Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Democracy Now: "My Name is Rachel Corrie," Helen Thomas; Tom Hayden ....

Bush Suggests Troops To Remain in Iraq Until At Least 2009
President Bush has indicated US troops are likely to stay in Iraq until at least 2009. Speaking at a White House press conference Tuesday -- his second this year -- Bush said whether US troops are withdrawn from Iraq will be up to future US presidents and Iraqi governments to decide. Bush also defended the job performance of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld amid growing calls for his resignation. But Bush left open the possibility for future changes, saying "I'm not going to announce it right now."
Soldier Convicted of Abusing Detainees at Abu Ghraib
Back in the United States, a US soldier has been found guilty of using a dog to abuse detainees at Abu Ghraib. Sgt. Michael Smith was convicted on 6 counts including maltreating detainees, dereliction of duty and assault. He is the 10th soldier to be convicted in the Abu Ghraib torture scandal. Smith's defense argued he was only following orders, and his alleged use of the dog was in line with why his superiors ordered the use of dogs at Abu Ghraib.
Report: Ex-Iraq FM Acted as Paid CIA Informant
NBC News has revealed a top government official under Saddam Hussein acted as a paid informant to the CIA before the US invaded Iraq. According to intelligence sources, former Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri gave information that contradicted two of the main stated reasons for going to war. Sabri said Saddam Hussein possessed no active biological or nuclear weapons programs. He also reportedly claimed Iraq had a cache of chemical weapons -- an assertion that turned out to be false. Sabri was reportedly paid more than $100,000 dollars for his information, which was delivered through a third party.
White House Steers Millions in Federal Grants to Conservative Groups
The Washington Post is reporting the Bush administration has funneled millions of dollars in federal grant money to conservative groups that support its social policies. Using faith-based programs and other government initiatives, the Bush administration has steered at least $157 million to groups that support the President's views on issues such as abortion and gay marriage. According to the Post, most of the funding came through government programs enacted after the Bush administration took office. In scores of cases, small antiabortion centers have received federal funding that doubled or tripled their operating budgets. Democratic Congressmember Chet Edwards of Texas called the grant funding one of the largest patronage programs in American history.
The above four items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Jonah, Sherry, Kansas and MarciDemocracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):
Headlines for March 22, 2006

- Bush Suggests Troops To Remain in Iraq Until At Least 2009
- UN Envoy Warns of Increasing Violence in Sudan
- Basque Separatist Group Announces Permanent Ceasefire
- Ecuador Declares State of Emergency Over Trade Protests
- Report: Ex-Iraq FM Acted as Paid CIA Informant
- Duckworth Leads Democratic Primary in Illinois
"My Name is Rachel Corrie" -- A Debate Over Why the Play is Not Opening in New York

"My Name is Rachel Corrie" -- a play based on the words of the American peace activist crushed to death three years ago by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza -- is causing controversy after the New York City theater that was scheduled to run it postponed production. We host a discussion with Katharine Viner, the editor of the play in London and James Nicola and Lynn Moffat, the two top directors of the New York Theatre Workshop. [includes rush transcript - partial]
Rachel Corrie's Parents React to New York Theater's Postponement of a Play Based on Their Late Daughter's Words

We speak with Rachel Corrie's parents, Craig and Cindy, who have traveled to New York to attend a public reading of Rachel's writings and emails at the Riverside Church on what was supposed to have been the opening night of the play "My Name is Rachel Corrie."
Helen Thomas Asks President Bush Why He Went to War

