Monday, July 09, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Monday, July 9, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, rumors from the Green Zone indicate Nouri might be going, the body counts pile up over the weekend, Brendan Nelson will not have Bobby Gates to play with in China, Colin Powell tries a new makeover line, and more.

Starting with a weekend recap. Saturday and Sunday's death tolls topped 100 each day, combined they reached at least 250 (that is only reported deaths and Sunday's is McClatchy Newspapers plus only one incident reported by Molly Hennesy-Fiske of the Los Angeles Times). On Saturday's death toll, in the Salaheddin province where violence is common in Tirkrit, Armili had been a relatively peaceful city. That changed with an early morning truck bombing in a market. Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reported that 35 houses were destroyed with residents inside many. Dean Yates (Reuters) quoted resident Jasim Ali whose wife had been at the market, "I ran to the market and saw burned cars along with dead and wounded people everywhere. I screamed until I found my wife. She was wounded in the head and hand." Today, Molly Hennessy-Fiske (Los Angeles Times) notes that the death toll from the bombing has climbed to at least 150 from that one bombing.

This weekend also saw the death toll for US service members pass the 3600 mark (a strangely under-reported benchmark). Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Ali Adeeb (New York Times) reported Sunday that the deaths of 9 US service members had been reported by the US government. (They reported that and the one hundred plus deaths of Iraqis from inside the paper, it should be noted.) ICCC puts the death toll at 3606 since the start of the illegal war and at 28 for the month thus far. Also reporting losses over the weekend was the UK military which annouced two deaths over the weekend, both in Basra. 22-year-old Chrisopher Read died Saturday when the wounds he received were not treatable. [Please note, the link goes to the UK Defence Ministry which states Read died Saturday night after receiving wounds on Saturday morning. Many press reports are stating Read died on Sunday -- not according to the UK Defence Ministry's own statement: ". . . but sadly died of his injuries during the night of Saturday 7 July."] 23-year-old Ryan Francis also died on Saturday but from a roadside bombing. Andrew Grice (Independent of London) notes that 23 year-old Edward Vakabua died Friday in Basra. The deaths brought ICCC's numbers to 159 for the British military.

On June 27th, Gordon Brown took the office of Prime Minister. Since then, the UK has lost 6 soldiers in Iraq. His predecessor, Tony Blair, made the news as his former director of communication, Alastair Campbell, publishes a book entitled The Blair Years which reveals, among other things, that when then US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld declared the United States would go to illegal war with/on Iraq even if Britain wasn't joining them, Poodle Blair "went bonkers". Andrew Grice (Independent of London) observes that Campbell sees the book as a chance to have first crack at writing (rewriting) the Poodle's history and that he downplays debate about the illegal war while also, hand on heart, claiming sorrow over the death of David Kelly, the British scientist who may or may not have taken his own life but died shortly after it was revealed he was the source for the BBC reporting that the Blair government was "sexing up" intelligence, which they, indeed were. Blair also made the mushroom cloud claims and the Times of London's reporting on the Downing Street Memos revealed that the Blair government was aware the US was "fixing" intelligence to make it fit their desires for illegal war. Michael Smith (Times of London, June 12, 2005) on more DSMs -- this time a briefing paper: "Ministers were warned in July 2002 that Britain was committed to taking part in an American-led invasion of Iraq and they had no choice but to find a way of making it legal. . . . The briefing paper, for participants at a meeting of Blair's inner cricle on July 23, 3003, said that since regime change was illegal it was 'necessary to create the conditions' which would make it legal. This was required because, even if ministers decided Britain should not take part in an invasion, the American military would be using British bases. This would automatically make Britain complicit in any illegal US action."

Illegal war it what is. Many grasp that. One that does Ehren Watada who refused to deploy to Iraq and became the first commissioned officer to do so publicly in the US. Watada took that public stand in June 2007. In February 2007 he was court-martialed. Judge Toilet, aka John Head, declared a mistrial -- over defense objection -- when the prosecution was clearly losing. (This has been addressed repeatedly at community sites. For the most recent writing on this topic, click here.) On Friday, at Fort Hood, pre-trial motions were heard. Adam Lynn (The News Tribune) reported two developments -- Judge Toilet refused the request that he "disqualify himself from the case, despite arguments from Watada's new attorneys that there is at least the appearance that Head cannot be impartial in this matter. Head then ruled that trying Watada again wouldn't violate his constitutional right not to be prosecuted twice for the same crime, also known as double jeopardy." Helen Altonn(Honolulu Star-Bulletin) spoke with Eric Seitz (Watada's civilian attorney for the first court-martial, he is now being represented by civilian attorneys James Lobsenz and Kenneth Kagan) who sees that Army Court of Appeals taking "the issue far more seriously than Judge Head is capable of doing. I would never expect Judge Head to reverse himself but would certainly expect the Appellate Court to do that. He was not the most competent udge I've met in my life." Robert Watada, Ehren's father, told Altonn that he wasn't surprised by Judge Toilet's behavior, "My own assessment is that it (the military court proceeding) was very much like a Salem witch trial. We fully expected this." Altonn notes many do not believe the court-martial (if the Appeals Court rules it can go foward) will begin as scheduled on July 23rd but will more likely be held in October. Noting the various groups and people supporting Watada, L.A. Chung (San Jose Mercury News) wrote that "what impresses me most are the membrs of the Heart Mountain draft resisters. They know all about taking an unpopular stand on principle. These are people like Mits Koshiyama in San Jose, Frank Emi and Youshi Kuromiya in Los Angeles, and others. They know the personal cost can still resonate and sting, even after 60 years. Heart Mountain, Wyo. is where so many Japanese-Americans from Santa Clara County were interned during World War II. A group called Fair Play Committe rose up in reaction to a move to draft young men from the camps to fight in the segregated -- and storied -- Army unit, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Branded as draft resisters and condemned by leading community organization -- the Japanese American Citizens League -- the committee persevered through their trial on principle."

