Monday, October 09, 2006

Iraq snapshot

Monday October 9, 2006. Chaos and violence continue, war resister Ricky Clousing goes on trial Thursday, the Iraqi Defense Ministry wonders whether 300-plus Iraqi police officers intentionally poisoned, US casualities hit a high not seen since the slaughter of Falluja, the brother of one of Iraq's two vice-presidents is shot dead in his home, and the US military announces the deaths of three more US troops.
In June of 2005, war resister Ricky Clousing self-checked out of the US military.  On August 11th of this year, Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) broke the news that 24-year-old Ricky Clousing had decied to turn himself in and noted that Clousing went AWOL from "Fort Bragg in 2005 after returning from Iraq with the 82nd Airborne Division."   Clousing spoke publicly about his decision to return at the Veterans for Peace conference that was being held in Seattle.  The AP reported Clousing self-check out by noting: "He left a note on his door, with King's quote: 'Cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?' Expediency asks the question, 'Is it politic?' But Conscience asks the question, 'Is it right?' And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but because conscience tells one it is right."  Jane Cutter (Party for Socialism and Liberation) reported that a war resister of the current war was present to show support as Clousing made his public statement, Camilo Mejia, and that also joining them was a resister from the Vietnam era, Michael Wong.  [Wong is one of the contributors to Koa Books' newly published  Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace, edited by Maxine Hong Kingston. A six paragraph sample from his "Honor's Death" can be found here.]
Clousing turned himself in at Fort Lewis (Washington) and was instructed that Fort Bragg handled the issue.  On August 18th, Clousing turned himself to Fort Bragg. September 1st, the military announced, to Clousing's attorney David Miner, that Clousing had been charged with desertion the day before. Clousing's response to the news: "Since I left the army I have known that being court martialed was a possibility I could face.  I am at peace with my decision.  I followed my conscience and, if need be, I will fee honored to join the ranks of others who have been prosecuted for doing the same."
Now the AP reports the hearing is set and, according to Major Tom Earnhardt, due to start Thursday. The Fayetteville Observer reports that, according to David Miner, "Clousing will plead guilty to going absent without leave. . . . Miner said he would argue for no punishment during the special court-martial scheduled for Thursday at Fort Bragg." This Thursday, before the court-martial begins*, there will be a press conference, 10 a.m., 223 Hillside Avenue, Fayetteville, NC (Quaker House) where Clousing will speak and, at noon, there will be a downtown rally. [*The hearing is being written and spoken of as a "court-martial," not as an Article 32 hearing. ] That's this Thursday and you can find out more at Ricky Clousing's website.
Clousing is part of a movement of war resistance within the military and we'll return to this topic later in the snapshot.
Michael Luo (New York Times) reported on "clash" in Diwaniya this morning. Not covered were civilian casualties.  AFP reports: "Medics at Diwaniyah's main hospital reported that seven civilians had been wounded during the battle, one of them critically, while sporadic firing continued around the city into Sunday afternoon.  Later, US and Iraqi forces sealed off and entered the hospital, apparently hunting for wounded militiamen." 
On the topic of casualities, Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reported Sunday: "The number of U.S. troops wounded in Iraq has surged to its highest monthly leve in nearly two years" and that, in September, "776 U.S. troops were wounded in action in Iraq". [Casualities are wounded.  Fatalities are deaths. The New York Times frequently seems lost with the terms, but to be clear, the topic being addressed is wounded.] Andrew Buscombe (Independent of London) addressed the topic today noting: "The ration of wounded to killed is 8 to 1, compared with 3 to 1 during the Vietnam War. . . . At the same time, other figures show that the number of attacks against US forces is continuing to rise.  In July a total of 2,625 explosive devices were encountered by US forces -- with the devices either exploding or defused -- compared with 1,454 in January.  The increase suggested that despite the killing in June of Abu Musab al Zarqawi . . ., the anti-American insurgency is intensifying." 
This comes at a time that Richard Stengel (NBC News) reports that soldiers are asking questions regarding "when" Iraqis will take over and quotes Vernon Roberson agreeing that soliders ask "Why are we here?  Is this our war anymore?"  Roberson: "Oh yes, all the time.  I ask myself that a lot, too.  We've been here for so long and we've done so much, but it's just so far we can go."   As Tom Hayden (The Huffington Post) and Amit R. Paley (The Washington Post) have noted, Iraqis also wonder when it will end and polling found (use previous links) the majority of Iraqis want the US out now.
Meanwhile, a Sunday meal served in Iraq to Iraqi police officers has resulted in deaths and arrest. Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) reports 350 police officers came down with food poisoning and that Jassim al-Atwan of Iraq's Environment Ministry stated eleven police officers had died. Other sources speaking to AP claim no one died.  Some put the number of those poisoned at 400.  AFP reports that three have died and notes no one has determined yet whether it was a deliberate incident or "whether there was something in the warter of if the food was spoiled."  AP reports "the head of the mess hall" has been arrested. CBS and AP quote Brig. Qssaim al-Moussawi stating "A number of people have been arrested".  AFP, in a later report, notes the following as arrrested: "a produce supplier and four cooks".  At present, no one knows or no one's talking.  If an intentional poisoning took place, it would mean that the Iraqi resistance was exploring new techniques and, if so, those in the Green Zone should be especially concerned.  AP notes that the food was "provided by an Australian contractor."
