Friday, November 02, 2007

Dave Zirin, Mukasey, CCR

Friday and we're trying to get our posts done and done quickly because we don't want to hold up The Common Ills tomorrow (that's community wide, we're trying to do that).

I thought I found something worth highlighting and then I read it. If you're going to write about something shouldn't you have a damn opinion? Ken Silverstein plays on the one hand, on the other until he's got multiple arms and he can never call out the abuse of the field of anthropology. Unlike Silverstein, Elaine and C.I. have now been calling that out for twelve months. As a result of that, unlike Silverstein, I have an opinion. How he can write about the subject with no opinion is a question worth asking? I really thought, from the heading and summary, "Well, it's worth highlighting. Even if he's written badly, the topic alone." Then I read it and it was pretty pathetic.

My favorite prof stopped me on campus today (actually hollered when he saw me) to tell me how much he enjoyed "1 Book, 10 Minutes" and how he'd passed on C.I.'s "Intelligence not a requirement for NYT op-ed pages" to the anthro prof and that was the topic for discussions in all that prof's anthro courses. It probably helps that an opinion was expressed, right?

I've run out of time twice this week already so let me note Dave Zirin's "The Sad Resurrection of Chief Illiniwek" before I forget:

Last weekend an unfortunate figure returned to the University of Illinois, and it wasn't Jeff George. Chief Illiniwek, the former school mascot, was back to adorn floats and assorted regalia at Homecoming to the cheers of some and the bitter horror of those who thought the feathered one had been retired for good.
You may have thought that the Chief was banned last year after the NCAA called Illiniwek a "hostile or abusive" mascot and prevented the school from hosting postseason games as long as it paraded him about. You may have thought Illinois had joined dozens of other schools from Stanford to St. John’s in putting Native American caricatures to bed. You thought wrong.
A victory 20 years in the making was overturned when Illinois chancellor Richard Herman declared that the Homecoming ban violated the U.S. constitution saying, "The University values free speech and free expression and considers Homecoming floats, decorations, costumes and related signage all representations of such personal expression."
Yes, our forefathers fought and died to protect the right to display caricatures of the conquered at public institutions of higher learning. The word Illiniwek means "tribe of superior men." In making the decision to allow Chief Illiniwek to return, Herman acted in a manner of the inferior, following instead of leading.

If you want to read a good book, by the way, try September 11th Families For Peaceful Tomorrows by David Potorti with Peaceful Tomorrows. C.I. and Elaine have talked about that book before and I always listen but it's not a book I've ever come across in a bookstore and I'm not into ordering online. Not against it, just always forget. When I get online, I'm blogging or doing searches. But I saw the book at Elaine's and picked it up. It's a really straightfoward book that has a lot to say. It came out in 2003. $14.98 is the price on the back cover. Barbara Lee, Howard Zinn, Ron Kovic, the late Grace Paley and Dennis Kucinich are among the people offering praise for the book on the back cover. You can find out more at Peaceful Tomorrows.

C.I. told me the Center for Constitutional Rights has a video clip of Vanessa Redgrave reading a letter from a former Guantanamo prisoner, so check that out. I don't have time to go to the site tonight but Leigh Ann sent me this press release from CCR, "CCR Calls For Senate To Vote Down Attorney General Nomination:"

CONTACT: Jen Nessel, Center for Constitutional Rights,
David Lerner, Riptide Communications, (212) 260-5000
November 1, 2007, New York, NY – Today the Center for Constitutional Rights issued the following statement against the nomination of Michael Mukasey for the next Attorney General of the United States:Michael Mukasey is not fit to be Attorney General because he supports torture, illegal spying on Americans, and limitless powers for the Executive Branch. He made clear in the Senate confirmation hearing and in his letter to the Senate that he does not understand the difference between the role of the Attorney General and the role of Counsel to the President. The Attorney General is the country's highest law enforcement official. As such, his obligation is to enforce the law -- not to rationalize violations of the law by the government. Michael Mukasey professes ignorance as to whether water-boarding is a form of torture unless he knows "the actual facts and circumstances" of its use. The "facts and circumstances" of water-boarding are quite straightforward. When a person is water-boarded, their head is held under water until the person begins to involuntarily "inhale" water. At that point, the victim is certain they will drown if not allowed to get air. It is a technique from the Spanish Inquisiton and illegal under international and domestic law. Instilling fear of imminent death as an interrogation technique is the very essence of torture, and no amount of legal analysis can come to any other conclusion. Michael Mukasey asserts that as the Commander-in-Chief, the president can spy on Americans outside the law. He believes the president's Article II powers allow him to violate the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) with impunity. Michael Mukasey refuses to say that the laws of the U.S. place a limit on the actions of the president. On October 18, when Senator Patrick Leahy asked him, "Where Congress has clearly legislated in an area . . . if it's been legislated and stated very clearly what must be done, if you operate outside of that, whether it's with a presidential authorization or anything else, wouldn't that be illegal?" Mukasey responded, "That would have to depend on whether what goes outside the statute nonetheless lies within the authority of the president to defend the country." The Center for Constitutional Rights has stood firmly against Mukasey’s nomination for Attorney General from the start. Our country cannot afford to make compromises to our laws, our morals, and our humanity any longer. The Senate must stand up and vote against any candidate for Attorney General who would further undermine American justice and shred the Constitution.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

I agree with CCR but, ready for the bad news? CNN is reporting that Democratic Senators Dianne Feinstein and Charles Schumer have publicly declared that they'll vote for Mukasey which makes you wonder what the illegal spying turned up on them? Something sexual? It's easier to think they're victims being blackmailed then to face up to the fact that they're cowards and Republicans at heart. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, November 2, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, Barack Obama sits down with the New York Times and flashes his War Hawk, and more.

Starting with war resistance. War resister Joshua Key told his story in
The Deserter's Tale and now Key's book is among those optioned to tell the story of the illegal war on the big screen. Eric Jordan has optioned Key's story. Jordan and partner Paul Stephens began their producing careers with documentaries made for television at The Film Works, their Toronto based production company. Their latest release is Beowulf and Grendel in 2005 featuring Sarah Polley and many others. Josh Getlin (Los Angeles Times) quotes Jordan, "I didn't set out to make a pro-Iraq war movie or an anti-Iraq war movie. I wanted to make a movie about people under pressure, real people, and the fact that this is complex world. Just imagine what this kid went through, never dreaming he'd desert the U.S. Army. That's a great book -- and a great movie." And a story that needs to be told. Time and again, war resisters who go public cite the internet overwhelming. Helga and Agustin Aguayo have also cited David Zeiger's documentary of resistance within the military during Vietnam, Sir! No Sir! If Jordan is able to bring Key's story to the screen, it will have an impact.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty 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.

