Tuesday, July 25, 2006

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When Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki visits the White House on Tuesday for the first time, he is expected to make requests that clash sharply with President Bush’s foreign policy, Iraqi officials say, signaling a widening gap between the Iraqis and the Americans on crucial issues.
The requests will include asking President Bush to allow American-led troops in Iraq to be tried under Iraqi law, and to call for a halt to Israeli attacks on Lebanon, according to several Iraqi politicians, and to a senior member of Mr. Maliki’s party who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak for the prime minister.
Mr. Maliki is also expected to demand more autonomy for Iraqi forces, though he will not ask for a quick withdrawal of the 134,000 American troops here, the officials say.

The above is from Edward Wong's "Top Iraqi’s White House Visit Shows Gaps With U.S." in this morning's New York Times and addresses the upcoming meeting between The Puppet and the Bully Boy. The puppet will "demand more autonomy" will he? The Puppet is supposed to be the prime minister of Iraq. That he's traveling to DC (while Iraq is in chaos) goes a long to way to demonstrating the ability (or lack thereof) he has to "demand" anything. Three years after the illegal invasion promising 'liberating' and 'democracy' and the puppet government still comes begging to DC. It's a strange sort of 'sovereignty', a strange sort of 'self-rule,' flying across the Atlantic to play a game of "Bully, May I."

Cindy notes Martin Sieff's "Eye On Iraq: The Shiite Bloody Saturday" (UPI via Common Dreams):

That which Americans should fear has come upon them: U.S. troops in Iraq killed 15 Shiite militiamen Saturday.
According to first reports, the fighting occurred in the town of Musayyib, 40 miles south of Baghdad. The exchange was an intense one. It lasted three hours and dozens more people were injured.
The clash was not a random one. It was part of a systematic drive U.S. forces had been ordered to carry out against the Mahdi Army of anti-American firebrand Moqtada al-Sadr.
This clash was the most serious since the brief and potentially very dangeorus rising by Sadr's militia against U.S. forces in April 2004. It came after popular Shiite opinion across Iraq has been inflamed against the United States by the continuing failure of U.S. forces to protect Shiite communities in the country from the continuing onslaught of Sunni insurgents. Also, it comes as Israel's attacks on the Shiite militias of southern Lebanon are escalating towards a full-scale land invasion of Hezbollah-controlled territory.
The danger is therefore more imminent than ever that the U.S. drive against Sadr's forces could trigger a more widespread rising of Shiite militias in Baghdad and across southern Iraq against U.S. forces. The already chaotic situation in Iraq would then become indescribable.
We make this prediction in these columns the same way we confidently -- and grimly -- predicted on May 1, 2003, that the Sunni population of Iraq would be enraged by the killing of 15 of their number in clashes with U.S. troops in the city of Fallujah, and that this would lead to a years-long widespread Sunni insurgency against U.S. forces in their country.
On that day -- the same day President George W. Bush confidently but erroneously declared "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq from the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln -- UPI Analysis predicted: "The killing of 15 anti-American demonstrators by U.S. troops in the Iraqi city of Fallujah this week, followed by the reported killing of at least two more Wednesday, is a dire omen for those who imagined Iraq could be quietly but firmly guided on the paths of stable, pro-American democracy in the next few months, or even years.
"It is, rather, the kind of event that Thomas Jefferson called 'a fire-bell in the night' -- the harbinger of infinitely worse conflict and travails to come."

Martha notes this from Joshua Partlow's "Operating Quietly, Tattoo Artists Make Their Mark in Iraq" (Washington Post):

In Iraq's current climate of intimidation by religious extremists -- accused of murdering those who immodestly wear shorts, or drink alcohol, or happen to be born with a particular name -- body art cannot be practiced openly. Some Islamic scholars consider tattoos haram , or prohibited by the religion: a desecration of God's creation and the chosen emblem of thugs and convicts. Worse, some consider the practice an imitation of the "occupiers" from America.

But, to harp on a point from the previous entry -- Iraq's 'low level,' it's 'relative calm.' (Yes, that's sarcasm.)

