Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, October 25, 2006.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Bully Boy expresses disappointment with Iraq -- forgetting he's responsible -- and also reveals he can't count, the puppet of the occupation snarls, Appeal for Redress is up an running and what did George Casey say?
Starting with peace news.  As Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reports, Appeal for Redress is up and running: "More than 100 U.S. service members have signed a rare appeal urging Congress to support the 'prompt withdrawal' of all American troops and bases from Iraq" and that the action's goal is to gather 2,000 signatures to the appeal before presenting it to Congress.  Drew Brown (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that the target date for delivery to Congress is MLK Day (Monday, January 15, 2007). [Readers of the New York Times who are wondering where this in their paper, it's right there on page A13, a whopping one paragraph -- from AP -- in National Briefing.]
From Appeal for Redress:

An Appeal for Redress from the War in Iraq
Many active duty, reserve, and guard service members are concerned about the war in Iraq and support the withdrawal of U.S. troops. The Appeal for Redress provides a way in which individual service members can appeal to their Congressional Representative and US Senators to urge an end to the U.S. military occupation. The Appeal messages will be delivered to members of Congress at the time of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January 2007.
The wording of the Appeal for Redress is short and simple. It is patriotic and respectful in tone.
As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq . Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home.
If you agree with this message,
click here.
The Appeal for Redress is sponsored by active duty service members based in the Norfolk area and by a sponsoring committee of veterans and military family members. The Sponsoring committee consists of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans For Peace, and Military Families Speak Out.
Members of the military have a legal right to communicate with their member of Congress. To learn more about the rights and restrictions that apply to service members
click here.
Attorneys and counselors experienced in military law are available to help service members who need assistance in countering any attempts to suppress this communication with members of Congress.
Several members of Congress have expressed interest in receiving the Appeal for Redress.
Click here to send the Appeal to your elected representatives.
Ehren Watada's attorney, Eric Seitz, is quoted by Drew Brown:  "The kinds of resistance and opposition and outrage that military people are now beginning to express has been simmering for quite a while. But it's about to just burst out in huge waves."   Ehren Watada is the first commissioned US officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq.  His father, Bob Watada, is beginning his third speaking tour to raise awareness of his son's case [an Article 32 hearing recommended court-martial, no decision has yet been annouced].  This speaking tour will last from October 26 through November 17th.  Below are dates through Sunday:
Oct 26, 7PM
Phoenix, AZ
Location: TBA
Sponsor: Veterans for Peace Chapter 75
Contact: John Henry, 602-400-9179, 408-704-0192,

Oct 27, 7PM
Albuquerque, NM
Location: Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice
202 Harvard Dr SE
Sponsor: Veterans for Peace Chapter 63
Contact: Sally-Alice Thompson, 505-268-5073, 512-463-2014,

Oct 28, 1 -- 4:30PM
Houston, TX.
Sponsor: Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace Chapter 12, Iraq Veterans Against the War , Cy-Fair Democratic Club
Location: Live Oak Friends House, 1318 West 26th StreetEntertainment by Bill Passalacqua and Hank Woji, "
Sir, No Sir"

Oct 28, 6:15PM
Houston, TX
Location: Dan Electro's Guitar Bar, 1031 East 24th Street. "Celebration of Resistance"
Sponsors: Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace Chapter 12, Iraq Veterans Against the War
Contact: Sherry Glover,,
(H) 832-363-1741, (C) 713-929-1132
-Bob Watada, ---- David Rovics

Oct 29, 1PM
Austin, TX
Sponsor: Code Pink/Austin, Veterans for Peace Chapter 66
Contact: Fran Hanlon, 512-454-6572,
Peter Ravella, 512-220-1740
Heidi Turpin, (C)512-565-2242,

Oct 29, 5:30PM
Austin, TX
Café Caffeine -- 206 West Mary
Sponsors: Code Pink, Veterans for Peace Chapter 66, Iraq Veterans Against the War
Contact: Doug Zachary,, (C) 512-791-9824
Heidi Turpin, (C) 512-565-2242,
Fran Hanlon (H) 512-454-6572, ,

