Saturday, February 17, 2007


In nine brief paragraphs, Marc Santora's "Baghdad Plan Is a 'Success,' Iraq Prime Minister Tells Bush" covers Iraq in this morning's New York Times. It's a pitiful article but it was a pitiful day for news on Friday. Not much was being covered -- and wouldn't be when the military controls the bulk of what gets out and what doesn't. So we won't fault Santora for a useless article. We will fault the paper for a reliance on wires and publicly issued statements which is what the bulk of the article is (and perfectly in keeping with the way the paper 'reports').

We will fault him for pushing the myth of the 'cult.' That's the slaughter of Najaf and when Santora was earlier reporting on it, he included qualifiers. They're not in today's article which is all the more embarrassing now that the 'cult' has been exposed as spin fed to the media to cover up a massacre.

We'll note Borzou Daragahi's "38 alleged cult members detained in Iraq: Raids target Heaven's Army, a Shiite Muslim group involved in a battle last month" (Los Angeles Times):

Iraqi forces early Friday rounded up 38 alleged members of a Shiite Muslim cult involved in a battle last month with Iraqi and U.S. troops that left hundreds dead and injured. Three contingents of Iraqi police raided several neighborhoods in the southern Iraqi city of Hillah and detained members of a mysterious religious group called Heaven's Army, said Brig. Gen. Abbas Jabouri, commander of the Hillah-based Scorpion Brigades.
Police also seized weapons, books and leaflets associated with the group. Jabouri said the Hillah raids were an extension of a highly vaunted Iraqiand U.S. security crackdown in Baghdad. Though the operation is meant to stem sectarian violence and restore calm primarily in the capital, similar offensives have been launched in volatile sections of southern Iraq, including Basra.

Alleged members of an alleged cult. That's the Najaf massacre that had the heavily promoted spin of "They're going to kill clerics" when that phoney claim has now been well backed off. They were attacked and they fought back. The reasons why they were attacked have been explored by Dahr Jamail, Ali al-Fadhily, Patrick Cockburn, Tom Hayden and others.

On the topic of corpses discovered in Baghdad, Daragahi notes the count is as it's been all week (low).

The US military announced: "A Marine assigned to Multi-National Force-West was killed Feb. 16 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province." But to read the reports (yesterdays or todays), nothing happened in Al-Anbar Province (I'm referring to no reporting on the 'combat operations'). I'm also not seeing anything on the US military's laughable announcement to the residents of Haifa Street in Baghdad -- pack your stuff and move for a few weeks, we think we can 'pacify' the neighborhood by then and you should be able to return. (Like Iraq's been 'pacified'?) Possibly because to cover that might mean acknowledging that, despite military claims otherwise (that the press ran with), Haifa Street was a very residential area (it was a "mixed district" in US terms -- residential and commerical).

Reuters reports three bombings with 10 killed and 85 wounded total throughout Iraq, three police officers shot dead and five wounded throughout Iraq, two headless corpses discovered and they note:

Militants stabbed a policewoman and her young daughter to death when they stormed their home in the city of Hilla, 100 km (62 miles) south of Baghdad, police said, adding that they had captured the attackers.

And we'll note this from Sue Pleming's "Ex-US envoy says Iraq rebuilding plan won't work" (Reuters):

Kiki Munshi was showcased by the media in September as a seasoned U.S. diplomat who came out of retirement to lead a rebuilding group in Iraq.
Now she is back home, angry, and convinced that President George W. Bush's new strategy of doubling the number of such groups to 20 along with a troop surge of 21,500 will not help stabilize Iraq.
A diplomat for 22 years, she quit her job last month as leader of a Provincial Reconstruction Team -- groups made up of about 50 civilian and military experts that try to help Iraqi communities build their own government while strengthening moderates.

On Ehren Watada, Liang notes Emil Guillermo's "Double Jeopardy, Anyone?" (Asia Week):

According to those present in the Fort Lewis, Washington, courtroom, the trial didn’t have to be stopped.
In fact, both Watada's defense team AND the prosecutors wanted the trial to go on, and at one point urged the judge to continue.
But the military judge, Lt. Col John Head, had a change of heart over a 12-page stipulation written by the Army, that had been signed and agreed to by both prosecution and defense a week earlier, and then gone over, edited and corrected by the judge himself.
That document laid out the framework of the case and limited the charges against Watada to refusal to deploy.
[. . .]

In the end, it was the prosecution that asked for the mistrial, to the protest of the defense. But the judge granted the motion and set a new trial date in March.
It won't be that easy.
The judge just handed Watada a defense.

