Sunday, April 22, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

By the fall of 2003, the country was realizing that the rational for war was based on lies and that the only ones drawing any benefits were the profiteers. So when Bush asked Congress for another $20 billion for the CPA, Bremer was summoned to Washington to explain where all the money was going and of course he testified in full stonewall mode.
Before the Appropriations Committee on September 22, 2003, Bremer said the CPA had detailed records of all its receipts and outlays that could be audited by Congress. But when he testified before the Armed Services Committee 3 days later he said the Office of Management and Budget was responsible for maintaining the CPA records and that Congress would have to go to the White House to access the records.
That arrogant assertion went over like a lead balloon with many members of Congress. Senator Robert Byrd said he was outraged over the inability to monitor CPA spending. "There is no reason why any arm of the executive branch charged with making such significant spending decisions," he said, "should not be working directly with Congress."
"When we're talking about handing over another $20 billion to the CPA," he said, "there is a real need for Congress to confirm that the CPA has its finances in order and that it is managing the taxpayer's money responsibly."
"We don't even know how much of the $20 billion," Byrd said, "will flow to government contractors in Iraq."
"Whatever the amount is," he noted, "we know that the size and scope of the profits being made will be enormous."
"Former Bush Administration officials," he warned fellow Senators, "are even setting up consulting firms to act as middlemen for contractors hoping to take part in the bonanza."
"Are we turning the U.S. Treasury into a grab bag for favorite campaign contributors to be financed at taxpayer expense?" he asked.
The answer was yes, and what a grab bag it was. Media reports revealed that Bush's ex-campaign manager and Feith's former law partner had set up consulting firms to profit off the war by lining up contracts for clients through their partners in crime within the CPA.
Other reports revealed that contracts worth $407 were awarded to a firm called Nour that was formed less than 2 months after the war began. The names linked to the profits from Nour, among many others, included former Secretary of Defense, William Cohen, Ahmad Chalabi via a $2 million kickback, his nephew Salam Chalabi as the attorney handling the deal, and the money trail even led to the First Brothers, Marvin and Jeb Bush.
But come to find out, Doug Feith the ringleader on the ground in Washington, had awarded a batch of no-bid contracts to a favored company the month before the war began for the purpose of controlling the media in post-war Iraq.

The above is from Evelyn Pringle's "How Iraq was Looted" (CounterPunch) and noted by Mia who couldn't figure out what to excerpt. It's a hard one to excerpt because there's so much worth noting in it. If the above interests in you, by all means read the article in full. If it doesn't, put the blame on me for having chosen badly on the excerpt. Pringle's looking at the people and companies who profit from the illegal war and it's a really strong article. It's a topic that's really not covered all that much. Various writers at CounterPunch will address the subject but . . . well you're more likely to stumble across yet another rehash of Wal-Mart at The Nation then anything calling out Dianne Feinstein or anyone else lining their pockets with blood. That's the theme this entry, by the way. What doesn't get covered, what doesn't get noted by big indymedia. Iraq's a fiery editorial every two years and that's pretty much all they've offered from 2005 forward (with few exceptions -- and, no, "BE HONEST" doesn't count as an exception -- it counts as one of the most emarrassing public moments for a columnist but that dashed off scolding paragraph only made it all the more clear that a columnist has no interest in writing about Iraq -- largely because she doesn't follow the illegal war).

As noted in "Editorial: The shallow looking pond of the media" (The Third Estate Sunday Review), you could read multiple posts and stories at The Nation last week on the Virginia Tech killings -- you just didn't hear about the nearly 200 killed in Iraq in one day. Norman Solomon could call out the media attention on one region and silence on another but The Nation?

Someone who could call it out was noted by Edna. From Cindy Sheehan's "Mass Murderers" (AfterDowningStreet):

I was in DC this past week when George's bullet proof entourage (he always travels like he is outside the Green Zone in Iraq---how sad to have so many enemies you have to be put in a prison of your own making) hurried down to Blacksburg to participate in memorial services for the slain---yet, he has not attended one service for one of his murder victims in Iraq.
Many people will justify this reaction to the crimes at Virginia Tech and lack of reaction to our murdered soldiers and people of Iraq by saying that our troops volunteer and the people of Iraq are uncounted collateral damage. Consequently, because we have an all volunteer military our children are getting what they deserve and because BushCo took another tragedy of 9-11 and exploited those needless deaths to invade a country that had nothing to do with it, the people of Iraq deserve this constant violence? Thirty-three dead is sickeningly yet realistically a good day in Iraq . When do we Americans rise up and insist the carnage end for our brothers and sisters there?
Life is life and it is all precious---whether students in college, soldiers in the field, or inhabitants of an occupied, defenseless country. Until we as a nation wake up to the fact that our state’s directed violence to any human demeans and implicates each and every one of us in these crimes, the actions of April 16th and state sponsored horrors that have been perpetrated on a daily basis since Sept 11, 2001, will continue. True peace and true justice are not possible when our national compassion is limited to a certain demographic of victim.
Until we wake up and abhor and are appalled at violence even when it is not directed at unborn babies, or mostly white Americans, we are all condemned to living under regimes that condone, profit from, order and commit mass murder.
Please join Cindy, The Camp Casey Peace Institute, Gold Star Families for Peace, CODEPINK , Congress Reps John Conyers (D-Mi) and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), and others, as we march on the Nation’s Capital on May 14th demanding an end to the violence in the Middle East and for the impeachment of the Bush Regime.

