Thursday, September 28, 2006

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, September 28, 2006.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; the media gloms on a recording as thought it's December 1, 1982 and the recording is Thriller; war resister Darrell Anderson gears up for his return to the United States stating, "It will be the freest time in my life, because I'm standing up for what I believe in"; polling of Iraqis continues to demonstrate opposition to the US presence in Iraq; disputes continue over yesterday's US airstrike and what appears to be an airstrike today raises additional questions.
Starting with peace news, Darrell Anderson has been in Canada since January 2005.  Anderson was awarded a Purple Heart on his first deployment to Iraq where he was injured by a roadside bomb.  Facing a second deployment to Iraq, Anderson chose to self-check out of the US military and go to Canada.  Anderson is due to return to the US on Saturday.  Diana Swain interviewed Anderson for Canada's CBC today.
Anderson states: "I just broke down one day and couldn't stop crying, and I couldn't go to work and just realized I was done here and I had to go and make a stance in the US because there's way more support and the movement's way bigger down there than it is here."
A text version (not a transcript) notes that: "While Canada provided him an escape from serving in a war he'd come to resent, he says the time has been arduous.  His refugee bids have failed so he can't work here legally and he can't get health care."
Anderson has spoken about PST and other difficulties resulting from the roadside bomb.  The text story also notes: "Anderson is scheduled to appear before military officials for a court martial on Tuesday."  If that's true, that's the first anyone's reported of it.  Anderson's plan is to drive into the US Saturday and, if not arrested at the border, to turn himself in at Fort Knox on Tuesday.  Before being court-martialed, Anderson would first have to face an Article 32 hearing -- think back to Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing in August and also the comments by Watada's attorney Eric Seitz when the military attempted to sneak a charge in post-Article 32 (to William Cole, The Honolu Advertiser): "If they go ahead and add this charge without reconvening an Article 32 and we get to trial, we're going to move to dismiss it because it wasn't presented at the Article 32, and my belief is a military judge is probably going to dismiss it."
On the subject of Watada, David Howard (Online Journal) writes: "1st. Lt. Ehren Watada is facing an eight-year term in military prison for just doing his duty: serving our country and protecting the Constitution.  The charges are conduct unbecoming an officer, missing movement, and contempt toward President Bush.  But they boil down to the 'crimes' of thinking, speaking and following his conscience. . . . This impending trial will be a test of our president's authority to wage preemptive war.  Lt. Watada argues, on our behalf, that President Bush has abused his authority; President Bush argues that Watada is contemptuous for saying so."  More information on war resisters can be found at  Courage to Resist.
Meanwhile, a US ordered airstrike on Wednesday in Baquba continues to be disputed by eye witnesses and the US military. The US military initially trumpted the airstrike as an attack on 'insurgents' and issued the usual press releases.  Richard A. Oppel Jr. (New York Times) reported today that: "Relatives said the eight people killed were from the same family and had no ties to terrorism.  Associated Press Television News quoted the homeowner's daughter, Manal Jassim, as saying: "They were all innocent people.  We were sleeping when they entered our house at dawn.  I found my father, mother, aunt and sister-in-law lying dead.  We were an 11-membe family.  Eight were killed."  Doug Smith (LA Times) reports that an investigation is planned and Enaam Jassim Mohammed (who lost "her parents, brother and pregnant sister-in-law" in the attacks) stated, "The Americans were yelling at the rest of the family.  Then the Americans opened fire at my father, my mother and the rest. . . . I was trying to wake up my brother's wife, who was pregnant, hitting her on her face to wake up.  But I discovered that she was killed after seeing the blood over the floor and her body."  Smith also notes: "Another witness, interviewed on Iraqi television, said the troops shot first and continued to fire inside the house."
The strike comes at a time when polls continue to demonstrate that Iraqis favor a US withdrawal.  Tom Hayden (The Huffington Post) and Amit R. Paley (The Washington Post) earlier noted the polling and today Barry Schweid (AP) notes a poll by the International Policy Attitudes of the University of Maryland which found "four in five Iraqis say the U.S. military force in Iraq provokes more violence than it prevents"; "three-fourths say they think the United States plans to keep military bases in Iraq permanently"; and "About 61 percent approved of the attacks -- up from 47 percent in January" -- attacks on US forces.  Meanwhile, Walter Pincus (Washington Post) reports that the US military "wants to hire a private firm to conduct polling and focus groups in Iraq".  Apparently, when unhappy with polling results (including those of the State Department -- use Paley link), the answer is to hire a polling outfit yourself.
