Thursday, May 24, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, May 24, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the 3 US soldiers missing for nearly 2 weeks drops down to 2 missing, the US military announces the deaths of more service members, the military attempts to punish soldiers who speak out, and the craven and cowardly Democrats get another round of headlines.

One day shy of two weeks since 3 US soldiers went missing in Iraq, Garrett Therolf and Louis Sahagun (Los Angeles Times) report that the U.S. military confirmed the corpse discovered in the Euphrates yesterday was one of the 3 missing soliders, Joseph J. Anzack Jr. Jeremiah Marquez (AP) notes that Byron Fouty and Alex Jimenez remain missing and, "According to a U.S. military official, a second body was found in the area near where Anzack's body was discovered. The official, who requested anonymity because the information has not yet been released, said there was no indication yet whether the body was another of the missing soldiers." Therolf and Sahagun reported "that there were two other bodies in the river, also clad in U.S. military uniforms" according to an unnamed Iraqi officer.

Fall out continues for the Democratic leadership in the US Congress' decision to cave and give Bully Boy everything he asked for in the war supplemental. Laura Flanders (Common Dreams) tells of spending time yesterday with the mother whose son is in the National Guard and told her, "I was counting on the Democrats to stop this war". [Reminder, RadioNation with Laura Flanders moves to a Sunday broadcast this Sunday, 1:00 pm EST.] Corporate Crime Reporter (CounterPunch) announces, "Behold the spineless Democratic Party. On Iraq, no deadlines. On trade, no enforceable worker protections. In the face of withering pressure from the oil industry, the Democrats in the House, led by Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Michigan), have reportedly castrated their own legislation." BuzzFlash editorializes, "Since the 2006 elections, the Dem honchos have been speaking loudly and carrying a little stick. They claim that they don't have the votes to override a veto. But they do have the votes to keep passing a bill that Bush will veto, effectively bringing the war in Iraq to a close because funding will run out. They can end the war in Iraq, but are scared of being labeled with 'losing the war.' And this is a scarlet letter that they fear cannot be worn in a superpower nation that sees itself as the entitled righteous victor in any war that it starts, no matter how faulty the premise or counterproductive to our real national security that war may be. So the death continues, of young men and women -- many who are patroitic enough to believe that the lies told to them by the Bush Administration are true." United for Peace & Justice notes that "instead of standing up for what's right, the Democratic leadership has caved in to Bush. They are giving him a check for $100 billion to continue and futher EXPAND the war. That surge they all claimed they don't like? The money for it is in this bill." John Nichols (via Common Dreams) argues that "the willingness of Pelosi and Reid to advance a measure that does not include a withdrawal timeline allows Bush to conduct the war as he chooses for much if not all of the remainder of his presidency. This failure to abide by the will of the people who elected Democrats to end the war will haunt Pelosi, Reid and their party -- not to mention the United States and the battered shell that is Iraq." Recalling the Democratic leadership remarks leading up to Bully Boy's veto, Robert Parry (Consortium News) reminds, "The Democrats didn't help themselves when they started their 'negotiations' with the White House by announcing that they would eventually give Bush a bill that was acceptable to him. That's a bit like going into a car dealership, declaring that you intend to pay the full sticker price and then trying to bargain. Knowing that the Democrats planned to fold . . . Bush could confidently veto the first war spending bill". Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) addresses the nonsense noting, "There is not even a timetable for withdrawal, just 18 benchmarks that the President himself can waive. What an abdication! What a capitulation! Even as U.S. soldiers are increasingly bogged down in Baghdad, even as the death tool of our troops zoomed past the 3,400 mark, the Democratic compromisers in Congress could not find enough spinal fluid to stand tall against Bush and the inevitable you-don't-support-the-troops ads that they fear so much." Dave Lindorff (CounterPunch) declares, "The Iraq War is now fully a Democratic War. The hand-off is complete, just as the handoff of the Democratic Vietnam War was handed off to Richard Nixon and the Republicans in 1968. . . . Voters remember: It's not what candidates say; it's what they actually do, or don't do." Jeff Cohen (Common Dreams) observed, "The shared pretense of the White House and Democratic leaders is that funding the Iraq occupation is somehow a program on behalf of the troops. Like a subsidy for family farmers. . . . As Military Families Speak Out says: 'Funding the war is not supporting our troops. The way to support our troops is to bring them home now and take care of them when they get here'."

