Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Democracy Now: Eve Ensler and Kimberle Crenshaw

Disarmament Protesters Arrested After Infiltrating Silo Site
In North Dakota, a Catholic priest and two military veterans were arrested Tuesday for infiltrating a missile silo site. The men were able to break the locks on the site using sledgehammers and hammers. They painted the word "disarm" on a silo lid and poured some of their own blood. The men call themselves "Weapon of Mass Destruction Here Plowshares." In a statement posted on their website, then men said: "We have chosen to start the process of transformation and disarmament by hammering on and pouring our blood on components of the Minuteman Three nuclear missile system. We believe that the concrete that goes into making missile silos would be better used for building homes."

Author: US Deliberately Bombed Al Jazeera in Afghanistan
A controversial new book is claiming the US bombing of the Kabul offices of the Arabic television network Al Jazeera was deliberate. In "The One Percent Doctrine", investigative journalist Ron Suskind writes: "On November 13 [2001], a hectic day when Kabul fell to the Northern Alliance and there were celebrations in the streets of the city, a U.S. missile obliterated Al Jazeera's office. Inside the CIA and White House there was satisfaction that a message had been sent to Al Jazeera." In an interview with CNN, Suskind said government sources had told him there was "great anger" within the Bush administration over Al Jazeera's coverage of the invasion of Afghanistan. He added: "I'll tell you emphatically it was a deliberate act by the U.S."
Suskind's disclosure is the latest development to bolster speculation the US has deliberately targeted Al Jazeera. On April 8th 2003 -- just weeks into the invasion of Iraq -- the US bombed Al Jazeera's Baghdad bureau, killing correspondent Tareq Ayoub. Last November, the Daily Mirror of London reported President Bush told British Prime Minister Tony Blair of his desire to bomb Al Jazeera's headquarters in Qatar. The Mirror cited a secret memo leaked from the British government. According to the New York Times, Suskind's book appears to have been written with wide access to former CIA Director George Tenet and a host of other government officials.

US Firm Gave FBI, CIA Consumers' Financial Data
On the domestic front, Suskind's book also discloses that a major US financial company provided the FBI and CIA information on the financial transactions and wire transfers of consumers world-wide. The company, First Data Corporation, is the parent firm of Western Union. First Data becomes the latest major US corporation to be linked with US government spying. Last month, USA Today revealed the National Security Agency has secretly collected the phone call records of millions of Americans with the help of AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth.

US Accused of Killing Iraqi Civilians in Baquba
The US military is being accused of committing a new massacre of Iraqi civilians. On Tuesday, witnesses, family members and a Sunni parliamentarian said US troops killed a group of civilians near the town of Baquba. An Iraqi human rights worker said two of the dead were young boys aged ten and twelve. In a statement, the US military claimed it killed 15 "terrorists" and had captured their weapons. But an Iraqi police officer told the Washington Post no weapons were found at the scene of the attack.

The above four items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Kyle, Amanda, Doug and Domingo. Democracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):

Headlines for June 21, 2006

- US Accused of Killing Iraqi Civilians in Baquba
- Military To Probe Soldier Deaths
- Private's Uncle Criticizes US Response
- Another Saddam Hussein Defense Lawyer Slain
- Israeli Air Strike Kills 3 Children in Gaza Strip
- Israeli TV Backs Allegations Gaza Bomb Was Israeli Shell
- North Korea Calls for Direct US Talks
- Author: US Deliberately Bombed Al Jazeera in Afghanistan
- US Firm Gave FBI, CIA Consumers' Financial Data
- Gov. Hired Data Brokers To Bypass Subpoenas, Warrants
- Disarmament Protesters Arrested After Infiltrating Silo Site
- New Orleans Suicide Rate Nearly Triples
- Dan Rather Leaves CBS News
- EU Leaders To Press Gitmo Closure in Talks With Bush

Stopping Violence Against Women: Eve Ensler and Kimberle Crenshaw on V-Day, Women in Prisons and Breaking the Silence

