Friday, June 08, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Friday, June 8, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue, Baghdad Christians get a warning, Mitt Romney cares about "faulty intelligence" except when he doesn't, and the US military continues to use prosecution as an attempt to silence dissent.
Yesterday, in Boston, Liam Madden spoke on the steps in front of the Massachusetts State House wearing a black Iraq Veterans Against the War t-shirt and jeans about the efforts of the US miltary to, as with Adam Kokesh and Cloy Richards, silence him.  Madden sees the "hearing and this investigation to be a vindicative waste of tax payer dollars to silence free speech and to assault the First Amendment rights of our veterans."  Madden was honorably discharged from active duty status (with the rank of Sgt.) in January only to be notified May 14 that he "was being recommnded for an other than honorable discharge from the IRR [Inactive Ready Reserves]."  He is being investigated for two things.  First, for "wearing a partial uniform at a protest" which he translated as "a camaflage utility top, unbuttoned with jeans and t-shirt" and noted that Vietnam veterans, during that illegal war, participated in demonstrations, rallies, etc. in their uniforms with no such punishment.  He is also accused of making "disloyal" statements while speaking last February. Before taking questions, he concluded with, "I stand by what I said."  If you stand with Liam Madden, you can demonstrate that by signing a petition in support of Madden.
In the question and answers that followed, he was asked of Adam Kokesh and responded,
"Adam's case is different than mine he was charged with wearing a uniform during a political street theater and also with making disrespectful comments to a superior commissioned officer. So his charges are different and the board will be different.  And that is just one grounds that Adam has to appeal his case."  Notice how well, and briefly, Madden can sum up the issues at stake in Kokesh's case.  Much better than you can find it done in the media.  Take Marilou Johanek (Toledo Blade) whose column should be entitled "Call Me a Dumb Ass" when she makes fact-free statements such as this: "As long as a reservist is still obligated to the Marine Corps and can be reactivated at any time, he must play by the rules."  The rules everyone must "play by" are the rules governing our nation so, pay attention Johanek, when the Supreme Court rules in Schacht v. United States (1970) that the US military has no right to dictate theater productions -- when Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black specifically notes that street theater is theater -- that's it, it's over.  Prior to Schacht v. United States, the US military thought they had the right to allow some productions (pro-military) and disallow others (anti-military).  They thought they had the right to determine whether their uniforms could be worn or not based on what they thought of the performance.  Daniel Jay Schecht participated (with two others) in street theater (not at all different from Operation First Casualty that Kokesh did) in front of a recruiting center in 1967.  The case made it to the Supreme Court and the Court found that the US military had no say in theaterical productions.  Let's quote Justice Hugo Black one more time since it's so difficult for some to grasp:
The Government's argument in this case seems to imply that somehow what these amateur actors did in Houston should not be treated as a "theatrical production" within the meaning of 772 (f). We are unable to follow such a suggestion. Certainly theatrical productions need not always be performed in buildings or even on a defined area such as a conventional stage. Nor need they be performed by professional actors or be heavily financed or elaborately produced. Since time immemorial, outdoor theatrical performances, often performed by amateurs, have played an important part in the entertainment and the education of the people of the world. Here, the record shows without dispute the preparation and repeated presentation by amateur actors of a short play designed to create in the audience an understanding of and opposition to our participation in the Vietnam war. Supra, at 60 and this page. It may be that the performances were crude and [398 U.S. 58, 62] amateurish and perhaps unappealing, but the same thing can be said about many theatrical performances. We cannot believe that when Congress wrote out a special exception for theatrical productions it intended to protect only a narrow and limited category of professionally produced plays. 3 Of course, we need not decide here all the questions concerning what is and what is not within the scope of 772 (f). We need only find, as we emphatically do, that the street skit in which Schacht participated was a "theatrical production" within the meaning of that section. 
