I met the aunt of number 3291 today. I was sitting in seat 11E and a flight attendant gave me a note from a woman in seat 33C: "My nephew was killed in Iraq yesterday. I would like to meet you."
Seat belt light or not, I headed back toward the rear of the airplane. We held each other and she said: "What can I do? My brother was in the Army and he initially supported the effort. Yesterday, he made a sign with a picture of his son saying: ‘Murdered by George Bush.'" I prayed for the Universe to give the families strength yesterday as I do every day our soldiers are killed, as I pray for the Iraqis and their families who are also murdered unnecessarily. I don't often get to meet the people I pray for in such a timely manner.
Four of our brave and abused troops were killed in King George's escalation of the conflict in Iraq. Ten over the Easter weekend while George was hiding out at his ranch in Crawford. George Bush and his bloody gang of war-bandits have caused so much pain and heartache in the world without so much as a blink of the eye. Number 3291's aunt recounted how she heard her sister "screaming for her son" on the other end of the phone. Number 3291's family is just beginning to realize the true meaning of broken heart and betrayals.
Number 3291 has a name: Brian. The only thing I know for sure about Brian was that he was in the army, he was probably blown up by an IED (which could have been avoided with an IED detector in his vehicle), and he has a loving aunt named Sheryl. His family lives in North Carolina and that's where his body will be returning to under the cover of darkness to hide the shame of the Bush Regime.
Brian will never be a number to his family or friends. To the few people in this country who still incredibly support this horror and this war, Brian's sacrifice will be noted as "freedom isn't free," or "he volunteered." To the anti-war movement, Brian will be commemorated in a candlelight vigil when the 4,000th troop is killed in Iraq. To the man sitting next to me in seat 11D, Brian is a non-entity because he: has no opinion on the occupation one way or the other because he has no "time to worry about it." Trust me though, that's all Brian's mom did for the entire time he was in Iraq and there are 160,000 moms who lie awake at night worried about their children and Iraqi moms who never know when the last "I love you" is the last one forever.
The above, noted by Billie, is from Cindy Sheehan's "Number 3291" (BuzzFlash). Sheehan knows what's at stake, obviously, she lost her son Casey in Bully Boy's illegal war. So it's not just a death when she hears one announced (the US military has announced today, read further down). She knows it's ripping apart a family, a circle of friends, it's ending a life that should have had many, many days left. And why? Because Bully Boy wanted war. He wanted an illegal war. He lied and he got away with it. (So far.) And today, it drags on, and some people still think it's about 'freedom' or 'democracy' though most have caught on.
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, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 3266. Tonight? ICCC reports 3296 with 49 for the month thus far. That's thirty in seven days.
That's the only escalation Bully Boy has delivered, an escalation in the death toll. Of course that includes Iraqis. Bully Boy is an equal opportunity death merchant.
Editor & Publisher notes a poll by the Los Angeles Times and Bloomberg News which found "48% to 43% this group says the president should sign the funding bill which includes a timetable for withdrawal, rather than veto it, as he has promised to do. Then asked if congress should stick to its guns if Bush vetoes the bill, and continue to deny funds unless withdrawal is accepted, 45% support this idea, while 43% back the president." Remember those results, we'll come back to them shortly.
Today (in the US, Friday in Iraq) the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier died April 12 due to a non-battle related cause." And they announced: "An MND-B Soldier died when a patrol was attacked with small arms fire north of the Iraqi capital. The unit was conducting a security patrol when the attack occurred."
The poll (noted above) shows that American people want US troops home. Bully Boy doesn't. And he offers one excuse after another for why his illegal war must continue. Pulling the truth from behind the myth, Robert Parry's "Iraq & the Logic of Timetables" (Consortium News):
It has become a standard part of George W. Bush's litany for why he will veto a congressional plan for setting a timetable for withdrawing U.S. combat forces from Iraq: "Why would you say to the enemy, 'Here's a timetable. Just go ahead and wait us out?'"
Well, there's a logical answer to Bush’s rhetorical question. If a timetable encourages Iraqi insurgents to silence their guns and to stop planting roadside bombs -- even temporarily to wait the Americans out -- Iraq might get the breathing space it needs to begin healing its sectarian divisions.
Indeed, one could argue that Bush’s "surge" plan and Bush's fear about letting the enemy "wait us out" offer essentially the same opportunity: to achieve enough peace and quiet in the short term for reconciliation and reconstruction to begin.
