Friday, September 22, 2006

Iraq snapshot

Friday, September 22, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the 2700 mark for US military fatalities in Iraq looms ever closer (2697), the Defense Department learns (again) that the press makes the best lobbyist, and, as Democrats continue to run from Iraq, activists continue to speak out and organize.

Starting with peace news, Mima Mohammed (Los Angelse Times) reports on Helga Aguayo's statements regarding her husband, war resister Agustin Aguayo, who decided to self-check out September 2, 2006: "My husband has never broken a law and I am proud of him. He doesn't want to support the war -- he cannot do so conscientiously. He is a conscientious objector, but the Army forced him to become a resister." Helga Aguayo was speaking Wednesday at Camp Democracy (which continues free and open to the public through October 1st) in Washington, DC. and stated that her husband will turn himself in but he will not go to Iraq.

Also reporting on war resistance and Camp Democracy, Tim Wheeler (People's World Weekly) covers war resister Ricky Clousing's speech from this past weekend where Clousing noted what he saw "an innocent Iraqi killed before my eyes by U.S. troops. I saw the abuse of power that goes without accountability" and notes some of the torture techniques he observed and how Bully Boy "is seeking legal cover. . . . He is seeking another loophole to continue what they have been doing." Ricky Clousing announced at the Seattle Veterans for Peace conference in August that he would be turning himself in after self-checking out. He did so and that military has charged him with desertion and the war drags on . . .

While the military gets all the money they can grab (that's at the top, it never flows down to the enlisted). AP reports that today $70 billion more for quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan were added to the trough "as they wrapped up talks on a $447 billion Pentagon funding bill. The additional war frunds would bring the total approved by Congress for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan [. . .*] to more than $500 billion, with another installment likely to come next spring."

The bumper sticker reads: "Bully Boy illegal invaded Iraq and all I got was a mountain of debt."
"*"? AP feels the need to insert "since September 11, 2001" into the sentence for some unknown reason. Are they attempting to repeat the discredited "link" between Iraq and 9-11? Clearly Congress approved no war spending measures on September 11th. AP also notes that the Defense Department got what it wanted and AP ties it to those reports of an overstretched (economically) military. Again we ask the question of Thom Shanker and Michael R. Gordon's report (New York Times) today:
"Is it news or is it fundraising?"

AP also editorializes with this: "Even opponents of the war tend to support the measure because it supports U.S. troops in harm's way." Actually, cutting off the spending would cut the war. But don't rock the conventional 'wisdom' boat, don't tip the boat over. Which is apparently the m.o. for Dems when it comes to the November elections. Arianna Huffington (The Huffington Post) reports that the big plan revolves around stressing the economy and ignoring Iraq: "In poll after poll, voters place Iraq well above the economy when asked which issue will most affect their vote this year. And when you combine concerns about the war with concerns about terrorism/national security, it's the economy that is 'a distant reality.' Yet Democrats keep returning to the same domestic-issues-uber-alles thinking that cost them the elections in 2002 and 2004. They can't really believe that people are more interested in raising the minimum wage, middle class tax relief, and college affordability than they are in who's going to keep them from being blown up, can they? The Dems are like a bunch of crack addicts who know that the stuff is killing them, but keep reaching for the pipe."

This as Lolita C. Baldor (AP) reports that James Thurman (US "Maj. Gen.") loosens his grip on reality (further?) and claims that attacks on civilians in Iraq are down. Well pay it forward, Thurman. America can't afford universal health care but can pay $500 billion (and counting) for wars? Turman also stated that, "As we clean up the streets, we find a city capable of starting to function properly." Street cleaners? That's what US troops are being kept in Iraq for? No, they aren't street cleaners and Thurman needs to work a little harder at his illustrations (working harder at capturing reality might cause a blood vessel to explode so we'll accept the fact that he's an Operation Happy Talker and move on.)

In the real world (which Thurman is welcome to visit), Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London) reminds: "The pervasive use of torture is only one aspect of the utter breakdown of government across Iraq outside the three Kurdish provinces in the north. In July and August alone, 6,599 civilians were killed, the UN says." The torture, the UN has stated, is being committed by a variety of groups including 'government forces.' Tim Reid (Times of London) reports that the White House takes offense to the UN report and denies it. We all await Condi Rice trotting out her "No one could have guessed" line yet again.


AFP reports, that in Baghdad, two bomb detector/defusers were killed when a bomb they were attempting to defuse exploded. Reuters reports a civilian dead from a roadside bomb in Latifiyaand sixteen wounded from bombs in Baghdad.


AFP reports that four Iraqi police officers were shot dead in Baquba. AP reports that attacks on mosques and homes resulted in four shooting deaths in Baghdad. China's People's Daily notes that four houses were set on fire in the attacks. Reuters reports one civilian shot dead in Kirkuk and that Nomass Atout shot dead "near his house in Diwaniya".


KUNA reports that 48 corpses were discovered in Baghdad today. AP reports a corpse ("blindfolded . . . bound") was discovered in Musayyib. Reuters reports two corpses discovered in Mosul and a woman's corpse found in Kirkuk. That should be 64 deaths reported, counting corpses, thus far today.

Returning to peace news, Paul Hogarth (Beyond Chron) reports, " About 25 activists gathered at the Office of Supervisor Chris Daly yesterday to display the Code Pink Peace Ribbon Quilt, and to kick off the Declaration of Peace Week of Action. The Declaration, which has been endorsed by over 180 peace and justice organizations throughout the country has three basic platforms: (1) bring our troops home now, (2) establish a plan to end the war in Iraq, and (3) prevent future U.S. invasions such as Iran, Syria or North Korea."