This brings us to petitioner's complaint that giving force and effect to the last clause of 772 (f) would impose an unconstitutional restraint on his right of free speech. We agree. This clause on its face simply restricts 772 (f)'s authorization to those dramatic portrayals that do not "tend to discredit" the military, but, when this restriction is read together with 18 U.S.C. 702, it becomes clear that Congress has in effect made it a crime for an actor wearing a military uniform to say things during his performance critical of the conduct or [398 U.S. 58,63]   policies of the Armed Forces. An actor, like everyone else in our country, enjoys a constitutional right to freedom of speech, including the right openly to criticize the Government during a dramatic performance. The last clause of 772 (f) denies this constitutional right to an actor who is wearing a military uniform by making it a crime for him to say things that tend to bring the military into discredit and disrepute. In the present case Schacht was free to participate in any skit at the demonstration that praised the Army, but under the final clause of 772 (f) he could be convicted of a federal offense if his portrayal attacked the Army instead of praising it. In light of our earlier finding that the skit in which Schacht participated was a "theatrical production" within the meaning of 772 (f), it follows that his conviction can be sustained only if he can be punished for speaking out against the role of our Army and our country in Vietnam. Clearly punishment for this reason would be an unconstitutional abridgment of freedom of speech. The final clause of 772 (f), which leaves Americans free to praise the war in Vietnam but can send persons like Schacht to prison for opposing it, cannot survive in a country which has the First Amendment. To preserve the constitutionality of 772 (f) that final clause must be stricken from the section.
To repeat: the US military has no say regarding theater (street or otherwise).  To repeat, and you have to go to Iraq Veterans Against the War to find this out because idiots like Heather Hollingsworth left it out of the reports, "the Marine Corps panel, as well as the prosecution's key witness, Major Whyte, agreed that the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) does not apply to members of the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR)."  UCMJ does not apply to IRR?  That only leaves the Supreme Court verdict.
Mark Rainer (World Socialist Web Site) notes that Kokesh's military appeal was denied Wednesday and the panel's finding "must now be approved by Brig. Gen. Darrell Moore, commander of the Marine Corps Mobilization Command in Kansas City, Missouri.  A decision is expected within a week.  According to Kokesh's attorney Mike Lebowitz, who is also an Iraq veteran, Moore cannot increase Kokesh's punishment by issuing an other-than-honorable discharge, but can only accept the board's general discharge recommendation, or reinstate the honorable discharge."  If the other-than-honorable discharge stands, Tom A. Peter (Christian Science Monitor) reports, it "probably won't affect his veterans' benefits.  But two other marines in the IRR [Liam Madden and Cloy Richards] face similar charges and risk losing their veterans' benefits, such as healthcare and money for education."
Turning to other news of war resistance, earlier this week  Geoff Ziezuleicz (Stars and Stripes) reported that US war resister Aguayo will recieve an award from AnStifter, "According to an interpreted release put out last week by Connection e.V., another German anti-war group, the prize will be awarded to Aguayo on Dec. 1 during a ceremony in Stuttgart."
The movement of resistance within the US military grows and includes Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, 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, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Care 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, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.
In Iraq, oil workers went on strike and the puppet government's response?  As Great Britain's Socialist Worker noted Wednesday, the response was to order "the arrest of four leaders of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions, including Hassan Jumaa Awad, for 'sabotaging the Iraqi economy' by ordering a strike."  The puppet government believes the most important 'freedom' is the 'freedom to arrest' whomever they want for whatever they want.  Ben Lando (UPI via AfterDowningStreet) reports US House Rep Lynn Woolsey has stated, "If they're working for a true democracy, working rights have to be front and center".  Ben Lando (UPI) reports today: "With an arrest warrant looming, an Iraqi union leader warned during a U.S. visit failed negotiations will escalate a standoff in Basra's oil sector.  Faleh Abood Umara, general secretary of the Iraq Federation of Oil Unions, said a five-day colling off/negotiation period, which began Wednesday, is crucial to keep Iraq's oil sector pumping and 1.6 million barrels per day flowing to the global oil market."  Also under attack are Christians in Baghdad.  Hannah Allam and Lelia Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) report that a group suspected ties of al-Qaeda have issued an edict to Christians living in Baghdad: "Convert to Islam, marry your daughters to our fighters, pay an Islamic tax or leave with only the clothes on your back."  That would be the city of the fabled 'crackdown,' ongoing for over a year now, repeatedly beefed up, with no results to show for it.  Unless you see 'success' in CNN's report that the first week of June saw 199 corpses discovered in Baghdad alone.  "Actually alarming" is the phrase China's Xinhua reports Iraq's Sunni vice-president Tareq al-Hsahimi used to describe his country while visiting Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak Wednesday.
