Friday, September 28, 2007

Roberto J. Gonzlez & David H. Price

Friday at last! I'm happy because I found something online.

People sometimes wonder what they get from websites. With The Common Ills, you get the news you need to know. And you get it long before others are talking about. That's true of the 'kill teams' which we heard about in June thanks to C.I. and that's true of anthropologists being used in Iraq to betray their training and target civilians. December 20, 2006, C.I. first noted it (and has done so many times since). Today the topic is up at CounterPunch. I wonder if they'll get the hate mail from the military brass and the government C.I. did for covering this?

From Roberto J. Gonzalez and David H. Price's "When Anthropologists Become Counter-Insurgents:"

When anthropologists work overseas, they typically arrive with an array of equipment including notebooks, trowels, tape recorders, and cameras. But in the new context of the Bush Administration's "war on terror," a growing number of anthropologists are arriving in foreign countries wearing camouflage, body armor, and guns.
As General Petraeus and his staff push to enact new strategies in Iraq, the value of culture is taking on a greater role in military and intelligence circles, as new military doctrines increasingly rely on the means, methods and knowledge of anthropology to provide the basis of counterinsurgency practices. The Department of Defense, intelligence agencies, and military contractors are aggressively recruiting anthropologists for work related to counter-insurgency operations. These institutions seek to incorporate cultural knowledge and ethnographic intelligence in direct support of US-led interventions in the Middle East and Central Asia.

Read the whole article. And be glad it's finally getting coverage elsewhere. This is using a social science, abusing it. This is using an understanding, a field, to harm and it's disgusting.

Here's a link to Dave Zirin's latest. Betty's father is furious about one aspect of this topic. C.I.'s remark about 'sainthood' yesterday was acknowledging it. We may be doing a piece on it this weekend. We would all prefer to avoid the topic but it has really enraged Betty's father (I don't blame him). When I wrote about the topic last week, I wasn't aware of it. I thought I was getting the full story from independent media but I wasn't. We learned about it from C.I., that Betty's father was tired of "people being stupid," and Elaine and I said, "We won't write about it again." But Betty's father has had it with White people "distorting" -- his word, I agree, I called him when C.I. told me the posts had made him mad -- he wasn't mad at Elaine or I but he is sick of stuff being left out -- five arrests isn't 'minor' -- and we both said we wouldn't write about it again. It was one of the possible topics for the roundtable last week but there wasn't time. C.I. hears about it from him all the time (more so than Betty, she'll tell you that herself :D). He'll pick up the phone and leave a message for C.I. to call back when there's time. So I think we're addressing the subject for the first and last time at Third this weekend. I'm including Zirin's column because scanning it, I don't see the distortion in it and I want to be clear that I'm not holding a grudge against Zirin. But Betty (and her family) matter to me and I'm not excerpting on the subject because there's been enough coverage of it -- especially considering that some things got left out. Betty's father is furious about a statement that a guest on Democracy Now! made and said that was "utter b.s." and it was. I've already told Betty I'll jump in so it's not just her and C.I. having to tackle a few realities that got left out of the story. I guess the easiest way to put it is I support five and not six.

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

Friday, September 28, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the air-war continues and NPR goes ga-ga over it, the mercenaries at Blackwater continue to raise questions, and Dems fund the illegal war again. And, ADDED, PBS examines the Iraq War (tonight in most markets) via Bill Moyers Journal and NOW with David Branccacio.

Starting with war resistance. As
Iraq Veterans Against the War notes, the government's 'do-over' (double-jeopardy) attempt at court-martialing Ehren Watada is scheduled for October 9th and "Lt. Watada is facing four charges that could land him in jail for up to six years." June 22, 2006, Ehren Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to serve in the Iraq War (rightly) noting that the war is illegal. Daniel Ellsberg gave a speech (posted at ICH) last week where he noted Watada, "I've often said that Lt. Ehren Watada -- who still faces trial for refusing to obey orders to deploy to Iraq which he correctly perceives to be an unconstitutional and aggressive war -- is the single officer in the United States armed services who is taking seriously in upholding his oath." Watada's attorneys are appealing on a number of grounds including the fact that Judge Toilet (aka John Head) thinks he can be impartial and preside again as well as the fact that a second court-martial (after Head ruled the February court-martial a mistrial over defense objection) would be in violation of the US Constitution which forbids double-jeopardy.

At the start of the week,
Audra D.S. Burch (Miami Herald) provided an overview of war resister Aidan Delgado's book The Sutras Of Abu Ghraib: Notes From A Conscientious Objector In Iraq, noting, "This is a story of one young man's transformation from reserve volunteer to soldier to conscientious objector, practicing Buddhist, author and always -- always -- relentless critic of the Iraq War, a peace advocate with a point of view based on real wartime experiences." Delgado is the third war resister to tell their story in book form this year. In May, Camilo Mejia shared his story in Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia while in February Joshua Key told his story in The Deserter's Tale.

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.

ADDED:In media news, the latest episode of
Bill Moyers Journal airs on PBS in many markets tonight (check your local listings) and he will remember two US service members who died recently (two of the seven who wrote the New York Times column "The War as We Saw It") and this is also up at YouTube..In addition Bill Moyers Journal examines the Iraqi refugee crisis with NPR's Deborah Amos and War Hawk George Packer while also taking a look at the outrageous amount of monies being spent on the illegal war.

Also: This week (Fridays in most markets) PBS'
NOW with David Brancaccio examines the issue of US service members wounded in the illegal war: "For many Iraq and Gulf War veterans, the transition from battlefield to home front is difficult. Bouts of fierce anger, depression and anxiety that previous generations of soldiers described as "shell shock" or "combat/battle fatigue" now earn a clinical diagnosis: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. But the relatively new medical label doesn't guarantee soldiers will get the care they need. On Friday, September 28 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW looks at how America's newest crop of returning soldiers is coping with the emotional scars of war, and some new and innovative treatments for them."

NPR's The Diane Rehm Show today (second hour), Al-Arabiya TV's Hisham Melhem explained the new meaning of Blackwater since the September 16th incident where they slaughtered at least 16 Iraqi civilians, "In the past, Susan [Page, USA Today], if you wanted to discredit the American war in Iraq or if you wanted to discredit the war on terror all you had to do is just invoke the names of places such as Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib or Haditha. Now you can add to that Blackwater USA. I mean this is a huge embarrassment and a problem for the United States in the future. These people are now seen by the Iraqis as the new face of the occupation. And the irony of all ironies now, because these people are in charge of providing protection to the American diplomats there -- I mean, you have a private army. This is the privatization of war. More than 30,000 men. And I'm not saying that many of them . . . are [not] honorable and former good soldiers, the problem is that given what they've done, as Robin [Wright, Washington Post] said, just imagine Ryan Crocker, one of the best American diplomats serving in the Middle East, probably the best one available for Iraq now, trying to visit a neighborhood in Baghdad, after the surge, whatever, he's going to be protected by whom? By elements of the Blackwater. That's the irony of ironies."

On the topic of Blackwater, today
Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reported that among the deaths resulting from the US mercenary compnay are four Iraq journalists including Suhad Shakir who was shot dead February 2nd while driving to work inside the Green Zone while three guards of the Iraqi Media Network were shot dead, "picked off one by one by Blackwater snipers stationed on the roof of the 10-story Justice Ministry". The US Defense Department has maintained that they do not use Blackwater for their employees; however, the US State Dept does. James Risen (New York Times) reports that the State Department released a count that found Blaackwater "had been involved in 56 shootings while guarding American diplomats in Iraq so far this year." An Iraqi government investigation found Blackwater responsible for the September 16th deaths at a time when Nouri al-Maliki, puppet of the occupation, was issuing strong words that Blackwater would be gone. Instead, the puppet's strings were pulled and he agreed to go along with a US State Department led investigation. AFP reports today that US Gen David Petraues and US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker have stated that this 'commission' has still not met and is still "preparing for its first meeting in Baghdad". Rather surprising when Steve Fainaru and Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) are able to report on the US embassy's insta-study of the situation today which finds 'confusion' and 'good intentions' (at least one Blackwater employee all but yelled, "Stop the madness!"). Though James Glanz and Sabrina Tavernise are back to pimp this report, the New York Times' reporters fail to use the term "self-serving" though they were very happy to apply that to the report on Blackwater from the Iraqi government. Since the mercenaries do not protect Iraqis, since they protect US embassy employees, exactly which report would be more likely to be "self-serving"? Play dumb, Glanz and Tavernise, play dumb. As Reuters notes, the official US State Dept response is "We're not commenting on the substance of the investigation" which allows them to float this, to get it out there, and if it explodes in their faces, claim they never said those things happened. Meanwhile, Kristin Roberts and Sue Pleming (Reuters) report that US Brig Gen Joseph Anderson declared today of the mercenaries, "I can certainly say I've seen them do some tactics that I thought were over the top. Are they quicker with the trigger? Are they quicker to wave a weapon, brandish a weapon, other tactics, cutting people off? All of us have experience, have seen different things at different times. I have seen them, in my opinion, over-react but that does not mean it's consistently the case."

