Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, February 14, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; Baghad's under more 'extreme' crackdown and nothing's changed; Bully Boy says "Who needs proofs?"; the US military announces more deaths; and who is getting into the US military?
Starting with news of war resistance and staring with Ehren Watada.  Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq in June.  Last week, he became the first officer to be court-martialed for refusing to deploy in the illegal war.  The court-martial ended in a mistrial.  Many rush to weigh in and while we disagree with the right, we can respect their passion.  It's the useless we have no respect for.  Meet Kati Irons.
Apparently upset that she can't bore everyone with her thoughts on Battlestar Galatica one more time, Irons hems and haws and throws some stones.  For instance, she doesn't care for Sean Penn's speech in Tacoma.  Now in a very small setting, she's quite happy to stay silent even while she is disturbed by a conversation  - dumb ass and a coward.   Congratulations, Kati!  And congratulations on being offensive to everyone:  "Under present circumstances, to have one child in the military may be considered a source of pride, but four seems like carelessness,"  Irons offers.  Insulting everyone doesn't mean you're "telling it like it is" -- it just means you're an idiot.  (Irons scractched down a few thoughts for Blogcritics -- we don't link to trash.)
Fortunately, not all are useless idiots.  As Paul Guggenheimer (Sioux City Journal) notes,
"If there is one story that strikes at the heart of the immorality and unethical nature of the war in Iraq, it is the story of U.S. Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada'."  As Mike Davis (Great Britain's Socialist Worker) reminds: "He has refused to serve on the ground that the war is 'immoral and unlawful . . . and would compel complicity in war crimes'."  Jason Farbman and Sam Bernstein (Socialist Worker) report on the double jeopardy issue that Judge Toilet's (aka Lt. Col. John Head) decision to call a mistrial (over the objection of the defense) is only one issue that may prevent a retrial: "If the court-martial does resume March 19, Watada's lawyers will object and appeal, possibly pushing the trial back to May.  But in the meantime, Watada will have served out his remaining time in the Army.  His lawyers are now saying they think he could walk away a free man."
Dan Carptener (The Indianapolis Star) reports on Carolyn Ho ( Ehren Watada''s mother) whose "voice was cracking from overuse and a lingering cold as the soldier's mother recounted the story, having spent the past six months traveling the country on his behalf" who spoke of the change she'd seen since her son went public in June: "In the early days one individual wrote me that I was a terrible mother and he was going to send me a one-way ticket to France.  Since that time we've had an overwhelmingly positive response.  It's a telling commentary on how people feel about this war."
Talking about the war and the mistrial, David Mitchell spoke yesterday at the Fellowship of Reconciliation in Upper Nyack.  Akiko Matsuda's (The Journal News) reports: "Mitchell gave his own analysis, saying the judge manipulated the trial because as it proceeded, Watada's good standing as a soldier became apparent.  Mitchell also thought the judge was afraid of the impact on the other soldiers should Watada be acquitted.  Mitchell said that at one point in the trial, a female officer told the judge she was impressed by Watada's action because he stood by what he believed in."
Watada is a part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as Agustin Aguayo (whose court-martial is currently set to begin on March 6th), Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ivan Brobeck, Mark Wilkerson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, 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, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey 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.
Patrick Hart, noted above, is a war resister who went to Canadal.  The Buffalo News reports that "Hart was a dealt a setback when the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board denied his claim of refugee status" and that his next step is to "appeal the decision to the Canadian Federal Court."  In July, Patrick, Jill and Rian Hart appeared before Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board to make their appeal.  Peter Koch (Art Voice) noted in July that "everyonw who has received a decision has been denied."  The denial was a denial to Patrick Hart and it was also a denial to Jill Hart and to their son Rian.  These are people who are attempting to start a life in a Canada.  The Harts, like Joshua and Brandi Key, have uprooted their families and moved to Canada not as a stop-over, but as a final destination.  During Vietnam, Canada was welcoming of war resisters.  Today, the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada makes laughable their claim to be the "largest independent administrative tribunal" as they show no independence and make the same 'finding' repeatedly, over and over with no indication of indepence, no indication of thought, but strong indications that they are afraid to take a stand.  Since none of the war resisters can be called a "security risk" or seen as having violated human or internatioinal rights, committed a serious crime or been involved in organized crime, the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada has made a loud, repeated joke of itself and done so while the world was watching.
Meanwhile, England is in violation of UN protocol, Robert Stansfield and Maggie Barry (The Daily Mirror) report, since they've been sending service members under the age of 18 to fight in Iraq and, while Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram can claim that was a mistake, it was also illegal.  Stansfield and Barry speak with one who was under 18, "Chris," and he explained why he decided to self-check out and joined over 1,000 British soldiers who have done just that since the start of the illegal war as well as sharing his opinions of the illegal war: "I think they should just take everyone out of Iraq.  If the Americans want to stay then just let them but they should take our troops out.  It's not worth being in there.  It's not worth getting killed for."
David Barsamian:  You're 1967 book Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal was reissued by South End Press.  I was reading some of the exchanges in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that you reproduce there.  And although there are no such hearings going on now, it almost replicates a lot of the media commentary about how we cannot just quit and run from Iraq, that our prestige would suffer, we would lose credibility.  What do these things mean?  What is prestige?  What is credibility?         