Once the trial began, and the jury heard the facts, the legal term became applicable: "Jeopardy is attached."
In this country, they only get one shot at you for the same charges. Hence a second trial, subjecting one to double jeopardy, is usually not possible.
Now it's the biggest reason a new trial in March, or anytime soon, is unlikely.

On Friday's snapshot, this appeared regarding Ehren Watada:

John Catalinotto (Socialist Worker) observes: "Watada's military defense lawyer -- appointed by the Army -- Capt. Mark Kim, said that he agreed with Seitz's interpretation of military law."

It's Workers' World, not The Socialist Worker, as an e-mail pointed out. My apologies. I'll note it in Tuesday's snapshot (there may or may not be a snapshot Monday, due to the holidays). As noted here before, the snapshot (at Keesha's suggestion) is posted each day at all sites posting on that day. When Watada selected a military panel (jury) as opposed to a judge to rule in his court-martial, a friend passed on a detail. That was just passed on to me and I didn't realize it. After including that in the snapshot, I got a call and pulled it from the snapshot. It was already up at other sites so everyone had to go in change it. (I believe most used "*" to indicate the change.) That was too much trouble to put on everyone (especially Rebecca who was still in the carefully watched stage of her pregnancy) so that's why it was noted here that all corrections to snapshots would appear in the next one after they were pointed out. So that's how this will be handled (and how two other corrections were handled). If it's something other than the snapshot that I've written, the correction goes into that entry if one is needed. By the way, typos aren't corrected. We gave up on that long ago.

And opinions aren't either. There's a mainstream reporter who wants to bicker over an independent media writer's opinion of his work. He needs to take that up with the writer. (The independent media writer's call was a strong call and one I agree with.) But if you're offended that an Alexander Cockburn judged your writing in a way that you disagree with, you need to take that up with Alexander Cockburn. (Again, I agreed with the writer.) If you disagree with an opinion I have, feel free to complain. It will be factored in. But, unless we're quoting a book, there's a link to the piece (often there is with a book as well) and you can go straight to the source and not whine to me about how unfair you think something was and how you would appreciate that I "correct" an opinion someone else has. (Cockburn's not the writer in question for this example though we did have the same problem months ago on a whiner about something of Cockburn's we highlighted here.) If you're troubled by an opinion by Cockburn or anyone else, whether you're the person being evaluated, you really need to take it to them.

Another person that e-mails usually arrive on is Margaret Kimberley from 'readers' who don't read closely. They some how miss the "from Margaret Kimberley's . . ." intro and instead dash off e-mails that begin along the lines of, "How could you write . . ."

On that note, Keesha notes Margaret Kimberley's "Medical Apartheid" (Freedom Rider, Black Agenda Report):

The name Josef Mengele is so infamous that it needs no introduction. Mengele was the German doctor who performed medical experiments on prisoners at Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp. An American doctor, James Marion Sims was equally monstrous, but his name is less well known.
Sims was a doctor who routinely performed unnecessary and sadistic surgeries on slaves in Alabama. He opened the skulls of babies and performed gynecological surgeries on women. They were forced to endure unimaginable treatments, all without the ether that had by then become available as an anesthetic. Of course, being enslaved people, they had no choice in any decisions that Sims made about their bodies or their lives.
Sims allegedly sought to treat vaginal fistulas caused by complications of child birth. One woman underwent this treatment, without anesthesia, 30 times. He obviously didn't cure her of anything.
Because Sims' victims were black Americans their stories remained largely untold. They were not the first or the last black Americans to be subjected to what can only be called torture in the name of scientific investigation. Sims is called "the father of gynecology" and eventually became president of the American Medical Association. He has been immortalized in a monument that still stands in New York's Central Park.
"Sims' victims were not the first or the last black Americans to be subjected to what can only be called torture in the name of scientific investigation."
Of course, there has been a memorial to the Jewish Holocaust on the Washington Mall for more than ten years. There is still no monument to American slaves who built all of the capitol monuments. Sadistic torture can be condemned as long as it didn't happen here.
A newly published book
Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present, is a comprehensive chronicle of surgeries performed without anesthesia, the notorious Tuskegee experiments that prevented 400 men from being treated for syphilis over a 40 year period, and forced sterilizations.

