Thursday, June 15, 2006

And the war drags on . . . (Indymedia Roundup)

The peace majority is real.
A CBS poll finds that 80 percent of Democrats believe the United States should have stayed out of Iraq, and more than 60 percent want US troops home as soon as possible. A Washington Post/ABC poll finds that 70 percent of Independents feel the war was not worth it, and 33 percent of Republicans agree. Even 72 percent of our troops believe US forces should leave Iraq in the next year.
So what are so many Democratic politicians so afraid of? And how do we translate this majority into a politics of change for the 2006 elections and beyond? How do we send a message from the grassroots -- the people outside of the beltway -- that ending this war matters, and that the time to show moxie and conviction is right now?
VotersForPeace has initiated the Peace Voter Pledge along with 18 other antiwar organizations -- including United for Peace and Justice, itself a coalition of 1,400 local groups.
The pledge is focused on the Iraq war as well as potential armed conflicts such as that with Iran, and -- using language crafted by The Nation in its
cover editorial last November -- it reads: "I will not vote for or support any candidate for Congress or President who does not make a speedy end to the war in Iraq, and preventing any future war of aggression, a public position in his or her campaign."

The above, noted by Wendy, is from Katrina vanden Heuvel's "The Peace Race" (Editor's Cut, The Nation). Wendy notes that the magazine's website has a "huge" amount of coverage on Iraq currently and asks that we note that. We will. Good for The Nation for stepping up and leading. Wendy notes a number of items (including one we've already noted this week, Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith's "Lieutenant Watada's War Against the War") and we'll note one other one. We will not, however, now or ever, note some nonsense about Hillary Clinton speech at the so-called Take Back America conference that refuses to address the way CODEPINK was stabbed in the back, let alone to identify them. Nor will we note nonsense about how people shouldn't heckle. "I think it's worth listening to people you disagree with." That was crap when it was offered as Reagan made an appearance at an event (and someone tried to cover for him saying everyone should show respect, one of the silliest remarks ever made by ___ ). Free speech is free speech. Hillary Clinton was there to woo a crowd. She didn't woo them all. People have a right to make themselves heard. That was true when it happened to John McCain, that was true when it happened to Hillary Clinton. Schilling isn't appreciated. And that sort of nonsese ('Come on guys, we don't need to heckle, let's just sit there and not cheer so loudly at the end') is now two for two on nonsense. It's becoming our weekly nonsense.

The nonsense that she can't be heckled is NONSENSE. (It's worse than that but I try to keep it work-safe at this site.) Who is she, the Bully Boy? No, and she needs to face the reality of the effect her remarks have on people. And shame on anyone who won't stick up for CODEPINK. CODEPINK members were among the hecklers so not only were they not stood up for, they were basically told, "Ladies, shut up and know your place." This from someone with a Florence Henderson hairdo. (Guys, really, the flip in the back, it was never attractive. Not even on Henderson. Julia Roberts tried to revive it in the 90s and couldn't -- and she's actually very attractive -- so what makes you think you can?)

Hillary got what she deserved, an honest reaction from people she was speaking to. Quit playing taste police (which wasn't a concern last week . . .) and quit stabbing CODEPINK in the back.

What we will note is Barbara Lee (Congress member from California and someone who has repeatedly stood up to illegal war) whose comments, broadcast by KFPA's Evening News today, sum up what happened on the floor of the House and what we need to be addressing:

The president and the Republican majority really refuse to level with the American people about when our troops are coming home, also really if they're coming home. And while we're debating this very bogus resolution, the most substantive decison on Iraq policy in very recent days was taken out by the Republican majority behind closed doors. They stripped from the war suplemental an amendment we offered to prevent the establishment of permanent military bases in Iraq. The American people don't want an open-ended war and occupation. Quietly removing a measure that was approved by both the House and the Senate is a gross abuse of the democratic process and is further evidence that the Republicans are afraid to level with the American people about their real plans for Iraq. Let me tell you, there will be a day of reckoning. The American people are demanding answers they deserve a truthful accounting of how we got into this unnecessary war, how the billions of dollars have been misspent, and when our troops are coming home. And also they really deserve to know if our troops are coming home given recent reports that the administration is considering leaving a permanent force of 50,000 troops in Iraq and indications that establishing permanent miliary bases are not off the table.

