Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, May 9, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue, Cheney visits the Green Zone and receives his usual welcome, Democratic leadership caves again, and cries go out for people to get active.
Starting with war resistance.  Last week Camilo Meija's Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia was published and, as Courage to Resist reports, tonight, he begins a speaking tour with Pablo Paredes, and Robert Zabala.  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.
All are part of a growing movement of war resistance within the military: Camilo Mejia, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Dean Walcott, 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, Clifton Hicks, 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. 
Turning to politics, US and Iraq.  Yesterday on KPFA's Flashpoints Radio, Robert Knight's "The Knight Report" summed up developments as follows:
The US backed Shia led puppet regime in Baghdad faced further setbacks today after the absentee parliament's biggest  Sunni block threatened to collapse Nouri al-Maliki's Shia supremacist leadership by removing 44 Sunni legislatures from the current governing coalition.  Iraqi vice president Tariq al-Hashimi, of the fundamentalist Iraqi Accord Front, has given Maliki a one week deadline until May 15th to amend Iraq's US designed Constitution of Military Occupation to restore authentic national sovereignty and territorial integrity otherwise Hashimi  threatened quoted "I will tell my constituency frankly that I made the mistake of my life when I put my endorsement to that National Accord."  Hashimi added that he was frustrated by Sunni exclusion from government under the de-Baathification commission headed by CIA and Pentagon asset Ahmed Chalabi. Hashimi concluded his demands with the hope that "I would like to see the identity of my country, in fact, restored back."  He also refused an invitation to meet in Washington with President George W. Bush until those issues were addressed. 
A collapse of the Maliki regime would scuttle bi-partisan hopes in Washington that Iraq's puppet parliament would ratify the US written petroleum law that would eradicate national sovereignty over oil resources and clear the way for lucrative extraction contracts for American and other multi-national oil conglomerates.  A fig leaf ratification of the oil law is a mutual goal  of both Republicans and Democrats in Congress who call the potential give away and segmentation of Iraq into secular regions to be an essential so-called benchmark for further military funding for the US occupation.
And on that front there are alarming revelations from Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich who reveled over the weekend that Congressional Democrats have sold out any hopes for reform in Iraq with a secret agreement with the White House over the so-called funding bill for the Iraq war. In a remarkably revelatory speech to the West Los Angeles Democratic Club, Kucinich said that the Democrats led by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have made the following secret concessions.  One, that House debate would not challenge the multi-national friendly Iraqi oil law that President Bush and vice president Cheney and the Democrats are desperate to have enacted so that Iraqi resources would be privatized. Number two, that bush could invade Iran without the approval of Congress because the Democrats have removed a clause that would require him to get approval from Congress.  And of course that any and all timetables would be removed from subsequent enactments of the bill.
[. . .]
Dennis Bernstein: Robert Knight, stay with us.  Thank you for the excellent report.  And obviously we have been watching closely in particular the willingness of the Democrats to play ball so that the war and the significant aspects, the real reasons, the oil war can go forward.  Would you just in a nutshell again recap the Kucinich highlights of the revelations of the sell out?
Robert Knight: Well this oil law is something that was a promise made by Cheney and Bush at the beginning of the war -- saying that the invasion would be funded by resources, the increased oil extraction and of course the profits to be made by the American companies.  They have changed the language of the so-called PSA -- Production Sharing Agreements --  so that now the Iraqi national oil council would no longer have sovereignty over its own resources.  There is a division in the bill that the Democrats are propagandistically propping up that is to say that this would share revenues among the different provinces.
But what it does it sets it up not to the province per se but to the regional coalition which is part of the United States and Israeli backed plan to divide Iraq into competing sectarian fragments -- the Kurds, the Shias in the south and of course the Sunnis in the more impoverished oil regions, the western part of Iraq.  So the oil law would not only be something for profit but also something for segregation in Iraq.
Oil and Congress.  Starting with oil.  Dickey Cheney ("President of Vice" as Wally and Cedric have dubbed him) high tailed it to the Green Zone and you know it wasn't to rally the troops.  BBC reports that Nouri al-Maliki was gushing and that "US officials said Mr Cheney wanted faster progress on the fair division of oil revenues" -- well of course he does, look at his portfolio.  Garrett Therolf (Los Angeles Times) reports Vice was greeted with the usual warm response he's learned to expect the world over: over a thousand protesters holding sings such as the one that read: "Kick out the leaders of evil."  Cheney must be so proud.