And (for a whiner) we'll also gladly note Brendan's highlight, Alexander Cockburn's "Sold to Mr. Gordon, Another Bridge!" (CounterPunch):

It requires no special skill to sell Michael Gordon, chief military correspondent of the New York Times, the Brooklyn Bridge. All you have to do is whisper down the phone to him that the transaction will occur at a background "briefing" by anonymous intelligence sources and a "senior official" or two.
One would think that it would require astonishing rhetorical ingenuity on the part of the salesteam (in fact operating out of the U.S. Defense Department) to keep on selling Gordon the Brooklyn Bridge, long after the deed from the first sale has been pronounced an obvious fraud. But it's not so strange, really. Your true sucker is a vain fellow, who can never accept the evidence of his own gullibility and who therefore regards each successive purchase of the Brooklyn Bridge as a sound investment, certain to re- establish him in the public eye as a man with a keen eye for the good deal. He thus becomes psychologically and professionally a captive of the bridge salesmen.
On September 8, 2002 the New York Times editors published Gordon and Judith Miller's fictions concerning aluminum tubes in Iraq, supposedly part of Saddam's nuclear program. Much too late this bout of bridge-buying on the part of the Times duo prompted widespread derision and finally the embarrassed Times editor banned Miller from bridge-buying altogether.
No such restraints were placed on Gordon. After lying low while Miller took the heat, he was back late last year, promoting the famous "surge", sold him by General Petraeus and others. Then, Saturday, February 10, the Times excitedly announced another major purchase.

Brendan's not the whiner, just to be clear.

Back to e-mails. We get great e-mails from visitors. If someone needs help with locating a resource (shelter or attorney), we're happy to provide you with (public) information. But there are four e-mails Jess and Ava have found this morning where you're writing to someone who was highlighted here. If you use the link, whenever you find a highlight you enjoy, you should be provided with some sort of contact information. We're not a fan mail service. One is a very personal e-mail and I am going to forward that (because I know the person that's being written to) and we'll try to do the same with the other three; however, in the future, they're all going in the trash. Two hours ago, I finished reading the papers and sat down to start this entry. Even with Jess and Ava helping with the e-mails this morning, it's still not finished. That goes to the amount of e-mails coming in. So from now on, the public account is not going to match you up with writers you enjoy. (Many enjoy Kat and Ruth and Isaiah -- who does The World Today Just Nuts -- they can still be written to at the public address. They will get the e-mails. But I'm talking about writers who are not part of the community.)

Also, visitors should be able to grasp that the focus here is Iraq. That was at the request of community members. If you're writing to have something highlighted and it's not on Iraq, it's not going up here. From time to time, we'll carry it over to The Third Estate Sunday Review. But, in the case of one e-mail, Jess' feeling is the person didn't even grasp the focus of this site, their issue has been well covered elsewhere (Mother Jones did a lengthy story on it last year) and it's not a topic that concerns the regular readers of The Third Estate Sunday Review, nor is it one that we necessarily think should be. It's a regional (actually one state) issue that goes to consumer issues. If the person creates a site to cover it and e-mails again, we'll be happy to note the site in an entry here but if we're covering consumer issues at The Third Estate Sunday Review, it needs to be issues of concern to the regular readers and people who have hundreds of thousands to spend are not the regular readers of The Third Estate Sunday Review. They're a young readership, students, young couples and young families starting out. That's the core readership. (And many can't afford cable or satellite which is why Ava and I only review broadcast TV shows.) So while I'm not dismissing your issue as not worthy of attention elsewhere, you're pitching it to the wrong site (The Common Ills -- our focus is Iraq) and, if you thought it could be carried over to The Third Estate Sunday Review, the wrong readership. It is a tragedy when anyone loses money. But the figures at play aren't the type that the readership of Third will relate to (or be sympathetic to). Sorry that you were screwed but I believe, along with Mother Jones, PBS and NPR have been all over that story.

A visitor also objects to the fact that this site has "endorsed Dennis Kucinich." That's certainly news to me and I would assume many members (who are sharing their picks in the gina & krista round-robin). I haven't endorsed anyone and will not endorse anyone in the Democratic primary. People need to make up their own minds. Kucinich appears in the snapshot quite often because he talks seriously about Iraq. It's not "When elected in 2008, I will take measures in 2009 to . . ." Coming from any member of Congress, that's an appalling statement.
Kucinich is running for president and, when there's time, if he's mentioned, his presidential site gets a link. There isn't always time for that. But he is running for president and he is talking seriously about Iraq. That gets a mention and a link. If we deal with someone who offers nonsense we don't provide a link to them. Lynn Woolsey, Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters are also running in 2008 -- for Congress. They get mentioned because they're trying to seriously address Iraq. If there's any other element at play, on my part, in the Kucinich coverage, it stems from the fact that he wasn't covered appropriately by the mainstream press in 2004. As has long been noted, I supported John Kerry in that primary (beginning in early 2003). Even as a Kerry supporter, it was obvious the press alternated ridiculing with ignoring. He is a serious candidate and if he's treated any differently for reasons other than his work (I don't think he is) that's why. If that reason does come into play (I'm not sure it does) then you can consider it a corrective to the mainstream that fixates on handicapping horse races. When he's mentioned here, we're addressing his stand on Iraq. (Community members can share their own endorsements here if they choose to -- in 2008 -- but I won't be endorsing anyone in a primary.)

