Saturday, September 22, 2007

Brief Saturday note

Wally just called me and said, "C.I. is pissed." Community member Amanda found an article (at the awful site -- I won't ask Amanda why she was there! :D) where a Monkey News guy who hasn't read Naomi Klein's book (that's how Amanda found the piece, she was googling Naomi Klein) comparing Klein to Thomas Friedman. So Amanda e-mails C.I. about it and suggests that C.I. visit Monkey News and check out their links. C.I. does and sees "men, men, men."

I hadn't noticed that. And hadn't been to Monkey News since 2005. (I was on the panel that selected Monkey News as a permalink for The Common Ills, just disclosing.)
Wally had called C.I. to get a test audience for his joint-post with Cedric. After he got off the phone with C.I., he called me and said, "You link to Monkey News, right?" Yep. Or I did.

I've pulled them. I also considered pulling the anti-recruiting site because it hasn't updated since 2006. I have no problem with the site but it's dead now. I went ahead and left it linked because I figured that even though there is nothing new there, it's still a good resource.

But I did pull Monkey News.

When Wally explained the problems (and told me C.I.'s daughter is writing about the weasel there for Polly's Brew tomorrow -- you know it's a big deal if C.I.'s daughter is going to write something), I decided to pull Monkey News.

And let me add that if I had noticed that it links to no women before, I would've pulled it then.

I stopped visiting it in 2005 because I did notice the 'warrior' mentality there. A bunch of little boys trying real hard to act like big boys. Playing who's more manly. I thought that was actually funny because they all struck me as little pipsqueaks. But if I'd noticed that no woman was linked to, I wouldn't have just laughed at how they try to be 'manly' (while ripping off Guerilla Grrls? :D), I would've pulled them.

The lesson here is if you have kids or are planning on having them, it's your job to educate them. You can't assume that just because you stand for something, they do as well. So strong women shouldn't be raising little pigs who try to squeak macho.
Learn the lesson so you don't raise a Monkey Boy.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Law and Disorder, Jason Leopold, Media Lens

This is from Media Lens' "The Media Ignore Credible Poll Revealing 1.2 Million Violent Deaths In Iraq:"

Another aspect of reality that has no place in the corporate media's painted window was highlighted last Friday with the release (September 14) of a new report by the British polling organization, Opinion Research Business (ORB). ORB is no dissident, anti-war outfit; it is a respected polling company that has conducted studies for customers as mainstream as the BBC and the Conservative Party.
latest poll revealed that 1.2 million Iraqi citizens "have been murdered" since the March 2003 US-UK invasion.
In February, Les Roberts, co-author of the 2004 and 2006 Lancet reports, argued that Britain and America might by then have triggered in Iraq "an episode more deadly than the Rwandan genocide", in which 800,000 people were killed. (Roberts, "
Iraq's death toll is far worse than our leaders admit," The Independent, February 14, 2007)
The key importance of the new poll is that it provides strong evidence for this claim, and strong support for the findings of the 2006 Lancet study, which reported 655,000 deaths. Roberts sent this email in response to the ORB poll:
"The poll is 14 months later with deaths escalating over time. That alone accounts for most of the difference [between the October 2006 Lancet paper and the ORB poll]. There are confidence interval issues, there are reasons to assume the Lancet estimate is too low but the same motives for under-reporting should apply to ORB. Overall they seem very much to align. (e.g. both conclude that: most commonly violent deaths are from gunshot wounds [in contradiction to IBC and the MOH*], most deaths are outside of Baghdad [in contradiction to the other passive monitoring sources which tallied ~3/4th of deaths in the first 4 years in Baghdad and have only recently attributed even 1/2 as being elsewhere], Diyala worse than Anbar….)."
[* MOH = Iraqi Ministry of Health] (E-mail to Media Lens and others, September 14, 2007)
And yet, despite its obvious significance, the ORB study has been almost entirely blanked by the US-UK media. At time of writing, four days after the findings were announced, the poll has been mentioned in just one national UK newspaper -- ironically, the pro-war Observer. It has been ignored by the Guardian and the Independent.

I'm not surprised about the Guardian. They ignored the Downing Street Memos. I'm less surprised by the Independent which -- remember I'm Irish-American -- really went to town on Catholics and the IRA because of a bar fight. Their political writers also seem to work really hard to carry the water for Barack Obama.

By the way, I had an e-mail asking why I don't highlight Dave Zirin anymore? I don't usually see his stuff. I stopped making a point to seek it out after he was treating Barack Obama like a sports star. If you see something by him you like, you can e-mail and I'll note it. Unless it has something to do with Barack Obama. He's one of Our Modern Day Carrie Nations and I'm not interested in getting the word out on him. I don't care if someone votes for him but I'm not pushing him at this site. He's a War Hawk. And he's a Carrie Nations. I still like Dave Zirin but I'm just not into searching online for his stuff since that appearence on Democracy Now! where he was going on about Obama. Obama is not Muhammad Ali.

Mike Whitney's latest is way over my head but I'm linking to it and encourage you to know about it because he had some criticism of an article, thought about it and ended up rewriting it. On things I don't understand, thanks to Heidi Boghosian for her questions during the first segment of Law and Disorder this week. I didn't care for the guest and his examples either weren't helpful or weren't anything I agreed with. (Can everyone stop praising the alleged 'peace' columnist for The Nation? Vietnam was before I was even born and he hasn't done sh*t during Iraq. Coward, coward on the wall, get your ass down the hall -- and out the door. I'm not interested.) I popped in the disc last night while I was at Elaine's office waiting for her to finish up her session with the vets. (Who are all really cool, by the way. They answer all my dumb ass questions when the session's over. :D And they do so nicely.) I was bored with the guest and irritated by him. If Heidi hadn't been asking questions, I would've turned it off. My problem with the guest was like his Jonathan Schell example, everything he was talking about was years and years ago. I felt like I was listening to a reunion of my folks' graduation and if there was a good story to be retold, for me to follow it, I'd have to say, "Wait, who's ___?" Heidi's first question woke me up and because she kept pitching, I kept listening. The Michaels handled the second segment (at least one was present for the first, maybe both, but Heidi's the one who made that segment listenable to me). (I also didn't care for the guy's 'shout out' to Iraq -- one mention -- and then "What we need to focus on is Iran." No, what we need to focus is on is an illegal war that is ongoing. Iran is a possibility. It's the side dish, it's not the main one.) The interview the Michaels did (Ratner and Smith) was with a guy who's written a book on Zionism, Joel Kovel who wrote Overcoming Zionism. This was a good interview with a lot of information. And Joel Kovel didn't sound like he was droning on. He was an engaged guest. He talked about the struggles with the book being published (which is happening a lot) and what stood out most was when he was juxtaposing the death of Rachel Corrie with the press myths about Jessica Lynch. (That's not an insult to Jessica Lynch. She has been very forthright and honest and I have nothing bad to say about her. But if you forgot, the US government created this entire fantasy storyline of lies about her to try to sell the illegal war.) He was talking about how you had the stories on Lynch dominating the press and you had Rachel Corrie, an American killed by a foreign government (Isreal) and the press just didn't give a damn. Those were two really strong comparisons to make. I bet he's a really great professor because he was a great guest. The other guy, I bet I'd snooze right through a class with him. But Kovel really made things interesting (and the Michaels did a really good job with the interview). Dalia wasn't on, Dalia Hashad, and that's probably just as well because I've already got my pick for "truest statement of the week." (I think we're going to have to go with two because C.I., Kat and I are pulling for something Elaine wrote this week and Elaine hates that kind of attention. So we'll have to find a second thing and have two truests or she'll nix it.) (And that's not an insult to the Michaels or Heidi. But Dalia really does just let it rip. She's pissed off and if you're not, you must be taking a decades long nap. The Michaels get pissed off too but usually they're more joking. Daliah should be writing editorials because in like four sentences, she can lay something out so clearly and so passionately, you're saying, "Hell yeah!" Heidi's usually the 'responsible' one and I'm not insulting her with that. She's the one making guests feel comfortable and doing the 'grown up' role. She's the one who seems to always know when a guest has just lost the audience and she'll step in and get the interview back on track. She can, and has, spoken very passionately about many topics. What probably stands out to me of all my time listening is when she spoke about the genocide in the early part of the last century in Turkey. I wish they'd cover that topic again because just searching around online, I see that there's a new group of people pushing the lie that it didn't take place.) (I like all four hosts. They all have their own strengths. And it's the only show I really make a point to listen to. I watch Democracy Now! on TV. )

This is from Jason Leopold's "Soldier Who Sued Army Facing Threats:"

An Army specialist stationed in Iraq said he has been repeatedly threatened by other US soldiers after word spread that he sued the secretary of defense and an Army major this week for allegedly retaliating against the soldier when he convened a meeting of atheists, according to the founder of a military watchdog organization that filed the lawsuit on behalf of the soldier and has been in close contact with him since then.
Jeremy Hall, 22, who is based out of Fort Riley, Kansas, is deployed in Iraq. The email said a fellow soldier has threatened to "beat his ass," called him an "atheist ass pirate" and "a f**got" and enlisted a "lynch mob" of other soldiers to intimidate Hall because of the allegations Hall made against the military in a lawsuit Weinstein's foundation and Hall filed Monday in US District Court in Kansas City.
Weinstein said he has been in contact with supporters of his foundation who have reported the posting of messages on military and civilian-based blogs, such as, apparently threatening Hall with "fragging," a term used by the military in which an unpopular soldier could be killed by intentional friendly fire during combat.
"Mikey, I hope I am not a victim of a hate crime while I sleep tonight," Hall wrote in an email to Weinstein Thursday evening. "I do not want to die for my country this way. [The soldier] is threatening to beat my ass and all sorts of things. I may be harmed or worse. I am afraid for my safety. I can't sleep, man.... I just lay in my bunk for two hours and I couldn't sleep."
Messages left for several Pentagon spokespeople Thursday evening - on cell phones and at the Defense Department - were not returned.
Weinstein said late Thursday evening that he has not yet been able to verify the authenticity of the blog postings threatening Hall with "fragging." But Weinstein said he takes the threat of violence against Hall seriously and has already reached out to senior officials in the Pentagon as well as senior Army operations officials to ensure Hall's safety. Weinstein is a former White House attorney under Ronald Reagan, was general counsel to H. Ross Perot, and was formerly an Air Force judge advocate general (JAG).

