Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, December 6, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the James Baker Circle Jerk finally spews, Dow Jones reports ten US soldiers dead in Iraq today from two IEDs, and the Democrats demonstrate that "bipartisan" is Beltway Latin for "Screw the voter."
Starting with the vocab lesson first, for all the gas bagging after the election by The Elector (in all their forms) and all the talk of "change" and "listening to the people," Democrats -- swept into power by voters wanting change -- demonstrate that "bipartisanship" is just Beltway Latin for "Screw the voter."  First up was the character assassination took John Murtha out of the running for the post of House Majority Leader and allowed War Hawk Steny Hoyer to be installed.  Last week Dems were supposed to be cheerleading around the nation over Silvestre Reyes who was being installed as House Intelligence Committee chair.  "Yeah, Silvestre!" was the kind of "critique" the public got as the gas bags of the left (and 'left') tried to paint over the fact that others were (again) passed over.  Now, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes an interview Reyes gave to Newsweek where he expressed his desire to send an "up to 30,000" additional US troops to Iraq.
The vocabulary lesson is not limited to House Dems, Democrats on the Senate Armed Service Committee collectively stated, "Screw the voter."  As Robert Parry (Consortium News) observes, "Despite winning the Nov. 7 elections largely due to public anger over the Iraq War, congressional Democrats crumbled in their first post-election confrontation with President George W. Bush on the future direction of that conflict."
As elected Dems attempt to 'educate,' the mainstream press attempts to present the marginalized as the norm.  Though polls repeatedly demonstrate US citizens want US troops out of Iraq, though polls repeatedly demonstrate that Iraqi citizens wants US troops out of Iraq, Big Media thinks they can pull one over on the public again.
Tossing Judith Miller onto the stake and burning her as the public scapegoat is supposed to satiate the masses and allow War Pornographer Michael Gordon to get off scott free again.  (Gordo was Miller's writing partner quite often including on one story that was mentioned in the Times' mini-culpa.)  Norman Solomon (Common Dreams) observes that Gordo and David Sanger have both contributed articles pushing the "the US must stay myth" and concludes: "What's now going on in mainline news media is some kind of repetition compulsion.  And, while media professionals engage in yet another round of conformist opportunism, many people will pay with their lives."
It's not limited to the New York Times, but to stay on Gordo and the Times, FAIR notes that, on November 15, 2006, Gordo was on CNN telling Anderson Cooper "while the politicians in the United States would like to see a withdrawal of forces, particularly on the Democratic side, that's simply not realistic given how precarious the security situation is at this point in time" and drawing a comparison between Democrats who actually call for a withdrawal (there are a few of those) and 'insurgents': ". . . there are a significant number of players in Baghdad today who don't mind if the Americans withdraw.  These are the militia leaders.  They would be happy if the United States withdrew . . ."  Now does any of that sound anything like a policy judgement or recommendation?
Because when attempting to foist his bad book off on the public, Gordo refused to weigh in on the war itself, telling Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!), "Well, that's a policy judgement and a political judgement that's really beyound the scope of our book."
But now, he can can make those judgements?  Of course he can, he made them during the invasion as well -- in fact, he made them on CNN.   March 25, 2003, Gordo took the CNN airwaves (Aaron Brown's now cancelled show) to cheerlead a US attack of a civilian target, a TV station, stating, "And personally, I think the television, based on what I've seen of Iraqi television, with Saddam Hussein presenting propaganda to his people and showing off the Apache helicopter and claiming a farmer shot it down and trying to persuade his own public that he was really in charge, when we're trying to send the exact opposite message, I think, was an appropriate target."  Three year later, Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) noted to Gordo that his [Gordo's] remark were "condemned by many journalism organizations around the world" and Gordo sputtered: "Well, I think, when -- you know, I don't know what was in General Franks' mind . . ."  Blah, blah, blah.  Gordo can't own his own mistakes, neither the can the paper.
Judith Miller was one person.  The dog pile on her while others were ignored created a climate of impunity.  Ditch digger Dexy is outed as a the go-to-boy (outed by a mainstream daily) for the US military and, if noted, it's reduced to an aside.  While everyone obsessed and dog piled on Judith Miller's pre-war 'reporting' (which included co-writers), there wasn't time to call sob sister Dexy out. Even now, as the paper's attempts to marginalize US public opinion is called out, who's noting the story, filed from Iraq, that couldn't find a single Iraqi who wanted the US to withdraw (a position held by the majority of Iraqis)?  No one. 
Miller's departure changed nothing at the paper.  But bash-the-bitch and golden oldies did allow many to feel, three years later, that they were 'commenting' as they again trotted out the name "Judy Miller."  The only thing surprising about Gordo is that his war porn has taken so long to be called out.