Blackwater is far from the only problem facing Iraqis. Today on
WBAI's Wakeupcall Radio (first hour), host Mario Murillo spoke with CorpWatch's Pratap Chatterjee who explained his latest piece ("The Boys from Baghdad: Iraqi Commandos Trained by U.S. Contractor") noting that Blackwater shooting at civilians was "just the tip of the iceberg . . . because you do have US soldiers and US security guards that are in the country shooting at civilians, dropping bombs on them, etc. -- creating mayhem. But in fact the role the US has played in creating the civil war in fact is far more long lasting, could be far more insidious and dangerous than the occasional massacre of civilians. That's in no way to condone it at all -- but just say that there are far worse things happening today. There are probably at least, to the best of my knowledge, six training programs to support 'Iraqi security'. The first couple are the training of the Iraqi police and the Iraqi army which interestingly enough were given over to private contractors. DynCorp from Virginia trains the police and Vinnell from Los Angeles originally had the contract to train the Iraqi army. Both of these have been pretty much disasters. And in fact one of the things I explain in this article is that in April 2004 when there were like two major incidents in the country -- and I was in Iraq at the time -- one was the civil uprisings in the south with the siege of various cities and the attack on Blackwater personnel in Falluja -- the US tried to press this police and army into service and in both cases, in fact they shipped police down to Najaf the Iraqi police and soldiers just basically fled the scene and refused to fight and, in some case, turned against the US. So the US quickly realized they needed something way beyond the sort of regular security forces. . . . So they came up with this idea of third force. The third force was going to be special commandos that would be highly trained -- a little like Special Forces that could go into action." Chatterjee explains in his article that these are Emergency Response Unit or ERU and that they training "began under General David Petreaus as an effort to bolster security in Iraq, and soon evolved into a system for providing support to the deeply sectarian Ministry of the Interior." That ministry provides their paychecks as well as controls them today. "Sometimes the people that they train are people who come from backgrounds that are either sectarian or criminal," Chatterjee explained to Murillo. "It's one thing to bring in Blackwater and have them protect US diplomats and shoot at anybody who comes close -- that's horrendous -- but it's another thing to actually go in and train people in the art of warfare and hand this training over to sectarian groups that are now creating multiple civil wars in the country. And that, to me, is one of the most insidious and dangerous parts of the US occupation."

Another insidious part of the illegal war is the little noted air war. (Norman Solomon has long noted the air war and it's under-reporting by the media.)
Guy Raz (NPR's Morning Edition) reported today that "about every 90 seconds something takes off or lands at Balad Air Base there's C130 Cargo planes, there are helicopters, there are fighter jets and those are just a fraction of the forty different kinds of aircraft that use this base. It's not just busy, it's really busy. Actually the busiest Pentagon airport in the world and the second busiest airport in the world overall." Though such activity might give many pause, Guy Raz is a rah-rah-rah-er and tickled pink to be one of the 'boys'. This as Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "Around 2 a.m. U.S. military used aerial fire targeting a building in Al Doura area south Baghdad, Iraqi police said. The aerial fire targeted building number 139 in Al Siha district. 10 people were killed and 7 others were injured according to the Iraqi police sources." Reuters notes eight dead. Meanwhile, the US military issues a press release regarding events Tuesday: "A U.S. Air Force F-16CJ Fighting Falcom dropped precision munitions near Al Nussayyib, Iraq Sept. 25, killing Abu Nasr al-Tunisi and two other Al Q'aeda in Iraq operatives. They were killed when the aircraft, assigned to U.S. Central Command Air Forces, dropped two laser guided 500 lb Joint Direct Attack Munition GBU-12 bombs, destroying the terrorist safe house when the three were meeting." If this is the announced 'investigation' into the Tuesday bombing in Mussyyib that claimed the lives of 5 women and 4 children (see yesterday's snapshot), consider it a white wash.

In news of other violence . . .


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad mortar attack that wounded two people while a truck bombing in Mosull "destroyed a bridge". Reuters notes the Mosul truck bombing left twenty people wounded. KUNA reports that the British military base in Basra was attacked with mortars overnight.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports "David Shamoun, a 28 Christian Iraqi . . . worked with a Turkish company and a college students" was shot dead in Mosul


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 5 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Dominic Evans (Reuters) reports that if the 59 announced deaths holds, September will be the lowest month of announced US service members deaths for the year. September in 2005 and 2003 was lower than the announced 59. Also worth noting is that M-NF 'elected' to allow DoD to announce deaths this month.

On the subject of the US military's "kill teams," the press continues to avoid the fact that war resister James Burmeister was publicly speaking of them months before the press stumbled onto them this week.
Paul von Zeilbauer (New York Times) reported this morning on the court-martial of Jorge G. Sandoval and noted that Anthony G. Murphy had testified in July that there was a sense of sense "of disappointment from field commanders seeking higher enemy body counts" and that "Soldiers also testified that battalion commanders authorized a classified new technique that used fake explosives and detonation wires as 'bait' to lure and kill suspected insurgents around Iskandariya, a hostile Sunni Arab region south of Baghdad." AP reports that Sandoval was acquitted today of some charges; however, "the panel decided he had placed a detonation wire on one of the bodies to make it look as if the man was an insurgent."

Wednesday's snapshot, the Joe Biden led push in the Senate (Biden is a senator and also a candidate for the Democratic Party's potential presidential nomination) to divide Iraq into three section in a vote that found 75 US senators voting in favor of it and only 23 voting against it. Ron Jacobs (CounterPunch) observes, "Partitioning Iraq is not a solution that is Washington's to make. The recent vote by the US Senate is misguided. In addition, it will do little to further the desire of the US public to bring the troops home. Instead, it will put US forces in the position of maintaining the newly created divisions along new lines in the sand. Senator Biden's bill is not a solution. It is another false approach that has as much chance at success as anything tried by the Bush administration. In other words, it is destined to fail." Al Jazeera reports that Nouri Al-Maliki is denouncing the US resolution and declaring, "They should stand by Iraq to solidify its unity and its sovereignty. They shouldn't be proposing its division. That could be a disaster not just for Iraq but for the region." Strong words from the puppet. Words that, if pattern holds, will vanish with the mere pulling of a string.

Which is why the Iraqi government, 'officially' led by the puppet, is held in such low opinion by Iraqis. Yesterday on
Free Speech Radio News, Hiba Dawood reported, "The slow crumbling of Iraq's government began when the Sadrists withdraw their ministers from cabinet, demanding real authority to provide local services and a timetable for an end to the US occupation. In the fourteen months since then, the Sadrists and the Fadheela Party have split from the United Iraqi Alliance Coalition the largest Shi'ite grouping in the Iraqi parliament. The latest to leave the government were the ministers from the Sunni Accord. They accuse the government of serving sectarian ends. Shi'ite prime minister Nouri al-Maliki's government is accused of sectarianism even by other Shias who accuse him of marginalizing them. But the United Iraqi Alliance, now reduced to just the Dawa Party, and the Iraq Islam Supreme Council insists the government is still performing. Jinan [Jasim] al-Ubaydi is a member of parliament and with the Iraqi Islamic Supreme Council. She says the withdrawal of so many parties from the governing alliance doesn't effect government policy or performance: 'There dreams are negotiable and though there are many withdrawals, the government is not collapsing. Ryan Crocker said the Iraqi government has enjoyed many vital successes.' Despite the US ambassador's optimism few ordinary Iraqis say the government is succeeding. There is a growing frustration with both the government and the parties that have pulled out."