That's how they deal with being called out, they try to threaten and bully. I highlighted Leopold earlier this week on this topic and I hope you're paying attention to Jeremy Hall. War resister Eli Israel refused to continue serving in the illegal war while he was stationed in Iraq. That took a lot of guts. But he's made the point that one reason they couldn't disappear him and had to discharge him was because people were talking about it, knew the stand he'd taken. So take the time to tell someone about Jeremy Hall and how he's being targeted for speaking out.

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

Friday, September 21, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, 'progress' is no where to be found in Iraq, the US loses weapons and the Iraqi resistance reportedly now has them, and more.

Starting with war resistance.
Alaam News reports that a US family of five (three children) is seeking asylum in Finland "with local media speculating that it is opposition to the Iraq war" that has led the family to leave the United States and start over in Helenski this week. If true, it would be only the second time this decade that an "American citizen . . . [has] filed an asylum application in Finland during the current decade." Meanwhile IVAW's Michael Prysner (PSL) reports, "The number of deserters is also steadily climbing, with official numbers now reaching over 10,000 since the war began. Many believe these numbers may actually be much higher. The G.I. Rights Hotline reports an average of 3,000 calls a month by new recruits and active duty soldiers who have decided they want to abandon the military. . . . Soldiers against the war have begun organizing within the military. Active duty soldiers started the Appeal for Redress, a petition calling for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. It was formulated less than a year ago, and has collected over 2,000 signatures of soldiers currently serving in the military. Membership in Iraq Veterans Against the War is nearing 600. . . . Soldiers like Lt. Ehren Watada and Camilo Mejia have set the example, publicly refusing deployment and condemning the war for its illegal and immoral nature."

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Derek Hess, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, 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 [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

Peter Hart spoke with Anthony Arnove (
IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal) on this week's CounterSpin (airing on most radio stations today) about the issue of contractors.

Anthony Arnove: There is effectively a doubling of the US occupation in Iraq right now through the employment of private contractors of whom as many as 50,000 are armed -- effectively private mercenaries working in the employee of the US occupation. Blackwater is operating under the employment of the State Department. What's interesting is that very early on in the US occupation, Paul Bremer -- who was acting as the colonial viceroy -- in his capacity of head of the Coalition Provision Authority deliberately exempted these mercenaries and other US contractors from Iraqi law. And they've created basically a legal black hole in which these mercenaries can operate without any accountability. And the few times there have been incidents in which Iraqis tried to pursue contractors for violations they've been skirted out of the country so as not to have to face any prosecution. They do technically fall under rules of engagement set down for US contractors -- whether that's Pentagon rules or State Department rules. But like we've seen with active duty troops who've engaged in abuses of human rights in Iraq, there's really been no accountability certainly not up the chain of command.

No accountability. And Bremer and the CPA were nothing but a shell game. Bremer stripped Iraqis of oversight and, in fact, the US may not have any legal right to oversight as well. As Naomi Klein explains in her new book
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism:

Bremer's CPA would not try to stop the various scams, side deals and shell games because the CPA was itself a shell game. Though it was billed as the U.S. occupation authority, it's unclear that it held that distinction in anything other than name. This point was forcefully made by a judge in the infamous Custer Battles corruption case.
Two former employees of the security firm launched a whistle-blower lawsuit against the company, accusing it of cheating on reconstruction-related contracts with the CPA and defrauding the U.S. governments produced by the company that clearly showed it was keeping two sets of numbers -- one for itself, one for invoicing the CPA Retired Brigadier-General Hugh Tant testified that the fraud was "probably the worst I've ever seen in my 30 years in the army." (Among Custer Battles' many alleged violations, it is said to have appropriated Iraqi-owned forklifts from the airport, repainted them and billed the CPA for the cost of leasing the machines.)
In March 2006, a federal jury in Virginia ruled against the company, finding it guilty of fraud, and forced it to pay $10 million in damages. The company then asked the judge to overturn the verdict, with a revealing defense. It claimed that the CPA was not part of the U.S. government, and therefore not subject to its laws, including the False Claims Act. The implications of this defense were enormous: the Bush administration had indemnified U.S. corporations working in Iraq from any liability under Iraqi laws; if the CPA wasn't subject to U.S. law either, it meant that the contractors weren't subjected to any law at all -- U.S. or Iraqi. This time, the judge ruled in the company's favor: he said there was plenty of evidence that Custer Battles had submitted to the CPA "false and fraudulently inflated invoices," but he ruled that the plaintiffs had "failed to prove that the claims were presented to the United States." In other words, the U.S. government presence in Iraq during the first year of its economic experiment had been a mirage -- there had been no government, just a funnel to get U.S. taxpayer and Iraqi oil dollars to foreign corporations, completely outside the law. In this way, Iraq represented the most extreme expression of the anti-state counter-revolution -- a hollow state, where, as the courts finally established, there was no there, there.

Contractors in Iraq -- with the permission of the US government and sometimes on the orders of the US government -- have been allowed to act with impunity.
Daniel Howden and Leonard Doyle (Independent of London) provide a look at the rise of outsourcing governmental tasks and note, "A high-ranking US military commander in Iraq said: 'These guys run loose in this country and do stupid stuff. There's no authority over them, so you can't come down on them hard when they escalate force. They shoot people.' In Abu Ghraib, all of the translators and up to half of the interrogators were reportedly private contractors."
Rosa Brooks (Los Angeles Times) also addresses the reality of governmental tasks being sold off to the private section, "What's been happening in Iraq -- and in Afghanistan, Columbia, Somalia and the Pentagon and the State Department -- goes far beyond the 'outsourcing of key military and security jobs.' For years, the administration has been quietly auctioning off U.S. foreign policy to the highest corporate bidder -- and it may be too late for us to buy it back. Think I'm exaggerating? Look at Blackwater. Its $750-million contract with the U.S. State Department employees in Iraq is just one of many lucrative U.S. (and foreign) government contracts it has enjoyed (and it's a safe bet that Sunday's episode will be only a minor PR setback for Blackwater). As for Blackwater's most recent slaughter, Kim Sengupta (Independent of London) reconstructs the events on Sunday via eye witness testimony: " We have found no Iraqi present at the scene who saw or heard sniper fire. Witnesses say the first victims of the shootings were a couple with their child, the mother and infant meeting horrific deaths, their bodies fused together by heat after their car caught fire. The contractors, according to this account, also shot Iraqi soldiers and police and Blackwater then called in an attack helicopter from its private air force which inflicted further casualties." Apparently unable to speak to Iraqis, Sabrina Tavernise and James Glanz (New York Times) rely on a leaked report from the Ministry of the Interior which "has concluded that employees of a private American security firm fired an unprovoked barrage in the shooting last Sunday," "that the dozens of foreign security companies here should be replaced by Iraqi companies, and that a law that has given the companies immunity for years be scrapped" -- and the reporters offer: "The Iraqi version of events may be self-serving in some points." And the US version may be what? Tavernise and Glanz ignore that prospect. Blackwater's apparently ignoring some things as well. Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes, "In Iraq, the private security firm Blackwater USA is reportedly back on the streets of Baghdad despite an announced ban on its activities. The Iraqi government said it had revoked Blackwater's license this week after its guards killed up to twenty-eight Iraqis in an unprovoked mass shooting. But a Pentagon spokesperson said today Blackwater is guarding diplomatic convoys following talks with the Iraqi government." So, as Ian Thompson (PSL) judged it, "Even the Iraqi puppet government leadership spoke up -- but its words were hot air. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki wants to gain credibility and appear to be independent of his U.S. colonial masters." The events appear to answer Thursday's question ("For the US government, it's a quandry: Do they use this moment to provide al-Maliki with a chance to alter his image or do they continue to let greed rule?"): Greed again won out.

Self-serving? Sabrina Tavernise and James Glanz apply that to the report from Iraq's Interior Ministry and it's doubtful they'd ever use the term for the upcoming US report. Along with the issue of equality, there's also the fact that the term is flat out wrong. The Interior Ministry is not self-serving, it's US-serving.
Dropping back to the September 6th snapshot:

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 Army was incpable of acting independently from US forces for at least another 18 months, and 'cannot yet meaningfully contribute to denying terrorists safe haven'."

