Sunday, October 15, 2006

And the war drags on . . .

It is the middle of October and already 46 US troops have been killed in Iraq this month. Two other "coalition" soldiers have died, bringing the total to 2,996 since the invasion began in 2003. In September, 3,530 Iraqi Security Forces and civilian deaths were recorded. Already 588 Iraqis have died this month. We have just learned (despite the Pentagon's denial) that a coroner has ruled that British journalist Terry Lloyd was killed by US troops in Iraq in 2003.
Not only have we lost the hearts and minds of the Iraqis, we are losing the hearts and minds of other "coalition" members as well. Apparently, after Lloyd was shot in the back by Iraqis, he was, then, shot in the head by US forces while being transported for medical treatment.. Caught in the crossfire. If you are killed by friends, this is called "friendly fire." But "friendly fire" is just as deadly as enemy fire. Ask Lloyd's widow. She issued this statement: "The US allowed their soldiers to behave like trigger-happy cowboys in an area in which there were civilians traveling."
That's because the US Commander-in-Chief is a trigger-happy cowboy.

The above, noted by Mia, is from Missy Comley Beattie's "What Bush Means By Tolerable Violence in Iraq" (CounterPunch) and Beattie is with Military Families Speak Out which has an event scheduled for the first of next month:

Stop the Back Door DraftBring All Our Troops Home NOW!
Honor the Fallen
November 9-11 in Washington, DC
On November 9, 2006, Military Families Speak Out members, along with Iraq veterans and veterans of other wars, will be delivering a petition to Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld at the Pentagon and to Congress calling for an end to the Back Door Draft and for all of our troops to be brought home now! On November 11, Veterans Day, we will be honoring the fallen in Washington, DC, with a display of flags representing U.S. troops who have died in the war and photographs of Iraqi children, women and men whose lives have been lost. We need your help! Click here to sponsor a flag and sign our petition online.

Missy Comley Beattie has been quite popular in e-mails lately. She's been speaking out against the war for years now and we've highlighted her at this site for some time but Rod e-mailed to note that she was among the few included in "Editorial: What does it say?" (The Third Estate Sunday Review) and said he appreciated all the commentaries she does. A lot of members do and that's why there was a point to note her in the editorial.

And if we can stay with the topic of noting things that need to be noted, such as Comley's focus and work in ending the war, let me just note that there are a huge number of e-mails from visitors in the last month that have really been impressive. Some have been against the war for some time and speaking out for some time, some have been against the war but only recently found their voice and some have only recently realized they are against the war and are beginning their own journeys of activism. In the last four weeks, six visitors have blown me away with their e-mails and they really should start their own sites. If visitors get mentioned here in any way, I'm usually complaining or responding to something they've stated that is incorrect (a claim about what's gone up at this site). There are always visitors who stop by with great e-mails and many of you became members of the community. But going through the e-mails in the public account tonight I was really shocked, especially by the number who are having their own awakening.

Rod wanted it note that "" was "a great editorial" and the sort of thing he looks forward to "getting me motivated for the week ahead." We've still got to do the "note" at The Third Estate Sunday Review, but I think most of us would prefer not to write that editorial again. It seems like we've been writing it and rewriting it for weeks and weeks and months and months.

I checked with Ty on this to see if he's seen any e-mails to The Third Estate Sunday Review about that fact and he hasn't. I'm glad about that. I'm sad that the editorial continues to be needed. Rod's not the only one who's noted Missy Comely Beattie lately, a number have, and that's why she got a mention in the editorial (one she's earned) but the reality is Iraq is still not getting the attention it needs.

I love the illustrations in the edition (that's not self-praise, I didn't work on any of them -- Ava and I had two things in this edition and that took all of our time) but the illustration with the editorial was inspired by an art exhibit Ty, Dona and Jim caught. Using that style, they (and Jess) worked up the illustration and what they intended to capture (which I think it does) is a return with no greeting. That's the editorial we had planned and it's captured to a degree but there's no way we can address other issues when alternative media continues to ignore war resisters. And to toss out another, the Raleigh-Durham area has an alternative weekly and they haven't covered Ricky Clousing. Maybe this Thursday, the new edition will? I have no idea but the digust factor on the lack of attention continues to rise for me and, judging by e-mails to this site (visitors or members), I'm not the only one feeling that disgust.

The war's not going to end by hoping something emerges, something we can all hide behind. That might work for an election (see Pagegate) but it's no way to end a war. And if the peace movement, in all its forms, in any of its forms, can't be covered, then I have to seriously question the state of independent media in the US today. I'm tired of them working themselves into a frenzy over a leaked report or a military person (still serving) that speaks out. That's mainstream media b.s. It has no place in the independent media. If activism matters, if you think it does, you cover it.

