Saturday, September 30, 2006

Baghdad Under House Arrest

American officials have warned Iraqi leaders that they might have to curtail aid to the Interior Ministry police because of a United States law that prohibits the financing of foreign security forces that commit "gross violations of human rights" and are not brought to justice.
[. . .]
The issue centers on one of the most sensitive subjects within the Iraqi government: the joint Iraqi-American inspection in May and subsequent investigation of a prison in eastern Baghdad known as Site 4.
Within the prison there was clear evidence of systematic abuse and torture, including victims who had "lesions resulting from torture" as well as "equipment used for this purpose," according to a human rights report later published by the United Nations mission in Iraq.

The above is from Richard A. Oppel Jr.'s "U.S. May Cut Aid to Iraqi Police Cited in Abuses" in this morning's New York Times (front page). So let's recap some of the developments. In the so-called 'liberated' Iraq, beacon of 'democracy,' security forces may lose their funding for refusing to punish gross human rights abuses, women's rights have gone from most advanced in the area to women shouldn't even drive a car, the so-called 'crackdown' has entered its fourth month and there's been no let up in the the chaos and violence (in the capital), a waterless moat surrounding Baghdad is still floated as an 'answer,' residents of Baghdad (outside the Green Zone) complain (still) of a lack of electricity for more than a few hours a day and the war hits the four year mark in March? That's 'liberation'?

The funding notion, it's interesting. The US can't provide funds for a regime that does that. But the bigger issue is that the US is the occupying power. They have legal responsibility by international law. It's easy for Zalmay Khalitlzad to point the fingter at Iraqi security forces, but the power in charge is the US.

The 'crackdown,' Sabrina Tavernise and Qaid Mizher tell you, includes a ban on all "traffic in Baghdad until Sunday morning." These bans aren't uncommon. Here's the new twist, it's a ban on cars "and pedistrian traffic." Ashford & Simpson sang "Nobody Walks in L.A." and they can add Baghdad to the list.

That's not a "ban" on traffic, that's putting the capital under house arrest. Why? An unindentifed man ("Iraqi working for one of Iraq's most prominent Sunni Arab political leaders") has been arrested. The reason is he was believed to plotting "mulitple-car suicided bombings inside the Green Zone". Inside the Green Zone is key.

[If you doubt that it's a house arrest of the city, and you may from the Times' careful wording, Reuters: "Iraq declared a curfew on Saturday in the capital Baghdad, ordering all cars off the streets and telling people to remain in their homes." That's a house arrest -- city wide. It's not "traffic," it's a house arrest.]

US forces have to maintain the Green Zone. They're fully aware that if the Green Zone suffers a serious attack, there will be multiple Walter Cronkite moments for the press, which is confined there. The 'crackdown' began when the outer edges of the Green Zone were stormed back in June, that was the cause for panic. Not the bodies piling up outside the Green Zone. In January of 2005, an attack led the Australian embassy to being moved inside the Green Zone. (The cry for the move began in earnest in October of 2004 when Australian troops were attacked. It took the January attack to make the move.) In August of this year, Australian troops were injured when one of several mortars fired into the Green Zone made it in.

The Green Zone's not Iraq. It's a heavily secured island. As we noted here before, the resistance will move to attack the Green Zone. It's a symbol of the occupation and it has built a great deal of resentment in all Iraqis (whether they participate in the resistance or not). The thought of an attack within the Green Zone (and the realization of how that will play on American television and in American newspapers) is enough to force the puppet of the occupation (Nouri al-Maliki) to put the whole capital under house arrest. Don't think that's going to decrease tensions. It's a pressure cooker and the lid's going to blow.

For some strange reason, the Times runs (A6) a story on al-Qaeda on the same page as the Iraq reporting. Why is that? Does an editor believe there's a link between 9-11 (heavily mentioned in the article, though Iraq isn't)? For a press supposedly so surprised that some Americans still believe the false link between Iraq and 9-11, Hassan M. Fattah's article could have and should have run on another page. There's no reason for it to be on this page and for a press so worried about the false link being so widespread, there's no excuse to run that story on what will be seen as "the Iraq page" by people who just scan the headlines. The paper could have put Sheryl Gay Stolberg's story (from the page before) on the page, they could have put Marc Lacey's on the page. When you're placing an al-Qaeda story (that has nothing to do with Iraq) and talking 9-11 with Iraq reports, you can't claim, "I have no idea why so many people still believe Saddam Hussein was behind 9-11. We've certainly stated otherwise in print."

Martha notes Amit R. Paley and Sudarsan Raghavan's "U.S. Envoy Says Iraqi Premier Has Short Time to Quell Violence" (Washington Post) which contains more warnings to the puppet of the occupation (Nouri al-Maliki) that he can be dropped at any moment and another puppet installed:

The U.S. ambassador to Iraq warned on Friday that time is running out for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to contain the burgeoning sectarian bloodshed that threatens to plunge the country into civil war.
"He has a window of a couple months," said the ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad. "If the perception is that this unity government is not able to deal with this issue, then a big opportunity would have been lost and it would take a long time to address this issue."

His remarks, which came during a surge in reprisal killings across Baghdad, reinforced comments by several senior U.S. military officials this week that Maliki's government must move urgently to tackle the militias and death squads wreaking havoc across the country.

He is a puppet, that's all he is. He has to dance for the Americans and, if they're not pleased with is performance, he's out. If it were a real democracy, what US officials thought wouldn't matter. But it's not a democracy and Iraq hasn't been liberated. What you're seeing is the same type of actions that installed Saddam Hussein in the first place. Jay Garner was pulled from Iraq for having the notion that Iraqis should vote (and vote immediately). Bremer and Khalilzad have been happy to play "Let's talk democracy but not really allow it" game for some time. Which is why the polling of Iraqis shows they want Americans out of their country. The troops need to come home but, at this rate, it may take an attack on the Green Zone for the obvious to be stated widely. (It's widely stated by Americans now.)

Darrell Anderson returns to the US today. We'll note this from Canada's City News' "American Army Deserter Leaves T.O. To Face Justice Back Home:"

"I'm not happy to be going to jail but I'm not scared," the 24-year-old maintains. "I wasn't scared when I went to Iraq. I wasn't scared when I came to Canada. It's just another step in this long, hard process I've been going through."
He's grateful for the support he's received while he's been here. But it hasn't been easy. When he arrived, he hoped to start a new life. But when his lawyer failed to properly file the paperwork that might have secured his refugee status, it became clear he'd be deported.
He married Gayle Greer just two weeks ago, but even that failed to secure his status. Unable to work or guarantee his future on this side of the border, he's decided to return and face the military music, whatever it brings.
Still, despite his fate, he doesn't regret anything he's done. "If I didn't come to Canada, I wouldn't have made it," he affirms. "I was so messed up after coming back from Iraq that I needed to escape."

Note, another spelling for Gail Greer. (This one says "Gayle.") We're sticking with "Gail Greer" until we learn otherwise (and that is how her film credit reads).

Today on RadioNation with Laura Flanders:

We blow the whistle and bang the drum with DANIEL ELLSBERG who leaked the Pentagon Papers. He wants a CIA employee to leak the full national intelligence estimate on Iraq. RETIRED MAJOR GENERAL JOHN BATISTE wants Donald Rumsfeld to be sacked.
JEFF COHEN ventured inside cable news and now he's telling tales out of propaganda school. Plus a report from House hearings on electronic voting machines, and the YOUNGBLOOD BRASS BAND, live, in house.

RadioNation with Laura Flanders airs 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm EST on Air American Radio stations, XM satellite radio and online. There's a "book" that I haven't seen that's noted in five e-mails this morning. Mia's the most offended. A supposed Air America Radio book that doesn't even mention Laura Flanders on the cover (she's noted on the back cover, not on the front). What can you say to that? She's written two best selling books, she's got radio experience that predates AAR by many years. If they don't grasp her value, all the more reason for you to. If you miss the show, Saturday's live broadcast and Sunday's live broadcast are compiled into a one hour commercial free that you can catch by mid-week here.

