Thursday, February 22, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

Senator John McCain: "We are paying a very heavy price for the mismanagement - that's the kindest word I can give you - of Donald Rumsfeld, of this war. The price is very, very heavy and I regret it enormously."
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton: "I take responsibility for my vote. It was a sincere vote based on the facts and assurances we had at the time. Obviously I would not vote that way again if we knew then what we know now."

Imagine a 2008 presidential race with the above two as our major candidates. One who is a supporter of the invasion/occupation of Iraq who thinks it has been "mismanaged" and one who is a supporter of the invasion/occupation of Iraq who was fooled by the crafty, super-genius George Bush.
Imagine a grieving mother whose son or daughter has been killed in Iraq hearing a Pentagon report that calls the manipulated Doug Feith (famous PNAC supporter and former Deputy War Minister) intelligence that led to her child's death, not a crime, but "inappropriate." Imagine this same grieving mother having to hear these two candidates for their political party's nomination play politics with their child's life that was cut tragically short by unrepentant murderers.
John McCain "regrets" that Donald Rumsfeld mismanaged the war and notes that he will go down in history as the worst War Minister of the ages, but doesn't regret his former support of the same man, or his support of George Bush who will go down as the worst "war preznit" in history and who defamed, lied, libeled, and slandered John McCain in 2000.
Hillary Clinton thinks she is doing her campaign a favor by saying her vote to give George Bush authority to invade Iraq was a mistake, but she won't apologize for it. Imagine a grieving mother who lies awake at night longing for her "mistakenly" killed child who would be alive if instead of cheerleading for a tail-wagging-dog foray into Iraq that could have been avoided if only Ms. Clinton had taken the lead in the Senate denouncing the Bush Regimes lies instead of pretending to believe them., which I recently learned was the
American "anti-war" movement, is not calling for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, but favors a "slow bleed" strategy. MoveOn will not call for de-funding the war because they don't want to be perceived as "anti-troop" when we all know that the Reich-wing has never supported our troops. The 21,500 troops who are going to be surged into Baghdad will not even have body armor until this summer. Hopefully, they can dodge the bullets and shrapnel until summer, or until MoveOn wakes up and realizes that the only way to support our troops in the field is to bring them back to the States so they don't have to worry about body armor, clean water, or edible food.Imagine a mother in Iraq who cannot go to the marketplace to buy groceries, which are becoming scarcer by the day, because she is worried about being blown up. Imagine a mother in Iraq who cannot send her children to school or out to play for fear of the same fate befalling them. Imagine a mother in Iraq who feels helpless because the U.S. Congress is having meetings with MoveOn, who wants her country to slowly bleed to death and is not listening to the true U.S. anti-war movement, such as Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, or Gold Star Families for Peace that have been calling for an immediate withdrawal of troops for almost four years now.

The above is from Cindy Sheehan's "Mistakes, Mismanagement and MoveOn Slowly Bleeding to Death" (BuzzFlash). If you check the permalinks on the left (always on the left), you'll see that Walk On, Walk is no longer a functioning one. I'm sick of this. We don't plug them. For newer members, when Danny Schechter's WMD came out on DVD the organization's attitude could be summed up as "too bad, so sad." It was post 2004-election and MoveOn had MovedOn from the illegal war. Or as a friend, who stopped donating to the organization at the same time I did, put it, "WalkOn," When they treated Danny like that it wasn't just about one film, it was about their entire attitude towards the war which is apparently a clutch bag that they can carry when it fits the season but toss to the back of the closet when it might make things just a bit uncomfortable.

Joshua Frank at CounterPunch in January of last year:

