Saturday, September 09, 2006

Tom Hayden on RadionNation with Laura Flanders today

Kat here and first off, C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Friday can be seen easily by clicking here. There are a lot of entries here today. That's going to disappear when this goes up so I thought I'd note it.

Let's also note the fact that the Senate Intelligence Committee report proclaims no link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, despite Bully Boy and others serving under him claiming otherwise for years. (Most recently on August 21st, from the mouth of the Bully Boy himself.)
(Or was it from his ass?) There is no connection, there was no connection. A "blot" is the least of Collie Powell's worries. If you missed that 'performance' in real time, read Ava & C.I.'s commentary on it "TV Review: Barbara and Colin remake The Way We Were" (The Third Estate Sunday Review) and, from the Washington Post, let's note Jonathan Weisman's "Iraq's Alleged Al-Qaeda Ties Were Disputed Before War:"

But Republican attempts to paint the findings as a partisan rehash were undercut by intelligence committee members from the GOP. The committee report's conclusions are based on the Democrats' findings because two Republicans -- Sens. Olympia J. Snowe (Maine) and Chuck Hagel (Neb.) -- supported those findings.
"After reviewing thousands of pages of evidence, I voted for the conclusions that most closely reflect the facts in the report," Snowe said in a written statement. "Policy-makers seemingly discounted or dismissed warnings about the veracity of critical intelligence reports that may have served as a basis for going to war."
Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) was emphatic this week that Iraqi exiles did not fundamentally shape the critical assessment of the Iraqi threat in the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate.
But, as Snowe emphasized in her statement, the report concluded that information provided by an INC source was cited in that estimate and in Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's February 2003 speech to the United Nations as corroborating evidence about Iraq's mobile biological weapons program. Those citations came despite two April 2002 CIA assessments, a May 2002 Defense Intelligence Agency fabrication notice and a July 2002 National Intelligence Council warning -- all saying the INC source may have been coached by the exile group into fabricating the information.

RadioNation with Laura Flanders? Laura's got enough in this weekend to last the month. Listen so you'll be able to say more than "Huh?" when everyone's talking about the show on Monday. (But if you miss it, an archived broadcast, that's a best of both Saturday and Sunday's shows, will go up mid-week here.) RadioNation with Laura Flanders airs from seven to ten p.m. EST Saturday and Sunday online and over Air America Radio stations in traditional broadcast and XM satellite radio for those with satellite radio:

What have Americans learned on the 5th anniversary of 9/11? That the White House always has tricks up its sleeve. We'll talk to former Guantanamo detainee Moazzam Begg on Bush's war against the Geneva convention.
Anti-war campaigner Tom Hayden on how we're going to get out of Iraq. Nation Institute muckraker Jeremy Scahill is exposing the criminals privatizing our military.And there's more than one Ned Lamont ! We'll talk to progressives with primary races September 12th including New York's Jonathan Tasini and Maryland's Donna Edwards. Plus our roundtable: has the media learned anything these past five years? It's all on RadioNation with Laura Flanders this weekend on Air America Radio.

Tom Hayden is on today's show. Juan Gonzalez will be on tomorrow night's show. Again, Monday, if you hang in the informed circles, people will be talking about the show. Be prepared to offer more than, "Yeah." Listen.

Something else you shouldn't miss is Ava and C.I.'s TV commentary at The Third Estate Sunday Review tomorrow. It's not on Iraq but it should be hilarious (they were trading one-liners on it again this morning -- it's always nice to see a Repube get what's coming to them and that's all I'll say other than "Read it!").

Power to Peaceful Festival is today! If you're in the San Fancisco area (it's at Golden Gate Park) and are a fan of good music you should be there (free to the public, but they won't turn down donations). Andrea Lewis interviewed Michael Franti about this yesterday on KPFA's The Morning Show so you can check that out (either for reasons to go or because you don't live in the area) and you can also pick up Michael Franti & Spearhead's Yell Fire! [which I reviewed in
"Kat's Korner: Michael Franti & Spearhead Yell Music! (Are you listening?)"]. Power to Peaceful Festival has already started but events last all day (five o'clock in the evening is when it's supposed to start winding down).

NYT: Julie McBride says KRB inflated head counts and costs on military facilities (James Glanz)

To recap yesterday's big news, from the BBC's "Saddam 'had no link to al-Qaeda':"

There is no evidence of formal links between Iraqi ex-leader Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda leaders prior to the 2003 war, a US Senate report says.
The finding is contained in a 2005 CIA report released by the Senate's Intelligence Committee on Friday.
US President George W Bush has said that the presence of late al-Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq before the war was evidence of a link.

Turning to the New York Times, James Glanz has a should-be-front-page story that's instead on A6 (apparently "baby faced mayor" is more front page worthy?). It's eight paragraphs and entitled "Iraq Contractor Inflated Costs, Lawsuit Alleges." Glanz details the lawsuit of whistleblower Julie McBride against her former employer Halliburton's KRB. McBride charges that KRB "was charging the government fraudulently inflated costs for military facilities," that "compnay employees faked head counts to inflate its charges for operating recreational and dinning facilities, and led a relatively lavish lifestyle by appropriating food and equipment meant for the troops". Halliburton flack Cathy Mann denies any wrong doing and Alan Grayson (of Grayson & Kubli) maintains "that KRB employees enjoyed indulgences ranging from cases of soda and tubs of food to big-screen TV's and excercise equipment."

Also on A6, Edward Wong's "Iranian Troops Arrest 5 From Iraqi Security Forces on Border." Were they in Iran? No one knows at this point. Wong also notes some of the violence from Friday and we'll note this paragraph:

The latest round of violence came a day after a Baghdad morgue official told reporters that more than 1,500 Iraqi civilians died violently in the capital in August, about the same level as in June. If the August figure is accurate it shows that the new Baghdad security plan rolled out by the American military in early August has made little difference so far in quelling violence.

The following community sites have added content since yesterday morning:

Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Betty's Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;
Kat's Kat's Korner (of The Common Ils);
Cedric's Cedric's Big Mix;
Mike's Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz;
Wally's The Daily Jot:
and Trina's Trina's Kitchen

Kat's doing the heads up for RadioNation with Laura Flanders (one guest will be Tom Hayden) and I'm out the door. Ruth's latest will go up either this evening or tomorrow morning.

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The U.S. vs. John Lennon

The above is from an ad in The Nation's September 18, 2006 issue, page 5 (full page ad). The film is The U.S. vs. John Lennon which the Independent of London wrote about recently.

ABC World News Tonight reported on Lennon this week (an interview with Yoko Ono and you can watch it or read their summary online):

Lennon's rebelliousness may have come at a price. In the 1970s, Lennon was convinced that government agents were watching him. As it turns out, he was right.
Almost 20 years after his death, the government released the FBI file on Lennon, which included nearly 300 pages of text. One document that went from the FBI to the CIA reports that Lennon planned to take part in a protest at the 1972 Republican National Convention.

Read the above again. Are you left with the impression that Lennon's FBI file was released? In whole? It wasn't. Even taking account the "need" to redact, it wasn't released in whole. (Gordon Brown, desperate to be prime minister, might want to explain the whys of that.) Possibly if watchdogs barked, as opposed to cackled, this could have been addressed this week because it is part of this nation's history and it matters -- only more so as a result of the Bully Boy's recent actions. (See "On the Dangers of an Unchecked Bully Boy.") It mattered back then and it matters now -- though cackles may be in short supply.

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Extra entry

From the previous entry:

Here's Mazzeti's version of coverage, half of paragraph five and all of six:

But one report did contradict the administration's assertion made before the war and since, that ties between Mr. Zarqawi and Mr. Hussein's government provided evidence of a close relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda.
As recently as Aug. 21 Presdeint Bush said at a news conference that Mr. Hussein "had relations with Zarqawi." But a C.I.A. report completed in October 2005 concluded instead that Mr. Hussein's government "did not have a relationship, harbor or even turn a blind eye toward Zarqwi and his associates," according to the new Senate findings.

And it was concluded before then as well and it was called out yesterday by Carl Levin but Mazzeti seems to suffer from David Gregory Disease -- chief sympton: irrational hatred for Democrats which leads not only to on air siding with Republicans but repeating their spin. [See next entry for that.]

The following originally appeared in it but as one phone call turned into five, the sidebar grew. For the record, five friends at CBS called to complain. Members who had complained and gotten a reply were told that I'd address it in my column in Polly's Brew tomorrow. We're going to address it now because the first friend to call pulled in a marker.

Here's the section pulled so that the focus in the previous entry would remain on the fact, FACT, that there was no link between Saddam Huseein and al-Qaeda.