But a withdrawal timetable has additional advantages. First, it has the chance of bringing relative peace to the entire country as insurgents pull back anticipating a total American military withdrawal, while the "surge" seeks greater security only for Baghdad.
One of the criticisms of the "surge" is that it amounts to a version of "Whack-a-Mole," with insurgents disappearing for a while only to pop up in another location vacated by U.S. troops. The "surge" rationale, however, is that even a temporary sense of security in the capital might give the Iraqi government a chance to restore calm.
Another plus for a withdrawal timetable is that it would assure Iraqis that the U.S. military presence will not be open-ended, thus undercutting one of the strongest arguments of the insurgency, that it is a national resistance fighting a foreign occupation.
A date certain for American withdrawal also would put non-Iraqi al-Qaeda operatives -- who number only an estimated five percent of the armed insurgency -- in a tighter fix. Without the United States to point to, al-Qaeda would find it tougher to recruit jihadists and would likely face military pressure from Iraqi nationalists fed up with foreign interference.
Carl noted Robert Parry's article. Now Parry's done what few will in the mainstream, he's taken the claims and examined them as opposed to the "said" and "said" structure. Use that to think about something, the poll results above. Though gas bags treat the Dem's measures (we'll get to the measures) as something unreasonable, the people still support it. Imagine, if the concept of withdrawal were really discussed in the mainstream media -- imagine how high the call for withdrawal would be?
The measures? Kara notes Mike Glover's "Kucinich sees 'fake debate' over Iraq war" (AP via AfterDowningStreet.org):
Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio criticized fellow Democratic presidential candidates on Thursday for waging a "fake debate" over the war in Iraq, saying they are masking their support for the war.
"You cannot claim you are for peace and vote to fund the war," Kucinich said told The Associated Press. "It's totally contradictory."
The Cleveland Democrat was at the Iowa Statehouse where he met with House and Senate Democrats. He conceded his long-shot status but said public anger about the war in Iraq could work to his advantage.
"I'm certainly a long shot in this race and I understand that," he said. "I'm in a singular position. All these other Democrats have voted to keep the war going."
Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina are considered the leading candidates for the Democratic nomination, but all have voted at one time or another to continue the war, said Kucinich, scheduled to speak at a meeting of the Iowa State Education Association in Ames later in the day.
Kucinich said Democrats are missing the point of the last election, where they grabbed control of both chambers of Congress.
"The Democrats were elected to end the war," Kucinich said.
While the leading candidates for the Democratic nomination are seeking to draw distinctions over the war, he said none of them have taken steps to end it.
"We've got a fake debate going on inside the Democratic Party right now on the war," Kucinich said. "People are saying they are for peace and they are voting to keep the war going."
Dennis Kucinich is correct. The measures give phoney timetables and benchmarks that Bully Boy can waive because if he waives them (which he would if the bill passed), Dems can scream, "Look what he did!" and try to ride that into office in 2008. They're trying to cobble together a winning strategy for 2008 -- at the expense of everyone in Iraq and in complete opposition to the mandate they were voted in on.
Remember the poll? Imagine the disgust level with Congress right now if the measures were accurately covered. Imagine the demands coming from the people right now. Polls reflect attitudes and they're based on the information people are provided with. In many ways, a poll is nothing but a test of information the press has "taught."
Last highlight goes to Steven. Noting how the circle repeats, he highlights Seigrfreid L. Sasson's
"I Believe the War is Being Deliberately Prolonged by Those Who Have the Power to End It" (CounterPunch):
I am making this statement as an act of wilful defiance of military authority, because I believe that the war is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it.
I am a soldier, convinced that I am acting on behalf of soldiers. I believe that this war, upon which I entered as a war of defence and liberation, has now become a war of aggression and conquest. I believe that the purposes for which I and my fellow-soldiers entered upon this war should have been so clearly stated as to have made it impossible to change them, and that, had this been done, the objects which actuated us would now be attainable by negotiation.
I have seen and endured the sufferings of the troops, and I can no longer be a party to prolong these sufferings for ends which I believe to be evil and unjust.
That's from a statement made in . . . 1917. CounterPunch notes: "Siegfried Sassoon, one of the the greatest poets of the First World War era, died in 1967. His war poems are collected in The War Poems and his vivid diaries of the war have been published as Memoirs of an Infantry Officer."
and the war drags on