The militias of the Interior Ministry are thugs who terrorize. Who trained them? Who introduced the "Salvador option"? The US. Who has refused to disband them? The US. Self-serving? The Interior Ministry wishes it were self-serving. Then it could really go to town slaughtering 'enemies.' It wouldn't have to worry that one of the many torture chambers they are running might result in a US military 'rescue' of their torture victims. If they were independent and self-serving, all of their torture chambers would be signed off on and not just some.

Today on
NPR's The Diane Rehm Show, Rehm spoke with the Washington Post's Karen DeYoung, the Wall St. Journal's Neil King Jr. and Newsweek's Michael Hirsh about a number of topics. On the topic of Blackwater, Hirsh declared, "Often all that happens is that the employee is spirited out of the country. That happened last Christmas Eve when a Blackwater employee shot and killed a guard to a senior Iraqi official inside the Green Zone which was obviously a little politically toxic. And he left, the company has since refused to disclose his name and he has not been prosecuted."

Neil King, Jr. (Wall Street Journal): The thing that is extraordinary about it is that we had the Petraeus hearings last weekend or last week, and all the discussion "we want Iraq to be a country, we want it to step up, we want it to meet all these benchmarks" etc. And yet we don't really actually treat it as a country to the extent that we've got thousands of our own nationals driving around with machine guns and opening fire on people and then being totally immune from the law and as is the case of this shooting last week -- sorry, last December -- where a person shot a security guard who was the personal security guard of the vice-president of Iraq and the person's spirited out of the country. Nobody ever knows what his name was and he's gone. There'll never be -- I mean if you reverse the scenario and imagine any remote corrolary to that in the United States which is literally unimaginable.

A point the paper of record misses. Self-serving also wasn't applied by the New York Times to any of Gen. David Petraeus' many laughable reports to Congress. Rather strange considering
Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London via CounterPunch) was reporting in the midst of the dog & pony show on how Petraues was explaining how he wanted to be President as early as 2004 but thought 2008 would be too soon to run. As Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reported earlier this week, safety "is deteriorating in southern Iraq as rival Shiite militia vying for power have stepped up their attacks after moving out of Baghdad to avoid U.S.-led military operations, according to the latest quarterly Pentagon report on Iraq". If it all sounds familiar it's because it's the same story that's been playing out over and over across Iraq. But this was hailed last week as 'progress.' Let's stick with 'progress' for a bit. Remember how the meaningless soccer victories didn't change anything but were hailed with waves of Operation Happy Talk? Strangely, that's not been the case for a title Iraq actually won. The title? Kim Sengupta (Independent of London) reported mid-week that "Iraq holds the world record for both the first and second highest amounts taken in the history of bank robberies." Number one! Number one! In fact, the chart accompanies the article reveals that four of the top five Iraq bank robberies have taken place this year for a total of $282 million (US equivalent). And how about the 'progress' in the spreading of cholera? What had been a crisis for nothern Iraq is now reaching into Baghdad with Andrew E. Kramer (New York Times) reporting that there are now two confirmed cases of cholera in Baghdad. And it's not stopping at Baghdad. Katrina Kratovac (AP) reports that "a baby in Basra" is "the farthest south the outbreak has been detected." "Progress"? Robert Burns (AP) reports that Iraqis control approximately 8 percent of Baghdad -- only 8 percent -- which Burns points out is not a large growth even though Maj Gen Joseph Fil claims it is, "Despite the slow pace of progress towards having Iraqi forces maintain control of Baghdad neighborhoods with minimal U.S. troop presence, Fil said he was hopeful that it would accelerate in coming months." He's hopeful -- that's supposed to have us all glowing.

Well maybe there's 'progress' to be found in oil news? Tuesday
Press TV reported on the bombing outside Beiji of an oil pipeline "causing huge quanties of crude oil to spill into the Tigris River" which has "caused oil to seep into the Tigris River damaging water stations and triggering their temporary closure in Tikrit". And the Tigris flows. Last night AP reported, "City officials urged Baghdad residents Thursday to conserve water and fill up their tanks in case water treatment stations have to be shut down because of an oil spill in the Tigris River." Progress? Just more violence.

In some of today's reported violence . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Hawija bombing of the home "of the former chief of Hawija police". Reuters reports 1 Romanian soldier dead from a Tallil bombing that left five more injured, a Kirkuk roadside bombing that claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and 1 Iraqi police officer, an Iskandariya mortar attack that claimed 1 life (three more injured)


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 8 corpses were discovered in Baghdad and three female corpses in Basra. Reuters notes that three corpses were discovered in Yusufiya and 1 in Bajwan.

Today the
US military announced: "A soldier assigned to Task Force Lightning died in a non-combat related incident in Kirkuk province Sept. 20." And they announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier was killed in Diyala Province Thursday when an explosion occurred near his vehicle." The deaths bring the total number of US service members killed in the illegal war since it began in March of 2003 to 3794 (ICCC). That's six announced deaths away from the 3800 mark.

Finally, the
CBS Evening News' Armen Keteyian looks into the missing weapons "the U.S. military could not account for" (190,000 of them) and discovers a large number of the Glock pistols have ended up in the hands of the Iraqi resistance: "According to an intelligence source, the U.S. contractor in charge of the Glocks somehow lost track of an entire shipment. That mysterious disappeance is now part of a massive military bribery investigation centered around a contracting office run out of a small trailer at a military base in Kuwait. Eighteen federal investigators are digging into the actions of dozens of high-ranking U.S officers and military contractors."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Dennis Kucinich, Robert Parry

Thursday. Almost the weekend. Dems did nothing today so I guess it was some sort of Congressional holiday or maybe just a normal Congressional day. Cedric's "Boxer wants to play useless like the other Dems!" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! BOXER A WEASEL LIKE THE OTHERS DEMS!..." gives you the low down.

I think most of you know my mother's for Dennis Kucinich. I haven't made up my mind yet (and there's plenty of time to do so). But this is from Russel Mokhiber's "AARP to Kucinich: Drop Dead:"

AARP President Bill Novelli is a company man.
No, the company is not AARP.
Novelli doesn't give a damn about AARP or its 38 million members.
If he did, he wouldn't be selling down them down river by opposing a single payer system that would benefit not just AARP members, but everyone in the country.
Novelli doesn't give a damn about the health of the nation.
What he cares about are the health insurance companies.
Novelli a founder of the giant Porter Novelli corporate public relations firm jumped to AARP in 2000.
But he never shed his corporate skin.
Case in point?
On Thursday night, AARP will host a debate in Iowa on the issue of health care.
Republicans and Democrats running for President will attend.
Of all of the Democrats and Republicans in the race, guess who is the only one who would put the Novelli's buddies in the health insurance industry out of business?
Guess who is the only candidate among the Democrats and Republicans who would create a Canadian-style single payer, everybody in, nobody out, no deductibles, no co-pays, no in-network, no out-of-network, streamlined system that would save billions of dollars in administrative costs, deliver a higher quality health care system, and cover everyone?

It's Kucinich that's not invited. Now the AARP is nothing but a piece of crap con game. It's not just who ever happens to be president of the AARP, the whole thing's a huge con game that exists to try to tell seniors insurance. So of course they don't want real healthcare for all. People need to stop writing these pieces year after year where they are shocked by something that the current president of AARP does and start addressing what a rip-off scam the organization is.

Another thing that should be pretty damn clear is that Kucinich is the only one with a health care plan. John Edwards and Hillary Clinton are offering goody bags for big business. Barack Obama's the kid who forgot to turn in his homework and needs another extension.

Now this is from Stephen Koff's "Kucinich blasts AARP and public television:"

It's all because AARP, the lobby for people over age 50, has excluded him from a Democratic presidential candidates' forum tomorrow night in Iowa, and PBS stations have decided to air the forum anyway.
"It's clear that they didn't want me upsetting their multi-billion dollar apple cart," Kucinich says in a news release today criticizing AARP.

[. . .]
AARP's sponsorship of the presidential forum "is like having Haliburton or Blackwater sponsor a presidential forum on doing away with no-bid government contracts to private contractors; or an oil company sponsoring a forum on reducing the world's dependence on oil," Kucinich says.

I just found that. I'm seeing if I can find anything else on Kucinich. I get e-mails sometimes they point out that Elaine (who I am involved with) has endorsed Kucinich and so has my mother (they usually write "your own mother!" :D) so what do I have against Kucinich that I won't endorse him?

I don't have anything against him. He says a lot of things I think we need to hear. But someone else could enter the Democratic Party race and the Greens haven't even really got heavy into their race. (That's not a complaint about them. I think they're smarter not to waste so much time on this. We could have all been a lot better if the Dems hadn't all come rushing out of the gate instantly and eating up time and attention that could have gone to more important issues facing the country.) Someone wrote wondering what it would take for me to endorse any candidate? I endorse Cindy Sheehan. I'm not voting in that race because she's not running in MA but I'll state she's my kind of candidate and I hope she wins. But otherwise, I'm not really focused on a candidate. I'm interested in ending the illegal war. And, unlike a lot of people online, I don't think that answers come from DC. I think we make the answers.

