American forces and British military forces battled gunmen in southern Iraq on Friday while searching for four American security guards and their Austrian colleague who were abducted from a supply convoy on Thursday by men wearing Iraqi police uniforms, American officials said.
The episode was the largest single kidnapping of Americans since the war began. It took place just north of the town of Safwan near the Iraq-Kuwaiit border, a Shiite-dominated area where violence between competing militias has worsened in the past year. A previously unknown group released a videotaped message shown on an Iranian-run TV station on Friday saying that it was holding the five men, but it offered no evidence.
[Generic statement from the Giddiest Gabor in the Green Zone, Willie Caldwell IV.]
The ambush was the latest in a string of audacious kidnappings that have undermined confidence in the Iraqi security forces and the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. Several of the abductions are thought to have been conducted by Shiite militiamen wearing police or army uniforms, underscoring fears that the security forces have sheltered sectarian fighters or are at least turning a blind eye to them.
The above is from Edward Wong's "Allies Wage Raid In Iraq, Seeking Abducted Guards" in this morning's New York Times. If you didn't read the above closely, go back and read it again.
First off, fourteen people were estimated to have been kidnapped. That included nine Asians. Where are they in the story? (After the fold.) Second, in terms of the Times, note that they can print a photo of one missing guard. Not only can they not print a photo of Abeer, they can't even say her name. They haven't even covered the confession and guilty plea of one her attackers this week. Third, notice the response of the military.
What was it? British and US troops went on mission. Tuesday of this week, a mass kidnapping took place in Baghdad. We'll go with the 150 figure for the number of abducted. What was the response? The response was to attempt to minimize the number involved. Even with the low balling, more Iraqis were abducted in that kidnapping then were people in the Thursday kidnapping in southern Iraq. (The Thursday Baghdad kidnapping gets very little attention.) Are some victims less of a concern? It would appear that the US military (which is the occupying power) appears to think so.
Or maybe they were thinking that 'war' isn't a response to a crime. Thinking that when it came the mass kidnapping of Iraqis. If so, great. If so, maybe they thought that and would have thought that regarding the southern Iraq kidnapping but were circumvented by placing a higher premium on some lives.
But the message (probably not intended because who wants to admit to it) sent out is that some lives have greater value. Some people may be okay with that message. But the US is the occupying force in Iraq. It's an illegal occupation, no question. But while they're on the ground they're supposed to be protecting Iraqis. That message isn't sent out by massive responses (regardless of the response) when Americans are kidnapped.
The American response to the Tuesday mass kidnapping was to dicker over and downplay the number of the abuducted. Incidents like the one Wong describes may fly over the heads of some Americans. They may not register. But it does register in Iraq and it is one reason why US forces will not and cannot have legitamacy for many Iraqis. Forget the method with which the US (and British) military responded to the Thursday kidnapping, just focus on the proportion. It does register.
This is only one incident in a long line of incidents. That happens when the war drags on. That happens when a people promised 'democracy' still find themselves occupied three years later. Sending more US troops does not wipe away the realities and the impressions and that's why it's not an answer.
Tony Blair doesn't want to pull out British troops. (Though, if he did, it would help end the war.) But he does appear to grasp, in some manner, that the illegal was is a 'disaster. Stan notes Tim Shipman's "Iraq is a 'disaster' admits Blair" (The Daily Mail):
Tony Blair admitted that British intervention in Iraq has been a disaster last night - sending shockwaves through Westminster.
In his frankest admission about the war to date, Mr Blair admitted that Western forces have been powerless to stop the descent into violence.
The Prime Minister stopped short of accepting the blame for plunging Iraq to the brink of civil war - blaming instead the insurgent uprising that has killed 125 British troops.
But his admission in an interview with the Arab new channel Al Jazeera will be seen as an historic climbdown for Mr Blair, who has always fought to put a positive gloss on often disastrous events.
Challenged by veteran interviewer Sir David Frost that the Western invasion of Iraq has "so far been pretty much of a disaster", Mr Blair said: "It has."
Turning to the topic of US war resister Ehren Watada, Joan noted The Honolulu Advertiser's "Forum to discuss Watada challenge to Iraq war" (I posted this at Kat's site last night, if it looks familiar):
Honolulu-born Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada's challenge to the legality of the war in Iraq will be discussed Sunday afternoon at the University of Hawai'i-Manoa campus.
Sponsored by the Honolulu chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League, "Ehren Watada: Conscience and Constitutionality" will feature Ehren Watada's father Bob Watada, along with the 28-year-old lieutenant's attorney, Eric Seitz, and UH Richardson School of Law professor Jon Van Dyke, who will address the constitutionality of Watada's actions.
The free public event runs 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the School of Architecture auditorium and will include questions.
Since being charged June 22 for refusing to deploy with his Fort Lewis Stryker unit, the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Watada has been assigned to administrative duties and prohibited from traveling beyond a 250-mile radius of his base in Washington.Earlier this month, Fort Lewis, Wash., commander Lt. Gen. James Dubik recommended that the Army proceed with a general court-martial against Watada for refusing to deploy. Watada and his attorney had been in negotiations with the Army since an Article 32 hearing on Aug. 17 to avert a trial, but talks broke down this month.