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

Turning to US politics.
Margaret Kimberley (Black Agenda Report) summarizes the state of Senator Barack Obama's Democratic presidential primary campaign, "For months Obama was the political flavor of the month, wooed by fawning celebrities, and promoted by the corporate media. The stamp of approval from the right people had him sitting firmly atop an enormous pile of campaign cash. Now his deep pocketed contributors are showing signs of buyers' remorse, miffed because he is only neck and neck with Hillary Clinton in Iowa and trailing behind her in New Hampshire. Obama has been hoisted on his own petard. He assured Democrats that he was 'safe.' He openly scorned movement politics, and made the appeal of color blindness his calling card. He chose neo-con Bush suck-up Joe Lieberman as his Senate mentor. His criticisms of the evil occupation of Iraq focused not on murder and theft committed by Uncle Sam, but by the traumatized Iraqs' efforts to deal with an American-created hellish existence. Leaving 'all options on the table' is part of the Obama stump speech on Iran." On the subject of Iran, Barack Obama appears on the front page of this morning's New York Times. War pornographer Michael Gordon and Jeff Zeleny who lied in print (click here, here and here -- the paper finally retracted Zeleny's falsehood that should have never appeared) present a view of Barack Obama that's hardly pleasing. Among the many problems with the article is that Obama as portrayed in the article -- and his campaign has issued no statement clarifying. The Times has the transcript online and from it, Barack Obama does mildly push the unproven claim that the Iranian government is supporting resistance in Iraq. Gordo's pushed that unproven claim repeatedly for over a year now. But Obama's remarks appear more of a reply and partial points in lengthy sentences -- not the sort of thing a functioning hard news reporter would lead with in an opening paragraph, touch on again in the third paragraph, in the fourth paragraph, in . . . But though this isn't the main emphasis of Obama's statements (at any time -- to be clear, when it pops up, it is a fleeting statement in an overly long, multi-sentenced paragraphs), it does go to the fact that Obama is once again reinforcing unproven claims of the right wing. In the transcript, he comes off as obsessed with Hillary Clinton. After her, he attempts to get a few jabs in at John Edwards and one in at Bill Richardson. Here is what real reporters should have made the lede of the front page: "Presidential candidate and US Senator Barack Obama who is perceived as an 'anti-war' candidate by some announced that he would not commit to a withdrawal, declared that he was comfortable sending US troops back into Iraq after a withdrawal started and lacked clarity on exactly what a withdrawal under a President Obama would mean." That is what the transcript reveals. Gordo really needs to let go of his blood lust for war with Iran.

Writing up a report, Gordo and Zeleny are useless but, surprisingly, they do a strong job with some of their questions. The paper should have printed up the transcript. If they had, people might be wondering about the 'anti-war' candidate. He maintains Bill Richardson is incorrect on how quickly US troops could be withdrawan from Iraq. Obama states that it would take at least 16 months which makes one wonder how long, if elected, it would take him to move into the White House? If you can grab a strainer or wade through Obama's Chicken Sop For The Soul, you grasp quickly why he refused to pledge (in September's MSNBC 'debate') that, if elected president, he would have all US troops out of Iraq by 2013: He's not talking all troops home. He tries to fudge it, he tries to hide it but it's there in the transcript. He doesn't want permanent military bases in Iraq -- he appears to want them outside of Iraq -- such as Kuwait. But he doesn't see the US embassy in Iraq -- the largest US embassy in the world as a base. However, he does feel that even after the illegal war was ended, US troops would need to remain behind in order guard the embassy and the staff. In addition, it becomes clear that he will keep US troops in Iraq to train the Iraqi police. Because?

The reporters don't think to ask. Here's a slice of reality, the US military is not trained to train police officers. Here's another to drop on the plate, Jordan was training them. Jordan got pushed aside around the half-way mark of 2006. If Obama wanted to pull US troops out of Iraq, the most obvious solution is to turn over the duty of training police officers to a non-military force. Along with needing those for trainers, he needs some to protect the trainers. Gordo gets to the point asking, "So how will you protect the trainers without forces in Iraq?" His answer is an embarrassment, he'd could keep the trainers out of potentially difficult situations. And in Iraq, that would be where? In addition, he would keep troops in Iraq for counter-terrorism (but not, he insists, counter-insurgency). If this doesn't all sound familiar, you slept through this spring and summer when Congressional Dems tried repeatedly to convince the American people that "all troops out of Iraq" could also mean that US troops stay to train, as military police, to fight terrorism, etc. While he's off talking al Qaeda in Iraq (a small number and one most observers state will be forced out by Iraqis when US troops leave) and working in more attacks on Senator Clinton, it's noted that he has "a more expansive approach to Iraq than she does in that you identify in your plan the possiblity of going back into Iraq to protect the populartion if there's an all-out civil war. . . . And providing monitors to help the population relocate and go after war criminals. Those are three elements -- those are new missions for Americans after Iraq that she doesn't postulate." What follows is a comical exchange:

Obama: But they aren't necessarily military missions.

NYT: But how do you go back into Iraq without military forces?

Obama: No, no, no, no, no. You conflated three things. The latter two that you are talked about are not military missions. Let's just be clear about that.

NYT: An armed escort is not a military mission?

Though Obama says he wants "to be clear," he refuses to answer that yes or no question and the interview is over.

So let's be clear that the 'anti-war' Obama told the paper he would send troops back into Iraq. Furthermore, when asked if he would be willing to do that unilaterally, he attempts to beg off with, "We're talking too speculatively right now for me to answer." But this is his heavily pimped September (non)plan, dusted off again, with a shiny new binder. The story is that Barack Obama will NOT bring all US troops home. Even if the illegal war ended, Obama would still keep troops stationed in Iraq (although he'd really, really love it US forces could be stationed in Kuwait exclusively), he would still use them to train (the police0 and still use them to protect the US fortress/embassy and still use them to conduct counter-terrorism actions. Margaret Kimberley (cited at the opening of this section on politics) called it correctly. Meanwhile
Ruth Conniff (The Progressive) weighs in on the alleged Democratic 'debate' this week, dubbing it "pile-on-Hillary night," and wondering what the point of it really was: "But hanging over all this is the specter of the $90 million Hillary had raised by the middle of October. That huge amount of cash so outstrips the other candidates, it seems like a silly game of make-believe to pretend that a clever quip during a debate, or even the extremely important and legistimate points the candidates made last night, could change the dynamic of the race. It doesn't matter how trenchant your comments are if you are drowned out by the amplified voice of a frontrunner who can buy all the airtime that's left in this extremely short primary season." Also noting the heavy donations from big business is Bruce Dixon (Black Agenda Report), "For Democratic and Republican wings of America's permanent ruling party, the all-important selection which precedes the election isn't about poll numbers, votes or the citizens that cast them. It's about winning the favor of military contractors, the banking and financial sectors and Big Oil. It's about reassuring insurance and pharmaceutical companies, cozying up to agribusiness, the cable and telecom monopolies, allaying the fears of chambers of commerce, and wooing Hollywood." Dixon goes on to note the industries pouring big money in Obama and Clinton's campaigns, notes PEJ's tracking of the first six months of mainstream press coverage of the candidates this year -- Obama received more positive coverage from the mainstream than any other candidate for president -- almost 20% more than Hillary Clinton and approximately 19% more than Rudy Giuliani -- and concludes that the Dem presidential ticket will be Clinton-Obama (Clinton for president).

Meanwhile US House Rep and Democratic presidential nominee contender
Dennis Kucinich announced that he is calling for House vote next week. On? Impeachment of Cheney. Kucinich: "The momentum is building for impeachment. Millions of citizens across the nation are demanding Congress rein in the Vice President's abuse of power. Despite this groundswell of opposition to the unconstitutional conduct of office, Vice President Cheney continues to violate the U.S. Constitution by insisting the power of the executive branch is supreme. Congress must hold the Vice President accountable. The American people need to let Members of Congress know how they feel about this. The Vice President continues to use his office to advocate for a continued occupation of Iraq and prod our nation into a belligerent stance against Iran. If the Vice President is successful, his actions will ensure decades of disastrous consequences." His office notes, "The privileged resolution has priority status for consideration on the House floor. Once introduced, the resolution has to be brought to the floor within two legislative days, although the House could act on it immediately. Kucinich is expected to bring it to the House floor on Tuesday, November 6."