By the way, I'm never made about those e-mails. I never think, "Why do these come in?"

I used to wonder about that with C.I. C.I.'s got a lot of people in the community. I've got a number of readers and I'm glad to have them but C.I.'s got a community (and earned it, C.I. built it as Keesha pointed out in the roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin that we did an hour ago -- Keesha goes, "I get so much credit and so do all the members but, come on, if C.I. hadn't listened or hadn't wanted to listen, the community would not have grown." she's right too). And that's a lot of power to have. So I would be talking to C.I. right after I started my site and going, "Come on, you really are going to endorse a candidate in 2008, right?" And C.I. would say something about how "the power" I see is exactly why there should be no endorsement and it would be abusing the community to endorse because it would take a diverse community and try to use them. And I do get that now. So when someone e-mails that they are for Bill Richardson or John Edwards (that's usually who most of the e-mails are about) and couldn't I please think about voting and endorsing them?

I am thinking about voting for them next year. I doubt I'll endorse. After the Green and Democratic Conventions, I'll probably know who I'm voting for and I may share that but even if I do, it will be "This is why I'm voting for ___ but you vote for who you want." I'm not one of the online voices Scrubbing The Toilets and mistaking myself for a king/queen maker. And I won't let my readers be abused in that way either.

Hope that clears that up.

Okay, I found another Kucinich thing. But you're all going to have to live with squares where parenthesis should be (and commas too) because Common Dreams uses a different font and I'm not in the mood to go through and change everything. To be honest, I'd highlight Robert Parry more (Consortium News) -- we all would -- were it not for having to go through and fix parenthesis (fix means make them work at our sites). It's a pain in the ass and sometimes you miss them even when you think you have them all. You'll see as you read through the next thing because I'm not fixing any of the punctuation to make it mesh with Blogger/Blogspot's font. This is "New Study Shows 1.2 Million Iraqi Civilians Died In War; Resolution Will Ask House To Investigate, Prefer Criminal Charges If Necessary:"

WASHINGTON - September 19 - A British polling agency has determined that more than one million Iraqi citizens have died as a result of the Iraq war. This report follows survey results released last fall by Lancet, the prestigious medical magazine which gave a conservative estimate of 650,000 deaths. Opinion Research Business found that the death rate in Iraq increased by 1.2 million people since the U.S.-led invasion began in 2003.
“When you consider that this war was based on lies, when you consider that Iraq did not attack the United States, that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, and that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction, it is an urgent matter of national morality to determine what the appropriate response is,” said Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH).
“It is time for us to start talking about the legal responsibility of President Bush, Vice President Cheney and all the other war architects who built a case for the war based on lies.
“The very essence of America’s credibility in the world is at stake. Our highest elected officials should be held accountable for actions that resulted in the deaths of more than a million innocent people, particularly when those deaths were based on demonstrable lies.
“It is very important that we start to ask serious questions about accountability. Just as no individual has the right to take another individual’s life, no nation has the right to kill innocent people in another nation. No leader of the United States--in the name of the United States--should be permitted to wage aggressive war with impunity.
“I am preparing a resolution that requests the House meet in the Committee of the Whole to investigate the matter of civilian causalities as well as U.S. troop casualties that have occurred in Iraq. The resolution will recount that the war was based on lies. It will ask the House to consider action, including possibly preferring criminal charges against individuals who in the Administrative conduct of office were directly responsible for the war and the consequent loss of life.
“A grave injustice has been done to the people of Iraq and the people of the United States. More than one million lives have been lost. Families have been destroyed. Social networks have been ripped apart. We have had many soldiers killed and injured. This must be acknowledged.
“On a deeper level, the inquiry I am proposing relates to who we are as Americans and what we stand for. I refuse to believe that the American people—people of intelligence and good heart will not want to see justice done. There must be a measure of justice brought forward so that this deep stain on American history is removed,” Kucinich concluded. “We must seek the truth, wherever it leads.”

I'll go ahead and note Robert Parry without fixing it so you can see what that looks like too. This is from his "George W. Bush's Thug Nation:"

It’s said that over time Presidents – especially two-termers – imbue the nation with their personalities and priorities, for good or ill. If that’s true, it could help explain the small-minded mean-spiritedness that seems to be pervading the behavior of the United States these days, both at home and abroad.
On a global level, the world reads about trigger-happy Blackwater “security contractors” mowing down civilians in Baghdad, the U.S. military killing unarmed people under loose “rules of engagement” in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and the CIA “rendering” suspected Islamists to secret prisons or to third-country dungeons where torture is practiced.
Inside the United States, too, a police-state mentality is taking hold. After more than six years of having dissent against President George W. Bush equated with disloyalty, police from Capitol Hill to college campuses are treating vocal disagreement as grounds for violently “taking down” citizens, while bouncers at campaign rallies hustle away prospective hecklers and police preemptively detain protesters or stick them in faraway “free-speech zones.”
On Sept. 17 at a University of Florida public forum with Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, journalism student Andrew Meyer asked an animated question about Kerry’s hasty concession after Election 2004.

So that's what it looks like if we don't go through and fix everything. We're using different fonts and in Blogger/Blogspot we don't have the choice regarding the puncation so we have to go in and change it all or end up with squares instead of punctuation.

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

Thursday, September 20, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, Blackwater is still hot water, cholera comes to Baghdad, the Iraq Moratorium starts Friday, and more.

Starting with war resistance. Last week,
Carol Mulligan (The Sudbury Star) reported on the Sudbury chapter of War Resisters Support Campaign to find lodging for an expected arrival -- a family of four. The Canadian community pulled together and went to work. Today Carol Mulligan (The Sudbury Star) reports that, "The soldier planning to come to Canada with his family to avoid deployment to combat in Iraq has been transferred to a non-combat role" after being granted CO status and will not moving to Canada and that Lee Zaslofsky (national co-ordinator of War Resisters Support Campaign) congratulated the community on their strong work and to "assure you that, with the current volume of inquiries from potential war resisters in the U.S., there will likely be war resisters in Sudbury very soon" with 2 war resisters having "arrived unexpectedly in Ottawa" as well as the London chapter having a family arrive "last weekend and another settled in the Niagara region."

Last week,
Anthony Lane (Colorado Springs Indy) reported on Brad McCall, 20 years old, army private, who made the decision to self-checkout of the US military. Lane explained, "Soldiers tell him details of fighting in Iraq meant to make his pacifist blood boil. Soldiers who've been and returned say he'll see the bodies of dead little girls, if and when his unit is deployed. They goad him with stories of a soldier they say peeled charred flesh from an Iraqi civilian's corpse and ate it." McCall considered applying for CO status but didn't think the chances were likely of his being granted that status. So, while Lane was working on the report, McCall self-checked out and, "He'll join hundreds of other U.S. soldiers in Canada. He'll go to college, in the States, if he can get discharged. If not, maybe in Canada. . . . Army officials notified McCall's family on Tuesday that he had disappeared. Charlotte McCall, his mother, says she's saddened and worried." While she expects that he will change his mind, Lane reports "McCall contends that staying in the Army could only lead to bad things, particularly if he is deployed. The fighting in Iraq has put soldiers in nerve-wracking situations where some have fired their weapons only to realize they killed civilians, he says. 'How would I live [with] myself,' he asks, 'knowing I killed an innocent person fighting in a war I didn't believe in?'"

Already in Canada, war resister Patrick Hart is attempting to be granted refugee status. His band will be playing in Winnipeg Sunday.
David Schmeichel (Winnipeg Sun) notes, "Yes, the Refuse & Resist tour lineup is jam-packed with punks who oppose the war in Iraq. But before you dismiss 'em as snotty agitators, know that Skull Device guitarist Pat Hart is something of an expert on the topic. Hart served 9 years with the U.S. military before going AWOL and fleeing to Canada, and now faces up to 30 years in prison if our government denies his bid for refugee status. He's got the support of tourmates Nikki's Trick and My Shaky Jane, (plus local recruits C-Punisher and Saxton)." Patrick Hart went to Canada at the end of August 2005 and was followed a few weeks later by Jill Hart and their son Rian.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Derek Hess, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, 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 [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

McCall tells Lane that he doubts the US military will even look for him. If that has to do with his own record in the military, he may be right. But the reality is that the US military does attempt to track down members who check out. In news on some recent AWOLs . . .
Brad Zinn (Virginia's The News Leader) reports Denise A. Jones checked out, turned herself in and was arrested (she's 42-years-old and now at the Fort Knox Deserter Control Point). Russ Rizzo (The Salt Lake Tribune) reports Austin Lee Sommers developed pink, bronchitis, pneumonia and cellulitis while in basic training (marines) and checked out and stay with an aunt when the Orem police -- tipped off by the military and, his aunt believes, Austin's brother -- showed up to arrest him. Meanwhile in Maryland another AWOL soldier has been shot. Rocco Vertuccio (R News) reports Aberdeen was the location where 22-year-old Evan Parker of Rochester, NY was shot after he was picked up at a motel in the Aberdeen area and then returned to base (Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland) on Sunday only to go AWOL again and return to the same motel: "As an officer approached Parker, they say Parker displayed a gun. Police told Parker to drop the gun. They say instead, he waved it at the officer. The officer then fired several shots, hitting Parker in the abdomen, the leg, and upper chest. . . . Parker is now in stable condition at the University of Maryland Shock and Trauma Center. Aberdeen Police say, while Parker was being taken to the hospital, he told them and the medical personnel, he wanted police to shoot him."

