November 15, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; there are some indications that there may be justice for Abeer and her family; testifying before Congress, John Abizaid appeared to think he was at an Atlanta Brave (check the hand gestures) and blathered on repeatedly making it clear there was no plan for Iraq; Ehren Watada's father Bob begins winding up his speaking tour; and real discussions on Iraq take place (outside of Congress).
"It's time to tell the truth! The American people want the truth. The American people want the truth. Tell the truth if you're capable of it." Today, an honest discussion on Iraq took place but it wasn't in the US Senate. On Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman hosted a discussion with former US senator and presidential candidate George McGovern, US House Rep. Dennis Kucinich and someone scraped off the bottom of the right-wing non-thought tank AEI. The AEI-er appeared to be attempting some sort of homage to the character of Audrey with his constant whining. (Clea Lewis intended to be humorous when she played Audrey on Ellen.) He whined "Let me have my turn" repeatedly and also referred to Goodman as "Miss moderator" proving that Iraq wasn't the only thing he failed to grasp, he'd also missed the last forty years (try "Ms. moderator"). Meanwhile Kucinich challenged the AEI-er with, "It's time to tell the truth! The American people want the truth. The American people want the truth. Tell the truth if you're capable of it." The AEI-er, Joshua Muravchik, wasn't up to the truth and tossed around the usual (pre-9-11?) nonsense of 'blame America first' and 'blood is on your hand' but has no answers. Goodman asked if he was "proposing staying in Iraq and bombing Iran?" to which he replied "Yes and yes."
McGovern reminded, "Well they were saying the same thing they're saying about Iraq. We were told all during those long years when I and others were trying to terminate our military involvement in Vietnam -- an intervention that the chief architects now say was a dreadful mistake -- and they said that if we pulled out, maybe it was a mistake, to go in, but if we pulled out there would be a slaughter of people in Vietnam of indescribable dimensions, that Ho Chi Minh and his people would just slaughter everybody in the country that disagreed with him. We also were told that the countries next door would start toppling into communism if we left Vietnam. None of that happened. There was no great bloodbath inside Vietnam and the Vietnamese became our friends almost immediately after we took our army out of their country. They assisted us in trying to locate missing American soldiers. They were ready for diplomatic relations. We have no problem with Vietnam today and as a matter of fact none of the countries next door toppled into communism so those were the scare tactics that were used to keep us in Vietnam for about twenty years. The president has said recently that maybe we have to stay [in Iraq] until the year 2010 and that's another four years during which time we'll probably kill several thousand more American troops and the terror now going on inside Iraq that began when we invaded the country will only get worse. No country in the long term wants a foreign army lodged in their country."
Goodman asked: "How did, how did it ultimately end up that the troops were pulled out of Vietnam?" McGovern replied, "Well, you know, we were finally forced out. You remember the pictures of the American ambassador being air lifted off the, off the roof of the embassy there and Vietnamese trying to cling to the helicopters that took him out? I don't want to see that happen in Iraq. I don't want to see us just kicked out. I want to see an orderly withdrawal that would begin next month in December and be completed by June and we can do that. Let me cite one poll that was conducted recently in Iraq. It was conducted by our newspaper USA Today, CNN -- the television network -- in cooperation with the Gallup polling organization, America's oldest polling. And they asked the people of Iraq 'Do you regard the Americans as liberators or as occupiers of your country?' 81% of the people said they didn't see us any longer as liberators, they see us as occupiers of the country and they made it very clear they want us out."
Kucinich spoke the words many shy from: Congress voting to cut off funding of the illegal war in Iraq. "I believe that we're going to be able to get a consensus among progressives to cut off funds . . . I think support is growing in the direction of getting out of Iraq and I think that we'll see a cut off of the funds, we'll use the money in the pipeline to have the orderly withdrawal that Senator McGovern so wisely spoke of. People want a new direction. They know that we have to involve the world community and they know that the direction has to be out of Iraq. I mean, we're losing soldiers at an increasing clip , we're seeing the civil violence increase, the Iraqi people want us out, the American people by and large want us out of Iraq. We need to take a new direction."
On The KPFA Evening News Monday, Mitch Jeserich interviewed US House Rep. Lynn Woolsey who stated she would consider cutting off Congressional funds but no one wanted to make that their first choice. She also felt their support was for this option in Congress.
(The interview may have been for Pacifica's Informed Dissent which Jeserich hosts or for WBAI's Wakeup Call where Jeserich is the news editor.)
The realities of Iraq were also explored . . . in Congress? No, on KPFA's The Morning Show today. Philip Maldari spoke with Carl Conetta (Project on Defense Alternatives) and Natalie Goldring (Security Studies Program and Center for Peace and Security Studies at Georgetown). They discussed the possibility that the US Congress would be inactive on the Iraq war and Goldring pointed out that this would lead to spreading the blame and allowing the GOP presidential candidate in 2008 to point to the Democratic controlled Congress as part of the problem with regards to the illegal war. Concetta noted it would "tar the Democrats as co-signers" to the war. Goldring noted that it wasn't clear how the administration or the United States "would bring stability to Iraq" and Concetta noted that the spin made "withdrawal . . . always on the horizon, two years in the future" that never seems to arrive. (Or 12 months, a favorite with the US military and tossed around by John Abizaid today -- we'll get to that shortly.)
