Thursday, May 03, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, May 3, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue, Democrat leadership continues to indicate that caving is second only to begging for money in their bag of tricks, the attempts to privatize Iraq's oil continues, and the silence on US actions in Canada are broken.
Starting with real news.  Gregory Levey (Salon) becomes the first at a US news outlet to break the silence on a development that has angered Canadians, raised issues of sovereignty, and been an intimidation tactic (at best) meant to clamp down on war resistance.  Levey recounts what happened to Kyle Snyder the day before his wedding to Maleah Friesen -- being carted off by Canadian polilce from his home, in his boxers and handcuffs, at the orders of the US military as well as "three men wearing trench coats" visiting the Toronto home of Winnie Ng looking for US war resister Joshua Key who identified themselves as Canadian police.  We've gone through this all before, but for late comers, Winnie Ng has always been consistent in her statements on this.  It's the Canadian police that have changed their stories repeatedly (short version: None of our officers were there; one was there but he didn't identify the other two -- US military -- as police officers . . . we don't think . . .). Levey notes that "While 3,101 soldiers went AWOL between October 2005 and October 2006, more than 1,700 soldiers deserted in the six months between October 2006 and early April, according to figures released recently by the Army.  According to the War Resisters Support Campaign, the number of soldiers coming to Canada over the past six months has risen correspondingly."  US war resister Corey Glass (who considered returning to the US following Darrell Anderson's lead but reconsidered when he saw how the military lied to Kyle Snyder) speaks with Levey: "Corey Glass, a former National Guardsman who worked in military intelligence in Iraq before deserting to Canada in 2006, says he once considered it his duty to serve.  But he says that in Iraq, he was directed to 'sanitize' intelligence reports.  'I was told to pretty much go with the story you're given, take out the real details, and paint a picture for the commander,' he told Salon.  Eventually Glass came to believe that 'they used lies and plays on words to get us over there, and ordered us to commit crimes, in my opinion, against another country'."
Again, that was Salon that broke the US silence -- not the New York Times and certainly not The Nation magazine. US war resisters within the military are not being silent (even if some in the press -- big and small -- are), as Courage to Resist reports, Agustin Aguayo is supposed to join with war resisters Pablo Paredes, Camilo Mejia and Robert Zabala for a speaking tour from May 9th through 17th in the San Francisco Bay Area. The announced dates include:
Wednesday May 9 - Marin           
7pm at College of Marin, Student Services Center, 835 College Ave, Kentfield. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Pablo Paredes and David Solnit. Sponsored by Courage to Resist and Students for Social Responsibility.

Thursday May 10 - Sacramento        
Details TBA

Friday May 11 - Stockton    
6pm at the Mexican Community Center, 609 S Lincoln St, Stockton. Featuring Agustin Aguayo.

Saturday May 12 - Monterey      
7pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 490 Aguajito Rd, Carmel. Featuring Agustin Aguayo and Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace Chp. 69, Hartnell Students for Peace, Salinas Action League, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and Courage to Resist. More info: Kurt Brux 831-424-6447

Sunday May 13 - San Francisco 
7pm at the Veterans War Memorial Bldg. (Room 223) , 401 Van Ness St, San Francisco. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia and Pablo Paredes. Sponsored by Courage to Resist, Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69 and SF Codepink.

Monday May 14 - Watsonville           
7pm at the United Presbyterian Church, 112 E. Beach, Watsonville. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and Robert Zabala. Sponsored by the GI Rights Hotline & Draft Alternatives program of the Resource Center for Nonviolence (RCNV), Santa Cruz Peace Coalition, Watsonville Women's International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF), Watsonville Brown Berets, Courage to Resist and Santa Cruz Veterans for Peace Chp. 11. More info: Bob Fitch 831-722-3311

Tuesday May 15 - Palo Alto          
7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church (Fellowship Hall), 1140 Cowper, Palo Alto. Featuring Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Pennisula Peace and Justice Center. More info: Paul George 650-326-8837

Wednesday May 16 - Eureka  
7pm at the Eureka Labor Temple, 840 E St. (@9th), Eureka. Featuring Camilo Mejia. More info: Becky Luening 707-826-9197