Kucinich was among those participating in a bi-partisan forum for candidates (Republican John McCain participated by phone, all others were Democrats).
Holly Ramer (AP) reports that the forum, geared to address concerns of the disabled community, resulted in participation from Dem presidential candidates Chris Dodd, Hillary Clinton, Dennis Kucinich, Joe Biden and Mike Gravel. John Edwards sent a flack to address the group.

Turning to the Green Party.
Kimberly Wilder (On the Wilder Side) has posted Cynthia McKinney's declaration of candidacy. The form shows McKinney's signature with a date of October 16th next to it and the FEC (US Federal Elections Commission) lists October 22nd as the filing date. The Green Party of the United States notes, "Always a lightning rod for those who believe a woman's place is in the kitchen, Congressomwan Cynthia McKinney was the first Black woman elected to Georgia's state legislature. With rules that required she wear a dress ont he state house floor, she chose instead to wear a smart pants suit, letting them know that the days of the 'Good Ole Boy' system were a thing of the past. Now, she may be carrying that same message about the two-party system. Controversial not only for her choice of clothing, McKinney has spoken out against the war on Iraq from the beginning, and anti-war mom Cindy Sheehan calls her 'My friend who's running for President.' McKinney is being actively pursued by the Green Party as their nominee in 2008. Local Green Party chair Gregg Jocoy has already endorsed her possible run, saying, 'We had Ralph Nader on our ballot line in 2000, and that brought us recruits and supporters who are with us to this day. I know Cynthia McKinney will bring an entirely new and energized group of people to our side. Then it's our job to show them that we mean business." At All Things Cynthia McKinney, McKinney has posted an audio clip where she explains why she has declared herself a member of the Green Party "and when I vote Green I will vote my values." McKinney was elected to Congress six times as a member of the Democratic Party (1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000 and 2004). Is McKinney running for president? She concludes her audio message with, "I promise to announce my decision in November." Along with being a leading voice against the war in Congress, the Green Party also notes, "McKinney, who served a dozen years in Congress, filed impeachment papers on President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Sec. of State Rice as her last official act."

As noted Wednesday, Ralph Nader also intends to announce his decision of whether to run for president or not by the end of the year. On Wednesday, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) spoke with attorney Carl Mayer about the lawsuit being filed regarding attempts in 2004 to deny Nader ballot access. Over the summer, Ian Wilder filmed Nader discussing the ballot access issue and Ian and Kimberly Wilder have posted the video at their site On the Wilder Side. They have also made it available at YouTube.

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


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a bridge bombing Thursday night in the Diyala. Reuters notes three injured in a Ramadi bombing and a Diwaniya roadside bombing that claimed the life of 1 Polish soldiers with three more wounded. Counting today's death -- Andrzej Filipek, Poland has lost 23 troops in the illegal war. BBC reports, "The three injured soldiers are being treated in a hospital near the scene of the blast. The incident follows the attempted assassination in October of the Polish Ambassador to Iraq, Edward Pietrzyk."


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "Gunmen opened fire on two pupils on Thursday afternoon near Tuz Khurmatu (south of Kirkuk) during their return from school in (Beer Ahmed) village killing one and injuring the other."


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Also today, the
US military announced: "Three Airmen were killed Nov. 1 while performing combat operations in the vicinity of Balad Air Base, Iraq. All three were assigned to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations at Balad AB."

Staying with violence:

Apparently there is one set of rights for Blackwater mercenaries and another for the rest of us. Normally when a group of people alleged to have gunned down 17 civilians in a lawless shooting spree are questioned, investigators will tell them something along the lines of: "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law." But that is not what the Blackwater operatives involved in the September 16 Nisour Square shooting in Iraq were told. Most of the Blackwater shooters were questioned by State Department Diplomatic Security investigators with the understanding that their statements and information gleaned from them could not be used to bring criminal charges against them, nor could they be introduced as evidence. In other words: "Anything you say can't and won't be used against you in a court of law."
ABC News obtained copies of sworn statements given by Blackwater guards in the immediate aftermath of the shootings, all of which begin, "I understand this statement is being given in furtherance of an official administrative inquiry," and that, "I further understand that neither my statements nor any information or evidence gained by reason of my statements can be used against me in a criminal proceeding." Constitutional law expert
Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, says the offering of so-called "use immunity" agreements by the State Department is "very irregular," adding he could not recall a precedent for it. In normal circumstances, Ratner said, such immunity is only granted after a Grand Jury or Congressional committee has been conveyed and the party has invoked their 5th Amendment rights against self-incrimination. It would then be authorized by either a judge or the committee.

Jeremy Scahill (Huffington Post via Common Dreams) on this week's big development with regards to the mercneary company -- the US State Department's own investigators offered Blackwater 'guards' immunity (limited-immunity, they insist) for their 'cooperation' in the investigation into the slaughter. On Wednesday Aram Roston (NBC News) reported, "Federal agents are investigating allegations that the Blackwater USA security firm illegally exported dozens of firearms sound suppressors -- commonly known as silencers -- to
Iraq and other countries for use by company operatives, sources close to the investigation tell NBC News. . . . The sources said the investigation is part of a broader examination of potential firearms and export violations." Meanwhile, the only US governmental entity to hold Blackwater accountable is the IRS. To avoid paying taxes, FICA, et al, Blackwater was categorizing its employees as contract labor. The IRS overruled that. Yesterday,
US Senator John Kerry notified Steven C. Preston, head of the U.S. Small Business Adminstration by letter that he needs answers regarding a Blackwater affilate, Presidential Airways, Inc, and requesting "A thorough analysis of the size determination made regarding Blackwater; The information that was relied on in making the size determination; The number of employees and independent contractors Blackwater and each of its affiliates or related companies listed in Size Determination Memorandum File Number 3-2007-3-4-5 were ddetermined to have through the SBA's analysis; The number (and location) of site visits that were done to confirm any information Blackwater or its affiliates provided; How the SBA used the Twenty Factor Common Law Test in making the size determination; Any additional materials related to other size determinations involving Blackwater USA or any of its affiliates." And on oversight . . . Jeremy Scahill addressed Blackwater on PBS' Bill Moyers Journal October 19th. He also answered questions the following week. One viewer asked about North Carolina's oversight responsibilities. Scahill replied, "I think this would be an important development. One of the interesting -- some might say distrubing -- aspects of Blackwater's presence in the US national security apparatus is its facilites. The main Blackwater headquarters in Moyock, North Carolina is a sprawling 7,000 acre private military base -- the largest of its kind in the world. The company has also been building a parallel network to the structure of the offical government apparatus. The Prince empire now includes an aviation division, a maritime division, an intelligence company and Blackwater manufactures both surveillance blimps and armored vehicles. It recently opened a new Blackwater facility in Illinois called 'Blackwater North' and is fighting back fierce local opposition to a planned 800+ acre facility in Poterero, California, just miles from the US-Mexico border. The Congressman who represents that district, Democrat Bob Filner, recently inroduced legislation seeking to block the creation of what he terms 'mercenary training centers' anywhere in the U.S. outside of military bases. While that is obviously at the federal level, it would be interesting to get basic questions answered about the legal framework for such facilities in the states in which they operate."