If that's confusing to anyone, David Gregory Disease -- as Mike pointed out, having neither breasts or a vagina, Gregory gets a pass from critics and watchdogs -- including one woman who made an IDIOT out of herself with her little chuckle at Katie Couric Friday. Considering that the program can't appear to find Iraq with both hands and a seeing eye dog, maybe next time she needs a chuckle, she can look in the mirror?

But here's one example on David Gregory: The Price of Loyalty by Ron Suskind caused a panic in the adminstration. They falsely slimed Paul O'Neill and suggested that the documents used in Suskind's book were taken. A day before the book's official release, Stretch was on air repeating those charges, if not the facts.

Many people had the book before the official release date (I had it before the official release date).

Gregory could have contacted the publisher's for a statement or a copy (he did neither). If he had, he would have been steered viewers to page viii of the introduction which clearly states that papers were released to O'Neill by the Treasury Department on CD-ROMs. (Couric, the object of the witch's cackle yesterday, would be the one left to correct the record for NBC the next day on Today in an interview with Suskind and and O'Neill.) Again, one call would have steered Gregory to that page. Instead he was happy to repeat Republican spin. When Snow Job dared to suggest that Gregory recycled "Democratic talking points" this week, Gregory had a melt down. Not "spin," mind you, but "talking points."

So point, Carl Levin was right but, in the Times, we're not supposed to note it.

On the witch's cackle. At the request of a friend who's been with CBS News for some time the following is being noted here. If that program wants to be taken seriously as a watchdog, their CBS bias needs to be addressed. Over the summer, they also felt the need to slime Bob Schieffer. I don't care for Schieffer, I never have. But if you're going to raise some personal lawsuit, you better follow it. When you raise it, you better tie it in and you better follow it up after. If you don't, it looks like a cheap shot.

So did the witch's cackle. It was a cackle over the fact that CBS Evening News showed the photos of Tom Cruise and Katie Holems with their child. Like it or not, it was news. The New York Times has written of the controversy (stirred the controversy?) that the absence of photos had created. Now possibly, CBS News could have been as "professional" as the cackler's program which aired a comedy clip? Is that news?

A summer without Iraq, is that news? Don't offer up an interview about press spin that touched on Iraq -- that's not covering Iraq. The Bully Boy's campaign strategy for the November Congressional elections is to steer everyone away from talking about Iraq. Fortunatley for him, independent media dropped Iraq this summer.

So here's hint before the next witch's cackle: When you interview a Mother Jones' reporter about Chris Hedges being burned by TWO sources for a story (one linking Saddam Hussein to 9-11), you ask who the second source was? If your a damn watch dog, you ask that question. The second source has never been revealed and you're own BIAS is on display when you won't tackle that question while claiming to be an uninhibited watchdog.

If you think a cackle belongs on a broadcast, you've got serious problems. Community members know the program I'm speaking of. If it continues to shirk its responsibilities, we'll not it by name here. But when a friend calls and says, "I'm calling in a marker" (words I've used myself many times), we will note it here and we will add to it by noting that the program that felt the need to eulogize Peter Jennings (he met with them to hear their points -- blessed be) should have been able to spare a few minutes to dissect the nonsense that was Peter Jennings Reporter. If you're so fond of Peter Jennings that you need to take a look back at him (while ignoring John H. Johnson, among others who pass), than possibly when ABC betrays what you say Jennings stood for with a laughable, embarrassing special, you need to have a comment?

But ABC and NBC don't get raked over the coals the way CBS does. And the witch's cackle was just the latest example. If they want to be the CBS watchdog, they need to bill themselves as that. If they want to be a media watchdog, they need to find some fairness in their coverage. That means holding everyone equally responsible and that doesn't mean you praise Chris Hedges for naming ONE of TWO sources for a story falsely linking Saddam Hussein and 9-11. Nor does it mean that when you have a Washington Post story revealing Dexter Filkins as the go-to-guy by the US military when they want to plant a questionable story that you reduce that to a headline as opposed to a serious explanation.

Should they wonder why their action alerts are so often ignored, one reason is their bias is so often remarked upon. The Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes and their child photos were a story because the media had made them a story. Snickering over the airing of the photos when you have no coverage of Iraq for the entire summer to point to is making a joke of yourself. Get serious.

And there have been four more calls so this will probably be pulled for its own entry. But one point noted is that the Katie Couric patrol (it's a huge patrol -- made up by many) has REMAINED silent on the issue of Charlie Gibson. To read and hear all the jaw boning, only Couric moved from daytime show to evening news. That's not quite reality. But then the silence that greeted the demotion of a pregnant woman and the demotion of a man injured in Iraq to make room for Gibson's apparently big ass (it needs to fill two anchor chairs and not one) wasn't reality either.

The program can offer all the witch's cackle it chooses to. But as long as it does and as long as it continues to hold CBS News to one standard (higher) and the rest to another (lesser), the last laugh won't be the witch's cackle. If they want to have influence, they might want to consider checking their own bias at the door.

Was it just friends at CBS "whining"? I didn't think so because I listen to the program. I called a friend in the suites at cable news and one who produces for another network. "Who does the program really go after?" CBS. Whether they intend that to be the impression they leave or not, it is the one left and it's left outside of CBS. "They go to town on Bob [Schieffer]!" said cable (who dislikes Schieffer almost as much as I do).

If they can tear themselves away from their I-Hate-CBS-News fan club (difficult, granted, because they really appear to have it in for Katie Couric), they might want to attempt to tell their listeners about the US military keeping a body count of Iraqis. It's interesting how that story was ignored in June when Nancy A. Yousseff and now, as the Pentagon's reports are cited, we're all pretending like the claim of no body counts was ever made.

Our focus is Iraq these days. This entry had to be done when someone called in a marker. So this is an extra entry today. I will do two more and Ruth's finishing her report which ideally will go up after Laura Flanders' show tonight. (If not, I should have left the house two hours ago so it may go up tomorrow.) One is a visual. And Isaiah has a comic for tomorrow for those wondering. (A new one.)

No tags, I'm trying to get done this morning as quickly as possible but between Mazzetti's 'reporting' and the phone calls, I'm running way behind.

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No Link Between Saddam and al Qaeda

There was no link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda as the Senate Intel Committee Report released yesterday revealed. Tony Snow Job wants to say it's all old news, but as recently as August 21st, Bully Boy was explicitly making the link. Not implying. Not, as a guest on The KPFA Evening News yesterday stated, implying it merely by doing a sentence on 911 and then following up with a sentence on Saddam Hussein.

Bully Boy is asking for prime time coverage (a bit like his demand that his statement this week be covered -- and didn't the networks cave on that too -- live) during the hideous 9-11 mini-series. If you're "The Linker" (which he -- "the decider" is laughable) you want that primetime space to once again trot out your lies.

Busy day and I was hoping to do only one entry this morning -- so it figures the New York Times would assign the story on the Senate Intel Report to Mark Mazzetti who remains one of their worst. How bad is it? With far less words, Matt Fry managed to convey the importance of the report last night on the BBC and you can combine Sidney Blumenthal's words with Fry (Blumenthal gave commentary on the BBC) and still not reach anywhere near Mazzetti's word count but still be more informed.

There was no link. We'll come back to the point but start off with another point, one that's not being noted in any of the (domestic) press I'm seeing.

Let's start with Blumenthal. (Presumably, Blumenthal will write about this for the Guardian of London and/or Salon. When that happens we'll link to it.) Blumenthal focused on the section of the report dealing with the Iraqi National Congress. One of the suppliers of "evidence" for the Iraqi National Congress only provided information under torture. He also recanted his statements when the torture ceased.

This is in the second part of the Senate Intel Committee Report (which currently doesn't display online, probably due to web traffic).

Now we'll return to the fact that there was no link. From yesterday's snapshot:

Reuters notes that US Senator Carl Levin has pointed to the Bully Boy's statement on August 21st and attempted (yet again) to make an unfounded link. Levin: "The president's statement, made just two weeks ago, is flat-out false."
Though the press wants to play Levin's statement as an allegation, public record shows
Bully Boy stated: "I square it because imagine a world in which you had Saddam Hussein, who had the capacity to make a weapon of mass destruction, who was paying suiciders to kill innocent life, who had relations with Zarqawi." As Levin pointed out, that "is flat-out false."

