Friday, July 13, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Friday, July 13, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue, another journalist is annouced dead in Iraq -- the 3rd in the last 48 hours, Matthew Rothschild addresses the theft of Iraqi oil law, and more.
Starting with war resistance.  The Progressive's Hidden History Of The United States (available in calander form) notes that on this day in 1863, "Draft riots began in New York City, leaving 1,000 dead over four days."  Ehren Watada is the first commissioned officer to public refuse deployment to Iraq.  Currently, he is waiting while the appeals process determines whether he will have to face a second court-martial and, if so, whether Judge Toilet (aka John Head) will be allowed to preside over it again.  While this goes on, people continue to demonstrate their support for Watada.  Last Friday, we noted a rally held in San Francisco in support of Watada.  Ryan Baladad (Asian Week) informs, "Members from the various groups, including Aisan Pacific Islanders Resist and the Watada Support Committee, took turns speaking in support of the Japanese lieutenant.  Supporters held signs that read, 'Refuse Illegal War,' 'Bush lied, People Died' and showed photos of Watada in uniform.  Malcolm Yeung of the Asian Law Caucus called the Army's actions 'frankly reprehensible' and said the case 'chills free speech'."  Baladad closes with this statement from Rev. Norman Fong (Chinatown Presbyterian Church), "There shouldn't be another trial; they messed up the first time.  We're proud of Lt. Watada."
Meanwhile, who is Steve Yoczik?  The War Resisters Support Campaign explains, "Steve arrived in Toronto on November 25th, 2006.  He trained in communications at Fort Gordon, Georgia.  After a few months there, he began to realize that the decision he'd made to join the Army was a serious mistake and that trading 4 years of his life for the opportunity to have college paid for was not an agreeable enough trade.  Also after seeing pictures of wounded or killed Iraqi civilians (and combatants) as well as stories from soldiers that had been to Iraq and Afghanistan, he knew without a doubt that he did not want to be involved in the war.  Halfway through training, the 'job' he'd been signed on for was cancelled, and 'joblees' people in this particular war zone go on patrols and kick in doors, so Stephen prepared a last-ditch effort to come to Canada, as all other attempts to leave the Army 'legitimately' were exhausted.  Since arriving in Toronto, Steve has adjusted fairly weel, and is being careful in the decisions he makes in life now, as his Army expereience has taught him that signatures hold a lot of power . . ."
Yoczik is part of 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.
Yesterday, Bully Boy went on and on, desperately attempting to stretch the definition of progress in yet another attempt to fool the American people.  How bad did the spin and lies get?  Kenneth R. Bazinet (New York Daily News) informs, "Even the White House was concerned Bush overstepped with his upbeat war talk, sending spokesman Tony Snow out to talk to the cable news outlets to clarify the President's remarks.  'The President isn't saying we're winning. He says we're in a fight. He says we cannot afford not to win,' Snow told Fox News."  Tony Snow need not worry, reality will always Fact Check the Bully Boy upside his face. How are things with the Iraqi Parliament? Joshua Partlow and Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) reports, "Iraqi politicians on Thursday struck a more pessimistic tone about Iraq than did the White House assessment, and said the deadlock between warring Sunni and Shiite factions makes major political progress unlikely in coming months." Well, as least those Iraqi troops are coming along nicely, right?   Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) informs, "Despite stepped-up training, the readiness of the Iraqi military to operate independently of U.S. forces has decreased since President Bush's new strategy was launched in January, according to the White House progress report released yesterday."  And try to find out the hard figures on this from the Pentagon, as DeYoung did, and be informed that's "classified information."  Classified, apparently, on the grounds that Bully Boy is an incompetent. 
And on the January 20th attack in Karbala that killed 1 US soldier immediately, wounded three and saw four kidnapped (all of whom would later turn up dead), Gregg Zoroya (USA Today) reveals the army's internal investigation has found:

•Iraqi police suddenly vanished from the government compound before the shooting started.
