Thursday, June 08, 2006

Democracy Now: Ehren Watada , Father Daniel Berrigan , Robert Fisk and Loretta Napoleoni

Bolton Threatens "Consequences" Over UN Deputy Speech
At the UN, a new conflict is brewing between US Ambassador John Bolton and the staff of UN Secretary General Koffi Annan. Bolton has threatened consequences due to comments made by U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown. Brown spoke Tuesday at an event for the Century Foundation in New York.
UN Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown: "I hope you will take it in the spirit in which it is meant: as a sincere and constructive critique of U.S. policy toward the UN by a friend and admirer. Because the fact is that the prevailing practice of seeking to use the UN almost by stealth as a diplomatic tool while failing to stand up for it against its domestic critics is simply not sustainable. You will lose the UN one way or another."
In response, Ambassador Bolton said the speech was the worst he’s heard in decades and said the UN may face consequences.
UN Ambassador John Bolton: "Secretary General Kofi Annan, we think, has to personally and publicly repudiate this speech at the earliest possible opportunity. Otherwise, I fear the consequences not just for the reform effort but for the UN as a whole."
The dispute comes as the UN nears a deadline to enact management reforms by the end of the month. The Bush administration has warned it may reduce UN funding if the deadline is not met. A spokesperson for Koffi Annan said he stood by his deputy's comments.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi Killed in Iraq
US and Iraqi officials have announced Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaida's leader in Iraq, is dead. According to their account, Zarqawi was killed in a US-Iraqi raid near the town of Baqouba on Wednesday. Another seven aides were said to be killed in the attack. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said Zarqawi's identity had been confirmed through fingerprints and facial identification. Zarqawi was the most-wanted man in Iraq. The US government had placed a $25 million dollar bounty on his head. As leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Zarqawi is said to have directed attacks that killed scores of Iraqi civilians as well as US troops. Zarqawi also claimed responsibility for several attacks outside Iraq, including the triple hotel bombings in Jordan last November. Zarqawi's role in Iraq has been the subject of much debate. He is thought to be the mastermind of the deadliest insurgent attacks in Iraq. Others have questioned whether he even exists, or say that his influence has been overblown. Writing on his weblog, University of Michigan professor and noted Middle East expert Juan Cole said: "Leaders are significant and not always easily replaced. But Zarqawi in my view has been less important than local Iraqi leaders and groups. I don't expect the guerrilla war to subside any time soon."

US Troops Accused of New Civilian Killings
Meanwhile in Iraq, US troops are being accused of a new round of killings of Iraqi civilians. On Wednesday, the Iraqi Islamic Party, Iraq's main Sunni group, said it had evidence US troops killed more than two dozen Iraqis in incidents last month. According to the group, the most deadly attack occurred in a house in Yusifiyah south of Baghdad -- killing 13 people, including women and children.

The above three items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Olive, Doug and Kevin. In relation to the first item, this update:

Asked about criticisms by U.S. Ambassador John Bolton about a speech delivered on Tuesday by Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General stands by his Deputy's statement and agrees with the thrust of it. In response to questions about Ambassador Bolton's request that the Secretary-General repudiate the speech, the Spokesman said the Secretary-General saw no reason to take any action.
Dujarric said in response to questions that everyone should read the speech in full. He contended that it was not an anti-US speech, but rather one that argued for greater U.S. engagement in the United Nations, since it says that the United Nations cannot work without U.S. engagement and leadership and UN reform cannot happen without the United States.

Democracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):

Headlines for June 8, 2006
- Abu Musab al-Zarqawi Killed in Iraq
- US Troops Accused of New Civilian Killings
- WFP: Darfur Food Crisis Worsening
- East Timorese Archives Damaged By Looting
- Senate Votes Down Amendment Banning Gay Marriage
- New Orleans Census Shows 15% Drop in Black Residents
- Bolton Threatens "Consequences" Over UN Deputy Speech
- Google May Reconsider China Search Engine

Will Al-Zarqawi's Death Fuel the Insurgency or Diminish It?
U.S. and Iraqi officials have announced Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed in a U.S.-Iraqi raid in Iraq on Wednesday. We speak with Robert Fisk, chief Middle East correspondent of the London Independent and Loretta Napoleoni, author of "Insurgent Iraq: Al Zarqawi and the New Generation."