It's a good thing for that George W. Bush was reelected. If he hadn't been, the liberal troupe would have nothing to contest. Even if the bloody occupation had continued under a John Kerry presidency (it most certainly would have), the cowering office-chair activists would have ducked behind their computer screens awaiting the return of another brutal Republican administration. Activism should never be partisan, but isn't about to hold the Democrats' accountable for supporting Bush's war agenda.
I'm not even all that sure MoveOn opposes the Iraq war. Sure, they rallied opposition during the lead-up to the invasion a few years back, but since then they've done little if anything that should garner the respect of the antiwar movement. Despite Kerry's grotesque position on the Iraq war in 2004, MoveOn implored their members to donate cash to his campaign, but said nary a word about his pro-war posturing. You can't support a candidate without putting demands on their candidacy, and MoveOn's breakdown has made them all but irrelevant as an antiwar club.
Case in point. Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York has continued to support Bush's war in Iraq as well as his greater war on terror, yet MoveOn refuses to voice frustration. Instead, they support the war-hungry senator and admit they won't stand up to her during an election year. "The case I would make is that 2006 needs to be a year of reckoning for Republicans on Iraq," Tom Matzzie, the Washington director for MoveOn recently told the New York Times. "If the antiwar candidate is creamed by Hillary Clinton, it's a distraction."
A distraction from what? If I remember correctly, it wasn't just the Republican Party that got us into this dreadful mess. The Democrats voted for it, helped sell the damn thing, and even bombed the hell out of Iraq during the 1990s, all the while supporting deadly UN sanctions. And as Americans begin to turn on this war, including prominent elected officials from both parties, Hillary still won't retract her defense of the war, let alone meet with genuine antiwar activists here in New York. All of this, and the feckless still won't call Hillary out for her warmongering.

Norman Solomon at Common Dreams in August of 2005:

The day after Wednesday night's nationwide vigils, the big headline at the top of the home page said: "Support Cindy Sheehan." But MoveOn does not support Cindy Sheehan's call for swift withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
Many groups were important to the success of the Aug. 17 vigils, but the online powerhouse MoveOn was the largest and most prominent. After a long stretch of virtual absence from Iraq war issues, the organization deserves credit for getting re-involved in recent months. But the disconnects between MoveOn and much of the grassroots antiwar movement are disturbing.
Part of the problem is MoveOn's routine fuzziness about the war -- and the way that the group is inclined to water down the messages of antiwar activism, much of which is not connected to the organization.
Consider how the MoveOn website summarized the vigils: "Last night, tens of thousands of supporters gathered at 1,625 vigils to acknowledge the sacrifices made by Cindy Sheehan, her son Casey and the more than 1,800 brave American men and women who have given their lives in Iraq -- and their moms and families." Such a gloss excludes a key reason why many people participated in the vigils: They wanted to express clear opposition to any further U.S. involvement in the war.
Despite its high-profile role in the vigils this week, MoveOn is still not giving a high priority to addressing the Iraq war in its ongoing work. When I went to the MoveOn website today and looked at its roster of "Current Campaigns," just a single item on the list was focused on Iraq -- and that one, from June, involved "demanding that Bush address the evidence in the 'Downing Street Memo.'"

Norman Solomon at GNN in March of 2005:

Sadly, it has come to this. Two years after the invasion of Iraq, the online powerhouse -- which built most of its member base with a strong antiwar message -- is not pushing for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
With a network of more than three million "online activists," the MoveOn leadership has decided against opposing the American occupation of Iraq. During the recent bloody months, none of MoveOn's action alerts have addressed what Americans can do to help get the U.S. military out of that country. Likewise, the website has continued to bypass the issue--even after Rep. Lynn Woolsey and two dozen cosponsors in the House of Representatives introduced a resolution in late January calling for swift removal of all U.S. troops from Iraq.
That resolution would seem to be a natural peg for the kind of kinetic activism that established MoveOn’s reputation. A movement serious about ending U.S. military activities in Iraq could use the resolution as a way to cut through political tap dances and pressure members of Congress to take a stand. Down the road, generating grassroots support for a get-out-of-Iraq resolution has potential to clear a congressional pathway for measures cutting off funds for the war.
But, tragically, MoveOn's leadership is having none of it. Over a period of recent weeks, the word "Iraq" appeared on the home page only in a plug for a documentary released last year. Inches away, a blurb has been telling the website’s visitors: "Support Our Troops: Contribute your frequent-flyer miles so that American troops can get home." (But not stay home.) Many soldiers are returning to the killing grounds of Iraq, while a growing number are vocally opposed to this war.
Why won't MoveOn "support our troops" by supporting a pullout of our troops from Iraq? "We believe that there are no good options in Iraq,"'s executive director, Eli Pariser, told me. "We're seeing a broad difference of opinion among our members on how quickly the U.S. should get out of Iraq. As a grassroots-directed organization, we won't be taking any position which a large portion of our members disagree with."
In sharp contrast, early in the 2004 primary campaign, MoveOn committed itself to endorsing any Democratic presidential candidate receiving more than 50 percent of the Internet ballots cast by its activists. (Howard Dean fell shy of a majority, so there was no MoveOn endorsement.) But now, evidently, a majority of MoveOn members in favor of swift withdrawal from Iraq would be insufficient if a "large portion" disagreed.
When I asked Eli for clarification, he replied: "We've been talking with our members continuously on this issue. We've surveyed slices of our membership in January and in December, and surveyed our whole membership last spring. That's how we know there's a breadth of opinion out there."
But last spring was a year ago. And any surveying of "slices of our membership in January and in December" came before the Woolsey resolution offered an opportunity to find out how the MoveOn base views the measure. In any event, there will always be "a breadth of opinion" about this war--a fact that does not trump the crucial need for clarity of purpose.
If MoveOn leaders were willing to submit the House get-out-of-Iraq resolution to MoveOn's rank-and-file in an up-or-down vote, the chances of a substantial majority would be excellent. Too bad the leadership of is currently unwilling to find out.

