Saturday, February 24, 2007

Iraq quickly

American troops seized and then released the eldest son of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, perhaps the most powerful Shiite political leader in Iraq, after he crossed the border from Iran into Iraq on Friday morning.
The detention heightened tensions with one of Iraq's most formidable political movements just as the planned American troop buildup was beginning in Baghdad to try to rescue the capital from the grip of Shiite militias and Sunni insurgents.
Allies of the Hakim family denounced the detention as a serious insult, and a senior adviser to the family asserted that American forces also had assaulted several guards. The Hakims control the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the backbone of the Shiite political alliance that has dominated politics during the occupation.
State-run television said Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, a Shiite who depends on Mr. Hakim's support, intervened to help release the son, Amar Abdul Aziz al-Hakim.
In an interview after he was released from an American military base in Kut, Amar al-Hakim said that American forces had treated him roughly and that their justification for seizing him -- that he crossed the border with an invalid passport -- was untrue.

The above is from Richard A. Oppel Jr.'s "U.S. Seizes Son of a Top Shiite, Stirring Uproar" in this morning's New York Times. We're moving really fast this morning. Martha notes
Rajiv Chandrasekaran's "Iraq Rebuilding Short on Qualified Civilians" (Washington Post):

In Diyala, the vast province northeast of Baghdad where Sunnis and Shiites are battling for primacy with mortars and nighttime abductions, the U.S. government has contracted the job of promoting democracy to a Pakistani citizen who has never lived or worked in a democracy.
The management of reconstruction projects in the province has been assigned to a Border Patrol commander with no reconstruction experience. The task of communicating with the embassy in Baghdad has been handed off to a man with no background in drafting diplomatic cables. The post of agriculture adviser has gone unfilled because the U.S. Department of Agriculture has provided just one of the six farming experts the State Department asked for a year ago.

"The people our government has sent to Iraq are all dedicated, well-meaning people, but are they really the right people -- the best people -- for the job?" asked Kiki Skagen Munshi, a retired U.S. Foreign Service officer who, until last month, headed the team in Diyala that included the Pakistani democracy educator and the Border Patrol commander. "If you can't get experts, it's really hard to do an expert job."

Quickly, Reuters reports on reported violence today in Iraq: Baghdad - eight police officers are dead after an attack on a check point, three car bombs killed five and left fourteen wounded, a rocket killed two and left three wounded, and a mortar attack left 10 wounded; Kirkuk - "Samir Menshed Shaheen, the owner of weekly newspaper Al Aryaf in Kirkuk, in northern Iraq, was killed by gunmen, police said."

Remember that the military has charged Ehren Watada again and thinks that, double-jeopardy be damned, they can court-martial him again. This is covered in "The dirty joke that is military 'justice'."

This weekend on RadioNation with Laura Flanders (Saturdays and Sundays, 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm EST, Air America Radio, XM radio and online):

The leaders of Britain's Stop the War Coalition aren't satisfied with Tony Blair's promise to draw down troops in Iraq. But they do claim a victory for their movement. We'll check in with KATE HUDSON, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, after what they hope will be the biggest demonstration yet. • Then, Nation contributor MICHAEL T. KLARE on what we need to do to revive a global non proliferation regime. • And finally THE KLEZMATICS on their Grammy award-winning album, Wonder Wheel (Lyrics by Woody Guthrie).

Sunday's guests include Mark A. Phillips of Editor & Publisher and London's Daily Mirror as well as Allison H. Fine on "her new book Momentum on igniting change in a connected world." Note that Ruth intends to post her latest report before Flanders starts airing. She intends to note the show in that report. In the meantime, Kat will be posting her latest album review this morning.

Back to radio, Rachel notes these upcoming programs (Sunday and Monday) on WBAI -- over the airwaves in the NYC area (and beyond) and also available online (times given are EST):

Sunday, February 25, 11am-noon
A panel of Oscar-morning satirists discuss the lasting effects of Hollywood propaganda. With Paul Krassner, Michael Elias and David Dozer. Moderated by Janet Coleman.

Monday, February 26, 2-3pm
Author Marc Fisher talks about his book on radio, "Something in the Air"; songwriter John Meyer on his book "Heartbreaker: A Memoir of Judy Garland," and his personal rehearsal recordings of Garland. Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer.


