Thursday, June 14, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, June 14, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue, mosques are attacked throughout Iraq, Adam Kokesh continues fighting, the Pentagon releases a report and more.
Starting with  Iraq Veterans Against the War Adam Kokesh who has been the subject of witch hunt by the US military that 'ended' (it's not over yet) yesterday with Kokesh receiving a general discharge from the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR).  Normally, service members are not discharged from the IRR.  They are discharged from service (as Kokesh was, honorably, in November).  Now the military prepares to set their sights on Liam Madden and Cloy Richards.  (You can sign the petition to support of Madden.)  Veterans for Common Sense (in a letter posted at Kokesh's website) demonstrate they are far wiser than the press by noting: "Neither marine wore a full uniform. They wore camouflage fatigues without the
marine insignia, a right they have earned in blood. There is no law, or regulation
against wearing camo. A camo shirt, pants, and hat is not a uniform. You can
see people wearing camo everyday all around America.  The corps claims that is against regulations to wear a uniform, or apparently a part of a uniform, at political events. If that is correct, the regulation is selectively enforced by the Department of Defense. President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and other politicians often have soldiers in full dress uniform
standing behind them for the cameras at political events. In short, the Marine Corps is attempting to stifle legitimate pro-American speech, which should not be tolerated. Are we fighting in Iraq to lose our freedoms at home?"  That's still too much for the press to grasp.
And Heather Hollingsworth (AP) appears to be competing for prize pig in this county fair judging by a hideous article where she states Kokesh has been "kicked out of the Marines" (he was discharged in November) and pretending to not grasp that Kokesh was participating in street theater, among other things. 
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, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Care, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed 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.
Turning to the Pentagon's report [PDF format, click here].  Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) informs that the report "acknowledges that violence in Iraq has not diminished, despite the arrival of thousands of additional U.S. and Iraqi troops in Baghdad," that McClatchy Newspaper figures show a "70 percent increase in sectarian murders in Baghdad from April to May," and that the Pentagon report places the average daily death figure in Iraq (from February through May) at 100 a day.  Also filing on the report was Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) who observed that the Congressionally mandate report "tempers the early optimism about the new strategy voiced by senior U.S. officials.  Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, for instance, in March described progress in Iraq as 'so far, so good.'  Instead, it depicts limited gains and setbacks and states that it is too soon to judge whether the new approach is working."  The Pentagon report has many sections and one of interest considering one of the 2007 developments may be this:  "There are currently more than 900 personnel in the Iraqi Air Force. . . . The fielding of rotary-wing aircraft continued with the delivery to Taji of five modified UH II (Iroquois) helicopters, bringing the total delivered to ten.  The final six are scheduled to arrive in June.  Aircrews are currently conducting initial qualifications and tactics training.  The Iroquois fleet is expected to reach initial operation capability by the end of June 2007."  By the end of June 2007?  One of the developments of 2007 was the (admission of) helicopter crashes.  US helicopters.  British helicopters.  Some may find comfort in the fact that evacuations and mobility will be handled by Iraqis . . . whenever they are fully staffed and trained.  Four years plus to deliver the equipment, training should be done in ten or twenty years, right?
Remarking on yesterday's bombings, Lara Logan (CBS News) wrote: "No one knows for sure how it will play out this time.  But there is one thing I do know for sure: tonight, somewhere in Baghdad, on one of those blackened streets, someone will pay for this act.  Someone innocent, someone unarmed, someone who does not deserve to die this way.  They will go into a house, wearing masks and carrying weapons, maybe even wearing police or army uniforms.  They will take an innocent man from his bed, or from his family, and they will execute him.  If he's lucky, they will be quick.  But if not, they may torture him.  Maybe they won't have time.  Or maybe they will have too many others to kill.  But if they do have time, most likely they will use an electric drill."  Meanwhile, John F. Burns (New York Times) announced in this morning's paper that "appeals for calm by Shiite political and religious leaders, as well as by moderate Sunni politicians and the top two American officials in Iraq, appeared to have headed off the risk of a new sectarian convulsion, at least for now."  At least for now transferred to "as I write."  As Debroah Haynes (Times of London) notes, "A wave of revenge attacks on Sunni mosques hit Baghdad last night in retaliation for a devastating attack on a revered Shia shrine in Samarra".  AFP counts three mosques, all Sunni, bombed today -- two in Iskandiriyah, one Mahawil and it was the second day in a row of attacks on the Iskandiriyah mosque.  CBS and AP note that a total of six mosques have either been "attacked or burned Thursday" and that an attack on a Basra mosque resulted in 4 deaths (6 wounded).  And CNN notes, "Hilla police said five mosques have been bombed in Babil province, three on Thursday and two on Wednesday."
