Sunday, June 03, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

I'm writing this while on the road to Kansas City, MO in what the Veterans of Foreign Wars, in supporting Adam Kokesh in his fight for the free speech rights of vets, has described as a "circus" but which is a very real effort to muzzle veterans of the Iraq War and preventing the public from hearing their views of what is going on in Iraq.We held a press conference outside of Union Station in Washington, DC before departing for Kansas City, MO on the Yellow Rose of Texas Peace Bus. You can see the press conference at: Kevin Zeese introduces Marine Mom Tina Richards of Grass Roots America, Garret Reppenhagen Chairman of the Board of Iraq Vets Against the War and Liam Madden, an IVAW member who is facing disciplinary action not only for speaking out while wearing a uniform but for "disloyal" statements while not wearing a uniform. KZ introduces attorney Michael Lebowitz, after his statement he responds to media inquiries. Kevin Zeese introducing Adam KokeshOn the road Adam Kokesh, Liam Madden and Tina Richards did constant radio interviews. This morning Adam, Liam and Cloy Richards -- all three who have been threatened for their speaking out against the war -- appeared on Good Morning America. The three had very little sleep the night before as we drove through the night to get to Kansas City. They broke off with a car and arrived in Kansas City at 4 AM and had to be in the studio at 8 AM. The Yellow Rose of Texas Peace Bush did not arrive till 8 AM after two days and nights of driving to get here.
When I was not trying to sleep in various uncomfortable positions, I spent my time on the bus directing media calls to the three spokespersons, providing background to the media and, as an attorney in the case, interviewing potential witnesses. I also stayed in touch with Michael Lebowitz, the lead lawyer in the case, about witnesses and other issues. One issue that came up was that the Marines were excluding the media from the hearing. The media was told that they were being excluded to "protect" Adam Kokesh. We filed a motion on Saturday asking that the media be allowed to observe and report on the hearing saying that Adam would be better protected by allowing the media to be present. We have not heard a response to this motion. The decision is at the discretion of the administrative board.

On the road we also got the good news of a second excellent Washington Post news article on the case as well as an excellent AP article. Both are reprinted below. They focused on the Veterans of Foreign Wars making a very positive statement of support for Adam Kokesh and the other vets under investigation. They urged the Marines to put an end to this "circus." It is great to see major veterans organizations uniting in their support of the free speech rights of vets. At the rally scheduled for Monday at noon in Kansas City we will have representatives of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

The above, noted by Brent, is from "Veterans Groups Unite Behind Kokesh Battle With Marines for Free Speech" (Democracy Rising). For those trying to figure out which vets organizations are stepping up to the plate and which aren't, check the last sentence. As noted in "US military goes after veterans" (The Third Estate Sunday Review), Adam Kokesh was participating in street theater in DC March 19th and the Supreme Court found in Schacht v. United States (1970) that the US military had no say over who wore and did not wore any form of army dress in theater. It found that street theater was as much a theaterical production as anything staged on Broadway. The hearing Monday wants to delve into matters that the Supreme Court has already ruled upon -- and, in that case, they made it very clear that the US military had no say in productions. Just to recap quickly, Daniel Jay Schacht engaged in street theater, in military dress, outside a recruiting station. He was arrested, he was found guilty. The case made it all the way to the Supreme Court. The Court noted that the US military had no problem with military dress being worn in pro-military production (it was then written into their code that this was permissable). Having allowed the use in some productions, the Court decided the US military could not turn and say, "No, not this group." It was now a free speech issue and any production (of any size -- Schacht's production was himself and three others) could utilize the military dress. There are a number of points that can be argued in the hearing; however, when you've got a Supreme Court ruling on Kokesh's side, the US military never should have attempted to launch this witch hunt. The fact that so many are electing to sit this one out, with their heads ducked, goes a long way towards explaining how the illegal war passed the four year mark last March.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.

-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Sunday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 3454. Tonight? 3495. 41 deaths in one week. (17 in the first days of June alone.) And the press chose to repeatedly jerk off last week about five British contractors being kidnapped. Day after day, that's what those reading American newspapers and watching American TV got (with few exceptions). That's five away from the 3500 mark and the 3000 mark was passed December 31, 2006. Let's go over some of today's announced deaths.

The US military announced today: "One Task Force Lightning Soldier died of wounds sustained from an explosion that occured near his vehicle while conducting operations in Diyala Province, Saturday." And they announced: "One Task Force Lighning Soldier was killed by an explosion that occured near his vehicle while conducting operations in Diyala Province, Saturday." [Those should not be the same soldier -- in the first two other soldiers were wounded, in the second, four other soldiers were wounded.] And they announced: "While conducting combat operations in the western section of the Iraqi capital, a Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was killed when an improvised explosive device detonated Saturday." And they announced: "A Task Force Marne Soldier was killed by small arms fire while patrolling south of Baghdad Saturday." And they announced: "Two Task Force Lightning Soldiers were killed when their patrol was attacked with and IED while conducting operations in Ninewah Province, Saturday." And (PDF format warning) they announced: "While conducting combat operations in the western section of the Iraqi capital, a Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was killed when an improvised explosive device detonated June 2." And (PDF format warning) they announced: "While conducting a combined cordon and search operation, four Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldiers died when an improvised explosive device struck their vehicle northwest of the Iraqi capital June 3." And (PDF format warning) they announced: "A Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was killed when a roadside bomb detonated during combat operations in an eastern section of the Iraqi capital June 3." And they announced: "A Task Force Marne Soldier was killed while on a dismounted patrol by a suicide car bomber Saturday southwest of Baghdad."