Thursday May 17 - Oakland    
4pm youth event and 7pm program at the Humanist Hall, 411 28th St, Oakland. Featuring Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and the Alternatives to War through Education (A.W.E.) Youth Action Team. Sponsored by Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69, Courage to Resist, Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's (CCCO) and AWE Youth Action Team.
Aguayo wants to take part in that but may not be released in time. If the military is thinking they'll clamp down on war resistance by holding Aguayo, they obviously aren't factoring the passion this tour will create and the questions of, "Where's Augie?"  All are part of a growing movement of war resistance within the military: Camilo Mejia, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Dean Walcott, Camilo Mejia, Linjamin Mull, Joshua Key, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, 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.  In addition, the documentary Sir! No Sir! traces the war resistance within the military during Vietnam and it will air at 9:00 pm (EST) on The Sundance Channel followed at 10:30 p.m. by The Ground Truth which examines the Iraq war and features Jimmy Massey and Iraq Veterans Against the War's Kelly Dougherty among others. (Filling in for Rebecca, Betty  wrote about Sir! No Sir! last night.)
In other news of resistance, Noah Shachtman (Wired) reports: "The U.S. Army has ordered soldiers to stop posting to blogs or sending personal e-mail messages, without first clearing the content with a superior officer, Wired News has learned.  The directive, issued April 19, is the sharpest restriction on troops' online activities since the start of the Iraq war.  And it could mean the end of military blogs, observers say."  Veterans for Peace refuses to play along with censorship and notes:
Resistance is NOT futile.  It has been happening with soldiers in Iraq for a while, but the movement is growing!  Ronn Cantu is one soldier who has been speaking out, and he's been doing so for quite a while.  He is currently stationed in Baghdad and is a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War and a signer of the Appeal for Redress.  He runs the online forum, "" where he encourages people to post their feelings on the war.  Many that use this forum are using it as a tool to voice their opposition to the war.
Lately, more active duty and deployed military personnel are using their rights as citizens to express their outrage at this war.  Despite the fact that the military is trying to silence active duty by telling them they have no rights, many brave men and women are speaking out.  Active duty military DO HAVE RIGHTS and are allowed to speak out against this illegal war - and many more are beginning to do just that!  Two more blogs from active duty in Iraq have surfaced.   Active duty blogs [
Burst Assunder | Army of Dude]
Turning to the trash -- Democratic leadership caving.  Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today, "On Capitol Hill, the Democratic-controlled House has failed to override President Bush's veto of an Iraq war spending bill that sets timetables for the withdrawal of [some] troops from Iraq.  After the override failed, President Bush hosted Congressional leaders from both parties at the White House to discuss a compromise bill.  The Washington Post is reporting the Democratic leadership is now backing down and had dropped their demand for including a [non-binding] timeline to bring troops home from Iraq.  Democrats appear to be deeply divided over how far to give in to the White House."  How far to give in?  That appears to be the eternal question for Democratic leadership -- they appear to have lost not only their spines but their will to fight.  Joanthan Weisman and Shailagh Murray (Washington Post) report that, like a lousy poker player who doesn't even know how to bluff, Dem leaders met with Bully Boy Wednesday and right away Dems were "offering the first major conession: an agreement to drop their demand for a timeline to bring troops home from Iraq."  The Post quotes US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stating, "We made our position clear."  For anyone paying attention -- non Party Hack -- they certainly did.  (For those confused, Steny Hoyer and Pelosi's position is supine.)
Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) observes "the Democrats are seriously contemplating a compromise on an already compromised bill.  Now, rather than insist on a deadline for withdrawal that was fudge-able in the first place, they appear to be ready to settle for no deadline at all, just some unenforceable benchmarks for the Maliki government.  House Majority Leader Steny Hoyner expects a new bill to pass in the House in two weeks and to become law by Memorial Day.  'We're not going to leave our troops in harm's way . . . without the resources they need,' he said.  But resources for what?  For continuing the occupation?  Or getting the hell out of there?  Nancy Pelosi wasn't exactly crystal clear in her statement on the President's veto.  The Speaker said the original bill 'honored and respected the wishes of the American people to have benchmarks, to have guidelines, to have standards for what is happening in Iraq.'  Those weren't the wishes of the American people.  Their wishes were to bring troops home within a year."