The following community members have posted new content at their sites in the last 24 hours:

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

In addition, I subbed for Kat (who is in Ireland) at her site last night.

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Editorial: Darrell Anderson Needs You (The Third Estate Sunday Review)

"Editorial: Darrell Anderson Needs You" (The Third Estate Sunday Review):

Darrell Anderson. Here's the back story. In January 2003, Darrel Anderson joined the Army. He was sent to Iraq and injured by a roadside bomb. Awarded the Purple Heart, when facing a second deployment to Iraq, Anderson decided to self-check out (January 2005). Like Jeremy Hinzman, Brandon Hughey, Patrick Hart, Kyle Snyder and an estimated 220-plus others, Anderson went to Canada.

In Canada, he applied for refugee status -- a status regularly granted during the Vietnam era but one Canada has thus far refused to grant to any war resister. Recently, Anderson's attorney apparently missed a deadline for the paper work on that issue.

However, Anderson met Gail Greer when she was working on a film about war resisters and married Greer who is a Canadian citizen. The marriage should have resulted in granting him legal resident status. He is currently waiting on that announcement from the Canadian government.

His mother, Anita Anderson, has filled the press in on this month's developments -- this month is when Darrell Anderson told his mother that he was planning on returning to the United States. According to his mother's statements near the start of the month, Darrell was going to return to the United States if the Canadian government did not offer him status. Anderson himself spoke to Jim Warren of The Lexington Herald-Leader for an article published yesterday and it seems the return is no longer in doubt.

The current plans are to cross the border back into the United States, hold a press conference and then return to Fort Knox. He told Warren, "I decided that I've got to go back and get this over with once and for all, instead of living in limbo up here forever."

During the Vietnam era, activists advocated for an amensty for those who dodged the draft and those who decided to check themselves out. With the end of the war, the fall of Richard Nixon with the Watergate exposures, and a new president named Jimmy Carter, it was thought that such a policy was possible. That did not happen. Carter granted amnesty to those who dodged the draft. Those who self-checked out were to be handled on a case by case basis. That was the best that government was willing to do as that illegal war came to a close.

It is highly unlikely that anything's changed in today's political climate. (The amnesty decision was a political decision.) Those who go to Canada know this. The War Resisters Support Campaign provides them with resources, support and information. (And is a worthy charity to donate to.) It is a difficult decision and coming back to the country for any reason (including the funeral of a parent) means risking arrest.

For Anderson, with no work permit due to his status, Canada meant struggle including living with his Post-Traumatic Syndrome from his experiences in Iraq. Loud noises still startle him after the roadside bomb, sleep usually means nightmares of reliving the experience. For those reasons and others, he made the decision to return to the United States and, in his words to Jim Warren, "I decided that I've got to go back and get this over with once and for all, instead of living in limbo up here forever."

What can happen next? He could be dishonorably discharged and that would be the end of it. More likely, he will face an Article 32 hearing for desertion and then a court-martial (which could result in jail time). What happens to Darrell Anderson largely depends on us. Are we willing to speak out? Are we willing to show support?

We're sure the usual suspects will show up for their one-off "Baby cried the day the circus came to town" coverage and that's not going to be good enough. That's not going to do anything. Well, it will let the usual suspects kid themselves that they "covered" the story. It's not a one-day story.

However the media decides to treat it, we have to be willing to keep this issue alive. Ehren Watada is a success story in terms of attention.

Darrell Anderson remains opposed to the illegal war. He is a war resister. Anita Anderson intends to be outside Fort Knox and maybe some can be their physically, maybe some can be their in spirit. But how much we work to keep this issue alive will impact the outcome. As Patti Smith sang and wrote "People Have The Power." But they have to use it.

More information on Darrell Anderson (and other war resisters) can be found at Courage to Resist.

[Note: The above ran last Sunday at The Third Estate Sunday Review and was written by The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ils); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz; and Wally of The Daily Jot.]

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Friday, September 29, 2006

Iraq snapshot

Friday, September 29, 2006.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the British military officers say out-of-Iraq, Medea Benjamin asks are you willing to "Give Peace a Vote"?,
is the US military writing off Al-Anbar Province, and tomorrow war resister Darrell Anderson is set to return to the United States.
Canada's CBC reports that, after eighteen months in Canada, war resister Darrell Anderson is readying for his journey home with his wife, Gail Greer, stating, "He needs to be home.  This is not his home."  [Note: CBC continues to list his wife as "Gail Green."  US news outlets, other Candian outlets and her film credits list her as "Gail Greer."  If Gail Greer is not the correct name, we'll note that in a future snapshot.]  Darrell Anderson was wounded by a roadside bomb while serving in Iraq.  Facing a second deployment to Iraq, Anderson elected to self-check out of the US military and, as Jeremy Hinzman, Brandon Hughey, Patrick Hart, Kyle Snyder and others during this illegal war, head to Canada.  Once there, he applied for legal status but, as with other war resisters, the government did not grant asylum.  (This in marked contrast to Canada's actions during the Vietnam era.)  Anita Anderson, his mother, tells CBC "there is no front line" in Iraq and that soldiers "are not supposed to be fighting this fight of war."  If not arrested Saturday when he returns, Darrell Anderson intends to drive to Fort Knox where he will turn himself in.  Information on Darrell Anderson and other war resisters can be found at Courage to Resist.
Meanwhile, in England, Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian of London) reports: "Senior military officers have been pressing the government to withdraw British troops from Iraq and concentrate on what they now regard as a more worthwhile and winnable battleground in Afghanistan.  They believe there is a limit to wath British soldiers can achieve in southern Iraq and that it is time the Iraqis took responsiblity for their own security, defence sources say."  The report comes as Bonnie Malkin (Guardian of London) notes that "former foreign secretary Jack Straw has described the situation in Iraq as 'dire,' blaming mistakes made by the US for the escalating crisis."  Straw has words of praise for former US Secreatry of State Colin Powell which is only a surprise to those who never noticed their mutual admiration society until today.  The report that military officials want British troops out of Iraq (and into Afghanistan) has already led to a denial from Defence Secretary Des Browne who, AFP reports, denied the report on BBC radio.
While the truth battles spin, Mark Malloch Brown, deputy secretary general of the United Nations makes a call of his own.  Paul Vallely (Independent of London) reports
Malloch Brown has stated that it was Tony Blair's Iraq policy that "fatally undermined his position as Prime Minister and forced him to step down" and Vallely also quotes an unnamed "UN source" who declares of Blair, "But Iraq has finished him.  Mr. Blair seems not to appreciate just how disliked and distrusted he is in other nations."
In the United States, Reuters reports: "The U.S. Congress on Friday moved to block the Bush adminstration from building permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq or controlling the country's oil sector, as it approved $70 billion for funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."  As Amit R. Paley (Washington Post) noted Wednesday when reporting on recent polling of Iraqis, ". . . the Program on Itnerantional Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, found . . . 77 percent of those polled saying the United States intends to keep permanent military bases in the country."  Noting the polling, Arianna Huffington (The Huffington Post) notes: "The writing is on the wall -- and on page after page of report after report.  All leading to the same inescapable conclusion.  Iraq has made us less safe; it's time to bring our troops home."  What will it take for that?  Not buying into the fear mania, which is a topic Huffington addressed with Andrea Lewis today on KPFA, The Morning Show[and is also the topic of On Becoming Fearless, Huffington's new book].  [Remember that KPFA broadcasts are archived and you can listen to them, free of charge, 24/7.]
The US Congress' decision comes as Robert Burns (AP) reports Army Col. Sean B. Macfarland ("commander of 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division" in Iraq) stated that the resistance in Al-Anbar Province will not be defeated by American forces and will "probably" continue "until after U.S. troops leave the country".  Most recent actions in Al-Anbar have revolved around Ramadi which is being carved up into a series of Green Zones (to little effect).  [Currently at Alive in Baghdad, there is a video report on a man who was "Falsely Arrested and Abused In Ramadi.]
In the most noted violence in Iraq today, Kadhim Abdel has been shot dead.  CNN reports that "the brother-in-law of Judge Mohammad Orabi Majeed Al-Khalefa, was driving in Ghazaliya on Friday with his son aged 10 and another 10-year-old boy when their car was attacked.  Both boys were wounded." The Australian combines AP and Reuters to note: "It was not immediately clear whether they were targeted because they were related to judge Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa, who took over the Saddam trial last week, or if it was another of the sectarian attacks that have been plaguing Baghdad."  (That statement is actually all AP.)
AP reports that a police officer died ("and two civilians injured") from a bombing in downtown Baghdad; while two Iraqi soldiers lost their lives in Anah from a roadside bomb (with two more wounded).
AFP reports that two police officers were shot dead in Dura. CNN reports that four people were shot dead in Balad.
AP reports that eight corpses were discovered in Iraq, three were discovered in Baquba and that two corpses "were pulled from the Tigris River in Suwayrah".  AFP reports that two corpses were discovered in Kut.  (The Times of London ups the Baghdad corpse count to ten.)
In peace news, BuzzFlash declares the Dixie Chicks this weeks Wings of Justice winners for using their voices to speak truth to power. In 2003, the Chicks were savaged by some (and Diane Sawyer attempted a public shaming).  They didn't back down and, to quote a song off their new, best selling CD, they're "not ready to make nice."  [Click here for  Kat's review of the CD.]  The Dixie Chicks stood strong and a lot of people stood with them.  There's a lesson in that. 
CODEPINK is celebrating it's fourth anniversary on Sunday and Andrea Lewis spoke with Medea Benjamin about that today on KPFA's The Morning Show  today.  Addressing the organization's latest action -- Give Peace a Vote! -- Benjamin noted that: "We have November elections coming up and then we have presidential elections coming up and unfortunately If we don't translate the silent majority voice that's against this war into a voter bloc, we're going to be faced with another opportunity to vote for two major parties giving us war candidates.  So Give Peace a Vote!is a way to say, 'I will not vote for anybody that does not call for an end to this war and no more wars of aggression.'"
Speaking with Kris Welch today on  KPFA's Living Room,  Daniel Ellsberg noted the upcoming World Can't Wait protest (October 5th -- day of mass resistance), his being named as the recipient of the Right Livelihood Award and the importance of speaking out.
As noted by James Glanz (New York Times) and Gritte Witte (Washington Post) this morning, American contractor Parsons has a 1/14 success rate for their construction projects in Iraq --- actually less than 1 in 14 because, as Witte notes, ""The one project reviewed by auditors that was being constructed correctly, a prison, was taken away from Parsons before its completion because of escalating costs."  With that in mind, pay attention to Janis Karpinski (writing for The Huffington Post): "Our silence will beget more of the same and worse. We must find courage. We must stand up. One of the ways to do this is by screening and sharing a new documentary I appeared in called Iraq For Sale: The War Profiteers -- which calls for a stop to the shameful war profiteering this administration has allowed to occur. We must speak up. We must because we are Americans and we know better than this. We can move beyond the shame only when we stop this from getting worse and participate in making it better."
Finally, next week, Bob Watada, father of Ehren Watada, hits the road again to raise awareness on his son -- the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. After an Article 32 hearing in August, Ehren Watada awaits word on what the chain of command will do with the findings (court-martial, discharge him, ignore the findings . . .).  Here are Bob Watada's speaking engagements for Monday through Friday of next week:

Mon. 10/2 8:30 am KPFK Sonali Kolhatkur
3729 Cahuenga Bl. West, No. Hollywood
Contact: KPFK 818-985-2711 email:

Tues 10/3 7:00pm ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism)
1800 Argyle Ave. #400, Los Angeles
Contact: Carlos Alvarez, 323-464-1636, email:

Wed. 10/4 12:00-2:30 pm Angela Oh's Korean American Experience Class
Life Sciences Bldg., RM 4127, UCLA Westwood Campus

Wed. 10/4 Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research
6120 S. Vermont Ave, Los Angeles
Contact: So Cal Library 323-759-6063

Thurs 10/5 5:00 pm World Can't Wait March & Rally
(March starts at noon at pershing S1/Bob speaks in front of Federal Bldg 300 N. Los Angeles St. at 5:00 pm.
Contact: Nicole Lee 323-462-4771 email:

Fri. 10/6 7:00 am Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (ICUJP)
Immanuel Presbyterian Church, 3300 Wilshire Bl., Los Angeles
Contact: Thalia 626-683-9004 email:

Fri 10/6 12:30 San Fernando Valley Japanese Community Center
SFV Japanese American Community Center, 12953 Branford St., Pacoima 91331
Contact: Phil Shigkuni 818-893-1851, cell: 818-357-7488, email
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On a non-Iraq note, Lynda pointed out that a link was wrong this morning (and yesterday) so I'll note it here (it's corrected on the main site, but not on the mirror site)from Ms.: Before the new Ms. comes out on October 10, we’re doing a last push to get signatures on our "We Had Abortions" petition. With our right to choose in danger, we at Ms. think it’s important for us to take a stand now for abortion rights. We’d love to have your help!

Stay in the know. Pulse on the new Check it out.

Other Items

Darrell Anderson, to the left, war resister who self-checked out in January 2005, scheduled to return to the United States tomorrow. Get the word out. Illustration from The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Editorial: Darrell Anderson Needs You." Information on Darrell Anderson and other war resisters can be found at Courage to Resist.

Anderson is part of a growing war resistance that includes others -- two are noted in Cary Leider Vogrin's "Return to Army a relief for Springs man" (Colorado Springs Gazette):

Spc. Mark Wilkerson, a 2002 Widefield High School graduate and former Mayor’s 100 Teen, said he has settled back into the military routine at Fort Hood, Texas, and is relieved to be freed from the burdens he felt while AWOL. “There’s no more stress of me getting caught. I can start to move on. I just felt that my life was in stall mode for a year and a half,” he said via phone this week from Fort Hood.
In another AWOL case that also received national attention, a Fort Bragg soldier is scheduled to be tried in October, although his attorney said Thursday that the military command is considering his request for an administrative discharge. Sgt. Ricky Clousing, 24, went AWOL in June 2005 and surrendered last month. One of his attorneys, Larry Hildes of Bellingham, Wash., said the military is investigating Clousing’s allegations that U.S. soldiers abused Iraqi citizens. Clousing was an intelligence interrogator assigned to B Company of the 313th Military Intelligence Battalion. Wilkerson walked away from the Army in December 2004 after being denied conscientious objector status. He said serving in Iraq changed his views about the war, and he drove away from Fort Hood as his unit was preparing for a return trip to the Middle East. Wilkerson lived in Colorado Springs while AWOL -- and even got a job -- but decided that to move on with his life, he needed to face his crime.

Again, Darrell Anderson is scheduled to return to the US tomorrow. Now for Micah's highlight:

The Iraq war has acted as a "recruiting sergeant" for extremists in the Muslim world, according to a paper prepared for a Ministry of Defence thinktank, which also said the British government sent troops into Afghanistan "with its eyes closed".
The paper, which describes the west as being "in a fix" and includes a savage attack on Pakistan's intelligence service, the ISI, was written by an officer attached to the Defence Academy, according to BBC2's Newsnight programme. Its release provoked a furious response from the Pakistani president, Pervez Musharraf, who has been touring the US.
The MoD was quick to play down the significance of the report. However, the study reflects what the MoD, military commanders, and the Foreign Office, have been saying in private. What is embarrassing is the timing of the leak, a day after Tony Blair's defence of Britain's military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. The research paper blamed the ISI for indirectly supporting terrorism and extremism.
It adds: "The war in Iraq ... has acted as a recruiting sergeant for extremists across the Muslim world ... Iraq has served to radicalise an already disillusioned youth and al-Qaida has given them the will, intent, purpose and ideology to act."