To it's credit, AP later did begin noting the statement and the Washington Post does today. Martha's highlight, Jonathan Weisman's "Iraq's Alleged Al-Qaeda Ties Were Disputed Before War" (Washington Post):

As recently as Aug. 21, Bush suggested a link between Hussein and Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, who was killed by U.S. forces this summer. But a CIA assessment in October 2005 concluded that Hussein's government "did not have a relationship, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi and his associates," according to the report.
"The president is still distorting. He's still making statements which are false," said Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), an intelligence committee member.

Here's Mazzetti's version of coverage, half of paragraph five and all of six:

But one report did contradict the administration's assertion made before the war and since, that ties between Mr. Zarqawi and Mr. Hussein's government provided evidence of a close relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda.
As recently as Aug. 21 Presdeint Bush said at a news conference that Mr. Hussein "had relations with Zarqawi." But a C.I.A. report completed in October 2005 concluded instead that Mr. Hussein's government "did not have a relationship, harbor or even turn a blind eye toward Zarqwi and his associates," according to the new Senate findings.

And it was concluded before then as well and it was called out yesterday by Carl Levin but Mazzeti seems to suffer from David Gregory Disease -- chief sympton: irrational hatred for Democrats which leads not only to on air siding with Republicans but repeating their spin. [See next entry for that.] If Levin's comments were false or were not so obviously true, chances are the Times would have noted them. Here, they ignore them.

The same way they ignore reality in Jesse McKinley's laughable "Democrats Still Pushing ABC to Pull Film on 9/11" which can't quote John Kerry, but can give you eight lines of a statement by Conservative Voice, a right-wing blog. What else can't McKinley do? He can't quote any blog other than a right-wing one. One that's far up in the story as opposed to Hillary Clinton's remarks which are news. Reporters have been trying to get her to go on record and she's avoided them. She spoke of the laughable mini-series (it's not a "film") at Columbia University and that's included after eleven paragraphs, Conservative Voice is mentioned in paragraph five and quoted at length in paragraph six. That passes for balance apparently.

The press wanted a quote from Hillary. McKinley finds one and buries it.

The fear roll out for the November elections does matter. The mini-series is crafted to be part of that and now the Bully Boy plans to give a speech on the second night. Not on the first, because he needs the destructive visuals if he really wants to scare a nation into voting GOP. I love how some who've jerked off all summer now want to dismiss the importance of the mini-series. They've covered the Austrian kidnap victim and what? The passing of the 2500 mark of American military fatalities in August? Nope. Iraq falling apart? Nope. Well, wow.

They have enriched a nation. Now they want to dismiss the mini-series. ABC's big worry, right now, is that people aren't going to watch. That was always a concern. Films on the subject haven't been box office. They knew that. They were willing to go forward with the costly mini-series. It's obvious that greenlight wasn't based on a desire to set down history. (That's almost as laughable as attempts to urge you to e-mail John Bryson to stop the mini-series.) [Rebecca's discussed the mini-series in "the mouse that purred for the bully boy" and Kat in "The al-Maliki Shuffle" -- those aren't "partisan" views. Only in the Times does left equate Clintonista.] Bully Boy's fall roll out gets hours of prime time, plus his speech. It does matter. The only danger is that the talk will turn it into some sort of "We must watch it" -- similar to the way talk turned American Psycho into a best seller. The same network that isn't interested in airing party conventions (it didn't begin with 2004 unless you're foolish enough to believe that in 1988, ABC had to break in with a "late breaking" Hart to Hart repeat) is happy to be part of the fall roll out.

On August 9th, John Stauber appeared on KPFA's The Morning Show and wondered if the die hards who look reality in the face but still proclaim "There were WMDs" would benefit from a Times headline proclaiming: "No WMD Found in Iraq"? That's plain spoken, so it would never be a headline in the paper. "C.I.A. Said To Find No WMD in Iraq" would be a headline. It would allow everyone who needs to lie to themselves to say, "Well, that's just what the CIA said." Today's headline works in the same way.

But there is no link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. From Greg Miller's "Senate: Hussein Wasn't Allied With Al Qaeda" (Los Angeles Times):

The Senate Intelligence Committee on Friday said it had found no evidence that Saddam Hussein had ties to Al Qaeda or provided safe harbor to one of its most notorious operatives, Abu Musab Zarqawi -- conclusions contradicting claims by the Bush administration before it invaded Iraq.

Mazzetti (New York Times), as always, is concerned with the CIA and misses the report and the Democratic statements. One point he makes more strongly:

The C.I.A. report also directly contradicted claims made in February 2003 by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, who mentioned Mr. Zarqawi by name no fewer than 20 times during a speech to the United Nations Security Council that made the administration’s case to go to war. In that speech, Mr. Powell said that Iraq "today harbors a deadly terrorist network" headed by Mr. Zarqawi, and dismissed as "not credible"’ assertions by the Iraqi government that it had no knowledge of Mr. Zarqawi’s whereabouts.

More strongly, but not strongly. Mazzetti's referring to the 2005 report. Powell's claims were refuted much earlier than 2005. Weisman (Washington Post):

But, as [Olympia] Snowe emphasized in her statement, the report concluded that information provided by an INC source was cited in that estimate and in Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's February 2003 speech to the United Nations as corroborating evidence about Iraq's mobile biological weapons program. Those citations came despite two April 2002 CIA assessments, a May 2002 Defense Intelligence Agency fabrication notice and a July 2002 National Intelligence Council warning -- all saying the INC source may have been coached by the exile group into fabricating the information.

From The Third Estate Sunday Review's "TV Review: Barbara and Colin remake The Way We Were" (Ava and I wrote this review of Powell's laughable remarks):

Powell: Well it's a, it's a, of course it will. It's a blot. I'm the one who presented it on behalf of the United Nations, uh, United States, to the world. And it will always be uh, part of my, uh, my record.
Walters: How painful is it?
Powell: (shrugs) It was -- it *was* painful. (shifts, shrugs) It's painful now.

It should be a lot more "painful" but when Mazzetti's so quick to offer up 2005 as the first rebuke, it probably goes down quite a bit easier. It's also part of the roll out for Bully Boy to try to get ahead of everything which is why he wants the prime time during the mini-series to address the nation. It's part of the fear campaign and it does matter.

