Saturday, November 18, 2006

NYT: "Allies Wage Raid In Iraq, Seeking Abducted Guards" (Edward Wong)

American forces and British military forces battled gunmen in southern Iraq on Friday while searching for four American security guards and their Austrian colleague who were abducted from a supply convoy on Thursday by men wearing Iraqi police uniforms, American officials said.
The episode was the largest single kidnapping of Americans since the war began. It took place just north of the town of Safwan near the Iraq-Kuwaiit border, a Shiite-dominated area where violence between competing militias has worsened in the past year. A previously unknown group released a videotaped message shown on an Iranian-run TV station on Friday saying that it was holding the five men, but it offered no evidence.
[Generic statement from the Giddiest Gabor in the Green Zone, Willie Caldwell IV.]
The ambush was the latest in a string of audacious kidnappings that have undermined confidence in the Iraqi security forces and the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. Several of the abductions are thought to have been conducted by Shiite militiamen wearing police or army uniforms, underscoring fears that the security forces have sheltered sectarian fighters or are at least turning a blind eye to them.

The above is from Edward Wong's "Allies Wage Raid In Iraq, Seeking Abducted Guards" in this morning's New York Times. If you didn't read the above closely, go back and read it again.

First off, fourteen people were estimated to have been kidnapped. That included nine Asians. Where are they in the story? (After the fold.) Second, in terms of the Times, note that they can print a photo of one missing guard. Not only can they not print a photo of Abeer, they can't even say her name. They haven't even covered the confession and guilty plea of one her attackers this week. Third, notice the response of the military.

What was it? British and US troops went on mission. Tuesday of this week, a mass kidnapping took place in Baghdad. We'll go with the 150 figure for the number of abducted. What was the response? The response was to attempt to minimize the number involved. Even with the low balling, more Iraqis were abducted in that kidnapping then were people in the Thursday kidnapping in southern Iraq. (The Thursday Baghdad kidnapping gets very little attention.) Are some victims less of a concern? It would appear that the US military (which is the occupying power) appears to think so.

Or maybe they were thinking that 'war' isn't a response to a crime. Thinking that when it came the mass kidnapping of Iraqis. If so, great. If so, maybe they thought that and would have thought that regarding the southern Iraq kidnapping but were circumvented by placing a higher premium on some lives.

But the message (probably not intended because who wants to admit to it) sent out is that some lives have greater value. Some people may be okay with that message. But the US is the occupying force in Iraq. It's an illegal occupation, no question. But while they're on the ground they're supposed to be protecting Iraqis. That message isn't sent out by massive responses (regardless of the response) when Americans are kidnapped.

The American response to the Tuesday mass kidnapping was to dicker over and downplay the number of the abuducted. Incidents like the one Wong describes may fly over the heads of some Americans. They may not register. But it does register in Iraq and it is one reason why US forces will not and cannot have legitamacy for many Iraqis. Forget the method with which the US (and British) military responded to the Thursday kidnapping, just focus on the proportion. It does register.

This is only one incident in a long line of incidents. That happens when the war drags on. That happens when a people promised 'democracy' still find themselves occupied three years later. Sending more US troops does not wipe away the realities and the impressions and that's why it's not an answer.

Tony Blair doesn't want to pull out British troops. (Though, if he did, it would help end the war.) But he does appear to grasp, in some manner, that the illegal was is a 'disaster. Stan notes Tim Shipman's "Iraq is a 'disaster' admits Blair" (The Daily Mail):

Tony Blair admitted that British intervention in Iraq has been a disaster last night - sending shockwaves through Westminster.
In his frankest admission about the war to date, Mr Blair admitted that Western forces have been powerless to stop the descent into violence.
The Prime Minister stopped short of accepting the blame for plunging Iraq to the brink of civil war - blaming instead the insurgent uprising that has killed 125 British troops.
But his admission in an interview with the Arab new channel Al Jazeera will be seen as an historic climbdown for Mr Blair, who has always fought to put a positive gloss on often disastrous events.
Challenged by veteran interviewer Sir David Frost that the Western invasion of Iraq has "so far been pretty much of a disaster", Mr Blair said: "It has."

Turning to the topic of US war resister Ehren Watada, Joan noted The Honolulu Advertiser's "Forum to discuss Watada challenge to Iraq war" (I posted this at Kat's site last night, if it looks familiar):

Honolulu-born Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada's challenge to the legality of the war in Iraq will be discussed Sunday afternoon at the University of Hawai'i-Manoa campus.
Sponsored by the Honolulu chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League, "Ehren Watada: Conscience and Constitutionality" will feature Ehren Watada's father Bob Watada, along with the 28-year-old lieutenant's attorney, Eric Seitz, and UH Richardson School of Law professor Jon Van Dyke, who will address the constitutionality of Watada's actions.
The free public event runs 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the School of Architecture auditorium and will include questions.
Since being charged June 22 for refusing to deploy with his Fort Lewis Stryker unit, the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Watada has been assigned to administrative duties and prohibited from traveling beyond a 250-mile radius of his base in Washington.Earlier this month, Fort Lewis, Wash., commander Lt. Gen. James Dubik recommended that the Army proceed with a general court-martial against Watada for refusing to deploy. Watada and his attorney had been in negotiations with the Army since an Article 32 hearing on Aug. 17 to avert a trial, but talks broke down this month.

And ??? notes John Catalinotto's "GI resistance grows, active & AWOL" (Workers World):

If the reaction of some active-duty and veteran GIs is any indication, the movement inside the U.S. military of resistance to the occupation of Iraq is not sitting back and waiting for Congress to stop the war. They are continuing to organize and struggle.
Workers World spoke with Navy Seaman Jonathan Hutto, based in Norfolk, Va., who is a key organizer of the "Appeal for Redress." This is a petition meant for active-duty GIs that expresses their dissent over the continued occupation of Iraq.
For Hutto, born and raised in Atlanta and reared on stories of the civil rights movement, Nov. 13 was a big day. "They began work today on the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial," he said. "I am moved by this, by King taking a place where there are memorials to Washington, Lincoln and Jefferson. Theirs were dedicated to presidents. King's is dedicated to justice and peace.
"That's the vein in which we want to present this appeal," the 29-year-old Howard University graduate continued. "Not as military members breaking a law, but upholding our duty to participate in democracy. We will affirm that duty and that right."
Legal right to appeal
Hutto asserted: "To those who say military members cannot speak, I say that only under a fascist dictatorship could people be stopped from raising their voices. As children growing up we studied the history of the Freedom Rides. The Supreme Court said segregation was illegal. The Freedom Riders said, 'We're going to ride these buses integrated.' We in the armed forces also have the legal right to appeal to Congress without being punished."
The appeal, which can be found and signed by GIs at, reads: "As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq. Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home."

As noted at Kat's Korner, the writings of Margaret Kimberley, Glen Ford and Bruce Dixon are now available at The Black Agenda Report. Markus passed that on Thursday and we added the link then. There hasn't been time here to note that. We will return to highlighting Kimberley on Saturdays. Many members had wondered where she was. Here is an excerpt from her latest, entitled "Election 2006: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly:"

First the good news. Nancy Pelosi will be Speaker of the House. Now the bad news. Nancy Pelosi will be Speaker of the House. It is better to have a Democrat in charge of the Congressional agenda, but dont forget that Pelosi has no intention of truly confronting the Bush administration. She admitted as much in a 60 Minutes interview.
Nancy Pelosi: "No, impeachment is off the table." Lesley Stahl: "And that's a pledge?" Nancy Pelosi: "Well, it's a pledge in the yes, I mean, it's a pledge. Of course it is. It is a waste of time"
Pelosi has no intention of truly confronting the Bush administration.
Madame Speaker To Be pledged to uphold the Constitution, not toe the line under orders from Lesley Stahl and CBS. How does she know impeachment is a waste of time? That is what investigations and subpoena powers are for. Too bad she doesnt know the rules of the branch of government shell be running.
Republicans knew that impeaching Bill Clinton wasnt a waste of time, not that they really wanted him to leave office. They knew that Gore would win if he ran as an incumbent, so they just hoped that Clinton would be around long enough to muddy the waters and get Gore stuck it in. Voila, instant presidency. Take notes Nancy.
The election results of 2006 produced a steady stream of both good and bad news. Harold Ford began Election Day with a photo op at the Little Rebel Club. Not surprisingly, the Little Rebel Club has a very prominently displayed
Confederate flag on its front door. Ford put on an Elmer Fuddish redneck cap and grinned and skinned with genuine rednecks. A black man who spends his time pandering to white people who hate him will always lose. That is very good news.