The above, reflecting the same findings of the (US) NIE, is from Richard Norton-Taylor's "Iraq War Was Terrorism 'Recruiting Sergeant'" (Guardian of London via Common Dreams)· Moving to the New York Times for more reality, from James Glanz's "Congress Is Told of Failures of Rebuilding Work in Iraq:"

In a sweeping new assessment of reconstruction failures in Iraq, a federal inspector told Congress on Thursday that 13 of 14 major projects built by the American contractor Parsons that were examined by his agency were substandard, with construction deficiencies and other serious problems.
The final project, a prison near the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriya, was terminated for other reasons, said the inspector, Stuart Bowen, who heads the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. Delays and cost overruns led to its cancellation.

On this topic, Martha notes Griff Witte's "Iraq Contractor's Work Is Further Criticized" (Washington Post):

The contractor that botched construction of a $75 million police academy in Baghdad so badly that human waste dripped from the ceilings has produced shoddy work on 13 out of 14 projects reviewed by federal auditors, the top official monitoring Iraq's reconstruction told Congress yesterday.
In a House hearing on what has gone wrong with reconstruction contracts in Iraq, Parsons Corp. quickly became the focus, taking bipartisan heat for its record of falling short on critical projects. The Pasadena, Calif., firm was supposed to build facilities at the heart of the $21 billion U.S.-led reconstruction program, including fire stations, border forts and health-care centers. But inspectors have found a litany of flaws in the firm's work. The one project reviewed by auditors that was being constructed correctly, a prison, was taken away from Parsons before its completion because of escalating costs.

In a report released yesterday, inspectors found that the Baghdad Police College posed a health risk after feces and urine leaked through the ceilings of student barracks. The facility, part of which will need to be demolished, also featured floors that heaved inches off the ground and a room where water dripped so heavily that it was known as "the rain forest."
The academy was intended as a showcase for U.S. efforts to train Iraqi recruits who eventually are expected to take control of the nation's security from the U.S. military.

A showcase for a war built on show and shadows. It it at all surprising? Or, in the words of Pretenders, "How much did you, how much did you, how much did you get?" ("How Much Did You Get For Your Soul" -- Pretenders' Get Close.) This isn't a surprise to anyone but the useless (, The NewsHour and other idiots). What's been going on is a scandal but the useless and the scared have provided cover for nearly four years (if you want to leave the topic of Iraq, it's much longer).

As noted last night, from Ms.:

Before the new Ms. comes out on October 10, we’re doing a last push to get signatures on our "We Had Abortions" petition. With our right to choose in danger, we at Ms. think it’s important for us to take a stand now for abortion rights. We’d love to have your help!

Also, today on KPFA, The Morning Show (7:00 am to 10:00 am PST), Arianna Huffington will be a guest and, later in the day, one of Kris Welch's guests on Living Room will be Daniel Ellsberg (airs noon to 1:00 pm PST).

The e-mail address for this site is

NYT: "After Burst of Violence, as Many as 60 Bodies Are Found in Baghdad" (Michael Luo)

As many as 60 bodies, many of them shot in the head at close range and bearing signs of torture, were discovered across the city on Thursday, an Interior Ministry official said.
[. . .]
Meanwhile, one of most damaging of several bombings in the capital on Thursday occurred in Shaab, a mostly Shiite neighborhood in northeastern Baghdad that had just been the focus of one of the concentrated sweeps by American and Iraqi troops trying to clear and hold problem-plagued areas as part of a new security plan for the capital.
A car parked near the headquarters of the Iraqi Army unit in the neighborhood exploded as a convoy of Iraqi military vehicles passed, an Interior Ministry official said. The blast, at about 7:15 a.m., killed two Iraqi soldiers and wounded eight others, as well as four civilians.
The blast was the first of several explosions across the city. Another car bomb exploded shortly afterward in Baya, a mixed neighborhood in the southwestern part of the city, killing one resident and wounding four others, the Interior Ministry official said.
A roadside bomb tore into a police patrol in Karada, a commercial district in central Baghdad at 8:30 a.m., wounding two policemen. Forty minutes later, another explosive device blew up in Yarmouk, in the western part of the city, killing a policeman and wounding three civilians.

The above look at Thursday in Iraq is from Michael Luo's "After Burst of Violence, as Many as 60 Bodies Are Found in Baghdad" in this morning's New York Times. And already today, at least seven more corpses have been found in Baghdad. Moving to Paul von Zielbauer's "Iraqi Journalists Add Laws to List of Dangers:"

Ahmed al-Karbouli, a reporter for Baghdadiya TV in the violent city of Ramadi, did his best to ignore the death threats, right up until six armed men drilled him with bullets after midday prayers.
He was the fourth journalist killed in Iraq in September alone, out of a total of more than 130 since the 2003 invasion, the vast majority of them Iraqis. But these days, men with guns are not Iraqi reporters' only threat. Men with gavels are, too.
Under a broad new set of laws criminalizing speech that ridicules the government or its officials, some resurrected verbatim from Saddam Hussein's penal code, roughly a dozen Iraqi journalists have been charged with offending public officials in the past year.

So the 'liberation' includes no real concept of a free press (why have a free one when the US government can pay for one that plants the latest spin from Operation Happy Talk), worsening conditions for women but 'freedom is on the march,' to hear Bully Boy tell it, stepping on the backs of many.

Paul Bremer signaled that there would be no respect for the press when his ego insisted a paper be shut down (for a cartoon) which built into the spring 2004 action in Falluja and then into the slaughter in November of 2004. Of course there's no respect for a free press. And when puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki decreed that 'news' incited violence, there wasn't a great deal of outcry over that. (I believe that was mainly due to the fact that all things media, big and small, were focused on Israel and Iraq fell off the radar.) On the al-Maliki's attack on press freedoms, von Zielbauer notes:

On Sept. 7, the police sealed the offices of Al Arabiya, a Dubai-based satellite news channel, for what the government said was inflammatory reporting. And the Committee to Protect Journalists says that at least three Iraqi journalists have served time in prison for writing articles deemed criminally offensive.
The office of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has lately refused to speak with news organizations that report on sectarian violence in ways that the government considers inflammatory; some outlets have been shut down.

With a look at the reality of life in Iraq, where people have gone beyond carrying dual papers (to flash at 'security' depending upon what they think they want to see) and beyond switching homes, Martha notes Sudarsan Raghavan's "At Checkpoints in Baghdad, Disguise Is a Lifesaving Ritual" (Washington Post):

Every time he drove, he feared this moment. Now, it was too late.
As Omar Ahmed neared the checkpoint, he recalled, he saw armed men dressed in black ordering passengers out of a minivan and checking their identity cards. Some were told to get back into the van. Others were taken to a Shiite mosque across the street. The gunmen clutched Glock pistols, normally used by the Iraqi police.

Ahmed, 30, was a Sunni Muslim. And he was in Shaab, a volatile, Shiite Muslim-dominated neighborhood. Questions raced through his mind: Was the mosque a base for a Shiite militia? Were the men members of a Shiite death squad?
So Ahmed set in motion a ritual that many Sunnis across a divided Baghdad now practice. He pushed in a cassette tape with Shiite religious songs and turned up the volume. He wrapped a piece of green cloth that he brought from the Imam Ali shrine in Najaf, one of Shiite Islam's holiest sites, around his gearshift.
And he hung a small picture of Imam Ali, the son-in-law of the prophet Muhammad and the most revered Shiite saint, from his rearview mirror.
To the world outside, he was now a Shiite.

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

And the war drags on . . .

We're starting out this evening's entry a little different than usual. First an announcement from Ms.:

Before the new Ms. comes out on October 10, we’re doing a last push to get signatures on our "We Had Abortions" petition. With our right to choose in danger, we at Ms. think it’s important for us to take a stand now for abortion rights. We’d love to have your help!

Focusing on Iraq (as the community wants) means something's don't get covered very often. (And something's not at all.) But this is a very pro-choice community. If you haven't signed the petition and are able to, please do so. If you're concerned about your personal information, you can leave fields blank. Abortion rights are under attack. The hybrids, such as Unity '08, won't help anyone with this issue. In addition, as members have noted and I've noted, the Democratic Party appears to not only be watering down their position on abortion rights (on all reproductive rights) but backing away from it. (Well, they walk "toward" the right and call that the "center." All polling disputes that notion.).