And Rob forwards an e-mail from Courage to Resist:

Join the Aug. 16 "National Day of Education" to question:
"Is the U.S. war and occupation of Iraq illegal?"
Officer faces court-martial for refusing to deploy to Iraq by John Kifner and Timothy Egan, NY Times. July 23, 2006
Lt. Watada's Stand PDF leaflet by Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith
Watada, the War and the Law by Brecher & Smith, The Nation. July 7, 2006
Lt. Watada's original video taped statement
Order Sir! No Sir! DVD documentary about Vietnam War era military resisters
Order Thank You Lt. Watada info cards, posters, and more
On August 17, U.S. Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada will face a pre-trial hearing for refusing to deploy to Iraq. "It is my conclusion as an officer of the armed forces that the war in Iraq is not only morally wrong but a horrible breach of American law. The war and what we're doing over there is illegal," explained the first military officer to publicly take such a stand.
On August 16, the day prior to the hearing, The Friends and Family of Lt. Ehren Watada are calling for a "National Day of Education" to pose the question, "Is the war illegal?" This day can also serve to anchor a "week of outreach" leading up to the pre-trial hearing.
Prior to the U.S. attack on Iraq, over a thousand U.S. law organizations and professors explained that an invasion, without a new U.N. Security Council Resolution, would constitute a crime against the peace and a war of aggression. Since then, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has unequivocally confirmed that the U.S. war "was illegal." And documents such as the "Downing Street Memos" make clear that the war and occupation was planned and initiated as an illegal war of aggression in violation of the U.N. Charter. By treaty, these international laws become domestic law.
Yet, does it matter? Some would argue that President Bush's power should be nearly limitless. Others simply believe the military victor decides right from wrong. Yet, Lt. Watada has found the courage to stand up for the obvious truth and in the process has issued a challenge to us all.
Five years in prison for speech?
The Army has formally charged Lt. Watada two counts of making "contemptuous words" towards President Bush. In short, Lt. Watada has expressed his opinion that "our government led us into war based on misrepresentations and lies." This is the first known prosecution of this "criminal violation" (Article 88 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice) since 1965. Could it be that because this opinion is so widely shared, that it is so threatening?
The Army charges that these same words also constitute "conduct unbecoming and officer and a gentleman." As such, Lt. Watada now faces over five years in military prison for his opinions alone.
It is Lt. Watada's outspoken stand for truth that has most angered Army brass. Even before he refused to board an Iraq-bound aircraft on June 22 with the 3rd Stryker Brigade, he was already under investigation for expressing his opinions about the war.
Teach-in's, house parties, and outreach
On Wednesday, August 16 -- the day prior to Lt. Watada’s pretrial court hearing -- we are asking friends to organize house parties or larger public gatherings to look at the facts. Students and teachers in summer session can hold campus and classroom teach-ins using Lt. Watada’s stand as a catalyst for discussion.
Topics to cover include:
Is this a war of aggression as outlined by the UN Charter, the Geneva Convention and the Nuremberg principles?
Has the U.S. military's conduct in Iraq amounted to war crimes?
Does the war violate the U.S. Constitution and the War Powers Act?
Do military personal have a right to refuse illegal orders?
Protest at Fort Lewis, Washington
In addition to education, people will also be taking action of August 16. At the Interstate 5, Exit 119 bridge at the entrance to Fort Lewis, Washington supporters will gather at 4:00pm with a 6:00pm rally.
Friends across the country are also encouraged to use this opportunity to stage a rally, vigil or freeway bannering as well. This is another step towards a mass mobilization at Fort Lewis during Lt. Watada's court martial in the fall.
Help Lt. Ehren Watada put the war on trial!
Your donation toward Lt. Watada's defense is urgently needed.
Friends and Family of Lt. Watada

In other news, Morgan notes Katrina vanden Heuvel's "The Madness of King George" (Editor's Cut, The Nation):

Today, a bipartisan American Bar Association task force released its report challenging George Bush's flagrant misuse of signing statements to circumvent the constitutional separation of powers.
Bush has issued more than 800 challenges to provisions of passed laws (more than all previous presidents combined) and he has asserted "his right to ignore law." Among the areas of laws Bush has threatened through this "shortcut veto" are the ban on torture, affirmative action, whistleblower protection, and limits on use of "illegally collected intelligence."

Lastly, I don't know if he's taking part in a discussion or they're broadcasting a talk he gave, but Howard Zinn will be featured on today's KPFA's The Morning Show (7:00 am to 9:00 am Pacific Time).

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