We spend the hour looking at the movement to end violence against women across the globe. We spend the hour with playwright and activist Eve Ensler and prisoner rights activist Kimberle Crenshaw. Ensler is creator of "The Vagina Monologues" -- the off-Broadway show that has grown into an international movement to end violence against women and girls. She helped kickoff a two-week festival last Monday in New York City called "Until the Violence Stops: NYC." Events include theater performances, spoken word pieces, art shows and international panels - all created to bring the issue of violence against women front and center both nationally and internationally. Crenshaw is a professor of law at UCLA and Columbia Law School. She specializes in the areas of civil rights, Black feminist legal theory and racism. We also play clips of Rose Perez performing "The Vagina Monologues," Glenn Close reading the words of prisoner Cynthia Berry, Hazelle Goodman reading the words of Kathy Boudin and Selma Hayek speaking about her own experience with physical and mental abuse. [includes rush transcript - partial]
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I wanted to read from an explosive U.S. government document about the situation in Iraq that was recently leaked to the Washington Post. It's an internal memo from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad that describes the situation in the Iraqi capital.
This is from a subsection titled, "Women's Rights," and it says, "Two of our three female employees report stepped-up harassment beginning in mid-May. One, a Shia who favors Western clothing was advised by an unknown woman in her Baghdad neighborhood to wear a veil and not to drive her own car. She said some groups are pushing women to cover even their face, a step not taken in Iran, even at its most conservative. Another, a Sunni, said people in her neighborhood are harassing women and telling them to cover up and stop using cell phones. She said the taxi driver who brings her every day to the Green Zone has told her he cannot let her ride unless she wears a head cover. A female in the cultural section" -- this is in the U.S. cultural section -- "is now wearing a full abaya after receiving direct threats.
"The women say they cannot identify the groups pressuring them. The cautions come from other women, sometimes from men who could be Sunni or Shia, but appear conservative. Some ministries, notably the Sadrist-controlled Ministry of Transportation, have been forcing females to wear the hijab at work."
Now, again, that's from an internal memo from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, and at the end of the memo, it's the name of the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Khalilzad. Your response. You have gone to Afghanistan repeatedly. In fact, we last spoke to you on a mountain in Afghanistan. But can you talk about this?
EVE ENSLER: Well, we have been supporting women -- Yanar Mohammed, we've been supporting, who's running the women's organization in Baghdad. We have been in touch with women now for the last three years, and everything we're hearing about the situation of the women in Baghdad is just -- it is shocking, and it actually really mirrors what happened in Afghanistan. It is the Talibanization of Iraq. And if we look at the fact that sex trafficking has escalated, honor killings have escalated, women's security is abysmal, we are talking about the reversal of women's rights, in terms of Sharia law being reintroduced into the constitution.
What most people forget is the status of women in Iraq during Saddam Hussein was actually far better off than many women throughout the region. It has now been completely undermined. And we have this illusion in this country that we have freed women in Afghanistan and freed women in Iraq. Every report we're getting now from Afghanistan is that the situation is terrible and that warlords are everywhere, and the Taliban is completely present.
As a matter of fact, Sarah Chayes, who is in Kandahar, who I think you may have had on, recently wrote to me that there is so much activity happening with the Taliban that 74% of the people living in Kandahar actually believe that the U.S. and the Taliban are in cahoots. So we are seeing no real security having happened for women and them being absolutely used to justify this war, used to say we need to go and free the women of Afghanistan, when, in fact, that is not happening.

Iraq snapshot.

As chaos and violence continues on the ground in Iraq, we get posturing by those far from the daily violence.

Following yesterday's official statement that Japan would withdraw troops from Iraq by the end of this year, Australia's ABC reports that Brendan Nelson, Defense Minister in Australia, states that "he expects the Government will rethink Australia's troop commitment to Iraq at the end of the year." Australi currently has 460 troops in Iraq. As Amy Goodman noted yesterday on Democracy Now!, if announced departures take place, only England, South Korea and the United States will "have more than one thousand troops in Iraq." The AFP reports: "British Prime Minister Tony Blair has again insisted that his country's [7,200] troops will remain in Iraq depite widespread daily sectarian violence there."

Meanwhile Demetri Sevastopulo and Guy Dinmore (Financial Times of London) report that the US administration is attempting "to distance itself from remarks by the Iraqi national security adviser that he envisaged a significant reduction in US troops in the country this year with most leaving next year." Mowaffak al-Rubbaie's, Iraq's national security adviser, remarks were that American troops stationed in Iraq would number less than 100,000 the end of the year and that "most of the remaining troops" would "return home by the end of the year". al-Rubbaie's remarks are in keeping with those of Iraq's president and vice-present. As Democracy Now! noted last week, while the Bully Boy was staging his photo-op in the Green Zone of Baghdad, Tariq al-Hashia "asked the US for a timeline for the withdrawal of foreign troops." The AFP reports that Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has stated other foreign countries should echo Japan's decision and leave Iraq: "The withdrawal of Japanese troops is a good step and I hope that all countries with occupation forces in Iraq would follow suit in a quick and organised way that would not hurt the Iraqi people."