When women do not control their rights (and their bodies), there is not full equality. Early on (we're doing ancient history here), Ms. was criticized by some who felt they weren't acknowledging that some women had painful experiences when they decided to have an abortion. Ms. had acknowledged that (and continued to do so throughout the magazine's life up to today). But somehow this became a talking point for some that every woman who has an abortion regrets it. That's simply not true. Sometimes it is the only answer. Kat addressed this when Sandra Day O'Connor stepped down with "I Had An Abortion."

To hear the talking points of some waffling politicians, it's the worst thing in the world. That kind of distortion is exactly what many feared would happen and has happened. It's an attempt to shame women and the next time a politician who supposedly supports abortion rights makes another one of those generalized statements, they should be greeted with loud boos.

You do not have to believe in abortion as an option (even one you'll never excercise if that's the case) for yourself to support the right of women to control this basic decision. Rights are being stripped away and those who can remember the battle for this issue know it wasn't handed out (it was won) and it didn't come in a day, a week, or a year. Just as the battle wasn't won overnight, the defeat is not coming overnight. The groundwork for it has been laid bit by bit over the years. With the new makeup of the Court it is even more important that a message be sent. Ms. was and is a leader on reproductive rights so if you're able to sign the petition, please consider doing so. Those who've already signed it, thank you.

We're now moving into Iraq, but let's note that, prior to the US invasion, Iraq had women's rights. It wasn't the equivalent of the US but it was advanced for its area. As Riverbend has noted repeatedly at her site (Baghdad Burning), that's no longer the case. A secular government has been replaced with a religious one and Iraq's looking more and more like Afghanistan (where, despite Laura Bush's lofty claims of liberating women, little changed for women). An e-mail this week asked why, in the Iraq snapshots, I tend to stop a quote and add "police officer" outside of quotes? There apparently are no police officers that are female in Iraq now. There are many jobs they can't hold. They need a male to drive the car. They need their heads covered. This wasn't true prior to the illegal invasion, it is true now.

From Riverbend's "Summer of Goodbyes..." (Baghdad Burning):

For me, June marked the first month I don't dare leave the house without a hijab, or headscarf. I don't wear a hijab usually, but it's no longer possible to drive around Baghdad without one. It's just not a good idea. (Take note that when I say 'drive' I actually mean 'sit in the back seat of the car' -- I haven't driven for the longest time.) Going around bare-headed in a car or in the street also puts the family members with you in danger. You risk hearing something you don't want to hear and then the father or the brother or cousin or uncle can't just sit by and let it happen. I haven't driven for the longest time. If you're a female, you risk being attacked.

With regards to Iraq, and all the reporting that's come out of Iraq, it's amazing how little attention has been given to the continued destruction of women's rights in that country. Is it because it doesn't fit with the narrative of so-called 'liberation'? Or is because you've got far too many 'manly' men providing the 'coverage' (especially the go-go boys who, if the complaint lodged with the Guild is to be believed -- saw Iraq as their own Boys Gone Wild In The Green Zone)?

Ruth Rosen's "The Hidden War on Women in Iraq" remains one of the few articles to explore the realities for women in Iraq today. (For those who missed it and prefer or need an audio link, Rosen discussed the article with Andrea Lewis July 18th on KPFA's The Morning Show and you can access the archives to listen to that -- free of charge.)

It doesn't fit with the Bully Boy's pontificating about freedom, so it's apparently to be swept under the rug. Just like we're supposed to look the other way when reports on the polls showing Iraqis want the US out of their country are released or commented on. On that topic, Tracey (Ruth's granddaughter) notes Katrina vanden Heuvel's "A Sovereign Iraq?" (The Notion, The Nation):

In Wednesday's Washington Post, reporter Amit Paley reveals what the Iraqi people want from their sovereign state: "A strong majority of Iraqis want U.S.-led military forces to immediately withdraw from the country, saying their swift departure would make Iraq more secure and decrease sectarian violence, according to new polls by the State Department and independent researchers."
The State Department poll shows that 65 percent of Baghdad residents favor an immediate pullout. And polling by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland indicates that
71 percent of Iraqis want U.S. led forces out within a year. Even 57 percent of Sunni Muslims -- who might fear reprisals from a Shiite majority -- favor a U.S. withdrawal within 6 months.

Iraq is the topic of The Nation's latest editorial, "Iraq and Reality:"

Reality can be inconvenient. It can get in the way when politicians are busy with bamboozlement. George W. Bush and his comrades-in-spin have for years pitched their Iraq misadventure as the central front in the "war on terror." We must fight them there to prevent them from fighting us here, goes their grade-school-level argument, cooked up to replace the WMD argument (which lost its utility in the absence of WMDs). But the recent disclosure of a classified National Intelligence Estimate, first reported by the New York Times, has undercut that justification. The NIE, finished in April, noted that Bush's invasion of Iraq and the subsequent--inept and brutal--occupation has led to a rise in Islamic radicalism that has increased the threat posed by global jihadists. "The Iraq conflict has become the 'cause celebre' for jihadists," the NIE says, "breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement." To be blunt: Bush & Co. got it exactly wrong.

Eddie noted the above. For those wanting word on the peace movement, you'll have to go elsewhere. The KPFA Evening News today reported on the Declaration of Peace activities going on around the country in the last few days and spoke with Leslie Cagan (United for Peace and Justice) who stated these actions were intended to raise the war in communities and that these activities are part of a larger peace movement. On the topic of KPFA, tomorrow on The Morning Show (7:00 am to 10:00 am PST), Arianna Huffington will be a guest and, later in the day, one of Kris Welch's guests on Living Room will be Daniel Ellsberg (airs noon to 1:00 pm PST). United for Peace and Justice's next scheduled event is:

Oct. 10 - Nov. 7: National Youth and Student Peace Coalition Call to Action -- A Month of Education, Organizing, and Action!

Before that happens World Can't Wait stages their October 5th mass resistance action. One day this week, probably Tuesday when I was groggy from surgery, The KPFA Evening News reported on the smear tactic attempting to dilute the power of the organization and the call to action. When you've got nothing else to do, what do you trot out? "Communist." The speaker rightly noted that the group is a diverse group with people from the right, the left and the center working to end the war. It's sad enough that those kind of scare tactics worked during McCarthyism, it's even sadder that some think they can gain traction with them today. If you're able to participate, please do so. (My intention is to do so. That is dependent on a speedy recovery.)

CODEPINK is asking for action (and celebrating their fourth anniversary -- hard to believe, with all they've accomplished and done, that they're only four years old):

Give Peace a Vote! What if millions decided to vote their conscience and said 'No More War Candidates'? The Voters Pledge makes visible a powerful political force, the peace vote, a force that politicians cannot continue to ignore. It sends a clear message to the hawkish minority that leads both major parties to end the occupation of Iraq and to end unprovoked attacks on other nations. Join Yoko Ono, Kate Hudson and Samuel L. Jackson in signing the Voters Pledge and ask at least 10 of your friends to sign as well. Let's put PEACE at the top of the ballot in 2006! Click here to see latest action photos!

That's what some people are doing. That's not all. (And we'll note another organization in an excerpt later in this entry). That's what needed, that and much more. What's not needed? We'll get to that. But for now, let's focus on what is being done, what has been done and what needs to be done to bring the troops home.

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 2694. Tonight? 2710. When does it end? When people say "Enough."

And many people are doing just that. Those people don't tend to get covered by the media (big or small) and, when they are covered, someone's got to get a slam in. Case in point, noted by Keesha, Michael Socolow's "War Protests: Ardent Elders, Unaware Youth" (Philadelphia Inquirer via Common Dreams) which gets in a slam at the "youth." Now let's be clear that between fifty-two and college students (or younger), there is a huge middle. But what we see is yet another attempt to slam the students for their supposed inaction. Maybe Socolow hopes that his column will light a fire. If so, there have been many columns that can be seen as attempts to do that and they all seem to focus on the students as though the 30 year olds, the 40 year olds aren't an issue.