Despite this, the US Congress continues to fund the illegal war.
John Nichols (Common Dreams) reports that the Senate raised the debt limit for the federal government and gave the Bully Boy "at least $9 billion in new funding for its war in Iraq" in a 94 to 1 vote with Russ Feingold being the sole senator to vote no (and Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, John McCain and Sam Brownback all missing the vote due to campaiging for their parties' presidential nomination) while the House of Represenatives passed the measure by a 404 to 14 vote with Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters, Earl Blumenauer, Keith Ellison, Ron Paul, Bob Filner, Barney Frank, Maurice Hinchey, Dennis Kunich, Jim McDermott, Donald Payne, Lynn Woolsey and Diane Watson voting no (Kucinich and Paul are running for their parties' presidential nomination). Meanwhile, the national Green Party has noted Democratic party hopefuls for their party's presidential nomination Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama declared this week in a forum broadcast by MSNBC that they couldn't guarantee all US troops would be home, if they were elected to president, by the year 2013. The Green Party notes:

The Green Party of the United States has called for full and immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, the occupation of which is entering its sixth year; the party opposes a US military attack on Iran and warns Americans not to believe the new flood of deceptive war propaganda.
Greens stress that Congress could end the war quickly if Democrats refused to move on bills for war funding, including the latest request for nearly $190 billion the Pentagon says is necessary to keep combat troops in Iraq for another year. Greens urge Congress to divert federal funds from war spending to human needs and services in the US, including restoration and rebuilding in the Gulf Coast.
The Green Party has called for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney for numerous abuses of power, including misleading the American people about the reasons for invading Iraq. Greens have called the invasion a criminal breach of the US Constitution and international law, motivated by desire for political and corporate dominance in the region, control over Iraqi oil and other resources, and cooperation with Israel's aggressive strategic objectives.

In news of pacts,
CBS and AP report: "Turkey and Iraq signed a counterterrorism pact Friday aimed at cracking down on separatist Kurdish rebels who have been attacking Turkey from bases in Iraq. The agreement, however, falls short of meeting Ankara's demand to send troops in pursuit of Kurdish rebels fleeing across the border into northern Iraq, Turkey's Interior Minister Besir Atalay said. 'It was not possible to reach a deal on chasing Kurdish rebels, however, we hope this issue will be solved in the future,' Atalay said. 'We are expecting this cooperation against terrorism to be broadened as much as possible'."

Last night, Houston's The Progressive Forum (
KPFT -- here for KPFT archives) devoted the second hour of the program to a speech by Gloria Steinem delivered September 17th in Houston, Texas and entitled "The Progression of Feminism: Where Are We Going?". Steinem declared near the start, "I arrived here this morning and I said, 'Oh, this is Ann Richards Airport.' Don't you think we're going to live to see the day when they'll be glad to change the name?" She then began addressing the efforts to destroy tribes, women, LBGT and other members in an attempt to dominate and colonialize. As she observed, "No, we can't go back and it's not about romanticizing the past but it is about understanding that if a system of male dominance had a beginning, it can have an end." Steinem's Outrageous Acts & Everyday Rebellions was mentioned in yesterday's snapshot as was a documentary, Anthony Thomas' Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done which a typo turned into "They" (I put in links on a good day and then dictate later in the day -- I dictate very fast and would have my own typos if I typed the snapshots -- we're noting this one because the documentary's title was wrong due to the typo "They Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done.")

now with david branccaciopbs

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Dave Lindorff, Eric Ruder

Thursday, almost the weekend.

Dave Lindorff has redesigned his website so check it out. If you're disgusted that 'front runners' can stand onstage, as they did last night, and tell America that they're okay with keeping the illegal war going through 2013 if they were elected president, you might want to check out Lindorff's post from Friday where he's asking people to announce their displeasure with the Democratic Party by leaving it. He's making the call again today:

I have received some complaints from progressive Democrats that it risks handing the 2008 election to the Republicans.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The Democratic leadership strategy of continuing to fund Bush's War in Iraq, and of keeping impeachment "off the table"--that is, of avoiding a frontal challenge to the two key disasters of this administration, the war and the attack on democratic government and the Constitution--is what threatens to hand the White House and maybe even both houses of Congress to Republicans next year.
It is clear that the reason Democrats won control of House and Senate in November 2006 is that they campaigned on a promise to protect civil liberties and to end the war. That promise brought independents in record numbers across to the Democratic side. But Democratic election strategists don't get this. They still harbor the illusion that unaffiliated voters are middle-of-the-road or conservative-leaning people who only care about so-called wedge issues, not the big issues of our day. In fact, my travels across this country have taught me that the unaffiliated voter is usually someone who is cynical about politics, believes that there is little difference between the two parties, and that he or she is being screwed, by corporations, by government, and by his or her own political leaders.

The sad truth is that the current Democratic Party deserves that opinion. They briefly managed to convince these skeptics that they were better than that, but in office, they have reverted to form, and these voters will not be back in '06.
So what we need to do is give the Democratic Party a jolt. We may never convince them that they need to be more aggressive about the big issues if they want to win over the unaffiliated voters, but we can convince them that they can no longer simply count on the support of the progressive wing of the party, which they have taken for granted since the end of the New Deal.

I saw that today (didn't know the site had been redesigned even) and thought I'd highlight it. On the site redesign, it looks pretty sharp. So check it out. As for what he's talking about, I don't know how anyone's supposed to be proud to be a Democrat these days? (Unless they've just left the Republican Party due to the nuttiness there.)

My Senator John Kerry is all up in the SCHIPs today. But I'm not for anything that promotes a flat tax. We don't need to do the Republicans' work for them and make flat taxes palatable. I think we have weak ass leaders and weak ass people who get their ears. I'm not talking about the big-monied lobbyists, I'm talking about the weak asses who supposedly represent our needs to various members of Congress. If you think funding the state programs for child health care is important, you fight to fund it. You fight to make the government pay for it. You don't say, "Hey, everyone hates smokers! Let's tax smokers! Who will defend them!"

If a program matters and is needed, you don't build up money for it off the poorest in society. The government has more than enough money to fund illegal wars. It should be demanded that they pay for children's healthcare. Instead the weak asses (and I'll include the Childrens Defense Fund in that) don't want to fight, they want to be cheap and easy. Instead of demanding, they say "Tax smokers! No one will object!" I'm objecting. I'm objecting to any segment of Americans being unfairly targeted while a flat tax is made viable to the American people. In the process, we're again overtaxing a segment of the population and not based on the fact that they make more than the medium income (which would be fine with me) but because they are the easiest to target in this society.

This is from Eric Ruder's "Blackwater’s hired killers exposed:"

THE MASSACRE of Iraqi civilians in Baghdad earlier this month by mercenaries from the Blackwater security company is straining relations between the U.S. government and Iraqi government leaders it put in power--and focusing attention on the tens of thousands of heavily armed "private contractors" who remain above the law in Iraq as they help enforce the U.S. occupation.
The Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announced it planned to file criminal charges in an Iraqi court against the mercenaries, who shot and killed at least 11 people and wounded 12 in the Mansour neighborhood of west Baghdad on September 16. Among the dead are two parents and their infant son.
As Socialist Worker went to press, tensions remained high in the run-up to a meeting between Maliki and George W. Bush--despite a public apology from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. For his part, Maliki is clearly using the conflict over Blackwater to push back after U.S. officials--Democrats as loudly as Republicans--have heaped abuse on his government for failing to stop sectarian infighting and govern effectively.
An Iraqi government investigation into the shooting uncovered a videotape that shows Blackwater gunmen--who were guarding a State Department motorcade--opening fire without provocation. Blackwater officials claim their guards were ambushed following a car-bomb explosion.
But Iraqi investigators point to a string of similar incidents, as well as Blackwater's reputation for heavy-handed disregard for Iraqis and even other contractors. "We think it's hard to give Blackwater the benefit of the doubt," one anonymous contractor told the Los Angeles Times. "Even among their peer group, we are also tired of having guns pulled on us and being generally abused."

You know, it wasn't all that long ago that there were some whiners calling for the mercenaries to be 'honored' by allowing them to be included in Memorial Day festivities and other things as if they were sent off on orders to Iraq or as if they weren't going over there to try to make a buttload of money. If this was about wanting to help, I believe everyone knows where military recruiters are located in their areas.

Big thank you to my grandfather who was over tonight and reading C.I.'s snapshot. He told me after to forget about earlier this week. He said we all get our hopes smashed at one point and learn that most heroes aren't really heroic. He pointed out that while I'm off my crisis of faith, the illegal war is continuing and "C.I.'s more of a hero than half the people who think they are including a sports writer who turned out to be not all that." "Not all that" made me laugh because my grandfather has clearly been spending time with my youngest sister. :D So after that, I got online to read the snapshot and, damn, C.I.'s hitting hard enough for the whole damn world. :D It's a great snapshot. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, September 27, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, Iraq vet Josh Gaines stands up, Democratic 'front runners' play in their own human waste as they say a-okay to the illegal war continuing through 2013, a US helicopter in Iraq comes under fire, Pig and Our Modern Day Carrie Nation offer 'advice' to the peace movement, and more.