So is this what we're left with? The WalkOns have to be prodded publicly to take even the weakest form of action? I'm tired of all the little babies who can't do anything unless someone takes them by the arm and escorts them. Where are the grown ups?

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, AP's number for the US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 3132. Tonight? 3150 is the AP count. That should include this announced death by the US military: "One 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Soldier was killed and three were wounded in an improvised explosive device attack on their M-1114 HMMWV near Ad Diwaniyah at approximately 2 a.m. Feb 22." Wounded? Whether it's Iraqis, Americans, Europeans, etc., it doesn't mean a scratch that goes away after the band aid comes off. The death toll continues to climb. The refugee crisis continues worsen. Rapes are the big theme in the press this week. Mark Wilkerson just got sentenced to seven months of military prison time. Agustin Aguayo faces his court-martial March 6th. So sitting on your ass and ignoring the war isn't doing anyone a favor. Where are the grown ups? There are a lot of physically mature people but where are the adults? This was will continue to drag on year after year until people grasp that their bits of nonsense, fluffery and finding time for every topic in the world except Iraq prolongs the illegal war.

Mia notes Rose French's "Soldier Gets 100 Years for Rape, Killing" (AP via San Francisco Chronicle):

A U.S. soldier was sentenced to 100 years in prison Thursday for the gang rape and murder of an Iraqi girl and the killing of her family last year.
Sgt. Paul E. Cortez, 24, also was given a dishonorable discharge. He will be eligible for parole in 10 years under the terms of his plea agreement.
Cortez, of Barstow, Calif., pleaded guilty this week to four counts of felony murder, rape and conspiracy to rape in a case considered among the worst atrocities by U.S. military personnel in Iraq.
In his plea agreement, he said he conspired with three other soldiers from the Fort Campbell-based 101st Airborne Division to rape 14-year-old Abeer Qassim al-Janabi. The girl, her parents and a younger sister were all killed.

Mia wanted it noted that French also calls it correctly (gang rape) and mentions her name and wonders about the men who didn't? That's a good point but it needs to be noted that Ryan Lenz (also AP) covered the story earlier and never had a problem typing Abeer's name while, of course, Carolyn Marshall (New York Times) couldn't be bothered with mentioning Abeer's name. Overall, AP's done the best job of the mainstream covering this topic. (Independent media? I'd go with Off Our Backs which did several articles.)

