Friday, September 07, 2007

Those Amazing Caving Dems in Congress

Friday! Weekend! It's okay to relax a little, Congress took a whole month off. :D And now that they're back in session they probably won't do a damn thing except fundraisers for the 2008 elections anyway. Elaine and I are grabbing headlines tonight to cover some stuff and I think we're going to go with the same highlights for anything else too.

This is Democracy Now!'s "Panel Recommends U.S. Reduce Its Troop Presence in Iraq:"

A panel of retired police and military officers are recommending the United States begin reducing its troop presence in Iraq because the massive military occupation is conveying an image that the U.S. plans to permanently stay in Iraq. The panel's head, Gen James Jones, told the Senate Armed Services Committee: "The force footprint should be adjusted." But Jones also warned against an immediate pullout of troops.
Gen. Jones: "I think that the precipitous departure which results in a failed state in Iraq will have a significant boost in the numbers of extremists, Jihadists, however you want to call it, in the world, who believe they would have toppled the major power on earth and that all else is possible, and I think that not only it will make us less safe, it will make our friends and allies less safe, and the struggle will continue. It will simply be done in other areas."The panel also recommended the Iraqi police force be dissolved because it has been infiltrated by Shiite militias.
Former Washington DC Police Chief Charles Ramsey: "I have never in 38 years of policing experienced a situation where there is so much negativity around any particular police force. It was unbelievable, the amount of comments we got. Whether we were speaking to Iraqi Army, with Iraqi police service -- it didn't seem to matter -- with community members, there was almost a universal feeling that the national police were highly sectarian, were corrupt, had been accused of having death squads and the like."

Four years and six months later and the 'goal' of the illegal war is what? Bully Boy's goal appears to be keep lying and maybe he can fool the American people again. But what exactly are US troops supposed to be accomplishing?

I played sports in high school and we didn't go out on the football field and rush around with no plan. We had a play. And we knew when the game ended. Bully Boy, who tries to act so manly, appears to be playing some sort of never ending fantasy game (Dungeons & Dragons) where some imaginary card will give him special powers to flip meanings at will.

That's not life. That's not how it works. What US forces are doing on the ground in Iraq includes allowing for the theft of Iraqi resources but we're not supposed to notice that or talk about it. So let's talk about what the gas bags talk about. The US forces are in a holding pattern while the US installed puppet government in the Green Zone attempts to take action. How long? Three 'benchmarks' (if you're generous) of the eighteen have been achieved. That only took what, nearly five years. So in ten more, US forces can leave?

Of course, if the US forces stay for ten more years, all they've done is act as protection for a puppet government. So if they leave in ten years, there will be a huge uprising among the people. We do get that, right? And that the longer the US forces stay in Iraq, the more violent the period when the US leaves will be? If they'd been pulled in 2004, things would be better now. Each year that the US forces are kept over there the hostility towards them and the puppet government builds.

This is also from Democracy Now!, "Democrats Give Up Efforts to Set Troop Withdrawal Deadline:"

On Capitol Hill, the Democratic leadership appears set to give up its efforts on setting a deadline for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. The Senate is expected to vote on a bill later this month that would call for withdrawal to begin this year but it would include no language on when the troop withdrawal had to be completed.

Democrats stab the people in the back on the issue they were elected into office on back in November.

How do they get away with it? How about the crappy 'independent' media we supposedly have? It's a point C.I. made last night in "And the war drags on" (and C.I.'s made it before.)
This is from Socialist Worker's "How is Bush getting away with it?" which is an editorial (I'm not forgetting an author's name, in case anyone's wondering):

Signs of anger with the war and a willingness to protest remain--take, for instance, the sit-ins at lawmakers' offices that continued through the summer. But at the national level, there will be no united show of force by the antiwar movement this fall, even though the potential is as great as any time in the four-and-a-half years since the invasion.
This coincides with a political shift among some liberals. For example, when the Democrats caved and voted for funding the Iraq war last spring, the Nation magazine criticized Congress' "blank check" for war. Now, however, two Nation columnists, Katha Pollitt and [Gilligan], have taken Cindy Sheehan to task--Pollitt head on, Younge more delicately--for daring to challenge House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi in the November 2008 election. Why? "Pelosi may prove to be an obstacle--but she is not the enemy," writes [Gilligan].
Likewise, when Sheehan and other activists sat in at liberal Rep. John Conyers' office to protest his failure to open an impeachment investigation of Bush and Cheney, as he promised last year, many progressives came to Conyers' defense. The latest: former TransAfrica Forum President Bill Fletcher, who says Conyers "should be treated as an ally rather than as an enemy."
But this is exactly the question for activists like Sheehan, who previously worked closely with Conyers and other Democrats: Should Pelosi and Conyers be considered allies when they are given a chance to do something concrete to stop the war and retreat at each turn?
Either the antiwar movement holds the politicians who claim to stand for its interests accountable--or it is tailoring its politics and actions to their needs, not to the goal of ending the war.

Following Rebecca's lead, I've substituted "Gilligan" for the name of the cowardly, chicken sh*t Nation and Guardian 'writer' who couldn't even mention that Darrell Anderson was a war resister in a piece he wrote for the Guardian.

I love how this crap works, by the way. Bill Fletcher defends John Conyers because of some civil rights stuff years ago. David Sirota defends David Obey because he worked for him. Everyone wants someone called out, just not their personal favorite! I'll call out all the cowards starting with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Steny Hoyer and moving on down from the top of the gutter to the bottom.

It's also true that the alleged "independent" magazine The Nation has provided nothing but non-stop cover for cowardly Democrats. They really are a piece of sh*t magazine and if you read that bad editorial they just did on Iraq you might have noticed that Democrats have no names. The cowardly magazine is too scared to call the Democrats prolonging the illegal war out by name.

If all the "independent" writers were really independent, the country would be a lot better off. Instead, they pick their favorites and provide cover. And of course they love to attack Cindy Sheehan. While pretending they are 'independent.' They have no independence, they're company men and women, punching in at the time clock as they start their shift of lying to try to convince everyone that things aren't as bad as they really are. The Nation is a weekly clampdown and why should that surprise anyone when a Council for Foreign Relations (centrist group) member was made the editor & publisher? When her father was CIA? She's a phony and weirdo. And Katha Pollitt's no better. Riverbend's in Syria. Did Katha Pollitt, alleged feminist, worry any while Riverbend wasn't posting? Did she worry what happened to Riverbend? No. She was off trying to play 'witty' but that battle was lost long ago.

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

Friday, September 7, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces multiple deaths, the British announce a death, Riverbend makes it to Syria, Adam Kokesh gets arrested with Tina Richards for the 'crime' of posting fliers, Ali al-Fadhily reports on a battle that the press has missed thus far, and more.

Starting with war resisters.
Daryl Shandro (Political Affairs) reports on how the influx of war resisters into Canada has created the need for new chapters to be created (they were -- Ottawa, Kingston, Hamilton and London) and shares how war resister Steve Yoczik spoke informatively and amusingly about his own experience to a group in Sudbury: "Steve waged a concerted bid to be kicked out of the army. Over a period of months, he deliberately failed between 50 and 100 physical tests. When it became obvious that the officers would not file three consecutive failing reports so as to have his status reviewed, Steve started to fail to appear for the tests and was flippant, if not outright insubordinate, if these absences brought any reporach. Steve figures he was gone for a while before anyone realized that he was AWOL. He found out about the War Resisters Support Campaign in Canada through a friend -- a model soldier and US patriot who disagreed so strongly with the war in Iraq that he fled to Canada rather than participate in it." Shandro notes Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey's appeals to Canada's Supreme Court and that the "continues to lobby for the political solution: these War Resisters must be given sanctuary under a separate immigration category, much like the US war resisters of the Vietnam era received under the Trudeau government. In Sudbuy we are now fielding a serious inquiry every week from War Resisters. These are people 'checking into' Toronot and then moving to their host city within hours or days. They are calling from Germany (military hosipital) and bases all over the continental U.S., and they are coming. In Toronto the serious inquiries are about three a week; arrivals, both anticipated and unanticipated, are becoming more and more frequent."

Ehren Watada is also resisting the Iraq War. In June 2006, he became the first known officer to publicly refuse to deploy the war (he cited the illegal nature of the war). In February of this year, Judge Toilet (aka John Head) presided over the court-martial of Watada. Watada had elected to go with a jury of his peers. Judge Toilet saw Watada's case was being made for him by the prosecution witness and attempted to flush justice by delcaring a mistrial -- over defense objection and over the initial objection of the prosecution -- Toilet had to coax the prosecution into seeing that what he was offering was a 'do over.' However, the Constitution does not allow for 'do overs' and, as National Lawyers Guild president Marjorie Cohn has noted, double-jeopardy had already attached. Currently, Watada is due to stand for another court-martial next month. The appeals process are ongoing. Judge Toilet has said there is no double-jeopary and that he can be impartial and should be allowed to sit on a second court-martial. Howls of laughter echo through the land at both assertions. Last month, we noted the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL)'s statement regarding Watada. On Wednesday, Caroline Aoyagi-Strom (New American Media) noted the JACL's statement and the struggle it took to get that weak statement and notes Mas Hashimoto declaring, "Today we are at a crossroads. What kind of organization are we going to be? We need to take a stand, a firm and dedicated stand." while Alan Nishi declares, "We should take a more solid stance than we have in the past." The stand taken thus far is to note that Watada has civil rights and that he is "protected from double jeopardy" and, as Aoyagi-Strom notes, JALC is now supposed "to help educate other groups on the controversial issue."