When we saw the photo of Harold Ford Jr. in front of that flag, we were surprised it wasn't everywhere. ("We" is Dona, Jim, Ty, Jess, Ava and myself.) Seemed the left and the 'left' had time for boo-hoos about Junior and to ponder whether or not he'd be moving to cable, but not time for reality. When it went up Sunday ("Junior campaigned in strange places"), there were e-mails asking if we thought The Black Commentator would be covering it? There was a time when we could have given an answer to that question. We couldn't. Where was Kimberley? Where was Dixon? Where was Ford? Though, hopefully, The Black Commentator will continue to have something worth saying, the voices this community responded to appear to be no longer with it. They're now at The Black Agenda Report and, please note, in this week's issue they cover that issue. Not just in Kimberley's column noted above but also in other writings. Keesha notes Glen Ford's "Stop Supporting Every Black Face: End the Jim Crow Mentality:"

The Black political class aspirants to money, power and media coverage has emerged as the push towards more rightwing political behavior among African Americans, the masses of whom have resisted becoming accomplices in their own destruction. A Reuters article titled Black Candidates Veer to Center meaning, to the right was carried by hundreds of newspapers across the country on November 12. Black candidates in the U.S. midterm elections moved toward the political center, seeking votes across the spectrum and playing down race, read the lead sentence.
No one exemplifies the disconnect between mass Black interests and the Black political class, than Harold Ford, Jr., the former congressman from Tennessee who lost his bid for a Senate seat last week. Ford managed to position himself as the most rightwing member of the Congressional Black Caucus, according to the twice-yearly scorecard of the
CBC Monitor, a Black watchdog group. As BARs Bruce Dixon wrote last week, Ford is a pro-privatization, pro-torture, pro-war Bush sycophant craven enough to claim his own black grandmother was actually white to get a few more white votes.
Harold Ford has gone Republican in all but name.

There's a feature up that I'll highlight in Monday's snapshot. (Saving it for that because the snapshot gets reposted at other community sites and I want to be sure that everyone's aware of The Black Agenda Report. Thanks to Markus for passing on word.) Hopefully The Black Commentator will continue to offer articles worth reading. However, we always highlighted Kimberley because she's a voice that members respond to. That used to be during the week (usually Thursdays). When the focus here became Iraq, we switched it to Saturdays. (Because a highlight in an one of the non-snapshot entries doesn't have to be on Iraq.) Because Kimberely will be highlighted regularly and because Dixon and Ford are voices we have highlighted frequently as well, we'll be noting The Black Agenda Report. If members see something at The Black Commentator they want highlighted, they should e-mail about it.

But the feelings of members since that site returned from its summer break has been "What happened?" What happened appears to be that Ford, Dixon and Kimberley are now doing The Black Report Agenda. (Yes, I'm loading in the links heavy.) While members have waited for the former site to address Junior, The Black Agenda Report has. (With several features in this week's edition.) For those who listened online to the commentaries at The Black Commentator, Dixon and Ford are doing audio commentaries at The Black Agenda Report. In addition, Carl, Zach, Rachel and Billie all e-mailed to note that Glen Ford is one of the guests on the most recent edition of CounterSpin.

Dixon, Kimberly and Ford are important voices who aren't afraid to take on a Pelosi or a Ford. (On the latter, see Rebecca's "remember the ladies? forgotten at the democracy n..." to grasp how their voices are needed. As Rebecca noted, there was time to spin for Junior, but not time to note the reality of Junior's campaigning -- some 'analyst.')

So, the three are not gone, they've moved to another outlet. Please make an effort to get the word out on The Black Agenda Report.

The following community sites have updated since yesterday morning:

Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Cedric's Cedric's Big Mix;
Mike's Mikey Likes It! -- (this is a guest post);
Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz -- (this is a guest, joint-post);
Wally's The Daily Jot
and Trina's Trina's Kitchen

At Kat's Korner, Betty filled in on Monday, Ruth filled in on Wednesday, and I filled in last night. Kat is back from Ireland and spending with the weekend with Betty. She will be helping out with tomorrow's edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review. She will be flying back on Monday and may or may not be posting Monday. If she doesn't, Betty will fill in for her. And Ruth and I have also stated we'll continue next week if she needs some time off.

And it's the weekend which means RadioNation with Laura Flanders, on Air America radio, online, XM satellite radio, live at 7:00 pm EST till 10:00 pm EST Saturday and Sunday. Saturday's guests include the recent winner of the Hans Little Prize, Center for Constitutional Rights president and a co-host of WBAI's Law and Disorder: Michael Ratner. There are other guests this weekend but, for this community, they'll all fall by the way side after "Michael Ratner" is typed.

Rachel notes three upcoming programs on WBAI and please pay attention to Wednesday:

Sunday, November 19, 11am-noon
Author/actor/raconteur and Green Gubernatorial candidate Malachy McCourt holds forth.

Monday, November 20, 2-3pm
Iris Bahr talks about "DAI (enough)," her startling one-woman show set in an Israeli cafe, now playing at The Culture Project); pianist Polly Ferman on Latin American Cultural Week; and curator Philip Harvey on "3rd Wave: The Planet of Brooklyn Transitions," a visual translation of the effect of immigration, migration and gentrification on the People's Republic. Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer.

Wednesday, November 22, 2-3pm
Lethal satirical group takes on post-election issues. With Janet Coleman, David Dozer, John McDonagh, Mark Kehoe, Moogy Klingman, Scooter, Barry Crimmins, Mushroom Cloud Theater and special guest Will Durst.

Please pay attention to Wednesday? The CCP. Original comedy programming. Not the polite chortle that is 'comedy' programming on NPR. Actual comedy. You can listen over the broadcast airwaves (WBAI broadcasts from NYC) or you can listen live online (for free) or, if you miss it or hear it but want to hear it again -- laughter's good for the soul, you can hear it at the WBAI archives. Need more reason? Will Durst is one of Wally's favorite comedians and Janet Colmean and David Dozer are one of the longest running comedy teams. Rachel asked that it to be forwarded to Eddie (who loves the show). She gets the announcements forwarded from a friend who signed up for announcements at Cat Radio Cafe where you can sign up as well.

The e-mail address for this site is And thanks to Jim who's posting this today after Trina's post goes up.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Iraq snapshot

Friday, November 17, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; Bully Boy's long journey to Vietnam is complete (you can refer to the various stops since Tuesday or you can take it back to his days in and out of the National Guard); Ehren Watada's father Bob wraps up his current speaking tour Friday night; Tony Blair may have lost a supporter; war resister Kyle Snyder still needs support; and the US military has all sorts of announcements and numbers including 57,000 US troops to deploy to Iraq next year.

Starting with yesterday's kidnappings -- there were two. Reuters cover this: "Passengers from up to six minibuses may have been abducted after being stopped at a fake security checkpoint in the capital, police and local residents said" from yesterday and, in addition, there was a kidnapping in southern Iraq.

England's C4 reported on the mass kidnapping in Baghdad one of the few that did.* Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) noted: "Much of the day's other violence was directed at Shiite Muslims. Gunmen erected fake checkpoints in a Sunni neighborhood and seized Shiite passengers off minibuses." Alastair Macdonald (Reuters) noted: "Six missing minibuses were mostly carrying Shiites when gunmen, some in uniform, pulled them over for bogus security checks, police sources said."

