Thursday, October 26, 2006

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, October 26, 2006.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the puppet's bark continues to resonate, the American troops toll continues to rise as October becomes the month with the highest number of US military fatalities for 2006, and John Howard, prime minister of Australia tries to spin a new excuse for Australia's continued involvement in the Iraq war.
"There are two options.  One is everybody out by midnight tonight, and the second option is everybody out by midnight tomorrow.  I don't think it's cutting and running, I think it's getting out," Seymour Hersh stated to Matthew Hays (Montreal Mirror) summarizing the realities of Iraq today. 
From reality to joke, John Howard.  As Peter Hartcher (Sydney Morning Herald) observers of the coming parliament elections in Australia: "The war in Iraq, also unpopular, is another live risk for Howard. . . . beccause it is such an unpopular policy, Howard cannot win on Iraq."  No, he cannot.  So apparently he's going for the jokes.  AAP reports: "Australian troops must stay in Iraq to maintain the country's friendship with the United States".  Can someone get John Howard to a self-esteem class quickly?   Somewhere a mother asks, "John Howard if everybody jumped off a cliff, would you?"
From Australian joke to American joke, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.  AP reports that Rummy wants people to "just back off" on this talk of benchmarks or timelines or, probably, even stopping the violence.  "Just back off!" hollers Rummy who actually did promise you a cakewalk if not rose garden.  Meanwhile, Peter Pace (US Joint Chiefs of Staff chair) was reported by AFP to have stated yesterday that 'another war' would require "brute force" due to other options being "tied down in Iraq".
"Just back off!" hollers Rummy, "just back off!"
Writing of the reality on the ground in Iraq, Patrick Cockburn (CounterPunch) observes: "The greatest American mistake was to turn what could have been presented as liberation into an occupation.  The US effectively dissolved the Iraqi state.  It has since been said by US generals -- many of whom now claim to have been opponents of the invasion all along -- that given a larger US army and a more competent occupation regime, all might still have been well.  This is doubtful."
Cockburn also notes that "the Iraqi government has always been weak.  For this, the US and Britain were largely responsible."  Which brings us to the shock still greeting Wednesday's bark from the occupation puppet.  James Hider and Tom Baldwin (Times of London) note: "Nouri al-Maliki anxious to prove he is not a US puppet, criticised a heavy-handed American raid on the Shia militia stronghold in Sadr City, made without his knowledge.  He also repudiated the US assertion 24 hours earlier that his Government has 12 months to quell Iraq's nascent civil war.  'This government represents the will of the people and no one has the right to impose a timetable on it,'
he said."  As Nancy A. Yousseff (McClatchy Newspapers) noted: "U.S. officials and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki are increasingly at odds over strategy and goals".  As the AFP noted yesterday, "The joint force did not say whether they had captured their main target."  Today Paul Holmes and Mariam Karouny (Reuters) report that the target "escaped" according to al-Maliki.  The barking puppet has gotten a lot of press in the last two days.  He may need to save the clippings for his scrapbook because,
as Raed Jarrar and Robert Dreyfuss discussed with Amy Goodman on Monday's Democracy Now!, the puppet may be about to be replaced by the US government.
Meanwhile, Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) notes that the US military death toll in Iraq has "reached the highest level in nearly two years on Thursday following the deaths of four U.S. Marines and one Navy sailor in volatile Anbar province."  The US military announced: "One Sailor assigned to 3rd Naval Construction Regiment, two Marines assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 and two Marines assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died Wednesday from injuries sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province."  The BBC notes that Bully Boy "on Wednesday admitted being seriously concerned about the scale of American casualties."  Not 'seriously concerned' enough to get the number of American fatalities correct.  Some people are seriously concerned such as Diana Unger who spoke to CBS' Byron Pitts about her son David Unger: "My son died in a country that I have no idea, really, why we're even there" and, of the Bully Boy, "Unless he puts his daughters over there and he has that real fear everyday of not wanting to turn on the television, that fear that gets into your heart and your head, he can't fathom what that means."
In Tal Afar a man with an "explosive-laden belt" killed himself and left two Iraqi soldiers wounded, Reuters reports.
The BBC reports at least eight police officers were killed by "gunmen" in one attack in Baquba with 25 more wounded and 20 missing while another "attack on a checkpoint" left an additional six police officers dead and ten wounded. Reuters puts the number of missing police officers from the first attack in the previous sentence at fifty and notes that "an Arab local official" was shot dead in Mosul. Update: Reuters raised the number killed in the attack listed first in the first sentence to 28 with the wounded staying the same (25) -- no mention of any change in the figures for the missing.  The fighting in Baquba is ongoing and AP notes 30 killed and 42 wounded in their most recent update.  KUNA reports that Saad Shalash, a journalist and professor, and his wife (name not supplied) were shot dead in Amiriyah.
Reuters reports seven corpses ("shot and bound") were discovered in Mosul yesterday.  CNN reports that ten corpses ("bullet-riddled") were discovered in Baghdad Wednesday.
On Iraqi fatalities, CBS and AP note "more than 961 Iraqis have been killed in war-related violence this month, the highest level since The Associated Press began tracking civilian deaths in April 2005.  That amounts to an average of more than 41 each day, compared with a daily average of about 27 since April 2005, as more Iraqis fall prey to sectarian death squads affiliated with militias.  The AP count includes civilians, government officials and police and security forces, and is considered a minimum based on AP reporting.  The actual number is likely higher, as many killings go unreported.  The United Nations has said 100 Iraqis are being killed each day."