I noted "some" in the sentence before the last paragraph because I'm not sure that's all of the announcements. Those all came out today and I hope every announcement was noted but it might not have been.

In May, at leat 2,155 Iraqis were killed according to the AP count (as noted on Friday's The KPFA Evening News). Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that today 31 coprses were discovered in Baghdad, a Baghdad mortar attack wounded one person, Ayad Shihab Amed (Central Bank of Iraq) and his brother were shot dead in Baghdad, a Baghdad bombing killed 2 people, a Baladruz car bombing killed 9 (25 wounded), 5 corpses were discovered in al Muradiyah, 5 people were shot dead in Ghalbiya, Ghanim Al Sabawi was shot dead in Mosul, and 2 people were killed in fighting in Basra. Reuters notes two people were shot dead in Kirkuk, nine corpses were discovered in Baghdad (and 26 corpses were discovered in Baghdad on Saturday, 9 in Mosul).

Steve Holland (Reuters) reports on the Dem debate and the Iraq comments. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton humiliated themselves while groping and fondling their inner Bully Boy. John Edwards rightly noted that Obama and Clinton appeared on the fence re: Senate supplemental until the last minute and noted there is a difference between legislating and leadership. Obama -- who only spoke out on Iraq when Jack Ryan was in the Senate race and after the Obama campaign used sewer tactics to knock out Ryan, Obama grew silent -- revealed his love for pleasing touchy-feelies if not reality, "It is not easy to vote for cutting off funding, because the fact is there are troops on the ground." Somebody ask Senator Junior Dumb Ass what monies in the supplemental went to troops? (None. Those still buying that lie can listen to the second half-hour of the May 24th broadcast of KPFA's Living Room.) John Edwards has also rightly questioned the so-called war on terror and Hillary couldn't keep from lying and posturing (again), declaring, "I have seen firsthand the terrible damage that can be inflicted on our country." Like Bully Boy, Hillary and Rudy G both think they can use 9-11 for fodder. Possibly, both Hillary and Rudy G should be asked what they were doing up to September 10th because whatever it was, it didn't work. More importantly, the so-called war on terror is being used to torture people, it's being used by repressive countries to drum up aid from the US, and it's got about 100 other uses at least. Hillary Clinton insults everyone in her home state when she plays dumb (in the exact same manner Rudy G did with Ron Paul in the GOP debate). Dennis Kucinich is quoted stating, "This war belongs to the Democratic Party because the Democrats were put in charge by the people in the last election with the thought that they were going to end the war" and Mike Gravel declaring that those who voted to authorize the illegal war (which really wasn't authorized) should get out of the presidential race. (That would include John Edwards.)

John Kerry tried to run to the right of the Bully Boy in 2004, tried to offer similar soundbytes. In 2008, any Democrat unwilling to tell the truth but glad to fall back on Bully Boy's talking points, should make every voter dismayed. Right now, that's Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama who have both yet to demonstrate that they are qualified for the job, let alone that they could handle it. They get a lot of soft coverage about being "firsts" that fail to examine seriously what they are doing. Currently, they are both falling back on GOP talking points while running for the Democratic 2008 presidential nomination.

Chris Dodd wasn't quoted in the article. Since he wasn't, we'll note this from a recent speech. Here's he's just finished speaking of WWII:

In its aftermath, America could have once again drawn inward. Instead, the trials of Nazi war criminals in the German city of Nuremberg which commenced more than sixty years ago were a seminal moment in international engagement and justice.
Indeed, Nuremberg has a deeply personal meaning for me. My father was the Executive Trial Counsel under Chief Prosecutor and Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson.
The Nuremberg trial was by no means the obvious choice of the collective world community.
It was said, why not just shoot the Nazi leaders, as Churchill wanted, create show trials as Stalin wanted or give in to legal scholars, who said there was no court or precedent under which to try them?
Why not?
Because America has always stood for something more and deeper.
Because we understood that our power came from our ability to lead -- not by the example of our force, but the force of our example.
Such principles led Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman to create international institutions that would serve the common good and security of all nations for decades to come.
Institutions such as NATO and the United Nations, which together fostered the cardinal tenet that the use of force should be reserved for self-defense and collective security.