The dickering over this kidnapping among Iraqi's various members of government follows the pattern after Tuesday's mass kidnapping which Kirk Semple (New York Times) observed was being seen (by Jalal Talabani, Iraqi president) as a potential "complete collapse of the government"). Queried by Jon Snow, of England's C4, as to whether "you think there are other ministers in the government who are complicit?" in the kidnappings, Iraq's minister of Higher Eductation, Abd Dhiab, stated he did believe that and, while refusing to answer whether he personally believed the police could be trusted, he noted that "the people" do not feel they can be.

Jon Snow: You seem to be describing a situation of anarchy here?

Abd Dhiab: Anarchy clearly, nobody can deny that.

Jon Snow: But, I mean, if you feel you have to resign then in a way we're beginning to see the disengration of the government?

Abd Dhiab (in a rambling answer) agreed. Kirk Semple noted Mohammed Bashar al-Faidi (Muslim Scholars Associaton) declared on Al Jazeera TV, "I don't know how to describe it, but it represents the bankruptcy of the sectarian government following one scandal after the other." The willingness of officials go to public with their own stark observations about Iraq comes as Nouri al-Maliki, puppet of the occupation, is in Turkey. Louise Roug (LA Times) reports that al-Maliki believes the matters can wait until next week to be resolved in a meeting of his cabinet.

Bully Boy believes that the answer for a 'win' is, as Simon Tisdall (Guardian of London) reports, "a last big push" that could result in increasing US troops in Iraq -- not withdrawing them. Tisdall also reveals that sources say "Bush family loyalist James Baker" and others on the supposed independent Iraq Study Group are now doing the bidding of the Pentagon and will include the following points as "victory strategy:"

1) Increase US troop levels by up to 20,000 to secure Baghdad and allow redeployments elsewhere in Iraq.

2) Focus on regional cooperation with international conference and/or direct diplomatic involvement of countries such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

3) Revive reconciliation process between Sunni, Shia and others.

4) Increased resources from Congress to fund training and equipment of Iraqi security forces.

David Jackson (USA Today) reports that Bully Boy declared in Hanoi that "he was unaware of a British newspaper report that he is considering an additional 30,000 troops in Iraq."
20,000 and, if Bully Boy's denying, chances are it's true. (Flashback to his performance of "My Guy" to Rumsfled right before the election and then, after the election, his rendention of "Hit the Road, Jack.") The AP reports that Bully Boy has compared Iraq to Vietnam yet again and offered, "We'll succeed unless we quit." Not quite as catchy as "stay the course" but certainly many of lemmings will show up, possibly in face paint, at his domestic gatherings to change "We'll succeed unless we quit." Of course, the reality is you suceed unless you lose and, more reality, the illegal war is lost.

CNN reports it's whack-a-mole time again "as 2,2000 more Marines are being deployed to Iraq's volatile Anbar province". Interviewed by Joshua Scheer (Truthdig), US Congress Rep. Dennis Kucinich noted of al-Anbar that it's "a place which was already declared 'lost' for the purposes of military occupation. Why are we sacrificing our young men and women? Why are we keeping them in an impossible situation? Why are we stoking a civil war with our continued presence? We have to take a new direction in Iraq, and that direction is out."

This as Al Jazeera reports Rabah al-Alwan of "the Union of Lawyers in al-Anbar governorate in western Iraq" is asserting that 211 families have been thrown out of their homes in Al-Anbar Province so that the US military can occupy them. Among the homes seized is al-Alwan's and he states: "Ten months ago, the US army seized my house and dozens of houses in the neighbourhood where I live. Residents were not allowed take any of their savings, jewellery, furniture or clothes. . . . They [US snipers] killed a lot of people, such as Ayad Mutar and Muhamad Ayad, for approaching their [own] houses to try to get some of their families' clothes and belongings." al-Alwan tells of promises to compensate families for their homes with money that never got handed over, of attacks on the homes now that the US military is lodged in them, and the continued occupation of the home have led former occupants to join the resistance.

Hearts and minds? Or are they supposed to take comfort in the empty words mouthed by the Bully Boy, as noted by Mark Tran (Guardian of London), "One lesson is that we tend to want there to be instant success in the world, and the task in Iraq is going to take a while."
A while? What is known is that the illegal war hits the four-year anniversary in March of 2007 -- four months from now.

What is known also includes the fact that yesterday's other kidnapping, in southern Iraq, resulted in the kidnapping of at least five people. The BBC reports that the abducted were four Americans and one Austrian. Will Weissert (AP) reports that two of the abducted turned up: an Austrian who was dead and an American "gravely wounded" -- in addition, Weissert notes that "[n]ine Asian employees" were kidnapped and that they have been released. Xinhua reports that 14 people were kidnapped and that the area was under the control of Iraqis having been turned over to them by Italy in September. Kirk Semple (New York Times) identifies the site of the kidnapping as the Nassiriya. AP places the location as Safwan. Edward Wong (New York Times) reports that searches are ongoing to find the abducted but that there are denials of any of the kidnapped being released or found.

In other reported violence . . .


Reuters notes that four police officers were shot dead outside a bank in Baghdad, that two brothers are dead from a Baghdad attack, that a civilian was shot dead in Kirkuk and "his baby daughter" injured and, in Baquba "Lieutenant Colonel Sattar Jabar, chief of police media" was shot dead. Aref Mohammed (Reuters) reports "the British military said a British private security guard was wounded in a clash with Iraqi police. The police said two policemen and another Westerner were killed" and that Zubayr was where "police said colleagues stopped an unmarked car. Western in civilian clothes inside opened fire, killing two officers and wounding two women passers-by. Police returned fire, killing one of the Westerns and wounding another." The 'Westerners' may or may not be British or American.


Reuters notes two corpses were discovered near Falluja and and two near Numaniya. CNN reports that 25 corpses ("bullet-riddled") were discovered in Baghdad today.

Also today, the US military announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier attached to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, was killed by small arms fire Thursday during combat operations in Diyala province." The total number of US troops who have died thus far this month to 45, and to 2865 since the start of the illegal war. This as Donna Miles announces on behalf of the Defense Department that 57,000 US troops will being deploy to Iraq (8,300 to Afghanistan). The 57,000 will be part of the rotation to keep the total number of US troops on the ground in Iraq at 144,000 -- the increased number that was put in place last summer for the now-cracked-up Baghdad crackdown.

In other signs of the dissention in the puppet government, Hannah Allamn and Mohamed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) report that the Shi'ite dominated Interior Ministry "issued an arrest warrant for one of the country's most prominent Sunni Muslim clerics, charging him with violating antiterrorism laws." The BBC notes the cleric, Harith al-Dhari, is the head of the Association of Muslim Scholars and that he is currently in Jordan. Ross Colvin (Reuters) notes that the reaction to the warrant (issued while both al-Dhari and al-Maliki were out of the country) has been intense with the largest Sunni political party (The Islamic Party) calling it a "mercy bullet" that would put the dying government down. Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) notes that the Association of Muslim Scholars is requesting "Sunni politicians . . . quit Iraq's government" in response to the arrest warrant and notes that: "The move came as cracks emerged within Iraq's six-month-old unity government over the numbers of government employees taken in a mass kidnapping on Tuesday and whether some were tortured and killed." In addition to the above support, Al-Dhari also received support from Sunni clerics and, as Will Weissert (AP) reports, from one of Iraq's vice president, Tariq al-Hashimi, who stated that the warrant "is destructive to the national reconcilliation plan." And CNN updates to note that the Iraqi government has backed off ("clarified") the warrant which they now maintain was never to arrest al-Dhari but merely to "check security files linked" to him.

In other news, Mike Corder (AP) reports that De Volkskrant, Dutch newspaper, has reported that "Dutch military interrogators abused dozens of Iraqi prisoners in 2003, dousing them with water to keep them awake and exposing them to high-pitched noises and strong lights" and conducted by "members of the Dutch Military Intelligence and Security Service in November 2003 in buildings of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Samawah, 230 miles southeast of Baghdad." Alexandra Hudson and Nicola Leske (Reuters) report that the report, which emerged Friday, has already resulted in announcement from the Dutch Defence Minister Henk Kamp that he knew abuses were possible but an earlier investigation had not turned up anything -- now he's "announced an independent investigation into the earlier study by military police and his own conduct in the affair." As the BBC notes, the revelations come "days before the country's parliamentary elections."