We'll leave Iraq to note Naomi Klein's return, "A Trial for Thousands Denied Trial" (The Nation):

Something remarkable is going on in a Miami courtroom. The cruel methods US interrogators have used since September 11 to "break" prisoners are finally being put on trial.
This was not supposed to happen. The Bush Administration's plan was to put José Padilla on trial for allegedly being part of a network linked to international terrorists. But Padilla's lawyers are arguing that he is not fit to stand trial because he has been driven insane by the government.
Arrested in May 2002 at Chicago's O'Hare airport, Padilla, a Brooklyn-born former gang member, was classified as an "enemy combatant" and taken to a Navy prison in Charleston, South Carolina. He was kept in a 9-by-7-foot cell with no natural light, no clock and no calendar. Whenever Padilla left the cell, he was shackled and suited in heavy goggles and headphones. Padilla was kept under these conditions for 1,307 days. He was forbidden contact with anyone but his interrogators, who punctured the extreme sensory deprivation with sensory overload, blasting him with harsh lights and pounding sounds. Padilla also says he was injected with a "truth serum," a substance his lawyers believe was LSD or PCP.

If the above doesn't drive home how much Klein's been missed, listen to Thursday morning's Morning Edition at NPR for a laughable take (played for serious) on the above. (I had no choice, I was in a taxi. And the snapshot tomorrow may post late. Just FYI. Hopefully, that won't be the case but I've got two speaking things.) And, again, non-Iraq related, but needing to be noted:

West Coast Speaking Tour:
No one shall be tortured, falsely imprisoned, or denied basic democratic rights - a benefit for the Lynne Stewart Defense Committee & the Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Presenting:
Lynne Stewart
New York attorney for political prisoners and the oppressed; falsely convicted of conspiracy to aid and abet terrorism
Michael Ratner
President, Center for Constitutional Rights; author; initiated landmark war crimes/torture lawsuit in Germany against Donald Rumsfeld & Alberto Gonzales
Jeff Mackler
Director, Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
Pam Africa
Chair, International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal
Special guest:
Barbara Lubin, Dir., Middle East Children's Alliance
For general tour info:415-255-1085 or email: jmackler at
Friday, February 23
10:45am Oakland Press Conference;
12:45pm, Boalt Law School;
3:00 KPFA radio;
5:30 San Francisco Reception;
7:L30 SF Mass Rally at Women's Building, 3542 18th Street.
Saturday, February 24
10am Prison Radio Reception;
2pm Marin Rally, College of Marin, Student Services Center;
5:30 Berkeley Reception, Midle East Children's Alliance, 901 Parker at 7th, Berkeley;
7:30 Berkeley Mass Rally, King Middle School, 1781 Rose
Sunday Februrary 25
1:00pm Palo Alto Reception, Fireside Room;
2:00 Mass Rally at Unitarian Universalist Church, 505 E. Charlesston Rd., Palo Alto -
Monday, February 26
10:30am Gray Panther Reception,
12:30 University of San Francisco Law School, Fulton at Stanyon, Kendrick Hall;
5:30 Reception and 7:00 Rally
Tuesday, February 27
12:15pm New College of Law, San Francisco
Wednesday, February 28
12:00pm UC Davis School of Law, Moot Courtroom;
5:30 Sacramento Reception, 403 21st Street, Sacramento Tickets $20, no one turned away for lack of funds.
Tickets sold at the door and at select bookstores: Black Oak, Walden Pond, Pegasus/Solano, Pegasus/Shattuck, Marcus Books/MLK, Modern Times and City Lights, Marcus Books
Special wine and cheese receptions with Lynne Stewart & Michael Ratner, Please RSVP:
Berkeley Reception,

Saturday, February 24,
5:30 pm: Middle East Children's Alliance, 905 Parker, Berkeley), $25 reception only, includes signed poster.
San Francisco Reception, Friday, *February 24*, 5:30 pm, Women's Bldg., 3543 18th St. (between Valencia & Guerrero), $25 reception only - includes signed poster Sponsors: The Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, The Lynne Stewart Defense Committee, National Lawyers Guild, Middle East Children's Alliance, Peninsula Peace and Justice Center, Marin Peace and Justice Colaition, Vanguard Public Foundation, KPFA Lynne and Jeff will also be speaking at Boalt Law School (with Michael), at USF Law School, UC Davis Law School (co-sponsored by McGeorge Law School) and at New College of Law (co-sponsored by Golden Gate and Hastings Law Schools)