With more on the House, Wendy and End Zone both noted John Nichols' "Another Blank Check for Perpetual War" (The Online Beat, The Nation):

The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives maintained its track record of providing absolutely no checks and balances on the Bush administration's warmaking this week, when it voted 351-67 to authorize another $66 billion in "emergency" spending for the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.
While the House will hold a symbolic "debate" on the Iraq imbroglio Thursday, that endeavor has been so constrained by the House Republican leadership that it will be of no more consequence than the discourse in a mock legislative exercise for high school students -- although, in fairness to the students, a mock Congress would undoubtedly take the Constitutional imperative of shared responsibility for warmaking more seriously than does the actual Congress.
What was truly frustrating about the House vote on the emergency funding was the general failure of the Democrats -- who have again delayed announcement of their agenda for this year's election campaign -- to mount a coherent opposition to a war that an overwhelming majority of Americans characterize as a mistake.

Some might say, "John Nichols, that sounds like a 'boo'!" ("Say" or "scold"?) I wouldn't. He's writing what he saw and how he felt -- not telling the 'little ladies' of CODEPINK to "shut it." I can't imagine any group dominated by males being treated this way. But just as the New York Times only felt the need to take NOW to task for a candidate endorsement (even though almost everyone endorsing 'wasted' their endorsement since John Kerry wasn't the first choice among many groups), The Nation now wants to lecture the women of CODEPINK? That doesn't play. CODEPINK didn't do a damn thing different than what they usually do and the magazine's been happy to note it when they were at the FCC or in Congress or anywhere else. But someone's precious Hillary (whom he found . . . something) got a few boos and suddenly it's time to turn on CODEPINK. For "No one owns The Nation," that's rather surprising. Considering the editorial KvH rightly notes from November, it's rather sad that someone thinks a war hawk should be shielded from the public's reaction.

That's the sort of No Action that allows the war to . . . Sing along:

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Thursday, the American troop fatality count stood at 2489. Tonight? 2500. The number we would never get to -- because it was a "cakewalk," because it would be over in a matter of weeks, because the mission was "accomplished." 2500 Americans lost their lives in an illegal war of choice. We don't have an accurate count on how many Iraqis. Forgive me if Hillary being booed for preaching her War Hawk nonsense doesn't strike me as a pressing issue or an attack on freedom. The various people playing Miss Manners of the World apparently see it as an attack on civility. The real attack on civility is illegal wars.

But by all means, be Hillary's personal cheerleader and cheerlead a conference that stabbed in the back some of the best activists this nation has. That'll end the war! (That was sarcasm.)

So many make themselves useless. I'm not sure if it's a desire for access or just stupidity. But we don't have time to play and the statements that people shouldn't heckle are offensive coming from anyone at The Nation. When they're aimed at CODEPINK, they're offensive and disgusting. We don't have time to play. We don't have time to defend War Hawks from a deserved response.

Republicans and lots of Democrats played in the Senate today. Only six stood brave and tall against the war: John Kerry, Russ Feingold, Barbara Boxer, Robert Byrd, Tom Harkin and Edward Kennedy (and for more on that, listen to KPFA's Evening News for Thursday).

Guess who else doesn't have the luxury of playing? People standing up. Mia notes
Gerry Condon's "Californians Call for Sanctuary for U.S. War Resisters in Canada" (Indybay Indymedia):