This week on
The Progressive Radio Show, Matthew Rothschild interviews Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan about the illegal war, the Democrats and the Republicans and why she is running for Congress from the eighth district in California.

Matthew Rothschild: Cindy, what does it mean when two-thirds of the public is against the war and yet the war and surge goes on?

Cindy Sheehan: I think it means that what our country was founded on, which was being a representative republic, has transformed into a country or government by -- instead of by and for the people -- by and for the corporations, the special interests. I think that both parties -- the people in both parties are very similar in their ideologies, they're very similar in the people who pull their strings, the people who fund their campaigns and so I think that our government and, you know, with most of the people's consent by their silence, we're sliding into a form of fascism and I think that that is, it's corporate, you know Benito Mussolini famously said, it's when corporations and government -- it's the merger of those two interests and I think that's what we have right now.

Matthew Rothschild: How do we stop that slide? How do we reverse that slide?

Cindy Sheehan: I think we have to take back our government. I think we have to take back our representative republic. On July 23rd, I went with Ray McGovern and Rev. Lennox Yearwood to meet with John Conyers about impeachment. We took a petition with over a million signatures. We had three hundred people lining the halls by his office on Capitol Hill and, while we were there, there was a call every thirty seconds demanding impeachment and John Conyers said, "I can't do it." And I said, "So what you're telling me is that we the people have no voice in our government, we have no recourse." He said, "Yes, you do in the ballot boxes." But the candidates we vote for are the ones that the elite, the corporate elite pick for us and the media picks for us and they don't do what the people want them to do what kind of representative republic . . . do we have. So I think that we have to challenge this two-party system which really is just one party basically. People have to challenge their congress people like I'm challenging Nancy Pelosi. And I think that challenging her as an independent, unaffiliated with any party, that you can truly look at the human and not the politics -- you know, what would be right for me politically or what would make me more money -- but look at a human being and say, "What would be best for humanity? What would be best for our country?" And not what's best for myself and my own interests or the people who owns me interest. So I think that by challenging her I'm not just challenging Pelosi, I'm challenging the system and I'm challenging the military industrial complex that I think controls our system.

Matthew Rothschild: Cindy Sheehan, why do you think John Conyers told you that he couldn't do it? Because the time before in Congress, when the Democrats weren't in control, he did introduce a bill to explore grounds of impeachment.

Cindy Sheehan: This is just so puzzling to so many people -- especially people who have been impeachment-anti-war activists. A lot of people in the movement don't link impeachment with peace but there's many of us who do because first of all there's the thing of accountability. Second of all, George Bush has said the troops aren't coming home while he's president. And you know if Nixon had been held accountable for the, you know, for the prosecuting of Vietnam and for the illegal bombings of Laos and Cambodia I think it would reign in future presidents. But John Conyers wrote a book called The Constitution in Crisis and he laid out, he and his staff laid out, the crimes and the charges against George Bush. And in my many meetings with him since they've become in the majority, I've said, "You know, Congressman, what happened, all the sudden are they like innocent of these crimes? You know you have to put them to trial, you have to give them a hearing." And there's been a lot of speculation that Nancy Pelosi, and we know she did because before they were even elected she said election was off the table. And we think that Nancy Pelosi is reigning-reigning his hand in. And you know he keeps saying 'I don't have the votes, I don't have the votes". Well you're not going to have the votes if you don't put the resolution for impeachment out there and we think it's a Constitutional duty, we thank it's mandatory and he thinks he has discretion. And one thing he told me that broke my heart because I really have admired him -- even before I knew him, you know, even before my son was killed -- I admired him. And he told us that it's more important for him to have a Democratic president than to end the war. So what the democratic leadership are doing are playing politics with our flesh and blood and the people of Iraq and our soldiers are being put in the middle of this political struggle. And I think it's inherently immoral.

Matthew Rothschild: I mean that -- when I'm most cynical I think the Democrats want the war to go on because it will help them.

Staying on the topic of peace and truth telling,
Amanda Grosgebauer, Karin Scott and Kathleen Kreuger at Texas A&M refused to let a War Hawk columnist go unchallenged as he spewed hate and attacks and called him out as the pig he was. Good for them. Maybe he'll think twice before he tries to distor the work of Iraq Veterans Against the War? And a time when so many women paid to pen their opinions elect to be silent on the topic of the illegal war, the three college students show far more strength and passion that most 'professionals'. The "women of tomorrow" are already here and Kathleen Kreuger, Karin Scott and Amanda Grosgebauer make that very clear. Another strong woman is IVAW's Kelly Dougherty. Paul Pryse and Chris Chable (The Badger Herald) explain how Dougherty's story intersects with corporate profits: "When Kelly Dougherty was deployed to Iraq in 2003, her unit was assigned to escort truck convoys, usually from Kellogg Brown and Root Inc., then a subsidary of the Halliburton Company. Dougherty remembers one incident when her unit was guarding a broken-down truck containing produce and a crowd of destitute Iraqis assembled and begged for food. After Hallibruton told them to destroy the truck, Dougherty and other soldiers asked if they could distribute the food first, but were refused because it would be 'too hectic.' 'We sat there and burned produce in front of people struggling to get by, living not only under an occupation, but without jobs, without healthcare,' Dougherty said. To most people, this is wanton cruelty. However, under Halliburton's 'cost-plus' contract, they made a profit by charging the costs of that truck, the produce, plus an extra percentage to taxpayers." Which is why students at University of Wisconsin-Madison were protesting today as Halliburton showed up on campus for a job fair. Ryan J. Foley (AP) reports Chris Dols leading the hundreds of students in singing "From high to low, Halliburton got to go" and Foley observes, "The event is drawing parallels to a 1967 protest against recruiters for Dow Chemical Co., which made napalm used in Vietnam. A peaceful sit-in that ended in a bloody confrontation between students and club-wielding police officers galvanized the anti-war movement." Anita Weier (The Capital Times) notes the ingenuity of the students in the following: "They were allowed to enter the career fair but were told not to chant, so they sang. They were told to use conversational tones, but they did so with a bullhorn."

They aren't the only ones standing up.
Alive in Baghdad offers their latest video report and this one is on the Al Hurriya section of Baghdad which was once a mixed neighborhood but has become pure Shi'ite and was the scene for Nabeel Kamal's report of a protest following the murder of Jawad Kadhim Al Sultani which called for all US forces to "leave our safe district and be replaced with Iraqi Forces". Who led the protest? Women. Carrying banners and accompanied by small children, they changed We defend our country and we're call terrorists, No, no to America! No, no to America! Maliki government, how long will you be silent?"

Turning to the topic of Blackwater.
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes today, "Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is promising to hold the private military firm Blackwater USA accountable for its deadly attack on Iraqis last weekend in Baghdad. Maliki's pledge comes as the estimated death toll from the shooting continues to rise. Iraqi officials now say as many twenty-eight Iraqis were killed when Blackwater guards opened fire. The initial estimate was of nine dead. On Wednesday, Maliki said Iraq would not allow the killing of Iraqis 'in cold blood.' He also called on the Bush administration to cut ties with Blackwater. The shooting has put new scrutiny on the free reign companies like Blackwater enjoy in Iraq. The State Department says its formed a joint committee with Iraqi officials to suggest ways to improve regulation of private military firms." Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that Nouri al-Maliki declared yesterday that the mercenaries of Blackwater "have been involved in at least seven serious incidents" already and Mohammed al Askari (spokesperson for the Defense Ministry) declares "one of the incidents was former Iraqi Electricity Minister Ahyam al Samarrai's escape from a Green Zone jail in December. Samarrai had been awaiting sentencing on charges that he had embezzled $2.5 billion that was intended to rebuild Iraq's decrepit electricity grid. Another incident, Askari said, was the shooting death last month of a Baghdad taxi driver when Blackwater guards led a convoy the wrong way down a street." Steve Fainaru (Washington Post) informs that "the State Department's oversight of Blackwater became a central issue as Iraqi authorities repeatedly clashed with the company over its aggressive street tactics. Many U.S. and Iraqi officials and industry representatives said they came to see Blackwater as untouchable, protected by State Department officials who defended the company at every turn. Blackwater employees protect the U.S. ambassador and other diplomats in Iraq. Blackwater 'has a client who will support them no matter what they do,' said H.C. Lawrence Smith, deputy director of the Private Security Company Association of Iraq, an advocacy organization in Baghdad that is funded by security firms, including Blackwater." Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reports, "Two American diplomats speaking on condition of anonymity have told The Times that the State Department had failed to take Blackwater to task in past cases in which Iraqi civilians were shot. The diplomats complained that the State Department's security office in Baghdad had often failed to scrutinize Blackwater's actions."