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Friday, September 08, 2006

Iraq snapshot

Friday, September 8, 2006.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, bits of the long over due US Senate reporton the lies that led to war (they're calling it a look into the intell) are scattered like crumbs, US soldier Mark Wilkerson reflects on how he reached the decision not to take part in the illegal war, US soldier Darrell Anderson is reportedly headed back to the United States after attempts to be granted asylum in Canada,
and Australia's Bully Boy says Brendan Nelson is doing a "fantastic job."
In the United States, AP was first out of the gate with: "A senate intelligence committee report says there's no evidence Saddam Hussein had a relationship with terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi or his al-Qaida associates before the Iraq war."  CBS and AP quote US Senator John D. Rockefeller stating of the report: "Ultimately, I think you will find that administration officials made repeated prewar statements that were not supported by underlying intelligence" and that it shows "the administration pursued a deceptive strategy abusing intelligence reporting that the intelligence community had already warned was uncorroborated, unreliable and in some critical circumstances fabricated."
Reuters notes that US Senator Carl Levin has pointed to the Bully Boy's statement on August 21st and attempted (yet again) to make an unfounded link.  Levin: "The president's statement, made just two weeks ago, is flat-out false."
Though the press wants to play Levin's statement as an allegation, public record shows Bully Boy stated: "I square it because imagine a world in which you had Saddam Hussein, who had the capacity to make a weapon of mass destruction, who was paying suiciders to kill innocent life, who had relations with Zarqawi."  As Levin pointed out, that "is flat-out false."
The lies that led into illegal war.  Yesterday, AP notes, the Senate passed a spending measure to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with another $63 billion dollars.
As the cost in blood and currency continues to add up, more and more people turn against the illegal war.  In the United States, Byron Pitts (CBS) reported on the mood in Jacksonville, North Carolina and spoke with retired Marine Colonel Jim Van Riper who admits to vote for Bully Boy twice but intends to vote Democratic for the first time.  Van Riper tells Pitts: "I've turn him [Bully Boy] off.  I've tuned him out."  The cost in blood?  AFP notes the Baghdad morgue body count for August stands at 1,584.  It also includes 2666 US troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the war, 118 British troops (that includes the one who died Thursday) and 115 "other" for a total of 2899.
Of the US fatality count, Emil Guillermo (Asian Week) notes, "Ironically, of the Iraq war deaths, over 2,500 came after" Bully Boy's "declared on May 1, 2003, 'Mission Accomplished'."
CNN reports that, in Baghdad, a roadside bomb left six injured and killed three ("including a mother and child" among the dead) and that a US soldier died "south of Baghdad" from a roadside bomb.  Reuters reports a car bomb in Baghdad that killed a police officer "and a bystander". Sami al-Jumaili (Reuters) reports the death of eight in Kerbala from mortars.
CNN reports that three people were shot dead in Baquba and a sunni tribal chief was shot dead in Hawija. Reuters identifies the man as Ibrahim al-Khalaf and notes that an Iraqi soldier was shot dead near Samarra (with two others wounded).
AFP reports six corpses were found in Baghdad ("tortured . . . shot to death").  Reuters reports the corpse of Haider Hamza was discovered "shot dead in front of his house" and that he had been "an interpreter working for Danish troops in Iraq".
AFP reports that Brigadier Muzher Kamel Mohammad ("head of the police force protecting Iraqi courts") was kidnapped in Baghdad.  This as Reuters reports the US is clashing with people in Falluja and "U.S. troops used loudspeakers to demand people turn in 'insurgents' or face a 'large military operation'."  Falluja.  Again.  As if November 2004 wasn't destructive enough.  Hearts and minds, as Mark Wilkerson has noted, are not being won.
And the much touted non-handover?  As Jim Sciutto (ABC) notes: "Watching the headlines in the American media today, you might think the U.S. military handed over military control in Iraq to Iraqis.  There was certainly a ceremony yesterday -- a handshake at a military base where Iraqi commanders took control of an Iraqi army division from coailtion commanders -- but the real story is the arithmetic.  Yesterday's handover affects the tiny Iraqi navy and air force, with a few hundred folks in each, and a single Iraqi army division, the 8th Army with 5500 to 7000 troops.  This means only about five percent the 115,000 regulars in the Iraqi army now take their cues from the Iraqi prime minister.  The rest remain firmly under foreign control -- and so do the most dangerous areas of the country, such as Baghdad and the volatile Anbar province in the west.  The 8th Army operates in the relatively small -- and relatively quiet -- Diwaniyeh province in southern Iraq."
In peace news, Diana Welch (Austin Chronicle News) reviews the case of war resister Mark Wilkerson noting his disillusionment ("When we went, our general mission was to win the hearts and minds of the people.  But when I got there, and I saw the people and how we were treating them, I thought, 'We're doing exactly the opposite'."), his awakening (finding out who was profitting -- "certain individuals were making on this war, how much money the corporations like Halliburton were making"), having his conscientious objector application rejected as he was called up for another tour of duty, and then deciding to check himself out. Alan Gionet (CBS4) reports that Rebecca Barker, Matt Wilkerson's mother, stated, "I think the public is looking at anyone who goes AWOL as cowards and it goes much deeper than that."  Welch notes that Wilkerson could face a special court-martial (if found guilty, one year sentence is the maximum) or a general one (which would led to seven years if found guilty).  Gionet reports: "Wilkerson is confined to base while his unit faces what could be its third deployment."
Meanwhile, Phinjo Gombu (Toronto Star) reports that war resister Darrell Anderson will be leaving Canada and returning to the US, according to his mother Anita Anderson. This should take place during the last weekend of September and he will be met at the border by peace activists and Vietnam veterans as well as by Jim Fennerty, his attorney.  "If he is not arrested immediately, Anderson plans to travel to Fort Knox in Kentucky to turn himself in.  It is one of the two army bases where deserters are kept while the army decides whether to court-martial or discharge a soldier."
In Washington, DC  Camp Democracy continues through September 21st. It is free and open to the public. Today's events focused on labor issues.  Saturday, September 9th, many events will be taking place and among those speaking will be Antonia Juhasz (The BU$H Agenda), Ray McGovern and Bill Moyers. The events will kick off at 9:00 a.m. in preparation of the 9:30 a.m. march around the Capitol Building "To remember the fallen and remind Congress and the public of the human cost of the War on and Occupation of Iraq." Sunday, September 10th will feature Juhasz, Ann Wright, Raed Jarrar and others.  A complete schedule can be found here.
And beginning September 21st (International Peace Day), via United for Peace & Justice:
It's time to answer fear with courage, to step out of our personal comfort zones and take bold action to end the Iraq War.
Join us in a week of nonviolent action, including civil disobedience, from September 21-28, and in pressuring pro-war politicians all this fall through the Voters for Peace pledge.
In Australia, Defence Minister Brendan Nelson continues to be a subject of discussion over his role as self-designated media spokesperson for the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco.  First into the fray was prime minister John Howard who has "full confience" in Brendan Nelson.  Of course he also claims to have "full confidence" in Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston whose testimony directly contradicts Nelson.  And it's also true that Howard is the Bully Boy down under.  So no one really cares what he says as he speaks from both sides of his mouth except possibly for this statement which has strong echoes of "Heck of a job, Brownie" -- from ABC's The World Today, Howard: "Dr Nelson is doing a fantastic job."  Fantastic of a job, Brendie!
For those who missed it, yesterday Houston told the hearing that he had repeatedly warned Nelson not to speak to the press because the events of Jake Kovco's death were not clear. Or as WA Business News sums it up: "Defence force chief Angus Houston has directly contradicted the Defence Minister's statement to police about private Jake Kovco's death, saying Brendan Nelson ignored repeated warnings not to speculate about the shooting."
Samantha Hawley summarizes (on ABC's PM) thusly: In a witten submission to the Military Board of Inquiry, Dr Nelson says it was Air Chief Marshal Houston who told him that Jake Kovco had been handling his loaded weapon in some way when it discharged.  But Angus Houston directly contradicts that claim.  In his own submission, the Defence Force Chief indicates he repeatedly urged the minister against speculating about the cause of death, saying it appeared to have been a tragic accident but this would need to be confirmed by the Board of Inquiry."
We turn to this statement from April 27, 2006: "Of course we are, and I'm personally, very angry about it.  I'm very disappointed.  The inquiry and the investigation will get to the bottom of it.  But I just ask Australians, it's very easy to criticise Defence.  It's a large organization.  It does wonderful things for Australians and for people in times of trouble, but don't just, I just say to Australians, don't just take a free kick here."
A free kick?  Hasn't Brendan Nelson earned it?  The statement above was when he went to the press to announce that Jake Kovco's coffin had returned home but not his body.  It's been one mix up after another.  Put yourself in the Kovco family's place, think of all the mix ups/screw ups Nelson's overseen and been responsible for and wonder if Brendan Nelson is the poor-put-upon he'd like to paint himself or someone performing their job very poorly. 

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No one can accuse Michael Franti of armchair activism.
When U.S. and British troops invaded Iraq three years ago, lots of musicians spoke out with songs, letters and freshly peeled bumper stickers. But the lead singer of the Bay Area soul-funk group Spearhead handled the situation in his own typical way. He turned off CNN, grabbed a guitar and started pricing tickets to Baghdad.
"I knew I wasn't getting the whole truth on TV," he says. "I wanted to see with my own eyes what was going on there."
Although the members of his own band didn't expect anything less, they were too afraid to join him on the trip. Other musicians he called not only turned him down but tried to talk him out of going as well.
It didn't work. In May 2004, Franti rounded up three video cameras and a ragtag eight-person crew, and made the journey to Iraq via Jordan. After some mild confusion at the customs desk, he was welcomed into the country as a tourist.
"I didn't feel like a tourist at all," laughs Franti, 39, who spent most of his time in Baghdad busking in the streets and chatting with locals. But that didn't mean he wasn't curious. His main mission was to see how people made it through their daily lives -- without electricity or drinking water, and car bombs constantly going off around the corner. "It's so incredibly dangerous, I was interested in seeing how kids get to school, how adults get to their jobs," he says.

The above is from Aidin Vaziri's "Michael Franti got his guitar, then headed to Iraq. Any requests for anti-war music?" (San Francisco Chronicle). Saturday, September 9th (as the article notes), Franti and Spearhead stage the Power to Peaceful Festival (Golden Gate Park in San Francisco) from 11 am to 5 pm and this is a free event. More information can be found by clicking here. And the time is the listing in the San Francisco Guardian so if you're interested check the time (I thought there were events starting as early as nine am but I'm tired and may be remebering wrong).

If you're unfamiliar with Franti and Spearhead, Kat reviewed the latest album Monday ["Kat's Korner: Michael Franti & Spearhead Yell Music! (Are you listening?)"].