Starting with war resistance. Big news! Canada cannot be reached by either phone or e-mail! The apparent blockade must explain why All Things Media Big and Small in the US are unable to contact James Burmeister who served in Iraq and was publicly speaking of "kill teams" of US forces who intentionally left items (not just items that were weapons or could be used for making weapons -- as the mainstream narrative likes to insist) out in public so that Iraqis could be shot for touching "US property." Apparently the blockade also includes Canada's borders being heavily guarded and Ottawa being ringed with armed guards -- possibly from the US mercenary company Blackwater. In times long since past, independent media would have been all over this story instead they're all apparently imposing some self-gag order when it comes to the words: "James Burmeister."

As noted before, as appalling (and illegal) as the program is when guns and materials that might be used for making bombs are, public outrage is mitigated by the fact that some in the US will tell themselves, "Well, if they're touching it, they probably are guilty!" Telling the truth (something independent media has a real problem with these days -- as evidence by the elevation to sainthood of a five times busted thug) would have Americans asking serious questions about the program (which already appears to be fading from public knowledge) because a camera, for example, is not a weapon. But what should have been the minute where independent media stepped up to the plate, grabbed the spotlight and demonstrated just how important they could be instead became a time for travelogue. Remember that when they next beg for money.

LeiLani Dowell (Workers World) notes the DC Encampment to Stop the War at Home and Abroad that is ongoing through September 28th and includes members of Iraq Veterans Against the War, CODEPINK, TONC, United for Peace and Justice and the Green Party. They are calling for a cut off to funding the illegal war. As noted in yesterday's snapshot, the hands are out and begging Congress to provide $190,000,000,000 dollars more to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Encampment is insisting that the war funding be cut off and troops be brought home. Dowell quotes IVAW's Adam Kokesh explaining that the call is for all US forces, "we mean Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Blackwater, Hallibruton".
Dowell also reports that "a young war resister described how he enlisted in the military in 2005 because of limited career opportunities in his rural hometown. However, he says, 'I happened to join at the same time as Hurricane Katrina, and I saw on TV the bodies floating in the streets. It really hit home to me. I got out of training 25 weeks later and nothing had changed. Despite all the rhetoric about homeland security and national security, this government's priorities are not for the people'."

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.

Meanwhile Iraq veteran Josh Gaines has returned his Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and National Defense Service Medal that he received for serving in Iraq from 2004 to 2005.
Jillian Levy (Madison's The Daily Cardinal) reports on yesterday's event, "With shouts of protest and calls to end the war, more than 30 student activists marched to the state Capitol with Josh Gaines, Iraq War veteran and Madison resident, to watch him return his military medals in an act of protest Wednesday afternoon." Alec Luhn (The Badger Herald) reports, "Gaines read the letter aloud to a crowd gathered on Library Mall Tuesday afternoon before leading dozens of protestors down State Street to the Capitol. The march also protested the deployment of the Wisconsin National Guard to Iraq, calling for a "de-federalization" of the force to allow for its return. Once Gaines deposited the package in a postal box inside the Capitol, the group gathered outside the office of Gov. Jim Doyle to demand an audience about recalling Guard troops."

Josh Gaines declared, "I'm returning my National Defense Medal because I truly believe that I did not help defend my nation and I'm returning my Global War on Terrorism Medal because I do not believe that I helped defeat terrorism in Iraq." Supporters present in Madison, Wisconsin included students with
SDS, the Campus Anti-War Network, Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace who met up at the Library Mall on the Univeristy of Wisconsin and then marched up State Street for what is the first known instance of an Iraq veteran returning his medals. Gaines apologized for not being able to display the medals as he had already sealed the package and began explaining what had led to his decision. Portland's KPTV estimates that at least 100 supporters were present. Wisconsin Radio Network provides audio of Gaines speech where he explains why he's mailing the medals to former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld at the Hoover Institute on Stanford University, how his unit had to improvise their own armor, how chemical weapons (such as white phosphorus and "incidneary projectiles") were used in Iraq, and how KBR and others were "all about contracts and the profits are made by civilians who did not volunteer for this war but promote the very idea of occupation." Gaines: "I was forced to ask, 'Are we really defeating terrorism with the scars of war?'"

While Josh Gaines stood up strongly yesterday, Democratic 'front runners' caved. Especially hardest hit was Barack Obama (no wonder Sammy Power is looking for a new cause!). Jo
urnalist David Corn (link goes to Corn's site, not The Nation) observes the best news for Obama is that "MSNBC is the lowest rated of the three cable networks" thereby meaning many may have missed the "lackluster perofrmance". Though Obama's continued mis-steps in his campaign are certainly amusing considering all the behind the scenes groomers (the Dan Qualye principles are still at work), even worse for the Democratic Party is what their front runners elected to declared in the 'debate.' Watching the 'debate' with a group of students on campus, the reaction was immediate and vocal. A day later, on two other campuses, it's a point students continuing returning to. But search in vain for our 'brave' voices to show any of the intelligence or strength that students can. Apparently heeding the "If you can't say something nice . . ." dictum, independent media clams up with few exceptions.

Non-indymedia reporter
Beth Fouhy (AP) sums up the take-away of the 'debate' by noting that three 'front runners' (Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Obam) "conceded Wednesday night they cannot guarantee to pull all U.S. combat troops from Iraq by the end of the next presidential term in 2013" were they to be elected president; quotes Obama saying, "I think it's hard to project four years from now," Hillary stating, "It is very difficult to know what we're going to be inheriting" and John Edwards mumbling, "I cannot make that committment."
So out of touch is independent media that they all avoid this big moment. (John Nichols, who truly is a nice guy, attempts to address the debate at The Nation. The issue requires no niceness and, in fact, demands that niceness be put on hold..) Though all three candidates have repeatedly struck positions somewhere along the anti-war spectrum (never along the peace spectrum), and have issued press releases on 'plans' to end the illegal war, asked last night, all three announced that they couldn't guarantee, if elected to be president, that they'd be able to end the illegal war before 2013. "Vote for Us! We Have No Answers!" In other words, they need four years of on the job learning -- and people questioned whether or not Bully Boy was creating a legacy!

Candidate Bill Richardson released the following statement: "I have a fundamental difference with Senator Obama, John Edwards, and Senator Clinton. Their position is changing the mission. My position is to end this war. Six billion dollars on cancer research equals two weeks of spending on the war. As long as we do not end the war, we cannot invest in critical needs like cancer. The American people want to end the war. You cannot start the reconciliation of Iraq, a political settlement, and possibly this issue of a separation, which I think is a possible solution, until we get all our troops out. Unlike Senator Clinton, I do not believe the Congress has done enough. We have been able to move 240,000 of our troops in three months in and out of Iraq through Kuwait. It would take persuading Turkey. I would leave behind some of the light equipment. Leaving any troop behind will prevent us from moving forward toward stability in the region. I would talk to Iran. I would make sure the entire issue is tied to stability in the Israeli-Palestinian issue. You have to deal with the entire issue." Daniel Bates (Reuters) reports today that Turkey's prime minister, Tayyip Erdogan, has announced he is open to considering allowing Turkey to be used as a withdraw route from Iraq for US forces.

Matt Browner-Hamlin, blogging at candidate Chris Dodd's site, notes the following from Dodd about yesterday's 'debate': "The idea that we could be emborlied in combat for at least another five years should set off alarm bells for anyone with a modicum of foreign policy experience. Sacrificing American lives to engage in a civil war is a deeply corrupt strategy and one I have been working to combat in Congress. I call on my fellow candidates to help me bring and end to this war before 2013 -- we need to end this war now before it passes Vietnam as the longest war in American history."

Candidate Dennis Kucinich declared during the debate, "We can get out of there three months after I take office" and, in a sentiment that is sweeping campuses now, noted, "It is fairly astonishing to have Democrats who took back the power of the House and Senate in 2006 to stand on this stage and tell the American people that the war will continue till 2013 and perhaps past that."

In a piece already cross-posted at Yahoo,
John Nichols (link goes to Yahoo) notes the drinking age came up and that while you can be sent to Iraq at the age of 18 to die, you are not allowed to drink until 21. When candidate Mike Gravel offered his thoughts on this issue, he responded, "Anyone who will fight and die for this country should be able to drink." Cyra Master (Eagle-Tribune) notes, "Former Sen. Mike Gravel of Alaska urged the senators on stage to stay in Congress and vote against the war every single day for 40 days in a row."