Qais Al-Bashir (AP) reports a mortar attack in the Sadr City section of Baghdad which took 8 lives and left "dozens" wounded. while in Iskandariyah, a bomb claimed 4 lives and left at least 12 wounded.  The US military reports a blast "near the Old Ministry of Defense building in the Rusafa neighborhood of central Baghdad" which killed at least 15 Iraqis and left 25 more wounded. Reuters reports that a bomber "blew himself up inside a minibus" in Baghdad resulting in 3 other deaths and at least 16 people wounded
KUNA reports a British soldier wounded in Basra "after armed clashes between British troops and an armed group".  Conflicts in Basra have already resulted in the British pulling embassy staff out of the area.  Reuters reports a police officer was shot dead in Hawija while a police brigadier was wounded in an attack in Baghdad and his driver shot dead, another shooting attack in Mosul left a college professor wounded, and in Khalis an attack on a farm workers traveling in a bus left one dead and eight wounded.  On the college professor, CNN notes this is "a day after Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki pledged that the government would protect professors and students in the wake of a Sunni insurgent group's threat to target professors and students."
Reuters reports three corpses were discovered in Mahmudiya, one in Kirkuk and a headless one in Mosul.  And, in an update, Reuters notes that 48 corpses ("gunshot wounds . . . signs of torture) were discovered in Baghdad.
The US military notes: "A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier was killed during combat
operations in the Iraqi capital Dec. 3" and also says 'Woops! We issued the information on two deaths in two different press releases Sunday!'  ICCC counts 2907 US troops dead in Iraq since the start of the illegal war.  And AFP notes that the total of US troops who have died in Iraq has passed the 2900 mark and counting.  This comes as Dow Jones reports that 10 US troops have been killed in Iraq today and cites MSNBC on the "two incidents involving improvised explosive devices."  That would take the 2907 up to 2917.  And possibly it will also give the New York Times and others still silent the chance to note that the 2900 mark was passed?
The James Baker Circle Jerk released their report today.  The thing that should stand out the most is that the 142 page report is actually 96 pages (with illustrations) and that 36 pages are end credits -- including a special spotlight for each member.  Apparently, notions of a group shot were ditched due to the fact that a visual like that would have most Americans asking who those Circle Jerkers were supposed to reflect?  They're old, they're White (one African-American), they're male (one woman).  "Tell Us What To Do About The War, Rich Gramps?" could be the working title. 
Having stroked each other raw, the Circle Jerk spews 79 recommendations.  With few exceptions, they're all based on a principle: "Stupid Iraqis!  We will educate you!"  You see that in "Recommendation 76" and its focus on "civilian tasks" and "key civilian agencies, including Treasury, Justice, and Agriculture" which "need to create similar technical assistance capabilities."  Every now and then, a concrete recommendation stumbles in such as "Recommendation 72" which addresses the requesting of funds for the war ("should be included in the President's annual budget request, starting in FY 2008: the war is in its fourth year") or noting that need to keep an accurate count of incidents of violence and death. 
But in the end, you're left with gas bags tasked to do the job that Congress should have. In the real world, the people's Iraq Study Group released their findings last week.  Using the same phraseThe Nation notes a poll by World Public Opinion  who will release their full results tomorrow.  The summary of the polling is currently available.  From that:
*1,326 Americans were surveyed. 
*75% of respondents desire talks between the US and Iran (something Bully Boy is nixing, click here)
*58% of respondents want a timetable for withdrawal
*78% of those who identified Democrat "think U.S. forces should be out within two-years or less, including 61 percent who favor a one-year or less"
*Withdrawal is supported even stronger by respondents "if the majority of the Iraqi people say they want the U.S. to commit to withdraw U.S. forces"
From the summary: "A poll of the Iraqi public conducted by in September 2006 found that 71 percent want U.S.-led forces to commit to withdraw within a year."  Again, the full results will be released tomorrow.
Meanwhile William Roberts (Bloomberg) reports that Tom Vilsak (who declared he was running for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2008) has called for the withdrawal of "most American troops from Baghdad and southern Iraq" and declares, "We have created an opportunity for the people of that nation and its government to make fundamental decisions for themselves.  We have given them enough time."
While Nancy Trejos (Washington Post) reports that Nouri al-Maliki wants a "regional conference on stabilizing his country but rejected a proposal from U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan that it take place outside Iraq."
Finally, in peace news US war resister Ehren Watada is noted as the United Methodists reflect on 2006: "United Methodists rallied in support of Army Lt. Ehren Watada, 28, who has refused deployment to Iraq because he feels the war is 'morally wrong' and 'a breach of American law.' He faces charges of missing troop movement, conduct unbecoming an officer and contempt towards officials. United Methodists joined a vigil and rally at Fort Lewis in Tacoma, where Watada is being held."
And as Indybay IMC notes, "December 8th through 10th with be National Days of Action to Support GI resistance and GI rights."  More information can be found at Courage to Resist and, in the Bay Area, "Friday, December 8th, 7:30pm at the College of Marin in Kentfield, segments of the film "Ground Truth" will be shown, and Iraq combat veteran-turned-war-resister Darrell Anderson will speak. Also that evening, at 7:30pm at the Buena Vista United Methodist Church in Alameda, the film "The Ground Truth" will be shown, and there will be a panel with Rev. Michael Yoshii, and Bob Watada and Rosa Sakanishi. That night in San Jose, there will be a reception and fundraiser for Kyle Snyder at 6pm at the San Jose Friends Meeting House. On Saturday December 9th, there will be a peace vigil in support of Lt. Ehren Watada, in front of the MLK, Jr. Library in San Jose from 12-4pm. Read more about these events."

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