A full schedule can be found at Veterans for Peace and those interested in hosting a Bob Watada speaking engagement in their area are urged to contact Doug Zachary.
As Seitz (Ehren Watada's attorney) noted, this is a resistance that is growing.  Those caught by surprise or needing more historical information should refer to David Zieger's documentary Sir! No Sir! which captures the resistance within the military during Vietnam.  Today, the list includes Watada, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Jeremy Hinzman, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes, Mark Wilkerson, Carl Webb, Aidan Delgado, Joshua Key, Robin Long, Katherine Jashinski, Agustin Aguayo, Ivan Brobeck, Ryan Johnson, Clifford Cornell, and many more.  Information on US war resisters in Canada can be found at War Resisters Support Campaign and information on war resisters who have gone public can be found at Courage to Resist.
Resistance within the military is only one wave of today's peace movement.  Continuing to speak out, Cindy Sheehan was at the University of Iowa yesterday.  Matt Nelson (The Daily Iowan) reports that Sheehan spoke on the difference one person can make and stated: "People asked why I haven't gone away; my 15 minutes are up.  I'm doing this to bring the troops home, and they're not home yet.  And when they come home, I'm still not going away." Hieu Pham (Iowa City-Press Citizen) reports  Sheehan reflected on the time since the first Camp Casey (August 2005), "I've seen a huge change since we started this last August . . . People have been more courageous and demonstrative".  Which is true, even if takes desk jockey gas bags awhile to notice the huge shift going on. Diane Heldt (The Gazette) notes that Sheehan "was interrupted with applause several times during her speech and got a standing ovation at the end."
Another example of today's peace movement is protests and demonstrations.  Amy Kingsley (YES! Weekly) reports on protests in Greensboro, NC when Bully Boy came to town.  The second protest drew an estimated 75 people who were prevented from marching with the claim that the area was a "secure zone."  Along with preventing the march, Kingsley reports, a protest who lived in the area was prevented to enter by police "even as his neighbors moved about unencumbered by legal restrictions.  The disparate treatment of protesters and other community members contradicsts Secret Service procedure."
If the whole thing reminds you of Steve Howard and John Blair, you're not alone.  If you're asking who, click here for Bill Johnson's article.
From tales of bullying to the Bully Boy himself, today he held a press conference in an attempt to take control of the topic of the war.  Speaking of the war, Bully Boy declared, "I'm not satisfied either."  Nor is the world.  In their partial transcript, CNN notes that Bully Boy stated: "This month we've lost 93 service members in Iraq; the most since October of 2005."  Thus far, and true when the Bully Boy spoke, the US military has announced no troop deaths today. Iraq Coalition Casualities list 91 as US troops who have died thus far this month and notes: "Latest Military Fatality Date: Oct. 24, 2006."  In yesterday's Washington Post, Ellen Knickmeyer noted the official count was 87. Yesterday, AFP also listed the count at 87. This morning, a sidebar to Nancy A. Youssef's article (McClatchy Newspapers via Detroit Free Press) noted: "The U.S. military said Tuesday that four more U.S. troops had died raising the month's toll to 91."  Can Bully Boy count?
Those thinking he was counting 'coalition' troops should note that one British soldier has died this month and two classified as "other."  That would be 94, not 93.
What we're left with is the usual bumbling from the Bully Boy who knows he has to say something about Iraq and the fatalities but doesn't even care enough (or maybe his preppers don't) to get the figures correct.
"I care," the Bully Boy was attempting to say, "I care about all 93 troops that have died this month."  The fact that he couldn't even get the figure correct once again calls his supposed sincerity and compassion into question.
On the count since the start of the illegal war, CNN was the first news organization to call the 2800 mark and now AP tries to play catch up but does so as an aside -- third paragraph: "The military Tuesday announced the deaths of two more U.S. Marines, a sailor and a soldier.  Since the start of the war, more than 2,800 U.S. service members have died in Iraq."  Iraq Coalition Casualties puts the toll at 2804.  The 2800 mark was passed and with very little attention.  Possibly, anyone in the mainstream news brave enough to point out that Bully Boy couldn't even get the fatalities for the month correct could also note the passing of 2800?
Did you catch it?