Meanwhile, in England, the Guardian of London reports that Margaret Hodge has created a stir in England. The MP Hodge is seen as an ally of Tony Blair so it came as a surprise to some when it was reported that she called the illegal war Tony Blair's "big mistake in foreign affairs" while speaking to the Islington Fabian Society where she also noted that she accepted pre-war claims because "he was our leader and I trusted him."

In peace news, Vietnam war resister Gerry Condon has posted a letter at Soldiers Say No! on Kyle Snyder. To recap, Snyder, on October 31st, turned himself in at Fort Knox only to self-check out again after discovering the military had lied yet again. Since then Snyder has been underground, surfacing to speaking out against the war.

Condon is requesting more calls supporting to Snyder:

Thanks to all of you who have made calls to the Commanding General at Fort Knox, Kentucky. The phones have been ringing off the walls there. Now it is time to make the phones ring at Fort Leonard Wood. Say hello to Fort Leonard Woods's brand new commander, Major General William McCoy, Jr., recently returned from the U.S. occupation of Iraq (you can read his emotional address upon assuming his new command at
Here are the numbers to call at Fort Leonard WoodOffice of the Commanding General (that's how they answer) 573-596-0131Public Affairs Office, tel. 573-563-4013 or 4105, fax: 573-563-4012, email:
We want to deliver one clear message:RELEASE KYLE SNYDER WITHOUT ANY PUNISHMENT

Kyle Snyder is a US war resister and part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes people such as Ehren Watada, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. That's just the ones who have gone public. (Over thirty US war resisters are currently in Canada attempting to be legally recognized.)

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress in January.

Bob Watada, father of Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq, is wrapping up a speaking tour he and Rosa Sakanishi (Ehren's step-mother) have been on to raise awareness on Ehren Watada. The tour winds down tonight, a full schedule can be found here, and this is the final date:

Nov 17, 7PM, Atlanta, GA, Location: The First Iconium Baptist Church, Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 125, The Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition/Atlanta, Atlanta WAND, Contact: Debra Clark, 770-855-6163,

In addition, to Atlanta, Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports this event on Sunday:

The Honolulu chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League will hold a symposium surrounding the actions of Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, who is the first military officer to face a court martial for refusing to fight in Iraq. It will begin at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at the University of Hawaii's architecture auditorium. The featured speaker will be Watada's father, Bob; Jon Van Dyke of the University of Hawaii Richardson School of Law and Watada's attorney, Eric Seitz.

ehren watada
bob watada
kyle snyder
the new york times
kirk semple
the washington post
sudarsan raghavan
gregg k. kakesako
joshua scheer
edward wong

[*Thank you to a friend at C4 for calling -- repeatedly -- to pass the C4 interview on.]

Other Items

Police removed more than 20 protesters from a speech Maj. Gen. Michael J. Diamond gave Wednesday about the wars in the Middle East.
Diamond, the deputy director of logistics from U.S. Central Command, focused on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in his presentation at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.
The speech began as planned, but the protesters entered the auditorium and began rapidly shooting questions at Diamond.
Edward Goetz, associate dean of academics at the Humphrey Institute, warned protesters they may be escorted out if they did not allow the speaker to proceed.
He said there would be time for questions at the end of the presentation, but the protesters continued to interrupt Diamond.
About five minutes into the discussion, Goetz directed University police to escort protesters out of the auditorium, an act that received applause from the 75-member audience.
The protesters chanted, "Out of Afghanistan, out of Iraq, out of the 'U' and don't come back," as they were ushered out.
Before the speech, about 50 protesters from the student group Anti-War Organizing League and a community group called the Anti-War Committee gathered outside the building and called the war in Iraq "racist" and said it needed to end.
Tracy Molm, women's studies senior and protest organizer, said AWOL was there to voice opposition to the war.
"We're here to stand up against the war in Iraq," she said.

The above, noted by Kim, is from Charles Bruce's "Police remove protesters from speech on Iraq" (The Minnesota Daily). At least fifty, possibly seventy if the twenty inside weren't also outside, do you think maybe the desk jockeys can shut up already about student protest today?

For the desk jockeys who visit campuses in scheduled events with scheduled topics, they might also want to grasp that they have no credibility with students against the war on the issue of the war. They can jaw bone about how the crowd, for instance, seemed more concerned with issues about a living wage than about the illegal war, but the reality is people skip to their "boring" events because their publication treats students in a dismissive and mocking manner and because their publication can't seem to cover Iraq. Don't speak to their issues, portray them in a laughable manner, they don't tend to turn out for your events.

Dona and I are speaking to groups again today, and thus far, in three states, there hasn't been a group of students (high school or college) that hasn't brought up the above.

CNN reports:

As many as 2,200 more Marines are being deployed to Iraq's volatile Anbar province, U.S. Central Command officials told CNN Thursday.
The Marines -- from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit based at Camp Pendleton, California -- have been offshore on ships.

From Lousie Roug's "Iraqi Cabinet will meet to resolve divisions in wake of kidnapping" (LA Times):

Iraq's prime minister will convene the Cabinet next week to resolve the deepening political divisions after a mass kidnapping at government offices in Baghdad, a member of his coalition said today.Sunni Arab and Shiite Muslim politicians have exchanged bitter accusations since the mass kidnapping of government employees this week. Sunni politicians threatened a walkout today, saying the Shiite-led government had tried to minimize the scope of the kidnapping and had done little to rescue as many as 70 academics and visitors still missing.

So when Evita/Juan returns to Iraq, they might attempt address something? That's it for this morning. The e-mail address for this site is

Ava note: Post corrected per C.I. Democracy Now! today is supposed to feature Alice Walker and Isabel Allende. And what Dona and C.I. are observing is a planned topic for The Third Estate Sunday Review this weekend.

NYT: "Iraq Issues Arrest Warrant for Sunni Cleric" (Kirk Semple)

The government issued an arrest warrant late Thursday for Sheik Harith al-Dhari, one of Iraq's most prominent Sunni Arab clerics, on charges of inciting terrorism and violence, officials said.
Mr. Dhari, head of the influential Muslim Scholars Association, has been an outspoken critic of the foreign military presence in Iraq and has said he approves of the armed resistance in the absence of a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops. This stance has won him support among hard-line Sunni Arabs and respect among the rebels, and news of the arrest warrant raised concerns among many Iraqis that it could further inspire the insurgency.
Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani announced the warrant on state-run television, saying, "The government's policy is that anyone who tries to spread division and strife between the Iraqi people will be chased by our security agencies."
Mr. Dhari regularly travels throughout the Middle East and could not be reached for comment on Thursday. Mohammed Bashar al-Faidi, a spokesman for the Muslim Scholars Association, condemned the warrant on Al Jazeera television. "I don't know how to describe it, but it represents the bankruptcy of the sectarian government following one scandal after the other," he said.
Rampant sectarian violence and growing acrimony between political leaders have pushed Iraq to the brink of all-out civil war.
On Thursday, President Jalal Talabani called for an emergency meeting of Iraq's political leaders, portraying it as an effort to stave off the complete collapse of the government, an official in the presidency said Thursday.

The complete collapse? The bankruptcy of the sectarian government? Where's the puppet? We'll get to that in a moment. The above is from Kirk Semple's "Iraq Issues Arrest Warrant for Sunni Cleric" in this morning's New York Times.

Already this morning the US military announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier attached to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, was killed by small arms fire Thursday during combat operations in Diyala province."

Yesterday's snapshot noted a report of a mass kidnapping. Reuters pegged the kidnapping in Baghdad ("Residents in west Baghdad said they had seen men in uniform stopping minibuses and taking passengers away. The police source said it appeared up to six buses were involved.").
JIM NOTE: Per C.I. this is added: These are two different kidnappings. The Baghdad kidnapping did take place in Baghdad.

