Friday, June 01, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Friday, June 1, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue, two US soldiers remain missing (someone tell the national press), the US military announces more deaths, May becomes the third worst month of the illegal war thus far in terms of US military fatalities, Nancy Youssef looks at payouts to Iraqis, and Veterans of Foreign Wars stands with Iraq Veterans Against the War's  Adam Kokesh -- which begs the question of where the psuedo 'left' and 'centrist' groups are -- you know all the useless groups who take up time endorsing candidates while maintaing "we're non-partisan."  Guess they must all be off to the (election) races.  Someone tell the Marx Brothers.
Starting with apparently breaking news: Alex R. Jimenez and Byron W. Fouty are missing.  The two US soldiers have been missing since May 12th.  The military has not announced that the two have been found, it's just the press that's lost interest in the story -- the big press.  Possibly, if they worked for a corporation with lots of money to toss around (isn't that how they got the contract to begin with?), the New York Times, et al, would take a moment to remember that two US soldiers have been missing since May 12th.  Jennifer Manley (Queens Chronicle) spoke with Maria del Rosario Duran and Ramon Jimenez who are the parents of Alex Jimenez,  "Each night in Corona, Jimenez's parents keep the faith that their son is luckier.  Despite the grim evidence to the contrary, Duran believes in her heart that he is alive.  'That's what I hope.  That's what I have put in my mind,' she said."  Manley notes that vigils for Alex Jimenez were originally packed but "[b]y Tuesday, the numbers had dwindled and the news coverage had as well.  About a dozen people remained, mostly the family's friend and neighbors."  Adam Pincus (Times Ledger) reports Maria del Rosario Duran is unable to sleep or eat while she awaits some word on her son and quotes what she would to say to her son ("Alex, I miss you.  Alex, please come to my house.") and what she would say to the Bully Boy ("This is a desperate mother.  Stop this thing and bring them home.  Every day this is happening.  George Bus, please bring them home.")  Rosario Duran last saw her son in December when he got a pass to attend the funeral of his grandmother.  She tells Christina Santucci (Queens Courier), "I cannot do anything but think about where is my son.  What's he doing?  Who has my son?" and Ramon Jimenez states, "I pray every night for the three missing people. And I say, 'God give me my son back!'" 
The three soldiers refers to Joseph Anzack whose body was found.  On May 12th, 4 US soldiers and 1 Iraqi translator were found dead from an attack and three US soldiers were classified missing and assumed captured.  Jimenez and Byron Fouty remain missing -- not at all unlike big media's coverage.  CBS and AP break from the pack to note that, while the search for the 5 British contractors (one is considered a consultant) continues, "the hunt for two U.S. soldiers missing since an ambush on May 12 has slowed down." 
KXAN (NBC, Texas) reports that Byron Fouty's family released a statement yesterday: "Son, we are so proud of you and for who you are, what you stand for.  We know in our hearts, you were doing what you needed to do in Iraq, and we would have never expected any less from you.  You are our Hero, our son.  We will miss you and love you forever.  Love, Mom and Dad."  Today is day 20 that Jimenez and Fouty have been missing.  Day 20.  Big media moved on to the story of contractors -- from England -- because that's cleary the biggest domestic story coming out of Iraq.  (That was sarcasm.)
Turning to news of Adam Kokesh who faces a hearing Monday, June 4th in Kansas City, MO that will determine the status of his discharge (previously "honorable") and would determine the status of his benefits.  The Manny Named Brian (Public Eye, CBS) offers that Kokesh may be the new Cindy Sheehan, that he's "photogenic" and "sure seems like the kind of thing that could gather momentum as the summer heats up."  (I swear, I did not make that up, use the link.)  From the world of Candy Perfume Boy, to the Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA) which has a press release from which we'll note this "Executive director of Iraq Veterans Against the War, [Kelly] Dougherty was in Iraq from March 2003 to February 2004 with the Colorado National Guard.  She said today: 'This is not so much about Adam as it is an attempt by the military brass to silence opposition to the war among veterans.  The military is supposed to fight to preserve free speech, not quashing it.  Not only are veterans, who can attest to the realities of this war, increasingly speaking out against the war -- but its grim realities are moving them to increasingly take nonviolent direct action to stop it."  AP reports that "The Veterans of Foreign Wars is urging the military to show 'a little common sense' and call off its investigation of a group of Iraq war veterans who wore their uniforms during war protests." Sam Hananel (AP) quotes the national commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars, Gary Kurpius, stating, "We all know that people give up some individual rights when they joint the military.  But these Marines went to war, did their duty, and were honorably discharged from the active roles.  I may disagree with their message, but I will always defend their right to say it."
