Thursday, September 14, 2006

And the war drags on . . .

It was appropriate that the "Guilty" verdicts against the Bush-Cheney Gang for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity were announced at "Camp Democracy," on the National Mall. On Sept. 13, 2006, Ann Wright, an ex-U.S. diplomat, read the "mock" verdicts. She was also one of the five jurists who heard the evidence compiled by the Bush Crimes Commission.
[. . .]
At "Camp Democracy," on the National Mall, on September 13, 2006, a year-long investigation by a citizens' "Commission of Inquiry" was concluded. It had focused on this key question arising out of the "mock" indictments of the Bush-Cheney Gang earlier this year: Has the current administration committed war crimes and crimes against humanity? Today, the Commission returned its preliminary "mock" verdicts against the defendants. The answer was a resounding -- "Guilty!"
The Commission, aka, "The International Commission of Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration," had empaneled five jurists, including Retired U.S. Army Reserve Colonel, Ann Wright, a former U.S. diplomat, to take evidence in the matter and to return preliminary verdicts. The "mock" preliminary verdicts were announced at a press conference held at the "Camp Democracy" site. Wright summarized the 51-page report, which can be found online. (2) The scope of the "Commission of Inquiry" into suspected wrongdoings by operatives of this off-the-wall administration went beyond the illegal and immoral Iraqi War, which was launched by the Bush-Cheney Gang based on a pack of serial lies. (3) It also included these four other areas of inquiry: "Torture," "Global Environment," "Global Health (AIDS and Reproductive Rights)," and, finally, "Hurricane Katrina." (2)
Wright resigned her State Department office on March 19, 2003, rather than endorse the U.S. attack on Iraq, which was hatched by warmongering schemers within the Bush-Cheney Gang. She said that the panel of jurists found that the evidence against all of the defendants, on all five indictments, "did rise to the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity."

The above is from William Hughes' "Bush-Cheney Hit with 'Mock' Guilty Verdicts for War Crimes" (San Francisco Indymedia) and Jennifer noted it. Camp Democracy is ongoing in DC and this Sunday will examine impeachment. It's free and open to the public. And you get to be around people who are actually working towards something as opposed to the faux. (Yes, I've read the e-mails, the forwards and much more. Not all of them, but I've spent four hours on e-mails Ava and Jess flagged from members. We'll get to that.) And, leaving parenthetical, this post will grab a few things which, hopefully, will still retain the Iraq focus.

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 stood at 2666. Tonight? Right now? 2677.
On KPFA's Flashpoints today, Dennis Bernstein spoke with Peter Phillips of Project Censored who estimated the death toll for Iraqi civilians had reached 250,000 by now.

Clare Short, who has been vocal against the Iraq war since before the illegal invasion, has resigned from the Labor Party. Gareth has a column in tomorrow's gina & krista round-robin about that. (Which, remember, will be out at midnight EST.) Naomi Fowler reported on this on both The KPFA Evening News and Free Speech Radio News. From London's Independent, Short in her own words:

I have been thinking long and hard about whether to contest the next election as a Labour candidate and decided that I will not. For me it is a big decision...
There are many good things that New Labour has done since 1997, mostly things Labour committed itself to before the New Labour coup, but I... am profoundly ashamed of the Government. Blair's craven support for the extremism of US neoconservative foreign policy has exacerbated the danger of terrorism and the instability and suffering of the Middle East. He has dishonoured the UK...
Gordon Brown's commitment to a replacement of Trident, in one throwaway sentence, is an insult to democracy...
The change we need is a hung parliament which will bring in electoral reform... Labour would have one-third of the seats in the Commons, the Tories something similar, and we would be likely to see some Greens and others.
The Chief Whip has warned me that I cannot recommend a hung parliament because it would mean Labour MPs losing their seats. I am standing down so that I can speak my truth."

Gareth covers this in depth (and worked like crazy to get it in at the last minute).

Dropping back to today's snapshot:

Reuters notes a "sucicide bomber" in Tal Afar has left one police officer dead and two civilians wounded; a roadside bomb in Falluja has left five civilians dead and 15 more wounded; and that "[a] bomb struck a U.S. military vehicle in Ur district, northern Baghdad, as the coalition forces were starting a serach operation. Witnesses at the scene said smoke was rising from the area. The U.S. military said it was unaware of the incident."

AP reports that two died and twenty-five were wounded and that the "acting ambassador" to Iraq from Japan had his car shot at in Baghdad while he was in it. What was it Rumsfeld said about "democracy" being messy?