Semple notes that the location was Nasariya. Today Reuters notes: "The convoy was attacked on Thursday between the towns of Safwan and Zubayr after crossing the border from Kuwait on its way to the city of Nassiriya."

On the kidnapping, the BBC reports:

Four Americans and an Austrian have been kidnapped from a convoy of civilians in southern Iraq, US and Iraqi sources have said.
The convoy of 19 vehicles, operated by a Kuwait-based security service, was attacked on Thursday.
Unconfirmed reports said the incident took place at a bogus checkpoint. Nine other civilians were released.

And where's the puppet? Apparently fancy himself as both a Juan and an Evita, he's on the road. Sabrina Tavernise and Sebnem Arsu's "Turkey Offers Iraqi Leader Help in Training Security Forces" reports:

Turkey on Thursday offered to provide military training for Iraqi security forces, in what appeared to be an effort to exert influence over an increasingly weak Iraqi state.
The offer was made during a visit to Turkey by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq, his first since he took office in the spring. As the Iraqi government has increasingly come unraveled, officials from the United States are considering options to try to avert an all-out civil war.

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

And the war drags on . . .

The American media establishment has launched a major offensive against the option of withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.
In the latest media assault, right-wing outfits like Fox News and the Wall Street Journal editorial page are secondary. The heaviest firepower is now coming from the most valuable square inches of media real estate in the USA -- the front page of the New York Times.
The present situation is grimly instructive for anyone who might wonder how the Vietnam War could continue for years while opinion polls showed that most Americans were against it. Now, in the wake of midterm elections widely seen as a rebuke to the Iraq war, powerful media institutions are feverishly spinning against a pullout of U.S. troops.
Under the headline "Get Out of Iraq Now? Not So Fast, Experts Say," the Nov. 15 front page of the New York Times prominently featured a "Military Analysis" by Michael Gordon. The piece reported that -- while some congressional Democrats are saying withdrawal of U.S. troops "should begin within four to six months" -- "this argument is being challenged by a number of military officers, experts and former generals, including some who have been among the most vehement critics of the Bush administration's Iraq policies."
Reporter Gordon appeared hours later on Anderson Cooper's CNN show, fully morphing into an unabashed pundit as he declared that withdrawal is "simply not realistic." Sounding much like a Pentagon spokesman, Gordon went on to state in no uncertain terms that he opposes a pullout.
If a New York Times military-affairs reporter went on television to advocate for withdrawal of U.S. troops as unequivocally as Gordon advocated against any such withdrawal during his Nov. 15 appearance on CNN, he or she would be quickly reprimanded -- and probably would be taken off the beat -- by the Times hierarchy. But the paper's news department eagerly fosters reporting that internalizes and promotes the basic worldviews of the country's national security state.
That's how and why the Times front page was so hospitable to the work of Judith Miller during the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq. That's how and why the Times is now so hospitable to the work of Michael Gordon.

The above, noted by Mia, is from Norman Solomon's "The New Media Offensive for the Iraq War" (Common Dreams). The Times is selling the war again through people like Gordo. And Adam Nagourney and quite a few others. Is anyone going to pay attention to that (other than Solomon) or are we all going to act as though Judith Miller wrote, edited, printed and delivered the paper of no record to every front porch? Some of the stories singled out the sort-of-culpa were co-written. One of the co-writers was Gordo. Who also praised the US military targeting Iraqi journalists when appearing on CNN with Aaron Brown.

But bash-the-bitch allows a lot of people to feel good about themselves, to think they accomplished something and to dust off their past criticism yet again. The reality is Dexter Filkins has provided a 'unique' view from Iraq that allowed Americans to see fantasy as opposed to reality. It's only when it all fell to pieces (and Dexy didn't tell readers that) that Americans started to grasp how awful things were. In spite of Dexy, in spite of Gordo. The paper continues to sell the war. Like the administration, they want 'refining' of tactics, they're not against the war and the coverage reflects that. An article today that we didn't highlight told you what Sunnis think. Or tried to. It didn't address the reality of Sunni opinion. It just rounded up a few voices, a few Sunni voices, that would say "America needs to stay" and then editorialize (in a news article) that these reflected all Sunni voices. No one voice reflects all but the Times seems to think they can summon some sort of authority that will convince people it's true.

Why could they get away with that? Possibly because indy media wants to rehash Judith Miller (and even blame her for stories she didn't write)? The paper's still selling the war. They're attempting to manage opinion on the war. They're down playing voices objecting, myth-making the Baker Iraq Study Group, and trying to reassure Americans that, yes, things are bad, but there's something new, a plan!, that will turn the entire illegal war around.

They get away with it because people who sometimes appear not to have even read what Miller wrote (if they had, they wouldn't blame her for an article she didn't write or co-write) know Miller's an easy topic. Say the two words ("Judy Miller") and suddenly you seem wise and informed. To be offering 'criticism' today of the Times and only saying "Judy Miller" means be unwise and uninformed.

It also means they get cover to repackage the illegal war as they attempt to sell it again. And . . . the war drags on.

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 total number of US troop fatalities stood at 2839. Right now? 2865. Twenty-six more. Realize how close we are to 2900? Does it matter? You couldn't tell it from the coverage. Here's a suggestion to war resisters planning to make public stands next summer -- do so with a recipe so you can be considered for the special food issue or have a Katrina story. On the latter, you might get your name mentioned in an issue, Carl Webb did, you just won't be identified as a war resister in the story.

Joan notes AP's "Watada explains his refusal to go to Iraq:"

Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada defended himself on national television yesterday against criticism that he was coward for refusing to fight in Iraq. Watada, who is from Honolulu, faces a court martial after denying orders to deploy to Iraq and challenging the Bush administration's justification for the war. Watada said on C-N-N that everyone is afraid of getting killed, but his reason for staying home was because he took an oath to defend America against all enemies. He said those enemies include those within the U-S who are breaking the law by trying to do whatever they want.

Well, take comfort in the fact that the AP will cover war resisters even when our independent magazines can't or won't. And of course Ehren Watada was on CNN. He even got a write up, a fairly straightforward article, in the New York Times this summer. He just hasn't made it into our big independent magazines. Anyone walking through a Border, Barnes & Noble or whatever chain was able to see the cover story on the 'generals' revolt.' But in terms of putting out the face of a war resister, getting the word out on that, don't hold your breath.

It's called "The Full Brobeck" -- when independent media shuts out coverage of and voices of war resisters -- and sadly it's becoming very obvious. Which is why, if you count on independent media coverage for your news, you may not know that Ehren Watada is facing a court martial. You may not know that Ivan Brobeck turned himself on election day. You may not that Kyle Snyder turned himself and then self-checked out again when the military lied to him. He's underground now but still showing up to speak out.

Anyone old enough to remember when Angela Davis was underground can probably remember how support for her did influence. If Angela Davis went underground today would it even be covered? Probably not. We're getting text equivalents of the Sunday chat and chews. We're not getting challenged, we're not getting informed. (There are exceptions.) If you were on a desert island and all the issues of a magazine from this year floated onto land, reading them, would you know there was a war going on? You might miss that there is a peace movement going on, that there is war resistance within the military (despite what Mommy's Pantyhose thinks). If their goal is introduce elements and opinions into the conversation, they need to do a better job. Providing the "response" to the right-wing's "call" isn't offering anything new. It's still letting them set the agenda, define the terms.

