbury, St. Johnsbury, Springfield, Stannard, Sunderland, Townshend, Tunbridge, Vershire, Warren, Westminster, Wilmington, and Woodbury

Turning to Iraq, where the violence continues. Commenting on yesterday's violence targeting pilgrims,
Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General, issued a statement condeming "these heinous acts which appear to be aimed at provoking sectarian strife." As Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) notes the count of Shi'ite pilgrims killed on Tuesday is now at "more than 150". As AFP notes, "The killings continued on Wednesday as -- undaunted -- thousands of pilgrims continued their march of devotion, carrying banners and copies of the Koran and marching hundreds of kilometres to Karbala's revered shrines."

Reuters reports six pilgrims were killed in Iskandariya (13 wounded) in a mortar attack, seven dead and 27 wounded in Baghdad from a roadside bomb, seven shot dead in Baghdad with 3 wounded. Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) notes that four pilgrims were shot dead in Dora (8 were injured).


Lauren Frayer (AP) reports on a bombing in Balad Ruz where a man walked into a cafe, set off a bomb, killing himself and at least 30 other people. Mohammed al Dulainy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a mortar attack in Baghdad that wounded a police officer, a Baghdad roadside bomb that killed one person, a car bomb that killed 10 people ("including 6 policemen") and left 42 wounded.


Mohammed al Dulainy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that two police officers were wounded in an attack "in Al Abara town," while a person was shot dead in Muqdadiyah, a person was shot dead in Jurf Al Milah and a person was shot dead in Khaniqeen. Lauren Frayer (AP) notes a butcher was shot dead in his shop in Ramadi.


Mohammed al Dulainy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 10 corpses were discovered in Baghdad,

Today, the
US military announced: "On March 7, an MND-B unit was conducting a route clearance patrol in order to secure a commonly traveled route of improvised explosive devices northwest of the Iraqi capital when they were struck by a roadside bomb, killing three Soldiers and wounding another."

In peace news,
Mary Johnston-de Leon (Veterans for Peace) reports Santa Barbara High School has a new development -- The Peace Academy. After mobilization led to lack of interest in the Junior ROTC program at the high school, it was shut down and Veterans for Peace's Lane Anderson and Babatunde Folayemi have helped the school start The Peace Acadmy which "will provide classes in mediation and conflict resolution, boxing, aikido, martial arts, sailing, fishing, outdoor activities including indigenous rites of passage ceremonies," etc.

Finally, the United Nations will be closing its weapons inspection commission in Iraq.
Evelyn Leopold (Reuters) reports: " The staff of the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Agency, known as UNMOVIC, had not been allowed to return to Iraq by the United States since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003." they have not been back since, in the midst of their inspections, Bully Boy gave his 'get out in 48 hours' bullying speech. No weapons were ever found, by the UN or the US, because WMD ever existed.

iraqagustin aguayo

antonia juhasz