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko,Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. The G.I. Rights Hotline link has been included in the snapshots forever now, but please note that this is a new website. The new website is still being upgarded (but working) and with the new website comes a new phone number (877) 4474487 which is "GI RGHTS" the name but missing the second "I". To make sure everyone's aware that there is a new number and a new (toll free) number, we'll included this notice in the snapshot all week. Again, The G.I. Rights Hotline is a new and improved (and new and improving) website that will begin replacing the old site.

Last month,
NOW with David Brancaccio covered war resisters Agustin Aguayo and James Burmeister. Tonight (in most PBS markets, the program airs tonight) NOW with David Brancaccio examines the issue of sexual abuse in the military:

Roughly one in seven of America's active duty military soldiers is a woman, but a NOW investigation found that sexual assault and rape is widespread. One study of National Guard and Reserve forces found that almost one in four women had been assaulted or raped. Last year alone, almost 3,000 soldiers reported sexual assault and rape by other soldiers. On Friday, September 7 (check your local listings), in one of the only national television broadcasts of the issue, NOW features women who speak out for the first time about what happened. One woman recounts her ordeal of rape by her superior officer. Many more don't report the incidents for fear of how it will affect their careers. The shocking phenomenon has a label: military sexual trauma, or MST. NOW meets women courageously battling to overcome their MST, bringing light to an issue that's putting the army in shame. A NOW exclusive investigation. The NOW website at will offer the latest statistics on MST and insight into the challenges of reporting sexual abuse in the military

NOW with David Branccacio has a fact sheet regarding the percentages. Some that should immediately stand out include "60% of women have experienced military sexual trauma" and "23% of women have experienced military sexual assault." (27% of males have also "experienced military sexual trauma".) Also online, they interview (text) Kate Summers (Miles Foundation) about the issue and offer advice from Rev. Dorthy Mackey: "I encourage any survivor of sexual abuse in the military to immediately contact family or friends who love them. Tell them the complete sotry of the facts, have them record or get e-mails of the facts from the survivor. These friends and family who are not traumatized must be willing to act as guides/support and spokesperson for the survivor. Within the military system, the already traumatized survivor is lost. Once the covert or overt hostility begins, the survivor is multiply re-victimized." Rev. Mackey founded Survivors Take Action Against Abuse by Military Personnel, served nine years in the Air Force and, as she discussed with Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) in July of 2004, was raped three times, "twice by military doctors during appointments. Rev. Mackey explained to Goodman, "So there's a lot more to this, and yet no one wants to invite those of us who know. And one of the moves on right now is to have the Pentagon itself establish a victim's advocacy office. I would hate to tell you, but from the Congressional Congress' own lips, the Women's Congressional Congress' own lips, they said, as we have been telling them, that rapists keep getting promoted into the senior ranks. Up into the Pentagon. And when you have the Pentagon itself, who has refused any recommendations in the last 16 years with 19 task forces of sexual misconduct, it's not being addressed. What's going to happen is the same that many of us who've lived through it have seen, and they will typically shut down these victims even more so. I mean, a nice term they really should do for this victim's advocacy office they're considering, call it the Pentagon's Lobotomy Shop, because that's what it will be for these victims."

More recently,
Traci Hukill (The Progressive, January 2007) examined the issue and offered many important details such as: "Last year, the Pentagon received reports of 2,374 rapes or attempted rapes from all of its bases worldwide, about 40 percent more than the year before. But that's probably just a fraction of the real number. One reason the crime still goes unreported may lurk in the annual [Pentago] report: Last year, just seventy-nine servicemembers were court-martialed for sexual assault. Why bother reporting if nothing will happen to the perpetrator?"

The most famous example of sexual abuse and command rape during this illegal war is
Suzanne Swift. Swift attempted to work through military channels. Nothing was done. Finally, 'help' was offering her a class on how women could work not to 'invite' rape and abuse. Swift self-checked out when she returned from Iraq. She was taken from her mother's home in handcuffs. The military wanted the entire matter to go away. Even their white wash investigation verified some of the details of assault. Instead of doing the honorable thing and immediately discharge Swift (with full benefits and an honorable discharge), the US military elected to punish her. Sarah Rich, her mother, continues to fight for her daughter and other victims of sexual assault. The US Congress continues to pretend that nothing happened to Swift and that, if it did, it's not like they have oversight of the military.

Not content to be useless, a number are gearing up for DC actions this month.
Paul Schwartzman (Washington Post) reports that in Lafayette Square Thursday, the police staged a big rollout to disrupt a press conference and 'deal' with the very important 'crime' of sign posting. One police officer attempted to 'disarm' Tina Richards who held menacing glue (wheat paste). Schwartman reports, "A few feet away, Kristine Klein, 13, Richards's daughter, started crying. She said that another officer had grabbed her arm and pushed her. As Richards tried to call to her daughter from the cruiser, another officer closed the window." What a proud moment for DC police. They also nabbed Adam Kokesh and Ian Thompson. Don't you feel safer? The three were charged with "defacing public property." Descrating the Constitution is a-okay in DC which is why Bully Boy's still sitting pretty and not facing impeachment. But try to post a flier, and it's SWAT time. The Times of India quotes A.N.S.W.E.R.'s Brian Becker declaring, "The police suppressed the press conference. In the middle of the speeches, they grabbed the podium. Then, mounted police charged the media present to disperse them." The Times of India notes, "The charge caused a peaceful crowd of some 20 journalists and four or five protestors to scatter in terror, an AFP correspondent at the event in Layfayette Square said." The press conference was intended to get the word out on the actions in DC beginning September 15th with a march and a die-in. A.N.S.W.E.R. has a press release with photos and note the police officer pulling Kokesh's left arm behind his back to save the capital from . . . a posted flier. A video is posted on YouTube. You'll hear chatter about "a national security threat" as DC police swarm in. You'll see a police officer jerk Tina Richards by her arm repeatedly, call for "backup" over his radio before grabbing the bucket of paste. Backup takes a while to arrive (with sirens). Then a real idiot on horseback comes galloping up screeching, "Back up, folks, back up, back up, back up, back up" over and over like the idiot he is. The entire point was to disrupt the statements that Tina Richards was making to the press at the time.

Richards and Kokesh do not represent a minority view in the US. Nor are they in the minority around the world. A new
BBC poll of 22 countries has found 39% say troops home right now and another "28% backed a gradual pull-out" while only 23% declared US troops should "stay until Iraq was safe".

And yet . . .
yesterday came the news from the US Pentagon that the number of US forces in Iraq had reached 168,000 and were expected to rise to 172,000 shortly. Before Democrats won control of both houses in the US Congress in the November 2006 elections and before the US Congress was sworn in (January 2007) the number of US troops in Iraq was approximately 144,000. Robin Wright and Jonathan Weisman (Washington Post) report that US General and White House spokesperson David Petraeus is reportedly showing "a willingness to consider a drawdown of one brigade of between 3,500 and 4,500 US troops from Iraq early next year" and that Fancy Nancy Pelosi (Speaker of the House) and her right hand, Steny Hoyer, are yet again throwing in the towel with Hoyer stating, "Clearly we don't have the numbers to override the president's vetoes, as has been clearly demonstrated, nor do we expect to for a long time." Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) also notes the cowardice in Congress: "On Capitol Hill, the Democratic leadership appears set to give up its efforts on setting a deadline for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. The Senate is expected to vote on a bill later this month that would call for withdrawal to begin this year but it would include no language on when the troop withdrawal had to be completed." Susan Cornwell (Reuters) reports US Senator Dick Durbin gave a speech today where he declared: "This Congress can't give President (George W.) Bush another blank check for Iraq. I can't support an open-ended appropriation which allows this president to continue this failed policy." While it's great that Durbin realizes Congress did give Bully Boy a "blank check," he'll need more than straight talk to combat his own party's rush to cave again.

Outside the spineless DC bubble,
Greg Mitchell (Editor & Publisher) quotes Cathy Fish, mother of John Fish III, explaining, "Three weeks ago I was hugging a happy loving wonderful son. And now as you can see . . . I've got pictures." John Fish committed sucide after returning from Iraq.

It's Friday which means news of violence trickles out slowly. So we'll start out with
Ali al-Fadhily (IPS) reporting that Samarra has been the site of fighting between the US and Iraqis beginning August 26th when, an Iraqi explains, "there was fierce fighting between armed men and American forces in the Armooshiya district, and I saw Americans evacuate many of their soldiers by stretchers. As usual, Americans took revenge by bombing the district." Iman, an Iraqi woman, tells Fadhily that a US bombing "killed a woman with her seven children" and that the violence has been confirmed in a statement from the Muslim Scholars Association
while the associations Sheikh Taha tells al-Fadhily, "They think their crimes would stop Iraqis from demanding their rights for liberty and prosperity, but the results are always different from what the American leaders hope. They are only pushing more Iraqis to be armed against them, and you can see that the facts on the ground are the opposite of what they tell their people. Their soldiers are getting killed every day and they (U.S. military) are losing in Iraq."
In the small reported violence that will lead to many filing reports of "Yesterday in . . ." tomorrow . . .

Robert H. Reid (AP) reports in 'peaceful' Al Anbar Province, the 'model' Bully Boy touts, "two suspension bridges" were blown up and brought to five the number of bridges in Al Anbar Province blown up this year..


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Dwood Salman ("member of the municipality council") was shot dead outside of his home in Suleiman Beck.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 8 corpses were discovered in Baghdad.