The reality is that students are out there. There numbers are growing and have been growing since the start of the illegal war. That's reality. The sixties generation didn't have American Idol, Socolow is correct there. They did have American Bandstand and an artist like Phil Ochs' could appear on the show performing "I Ain't Marching Anymore." You think Murdoch's show is going to allow an anti-war song to be performed by their "singers"? Think again. The war movement was fueld by the civil rights movement. More importantly, the peace movement was covered. You could see it on TV, in the mainstream media. You could see it on a talk show. You don't get that today, you don't even get a peace column in any of the left magazines covering the peace movement.

Don't throw it off on the students. As someone who's gone around since Feb. 2003 speaking to students, there numbers continue to grow. In DC, the biggest issue was how -- how can they act, what can they do? It's real easy to forget that not only did the media cover the peace movement in the sixties (defined here as from the death of JKF to the fall of Nixon), but junior high students saw high school and college students acting. They saw their brothers and sisters acting. They heard it from the music scene. They didn't have to search out an artist like Michael Franti (to name only one), it was there on radio. Pre-Green Day, MTV had no interest in the war (other than in cheerleading it). They really haven't supported any statements since.
(Stephen Smith-Said's "Why Neil Young Is Wrong" addresses that for those new to the topic).
I know what I see, and I've visted 49 of the states repeatedly (I haven't gone to Alaska). I've spoken to groups that I belonged to in college and I know students are struggling to get the word out, struggling for news of Iraq and struggling to find new ways to speak out against the war.

It's really easy to sit there and praise the sixties generation. But Vietnam was embedded into the culture. Not just by musicians doing 'political' songs but by the majority of them. Cass Elliott, John Phillips, they didn't shy from discussing the war. I use them as examples because the Mamas & the Papas weren't Jefferson Airplane. But you had an entire youth culture that big business wanted to tap and the message got out. What you have today is a less diverse media environment, no chance in hell of anyone not doing a play-sex song making most playlists, artists who are too often scared to speak out. There is a world of difference in the environment that today's students live in and the one that the sixties generation did.

And it's not just mainstream media. The peace movement does not get the coverage it needs or deserves from little media either. Medea Benjamin (had she been a man in the 60s) would have been a nonstop guest, expected to write columns, you name it. She's one of the biggest names in the peace movement (that's not to single her out and underplay the accomplishments of others, but she is out there week after week) and ask yourself how often you read of her, hear her or see her in/on small media? Not that often.

Do we want to be really harsh? Let's be really harsh. Cindy Sheehan got covered by big media this summer. Where was little media? Off covering Israel. There's no excuse for that. When even the peace mom can't get coverage, there's a problem. Independent media needs to address that and they need to do it quickly because Darrell Anderson returns to the United States Saturday, Ricky Clousing has been charged with desertion, Mark Wilkerson awaits news on whether he will be charged or not, Ehren Watada awaits the military's verdict on the finding in his Article 32 hearing, Jeremy Hinzman awaits word on his appeal to be granted refugee status by the Canadian government, Carl Webb awaits word on whether, having been basically dismissed by the Texas National Guard, he's going to be pulled into another group and expected to go to Iraq.

Now if you've written about any of the above, then by all means take your slams at those students you see as apethetic or lazy. But the truth is, most people haven't written about it or covered it in any real depth and they just want to ego stroke the sixties one more time. Great time, no question. But that's not going to end today's war.

And this "Baby cried the day the circus came to town coverage" (see The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Talk") isn't helping. These one day stories where you pat yourself on the back because you got your "get" and then you move on to something else aren't cutting it either.
The reality is that a slogan was thought up (and thought up under Poppy Bush by a p.r. firm) to clamp down on dissent. That slogan had to be tackled. Another issue is the fact that indepedent media seems only concerned with the war in terms of the military. Look at the new issue of The Nation. What's the cover? General revolt!

Is the war going to come to an end before The Nation puts the peace movement on the cover? The sixties generation grew up in a period of time where it was "cool" to join the peace movement. Why was that? Because the peace movement was covered. The coverage gave it cachet. The coverage gave it "cred" (to use a more recent term). Now I've subscribed to The Nation for some time, renewed my subscription not that long ago, but their coverage of the peace movement has been largely non-existant. When they did cover campuses, instead of covering students who were actually doing something, they went with Alex Keaton clones (and fools -- you don't brag about how you tricked people on your campus into supporting something in a story that will come out months before the final vote) who were funded by left think tanks to move towards the middle. Don't offer that up and claim you've covered campus movements. All you've done is go where the money is, not where the silence is.

Last week, Elaine wrote "Should The Notion be finger-pointing?" and it's a good question. If you're not there covering what is going on for a non-slam piece, maybe a slam piece isn't really the best way to open. Here, we've stated for some time (well over a year now) that The Nation needed to do a peace column, a column on the actual peace movement. They don't offer that, no one does. Nor is their an alternative radio program (that I'm aware of) which focuses on Iraq. Not covers Iraq and some other things, focuses on Iraq. The war's going to hit the four year mark in March and there's still not a program devoted to Iraq?

Don't slam the peace movement. It's out there. It's out there whether the coverage is there or whether (more likely) the coverage is no where to be found. The peace movement has grown "peer to peer" more than it has from coverage because there's so little interest in covering Iraq.
More often than not, programs seem to ask, "Did we do our Iraq story this month?" And it's interesting that CounterSpin can note that the mainstream media undercounts protests or doesn't report on them, but they can't interview a guest from a peace organization to talk about that. It's reduced to a headline. If the show's going to examine the way mainstream media portrays things, isn't it past time that they regularly checked in with the peace movement? With this week's actions, shouldn't first on the list be a guest who participated discussing the coverage the actions received or didn't receive?

It's really easy to do these "general says" articles. And it might have looked brave in 2003. Now it just seems like someone's trying to couch their argument on the military. The military wants more bodies. They want more troops in (US troops) in Iraq. That's not the aim of the peace movement but that argument goes unstated and I think, frankly, that too many hide behind the military to make their arguments. This is supposed to be democracy. The military is no higher than civilians in a democracy -- in fact civilians control the military in a democracy. So this notion of 'bravery' doesn't entail hiding behind the military. (The Nation's doing the cover article because it's news. It's a development. That needs to be covered; however, the fact that the peace movement doesn't qualify as news is a question the magazine needs to address.)

Today, you've got a lot of "even Bob Woodward" says . . . When I was on the phone with a friend at CBS news, they were pitching that. How is that news? Bob Woodward always reports what the military says. He's got a new book to sell. He's getting the attention he's built his career around (as opposed to actual reporting which fell off the radar even before Wired). But we're all supposed to be overjoyed that he's switched his devotion from the Bully Boy to the military. There's a reason for the switch and it includes more than a desire to sell books (though don't understimate that factor).

Woodward is, as always, presenting what we used to call "the establishment" and their view. The establishment has turned on the war. The think tanks have turned on the war. The support Bully Boy needs is not there. The people have turned against the war. You've got all the elements present to end the war. But the war's not ending and I don't point the finger at students.

It's lazy and an easy out. Those old enough to remember the "establishment" being bandied about in conversations are old enough to remember the counter, the anti-establishment. Where has the coverage been of that? You had a counter-culture in the sixties. You don't have that now. Rolling Stone, once desiring to be the bible of the counter-culture, hides behind the military, offers foolish cover stories on foolish pop tarts (most recently Justin Timberlake), insults readers of a music magazine by presenting crap schillers as "artists," and generally embarrasses itself with each new issue. (I have friends at Rolling Stone who will dispute that harsh assessment. I have friends who left the magazine years ago and will agree 100%. I'm not really concerned with "tone" ever but if I come off especially harsh tonight, I'm trying to avoid taking medication for the pain. The only I've been "under" is the day of the surgery -- to speed up the recovery process.)