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that the "Fatah Basha mosque, Sunni mosque, in Al Bayaa neighborhood" of Baghdad was bombed, an Al Sakran bombing that killed 2 police officers (one more wounded), that a bombing involving a person in a "vest bomb" and a parked car in Kirkuk resulted in 19 dead (20 wounded), and two car bombings in Al Qurna led to 10 dead (25 wounded).  Reuters notes a mini-bus explosion outside Basra that left 12 dead (33 injured) and 19 dead from a Dakok car bombing (20 wounded).
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Colonel Ali Dilaiyan Al Journai's Diyala province home was invaded and his "wife, his son and 10 policemen" were shot dead in a home invasion in which three police officers were also kidnapped while in Basra Lt. Ali Adai was shot dead.  Reuters raises the death toll on the home invasion from 12 to 14.  BBC reports that the 14 includes the police Col.'s wife but that three of their children are kidnapped.  CBS and AP note that the children (undetermined age) are thought to include two males and one female and note: "Unknown gunmen speeding by in the northern city of Kirkuk shot and killed a soldier, Adnan Mahmoud, as he drove with his 2-year-old daughter Friday morning.  The child also was killed, said police Capt. Jassim Abdullah."  On the home invasion, Kim Gamel (AP) reports that the three children kidnapped are "grown children" and that Col. al-Jorani is Sunni.
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 7 corpses discovered in Baghdad.  Reuters notes 4 corpses discovered in Falluja.
In the United States, Petey Pace has given the full Rumsfeld.  AFP reports that US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates declared today that General Pace will not remain "as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to avoid a divisive showdown in Congress focusing on the Iraq war" and quotes Pace declaring he is "disappointed."  Admiral Edmund Giambastiani has been picked to replace Pace. He will require Senate confirmation.  CBS and AP state: "The decision has been in the works for more than a couple of weeks, CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller reports."
In US political news, Noam N. Levey (Los Angeles Times) informs that Sam Brownback and Gordon Smith, Republican US senators, "got behind new legislation designed to encourage the Bush administration to reduce U.S. military involvement in Iraq" and that this "comes a day after five GOP senators signed on to separate legislation that would enact the recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, which envisioned most U.S. combat troops coming home by early 2008."  Brownback is also hoping to become the GOP nominee for the 2008 US presidential race.  In news of other GOP candidates for president,
CounterSpin offered this today:
Janine Jackson:  In the June 5th Republican presidential candidates debate former governor Mitt Romney made a straight up factual error claiming that Saddam Hussein had not allowed inspectors into Iraq to search for weapons of mass destruction in advance of the 2003 invasion.  That's simply wrong.  Inspectors were in Iraq -- looking for, but not finding, WMDs up until they were ordered out before the war began,  Perhaps Romney was misled by reading the paper  or numerous papers over the years?  The story about Saddam Hussein not allowing inspections is one of those mainstream media seem to find too useful to let go of despite its utter falsehood.  When George W. Bush himself made the same claim in July of 2003 most outlets didn't even report it while the Washington Post boldly declared that Bush's claim "appeared to contradict the events leading up to war."  Even though the story is completely bogus, media have gotten it wrong so often that for them it seems to carry a cloud of ambiguity thus Democratic strategist Paul Begala found himself having to debate a basic fact of history on CNN's Anderson Cooper show.  Begala said Romney's error was "like saying the Mexicans bombed Pearl Harbor."  But he was outnumbered by Republican strategist Mike Murphy and by conservative pundit Amy Holmes making the historical record seem like a minority opinion.  Even worse, Begala himself screwed up by asserting that Saddam Hussein had thrown out inspectors in 1998 before a round of US bombing directed by Bill Clinton.  That too was false but it's also a perinneal media myth.  In the end, Anderson Cooper was left to declare, "We're not going to get this resolved tonight."  To which viewers might respond, "No, so long as falsehoods are given the same weight as facts, it seems unlikely such matters will be resolved." 
Of the lack of serious attention to Romney's error/lie, Robert Parry (Consortium News) explains, "The answer to the media question of why the U.S. press corps didn't object to Romney's bogus account is that Washington journalists have accepted this revisionist history since Bush began lying about the facts in July 2003. . . .  Facing no contradiction from the White House press corps, Bush continued repeating this lie in varied forms over the next four years as part of his public litany for defending the invasion."