Army Lieutenant Becomes First Commissioned Officer to Refuse Deployment to Iraq
For the first time since the start of the war, a commissioned officer is refusing deployment to fight in Iraq. On Wednesday U.S. Army 1st Lieutenant Ehren Watada announced his intention to disobey what he says are illegal orders to deploy to Iraq. We speak with 1st Lieutenant Watada and his lawyer, Legrand Jones.
EHREN WATADA: Probably the maximum penalty I face, when I refuse orders to board the plane to go to Iraq, would be anywhere from two to five years, maybe more, in a military stockade. Dishonorable discharge and loss of all pay and allowances. There could be other punishment.
AMY GOODMAN: I was wondering, Army Lieutenant Ehren Watada, what your response was to the protest that resulted in I think something like 22 arrests in Olympia, Washington this past week as peace activists tried to stop a ship from moving out of port with striker vehicles and troops.
EHREN WATADA: I think that we all have a duty as American citizens for civil disobedience, and to do anything we can within the law to stop an illegal war.

Holy Outlaw: Lifelong Peace Activist Father Daniel Berrigan Turns 85
We speak with Father Daniel Berrigan, one of the country's leading peace activists of the past half-century. Hundreds of people are gathering in New York this weekend to celebrate his 85th birthday. We discuss his life as a Jesuit priest, poet, pacifist, educator, social activist, playwright and lifelong resister to what he calls "American military imperialism."
AMY GOODMAN: You and your brother, Phil Berrigan, had an unusual relationship with the Secretary of Defense McNamara. You actually talked to him, wrote to him, met him?
DANIEL BERRIGAN: Yes. I met him at a social evening with the Kennedys in about ’65, and after this very posh dinner, which was welcoming me home from Latin America, one of the Kennedys announced that they would love to have a discussion between the Secretary of War and myself in front of everybody, which we did start. And they asked me to initiate the thing, and I said to the Secretary something about, "Since you didn't stop the war this morning I wonder if you do it this evening." So he looked kind of passed my left ear and said, "Well, I'll just say this to Father Berrigan and everybody: Vietnam is like Mississippi. If they won't obey the law, you send the troops in." And he stopped. And the next morning when I returned to New York City I said to a secretary at a magazine we were publishing -- I said, would you please take this down in shorthand because in two weeks I won't believe that I heard what I heard. The secretary said in response to my request to stop the war, "Vietnam is like Mississippi: if they won't obey the law, you send the troops in." And this was supposed to be the brightest of the bright, one of the whiz kids, respected by all in the Cabinet, etc., etc., etc. And he talks like a sheriff out of Selma, Alabama. Whose law? Won't obey whose law? Well, that was the level at which the war was being fought.
AMY GOODMAN: So you went to Catonsville, you went into the draft office. We hear about draft card burnings. But this was draft file burnings. You went in with a group of people. Now, some of them -- you talked about having been in exile in Latin America, and some of them were there more about treatment of what was going on in the U.S. government in places like Guatemala than Vietnam, is that right?
DANIEL BERRIGAN: That's right.
AMY GOODMAN: Why were you exiled to Latin America?
DANIEL BERRIGAN: Well, there was a lot of controversy and a very hot scene here in New York City, beginning about ‘67 into ‘68. And I think the occasion of my being kicked out was the immolation of a young Catholic Worker in the city here, named Roger LaPorte. He went to the U.N. and burned himself. Of course, the whole Catholic Worker community was devastated by this terrifying event. They wanted to hold a memorial service, and I was invited to officiate. And in the course of it I cast doubt upon the judgment of the cardinal that this had been suicide. I said, I don't think we know. I think this could have been some kind of misguided heroism that said, I’m going to give my life rather than take life. And that word, of course, got out, and there was panic, there was panic. In the authorities of the Archdiocese of New York and in my order. And they said we've got to -- he's got to -- he's become a very hot item, we've got to get him out of town.