Today the
US military announced: "Three Task Force Lightning Soldiers were killed in Nineveh province Thursday when an explosion occurred near their vehicle." And they announced: "Four Marines assigned to Multi National Force-West were killed Sept. 6 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province." ICCC lists the total number for US service members who have died in the illegal war at 3760 and, for the month thus far, at 18. And four of the seven deaths were in Al Anbar Province, the 'model' province.

Today the
UK Ministry of Defence announced: "It is with deep sadness that the MOD must confirm the death of a British soldier from the Parachute Regiment in Iraq on Wednesday 5, September 2007. The soldier sustained fatal injuries in the early hours of Wednesday while conducting routine operations". The death bringsthe number of United Kingdom troops killed in Iraq to 169.

In other news, the Online Predator has turned his attention away from underage girls and is now attacking Katie Couric online. One might wonder why he hates all women were it not for the howls of laughter at his latest blunder -- which should make everyone wonder about his previous 'facts' on Iran. Let's quote Pig Predator: "CBS is owned by General Electric. GE is working hard to get favorable trading status with any number of foreign trading partners. The U.S. trade representative is working hard on GE's behalf." GE owns NBC. Facts are tough, eh, Online Predator? [FYI,
The Progressive's Matthew Rothschild -- who has not engaged in Bash the Bitch -- has posted the efforts CBS' Early Show took, while on location, to avoid allowing people against the illegal war to be on camera in the background.] So CBS Evening News went to Iraq and did any of the critics watch? Apparently not. Probably Piggy Pedophile tried to. He probably pulled the lever down on his GE toaster and got confused when no picture came on.

Katie Couric (CBS Evening News) interviewed Syrian president Bashar Assad who responded to the charges that the Syrian government was funding, training or whatever else the US military brass wants to offer as the current justification for the failure of the illegal war (it failed because it was illegal), "What do they do, those terrorists in Iraq? They kill civilians, they create chaos. What interest have Syria in having chaos in Iraq? Chaos is contagious. If we help the chaos in Iraq, this means we we work against our interest. So we do our best to control our borders, first of all for Syrians; second, for the Iraqis; third, for the region." This morning Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reported that "Israeli Air Force jets purportedly entered Syrian airspace" and Syria fired back. So you might think some of the 'critics' would take a moment to check out yesterday's interview with the president of Syria. However, you would be wrong.

Couric interviewed Assad and Iraq was the topic. Assad explained that Syria pays "the price for the chaos in Iraq today," criticized the US administration for attempting to respond to political situations with military non-answers, and observed, "It's getting worse every day, nothing is better. Sometimes it gets better, but it's like a flash in the pan; it just disappears, it's transient. We're talking about the result, the chaos is worse, the killing is worse than before. . . ." Assad also declared his belief that US troops should leave Iraq pointing out that "after four years . . . every day is getting worse than before. So I cannot say that American forces will bring stability to Iraq."

It's cute the way another round of Bash the Bitch allows alleged 'media critics' to ignore the fact that one of the biggest complaints about network news is the decrease in international coverage but a whole crowd ignored an interview on Iraq with the president of one of Iraq's neighboring countries. Same way they didn't appear to notice the slack off in coverage from Iraq by Los Angeles Times and New York Times correspondents this week (most noticeable today).

Syria is where Riverbend is now. The Iraqi blogger of Baghdad Burning recounts how she and her family waited and waited for the safest time to make their journey and
she writes:

The tears had stopped about an hour after we'd left Baghdad. Just seeing the dirty streets, the ruins of buildings and houses, the smoke-filled horizon all helped me realize how fortunate I was to have a chance for something safer.
By the time we were out of Baghdad, my heart was no longer aching as it had been while we were still leaving it. The cars around us on the border were making me nervous. I hated being in the middle of so many possibly explosive vehicles. A part of me wanted to study the faces of the people around me, mostly families, and the other part of me, the one that's been trained to stay out of trouble the last four years, told me to keep my eyes to myself- it was almost over.
It was finally our turn. I sat stiffly in the car and waited as money passed hands; our passports were looked over and finally stamped. We were ushered along and the driver smiled with satisfaction, "It's been an easy trip, Alhamdulillah," he said cheerfully.
As we crossed the border and saw the last of the Iraqi flags, the tears began again. The car was silent except for the prattling of the driver who was telling us stories of escapades he had while crossing the border. I sneaked a look at my mother sitting beside me and her tears were flowing as well. There was simply nothing to say as we left Iraq. I wanted to sob, but I didn't want to seem like a baby. I didn't want the driver to think I was ungrateful for the chance to leave what had become a hellish place over the last four and a half years.

Riverbend and her family join over 4 million Iraqi refugees (internal and external) whom the illegal war has 'liberated'.
Relief Web released a new study today on the refugee crisis
noting that their numbers increase "[a]s the security situation continues to deteriorate inside Iraq, human displacement escalates to levels unparalleled in the region" and that it threatens the entire region.
The report notes: "The exodus of Iraq's professionals has led to severe brain drain, hitting the health, education, and government sectors particularly hard. This will have serious implications for Iraq's ability to rebuild the country when the violence decreases. Internal displacement is resulting in ethnic and sectarian homogenization of the country, and displaced communities are increasingly vulnerable to violence, kidnappings, and control by militias. Displacement is both a consequence and a cause of sectarian polarization in the country. Jordan and Syria now face internal security threats related to the immense economic burden of hosting the Iraqi populations, new sectarian demographics, tension among host and refugee populations as well as across sectarian divides, the potential of increased regime opposition, and the possibility that refugees will be recruited into armed militias if humanitarian assistance isn't sufficient to meet their needs."

Unrelated note, Michael Ratner (
Center for Constitutional Rights, co-host of Law and Disorder) has a website entitled Just Left. Community member Jonah noted that we plug things in the snapshot from time to time and asked if that could be worked in.

iraqehren watada
now with david branccaciopbs
democracy nowamy goodman
adam kokeshiraq veterans against the war
the washington post

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Reports are due

It's Thursday at last. Almost the weekend. The week wasn't that bad but that's probably because Monday was a holiday. Okay, let's dive into Iraq. A lot of reports are coming out this month. Some semi-independent and some are just White House talking points like what Ryan Crocker, David Petraues and various Secretaries of will be delivering.

Now with the reports coming from the White House, Allan J. Lichtman drops back to explain why historically we shouldn't put much weight into the nonsense. This is from his "When General Petraeus Speaks, Don't Listen ...:"

On the cusp of General David Petraeus' report on the "surge" of American troops in Iraq we should recall one of the most important if neglected lessons of the war in Vietnam: Don't listen to generals.
During the Vietnam War, America's top generals were consistently wrong in their assessments and recommendations. The generals' display of bad judgment began a dozen years before America's withdrawal from Vietnam in 1975. In October 1963, with about 17,000 U. S. military "advisers" in Vietnam, the top U. S. commander, General Paul D. Harkins said, "I can safely say that the end of the war is in sight." General Charles J. Timmes the head of America's Military Assistance Command added, "we have completed" the job of training the South Vietnamese Army.
A month later, the situation had become so desperate in Vietnam that President John Kennedy approved a coup by South Vietnamese generals that led to the assassination of President Ngo Diem. It didn't help.
Two days after Lyndon Johnson's inauguration in 1964, Ambassador Maxwell Taylor cabled from Vietnam: "We are presently on a losing track To take no positive action now is to accept defeat in the fairly near future. The game needs to be opened up." Johnson responded by commencing a major America ground and air war in Vietnam.
Yet the president knew that short of nuclear war ("blow them out of the water in ten days," he said) America could not achieve a military victory in Vietnam. Rather, he hoped only to force a negotiated settlement by raising the costs of war for the North Vietnamese. In June 1965, he told his cabinet: "Our objective is just that: to convince them that they can't win there. We think we can achieve this objective my moving toward a stalemate." But how could a president ask Americans to sacrifice their lives to tie one for the Gipper?
Johnson took the nation to war on what he knew was a false pledge of victory, backed by his generals. In late 1966, as the United States was expanding its troop strength in Vietnam to 360,000, General Earle G. Wheeler, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Americans, "I was able to report to the President that the war in my judgment continues in a very favorable fashion."
In November 1967, with 467,000 U. S. troops in Vietnam, the American commander General William Westmoreland said, "I have never been more encouraged in my four years in Vietnam." A point in the war had been reached," he added, "where the end comes into view."

General's aren't 'independent.' They're supposed to work for the people but they work for the White House. So when Petreaus shows up flapping his gums, remember that. There are a few semi-independent reports that have come out. AP has a thing where they bring together all the reports that have been coming out and I'll put in the first part:

The Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq, chaired by retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones, released Sept. 6:
-Iraq's security forces will be unable to assume control of the country without U.S. help in the next 12 to 18 months.
-Reduction of U.S. forces and handing off combat mission to Iraqis is ``possible and prudent,'' and changes could begin in early 2008.
-The national police force is rife with corruption and infiltrated by militia forces and should be disbanded.
-An adequate logistics system to support the Iraqi army is at least two years away.
-On the Web:

That's important to know and pay attention to because already the press is trying to spin it as "Army is success!" No, it's not. After all this time, the Iraqi Army is still a shambles (and has a high self-check out rate). It's only because the police are so corrupt that they look better by comparison. As these reports are coming down, where's the Bully Boy?