Romney's offered other reasons in the past for why he believes the US started the Iraq war.  In 2005, when he met with military families, he cited a different reason for the illegal war.  Scott Helman (Boston Globe via Military Families Speak Out) reported October 18, 2005: "After meeting with six families whose loved ones have served in Iraq, Governor Mitt Romney said yesterday that the United States had invaded the country based on 'faulty intelligence.'  But he refused to press President Bush to bring  home the state's National Guard."  In a Februrary 2006 report by Glen Johnson (AP), Romney was continuing to cite "faulty intelligence" and Johnson observed, "Romney's kaleidoscopic views have allowed him to express support for the war when it benefits him and his potential candidacy, but maintain distance from the president when necessary."  "Faulty intelligence," so oft cited by Romney, is something you might expect his campaign to run from.  That really hasn't been the case.
Romney was pleased as punch to discuss all the 'flip-flops' of his rivals in an interview with Liz Sidoti (AP) last April and revealed he had a "senior adviser" joining his campaign one with a "faulty intelligence" connection of his own:
Cofer Black served as the director of the CIA Counterterrorism Center during the attacks and was singled out for especially harsh criticism by the agency's inspector general in a 2005 report on faulty intelligence efforts before the attacks.  Black has worked for the past two years as vice chairman of Blackwater USA, a North Carolina-based security firm which specializes in private security and private military services.
Turning to Democratic presidential candidates, Matthew Rothschild interviewed David Swanson for this week's Progressive Radio about a number of issues including US House Rep Dennis Kucinich who is running to be the Democratic 2008 presidential nominee:
David Swanson:  It's a real uphill fight and it's a fight largely against the media. . . .  In that [2004] campaign, before I even got involved, when there was no separation among the candidates in the polling or the financing, he was blacked out.  There were other candidates
getting hundreds, literally hundreds of times the coverage.
Matthew Rothschild: The thing that stuck in my mind from the media coverage of the Kucinich campaign was the one Ted Koppel debate where Kucinich really took it to Ted Koppel and actually won the debate and you could search high and low in the media stories
to find reference to Kucinich at all, much less the fact that he clearly won the thing, hands down.
David Swanson: Yeah, it became a verb to get Koppel-ed and Kucinich really let him have it because he [Koppel] opened this debate in New Hampshire with a question about polls a question about money and so on, and Kucinch said "Wait a minute, look at what you've just done.  Here are the topics you've addressed.  We've wasted half the debate."  And the crowd went nuts because the crowd gets it, you know, and they understand that the media is determining who is quote-unquote "viable" and who is not and what that power means and how the media trivializes the debate.  And so that applause was just thunderous.
Matthew Rothschild: And they're doing it again this time.
David Swanson: Oh absolutely.  . . .  But it's going to depend on people overcoming that prejudice and saying "Wait a minute.  It's two years until this thing happens, don't tell me who is viable or not and even if I want to influence who you tell me is viable the best way for me to do it is to back who's with me and if he ends up winning, we'll prove you wrong and you'll have to cover it because he'll be president."
KPFA will broadcast a special tomorrow (Saturday, June 9th) beginning at 11:00 am.
Sunday, June 10th marks four decades of Israel's illegal military occupation of Palestine, against a backdrop of nearly sixty years of ethnic transfer and displacement.
On this national Pacifica special, producers from around the country investigate the cause and effect of Israel's continuous military occupation policies toward the Palestinians, which permeates every aspect of life - from the suffocating checkpoints and land theft inside the West Bank to the violence and chaos inside a hermetically-sealed Gaza strip; to the issues of identity and culture in a widening diaspora.
As international witnesses to an ongoing crisis in occupied Palestine, this special will also address America's role of responsibility toward the intractable Palestinian-Israeli crisis and offer avenues of involvement in peace, justice and solidarity movements.
Hear Palestinian voices from the older generation and today's youth movements, from refugee camps and the Palestinian diaspora.
This is a Pacifica Radio special so it will likely be broadcast on other stations as well.  Houston's KPFT will broadcast it Sunday, June 10th at 6:00 pm.  Flashpoints Radio's Nora Barrows-Friedman will be the host or one of the hosts.
In other 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 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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