Let me grab impeachment, real quick. Those who've weighed in on the topic are firmly behind it. But let's note that one of the few strong articles The Nation could offer in 2006 was Elizabeth Holtzman's story on impeachment. Of all of 2006's offerings, it was the most popular. A brave magazine moves forward with the story. A wishy-washy magazine offers up a "BE HONEST" type who tells everyone to forget it. (Though he himself apparently knows nothing about what he's talking about, he is semi-connected and that's really how so many losers and posers and centrists end up in The Nation -- watering it down week after week. A magazine shouldn't be run as a club bulletin.) If you didn't catch on, yes, the magazine ripping apart their own handiwork on impeachment was The Nation. That would be the same magazine (see the latest
"The Nation Stats") that finishes out the fourth month of the year still publishing 4 men for every 1 women. For those who may have missed some instalmment of the regular feature from The Third Estate Sunday Review -- the magazine has even managed to print an entire issue where not one piece was credited to a woman. They offered a meaningless tribute to Molly Ivins and if "meaningless" seems harsh note two things: (1) you honor a passing by carrying on someone's work and Ivins made clear that she intended to focus on Iraq in every column (something no one at The Nation is interested in doing) and (2) you create a space for new women to emerge and carry on Ivins' tradition by providing women with opportunities. Publishing one woman for every four males isn't offering opportunities. It's sexist and it's embarrassing. Iraqi women can't be covered in the print edition because woman aren't asked to write and the female columnists are either busy offering airy sermonettes (more on that later on) or else trying to pass cranky off as a 'tude as the delve into pop culture that their age might require they move on from. But they won't cover the femicide that's happened and is happening to Iraqi women. What they will do is defend Hillary Clinton from those 'meanies' at CODEPINK with a 'how dare they birddog Hillary' bit of nonsense. Or, having ignored Iraq for all of 2006, they will show up with the 1st column of 2007 lecturing others to "BE HONEST" when there's not been an honest moment from them in all of 2006. In their "BE HONEST" paragraph (which no doubt was very taxing -- a whole paragraph on Iraq), they repeated the lies of the neocons and the administration. And you wonder how the war continues to drag 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 Sunday, the American military fatality count in Iraq, since the start of the illegal war, stood at 3301 (ICCC). The 3,300 mark was passed. Amy Goodman noted the passing (and we noted that she did) last week but did you see many others doing so? Tonight? 3323 is the ICCC count with 76 for the month of April thus far. 22 in one week. It's not news or, at least, it's not "fun" and, by all means, let The Nation have their fun.

Today the US military announced: "An MND-B Soldier died and three others were wounded when a combat security patrol was attacked with small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades in a western section of the Iraqi capital April 21." And they announced: "A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier died April 21 due to a non-battle-related cause." And they announced: "A Task Force Marne Soldier was killed and two were wounded during an indirect fire attack against a forward operating base southwest of Baghdad Saturday night."

Dean Yates and Ibon Villelabeitia (Reuters) report that Nouri al-Maliki has asked that the wall in Baghdad be stopped. If you read the article, you'll note something. The press, if they noted the wall, wanted to talk Balkanization. What? How hard do they have to reach to ignore the obvious. Elaine and I both pointed out Friday what it was, it was one more tactic being adopted, one more tactic from the Israeli government. (It goes without saying that none of the violent measures has ever resulted in safety.) Now the press couldn't make that point but, note this from Yates and Villelabeitia's article:

Some Adhamiya residents have compared the wall to barriers erected by Israel in the occupied West Bank.