Kevin notes Mark Almberg's "Iraq war refuser speaks on Veterans Day" (People's Weekly World):

Gathering at the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial alongside the Chicago River to the musical refrains of "I ain't gonna study war no more," veterans and their supporters helped bring a distinctly antiwar cast to Veterans Day 2006.
It was cold and windy, but that didn't dampen the spirits of the 60 or so participants.
Among the speakers was Kyle Snyder, 23, an Iraq war refuser who is seeking a negotiated end to his contract with Army because he believes the war to be immoral and unjust.
"I was recruited into the Army in 2003," he told the crowd. "I was given promises of a $5,000 signing bonus and medical benefits. I believed at the time what I was doing was right."
Originally told he would be operating heavy equipment rebuilding schools and other infrastructure in Iraq, he said it wasn't until he arrived in Kuwait that he learned he had been reassigned to handling a .50-caliber machine gun as part of an escort for high-ranking officials.
Once in Iraq, Snyder soon began to grow uncomfortable with what he was seeing.
"Iraqi children were flipping us," he said. "Iraqi civilians I saw were really angry at us. It looked like they were fed up with the occupation. And the people who were called terrorists or insurgents were just like me -- 17- or 18-year-olds, defending their homes, doing the same thing I would be doing if someone attacked my home here in the U.S."
"I really changed my mind after I saw the shooting of a civilian that wasn’t properly investigated," Snyder said. "My chain of command basically told me that I could pick up my weapon and shoot anyone I wanted to because it was wartime and it would be OK.
"That was the wrong answer for me," he said.

Where else did you hear or read that? What are you paying for that could be providing you with that coverage but isn't? And are you okay with that? Do you really need to read that Joe Lieberman might flip? Did you need someone telling you that or didn't you already know that? In fact, didn't Kate Zernike cover that on the front page of the New York Times?

Now maybe you feel that Iraq, the peace movement and war resistance haven't been covered because other worthy topics are being covered? If you feel that way, you're not one of deaf or hearing impaired members. They're quite aware that a protest went on for months and months but where was the brave independent media? Where were they to make sure that got covered?
Or maybe you're one of our young members that wonders where the hell coverage of students are? Or you're one of our members in the US who either immigrated or had someone in your family or circle who did and you're wondering why the issue of immigration didn't just hit the independent mags only when middle-aged adults were involved but you're also wondering why they've yet to take the coverage to the very obvious stage -- children. Young, old, adult, underage. Families will be split up. When people want to focus on this or that in their gas bagging, they seem to ignore that basic point. That is where the conversation needs to go, that is something that will turn down some of the hatred being heaped upon immigrants -- when people grasp that families will be split up.

As we continue to have our time wasted, the war's not ending. It's not going to end because someone wants to audition for Meet the Press or any other 'acceptable' goal. Acceptable and respectable seems to be the hallmark of too much independent media these days.

Carl had a highlight he thought Betty would enjoy. (She did. Dona, Kat and I are at Betty's this evening. Kat's back from Ireland as of today -- I'll be substituting for her tomorrow night -- and Dona and I are speaking to students through Friday.) This is Cynthia McKinney's "In Opposition to the Resolution to Go to War in Iraq: Statement on the Floor of the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Cynthia McKinney" (currently at her House website) from October 9, 2002:

Thank you very much. I share the same revulsion that many others have towards Saddam Hussein. We all know that he’s brutal, and that his regime has terrorized the Iraqi people and the people of nearby countries. But there was a time not so long ago when despite all of this, we chose to allow him to be our friend. There was a time we supplied him with chemical weapons and other military technologies. If our nation really cared about Iraq's neighbors, we never would have supplied him the military arsenal that we did. And if we really cared about his people, we would have done something to alleviate the suffering of the Kurds, who for years have been brutalized by the Iraqi military. If we cared about the Iraqi people, we would have done something to lift the burdens imposed on them by UN sanctions, which to date have claimed in excess of an estimated 500,000 Iraqi children.
But the truth is we didn't really care about any of that suffering. Madeleine Albright even said that the price of 500,000 dead Iraqi children was "worth it." Now, however, we claim to care. Now, Saddam Hussein has just become another name on a long list of other tyrants who we once aided and abetted but now oppose. But what to do? In the past, other tyrants we've grown tired of were assassinated, like Jonas Savimbi, or charged with war crimes, like Slobodan Miloševiæ, or forced from power through U.S.-backed uprisings, like Mobutu Sese Seko. President Bush is confronted with a "what to do question." He appears to be choosing war to get rid of this tyrant, and of course he has to justify it. That is the public relations part of the equation.
The words "Gulf of Tonkin" have echoed around Washington this last month with many people concerned that the Bush Administration is now manufacturing an international crisis in order to launch a pre-emptive military strike against Saddam Hussein. In 1964, there were some courageous members of this House who knew that the Gulf of Tonkin incident was a political ruse, being used by the Johnson Administration in order to justify the United States going to war in Vietnam. For their courage to speak out and resist, they suffered a tidal wave of public ridicule. But we now know they were right and that the Vietnam War was a monumental mistake that cost the lives of some 60,000 brave young Americans and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese.
And still, we have many Americans and Vietnamese who suffer the health effects of agent orange and other toxins faced on the battlefield. And all across the American and European landscape, today, veterans still suffer from Gulf War Syndrome and exposure to depleted uranium. Will we let this president create yet another generation of veterans to whom we've broken our promise? I see too many of these veterans sleeping on our streets. The President can see them, too, if he would just look. They sleep on the sidewalks, the benches, and the heating vents just across the street from the White House. And sadly, one of the first things our President did after he declared this war on terrorism was to deprive our young men and women who are now fighting on the front lines their high deployment overtime pay. He doesn't even want to pay them.
Mr. speaker, do we give this President the green light to go to war on Iraq based on evidence which many weapons experts believe to be exaggerated? Are we now turning a blind eye to another Gulf of Tonkin-type incident? Shouldn't we trust the legal and diplomatic means of the United Nations? Do we give the President the green light to go to war in Iraq because it has refused to comply with U.N. Security Council weapons inspections resolutions? At the same time Israel refuses to comply with U.N. resolutions with respect to the occupied territories. Do we have difference standards for different countries?
Mr. speaker, the Cuban missile crisis and the Gulf of Tonkin, if they taught us anything, they taught us the dangers of choosing the military option over diplomatic and legal alternatives. The current terrorist crisis facing our nation is so much bigger and complicated than this call for war on Iraq. Should we miscalculate our military actions in Iraq, we could cause many American service men and women to lose their lives. Needless to say, we could also cause untold numbers of Iraqis to be killed or injured. Worse still, instead of solving the current threat of terrorism against us, going to war in Iraq might well make things far worse for us both at home and abroad. I hope and pray that we choose our options carefully. And for that reason, I will be voting "no" on this resolution to go to war in Iraq. Thank you, Mr. speaker.

That's "currently at" because McKinney won't be in the new Congress. She got stabbed in the back (again) by her own party. All the gas bagging and rah-rah can't seem to find time for that. But if there'd been more in the Congress with McKinney's courage in 2002, Bully Boy wouldn't have gotten his blank check. Dennis Kucinich spoke in a brave voice on Democracy Now! Wednesday. Antonia Juhasz was also a guest on Wednesday -- she spoke about the need for oversight in the reconstruction. On that topic, Brandon notes Russ Feingold's "SENATE APPROVES PROPOSAL TO EXTEND THE TERM OF THE SPECIAL IG FOR IRAQI RECONSTRUCTION" (from his official Senate website):