In election news, Tara steers us to John Nichols' "No Clear Antiwar Signal" (The Nation) with his take on the results from this week's primaries:

Anyone looking for a signal from the September 12 Senate and House primaries that Democrats will go into the November campaign as a clearly defined antiwar party didn't get it. There was no high-profile win for an antiwar challenger to a prowar incumbent, like that of Ned Lamont over Joe Lieberman in the August 8 Connecticut primary. In fact, New York Senator Hillary Clinton, who (although never as slavishly supportive of the war as Lieberman) remains essentially on board with the mission, won a convincing 4-to-1 victory over labor activist Jonathan Tasini's sincere but underfunded campaign. In Maryland, where former NAACP president Kweisi Mfume staked an uphill run for an open Senate seat at least in part on his blunter opposition to the war than frontrunner Ben Cardin, Cardin won.
Both Clinton and Cardin ran smarter than Lieberman, sharpening their criticism of the Administration's conduct of the war as primary day approached. Clinton finished the season denouncing Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, while Cardin, who had once resisted timelines, ended up talking about the wisdom of removing US ground forces from Iraq by the end of 2007.
So it will be that, in Senate races this fall, Democratic nominees will run the gamut from the Bring the Troops Home position articulated by Lamont to the murky criticisms of Cardin and Clinton to the "stay the course" line of Nebraska maverick Ben Nelson. For the most part, Democrats will be more antiwar than their Republican foes, with the possible exception of Rhode Island's Lincoln Chafee, a war critic who beat back a conservative GOP primary challenge with, ironically, the support of a White House that did not believe anyone to the right of Chafee could hold the seat. Chafee might still lose in a fall electoral season where polls suggest that voters, frustrated in general by Administration missteps and in particular by the refusal of the President to recognize degeneration of conditions in Iraq, are ready for change.

Jerald Albrecht and Coleen Rowley's "Bush Keeps Failing His Troops in Iraq" (Minneapolis Star-Tribune via Common Dreams):

Bush first failed the troops when he put them in harm's way despite knowing that the threat from Iraq was practically nonexistent. He then failed to provide them with the tools to succeed: no plan to secure the peace, insufficient body armor, questionable support from Dick Cheney's Halliburton cronies and one-third the number of troops necessary to get the job done. But most shameful of all has been the willingness of Bush and the GOP leadership to use our troops as a tool for political gain.
It is no coincidence that Congress voted on the use of force against Iraq less than a month before the 2002 elections, or that John Kerry's votes on Iraq became the crucial fodder of the 2004 campaign, or that every prominent figure who has openly questioned the conduct of the war found their patriotism called into question. Partisan use of the troops continues again in 2006, with "cut and run" on the tip of every GOP loyalist's tongue heading into November.
To Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and other supporters of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, any action other than "staying the course" is defeatism or appeasement. But it is the war supporters who have surrendered our military might and treasure to the failed neocon notion of world domination through unilateral strength of arms.
They have offered up our volunteer military machine to the sands of Iraq with no understanding of who we are fighting, how we should fight them, and whose support we can expect to have. The Bush administration has left our military twisting in the wind -- both at home and abroad.
Since the occupation began, Iraq has been on a slow, inexorable slide toward civil war; our two top generals in the region recently testified that the current situation in Iraq is the worst it's ever been.
Basic necessities like electricity, oil and drinkable water are harder to come by than they were in Saddam Hussein's time. Kidnappings, roadside bombings and beheadings are daily occurrences. Our troops know that death could come at any time, from IEDs or from insurgents lurking among Iraqi civilians.
As a consequence of the chaos, the killing of innocent Iraqis has become routine. A newly released Marine Corps report shows the United States has lost Iraq's Anbar province.
And when veterans return from Iraq, they learn the harsh reality of how their government has cut and run from its responsibilities to them. They return to fewer health care benefits, pitiful job prospects -- except possibly as private military contractors for more duty in Iraq -- and shattered lives and families.

Yes, I've read the e-mails. Hang in and I'll try to tie it into Iraq. Let's start with this, Eddie notes that 9/11: Press for Truth is currently availble for viewing online at Media Channel -- click here. (Rory O'Connor is an executive producer of the documentary.) That's actually a good starting point because it's a wonderful documentary. It's very easy to forget how many lies were told by the administration about 9-11. Following September 14th, Bully Boy had a sheen to him and questions and criticism would not be tolerated. He rejected the idea of an investigation and he and Dick Cheney tried to spin that around as well. It's been one lie after another. The documentary underscores that.

If there's something you believe in, you should ask questions. You shouldn't worry about some blowhard slamming you. You'll be slammed for whatever you do, if you do anything, so just accept it and realize that some people think they've done a lot more this summer than they actually have and think they have a right to issue marching orders. Or, as the forwarded e-mail indicates, think that slamming others who are only searching, is the way to get attention.

Attention-seeking behavior is all that column was. We won't name it, we won't name him. As I remarked on the death of someone, they'd spent their whole life trying to get attention and I wouldn't feed their ego anymore in death than I did in life.