On the subject of the latest Osama tape, if you didn't check out Robert Parry's "The Bush-Bin Laden Symbiosis"** (Consortium News) in July, it's probably time to check it out now. These tapes have a tendency to surface as an election rolls around. Also on the issue of Osama and 9-11, Carl notes Danny Schechter's "911 Redux: Where is that decoder ring when we need it?" (

Which brings us to 9/11 and its conflicting theories:
There have always been two often intersecting theories of history: the conspiracy theory referencing action by deliberate design, and then the "f*ck up theory" that implies incompetence and unintended consequences. Sometimes these two theories morph and merge.
Ironically, it was the Bush Administration that first rolled out its own conspiracy theory: the "Al-Qaeda did it" conclusion. It seemed so obvious. "They" conspired. "They" planned it. "They" hijacked the planes. "They" crashed them into buildings--except when they didn't.
And the media bought it and recycled this storyline endlessly in print, radio and TV, as part of a relentless scattershot chronicle of demonization filled with contradictions and omissions that at different times included the Saudis, the Pakistanis, the city of Dubai, Saddam Hussein and just about every Immam and Mullah out there. On September 11th an AMTRAK passenger train was stopped when a rider suspected that an Indian traveler with a turban was part of the Taliban. Others have been denied air passage because of their T-shirts.
It often seems as if the "terrorists" are everywhere and no where at the same time. It is us versus them.
(This rampant paranoia reminds me of the old joke about the cop about to arrest a communist during the bad old days of the Red Scare. The man protests that he is an "anti-communist." The cop responds, "I don't care what kind of communist you are.")
This is the official narrative repeated without pause, legitimated by the 9/11 Commission, signed, sealed and delivered. It is always offered up as 'just the facts, ma'am' "real story" by some self-styled "terrorism expert."
Yet, as South African writer Nadine Gordimer recognizes, "the facts are always less than what happened."
Other "facts" soon began dribbling out, unofficial facts to contradict the official ones. They added up to "Inconvenient Truths" as in the gospel according to Al Gore. And suddenly two new theories offered a widely believed "counter-narrative"--even as this one has yet to fully penetrate the mass media guardians of public order and understandings.
The first is the incompetence theory, the by now accepted reality of screw-ups without end that, when taken together, would in any other society lead to prosecutable crimes and misdemeanors. Surely a country which spent three years embroiled in the Clinton witch trial should be capable of going after a real abuse of power.
This shameful record will no longer stay buried as we learn of failures to act despite as many as 60 warnings, fatally flawed intelligence procedures, agencies not communicating or consciously deceiving each other and themselves, of billion dollar Air Defense Systems not defending the country, of a lack of emergency planning, and as in the case of the World Trade Center an absence of preparedness, police and fire radios that didn’t work, and "America's Mayor" more consumed with his image and "legacy" than it protecting the responders who were allowed and encouraged to work in conditions known to be dangerous without safety provisions.
All you will need are three sources to persuade you of the colossal "f*ck-up that was 9/11: two new books, Lawrence Wright's
The Looming Tower, and "Grand Illusion" by Wayne Barrett and Dan Collins exposing Rudy Giuliani's fraudulent heroism, and, now, the new Globalvision assisted documentary 911: Press for Truth on the 911 Commission cover-up and the pernicious role played by our media.
Beyond all this is the Bush Did It counter-conspiracy theories propounded in different form on a thousand books websites and films like "Loose Change" that claim to "connect the dots" by identifying the long and nefarious hand of government complicity--not just duplicity-- behind 911.
Some of those propounding these views sometime seem fanatical as if they are waging their own Jihad based on an almost fundamentalist certainty that they know what happened. Everyone has heard the claims of controlled demolitions and missiles used to stage a new Pearl Harbor. There may be truth here---but is it the only truth?
It seems clear that even if the government did not prepare 911, they were prepared to use it to political advantage and to have it economically benefit their many donors and "partners."

And Wally notes Liz Sly's "Coalition cedes control of some Iraqi forces amid call for U.S. deaths" (Chicago Tribune via Florida's Herald ):

A man purporting to be al-Qaida's new leader in Iraq made his first appearance on the Internet Thursday, with an audiotape in which he called on Iraq's Sunnis to unite and to each kill an American within the next 15 days.
The tape was posted as Iraq's prime minister assumed command and control of a small fraction of the Iraqi armed forces at a ceremony of largely symbolic importance for the country's efforts to gain independence from foreign forces and for U.S. hopes eventually to bring American troops home.
Yet a day touted as one of "gigantic" significance by the U.S. military was marred by a rash of bombings across Baghdad that left 17 people dead as police said they had found 34 handcuffed and tortured bodies dumped in the neighborhood of Dora. Three U.S. troops also were reported killed, two of them in Anbar province and one in the northern Iraq town of Hawija.
That a new security effort in Baghdad has not yet had a discernible impact on the level of violence was illustrated by a revised death toll for August, issued by Iraq's Health Ministry and quoted by The Associated Press. The new figure puts the August toll in Baghdad at 1,536, only slightly below the record of around 1,800 recorded in July.

Which brings us back to where we started. Sort of. It does bring us back to the lie of the death toll. Why the press trumpeted the numbers to being with isn't dealt with, is it? They knew the numbers were incomplete ("three out of five") and they knew the month wasn't over. So why did they run with it?

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[** C.I. Note: Correct link and title to Parry. Thanks to Eddie for catching it and correcting me.]

William Caldwell IV caught in the spin

So the New York Times tackles the Iraqi civilians death toll for August and they appear unaware of what they earlier reported. From Paul von Zielbauer's "Fall in Deaths in Baghdad Not as Steep as Predicted:"

The morgue official said 1,535 bodies were received in August, about the same number as in June and a 17 percent reduction from July. The morgue reported receiving 1,855 bodies in July, the highest number of civilian deaths for any month since the American-led invasion in 2003.
The official, who provided the information on the condition that he not be named because he was not authorized to speak for attribution, spoke on the day when the American military formally began handing over control of Iraq's armed forces to the Iraqi government. The process, which American officials have hailed as a major step toward independence, will take months longer to complete, American officials said.
The August total of violent deaths, if accurate, contradicts the sense among many Baghdad residents and claims by American officials, after a lull early in August, that death rates had ebbed. A surge in attacks toward the end of August also casts doubt on the effectiveness of a four-week-old American military operation that added 4,000 American soldiers to secure several of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods.

[. . .]
On Thursday, Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, the military's top spokesman here, wrote on a military Web site [. . .] that since Aug. 7, killings in Baghdad had declined by 52 percent compared with the average daily rate in July. But the military's figures do not include dozens, perhaps hundreds, of the civilians who died violently in August. The military's figures count only killings of individuals "targeted as a result of sectarian-related violence," said Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a spokesman for the American military. Killings from other violent acts, like car bombings and mortar attacks, were not counted, he said.
The morgue's monthly body count in Baghdad has become a main indicator of the success of both the Iraqi government's national reconciliation plan and the American military's effort to secure Baghdad.

We can note, first off, THE MILITARY'S COUNT. As Nancy A. Youssef reported in June, the US military has been doing a body count since for over a year (a year in July). We can note, secondly, that the count the press ran with orignally was incomplete and suspect and that should have been obvious due to phrases such as "three out of five reporting."

Martha notes Ellen Knickmeyer's "Body Count in Baghdad Nearly Triples" (Washington Post) on the same topic:

Baghdad's morgue almost tripled its count for violent deaths in Iraq's capital during August from 550 to 1,536, authorities said Thursday, appearing to erase most of what U.S. generals and Iraqi leaders had touted as evidence of progress in a major security operation to restore order in the capital.
Separately, the Health Ministry confirmed Thursday that it planned to construct two new branch morgues in Baghdad and add doctors and refrigerator units to raise capacity to as many as 250 corpses a day.

[. . .]
By late August, Maj. Gen. William Caldwell was claiming a 46 percent decrease in the murder rate in Baghdad for that month. "We are actually seeing progress," Caldwell said at the time. A U.S. military Web site on Thursday continued to assert a roughly 50 percent drop in killings in Baghdad.

Where there is spin, there is William Caldwell IV. Maybe someday he'll be held accountable since "spin" is a polite term for "lie."

In yesterday's snapshot, we noted that Anita Anderson stated she was advising her son, war resister Darrell Anderson, not to come back to the US from Canada. With the latest on that topic, Phinjo Gombu's "Deserter defies mom in return to U.S." (Toronto Star):

"He feels that everything he did was a moral stand and he has to follow it through, which means coming back and facing it, telling everybody what's happening there, what's happening to soldiers and the innocent Iraqi people."
He has told her he will refuse any offer to gain a discharge if it means signing a gag order, she said.
Anderson, 24, came to Canada in January of last year after serving seven months in Iraq and being wounded by a roadside bomb, for which he was awarded a Purple Heart.
An armoured vehicle specialist who joined up at 19, he fled when faced with a second deployment to Iraq.
In Canada, Anderson has spoken out passionately and publicly against the war, calling it illegal and saying he had witnessed the killing of innocent Iraqis and the unjustified death of too many young American soldiers.
His return home during the last weekend of September is expected to be a very public event, with peace activists and Vietnam War veterans meeting him at the border — possibly including well-known anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq.
Also present at the border will be his U.S. lawyer, Jim Fennerty, and a representative of the American Civil Liberties Union.
If he is not arrested immediately, Anderson plans to travel to Fort Knox in Kentucky to turn himself in. It is one of two army bases where deserters are kept while the army decides whether to court-martial or discharge a soldier.