In the face of the three 'front runners' announced sell out of the American people, the peace movement has two posing as white knights riding to their 'rescue.' First up, A Problem From Hell Samantha Power. The War Hawk can read polling and judges (finally) Iraq to be a greater concern that her cause of the last years -- the one that made her the leader of Our Modern Day Carrie Nations (
Mike coined that to describe A Problem From Hell itself). Time magazine publishes the War Hawk's latest bit of nonsense which only serves to underscore how propped up and managed Power's entire career has been. As if external refugees haven't suffered enough, Power decides to turn her questionable eye towards them and writes, "Despite all this, the U.S. debate about withdrawal from Iraq seems remarkably indifferent to those whose lives have been upended. The Bush Administration talks of staying the course without expending nearly enough political or financial capital to mitigate the humanitarian catastrophe that it pretends does not exist. Many advocates of withdrawal point to the humanitarian disaster as a ground for leaving without addressing how worse suffering might be averted." Many dumb asses at Harvard's Carr Center might want to try reading a paper.

What created the refugee crisis? Not the first stage of the Iraq War. In fact, the first stage saw many Iraqis who'd left under Saddam Hussein's rule begin returning to the country. The US chose sides and, since bullies attract bullies, it wasn't enough to just choose Shia over Sunni, it was important that the most authoritarain Shia's be selected, be trained, be armed and be let loose to enforce not just their fundamentalist beliefs. Fundamenatlism didn't prevent them from plundering the country's goods -- but it rarely does, regardless of the religion. It's a point that's lost today in the United States because the weak ass and ineffectual independent media is riddled with Christopher Columbuses who think they've all just discovered a 'new world'. In this country, the current wave of fundamentalism long predates the installation of the Bully Boy into the White House. Which is why you can pick up Gloria Steinem's classic Outrageous Acts & Everday Rebellions today and find Steinem, in 1983, sounding the alarm about the rise in fundamentalism and detailing what would be their coming political impact. It's why, in 1988, They Kingdom Come Thy Will Be Done would be playing in theaters and not on television. The Anthony Thomas documentary was supposed to be available to Americans in May of 1987, over the airwaves. What happened? PBS buckled, fear of the retribution from the Ronald Reagan staffed CPB. Hunt Oil, Tim LaHaye and many others still kicking around today were indicating their intentions in that expose. But an ahistorical and ignorant independent media (fueled by Clintonistas who want to tell you history began with Bill Clinton) can't tell you about that. International belligerance, the kind Power advocates, is not a new phenomon but few bother to call her out (among the few who do -- Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Tom Hayden, John R. MacArthur). So Power, when not advising Barack Obama, rushes around looking for problems to attach herself to in her usual uninformed albeit strident manner.

Advocates for withdrawal, Power insists (though she's never been one and really doesn't mix with those who are) are failing! They're failing to grasp what withdrawal will mean to refugees! Power fails to grasp that the illegal war (a term she will not use) created the refugee situation, that the US supported the climate and that, as the US remains in Iraq, it now works hand in hand with the thugs in creating more refugees. The War Hawks propped her up and supported her, creating an avenue away from the pole dancing her name appeared to predestine her to, but nothing could salvage her empty mind.

Monday's snapshot included this:

Now we're up to
Kramer's report in Saturday's New York Times where he reports that as retaliation against the killing of Naji, the Mahdi Army began clearing out the Washash section of Baghdad forcing "[b]etween 50 and 100 Sunni families" (families -- not individuals) to abandon their homes and flee as the thugs went through the neighborhoods with "loudspeakers, telling people to leave" and not just in full view of the US military, with the assistance of the US military. One of the newly created refugees, Sheik Abu Hasan, declares, "What shocked us a lot was that as soon as we reached the main streets, we saw Iraqi and American forces who were showing and directing us to the highway." The US military was used to assist with forced evictions (non-legal ones) and not to protect the people. The myth that the US is preserving anything should have long ago shattered. The US armed and trained the Shi'ites while banishing the Sunnis, they created the division that exists by making their first question to Iraqis: "Are you Sunni or Shia?", and the continued presence breeds the hostility and violence.

Kramer is Andrew E. Kramer of the New York Times and the article ran on Saturday. It doesn't fit the Sammy Power cry of "WAR! WAR! MORE WAR!" so it gets ignored by the alleged 'intellectual.' But the US is no longer standing on the sidelines watching as the Iraqi refugee crisis (internal and external) grows worse, they are not assisting in the clearing of the areas the thugs wish to take over. It's a point lost on Power as are most other points.

One thing that can be said for Samantha Power is that the press has never reported she was twice busted for online predatory activities while attempting sexual hookups with underage females. That's right, we're now to Pig. The one who thinks CBS is owned by GE. Guess who's back, human trash is back. Apparently jazzed on 'feminist' Katha Pollitt's ringing endorsement of him by name in a recent column where Pollitt remembered that an illegal war was taking place, the Pig returns still casting himself as Mr. Fix It For The Anti-War Movement.

"Iraq Will Have To Wait" he declares wanting so badly to come off like Warren Beatty's Joe Pendleton but instead sounding like Tony Abbott. Pig has marching orders to hand out -- having still not grasped that the peace movement isn't his to command. He wants the peace movement to forget about pressing for an end to the illegal war and instead focus on Iran. It should be noted that Pig staged his own bus & truck company traveling show in 2004 where he declared that war on Iran would begin in a mere matter of months. It is now 2007. If you'd bet what little was left of your reputation on a war that still hasn't come to pass, you'd be struggling to save the bits and pieces of remnants as well. The Pig writes, "Of the two problems (the reality of Iraq, the potential of Iran), Iran is by far the more important." He's apparently just emerged from huckster course on shaping the potential within. An ongoing (and illegal war) takes back seat, for him, to the potential for another war. No wonder he became an independent media darling -- despite the rap sheet.

Pig oinks that "a strategic decision" must be made "and soon" about where the attention of the "antiwar movement" belongs. "The war in Iraq can be contained," he declares sounding like any number of suits working for LBJ or Tricky Dick, "simply by letting war be war." Sounding crazed (not just "callous," which he owns up to), he pinpoints a potential war with Iran as "[t]he highest priority for the antiwar movement in America today" thus demonstrating he lacks not only decency but also any sense of history. The peace movement attempted to prevent the Iraq War before it started. The world saw massive protests. How'd that work out? Short of forcing Congress to do their duty and impeach Bully Boy, the people have little ability to prevent another war. What's prevented war on Iran thus far has not been Pig but the establishment's knowledge that the US military (non-brass) can only take so much and that American streets did not come to full life with protests during Vietnam until Tricky Dick decided to expand into Laos and Cambodia. That is what has held Dick Cheney in check if Bully Boy even has a strong desire for war on Iran. Unlike the underinformed Pig, the establishment remembers full well what happened during Vietnam and what (finally) made the war came home. It was the realization that the people were not being listened to, underscored by the expansion of war, that finally made people wake up to the fact that for all the talk of 'secret plans' and 'peace,' the Nixon administration had no intent to withdraw from Vietnam. In this country, we're arriving at that realization and should Bully Boy attempt to expand his illegal war, the establishment is well aware that the slow boil currently would begin rolling and the streets would, once again, come to life across America.

A war with Iran may happen and it may not. The peace movement (in its current state) can't prevent it. And independent media needs to inform not proseltyze. That means addressing reality not playing the speculation market. It's amazing how much air time and print space has been wasted in the last three years over a war that has not even started while very much ignoring an ongoing, illegal war.

Want to end a future (and speculative) war? Tuesday, Cindy Sheehan provided a path on
KPFK's Sojourner Truth, run for Congress. Not just against 'bad' Dems (as with Iraq, the Iran option demonstrates there are very few 'good' Dems). Take back the Congress for the people. Run the bums who refuse to do their duty (that's Republicans and Democrats) and begin impeachment proceedings of the Bully Boy and withdrawal from Iraq out of office. That idea has real power which is why it's not at all surprising that Katha Pollitt is the same 'feminist' who applauds the twice busted sexual predator while slamming Cindy Sheehan for running against the Bay Area's own Joe Lieberman. Safe races for incumbents have resulted from increased and increasing gerry-mandering and a compliant media that bows to those currently in power. Incumbents only get nervous when money enters the picture and even then generally prevail. The real deciding factor in elections is ideas. Serious Congressional challenges to every incumbent currently propping up the illegal administration could reshape the landscape. Having to identify more than a handful of at-risk seats would mean dropping their strategy of air lifting Bill Clinton, et al into districts to shore up weak incumbents. Even if they were to maintain their seats, incumbents would be forced to deal with very real challenges and might (might -- look at Joe Lieberman to see it doesn't always happen) have to actually become responsive to the people they are supposed to be serving.