Turning to the continued tensions and conflict between Turkey and northern Iraq. Today
Warren P. Strobel (McClatchy Newspapers) quotes Air Force Gen. retired Joseph Ralston (whom Bully Boy appointed as his envoy to address the PKK) declaring, "The U.S. government should make good on the commitments they have made to the Turks." US Secretary State and Anger Condi Rice went to Turkey for a diplomatic meeting today. CBS and AP report that Rice declared, following the meeting, the US government's "committed to redoubling its efforts" in assisting Turkey in combating the PKK -- a group the US has labeled a "terrorist" organization. Rice's words ring as hollow as Hoshyar Zebari's, noted by Glen Carey (Bloomberg News), Iraq's Foreign Minister and Kurd -- that, yet again, Iraq's central government is serious about doing something. Rice says more talks will come tomorrow in Istanbul and Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan , meets with Bully Boy in DC on Monday. Translation, nothing has been accomplished.

From do-nothing to actual action,
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) explored the latest with CODEPINK today:

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to the bigger issue of CODEPINK. Actually, yesterday President Bush invoked CODEPINK's name. Let's hear what he had to say.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Congress needs to put the needs of those who put on the uniform ahead of their desire to spend more money. When it comes to funding our troops, some in Washington should spend more time responding to the warnings of terrorists like Osama bin Laden and the requests of our commanders on the ground, and less time responding to the demands of bloggers and CODEPINK protesters.
AMY GOODMAN: That's President Bush speaking yesterday. Medea Benjamin, your response?

MEDEA BENJAMIN: Well, we think it's great that Bush mentioned us. We only wish he would have listened to us back in 2002, when we formed CODEPINK and said that invading Iraq would be a disaster. And, of course, we wish that he and Congress would listen to us now, when we say bring the troops home and don't invade Iran.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the strategy that you've employed and what it means to be banned from the Capitol. In fact, it wasn't just Desiree who was banned when she approached Condoleezza Rice; you, too, were banned that day, weren't you?

MEDEA BENJAMIN: Yes. There were five of us that were pulled out of the hearing room. I was pulled out for going like this.

AMY GOODMAN: Meaning holding up a peace sign.

MEDEA BENJAMIN: Holding up my hands in a peace sign, that's right. And I face a jury trial for that unlawful conduct. And they are cracking down harder on us. We have about a dozen CODEPINK men and women right now who are banned from the Capitol, which is something we would like to get some lawyers to contest the legality of that. In the meantime, we really need more people to come forward and join us in the CODEPINK house in D.C., because we're absolutely determined that we have people in every one of these hearings where they're talking about the war. And right now, there's going to be another big moment when Bush is asking for more money for the war, and Congress is going to have to decide whether they're going to give it to him. We need to be there in their faces every single day. So our appeal to all the listeners of Democracy Now! is: come to D.C. Stay at the
CODEPINK house. It's a fabulous experience. But we need you to be there when we can't.

Ruth notes, PBS' Bill Moyers Journal, tonight in most markets Moyers examines how FCC chair Kevin Martin's push to deregulate the communications industry will threaten minority ownership and that Moyers will also provide a commentary regarding press coverage of peace rallies. PBS' NOW with David Brancaccio (also Friday night in most markets, check local listings) looks at farming and asks, "Can local farmers change course and crops and still survive in a shifting economy?" Brancaccio interviews Bill McKibben and Steven L. Hopp is also interviewed on the program while online Hopp and Barbara Kingsolver offer an excerpt of their new book. And Sunday, CBS' 60 Minutes airs Bob Simon's report on 'Curveball' -- the Iraqi exile who invented stories the administration swallowed (despite warnings) because it fit with the other lies they were using to launch an illegal war.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Marjorie Cohn on DN! and a bad book

Thursday! Almost Friday! I haven't read all the e-mails tonight. I don't think I've gotten so many e-mails before in one day. :D What's everyone talking about?

The main thing can be summed up with Leigh and Beau both copying this into their e-mails and saying this has to be "the truest statement of the week" for The Third Estate Sunday Review this Sunday:

If the point of the book was to rail against a press and organizations that Monica Benderman does not feel are doing enough, that would be something many people could get behind and the book would be extremely popular on campuses. But that kind of railing requires a call to action and there is none in this book. Instead, readers are left with the impression that the movement needs healing and a guru has stepped forward to do so with later beatitudes to follow. While psycho-babble is a mainstay on the bestseller list, decade after decade, you generally have to tell the readers they are "good" and an outside force has led them astray. Readers will be left with the impression that the authors are saved and everyone else is dirty. Only the Bendermans have been spared "original sin" and it's been a huge struggle to maintain that status in a world populated with the "great evil" of people who attempted to help them. The stand Kevin Benderman took was a personal stand and the book divorces it from all social and political dynamics leaving it only a personal stand. Follow the guru, that would be Monica Benderman, and, in a lifetime, the world will be a better place. Dead and dying Iraqis? They're not a concern of the personal mission. Issues involving the inherent problems of a standing military -- large or at all -- aren't a concern. The legality of events either revolves around Kevin Benderman's case and only his case or it's ignored except for "right to privacy" for which a legal definition with no Constitutional backing is created on a whim. The book reminds me of several aquaintences, one in particular, in fact. Regardless of the issue, povery, war, year after year she makes a point to express her "gratitude" to those she knows who work on the "physical issues" while she is on "an interior journey to understanding" which others would call navel gazing as she moves from faith to faith, marriage to marriage and some of the worst plastic surgery in California. That's what this book reminds me of, an attempt to shore up the exterior to distract from a hollow interior. The book could have used an active editor or a ghost writer. Monica Benderman has not been a part of the peace movement because she doesn't want to be part of it. I don't remember when the book stops but the complaints about the involvement continue to this day and I got an earful over the summer. When there's no one you can work with either you are so far ahead of the rest of humanity that it will take time for the rest of us to catch up with you or your problem is that you want the spotlight but having nothing to offer when it hits you. The funniest story I heard involved comparing it to Lucy Riccardo's repeated attempts to break into show biz. Ava and I laughed at that and other stories and only shared them with Jess and Ty but Monica Benderman's elected to make it public with her book. That's not my problem, that's not Elaine's problem. You write a book, people evaluate it. Books have greater weight than magazines, newspapers or speeches. This isn't a book about ending the illegal war, it's not a book about peace, it's not a call to action. It is a cry of inaction. The book doubles back on itself repeatedly whether it's in the claim of the need to respect all points of view -- which I don't agree with, I do agree everyone has a right to speak --only to slam those who would not put Monica Benderman in charge of the peace movement or to claim the need for truth to the people only to turn around and claim that ideas and strategies need to be road tested as if the peace movement were a bake off. It's real simple, the Iraq War is illegal and it was wrong from the start and built on lies. Anyone who can't express those sentiments really isn't part of the peace movement.

Who said it? C.I.

As Beau said, "OMG!@@@!" :D It is incredible. But take a minute to feel sorry for Ava because she and C.I. take notes during the roundtables, discussions, etc. So if one of them is talking, the other has to take the notes. Otherwise, they trade off with one nodding to the other (meaning "grab the next sentence"). Their notes are typed up for the transcript features. So while the rest of us were able to just listen and enjoy, Ava had to get every word down and I remember C.I. was just reeling that off at a fast pace. What's it from?