Out of the country. When it's time for Petreaus to mouth the words the White House says, Bully Boy will be back. Instead, he's off in Australia basically campaigning for his little War Hawk buddy John Howard. This is from ABC in Australia:

Federal Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd has reiterated Labor's position on Iraq, saying Australian troops are needed closer to home.
Mr Rudd today met US President George W Bush, and while he would not reveal the details of their conversation, it is understood he made it clear that Labor would negotiate a staged withdrawal from Iraq if elected to government.
The Labor leader says it is in Australia's national interest to leave Iraq in order to deal with enormous security challenges in the Asia Pacific region, including the Solomon Islands, East Timor and Fiji.
"We do not have a huge army. Ask any defencey [defence force personnel] or army expert how we are coping with our operating budget for army, the equipment with which our troops are being sent abroad," he said.

Australia's suffered enough. And, under John Howard, the parents of Jake Kovco never got the truth about how their son died. For that reason alone, John Howard's ass should be kicked out of office. If there's any justice (and free elections where ballots get counted), Howard will be out of office after the election.

Let me do my apologies to Australian community members because Bully Boy's got no right to butt into their elections and show up in their country to prop up the dottering fool John Howard.
But fools must flock together if Bully Boy and John Howard are having a meeting of the non-minds.

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

Thursday, September 6, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, Paul Bremer gets slapped upside the head by reality, and more.

Staring with war resisters,
Carolyn Nikodym (Canada's VUE Weekly) reports that the bands Nikki's Trick and Skull Device are getting the word out on war resisters in Canada via a cross country tour in Canada and that war resister Patrick Hart is Skull Device's lead guitarist. The tour is called "The Refuse and Resist Tour" and kicks off September 8th with a performance at The Office, 16 Cumberland Street South, Thunder Bay, Ontario. Nikodym writes, "Patrick Hart's days in Canada are numbered. The AWOL American soldier applied for refugee status here. His application was denied. He filed an appeal. His appeal was denied. It's his story, and similar stories of the other 30 or so soldiers seeking asylum in Canada, that the Refuse and Resist Tour wants to spread." Nikodym explains how, after nine years of service, Hart decided he couldn't fight in the illegal war and he, Jill Hart and their child Rian made the decision to leave Fort Campbell and go to Canada. Meanwhile People's Voice (Political Affairs) lists fifty-two reasons why the conservative Tory government in Canada needs to go including: "12. Nothing on Iraq disaster Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians have died as a direct result of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, which violated the most fundamental principles of international law. Nearly half a million Iraqis have fled their homes and registered for government aid. Even though most Iraqis feel their situation was better before the U.S.-led invasion, Harper, who supported the American-led Iraq War in 2003 even before becoming PM, has said nothing about the disastrous military occupation of that country. [;] 13. Ignoring war resisters Canada has granted asylum to only 14 of 740 U.S. refugee claimants in the past three years -- all of them babies born in the United States to foreign couples. All claims filed by U.S. Army war resisters have been rejected, even as the Iraq disaster rages on." Currently, Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey are waiting to hear if Canada's Supreme Court will hear their appeal on their refugee status.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko,Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. The G.I. Rights Hotline link has been included in the snapshots forever now, but please note that this is a new website. The new website is still being upgarded (but working) and with the new website comes a new phone number (877) 4474487 which is "GI RGHTS" the name but missing the second "I". To make sure everyone's aware that there is a new number and a new (toll free) number, we'll included this notice in the snapshot all week. Again, The G.I. Rights Hotline is a new and improved (and new and improving) website that will begin replacing the old site.

yesterday's snapshot, Zach was quoted regarding NOW with David Brancaccio having profiled war resisters and used the term. This week (Friday night on most PBS stations), NOW with David Brancaccio takes a look at another issue in today's military:

Roughly one in seven of America's active duty military soldiers is a woman, but a NOW investigation found that sexual assault and rape is widespread. One study of National Guard and Reserve forces found that almost one in four women had been assaulted or raped. Last year alone, almost 3,000 soldiers reported sexual assault and rape by other soldiers. On Friday, September 7 (check your local listings), in one of the only national television broadcasts of the issue, NOW features women who speak out for the first time about what happened. One woman recounts her ordeal of rape by her superior officer. Many more don't report the incidents for fear of how it will affect their careers. The shocking phenomenon has a label: military sexual trauma, or MST. NOW meets women courageously battling to overcome their MST, bringing light to an issue that's putting the army in shame. A NOW exclusive investigation. The NOW website at will offer the latest statistics on MST and insight into the challenges of reporting sexual abuse in the military

That's this weekend (Friday on most PBS stations) on
NOW with David Brancaccio. Today on Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman spoke with student Kot Hordynski about what it's like to be part of a group spied on by the US government (Students Against War):

KOT HORDYNSKI: Uh-huh. Yes, of course. I mean, you know, it was a pretty startling notion to realize that our peaceful protest made it onto a government database. But we realized that we had to do something about it, and so we organized, and we started speaking with the ACLU and basically trying to get to the bottom of how our group made it onto that list.

AMY GOODMAN: And what did you find out?

KOT HORDYNSKI: Well, you know, not very many conclusive things so far. The government has, of course, come out now and said that the TALON database will be closed. They've also in the past have said that all of those groups that made it onto the list that were peaceful groups that didn't belong there were put there on by mistake. But, you know, I think in many ways, as much as the TALON closure is a really good thing, I think that in many ways it's too little, too late, because I think, you know, in many ways the damage has been done. And I think --

AMY GOODMAN: Did it damage your group? Did you get distracted from organizing?

KOT HORDYNSKI: No. You know, I think we were actually very fortunate that we didn't. We didn't get distracted, and I think as soon as we realized that this was something that was a lot more real than we had thought, that government spying was actually happening in this country, I think we realized that that meant we had to persevere and that we had to keep on doing what we were doing, because, you know, if we were doing these things that we saw as right and they were being seen as something that was a deviation from the party line, we knew that we had to keep on doing these things. But I think in a lot of other instances, you know, things like this could have a really chilling effect on society.

AMY GOODMAN: Tell me what you actually did, what Students Against War did -- yes, protesting the war, but the whole issue of focusing on recruitment.

KOT HORDYNSKI: I think, you know, simply put, if we stop recruitment, we stop the war. That's why we do counter-recruitment work. We focus a lot in the local community around the Santa Cruz area. There's a lot of recruitment that goes on in high schools, not only on college campuses. And so, what we did was we formed a group that would organize against recruitment wherever it happened. And so, even though not much recruitment goes on at the UC Santa Cruz campus, we thought that if recruiters were going to be there, it was our duty and our responsibility to confront them.

This follows up
Goodman's interview yesterday with Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU on, among other topics, the government documents the ACLU obtained via FOIA about Iraqi civilians killed by US forces (Afghanistan civilians as well, just FYI). Today's broadcast also included excerpts of a discussion with Paul Ehrlich and Reagan loving George Shultz on global warming and global warring (in addition the excerpts taped last night, Goodman also interviewed Ehrlich). Ehrlich from that disccusion:

I think Stanford Professor Gretchen Daily said it very well: if you think we're invading Iraq -- or would we be planning to invade Iraq if their major export were broccoli? We would just have left it. I'm not saying that this was in George Bush's head. God knows what was in his head. But certainly everybody who knew the history knew what would happen. We're now in a situation where the knowledgeable people haven't got a clue what to do, even though every person I know personally, Republican and Democrat, were opposed to the idea to begin with. Now we're in a mess where we're waiting for General Petraeus to come back and see if he's going to betray us.

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". Tim Reid (Times of London) reports, "The 20 member-panel also said today that the Iraqi Amry was incpable of acting independently from US forces for at least another 18 months, and 'cannot yet meaningfully contribute to denying terrorists safe haven'." In a bit of bad timing, news of the panel's report comes as Paul Bremer tries to stay in the news. In Tuesday's snapshot, we noted:

Edmund L. Andrews (New York Times) reports that the former "top Iraq envoy" was not flying solo. Paul Bremer has provided the paper with correspondence which "shows that President Bush was told in advance by his top Iraq envoy in May 2003 of a plan to 'dissolve Saddam's military and intelligence structures'". Andrews writes, "In releasing the letters, Mr. Bremer said he wanted to refute the suggestion in Mr. Bush's comment that Mr. Bremer had acted to disband the army without the knowledge and concurrence of the White House." In one reply, Bully Boy lays it on thick writing, "Your leadership is apparent. You have quickly made a positive and significant impact. You have my full support and confidence."

Today L. Paul Bremer III learns that even writing so recklessly self-serving doesn't work out so well. In today's New York Times, A25, he contributes "How I Didn't Dismantle Iraq's Army" which should contain the sub-heading "By Myself -- I Didn't Do It By Myself!" The usual cast of criminals shows up -- Walter Slocombe, Paul Wolfowitz (no mention of his 'companion'), Donald of Rumsfled, Tommy Franks (& Beans), Bully Boy, etc. Bremer wants to refute 'conventional wisdom' (someone tell him to put the gun down because conventional wisdom is the only thing keeping his public name on life support!) and spread the blame around. That in and of itself is fine (if true) but Bremer admits he was for it then: "And it was the right decision." He's not done: "Moreover, we were right to build a new Iraqi Army. Despite all the difficulties encountered, Iraq's new professional soldiers are the country's most effective and trusted security forces." Really? What is that, a predicition? Since they can't even "take over internal security" for at least 12 months more, what scale is Bremer grading on? Conventional wisdom?

