Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, July 3, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue, Cindy Sheehan weighs in, Iraq Veterans Against the War stand up, Steven D. Green faces the death penalty, and more.
Starting with war resistance.  Joshua Key's The Deserter's Tale continues to garner strong reviews.  The latest is Hannah Morong's "How one soldier got out of Iraq" (ISR) which concludes: "The book's strength is its simplicity.  It tells the story of an ordinary soldier, and by doing so, tells us more than we can ever learn from broad statistics.  Because Josha Key's experiences are so typical of soldiers, the book shows how ordinary soldiers view life in Iraq, and the potential for those soldiers to turn against the war."  To set the tone for later in the snapshot, we'll note this 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.
Is it patriotic to support a war that our president launched on false premises and that has turned into a disaster?
Or is it patriotic to oppose that war?
I had to face this question while in uniform.
Back in 2003, when I fought in Iarq, my infantry unit was going out on combat missions without bulletproof vests and without basic radio equipment. For a while, we even had to suspend patrols because we didn't have enough water to hydrate ourselves. 
After 10 months of deployment and five months of combat without a purpose, I made the agonizing decision not to return to the war. A few months later, I publicly denounced the war and vowed that I would no longer fight in it. 
That got me a 12-month sentence in a U.S. Army jail, demotion to the lowest rank and a bad-conduct discharge from the service. 
I have no regrets. 
Today, our young men and women in the military still find themselves in the role of occupiers, in a war that to this very day remains unjustified, a war that seems to be helping only U.S. companies like Halliburton that have profited from it. 
Saying "no" to the illegal war is not something done or being done just by one or two people.  There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Jared Hood and James Burmeister, Eli Israel, 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-one 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.
Also resisting are Iraq Veterans Against the War who have used their summer base tour to get the message out.  Taylor Harwin (Port Folio Weekly) reports on the bus tour and notes that another message they are getting out is "a military member's right to speak out against a war they don't support."  Harwin notes Jonathan Hutto is currently promoting his to-be-released book on this topic entitled Antiwar Soldier: How to Dissent within the Ranks of the Military.  Harwin writes, "There was no counter-protest Sunday, and event organizer Liam Madden said he'd be surprised if the IVAW encountered one on any stage of the trip down the east coast."
As Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) observed today, there have been two arrests during the two.  Since there's confusion, let's review what was already noted yesterday.  Sunday's trumped up incident saw Madden, Nate Lewis and Adam Kokesh at Fort Benning.  Friday, at Fort Jackson, Kokesh, Nate Lewis, Mike Black, Sholom Keller and Steve Mortillo were the five arrested.  Lewis and Kokesh were arrested in both incidents, Madden was only arrested Sunday. 
South Carolina's Columia City Paper notes the Fort Jackson arrest and reports: "The bus could be spotted last Friday riding throughout downtown Columbia and turned heads with large 'Impeach Bush' and 'Bring Them Home Now' slogans painted on its sides.  There was a warm receptioon for the group at Sesquicentennial Park at the free barbecue the group threw for the public.  One member of IVAW said he was particularly inspired by a couple that drove all the way from Spartanburg to show their support.  The couple, who gave their names as Chris and Kim, both served in the Air Force during the first gulf war and said they were considering joining a war protest group when they saw the IVAW Columbia event listed on the Veterans for Peace Web site.  Instead of just putting a charcoal burger to their mouths, the couple presented a $500 check to the group."
On Sunday's arrest (Madden, Lewis and Kokesh) at Fort Benning, The Brattleboro Reformer notes that Madden "and Lewis were not protesting at the gate and were simply asking what the entrance policy was when they were handcuffed and escorted to jail" -- link also includes audio, FYI.  AP reports on the arrests here and, WRONGLY, maintains that the Fort Jackson arrest took place "Saturday morning".  Friday is when the arrest took place (which is why we noted it here on Friday -- that was not a crystal vision).  The fact that there is so much confusion over what did and did not take place and when is a sure sign that independent media should have given extensive coverage to the tour but, reality, they mainly elected to ignore it.  Apparantly getting the word out on things actually happening is far less important than promoting counter-narratives on the daily "hot topics" at the Water Cooler.
