Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, April 25, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue, the United Nations raises the issue of Iraqi fatalities, US House Rep and 2008 presidential contender  Dennis Kucinich moves to impeach Dick Cheney, the wall in Baghdad continues to be an issue, and more.
Starting with war resisters.  Last Saturday, the latest public war resisters spoke in Greensboro, Terri Johnson.  jarnocan (North Carolina World Can't Wait) reports, "Terri Johnson of Greensboro was like a lot of other young people with limited options after high school who are set upon by US Army recruiters.  She believed the promises of the recruiters who told her that the Army was nothing more than a good shot at a college education and a prosperous future.  She discovered, as do many others who sign up, that not only wa she signing her life away, but the lives of people targeted by the illegal and immoral war on Iraq as well.  So she did the right thing.  She refused to fight."  Jordan Green (Yes! Weekly) notes that "the granddaughter of past Gressnsboro NAACP President Gladys Shipman, deliberately failed to complete her final fitness test at Fort Jackson in South Carolina, and then went AWOL on Sept. 28, 2006, the day before graduation."  Speaking at a rally at Governmental Plaza, Johnson stated: "I'm not anti-war one hundred percent because some wars are worth fighting for.  But this war is not worth fighting for.  I really don't look at myself as a hero.  I was just doing it for me because [the war] wasn't for me.  There were a lot of my buddies who didn't want to drop out like me, but they didn't have have the courage to make the decision I did."  On leaving during basics, Johnson stated, "All you got to do is leave.  Throw the towel in.  They cannot stop you.  Stay gone for thirty-one days.  Get your two-way ticket to Lousiville, Kentucky.  The MPs will meet you there and pat you down.  You will be there for four days and eat this horrible food.  The only thing you cannot do is get a federal job.  Okay, I wasn't that interested in working for the federal government anyway.  The other thing you can't do is re-enlist in another branch of the military."
Terri Johnson is part of a movement of war resistance within the military that also includes  Ehren Watada, Dean Walcott, Camilo Mejia, Linjamin Mull, Joshua Key, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Camilo Mejia, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, 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.
Meanwhile, the United Nations is accusing the puppet government in Iraq of a different form of resistance.  Yara Bayoumy (Reuters) reports that the UN states the government is "withholding sensitive civilian casualty figures because the government fears the data would be used to paint a 'very grim' picture of a worsening humanitarian crisis."  CNN reports that the refusal to supply the data has prevented the UN from calculating the numbers of Iraqis killed in the first four months of 2007.  Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) states that numbers the Los Angeles Times have "obtained from various ministries" puts the 2007 civilian toll at 5,509 thus far this year.  The Times figures are incomplete, it should be noted, and Susman is incorrect when she claims that the US "military does not count civilian deaths that occur during its operations".  The US military has kept a count -- Nancy A. Youssef broke that story right before Knight Ridder became McClatchy Newspapers.  You didn't hear much about that because it was time to travel-logue in indymedia. But the US military is keeping figures, has been keeping figures.  They will admit to keeping figures since June of 2005.  They refuse to release those figures to the press or to the public.  So when the puppet government refuses to release figures to the UN, it all has a familiar ring to it.
Al Jazeera reports, "On Wednesday, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (Unami) blamed the majority of the bloodshed on sectarian fighting, and expressed concern about the human-rights record of Nuri al-Maliki, Iraq's prime minister."  And the response?  AFP reports that the puppet, Nouri al-Maliki, issued a statement: "The Iraqi government announces that is has major reservations about this report, which lack precision in its presentation of information, lasts crediblity in many of its points and lacks balance in its presentation of the human rights situation in Iraq."  Around the world, chuckles were heard as the puppet questioned someone else's  credibility. 
The report comes as IRIN notes that Baghdad's "infrastructure continues to deteriorate, causing more violence, health hazards and misery for its seven million inhabitants" and notes "at least 43 workers have been killed in the past few months while collecting rubbish, changing lights or repairing sewage systems in the capital, mostly in the more dangerous neighborhoods of Sadr City, Alawi, Dora, Bab al-Muadham and Adhamiyah."
Turning to United States, US House Rep and 2008 presidential contender  Dennis Kucinich
"introduced articles of impeachment Tuesday against Vice President Dick Cheney," The Post Chronicle reported noting that the "main chrages are that Cheney used manipulated intelligence to win support for the war in Iraq, and falsely claimed a connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida."  For many outlets it was time to put on the old 45 of Simon & Garfunkle . . .  Hello darkness my old friend . . .  As they "covered" the news by not covering it.  The sounds of silence.
Dennis Bernstein addressed the issue of impeaching Cheney on  Flashpoints yesterday, noting that Kucinich "broke the silence in Congress  . . .  Kucinich's actions follow on many calls and a series of througly well constructed and researched arguments for impeachment.  Among the strongest cases made for impeachment is that by a former prosecutor, Elizabeth de la Vega with over 2 decades as a federal prosecutor.  She is the author of United States v. George W. Bush et al.  She's been lecturing on the case for impeachment and following the unraveling also of the Attorney General.".
Elizabeth de la Vega: "I think it's an extremely strong case and what's beautiful about it is that it's very elegantly done and it's just very, very simple.  As you mentioned Article I is manipulating the intelligence process to deceive the public and Congress by making up, essentially, a threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction so that the administration could invade Iraq. . . .  And the specific nature of that fabrication has to do, of course, with the weapons of mass destruction.  Article II is very similar except that it relates to the same type of fabrication with regard to a link between . . . al Qaeda and Iraq and 9-11.   The third one has to do with Iran.  And I think, really, the case is almost irrefutable."