"1 Book, 10 Minutes" -- just up this morning at The Third Estate Sunday Review. If you're scratching your head, no, we didn't do a discussion last night. What happened was Mia e-mailed a highlight and C.I. saw it this morning while working on the second entry at The Common Ills. C.I. was talking to Jim and Ava while doing that entry. Mia had forwarded an article where Kevin Benderman was saying that the response to his new book had been mixed with one group even refusing to read it and Mia was e-mailing to ask, "Is he talking about everyone?" C.I. intended to note Jim's "A Note to Our Readers" from October 7th and "No book discussion this week" from the same time to demonstrate that we had read the book. We just weren't posting that discussion. So Jim and Ava are telling C.I., "You've got to add ___" and C.I. thought it was going to be two lines after "No, we read the book." Instead, they keep going, "Add . . ." Finally, C.I. says, "How about we post the discussion?" I got called on my cell because (a) I was with Elaine (I stayed over) and they wanted to give her a heads up and (b) the only thing they were changing was one part where Ava read an e-mail into the discussion. C.I. wanted that pulled but that's where I was talking the most and they wanted to be sure it was okay with me?

I was shocked because I thought that was dead and buried. I knew it got typed up because we edited and edited that sucker. I knew it was in a draft but I just figured it was one of those pieces we work forever on and it never sees the light of the day online. I was cool with it and, when I made those remarks about the e-mail, knew they probably wouldn't make it online because the e-mail was a private one (an insulting "you're not as bad as I thought" to C.I.) so I said sure. Elaine reminded that she'd never asked that it not be posted and she could live with her statements. (She doesn't have a problem with anyone else's statements. And when we read it today at lunch, we were both laughing. I used my time at Elaine's to do research in the morning for a paper I'm working on and then took in lunch for her and Sunny.)

So it went up and it counts as one of our features for Sunday. Jim was on the phone with me and yelling in my ear when I said, "Sure, pull that section." He was going, "Mike says it's okay, cut it! Cut it! Cut it! And get it up!" :D Jim was so excited. :D

Leigh Ann loves it and wants to know if this is the sort of stuff that gets pulled? Not all the time. A lot of times, we've got a piece that's just not coming together. So it won't go up online but will go in the print edition. But some times (and it seems like a lot lately), we'll work on something and it's powerful and has strong points but we'll end up pulling it. We thought the minimum wage thing was blood money, for instance, but we pulled it because we didn't want to be the reason that someone didn't get a raise. So that was a powerful piece that just ran in the print version. Last week, we had two pieces on the peace movement that were powerful but just ran in the print version for similar reasons.

It was so weird to read it today. Elaine and Sunny and I were reading outloud. Sunny wanted to do C.I.'s part. That's what she wanted. She said, "Let me be C.I.!" So she was C.I. and Elaine did Rebecca, Kat and Jess. I grabbed Jim and Dona because I do a good impression of both of them and I grabbed me (Elaine read her own remarks), I was doing Cedric and Wally and Betty too because I type slow but I read fast. :D Sunny hadn't heard it. We were stopping, Elaine and me, and saying, "Remember when . . ." Sunny would get to the end of C.I.'s parts and say, "Wait, let me do it again!" :D She did a good job. We were giving her directions because there was so much tension early on. Everyone was speaking in this sort of non-committal way. Then Rebecca read that highlight (and Elaine did it perfect because Rebecca's point with that highlight was really: "I've had enough pussy footing around, let's get to the point.") and Kat just came alive. Jim was confused by that (and I had that down pat). It was a lot of fun and we were all three laughing.

Let me cheat with a copy and paste because I don't feel like going in and putting in links. Here's who worked on that discussion and is mentioned above:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,
and Wally of The Daily Jot

And Dallas! He put in any links and he was also helping with the edits. Sunny asked about the section with Ava and me that got removed and I summarized that. I'll note here that if you know someone's planning to discuss your book, sending them an insulting e-mail (C.I. hadn't read the e-mail and found out during the discussion -- in fact that edit comes right before the part I quoted by C.I. above -- that's where Ava and I were talking about the e-mail) either means you want the book to be panned or you just have to burn every bridge you can -- even the ones you're standing on. That's what Ava said, "You just have to burn every bridge you can!" Then I shouted out, "Even the ones you're standing on!" And then Ava and I go into this discussion about that and how you can see that throughout the book. I did know about the e-mail, by the way. Ava, Kat and C.I. were with us that Friday night. On Saturday, while we were getting ready to run them to the airport, Ava asked for a minute and we walked off. She goes did I like the book? I go that I hated it. She tells me about the e-mail and is quoting it to me. She says, "I'm bringing that up in the discussion. It's going to be edited out but I want to be sure we're all on the same page." Her fear, because we hated this book, was that the discussion would take place and not get posted. So she said she was going to bring up the e-mail near the end. I said, "Go for it. I'm offended and I'll have a bit to say when you bring it up." So we both knew that it wouldn't make it into the discussion.

But even with that, we didn't publish it.

It went up today and that's because Jim was there. C.I.'s attitude was, "I don't think he's talking about us." And that was really all C.I. would have said normally. C.I. would have said that to include the highlight sent in by Mia (who Jim said really meant it for C.I.'s column in the gina & krista round-robin tomorrow). C.I. didn't realize that until after it went it up. But as C.I. notes in that second e-mail, there are people who would pull it out if the book was included in the snapshot. I know Rebecca would and she's made it clear that's the only thing she'll ever pull out. Kat will as well and Cedric when he reposts in full at his mirror site. Ruth didn't have her own site then but she and Rebecca are really tight so if Rebecca pulls something, you can be sure Ruth will too.

Leigh Ann wondered about "notes". She got what C.I. was talking about but wondered why "notes" were used. Think about C.I. and you'll get it. C.I.'s doing the thing and all and then someone comes along and says, "Great job there but this time I want __" To C.I. that would be "notes." :D But yeah, "notes" were being sent. It put Elaine in an awkard position. (Elaine likes Monica Benderman.) And when it came up it was about others, like Aguayo and how "legal expert" Monica didn't think he had a solid case for a Supreme Court appeal, C.I. made a point to tell Elaine, "Do you see now what everyone means when they say she is never happy?" And that's true. What does she have to do with Agustin Aguayo? Who asked her for her opinion on that? No one. If she feels he doesn't have an appeal, write one of her columns about that. Why's she trying to get C.I. to? Really, mind your own damn business.

I heard about that from some vets over the summer when I was with C.I. and they were just going on and on about how she is just so difficult and she insists on this and that and blah blah blah. Like she's a rock star or something. Nobody, this was the main example used, giving a speech to kids, for instance, thinks, "Oh, wow, I'm going to be rich." But it was, "Where's the money?" Publicly, C.I. said, "Well, she does have to worry about bills. They've had a lot of legal bills and she does feel they've been ripped off so she might just be attempting to make sure everyone's on the same page from the start." As soon as we left, I go, "What do you really think?" C.I. shook the head and said, "Gimmie, gimmie, gimmie." :D

But that book was just offensive. The discussion says it all. I don't know what else to add. I think Kat, C.I. and Ava did an amazing job in that discussion. The rest of us were just trying to tread water! :D

I don't know what her (and probably her husband) problem is. But there are some real issues and this all came up the first time, in depth, when she and her husband were making fun of Cindy Sheehan publicly. They almost got written off then. C.I. was the one who advocated for not doing that. But I wonder if C.I. regretted that after reading the book? (I'm not talking about Elaine here. She's my girlfriend, I'm not bringing her into it.)

That really should have been the tip off, their sneering at Cindy and making jokes. We were all offended by that (including C.I.). But it was a "we'll take the high road and just ignore that it happened." Reading the book, I think you see what the problem with Cindy is.