Bully Boy calls one of the setbacks the fact that Iraqis and Americans did not die in confrontations due to the fact that "the Iraqi army, including the Republican Guard" melted "away . . . in the face of advancing coalition forces."  If the attempt at a feel-good speech fools anyone, they have only themselves to blame.  Watch to see which domestic (US) outlets look the other way to make it look as though anything the Bully Boy said was worth hearing.  Sam Knight (Times of London) notes that Bully Boy billed his speech "an explanation to the American people" -- the people are going to need an explanation to explain today's explanation.
Today's reported violence includes, according to Reuters, four corpses discovered in Mahmudiya ("bound and gagged"), a police officer shot (wounded) in Diwaniya where four people were also wounded when a grenade was tossed into their home, a car bomb in Husayba killed two and injured two more, three Iraqi soldiers were killed by a bomb in Tal Afar (three more wounded) while a roadside bomb in Baghdad wounded two police officers. An earlier report by Reuters also noted two police officers killed by a car bomb in Baquba and a mortar round in Yusufiya that killed at least one person and wounded three more.
The main focus on violence today is on a pre-dawn raid by the US military.  The US military described it thusly: "Special Iraqi Army forces, supported by Coalition advisors, conducted a raid authorized by the Government of Iraq Oct. 25 in Sadr City, Baghdad to capture a top illegal armed group commander directing widespread death-squad activity throughout eastern Baghdad.  During the raid, Iraqi Army froces came under fire and had to defend themselves.  They requested support from Coalition aircraft which used precision gunfire only to eliminate the enemy threat."
Nearly every word in the statement is under question.  "Authorized by the government of Iraq"?  Al Jazeera reports that puppet of the occupation (and the official commander-in-chief of the Iraqi army) Nouri al-Maliki held a press conference today to say that the raid came without his approval. AP reports that "al-Maliki disavowed the operation, saying he had not been consulted and insisiting 'that it will not be repeated'."  CBS and AP note that "Al-Maliki, who is commander in chief of Iraq's army, heatedly denied he knew anything about the raid and would make sure it didn't happen again."  In fact, every major news outlets notes that al-Maliki states he was not consulted. [In fact, the Washington Post's Ellen Knickmeyer noted in yesterday's press conference held by Khalilzad and Casey, "General Casey has repeatedly said resolving the milita issue will take a military and political approach.  But Prime Minister Maliki has made clear that he doesn't want any kind of U.S. military action against the militias.  He said that specificially, and he's blocked you from entering Sadr City."  Note, this was stated before the pre-dawn raid took place.]   John Ward Anderson (Washington Post) notes that the Sadr City section of Baghdad is home to "2.5 million residents".  Another key point is that the Iraqi military was on the ground and calling in air strikes which, on the face of it, seems unlikely.  All the more so when the BBC reports: "But Iraqi police said the US troops shot at them while they were trying to take people injured in the raid to hospital."  From helicopters?  Doubtful. 
In terms of the dead and injured, CBS' Lara Logan notes "at least five people were killed and 18 injured."  Looking at the confusion and noting one of Bully Boy's talking points today was: "we're winning and we will win," those who remembered many attempts to control the news (the Jessica Lynch story, US forces pulling down the statue of Saddam Hussein . . .), it's reasonable to wonder if the hope hadn't been a glorified photo-op that would allow Bully Boy to boast in today's speech?  If it were an attempt to deliver another wave of Operation Happy Talk, "wipeout" -- AFP notes: "The joint force did not say whether they had captured their main target."
In terms of other fallout, al-Maliki, as Reuters reports, had been all candy canes and moon pies prior to the raid but noted today that, despite US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and US general George Casey's claims, he (al-Maliki) did not agree to any "timelines" or "timetable."  al-Maliki's not the only one disowning yesterday's statements.  As John F. Burns (New York Times) and other rightly reported, yesterday Casey's comments indicated "that he might call for an increase in American troop levels in Baghdad".  As usual, when reality frightens the public, it's time to eat the words. So today George Casey is chewing.  As John Ward Anderson (Washington Post) reports, Casey issued a statement today "clarifying that he had not asked for more U.S. troops to be sent to Iraq.  The statement said that news reports of Casey's comments at the joint press conference with Khalilzad on Tuesday 'inferred' that Casey said more troops might be needed to quell violence in Iraq. 'Quite frankly, that is the wrong impression,' the statement said."
The wrong impression?  From Wednesday's press conference (dictacted -- I'll hunt down a link for it and add it to this later today):