US House Rep and 2008 presidential contender Dennis Kucinich explained to Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) this morning, "We shouldn't be offering any legislation at all. We should just simply tell the president we're not going to fund the war. And this idea about funding the war to 'help the troops' is absurd. Want to help the troops? Bring them home." US House Rep Lynn Woolsey states, "The American public voted Democrats into power for one simple reason -- the trusted us to act boldly to hold this President accountable and to bring our troops home. So far we are failing the very trust that they have placed in us. But more importantly, every day that we allow this occupation to continue we are failing our brave young men and women who are serving honorably and professionally in Iraq. And we are failing their families here at home, who, while struggling to keep their lives and families together, are forced to worry whether their loved ones will come home alive, and if so in what condition." Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) make it clear, "There are only a couple [of] ways Congress can end this bloody, unwinnable occupation in Iraq. These do NOT include the approach of the Democratic leaders. That's been a failure -- as they now stand ready to give Bush $95 billion more war funding through an Iraq Supplemental bill that no longer has any timelines for troop withdrawal."

The deadlines and 'benchmarks' were never enforceable. They were never binding. The Bully Boy could waive them, he could reclassify ever US service member in Iraq "military police" and thereby keep them in Iraq without missing the 'deadlines' of the Pelosi-Reid measure that was sent up to the White House and vetoed. If you think real hard, you'll remember a Party Hack that told Dems in Congress (in the House) opposed to the weak Pelosi-Reid measure that they had to "accept the congressional world as it is right now".
But those trying to call reality out on the nonsense bill were told (a) they were wrong and (b) the Dems would stick by this measure no matter what (one Party Hack swore the answer to a veto lay in the "conference report" that "we" would take care of). A few did call the nonsense out, Laura Flanders, Howard Zinn, Black Agenda Report, Alexander Cockburn, Matthew Rothschild, Robert Knight (of Flashpoints Radio -- and include Dennis Bernstein, host of the same show, as well) . . . But it's a really small list. The rest either went along with the lie, stuck their head in the sand or, in the case of The Nation, attempted to write an editorial -- a p.o.v. piece -- from various perspectives to avoid calling the nonsense out.

But everyone was supposed to hold their tongues because this was the best, this was the only way that everyone could be on board and something could be done, hold your nose and accept it. Too many did. And now too many learn that when you act like a cheerleader instead of demanding real action, the Democratic compromise (and it's always a Democratic compromise) will be even weaker. Instead of cooing, "You can do it, Democrats, you can do it," the people would have been better served rejecting the weak measures. That might have forced the Dems to do more with their first proposal and, when it was compromise time, we might have seen them put forward the bill they went with last time. The Democrats will always compromise -- partly because they like to see themselves as "adults" (or, in the age of Oprah, "healers") and partly because they still can't quite believe that triangulation isn't a winning strategy.

Bill Van Auken (WSWS) reports, "Behind the media reports of a showdown between Democrats and Republicans over the Iraq war, what in reality appears to be emerging in Washington is a bipartisan consensus on a strategy that would continue the US occupation of the oil-rich country for many years to come." But not everyone's displeased. AP reports Bully Boy's practically panting over the gift the Democrats have handed him, saying that it "reflects a consensus" -- to which the reporters should have shot back, "Spell it."

Norman Solomon (CounterPunch) notes that there is a very long struggle ahead to end the illegal war and cautions: "When considering what to demand now, it's helpful to put the current moment in historical perspective. The same basic arguments for keeping U.S. forces in Iraq have long been presented by reigning politicians and key media outlets as self-evident wisdom. A cover story in Time magazine laid down the prevailing line: 'Foreing policy luminaries from both parties say a precipitous U.S. withdrawal would cripple American credibility, doom reform in the Arab world and turn Iraq into a playground for terrorists and the armies of neighboring states like Iran and Syria.' That was in April -- 2004."