And ??? notes John Catalinotto's "GI resistance grows, active & AWOL" (Workers World):
If the reaction of some active-duty and veteran GIs is any indication, the movement inside the U.S. military of resistance to the occupation of Iraq is not sitting back and waiting for Congress to stop the war. They are continuing to organize and struggle.
Workers World spoke with Navy Seaman Jonathan Hutto, based in Norfolk, Va., who is a key organizer of the "Appeal for Redress." This is a petition meant for active-duty GIs that expresses their dissent over the continued occupation of Iraq.
For Hutto, born and raised in Atlanta and reared on stories of the civil rights movement, Nov. 13 was a big day. "They began work today on the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial," he said. "I am moved by this, by King taking a place where there are memorials to Washington, Lincoln and Jefferson. Theirs were dedicated to presidents. King's is dedicated to justice and peace.
"That's the vein in which we want to present this appeal," the 29-year-old Howard University graduate continued. "Not as military members breaking a law, but upholding our duty to participate in democracy. We will affirm that duty and that right."
Legal right to appeal
Hutto asserted: "To those who say military members cannot speak, I say that only under a fascist dictatorship could people be stopped from raising their voices. As children growing up we studied the history of the Freedom Rides. The Supreme Court said segregation was illegal. The Freedom Riders said, 'We're going to ride these buses integrated.' We in the armed forces also have the legal right to appeal to Congress without being punished."
The appeal, which can be found and signed by GIs at www.appealforredress.org, reads: "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."
As noted at Kat's Korner, the writings of Margaret Kimberley, Glen Ford and Bruce Dixon are now available at The Black Agenda Report. Markus passed that on Thursday and we added the link then. There hasn't been time here to note that. We will return to highlighting Kimberley on Saturdays. Many members had wondered where she was. Here is an excerpt from her latest, entitled "Election 2006: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly:"
First the good news. Nancy Pelosi will be Speaker of the House. Now the bad news. Nancy Pelosi will be Speaker of the House. It is better to have a Democrat in charge of the Congressional agenda, but dont forget that Pelosi has no intention of truly confronting the Bush administration. She admitted as much in a 60 Minutes interview.
Nancy Pelosi: "No, impeachment is off the table." Lesley Stahl: "And that's a pledge?" Nancy Pelosi: "Well, it's a pledge in the yes, I mean, it's a pledge. Of course it is. It is a waste of time"
Pelosi has no intention of truly confronting the Bush administration.
Madame Speaker To Be pledged to uphold the Constitution, not toe the line under orders from Lesley Stahl and CBS. How does she know impeachment is a waste of time? That is what investigations and subpoena powers are for. Too bad she doesnt know the rules of the branch of government shell be running.
Republicans knew that impeaching Bill Clinton wasnt a waste of time, not that they really wanted him to leave office. They knew that Gore would win if he ran as an incumbent, so they just hoped that Clinton would be around long enough to muddy the waters and get Gore stuck it in. Voila, instant presidency. Take notes Nancy.
The election results of 2006 produced a steady stream of both good and bad news. Harold Ford began Election Day with a photo op at the Little Rebel Club. Not surprisingly, the Little Rebel Club has a very prominently displayed Confederate flag on its front door. Ford put on an Elmer Fuddish redneck cap and grinned and skinned with genuine rednecks. A black man who spends his time pandering to white people who hate him will always lose. That is very good news.
When we saw the photo of Harold Ford Jr. in front of that flag, we were surprised it wasn't everywhere. ("We" is Dona, Jim, Ty, Jess, Ava and myself.) Seemed the left and the 'left' had time for boo-hoos about Junior and to ponder whether or not he'd be moving to cable, but not time for reality. When it went up Sunday ("Junior campaigned in strange places"), there were e-mails asking if we thought The Black Commentator would be covering it? There was a time when we could have given an answer to that question. We couldn't. Where was Kimberley? Where was Dixon? Where was Ford? Though, hopefully, The Black Commentator will continue to have something worth saying, the voices this community responded to appear to be no longer with it. They're now at The Black Agenda Report and, please note, in this week's issue they cover that issue. Not just in Kimberley's column noted above but also in other writings. Keesha notes Glen Ford's "Stop Supporting Every Black Face: End the Jim Crow Mentality:"
The Black political class aspirants to money, power and media coverage has emerged as the push towards more rightwing political behavior among African Americans, the masses of whom have resisted becoming accomplices in their own destruction. A Reuters article titled Black Candidates Veer to Center meaning, to the right was carried by hundreds of newspapers across the country on November 12. Black candidates in the U.S. midterm elections moved toward the political center, seeking votes across the spectrum and playing down race, read the lead sentence.