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

And the war drags on . . .

He was a tough kid and determined to take what they could give him, but the dirty needle was too much.
Join the Marines, spit up blood.
Talk about a military that's strained to the breaking point. They're enforcing stop-loss orders, calling up the reserves, extending the enlistment age (in a recent spoof of a recruitment ad on "The Daily Show," doddering oldsters were lured to sign up with the phrase, "Remember, when you have a gun in your hands, they have to listen to your stories"). This is the paradox of waging an unpopular, morally ambiguous war.
What happened to 19-year-old Lance Cpl. Matt Solowynsky at the beginning of this year shows another aspect of the strain. The process of dehumanizing the enemy -- the sine qua non of every war in human history, and crushingly obvious when a war grinds on without a clear strategic objective -- sooner or later backs up on itself.
Part of the toxic waste of war embeds itself in the emotions and the soul of the combatants. That Guantanamo energy, that gusto to terrorize helpless detainees, to humiliate unarmed civilians, isn't so easily contained, and begins corrupting the whole system. When a designated enemy isn't available, anyone -- a new recruit, say -- will do.
"He didn't do anything but be a gung-ho Marine," said Tod Ensign of Citizen Soldier, the organization that eventually came to Solowynsky's aid. Indeed, he was the highest ranked recruit in his class when he graduated from Marine Corps Basic Training last September. How odd that, a few months later, he was AWOL, fleeing Camp Pendleton, Calif., as though he were a POW.
The psychiatrist he saw a short while later called his flight "by far, his most responsible option." And, according to his lawyer, Louis Font, Solowynsky was well within his rights, under the Universal Code of Military Justice, to do what he did. If he has a court-martial trail -- he surrendered to the Marines at Quantico, Va., on Aug. 22 -- his defense will be his right to leave an abusive situation.

The above is from Robert C. Koehler's "SEMPER WHY?" (Citizen Soldier) and was noted by Jonah. A face to the war and the damage it does. Another face was requested by Skip and Nora, from The Autralian's excerpts of the statement Ben Kovco read for his family at the hearing into the April 21st Baghdad death of his step-brother Jake Kovco:

"Given the current evidence of Jake's roommates, at the time officers in Iraq would have very soon after the incident been aware that neither could, or was willing to say, how Jake was killed. Under these circumstances, even the most ill-informed, indeed an individual who had never before investigated a potential crime scene, would know better than to allow the only potential witnesses to wash their clothes and themselves, return to their daily duties and then allow the clothing of the deceased to be destroyed.
"Trained military officers and MPs have no excuse. They are not new to this environment. It is hard to imagine what the NSW Police officers must have thought, arriving to a fully stripped, effectively sterilised room with a couple of blood stains on the carpet and a hole in the ceiling. "Hearing the testimony of the soldiers directly involved with Jake on April 21st was frustrating in the extreme. To touch on the absurdity of their evidence, we have Jake killed by a gunshot wound while in very confined quarters with two other individuals, soldiers 17 and 19. Soldier 19 claims to be looking away from Jake when he heard the gun shot yet says he reacted and turned quickly enough to see Jake falling to the floor. Soldier 17 openly admits to have been facing Jake, sitting so close that he was almost in bodily contact, yet saw nothing. In fact, the claim is that he heard the gun shot and was completely unaware of an imposing six-foot tall man falling to the floor practically on top of him. Difficult to stomach from professional soldiers, whose training equips them better than most to observe and report. "Soldier 14 is then unable or unwilling to adequately explain the presence of his DNA in larger quantities than Jake's own DNA on the weapon that killed Jake ... He also offers an account of Jake supposedly mishandling his pistol the week before his death, accounting in detail an event that has been demonstrated in the inquiry to be physically impossible. Furthermore, Soldier 14, via his legal representative refuses to co-operate with the NSW Police.
"Soldiers 14, 17 and 19 have provided all this to the board as their sworn testimony, but as conscious individuals, it is absolutely insulting to have this evidence put to us as the full and honest truth. Perhaps these soldiers can live with the decisions they have made and the effect it may have on finding the truth about Jake's death. Likely, it will play on their minds for the rest of their lives. I hope they can live with that because we cannot. Not knowing exactly what happened to our son and brother will haunt us for the rest of our lives. "Though we would like to believe otherwise, it is very difficult to move beyond the undesirable idea that the ADF and its representatives have gone out of their way to destroy as much evidence as possible in an attempt to protect the organisation and its personnel from any implication of wrongdoing. The actions described above (among many others) coupled with the disturbing inability of the witnesses to the event to provide any credible account of what happened, makes it very nearly impossible to reach the truth of what occurred in room 8 and in this the ADF is solely responsible and their actions have almost ensured that the truth may never be found.''

One suffered under the US government, the other's families suffer under the Australian government. That's a lot of suffering and there's little indication that either government gives a damn. With Jake Kovco, his family was asked not to speak to the press. Why do you think that was? When Brendan Nelson, Australia's Defence Minister, wasn't concerned about his own speaking to the press, why do you think that was? If there was any respect for the contributions either man made, short of sloganeering, don't you think things would have been handled differently?

Slogannering's all you get about sacrifice. Bully Boy compares paying taxes to sacrifice and it's no surprise that someone like that (someone who couldn't even keep his pledge to give up sweets for as long as the war lasted) would start an illegal war.

Let's sing the song:

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.

-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Thursday, the American troop fatality stood at 2641. Tonight? 2666. (The mark of the Bully Boy?) That's twenty-five more than last Thursday and again we have to ask, "Where is the coverage?"

In the "Oh My God! It's a handover!" (on a timetable) you don't get that. Where is the coverage? We're thirty-four away from the 3,000 mark. Remember when it was sold as a "cakewalk"? (One more lie in a long list of lies.) Some might argue about the figure. It is true that the US military snuck in two from the month of August yesterday. That's their fault. No one else's. They knew the figures for August. They tried (as they usually do) to low ball it in time for the first of the month look back coverage (which really didn't take place in most outlets). 2,666.

Does the number disturb you because it doesn't appear to disturb the media, big or small. Who is serious about this war? Again, we're left the question of: Do the War Hawks want this war more than the rest of us want to stop it?

It seems that way. After a summer largely free of Iraq coverage, it certainly seems that way.
From Pauline Jelinek's "U.S. force in Iraq now 145,000, highest since December" (Associated Press):

The number of U.S. troops in Iraq rose to 145,000 this week, the highest since December and 15,000 more than a month ago.
Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. Todd Vician said Thursday the increase is temporary, and that it owes to a routine rotation of forces -- that is, a bump in numbers. Such a shift lasts for a matter of weeks, he said, as replacement troops arrive and overlap with troops ending their tours and preparing to leave.
The number stood at about 130,000 in the final days of July, when Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld temporarily extended the tours of some 3,500 Americans in effort to stem escalating sectarian violence in the capital city of Baghdad.

Now let's drop back to something we noted this morning, the Associated Press' "More Minnesotans headed for duty in Iraq:"

Another group of about 160 Minnesota National Guard troops have been ordered to active duty in preparation for deployment in Iraq, the guard announced Wednesday.
The troops are with Company B, 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 194th Armor, based in East St. Paul and headquartered in Brainerd. The company includes soldiers from the Twin Cities, Brainerd, Duluth, Little Falls and Moorhead areas.

Maybe the 'magic number' (that makes people care) will be the number on the ground?

But then there's little reason for the likes of Alex Pareene & co. to care about anything. The chin-challenged, college drop out is in charge of Wonkette these days. We didn't link to that site when all it wanted was to be Cindy Adams with just a hint of nipple (the AMC days) and we don't link to it today. But the man who would be Cindy Adams (if she were a really ugly woman who couldn't write) can't stop slamming Cindy Sheehan and that puzzles some. It shouldn't puzzle you. Just don't give him the pennies he gets with each click. Then he might have to attempt to get a real job. While the likes of Pareene swirl through the sewers, there are a few things worth reading online.