Howard Zinn:   That's an interesting point because those statements are made again and again, from war to war to war, that we must continue doing this because if we don't continue doing this, we will lose standing, lose prestige, that other countries in this, we will lose standing, lose prestige, that other countries in the world will lose respect for us.  I think what they really mean is that other countries will stop fearing us.  The truth is that the United States in general does not get the respect of other countries in the world, but it instills fear in other countries, fear that they will lose economic benefits given to them by the United States.  As a result, some of them go along.  But, of course, those words prestige and fear need to be examined to see what they mean because if you looked at them in moral terms, you would ask, What presitge adheres to a government that conducts an immoral war?  What respect does the United States get from the rest of the world when it engages in such a war?  What's interesting in this case, and I think this is really unprecedented in the case of Iraq, is that on the eve of the war the world as a whole rose up everywhere and protested agains the U.S. entrance into the war, making it claer that by going into the war the United States was losing the respect, losing whatever prestige it had in the world.
Something to remember as the US House of Represenatives debates the nonbinding resolution.  The vote is expected Friday, it is expected to pass in the House, it is nonbinding.  KPFA has posted online various statements during the House Debate for those who can listen online.  AFP notes: "Democrats won control of Congress in November elections marked by voter anger at the war."  Now Vermont's legislature passed a symoblic measure calling for withdrawal, as Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted, but that's what is within their power.  The US Congress has the power to do more (as Bully Boy knows, read on). As Vermont state rep Michael Fisher explained to Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) the resolution passed both state houses (House and Senate) -- Michael Fisher: "Sometimes states have to step up and lead, when Congress is not doing enough and this was a time when Vermonters were able to speak up and say clearly that it was time to take some real leadership and to end this war. . . . The resolution . . . calls for the immediate and orderly . . . withdrawal of American military forces from Iraq."
In the capital of Iraq, the never ending crackdown goes on and the latest additions include, the BBC reports, the suspension of permitted weapons "to all but Iraqi and US forces and registered security firms" (registered security firms would be mercenaries), the ongoing curfew was "extended by an hour," and "[i]ncreased stop and search powers in the capital."  Reuters notes that Samawa is also under curfew (9:00 pm to 6:00 pm).
Reuters reports a car bombing in Baghdad ('near a hospital") which killed four and left ten more wounded, a roadside Baghdad bomb that killed one person and left three more wounded, another car bombing in Baghdad ("in a market in the southern Bayaa district") claimed two lives and left seven wounded, a mortar attack in Baghdad killed one and wounded at least 16 more, another roadside bombing in Baghdad ("in the western Yarmouk district") killed one person, and a Mosul car bombing killed three and left 20 wounded.  Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports* an IED explosion in Baghdad that wounded two civilians and a mortar attack on a Shi'ite mosque in eastern Baghdad that wounded two people.
Reuters reports a man ("former police captain") was shot dead in front of his home in Diwaniya and three Iraqi soldiers were shot (wounded not dead) in Baghdad.  Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports* "three passengers in" a vehicle in west Baghdad were injured when their car was attacked with gunfire and: "Around 10:00 a.m. an Iraqi university student was killed said Haider Hamid, a student of a technical college in Basra, today.  A British military convoy randomly opened fire after an IED exploded targeting the convoy near the college (10 miles west of Basra) on the road leading to Zubair town.  The random shooting killed the student Ahmed Fahmi, a second year student of the electricity department, Hamid said."
Ryan Lenz (AP) reports that five corpses were discovered in Baghdad ("bullet riddeled").  
[*Note Mohammed al Dulaimy's report is of today's violence -- the date in the headline is incorrect -- check the posted date and you can click here for the actual roundup of February 6, 2007 to see that the date in the headline is incorrect.  Ali Faddam covered the roundup on February 6th.]
Also today, the US military announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier died Tuesday in a non-combated related incident which is currently under investigation."  And they announced: "A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier died when insurgents targeted a combat patrol north of the Iraqi capital Feb. 13."
Question of the day, per CBS News: "Where Is Muqtada Al-Sadr?" Answer -- no one knows despite US officials claiming otherwise.
Claims were all Bully Boy had to offer when he held yet another dog & pony show (if dogs and ponies are this ugly).  CBS and AP report that he's okay with the US Congress wasting time on non-binding resolutions but it's another story if they use their Congressional power to cut the funds for the illegal war.  Bully Boy also continued to insist that Iran is supplying Iraq (sometimes it's Sunnis, sometimes it's Shias, it always changes -- that's what happens with lies) with weapons but he had nothing to offer but his word.  His word is worth even less than Michael R. Gordon's -- if that's possible.  As Lebanon's Daily Star reports, Bully Boy "does not know whethere the weapons were 'ordered from the top echelons of government'" which did not stop him from adding, "But my point is what's worse?  Them ordering it and it happening, or them not ordering it and it happening?"
Finally, who is the US military signing up these days?  Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted that waivers for recruits with criminal records were up 65%."  Lizette Alvarez (New York Times) reports this increase has come in the last three years, that "[t]he number of waivers for felony convictions also increased, to 11 percent of the 8,129 moral waivers granted in 2006, from 8 percent," and that "[t]he Defense Department has also expanded its applicant pool by accepting soldiers with criminal backgrounds and medical problems like asthma, high blood pressure and attention deficit disorder".    These facts, by the way, were the ones John Kerry could have made on October 31, 2006.  Instead, he backed down, buckled and took himself out of the presidential race on November 1, 2006.

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