Meanwhile in the United States, the Senate continues to play with debating Iraq. The Associated Press notes Carl Levin saying of the plan (that he co-sponsored with Jack Reed), "It does not set a fixed timetable or an arbitrary deadline for the redeployment of our troops." No it doesn't. Nor is it in any way binding. It is posturing.

In the real world, Thom Shanker (New York Times) reports that the Pentagon will be shipping 21,000 American troops over to Iraq and that this will "keep the American presence at current levels into next year" with what's being seen as: "American troops in Iraq would be replaced on a one-for-one basis for now."

Meanwhile Julian E. Barnes and Tony Perry (Los Angelse Times) report that the investigation into the Haditha incident (where 24 Iraqis were slaughtered) argues that the various self-reports should have raised "red flags" beginning with "senior military officers in western Iraq". The reporters quote from the (unreleased) Bargewell report: "No follow-up actions regarding the civilian casualties were deemed necessary by the senior leadership of MNF-West. Initial reports of K Company and its subordinate units were untimely, inaccurate and incomplete. They were conflicted, poorly vetted and forgotten once transmitted." Noting this reporting on KPFA's The Morning Show , Brian Edwards-Tiekert summarized that there was no follow up by senior military personell.*

This as Hector Becerra and Scott Gold (Los Angeles Times) report on another investigation. In June 2004, US troops Patrick R. McCaffrey Sr. and Lt. Andre D. Tyson were killed near Balad. Becerra and Gold report that military spokesperson Paul Boyce "confirmed late Tuesday that a military investigation had found that the two California soldiers were killed by Iraqi security forces." The reporters quote Patrick's mother Nadia McCaffrey: "He was killed by the Iraqis that he was training. People in this country need to know that."

A follow up on another incident is expected to lead to charges being announced shortly. This is the investigation into the April 26th death of Hashim Ibrahim Awad (as identified by Nancy A Youssef, writing for Knight Ridder, in the first week of June). CBS and the AP are reporting that "seven Marines and one sailor" are expected to be charged "with murder in connection" with the death of Hashim Ibrahim Awad. Youssef reported the family's version: "U.S. Marines took him from his home in the middle of the night and killed him. The Marines then used an AK-47 assault rifle and a shovel taken from another home to make him look like a terrorist."

Along with those investigations, Italian prosecutors in Rome are attempting to try US national guard Mario Lozana in the death of Nicola Calipari. As noted by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!: "Calipari was escorting Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena after she had been released by kidnappers. U.S. troops opened fire on their car killing Calipari and injuring Sgrena. . . . Tune in to Democracy Now on Thursday when Giuliana Sgrena joins us in the Firehouse studio." Also remember that: Sgrena will be in New York City Friday June 23rd for an event with Amy Goodman at Columbia University. (Event starts at 7:30 p.m.)

Tuesday, Sabrina Tavernise (New York Times) reported on another incident in which three American troops had been charged with premeditated murder as well as threatening another American soldier. The BBC identifies the soldier threatened: "Army Pfc Bradley Mason [who was told] that they would kill him if he testified against them."

North of Baghdad, the BBC reports a that "at least 80 factory workers from a fleet of buses" have been kidnapped. AP goes with "about 85 workers."

In Baghdad, three "bodyguards of the Iraqi Trade Minister" were shot by "Australian security guards . . . mistakenly," Australia's ABC reports -- adding that: "The incident could potentially embarrass the Australian Government, which has been trying to improve trade ties with Iraq".

Kidnappings? Police tell Reuters that "three relatives of the deputy governor of Salaheddin province" were kidnapped Tuesday. CBS and the AP note that the Mujahedeen Shura Council, which has claimed to have four Russian diplomats who were kidnapped at the start of this month, has announced that they will kill the four.


CBS and the AP note a car bomb, in Baghdad, killed "at least three people" with eight wounded. Reuters notes another car bomb that killed two and wounded six.
*Thanks to Kat for passing on the Brian Edwards-Tiekert item.

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Kat reminds everyone that at one p.m. today KPFA broadcasts the latest Guns and Butter.