Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, November 22, 2006.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; a lesson is learned (hopefully) that stand up comedy is not for everyone; is England planning to withdraw troops from Iraq?; October becomes the deadliest month for Iraqis since the illegal war began;
Starting with news of war resisters within the US military.  Yesterday, Ehren Watada held a press conference, early in the morning.  Possibly too early for the independent print publications or possibly it didn't make the New York Times so they had no heads up?  Whatever the reason, Alex Massie (UK's Telgraph) did cover it and notes that Watada, the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq, intends to "fight with with everything I have for my freedom and that of all Americans.  I will face imprisonment to stand up for my beliefs" which means "subpoena withnesses - including 'decision-makers' - whose testimony will . . . demonstrate the war's illegality."
Turning to news of another US war resister,  Agustin Aguayo, who had a day in court yesterday, even if he wasn't present for it.  Leo Shane III (Stars and Stripes) reports that while Aguayo is held in "military confinement in Mannheim, Germany," his attorney, Peter Goldberger, told the judges of the  US Court of Appeals in D.C. that Aguayo was wrongly denied c.o. status and not supplied a sound reason for the denials: "Enough is enough.  This decision by the Army has been baseless and cruel.  They've had two previous chances to recognize his status, and they've failed to give a reason for denying it twice."
Turning to news of war resister Darrell Anderson who self-checked out of the military in January 2005 and turned himself in at Fort Knox on October 3, 2006. By the end of the week, he was released from military custody and it was announced he would not be charged.  He continues to speak out and will be taking part in events next month.
Military resisters, their families, veterans and concerned community members call for public action Dec. 8-10th!
It's time for us to escalate public pressure and action in support of the growing movement of thousands of courageous men and women GI's who have in many different ways followed the their conscience, upholding international law, taking a principled stand against unjust, illegal war and occupation and stood up for their rights. Widespread public support and pressure will help create true support for courageous troops facing isolation and repression, and help protect their civil liberties and human rights.  We call for the  following:1) Support for War Objectors 2) Protect the Right to Conscientious Objection 3) Protect the Liberties & Human Rights of GI's 4) Sanctuary for War Objectors. We urge you to join us December 8-10th for a weekend of action in supportof GI Resistance and GI Rights!
As part of those events, Darrell Anderson will be at the College of Marin on Friday, December 8th to speak at a screening of The Ground Truth.  Also speaking will be Anita Anderson (or Anita Dennis to use her married name), Darrell's mother.  This is one of a number of events Courage to Resist and other organizations will be staging.
And we can't note Anderson without noting Kyle Snyder  who shared the same attorney and was supposed to share the same agreement.  Synder self-checked out and moved to Canada after serving in Iraq.  He returned to the United States last month and,  on October 31st, turning himself in at Fort Knox only to self-check out again after discovering the military had lied yet again.  As Courage to Resist notes, "At the risk of arrest, he is speaking out bravely on behalf of war resisters and active duty GI's."  They are asking that you: "Call Ft. Leonard Wood Fort Leonard Wood Office of the Commanding General Major General William McCoy, Jr., 573-596-0131 and the Public Affairs Office, 573-563-4013 email:  -- Demand that the Army 'Discharge Kyle Snyder with No Punishment'."
Until resistance is covered, the illegal war continues.  And the dead and wounded mount on all sides as the war continues.  CNN reports that the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq has issued a new figure: 3,709.  3,709 is the figure of Iraqis killed during the month of October.  The UNAMI found "that 7,054 civilians were violently killed, with no less than 4,984 in Baghdad alone, most of them as a result of gunshot wounds.  Compared to the number of 6,599 killed in July and August reported by HRO [UN Human Rights Office] previously, it is evident that violence continued to claim an increasing number of victims. . . .  During the period under review, the report points out that freedom of expression continued to be undermined, minorities continued to be adversely and directly affected, women's conditions continued to deteriorate, the targeting of professionals, such as journalists, teachers, professors, lawyers, doctors and other intellectuals, political, tribal and religious leaders, Government officials and members of the security forces continued unabated and that violence is impacting education, preventing many schools and universites from opening.  According to the report, the deteriorating situtation in the country, coupled with increasing poverty, has generated unparalleled movements of IDPs [Internally Displaced People] in search of safety within and outside the country.  In addition, the document indicates that the total number of detainees in Iraq as of 31 October stood at 29,256 (13,571 of which are in MNF I facilities), noting a decrease from 35,543 at the end of August."
And the violence and chaos continues.  Among the reported events today . . .
Reuters notes that bombs continued to explode in Iraq: roadside bombs in Baghdad injured two polie officers,
CBS and AP report on the shooting death of Raad Jaafar Hamadi who worked "for the state-run al-Sabah newspaper in Baghdad . . . The slaying raised to at least 92 the number of journalists who have been killed in Iraq since the war began.  Thirty-six other media employees -- including drivers, interpreters and guards -- also have been killed, all of them Iraqi except one Lebanese." Al Jazeera notes that he was shot by four people "travelling in a black BMW".   Reuters notes the following gunfire incidents: Ahmed al-Allawi seriously wounded in an attack in Kerbala, a police officer shot dead in Falluja, and three police officers shot dead in Baquba. CNN notes the shooting deaths of two in Muqtadya (five more wounded).
Reuters notes that 14 corpses were discovered in Mosul, three near Ramadi, and the "police Major Basim Hasan al-Hasnawi" was discovered shot to death in Kerbala.