Eric Ruder (Socialist Worker) observes that the goal in going after Kokesh and Liam Madden is "silencing criticism from veterans -- discharge them again, but this time less than honorably" and quotes Tod Ensign (Citizen Soldier and Different Drummer Cafe) stating, "These are important issues, and they go to the question of military-civilian balance, and when you cease being bound by military rules.  Are Liam and Adam bound by those rules?  I'd say hell no.  This is just a trial balloon, and it's harassment.  But if they get away with it, you can be sure that they will then start becoming more draconian and their sweep of other people will be expanded.  This could have a very chilling effect on the IVAW, to say the least."  Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) provides a strong overview of the issues at stake and noted that Monday's hearing/administrative meeting is not expected to result in a quick 'verdict' but a recommendationg that Master Sgt. Ronald Spencer says "can take up to two weeks."
Adam Kokesh wore fatigues during DC actions in March, Liam Madden, as David Montgomery (Washington Post) noted, "is accused of wearing his camouflage shirt at an antiwar march in Washington in January."  For all the drama the military's created, you'd think the two (and a third who has been unidentified) had shown up in their dress uniform.  David Morgan (Reuters) identifies the third: Cloy Richards.  Cloy Richards is an Iraq veteran who suffers from PTSD.  Both he and his mother Tina Richards have discussed this publicly.  Apparently the US military believes the way to 'help' Cloy Richards is to threaten the veteran with loss of benefits.  If that doesn't digust you, what does?  Last week, Tina Richards discussed her son's suicide attempt with Kris Welch on KPFA's Living Room.  Getting help for his PTSD has been a battle for Cloy Richards to begin with, the US military's lack of "common sense" just became even more visible. 
As the lack of "common sense" becomes more apparent to the public, war resistance continues to grow within the US military.  Pepe Lozano (People's Weekly World) reports on the June 19th event by the Rosenberg Fund for Children which "will commemorate the 54th anniversary of the Rosenbergs' execution with 'Celebrate the Children of Resistance."  The fund was created by Robert Meeropol, the son of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, and guests will include Angela Davis, Eve Ensler, Howard Zinn, David Strathairn as well as US war resister Camilo Mejia who notes, "When you prosecute an activist, it brings hard times to the family, especially for children like [his daughter] Samantha.  People have to realize there is a family behind activists, and there should be more groups like RFC."  Mejia's book Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia (The New Press) came out at the beginning of May and Iraq Veterans Against the War's Martin Smith (Socialist Worker) reviewed it noting: "Mejia's work -- written from the vantage of a soldier who served and saw firsthand the consequences of U.S. imperialism -- cuts through the deceptions and lies used to justify the war. . . .  Beyond Mejia's exposure of the lies of occupation, the strength of his book is the humility with which Mejia explains the change within himself that led to his decision to follow the conscience and oppose war."  John Catalinotto (Workers World) provided a wide ranging look at war resistance within the US military this week and noted of Iraq war resister Ehren Watada that his "court-martial is still pending after the military uniltaterally decided to declare his first trial a mistrial last February, has now had the court-martial postponed once more.  At first scheduled for June 23 at Ft. Lewis, the trial is now on hold until it is determined if re-starting the trial would mean that Watada faced 'double jeopardy.'  It is still possible that the Army will be forced to drop charges on Lt. Watada, the first officer to refuse duty in Iraq."
The growing movement of war resistance within the US military includes Joshua Key, 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.
On Memorial Day, Michael Kamber (New York Times) reported from Iraq on the rising disillusion of some serving in Iraq noting Staff Sgt. David Safstrom's comments about how he felt when first deployed -- "In Mosul, in 2003, it felt like we were making the city a better place.  There was no sectarian violence, Saddam was gone, we were tracking down the bad guys.  It felt awesome" -- compared to now -- "I thought:'What are we doing here?  Why are we still here?'  We're helping guys that are trying to kill us.  We help them in the day.  They turn around at night and try to kill us."  On a semi-related note, Peter Laufer -- journalist, author of many books including  Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq and former NBC correspondent, debuts Sunday with his new (still unnamed) program on  KPFA, taking over the slot Larry Bensky has occupied until recently (9:00 am to 11:00 am PST).
The announcement was made today during the KPFA Management Report to the Listeners.
More information can be found on Laufer here.
Meanwhile, Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reports: "The Department of Defense spent nearly $31 million in three years in condolence payments to civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it didn't rack how it doled out the money, a Government Accountability Officer report found" -- which, she notes, didn't include what monies were paid for property damage, loss of life or for injuries.  Youssef notes that the report states that June of 2003 was when the US military began offering compensation.  In his book The Deserter's Tale, Joshua Key shares (p. 97) the story of how the process had no rhyme or reason but, at one point, $50 was given to one Iraqi male whose home had been damaged and bed burned when US illumination rounds "crashed into his home".
The violence continued today.
Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing this morning that claimed 1 life (2 wounded), an afternoon Baghdad bombing that wounded four police officers, a third Baghdad bombing that left 3 dead, three Baghdad mortar attacks that left
11 dead (32 wounded), a Salaheddin truck bombing that killed 12 civilians ("and two houses were destroyed"), a Basra mortar attack that left four police officers wounded, and 3 Kirkuk bombings that left 2 dead (6 wounded).  Reuters notes a Kirkuk roadside bombing which injured five police officers and a Mahmudiya mortar attack that claimed 2 lives (four wounded).
Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Kirkuk attack in which an Iraqi soldier was shot dead.  The US military announced today that they killed three children while firing on what they hope were insurgents (one of whom they killed, two of whom escaped).
Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 15 corpses were discovered in Baghdad.  Reuters notes six corpses discovered in Baquba.
Today, the US military announced: "Baghdad Soldier was killed when a patrol was attacked with small arms fire in the eastern section of the Iraqi capital May 31."  This brought count of the total US forces killed in Iraq for the month of May to 125  (caution, there may be more announcements pending) making May the third worst month for US fatalities since the start of the illegal war in March of 2003.  And the US military announced: "One MNC-I Soldier was killed by small arms fire at approximately noon June 1 in the vincinty of Zawiyah."  This brings the total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 3477.
Late yesterday, Reuters reported that 26 year-old AP camera person Saif M. Fakhry was shot dead in Baghdad on Thursday.  Reporters Without Borders has issued a call.  Noting that four journalists had been killed in five days (their call was written before news of Saif M. Fakhry's death was broadcast), they declare: "The Iraqi authorities must fulfil their duty to protect journalists.  We call for the creation of a special force within the national police to identify the perpetrators and instigators of killings of journalists and to organise awareness campaigns about the protection of journalists for all the Iraqi security forces and for the public.  To help the investigators, a witness protection programme should also be set up with the help of countries in the region."  Organize awareness campaigns among Iraqi forces?  Drop back to the January 25th snapshot: "This 'fine' Iraqi military that al-Maliki intends to turn loose on homes and schools includes some real thugs as evidenced by incident reported this morning by Damien Cave and James Glanz (New York Times): 'One Iraqi soldier in the alley pointed his rifle at an American reporter and pulled the trigger. There was only a click, the weapon had no ammunition. The soldier laughed at his joke'." 
Meanwhile, in news that is sure to soften  ultimate War Pornographer Michael Gordon's war on, CBS and AP report: "U.S. military officers tell CBS News the troop surge, which has not reached full strength, stands no chance of succeeding by September."  Which is why, yesterday, the military sent out flacks attempting to reset the clocks and take the pressure off the upcoming September progress report.
PBS' NOW with David Brancaccio has interviewed Cindy Sheehan about her decision to pull back currently ("We're going to pull back and regroup and figure out a better way to come at this," Sheehan tells Brancacio) and the interview can be streamed here or you can catch it via YouTube. In addition, they offer Shron Clemons sharing his poetry (written while in the Sheridan Correctional Center of Illinois) at YouTube here.
Two years later, Sheehan's pushed another question into the public glare. Quitting the Democratic Party and resigning from the front ranks of the US anti-war movement, Sheehan said out loud what hundreds of Democratic voters have been muttering: Democrats in Congress -who do you think you're working for?
In a letter to Democratic leaders shortly after they permitted a vote in Congress that approved $120 billion more for war, Sheehan wrote: "There is absolutely no sane or defensible reason for you to hand Bloody King George more money to condemn more of our brave, tired, and damaged soldiers and the people of Iraq to more death and carnage."
The president's never been more unpopular, nor has his Iraq war. Yet a majority of Democrats in both houses voted "aye" to keep the funding flowing.
Speaking with me on Air America Radio soon afterwards, Sheehan called it a betrayal. "Before they came into power they told me it was because they were in the minority. Now it's because they're the majority? What stakes do they have in keeping this occupation going?" Given the choice of funding an unpopular war or being accused by the right wing vitriol machine of "abandoning the troops," 86 Democrats in the House and all but 14 in the Senate voted to sacrifice more troops. Sheehan called that playing "party politics with human lives."
Laura Flanders is the host of RadioNation with Laura Flanders which now airs at one p.m. Sundays on Air America Radio, XM satellite radio and streams online.
In other news, Saturday from 10:00 am until noon (PST), KPFA will broadcast a Pacifica Radio and Free Speech Radio News special hosted by Sonali Kolhatkar (host of KPFK's
Uprising) and Dalia Hashad (attorney, the USA program director for  Amnesty International and one of the co-hosts of WBAI's Law and Disorder).  The special will address the new Senate bill on immigration which is due to be voted on shortly and "present challenging interviews with lawmakers, and look at global dynamics that lead to migration and Europe's own crackdown on immigration."
In media news, as independent media continues to be under attack, News Dissector Danny Schechter's "Special Blog: Can Our Media Channel Survive?" announces the potential fate of which may shut down: "If we can get 1500 of our readers (that means you) to give $25, we can keep going for another quarter. [PLEASE CLICK HERE TO MAKE A TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATION ONLINE]"
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.

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