First up, Monica Benderman's nursing a grudge that she wasn't made the leader of the peace movement. That must have really ticked her off to read the book. If you think about it, she could have been a leader. At that point, the known resisters were either out of the country (like Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey) or in jail (Camilo Mejia and Monica's husband). There she was, the suffering spouse. It could have been her.

But she is just so "my way! my way!" with the mainstream press. There was one who said, "I really felt for her and her husband, but I just couldn't take all the 'You got this wrong!'s."

It's also true that she's not really calling out the illegal war.

Which is the second thing. She didn't do anything. Cindy Sheehan went to Crawford (she'd done things before and would after). Monica just wanted to tell her story over and over and seemed surprised that everyone didn't want to take down every word.

In the book, she explains how she doesn't like rallies and how they're too loud and blah blah. But a vet told me after he read the book, the reason she doesn't like rallies is that other people are speaking. Even before Memorial Day, it was clear that Cindy Sheehan would be happy if anyone else spoke. She'd be thrilled and she would love to have a day to herself. (Which I really get because C.I. is not trying to be a leader and rejects that label but C.I.'s got a real rough schedule too.) If someone else could do it, Cindy would have been thrilled to have either just attended or even been able to stay home. It's really a lot of work. I got that when I started going out with C.I. on the road. And Cindy's image is the Peace Mom so it's much harder for her than it is for me or C.I. We're just speaking as people who want to end the illegal war. Cindy became an entire symbol and that's really hard because there are all these expectations placed on you.

Third, Monica loves the military. That was so embarrassing to read. This isn't a case of she feels for those enlisted. This is a case of she is in awe of the military and all of it's procedures. And the 'manliness' of it all. The women were embarrassed reading that and I don't blame them because even I got uncomfortable with it.

Fourth, she doesn't have a desire to end the illegal war. It would be nice if it happened. But it's not like she's losing sleep over it. She wants to work 'long term' and this illegal war can go on and on to read her book.

Fourth, and this is something Ava and I raised in the deleted section and something I've raised with some of the vets I've gotten close to, she's concerned with being seen as 'moderate'. She wants to be 'respectable.' Or at least seen that way. One of them (I'm at Elaine's office) stopped on his way into group tonight and goes, "You read C.I., right?" I said, "I sure did." He said, "See, that's what we've been talking about." And we talked a little about it about how Monica has that nonsense about 'all views' and it really does read like, as Kat points out, she thinks a rally to end the illegal war requires inviting pro-war speakers and distributing pro-war literature. I mean, come on!

He goes, "She's more concerned with appearing 'moderate' than she is with ending the war." And that's how it reads in her book. It really should be called her book. Kevin Benderman's hardly in it. His face is on the cover and he gets top billing but it's her book.

And if she can't figure out why 'peace leaders' were less enthusiastic as they got to know her, she should take a look at her own acitons.

That comes through loud and clear, page after page.

Jim's attitude was, this morning, that Kevin Benderman's statement in that interview was a response. The piece was dead unless they made an issue out of it. We were all most worried about Elaine getting another e-mail complaining. We didn't want Elaine to have any troubles over it. (Elaine was always for posting the discussion.) But if that was directed at us, and Mia thought it was, Jim's attidue was, "Fine, we're responding." Which is why C.I.'s entry that was only going to include a sentence or two ended up including so much (Ava and Jim were saying, "Add ___!" and "Put in ___!") that C.I. finally said, "Let's just post the discussion." And since it was already typed up, it wasn't a problem at all. Tony called me and said I wouldn't believe the reaction it had created on campus. (All favorable.)

Marjorie Cohn, the president of the National Lawyers Guild, was on Democracy Now! today:

MARJORIE COHN: Mukasey has made it clear that he is going to construe the law in favor of presidential power. And when he says that he doesn't know what waterboarding is, he's probably the only person in this country, and indeed in many countries, who doesn't know what waterboarding is. And he can't say whether it's torture or not. And yet Rear Admiral John Hutson, who also testified at the hearing, said other than perhaps the rack and thumbscrews, waterboarding is the most iconic example of torture in history. It was devised, I believe, in the Spanish Inquisition. It has been repudiated for centuries.
AMY GOODMAN: That was…?
MARJORIE COHN: That was John Hutson, retired Navy Admiral, who also testified at Mukasey's confirmation hearing.
AMY GOODMAN: Why do you think Mukasey will not say it's torture?
MARJORIE COHN: Because the Bush administration has tried from the beginning to insulate itself against war crimes prosecutions. Under the US War Crimes Act, torture can be prosecuted as a war crime, and even if the person didn’t personally commit the torture, commanders, all the way up the chain of command to the commander-in-chief, can be held liable, if they knew or should have known their subordinates would be torturing and they did nothing to stop or prevent it. And Bush knows that, and he is walking a very fine line. Mukasey is walking a very fine line, because if he says that waterboarding is torture -- and the administration has admitted that it has engaged in waterboarding at least three times -- then we're talking about war crimes liability, and it could go all the way up the chain of command.
And I also want to say that one of the people who was waterboarded was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed at one of the secret CIA black sites, and he was supposedly the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. And he was waterboarded and tortured so severely that his information is practically worthless, which means that the waterboarding is actually interfering with the administration's ability to get good intelligence to stop terrorism.

Normally, I'd say, "I wish she was on more!" This time? I'm glad she wasn't for selfish reasons. We had Democracy Now! on during lunch but we were reading the book discussion out loud. We missed most of Democracy Now! :( We had just finished and finished talking about the discussion when the final segment (with Cohn) came up. So on the plus side, we all got to listen.

I'd love to think Mukasey wouldn't get confirmed. He shouldn't. Chris Dodd has led on this issue. But today Bully Boy's threatening to appoint someone (someone? maybe Jenna needs a job?) if the Senate doesn't confirm Mukasey. Usually when Bully Boy threatens, the Dems cave. It would be great to believe it would go differently today but after everything we've seen, why should we think this will be any different?

Okay, not time for Zirin tonight. I will note him tomorrow. But Elaine's group looks like it's ending. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, November 1, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, resistance brews, the US military does their usual stunt of announcing deaths after the press reports the totals for the month and more.

Starting with war resistance. "I am standing here today on behalf of the men, women and children of the Middle East, who have fallen victim to this Administration and it's complete lack of compassion and total disregard for both U.S. and International laws of war. I stand with them so that the entire world can take notice, and so that they will know that they are not forgotten," announced war resister James Circello in New Orleands over the weekend at a rally to end the illegal war, restore the Constitution and rebuild the Gulf Coast.
Audio-visual can be found here and IVAW has the text of his speech posted as well. From the speech:

A little about myself:
I enlisted directly after the attacks of September 11th, I thought I was going to be a part of something noble and would be defending my country and family. Defending this, that and every other thing soldiers are told they defend.
All I ended up defending were corporate interests.
I served in Iraq during the initial invasion as an Airborne Infantryman with the 173rd Airborne Brigade from March 2003 to March 2004.
And while there, something incredible happened, something so revolutionary no one would ever believe me. . .
But while I was in Iraq I actually made friends with the people of that country. Muslims, Christians, Arabs, Kurds, Turks -- all of them.
It was unbelievable, all this time I was told that Arabs wanting to kill me for my freedom and because I was American.
I quickly became disillusioned about our mission there. We were being told that we were giving these people Democracy, unfortunately what I saw would best be described as martial law, or what we called "The Old West." Soldiers joked that "anything goes", which was true and still is, for the most part, today.
Time went by and I moved on to other places in my career, but I never forgot what I did while in Iraq and what I saw happening: Other kids turning into animals.
Some as young as 17, brutalizing, bullying and humiliating individuals sometimes old enough to be their grandparents, and sometimes young enough to be their children.
And it wasn't just the men and women on the receiving end, suffering through illegal and tiresome searches of their homes and vehicles, simply for being brown skinned, but the same methods were applied to women and children as well.
No one was innocent.
No one was innocent. No one.
I was against the invasion before I was deployed but shortly after I came home from Iraq, I decided I was completely against the Occupations and would refuse to participate in them any longer -- though it would take me over 2 and a half years to finally do something about it.
But then I did.
I left the Army on Easterm morning of this year, in protest of this Administration's War-Crimes and on that day I decided I would never again wear the Uniform of War.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty 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.