Iraq snapshot.

al-Zarqawi is dead. Maybe. As **Sandra Lupien noted**, this is the second "death" of al-Zarqawi, according to the US government ("Earlier this year the military thought it had killed Zarqawi in another operation but later announced it had been mistaken."). Also noted by Goodman was Thomas E. Ricks "Military Plays Up Role of Zarqawi: Jordian Painted As Foreign Threat To Iraq's Stability" (Washington Post). In that article, Ricks wrote of "a propaganda campaign" run by the US military "to magnify the role of the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq." Andrew Marshall (Reuters) notes that "the Zarqawi myth" was fed by "U.S. forces" despite the fact that "[m]ost experts believe his foreign fighters make up only a fraction of the insurgency". The Financial Times of London is calling it "one of the biggest propaganda coup's for the US since the capture of Saddam Hussein in 2003."
Brian Whitaker (Guardian of London) notes the build up "by the US and sections of the media . . . [to turn al-Zarqawi] into the main bogeyman, but the war, or civil war as it is increaingly regarded, has a momentum of its own." Whitaker goes on to note the daily deaths of "[d]ozens of ordinary people" in Iraq including the targeting of ice vendors. Jonathan Wright (Reuters) reports that news of the death has resulted "in deep splits on Thursday" among Arabs outside of Iraq and quotes Arab analysts including Diaa Rashwan ("expert on Islamist groups at the al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo") saying, "Zarqawi in recent times did not represent an important element in violent operations on the ground in Iraq. Other groups which are not extreme, resistance groups not terrorist groups, have grown in strength."

The military strike which may or may not have killed al-Zarqawi involved "[t]wo F-16 warplanes [which] dropped two 500-pound bombs" on the area (China's People Daily). Reuters' Hilmy Kamal reports from that area and is told by a teenager there, "The Americans have a habit of bombing places and then claiming Zarqawi or others were there." Kamal notes that residents are "sceptical" of the claim that al-Zarqawi was there. On KPFA's The Morning Show, Sandra Lupien noted that the US military "called the operation a precision airstrike," that a woman and child died in the attack and that among the rubble/ruins of the attack were "a child's sandal" and "a backpack with a teddy bear on it." The Financial Times notes that "Television pictures of the site of the raid on the village of Hibhib showed an extensive area of destruction and a US Centcom official confirmed to al-Jazeera television that not all the casualties inflicted during the raid were inside the house targetted." KUNA reports that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was asked about the reported killing in terms of whether or not it would be a violation of the Geneva Convention and he responded he didn't think so, "if indeed he is the one who has been killed, has been at war, in a fight. I don't think you can equate it to targeted assassinations of the kind we have seen elsewhere."

Brian Conley notes that Al Jazeera was attempting to interview Zarqawi's brother in law Abu Qudama but the interview was stopped, Abu Qudama "was arrested by Jordanian police. Just before he was arrested he was denouncing members of the press for not always speaking truth about his brother-in-law, making him into an evil man, and not just a fighter for god." Conley notes that "at least one Al-Jazeera correspondent" was arrested as well.

Meanwhile the BBC reports that two posts have been filled in occupation puppet and Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki. Actually, three posts were (finally) filled as the Guardian reports: "General Abdul-Qadre Mohammed Jassim, a Sunni Arab, . . . named as the new defence minister . . . Jawad al-Bolani named as the interior minister and Sherwan al-Waili as national security minister" (both al-Bolani and al-Waili are "Shia Muslims"). This comes after many missed deadlines that al-Maliki set for himself as well as seventeen days after the constitutional deadline of May 22nd.