Also today, the US military announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, died of a non-battle injury in Salah ad Din Province Tuesday." Don't expect to read about it indymedia, the soldier probably couldn't have made them a playa so they have no time.  Which was followed later by this announcement: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, was killed and three others were wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle while they were conducting operations in Salah ad Din Province Tuesday."  The two deaths bring the US troops fatality count to 49 for the month and to 2869 since the start of the illegal war.  (If ICCC has not updated those numbers when this goes up, Monday we noted their count of 47 and 2867.)
Is there a change in the air?  In England, This Is London reports: "Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett this afternoon surprised MPs by signalling the countdown to a withdrawal from Iraq. She told the Commons that Basra, where the bulk of the UK's 7,200 personnel are stationed, could be handed over from British military control to Iraqi forces as early as next spring."  Basra has been a violent area for British soldiers (and for Iraqis).  Earlier this month, on England's Rememberance Sunday, four British troops were killed while on a boat patrol in Basra and three more were wounded.  The four killed included Sharron Elliott who was "the second British female servicewoman to die in action."  The other three were Jason Hylton, Ben Nowak, and Lee Hopkins.  Mortar attacks have been common in Basra and, in August, a British soldier died as a result of wounds received from mortar rounds.  In October, a British soldier died in Basra from road traffic.  The end of October was also when the British consulate in Basra was evacuated after it was decided it was no longer safe after two months of mortar attacks.  (In August, British troops 'evacuated' from their base in Amara due to repeated mortar attacks.)
Mark Tran (Guardian of London) reports that Dhi Qar and Muthanna have already been returned to Iraqi control and that "[m]ost UK troops are stationed in and around Basra".  Tran also notes that General Richard Dannatt had earlier stated (and later dickered over the wording) the statement that England should leave Iraq "some time soon."  Dekiva Bhat (Times of London) notes that Beckett expressed "confidence" about turning over another province, Maysan, "in January" which would leave Basra as the only area UK troops are currently responsible for patrolling. Bhat notes the opinion of the paper's Diplomatic Editor Richard Beeston: "The most likely forms of a withcrawal, Beeston said, would see British troops leaving Basra but remaining in the Shaiba logistics base, outside the city, where they would have armoured units and helicopters on stand-by should Iraqi forces need reinforcements. He added that it appeared that the US military was thinking in similar tones -- considering the possibility of handing over to Iraqi forces by withdrawing from bases but without completely leaving the country."
In which case, it wouldn't be a withdrawal at all.  It would be more like a man who says he's going to pull out and doesn't.
Turning to news of long, public "deaths," some people shouldn't try to do stand up -- both because they aren't funny and because they can't handle hecklers.  Yes, we're talking Poppy Bush.  On Tuesday, Poppy Bush took his tired act to the United Arab Emirates and it wasn't pretty.  Even the sure laugh getter of "My son is a honest man" didn't turn out the way Poppy would have liked.  While Poppy tried to command the stage, it was a female heckler, who stated: "We do not respect your son.  We do not respect what he's doing all over the world," who got the crowd pumping.  AP reports: "Bush appeared stunned as the auidence of young business leaders whooped and whistled in approval."  Poppy Bush stated that the Bully Boy "is working hard for peace" a 'funny' that didn't help pull the audience to his side and even the laugh getter of "This is going to work out in Iraq" didn't turn him into Jon Stewart.  Attacking the audience, Bully Boy began baiting them with "How come everybody wants to come to the United States if the United States is so bad?" 
Possibly he was so weakened by that point causing even the hecklers to not notice the significant and obvious drop in attempted enrollments at US campuses?  And apparently finally responding to the public fact that his family built their money not just on oil but also by collaborating with the Nazi war machine, Poppy Bush stated: "To suggest that everything we do is because we're hungry for money, I think that's crazy."  Ben Aris and Duncan Campbell (Guardian of London) reported the following in 2004:
George Bush's grandfather, the late US senator Prescott Bush, was a director and shareholder of companies that profited from their involvement with the financial backers of Nazi Germany.
The Guardian has obtained confirmation from newly discovered files in the US National Archives that a firm of which Prescott Bush was a director was involved with the financial architects of Nazism.
His business dealings, which continued until his company's assets were seized in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act, has led more than 60 years later to a civil action for damages being brought in Germany against the Bush family by two former slave labourers at Auschwitz and to a hum of pre-election controversy.
Let the record show that Poppy Bush has stated the drive wasn't just about money.  Apparently that family also believed in 'causes.' 
In news of a draft in the United States, which US Rep. Charlie Rangel is advocating, Marc Sandalow (San Francisco Chronicle) notes that "Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this morning she does not support bringing back the military draft."  Also weighing in against Rangel's proposal are Ron Jacobs (at Op-Ed News) and Mike (Mikey Likes It!).
Lastly, as Danny Schechter News Dissector reminds today is the anniversary of the assassination of JFK (November 22, 1963).  Danny notes Beyond JFK and refers to people to Globalvision for more info.  Beyond JFK is a documentary he made while Oliver Stone's JFK was being filmed.  He interviews various people who were there (including Robert MacNeil -- formerly of The NewsHour).  If you rent or purchase the DVD special edition (two disc) of Oliver Stone's JFK, the documentary is included as a bonus disc. Jess notes a number of e-mails are asking about it.
In addition,on today's KPFA's Guns and Butter (airs over the airwaves and online at 1:00 pm PST, 3:00 pm Central and 4:00 pm EST) Bonnie Faulkner offers the second half of her interview with John Judge on the topic of the JFK assassination.  And Joan Mellen (who is still doing events on her book tour for Farewell to Justice) essay on the topic remains popular with members.  (Book tour events include Mandeville, LA on Jan 16th and NYC Jan. 28th).

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