Regardless, Iraq Veterans Against the War's summer base tour continues -- and though small media went AWOL on the topic, big media covered it and a documentary is being made for Showtime --  and their next stop is a fundraiser in Philadelphia on July 3rd at 6:00 pm; a fundraiser in NYC on July 5th at 7:00 pm; the Naval Sub Marine Base in Groton, CT on July 6th at 7:00 pm; and concluding at Fort Drum in NY on July 8th at 4:00 pm.  They continue speaking their truth and they're not going to be silenced or make themselves useless.  In Denver, Colorado tomorrow IVAW will stage Operation First Casualty from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm in the area between Market Street station and the Civic Center.
As Kat noted Friday, about Adam Kokesh's post describing the ups and downs of the bus tour thus far, "Which is probably why the kooks have the reaction to the bus tour that they do.  It's not the TV that they can flip off or the newspaper they can toss in the trash.  It's right there, the bus, in front of them, with 'Iraq Veterans Against the War' on it.  The reality they [the kooks] run from is staring them in the face and in their own home towns.  Adam writes about honks and thumbs up too and you better believe that for people seeing it [the bus] that are giving the warm response, it really means something."  And it would mean even more if the independent media had worked to get the word out.
Another IVAW members is addressed by Kevin Zeese (Democracy Rising), Rev. Lennnox Yearwood, who is facing the same trumped up nonsense that  Adam Kokesh,  Liam Madden and Cloy Richards have already had to deal with from the US military brass.  Zeese reports that the Chair of the Hip Hop Caucus, Rev. Yearwood, is the target for intimidation by the military. Rev. Yearwood (writing at Democracy Rising) notes that he's in the Air Force Reserve Individual Reserve and, "On March 26th of this year I received notification from the Air Force that they are taking action to honorably discharge me on the basis of 'behavior clearly inconsistent with the interest of national security'.  Ironically, this letter arrived six days after I announced the launching of a national 'Make Hip Hop Not War' Tour at a press conference on Capitol Hill."  Like Kokesh, he is scheduled to face a kanagroo 'hearing.'  Rev. Lennox Yearwood's hearing is scheduled for July 12th, in Georgia, at Robins Air Force Base.  He notes that Cindy Sheehan will be showing her support by attending and reminds, "This is our lunch-counter moment."
Cindy Sheehan.  The Peace Mom.  Sheehan stepped down at the end of May to recharge and regroup.  Joe Allen (ISR) has written the best piece on that ("Shakeup in the antiwar movement," July - August 2007, International Socialist Review, pp. 5-6, for print readers) where he concludes:
All the factors are there for a vibrant antiwar movement in this country, as has been true for many years now; the major roadblock holding things back is the subordination of our movement to the Democrats.  This must be broken in the course of building a vibrant and independent antiwar movement.
Sheehan's decision to leave the Democratic Party should be supported by all of us committed to building an antiwar movement that is for immediate withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq.  And, as socialists we support her call for an alternative to the two-party system.
Thankfully, Sheehan is only taking a break in order to regroup.  As she told Democracy Now's Amy Goodman, "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."  We can only hope that she will return to political activity soon so that we can together get on with the tasks of ending of this criminal war.
Contributing at David Swanson's AfterDowningStreet, Cindy Sheehan writes today, "I have sat quietly back these past five weeks as the slaughter in Iraq sorrowfully surges along with George's bloody escalation -- and as the philosophical opposition to the war has soared to almost four out of every five Americans. . . .  It has been recently reported that Nancy Pelosi said that impeachment is not 'worth it.'  Her faulty reasoning is that impeachment would take too much time because they don't have the votes.  If they could 'whip' their own Democratic caucus into shape to defend and protect our Constitution and the people of Iraq and our soldiers as they whupped, cajoled, threatened and browbeat the caucus into attaching 'non-binding' time lines onto the last war funding bill, then impeachment would not only be possible, but likely."  Sheehan notes Rev. Yearwood's hearing and that he will be launching a march after the July 12th hearing which she is taking part in that will end in DC on July 23rd.
