Thursday, April 05, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, April 5, 2007.  Chaos and vionce continue in Iraq,the 15 British soldiers are returned to England but the Iranian diplomats remain held by the US military, a US helicopter is shot down, both the British and the US military announce the latest death tolls, and can a moment be seized?
BBC reports on the return to England of the 15 British soldiers who were captured by Iranian's when the British were in disputed waters off the coast of Iraq.  Released after nearly two weeks, the five Iranian diplomats that the US kidnapped in a January raid on a diplomatic consulate (recognized as such by the Kurdish government -- and still recognized as diplomats by the Iraqi government) are still being held.  Edward Wong (New York Times) reports that Iraq's Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari, stated, "It was not a clanestine operation. . . . They operated with the approval of the regional government and with the knowledge of the Iraqi government.  We were in the process of formalizing that liaison office into a consulate."  Wong also notes that 200 Kurdish soldiers attempted to prevent the five diplomats from being taken off by the US military back in January.
Turning to news of war resistance, Ehren Watada has new legal representation.  Watada, the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq and the first to be court-martialed (in a court-martial Judge Toilet ruled a mistrial over the objection of the defense) is no longer represented by Eric Seitz.  William Cole (Honolulu Advertiser) quotes Seitz stating, "I think the way to put it is I'm not representing him anymore and he's found another firm" and Bob Watada (Ehren's father) stating, "I have the highest opinion of Eric Seitz.  But it's Ehren's decision."  Hawaii's KNDO notes that Watada's next court-martial is scheduled for July 16th.  Whether it will go foward or not is up in the air because double-jeporady should have attached when Judge Toilet (Lt. Col. Head) declared a mistrial, over defense objection, in the midst of the trial.  Cole notes Watada is now represented by Carney Badley Spellman in Seattle. Fort Lewis is in Seattle so that is one plus (Seitz resides in Hawaii).  Another is the strong lawyers working for the firm such as Jim Lobsenz.  AP notes "Watada is currently assigned to an administrative position at Fort Lewis."  Earlier this week, Paul Rockwell (Berkeley Daily Planet) summarzies Watada's case thus far and notes that "Watada never volunteered -- no soldier volunteers -- to violate human rights, to violate American treaties, to destroy the sovereignty of nations, to participate in aggression.  A contract to break the law has no legal standing."
Ehren Watada is a part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson,  Kyle Snyder , Joshua Key, Corey Glass, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Dean Walcott, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake 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.
In Iraq today, another helicopter has gone down.  The Times of London reports that the downing took place "this morning after coming under fire in a Sunni militrant stonghold south of baghdad, an Iraqi army officials said. AFP reports that "four personnel on board a US army helicopter were wounded and 'evacuated' when it crashed south of Baghdad.  Five others on board were safe".  CNN reports that an unnamed US military official has stated that the helicopter "appeared to be damaged by small-arms fire" and notes that 8 helicopters "have been shot down or forced to make hard landings" since January 20, 2007.  Hard landings?  Sweeter word for "crash."  AP provides a list of 9 helicopter incidents (beginning on January 20th) leading up to today's which, they note, resulted from "an anti-aircraft heavy machine gun" according to an "Iraqi official."
That was only one incident of violence reported today.

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports  five IED explosions throughout Baghdad that killed 3 people and left 7 injured, and two Baghdad mortar attacks left 4 people dead and 10 wounded.  CBS and AP report a car bombing in western Baghdad that left "at least six guards" of "a Sunni Muslim television station" injured.  This comes as Reporters Without Borders issues their statement condeming the kidnapping and beating of journalist Nabaz Goran who was kidnapped and assaulted by "five men in military uniforms" in the city of Ebril.  On the attack on the Baghdad TV station,  Reuters notes one person was killed and a total of 10 were wounded.