Mike Ferner (CounterPunch) observes that, "MoveOn and the DemBoosters are ringing some kind of dizzy alarm: 'Emergency Iraq Rally . . . show our leaders we mean business tell Congress this is the key moment to stand strong against the President's veto.' Come again?  For all the wrong reasons The Pretender has briefly delayed the next payment of war money and created a momentary crisis among the Empire's leadership.  OK, so don't pin a medal on the guy, but at least define the current state of affairs as one to take advantage of: get serious about occuyping local Congressional offices, tying up traffic, shutting down universities, resisting as if, well, as if lives depended on it."
Mark Hull-Richter (AfterDowningStreet) (rightly) calls the vetoed bill "wimpy" and offers that "what smacks of the most unbelievable doublethink of our time, Move-On, which is supposedly opposing the 'war' aka OCCUPATION in Iraq, is furious that Bush won't take the money!!!!  Can you believe this BS?  Here's what to do:  Call your Representative and tell them:  DROP IT!  If Bush doesn't want the money, even with minor, mild, advisory strings, tell him to pay for the damned thing himself.  NO MORE MONEY."
Kevin Zeese (Democracy Rising) notes "that rather than having a lame duck president we have a lame Congress.  The only thing that will end the war is constant, organized and focused pressure from Americans who oppose the war.  Two peace moms have called on anti-war activists to come to Washington, DC after Mother's Day.  Cindy Sheehan is organizing a 'Mother of a March' on May 14, 2007.  She is inviting 'all mothers and all people who have mothers' to join her.  This will be a kick-off to a 'Summer of Action' behing spearheaded by Marine Mom Tina Richards.  This summer peace activists will swarm Congress from May 14 to July 31 to urge an end to the war.  You can see an interview of Tina Richards about the 'Summer of Action' [. . .]"
Tina Richards is the mother of Cloy Richards.  When attempting to speak with with US House Rep David Obey, she found herself on the receiving end of his tirade.  Fortunately for Obey, their will always be men to excuse other men's abuse of and towards women (and didn't the Party Hacks line up to do just that?).  Pham Binh (CounterPunch) notes Obey's tirade and reveals "that the Democratic chair of the House Appropriations Committee, David Obey of Wisconsin, included funding for the construction of permanent bases in Iraq in the war funding bill that Bush just vetoed."  Say what?  Not the Dream Boy of Party Hacks!  Binh continues, "Of course, Obey's bill doesn't refer to the four enormous military installations that are being built in Iraq as 'permanent bases.'  Over the course of the last few years, they've morphed from permanent bases, to enduring bases, to contingency operating bases.  Contingency has a very termporary sound to it -- the contingency being that if Iraq unexpectedly runs out of oil, they'll close those bases and the tens of thousands of troops stationed in them can come home.  Both sides of the aisle in Washington are angling to stay in Iraq permanently in one form or another."
Marc Train (Iraq Veterans Against the War) shares his view of the point of the illegal war and the drum beats on Iran, "This kind of foreign policy, along with the recent naval buildup in the Persian Gulf and the Eastern Mediterranean (featuring destroyer vessels equipped with tactical nuclear cruise missiles) and threatening Iran's existance, has the potential to drop the entir Middle East into instability.  An unstable region that large would create plenty of opportunites for the war profiteering companies that currently hold sway over our Commander in Chief.  Private military companies (PMC), which already make up the second largest military force in Iraq, would be called upon to support the overstretched American military presence in the region.  These PMC's would be able to operate with little to no oversight and would become a primary component in this war profiteering playground."
Lewis Seiler and Dan Hamburg (San Francisco Chronicle via Truthout) also explore the reasons for the illegal war, note Chalmers Johnson ("One of the reasons we had no exit plan from Iraq is that we didn't intend to leave"), note the US military bases (737 around the world) and zero in on the "new Iraq oil law, largely written by the Coalition Provisional Authority, is planned for ratification by June.  This law cedes control of Iraq's oil to western powers for 30 years.  There is a major opposition to the proposed law within Iraq, especially among the country's five trade union federations that represent hundreds of thousands of oil workers.  The United States is working hard to surmount this opposition by appealing directly to the al-Maliki government in Iraq."