Hilda e-mailed asking that we note the above. As most members know, Hilda's been tracking (in Hilda's Mix) how welcoming or not the Democratic candidates are to all voters on their web sites. As someone with a hearing disability, Hilda has had especially strong words for Chris Dodd whose website has contained a lot of videos (with no closed captioning) but not a great deal of text. Hilda noted that this speech is available in both video and text. Hilda hopes this signals a change in Dodd's website and will be scoring his website and the other Dem candidates Tuesday when Hilda's Mix goes out. On the topic of Dems who want to be leaders but can't stand up, Mia notes Missy Comley Beattie's "Let's Roar" (CounterPunch):

Let us establish a party representative of the people.
Let us take up the baton from Cindy Sheehan who will be immortalized as one of the world's great humanitarians while the Administration of George Bush, a cog in the wheel of a failed machine, will be judged an epic failure.
So, Cindy, retire in peace. And then reemerge, energized. You, my dear friend, will have the support of all who believe that our voices must never be silenced. We can unite to alter and abolish a form of government which has a history of repeated injuries. Return, roaring. We'll roar with you.
In numbers too big to ignore.

And she's right, it is up to us. It's up to us to call for an end to the illegal war and to support the others who are doing the same. Turning to the issue of war resistance within the military -- which is increasing and has been ongoing but don't shock The Nation by saying that too loudly -- we'll note Randy Furst's "Three brothers... all AWOL" (Minneapolis Star Tribune):

Luke Kamunen began to wonder if he'd made a mistake the moment he arrived for basic training. He was still in the airport at Fort Jackson, S.C., with other members of his Minnesota National Guard unit, when an officer reprimanded him publicly for leaving a paper cup on his seat in the airport.
"I was thinking, is this what it's going to be like the whole time?" Luke said. "I'm not even on the bus yet."
His twin brother, Leif, started having doubts within weeks when a drill sergeant indicated they were probably headed to Iraq. Leif said that possibility had been downplayed by the recruiter who signed him up in Duluth.
On Jan. 2, the twins, age 21, and their brother Leo, 20, went AWOL from the Army. All three failed to return to basic training after Christmas break in northern Minnesota. Five months later, Luke has been released from the military, while Leif and Leo remain absent without leave. They say they plan to turn themselves in soon.
The Kamunen brothers are an example of a growing problem -- Army desertions have risen 35 percent in the past two years, according to Defense Department figures. The number rose from 2,450 in 2004 to 3,301 in 2006.

Three brothers from the same family, and The Nation works hard to play like this isn't happening. Meanwhile, Skip notes "Iraq war can't be won: British army chief" (Australia's

THERE is "no way" the war in Iraq can be won by the United States and its allies, a former British Army commander said as he called for the troops to be withdrawn.
General Sir Michael Rose, who commanded the United Nations Protection Force in Bosnia-Hercegovina from 1994 to 1995, said coalition forces in Iraq were facing an impossible situation. "There is no way we are going to win the war and (we should) withdraw and accept defeat because we are going to lose on a more important level if we don't,'' he said.

Pru gets the last highlight "Rebel Iraqi leader Moqtada al-Sadr calls for unity of resistance" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

Moqtada al-Sadr, the rebel Shia Muslim cleric opposed to the occupation of Iraq, has called on all resistance organisations to unite and drive out foreign troops.
Sadr, who was targeted by the US during its "surge" of troops into Iraq, told his supporters in Kufa on Friday of last week, "We demand the withdrawal of the occupation forces, or the creation of a timetable for such a withdrawal.
"I call upon the Iraqi government not to extend the occupation, even for a single day."
On 9 April up to one million Iraqis marched in the southern city of Najaf to demand an end to the occupation.
The demonstration, festooned with Iraqi flags rather than those of Shia Muslim parties, was timed to coincide with the opening of talks among resistance organisations.
A week later Sadr withdrew his ministers from the government after the prime minister Nouri al-Maliki refused to demand the withdrawal of US troops.
Sadr then joined Sunnis in opposing the building of "security walls" around Sunni Baghdad neighbourhoods and began to purge his organisation of those he said were involved in sectarian attacks.
Sadr's Mehdi Army recently confronted Iraqi security forces and the US-backed Badr Brigades responsible for much of the sectarian murders.
The momentum for the dialogue among the resistance began when a senior member of Sadr's organisation came into contact with Sunni resistance leaders in a US prison camp.
The predominantly nationalist resistance organisations have been recently fighting to drive out Al Qaida affiliated groups from areas under their control.
These groups have been accused of targeting Shia areas rather than occupation forces.
Sadr's appeal to the resistance organisations in the predominantly Sunni regions has received a warm welcome from other resistance groups.
Abu Aja Naemi, a senior commander of the 1920 Revolution Brigades, one of the main nationalist organisations, confirmed that talks had taken place on the formation of a united front between Shia and Sunni groups.
On the day Sadr delivered his call for an end to the occupation, British troops gunned down Wisam Abu Qadir, the commander of the Mehdi Army in the southern city of Basra.
Since the killing, there have been waves of attacks on British bases. The US, meanwhile, has suffered its bloodiest month since November 2004, with over 113 soldiers killed in May.
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