Such as? Tonya notes a piece by Fernando Suarez Del Solar entitled "Messenger of Peace: How a Marine turned his father into a one-man army against war" (Pasadena Weekly):

The death of my son on March 27, 2003, marked the start of my activism in the United States, a country to which I had migrated only a few years earlier. My life here, until then the life of a common worker and provider, suffered a violent alteration after being notified of my son’s death in Iraq.
Marine Lance Cpl. Jesus Alberto Suarez Del Solar Navarro died of a bullet wound to the head, or so I was informed at 8:15 a.m. the following day by three uniformed men who came to my house looking for my son's young wife. Apart from the intense pain that overwhelmed me, I also felt intense anger that my son was lost in a war in which I never believed. In front of the cameras, that same day, I blamed President Bush publicly for my son's death, even without knowing that I was being lied to as to the true cause and circumstances of my son's death.
Three or four days later, I received a call from a reporter from the San Diego UnionTribune who told me the paper had access to information regarding my son's death that was very different from that officially delivered by the authorities. The reporter told me my son had died in an accident.
That same day, Bob Woodruf, an anchorman for ABC in Iraq, telephoned me and told me my son had not died from a bullet wound to the head but from friendly fire, stepping accidentally on a piece of explosive artillery -- illegal in any war, according to the Geneva Convention and the United Nations, but widely spread on Iraqi soil nonetheless by US military forces. With this information, I proceeded to contact people in the Marines and my own congressman to ask for an explanation. To this day I have not received any response.
On April 9, when my only son’s body finally arrived in Escondido to be buried, I disobeyed an order to not open the casket. Against the wishes of the United States government, I imposed my right as a father and demanded that the four soldiers guarding the casket leave me alone with my son’s body. They were forced to yield due to my firm insistence. There, alone with my son's corpse, I opened the casket and was able to confirm that my son did not die of a bullet wound. His head was, in fact, intact. His wounds were located in his feet, legs and abdomen.

One more parent lied to. Maybe the sewer types can find something funny in that as well?

But the reality is the bottom feeders and War Cheerleaders continue to write about Iraq. It's the left that's playing war-got-your-tongue. Going through the e-mails this evening and finding one after another expressing disappointment/disgust with the fact that there is little to no Iraq coverage it becomes more and more obvious how little Iraq is on the radar still. Those hoping that after their "summer vacations" media -- big and small -- would return to addresing Iraq have seen those hopes dashed.

I was going to work this in any way because I like (and know) Robin Morgan, she's an important voice and members aware of her work value it. (Maggie did an entry on her here in 2005.) For those who are having trouble placing the name, just know that in a world that took a pass on Abeer, Morgan stepped up to the plate and wrote about it ("Their Bodies as Weapons: Rapes in conflict zones result from the idea that violence is erotic, and it pervades the US military"). Marcia passed on this e-mail/announcement which we'll post in full:

Ms. is pleased to announce that Robin Morgan, our global editor and a founding editor of Ms. magazine, has just released her book of non-fiction, Fighting Words. The publishing date is September 28th, but we wanted to give you a chance to pre-order at a special low rate!
Fighting Words, Robin Morgan has assembled a toolkit for debate, a "verbal-karate guide"--sound-bite accessible, carefully sourced historical facts, quotes, and resources--that resurrects the Founders as the revolutionaries they were: radical freethinkers, Deists, agnostics, Christians, atheists, and Freemasons, revealing what they (and other leading Americans) really believed--in their own words:
"Question with boldness even the existence of a god."--Thomas Jefferson
"My own mind is my church."--Thomas Paine
"I doubt of Revelation itself."--Benjamin Franklin
"Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind."--James Madison
Advance Praise:
Fighting Words is the indispensable Little Red (and White and Blue) Book for reclaiming our country, a 'Quotations from Chairman Jefferson'--plus Washington, Madison, Franklin, Stanton, Anthony, and many more. Funny, eye-opening, accessible, smart, and best of all really useful for combating the 'theocratizing of America.'"--LILY TOMLIN and JANE WAGNER
"Here are the real words of our Founding Fathers (and Mothers), free of the prison of right-wing distortion--and we've never needed them more!"--GLORIA STEINEM
"A crucial, must-have book!"--BARRY LYNN, Executive Director, Americans United for Separation of Church and State
This is the book to give and to keep, to study, to quote.
Fighting Words reacquaints us with our proudly secular roots, inspiring us to honor them--and to take back our country!
For equality,
Katherine Spillar

Executive Editor
Ms. Magazine

Those who are interested in the book, there's no attempt to guilt anyone. Kat hates ordering through the mail as does Elaine. Both of them live for the in-store purchase. If you're interested in the book, read it however it's best for you. (Which does include utilizing your local library.)

Community notes. the gina & krista round-robin for tomorrow will go out at midnight EST tonight. Gina is going on vacation. So she's not slammed on her return, Dona, Wally, Rebecca and I are going to be helping Krista with next week's. Any member wanting to help out should e-mail Krista at her address included in the round-robin. Ty says a number of people are e-mailing The Third Estate Sunday Review to ask if this Sunday's edition will be focused on Iraq. We discussed some ideas tonight (and actually throughout the week). Iraq will figure in but it will not be the focus of Ava and my TV thing. As usual, somethings will be worked on and won't make the cut and something's will never get worked on so it's very hard to say this 'far ahead.' (Remember also that the print edition of last Sunday's edition runs in the gina & krista round-robin in full.)

Back on topic, we'll close by noting this from United for Peace & Justice:

It's time to answer fear with courage, to step out of our personal comfort zones and take bold action to end the Iraq War.
Join us in a week of nonviolent action, including civil disobedience, from September 21-28, and in pressuring pro-war politicians all this fall through the Voters for Peace pledge.

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Iraq snapshot

Thursday, September 7, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, in Australia -- Brendan Nelson learns the morning after isn't always pleasing; a US soldier who went AWOL to Canada may be returning; Bully Boy & the GOP continue "Dirty Depends" actions, in Baghdad -- puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki closes a TV station, al-Maliki also calls it "a great day" as Iraqis and US soldiers die throughout Iraq; and Camp Democracy continues in Washington, DC.

Starting with the US soldier who may be returning. Jim Warren (Lexington Herald-Leader) breaks the news that war resister Darrell Anderson "wants to come home." Anita Anderson tells Warren that she's urging her son Darrell not to come back "because he's probably going to get sponsorship in Canada now that he is married to a Canadian girl. But he's constantly stressed out and worried, and he feels like he can't live out the rest of his life this way."

War Resisters Support Campaign notes this of Darrell Anderson: "Darrell Anderson arrived in Toronto from Lexington, Kentucky in Januray 2005. He served 7 months in Iraq and was awarded a Purple Heart after being wounded by a roadside bomb. When faced with a second deploymnet to Iraq, he chose instead to come to Canada. His experience in Iraq convinced Darrell that the war was unjustified. Innocent civilians are being killed, and young soldiers are dying for an illegal war. 'Coming to Canada doesn't ruin your life,' said Darrell, 'it saves lives.'"

On the redeployment, Anderson told Gary Younge (Guardian of London): "I was supposed to leave for Iraq on January 8th. On the 3rd I started to talk to people about the war. By the 6th I woke up and had hit a brick wall. I just knew I wasn't going to be able to live a normal life if I went back."

His mother Anita Anderson cites his reasons for wanting to return as economic, his PTS has gotten worse and that he wants to make.

Darrell Anderson needs to make the choice that will serve him best. Should he remain in Canada, he will be part of a movement that includes Brandon Hughey, Kyle Synder, Jeremy Hinzman, Patrick Hart and others. He will also be part of a historic movement. (And it needs to be remembered that even in the wake of Watergate, Jimmy Carter, as president, would not grant an amnesty to those who checked themselves out. The amnesty only covered those who avoided the draft, not those who enlisted and checked out.) If he returns to the US, as his mother fears, he will be part of a movement of refusal. This summer has seen Ehren Watada become the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. We also saw Ricky Clousing and Mark Wilkerson turn themselves in.

There is bravery in either stand and Darrell Anderson needs to make the choice that's right for him. Like Cindy Sheehan, he's already done his part and then some.