Let's get the alleged 'progress' out of the way before we go further. This morning
Paul Tait (Reuters) reported that serial liar Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno is again claiming violence is a-dropping. He's got nothing to back it up, just his oft disproven claims. But it sure does eat a lot of press time (which is always the point of a wave of Operation Happy Talk). Meanwhile, no one knows anything about an arrest of an alleged Iraian for alleged smuggling but that eats up even more time. Maybe they'll distract from the looming 3800 mark for the number of US service members killed in the illegal Iraq War? Or maybe from AP's report on the 'handover': "In another sign of U.S. struggles in Iraq, the target date for putting Iraqi authorities in charge of security in all 18 provinces has slipped yet again, to at least July. The delay, noted in a Pentagon report to Congress on progress and problems in Iraq, highlights the difficulties in developing Iraqi police forces and the slow pace of economic and political progress in some areas. It is the second time this year the target date for completing what is known as 'Provincial Iraqi Control' has been pushed back. The Pentagon report submitted to Congress on Monday hinted at the possibility of further delays." Or maybe it will distract from the cholera outbreak in northern Iraq that, bad sign, has now moved to Baghdad according to the World Health Organization.

In other violence . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing claimed 1 life (police officer) and left three more people wounded, another Baghdad bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and left a second injured, a Baghdad car bombing claimed 3 lives and left eleven others injured and 2 Falluja roadside bombings claimed 2 lives (police officers) and left four more wounded. Reuters reports a mortar attack in Madaen claimed 2 lives (ten more were injured).


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Sheikh Khalid Salim Faris al-Bayati was shot dead in Tuz Khurmato today while Lt. Col. Mejeed Shnan "was shot in the shoulder and is being treated in hospital" after surviving an attack. Reuters notes that "radio presenter" Muhannad Ghanim was shot dead in Mosul that Judge Mustafa Kadhim was shot dead in Baghdad, and a person was shot dead in Hawija


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 7 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes that 3 corpses ("including a woman and her daughter") were discovered in Mosul.

Today the
US military announced: "A Soldier assigned to Multi-National Force-West died Sept. 19 in a non-combat-related incident in Al Anbar Province."
corporate media picks for us and the elite and they don't do what the people

In yet
another sign of how the US Veterans Affairs Dept continues to fails service members, Reuters reports Fort Riley's cemetary "has run out of space" and that US Senators Pat Robers and Sam Brownback are "urging . . . full funding for a new cementary for Fort Riley" -- that two US Senators (they are Republicans) have to urge the Veterans Affairs Dept to do their job is only one example of how mismanaged the department has been under the Bully Boy.

WBAI today, The Largest Minority Radio Show devoted a segment to remembering Dave Cline. In addition, yesterday's note on David Zeiger's piece didn't include the link to the website. First, language warning before clicking to get the essay, second, the site is Sir! No Sir! -- site of the amazing documentary. You can also Zeiger's piece and others (including one by Cindy Sheehan) at Veterans for Peace's memorial online.

Finally remember this:
United for Peace & Justice (along with others) will begin Iraq Moratorium on September 21st and follow it every third Friday of the month as people across the country are encouraged to wear and distribute black ribbons and armbands, purchase no gas on those Fridays, conduct vigils, pickets, teach-ins and rallies, etc. The Moratorium starts tomorrow.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Iraq, Jena 6

Wednesday. Watching my manners. :D We're back from DC and I'm staying at Elaine's. She's got work tomorrow but is taking off Friday due to the Iraq Moratorium. I'm not going to classes Friday for the same reason so I'm going to hang out here through Friday evening when it's time for the Iraq study group. We got in and decided to do two headlines that stood out to us from Democracy Now! because we're wiped out from DC and honestly thought about taking the night off.

"50,000 Iraqis Displaced Since July"
In other Iraq news, new figures show the number of displaced Iraqis his risen by about fifty-thousand since July. The International Organization for Migration says more than two million, two-hundred twenty-five thousand Iraqis have fled their homes since the US invasion.

How do the War Hawks do it? How do they make themselves ignore reality? There is no progress in Iraq and the longer the US stays the worse things get it. So my question at this point is do they know they're lying to themselves and everyone else when they push for the illegal war to drag on and on?

The die-hard Bully Boy and illegal war lovers are like 27%. I'm sure some of those people really do believe. Not because they're stupid but due to the fact that we have a sucky media. But I bet that's less than 8%. The rest of them?

I don't think they give a damn about reality. I think some of them have convinced them that doing the right thing (withdrawing) is a mistake and such a BIG mistake that they're fine with the illegal war dragging on for a decade or more. They don't care how many die.

They're scared cowards who think that withdrawal sends all these messages! What will others think! They'll think the US wised up to the fact that they had no business in Iraq.

That's the lesson.

That's the reality.

This wasn't a 'noble' war. It was lost from the start because it was illegal. Bully Boy lied to start it and Iraqis have suffered because of it.

There's no way to paint the US as "heroic."

Heroism doesn't come from lies.

"State Dept. IG Accused of Covering Up Iraq Fraud"
One of the Bush administration’s top oversight officials is being accused of repeatedly thwarting probes of contracting fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan. On Tuesday, Congressmember Henry Waxman said State Department inspector general Howard Krongard has censored reports and closed investigations to avoid embarrassing the White House. Krongard is accused of refusing to send investigators to Iraq and Afghanistan to probe three billion dollars in contracts. He’s also said to have personally intervened to clear labor abuse charges against the lead contractor building the US Embassy in Baghdad. The allegations are based on testimony from seven current and former members of Krongard’s staff, as well as private emails. Krongard took the job in May 2005. He had no previous experience at the State Department.

The inspector general post -- at any department or agency is supposed to be independent. But there's no independence under the Bully Boy. I think they must ask in the hiring sessions, "Do you love the Bully Boy? Will you die for him? Will you die for him!" :D A lot of people are killing their careers (if there's any justice) and their futures (ditto) by doing just that.

Okay, in Jena, LA, there's been some serious problems. At best, it started when White kids thought they were being funny and weren't smart enough to grasp that knooses weren't funny. I don't want to stereotype a region (especially one I've never even visited) but the families should have stepped up and told their kids, "This isn't funny." Knooses aren't funny. Just hanging a knoose sends a signal that's meant to terrorize and silence. If the kids who hung the knooses really didn't know what they were doing when they hung them (and I'm not saying they didn't know, I'm just saying that's the nicest explanation of how this started), their parents should have explained it to them. In addition, the school should have immediately addressed the issue which isn't bringing a DA to threaten students. It's doing an intensive history lesson on what the knoose means and how offensive it is. A lot of times, we don't grasp that things have symbolic meaning and with South Park and every thing else that thinks they are so 'daring' but are really just racist crap, I can see that kids could think, "Oh, it'll be funny!" because those shows really do encourage kids to think that way. One of Amy Goodman's guests today was talking about how African-American students and White students put their heads in the knoose after they went up as a "joke." I think that shows what the adults in the area didn't get. When you're faced with something like that, something that is a threat to you, you've got two choices right away: call it out or don't let it get to you.

If you get that's a threat, you've already been threatened and the last thing you might want to do is let anyone know a racist joke got to you. When someone's trying to get to you, sometimes you don't want them to know that they succeeded. It's also true that when a group of kids start joking, you get some kids who'll go along.

So just because one or more African-Americans stuck their heads in the knoose (if they did) doesn't mean they weren't offended at the time. Nor does it mean that they got it at the time. When someone's tried to get to me and I've played it off, I've often gotten angry as the day wore on. So I could very easily see someone thinking, "I'm not going to let those White racists get to me" and going along for that moment and just getting angrier and angrier through the day. That's completely understandable.

So from that moment which, best case/nicest explanation is the White kids didn't grasp the history behind the knoose when they hung them, the schools and the parents didn't step in like they should have. And let me say the White parents. I'm sure the African-American parents had their hands full explaining to and listening to their children.

Best case is White parents didn't realize what a big deal this was.

So with the adults failing, the whole thing just got even worse. To the point that you've got White adults beating up on African-American kids at parties. At that point, it was no longer a school issue. The school had failed. Then you had people, White people, working out their own racism. By the time non-school age people are getting involved, it's obviously intentional racism and not just someone not grasping history.

So there was violence and a building got burned and none of that would have happened (my opinion), if the school had immediately started teaching the seriousness of the knoose by doing an indepth study, for all the grades, on the history and what it meant.

I'm also willing to bet that some of the White kids, early on, had parents who thought it was funny. The knooses were hung at the school and that meant the school should have immediately dealt with -- school wide. It should have been, "Something really disgusting happened and we're going to focus on why it is disgusting because this never needs to happen again."