Meanwhile, Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reports on the demonstrations going on in the Sadr section of Baghdad where "thousands of protesters marched peacefully, many carrying Iraqi flags and photographs of [Moqtada al] Sadr."  Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) notes that "[d]emonstrations also took place in Kut, Diwaniyah, Najaf and Basra -- all predominately Shiite cities in the south."  CNN describes the Baghdad demonstration as "angry but peaceful" and notes: "The protesters carried banners, Iraqi flags and pictures of anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his father.  Al-Sadr has called for three days of mourning to mark the destruction of the two minarets at the Askariya shrine.  'We demand of our Sunni brothers help us rebuild Askariya Shrine,' one of the banners said.  Shouting 'No, no for the devil' and 'Yes, yes for unity,' the crowd marched to al-Sadr's office."  CNN puts the total number of mosque attacks, since the one in Samarra was attacked yesterday, at nine and notes the Askariya mosque, as the Samarra one before, lost both minarets (columns/towers).
In other reported violence today . . .
McClatchy Newspapers reports that a police station in Baghdad was "fully destroyed" today by bombings.  Reuters reports a Mussayab bombing that left 4 Iraqi soldiers dead, while a Riyadh bombing left three Iraqis soldiers wounded as well as three police officers   Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports a Kirkuk bombing outside a government builidng in which the bomber also claimed the the lives of three police officers, 2 security guards and a civilian.
McClatchy Newspapers reports that three people were injured in shootings in Baghdad today.  Reuters reports that two police officers were shot dead in Diwaniya, and, outside of Balad, two farmers were shot dead (3 more wounded).
Reuters reports that 25 corpses were discovered in Baghdad yesterday, 4 were discovered in Mosul today with another one (also discovered today) found in Latifiya.
And McClatchy Newspapers reports that "the head of Diyala university" is missing and this follows a phone call where he discussed the deaths of 12 university professors and the fact that 44 other ones had been "transferred to other universities in the south and north seeking" safety.
Turning to US politics. Mary Frances Berry utilized some of that 'wisdom' she's not famous for to explain on NPR that, basically, for non-White, non-males, it's all a choice between senators Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama when it came to the 2008 Democratic presidential primary.  Confronted with polling that had Clinton ahead of Obama by 10%, Mary Francis Berry reached back into her shallow pool of wisdom to come back explaining that "people like me who are intellectual" respond more to Obama.  Intellectual?  The campaign who appears to rip off Chicken Soup for the Soul is now the home of the intellectuals?  Or maybe Mary Francis Berry was just attempting to get a dig in at Maya Angelou who has recorded a video endorsement of Hillary Clinton?  Regardless, hopefully the laughter greeting Mary Francis Berry's remarks, across America, allowed many to miss some troubling statements by Mary Francis Berry about Latinos and Asians -- don't worry, Mary Francis Berry just knows "their children are legal even if they're not"! To this day, no one sours a room faster than Mary Francis Berry.  And both she and Farai Chideya seemed unaware that it is a requirement that you are a US citizen but wasn't it 'cute' for them to smear Latinos and Asians and wasn't it 'cute' for NPR to turn over public airwaves to those falsehoods?
In the real world, Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report) explains the basics on Obama as he and Bruce Dixon discovered while at The Black Commentator: " There followed a month-long series of interchanges - June 5, June 12, June 19, June 26, 2003 - in which Obama danced like Mr. Bojangles to get around the issues at hand. Was he a DLC Democrat, by affiliation or political affinity? Finally, tiring of the charade and the reflexive spin from Obama's mouth, Dixon and I compiled three questions to the wannabe senator, the answers to which would determine if he should be in the DLC and, therefore, unworthy of our support. Obama, a genius at double-speak, fudged all three, on the Iraq war, universal health care, and NAFTA/so-called free trade."  At his campaign site, Obama continues to hide behind the James Baker Circle Jerk (whose authors are fudging in recent days).  Meanwhile, Bill Richards has presented a plan for ending the illegal war and made the war a strong point in his campaign likening a vote for Richardson as a vote to "Get America Out Of Iraq" (click here to see the campaign bumper sticker).  US House Rep Dennis Kucinich wasn't mentioned by NPR (nor were Mike Gravel, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden) maybe Farai Chideya hosts a program entitled News & Notes as opposed to News?  Kucinich's campaign commerical can be seen at YouTube and is entitled "No more blood for oil."
In the US Congress, Anne Flaherty (AP via Democracy Rising) reports, US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is pushing for another vote on the Iraq war that would take place before Congress takes its next recess for the July 4th holiday and this is being discussed because  "[l]ast month, Democrats helped push through legislation funding the war for four more months, triggering a backlash from liberal voters who helped Democrats take control of Congress in the November elections."  Meanwhile, in Iraqi politics, Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq's foriegn minister, did his own song and dance.  Al Jazeera reports that the illegal war has been exteded by Zebari who went to the United Nations Secuirty Council to ask that the "mandate for US-led forces in Iraq" be extended.  The UN Security Council quickly agreed and apparently never took a moment to think about how angry the Iraqi parliament was when the mandate was previously extended without their input or request.  This also ignores the recent (nonbinding) action by the Iraqi parliment expressing their desire that the US forces leave.  The mandate is actually up for renewal in December, this was a review.  Along with Zerbair, US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad also spoke at length to the Security Council and what was the first 'economic' thing he emphasized?  Did you guess "passage of legislation on the hydrocarbons sector with regulations governing oil revenue sharing"?  More likely, you didn't pretty it up and just guess, "Theft of Iraqi oil."
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). His next stop is 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 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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