CBS and AP report that the testimony of the panel to Congress today emphasized that the wrong message was being sent with the bases and the presence itself giving the image (true) that the US was an "occupying force". Meanwhile, DeYoung also reports on the assertion that the violence in Iraq has dropped citing problems intelligence analysts have with the US military's figures "over how the military designated attacks as combat, sectarian or criminal, according to one senior intelligence official in Washington. 'If a bullet went through the back of the head, it's sectarian,' the official said. 'If it went through the front, it's criminal. Depending on which numbers you pick, you get a different outcome." DeYoung also notes: "In an e-mailed response to questions last weekend, an MNF-I spokesman said that while trends were favorable, 'exact monthly figures cannot be provided' for attacks against civilians or other categories of violence in 2006 or 2007, either in Baghdad or for the country overall."

Repeatedly this week, the press has acted like immature school children rushing down the hall with bits of gossip over a 'drawdown.' The escalation, as US generals in Iraq have publicly noted since July, cannot go past April without straining the US military. But every pause and wink from the administration sets the media's hearts a-flutter as they rush out their "Bully Boy Indicates Some Troops May Leave!" For those who still don't get it, Bill Clinton appeared on CNN's Larry King Live yesterday (
click here for audio-video and here for transcript) and noted, "Furthermore, I don't see any alternative consistent with the responsibilities for national security to a susbstantial withdrawal of troops this year, because the military is so overstressed. If we had a big national security emergency now, we would be virtually compelled to meet it with Naval and Air Force forces, because the Army, the Marine Corps, the National Gurad, the Reserves are all overstretched, all deeply stressed." Bill Clinton is not declaring anything that's not already public. As noted in Tuesday's snapshot, "Ken Fireman and Nicholas Jordan (Bloomberg News) provide the context of Bully Boy's 'draw-down' talk: 'Bush, for all his 'stay-the-course'' rhetoric, is constrained by a troop-rotation schedule that requires pulling out some forces early next year -- as well as the need to outline an exit strategy for Republicans eyeing the 2008 elections.' It's equally true that on August 17th when Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno spoke with reporters and made it very clear that he'd always been told the escalation would end in April stating 'what I'm talking about is drawing down to the pre-surge levels,' 'The surge we know, as it is today, goes through April of '08,' etc."

While all the 'chatter' about a slight drawdown takes place, the air war Norman Solomon has often warned of goes on (Solomon's point, made consistently for well over two years, is that as US fatalities lead to public outcry, an administration shifts more and more to an air war to reduce the number of troops on the ground in an effort to clamp down on public outrage over the illegal war). [
Norman Solomon's latest column takes a look at air war cheerleader Thomas Friedman -- Betinna's bigamist husband.] Conn Hallinan (Foreign Policy In Focus) offers a primer on the air war (actually air wars, but our focus is Iraq) noting the increased amount of bombs being dropped in Iraq ("five-fold increase" when you contrast the first six months of 2006 with the first six months of this year and it comes to over "30 tons" being dropped), US aircraft being added, runways being strengthened, etc. Hallinan notes that while the US "appears to be settling in for a long war", Iraq's own "air force is virtually non-existent" and this "step-up in air attacks is partly a reflection of how beaten up and overextended U.S. ground troops are. While Army units put in 15-month tours, Air Force deployments are only four months, with some only half that. And Iraqi and Afghani insurgents have virtually no ability to inflict casualties on aircraft flying at 20,000 feet and using laser and satellite-guided weapons, in contrast to the serious damage they are doing to the US ground troops." Halin also notes that while the Predator is already being used in Iraq, the US also has the "Reaper" -- "a robot capable of carrying four Hellfire missiles, plus two 500 lb. bombs". These robot weapons are part of the air war. And early this morning, the air war claimed more lives.

AFP reports, "US combat helicopters and tanks bombarded a Baghdad neighbourhood in pre-dawn strikes on Thursday, killing 14 sleeping civilians and destroying houses, angry residents and Iraqi officials said." The BBC adds that nine Iraqis were also wounded in the early morning attack. Haider Salahaddin (Reuters) notes the news agencies own "footage showed at least 11 buildings caved in or levelled in three adjoining streets in the densely packed neighborhood" and that an agency's "camerman saw residents pulling the body of a woman from the rubble of one house, while one man picked up flesh from the street and placed it into a plastic bag." At seven p.m. tonight in Baghdad, the temperature had dropped to 97 degrees (F). Electricity continues to be provided for only a few hours each day. The point here is that, due to the heat, many sleep on the roof. As is often the case, this morning, people were sleeping on roofs when the US attack took place. AFP quotes survivor Abu Ali Saad explaining, "We are a peaceful neighbourhood. There are no militia here. There were no exchanges of fire. We were all sleeping" and that, "The tanks started firing then the helicopters came. Missiles were fired from the air. Houses were destroyed. A family of five were killed in this house" referring to a neighbor's home. Al Jazeera cites "unamed interior ministry official" for this quote, "The attacks on the houses took place while people were sleeping. There were no clashes. The area had been quiet. Two to five houses were destroyed. Among the wounded are several women." AFP notes, "Amid the rubble of one house was a mattress covered in blood with human body parts scattered about. Neighbours said a family of six had been killed in the house, including a 12-year-old girl." The US military maintains that the "operation targeted only those who were breaking the law" and lists crimes such as "extortion". They fail to reveal whether the 12-year-old girl was a juice man for the mob, a mafia don or exactly how using bombs on alleged 'criminals' reinforces Iraq's struggling legal system.

In other news of violence . . .


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Kirkuk roadside bombing that wounded three people and a Basra roadside bombing that claimed the lives of 2 of Col. Jabar Al Saad's bodyguards.
AFP notes a Tikrit car bombing that claimed 2 lives and left seventeen injured and a Baghdad bombing that claimed 1 life and left five injured "near a line of workers seeking daily employment".


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "Around 1 p.m. Gunmen kidnapped Dr. Riyath Ramo after they stormed his clinic in Al Jumhouriya neighborhood in Kirkuk."


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 12 corpses discovered in Baghdad today.

Megan Greenwell (Washington Post) notes, yesterday "the U.S. military announced the deaths of eight American soldiers." [In the New York Times, Sabrina Tavernise waits until the seventh paragraph of her article to note any deaths and then notes only four. However, the Los Angeles Times manages to cover all eight deaths.] Today, CNN reports: "A U.S. soldier died 'from a non-battle related cause,' on Wednesday, the US military said Thursday. The military is investigating."

At Baghdad Observer,
Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) writes about the realities she sees while reporting from Iraq, "I grew embarrassed looking at the wonderful people I work with. I thought about the hundreds of Iraqis that were killed in one attack in two impoverished Yazidi villages, a minority religious community in the north. The families torn a part and the piece of a woman, they pulled from the rubble. She was probably a mother, she was someone's daughter, cousin and sister. My American life if not worth more than an Iraqi life. An Iraqi life is not worth more than mine. Life is never cheap." Making a similar (and needed) point are Adil E. Shamoo and Bonnie Bricker (Foreign Policy in Focus) who offer that the detachment (in the US) may result from "at least two reasons why many of us, including Mr. [Robert] Gates, do not cry when hearing of the deaths of innocent Iraqis. The first reason is exemplified by the fighter pilot who drops bombs from the plan knowing there is a good chance that innocent people would get killed. However, at the same time, the same pilot cannot and will not take a knife and directly kill the same innocent people with his own bare hands. The second reason is nationalism. Americans care more about our own people than others. The first reason probably will never change and it is for the good of our humanity. But after nearly five years of war, we must break through our national sentiments and start seeing the war through Iraqi eyes as well. Too much attention during this war has been paid towards fighting, leaving the task of protecting the innocent to no one. It's time to stop." On the CBS Evening News (a-v and text), Katie Couric spoke with an eleven-year-old boy in Baghdad who told her, "Yesterday a little kid got killed, got shot right here. . . . A baby. . . . Small arms fire between two groups and she got caught in the middle."

Turning to US politics,
Nadine Elsibai (Bloomberg News) reported earlier this week that US Senator and 2008 presidential hopeful Joe Biden called Sunday (on CBS' Face The Nation) for the Iraqi police to be disbanded -- that would be the recommendation the 20-member is in today's news for. Biden declared on Face The Nation, "The purpose of this surge was to give breathing room to acquire some political reconciliation. There is no political reconcilliation. And the total number of Iraqi civilian deaths are up around Iraq, not down. The number of people fleeing their homes has gone from 50,000 a month to 100,000 a mont since the surge" (link goes to text and audio-video). Biden does not favor a withdrawal (he wants troops left in Iraq for training) and he favors partioning Iraq into three parts. Meanwhile 2008 presidential hopeful John Edwards issued a statement today as a result of Carl Hulse's New York Times front page report that Democrats in Congress may once again cave on the issue of Iraq. Edwards declared, "In 2006, the American people elected a Democratic Congress to change course and end this war. It's the whole reason the American people voted for change. Yet, 10 months after the election, we still have the status quo and Congress has still failed to do the people's will. That might be the way they do it inside the Beltway, but it's not the American way. It's time to stand up for the American people and against President Bush's failed, stubborn policy. Without a firm deadline, a small withdrawal of only some of the surge troops won't cut it -- that's not a solution, it's an excuse. Congress must not send President Bush any funding bill without a timeline to end this war. No timeline, no funding. No excuses." Edwards staffer Tracy Russo explains one way the campaign hopes to get the message to Congress here. Before getting to the topic of Congress, Bill Richardson, who is also a Democratic presidential hopeful has a petition noting his own "position on ending the war is clear. From the beginning of the campaign he has been calling for complete withdrawal of ALL troops. No excuses. No delays. No troops left behind. In the most recent debate, he asked the other major candidates a clear question: how many troops would you leave behind and for how long? We have yet to hear an answer." The petition online calls for all Democratic candidates at the next debate (or 'debate') to answer "How many troops would you leave behind? For how long?" In that 'debate', Richardson declared, "Here's my plan: My plan is that, to end this war, we have to get all the troops out, all of them. Our kids are dying. Our troops have become targets. My plan has diplomacy, a tri-partite entity within Iraq, a reconciliation among the three groups. I would have a division of oil revenues. I'd have an all-Muslim peacekeeping force, headed by the United Nations, a donor conference. But none of this peace and peace building can begin until all of our troops are out. We have different positions here. I believe that if you leave any residual forces, then none of the peace that we are trying to bring can happen. And it's important. And it's critically important that we do this with an orderly timetable. But what is key is all of the troops out -- no residual forces. You leave residual forces behind, the peace cannot begin." Meanwhile, US House Rep and 2008 Democratic presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich spent the Labord Day weekend in the Middle East where he and his wife Elizabeth visited Lebanon and Syria -- in Syria he met with Bashar al-Assad, the president. Later today on CBS Evening News will air Katie Couric's interview with Bashar al-Assad.