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Ross Spears, 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.

There are also Iraq veterans resisting. Leading the way is Iraq Veterans Against the War
which just concluded a bus tour. Amy Renczkowski (Conn.'s The Day) reports on last week's stop in Groton and quotes Jimmy Massey stating, "We're going out in the communities with fliers, interacting with military members that would talk to us." Click here to read their blogging of the bus tour and click here for photos of the tour. Adam Kokesh who was, obviously, on that bus tour has also blogged about it at his site. In addition, Holiday Dmitri (Radar magazine) profiled Kokesh a few weeks ago and deserves credit for being the only member of the press thus far to cite Schacht v. US -- the Supreme Court case that is on the side of Kokesh and anyone else wearing partial or full military drag in any theaterical production including street theater. [You can also click here and read a transcript of an ass hole talking. A scared and frightened one -- so old it's now missing its prostate.] Friday, we noted Joel Bleifuss "The New Children's Crusade" (In These Times) and the article, which notes IVAW is modeled after Vietnam Veterans Against the War, will be available online Friday the 13th and is in the August issue of In These Times.

The bus tour was not Iraq Veterans Against the War's only action for summer. Last week, as Barbara S. Miller (Raleigh Observer-Reporter) noted, IVAW's Paul Abernathy protested outside US House Rep Tim Murphy's Mount Lebanon office when Murphy refused to meet constitutent Abernathy. Among upcoming actions will be joining A.N.S.W.E.R., CODEPINK and others in DC September 15th for March on Washington. United for Peace & Justice notes that today Congress got off their . . . summer breaks and Congress resumed session. They ask you to begin calling your reps and senators (202-224-3121 is the DC Switchboard that can immediately transfer you to the DC office of your elected official) and stating:

*I know you will be faced with a number of votes on Iraq in the near future. I want you to support only measures that will bring all U.S. troops and military contractors home from Iraq immediately.
*Do not allow any troops to be left behind.
*Half-measures to bring some troops home from Iraq are not acceptable -- a long-term U.S. troop presence in Iraq will only further destabilize the country and the region.

That is not a one day action. Also note that you can call your reps local offices as well. On one day actions, from Ms. magazine:

7/10/2007: Dallas, TX
Third International Women's Peace Conference more

In Iraq today, AFP reports, it was a dog and pony show time as such non-notables as the puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, his hand picked Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and others came forward to scream in alarm that if the US left (this is Hoshyar Zebari) "It might lead to civil war, partition, collapse or a regional war"! While such statements would sound better coming from nearly anyone, the speaker would still look an idiot. Civil war? Iraq has several ongoing civil wars (though the US press has done a really good job of ignoring any who weren't Sunni or Shia). Partition? Sunnis already feel kicked out of Baghdad and (rightly) fear that the theft of Iraqi oil will also leave them lagging behind on the meager oil monies that do come in. It's equally true that parts of Baghdad have already been walled off with barriers and, as Hussam Ali and Mike Drummond (McClatchy Newspapers) reported last week, a moat/trench is being dug around Karbala. Collapse? If you are a member of a puppet government installed by the US, you should worry that when the puppet master leaves you will be out of power. Lara Logan (CBS News) has already reported that a no-confidence vote will be requested July 15th in the Iraqi parliament that would be "the first step to bringing down the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki." Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) notes that Hoshyar Zebari referenced this reportedly impending vote and dismissed it.


Reuters notes 9 Iraqi soldiers dead (twenty more wounded) in a Balad roadside bombing, a Baghdad car bombing that claimed 1 life, three Baghdad roadside bombs that claimed 5 lives (twenty-five wounded).


CNN notes a Baghdad attack that claimed 4 lives (two Iraqi soldiers, two police officers)


CNN reports that the corpses of 12 people kidnapped from "a Pepsi-Cola bottling and distribution plant in Zararaniya, a suburb southeast of Baghdad" were discovered dead today.