The fact that this continues not to happen (with few exceptions) is why (a) editorials like that continue to be written, (b) is damaging the peace movement and (c) is why our independent media is running way behind the people. On the last point, you expect that from the mainstream media, you don't from the independent media.

We avoided that editorial (it was the last thing we wrote) and none of us was looking forward to writing it. To writing it again. But Rod doesn't need to worry, we'll continue to cover that topic until something changes.

Brad notes Jason Szep's "Iraq war worsening terrorism, John Kerry charges" (Reuters):

Democratic Sen. John Kerry, a potential White House candidate in 2008, said on Friday the Iraq war had worsened terrorism and that the Bush administration had squandered the nation's moral authority.
"They tell us we're making progress in Iraq and that there is no civil war. That is a lie. There is a civil war and it is costing American and Iraqi lives every single day and we must change course in Iraq," said Kerry, who lost to President George W. Bush in the 2004 election.
His remarks came at a fund-raising dinner for about 650 New Hampshire Democrats. The state holds the first presidential primary and Kerry's scathing criticism of Bush and senior Republicans underlined growing speculation he would take another shot at the White House.

We'll note Kerry, an "official," and we'll note Martha's highlight, an op-ed by John Murtha, because they are speaking out and not playing it safe. From Murtha's "Confessions of a 'Defeatocrat'" (Washington Post):

The Republicans are running scared. In the White House, on Capitol Hill and on the campaign trail, they're worried about losing control of Congress. And so the administration and the GOP have launched a desperate assault on Democrats and our position on the war in Iraq. Defeatists, they call us, and appeasers and -- oh so cleverly -- "Defeatocrats."
Vice President Cheney has accused Democrats of "self-defeating pessimism." Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has faulted us for believing that "vicious extremists can be appeased." The White House calls Democrats the party of "cut and run."

It's all baseless name-calling, and it's all wrong. Unless, of course, being a Defeatocrat means taking a good hard look at the administration's Iraq policy and determining that it's a failure.
In that case, count me in. Because Democrats recognize that we're headed for a far greater disaster in Iraq if we don't change course -- and soon. This is not defeatism. This is realism.

Again, we'll note those two. Not to hide behind them, but because they're speaking out. Maybe it's being a feminist for so many years but I'm not waiting to be rescued or saved and I'm surprised that so many supposedly strong voices appear to be. They need someone to hide behind, to test the waters, and it's getting really old.

We're not dropping that topic, but we're bringing in Eddie's highlight because it adds to it, from BuzzFlash's "The Bush Administration Motto: 'The issues are much too important for the American voters to be left to decide for themselves':"

To understand the crucible of the elitist, tyrannical and barbaric worldview of the Bush Administration, BuzzFlash has recently published two editorials that go back to explore the Kissinger doctrine of supporting the torture and murder of tens of thousands of people in South America, Central America, Vietnam, East Timor and elsewhere in the world. These BuzzFlash pieces -- "Torture, Murder, Bush, Kissinger and The Mothers of the Disappeared in Argentina: America on the Brink of Horror" and "More on "Operation Condor, What Horrors May Await America, Kissinger, and the Disappeared" – are reminders of the basic egomaniacal self-perspective and indifference to loss of life and liberties among the executive branch in power.
The commentaries are important because Cheney and Rumsfeld -- the key architect and the key implementer of what will be known as the "Bush Doctrine" -- came of age with Kissinger. All three believe that they are smarter than the average American citizens who vote – and that democracy is a hindrance to exercising power based on their [Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Kissinger’s] self-assumed "superior knowledge" of the "realpolitik" of the world.
At its most basic, this means an utter contempt for democracy.
It also means that people often need to be "eliminated" in order to guarantee American supremacy. If "innocents" are accidentally tortured and killed, that is the price to pay for being the policeman of the world. To Kissinger – who advises both Cheney and Bush – and Rumsfeld, persons murdered to guarantee oligarchies, military governments, and sham democracies (in appearance only) are just so much collateral damage to the preservation of America’s role as a superpower that pulls the strings of the nations of the world.

As the editorial reminds, it's not officials risking their lives, it's not the 'respected' sources at risk. "At its most basic, this means an utter contempt for democracy." And, returning to the point before the highlight, a need to hide behind 'officials' (a hallmark of the mainstream media) is a form of a contempt for democracy as well. An independent media that 'covers' the peace movement via what officials say and do is robbing people of respect and the right to recognize and own their power. It's encouraging those against the war to play Sleepy Beauty and await some Official Prince who will wake us with a kiss. That sort of "Once upon a time" may cut it for the mainstream media but there's no reason independent media should buy into it.