In legal news, AP reports that John J. Jodka has entered a plea of guilty "to charges of assault and obstruction of justice in the [April] death of . . . Hashim Ibrahim Awad in the Iraq town of Hamdaniya."  As CBS and AP note, Jodka's plea follows that of Melson J. Baco who pleaded guilty to kidnapping and conspiracy:  "The group approached a house where the insurgent was believed to be hiding, but when someone inside woke up, the Marines instead went to another home and grabbed 52-year-old Hashim Ibrahim Awad, Bacos said.  The squad took Awad to a roadside hole and shot him before planting a shovel and AK-47 to make it appear he was an insurgent placing a bomb, Bacos said.  He was sentenced to a year's confinement; murder and other charges were dropped." 
In other legal news, CNN reports: "Five companies, including a subsidiary of military contract giant Halliburton, billed the U.S. government a total of $62.1 million for administrative operations, which is more than twice the amount those companise spent directly on the projects in Iraq that they had been contracted for, according to a report released Monday by the Office of the Special Inspecter General for Iraq Reconstruction."  Earlier, James Glanz (New York Times) reported on the same government estimate noting: "Overhead costs have consumed more than half the budget of some reconstruction projects in Iraq . . . leaving far less money than expected to provide the oil, water and electricity needed to improve the lives of Iraqis."
In peace news, Cindy Sheehan and Medea Benjamin are among those who continue speaking out.  Denny Boyles (Fresno Bee) reports that Sheehan spoke at Fresno State, Satellite Student Union, yesterday to a "near-capacity and supportive crowd for more than an hour, talking about not only the loss of her son, but what she said was the loss of rights suffered by everyone in America."  Boyles quotes Sheehan: "Last summer I felt my role was to convince people that the war is a lie, based on lies.  Now, I've seen polls that show most Americans believe that to be true.  My job is to activiate those who disagree with Bush and get them to act for peace."  Video of her speaking to press before her speech can be found here (KFSN).  The day before Cindy Sheehan was speaking truth in Iowa City and O.Kay Henderson, of Radio Iowa, has an audio report here.
Meanwhile, Medea Benjamin spoke at Ohil University yesterday.  In a Q&A with The Post, Benjamin was asked about her thoughts on the importance of protesting with the interviewing noting that Benjamin was "removed from the Democratic and Republican National Conventions in 2004, Pres. George W. Bush's second inauguration and a Congressional speech by Iraq's Prime Minister (Nouri al-Maliki) this past July, all for anti-war protesting."  Benjamin's response: When governments realize they don't have the backing of their people, they start to find a way out . . . It's both the (continued violence) on the ground in Iraq coupled with loss of support for this war that is forcing even George Bush to start looking for alternatives.  Many times, for activists, it feels like we're not effective.  It feels like we're being ignored or ridiculed or marginalized, which we often are by the mainstream media, but in the end it's often times the protestors who end up convincing the general public of their opinions and changing history, and I think that's what we're saying now."
". . . truth is often denied at first, then grudgingly accepted until it becomes comventional wisdom," Danny Schechter News Dissector notes writing about the parallels between Vietnam and Iraq (at BuzzFlash): "There is a word missing in most of the coverage of Iraq.  It's a ghost-laden word that conjures up distressing memories that Washington and most of our media prefer to keep in that proverbial 'lock box,' hidden away in dusty archives and footage libraries.  The word is Vietnam.  Its absence was never more noticeable than in the coverage this past weekend of the 30th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, marked in Vietnam with celebrations, but largely ignored in America where CNN led with the story of a bride who went missing when she had second thoughts.  Is this denial or is it deliberate?"
In sweat shop labor news, David Phinney (IPS) takes a look at the construction of the US Embassy in Baghdad and quotes John Owen stating, "Every U.S. labour law was broken."  And in other human rights news, Ellen Knickmeyer (Washington Post) looks at what effect the illegal war in Iraq has had on Syria: "silence public demands for democratic reformers here."
Bob Watada beging his latest speaking tour today.  He is the father of Ehren Watada who is the first commissioned US officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq.    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.
More information on Watada and other war resisters can be found at Courage to Resist.
Two notes: Those in need of the press brieifing in Baghdad on October 24th can click here for the US military's transcript. [The briefing was quoted in yesterday's snapshot.]
Second note, community one.  Blogger/Blogspot went down yesterday. Elaine's "Daniel Ellsberg, the Mamas and the Papas, Iraq" went up (though she did not know that until she got up this morning -- she assumed when she got the error message that the post was lost). Mike's "Iraq and Tony picks 12 of his favorite Ava & C.I. TV reviews" went up this morning -- he left the computer on all night because he couldn't save or publish and didn't want to lost his post. Rebecca wasn't able to get in (she posts later) but plans to post tonight. Ruth wasn't able to log on (and guest blog at Kat's site).  She hopes to do that tonight but it's iffy.  Wally's "THIS JUST IN! IRAQ RESPONDS!" and Cedric's "Iraq hollers back to the Bully Boy (humor)" also went up yesterday to round that topic out.
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