On the issue of the US Congressional measure, Edward Epstein (San Francisco Chronicle) reports that the 'plan' would fund illegal operations only through September 30th, that the toothless, non-binding withdrawal talk has been dropped and that "Democratic leaders expect to debate the plan for troop withdrawals again as part of bills now moving through committees that would authorize and spend the money for 2008 Pentagon operations, including the war."  Last week, the Bully Boy vetoed the Congressional bill that did not enforce withdrawal.  That measure was non-binding and full of loopholes that would allow Bully Boy to keep every US service member in Iraq there through the end of his term.  One example, classify them all "military police" and say it was now a police operation would mean he wouldn't have to follow any of the Congressional suggestions -- suggestions because they were non-binding.  The Democratic leadership refused to stand up then and now they just roll around on their backs.  Noam N. Levey (Los Angeles Times) notes, "Democratic leaders, who are still finishing the plan, will no longer tie war funding to a pullout of almost all U.S. combat forces, which the president has said he will never accept."  Carl Hulse and Jeff Zeleny (New York Times) observed that the talk of Congress funding the illegal war in scheduled stages was being attacked by the White House (via Tony Snow) and some Republican members of Congress such as Adam H. Putman.  In a sure sign of how weak Democratic leadership is, not only have they sold out the mandate handed to them by the the American people in November 2006, they can't even fight for the nonsense they're trying to push forward.  Every time Tony Snow shoots off his mouth, a Congressional Democrat should hold a press conference to ask, "Is the White House attempting to micro-manage the people's Congress?"  Another sign?  Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reports that Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno announced yesterday that the escalation that members of Congress are saying they must wait until September to evaluate (when Petraeus gives his report) will also be evaluated "at the beginning of next year for sure."  The failure that is the escalation will be evaluated at various intervals by the US military.  If the military can do that, Democrats should be able to make the case for their own right to base their power of the purse on regular evaluations.
But when you don't have the guts to call for the withdrawal the people support, when you don't have the strength to excercise your Constitutionally mandate power of the purse, when you spend the bulk of your time trying to fool the public with non-binding, symbolic measures, maybe you don't have the time or the guts to offer anything else? 
President Bush vetoed the $124 billion Iraq war funding bill, because it included a timid troop withdrawal plan.
Unfortunately, the Democrats in Congress now seem to think that they must compromise with the arrogant, incompetent administration that led us into war, rather than stand up for us, our troops and the Iraqis.
If we do not create a national outcry right now, Congress will capitulate and simply give Bush the money he wants to continue the war.
Let's make some noise!
Meanwhile, the Green Party of the US has also "criticized the retreat of Democratic Congress members and party leaders after President Bush last week vetoed legislation that included a timetable for withdrawal of US combat troops from Iraq" with statements from various party members including the co-chair of the Green Party's Peace Action Committee (GPAX), Aimee Smith: "Democratic front groups like have abandoned the antiwar movement.  We don't need an 'Americans Against Escalation in Iraq' coalition, we need an independent political movement demanding removal of US troops as quickly as possible and reunciation of aggressive military power.  Democratic leaders, including presidential candidates like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, are rejecting these demands and are willing to see US forces remain in Iraq until late 2008, and even longer to serve US financial interest there and the strategic demands of Israel and its supporters in the US.  The goal of Democrats isn't to end the war, it's to seek party unity in order to win the White House.  There's little doubt that most antiwar Democratic groups wil line up behind their party's prowar nominee in 2008."
Dave Lindorff (CounterPunch) observes the "bankruptcy of the Democratic Party leaderhip's position on impeachment was revealed in stark terms yesterday, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that she would sue the president in court if he resorted to a signing statement to kill the next version of Congress's Iraq funding bill" and concludes: "As long as she continues to refuse to allow impeachment of President Bush, she cannot hope to stop the war, restore habeas corpus, undo the Military Commissions Act, stop illegal spying on Americans by the National Security Agency, or win passage of any significant legislation to deal with global warming.  She cannot really do anything, because Bush will simply issue signing statements and use his claim of 'unitary executive authority' to invalidate any legislation passed by Congress."