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that "a young man" was shot dead and another wounded in Muqdadiya "near one of the internet cafes and playing centers" while an attempted kidnapping of a student in Baghdad left one security guard at Mustansiriyah University dead and 4 more injured.  Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) reports: "A three-year-old child was felled by a sniper's bullet as he sat in his grandather's lap in a car at a south Baghdad intersection, police said.  A security guard at Yarmouk Hospital, which receives a steady stream of bloodied victims, said he broke down in tears when he saw the tiny body."  AFP reports that seven Iraqi soldiers were shot dead in Mosul.  Dean Yates and Ross Colvin (Reuters) cite an "army source" (presumably Iraqi army) who says that the soldiers had been surprised in their sleep.  Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) also notes a rocket attack "near a high school and police station in Kanan" which left 4 children wounded.
AFP reports that Khamael Muhsin's corpse was found today. Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) reports Khamel Muhsin was an "Iraqi radio announcer" who had last been seen "Wedensday in west Baghdad."  Reuters reports five corpses were discovered in Baquba and the corpses of two women were discovered "on the main road between Diyala and Wasit province".  Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports eleven corpses discovered in Baghdad and that a total of 22 corpses were discovered in Baquba.
Now let's stop for a moment to note that Khamael Muhsin was found dead and two other women were found dead.  Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) adds to the body of reported violence against women by noting that two teachers (women) and their driver disappeared "three days ago" and Badra police were attempting to determine whether the two missing women were the corpses (heads only, according to Issa)  discovered between Diyala and Wasit province.  Issa also notes that "a principle of a primary school and her assistant were kidnapped by insurgents near one of the banks in Baquba before the eyes of a combined security patrol."   Team all of that up with the three explosions Issa reports "in front of the Institute of Teachers for Girls" in Kirkuk.  But let's all pretend that women aren't targeted simply due to their gender.
Today, the US military announced: "A MND-B Soldier died when the patrol was attacked by small arms fire in the southern outskirts of Baghdad April 3. The unit was conducting a dismounted patrol when the attack occurred. One other Soldier was wounded in the attack."
And they announced: "An MND-B Soldier died April 3 when a patrol was attacked with small arms fire in an eastern section of the Iraqi capital. The unit was conducting a presence patrol in the area when the attack occurred." And they announced: "While conducting a combat security patrol, two MND-B Soldiers died and three others were wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated in a southern section of the Iraqi capital April 4." And they announced: "While providing escort security for another unit, two MND-B Soldiers died and another was wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated north of the Iraqi capital April 4. In recent weeks, this unit has successfully found numerous weapons caches and detained several targeted insurgents within their area of responsibility. In a separate incident, an MND-B Soldier died when a patrol was attacked with small arms fire in an eastern section of the Iraqi capital. The unit was conducting an area reconnaissance mission when the attack occurred. No other Soldiers were wounded during the attack."
AFP puts the count of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war at 3261, Reuters puts it at 3,264 and ICCC puts it at 3265.
And the UK Military annonced, ""It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that four British soldiers and a civilian interpreter have been killed in Iraq today, 5 April 2007. The five were killed in a roadside bomb attack against a Warrior patrol west of Basra this morning. Next of kin are being informed and no further details will be released until this process is complete. " Why the British government begins sentence number two with "The five were killed . . ."? Typo? One more they haven't reported yet? Who knows?
The AFP count for British soldiers who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war is 140, Reuters also goes with 140, as does ICCC.
Al Jazeera reports that the attack also claimed the life of "a civilian translator".  Joshua Partlow (Washington Post) reports, "British authorities were trying to determine the nationality of the interpreter who was killed.  He was not an Iraqi, and contrary to news service news reports he did not appear to be from Kuwait".
Turning to the US Congress, Tuesday on Free Speech Radio News, Leigh Ann Caldwell reported on the latest talk of a new Senate bill regarding the war: "Responding to Bush's veto threats to the $124 billion war supplemental, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senator Russ Feingold have come up with a backup plan, a plan that goes further.  It would stop funding US combat missions on March 31st of next year.  It's important to note though that troops would remain for security reasons and to fight al Qaeda in Iraq."  (Thank you to Micah and another member who both transcribed Caldwell.)  On the measures passed by the House and Senate previously, Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair (CounterPunch) observe, "Although nothing of any significance actually happened on March 32, to read liberal commentators one would think we'd witnessed some profound upheaval, courtsey of Nancy Pelosi's skillful uniting of the various Democratic factions.  What she accomplished in practice was the neutering of the antiwar faction. . . .  Will Congressional opposition to the war now get stronger, anchored by Pelosi's bill?  Not likely.  The window of opportunity for that flew open right after the election when antiwar forces roared in outrage after being snubbed by Pelosi and Reid, who omitted the war and the Patriot Act from their must-do agenda.  Instead, the Democratic leadership chose merely to appear to oppose the war while continuing to fund it.  This they have now achieved, amid the satisfied cheers of the progressive sector."
As people of the United States, taking action to right these terrible wrongs is our greatest responsibility. Join us in letting our elected representatives know that we want the war to end and the troops to come home now!
Congress is now on recess, giving us an opportunity to take our message directly to them in their homes offices: Start bringing the troops home from Iraq now, bring all the troops home in 2007, and no war in Iran! The House of Representatives will be on recess March 31-April 15, and the Senate from March 31-April 9. Now is the time to make our voices heard. Click here for ways to take action.
Scheduled a meeting with your reps? Please post it on our events calendar.
Suggested reading on the supplemental:
Don't Buy Bush's War!  "CODEPINK believes that not one more dollar should be appropriated for continued war and occupation, and will continue to push the position that Congress should only fund the safe, orderly and rapid withdrawal of all troops by the end of this year."  Read more of CODEPINK's response to the passing of the supplemental bill.  We will continue our broad and exciting Don't Buy Bush's War Campaign. We need to flood the offices, halls, sidewalks and streets of Congress with people opposed to the war from now through this Fall. We're asking for your help to get people to Washington DC and to do similar actions locally. CALL CONGRESS: we're also asking you to call and email your member of Congress telling him or her to stop buying Bush's war.  Watch the Washington Post's film about this campaign.
Those who don't see the urgency in ending the war quickly should read Deborah Sontag's  (New York Times) article on Iraq veteran Sam Ross who returned from Iraq blind and missing a portion of his left leg and was left to address mental and emotional issues arises from his time in Iraq and his injuries with no help or assistance from the government that so gladly sent him into an illegal war.
Finally, though the plan is still to address the idiotic article in The Nation (noted last Friday), Bernadine Dohrn (writing at CounterPunch) has already done so: "Christopher Phelps has written a timely but ultimately disappointing article in The Nation about the vibrant and growing student movement.  He transforms the tough challenges of movement-building into a set of tepid forumulas about what not to do.  The new wave of student activism in American and around the world is a hopeful development worthy of our active participation and respect."  As noted last week, for those not interested in musings from the faux set, check out Doug Viehmeyer's article "Steppin It Up: The New SDS" (LeftTurn) about the SDS.

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