Meanwhile Kristin Roberts (Reuters) observes that the US army has missed its recruiting target "for the second straight month" and allowing someone with at least a desk in the Pentagon but apparently no name plate pin the blame on parents. Last month, Lolita C. Baldor (AP) noted the numbers had "plunged" for African-Americans in all branches (including "National Guard and reserve). Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report) noted last week, "The fact is, the vast majority of Black men and women have opposed Bush's Iraq war from the very beginning. THAT -- not female-headed households, not youth job prospects -- is what separates the Black community from all others, and logically accounts for the dramatic decline in Black recruitment. . . . Barack Obama -- far from opposing imperial war-making -- wants to add nearly 100,000 more troops to the mix. Let's see what Black mothers have to say about that."

Barack Obama? Turning to political news and starting in the US. Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today that Cindy Sheehan is considering running for the seat of "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi if Pelosi fails to introduce articles of impeachment against President Bush. Sheehan set a deadline of July 23rd -- the same day she arrives in Washington, DC from a two-week caravan starting at Sheehan's former protest site near President Bush's Crawford estate."

Meanwhile, in China, Stan Powell (The Australian) notes Australia's Defence Minister, Brendan Nelson, "went conspicuously AWOL in China on the weekend. In hiding after his spectacular 'Iraq invasion for oil' gafee last week, Brendan Nelson hunkered down in the Forbidden City for official talks with his Chinese counterparts." Brendy may continue hiding but he'll be missing one buddy. Shankar Vedantam (Washington Post) reports US Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, has been pulled from his trip to China and is instead working with the White House on the progress report that they are expected to deliver around July 15th. CORRECTION: GATES' TRIP WOULD HAVE TAKEN HIM TO LATIN AND CENTRAL AMERICA.

Turning to media news, yesterday the New York Times editorialized (finally) that, "It is time for the United States to leave Iraq, without any more delay than the Pentagon needs to organize an orderly exit." Robert Parry (Consortium News) addressed it and wonders why some outlets (such as his own) were able to report accurately in the lead up to the illegal war but the New York Times wasn't (this is "a deeper question, which the United States eventually must face").

Finally, former US Secretary of State, Collie Powell grabs a few more headlines. The man who sold the illegal war to the United Nations wants to tell an audience in Aspen, CO that, according to Sarah Baxter (Times of London), he "spent 2 1/2 hours vainly trying to persuade President George W. Bush not to invade Iraq". Did he? Who knows? He changes his story repeatedly. Remember the one he put foward in 2005? From Ava and my
"TV Review: Barbara and Colin remake The Way We Were" (The Third Estate Sunday Review, September 11, 2005) on his 20/20 sitdown with Barbara Walters:

Walters says, unable to look at him while she does -- oh the drama!, "However, you gave the world false, groundless reasons for going to war. You've said, and I quote, 'I will forever be known as the one who made the case for war.' Do you think this blot on your record will stay with you for the rest of your life?"

Powell: Well it's a, it's a, of course it will. It's a blot. I'm the one who presented it on behalf of the United Nations, uh, United States, to the world. And it will always be uh, part of my, uh, my record.
Walters: How painful is it?
Powell: (shrugs) It was -- it *was* painful. (shifts, shrugs) It's painful now.

Has a less convincing scene ever been performed?

[. . .]

There are the Rules for Powell and there are the rules for the rest of us.

Take Cindy Sheehan. She's a grieving parent and he feels sorry for her. Walters actually wakes up for this moment. And, in one of the few times prior to Powell's wife being brought on, she actually looks him in the eye while delivering her line.

Walters: But if you feel the war is just -- that's a different feeling than if you feel the war is is not.
Powell: Well, of course, for the person that is effected, it is. If they don't feel the war is just, they will always feel it as a deep personal loss.

Unlike Powell, we'd argue that regardless of beliefs on this war, the loss is a "deep, personal loss" for most, possibly all, who've lost family members. Maybe if he sent fat-boy Michael over there, he could find out for himself what it feels like? Till then, by his remarks, he's not anyone effected. How nice that must be.

But is the war just?

It's not a moral issue for Powell. He's already informed Walters of that. He lied. Well if he had to lie, forget the pre-emptive war debate for a moment, if he had to lie, what does that say about the war? Seems to us that a just war wouldn't be a war that required you pulling one over on the public to get support for.


He believed the war was just, that's what he told Waters. Now he's trying to build up an image for himself as arguing for 2 and a half hours? Which is it? Most likely it was both. He probably did both half-assed. But he pulls them out now to shade them with meaning (which they don't have) based on which way the wind is blowing. On the same topic of the interview , you can also refer to Robert Parry's "Colin Powell Being Colin Powell" (Consortium News).

Moody friends. Drama queens. Your life? Nope! - their life, your story.
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