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

NLG president Marjorie Cohn spoke with by
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) today:

AMY GOODMAN: You're celebrating the seventieth anniversary of the National Lawyers Guild. Can you talk about why it formed?

MARJORIE COHN: In 1937, seventy years ago, the American Bar Association would not admit people of color. So the National Lawyers Guild started as an alternative to the American Bar Association. And during the last seventy years, National Lawyers Guild legal people -- lawyers, law students, legal workers -- have been involved in the cutting edge struggles to support the rights of people. And our preamble says it all, and we're dedicated to the proposition that human rights are more sacred than property interests.

AMY GOODMAN: You have written a great deal about the Bush administration. What do you think is President Bush's greatest offense at this point?

MARJORIE COHN: The war in Iraq is clearly his greatest offense, and the torture is part and parcel of that. And in his co-called war on terror, he has really made us less safe. He has put many of our lives in danger. And more than 3,800 people have lost their lives in this country. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed. Untold numbers of people have been wounded on both sides. And, in fact, he is rattling -- he and Cheney are rattling the sabers against Iran and promise to do even more horrible damage.

AMY GOODMAN: Have the Democrats coming to power in Congress made a difference?

MARJORIE COHN: They are holding hearings. So far, that's the only difference. They gave him the so-called Protect America Act, which legalizes his illegal spying program, which is not used just to spy on the terrorists, but also used to spy on dissidents, people who dissent against the administration policy. And I've seen a lot of timidity on the part of the Democrats. This vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee that's going to happen next week on the Mukasey nomination is going to be very telling, to see if the Democrats put their money where their mouth is. And it's not just waterboarding. If you look at his testimony, it supports the Bush administration in lockstep right down the line.

Returning to actions over the weekend,
Adam Kokesh writes about the action he took part in. From "The Rally in Philly:" "The crowd was a bit disappointing, but still solid given the weather. I got to meet up with some friends from Veterans For Peace and some student organizers I've worked with just before Kelley Dougherty, the IVAW Executive Director, got on stage to speak. Despite having a very sweet demeanor and voice for an Iraq vet, she has a way of always getting people riled up and passionate about direct action, which she did. I did a couple TV interviews when the caravan stopped in Baltimore to pick some people up at a church, and said that this day of protests was one for the movement, one for the people. We're deliberately not doing something in DC because we are sick of asking for them to end this war. We the people have to stand up and stop this war for ourselves." On Friday, Kokesh spoke at his university (Georgetown). Hadas Gold (The GW Hatchet) reports, "About 30 people, most community members and some students, listened to Kokesh speak about Iraq, the military and the inherent racism in both. 'There really is some shame associated with having been a part of (racism in the military),' said Kokesh, who served in the Marines. Kokesh spoke of how the military dehumanizes Iraqis by using racial slurs and other names . . . to make the killings easier on the mind. . . . 'You cannot love what you do not understand,' Kokesh said. 'We would be na've to think America has been an exception to this historic trend.' Kokesh said everyone has the capacity for racism and that it is too often recognized as acceptable in our culture." Kokesh is co-chair of IVAW.

While Adam Kokesh works to get the word out,
Nancy Youssef files another bad report for McClatchy Newspapers. She writes, "Of October's [US military] deaths, 27 were caused by enemy action, Iraqi Coalition Casualty Count reported on its web site." She tells you there were 36 for the month of October. Now McClatchy knows damn well the US military announces deaths late. The number is 39 because 3 October deaths were announced today. McClatchy -- of all people -- shouldn't be caught with their pants down. But what of the nine who died from something other than a non-combat classification? Did McClatchy determine the cause of death. Or did they just accept the military's "under investigation"? As we noted in Tuesday's snapshot, Christopher Monroe (whose parents have filed a lawsuit against the mercenary company responsible for their son's death) died October 25, 2006. The US military announced a death that sounded like a fender bender ("5-ton truck was involved in an automobile accident with a civilian vehicle") when the reality was that Monroe got run down by mercenaries in an armored Suburban (the mercenaries worked for Erinys -- Monroe's parents are suing them over the death of 19-year-old Christopher). Here's the reality for McClatchy -- which has done this dopey report for at least three months now -- if you don't know about the other deaths, you really can't write about the ones classified as "combat." That glaring error is not erased by erasing mentions -- even in passing -- of the others who died. Furthermore, in what reads like a report of 'progress,' Youssef notes, "A report by the Government Accountability Office in Washington warned Tuesday that the U.S. and Iraqi governments haven't taken advantage of the drop in violence." And? That's it. Youssef is done with it; however, yesterday James Glanz (New York Times) reported, ". . . Joseph A. Christoff, the director of international affairs and trade at the Government Accountability Office, said some measure of what some see as progress in Iraq were not as clear-cut as they might seem. For example, Pentagon statistic indicated that a drop in violence in Iraq over the past several months 'was primarily due to a decrease in attacks against coalition forces,' Mr. Christoff said in written remarks to a subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. 'Attacks against Iraqi security forces and civilians have declined less than attacks against coalition forces,' Mr. Christoff wrote." None of that is in Youssef's article. When the New York Times is doing a better job on Iraq than McClatchy, there is a problem. Or, as a correspondent for another paper e-mailed the public account to assert, "You're going to pass Nancy again." Ruth called it out the start of last month. Youssef is one of the strongest print reporters on Iraq at any paper but this new monthly series is garbage. There were other things to call out before but only McClatchy appears to have not grasped that the figures you run with for that first-of-the-month-report-on-the-first-of-the-month change. The US military knows those reports are in the works -- it's why they now regularly feed the key talking points two weeks before the end of the month in press conference after press conference -- so they regularly have a few 'holdover' announcements on deaths. Already today, the US military has announced 3 October deaths. Anywhere in the report (which appears as confused as John McCain on the campaign trail -- though McCain is pretending confusion re: Iraq, in August 2006, he outlined all that has happened) about the key element of October? Nope. ". . . Bush's military strategy has employed its own indiscriminate firepower -- from loose 'rules of engagement' for U.S. troops, to helicopter gun ships firing on crowds, to jet air strikes, to missiles launched from Predator drones. For instance the U.S. military acknowledged on Oct. 23 that an American helicopter killed 11 people, including women and children . . ." Who wrote that? Not Youssef. Robert Parry (Consortium News) pointed that out this week. It's sad that a monthly-round-up piece by Youssef on violence in Iraq can't even note the most obvious trend for the month of October. As we noted Sunday at The Third Estate Sunday Review: "If September's big story was Blackwater, the key story of October was US military air strikes that killed civilians -- with the US admitting to a few while using 'under investigation' to cover others. That too is falling out of the early accounts so we're not hopeful to see it explored in the end of the month (published first day of the month) stories." If fell right off the charts, onto the floor and slid under the rug before McClatchy could apparently notice because in a report on violence for the month of October, Youssef writes as if she's unaware of the vast number of reports on Iraqis killed by US 'air power'. She's happy to type up, "Police blame the violence on al Qaida in Iraq . . ." but apparently noting the killings that were the key development of the month (the key was them being reported on, the development itself is not all that new) was too much to ask for. The report is useless. It was useless before 3 more deaths being announced made the figures wrong. If you're wondering, for the second month in a row McClatchy Newspapers plays vauge on the Iraqi death statistics. Youssef zooms in on Baghdad but fails to note the figures throughout Iraq. AFP reports, "The number of Iraqis killed in insurgent and sectarian attacks" note that leaves out the Iraqi civilians killed in US air strikes "rose in October, in a blow to a nine-month-old US troop surge policy. At least 887 Iraqis were killed last month, compared to 840 in September, according to the data compiled by the Iraqi government." AFP keeps their own figures -- these are not them. These are figures released by the Iraqi government, the ministries of interior, defence and health. Meanwhile the site that is known for undercounting the dead, IBC, has a total of 1,1817 Iraqi civilians killed for the month of October. Neither goes with a Happy Talk "Troops coming home anyday now!" theme. AFP also notes, "The United Nations, one of the reliable sources of information, also stopped providing the data since early this year." Of course you could always pull a Ned Parker and compare this month's toll with January's (as he does in the Los Angeles Times) and trumpet "DECREASE!" Apparently, the saying is never be a nosy parker nor a Ned Parker. Call it a sign of the sorry state of journalism or a sign of hope but college student Emily Watson (UT's The Daily Texan) clearly grasps what so many refuse to:

The Associated Press reported this week that the projected death toll for October - 36 - is the lowest in 19 months, almost half of last month's casualties. But who are we, as citizens and journalists, to say that the casualties of the Iraq war, at only 36, are the lowest they have been in 19 months? Only one casualty in a month is not a feat - it still means that one life has been lost. Let's stop speaking in numbers and death tolls and start looking at what really happens when a nation is at war. The federal government prohibits the publishing of any photographs of dead soldiers' coffins. Perhaps that's how they want to keep it: We can see the numbers of coffins, but not the coffins themselves. If death isn't real to the American public, then the war is just something that whispers its way into the nightly news or that creeps quietly into the RSS feeds of our blogs. We turn a blind eye to the soldiers walking the halls of America's Veterans Affairs hospitals. College-aged women and men return from war less their legs, arms, eyes or ears, hoping to one day be normal again.

Today the
US military announced, "Two Task Force Iron Soldiers were killed by an explosion near their vehicle while conduting operations in Nineveh province Oct. 31." And they announced: "A Task Force Iron Soldier was killed by an explosion near his vehicle while conducting operations in Salah ad Din province Oct. 31." Also today, AP reports that research by the Veterans Affairs Department has found "that at least 283 combat veterans" have taken their own lives after leaving military service between October 7, 2001 "and the end of 2005". Those figures leave out nearly two years worth of data.

In reported violence today . . .


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad explosion that claimed 3 lives and left four wounded, a Diyala car bombing claimed the lives of 3 Iraqi soldiers and 3 Iraqi civilians (eighteen more soldiers were wounded) and, in the latest attack on officials, a Diyala roadside bombing "targeted the convoy of Baladrouz police chief in Baladrouz, killing six of the bodyguards and injuring two others." Meanwhile Kim Gamel (AP) reports, "U.S. helicopters opened fire after a ground patrol came under attack southest of Baghdad on Wednesday, and Iraqi police said three officers were killed and one wounded in the strike." So, yesterday, another US air strike -- 'precision,' to be sure -- resulted in the deaths of 3 Iraqi police officers.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a man shot dead in Baghdad, while three civilians and police officer were wounded in a Baghdad shooting, and Saleh Al Jizani ("brother of a prominent member of Mahdi army militia and Sadr trend in Basra") while yesterday "a member of Mahdi army military" was shot dead in Basra.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 5 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes Professor Sabri Abdul-Jabar's corpse was discovered outside of Kirkuk today.

Turning to documentaries,
Meeting Resistance is the new documentary by journalists Molly Bingham and Steve Connors. The film examines the Iraqi resistance to the illegal war and occupation. Mike Ferner (CounterPunch) reports on how the documentary came in to being and quotes Steve Connors delcaring, "This film is seen as somehow really radical. I've covered 10 conflicts and this is the first time I've heard it's radical to cover the other side. As a German friend of mine asked, 'Americans consider this news?'"; and Bingham explaining, "We didn't know what to expect at all, but what we found was that the vast majority of people we spoke with didn't wait to see how the administration of Baghdad was going to go. They just saw they were being occupied and that occupation required a response. Most of the people we inteviewed were organizing within a week (of the fall of the Saddam Hussein government in early April, 2003), finding people to work with." Reminder, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) interviewed them about the documentary on October 18th, it's listen, watch or read online.

Turning to the continued tensions between Turkey and northern Iraq,
Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reports on the meet up US Secretary of State Condi Rice and others will have in Turkey noting the tensions as Rice attempts "not to antagonize either" Turkey or Iraq. Evren Mesci and Hidir Goktas (Reuters) report, "Turkey said on Thursday planned economic sanctions would only target outlawed Kurdish militants and groups providing them with support in northern Iraq."

Returning to resistance. Some in the service are resisting going to Iraq. Yes, we are talking about the State Department.
Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) reports:

Uneasy U.S. diplomats yesterday challenged senior State Department officials in unusually blunt terms over a decision to order some of them to serve at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad or risk losing their jobs. At a town hall meeting in the department's main auditorium attended by hundreds of Foreign Service officers, some of them criticized fundamental aspects of State's personnel policies in Iraq. They took issue with the size of the embassy -- the biggest in U.S. history -- and the inadequate training they received before being sent to serve in a war zone. One woman said she returned from a tour in Basra with post-traumatic stress disorder only to find that the State Department would not authorize medical treatment. Yesterday's internal dissension came amid rising public doubts about diplomatic progress in Iraq and congressional inquiries into the department's spending on the embassy and its management of private security contractors. Some participants asked how diplomacy could be practiced when the embassy itself, inside the fortified Green Zone, is under frequent fire and officials can travel outside only under heavy guard."

AP dubs the meeting "contentious" and maintains that diplomats "peppered officials with often hostile comments". Phillippe Naughton (Times of London) calls it "an unprecendented rebellion by foreign service officers over a threat to force diplomats to accept postings in Iraq". Matthew Lee (AP) reports Rice's response -- sending out a cable insisting "that foreign service officers have an obligation to uphold the oaths they took to carry out their policies of the government and be available to serve anywhere in the world".

CBS' 60 Minutes offers a look at "Curveball" -- one of the phonies backing up Bully Boy's lies of war -- who is identified in Bob Simon's report as Rafid Ahmed Alwan. While PBS' NOW with David Brancaccio (Friday night in most markets, check local listings) looks at farming and asks, "Can local farmers change course and crops and still survive in a shifting economy?" Brancaccio interviews Bill McKibben and Steven L. Hopp is also interviewed on the program while online Hopp and Barbara Kingsolver (they are married) will offer an excerpt of their new book which, unless I'm thinking of another book, includes a third author -- Barbara's adult daughter Camille Kingsolver. If that's the book in question, it's entitled Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.