Thursday, January 25, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, January 25, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the Green Zone comes under attack, more people with courage speak out for Ehren Watada, US war resister Agustin Aguayo recevies a court-martial date, Nouri al-Maliki prepares to target schools and homes, and the delusional Dick Cheney makes like a Starship cover band as he sings "Nothing's Going to Stop Us Now."
Starting with news of war resistance.  Bobbie Morgan (Bainbridge Buzz) observes, "Sometimes it takes a travesty to create a hearo.  We have a hero close by, awaiting a court martial for refusing to participate in the Iraq war because he feels it was never a lawful war."
Morgan is writing of Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to the Iraq war.  Next month, February 5th, Watada faces a court-martial. 
Speaking recently with Ken Mochizuki (International Examiner), Watada stated: "I've said publicly that I'm willing to face the consequences for my action. But, I would ask that I be given a fair trial. So, there's no desertion there. And, when it comes to dissension, I have dissented, obviously, against the orders I've been given. Watada's referring to the ruling by 'Judge' Head which strips him of the ability to mount a defense or even offer his reasons for refusing to deploy.  Stanley Campbell (Rock River Times) notes Watada's reasons that Watada will not be allowed to uttered in court: "It's my conclusion as an officer of the armed forces that the Iraq war is not only morally wrong but a horrible breach of American law. Although I have tried to resign out of protest, I am forced to participate in a war that is manifestly illegal. As the order to take part in an illegal act is ultimately unlawful as well, I must, as an officer of honor and integrity, refuse that order."  Again, the court-martial is scheduled for February 5th, Fort Lewis, Washington.
Meanwhile, in Germany, a court-martial date has been set for US war resister Agustin AguayoKevin Dougherty (Stars & Stripes) reports that at today's arrinment hearing, the judge decided ("barring any delays") that the court-martial will start on March 6th.  Aguayo
served in Iraq and, based on what he witnessed, decided serving in Iraq was against his religious beliefs.  He then applied for conscientious objector status but was denied that status and expected to deploy to Iraq for a second tour.  From September 2nd through September 26th of last year, Aguayo was absent from the military.  He turned himself on the 26th.  He has appealed his denial of C.O. status and, although the US Court of Appeals heard arguments on November 21, 2006, they have yet to issue a ruling.
Agustin AguayoEhren Watada  are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
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.
In the United States, many demonstrations will be held on Saturday including a rally and march in DC.  For information on that, you can check out CODEPINK's Bring the Peace Mandate to D.C. on J27!   KPFA will be broadcasting live from the DC demonstrations from 10:00 am to noon PST.  (At which point it will begin covering demonstrations in the Bay Area.)  Saturday night (7:00 to 10:00 pm EST), Laura Flanders will cover the days demonstrations and more on RadioNation with Laura Flanders
CODEPINK,  United for Peace & Justice and many other groups are taking part in Saturday's DC demonstration and march and in activites around the United States (at least fifty cities in the US have activities scheduled -- fifty in addition to DC -- at this time and more are expected to be added to the lists).
As the mobilizations gear up, shades of Tricky Dick, Bully Boy is spying on peace groups.  Aaron Glantz (OneWorld) reports on US Defense Department documents obtained by the ACLU which reveal that 186 demonstrations have been spied on and recorded by the Defense Department: "The internal Defense Department documents show it is monitoring the activities of a wide swath of peace groups, including Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, Code Pink, the American Friends Service Committee, the War Resisters League, and the umbrella group United for Peace and Justice, which is spearheading what organizers hope will be a massive march on Washington this Saturday."
In Iraq today, CNN reports that occupation puppet Nouri al-Maliki declared, "I ask everyone to excuse us as we do the job.  No school, house, mosque or husseiniya [Shiite mosques] will be out of reach of our forces if they are harboring outlaws. The same for political party headquarters."  If that doesn't trouble you, imagine it as the school in your neighborhood, your house.  Civilians are being targeted and al-Maliki wants "everyone" to "excuse us" while the BBC reports that the the Iraqi parliament has voted in favor of this death wish.
Not unlike the continued slaughter on Haifa Street which the Muslim Scholars Association has termed "a campaign of  genocide."  Richard Mauer (McClatchy Newspapers) reports on eye witness Omar Abu Khatab who stated, "We have many people wounded and badly injured and we have also people killed.  We want someone to help us bury them but we cannot get any help.  We don't have any food or water.  Until now, 16 days under this curfew and we cannot go out."  Another resident, Abu Ali, explains to Mauer how the slaughter continued even after most media lost interest, "The Americans left; only the Iraqi forces stayed in Haifa.  There were snipers on the buildings, Iraqi Army snipers.  It kep people home because they shot two people that tried to go out to the street.  They burned four buildings.  They closed the area, which left the families with no food -- we had to whare with others what we had."
This 'fine' Iraqi military that al-Maliki intends to turn loose on homes and schools includes some real thugs as evidenced by incident reported this morning by Damien Cave and James Glanz (New York Times): "One Iraqi soldier in the alley pointed his rifle at an American reporter and pulled the trigger. There was only a click, the weapon had no ammunition. The soldier laughed at his joke."  Hate to break it to Cave and Glanz, it's not a joke.  Any fool knows you don't aim guns at people for a joke.  That applies if you're cleaning it or at target practice and you better believe it applies in a war zone. 