Turning to cowardice, the Bully Boy continues his Dirty Depends campaign with the hope that it will scare up votes for the GOP in November. Which is why he boasts of his unconstitutional secret prisons, extends the national emergy act from 9-11 and attempts anything to change the topic away from Iraq. As Matthew Rothshchild noted on The KPFA Evening News yesterday, Bully Boy can't run on the war. How true that is gets brought home in a recent report by the AP that notes Bully Boy is losing his "once-solid relationship with Southern women" and quotes "self-described Republican since birth and the mother of three" Barbara Knight stating, "I think history will show him to be the worst president since Ulysses S. Grant. He's been an embarrassment."
AP notes: "The movement of some Southern women away from the Republican Party tracks with national poll results showing that women have become more disillusioned with the war and were more likely than men to list the conflict as the important issue facing the country." AP cites their own polling numbers and they track with Ms. Magazine's poll which earlier (poll conducted from May19th to 22nd) found 55% of women (43% of males) wanted US troops withdrawn "immediately or next year."

And in Iraq?

On KPFA's Flashpoints yesterday Nora Barrows Friedman spoke with Dahr Jamail about life on the ground in Iraq. Jamail: "Overall the situation in Iraq is worse than ever . . . but particularly in al-Anbar province the US military really doesn't have much control of anything there, outside of the areas around their immediate, or inside, I should say, their immediate bases. . . . It's important the people remember that Ramadi is the capital of al-Anbar province. So what the US has done there to try to get control of that city is there's an area right in the middle where the government offices are centrally located in Ramadi and the US has been unable to keep people, resistance fighters, from attacking the government offices so, as a result, what they're doing is literally demolishing, making a no-man's-land between, all of the buildings between the government offices in the middle of the city and then the rest of the city. So they're literally leveling at least eight city blocks, an area of at least eight city blocks, around those government offices to try to prevent them from being attacked so regularly. Of course what this is doing is infurating people of Ramadi who are saying, 'Look, you've already destroyed so much of our city, you've already launched massive operations in here . . .' Recently snipers, US snipers have killed at least four people there, mostly women and children. Just one travesty after another has been occurring inside Ramadi. The people are angry and now this takes it to a whole nother level where the people are outraged, they don't really know what to expect next. And, of course, the end result of these brutal, heavy-handed military tactics, just like we saw in Falluja, it doesn't actually stop the resistance. It maybe pauses it for a few days, or a few weeks. But then in the end it generates more people. It really causes more people to join the resistance or become sympathetic towards them if they're not already."

Two of the three US troops (one Marine, two soldiers) who died on Wednesday (US military announced deaths today) died of wounds received in al-Anbar province. The US government has announced that another Marine has died today from "wounds sustained from enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province September 6."

Oh, but, as the BBC reported, Nouri al-Maliki called it a "great day". He was referring to supposed "control" handed over by the US (to him, the puppet) of the Iraqi military. It's not really a handover. It's more like, "Here are the keys to the car and if you do everything we say, we might let you take it for a spin on the weekend but, right now, it's still our car." Which is why "[a] BBC correspondent in Baghdad says the transfer of control could be long, slow and fraught with problems."


AFP notes "a suicide bomber ploughed his explosives-laden car into a police fuel depot in the town centre, killing at least 12" police officers in Baghdad. AP notes another bomb, also in Baghdad ("hidden under a parked car") that killed three and wounded 20. Reuters notes two roadside bombs, also in Baghdad, that claimed the lives of two and left seven wounded while another roadside bomb, still in Baghdad, killed one person and left two wounded and, still in Baghdad, another roadside bomb left four wounded. Outside of Baghdad? Reuters notes four police officers were wounded by a roadside bomb in Kirkuk.


Reuters notes that two police officers were shot dead in Baghdad (four civilians wounded); a police officer was shot dead in Hay; and, in Mosul, a man and a woman were shot dead in parking lot while a father and his teenage son were shot dead elsewhere in the city.


CNN reports four corpses were discovered today in Baghdad. Reuters notes six corpses discovered in Mosul ("multiple gunshot wounds"), three corpses were discovered (one, a female, was beheaded) in the Tigris river near Suwayra and two were discovered in Kirkuk ("signs of torture").

On the subject of deaths, AP is reporting that contrary to the hype, there was no decrease in the figures for violent deaths in Baghdad. As Aileen Alfandary noted on KPFA's The Morning Show today, the US government had attempted to earlier say the numbers had lowered as a result of the 'crackdown' when in fact, August's actual numbers were "the same number as July."

And the BBC reports that Mahmoud al-Mashhadani's nephew has been kidnapped in Baghdad. al-Mashhadani is the speaker of Iraq's parliament and was also the target of a He's-Out-Of-Here-So-Out-Of-Here campaign at the end of July and start of August. al-Mashhadani remains in parliament, his nephew Ahmed al-Mashhadani has been kidnapped.

al-Mashhadani is Sunni and switching to parliament news, yesterday AFP reported: "Iraq's dominant Shiite alliance submitted a draft of a new law to govern the division of the country into autonomous regions". Today the Associated Press notes that Mahmoud al-Mashhadani "interrupted a stormy legislative session on Thursday after a draft bill submitted by the largest Shia party led to accusations from Sunni Arabas that they were trying to divide the country." al-Mashhadani: "The parliament speaker does not know about this draft bill. Is that credible? Who else should know about it if the speaker does not know? When was it announced?"

Switching to the issue of broadcasting, were they showing episodes of Barney Miller or NYPD Blue? Who knows but police pulled the plug on the satellite network al-Arabiya in Baghdad. CNN was told by a company official (Najib Ben Cherif) that the offices "is being shut for a month." AP is iffy on who gave the order but notes that Nouri al-Malike started making warnings/threats to television stations back in July. CNN reports: "A news alert on Iraqi State TV said the office of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered the office closed for a month."

In the United States, Camp Democracy continues, free and open to the public, five tents worth of activity and more in Washington, DC. Tomorrow's activities include a focus on labor issues. A complete schedule can be found here.

In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco continues -- probably much to the regret of Chuckles Brendan Nelson. Yesterday, Nelson, the Defence Minister, sought to deny statements, credited to him in the press, made back when he saw himself as Johnny-On-The-Spot and felt that the nation needed each unparsed idea that tumbled from his mouth. Today?

Malcolm Brown and Cynthia Banham (Sydney Morning Herald) report that "Chief of Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, has contradicted the Minister for Defence, Brendan Nelson on key events surrounding the death of Private Jacob Kovco." How so? Dan Box (The Australian) sums it up as Houston states Nelson "had ignored repeated warnings not to speculate about the death" and that Houston denies evey telling Nelson that Jake Kovco had been "handling his weapon in some way and it discharged."

As AAP notes this "directly contradicts" Nelson's statement yesterday and, in addition, Houston states that he "told the minister several times that a proper investigation was needed". What was Chuckles Nelson, the 'rising star,' doing issuing those statements (statements he had to retract and yesterday attempted to disown)? Justin Vallejo (Daily Telegraph) notes that the statements came after Nelson was warned not once, not twice, but three times (by Houston) "that it was too early to speculate". But when your a 'rising star' and you can interject into a national story, even if your actions cause more pain to the mourners, why sit on the sidelines waiting for information to come in? Russell Skelton (The Age) reports that the three warnings were given the day after Jake Kovco's death "[b]ut Dr Nelson went ahead and told the media that Private Kovco was shot while 'maintaining' his nine-millemetre Browning pistol -- a statement he was forced to retract five days later."

Let's be clear. No one knows what happened in the room where Jake Kovco died. (Or, if they do, they're not telling.) However, the reason polls demonstrate Australians haven't bought the official story (whatever it was from week to week) goes directly to Brendan Nelson, with all the authority of his post, declaring X one week and then saying Y the next. Now Houston and Lieutenant-General Peter Leahy have both denied that they ever provided Nelson with any of the information he (Nelson) took to the airwaves with.

If the grief and heartache his statements have inflicted upon the Kovco family isn't enough to give pause, it needs to be noted that the doubts about the inquiry have their roots in Nelson's very public, ever changing story.

Anthony McClellan (The Australian) lays it out very cleary noting: "It has taken a clear cry this week from the Kovco family to help us understand how bad this is. The family is sitting there every day in Victoria Barracks in Sydney, listening, I would think with increasing incredulity, as incompetence after incompetence, and worse, is documented. The family has now taken its criticism even further from its intital rage over the mishandling of his body." McClellan notes the need for transperancy and calls the 'national security' claim (the excuse for not giving the names of the soldiers testifying) "plain bunkum" and closes with this:

To sum up, here's a short competency primer for Defence headquarters at Canberra's Russell Hill:
* Wrong body.
* Initial investigators underfunded, obstructed and overruled by army command.
* Interference in the investigation.
* Death scene not preserved; forensic evidence removed.
* Those present in the room allowed to clean up.
* A litany of miscommunication.
Can it get any worse? Yes. If we do not find out what really happened.

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