On May 15, International Conscientious Objectors Day, a delegation of concerned Californians visited the Canadian Consulate in San Francisco to appeal for sanctuary for U.S. war resisters in Canada. The visit was coordinated by Courage To Resist, Project Safe Haven and the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors (CCCO). The delegation included military veterans, a Catholic priest, an expert on international law, and resisters of U.S. wars, present and past. Four delegation members lived in Canada during the Vietnam War. They delivered a letter addressed to Peter MacKay, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Monte Solberg, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. The letter was received by Tristan Landry, Consul, Political/Economic Relations and Public Relations, who listened respectfully as each of his visitors stated their support for sanctuary for U.S. war resisters in Canada.
Gerry Condon of Project Safe Haven gave a brief overview of the plight of U.S. war resisters in Canada, telling the Canadian Consul that several hundred AWOL GI's were estimated to be in Canada, and that 25 of them have applied for political refugee status. The first two, Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey, have had their claims for refugee status denied, but they are appealing in Canada's Federal Court system.
"I know these young people personally," said Condon. "I know how sincere they are. Several of these young men already served one tour in Iraq. They were witness to U.S. war crimes and, obeying international law, they refused to return for more of the same. If Canada's refugee system cannot accommodate U.S. war resisters, then we appeal to the Canadian government to fashion a sanctuary policy, as called for by many Canadians, including Members of Parliament." "The war in Iraq must be opposed not only as a matter of law, but as a matter of principle." Jacqueline Cabasso, Executive Director of the Western States Legal Foundation, forcefully argued that the U.S. war in Iraq is illegal.
"It must be opposed not only as a matter of law, but as a matter of principle," she said. "If the Bush Doctrine of preemptive war is allowed to stand, the next states in line may be Iran and North Korea, as we have seen."
Ms. Cabasso later said she was encouraged when the Canadian representative reminded her that Canada had refused to participate in the war in Iraq.
"So, welcoming conscientious Iraq War resisters from the United States would certainly be consistent," she asserted.
Several Vietnam War resisters spoke passionately about Canada's traditional role, in the words of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, as a "refuge from militarism." Keith Mather, Evangeline Lantana Mix, and Steve Grossman each thanked Canada for providing them with a viable alternative to going to war or to prison during the Vietnam War.
"When a U.S. judge promised me five years in prison for refusing to be drafted into an unjust war, I decided to go to Canada instead," said Steve Grossman, a theater arts teacher. "I am very grateful to the Canadian people and government for five years of creative, useful life instead of five years in prison. And I want to thank those Canadians who are now welcoming another generation of young Americans of conscience."
Father Louis Vitale, who recently finished a six-month prison sentence for peacefully protesting the "School of the Assassins" at Fort Benning, Georgia, was nonetheless passionate about supporting the troops.
"Our military people are really in danger," said Father Vitale. "They're really at high risk. Some of them are threatening suicide, or are on the border of suicide. Some of them are tortured in prison. Some of them give in and do go to Iraq and do get killed. They really need the humanity that exists in Canada to accept them and give them sanctuary."
[. . .]
There are Canadian government offices in twenty U.S. cities. Those wishing to appeal to the Canadian government on behalf of U.S. war resisters are encouraged to contact Project Safe Haven at
projectsafehaven [at] or the War Resisters Support Campaign in Toronto at resisters [at] or 416-598-1222. For more information on military resisters and how to support them, please visit

And with the latest refusing to serve, no surprise that Democracy Now! was there first to cover this nationally, "Sexually Harassed Soldier is Arrested After Refusing to Redeploy to Iraq:"

AMY GOODMAN: Sarah, why did Suzanne join the military?
SARAH RICH: Well, she got a real good deal, Amy. They -- the recruiters really wooed her. She was in a -- She had graduated from high school. She was in a dead end -- well, she working at Safeway, and she was miserable. She hated going to work every day. She didn't know what to do. You know, we looked at college, and she just said she wasn't ready for college, and the recruiters were calling our home. They have our home number, and they were offering her travel and college money and training and if she signed up for the special deal of being a military police officer for five years instead of four, she would not be deployed to Iraq, because at that time they weren't deploying military police to Iraq, she was told.
AMY GOODMAN: And yet, she was deployed.
SARAH RICH: Immediately.
AMY GOODMAN: What are your thoughts right now, Sarah, as Suzanne's mother, what do you want to happen right now? And will you be suing the military?
SARAH RICH: Well Suzanne is -- you know, this has gotten bigger than Suzanne. Right now I want Suzanne to have an honorable discharge because she has post-traumatic stress from being treated so horribly in a war zone by the people that were supposed to be caring for her and in charge of her very life were molesting and harassing her so I want Suzanne's rights to be honored, and I want her to be discharged from the Army with full benefits because her emotional and psychological well-being is so compromised.
But what's really surprising me, Amy, is the amount of women veterans that have been calling and emailing, saying, "That's exactly what happened to me, and nobody listened." It breaks my heart, and Suzanne is just shocked at how many people are supporting her and saying, "You're not alone and you're not crazy. That's what happened to me, and it wasn't your fault." And that's the big thing for Suzanne because she has really thought that this was all her fault.

AMY GOODMAN: Are you sorry she joined the military, Sarah Rich?
SARAH RICH: Oh, so sorry, so sorry that she joined the military, and that's one of the things I do, I'm a counter-military recruiter now, and Suzanne has said, "Mom, I want to join you as soon as I'm clear. I want to join you and tell kids what the recruiters are really doing. It's really like selling your soul to the devil to go be human fodder for an illegal war."