Of course they would make that comparison. It's no great reach to make that comparison . . . unless you're avoiding it intentionally. Reuters also notes: a Baghdad mortar attack that killed two (five wounded), a Baghdad car bombing that killed six (37 wounded), a Baghdad car bombing at a police station that left 12 dead (95 wounded), a Baghdad mortar attack that killed two (2 wounded), and a Kirkuk bombing that left six wounded; a Kirkuk bombing that left two wounded (two police officers), a Mahmudiya mortar attack that killed on (3 wounded), "23 textile factory workers from the minority Yazidi sect" shot dead in Mosul, three people in Baghdad wounded in a shooting; and 11 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Staying on Iraq violence, Lynda notes Danny Schechter's (News Dissector) take on today's 60 Minutes:

Puhleeze Lara Logan: We share your concern for the Iraqi people but somehow you always manage to weave in your support for US military into your pieces. Last night you profiled a doctor who was being hunted in his neighborhood. You mention that he had visited the White House and later went to work for the Iraqi government. Could that have been one reason he was targeted--not just because he is a doctor? And then you sneak in an upbeat endorsement of the SURGE when most journalists report it isn’t working. I love the way you bravely had the other Iraqi family--who also fled iraq in the end but is said to be working with the government. Excuse me Lara. . . . You come from Southern Africa. You know what happened to collaborators in the liberation struggle there. . . . Why not just wave the American flag in the Green Zone rather than do reports that are still selling the war in the guise of showing how horrible it is…..You reference Al Qaeda when most experts say the insurgency is broad based–and that the sectarian violence and death squads have been encouraged by the US covert Ops boys—how about investigating that rather than prancing about on a hotel roof. . . .

I didn't see the piece (I was still asleep and I probably wouldn't have watched if I'd been awake) but in it's earlier stages, two other problems with the piece were evident. First, unless it was fixed, it repeated the myth of Shi'ite v. Sunni -- as if Christians, Jews, Palestinians and a whole host of others (see the Reuters listing before the Danny excerpt and we'll drop back in a second) aren't being targeted. Second, as I understood it, the segment was supposed to revolve around Haditha Street. (That should be where the doctor was rescued from.) If you think back, you may remember Logan asking for assistance to get a piece aired when the slaughter on Haditha St. was ongoing. You may also remember the oft repeated lie that it was a commercial district. As we noted here, it was a "mixed" neighborhood -- commercial and residential. Outside of McClatchy Newspapers, I'm not remembering anyone making that point in mainstream coverage -- I am remembering the constant press reassurance that this was a commercial neighborhood. So if you watched the piece and you ever doubted that it wasn't a commercial district, I hope you asked yourself -- why would a doctor and his family buy housing in a commercial district?

When the slaughter on *Haifa* St. started, it took two phone calls to find out it was a mixed district. But, to return to our topic of The Nation, you'll note that their designated media critic couldn't call that out. It's hard to really call out lies when all you're interested in is what someone said about a Democrat.

**HAIFA STREET, not Haditha. Thanks to Brad who caught it and e-mailed and to a friend who caught it and called. Haifa Street.

And of course the media watcher at the rag has never bothered to call out the programs that don't cover war resisters or note the ones which do. Joshua Key is a war resister now living in Canada with his wife Brandi and their children. The US military is desperate for a face-to-face. They claim (laughably) that they just want to discuss a book, yet they refuse to return his attorney's calls (Jeffry House is his attorney) and they go into Canada posing as Canadian police. They must be big fans of Key's book. (See "The Stateside Army Book Club.") Well
The Deserter's Tale is an amazing book that's been awarded strong reviews from around the political spectrum (and one nasty little hit job). (Key's book and Peter Laufer's Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq were discussed in "2 Books, 10 Minutes.") On Key's book, Skip notes John Wright's "Courage under fire" (Australia's Courier-Mail):

QUESTION: What do you do when you don't find weapons of mass destruction (not to mention any terrorists) in Iraq?
Answer: Take it out on the Iraqi public. This is the view of US soldier, Private Joshua Key, who did all three things in his engrossing book The Deserter's Tale: Why I walked away from the war in Iraq ("walked away'', note, not "ran''.)
One of the army's self-confessed nastier recruits -- his training sergeant used him to beat up dissenting soldiers -- the coward-hater from Guthrie, Oklahoma grew up in a trailer on his grandparents' farm where he'd watch another innocent civilian (his mum) get bashed by his drunken stepdad, who paid the 10-year-old budding marksman ``$10 a pop'' to shoot hanging snakes with a .22.
So, what can be going on in Iraq for someone by then already used to mayhem, fights and automatic weapons to flee?
Unfortunately, this "disturbing'', to say the least, impossible-to-put-down-adults-only book tells you.
I was looking forward to this story because of the question of cowardice it raises, but I wasn't prepared for Key's graphic descriptions of what actually seems to be going on there.
Does anything excuse desertion, and why have 9000 others run off since Key went AWOL while on home leave in 2003, heading to Canada with Brandi and the kids to seek asylum?
The US military isn't that pleased having its soldiers question its presence in Iraq and has even started arresting some of the 30,000-plus Vietnam deserters they've never bothered catching since 1971 to try to make the point.