In other presidential news, the
Green Party of the United States announces they will run a candidate in the 2008 election. In addition, they have selected Chicago as the site for their convention which will take place July 10th through July 13th noting, "As news reports in Illinois have alluded to, there is symbolism in holding the Green Party's presidential convention in Chicago. Chicago was the site of the 1968 Democratic presidential convention, where the Democrats inside nominated a pro-war candidate, while the anti-Vietnam war movement was left to protest outside. The protests led to the trial of several progressive leaders of the anti-war movement, who came to be known as the 'Chicago 8'. Ian Wilder, GP-US Presidential Campaign Support Committee member, stated, 'Now the tables are turned in an interesting way. One of the key values of the Green Party is peace/non-violence. So, in 2008, in Chicago, the peace movement will be inside the convention hall, nominating an anti-war, Green Party Presidential candidate. Democrats who are for peace may want to join with the Green Party, rather than be subjected to the kind of treatment they received at the hands of their own party in 1968 in Chicago; or in 2004, when the Democratic leaders corralled the anti-war Democratic activists into a barbed wire 'Free-Speech Zone' near the Fleet Center in Boston'." The Green Party notes Jared Ball, Ralph Nader, Cynthia McKinney, Jesse Johnson, Elaine Brown, Kent Mesplay, Joe Schriner, Kat Swift and Rebecca Rotzler have either declared or are the subject of campaigns to draft them to run. More information can be found at the Green Party website and On the Wilder Side is a Green Party site zooming on the Green Party chapter in Suffolk but also with news and coverage of the national party.

Turning to the US Congress which is allegedly about to roll over again. Congress rolling over again and doing nothing to end the illegal war really doesn't strike me as "news" since it's a prediction of an expected (and not surprising at this point) event, so no links there. We'll note
US House Rep Barbara Lee wrote an op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle (link goes to Common Dreams) Tuesday where she noted the 'data' offered by the White House is "suspect" and that "the debate about military progress" is "a distraction -- a smokescreen -- put forth by an administration that finds it rhetorically convenient to speak in terms of 'victory' and 'defeat.' It serves to obscure the basic, fundamental fact that there is no military solution to the situation in Iraq. . . . Congress has the power to bring a responsible end to the Bush administration's failed policy. We should not approve another penny to continue that policy. Instead, we should use our constitutionally-mandated appropriations power to provide all the money necessary to fully fund the safe, timely and responsible redeployment of our troops and contractors from Iraq. In July, U.S. Reps. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, and Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, and I, led a group of 70 members of Congress in writing to the president to tell him we would only vote to provide funds to do two things: protect our troops and contractors and bring them home. As we return to Washington, I will continue that fight." Who is Barbara Lee going to have to fight?

Not just the administration but also her own party unless some magical event has given Nancy Pelosi a spine and leadership skills.
Ben Terrall (CounterPunch) reports on a Thursday rally outside of US House Speaker Pelosi's home office in San Francisco where many activists gathered including members of CODEPINK and members of A.N.S.W.E.R., Daniel Ellsberg, Medea Benjamin and more. Norman Solomon correctly stated that "it's a travesty and a tragedy for San Francisco to be represented in Congress by someone who doesn't represent the views of the people in San Francisco." From Terrall's report, we'll note this section in full:

Antonia Juhasz, activist, policy analyst, and author of The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time, spoke next. She described Pelosi as "the most powerful Democrat in Washington, DC," and said, "if I had the ultimate joy and privilege of being able to talk to her in her esteemed majesty I would tell her that Iraq's oil is not ours." Juhasz noted that Pelosi has said the oil law under consideration in Iraq, which was drafted and written in English by U.S. contractor BearingPoint and reviewed by the Bush Administration and the International Monetary Fund months before Iraqi legislators saw it, "is about revenue sharing." But Juhasz argued, "what we want them to do is to share the 2 cents they have left after we take the $200 billion away," since the law puts as a "benchmark" for the Iraqi government "that it must privatize its oil and turn its oil over to US oil corporations."

Cindy Sheehan is running for the US House of Representatives out of the eighth district in California. John Nichols (at Common Dreams) notes that "Like the progressives of old, and like anyone who tries to push the boundaries not merely of electioneering but of our imaginations, Sheehan is taking her hits for daring to make this run. But even those people of good will who choose not to support Sheehan -- either because they honestly prefer Pelosi or because they think that it is more important to fight the political battles of 2008 elsewhere -- should recognize that the principled determination of the nation's best-known anti-war activist to seek a more meaningful politics is worthy of respect." For those thinking, "Take that, Katha Pollitt!" -- remember that Nichols said "people of good will" which leaves Pollitt out.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Swearing off bacon for awhile

Hump day, hump day. Okay, warning everybody right now, my stomach is killing me. I ate bacon at this place we were studying and it was just grease. It was a BLT and it had mayo but half-way in, as I'm chewing, I realize that they didn't need mayo. The sandwich wouldn't have been dry without it because the bacon was just coated with grease. I take the rest of the sandwich apart to look and there is just all this grease on the bacon. I don't mean normal grease like someone cooked it, picked it up with a fork or that wide thing and let it drain or let it drain on a napkin. It's like bacon dripping in grease was just slopped onto the bread.

I don't know if it was looking at that or the bacon grease itself but my stomach's been killing me ever since. I keep running to the bathroom, ready to hurl, but I get there and nothing. I imagine I'll puke at some point tonight but it's not quite there yet.

Okay, this is from Stan Goff's "The End Begins:"

This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.
-T. S. Eliot
So President of the United States George W. Bush "diverted" a flight to Australia to a desert base in Anbar Province, Iraq (Sure he did.). Anbar Province is now being effectively run not by US occupation forces, but by the armed Iraqi nationalist forces that fought the US to a standstill there -- with the cooperation of the same US forces. This is being spun as a successful "counter-insurgency" campaign.
Many who opposed the war in Iraq, and the many more who just disliked the Bush administration, certainly had different expectations of what forms the end of that war might take. And this is certainly the beginning of some kind of end. That is not a call to complacency. Fight against this warlike lives depend on it. They still do. I just feel compelled to counter-spin it.
With El Presidente on this "surprise" trip, as it happened, were the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense. Meeting them on this remote base between Baghdad and the Syrian border was none other than Bagwan Petraeus, the current Vivekananda of counter-insurgency doctrine and the latest in a long line of Generals who will be dragged into historical ignominy by this Commander-in-Chief.

Did you notice the mainstream print coverage on Tuesday? They were all repeating the administration's spin that Bully Boy went there in Iraq because he was attempting to make a point. Now how that point would be made to most Americans who don't know any section of Iraq is beyond me. But I'm sure the White House put that spin out because I saw it in articles over and over. I think Stan Goff's telling you the reality about why Bully Boy went there.

I see someone's written about death squads with the interior ministry in Iraq. I believe C.I. covered that for the last two weeks. Repeatedly. Pointing out that they were "thugs."

C.I. was on the phone with my folks about something and Dad just came in with the phone. C.I. said, "Mike, you sound awful." I bet I do. C.I. goes, "Just get in bed." But I said I didn't have enough of a post to even call it a half-assed one. C.I. said go to the Washington Post and see if Karen DeYoung's article's up. It is. This is from "Experts Doubt Drop In Violence In Iraq:"

The U.S. military's claim that violence has decreased sharply in Iraq in recent months has come under scrutiny from many experts within and outside the government, who contend that some of the underlying statistics are questionable and selectively ignore negative trends.
Reductions in violence form the centerpiece of the Bush administration's claim that its war strategy is working. In congressional testimony Monday, Army
Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, is expected to cite a 75 percent decrease in sectarian attacks. According to senior U.S. military officials in Baghdad, overall attacks in Iraq were down to 960 a week in August, compared with 1,700 a week in June, and civilian casualties had fallen 17 percent between December 2006 and last month. Unofficial Iraqi figures show a similar decrease.
Others who have looked at the full range of U.S. government statistics on violence, however, accuse the military of cherry-picking positive indicators and caution that the numbers -- most of which are classified -- are often confusing and contradictory. "Let's just say that there are several different sources within the administration on violence, and those sources do not agree," Comptroller General
David Walker told Congress on Tuesday in releasing a new Government Accountability Office report on Iraq.