This will be dealt with on Sunday (you know where and I'm too tired to link -- I just deleted 15 paragraphs on this topic, he's not worth fifteen paragraphs). Questions are important. They're always important. Your questions may not be mine, mine may not be the ones you're attempting to answer. But at some points our roads might converge. I may even need your help. Chances are, if I've struck you with a tire iron at some point, you won't rush to help me out.

The thing about attention-seeking behaviors is the people with them, the ones so in need of personal publicity, often get a different sort of attention than they thought they would. Or, like Michael Jackson who invented many of the 'wacko-Jacko' stories that followed him around, they find out later on, when they need support, it's not there (or not there in the numbers they need) because they did get the attention they sought.

Considering that "Richie Cunningham" has been all over the map this summer (didn't see Cindy Sheehan covered, didn't see Ehren Watada's hearing covered, didn't see the fast covered, didn't see the voter's pledge covered, didn't see the trip to Jordan covered, still haven't seen Camp Democracy covered) his need to foam over people who actually have focused, as opposed to dabbling, is rather sad. (Oh, didn't see the fact that the US military keeps a body count on Iraqi civilians who die covered. And it is laughable whenever anyone tries to sneak that in now, as Rebecca's grandmother has pointed out, after ignoring it back in June. But to do something other than sneak it would require them owning their own mistake/incompetence and it's so much easier for them to ridicule a truth movement made up of dedicated people than it is for them to own their mistakes.) Bully Boy lies all the time, as the documentary brilliantly illustartes. I don't know what happened, I wasn't there. I'm not an insta-expert (nor is Richie though he wanted to pass himself off as such) and I don't weigh in on things I don't know enough about. But I don't question the dedication of the people who pursue answers or pursue theories. (Or conflate theories into one unified theory.)

I think that covers it. I've read the e-mails. I've run the joke for Sunday past any members who might be offended to make sure they weren't. We'll deal with it Sunday. I can't tie this in. I thought I could. There's a way to go historical but I've been working on this entry for too many hours. There's a way to go personally but I'll carry that over to Polly's Brew.

We'll just wrap it up by noting that if everyone only asked the previously approved questions we'd all believe that WMD were found in Iraq and that Saddam was linked to 9-11. Ask your questions. Pursue the things that interest you. If anyone can't deal with it, that's a reflection on them, not you. In America, there should be a free wheeling exchange. It's columns like the one in question that prevent that.

It's a real shame that the one time the columnist has something lengthy to say it's not on Iraq, it's not on the peace movement, it's not even on something he thinks is important. But it was attention-seeking. Let's not reward the behavior.

And on those last thoughts, Jared highlights John Young's "Ah, Those Conspiracy Theories" (Waco Tribune-Herald via Common Dreams):

The nation's foremost 9/11 conspiracy theorist was on "Meet the Press" Sunday. And we all thought conspiracy theorists got no face time in mainstream media.
Well, it helps when you are vice president of the United States.
That would be Dick Cheney. Next possibly to Fox News, he's the chief agent behind the belief held by so many, including many in our fighting forces, that we attacked Iraq because it had something to do with 9/11.
Months after President Bush said that it wasn't so, a Senate Intelligence Committee report said it again last week. Saddam Hussein not only detested al-Qaida but apparently tried to capture Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Pressed about this by NBC's Tim Russert, Cheney said he hadn't read the report. That’s amazing. Then again, it’s not.
When I mentioned 9/11 conspiracy theorists, you thought first about people who believe that the U.S. government was behind 9/11 or did nothing to prevent it.
These individuals are dismissed as kooks and crazies. But those who send young men and women off to war based on politically calculated leaps of reasoning get treated with deference and motorcades.
Time magazine had a story last week titled "Why the 9/11 conspiracies won't go away."
It wasn't talking about Bush-Cheney's explanations for going to war. It was talking about those who believe our government might have brought down the Twin Towers.

I have now spent over four hours on this thing. (All due to the Richie Cunningham section which I've written and rewritten and pulled several entries worth of paragraphs.) If there's going to be even one entry tomorrow morning, I need to wrap this up.

Bonita notes this from CODEPINK:

Give Peace a Vote! What if millions decided to vote their conscience and said 'No More War Candidates'? The Voters Pledge makes visible a powerful political force, the peace vote, a force that politicians cannot continue to ignore. It sends a clear message to the hawkish minority that leads both major parties to end the occupation of Iraq and to end unprovoked attacks on other nations. Sign the Voters Pledge and ask at least 10 of your friends to sign as well. Let's put PEACE at the top of the ballot in 2006!

