Lieberman's desperate move only serves to highlight what went underreported: Bill Clinton saying on Friday that Democrats (username: email@example.com/pass: huffpo) "ought to be whipped if we allow our differences over what to do now over Iraq divide us." Is he serious? He makes it sound as if the debate over the war is petty squabbling on the level of whether one should wear white after Labor Day.
There is no way a politician as savvy as Bill Clinton could be this clueless about just how seismic a division Iraq is for Democrats, so I can only assume it was the guilt talking -- the former president trying to make up for the wrong-headed advice he's been giving Hillary about adopting a Bush-lite, "centrist" stance on the war. A stance that means she has to keep assuming, in the face of all evidence, that everything will turn out okay in Iraq -- an assumption that with each passing car bomb explosion and sectarian massacre becomes more and more divorced from reality and puts Hillary, and all those who agree with her, on the wrong side of history.
Just since Monday, we've had the video of our mutilated soldiers posted on the web, and the Iraqi government, responding to the outcry over the Mahmudiya rape-murder case, calling for an end to immunity from local law for U.S. troops. The truth about Iraq couldn't be clearer: our troops are being asked to handle a mission they weren't trained for, leading to horrific acts like those in Haditha and Mahmudiya, followed by horrific acts of revenge and reprisal -- an escalating cycle of violence that makes support for the war all the more indefensible. No wonder Bill Clinton doesn't want Dems making a big deal over their differences on Iraq. He'd rather bury his head in the bloody sands of Baghdad.
I find it amazing that Clinton's comments on Iraq didn't cause more of an uproar. Indeed, they were nowhere to be found in the mainstream press, relegated to a single paragraph in a story in the Aspen Daily News.
If you want a better understanding of the importance of Democratic differences over the war, just look at what happened in 1968. The presidential campaign was all about the battle over how to deal with Vietnam. In the Democratic primaries, first Eugene McCarthy and then Bobby Kennedy took courageous stands against LBJ's prosecution of the war, eventually leading Johnson to announce he would not seek re-election and causing a massive rift in the party. Before RFK was gunned down following his victory in the California primary, the race was shaping up to be a showdown between the anti-war Kennedy and Vice President Humphrey, who was standing behind Johnson's handling of Vietnam.
Can you imagine someone in 1968 telling Bobby Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey that they "ought to be whipped" for fighting over their views on Vietnam?
The above is from Arianna Huffington's "Bill Clinton: Dems Shouldn't Be Divided By Differences Over Iraq" (The Huffington Post). Billie noted the above. (This is a dictated entry. The usual Iraq snapshot entry will go up several hours later than usual. I'm on the road to speak somewhere so just FYI.)
The points made are important to remember not just because Hillary continues to act like a War Hawk (despite internal polling indicating a change would be favorably received) but also because, as Dahr Jamail and Jeremy Scahill -- among others -- have pointed out, we didn't just end up in Iraq this decade.
Brandon notes that Riverbend has a new post, " Atrocities..." (Baghdad Burning):
It promises to be a long summer. We're almost at the mid-way point, but it feels like the days are just crawling by. It's a combination of the heat, the flies, the hours upon hours of no electricity and the corpses which keep appearing everywhere.
The day before yesterday was catastrophic. The day began with news of the killings in Jihad Quarter. According to people who live there, black-clad militiamen drove in mid-morning and opened fire on people in the streets and even in houses. They began pulling people off the street and checking their ID cards to see if they had Sunni names or Shia names and then the Sunnis were driven away and killed. Some were executed right there in the area. The media is playing it down and claiming 37 dead but the people in the area say the number is nearer 60.
The horrific thing about the killings is that the area had been cut off for nearly two weeks by Ministry of Interior security forces and Americans. Last week, a car bomb was set off in front of a 'Sunni' mosque people in the area visit. The night before the massacre, a car bomb exploded in front of a Shia husseiniya in the same area. The next day was full of screaming and shooting and death for the people in the area. No one is quite sure why the Americans and the Ministry of Interior didn't respond immediately. They just sat by, on the outskirts of the area, and let the massacre happen.
At nearly 2 pm, we received some terrible news. We lost a good friend in the killings. T. was a 26-year-old civil engineer who worked with a group of friends in a consultancy bureau in Jadriya. The last time I saw him was a week ago. He had stopped by the house to tell us his sister was engaged and he'd brought along with him pictures of latest project he was working on- a half-collapsed school building outside of Baghdad.