Speaking with Kris Welch on KPFA's Living Room today, Medea Benjamin (CODEPINK) stated, "We haven't bought the Democrats line from day one that they were trying to stop the war and we've been trying to hold them accountable" and reminded of US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, "The first policy that she put out on the first 100 hours didn't even include the word 'Iraq' in it." (Also appearing to discuss Congress' capitulation on Iraq were Tina Richards and David Swanson.)

War resisters continue trying to end the illegal war. On Monday, Carol Brouillet interviewed Camilo Mejia for Questioning War-Organizing Resistance on They addressed his newly published book, Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia (The New Press), the abuse he saw in Iraq and his own court-martial. Camilo Mejia: "The judge basically agreed with the prosection that it is not there job to second guess the commander in chief. And they did not want to hear about the war crimes or the violations of Geneva on the ground in Iraq. So they basically brought down the entire case to the question of whether I got back on the plane or not but they didn't look at the reasoning behind it. They did not examine the claims of war crimes or anything. And this is something that's happening more and more, Carol. Like for instance in the case of Lt. Watada that's precisely what happened. You know the prosecution wanted to prosecute Lt. Watada for saying that he did not want to participate in an illegal war but they did not want to put the war on trial so that's why they declared a mistrail because they could not go to court and look at all these issues without looking at the legality of the war. They could not examine his statements without actually verifying the veracity or without somehow one way or another putting the war on trial."

Ehren Watada was the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to the Iraq war. An attempted court-martial in February ended -- over defense objection -- in a mistrial. Last Friday, the defense learned that an appeals court, Army Court of Appeals, granted a stay.

Watada and Mejia are part of growing movement of resistance within the US military that also includes Joshua Key, Terri Johnson, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, 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, forty 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. And of course, there's
Yesterday, we noted the case of Adam Kokesh who was honorably discharged in 2006 but whose actions to end the illegal war now has the military threatening him with a change in discharge status. (More information can be found at Iraq Veterans Against the War's Kelly Dougherty has a letter posted at Veterans for Peace:

I am writing to let you know about an urgent issue that is affecting several of our IVAW members. Adam Kokesh and Liam Madden are both very active members and former Marines. Because of their outspoken opposition to the war, the Marine Corps is threatening to revoke their honorable discharges and change them to other than honorable. We cannot allow this suppression of free speech to occur! Adam and Liam need our help to pay for legal defense and travel to their hearings. Adam just found out his hearing is in Kansas City on June 4th, less than two weeks away! Attached below is a letter from Adam, describing his situation and asking for your help. Besides financial contributions, we also need people who are in the Kansas City area to gather support for Adam before his June 4th hearing. Please contact me at if you are in the area and would like to find out how you can help. I will keep you updated on both Adam and Liam's cases as they unfold.

Thank you so much for your time and support, it really means everything to our veterans who dare to speak the truth.

In Peace,
Kelly Dougherty
Former Sergeant Army National Guard
Executive Director
Iraq Veterans Against the War

The US Congress wasn't the only political body in the news today. BBC reports that puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki has announced six new nominations for "cabinet ministers to replace supporters of the radical Shia cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr, who resigned last month." Those paying attention this time last year may remember that al-Malilki missed the Constitutionally mandated deadline to put together a cabinet -- which should have kicked the puppt out of 'leadership' right then. Whether his latest six will be approved or not will be determined in a parliamentary vote Sunday. Meanwhile, the violence continued.