In Iraq (puppet) governmental news, War Pornographer Michael Gordon (New York Times) attempts to get a money shot out of the Iraqi Exile Visits DC.  Like a large number of exiles, Mowafak al-Rubaie serves in the puppet government.  In 2003, after the illegal war began, al-Rubaie returned to Iraq (after two decades in exile) in just enough time for the US government to appoint him to the Iraqi Governing Council then, in 2004, they appointed him to the Coalition Provisional Authority and today's he's Nouri al-Maliki's national security adviser.  A government of exiles ruling over an Iraqi people that wonders just where the hell these exiles get off dashing back into the country post-invasion and attempting to rule?  al-Rubaie danced through the halls of Congress in the metaphorical equivalent of a g-string, attempting to get Congress to shove dollar bills down his crotch.  Though he shook his money maker, not all rushed to request a lap dance.  US Senator Carl Levin didn't take to al-Rubaie's notion that democracy for Iraq was a 'generational' thing.  Levin: "I told him that is too long."  The exiles, so very popular with the White House, share the same paternalistic, patronizing attitude of the White House: Iraqis are just too stupid for self-rule.  One might ask why those who feel that way would want to rule in the first place but al-Rubaie's lined his pockets quite well since the start of the illegal war.
All that pocket lining has to be paid by someone.  Dexter J. Kamilewicz (Military Families Speak Out) notes the human costs, the economic costs, the civil rights costs and the "costs of deliberate neglect" concluding: "The enormous costs of the lack of leadership in dealing with the war in Iraq are measurable, and those costs hit home in ways we cannot ignore no matter how depressing the subject.  The longer we wait to confront those who let these costs mount [Congress], the more responsible we are for those costs.  It is up to us, you and me, to demand an end to it."  One way to demand an end to it is to take action.  Cindy Sheehan (Camp Casey Peace Institute) is calling for mothers "to stand up and put our bodies on the line for peace and humanity. . . .  I am calling on Mothers of the world to join us in Washington DC for a '10,000 Mother of a March' on the day after Mother's Day, Monday, May 14, 2007.  Marches on weekends are not effective, we need to shut the city of DC down!  We will surround Congress and demand an end to this evil occupation and refuse to leave until the Congressiona leadership agrees with us, or throws us in jail!  Meet at Lafayette Park at noon.  We will rally then march to Congress."  More information can be found here and via CODEPINK:
Mother's Day: Women Say NO to War!
Join us in DC to walk the halls of Congress with some of the most influential moms of our day! Plan your own local Mother's Day peace picnic, post your event here, or host a peace movie night. More...
NEW! View the Mothers Day for Peace Video
Those are only some of the activites that will be taking place.  Want to prolong the illegal war?  Be a Dolittle Dem like the leadership in Congress.  Want to end it?  Get active.  Rebecca S. Bender (The Eureka Reporter) reports on a speech Ann Wright gave Monday where she declared, "It is important that we hit the streets.  There are a lot of reasons why we have to keep working to end the war in Iraq. . . .  We're not putting up with endless war.  We elected you to end this war now."
Still the war drags on . . .
Hussin Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bomb "near the students dormiotry of Mustansiriya university" that wounded three police officers.  Reuters reports an Arbil bombing that killed 14 and wounded 87 and a Shirqat bombing that left two people dead. Garrett Therolf (Los Angeles Times) notes that the Arbil (also spelled Irbil) bombing's death toll rose to 19 and notes a Musayyib mortar attack that left two dead as well as a Haswa mortar attack that killed two people.  AFP reports, "In Baghdad, a rocket exploded near the US embassy in the fortified Green Zone during Cheney's visit, an Iraqi defence official said.  Smoke could be seen rising near the US compound shortly after the blast".  CBS and AP note Cheney flack Anne McBride's statement, "His meeting was not disturbed and he was not moved."  AFP has Cheney's full quote: "I spent today here basically in our embassy and military headquarters."
Hussin Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad shooting attack on workers of the "Adhamiya concrete wall" which left one dead and two more wounded and a Baghdad shooting where "a directoarte manager at the housing and reconstruction ministry" was shot dead. Reuters notes the shooting deaths of "two men from the ancient Yazidi faith" in Mosul.  CBS and AP note that a Kirkuk drive-by resulted in the deaths of four Iraqi journalists who "worked for the independent Raad media comapny, which publishes several weekly newspapers and monthly magazines that are generally pro-government and deal with politics, education and arts."
Hussin Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 8 corpses were discovered in the Diyala province.  Reuters reports five corpses were discovered in Falluja.

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