What does arrive, daily in Iraq, is continued chaos and violence.
CNN reports that eight people are dead and 32 wounded in Baghdad from a car bomb apparently targeting a gas station. CNN updated the figures to twelve dead and 33 wounded while also noting an attack on a Baghdad funeral that claimed the lives of three and left 12 injured.
CNN reports a council member and his bodyguard were shot dead in Baghdad. Reuters notes that two construction workers were shot dead and three wounded while they traveled in a car. Xinua reports that journalist Fadiyah Muhammad al-Taie and her driver were killed in Mosul while she was on her way to work.
CNN notes the discovery of 55 corpses ("bullet-riddled") in Baghdad. Reuters notes that four corpses were discovered in Mosul and one in Samarra.
The US military announced today: "One Soldier assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division and three Marines assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died Tuesday from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." That announcement was followed by this one: "Two Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldiers were killed at approximately 11:30 p.m. Nov. 14 when their vehicle was struck by an improvised-explosive device in northwest Baghdad while conducting combat operations."
In legal news, Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi was mudered and raped in Mahmoudiyah on March 12, 2006. Also killed in the attack were her parents, Qassim Hamza Raheem and Fakhriya Taha Muhasen, and her five-year-old sister. Abeer was fourteen-years-old. Five Americans are accused of being the ones who committed the crimes. Last week, Steven D. Green entered a plea of 'not guilty' in a federal court in Kenutcky. Green had been discharged from the US military before the revelations of the crimes was revealed. Due to the fact that Green is no longer in the military, he is being charged in civilian courts. The other four charged with rape, murder and arson are Paul Cortez, Jesse Spielman, Bryan Howard and James P. Barker. Today, AP reports that James P. Barker has enter a plea of guilty. Writing for the New York Times about the then expected plea, Paul von Zielbauer continued the paper's long tradition of rendering AbeerQassim Hamza al-Janabi invisible by providing twelve paragraphs of text that never once managed to give Abeer's name. By contrast, the Guardian of London features a photo of Abeer and manages to name her. The Guardian notes that Cortez "has deferred entering a plea" and that "Spielman will not enter a plea until December." The Guardian notes the following based upon Barker's written statement: ". . . Green dragged the father, mother and younger sister into a bedroom, while Abeer was left in the living room. . . . Barker said Cortez appeared to rape the girl [Abeer], and he followed. He said he heard gunshots and Mr. Green came out of the bedroom, saying he had killed the family, before raping the girl and shooting her with an AK-47."
At the Article 32 hearing for the four still serving in Iraq (plus Anthony W. Yribe, charged with dereliction of duty for not reporting the incident), AFP reported the testimony of an Iraqi doctor who discovered Abeer deceased and "naked with her legs spread". Al Jazeera added that Abeer was also "burned from the waist up, with a single bullet wound beneath her left eye." During that military inquiry in August, US military investigator Benjamin Bierce testified that "Barker said that he held the girl's hands while Sergeant Paul Cortez raped her or tried to rape her. Barker then switched positions with Cortez and attempted to rape the girl" -- Bierce also testified that prior to the rape and murders, those accused spent their time consuming booze and hitting golf balls only to, after the murder and rape, grill chicken wings. Bierce's statements were basedupon what James Barker had already told him. The fact that Barker had already confessed to the crimes may be what prompted today's guilty plea. Howard? As Gregg Zoroya (USA Today) reported, Bierce testified that Howard was the designated lookout. Zoroya's report also notes Justin Watt who came forward with what he was hearing in June about the crimes that took place in March. [Watt was not present, was not involved. He has however received death threats for coming forward.]
At the August hearing, Captain Alex Pickand closed his argument for prosecution noting: "They gathered over cards and booze to come up with a plan to rape and murder that little girl. She was young and attractive. They knew where she was because they had seen her on a previous patrol. She was close. She was vulnerable."
Decked out like Janet Jackson on the cover of Rhythm Nation, John Abizaid, the general, blathered in Congress today. Quote: "Blah blah blah blah blah [karate chop with hand] blah blah blah." CBS and AP report that Johnny says no timetables because they don't give him 'flexibility' and that he stated he "remains optimistic that we can stabilize Iraq." The yearly physicaly doesn't include some sort of mental evaluation? How bad was it? So bad that John McCain had to declare: "I'm of course disappointed that basically you're advocating the status quo here today, which I think the American people in the last election said that is not an acceptable condition." What may have prompted the battle of the Johns was that Abizaid didn't advocate for more US troops on the ground in Iraq -- something McCain favors. Andrew Gray and Kristin Roberts (Reuters) report Abizaid declared, "I believe more American forces prevent the Iraqis from doing more, taking more responsibility for their future." [The gut wrenching sobs you hear are Michael R. Gordon crying for all the war pornographers.] Abizaid also saw 'progress' since August. Apparently, no one handed him a copy of today's newspaper with the front page stories of the mass kidnappings yesterday in Baghdad? To recap, Abizaid said, "Blah blah blah no withdrawal of US troops blah blah blah no timetables blah blah blah I need to be flexible blah blah blah watch me touch my nose blah blah blah."