At the White House Tuesday, veteran correspondent Helen Thomas took President Bush to task on his reasons for invading Iraq. It was the first time Bush had called on Thomas, known as the "First Lady of the American Press", in three years. [includes rush transcript]
Today is World Water Day and we'll note that in the last highlight.  Prior to that, the focus is on Iraq.  Bully Boy's efforts at the latest wave of Operation Happy Talk (not surprisingly) didn't charm/fool this community. This as CBS announces that Abdul Ameer Younis Hussein will be tried April 5th.  The CBS cameraman will stand trial (no charges announced) exactly one year after he was taken into military custody.  This news comes as Samir Mohammed Noor is released (Reuters cameran) after being held for eight months without charges. And in Baghdad, a car bomb has taken the life of at least one person and injured at least three others. Also in Baghdad, at least two people have been killed and forty-two wounded as Iraqi Shi'ites were targeted on their return from a pilgrimage. Away from Iraq, Dr. Malcolm Kendall-Smith is now facing a court martial for refusing to deploy to Basra.  The prosecution/persecution, sounding a lot like Bully Boy, said that the issue of the legality of the war was "irrelevant."  This as "US Faces Charges of Two Massacres of Iraqi Civilians." That's a small snap-shot of where we are as year four of the illegal war of choice begins. 
First highlight, file it under the category of "Things the New York Times doesn't follow up on and wants to pretend never happened."  Laura notes Tom Hayden's "The Iraqi Official in the Niger Frame-Up" (The Huffington Post):
The former Iraqi official tarnished by fabricated claims that he sought uranium from Niger now directs a think tank in Amman, ignored by most Western reporters investigating how the US went to war. Wissam al-Zahawie is well known as a classical singer--"bass, baritone or tenor, depending on the day." He also directs a research institute under Crown Prince Hassan in Amman which stands ready as a forum for discussions on ending the Iraq War.
He brings fifty years of diplomatic experience, beginning before Saddam Hussein, to the process of conflict resolution.
For American journalists and diplomats, he apparently remains radioactive, however, an off-limits source in the search for the truth. Iinterviewed al-Zahawi recently in Amman and talked about the infamous July 6, 2000 letter to Niger concerning the alleged uranium deal that bore his name. He had pointed out to UN weapons in 2002 that that the signature on the document was forged, a conclusion later upheld by intelligence analysts. The letter in question, al-Zahawi told them, was both signed and sealed, in violation of standard diplomatic procedures. Nevertheless, the Bush Administration used the claims of uranium oxide from Niger as a key basis for going to war; President Bush said "the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." Judith Miller of the New York Times was persuaded to report in September 2002 that Iraq had obtained special aluminum tubes for enriching the Niger yellowcake in centrifuges, a story later repudiated by her own editors.
Al-Zawahie still wants to know who fabricated his signature and the package of documents. The evidence shows that Italian intelligence operatives provided the forged documents to their US and UK colleagues, "yet no questions appeared to be asked on where or how the Italian or other intelligence services got the documents to ascertain their source", al-Zawahie notes. "I did not know that Niger produced uranium", he said.
That Miller story is the one that was co-written with war pornographer Michael Gordon and, possibly, were he not so busy hawking his book of war porn, he could actually attempt to do the work he should have done in 2002.
Lloyd notes Matthew Rothschild's "What Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld Have Wrought" (This Just In, The Progressive):
It began as farse. And it is ending as tragedy.
George Bush and Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld defrauded the American people by conjuring up a "grave and growing" danger from Saddam Hussein that did not exist.
They went through an elaborate charade of going to the United Nations.
And then they broke international law by waging the attack on Iraq three years ago.
They ate their own propaganda, believing that the Iraqi people would be eternally grateful to Washington.
They proved criminally negligent in administering the occupation with too few troops and too much hubris.
And, not least of all, their disregard for international law led to torture at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, which has so disgraced this country.
So here we are.
Three years and 2,313 American lives later.
Three years and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilian lives later.
Three years and $200 billion later.
And Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld still defend the Iraq War.
Following up on Sunday, Megan wants it noted that she is supporting Dennis Kucinich in his re-election campaign for the House of Representatives and she wanted to highlight his "Demanding Documents on PR Contracts Used to 'Sell' the War:"
Madam Speaker, the taxpayers of the United States of America have a right to know whether or not their tax dollars were or are being used to manipulate the news, falsify intelligence, or mislead the public.
"Very serious questions have been raised about a number of contracts that have been given to public relations firms, firms that then went ahead and devised a whole plan to try to sell the war in Iraq to the American people. I have introduced a resolution of inquiry [H. Res. 685] in the House of Representatives that demands all documents pertaining to contracts that the United States Government has signed with the intent to sell the war in Iraq.
