Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, May 30, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces 2 more deaths, Free Speech Radio News provides a first rate special, and more.
Steve Negus and Demetri Sevastopulo (Financial Times of London) report, "A series of fatalities announced on Tuesday in Iraq saw the US military's death toll rise to its highest monthly level in more than two years."  Curiously (or maybe not so), the New York Times isn't interested.  The story noting the 10 deaths (covered in yesterday's snapshot) isn't even worthy of a solo story.  Instead it gets teamed up with the kidnapping of five people who chose to go to Iraq to make money.  Five contractors (one prefers consultant) who are British and not even working for a British corporation so let's not pretend the "They wanted to serve their country!" crap is going to fly.  Four were armed security guards.  Currently the US army -- composed of service members who make peanuts unlike the high paid contractors -- are searching throughout Baghdad to save the five who came to Iraq hoping to line their pockets with some blood money.  So it's all the more insulting that the New York Times thinks the 'perfect' thing to do is to pair the disappearance of 5 with the death of 10 who were ordered into Iraq and saw no chance of getting rich off the illegal war.  After a 'shout out' paragraph two, Damien Cave forgets the US soldiers until paragraph nineteen.  By contrast, the Washington Post front pages John Ward Anderson's report on how May is "the deadliest month for U.S. troops in 2 1/2 years". 
Currently, the ICCC count for the total number of US service members killed in the illegal war is 3470 and the number killed in May (thus far) is 119. On Monday, Free Speech Radio News used their half-hour broadcast for a special Memorial Day look at the some of the costs of the war in US with reporter Aaron Glantz in the role of reporter and anchor.  Glantz spoke with Muriel Dean whose husband was killed last Christmas.  James E. Dean wasn't shot dead in Iraq, he was shot dead in Maryland.  Having served 18 months in Afghanistan, suffering from PTSD and with an Iraq redployment coming up (January 14, 2007), James E. Dean went to his father's farm and holed up there, alone, with the possible intent to kill himself.  Muriel Dean strongly believes that, at some point, her husband would have gotten tired, gone to sleep and, when he woke up, and left the farm.  Instead, the police decided the thing to do in a situation where the farm was empty, where no neighbors were close by and where the only person James E. Dean could have hurt was himself, the thing to do was to use tear gas to force him out and then shoot him dead.  The report from the review conducted by Maryland's State Attorney office deemed the police behavior "assualtive and militaristic." 
Aaron GlantzPentagon doctors estimate that 12 percent of the 1.5 million veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Other studies put that number higher at closer to 30 percent.  As the war drags on the military is increasingly sending soldiers back to Iraq for second and third tours even if they suffer from the same type of mental illness as Patrick Resta.
Glantz also spoke with Melissa and Patrick Resta who served in Al Anbar Province in Iraq and spoke of Iraqis approaching US service members with ill children but, Resta explains, that they were threatened with court-martial if they used medical supplies on anyone other than US service members.  [This point is echoed in Camilo Mejia's  Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia.]  When he returned from Iraq at the end of 2004, he was angry, unable to sleep, drinking, avoiding everyone.  At Christmas, Melissa Resta asked her husband "if he wanted to split up and he told me he didn't care" which was her clue that there was something seriously wrong. 
Patrick Resta has now been diagnosed with PTSD and is receiving treatment and attending college.  He states: "I'm definitely not the person I was before.  I was always laid back, you know relaxed, always cracking jokes and now I'm anxious and tense and have bouts of anger, have some pretty severe insomnia, have some bad nightmares  and I think it's pretty standard for the men and women that have been over there.  All of the people that I've talked to, it's pretty much the same -- the same set of symptons and the same problems."
Melissa Resta:  There are so many of these things that I never would have thought would be a problem and now I have to think them through.  The grocery store's too crowded.  We also live in a city with a very high Muslim population and there are a lot of women in traditional Muslim dress and sometimes I notice that that can be unsettling for him to see that just because I think it brings back these feelings.  I mean there are a lot of things that you have to take into consideration and at 27 it's not really where I had pictured myself.
Glantz also interviewed Kristy Kruger whose brother, Eric Kruger, was killed in Baghdad by a roadside bomb November 2, 2006.  [Kristy Kruger, a singer-songwriter, often performs concerts to benefit her brother's four children.  Donations can be sent to: The Memorial Fund for Children of LTC Eric Kruger, 6460 Crystal Mountain Rd., Colorado Springs, CO 80923.]