You're vote is your vote. You don't need my approval to vote. (Or to note vote if that's your choice.) Some members will vote Democratic Party, some will vote Green, some will vote for a third party or indepdent party candidate. That's their vote and they should use (or not use it) as they see fit.

Eddie found a great highlight, Camilo Mejia's "Sow Peace, Reap Justice" (IPS):

Camilo Mejía was the first U.S. soldier who served in Iraq to go public with his refusal to re-deploy. He spent nine months in military confinement for deciding to follow his conscience. He is a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War and is the author of the forthcoming book Road From Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Sergeant Camilo Mejía (New Press).
THIS YEAR'S Veterans For Peace (VFP) convention, held at the University of Washington in Seattle, covered an impressive variety of issues in workshops for the more than 500 participants, who gathered August 10-13 to discuss strategies for moving beyond war. With the slogan "Sow peace, reap justice" the twenty-first annual VFP convention highlighted many important issues facing today's peace movement. Prominent among them were the voices of women in the United States military as well as the resistance against the Iraq War within the armed forces' own ranks.
Women speaking out
One of the most impressive testimonies during the workshop "Voices of Women Veterans," moderated by former Army colonel turned activist Ann Wright, was that of Colleen Helmstetter, who served in Vietnam as a nurse. It wasn't until the Iraq War "sent her in a downward spiral," that Colleen began to connect her trauma of many decades-nightmares, panic attacks, etc.-to her own traumatic experience in Vietnam.
While serving as a nurse at the age of twenty-one, Colleen got through her one-year tour in Vietnam by "acting like a robot and ignoring what I was doing." At times taking refuge in a bitter sense of humor and referring to severe burn victims, soldiers in their late teens and early twenties, as "crispy critters." Twenty-seven years after her experience, Colleen was shocked by her diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but soon she accepted it, realizing how "all the past twenty-seven years of my life suddenly made sense." Today Helmstetter receives treatment for PTSD.
Another powerful presentation during the same workshop was given by Eli Painted Crow, a Native American and Army veteran of twenty-two years. She told the audience that she had joined the military to get off welfare and how this experience has led full circle because she is now back on county aid as she's unable to continue in her profession. She shared her experience of a briefing by a senior non-commissioned officer (NCO) who had just returned from a commanders' briefing in which he quoted the discussion to the unit by referring to enemy territory as "Indian country."
"It made me wonder what side I should be on," remarked the veteran.
Racism and discrimination in the military were the real enemies for Eli in Iraq.
"Soldiers of color (mostly Black) were ordered to train white soldiers, and were told if they did a good job they could later become their assistants," continued the former sergeant first class. "They stripped them of their authority, and many were shipped as far as Baghdad." Her problems stemmed from trying to take care of the lower ranking soldiers on all levels.
After a reported incident of rape rocked Eli's base camp, a woman soldier from the civil affairs Criminal Investigations Division was called to the base to give training on sexual assault. Her advice: "There are a bunch of horny guys out there, so be careful." Eli complained to the equal employment opportunity officer about the gravely inadequate solutions to several problems she was encountering with the commanders' methods of disempowering the soldiers of color, and the inadequate training that was taking place. Instead of dealing with the issues, superiors transferred her to a different location and banned her from the base. She was told the transfer was not punitive but that her new job would be on the shooter mission-providing security for civilian convoys. Previously, Eli had been working at a battalion level coordinating convoys from the battalion Tactical Operations Center.
Before being deployed to Iraq, U.S. Army medical personnel purposely deemed her fit for duty, even though Eli's medical diagnosis was identified as severe endometriosis. This is a common military practice to ensure units meet their required combat strength quota to deploy to war. The lack of available care for women at her base camp led to Eli having a hysterectomy when she returned home on leave. "The place where my children were made," she reflected.
What was very painful for Eli was the recent news of a female soldier and friend who served in Iraq with her. This soldier was found dead at home after two days of not reporting for work. She had been suffering from PTSD and depression. It was reported that she committed suicide. A number that is not included in the toll of the deaths we hear about daily.
But in spite of feeling dissociated from her loved ones, in spite of all the hardships she continues to face since her return, and despite all the injustices she has endured, Eli does not consider herself a victim, but rather a survivor. "Women are healers and givers," she said. "We need to speak out and tell the people that the war doesn't end when we come home."
The workshop concluded with testimony by Sara Rich, the mother of war resister Suzanne Swift, who, like Helmstetter, suffers from PTSD. But Swift's trauma is not the result of her combat experiences, but of the sexual harassment and attacks that she underwent in Iraq by her fellow soldiers.
Sara shared with the audience how male sergeants in Iraq joke and make bets about "who can make that (female) private his private." Women soldiers are assigned to barracks where their supervisors can have easy access to them. "One time," continued Suzanne's mother, "when my daughter asked her new squad leader where she should report, the sergeant replied 'in my bed naked.'" When Suzanne complained the sergeant was transferred, but she was labeled and ostracized as a traitor.
One of the most disturbing things happening in Iraq is known as command rape; it happens when low ranking soldiers are forced to engage in sexual relationships with their leaders in order to gain protection and survive in the combat environment. "Once her NCO returned from leave," continued Sara about her daughter's ordeal in Iraq, "Suzanne refused to continue the relationship," a decision that only exacerbated the harassment.
When Suzanne reported the incidents upon her unit's return to the U.S., she was once again treated as a traitor and later forced to wave her eighteen months of stabilization time in the States to prematurely redeploy to Iraq, along with some of the perpetrators of her assault.
Under such circumstances, Suzanne refused to return to Iraq and instead took refuge in her mother's house, where months later she was detained by the local police, locked in a county jail, and then transferred to the Fort Lewis, Washington, army base, where she awaits the military's decision on whether she will be criminally charged.