Instead of whining about today's "youth," try buying a clue. Try grasping that there is action and it doesn't get coverage. And as long as A is not being covered but B is, the latter will get the bulk of the attention. Quit blaming students for attempting to navigate uncharted territory. This goes to a lack of media diversity, a general disinterest on the part of media (big and small) with Iraq, an inability to cover the peace movment and quite a bit more.

Darrell Anderson returns to the United States Saturday. He's stated that he believes the anti-war movement is more alive in the US than in Canada. If he means people, I think he'll be happy with what he finds. If he means media, he better prepare himself for the fact that, being Iraq-related, he will take a back seat to every other issue and that, when the focus is on Iraq, military trumps all and those in the military criticizing strategy (as opposed to the illegal war) rush past everyone else. That's the reality in the United States today.

The reality isn't that students aren't doing things to stop the war. They are. Their numbers continue to grow. They do things every week that never get covered and then comes someone who wants to compare them to people over 52. If the hope is to light a fire, forget it. The New York Times had a piece that could be have seen that way awhile back. It didn't "speak to" students, it turned them off. It did that because it was insulting to them and because of the fact that the writer appeared to know very little of what they were doing. The same response will greet the piece at Common Dreams. Students, in the sixties, had role models, had coverage, and had examples. Until media, big and small, is willing to provide them with that, writers should stop slamming the students. You come off tired and out of touch (baby, baby, you're out of time -- as the Stones once sang). You're like the man boring Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate with the plastics speech.

It probably feels good to write those things. Maybe it's the left's version of Tom Brokaw's The Greatest Generation. But outside of generation stroking, it serves no purpose and takes up space that could have gone to what's actually happening today.

Now for a highlight. Lucy noted this earlier this week and then Carl noted it tonight, Allison Hantschel's "A tale of two war memorials" (Daily Southtown):

The Washington version of Camp Casey was, when I saw it, a collection of rain-soaked tents beneath which people gathered to talk about how to get Bush out of office. Speakers talked about 9-11 or impeachment and sang old protest songs, and Japanese tourists snapped pictures of a giant Bush puppet wearing prisoner's stripes.
But beside those tents was the true memorial: row on row of white tombstones, cardboard cutouts meant to signify the war dead. They lay in the shadow of the Washington Monument, blank, a few leaning in the early autumn wind, ready to blow away.
The president gave no lofty speeches here about the greatness of America -- perhaps not surprising since the war is ongoing. However, if this is a sign of how this war is regarded, as something not to be discussed above whispers, or only by those who are outraged over its course, it does not bode well for the treatment of those who return from it, for any sign in later life that we honored their sacrifices. Photographs of the coffins returning to Dover Air Force Base were banned early on in the war, our leaders afraid that images of the sacrifices of our troops would undermine support for the war. Those attending the coffins later passed photos of their own on to the press, wanting the dead honored, their loss recognized by a nation that too often acts as if the war is a television show.
To Cindy Sheehan, the president said little. To the nation, about the war in Iraq, he says things like "stay the course," never mentioning what course or where such a course might lead. So far it's led to this patch of mud and grass beside the National Mall, these rows of dead.
A group of men, clearly old friends, approached the World War II memorial clustered together, one leaning on a cane, the others shuffling or slouching. But when they reached the monument's curved marble entrance, they straightened, looked at one another, and in their faces were the men they had been 60 years ago, young and full of hope.
At the other end of the mall, tourists walked past the white tombstones as if they didn't exist.

For anyone wondering why Lucy's noting it didn't get it included before tonight, she e-mailed the public account. Members really need to use the private accounts. When things are busy (the weekends) or during rough spots (like this week with the surgery), I'm going to focus on the private e-mail accounts and ask that everyone helping me with the e-mails do so as well. As of right now, we're caught up with the public e-mail account. The previous highlight touched on Cindy Sheehan, Dallas notes Cindy Sheehan's "Lift Your Head" (BuzzFlash):

It has always been our birthright and absolute imperative to peacefully protest our government and to hold them accountable to represent us the way that we want to be represented. Through the Clinton years, when we thought we were peaceful and apparently prosperous, we were lulled into a comfortable complacency. After 9/11 we have been bullied into being fearful of the boogey-man and our now-vindicated toiletry items that can rejoin us in airplane cabins.
Those of us who spoke out against George and his war were marginalized and demonized. Phil Donahue was fired for being too outspoken, Mrs. Joe Wilson was outed, Gen. Eric Shinseki was forced to retire, vile accusations were leveled against weapons inspectors who dared to say that Saddam had none; etc., etc. Even if we disagreed with the impending invasion, many of us were terrified to say anything or be reduced to "focus groups."Now it appears that people are not terrified to stand up for peace and justice. I am so proud of America for not buying into the bull crap that if you oppose the illegal occupation of Iraq, then you are exactly like a "Nazi sympathizer." (Who wants to be equated with Georgie's grand pappy, Prescott Bush). It makes me proud to be an American because we are putting our bodies on the line for peace.
It is now the time to stand up and be counted and tell this out of control government of ours that we are withdrawing our consent to be governed by them.
[. . .]
Please support
Rep. Jim McGovern's HR 4232 that calls for immediate de-funding of the killing in Iraq.
Come join
GSFP and the Camp Casey Peace Institute in Washington, DC on election day to show BushCo that we are withdrawing our consent to be governed my torturers and killers.

If I've mispelled more than usual, my apologies, as well as for anything that's missing a link. I'm about to relate a story from an e-mail and I may screw it up. Diana's oldest son wrote to say Antonia Juhasz spoke to his evening class. (I believe this was Tuesday, my apologies if I have the day wrong) She spoke for about a half-hour and he's since purchased her book at his local Border's (he wasn't aware that she was coming to speak to his class or that books would be avaible -- he writes that they were twenty dollars in class and "she autographed them" so he wished he'd known ahead of time). (THE BU$H AGENDA is her book and the link will take you to upcoming dates on her book tour.) He encourages everyone to "see her speak if she comes to your city." Tonight, before class (that's why I believe she spoke to them on Tuesday), he says people were "really talking about what she'd said." Juhasz is hopefully aware of the impression she made, but if she isn't, she planted a seed in that government class. He'd never participated in any activity until the May immigration demonstrations (which he participated in with his entire family and Diana shared her thoughts on that here) and now he writes about seeing the need for that kind of action on the war. Juhasz was out there, she was planting seeds. Probably would have been easier to have sat at a desk and written a slam piece on students. Instead, she's out there talking about what's going on and what needs to be done.

Lastly, in military news, Hal Bernton 's "Soldier charged for refusing to go to Iraq with unit" (Seattle Times) notes that Suzanne Swfit has been charged with "with missing a troop movement and being absent without leave." Swift self-checked out due to the abuse and harrassment she suffered in the military. Of the three charges she made, the military was able to confirm one (which is one more than I'd bet most of them would cop to). One might think that confirming one of the three incidents would make the military attempt to move quickly to discharge Swift; however, instead they prefer to charge her. (This story was also noted today on The KPFA Evening News for those wanting or needing audio.)