Mariam Karouny (Reuters) reports that, in Baghdad, a car bomb has claimed the lives of at least 13 people and left 46 injured.  Outside Baghad?
In that 'peaceful' Tal Afar (to hear the Bully Boy and Michael Gordon tell it), CBS and AP report that one police officer was killed and twelve wounded from a car bomb.  AFP notes a car bombing on the border between Jordan and Iraq that has injured six border police officers (Iraqis).  While Reuters reports that, "near Baquba," two police officers died and three were wounded from a roadside bombing.
The BBC reports that Amer al-Hshimi, brother to Iraq's vice president Tariq al-Hashimi and a general in Iraq's army, was killed "when the gunmen stormed into the house and shot him dead.  They arrived in 10 police cars, a police source said." CBS and AP note that he was "an adviser in the Defense Ministry" and that his death follows the deaths of a "sister and another brother also . . murdered in the last year."  Arrived in "10 police cars"?  This weekend, Richard Stengel (NBC News) reported on the discovery of a corpse in Baghdad and a "an Iraqi police lieutenant tells us he thinks fellow police did it."  The murder also follows a Sunday attempt to assassinate Galli Najim who heads the political party operated by Iyad Allawi.  Also shot dead today, Reuters reports, was Faleh al-Obeidi ("police Colonel") in Baquba.  As Ali Al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail (IPS) report: "The little known city of Baquba is emerging as one of the hotbeds of resistance in Iraq, with clashes breaking out every day."
The Australian reports that 35 corpses were discovered in Baghdad today and that five more were found "floating down the Tigris" in Suwayrah.  (The 35 corpses discovered in Baghdad were preceeded, on Sunday, by  51 corpses being found in the capital.)
Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reports that, in the Sadr City section of Baghdad, eleven people were kidnapped  -- eleven Iraqi soldiers: "gunmen jumped out of two vehicles at a checkpoint in the east Baghdad district of Sadr City and abducted 11 soldiers on duty".  Xinhua reports a source telling them: "Unkown gunmen in a minibus stormed the checkpoint of Hamza Square in Sadr City district and seized all the soldiers, apparently without shooting at any of them".
As the violence rages on, the "plan" in the United States was, as Arianna Huffington (The Huffington Post) notes, to get the chat & chews to focus on anything other than the Mark Foley & Pages Congressional scandal.  Part of the attempts to shift the topic included getting James Baker to make a chat & chew appearance.  Amit R. Paley (Washington Post) reported on Sunday's chat & chew visit as did David E. Sanger (New York Times) who noted that Baker did not support a "rapid withdrawal."  As the GOP attempts to turn the focus back to Iraq within the US, they'll probably stay away from this reality: today, the US military announced that, on Sunday, three troops were killed in Al-Anbar Province (Reuters).
Again, war resister Ricky Clousing faces a hearing on Thursday.  Clousing is a part of a movement of war resistance within the military that includes Mark Wilkerson -- Clousing and Wilkerson acted as bookends for the month of August with their announced intentions to turn themselves in.  Others include Darrell Anderson.  Friday of last week, the military released Anderson who had turned himself in (Tuesday of last week) after self-checking out and going to Canada in 2005.  Ehren Watada is another war resister and his father Bob Watada is on his second speaking tour to raise attention to his son's case (Ehren Watada is the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq). 
Joe Lopez (World Socialist Web Site) reports that Bob Watada is speaking with Rosa Watada, Ehren's step-mother: "In her opening remarks to the Glendale meeting, Watada's stepmother Rosa said that Ehren was taking a stand for everybody, not just for himself, and that he was fighting to defend the Constitution of the United States and campaigning to bring the troops home.  She described Ehren as an intelligent and principled young men who wanted to see an end to the occupation of Iraq."
Some of the dates for Bob Watada's speaking this week include: 
Mon 10/9 7:00pm Veterans for Peace (Chapter 112) and Citizens for Peaceful Resolution
E.P. Foster Library, Topping Rm. 651, E. Main St., Ventura
Contact: Michael Cervantes 805-486-2884 email:
Wed 10/100 7:00-9:45 pm CSULB Asian American and Chicano & Latino Studies Classes
Dr. John Tsuchida and Dr. Juan Benitez
1250 Bellflower Bl, Long Beach
Thurs 10/12 6:00 pm Whittier Area Coalition for Peace & Justice, Mark Twain Club Potluck
($3 donations) Bob speaks at 7:00 pm.  First Friends Church of Whittier, 12305 E. Philadelphia St., Whittier
Contact: Robin McLaren 562-943-4051 email:
Sat 10/14 morning Press Conference San Diego
Contact: Reiko Obata 858-483-6018 email: for San Diego events.
Sat 10/14 6:00 pm Lt. Watada Dinner/Fundraiser San Diego (suggested donation: $15)
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of San Dieguito, 1036 Solano Drive, Solano Beach
A full schedule can be found (PDF format) here. More information on Ehren Watada can be found at and more information on him and other war resisters can be found at Courage to Resist.
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