As BuzzFlash's editorial makes clear, the people effected, they're not officials, the people at risk are the ones who need to be speaking out. And independent media needs to be providing behavior and actions that can be modeled. It's not happening. Let's sing the song.

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 Sunday, the American military fatality count in Iraq stood at 2744. Right now? 2765. Twenty-one more deaths. And that's just Americans and just the count of the dead, not the injured. Let's note Cindy's highlight, Kurt Streeter's "Helping one girl face the future with hope" (Los Angeles Times):

IT WAS shrapnel that brought her to Los Angeles. Hot and sharp, it pierced her legs, her stomach and her right hand. It mangled her face around her deep brown eyes, and it tore off her nose. "I'm hurt," Marwa cried. "Mommy, I'm hurt in my face. I'm hurt, Mommy. My face."
A missile? Mortar? Whose? It was impossible to know. The Americans were invading Baghdad, and Marwa Naim blamed them. She would never forget the explosion. It had blown up her house, thrown her into the air and flung her on top of her mother. Marwa saw a hole the shrapnel carved into her mother's stomach. Her mother lay still. Marwa saw blood. "Mommy, Mommy, get up…. "

Then Marwa's vision began to fade. She would recall thinking that she herself was dying. Or that maybe she was already dead. Before she lost consciousness, she heard her aunt screaming for her father. "Mohammed!" her aunt cried. "Your wife is dead! Your wife is dead!"Marwa was 9 years old.
She had been pretty, her skin soft and toffee-colored, her eyes, mouth and nose set together in perfect proportion, just like her mother's. It gave her the confidence to make herself known, even in a rough suburb like hers on the southern outskirts of Baghdad, a poor and religiously conservative neighborhood where girls settled into defined roles and rarely ventured out alone. But now her face! Iraqi doctors removed the shrapnel from her stomach and hand and repaired the scars on her lip and around her eyes. But they could not replace her right thumb. And her nose? There was next to nothing. No nostrils, no tip. Just two holes and a small gutter covered by a zigzagging scar.

Is James Baker's overly covered study group addressing Marwa? Are they addressing the thousands of Marwas across Iraq? No, but we're all supposed to be exicited and fawning over James Baker's group and many in indpendent media are doing just that -- despite his record of providing cover for the Bully Boy which is what the group and Baker's self-serving statements appear to be.

Lauren and Elaine both noted Lynn Sweet's "This D.C. crowd adores Babs" (Chicago Sun Times) which I'm much more interested the yacking of James Baker or whatever else refugee from this administration or Poppy's manages to utter. So one loud mouth heckler at her first NYC show gets more attention than anyone could have expected. But the reality is Streisand faced him down, not by backing off, not by saying, "You're right, forgive me for thinking I could express a political thought." She did it by standing straight and strong which puts her far ahead of most of the people serving in Congress. From the article:

Streisand puts on glasses to play the piano. Her feet must hurt because she kicks off her high heels and walks barefoot on the three-sided stage. She talks about eating, dropping the names of Washington restaurants. She says she is feeling a little verklempt.
But the glamorous Streisand doesn't look it. And her voice is brilliant, from hits from "Funny Girl" to "Happy Days Are Here Again.'' Streisand reminds her doting audience the song was the anthem of the Democrats in 1932.
It's Friday night, and it turns out there are many people who need ... Streisand, live, in the Verizon Center. The place is packed. Streisand is on her first concert tour in 12 years and hits Chicago's United Center in November. I bought my $235 ticket in June for the concert where the top face values were $750 and tons more on the resale market.

Rebecca atteneded the second NYC concert and wrote about it here. And "idiot of the week," was created and documented in Betty's "An award and news on Ricky Clousing found in the paper," Mike's 'Ricky Clousing, TV raid in Baghdad kills 11 and we pick "Idiot of the Week",' Cedric's "Idiot of the week, non-governmental" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! IDIOT OF THE WEEK, NON-GOVERNMENTAL DIVISION!" (Dona and Ty also worked on that joint-entry; Rebecca weighed in here). If you missed those, please check them out. A columnist wants to weigh in and is in such a rush to do so that she gets every fact in the world wrong. Apparently the need to screech at those who speak out is more important than a basic fact check -- apparently that was ture on up the chain since the column was published.

Streisand used her voice to speak out and apparently that's not appropriate for a citizen, just for 'officials.' Kind of like the nonsense offered in the summer of 2005 that it was up to 'officials' to decide what to do with Iraq and Cindy Sheehan's opinion didn't matter. Way to rob the people of their power, way to argue that a democracy means rule by the few and not the many.