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Iraq snapshot

Thursday, September 28, 2006.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; the media gloms on a recording as thought it's December 1, 1982 and the recording is Thriller; war resister Darrell Anderson gears up for his return to the United States stating, "It will be the freest time in my life, because I'm standing up for what I believe in"; polling of Iraqis continues to demonstrate opposition to the US presence in Iraq; disputes continue over yesterday's US airstrike and what appears to be an airstrike today raises additional questions.
Starting with peace news, Darrell Anderson has been in Canada since January 2005.  Anderson was awarded a Purple Heart on his first deployment to Iraq where he was injured by a roadside bomb.  Facing a second deployment to Iraq, Anderson chose to self-check out of the US military and go to Canada.  Anderson is due to return to the US on Saturday.  Diana Swain interviewed Anderson for Canada's CBC today.
Anderson states: "I just broke down one day and couldn't stop crying, and I couldn't go to work and just realized I was done here and I had to go and make a stance in the US because there's way more support and the movement's way bigger down there than it is here."
A text version (not a transcript) notes that: "While Canada provided him an escape from serving in a war he'd come to resent, he says the time has been arduous.  His refugee bids have failed so he can't work here legally and he can't get health care."
Anderson has spoken about PST and other difficulties resulting from the roadside bomb.  The text story also notes: "Anderson is scheduled to appear before military officials for a court martial on Tuesday."  If that's true, that's the first anyone's reported of it.  Anderson's plan is to drive into the US Saturday and, if not arrested at the border, to turn himself in at Fort Knox on Tuesday.  Before being court-martialed, Anderson would first have to face an Article 32 hearing -- think back to Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing in August and also the comments by Watada's attorney Eric Seitz when the military attempted to sneak a charge in post-Article 32 (to William Cole, The Honolu Advertiser): "If they go ahead and add this charge without reconvening an Article 32 and we get to trial, we're going to move to dismiss it because it wasn't presented at the Article 32, and my belief is a military judge is probably going to dismiss it."
On the subject of Watada, David Howard (Online Journal) writes: "1st. Lt. Ehren Watada is facing an eight-year term in military prison for just doing his duty: serving our country and protecting the Constitution.  The charges are conduct unbecoming an officer, missing movement, and contempt toward President Bush.  But they boil down to the 'crimes' of thinking, speaking and following his conscience. . . . This impending trial will be a test of our president's authority to wage preemptive war.  Lt. Watada argues, on our behalf, that President Bush has abused his authority; President Bush argues that Watada is contemptuous for saying so."  More information on war resisters can be found at  Courage to Resist.
Meanwhile, a US ordered airstrike on Wednesday in Baquba continues to be disputed by eye witnesses and the US military. The US military initially trumpted the airstrike as an attack on 'insurgents' and issued the usual press releases.  Richard A. Oppel Jr. (New York Times) reported today that: "Relatives said the eight people killed were from the same family and had no ties to terrorism.  Associated Press Television News quoted the homeowner's daughter, Manal Jassim, as saying: "They were all innocent people.  We were sleeping when they entered our house at dawn.  I found my father, mother, aunt and sister-in-law lying dead.  We were an 11-membe family.  Eight were killed."  Doug Smith (LA Times) reports that an investigation is planned and Enaam Jassim Mohammed (who lost "her parents, brother and pregnant sister-in-law" in the attacks) stated, "The Americans were yelling at the rest of the family.  Then the Americans opened fire at my father, my mother and the rest. . . . I was trying to wake up my brother's wife, who was pregnant, hitting her on her face to wake up.  But I discovered that she was killed after seeing the blood over the floor and her body."  Smith also notes: "Another witness, interviewed on Iraqi television, said the troops shot first and continued to fire inside the house."
The strike comes at a time when polls continue to demonstrate that Iraqis favor a US withdrawal.  Tom Hayden (The Huffington Post) and Amit R. Paley (The Washington Post) earlier noted the polling and today Barry Schweid (AP) notes a poll by the International Policy Attitudes of the University of Maryland which found "four in five Iraqis say the U.S. military force in Iraq provokes more violence than it prevents"; "three-fourths say they think the United States plans to keep military bases in Iraq permanently"; and "About 61 percent approved of the attacks -- up from 47 percent in January" -- attacks on US forces.  Meanwhile, Walter Pincus (Washington Post) reports that the US military "wants to hire a private firm to conduct polling and focus groups in Iraq".  Apparently, when unhappy with polling results (including those of the State Department -- use Paley link), the answer is to hire a polling outfit yourself.
Events such as Wednesday's airstrike can be seen as driving the "negatives" and today's reported airstrike won't aid anyone either.  Reuters reports the US military is claiming no knowledge of what appears to be an airstrike in Ramadi on a car carrying five people all of whom were killed.  Reuters notes that the dead includes "two men, two children and a woman" and reminds: "The death of women and children in military operations is a common cause of resentment among Iraqis against U.S. forces."
The violence continues today in Iraq.  AFP notes of the US military claims of success with the "house to house sweeps" of the so-called 'crackdown' that's been ongoing in Baghdad since mid-June: "However, there are indications armed groups are returning to these neighborhoods and perpetrating new violence once US troops have moved on, sometimes acting with the complicity of elements in the Iraqi security forces."
Patrick Quinn (AP) reports a car bomb in Baghdad took five lives and left at least 34 wounded when "it exploded near a restaurant in central Baghdad".  Also in Baghdad, Reuters reports four police officers wounded by "[a] car bomb targeting a police patrol"; while a roadside bomb aimed at a police patrol killed one person; two people died and 25 were wounded when a car bomber attacked "an Iraqi army headquarters"; two other bombs (one car, one roadside) left five people wounded; and mortar rounds wounded three.  Quinn (AP) notes that mortar wounds also claimed the life of a child in Baghdad.  The capital -- three months after the 'crackdown' began.  Outside of Baghdad, Reuters notes a car bomber in Kirkuk killed a police officer; while two police officers were wounded by a roadside bomb in Mosul; one police officer was wounded by a roadside bomb "near Kirkuk"; and a person was wounded in Numaniya following the explosion of "[a] bomb planted inside the house of a" police officer.
Patrick Quinn (AP) reports: "Gunmen killed seven people, including five policemen and a woman, in different locations in the province of Diyala just north of Baghdad, police said." Reuters notes a man was shot dead in Balad and one in Mosul.
CNN reports that 60 corpses were found "around" Baghdad today and that the latest discoveries are "pushing the number of bodies discovered so far this week to 122.  Most of the bodies had their hands tied and gunshot wounds to the head, Iraqi emergency police said."  Reuters notes a corpse was discovered in Mosul and one in Balad.
The BBC is reporting that Abu Hamza al-Muhajir (alleged "leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq") has issued a tape recording via websites that calls "for [the] kidnapping of Westerners."  CNN notes that the tape is unconfirmed. CBS and AP note that the taped message asserts "more than 4,000 foreigners" have died in Iraq fighting occupation troops and that the "holy month should be turned into what he calls a 'month of holy war.'"  The message is in Arabic.  CBS and AP credit "translator Khaled Wassef, whose job entails the constant monitoring of a plethora of Web sites where militants frequently post text, audio and video detailing their global operations" and note that Wassef feels the figure cited (4,000) is more for "symbolism than . . . quantity."  Patrick Quinn (AP) reports that the recording "also called for explosive experts and nuclear scientists to join his group's holy war".
In finanical news, CBS and AP note "a secret U.S. Audit" report by Stuart W. Bowen (Special Inspector General) that says the Iraq oil industry has "lost $16 billion" in the last two years due to "attacks, criminals and bad equipment".
Returning to peace news, the AP reports that "five adults and two juveniles" were arrested following "a seven-hour sit-in at [US House] Rep. Steve Chabort's hometown office" in Cincinnati, Ohio. The sit-in was to advocate that Chabot sign on to the Declaration of Peace.  Republican Chabot chairs the House Judiciary Subcommittee and backed the House bill making it illegal for any non-parent adult to take a minor across state lines to secure an abortion.  His most famous statements regarding the war in Iraq may be his suggestion that the French needed history lessons for opposing the war.  Monday, at US Senator Rick Santorum's Philadelphia office, fourteen people were arrested for civil disobedience. As Haider Rizvi (IPS) has reported these and other actions "continue to take place in dozens of cities across the United States this week as part of a nationwide campaign aiming to force the administration of President George W. Bush and Congress to end the U.S. occupation of Iraq."
Next Thursday, October 5th, World Can't Wait is calling for a day of mass resistance. 
Benjamin Rosen explains "people will walk out of school, take off work, gather in town squares and MARCH in cities across the country, declaring their intention [to] bring the Bush program to a halt."
While people get active, DC freezes.  As Arianna Huffington (The Huffington Post) notes: "With just a few days remaining before Congress adjourns for the midterm election, Washington, DC has turned into the fear capital of America.  It's an all-out Fear Face-Off, pitting the GOP's fear of reality against the Democrats' fear of perception, with control of Congress riding on the outcome."
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