The proposed oil law?  Edward Wong and Sheryl Gay Stolberg (New York Times) report on a  fissure, "misgivings that could derail one of the benchmark measures of progress in Iraq laid down by President Bush. . .  The White House was hoping for quick passage".  In the parliament, the Kurds are saying not so fast and the Sunnis have long expressed opposition.
Joshua Partlow (Washington Post) quotes Kurdish parliamentarian Mahmoud Othman stating, "The whole problem is because this law was made in a hurry, and the Americans were rushing everyone to do it.  The details haven't been discussed, that's why there's no agreement."  Of course, it would have helped if the parliament -- tasked to write laws -- had written it and not Big Oil.  Taking a cue from their puppet leader, Nouri al-Maliki, who appears to have learned from Bully Boy that being a leader means taking a lot of vacations, the Iraqi parliament had intended to begin a two-month summer break.  Ravi Nessman (AP) reports that "they might consider shortening -- or even canceling -- their planned two-month summer break to continue working.  But they insisted that pressure from Washington is not behind the possible  holiday-on-hold.  And besides, they say, the U.S. Congress is not thinking of calling off its own recess because of wartime debate."  Ben Lando (UPI via US Labor Against the War) reports that Petrolog & Associates Tariq Shafiq (who lives in Jordan, not Iraq) has turned against the law he had a hand in drafting and, Lando writes, "The oil unions and Sunni and Shiite parliamentarians and politicians have come out against the law.  Shafiq, whose brother was killed recently in the sectarian violence in Iraq, says now is the time to put the law on hold and deal with resolving key issues first. Shafiq and 60 other experts wrote a letter to the government urging officials to do just that."
Meanwhile, CNN wonders about leaving Iraq and turn to their resident PIG Peter Bergen who nixes the idea of a "rapid withdrawal" (which is what -- months, years, decades?).  No word on whether or not PIG Peter Bergen was enjoying an Afghanistan whorehouse while he was issuing his opinion but then CNN probably wouldn't allow him to brag about that -- he has to save that crap for The Nation which finds it 'delightful.'   British General Michael Rose ("Sir Michael Rose") must not have gleaned his knowledge from bordellos.  BBC reports that the former army commander says "that the US and the UK must 'admit defeat' and stop fighting 'a hopeless war' in Iraq.  Iraqi insurgents would not give in, he said,  'I don't excuse them for some of the terrible things they do, but I do understand why they are resisting'."
Bergen doesn't.  Maybe a sex worker could whisper it to him?  Chris Kraul (Los Angeles Times) reports, "A brigade of 3,700 U.S. Army troops arrived in Baghdad this week, part of the Bush administration's troop buildup".   The number will reach 160,000.  Provided Bully Boy doesn't up the number again.  With between 140,000 and 150,000 there currently, the chaos and violence has not vanished.  (But Bully Boy says there's a level of violence that 'we' can all live with.) 
Jenan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 7 Baghdad mortar attacks that killed 3 and left 25 wounded, a Kirkuk bombing that injured a police officer, a Diyala mortar attack that killed a woman and left two other people injured.  CBS and AP report that today the US announced the deaths of "[f]our Filipino contractors working for the US government [who] were killed in a rocket attack on the heavily fortified Green Zone" which is increasingly under attack. Though announced today, Reuters notes the four were killed yesterday.
KUNA reports that Muthanna Mohammed Taleb ("an official of the Iraqi Community Party") was shot dead in Mosul.  Reuters report the shooting death of an imam after a Sunni mosque in Baghdad was stormed. Jenan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an exchange in Basra that wounded three gunmen (and the Wednesday shooting deaths of two teachers in Mosul -- Nazal Al-Asdi and Asmaeel Taher).  AP reports: "Gunmen stormed the offices of an independent radio station in a predominately Sunni area in Baghdad on Thursday, killing two employees and wounding five before bombing the building and knocking the station off the air, police said."
Jenan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 25 corpses were discovered in Baghdad today.
And KUNA reports the discovery of 64 corpses "of unidentified persons in various sports in the governate of Mosul over the past week, which also witnessed explosion of 29 bombs, firing of 23 mortar shells on security positions and a spate of armed clashes between insurgents and government forces"  Will the New York Times report 25 corpses discovered in Baghdad in tomorrow's paper or, mirthmakers that they are, go with 4?
Finally, Joan Baez was told "no thanks" by Walter Reed Army Medical Center when she attempted to perform for the wounded.  Kat's "Ban Bush, Not Baez" addresses how wrong-headed the decision to ban Baez was and Cedric's "Banning Baez won't make Stubby feel like a man" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! PEACE BANNED AT WALTER REED!" (joint-post) peer into the soul of the type to ban Baez.

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