According to the website, it's a front page story for tomorrow. If you've followed the snapshots this week, you know McClatchy Newspapers keeps their own figures of violence and their figures showed no drop in violence. The whole thing's just been spin. I think it was Nancy Youssef who wrote at the start of August or end of July about how the US military was issuing these claims of a drop in violence but refusing to provide figures.

That's really true of all the claims the administration's making and if the press wanted to they could expose them all.

That's important enough that I can stop there and not feel too guilty. I'm going to lay down on my side and pull the trash can over to the side of the bed. Hopefully, I'll fall asleep but in case I start hurling, I'll have the trash can near by. (Thank you to C.I. because without that prompt, I'd still be searching for one more thing worth noting between running to the bathroom to almost throw up.) Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, August 5, 2007. Chaos and violence continue; Pacifica launches a project kind of sort of on the illegal war; Kokesh and Sheehan gear up for September 15th, the US military announces multiple deaths, Vanity Fair examines the robbery of the Iraqi people, NBC's Today demonstrates its real priorities, and more.

"I remember one time we were driving around the city setting up checkpoints and we heard a huge explosion," remembers war resister
Agustin Aguayo. "So we went to see what was happening and a vehicle of Iraqi police had been hit and my unit stayed back and I could see wounded people in the distance and we just stayed back. And I could see wounded people in the distance and we just stayed back and that seemed weird to me. A company commander was in charge of that convoy and I couldn't understand why we just stood there. So I couldn't understand why we couldn't just randomly." Aguayo went to Iraq as a medic and he's sharing the story with Aaron Glantz on The War Comes Home. The War Comes Home is a podcast that some Pacifica stations may carry as well. In addition to audio, as noted on the permalinks to the left, it also provides text. Jeff Key is another war resister Glantz speaks with. He served in Iraq and was released from the military after coming out as gay on CNN in March 2004. Glantz spoke of Key's stories on KPFK's Uprising yesterday and about The War Comes Home itself as he did on WBAI's Wakeupcall Radio today. The War Comes Home is a project Glantz will be writing, producing and narrating. It will cover a variety of issues facing service members. Today he spoke with Deepa Fernandes (Wakupcall Radio) about the large number of homeless veterans including Iraq veteran Michael Hall and how the homeless from this illegal war are already different -- Glantz explained, "What really concerns homeless advocates is that after the vets came back from Vietnam, it was nine or ten years before you start to see homeless Vietnam veterans but now we're seeing that already with the Iraq War."

Deepa Fernandes: Aaron, you've been busy because when one looks at this website, there are so many stories gathered. What links them all?

Aaron Glantz: Well what links them all is that each and every one of these stories on is about the impact going over to Iraq and really serving in this dreadful occupation has on the human soldier. . . . With each personal story, we have a fact that goes with them. And the one that just kind of sticks with me is on the story of Specialist Patrick Resta we have this fact that Walter Reed Medical Center did a study and found that 95 percent of soldiers deployed to Iraq had seen dead bodies, 95 percent had been shot at, 89 percent had been ambushed or attacked and 69 percent had seen an injured woman or child and felt they could not provide assistance. I mean, these are not things that you just walk away from when you come back to the United States. They're things that you know haunt you for the rest of your life even if you're lucky enough to have come home and not had a serious physical injury inflicted on you.

Speaking with Thenmozhi Soundararajan on yesterday's Uprising (Sonali Kolhatkar is on maternity leave), Aaron Glantz explained
The War Comes Home, "What we want to do is we want to put the stories of the people who have seen the Iraq War first-hand and come back to this country, put their real life stories up on the internet and so that people can pass them around and share them." Of course, stories are online at Iraq Veterans Against the War and War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist among other places. And certainly, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) could (and time permitting surely would) assemble a special folder of their extensive and ongoing coverage of the illegal war which includes many service members sharing their stories and many Iraqis sharing their stories as well as many peace activists sharing. In the hard push for the site (as Rachel, Micah and Jonah noted of today's WBAI interview) Glantz is actually turning people off as he erects a barrier between the listeners on one side and himself and service members (he says "soldiers") on the other (translated as "Only we get it, man").

The reality is that this is really a pathetic project. I don't mean in terms of Glantz, I do mean in terms of Pacifica Radio. The illegal war hits the five year mark in March and this is all Pacifica has to show for it? (
Democracy Now! is an independent program carried on Pacifica, it is not a Pacifica program.) It's not even a program, it's "spots" or "carts" that stations can insert or not for a few minutes. All this time later and no program addressing the Iraq War.

In terms of the project itself, it has its own problems. For starters, it currently has 10 profiles/stories up at the website. Look closely for any female veterans -- but look in vain. It's equally true that when Pacifica Radio elects to finally offer 'spots,' they go with the easiest thing out there: the treatment of the returning. That's the example Glantz gives in both interviews and it's what's represented at the website. It's a bit sad to hear him say these stories are beginning to get attention . . . seven months after
Dana Priest and Anne Hull (Washington Post) launched their much discussed series. If the comeback is, "Oh, I meant independent media," it's equally true that Mother Jones has been an early leader on the stories of the wounded with one of the strongest photo essays. It's difficult to promote but the promotion would go down easier if Glantz appeared aware of what was already out there. Of course the story that needs to be covered -- the one that's actually not being told -- is the hunting down of war resisters in this country and outside of it.

So the indifference expressed in e-mails yesterday (after the KPFK interview) and today (after the WBAI interview) isn't surprising. And let's face it, you're dealing with a community who, unlike KPFA, didn't drop the Iraq War last summer and, unlike KPFA, doesn't get mixed up on Falluja and assume, wrongly, that November 2004 was something to be excited about. This feels like sop tossed out to listeners. Glantz is involved (and steering) so hopefully it will be something worth following. Those who've already checked it out and expressed their dismay might give it a month or two and then try again. But there's no question that the promotion has been a big mistake starting with the wall Glantz elected to erect between listeners (listeners one would assume the spots will need) on one side and himself and "soldiers" on the other. It's equally true that those who have waited and waited in vain for KPFA to create the program they owed listeners (one covering the Iraq War and only the Iraq War) are going to be more than disappointed with the easy scope (as it's being promoted by Glantz) of this project.

We already linked to it (on the permalinks) before Glantz was promoting it. If it has anything worth noting, we'll note it in a snapshot. One thing that needs to be noted is that it does feature audio and transcript. Possibly it will feature coverage of war resisters but, as Zach points out, search in vain, even in the Aguayo story, for that term. Zach: "I was going to say 'So timid it's NPR and PBS-like' but the reality is
NOW with David Brancaccio profiled war resisters Agustin Aguayo and James Burmeister last month."

The War Comes Home really is timid. It's the sort of coverage to reach what, when I was a teenager, we would have seen as the blue-hair set who went to the matinees of The Odd Couple once a week to see something 'shocking'. Yes, that was a long time ago. Which makes The War Comes Home all the sadder especially when it's 'borrowing' a title that means so much more (even in this illegal war). It's non-thinking coverage that reduces it all to, "Look what they've done to our boys!" Empahsis on "our" and "boys." Rachel called it "an embarrassment to free speech radio" and I was wondering about that but now that I'm dictating this and thinking about it, she's 100% right. "War bad because of what it do to our boys." That's the "simplistic" message Glantz is putting out in the promotion and in the spots currently. (KPFA's very lucky Pauline Kael doesn't have a modern-day equivalent today.) If they can get those robo-fighters out of the planning stages, imagine how many more people can be killed around the world and, judging by projects like The War Comes Home, there will not be anything to object to because none of "our boys" are being injured or killed.

It's a candle-light, silent vigil by the likes of which really calls into question whom Pacifica thinks their listening audience is? This is the sort of thing that would have fit in nicely back in the days of Baby Cries A Lot's radio show when he would start blubbering about his (adult) kids (who are not in the military) and how the US has to, has to, has to stay in Iraq. It's "anti-war" on that terrain. In the real world it's "The Stateside Minute!" covering stories that most of already well know. (As do listeners of Pacifica Radio.) It's about as 'political' as William Wyler's The Best Years Of Our Lives and let's not kid that that's going to end the illegal war. Maybe it will improve as it goes along. Maybe it will speak with Eli Israel (the first known service member to publicly refuse to serve in Iraq while stationed there)? Maybe it will explore command rape or some other topics the mainstream isn't already covering? And, let's be honest, women are the one being shut out of the discussion. Yes, Laura Flanders rightly noted that in terms of being invited to comment, but I'm talking about what I'm hearing from female veterans. They feel there was a 'flurry' of interest following the disgraceful treatment of Suzanne Swift and that interest then moved on. Certainly, the fact that The War Comes Home can post ten profile stories and not a one of them be about a woman backs their feelings up.

Though nothing at The War Comes Home yet indicates it, there is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko,Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Jeff Key, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. The G.I. Rights Hotline link has been included in the snapshots forever now, but please note that this is a new website. The new website is still being upgarded (but working) and with the new website comes a new phone number (877) 4474487 which is "GI RGHTS" the name but missing the second "I". To make sure everyone's aware that there is a new number and a new (toll free) number, we'll included this notice in the snapshot all week. Again, The G.I. Rights Hotline is a new and improved (and new and improving) website that will begin replacing the old site.