And Glantz interviewed doctors who treat PTSD including Dr. Col. Vito Imbascini who was stationed in Germany for four months last year where he treated US service members wounded in the war and discussed how body armor meant service members who might have lost a limb in Vietnam and suffered wounds to their chest and abdmonen that led to their deaths are now likely to survive "but be severely disabled for life" allowing "an extremely high number of wounded American soldiers are coming home with their arms or legs amputated" and, during his four months in Germany, he "amputated the genitals of one or two men every day."
Again, that is the Memorial Day special of Free Speech Radio News. Today the Daily Mail reported on Martin Packer, a British soldier who had self-checked out, and killed himself (Monday) in front of Joanne Hepple (his girlfriend) and her two songs as a result of being "tormented by what he had witnessed in" Iraq.  War resisters Darrell Anderson and Joshua Key are among those who have disclosed their own PTSD.  From Key's book, The Deserter's Tale (pp. 209-210):
A Canadian psychiatrist told me that you never truly emerge from post-traumatic stress disorder, that you simply learn to live with it.
There are certain things that I avoid these days, such as alcohol and crowds, because I fear they will trigger more of my own blackouts.  I know that thousands of American soldiers have abused drugs or committed suicide after returning home from war.  It would be easy to follow in the steps of many in my own family and drown my shame and my sorrows in alcohol.  Alcohol, however, could lead to the very problem of suicidal depression that have plagued vets for generations. 
Joshua Key is part of  a growing movement of war resistance within the US military that includes Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Camilo Mejia, 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 HotlineIraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Today, in Iraq, the violence continues as does the breeding of hostilities.  Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) reports that the raids to find the 5 British contractors is even more violent than the search to find the 3 missing US soldiers (and remember, only the corpse of one of the 3 US soldiers is confirmed found) by crashing into one Iraqi police officer's "home about 2 a.m. using an armored vehicle, cuffed and blindfolded those inside, and pointed lasers at their chests.  'They were hitting us, asking, "Where are the kidnapped British?" said the man who asked that his name not be published for fear of retribution by Western forces.  'I told them that we are five brothers in the police force.  How could we do that?  They said OK, then tell us where are they?"  Also today, the US military has confirmed what CNN reported yesterday -- remember the days when reporting was reporting and official government statements were official government states?  Rest easy outlets, you can now report what CNN did yesterday: A US helicopter was shot down Monday in Iraq (which led to the death of 2 US soldiers and 6 died while attempting to rush to the scene of the crash).  Repeating, the US military has confirmed what CNN reported.  Read AP here and wonder why news outlets not only wouldn't report the helicopter was shot down but they also wouldn't even report it by couching it with "CNN is reporting that . . ."  In other air news, Turkey, which shares a border with Iraq, has issued a request.  Turkish Daily News reports the government of Turkey "formally asked the United States not to repeat any airspace violation, following an incident last week where two US F-16 fighters infringed the Turkish air corridor."  And that comes as tensions continue to mount between Turkey and the Kurdish northern Iraq.  CBS and AP report, "Turkey has sent large contigents of soldiers, tanks and armored personnel carriers to reinforce its border with Iraq amid a heated debate over whether to stage a cross-border offensive to hit Kurdish rebel bases.  Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday urged the United States and Iraq to destroy bases of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, in northern Iraq as the Turkish military depoloyed more tanks and soldiers on the border."
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a parked car Baghdad bombing that claimed 1 life (5 wounded), 2 Baghdad mortar attacks that killed 1 person and left 6 wounded, a Baghdad bombing that killed an Iraqi soldier and three police officers were wounded from a bombing near the Basheer village.  Reuters reports a Mhmudiya mortar attack that killed 3 people and left 21 wounded and a Falluja mortar attack that left 5 dead (15 wounded). 
Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) notes the Amarah shooting death of "a journalist working with the Aswat Al-Iraq news agency".  AFP notes that "three journalists had been killed in the previous three days."  Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Ala'a Abdul Razzaq Qasim (interior ministry intelligence) was shot dead in Baghdad along with two of his bodyguards, Mohammed Shakir (ministry of interior affairs) was shot dead in Baghdad, a bodyguard was shot dead in Hawija in an attack on "the head of the judicial committee of Hawija," and 3 police officers wer shot dead in Diyala province.  Reuters notes a woman killed in an Mosul attack.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 23 corpses discovered in Baghdad.
Today the US military announced: "Two Multi-National Division-Center Soldiers were killed while on dismounted patrol when a roadside bomb exploded today."