No one exemplifies the disconnect between mass Black interests and the Black political class, than Harold Ford, Jr., the former congressman from Tennessee who lost his bid for a Senate seat last week. Ford managed to position himself as the most rightwing member of the Congressional Black Caucus, according to the twice-yearly scorecard of the CBC Monitor, a Black watchdog group. As BARs Bruce Dixon wrote last week, Ford is a pro-privatization, pro-torture, pro-war Bush sycophant craven enough to claim his own black grandmother was actually white to get a few more white votes.
Harold Ford has gone Republican in all but name.
There's a feature up that I'll highlight in Monday's snapshot. (Saving it for that because the snapshot gets reposted at other community sites and I want to be sure that everyone's aware of The Black Agenda Report. Thanks to Markus for passing on word.) Hopefully The Black Commentator will continue to offer articles worth reading. However, we always highlighted Kimberley because she's a voice that members respond to. That used to be during the week (usually Thursdays). When the focus here became Iraq, we switched it to Saturdays. (Because a highlight in an one of the non-snapshot entries doesn't have to be on Iraq.) Because Kimberely will be highlighted regularly and because Dixon and Ford are voices we have highlighted frequently as well, we'll be noting The Black Agenda Report. If members see something at The Black Commentator they want highlighted, they should e-mail about it.
But the feelings of members since that site returned from its summer break has been "What happened?" What happened appears to be that Ford, Dixon and Kimberley are now doing The Black Report Agenda. (Yes, I'm loading in the links heavy.) While members have waited for the former site to address Junior, The Black Agenda Report has. (With several features in this week's edition.) For those who listened online to the commentaries at The Black Commentator, Dixon and Ford are doing audio commentaries at The Black Agenda Report. In addition, Carl, Zach, Rachel and Billie all e-mailed to note that Glen Ford is one of the guests on the most recent edition of CounterSpin.
Dixon, Kimberly and Ford are important voices who aren't afraid to take on a Pelosi or a Ford. (On the latter, see Rebecca's "remember the ladies? forgotten at the democracy n..." to grasp how their voices are needed. As Rebecca noted, there was time to spin for Junior, but not time to note the reality of Junior's campaigning -- some 'analyst.')
So, the three are not gone, they've moved to another outlet. Please make an effort to get the word out on The Black Agenda Report.
The following community sites have updated since yesterday morning:
Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Cedric's Cedric's Big Mix;
Mike's Mikey Likes It! -- (this is a guest post);
Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz -- (this is a guest, joint-post);
Wally's The Daily Jot
and Trina's Trina's Kitchen
At Kat's Korner, Betty filled in on Monday, Ruth filled in on Wednesday, and I filled in last night. Kat is back from Ireland and spending with the weekend with Betty. She will be helping out with tomorrow's edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review. She will be flying back on Monday and may or may not be posting Monday. If she doesn't, Betty will fill in for her. And Ruth and I have also stated we'll continue next week if she needs some time off.
And it's the weekend which means RadioNation with Laura Flanders, on Air America radio, online, XM satellite radio, live at 7:00 pm EST till 10:00 pm EST Saturday and Sunday. Saturday's guests include the recent winner of the Hans Little Prize, Center for Constitutional Rights president and a co-host of WBAI's Law and Disorder: Michael Ratner. There are other guests this weekend but, for this community, they'll all fall by the way side after "Michael Ratner" is typed.
Rachel notes three upcoming programs on WBAI and please pay attention to Wednesday:
Sunday, November 19, 11am-noon
THE NEXT HOUR
Author/actor/raconteur and Green Gubernatorial candidate Malachy McCourt holds forth.
Monday, November 20, 2-3pm
CAT RADIO CAFE
Iris Bahr talks about "DAI (enough)," her startling one-woman show set in an Israeli cafe, now playing at The Culture Project); pianist Polly Ferman on Latin American Cultural Week; and curator Philip Harvey on "3rd Wave: The Planet of Brooklyn Transitions," a visual translation of the effect of immigration, migration and gentrification on the People's Republic. Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer.
Wednesday, November 22, 2-3pm
CCCP: THE MONTHLY LAUGHING NIGHTMARE
Lethal satirical group takes on post-election issues. With Janet Coleman, David Dozer, John McDonagh, Mark Kehoe, Moogy Klingman, Scooter, Barry Crimmins, Mushroom Cloud Theater and special guest Will Durst.
Please pay attention to Wednesday? The CCP. Original comedy programming. Not the polite chortle that is 'comedy' programming on NPR. Actual comedy. You can listen over the broadcast airwaves (WBAI broadcasts from NYC) or you can listen live online (for free) or, if you miss it or hear it but want to hear it again -- laughter's good for the soul, you can hear it at the WBAI archives. Need more reason? Will Durst is one of Wally's favorite comedians and Janet Colmean and David Dozer are one of the longest running comedy teams. Rachel asked that it to be forwarded to Eddie (who loves the show). She gets the announcements forwarded from a friend who signed up for announcements at Cat Radio Cafe where you can sign up as well.
The e-mail address for this site is email@example.com. And thanks to Jim who's posting this today after Trina's post goes up.
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