AP notes US Senator Carl Levin's remarks: "We cannot save the Iraqis from themselves. The only way for Iraqi leaders to squarely face that reality is for President Bush to tell them that the United States will begin a phased redeployment of our forces within four to six months."
Meanwhile Jason Szep (Reuters) interviews Ann Clwyd, British MP, who proves you don't have to be a general or American to spin -- Clwyd is against an "early withdrawal" she informed Wellesley College -- because certainly there's nothing more important for a British MP than to address US college audiences in the midst of a war. While MP Clwyd is quite sure of herself, Terri Judd and Kim Sengupta (Independent of London) report that Ted Elliott, father of British soldier Sharron Elliott who died Sunday in Basra. Ted Elliott wonders, "Why did she have to die for such a silly cause?"
He won't find the answers from Clwyd, Abizaid or the Bully Boy.
On yesterday's mass kidnappings, John F. Burns and Michael Luo (New York Times) reported in today's paper that the number of people kidnapped was still not clear and that remains true. CBS and AP report that currently 70 people kidnapped have been released. Strange when you consider that both the 'informed' puppet Nouri al-Maliki and the US military put the number much lower when attempting to downplay the reality of what took place --- al-Maliki went with 50, the US military with 55. Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) provides the details of Tuesday's mass kidnapping: kidnappers came in the front door, told the receptionist they were police (and were dresed accordingly), divided the males and females, left with victims and "blood smeared on the gray floor . . . dirt outlines of boot prints on a door" and also quotes the brother of one of those abducted who wonders, "Where can we go? The police kidnapped him?" It's doubtful comfort will come from AFP's report that puppet al-Maliki has "demanded Wednesday the arrest of all those who were behind the kidnapping operation of 100 government employees on Tuesday." That's how bad the situation is. al-Maliki has to "demand" that kidnappers be arrested.
Meanwhile, CNN reports that Abed Dhiyab al-Ajili, Iraq's Minister of Higher Education, has turned in his resignation and states he will follow through on it if nothing is done because "I have to protect my people." CNN estimates that 40 people remain missing and 70 who were kidnapped have been freed. That would result in at least 110 people having been kidnapped on Tuesday. At least. Possibly the puppet and the US military flacks should spend more time addressing reality and far less time spinning?
Spending his time getting the word out on his son Ehren Watada, Bob Watada continues his speaking tour. Cordell Whitlock (St. Louis' KSDK) noted what was at stake: "Lt. Watada will go to trial early next year in military court. A panel of officers will serve as jury. If convicted, Watada could spend six years in prison and be dismissed from the army."
Ehren Watada is the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Last week, the military announced that they had decided to proceed with a court-martial against Watada. Bob Watada and his wife Rosa Sakanishi (Ehren's step-mother) are finishing a tour, a full schedule can be found here, this Friday to raise awareness on Ehren's stand:
Nov. 15, Norfolk, VA, Location: Norfolk/Virginia Beach, 40th Street Stage, 809 W 40th St (corner 40th St and Colley Ave -- across from Felini's), Sponsors: Veterans For Peace National In Affiliation with the Norfolk Catholic Worker, Local members of VFP, Military Families Speak Out, and the Active Duty Military Project, Contacts: Tom Palumbo, DissentingSoldier@Yahoo.Com, 757-470-9797, Ann Williams, 703-867-2174
Nov 16, Noon, Asheville, NC, Location: TBA -- Media Conference, Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 99, Contact: Tim Pluta, 828-645-1717, firstname.lastname@example.org
Nov 16, 2PM, Asheville, NC, Location: Mars Hill College -- Class Presentation
Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 99, Contact: Tim Pluta, 828-645-1717, email@example.com
Nov 16, 7PM, Asheville, NC, Location: University of North Carolina -- Public Presentation, Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 99, Contact: Tim Pluta, 828-645-1717, firstname.lastname@example.org , Lyle Peterson, 828-206-0245, Ahmad Daniels, War Resister Vietnam Era (appears in "Sir, No Sir!"), Mark Gibney Human Rights, International & Constitutional Law, Law, Ethics and Public Policy
Nov 17, 11:00AM, Asheville, NC, Location: Warren Wilson College, Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 99, Contact: Tim Pluta, 828-645-1717, email@example.com, Lyle Peterson, 828-206-0245, Professor Paul Magnarella (Peace Studies, Warren Wilson College)
Nov 17, 7PM, Atlanta, GA, Location: The First Iconium Baptist Church, Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 125, The Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition/Atlanta, Atlanta WAND, Contact: Debra Clark, 770-855-6163, firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition, Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports this event on Sunday:
The Honolulu chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League will hold a symposium surrounding the actions of Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, who is the first military officer to face a court martial for refusing to fight in Iraq. It will begin at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at the University of Hawaii's architecture auditorium. The featured speaker will be Watada's father, Bob; Jon Van Dyke of the University of Hawaii Richardson School of Law and Watada's attorney, Eric Seitz.
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