So that's my set up for Amy Goodman's "Tipping the Scales of Justice in Jena:"

The tree at Jena High School has been cut down, but the furor around it has only grown.
"What did the tree do wrong?" asked Katrina Wallace, a stepsister of one of the Jena Six, when I interviewed her at the Burger Barn in Jena, La. "I planted it 14 years ago as a tree of knowledge."
It all began at the start of the school year in 2006, at a school assembly, when Justin Purvis asked if he could sit under the schoolyard tree, a privilege unofficially reserved for white students. The next morning, three nooses were hanging from its broad, leafy branches.
African-American students protested, gathering under the tree. Soon after, the district attorney, Reed Walters, came to the school with the police, threatening, "I could end your lives with the stroke of a pen." Racial tensions mounted in this 85 percent white town of 4,000. In December, a schoolyard fight erupted, and the district attorney charged six African-American high school students, the soon to be dubbed Jena Six, with second-degree attempted murder.
I recently visited Billy "Bulldog" Fowler in his office. He's a white member of the LaSalle Parish School Board. He says Jena is being unfairly painted as racist. He feels the hanging nooses were blown out of proportion, that in the high school setting it was more of a prank: "This is the Deep South, and [older] black people know the meaning of a noose. Let me tell you something-young people don't."
That night, I went to see the Baileys in their mobile home in Ward 10, one of the black neighborhoods in Jena. Two of the Jena Six, Robert Bailey and Theo Shaw, were ironing their clothes. I asked them what they thought when they saw the nooses. Robert immediately said: "The first thing came to mind was the KKK. I don’t know why, but that was the first thing that came to my head. I used to always think the KKK chase black people on horses, and they catch you with rope."
Theo said he thought the students who hung the nooses "should have got expelled, cuz it wasn’t no prank. It was a threat." School principal Scott Whitcomb thought the same. He recommended expulsion of those who hung the nooses, but the superintendent overruled him, imposing three days of suspension. Whitcomb resigned.

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

Wednesday, September 19, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, when the 3800 marker is reached (3800 US service members killed in the illegal war) will anyone know, bad news keeps on coming for the mercenary company Blackwater, Newsweek (which once invented a 'marriage crisis' for women in the 80s) turns their creative 'minds' to young Iraqi women, the US military brags of the 11-year-old children they hold in Iraq prisons, and more.

Starting with war resistance, today on
KPFK's Morning Review with Gabriel Gutierrez, Gutierrez spoke with two members of Iraq Veterans Against the War, war resister Agustin Aguayo and Maricela Guzman (also with the Service Women Action Network) about their experiences speaking with students about the Iraq War.

Maricela Guzman: For me, when I go to schools, I definitely talk about my perspective in the service. I think it's really important to go to that route. And I do tell them about my experience specifically as a woman veteran. I do tell them that I was assaulted in the service, sexually assaulted when I was in boot camp. And I think it's really important for them to know this and it's been very difficult for me to tell my story over and over but it's really important for them to know this because I want them to understand that there are risks when you join such an organization like this. So it's very critical. And for me, what I've found, I've gotten really good feedback from the kids and I've had, you know I've talked about suicide, my suicide attempt. And I've had kids -- I've talked about seeing a psychologist and it's a big taboo when you go to these communities and this is something we don't talk about -- I'm Chicana and it's something definitely my family would never talk about. For me, talking to these kids afterwards, them coming up and telling me, "This is what happened to me. I was assaulted" or "I've tried suicide." I think, for me, that's very critical. And we're including these organic conversations when we're going to these schools -- even besides military.

Gutierrez asked Aguayo what helped him "make the determination" not to return to Iraq?

Agustin Aguayo: To me, honestly, it wasn't a hard decision once I decided that I could never go back. Basically because I experienced a moral awakening and I was forced to realize who I was. And I had to accept that I could deny myself and cause all this violence against myself or I could stand up and say, "No, I believe this is wrong and I'm willing to accept any consequences." And in the end I think it gave me a . . . feeling of great freedom. So that is . . . a personal moral determination to do what I felt was right is what helped me the most.

Gabriel Gutierrez: And your wife Helga and your two daughters have been involved in the campaign to bring awareness to your case but also in its aftermath once you've now returned. What type of work has that led to with regard to awareness and with regard to work with young people specifically?

Agustin Aguayo: Yes, I've had the privilege of speaking supporting groups that have helped other war resisters, the growing number of them. And now I'm in the position to share with them what I've been through and they, of course, these resisters that are in this path, this crossroads: "What am I going to do?" I've had the privilege of sharing my experience with them and inspiring them. And one of the happiest things I'm pleased with is the
Arlington West Film and speakers program and I think in the peace work nothing is really more important than educating our young because our future really depends on how we take care of our young today and educating them. So going into inner city schools is just so important. And veterans sometimes, we're hesitant. And sometimes we really want to forget everything we've been through, everything we've experienced, our military experience, but I think we owe it to our young people. They need to know what's going on, what we experienced.

Gutierrez asked what the reaction was from students, teachers and recruiters when they speak in schools?

Maricela Guzman: Well for me, it's definitely been very difficult. I know I've been on panels -- it was this year sometime, we went to Fairfax -- and Agustin was in jail at that time and we had a panel, we had recruiters veterans that were for the war and we had Helga and we really got a good reception. It was very interesting because we weren't sure what was going to happen. And really what it came down to was that it was the kids who were asking the hard questions. So it was empowering these kids to ask the questions that needed to be asked. And the most important thing was that they heard from family members. You know, we have a lot of family members . . . who talk to these kids. We don't tell them don't be against the war. We talk about our experiences. We're storytellers we tell them of what we've gone through and I think that's why it's been such a successful program. We've become a family, we've definitely become a family, the people that do this work, the Aguayos are a family to me.

Agustin Aguayo: I think the community, administrators, are very receptive because of our tact and like Maricela said the way we share our stories Basically that's what we do. And I think our stories are so powerful in themselves even people that are for the war which I mean at this point, even people who don't want us to go out they really can't say much because all we are doing is sharing stories and nothing is more powerful than the truth.

As pointed out
Arlington West Film is "doing the work that the mainstream media is not doing". Friday, September 28th, there will be a benefit performance of the musical Hair at 8:00 pm at the MET Theater, 1089 No. Oxford Avenue, Hollywood, CA 90029 with Aguayo and Cindy Sheehan among the speakers.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Derek Hess, Justin Cliburn, 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 [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

In other peace news,
United for Peace & Justice states they are using the Just Foreign Policy count for Iraqis who have died in the illegal war. The report on the state of Iraq has been updated to note the Iraqi dead during the illegal war is over a million. United for Peace & Justice (along with others) will begin Iraq Moratorium on September 21st and follow it every third Friday of the month as people across the country are encouraged to wear and distribute black ribbons and armbands, purchase no gas on those Fridays, conduct vigils, pickets, teach-ins and rallies, etc. That's this Friday. On Sunday, Christine Anne Piesyk (Tennessee's Clarksville Online) provided a list of some actions that will take place:.

Each of these individuals and groups -- a list too long to print here -- have something in common: each have signed up to support the Iraq Moratorium, which will make its debut as a national movement on Friday, September 21. Wear and distribute black ribbons and armbands Buy no gas on moratorium days Pressure politicians and media Hold vigils, pickets, rallies and teach-ins Hold special religious services Coordinate events in art, music and culture Host film screenings, talks and educational events Organize student actions: teach-ins, school closings Iraq Moratorium is designed to take the issue to the people, and no event or action is to small to be of merit in opposing the Iraq war.

Turning to the topic of Blackwater USA, the mercenaries that got into Iraq due to crony connections and whom Paul Bremer made above the law during his reign of King of Iraq before fleeing the country.
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes today, "The private military contractor Blackwater is now believed to have killed twenty Iraqi civilians in a mass-shooting Sunday in Baghdad. The Iraqi government revoked Blackwater's license amidst reports nine civilians were killed when Blackwater guards opened fire. Blackwater says it responded after coming under attack from a roadside bomb. But in its initial report on the shooting, Iraq's Interior Ministry says the guards shot at a small vehicle that failed to make way for Blackwater's convoy to pass. An Iraqi couple and their infant were killed in the attack. The New York Times reports video footage of the shooting shows the child burned to the mother's body after their car caught fire. Blackwater guards and helicopters are then believed to have fired indiscriminately." In the New York Times, Sabrina Tavernise and James Glanz reported this morning that the Ministry of Interior's preliminary report on the incidnet found "that Blackwater security guards were not ambushed, as the company reported, but instead fired at a car when it did not heed a policeman's call to stop, killing a couple and their infant." Joshua Partlow (Washington Post) addresses the issue of stopping and the police officer via . . . interviews (take note NYT): "Traffic police officer Sarhan Dhia, 34, said he was standing under the Iraqi flags next to his white guard shack along the traffic circle when he saw the convoy of at least four armored vehicles approch, traveling against the flow of traffic. He said he jumped out into an intersecting street to prevent cars from entering the circle while the convoy passed. The next thing he knew, he said, gunfire erupted." Sarhan Dhia says there was no bombing. Blackwater originally claimed that their mercenaries were 'returning fire' after they had been shot at. They then declared that their indiscriminate spraying of a civilian area with bullets was their way of responding to car bombing. Their stories -- like the civilian area they shot up -- is riddled with holes. Leila Fadel and Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) also operate under the belief that reporting requires speaking to eye witnesses and they speak with Hassan Jaber Salma and Sami Hawas Karim (an attorney and a taxi driver respectively) who both -- as does every other eye witnesses quoted in press accounts -- maintain that Blackwater "opened fire without provocation" and the reporters note the ever changing story by Blackwater. Interior Ministry spokesperson Ali al Dabbagh tells McClatchy Newspapers that, "No country in the world would allow the way they [Blackwater] are operating in Iraq." Multiple outlets (including McClatchy and the New York Times) report that Blackwater helicopters also fired on civilians in the Sunday slaughter. CBS and AP cite eye witness Suhad Mizra who stepped outside of her hair salon ("about 250 meters" from the incident) and remebers, "The sounds attracted my attention so I went outside the shop to see a convoy of SUVs with security guards shooting randomly at the people at low level. We were surprised by this and we rushed inside our shops to avoid random bullets. Apparently, the guards wanted to make their way through the traffic jam made by Iraqi army checkpoint. There was no provocation and the guards were using their ammunition to move quicker in the street. Minutes later, the ambulances arrived to up the wounded and dead." Reality is that this has long been the procedure: to ram through Iraq so that the "high levels" didn't have to wait. An important question the press should be asking is: Who was Blackwater transporting? Among the many times this has happened before, Anne Garrels (All Things Considered, NPR) reports on one: "NPR witnessed a similar scenario two years ago. A State Department convoy, protected by Blackwater, raced out of a compound. Guards immediately shot at the car killing an old man, his son and his daughter-in-law. Blackwater said the car was driving erratically. A U.S. military investigation concluded Blackwater had used excessive force. No one was prosecuted.

Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) informs, "Blackwater is now being accused of another fatal shooting of an Iraqi civilian. An Iraqi engineer living in Britain has revealed Blackwater guards shot his seventy-five year old father in the southern Iraqi town of Hilla last month. Safaa Rabee says his father had pulled over to the side of the road to let a Blackwater convoy pass. But Rabee says the last vehicle in the convoy opened fire when his father pulled back on to the road. An Iraqi police chief told Rabee he has no legal recourse to pursue his father's killers." As the US government continues to attempt damage control, many more of these stories are likely to come out.

Newsweek continues to prove it is the gutter of all news weeklies. In the 'safe' Kurdistan region of Iraq (not safe -- but Newsweek needs their fantasies), young women (teenagers) are showing up at hospitals with burns and many are dying from them (since August 10th alone, 25 young women have died) and the best guess Newsweek can offer is that it's a copy-cat trend by romantic teenage females. As with their notion of the region being 'peaceful,' their notion of women is ridiculously out of touch. Young women have been repeatedly targeted in that area, they've been kidnapped and forced into marriages, they've been persecuted for not being the right sect, go down the list. But romantic young women self-mutilating (to the death!) is the myth they toss out. .

Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a roadside bombing in Kirkuk that left five wounded "(four of them are policemen while the fifth man is a civilian)".


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an attack in Mosul in which 1 Iraqi soldier died, 14 unidentified people died and four Iraqi soldiers were wounded.


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

CBS and AP report: "The military said five U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq Tuesday. Three died following an explosion near their patrol northeast of Baghdad. Another soldier was killed in a vehicle accident in the northern province of Ninevah. On Wednesday, the military said another soldier had been killed in an attack in southern Baghdad. The Multi-National Division-Baghdad soldier was killed by small arms fire while conducting combat operations Tuesday in a southern section of the Iraqi capital, according to a brief military statement. The soldiers' names were not released pending notification of relatives. The deaths raised to at least 3,787 members of the U.S. military who have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count." Maybe. (Not a slap down. We noted the string along announcements numbered five deaths this morning.) Today the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was killed during a small arms fire attack while conducting combat operations in a southern section of the Iraqi capital Sept. 18." That is in the count of five. Later today, the US military announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier died of a non-battle related cause, Wednesday, in Sala ad Din Province." And they announced: "A Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was killed during combat operations in an area weat of the Iraqi captial Sep 19." Reuters count is 3786 since the start of the illegal war. ICCC's total is 3791 US service members killed in the illegal war thus far. The reason for the confusion? M-NF is supposed to announce deaths with the Defense Dept later announcing the names of the dead (after next of kin is notified). But M-NF has been slacking on the job -- it's not a tough job, they just issue press releases all day long. They've 'suceeded' in hiding the dead. And with the 3800 mark looming, let's not kid and pretend this is just an accident. M-NF has a pattern of doing this when every realities are in conflict with the spin coming out of the White House. ICCC has period details and their count includes deaths never announced by M-NF but announced by the Defense Dept when the DoD provides the names of the dead. ICCC's period details indicate that six deaths took place on Tuesday -- six deaths that have been announced.

In other number news,
Prensa Latina reports that there are 25,000 Iraqis imprisoned by the US -- up from 10,000 "a year ago." IRIN reveals that the Iraqi Lawyers Association is asking the parliament to provide the location of all prisoners currently being held and that "[l]awyers representing families of Iraqi detainees have accused the government of concealing information about detainees, including their whereabouts" quoting attorney Ayad Daraji stating, "Hundreds of Iraqis have been detained by the Iraqi police or army in the past three years and their locations and conditions are unknown. There is no evidence as to whether they are alive or not. Families aren't allowed to visit them and this raises big questions about the detainees' situation." As the numbers grow and families often have no idea that members have been imprisoned, Walter Pincuse (Washington Post) reports on a program entitled "religious entitlement" that the US military is using on the prisoners "some of whom are as young as 11" according Maj. Gen. Douglas M. Stone who brags that the programs will "bend them back to our will." The age should cause further alarm but the realities don't appear to even be sinking in. For instance, CBS News (or "News") Keach Hagey sees it as a topic to have some funnin' with: "But what really emerges from the article -- a summary of a conference call Stone held from Baghdad with a group of defense bloggers -- is a portrait of Stone as a formidable character who's almost as fun to quote as Donald Rumsfeld was." Hagey and others need it get it through their thick skulls that this isn't 'cute' or 'funny' or even 'new.'

Yesterday, Naomi Klein's
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism was released in the US. In it, she details "the love shack" in the Guantanamo prison used as a reward to those terrorized and broken down. There's not a damn bit of difference here except for the fact that the Iraqi prisoners are supposed to be protected by Geneva with no waiver. Though Hagey can't grasp reality staring in his face, it's not 'funny' that 11-year-olds are prisoners. It's not 'funny' that the US -- having taken these children from their families -- think they can 'break' them and rebuild them to their liking. That is what The Shock Doctrine outlines. Erasing memory, starting with a clean slate, refusal to see people as people but as pawns for the US to play with. Those who don't grasp how disgraceful this is are either playing dumb or are historically ignorant. It is not the right of the US military to snatch children from their homes and attempt to do some reprogramming of them. That is a crime and it is in violation of Geneva.

Elaine (Like Maria Said Paz) wrote about the Free Sami Al-Haj -- a journalist imprisoned in Guantanamo for over five years now and subject to the same torture and disregard for basic rights as every other prisoner in Guantanamo -- and concluded, " The real terrorism is the silence we allow ourselves to be forced into out of fear." Or out of stupidty as is the case with Keach Hagey.

In other non-progress news,
Alissa J. Rubin and James Glanz (New York Times) cover the upcoming Red Cross report on Iraqi refugees which notes the "radically reshaping" taking place in Iraq (not unlike the aims in the US prison) which indicates "partitioning the country into semiautonomous Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish enclaves would not be easy" (impossible actually because the three divisions ignore Iraq's minority populations) and note, "The migration data, which are expected to be released this week by the Iraqi Red Crescent Organization but were given in advance to The New York Times, indicate that in Baghdad alone there are now nearly 170,000 families, accounting for almost a million people, that have fled their homes in search of security, shelter, water, electricity, functioning schools or jobs to support their families. The figures show that many families move twice, three times or more, first fleeing immediate danger and then making more considered calculations based on the availability of city services or schools for their children." Peter Apps (Reuters) gets to the point quickly, "Iraq's humanitarian crisis is getting worse and more Iraqis are fleeing their homes despite the recent surge of U.S. troops, aid workers say, with donors reluctant to fund support for millions of displaced. Last week, President George W. Bush presented a relatively upbeat picture of conditions in Iraq and said forces could be cut by around 20,000 by next July. He linked the reduction to improvements on the ground particularly in Baghdad where the surge was centred and the volatile Anbar governorate." There is no improvement for Iraqis. There is, however, the US military bragging that they will "break" 11-year-old prisoners -- how proud their parents must be.
Finally, a voice for peace passed away Friday. As
Amy Goodman (DemocracyNow!) noted on Monday, Dave Cline a founder of Vietnam Veterans Against the War passed away. Margaret Prescod noted the passing Tuesday on KPFK's Sojourner Truth, IVAW's Michael Hoffman offers a look back at Cline. Veterans for Peace has a memorial online and they have created a fund to cover the expenses of Cline's burial. At Sir! No Sir!, director David Zeiger writes of Cline, "Dave and I were from different worlds. I was a middle class kid who came to my opposition to the war and growing radicalism intellectually. Dave, a working class kid from Buffalo, had joined the army and had been wounded three times in Vietnam. It was his last wound, from an NLF soldier at point blank range, that changed everything. The soldier shattered Dave's knee, and Dave killed him with a bullet in the chest. His first realization was it was "pure luck" that he was alive and the other guy was dead. Then it hit him that there was no real difference between the two of them. Finally, the epiphany: It was the NLF
soldier who was fighting for a just cause, while Dave and his comrades were fighting for a lie. In typical Dave Cline fashion he concluded in 1970, 'I had to kill a revolutionary to become a revolutionary.' "

agustin aguayo