Events such as Wednesday's airstrike can be seen as driving the "negatives" and today's reported airstrike won't aid anyone either.  Reuters reports the US military is claiming no knowledge of what appears to be an airstrike in Ramadi on a car carrying five people all of whom were killed.  Reuters notes that the dead includes "two men, two children and a woman" and reminds: "The death of women and children in military operations is a common cause of resentment among Iraqis against U.S. forces."
The violence continues today in Iraq.  AFP notes of the US military claims of success with the "house to house sweeps" of the so-called 'crackdown' that's been ongoing in Baghdad since mid-June: "However, there are indications armed groups are returning to these neighborhoods and perpetrating new violence once US troops have moved on, sometimes acting with the complicity of elements in the Iraqi security forces."
Patrick Quinn (AP) reports a car bomb in Baghdad took five lives and left at least 34 wounded when "it exploded near a restaurant in central Baghdad".  Also in Baghdad, Reuters reports four police officers wounded by "[a] car bomb targeting a police patrol"; while a roadside bomb aimed at a police patrol killed one person; two people died and 25 were wounded when a car bomber attacked "an Iraqi army headquarters"; two other bombs (one car, one roadside) left five people wounded; and mortar rounds wounded three.  Quinn (AP) notes that mortar wounds also claimed the life of a child in Baghdad.  The capital -- three months after the 'crackdown' began.  Outside of Baghdad, Reuters notes a car bomber in Kirkuk killed a police officer; while two police officers were wounded by a roadside bomb in Mosul; one police officer was wounded by a roadside bomb "near Kirkuk"; and a person was wounded in Numaniya following the explosion of "[a] bomb planted inside the house of a" police officer.
Patrick Quinn (AP) reports: "Gunmen killed seven people, including five policemen and a woman, in different locations in the province of Diyala just north of Baghdad, police said." Reuters notes a man was shot dead in Balad and one in Mosul.
CNN reports that 60 corpses were found "around" Baghdad today and that the latest discoveries are "pushing the number of bodies discovered so far this week to 122.  Most of the bodies had their hands tied and gunshot wounds to the head, Iraqi emergency police said."  Reuters notes a corpse was discovered in Mosul and one in Balad.
The BBC is reporting that Abu Hamza al-Muhajir (alleged "leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq") has issued a tape recording via websites that calls "for [the] kidnapping of Westerners."  CNN notes that the tape is unconfirmed. CBS and AP note that the taped message asserts "more than 4,000 foreigners" have died in Iraq fighting occupation troops and that the "holy month should be turned into what he calls a 'month of holy war.'"  The message is in Arabic.  CBS and AP credit "translator Khaled Wassef, whose job entails the constant monitoring of a plethora of Web sites where militants frequently post text, audio and video detailing their global operations" and note that Wassef feels the figure cited (4,000) is more for "symbolism than . . . quantity."  Patrick Quinn (AP) reports that the recording "also called for explosive experts and nuclear scientists to join his group's holy war".
In finanical news, CBS and AP note "a secret U.S. Audit" report by Stuart W. Bowen (Special Inspector General) that says the Iraq oil industry has "lost $16 billion" in the last two years due to "attacks, criminals and bad equipment".
Returning to peace news, the AP reports that "five adults and two juveniles" were arrested following "a seven-hour sit-in at [US House] Rep. Steve Chabort's hometown office" in Cincinnati, Ohio. The sit-in was to advocate that Chabot sign on to the Declaration of Peace.  Republican Chabot chairs the House Judiciary Subcommittee and backed the House bill making it illegal for any non-parent adult to take a minor across state lines to secure an abortion.  His most famous statements regarding the war in Iraq may be his suggestion that the French needed history lessons for opposing the war.  Monday, at US Senator Rick Santorum's Philadelphia office, fourteen people were arrested for civil disobedience. As Haider Rizvi (IPS) has reported these and other actions "continue to take place in dozens of cities across the United States this week as part of a nationwide campaign aiming to force the administration of President George W. Bush and Congress to end the U.S. occupation of Iraq."
Next Thursday, October 5th, World Can't Wait is calling for a day of mass resistance. 
Benjamin Rosen explains "people will walk out of school, take off work, gather in town squares and MARCH in cities across the country, declaring their intention [to] bring the Bush program to a halt."
While people get active, DC freezes.  As Arianna Huffington (The Huffington Post) notes: "With just a few days remaining before Congress adjourns for the midterm election, Washington, DC has turned into the fear capital of America.  It's an all-out Fear Face-Off, pitting the GOP's fear of reality against the Democrats' fear of perception, with control of Congress riding on the outcome."
The e-mail address for this site is

How low will we go? Check out Yahoo! Messenger’s low PC-to-Phone call rates.