Key's book, Laufer's book have never been reviewed by The Nation, for those wondering. The magazine's just not interested -- which must make it really sad to work for the magazine if you're the child of a war resister from an earlier era.

Abhilasha is very upset. After e-mailing Hilda who was all for it, I asked Abhilasha if she was comfortable sharing in Hilda's Mix and she's fine with that so look for something by her on Tuesday. Members know Abhilasha is uncomfortable sharing here as more eyes have shown up over the years. She has a lengthy reply to a bit of nonsense online by Peter Rothberg and I'll address it here in a different way than she does (read Hilda's Mix Tuesday for her strong take on the nonsense). Rothberg opens with: "Who says students are apathetic and narcissistic?" Who says it? The magazine you work for. They've promoted that nonsense for how many years now? They even selected an essay 'winner' because she slammed her fellow students as 'apathetic.' Who's been saying it? Now The Nation has finally grasped how much they have turned off the youth of the county and, with an aging circulation base, it's finally struck home that having a bad image on campus is worse than having no image. No image means you might pick up readers as they age. A bad image means you may never be trusted. So there's now a laughable reach out effort going on by the magazine which, no surprise, is only insulting students more than before. They really don't grasp it and you can pin that on a generation gap or the fact that a magazine called The Nation is really a sub-set of a certain section in NYC. Students are not and have not been apathetic. Where does the blame go? How about the most widely circulated weekly opinion journal on the non-right which continues to ignore Iraq? There was a point when left students were willing to look to The Nation for leadership. They were unhappy with the magazine but willing to give it a chance. Those days are gone. And half-assed reach outs aren't going to change that. The only thing that would was the magazine getting serious. That would include losing the inspiration sermonettes. Abhilasha wrote that she felt bad for dropping it on me. Don't. I'll address it and, frankly, had I read one of the issues we covered for
"The Nation Stats" (The Third Estate Sunday Review) this morning, I would have commented on an article from a semonette spouting cloud floater who elected to rip apart a woman and her choices, elected to ridicule the woman (and her children) and the cloud floater didn't know the first thing she was writing about. It was offensive to the woman, it was offensive to the children involved. But see it as a sign of desperation on the part of the magazine that a supposed legal thinker is chasing down an actress and mocking her for adoption. That really was disgusting. But apparently grasping the heavy hit their circulation has been taking, they had two choices -- deal with Iraq or gas bag over a celebrity.

They went with the latter because Iraq is just out of their reach these days -- and that's why I've heard on high school campuses and college campuses the shift away from that magazine. Political students have gone from hoping it would get better, to anger at it and now to abandoing it and the magazine will not get them back with 'attention getting' trashing of celebrities. They offered patronizing attitudes to students for years and now they offer patronizing reach outs. They refuse to do the only thing that might shift student opinion at this point -- cover Iraq. Political students today would be their subscribers tomorrow. And they've lost that group. Again, check Hilda's Mix on Tuesday. And we could also note how these little tidbits (like Rothberg's) are the equivalent of a generic (non-feminist) women's magazine thinking they can attract readers with make over tips. Students appalled that the 'leading magazine of the left' repeatedly ignores Iraq won't be any fonder of this rush to find "A Few Good Students."

Returning to the issue of there are more than Shias and Sunnis in Iraq, from Reuters (on the 23 workers shot dead):

Waggaa said the execution-style killing appeared to be in retaliation for an incident in which a Yazidi woman was stoned to death several weeks ago for converting to Islam. He said the workers were found near a mosque in the same area.
Another police source who declined to be named confirmed the incident and said the woman had fallen in love with a Muslim man and ran away with him a few months ago.
Police then detained the couple, kept the man in jail and freed the woman after receiving assurances from her family she would not be harmed.
According to the source, members of the Yazidi community decided they had to "cleanse the shame", and stoned the woman to death.
One witness said he saw a mobile phone video of the stoning. The video, which was a few minutes long, showed a group of men beating, kicking and hitting a woman with large blocks of cement.