Gareth notes "How army chief staged No 10 ambush" (The Observer) and we'll note the following from it because neither Gareth or I am interested in propping up the image of someone who immediately back pedaled on his statements:

Soldiers have traditionally shared a deep mistrust of politicians, but the quagmire of Iraq and equipment shortages in Helmand province had strengthened such suspicions to naked hostility.
A poll on an army website asking users whether Dannatt's comments were right or wrong offers corroboration. By midday yesterday, 97 per cent believed their general was right or practically right with his assessment. No one deemed him wrong. The tone of the entries ranged widely, but the message was unmistakable.

Lynda notes Maher Al-Jasem's "Violence empties schools in Iraq" (Al Jazeera):

In an ordinary year, schools throughout Iraq would have opened for classes on September 20, but this year many in the country are left empty, as schoolchildren are kept at home by the violence that has plagued Iraq's streets.
In Ramadi, members of armed groups calling themselves the Iraqi resistance distributed fliers asking parents to keep their children at home until all US security checkpoints had been removed from the city. Mohammed Noor, an Arabic language teacher at one of the secondary schools, told Aljazeera that the fliers also claimed that US military personnel had occupied some of the schools in the past few months and that schoolchildren should refrain from registering for classes "until the people of Ramadi are rid of their presence".
Ramadi is a city virtually under siege as it has been the battleground between armed groups and US forces.

Ramadi is in the Al-Anbar Province which is where, the US military announced, two US trops died on Sunday. Noting some of the reported violence in Iraq quickly. Christopher Bodeen (AP) reports that Saturday and Sunday saw at least 86 Iraqis die in violence that was reported. Balad was on curfew (I believe we noted that Saturday) due to the violence followed by retaliation violence (or that's what's been reported since Saturday). Reuters reports that after 14 Shi'ites were killed, 31 more people were killed in Balad on Saturday. The AP also reports on James Engle who "was days away from retirement after a 20-year military career" and has now been informed no retirement, you're going to Iraq this month -- Engle states: "If they would have said two months ago, we need you, I would have understood. But to do this to me and my family one day before I was going to move home is especially cruel."

Reuters reports chaos and violence continued in Baghad with five killed and ten wounded by roadside bombs on Sunday; at least ten dead and seventy-four wounded in Kirkuk from car bombs; a man in Tal Afar blew himself up and took the lives of five others; home invasions in
Latifiya resulted in 8 family members shot dead and in Mosul resulted in 5 family members shot dead; and four corpses were discovered near Falluja.

Pru gets the last highlight. "Iraq investigator: troops should have shot, not crucified prisoner"
from Britain's The Socialist Worker:

Awayed Wanas Jabbar paid a cruel price for his bid for freedom. The Iraqi, nicknamed Houdini, was captured by US marines in the town of Husaybah, western Iraq, in April 2004.
Two days later he was found hooded and "crucified" on an iron window frame at a US base. He died shortly afterwards.
No US soldier will be held accountable for his murder.
Jabbar's story has come to light in military documents released to the American Civil Liberties Union.
Jabbar, along with 60 other Iraqis, was rounded up during the uprising of April 2004.
Under torture Jabbar would only admit that he was a shepherd. Convinced they had netted a "foreign fighter", he was set aside for further questioning.
Bound with plastic cuffs and hooded, Jabbar proved resourceful. He slipped out of his bindings several times and attempted to escape.
Recaptured, he was being interrogated again when the base came under attack.
The guards tied him to a ground floor window and used him as a human sandbag. He slipped out of his bindings again and attempted another escape.
According to the report Jabbar was recaptured after falling two feet out of a window.
He was examined by a medic who found a "small gash on his head".
Soldiers then "crucified him" on the window using engineer tape. His hands and feet were tightly bound to the bars, while reels of tape were wrapped tightly around his midriff.
When the medic called several hours later he discovered Jabbar had "a broken nose, swollen eyebrows, and cuts on his face".
After being cut down, Jabbar heaved two breaths and expired. His body was handed over to Iraqi troops and buried before any post-mortem could be carried out.
The documents then reveal a sickening justification for the murder of the young man. The investigator refers constantly to the fact that the base commander and five soldiers were killed in an ambush.
The swelling on his face could not be from a "pummelling by guards", he concludes, because soldiers were ordered not to strike prisoners.
Furthermore the cause of death was not asphyxiation, but due to injuries he sustained falling out of the window.
Jabbar was then labelled a drug addict and "foreign fighter seeking martyrdom".
Rather than tie Jabbar to the window, the military policeman concludes, the "guards would have been within their authority to shoot him".
To view declassified documents on the "war on terror", go to
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