And what of independent media? The media supposedly serving the people? When you're spending more time each year on a speculative war (Iran) than you are on Iraq, you're really not qualified for independent media. You're certainly not a journalist and you are insulting to those in Iraq (serving or attempting to live), those who have died in Iraq (US, Iraqi) and the families who have seen their loved ones killed in an illegal war that the vast majority of independent media can't even call "illegal." When you've wasted everyone's time with puff pieces on War Hawk Dems, you've reduced yourself from journalist to fan club member. Hopefully, you got an 8x10 glossy out of it because those who counted on you to inform them got zilch.

While they and a silent independent media played useless and worse, the violence continued in Iraq as it does every damn day that the illegal war drags on.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a roadside Baghdad bombing that claimed the life of 1 woman and a Baghdad car bombing that claimed 2 lives (four others wounded). Reuters reports that a Hilla roadside bombing claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi military forces (three more injured) and a Nassiriya roadside bombing claimed the lives of 2 police officers (three more injured).


Reuters reports two brothers were killed in a Riyadh drive-by.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 9 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

In news of the continued air war,
Reuters reports the US is investigating an incident on Tuesday where a US bombing claimed the lives of 5 women and 4 children in Bahbahani and that today's forced landing of a US helicopter "south of Baghdad" after it "was hist by small arms fire while assisting troops fighting gunmen". AP reports on the Tuesday slaughter, "Two area police officers told The Associated Press that U.S. fighter jets bombed two houses before dawn Wednesday in the predominantly Sunni village, about 10 miles west of Musayyib. The women and children were killed in the first house struck, and the second house was damaged, they said. . . . Amer Zamil, an employee in Mussayib hospital, said two of the children were decapitated, evidently in the bombing." In a US military press release, the helicopter is identified as a Task Force Marne AH-64 Apache helicopter and it's note that it was one of two "responding to ground troops in contact with enemy forces". No injuries are reported and the second helicopter is not stated to have come under fire.

Turning to the topic of Blackwater -- the mercenary company still reeling from the news of their slaughter of innocent Iraqis in Baghdad September 16th.
Sue Pleming (Reuters) reports the US House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has issued a report that's found the lack of training and equipping led to the March 31, 2004 deaths of four of Blackwater's employees in Falluja. AP notes, "Blackwater has argued in court that it is immune to such a lawsuit because the company operates as an extension of the military and cannot be responsible for deaths in a war zone." That refers to the four deaths of their employees, not to the multiple deaths of innocent Iraqis or the two slaughters of Falluja that Paul Bremer ordered in response to the four deaths. Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that the US Defense Department will send "a team of investigators to Iraq to look into how the U.S. military monitors private security contractors in the wake of the Sept. 16 incident in which security guards working for the [US] State Department killed at least 11 Iraqi civilians" and that the DoD has notified "commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan . . . that they can court-martial private security guards working under military contracts". This as John M. Broder and James Risen (New York Times) report that "Blackwater USA has been involved in a far higher rate of shottings while guarding American diplomats in Iraq than other security firms providing similar services to the State Department, according to Bush administration officials and industry officials."

In prison news,
Leila Fadel (Baghdad Observer, McClatchy Newspapers) reports on Tariq al Hashemi, Iraq's Sunni vice-president, visiting a prison for the young: "The camera panned through a narrow hallway where hundreds of young teen-age boys sat. Those Hashemi spoke to all had visible signs of abuse on their body. One showed acid burns on his back, another lifted his sleeves, and his shirt to show the purple and red bruising all over his body.
It aired on Sharqiya, an Iraqi station that has been banned from having an office in Iraq because it is anti-government. To the question, 'Why are you here?' They all answered 'I don't know'."

This week (Fridays in most markets) PBS'
NOW with David Brancaccio examines the issue of US service members wounded in the illegal war: "For many Iraq and Gulf War veterans, the transition from battlefield to home front is difficult. Bouts of fierce anger, depression and anxiety that previous generations of soldiers described as "shell shock" or "combat/battle fatigue" now earn a clinical diagnosis: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. But the relatively new medical label doesn't guarantee soldiers will get the care they need. On Friday, September 28 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW looks at how America's newest crop of returning soldiers is coping with the emotional scars of war, and some new and innovative treatments for them." Aaron Glantz reports at IPS that brain trauma is being called "the signature injury of the Iraq war" with over "4,000 U.S. veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury, most often from gunshots or blasts from roadside bombs."

John Cusak interviews Naomi Klein (A/V only) at The Huffington Post about her new book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism.

adam kokeshiraq veterans against the war

andrew e. kramer
now with david branccaciopbs

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Marjorie Cohn, Iraq

Hump day. I'm going to talk a bit by Iraq and bear with me if you're a regular reader. I'll bounce back shortly. Hopefully tomorrow or Friday.

This is from National Lawyers Guild president Marjoie Cohn's "The Drift Toward War with Iran:"

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to the United States has prompted an outcry, including protests and tabloid headlines calling him "evil" and a "madman." As Juan Cole says, "The real reason his visit is controversial is that the American right has decided the United States needs to go to war against Iran. Ahmadinejad is therefore being configured as an enemy head of state." The Bush administration, which maintains that "all options" remain on the table with Iran, should vigorously pursue the diplomatic option, instead of moving inexorably toward the military option.
Ahmadinejad said in a "60 Minutes" interview, "It's wrong to think that Iran and the U.S. are walking toward war. Who says so? Why should we go to war? There is no war in the offing." Iran has not threatened to attack the United States, or Israel for that matter, except if it is attacked first. Iranian authorities sent a proposal to the United States in May 2003 offering negotiations on a deal for Iran to freeze its nuclear program if the United States would end its hostility against Iran. The Bush administration thumbed its nose at the Iranian proposal, then tried to cover up the story, according to Trita Parsi, in his new book, Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States.
Bush has pursued a belligerent policy toward Iran ever since he inaugurated it into his "axis of evil" in January 2002. General David Petraeus and Bush both menacingly mentioned Iran five times in their respective August speeches touting how well things are going in Iraq. Petraeus referred to "malign actions" by Iran; Bush discussed Iran and al-Qaeda in the same breath even though Iran has never attacked us.
U.S. plans for war with Iran continue to escalate. Centcom (U.S. Central Command) has engaged in detailed contingency planning for an attack on Iran for more than two years. In June, the U.S. Air Force established Project Checkmate tasked with "fighting the next war." The Pentagon is building a military base near the Iran-Iraq border. Earlier this month, British forces, at the request of the Americans, were sent from Basra to the Iranian border. Two aircraft carrier groups (USS Nimitz and USS Truman) are reportedly en route to the Persian Gulf to join the USS Enterprise.

If you read on, you'll see that Hillary Clinton's on board with war with Iran, with baiting them into war, and so is Wesley Clark. Doesn't surprise me with either. And maybe Wes Clark shouldn't have been turned into such a hero last presidential election cycle. Maybe he's the best example of why this "Listen to the generals" nonsense needs to be stopped? I don't need a general to tell me Iraq is lost and that the US staying there only makes things worse. And I'm a citizen so in the United States, I'm not supposed to take a back seat to the military. Citizens are supposed to be behind the steering wheel, making the choices, driving the car.

C.I. was really pressed for time today and, I think, to make sure I blogged, asked me to grab Reuters on Iraq. To make sure I blogged because I really am not into this right now. I'm still upset about ___ and it really doesn't make me even want to blog. C.I. pointed out that when Wally was convinced the Dems would have a spine and block one of Bully Boy's Supreme Court nominees (Alito or Roberts, I forget which now), Wally took a break and I should think about taking a break if I wanted one. I appreciate that and know it was meant and know when Wally was on his break, C.I. told everyone, "Do not ask him when he is going to blog, do not pressure him." C.I. ran interference and gave support and I know I'd get that as well. But I was telling C.I. on the phone that I thought if I took a break, I'd just stop completely.

The whole thing that happened left a really sour taste and words like "crushing" come to mind. And if I walk away to take a break, I know me, I won't come back.