Reporters Without Borders counted 146 journalists killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war through January 18, 2007.  Does someone really think it's funny that an Iraqi soldier is aiming a gun at journalists and squeezing the trigger?  Had a journalist been hit (or, worse, killed), you better believe the excuse would be "I didn't know it was loaded."  Guns aren't toys and anyone who isn't smart enough to grasp that, who thinks a gun is a prop for a joke, needs to have his butt kicked out of the Iraqi military right away.  Instead, he (and no doubt others like him) will be doing house raids, school raids.  Maybe he can be 'funny' by aiming the gun at children and squeezing the trigger when that happens?
Journalists have died in Iraq and for the Times to report it as a "joke" is an insult to all journalists, those in Iraq and outside of it.  It also insults the memory of the journalists killed in Iraq or any other conflict.  It's a "joke" to them.  Just a "joke."  The New York Times needs to get their priiorities straight and if the slaughter on Haifa Street doesn't trouble you, maybe when they target school children it will bother you.

Reuters reports that a car bomb in a central Baghdad market killed 20 and left 18 wounded.
Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) reports the death toll from the bombing climed to 26 and the number wounded to 54. AFP reports "that the explosion set a bus loaded with passengers ablaze, and destroyed half the front of a nearby building."
In addition, Reuters notes one person died and 13 were wounded in a Sadr City market in Baghad while three died and 10 were wounded from a roadside bomb in west Baghdad, a motorcycle bomb "killed a boy and an elderly woman in the city of Falluja" not far from a school, and four civilians were wounded in a bombing in Tal Afar.
In addition to the motorcycle bomb in Falluja, AFP reports one struck a central Baghdad market killing 4 and wounding 2o while destroying "stalls and carts" and quotes an official stating, "The bomb was strapped to a morotocycle which was parked on one side of the road that runs through the market."
Most important in terms of the press the Green Zone was attacked today.  In June, when the Green Zone was almost breached, Nouri al-Maliki began the 'crackdown' that long ago cracked up.  Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) reports that two or three rockets hit the Green Zone and six people were wounded.  The Green Zone is the heavily fortified bunker area of Baghdad where the US is building its embassy, where the Iraqi government meets and where many reporters are stationed.  AP notes that during the attack a voice came blaring over the PA system insisting that "This is not a drill" in English.
Reuters notes that two people were wounded near Haswa and that Hussein Abdul Aziz ("a member of the city council of al-Gayara") was shot dead near Mosul.
Reuters reports two corpses were discovered in Mosul and two in Dujail.
In political news, a toothless, symbolic measure passed through a Senate committee yesterday and now awaits a vote in the full Senate.  CBS and AP report that Dick Cheney (second to the Bully Boy) has responded that, even if the resolution passes the full Senate, "It won't stop us."  Margaret Taliv (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that US Senator Dick Durbin has called Cheney "delusional."  Though Cheney, no doubt, is delusional, it should be remembered that he shot his own friend.  Delusional, crazed and a (hopefully) bad shot.
Hopefully a bad shot? Otherwise that incident was intentional which would result in charges of assault or attempted murder and Cheney might be confessing today.  Which brings us to legal news, Beth Rucker (AP) reports that Corey R. Clagett "pleaded guilty to charges of murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to obstruct justice."  Earlier this month, Juston Graber did the same (to charges of aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon) for his actions in the same May 9, 2006 incident where three Iraqis were detained near Tikrit, then released and killed after the relase with the claim that they had been 'escaping.'  Corey Clagett was asked his intentions when he shot at the three men and he told the court, "To kill them, your honor,"
Thos in DC Saturday should check out Anthony Arnove, author most recently of IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal, who will be speaking at Busboys and Poets at 5:00 pm and those in the NYC area on Sunday should check out Joan Mellen speech at 7:30 p.m.  at the 92nd Street Y (92nd Street and Lesington Avenue). Mellan, a professor at Temple University and the author of seventeen books, will be presenting a lecture on the JFK assasination . . . and beyond. Tickets are $25. Mellen's latest book is A Farewell to Justice which probes the assasination of JFK. She was a guest on Law and Disorder November 7, 2005. And the March 15, 2006 broadcast of KPFA's Guns and Butter featured her speech "How the Failure to Identify, Prosecute and Convict President Kennedy's Assassins Has Led to Today's Crisis of Democracy." You can also read a transcript of that speech here.

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