"This resolution directs the President, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Defense to provide the House with certain documents relating to any entity which the United States has contracted with for public relations purposes concerning Iraq.
"The people of this country have a right to know if there was an effort to deliberately mislead them, and the taxpayers have a right to know how their tax dollars are being spent. Support the resolution of inquiry. Reclaim the power of Congress."
For more information click on the link below:
H. Res. 685, demanding all documents pertaining to contracts that the United States Government has signed with the intent to sell the war in Iraq
Did you listen to KPFA this morning?  To Andrea Lewis' interview on The Morning Show? If so, you're primed for Brad's highlight, Rachel Corbett & Anja Tranovich's "The Normalcy of Fear" (The Nation):
Three years ago this month, Vivian Salim Mati drove with her family from their Baghdad home toward the airport highway to escape a bombing raid. As they were leaving the city, an American tank fired on them without warning. Mati recalls seeing the soldier shooting bullets from the top of the tank. Within moments, her husband, her two sons, her daughter and her mother-in-law were shot dead in the car. Mati received neither explanation from occupation forces nor compensation for her loss.
Earlier this year Mati decided to join a delegation of Iraqi women to visit the United States and recount her experiences in the war. Mati traveled the dangerous route from Baghdad to Amman, Jordan, to obtain her US visa. However, her visa was denied on the grounds that she might overstay her visit because she lacked "sufficient family ties that would compel her to return" to Iraq. Her fellow delegates, who recounted this story, felt it especially grievous that the US government cited Mati's lack of family--deaths for which America was responsible--to explain why she could not enter the country.
Code Pink, a national women's group known for its creative approach to antiwar activism and signature pink outfits, sponsored and accompanied the delegation on a month-long nationwide tour. In their encounters with Americans, which began March 8 with meetings and events in Washington, DC, to mark International Women's Day, the Iraqi women hope to convey the grim realities of the US occupation, one that has been essentially invisible to American citizens and lawmakers.
Hopefully you caught  The Morning Show on KPFA (if not, you can listen via the archives).  Faiza Al-Araji was interviewed by Andrea Lewis as was her son Raed.  Al-Ajari will be making the following stops on the speaking tour: 
City Date Speaker
Berkeley Wed, Mar. 22 Delegation of Iraqi Women
Faiza Al-Araji
San Francisco Thu, Mar. 23 Delegation of Iraqi Women
Faiza Al-Araji
Oakland Fri, Mar. 24 Delegation of Iraqi Women
Faiza Al-Araji
Oakland Sat, Mar. 25 Ana Perez
Making Connections panel
Santa Cruz Sat, Mar. 25 Delegation of Iraqi Women
Faiza Al-Araji
Palo Alto Sat, Mar. 25 Delegation of Iraqi Women
Faiza Al-Araji
Those dates (and the following with other speakers) can be found at Global Exchange:
City Date Speaker
Chandler Wed, Apr. 12 Sowore Omoyele
Oil Exploration, Human Rights and Global Governance
City Date Speaker
Denver Fri, Mar. 24 Delegation of Iraqi Women
Eman Ahmad Khamas
Grand Junction Sat, Mar. 25 Delegation of Iraqi Women
Eman Ahmad Khamas
City Date Speaker
Chicago Fri, Mar. 24 Delegation of Iraqi Women
Dr. Rashad Zidan
Chicago Sat, Mar. 25 Delegation of Iraqi Women
Dr. Rashad Zidan
City Date Speaker
Largo Wed, Mar. 29 Delegation of Iraqi Women
Eman Ahmad Khamas
New Jersey
City Date Speaker
Mon, Mar. 27 Delegation of Iraqi Women
Dr. Entisar Mohammad Ariabi
North Carolina
City Date Speaker
Raleigh Wed, Mar. 22 Delegation of Iraqi Women
Dr. Rashad Zidan
Charlotte Area (Rock Hill, SC) Thu, Mar. 23 Delegation of Iraqi Women
Dr. Rashad Zidan
City Date Speaker
Ashland Wed, Mar. 22 Delegation of Iraqi Women
Eman Ahmad Khamas
Medford Thu, Mar. 23 Delegation of Iraqi Women
Eman Ahmad Khamas
Ashland/Medford Airwaves Thu, Mar. 23 Delegation of Iraqi Women
Eman Ahmad Khamas
City Date Speaker
Swarthmore Mon, Mar. 27 Delegation of Iraqi Women
Eman Ahmad Khamas
South Carolina
City Date Speaker
Rock Hill Thu, Mar. 23 Delegation of Iraqi Women
Dr. Rashad Zidan
City Date Speaker
Richmond Tue, Mar. 28 Delegation of Iraqi Women
Eman Ahmad Khamas
If any of the events are in or near your area, please consider attending.  The voices of Iraqis have been ignored by the mainstream media. 
Last highlight, remember today is World Water Day, is Mia's -- Kathryn Mulvey's "H20 Ought to Be A Public Good, Not A Commodity" (Minneapolis Star Tribune via Common Dreams):
Water should remain a public, common good, democratically owned and locally controlled. It should be protected as a fundamental human right under a global treaty similar to the one that now protects people in more than 120 countries from the deadly abuses of big tobacco corporations.
Today, more than 1 billion people around the world do not have access to safe water to drink. And communities around the United States are fighting corporations trying to come in and bottle their water for selling elsewhere.
If current trends continue, in less than 20 years, two-thirds of the world's people will not have access to enough water. This is by no means a done deal. Health, environment and human rights advocates and political leaders are working to prevent this public health disaster. It won't happen overnight. But it must begin with thinking outside the bottle.
Since designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 1992 (December 22, 1992), March 22 has been World Water Day. For more on World Water Day click here
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