I called C.I. about something else this afternoon (a question about a court case we're studying in one of my classes) and C.I. said the snapshot would be late and asked if I would be able to cover Reuters on Iraq? (C.I. also answered my question about the court case in full.) I know it is busy on the road this week talking about Iraq but I also know C.I. was trying to help me out.

So here's Reuters' summary of what happened in Iraq today (and some of this is in the snapshot via McClatchy Newspapers' reporting): 32 people dead from 2 car bombs in Baghdad (twenty-eight wounded), 4 dead from a bombing in Basra, 7 dead from two car bombs in Shirqat, 3 dead from a truck bombing in Mosul, 1 person dead from a Mosul car bombing, 10 dead from a car bombing by Sinjar, the corpse of a 3 year old was found in Baquba and the corpse of a man was found in Laitifya.

In the snapshot, C.I. notes this, but I will too. It's a big deal. The Pentagon is asking for $190 billion to fund the illegal war for the next fiscal year that starts October 1st. An update to the snapshot is that Reuters reports -- on the cholera outbreak in Iraq -- that if 'more' (not specified how many more) cases of cholera are discovered in the country, there will be travel restrictions put in place. What a great job Bully Boy and the Dems have done, right?

3800 dead
Keep the number in your head
36,943 maimed
They will never be the same
1.06 million Iraqis 'liberated' from their lives
It was all based on lies
It was all based on lies.

Kat wrote about the above lyrics last night. She, C.I. and Jess wrote it. I got to hear them sing it over the phone yesterday -- along with Ava and Maggie. It was good. It's got a nice melody but they sang it like a choir and kind of spooky, I think. C.I. asked me if I wanted to hit the road next week and I may do that to snap out of my current funk. If I haven't snapped out of it by Friday, I will. Ava's really the only one who can always go out on the road with C.I. Everyone else rotates. That's cause she's not going to law school or grad school. And I do think that's a big thing. I don't mean that as an insult to anyone else. Ava's got money and can afford to wait and other people couldn't. But she's committed to speaking out against the illegal war and is going to basically put everything else on hold the way C.I. has. I got a rude e-mail about how they "ditched" DC to go to the Emmys. They were there before the Saturday rally and they left on Sunday. They didn't "ditch" anything. They give their time every week to speaking out against the illegal war and it's not like they were going, "Oh, I've got to look good in my dress! I'm going to bed!" They stayed working on the edition for Third except the two hour break when Dona got sick. Ava took a nap like most of us. Jim and C.I. were taking care of Dona. So this idea that they just dropped everything is really ridiculous unless you think waking up Saturday morning and going to a Sunday event with nothing but a two hour nap in between (for Ava, C.I. didn't take a nap) then you have some tripped out ideas on what 'fun' is. They give everything. C.I.'s lucky to have one night at home most weeks. Since Feb. 2003, C.I. has been on the road speaking out against the illegal war at least 2 out of every 4 weeks a month and if you think that's taking it easy (like the idiot who wrote did) then I really wonder what you do with your time.

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

Wednesday, September 26, 2007. Chaos and violence continue; the 3800 mark was reached, little noted and already passed; coverage of the 'Kill Teams' setting up Iraqis for murder continue to ignore the statements of James Burmeister; Baghdad gets its first cholera death; the US military announces another death; and more.

Starting with war resistance. Have you heard of Arizon's Tent City? It's a federal facility that's now being used to house US service members from Fort Huachuca who go AWOL.
Not all service members who go AWOL or self-checkout are war resisters. Some are. And some will no doubt end up in Tent City.
Nikki Renner (The Arizona Republic) reports that the publicity flack for Fort Huachuca, Tanja Linton, is thrilled with Tent City and believes "that the AWOL soldiers' experience in Tent City will be close to the living accomodations of soldiers in Iraq." Well let's hope Tanja keeps her legs crossed because what she considers "justice" is the sort of thing others would see as The Scarlet Letter type 'justice'. She's not the most jazzed in public, however. That dishonor goes to Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County. Phoenix's KPHO reports not only has he "agreed to accept all Fort Huachuca soldiers convicted of being" AWOL but he's also panting hot and heavy over how Tent City's "top bunk in each pod is 150 degrees. Meals given to inmates are worth 30 cents a day." But Joey saves most of his panting for Nikki Renner, he's all excited about putting these service members into 'pink panties.' As he drools over the prospect, possibly someone might want to note that he couldn't get away with that with the prisoners the prison normally deals with. As Little Joey nealy creams his shorts over the prospect of becoming 2007's Lynndie England, people might want to show some concern over the fact that Abu Ghraib is being set up in Arizona. And there's no attempt to hide that, in fact, abuse and degradation of those convicted of going AWOL appears to be getting Little Joey aroused. AP noted Tent City earlier this week (in terms of boxer Mike Tyson), described it as "an open-air jail near a dog pound and a trash dump," note Little Joey self-describes as "America's Toughest Sherrif," included Little Joey referring to Tyson gleefully as a "crook," that Little Joey was salivating over the prospect of Tyson forced "to wear pink jail-issue underwear and eat bargain-basement meals that cost taxpayers 30 cents a day," and bragging -- while apparently humping the reporter's leg, "If I put him in the tents, I might have him on a chain gang." We're not a sports site, but for the record, Tyson is an addict. He's not convicted of a violent crime. Nor are the service members who go AWOL. Bully Boy's already led the US into the gutter and now Little Joey appears eager to roll around in it in public -- apparently because the cesspool is currently full.

Josh White and Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) report on the "Kill Teams"
noting, "Officers described the program, in unclassified statements obtained by The Post, as involving the placement of the items in insurgent areas and killing those who picked them up." And
Kim Sengupta (Indepent of London) reports, "A US military source said "baits" had been left by a number of units. 'The guys picking them up are sometimes bad guys. But how do you know each time?' Robert Emerson, a British security analyst, said: 'This seems a highly arbitrary and suspect way of carrying out counter-insurgency operations'." But neither outlet notes war resister James Burmeister who went public about the "Kill Teams" in June. And, in fact, cited them as one of the reasons he decided to self-checkout and move to Canada with his family.

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.

As noted in yesterday's snapshot, the 3800 mark for US service members killed in Iraq was passed on Tuesday. Wednesday morning's papers didn't run that headline.
Alan Zimmerman (C-Ville) notes it at the end of his column. James Gerstenzang and Alexandra Zavis note it in the 24th paragraph of their article in today's Los Angeles Times. Now let's be really clear here Cuba's Prensa Latina can note it and others can't? And this is not a problem with just one branch of media, this is a problem with All Things Media Big and Small.

"I am optimistic because I believe I am right. I am at peace with myself,"
AFP quotes Bully Boy declaring February 22, 203 as he met with the then prime minister of Spain, Jose Maria Aznar, and explained that despite his public statements, the illegal war was 'on': "There are two weeks left. In two weeks we will be ready militarily. We will be in Baghdad at the end of March." Although prepared to tell the Spanish prime minister that the illegal war was a sure thing, Bully Boy used March 6, 2003 primetime address to state that it might be likely or, as Duncan Campbell, Michael White and Patrick Wintour (Guardian of London) worded it, "President George Bush last night indicated that war was very close in an address to the American people on prime time television." In Baghdad, March 20th would be the day the illegal war started. Or, as Tom Brokaw dubbed at the opening of his interview with Bully Boy "that first night, when you surprised us all by launching the preemptive strike against the residence of Saddam Hussien." That's the same April 24, 2003 interview where -- one month into the illegal war -- Bully Boy declared he "had obviously made up my mind that if we needed to, we would use troops to get rid of weapons of mass destruction to free the Iraqi people. But the actual moment of making that decision was a heavy moment." It should be an even heavier moment for him today for a number of reasons including that he lied, that he's been caught in his lies, that 3800 US service members have died in the illegal war and over 1,066,817 Iraqis have died in the illegal war.

Though All Things Media Big and Small elected not to note the 3800 mark, the deaths didn't stop to wait for them to get off their lazy, pathetic asses and catch up. Today the
US military announced: "A Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was killed during a small-arms fire attack while conducting combat operations in an eastern section of the Iraqi captial Sept. 25."

Yesterday the Bully Boy spoke to the United Nations and today it was puppet Nouri al-Maliki's turn.
Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) observes that yesterday Bully Boy selectively cited the Universal Declaration of Human Rights -- omitting articles "that he's been violating . . . over and over again." Meanwhile, does the Puppet Love the Bully Boy? If so, Lebanon's The Daily Star tells us the love is strained: "During their face-to-face meeting Tuesday, Bush pressed Maliki to enact long-delayed laws and reforms seen as key to national reconciliation, telling the premier he may find the next US leader less sympathetic to his government's struggles, a senior Iraqi official said." USA Today reports that the puppet addressed the United Nations today and included this bit, "We have a long way to go to reach our goals for a secure, stable and prosperous Iraq".