•Attackers, evidently briefed on how U.S. forces would defend themselves, bottled up more than three dozen soldiers in a barracks and headquarters complex using a combination of smoke and fragment grenades and satchel charges to blow up Humvees.
•Gunmen knew exactly where to find and abduct U.S. officers.
•Iraqi vendors operating a PX and barbershop went home early.
•A back gate was left unlocked and unguarded.
Investigators recommended several changes to toughen defensive positions, including the installation of closed-circuit cameras to provide better early warnings, "duress devices" that can allow overrun outposts to signal headquarters, and requirements that any arriving convoy provide identification.
Now how do you suppose that got left out of Bully Boy's attempt to sell the continuation of the illegal war?  In more reality the Bully Boy Never Told You, Robert Burns (AP via Los Angeles Times) reports that yesterday's White House progress report "strongly implies that the administration believes its military strategy will take many more months to meet its goals."  And really driving home the lack of progress in Iraq, Mike Drummond and Hussein Khalifa (McClatchy Newspapers) tell the story of Nawal Na'eem Karim whose 18-month-child has learned to cry "Talaq inanan! Talaq inana!" ("Bullets here! Bullets here!").  Needless to say, the mother tells the reporters she just wants the US to leave.  Of course, Bully Boy would probably get that dopey grin on his face (as when a woman explained she had to work two jobs) and say, "That's wonderful."
Meanwhile, Congressional Dems try to put one over on the public -- again, and it's the same shell game.  From Democracy Now! today:
House Iraq Pullout Bill Leaves Thousands of Troops Behind
The House has approved a measure that would begin withdrawing combat troops from Iraq within the next three months. The final vote was two hundred twenty-three to two-hundred and one, mostly along party lines. Before the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged lawmakers to vote "yes."
    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: "Let us pass this bill and those that will follow in the coming weeks and provide the new direction on Iraq that the American people demand and that is so urgently needed. I urge a 'yes' vote on the Skelton bill."
Ohio Congressmember Dennis Kucinich was the lone anti-war Democrat to vote against the bill. The measure would remove most combat troops by April of next year but still leave tens of thousands soldiers behind.
As Amy Goodman noted above "leaves tens of thousands soldiers behind."  And that's provided Bully Boy doesn't reclassify the ones that would be set to leave.  Pushing the non-existant link between 9-11 and Iraq is a thread he picked up again yesterday.  He could follow the Pelosi measure (if it passed) and reclassify "combat troops" as troops who will be fighting terrorists ("al Qaeda!") and none have to leave.  He could also declare that the illegal war is over and that 160,000 US troops need to remain to maintain "police operations" which would mean no troops leave. It's the con game they pulled in March, credit Goodman with telling it straight and not sugar coating it. 
In a crimes and violence update, Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) updates her bank robbery story from yesterday with the information that the bank is revising the figures for the stolen money to "282 million Iraqi diners, equal to about $225,000 and $366,00 American dollars."  In some of today's violence . . .