And while some stand and continue to stand, the violence continues.
Reuters reports 18 dead (thrity-five injured) from a Baghdad car bombing, a Kirkuk car bombing that claimed 2 lives (nineteen injured), three police officers wounded in Hawija by a grenade, a Kirkuk car bombing claimed 2 lives (nine wounded), and a car bombing outside Falluja resulted in at least 4 people dead (ten wounded).
CBS and AP report "an Iraqi army lieutenant colonel and an Interior Ministry intelligence officer were killed in separate drive-by shootings" today in Baghdad.  Reuters notes 2 people killed in Samarra during a clash between two other groups (police and "gunmen"), a woman wounded in Kirkuk by Iraqi soldiers,
Reuters reports 18 corpses discovered in the capital.
Also today, the US military announced: "Two Marines assigned to Multi National Force-West died July 1 in a non-hostile related accident while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province." The two deaths bring the ICCC total number of US service members killed in the illegal war to 3586.  The announcements also meant that at least 7 US service members died July 1st -- though the military elected to spoon that reality out slowly.
While the US military played 'cute' with the numbers, recent attention from the press eliminated that option with regards to an event that took place today.  The US military announced: "An AH-64 Apache helicopter rescued two Task Force Marne pilots after enemy fire brought down their OH-58D Kiowa Attack helicopter south of Baghdad July 2.  The OH-58 pilots received minor injuries.  An Air Force Thunderbolt II destroyed the downed helicopter with two 500-pound laser-guided bombs after the pilots were evacuated from the area.  The incident is under investigation."  Throughout 2006 and at the start of 2007, the US military was happy to spin those incidents as 'hard landings' and other nonsense while denying that anyone in Iraq (other than the US) had the capabilities to bring down aircraft.
Turning to the issue of the oil grab, Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reports that, after much arm twisting and over a year of pressure, the oil law -- that will allow foreign corporations (including the US) to steal up to 70% of the proceeds -- has been pushed through Nouri al-Maliki's cabinet and onto the Iraqi Parliament; however, "it was unclear whether the measure would overcome the political hurdles that have stalled it for months."
Andy Rowell (Oil for Change) observes that the stories being reported only cause confusion and steeers to an article by Ben Lado (UPI) which has Ashti Hawrami (Kurdistan Regional Goverment Natural Resources Minister) declaring, "We are not aware of anything being pass by the Cabinet."  Rowell concludes, "Our guess here is that there is confusion between the revenue sharing law and the foreign investment/oil law.  This confusion has been deliberately sown by the Bush administration and the Iraqi government, who have consistently sought to portray the foreign investment/oil law as a revenue sharing law -- when in fact revenue sharing is a separate piece of legislation."
We most recently noted Abeer in last Thursday's snapshot.  Developments in that case today mean another planned ending will be postponed until Thursday.  Abeer Qassim Hamza was gang-raped and murdered by US soldiers on March 12, 2006 in Mahmoudiyah.  Her parents, Qassim Hamza Raheem and Fakhriya Taha Muhasen, and her five-year-old sister Hadeel Qassim Hamza, were murdered while she was gang-raped.  One of the US soldiers involved was Steven D. Green who was to be tried in a civilian court due to the fact that he was discharged from the military before the events came to light.  Reuters reports that US prosecutors have announced they will seek the death penalty.  AP reports, "The notice, filed in U.S. District Court, cites 12 alleged offenses related to the slayings, including that the deaths were premeditated, involved sexual abuse and were committed with a firearm."  Those were breaking so another topic got set aside for Thursday.  Let's hope both reports fail to include Abeer's name because of the fact that it's breaking.  This nonsense of referring to Abeer as "14-year-old girl" to render her (and all Iraqis?) faceless got old back in August.

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