If peace matters to you, find a way to demonstrate that. (For instance, on 9-11, if you feel the need for a manifesto . . .) (See how easy it is to get caught up in his attention-seeking behavior.)
Zach notes Robert Parry's "U.S. Press Bigwigs Screw Up, Again" (Consortium News) which we may also note at The Third Estate Sunday Review. Parry's covered this from the beginning and is one of the few refusing to accept the ordained line coming out of DC (pre-ordained?):

Beyond the specific evidence of a White House campaign to out covert CIA officer Valerie Plame and the broader Republican hostility toward anyone who gets in Bush’s way, there is also the notion that Armitage, long considered a tough team player, was an independent soul who would never help the administration discredit a troublesome critic.
Though Armitage may not have been one of Bush’s intimates nor a leading enthusiast for invading Iraq in 2003, the Washington press corps is exaggerating both Armitage’s independence and his anti-war credentials.
Virtually forgotten in all the news coverage was the fact that in 1998, Armitage was one of the 18 signatories to
a seminal letter from the neoconservative Project for the New American Century urging President Bill Clinton to oust Saddam Hussein by military force if necessary.
Armitage joined a host of neoconservative icons, such as Elliott Abrams, John Bolton, William Kristol, Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz. Many of the signers, including Donald Rumsfeld, would become architects of Bush’s Iraq War policy five years later.
A well-placed conservative source, who knows both Armitage and Rove, told me that the two operatives are much closer than many in official Washington understand. Armitage and Rove grew to be friends when they were negotiating plans for bringing Colin Powell into the Bush administration in 2000, when Armitage represented Powell and Rove stood in for Bush.
After the administration took office, Rove and Armitage remained in frequent communication, becoming a back channel for sharing sensitive information between the White House and the State Department, the source said.
Beyond these relationships, there is also evidence that Armitage was part of a classic Washington scheme to slip Plame's identity into the newspapers, albeit with plenty of deniability for all involved.
The evidence about Armitage's role in leaking Plame's identity -- and thus destroying her CIA career as an undercover counter-proliferation operative -- now includes Novak’s account of their July 8, 2003, interview as Novak described it in his Sept. 14, 2006, column, entitled "Armitage's Leak."
Toward the end of the hour-long meeting, Novak wrote, he asked Armitage, the then-Deputy Secretary of State, why former Ambassador Wilson, had been sent on the trip to Africa. (Novak doesn’t say whether he was one of the journalists who had been urged by the White House to pursue that line of questioning.)
Novak wrote that Armitage "told me unequivocally that Mrs. Wilson worked in the CIA's Counter-proliferation Division and that she had suggested her husband's mission. As for his current implication that he [Armitage] never expected this to be published, he noted that the story of Mrs. Wilson's role fit the style of the old Evans-Novak column -- implying to me that it continued reporting Washington inside information."
In other words, Novak acknowledges two significant points: that he asked why Ambassador Wilson was chosen and that Armitage knew that Plame held a sensitive CIA position, yet still wanted her exposed.

And that's it. The war drags on. Some who could write about it choose to write slam pieces on something they supposedly consider unimportant but their thesis on it is far longer than anything else they've offered up. Why are we still in Iraq? Because people who supposedly want us out keep wasting our time on everything but that topic. Because people who supposedly want us out bore us with their attacks on something they've never covered. Because people who supposedly wants us out want about eight million other things all done at once and we couldn't have 'spiritual guidance' and Iraq coverage so what do you suppose loses out?

I've said before, I don't know what happened, I wasn't there. I'm also fully aware that I don't have the time to explore and weigh all the theories. It's too bad others suddenly think they're an expert when their writing demonstrates that they so obviously aren't. Ellen Goodman said no to the chat and chews because she realized she couldn't be the insta-expert that's expected on those things. It's too bad others can't follow her lead.

What's worse is that something they think is so unimportant inspires more words than anything they've written on Iraq. Let's hope it was just attention-seeking behavior. Anything more than that would make it really sad. (The time stamp on this entry reads "6:05 p.m." and I'm changing it to reflect the time it's completed. the gina & krista round-robin should be inboxes now. Gina's back from vacation tomorrow and next week, unless something changes, it will return to going out at 7:00 a.m. EST.)

One more thing. We noted this Monday and it starts tomorrow so I'm just copying and pasting:

Other peace actions are going on and will be going on. In a correction to an NYC event noted last week, one that starts this Friday, all performances do not start at 7:00 pm each night. Friday September 15, Saturday September 16 will start at 7:00 pm; however, Sunday September 17's performance will begin at 3:00 p.m. What are we speaking of? The People Speak directed by Will Pomerantz and Rob Urbinati. This is a workshop adaptation of Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove's Voices of a People's History of the United States. The workshop will take place at The Culture Project's Bleecker Street Theater on 45 Bleecker Street. Tickets are ten dollars and can be ordered online here or here or purchased in person at the box office (box office does not take ticket orders). For those in NYC, or who will be during those dates, click here for a map. The presentation is part of the Impact Festival.

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