The Associated Press reports on the bombs in the Baghadad that killed "at least 19 people . . . wounding more than 40." The bombs went off at in a section known as New Baghdad. Ignoring this and other realities allows Sally Buzbee (Associated Press) to declare Thursday "good news Thursday" indicating that possibly she's auditioning for a TV chat gig since such a statement has little resemblance to reporting. (In one of her most non-reporting remarks, she concludes of al-Maliki: "Thursday's events just made clear he's bound and determined to jump in and try." Well Yippee-ki-yay, Cowgirl!)

What Iraq was she speaking of? Along with the bombing noted already, Reuters reports thirteen were wounded from a bomb "planted inside a building" in Baghdad, that four corpses were discovered, that police announced today that (yesterday) Ahmed Kurdi ("judge of Dujail court") had been kidnapped . . . Fredrik Dahl (Reuters) reports that: "Gunmen shot and seriously wounded a senior Defence Ministry official . . . General Khalil al-Ibadi, in charge of food supplies for the armed forces, and his driver . . ."

This as the BBC reports that the British Ministry of Defence is investigating the death of a thirteen-year-old boy. As noted yesterday, "The Associated Press reports that British soldiers fired on civilians and did so because 100 people (presumably adults) were stoning them, Iraqi police say that the "people" were children and that a thirteen-year-old boy was killed and a twelve-year-old girl was wounded." A spokesman acknowledges to the BBC that they "are aware of reports that a 13-year-old has been killed" and states that British troops "reported that two teenage boys had been hit."

Finally, Terri Judd reports on the continued deterioration for women in Iraq. Noting that Iraq was "once the envy of women across the Middle East," Judd offers a look at the new realities which include women's heads being forcibly shaved after they refuse to "refuse to wear a scarf," being "stoned in the street for wearing make-up," being nothing but tokens who make up "25 per cent of Iraq's Provincial Council" . . . On the last item, Judd notes that women's faces are "blacked out" with the slogan "No women in politics" on "[p]osters around the city" and that women serving on the council have been told "you don't know anything" so "they just agreed to sign whatever they were told."

It's Thursday, Carl notes Margaret Kimberley's latest. We can always note her in this entry if someone highlights it before I start pulling the entry together. In addition, we'll note the latest column again tonight. From Kimberley's "Baby Killers at Haditha" (Freedom Rider, The Black Commentator):

Occupations are always deadly. The occupied are at constant risk of death, incarceration and humiliation. It is important to keep this in mind when thinking of the killings of Iraqi civilians at Haditha, Iraq. It is a story that needs to be told, but it was not an unusual event. It is just the first to escape the media bubble.
Last November the death of a Marine in the town of Haditha sent his unit into a frenzy of revenge. Twenty-four civilians, men, women and children were killed in cold blood. A killing spree by the occupiers should be roundly condemned but not treated as some sort of anomaly.
The Vietnam War was a watershed event in American public discourse. It was the first time that masses of citizens publicly declared opposition to a government decision to fight overseas. The significance of an organized anti-war movement was not lost on the pro-war crowd.
They made certain that tales of soldiers being spat upon and called “baby killer” made their way into the popular imagination. The result is a public propagandized into mindlessly supporting the troops. Even the anti-war movement is culpable, never passing up an opportunity to shout that they are against the war but not the troops.
The words of Gen. Sherman are still true. War is all hell. It is hell, and it is soldiers who bring it on.
The hell has become too much for even the Iraqi puppet government to bear. Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki stopped
pulling his punches after Haditha. After three years of non-existent or muted criticism, he and his colleagues now feel comfortable speaking truth to the powerful.

From the Feminist Daily Wire "Oglala Sioux Tribe Bans Abortion on Reservation, Suspends Tribal President ."

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[Correction note: "**" Sandra Lupien noted that, not, as I wrongly wrote earlier, Amy Goodman.]