The following community sites have updated since yesterday morning:

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

Carl was the first to note Margaret Kimberly's "America the Stupid" (Freedom Rider, Black Agenda Report):

The United States government is still waging a war of aggression in Iraq because of willful American ignorance. Most Americans need little encouragement to occupy other nations, kill people and steal resources. They knew that Saddam Hussein had no connection to the terror attacks that took place on September 11, 2001. Yet they were quite pleased to be dumb and politicians heaved a collective sigh of relief when they got the go ahead from a happily clueless public.
American stupidity will be front and center on the world stage when the Bush administration attacks Iran. Few Congressional leaders have expressed complete and vocal opposition to these awful plans. They have only said that the president doesn't have the authority to wage war. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, "The president does not have the authority to launch military action in Iran without first seeking Congressional authorization - the current use of force resolution for Iraq does not give him such authorization."
Reid and his colleagues haven't said that they wouldn't give him authorization, only that he has to ask first. If Bush makes the case to a critical mass of the intellectually challenged public, or just starts bombing and dares Congress to stop him, he will have the war he has long sought.
It isn't very likely that Americans will get smarter anytime soon. Politicians know that appealing to their worst instincts is usually a winning formula. The corporate run media is not only unhelpful in enlightening the public but is in fact complicit in keeping them in the dark.

By the way, a link's been removed in the excerpt. That happens from time to time because there are things I will not link to and excerpts that link to them get the links edited out. In this case, "Harry Reid" was a link to the New York Times' blogs. Those aren't blogs and they lie, LIE, to readers by implying that they only edit posts for "abusive" language. Tom Zeller Jr. was flat out wrong when he called Ehren Watada a deserter. Members who pointed it out nicely or angrily all found that their comments never posted. Beth's count on this is 43 (visitors, Beth is this site's ombudsperson). That's the number of members who complained to her about that. I have no idea how many wrote this site about it or whether they wrote us both. But that's nonsense. Mike asked me a while back if I was going to link to that again and the answer then and now is "Never again." It's bad enough that Zeller got it wrong and the paper refused to change it but that they wouldn't even allow readers to note that he was wrong (in the mildest sentence in some cases). Editing for "abusive language" is one thing, editing to hide your writer's errors is another and that doesn't sail here. We will never again link to their blogs because it is LYING to tell readers that they can comment and share without any problem as long as they don't use "abusive language." Pointing out an error isn't "abusive language" but in the oh-so-sensitive-set, maybe it is?


Watch 60 Minutes: Military Members Speak out against the war.

On Sunday February 25th, 60 Minutes (on CBS at 7 p.m. ET/PT) will air a segment about the Appeal for Redress. The segment will feature a number of the service members who have signed the Appeal. The Appeal states; “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.” Navy Petty Officer Johnathan Hutto, one of the Iraq war veterans who started the drive, along with others, spoke to 60 Minutes off duty, off base and out of uniform as a concerned citizen. Hutto says “But at the same time, as citizens, it's our obligation to have a questioning attitude … about policy.” A co-founder, Marine Sgt. Liam Madden states, “Just because we volunteered for the military doesn't mean we volunteered to put our lives in unnecessary harm and to carry out missions that are illogical and immoral.” Many of the signees have similar feelings and in addition want to protect their rights to voice their own opinions regarding the war.

On January 16th 2007, representatives of the Appeal for Redress publicly voiced their opposition to the war in Iraq by bringing the individual petitions of over 1,300 active-duty and reserve members of the military to the attention of Congress. The Appeal for Redress, was started by active duty service members. About 60% of signees have served at least one tour of duty in Iraq. The service members who started this ongoing appeal felt that it was important for them to take a clear stand on the issue.

The Center on Conscience & War was there to support the actions of these members of the military in their attempt to make it clear to Congress that they will no longer stand quietly and while fighting in an illegal war. Executive Director J. E. McNeil has been instrumental in providing legal advice to the group and individual signees. A 1995 law called the Military Whistleblower act enables military personnel to express their own opinions about Iraq in protected communication directly to Congress. The Appeal for Redress provides a way in which individual service members can appeal to their Congressional Representative and US Senators to urge an end to the U.S. military occupation.

Many of these service members are considered selective objectors. If enacted, the Military Conscientious Objector Act would provide protection for such service members.

We encourage all of you to pass on information regarding the Appeal for Redress to anyone you know who is a service member or to their family and/or friends.

For further information on the Appeal for Redress you can visit their website at
Center on Conscience & War
1830 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20009
Ph: 202-483-2220Fax: 202-483-1246

I won't be watching. As noted in Friday's column for the gina & krista round-robin, I'll be busy.
So, reminder, if "And the war drags on . . ." is not up very early, don't expect it to be done. We'll all be at a function and I'm not coming home late Sunday night/Monday morning and facing that. As I said Friday, I am going to try to have something pulled together early. That will be dependent upon how smoothly The Third Estate Sunday Review goes tonight/tomorrow morning. By the way, I planned to be home this morning but still am not. However, Dona was kind enough to pull two books off the shelves for me and she says the quotes are correct from Friday morning's "Other Items."

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