John F. Burns: John Burns, New York Times.  This one's for General Casey.  We heard last week from Genereal Caldwell about the need to refocus and adapt the Baghdad Security Plan, and there's been much discussion as to what that would mean.  Can you address the question of troop levels and whether additional troop levels, if necessary, would be American, whether those are Iraqi?  And if American, would that involve holdovers for some of the units now in the country?  And could you go on from that to discuss the question of your timeline for the drawdown of American troops and how that will be affected by the adjustments you make in Baghdad?
George Casey: Well, welcome back, John. 
John F. Burns: Just the question you wanted.
George Casey: Just one question, all right? The Baghdad Security Plan -- we are already -- I mean, we continuously adapt. We review this weekly. General Chiarelli and General Thurman, who are conducting the tactical operations with me . . . than that -- and we already have taken adjustments inside that to react to what the enemy's doing and to put us in a position to deal with things that we think they're going to do. I'm not going to get into specifics of what we're going to do with the Baghdad Security Plan, because I don't necessarily want to tell . . .  what we're getting ready to do here with the enemy. That said, I think you can expect us to continue to hold onto the focus areas with the Iraqi security forces and to follow through on what we're trying to do here on the build phase, to put -- to help with the basic -- improve basic services for the population of Baghdad. Now, do we need more troops to do that? Maybe. And as I've said all along, if we do, I will ask for the troops I need, both coalition and Iraqi. But I think it's important for all of us to understand right now that we're not going to have total security here in Baghdad until the major political issues that are dividing the country are resolved. And the political leaders understand that, and they are wrestling with that part of it. But as with the militia issue, all of this -- what we're doing here takes an integrated, political and military effort to achieve decisive results, and that's what we're working with the Iraqis to do. I don't know if I got them all, John, but that's as close as I can get.
John F. Burns:  A timeline for American --
George Casey: A timeline -- I think -- you know, I said a year or so ago that if the conditions on the ground continued the way they were going that I thought we'd have fairly substantial reductions in coalition forces. We began that reduction in December of last year with the off-ramp of two brigades. We were proceeding along that line until really the end of June, early July when it became apparent that, as I said, the Iraqi security forces were about halfway through a three-year, three-step process, that they weren't going to be able to make -- have the impact on the security situation in Baghdad that was needed to give this new government some breathing room. And so I reversed what I was doing, and we've committed these forces here, and they've had a very decisive impact on what's going on here in Baghdad So I still very strongly believe that we need to continue to reduce our forces as the Iraqis continue to improve, because we need to get out of their way. The Iraqis are getting better. Their leaders are feeling more responsible for the security in Iraq, and they want to take the reins, and I think we need to do that. But I can't tell you right now until we get through Ramadan here and the rest of this when that might be.
We'll note one more thing from that conference Tuesday:
Lara Logan: Lara Logan, CBS News. Ambassador Khalilzad, if I can ask you, please, has Muqtada al-Sadr actually agreed to any of the plans that you've outlined here? Has there been any direct contact between him and U.S. representatives? Because him and all of his ministers who control key ministries, like the Ministry of Health, say that they refuse still to have any direct contact with the U.S. And if that is the case, then how are we expected to believe that they will support this plan in any way? And to General Casey, can I ask you, please, can we have an honest assessment of the Iraqi security forces? Because when we're on the ground with your commanders, they tell us that when they try and order up an operation and ask for the Iraqi battalion or the Iraqi brigade, they're lucky if they get 40, 50 percent of the guys who are actually there. They have soldiers and policemen who are coming in collecting their pay checks and not showing up. The special inspector general of Iraq says there is no mechanism in place, and hasn't been for three years, to determine what forces show up, what don't, what the levels of attrition are, who is actually operationally capable. So the numbers really are a lie, and we want the truth, and your soldiers on the ground want the truth out there.
The response?  Casey pouted: "The numbers aren't a lie".  Khalilzad?  Double-talk.
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