Looking for reasons not to serve? Check out Nora's highlight, David Swanson's "Eleven Excellent Reasons Not to Join the Military" (New Zealand's Scoop):

I just read an excellent book from called "10 Excellent Reasons Not to Join the Military." Personally I was never attracted to the military because I could never stand having anyone tell me what to do -- well, and because I had parents who helped me find other options in life.
The military glorifies the giving and obeying of orders as somehow something good for its own sake, something called "discipline" or "character." I can't judge whether I have either of those things, but I do know the last place I would ever have thought to turn for a career was an institution in which I would have had to do what a bunch of mean bastards said to do simply because they said to do it. That wouldn’t have worked. I'd have ended up a conscientious objector even in peace time.
But, of course, order-taking is common in many young people's households and potential workplaces. My whole life, whenever I've had a boss who's annoyed me I've quit my job. I've had the good fortune to always find another and to have strong support from family. Not everyone has that luxury. Clearly taking orders from a military officer could sound more liberating than taking orders from a Wal-Mart manager, particularly to someone who currently works at Wal-Mart.
But even such a person, facing a highly unpleasant and unrewarding work life, and facing a taxpayer-funded multibillion-dollar advertising campaign for military recruitment, would not for an instant consider joining the military if they had read "10 Excellent Reasons Not to Join the Military." The 10 reasons are:
1. You May Be Killed
This chapter was written by Cindy Sheehan. It alone should dissuade any potential recruit who does not hate his or her mother.
2. You May Kill Others
This chapter is timely, given the U.S. media's recent and long-in-coming awakening to the killing of civilians in Iraq by U.S. soldiers. Here Paul Rockwell recounts the stories of Iraq War veterans, including Jimmy Massey, Darrell Anderson, and Aidan Delgado. Massey says he was involved in a number of routine checkpoint killings. Anderson said, "At traffic stops, we kill innocent people all the time. If you are fired on from the street, you are supposed to fire on everybody that is there. If I am in a market, I shoot people who are buying groceries."

Last weekend on RadioNation with Laura Flanders, Flanders spoke with Ehren Watada about his refusal to continue to participate in Bully Boy's illegal war. Mindy noted that the broadcast of Saturday & Sunday shows combined is up and you can listen to it here. Mindy noted this section which stood out to her:

Laura Flanders: You've said in interviews that you felt you were betrayed, can you explain that?
Erhen Watada: In some of my researching, in things that have come out . . . have led me to the belief, it has convinced me, that this government waged a war of deception on the American people, on the world, and also on members of Congress. And I belive that the authorization of force that the Congress granted the president would never have been made if the arguments about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and its ties to al Qaeda and 911 were not guaranteed by members of the administration, many many times and in front of the United Nations. . . It was intentionally manipulating intelligence, to fit a policy made long before 911, long before any plans were drawn up for the 2003 invasion.

You can click here to sign an online petition supporting Watada.

Seth notes a highlight on another conscientious-objector, Kevin Benderman. From Rick Anderson's "That Other Defiant Soldier" (Seattle Weekly):

The similar case of Sgt. Kevin Benderman may be a good indicator of Watada's future. Though it's not widely known, Benderman, of the 4th Infantry Division out of Fort Hood, Texas, is already in the Fort Lewis stockade for refusing to deploy to Iraq. A 10-year Army veteran, Benderman actually did a tour there, from the time of the March invasion through September in 2003.
After shipping home, he changed his views, remembering such incidents as, he claimed, a commander ordering his unit to shoot Iraqi children if they tossed pebbles again at U.S. soldiers. Facing redeployment to Iraq in 2004, he filed for conscientious-objector status. Unlike Watada, who is taking a legal stand, Benderman sought exception on moral grounds. But Army command refused even to accept his filing, Benderman contends.
He was convicted last year of "missing movement"--refusing deployment--and was given 15 months in prison, loss of pay, reduction in rank, and, when he's released perhaps late this year, a dishonorable discharge. He is appealing.
Benderman, 41, frequently writes letters from the stockade that are published on the Web ( He originally referred to himself as a conscientious objector and later added "prisoner of conscience."
In one of his first messages, he wrote, "I have laid down my weapons of war to pick them up never again. It is my sincere hope that more people will do the same so that our children and grandchildren will never have to experience what so many of us already have—the single most barbaric of human endeavors, otherwise known as war."
More recently, he expanded on his moral views: "We cannot expect government to do what is necessary to eliminate war because it generates large amounts of revenue for government. Governments and businesses are able to make record profits from war while the average citizen fighting in any given war cannot get proper treatment for their wounds or the mental and emotional anguish suffered as a result of their participation in war. How is this honorable?"