Eddie wondered if we'd seen that already? No. Great catch. If we'd seen it last Saturday, we would have included it in Sunday's "Women and the military" (The Third Estate Sunday Review). While a lot of what Ava and I found ended up not used (there was too much, we were awake when everyone else was 'resting their eyes' for four or more hours -- which is also known as "sleeping," not even "napping") but that wasn't something that ended up not making the cut. There's much more in the article besides what's highlighted above so be sure to check out Mejia's article. And, before someone e-mails, we don't consider Suzanne Swift a war resister at this site due to the fact that no statement was made in the early days by her. If she's made one since, please point it out. It's also been noted, repeatedly, that selling/pitching her story as a war resister defeated the natural sympathy and outrage her story should have received. (And, again, I believe every thing Suzanne Swift says was done to her did occur. The military failed her and, having failed her, they should have apologized to her and immediately discharged her -- honorably discharged her. When the illegal war ends, her story will be one of the ones that people will ask, "How come nothing was done to help her?" She should have been helped, there should have been a Congressional investigation and the media, big and small, should have covered this story. It's criminal what happened to her when she was attempting to serve and it's criminal what the military has since done while calling that 'justice.')

We'll excerpt Mejio again in Sunday night's entry. Radio? Martha notes RadioNation with Laura Flanders (Air America Radio over the airwaves, XM radio and online, 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm EST, Saturday and Sunday):

Truth and consequences: CRAIG UNGER author of
House of Bush House of Saud about the tricky truth of who is funding whom in Iraq. ELIZABETH de la VEGA, author of United States v. George W. Bush, et al. and DAVID SWANSON, Washington Director of, and co-founder of the coalition, on the I-word and the option Congressional Democrats say is off the table. Plus, former child solider ISHMAEL BEAH, on what brutality does to the soul.
The Nation Magazine's
MAX BLUMENTHAL and PETER WACHTER assess the media coverage of the week's big stories and author and commentator JANE SMILEY on her new book Ten Days in The Hills, and sex, war and movies.

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 18, 11am-noon
Kate Valk and post-Warholian radio artists Andrew Andrew investigate newtheatre in New York.

Monday, February 19, 2-3pm
The 35th anniversary broadcast of the Poisoned Arts Council RadioTheatre's production of David Dozer's "George Washington's Birthday PartyCherry Pie Eating Contest," with comments from original cast members; MarcFisher reads excerpts from his book on radio, "Something in the Air."
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 Big Mix;
Kat's Korner;
Thomas Friedman is a Great Man;
Mikey Likes It!;
Like Maria Said Paz;
The Daily Jot;
and Trina's
Trina's Kitchen

The e-mail address for this site is