*February 24* should probably read February 23rd if it's Friday.
Following that Lynne will be in Portland, Oregon from March 5th - 7th and in Seattle from March 8th - 10th. Check with your local NLG chapters in Portland and Seattle for details on these events. Friday,
March 2
Whitewashing the Panthers: Can the Government Prosecute Black History? At 7:00 pmThe Community Church of Manhattan, 40 E. 35th St. (between Park and Madison) A program on the new (old) case against the Black Panther Party
FILMS: Legacy of Torture: The War Against the Black Liberation Movement and Melvin van Peebles interview of Herman Bell, political prisoner and defendant in this case (Starz in Black) SPEAKERS: Kathleen Cleaver, Soffiyah Elijah, Iyaluua Ferguson, and others
For more information click here!
April 29
WBAI Fundraiser - Click here for Flyer (PDF)

That should have gone up sooner, my apologies. I'm living on Sucrets and prescription throat spray. Back to Iraq. Brendan notes Amy Goodman's "Clinton draws a line in the sand over Iraq" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer):

Hillary Clinton is a once and future warrior. Campaign events in New Hampshire suggest the majority anti-war electorate has problems with her vote for the Iraq war and with her position on Iran.
On Feb. 10, New Hampshire resident Roger Tilton asked Clinton at a town-hall meeting: "I want to know if right here, right now, once and for all and without nuance, you can say that war authorization was a mistake."
Clinton responded: "Well, I have said, and I will repeat it, that knowing what I know now, I never would have voted for it. ... The mistakes were made by this president, who misled this country and this Congress into a war that should not have been waged."
A week later, in Dover, N.H., she dug in:
"If the most important thing to any of you is choosing someone who did not cast that vote or said his vote was a mistake, then there are others to choose from. But for me, the most important thing now is trying to end this war."
Her tough talk to anti-war voters is reminiscent of President Bush's taunt to the Iraqi insurgents: "Bring it on."
People's concerns about Clinton's Iraq war vote is of more than historical interest. History has a frightening way of repeating itself. Drop the "q," add an "n." Iran.
New Hampshire Peace Action director Anne Miller asked Clinton about her recent comments to AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Clinton told AIPAC: "We cannot, we should not, we must not permit Iran to build or acquire nuclear weapons. And in dealing with this threat ... no option can be taken off the table."

Mike may end up highlighting that tomorrow because it goes into what he was addressing Wednesday and tonight. Pru gets the last highlight (and she pulled her's Sunday, for those who've e-mailed, she was one of the ones thinking something was wrong -- it was no big deal):

This article should be read after: » Tony Blair - bloody liar
A new law to hand over Iraqi oil to the multinationals
by Anindya Bhattacharyya
The Iraqi parliament is on verge of passing new legislation to restructure the country's oil industry - effectively handing it over to foreign multinational control, according to a draft copy of the law leaked last weekend.
Iraq's oil industry was nationalised in the early 1970s. But the new law dismantles most of the functions of the Ministry of Oil and transfers them to a variety of "technical and commercial entities and institutions".
Private oil companies will bid for "exploration and production contracts" that grant them exclusive rights to search for and pump out oil in a specified area.
While the oil legally remains "the property of the nation", in practice the private firms will make the money.
The scheme gives a green light to foreign companies to plunder Iraq's oil wealth. No other country in the Middle East operates its oil industry in this manner.
The US has been pressing for such an arrangement since it invaded and occupied Iraq four years ago.
But the laws had been stalled by a combination of nationalist sentiment and in-fighting within the Iraqi elite.
Revenues from oil production will be deposited in a central bank account administered by "representatives from the federal government, regional governments, provinces and a number of independent consultants".
This move has sparked fears that the bulk of the revenues will be diverted to the regions, further destabilising the country.
Iraq's oil is concentrated in the northern Kurdish region and the south, rather than in the central area around Baghdad.
"Regions and provinces have the final say over oil policy, which provokes suspicions over intentions to divide Iraq," says Iraqi oil expert Dr Fouad Qasim al-Ameer. "What would ensue would be a destructive competition for oil production. Iraq's riches will be wasted in all this mayhem."
The following should be read alongside this article: »
Tony Blair - bloody liar» Craig Murray elected as rector of University of Dundee» Court martial: there is 'no case to answer' over Baha Musa's death» British troop reductions announced - tell Blair to get all the troops out now
For translations of the draft oil law and Dr al-Ameer's commentary, go to
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and the war drags on