Last highlight (we'll go out with the song pick), but before we get there . . . Dahr Jamail and Jeremey Scahill have been doing some joint speaking engagements. If you can see them, it's worth it. (And I'm sure they'd gladly answer a question as to whether booing a war hawk was uncalled for.) Dahr has two events coming up shortly and Rachel noted them:

June 23, 2006
Vancouver, Canada
Event: Dahr Jamail speaking at the World Peace Forum 2006

Date: June 23-28, 2006
Information: Visit
The World Peace Forum 2006 is an international gathering of individuals, groups and civic governments from cities and communities to envision a living culture of peace and sustainability in our lifetimes.
The success of this event depends on all of us. We can work together in the journey to peace!

July 07, 2006
San Francisco, CA
Event: THE ROAD TO FALLUJA: Our Responsibilities For the Iraq War and a Path to Peace

Time and Date:
Friday, July 7, 2006, at 7:00 p.m.
Brava Theater Center
2781 24th Street,
San Francisco, CA 94110
CA Peace Action, ConceptionMedia, Global Voices for Justice
Tickets: $10 at the door
If you cannot attend, you can donate on line at
Download the Flyer
More information about this event

Last highlight is on speaking appearance Mark Manning and Dahr Jamail made. Zach notes
Mark Gabrish Conlan's "Independent Journalists Visit, Report on Iraq" (Zenger's Newsmagazine via San Diego Indymedia):

Mark Manning, a commercial deep-sea diver and underwater filmmaker for 22 years, does not at first seem like the most likely person to be the only videographer to capture images of the Iraqi city of Falloujah after the November 2004 U.S. attack. But he was, and he and fellow independent journalist Dahr Jamail came to the Thomas Jefferson School of Law June 2 to talk about it and show Manning’s film, Caught in the Crossfire, detailing the intensity of the attack on Falloujah and what it did to the people who lived there. The event, which also included long talks by Manning and Jamail, was sponsored by the San Diego chapter of the National Lawyers’ Guild, the San Diego Coalition for Peace and Justice, Global Voices for Justice and Aware.
Like Mark Manning, Dahr Jamail stumbled almost by accident into his career as a gadfly journalist and blogger in Iraq. "I was a mountain guide in Alaska," he recalled. What got him interested in going to Iraq and covering the story himself was "the great disparity between what the U.S. mainstream media reported and what was in the European press or on Al-Jazeera." Jamail said he held the U.S. media largely responsible for the war because in the run-up to it in 2002 and 2003 most mainstream media outlets uncritically reported the Bush administration's propaganda about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction, posing an immediate threat to the U.S. and having been involved in the 9/11 attacks -- all of which, of course, turned out to be false.
"You cannot wage a war without rumors, without media, without propaganda," Jamail said. "Media complicity is a situation I feel strongly about. In the Nuremberg tribunals, it was established that Hitler was able to do what he did largely because of his propaganda campaign, and at Nuremberg they said the primary function of the media during the war is not to incite people to violence. Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, [New York Times columnist] Thomas Friedman and [New York Times reporter] Judith Miller, and media outlets like CNN and Fox, are without a doubt guilty of inciting the public to violence. Would this war have even happened if these people had not done what they did?"
Manning specifically compared what actually happened in Falloujah during the two U.S. sieges against the city -- the aborted one in April 2004 and the armed takeover and destruction of the town seven months later -- with what Americans were told was going on by their media.
"At first we were told that 250,000 civilians had been evacuated [before the November attack] and they're O.K.," Manning said. "Then there were no reports about civilians at all. Our crew went to a one-room farmhouse with 60 people and children everywhere. The civilians forced out of their homes were living in cars, chicken coops or holes in the ground."
According to Manning, President Bush promised the citizens of Falloujah that "the rebuilding teams would be in right after the Marines," but in fact there was no rebuilding effort at all, nor was there any effort to take care of the displaced civilian population. (One audience member rather grimly compared the situation Manning described in Falloujah to that in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.)
"I never saw one aid station," he said. "There was no aid coming into Falloujah. There was no attempt to do anything for the civilians. I was there in January 2005, two months after the attack, and the thing that shocked me the most was that my own country had done this." Manning said that when the first refugees returned to Falloujah following the attack, it was hard for them to adjust "because the whole place was destroyed. You'd see people wandering around just looking for their relatives. Mothers would show up; a lot of people left family members behind, and once it started they couldn't leave. It was flat-out chaos and a disturbing, heartbreaking realization because it's coming from your own government. … I had people coming up to me and saying, 'Why did you do this? Why?' I had to wrestle with this."

The song pick?

I can make peace on earth
With my own two hands
I can clean up the earth
With my own two hands
I can reach out to you
With my own two hands

-- "With My Own Two Hands" written and performed by Ben Harper (most recently avaialbe on the soundtrack to the film Curious George).