He usually left the house at 7 am to avoid the morning traffic jams and the heat. Yesterday, he decided to stay at home because he'd promised his mother he would bring Abu Kamal by the house to fix the generator which had suddenly died on them the night before. His parents say that T. was making his way out of the area on foot when the attack occurred and he got two bullets to the head. His brother could only identify him by the blood-stained t-shirt he was wearing.
People are staying in their homes in the area and no one dares enter it so the wakes for the people who were massacred haven't begun yet. I haven't seen his family yet and I'm not sure I have the courage or the energy to give condolences. I feel like I've given the traditional words of condolences a thousand times these last few months, "Baqiya ib hayatkum… Akhir il ahzan…" or "May this be the last of your sorrows." Except they are empty words because even as we say them, we know that in today's Iraq any sorrow- no matter how great- will not be the last.
That's reality as opposed to the nonsense William McCoy was peddling yesterday. (For those who've forgotten, McCoy tried to present an Iraq alive with electricity.) Mia notes Raed Jarrar's "Iraq: Raped" (CounterPunch):
A few months ago, Abir Al-Janabi was just another 14-year-old Iraqi girl in a small town called Al-Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad. Both of her parents are from the Al-Janabi tribe, one of the biggest tribes with Sunni and Shia branches.
Omar Al-Janabi, a neighbor and relative, was informed by Abir's mother that the young girl was being harassed by U.S. soldiers stationed in a nearby checkpoint. That is why Abir was sent to spend the night in her neighbor's home. The next day, Omar Al-Janabi was among the first people who found Abir, with her 34-year-old mother Fakhriyah, her 45-year-old father Qasim, and her 7-year-old sister Hadil, murdered in their home. Abir was raped, killed by a bullet in her head, and then burned on March 12, five months before her fifteenth birthday.
Muhammad Al-Janabi, Abir's uncle, reached the house shortly after the attack as well. Iraqi police and army officers informed him and other angry relatives that an "armed terrorist group" was responsible for the horrifying attack. This is exactly what the angry relatives of the 24 Iraqi civilians killed in Haditha four months before this incident had been told as well. In that case, U.S. officials initially claimed that a roadside bomb planted by terrorists had killed the 24 Iraqi civilians and one U.S. soldier in Haditha, but the Iraqi people knew that it was the Americans.
Unlike the case of Haditha, where Iraqi public opinion was furious about the massacre months before it reached to the U.S. mainstream media, the Iraqi press had not even heard of Abir until the U.S. army accidentally found out information about her while investigating another incident. This raises questions about the number of other similar cases that were never investigated and were blamed on non-occupation parties instead.
Here's a New York Times snapshot. David Johnston reports that Robert Novak is saying he identified his three sources (it's now three sources) for his column outing Valerie Plame as a CIA agent. Johnston writes that Karl Rove, Bill Harlow ("then a spokespman for the Central Intelligence Agency") and a third person who Novak is not identifying publicly. Mark Mazzetti and Kate Zernike don't come up with much re: Guantanamo but Congress hasn't been too interested in it anyway. (Kayla points out that there is a good photo with the article, taken by David Scull, where you can see Medea Benjamin holding a sign that reads "CLOSE GUANTANAMO.") Raymond Hernandez goes deeper in "Bush Nominee Tries to Calm Torture Furor" which offers a number of things worth noting including that Harry Reid is unfit to be a Senate leader. How can you read Reid's refusal to say he would support a filibuster of William J. Haynes Jr. to the federal court as anything but proof of that?
Reid digs his own grave further with this quote: "We've approved a lot of judges that were very, very borderline. But unless there's some drastic change, I'm not going to override the views of 20 our finest." "We've approved"? "Very, very borderline"? Right there it says the leadership isn't doing their job. But he's the Vegas party boy so expects pats and shout outs of "He da man!" when he's the failure for Democrats in the Senate and should have been forced out of his leadership post some time ago.
Lastly, the point was to have an entry up here last night. Blogger/Blogspot was done. One was posted at the mirror site but Blogger/Blogspot was still down and I was exhausted. It will be carried over this evening. From the e-mails, most members either saw it on their own or heard about it from one another. As noted there, we're taking a 24 hour breather on one topic/issue/source/outlet.
Again, Iraq snapshot will be up late today. (And since Wally usually phones to run his post by me before he posts, he may be late as well so blame me for that.)
AP is reporting that a bus station in Baghdad was stormed by "gunmen" and at least 24 people were seized with at least 20 of those 24 being killed.
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