Robert Naiman (The Huffington Post) addresses the press treatment of the issue and notes that "Kucinich seems to be one of the few Members of Congress aware that threatening to attack other countries is a violation of the U.N. Charter, a treaty wo which the U.S. is signatory."  Dave Lindorff (who has been covering the impeachment movement across the country) writes (at CounterPunch) that, as a result of Kucinich's actions, "The mainstream corporate media, which has so far been largely ignoring the issue of impeachment, will have to go to extra lengths of censorship to block out the popular movement now, with a bill on the floor of the House, and with impeachment resolutions passing in the Vermont state legislature.  It will be interesting to see how the nation's new gatekeepers handle the story now that it is breaking out into the open so forcefully."  Those in and near Trenton, New Jersey this weekend, should be aware of the demonstration where "a Human Mural" will spell out "IMPEACH" at the State House in Trenton on 125 W. State Street, Saturday April 28th -- more information can be found here (AfterDowningStreet).  That is not the only event across the country.  Progressive Democrats of America's Marcy Winograd spoke with Lila Garrett on Connect The Dots With Lila Garrett on KPFK Monday.  Winograd and others will be taking part in the California Democratic Party State Convention which will be held in the 
San Diego Convention Center this weekend, 111 West Harbor Drive, Convention Center, San Diego.  PDA will be mobilizing around many issues including impeachment -- "Impeachment Is On Our Table."
In addition, note this from CODEPINK:
Impeachment Day: April 28
It's time to say NO to impunity for lying, spying, and torture. George Bush and Dick Cheney's high crimes and misdemeanors demand accountability. Since Congress doesn't get it, on April 28 Americans are going to spell it out for them: I M P E A C H ! More...
A transcript of Dennis Kucinich's press conference can be found here and, from that, we'll note this from his conference, "This goes beyond partisan terms.  This is being done to defend our constitutional system of government.  This is being done so that all tose of us who took an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States can understand that this impeachment is one valid way in furtherance of the defense of our Constitution.  I don't see this as bening distant from anyone, in any capacity in our government.  Everyone must reflect on this.  Years from now, people will ask, 'Why didn't the United States government respond when they saw this threat to our democracy?  Why didn't people inside the government respond?' if this doesn't move forward.  And so this really isn't so much, I might add, about the vice president as it is about who we are as a people.  What is it that we stand for?  What kind of government do the people of the United States expect and deserve?  It's not appropriate for the government to lie to people.  It is wrong for government officials -- you know, the vice president, in this case -- to take this nation into war based on lies."
In semi-related news, US Secretary of State and Anger Condi Rice has a subpoena with her name on it from the US House Judiciary Committee.  CBS News and AP report that she will be asked to testify (presumably under oath) about the lies that Iraq "was seeking uranium from Africa." On a 21-10 vote, the committee agreed to compell Rice's testimony.
From what Americans want to what Iraqis want, CNN reports: "Shiits in Baghdad gathered Wednesday to protest a wall surrounding the Sunni neighborhood of Adhamiya.  The U.S. and Iraqi militaries say the wall is for protection, but radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr issued a statement calling the wall sectarian, racist and oppressive.  He vowed to support all Iraqis -- Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds and Christians -- and called on them to unite against 'the evil will of the occupier'."  Al Jazeera notes, "Moqtada al-Sadr's remarks were the first by the Mahdi Army head since the US military said last week that it was building a wall in Baghdad's Adhamiyah district."  Sally Kohn (Common Dreams) shares her thoughts on the issue, "Good fences have never made good policy, just as they've never made good neighbors.  Bush's embrace of wall building and secrecy reminds me of totalitarian feudal lords.  But feudalism failed too, didn't it?  Now that Nouri al-Maliki has poked a hole in Bush's Baghdad wall plans, can we start building some bridges instead?"
In violence today in Iraq . . .
CNN reports: "A truck loaded with chlorine detonated Wednesday at a military checkpoint on the western outskirts of Baghdad, killing one Iraqi and wounded two others".  Reuters notes a Balad Ruz bombing that killed 9 and left 16 wounded, a Baghdad roadside bombing ("near a petrol station") that killed 2, and a Baghdad mortar attack on the west Rashid section of Baghdad resulted one death and five wounded. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Mosul bombing that left one person dead, a bobming near Tikrit that wounded two police officers
Reuters reports Ali al-Bayati ("Iraq's former bodybuilding champion") was shot dead in Mosul, another Mosul shooting claimed two lives and left one person wounded, a police officer shot dead in Tuz Khurmato.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 18 corpses discovered in Baghdad.  Reuters notes a corpse discovered in Hilla.
Finally, Tom Hayden (The Huffington Post) examines a number of issues (life on the ground in Iraq, scandals of the administration) and we'll zoom in on the commentary regarding the US House and Senate measures, "It is hard to know what to make of these Democratic proposals.  To what extent are they designed seriously or only for political cover?  The most dangerous one is the open-ended authorization to continue combat operations against 'all extremists', which should be opposed by the anti-war movement and their Democratic allies.  The related problem is the resurfacing of the 'humanitarian hawks' who delude themselves into believing the US military can succeed in a more low-visibility role combining counter-insurgency and economic development.  The flaw in their thinking is that American soldiers can serve as 'trainers' to an Iraqi state described as sectarian even by the Baker-Hamilton Report.
And today Amy Goodman interviewed Bill Moyers on Democracy Now! whose Bill Moyers Journal debuts this week on PBS stations (starts tonight on some PBS stations) and the first episode focuses on the selling of the illegal war.

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