On this week's Law and Disorder (WBAI on Monday and others throughout the ) featured Anthony Arnove's remarks from the Left Forum panel Iraq: What's At Stake (which also featured A.K. Gupta, Christian Parenti, Gilbert Achcar and Nir Rosen) that was held March 11th.
Anthony Arnove:  The fundamental political reality is that the US occupation -- not al Qaeda, not Iran, not Syria -- is the reason for the insurgency in Iraq which is why no amount of 'surges' of additional troops, programs for police training, rhetoric about cutting off supply routes to Iran and Syria, or plans for victory is going to end the resistance to US occupation.Iraq today is an unqualified disaster even from the standpoint of the US ruling class. One can now regularly read on the pages of the Finanical Times and the Wall St. Journal establishment observers who proclaim Iraq the greatest foreign policy mistake in the history of the United States -- greater even than Vietnam.   
[. . . ]
The Democrats came into a majority in the House, the Senate and the state governorships last Novemember as a result of a vote against the war in Iraq yet what have they done since taking office?
For all the laughable rhetoric about exporting democracy in Iraq and the Middle East -- which is the opposite of US intentions -- we now see again how little democracy we have at home as well.  So far, the boldest measure the Democrats have been able to muster was to pass a non-binding House resolution criticizing the additional 21,500 troops Bush has sent to Iraq -- not the underlying occupation, not the military bases, not the  economic occupation, not the presence of a 100,000 private mercenaries operating without any accountablility.  The deaths, though, of Iraqis are binding.   The deaths of US soldiers are binding.  And let's remember that the Democrats, certainly the party's key leadership voted overwhelmingly to support Bush's invasion, that they have repeatedly voted to appropriate more funding for the occupation, and now many leading Democrats are pushing to add more than seventeen billion dollars to Bush's one hundred billion supplemental funding request for the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.  Only now that the occupation is widely recognized as a complete disaster do you have Democrats voicing muted criticism of the war but much if it is utterly superficial. 
[. . .]
There will be growing pressure on all of us as the 2008 presidentional election cycle continues to pick up to restrict the debate in this country to ever more narrow circles but we cannot afford to fall into that trap.  If we become a lobbying wing of the Democratic Party we will become not more relevant as some insist but we will become irrelevant. The anti-war movement must maintain its independence   and must continue to mobolize to fight for its own independent demands which I think first and foremost should be for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of troops from Iraq.
Arnove is the author of, most recently, IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal.  Last week on Law and Disorder (as Mike noted Friday) co-hosts Dalia Hashad and Michael Ratner discussed Brigadier General Douglas Lute who was the one who finally consented to be Bully Boy's war czar.    Hashad noted that "czar" was a title the administration had moved away from and had settled on "war coordinator.  Makes it sound like an after school job."  Hashad also noted that Lute had told the Financial Times of London, some time ago, that he didn't support the concept of escalation.  In August 2005, Peter Spiegel and Demetri Sevastopulo (Financial Times) reported that Lute felt the numbers of US troops on the ground in Iraq needed to be reduced for several reasons including, Lute speaking, "You have to undercut the perception of occupation in Iraq.  It's very difficult to do that when you have 150,000-plus, largely western, foreign troops occupying the country."  That was Lute in 2005, when US troops on the ground were far less than they are now and before he became the war czar or war coordinator.
Last week, Andishen Nouaree (Columbia's Free Times), observing that Laura Bush's laughable claim that no one suffers this illegal war more than the Bully Boy who started it, asked, "How much is the president suffering? Last week he quit his job.  Not the whole job.  He's still gonna give speeches, sign legislation, live in the White House, fly around on Air Force One and park his pickup truck in front of the 'Parking for Presidents Only' sign that Jenna bought him for the driveway in Crawford.  Bush quit the 'lead the nation's war effort' part of his job.  He announced . . . that he's handing that responbility over to U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute." 
Finally, today on Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman spoke at length with Cindy Sheehan.  From the end of the interview:
AMY GOODMAN: Cindy Sheehan, we have fifteen seconds. I have the sense, as you talk, that you're not actually leaving, even as a public face of the movement, but stepping back perhaps for a few months, a few weeks, to regroup. Is that accurate?
CINDY SHEEHAN: Well, what I like to think about is like, we're closing down the factory, we're going to retool, and we're going to open up, and it will be a new and improved version of it. But we are definitely going to come at it from a totally different direction.
And remember 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.

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