Returning to Lynda's e-mail, she noted that Danny has a link for a Joan Mellen article but that the link's not working. I don't know what article it was but Brandon highlighted something by Mellen from January. "THE KENNEDY ASSASSINATION AND THE CURRENT POLITICAL MOMENT" (

This surprising invocation of the Kennedy assassination occurred on January 2 nd at the funeral of President Gerald Ford, the last surviving member of the Warren Commission. I'll read this extraordinary revealing paragraph from George H. W. Bush's eulogy for those who missed it:
"After a deluded gunman assassinated President Kennedy, our nation turned to Gerald Ford and a select handful of others to make sense of that madness -- and a conspiracy theorist can say what they will -- but the Warren Commission report will always have the final definitive say on this matter. Why? Because Gerry Ford put his name on it and Gerry Ford's word was always good."
Allow me to add that when amendments were offered to the Freedom of Information Act, enlarging public access to affairs of state, Gerald Ford vetoed the bill, only for Congress to override his veto. Ford was no more a supporter of the truth than Mr. Bush's son. George H. W. Bush's own word was not always so good either. There are powerful reasons why George H. W. Bush was motivated to invoke the Warren Report, even, amazingly, to refer to a "conspiracy theorist," as if that designation would at once banish some truths he does not want available. Only two degrees of separation separate George H. W. Bush from Oswald himself.
At his 1976 confirmation hearings for the post of Director of Central Intelligence, a post into which he was elevated by Gerald Ford, Bush denied that he had any prior connection to the CIA. This was a falsehood. At the National Archives, and on the Internet, is a CIA document directed to its clandestine service (Record Number 104-10310-10271) that reveals that when, in the 1950s, Bush founded Zapata Oil, his partner was one Thomas J. Devine, who was not only an oil wildcatter, but a long-time CIA staff employee. Thomas Devine's name does not appear in the original papers of Zapata, but it does in the company Bush created shortly thereafter as "Zapata Offshore."
This CIA document reveals that Thomas Devine had informed George Bush of a CIA project with the cryptonym WUBRINY/LPDICTUM. It involved CIA proprietary commercial operations in foreign countries. By 1963, Devine had become not a former CIA employee, but "a cleared and witting contact" in the investment banking firm which managed the proprietary corporation WUSALINE. WUBRINY involved Haitian operations, in which, the documents reveal, a participant was George de Mohrenschildt, the Dallas CIA hander of -- Lee Oswald.

Brandon (noting "About those links (and other stuff)") asked if Mellen's book, A Farewell to Justice, was one of the things that we never got to and was now dropped? I don't know that we ever announced (at any community site) that we'd be discussing the book. In fact, we weren't supposed to announce that. But, yes, there was a plan to discuss it and there is a plan to. What we have been waiting on is for it to go to softcover because (outside of Ruth and Kat who mentioned it in the early days of its publication) we hadn't really and felt that, having missed it's original release, we could do more to highlight it when it came out in softcover. The book is hugely popular in the DFW area and someone (I think Wally) was asked about it by two members when we were in Texas for the week. Wally noted that it was on a to-do list and that may have gotten back to Brandon (it's fine if it did) but that's not the list of things we missed last fall. It's to-do list has always been geared around when it goes into a softcover printing.

How does this tie into the theme? The Nation offered a nasty little article in 2006 where they slammed Mellen (among others) and the author had plenty of time to Red-bait but couldn't even mention Mellen's *book*. (To be clear, he wasn't Red-baiting Mellen.) When Mellen rightly complained in a letter that was published, the author of the slam responded by ignoring her points and instead fixating on a typo. Minor by any standards, however, Nation writers should be the last to scream typos since "years" isn't "ears" even if it's published by Nation Books.

And we carried the theme throughout. When I read Abhilasha's e-mail, I wrote back that we could address The Nation and I wouldn't shy from it and would try to make it the theme for tonight's entry. So thank her for the theme. Pru gets the last highlight, "US kidnaps 9 year old Iraqi" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

It's "business as usual" -- that's the message Gordon Brown had for US president George Bush during their "surprise meeting" in Washington last week.
Brown and Bush spent 40 minutes discussing Afghanistan, Iraq and international trade during their meeting, described as "speed dating".
The real horror of this "business as usual" in Iraq was revealed last week when US troops seized a nine year old child after he told them that his father was a member of the resistance.
The fate of Ahmad Fadil al-Jumayli came to light after a primary school teacher in the town of al-Karma, near Fallujah, revealed that US forces visited a number of schools in the town distributing gifts and sweets to the children.
The soldiers then asked the children a number of questions such as, "What do you think about the Americans?" and "Does your father like the resistance?"
The teacher said that Ahmad told the soldiers that his father did not bring him any presents because he is a fighter with the Islamic Army and he is away from home.
On hearing that, the soldiers seized the boy and told the headmaster that the father had to turn himself in if he wanted his son to be freed.
The following should be read alongside this article: »
US army admits Afghan murders» A daily struggle to survive in Iraq
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