Bill Offered By Senators Collins, Feingold, Lieberman, and Coleman Approved As Part of Military Construction Spending Bill
November 14, 2006
WASHINGTON, DC-- The U.S. Senate has approved legislation authored by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Russ Feingold (D-WI) and cosponsored by 25 Senators to include Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) and Norm Coleman (R-MN), that will extend the term of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR). Without this legislation, the SIGIR's term would expire next year, on October 1, 2007. The Senators' legislation would enable the SIGIR to continue his critical oversight work until late 2008 and was approved as an amendment to the fiscal year 2007 Military Construction Appropriations bill.
Senator Collins said, "I am pleased by the strong support for this amendment and that our colleagues in the Senate recognize how crucial it is for the SIGIR's work to continue. This office has proven to be a much-needed watchdog, auditing reconstruction contracts in Iraq and spotlighting numerous cases of waste, fraud, and abuse and we must keep the watchdog on the job. This office provides a $25 dollar benefit for every dollar spent on oversight and investigations. It is inconceivable that we would remove this aggressive oversight while the American taxpayer is still spending billions of dollars on Iraq reconstruction projects."
Senator Feingold said, "I am pleased the Senate passed this common sense provision to extend the mandate of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. This critical office has been incredibly successful in its role as a watchdog of U.S. taxpayer dollars used for reconstruction efforts in Iraq. While there are varying views about the situation in Iraq, the SIGIR is one thing that everyone should agree helps ensure the effective use of our reconstruction funds. This office must be able to continue its important work to uncover any further waste, fraud, and abuse of U.S. taxpayer dollars in Iraq."
Senator Lieberman said, "Stuart Bowen and his staff have performed a great service by uncovering billions of taxpayer dollars wasted on abuse and mismanagement of Iraqi reconstruction contracts. That’s why the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction must be allowed to continue his work for as long as American taxpayers are footing the bill for Iraqi reconstruction projects."
Senator Coleman said, "Bringing our Iraq reconstruction oversight efforts to a premature end is simply not an option. I am pleased that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle demonstrated their overwhelming support for this amendment. Without question, the SIGIR's oversight during this process has been essential to ensuring that the taxpayers' dollars are being used effectively and efficiently.
Specifically, the legislation would reinstate the SIGIR's previous termination schedule of ten months after 80 percent of funds for Iraq reconstruction have been expended. A recently enacted defense authorization bill includes a provision that would end the SIGIR's oversight responsibilities next year. The Senators believe that the work of the SIGIR's office, led by Stuart Bowen, is critical and has effectively rooted out millions of dollars of waste, fraud, and abuse, and therefore, must be continued.
The SIGIR's office is responsible for oversight of approximately $32 billion in Iraq reconstruction contracts and grants. As a result of his work, the SIGIR estimates that the financial impact of his audits, investigations, and inspections, is approximately $1.87 billion, far exceeding the offices expenses of $72 million.
The SIGIR's office has issued 73 audit reports and 65 project assessments, and the office's work has resulted in the arrest of five people, and the convictions of four, with more than $17 million in assets seized.
Additional cosponsors of the bill include Senators Joseph Lieberman, (D-CT), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Robert Byrd (D-WV), Carl Levin (D-MI), Joe Biden (D-DE), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Norm Coleman (R-MN), John Kerry (D-MA), Ken Salazar (D-CO), Tom Coburn (R-OK), John Sununu (R-NH), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Byron Dorgan (D-ND, Ron Wyden (D-OR), John Warner (R-VA), Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME), Robert Bennett (R-UT), John McCain (R-AZ), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Bill Nelson (D-NE), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Hillary Clinton (D-NY)
For more information
read a fact sheet on the legislation.
Listen to Senator Feingold talk about the legislation.

Remember that's only the Senate. Speaking with Juhasz, Amy Goodman identified the person who snuck the elimination of the special inspector general over Iraq construction as being Duncan Hunter. And while we're back to Democracy Now!, Marcia notes Johsua Scheer's "Rep. Dennis Kucinich: Cut Off Iraq War Funding" (Truthdig):

TRUTHDIG: I was just reading up on your [Nov. 15] appearance on Democracy Now!, in which you talked about cutting off the funds to Iraq as being the only way to make any progress there. Do you want to comment on that?
KUCINICH: Today, it was announced that 2,000 more Marines are being sent to Anbar province--a place which was already declared "lost" for the purposes of military occupation. Why are we sacrificing our young men and women? Why are we keeping them in an impossible situation? Why are we stoking a civil war with our continued presence? We have to take a new direction in Iraq, and that direction is out.
Now, there are many plans out there. The people talking about phased redeployment, the president as the commander in chief ultimately has the authority to determine the placement of troops. Congress' real authority, and Congress' constitutional [mandate] as a co-equal branch of government, requires that it be heard from, and I believe that Congress must exercise its authority to protect the troops by bringing them home. And the only way we can do that effectively is to vote against supplemental appropriations--which has kept the war going, or to vote against appropriation bills which fund the war. That’s Congress' ultimate power--the power of the purse.
If we truly care about our troops, we'll get them out. It's the phoniest argument to say that a cut-off of funds will leave troops stranded in the field. There's always money in the pipeline to pay for an orderly withdrawal. But those who favor continuing the war or escalating the war are using the troops as a tool to further policies that are against the interests of the troops, against the interests of [the] American people, and against the interests of peace in the world.

The e-mail address for this site is And Betty's latest went up this evening, "The Girth of the Tabby."