Or even an "Iraq".
Ken Strickland (MSNBC) reports that US Senator Joe Biden (and hopeful for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination) paln to divide Iraq into three sections reached the US Senate floor today in a symbolic measure and received 75 votes in favor and 23 votes against. It should be noted that all of those votes came from US senators and, possibly, the Senate could grasp that determining Iraq's future is not allowing self-determination in Iraq. James Oliphant (Baltimore Sun) notes that the measure (non-binding) is an amendment that "requires the United States to work to support the division of Iraq into three semi-autonomous regions, each governed locally by its dominant ethnic and religious factions, the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds." Aaron Blake (The Hill) provides humor by suggeting that this (non-binding) amendment "could be part of the political solution for his flagging presidential candidacy." Yes, because the destruction of the Ottoman Empire is something that's not only looked back on so fondly but also something that voters consistently cite as their number one issue.

In Iraq today, Army Major General Kevin Bargner gave a press briefing with the usual fluff and nonsense that will make tomorrow's paper such as "583 Freed!" for the nonsense about 583 Iraqi prisoners -- never tried but held behind bars -- being released since the start of Ramadan (75 last week alone). Don't expect to see the 'reports' probe the issue of how this latest wave of Operation Happy Talk qualifies as 'happy' news since -- again -- the reality is that these prisoners have never been tried. Great example of 'justice' being set. Wasn't it just Monday that US Rear Adm Mark Fox was declaring to the press, "Our assessment is that the overal trend lines, in terms of the numbers of attacks and the numbers of violent incidents in Iraq, is on the downtrend." Are you done laughing yet? In the press conference today, Bergner had the never to claim of the increased violence, "We had been expecting it." Someone forgot to tell Mark Fox!

The actual trend? As
Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) notes today there appears to be "a systematic campaign to assassinate police chiefs, police officers, other Interior Ministry officials and tribal leaders throughout Iraq". The trend continues today. Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "Suicide car bomb slammed into a construction contractor's house who is the son of one of the tribal Sheikhs of Shammar tribe, one of the largest tribes in the country in Um al-Diban village near the Iraqi Syrian border to the west of Sinjar at 7:30 this morning. The Kia minibus detonated killing 8 civilians and injuring 10." BBC notes that the "attacker drove his vehicle up to the house before detonating his explosives" and states "Tribal leader Kanaan al-Shimari was injured in the blast".

In news of other violence . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad mortar attack that destroyed a home, two Baghdad car bombings that claimed 32 lives, a Mosul car bombing claimed the lives of 2 police officers while another Mosul car bombing claimed the lives of 4 civilians and a third Mosul car bombing claimed 3 lives and a Basra bombing claimed 5 lives. Press Latina explains that the Mosul bombings resulted in the city's mayor (Duraid Kashmula) putting the city under curfew and "that security closed roads leading to all bridges above the Tirgris River."


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 7 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

In other news, the cholera outbreaks in Iraq continue to get little attention despite long having left the northern region and turning up elsewhere.
Al Jazeera notes, "Eleven people have died and new cases of the disease have been confirmed in Baghdad, Basra and for the first time the northern districts of Tikrit, Mosul and Dahuk, according to a WHO report."
For those who've forgotten,
two weeks ago (September 12th) the wave of happy talk on the outbreak was that it was confined to the northern region of Iraq. That is no longer the case.
At least twelve people have died from cholera and the twelth was outside the original area.
BBC reports, "A woman has died of cholera in Baghdad, Iraq's health ministry says, the capital's first confirmed fatality in the country's recent outbreak."

Though there's been no money used to guarantee potable water to Iraqis or to provide them with more than a few hours of electricity each day. Despite that fact,
Tony Capaccio and Nicholas Johnston (Bloomberg News) break the news that $190 billion is what the Pentagon wants "for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in fiscal year 2008, which would be the largest annual expenditure since the conflict begins." As Peace Mom and Congressional candidate for California's eighth district, Cindy Sheehan, explained yesterday on KPFK's Sojourner Truth, the Iraq war is about the destruction going on in Iraq but it is also about the decaying infrastructure in this country, the programs the people need -- such as universal health care -- but are told there is no money for while the illegal war continues to suck up ever more billions and trillions. Sheehan was host Margaret Prescod's guest for the full hour and they addressed a number of issues including Sheehan's desire to step back when it was obvious that if you call out Republicans on their support for the illegal war, you get applause but if you call out the Democrats who support and prolong the illegal war you get attacked. She spoke of her trip this summer to the Middle East where she visited with refugees who had been driven out of Iraq and how these events and the maiming and the killing don't seem to register in the US Congressional leadership. Sheehan spoke of the credit the peace movement has earned for carving out a space where the illegal war could be addressed and sees her run for Congress as another step towards peace because she is taking on the military-industrial complex.

On the greed that enriches a select few off the blood of others, US House Rep Henry Waxman has a few questions for US Secretary of State and Anger Condi Rice. As
Cedric's "
Busy Condi" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! WAXMAN EXPECT RICE TO READ!" noted yesterday, Waxman, chair of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform sent a letter to Rice:

Since your testimony at the Committee's hearing on July 26, 2007, current and former employees of the Office of Inspector General have contacted my staff with allegations that you interfered with on-going investigations to protect the State Department and the White House from political embarrassment...The allegations made by these officials are not limited to a single unit or project within your office. Instead, they span all three major divisions of the Office of Inspector General -- investigations, audits, and inspections. The allegations were made by employees of varied rank, ranging from line staff to upper management... Some of the specific allegations include the following: Although the State Department has expended over $3.6 billion on contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan, you refused to send any investigators to those countries to pursue investigations into wasteful spending or procurement fraud and have concluded no fraud investigations relating to the contracts. You prevented your investigators from cooperating with a Justice Department investigation into waste, fraud, and abuse relating to the new U.S. Embassy in Iraq and followed highly irregular procedures in exonerating the prime contractor, First Kuwaiti Trading Company, of charges of labor trafficking. You prevented your investigators from seizing evidence that they believed would have implicated a large State Department contractor in procurement fraud in Afghanistan. You impeded efforts by your investigators to cooperate with a Justice Department probe into allegations that a large private security contractor was smuggling weapons into Iraq. You interfered with an on-going investigation into the conduct of Kenneth Tomlinson, the head of Voice of America and a close associate of Karl Rove, by passing information about the inquiry to Mr. Tomlinson. You censored portions of inspection reports on embassies so that critical information on security vulnerabilities was dropped from classified annexes and not disclosed to Congress.You rejected audits of the State Department's financial statements that documented accounting concerns and refused to publish them until points critical of the Department had been removed.

Warren P. Strobel (McClatchy Newspapers) discovers additional details in the story which includes that the US State Dept's contract officer, Kiazan Moneypenny, wrote the mercenary company Blackwater USA on September 20th instructing them "not to disclose information about the contract" they had with the State Department and referred to phone conversations between the mercenaries and the State Dept "on September 19 and 20". Blackwater was the subject of an investigation in Iraq earlier this month following the slaughter of at least 11 Iraqi civilians. The Iraqi investigation found that Blackwater was at fault. Puppet Nouri al-Maliki was insisting that Blackwater leave Iraq. Instead, under heavy pressure from Rice, he put a smiley face on the White House's decision to allow Blackwater to continue operating in Iraq. With the State Dept now coaxing and coaching Blackwater the alleged 'investigation' that was allegedly going to be conducted by the US and Iraq is even more of a joke.

In book news,
Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine: The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism came out last Tuesday. Arianna Huffington (Huffington Post via Common Dreams) examines the book and finds, "It's a brilliant dissection of what Naomi Klein calls 'disaster capitalism,' an economic philosophy born half a century ago at the University of Chicago under Milton Friedman. It holds that the best time to institute radical free-market policies is in the aftermath of a massive social crisis, such as a terrorist attack, a war, or a natural disaster like Katrina. Klein shows how the crony capitalists running the Bush administration saw post-invasion Iraq as the perfect proving ground for all their pet free-market policies. The fantasy was that a privitazied and corporatized Iraq would become a free-market utopia that would spread the gospel of the market throughout the Middle East. Democracy would reign, and Halliburton and Bechtel would stand supreme."