Jenan Hussein (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad mortar attack killed 1 person and left three more wounded, 6 Iraqis were wounded by an IED while driving in their car in Ad Dawr, while a bombing in Al-Sharkhat killed a "man and woman" and left an additional woman wounded. AFP reports a bombing at a Falluja funeral that killed at least 25: "Fallujah residents told AFP by telephone that the bomb there targeted mourners paying their respects to Ali Ahmed Zuwail, the nephew of tribal leader Abdel Razeq al-Issawi, who was shot dead on Wednesday." Garrett Theolf (Los Angeles Times) spells the nephew's name Alawi Ahmed Zuwaid and notes he was shot "in front of his house" and was "suspected of cooperating with American forces in reconstruction projects, family and friends said." Reuters reports the Falluja death toll climbed to 27 and that there are at least 30 wounded, a Baghdad car bombing killed 1 Iraqi solilder and left two more njured, a Baghdad bomber ("wearing an explosive vest") killed himslef and one passenger on a mini-bus (5 wounded). a Baghdad bombing that killed 2 people and left 15 more wounded and a roadside bombing in Sulaiman Bek that claimed the lives of 6 police officers and wounded six more.


Reuters reports an attack on a mini-bus in Baghdad in which 11 passengers were shot dead and an attack in Khan Bani Saad where 6 people were shot dead. Jenan Hussein (McClatachy Newspapers) reports an attack in Kirkuk left 6 Iraqis shot dead, and, in Baghdad, one Iraqi civilian was shot dead by US forces and another was wounded.


Jenan Hussein (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 22 corpses discovered in Baghdad.
Reuters reports 3 corpses discovered in Baquba.

Today the US military announced: "Two Soldiers assigned to Multi National Force-West were killed May 23 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province." AFP's count for the total number of US service members killed in the illegal war is 3,436. ICCC's count is currently 3434.

Finally, independent journalist John Pilger is on a speaking tour with his new book Freedom Next Time and his documentary Breaking the Silence: Truth and Lies in the War on Terror (which looks at DC, Afghanistan and Iraq). June 7th, he will discuss his book with Amy Goodman at The New School, Tishman Auditorium, 66 West 12th Street, beginning at 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:15). Admission is $5 per person and students (with ID) can attend for free. Pilger will sign copies of his book afterwards and Amy Goodman will sign copies of her latest book (written with her brother David Goodman) Static. "For ticket information, contact (212) 229-5488 or For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or For more information, click here or e-mail"

June 11th, Pilger will be in Los Angeles at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (244 S. San Pedro St.) and will discuss his book and show his documentary beginning at 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:00 pm). The price of admission to the even is five dollars. "Directions, maps, and parking info at:
Presented by The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, and The Nation Institute, with support from the Wallace Global Fund. For ticket information, call or visit the JACCC. Box office: 213-680-3700 (Box Office Hours: Monday - Saturday: Noon - 5 pm)
For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or For more information, email"

June 13th finds him in San Francisco showing his film and discussing his book at Yerba Beuna Center for Arts (beginning at 7:00 pm, doors open at 6:00 pm) and the price of admission is $15 general and $5 for students. "Presented by The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, The Nation Institute, and KPFA, with support from the Wallace Global Fund. For ticket information, call 415-978-2787 or order online at In person tickets at YBCA Box office located inside the Galleries and Forum Building, 701 Mission Street at Third. (Hours: Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat & Sun: noon - 5 pm; Thu: noon - 8 pm.) For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or For more information, email"

From San Francisco, he moves on to Chicago for the 2007 Socialism conference. At 11:30 am Saturday June 16th, he and Anthony Arnove will participate in a conversation, audience dialogue and book signing (Arnove is the author most recently of IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal) and that evening (still June 16th) at 7:30 Pilger will be at Chicago Crowne Plaza O'Hare (5440 North River Road, Rosemont, IL 60018) as part of a panel of international activists. To attend the conference, the fee is $85. For Saturday and Sunday only, the price is $70. To attend only one session, the cost is ten dollars. "Presented by The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, The Nation Institute, with support from the Wallace Global Fund. Co-sponsors: Obrera Socialista, Socialist Worker, International Socialist Review, and Haymarket Books. For ticket information, call 773-583-8665 or e-mail For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or For more information, email"

The Socialism 2007 conference will take place in Chicago from June 14-17. Along with Pilger and Arnove, others participating will include Dahr Jamail, Laura Flanders, Kelly Dougherty, Joshua Frank, Amy Goodman, Sharon Smith, Dave Zirin, Camilo Mejia, Jeremy Scahill, Jeffrey St. Clair and many others.