amy goodman
democracy now

Iraq snapshot

November 16, 2006.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq;  US war resister Ehren Watada goes on CNN as his father wraps up a speaking to raise awareness on his son; justice for Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi and her family?; confusion remains as to Tuesday's mass kidnapping in Baghdad as Baghdad appears to have been the site, today, of another mass kidnapping; and America speaks to Gallup who, unlike the Bully Boy, actually listens.
Starting with Ehren Watada -- the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq.  Last week, the US military announced they would move to court-martial Watada.  The court-martial is expected to take place early next year.  Last night, Watada appeared on CNN's Paula Zahn Now program.  Speaking to Zahn, Watada explained how, as late as September 2005, he was willing to go to Iraq (and had volunteered to deploy with any unit) but "then I began findout out some things about how possibly that our government could have misled, not only the Congress, but also the public, and the world as to the reasons why we were going to Iraq, and there were never any weapons of mass destruction, there were never any ties to al Qaeda or ties to 9/11.  And I just -- at that point, I personally felt very betrayed as a soldier, willing to put my life on the line and willing to order soldiers to do the same, that we were sent to go and fight a war were the reasons were falsified."
After Watada's appearance, Zahn had a panel discussion.  Joshua Casteel noted "the Uniform Code of Military Justice tells us two things.  One is that we have an obligation to obey all lawful orders, but we also have an obligation to disobey all unlawful orders, and -- which includes disobeying orders that are unlawful, even if they come from the President of the United States.  Article Six, Paragraph Two of the United States Constitution dictates that treaties that the United States signs on to are to be considered the laws of the land, including among them, the Hague Convention on Land Warfare of 1899, the Neruember Principles, which in 1953, the Department of Defense declared to be official policy.  And Justice Jackson, who's the chief . . ."  Zahn interrupts to ask if Watada's stand is "justified."  Castell replies, "He is one of the few examples of moral courage that we have in the midst of plenty of individuals who show physical courage to go to Iraq and sacrifice for their country.  But what we need right now are moral leaders.  And Lieutenant Watada is an example of the kind of leadership that reminds us of our better nature and the aspirations of the United States Constitution."  Amy Goodman (co-host of Democracy Now!) noted that, "Thousand of soldiers are saying no.  The Pentagon doesn't like to talk about this, but Lieutenant Ehren Watada being the first officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq is very significant."  A third guest repeatedly interrupted Amy Goodman.  For some stranger reason, he appeared to be wearing Mommy's Pantyhose on top of his head.  He statements sounded as if they were indeed picked from the crack of his ass in his desperate attempt to unearth his brain.  At present, his brain is still believed to be under many layers of s--t.
Meanwhile Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reminds that Watada is facing up to six years if he is convicted in the court-martial to be held next year.
In Iraq today, Reuters reports that "up to six Baghdad minibuses" were "stopped at a fake security checkpoint" in Baghdad and the passengers appear to have been kidnapped.
In other violence today . . .
Reuters notes car bombs, roadside bombs and bicylce bombs in Baghdad -- six bombings in all leaving at least 7 dead and 18 wounded -- while three are dead and one wounded in Mosul from a roadside bombing.
CBS and AP report the shooting deaths of nine during an attack on a Baghdad bakery. Reuters notes an attack in Baghdad that killed a guard of Mosul's governor and left four other guards wounded.
Reuters reports that twenty corpses were discovered in Baghdad, two in Baiji and four in Yusufiya.
Yesterday, the US military announced six deaths of US troops.  Today, the US military announced: "A Multi-National Corps-Iraq Soldier was killed by small arms fire Tuesday while conducting combat operations in Baghdad"; and they announced: "Two Task Force Lightning Soldiers assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, were killed Wednesday and two others were injured when an improvised explosive device detonated near the vehicle they were traveling in while conducting combat operations in Diyala province"; and they announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, was killed in action Wednesday by small arms fire while conducting combat operations in Diyala province."  The total for the month to date is 44.
The total number of US troops in Iraq?  According to CBS' David Martin, not enough and never will be based upon John Abizaid's remarks to the Senate yesterday "But when you look at the overall American force poll that's available out there, the ability to sustain that commitment is simply not something that we have right now with the size of the Army and the Marine Corps."  Let that sink in.  According to Abizaid, a War Hawk who never met a battlefield he didn't go weak-kneed over, there are not enough available foot soldiers in the US army or members of the Marines to do what Abizaid feels needs to be done in Iraq.
Turning to legal news, as noted yesterday,  James P. Barker entered a guilty plea for his involvement in the rape and murder of Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi as well as the murder of her parents (Qassim Hamza Raheem and Fakhriya Taha Muhasen) and her five-year old sister Hadeel Qassim Hamza.  Abeer, the war crimes took place March 12, 2006 in Mamoudiyah which is a town south of Baghdad.  Ryan Lenz (AP) reports that Barker testified to Lt. Col. Richard Anderson that Steven D. Green came up with the plan and, of the rape of Abeer, that "[Paul] Cortez pushed her to the ground.  I went towards the top of her and kind of held her hands down while Cortez proceeded to lift her dress up."  Barker's attorney makes a strange statement about how the crime results in part from the fact that "The United States Army did not . . . put enough soldiers on the checkpoints."  Not enough soldiers at checkpoints?  Lenz: "Barker, 23, described changing clothes, then climbing through backyards as the five soldiers left the checkpoint they had been manning to carry out the attack."  Well the army was certainly short five soldiers manning checkpoints when the decision was made to rape fourteen-year-old Abeer.  In another report filed by Lenz, the issue doesn't appear to be 'staffing' so much as it appears to be oversight: "Barker said he and the others were drinking and playing cards while they manned a traffic checkpoint.  Green brought up the idea of raping the girl and killing her family, he said."  So, as the story is understood from Barker's confessions, they were on duty, they were stationed a traffic checkpoint, they were in violation for consuming alcohol while on duty, they left their checkpoint."  What exactly does Barker's attorney think?  That more soldiers would have prevented the five from leaving the checkpoint?  Seems like an oversight issue. 
The 'repentant' Barker showed 'remorse' by explaining his actions with, "I hated Iraqis, your honor.  They can smile at you, then shoot you in your face without even thinking about it."  Rape isn't mentioned in his statement; however Abeer was raped and she was shot in the face (below the left eye).  She was also smiled at or at least leered because she went to her parents concerned about the way the US soldiers at the checkpoints were looking at her.  Her parents made plans for her to go elsewhere to live for her own protection but before that could happen, she was raped, murdered and her body set on fire in attempt to hide evidence.
Whether Cortez, Green, Spielman or Howard is involved, Barker's statements mean we are no longer talking "alleged" rape or "alleged" murder.  It's rather sad that the coverage doesn't reflect that. 
In other legal news, Australia's ABC reports that John Jodka was sentenced to eighteen months for his role in the death of Iraqi Hashim Ibrahim Awad.  Awad was taken from him home, killed and then, to cover up the crime, those involved attempted to pass him off as an 'insurgent.'  The BBC notes that Hashim Ibrahim Awad had been a grandfather until he was beaten and killed and that Jodka apologized to Awad's family.
Tuesday's mass kidnapping in Baghdad continues to be a source of confusion.  Regarding the number who have not turned out, BBC reports that Abd Dhiab, Iraq's minister of Higher Education, states 80 people are still being held and that "some of those who had since been released were badly beaten."  In addition, it appears some of them have been killed.  Al Jazeera reports that Dhiab "was told of the deaths by hostages who were freed on Wednesday, but he declined to say how many had died."  CNN reports on the puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, and his show visit to the fifty-year-old Baghdad University.  The photo Al Jazeera runs reveals the lie of 'liberation' -- in Baghdad, Nouri al-Maliki steps out of his vehicle flanked by guards with guns at the ready. The kidnapping took place not at Baghdad University but at the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education (a four story building as opposed to a complex).  Al Jazeera reports that Dhiab maintains the kidnapped on Tuesday included "at least 100 employees of two departments in the building, as well as about 50 visitors.  Dozens remain unnaccounted for."
Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) speaks with Amir Hassan, a professor at Baghdad University, who states, "We are living in the killing stage.  We know that our chances of dying is now greater than our chance of staying alive."  Over 155 educators have been killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war.  Raghavan also reports that al-Maliki's speech to students included pro-censorship remarks of how "he would ban pictures, leaflets, placards or other politically inspired materials from campuses".  Women's rights have vanished, he's attacked the free press (with his 'four-point plan'), he's now planning to ban political speech on campus and CNN reported this morning that he's now relying on warnings ("beware of God's punishment") to maintain whatever questionable power he still has.  Kirk Semple (New York Times) reports on the al-Maliki's facade of power crumbling as government officials (Abed Dhiab al-Ajeeli and Ali Dabbagh) quarrel publicly over how many were kidnapped on Tuesday and how many remain missing.
In peace news, Pat Gerber (SF Bay Area IMC) reports on Tuesday's San Francisco Board of Education meeting at which school board members voted "to phase out its JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps) programs over a two-tear period.  It is believed that this is the first time any school district has eliminated an existing JROTC program."  Tommi Avicolli Mecca (BeyondChron) notes the speakers in favor and against the resultion and notes: "Speaker after speaker on the pro-JROTC side said that while they didn't approve of DADT or even the war in Iraq, they supported the military program because it benefited kids.  Of course, they forgot to mention the plight of queer kids who want to go beyond JROTC."
In other peace news, AP reports that with the GOP 2008 convention being held in St. Paul, Minneapolis' the Anti-War Committee "has applied for marching and demonstrations permits from the city of St. Paul.  . . . [Jess] Sundin said the Anti-War Committee filed for city permits now to provide plenty of time for legal challenges if they're turned down.  It's the first group to file for permits, but many are expected to follow."
A day after  Ehren Watada, appears on CNN, his father Bob Watada and his step-mother Rosa Sakanishi wind down a speaking tour to raise awareness on Ehren Watada.  The tour winds down on Friday,  a full schedule can be found here, and these are the remaining dates:
Nov 16, 7PM, Asheville, NC, Location: University of North Carolina -- Public Presentation, Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 99, Contact: Tim Pluta, 828-645-1717, , Lyle Peterson, 828-206-0245, Ahmad Daniels, War Resister Vietnam Era (appears in "Sir, No Sir!"), Mark Gibney Human Rights, International & Constitutional Law, Law, Ethics and Public Policy
Nov 17, 11:00AM, Asheville, NC, Location: Warren Wilson College, Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 99, Contact: Tim Pluta, 828-645-1717,, Lyle Peterson, 828-206-0245, Professor Paul Magnarella (Peace Studies, Warren Wilson College)
Nov 17, 7PM, Atlanta, GA, Location: The First Iconium Baptist Church, Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 125, The Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition/Atlanta, Atlanta WAND, Contact: Debra Clark, 770-855-6163,
In addition, to Asheville and Atlanta, Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports this event on Sunday:
The Honolulu chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League will hold a symposium surrounding the actions of Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, who is the first military officer to face a court martial for refusing to fight in Iraq. It will begin at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at the University of Hawaii's architecture auditorium. The featured speaker will be Watada's father, Bob; Jon Van Dyke of the University of Hawaii Richardson School of Law and Watada's attorney, Eric Seitz.
Finally, Joseph Carroll (Gallup News Services) summarizes the most recent Gallup Poll that asked respondents in the United States (from November 9th through 12th) what is "the most important problem facing this country today"?  The people respond?  The war in Iraq was cited by 25% of Republicans, 32% of self-identified independents and by 48% of Democrats.

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