Staying on the issue of veterans,
Adam Kokesh (Sgt. Kogkesh Goes to Washington) notes that A.N.S.W.E.R. will be holding a "September 15th march from the White House to the Capital to demand an end to the occupation of Iraq. . . . followed by a week of direct action, will mark a turning point for the entire anti-war movement and possibly for the course of American Democracy. The theme of this 'protest' is 'Protesting is not enough. Come for the rally, stay for a week of direct action.' The day after the march will be a training day, followed by National Truth In Recuriting Day, Congressional Challenge Day, a day of Pentagon outreach, Veterans' Lobbying Day, and the Iraq Moratorium. There will be anumber of direct actions to participate in for those who are willing to work to bring our government back in line with the will of the people." Also noting those actions is Cindy Sheehan (writing at Common Dreams): "Members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), who are leading the September 15th march, are calling for a "die-in" to end the march and begin the rally. The vets, unlike the chicken-hawk neocons, have actually served in war, particularly the one that Mr. [Willie] Kristol imagines is such a success. IVAW is asking activists to represent a killed service-member and at an appropriate time lie down. Taps will be played and also a simulated 21-gun salute. It sounds respectful to me, being the mom of one of the soldiers, and I will proudly, yet sorrowfully, be lying down for my son that day." John Nichols has a written a piece on Sheehan's campaign -- she's running for the US Congress from California's eighth district -- and when it shows up somewhere other than The Nation, we'll link to it. What we will do is note CODEPINK's Medea Benjamin (at Common Dreams) explaining some realities regarding US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's reaction to protests and hunger strikes: "It is a tactic that was successful with Senator Dianne Feinstein. After six days of having campers outside her home, Feinstein came out to have a cordial half-hour discussion with the fasters and promised a longer meeting. Not Pelosi. During the two-week campout and hunger strike, Pelosi's only interaction with the activists was her hostility toward them. Arriving home late one evening, hunger striker Toby Blome asked 'Why won't you meet with us?' 'I'll never meet with you,' the Speaker screamed. 'Get away fro my house.' When Blome asked her about the homes of all the Iraqis whose privacy we invade, Pelosi snapped and called her 'a nut'." For more on Pelosi, see "Getting to know . . . Pelosi" (The Third Estate Sunday Review).

As Pelosi prolongs the illegal war, the violence continues . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing that claimed 1 life and left 24 injured "in Baladiyat neighborhood," while one in Bayaa neighborhood resulted in two people being injured, a Kirkuk bombing resulted in seven police officers being injured. CNN reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed "at least 11" lives with twenty more injured citing an official with the Interior Ministry while also noting a Mosul car bombing that claimed the life of an Iraqi police officer and left twenty-eight injured. CBS and AP report that the Baghdad roadside bombing death toll is 13 with twenty-five wounded. According to Reuters, the confusion results from what government officials and police are stating.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 11 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Today the
US military announced: "Three Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldiers were killed and two others wounded when an explosively-formed penetrator detonated on their patrol during combat operations in an eastern section of the Iraqi capital Sept. 4." And they announced: " A Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was killed and two others wounded during combat operations in a western section of the Iraqi capital Sept. 4." And they announced: "Two Task Force Lightning Soldiers died as a result of injuries sustained from an explosion near their vehicle while conducting operations in Salah ad Din Province, Wednesday." And they announced: "Two Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldiers were killed and another wounded during combat operations in an eastern section of the Iraqi capital Sept. 5."

The announcements bring the total number of announced deaths of US service members in Iraq to 10 according to
ICCC's totals with 3752 US service members killed in the illegal war since it started in March 2003.

Now let's slice off some of that so-called progress. First up,
CBS and AP report: "Officials in Sulaimaniyah announced that they had indefinitely postponed the start of the school year for primary and secondary schools in an effort to prevent the further spread of cholera in the northern province. Since the disease broke out in mid-August nine people have died and some 70 others have been confirmed with cholera. Another 4,000 are suffering from symptoms like severe diarrhea and vomiting." Meanwhile, David Sanger (New York Times) notes that the White House, "not Congress, . .. first proposed the benchmarks for Iraq that are now producing failing grades, a provenance that rasies questions about why the administration is declaring now that the government's performance is not the best measure of change." Failing grades? We're back to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report which Renee Schoof and Warren P. Strobel (McClatchy Newspapers) note finds the escalation "of additional U.S. troops in Iraq has failed to curtail violence Citing data from the Pentagon and other U.S. agencies, the Government Accountability Office found that daily attacks against civilians in Iraq have remained "about the same" since February, when the United States began sending nearly 30,000 additional troops to improve security in Iraq.The GAO also found that the number of Iraqis fleeing violence in their neighborhoods is increasing, with as many as 100,000 Iraqis a month leaving their homes in search of safety.The GAO's conclusions contradict repeated assertions by the White House and the Pentagon in advance of the coming congressional debate on whether to stay the course in Iraq or to begin some withdrawal of U.S. troops." And this is the 'softened' GAO report. As Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) observes, "The original GAO report painted an even harsher picture of Iraq but the findings were partially rewritten under pressure from the White House." Peter Grier (Christian Science Monitor) offers, "On 11 benchmarks, Iraq has failed, according to the GAO, the investigative arm of Congress." Grier runs to Professional War Hawk Mikey O'Hanlon who does his usual spin and Grier himself wonders why Congress would 'seize' on a . . . Congressional report? As opposed to seizing on a report produced by the Chamber of Commerce? The Palm Beach Post declares, "It's evident that the talking points haven't changed much since President Bush's first secret trip to Iraq during Thanksgiving in 2003. . . . Like the president's latest trip, the ad push is calculated to win Mr. Bush's failed policies just enough support to prevent Congress from forcing a troop withdrawal, and comes just before Gen. David Petraeus delivers a key assessment of the war in Iraq. That report will come during the week that marks the sixth anniversary of 9/11, a date that Congress set and the White House will be happy to exploit." And Mark Silva (Baltimore Sun) quotes US Senator John Kerry declaring, "September has been much talked about, much waited and now it's here." The 'benchmarks' are mandated by Congress but they came from the White House. When Congress was earlier considering a drawdown of troops (popularly mischaracterized as a withdrawal) and/or cutting off funding for the illegal war, the White House was the one that screamed, "Wait until September! It wouldn't be fair to David [Petreaus]! We have to be fair to David! We have to wait for David!" September has arrived.

Dave Lindorff (CounterPunch) cuts to the chase, "The Iraq War has been lost. The British are acknowledging this fact by pulling out their troops from Basra, Iraq's second largest city, handing over the city to the control of Shia militias. For all intents and purposes, the 'Coalition of the Willing' is now dead. America is now going it alone." Lindorff also remarks upon Bully Boy's layover in Iraq Monday, "He acknowledge defeat too, by flying into Iraq stealthily in the dead of night this week, landing at a remote desert outpost in western Iraq, instead of going to Baghdad, and meeting with American military officials, instead of with the Iraqi government. (So much for Iraq's being a 'sovereign nation'! Can you imagine a head of state of some foreign government, together with his war secretary and his secretary of state, flying in unannounced to some remote American state, and not even meeting with American government officials?) Clearly the US military could not guarantee the president's safety in Baghdad and the Green Zone, so he had to go to a remote outpost where he was safe behind razor wire, mines and an obscene arsenal of soldiers, tanks and gunships." Also remarking on the layover 'meeting' are members of Iraq's Parliament. Raheem Salman and Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) explain that not only were "none of the bills seen as crucial to driving national reconciliation" discussed on Tuesday but "At least one other legislator said he was insulted that Bush had bypassed the capital Monday and limited his visit to a U.S. air base in Anbar province" and quote Abdul Kareen Enizi declaring, "I want to mention my reservation and abhorrence as the meeting was held in an American base in a country having sovereignty."

Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele (Vanity Fair) report on $9 billion that "has gone missing, unnaccounted for, in a frenzy of mismanagement and greed" within the Green Zone. Money was to be made and Custer Battles brought a "gunnysack" for their pickup of $2 million from Paul Beremer (followed by another $2 million) despite the fact that Custer Battles would bill the US "government $400,000 for electricty that cost $74,000. It had billed $432,000 for a food order that cost $33,000. It had charged the C.P.A. for leased equipment that was stolen, and had submitted forged invoices for reimbursement -- all the while moving millions of dollars into offshore bank accounts. In one instance, the company claimed ownership of forklifts used to trasnport the C.P.A.'s cash (among other things) around the Baghdad airport. But up until the war the forklifts had been the property of Iraqi Airways." Bit by bit, war profitteer by war profiteer, the $9 billion vanished: "The simple truth about the missing money is the same one that applies to so much else about the American occupation of Iraq. The U.S. government never did care about accounting for those Iraqi billions and it doesn't care now. It cares only about enuring that an accounting does not occur." (Click here for a Vanity Fair interview with the reporters.)

And finally, on a day that began with announcements of the deaths of US service members in Iraq and while newspapers and most news or news-based or approximate shows were covering the GAO report, NBC's Today decided to go another way. It was Larry Craig, missing millionaires and a host of other things (including Andrea Mitchell's 'commentary' that Hillary Clinton is less liked than Bill Clinton -- like them, love them, hate them, be indifferent, at this point they are a package deal but if Mitchell couldn't get her swipes in at Hillary, what would she be left to do?), it just couldn't cover Iraq.
The GAO report wasn't as important as Meredith playing 'cute' on the Larry Craig scandal and Matt really needed to speak with Richard Branson because viewers around the US wouldn't be able to start their days without knowing what a present millionaire thought of a missing one. And of course news reader Natalie felt the thing to start the headlines with was Barbie's Dream House. Whether or not you count on Today for news, you should be aware some Americans do and most grasp the the first hour is 'hard news' (such as it ever is on Today). The GAO report didn't make Natalie's "headlines" and the deaths of US service member had to wait in line behind Barbie and other items.

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