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a mortar attacks in Baquba claimed 2 lives and left fifteen wounded and a Baquba bombing that claimed 1 life.  Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) notes that the Green Zone was "slammed" with mortars today, killing 2 Iraqi soldiers and that "U.S. civilian government employees have been required in the last few dyas to wear body armor and helmets because of the rising threat of rocket and mortar attacks.  Reuters notes that 2 children died in Samawa from a roadside bombing, 1 Iraqi soldier died from a Baghdad roadside bombing and 1 police officer died from a Mosul roadside bombing.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports five police officers were shot dead in Baghdad,  3 Iraqi civilians were shot dead by the US military (in what appears to be -- me speaking not Hammoudi -- indiscriminate firing) and "Gunmen killed an Iraqi journalist working for New York Times newspaper near Al Saidiyah fuel station south of Baghdad around 9:00 am."  John Holusha (New York Times) observes that Hassan joined the paper in 2003 (fall) and that he was the second Times' reporter for the paper to die in Iraq and notes: "Mr. Hassan was shot in the Saidiya district of south central Baghdad while driving to work under circumstances that remain unclear, Mr. [John F.] Burns said.  He had called the bureau earlier and said his normal route to the office had been block by a security checkpoint."  Executive editor Bill Keller states, "Khalid was part of a large, sometimes unsung, community of Iraqi news gatherers, translators and support staff, who take enormous risks every day to help us comprehend their country's struggle and torment.  Without them, America's understanding of what is happening on the ground in Iraq would be much, much poorer.  To The Times, Khalid was family, and his death is heartbreaking."  Khalid Hassan's death brings to three the number of reporters killed in Baghdad in the last 48 hours.  Yesterday, we noted the deaths of Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh, two journalists with Reuters.  Today, Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reports that in addition to eyewitnesses quoted in the early reports yesterday, Ahmad Sahib, with AFP, arrived on the scene shortly afterwards and he states, "They had arrived, got out of the car and started taking pictures, and people gathered.  It looked like the American helicopters were firing against any gathering in the area, because when I got out of my car and started taking pictures, people gathered and an American helicopter fired a few rounds, but they hit the houses nearby and we ran for cover."
Reuters reports 3 corpses discovered today in Sawayra.  And Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) noted that 28 corpses were discovered in Baghdad Thursday.
Turning to the theft of Iraqi oil, Nancy Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) notes, "Earlier this month, Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki announced unanimous Cabinet approval of a draft hydrocarbon law.  But on Wednesday, Kurdish politicians said they opposed the latest version of the law.  The draft law hasn't been published."  Steve Kretzmann (Oil for Change) observes, "We have heard conflicting reports, although it seems clear that the annexes are gone.  There was an arabic version published two days ago in a Baghdad daily, however we've heard that there has been at least one change since then."  AVAAZ.ORG has an online petition entitled "Support Iraqi Oil Sovereignty."
At Inside Iraq (McClatchy Newspapers), a journalist shares a surreal experience, "The Electricity Minister and the Oil Minister, both being questioned in the Parliament as to the electricity and fuel situation in the country.  They were fighting the 'good' fight, back to back, with their sabers flashing.  Fact after distorted face spilled forth from their tongues.  The Oil Minister, high browed, blue blooded, married to a bluer blood still -- all leaning east, said he hadn't enough power and fuel to work the refineries -- butter wouldn't melt in his mouth.  The Electricity Minister, a man of the masses; an excellent technician, worked his way up through the ranks, said he hadn't enough fuel to work the electricity power stations.  Wasn't there something strange here -- was it a distortion in my dream?? A Catch 22 situation if ever there was one!!"  Hussain al-Shahristani is the Oil Minister (since May of last year) and prior to that post he was the deputy speaker in the National Assembly.   Last week, on KPFT's Progressive Forum (Thursdays, 7:00 pm Central), host Wally James discussed the theft of the Iraqi oil with Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive).
Matthew Rothschild: It's amazing that with all that's been going on Iraq with maybes 600,000 Iraqis killed, 3600 US soldiers killed and 2600 US soldiers wounded, that the one thing the Bush administration really cares about is privatizing Iraq's oil.  You know, they told us, over and over again, before this war started those of us that were talking about this war being for oil, that we were conspiracy people, but look, low and behold, the first thing that the army did when it got to Iraq was protect the oil fields, the second thing it did was protect the Oil Ministry and now the last thing it's doing is making sure that before all hell breaks further loose that they're going to get something on the books in Iraq that allows Exxon-Mobile and other US corporations to go in  there and get their share of the oil there and expatriate the profits from that oil at a much greater degree than oil companies can do in that part of the world.  I mean this is a huge sell out of Iraq's sovereign resource and there are, there have been strikes already by Iraqi oil workers and al-Sadr right now  is aligning with the Sunnis to oppose this so there's all sorts  of domestic opposition over there but this is the one thing that the Bush administration wanted al-Maliki to rail through if he could, railroad it through, he'd be back in the good graces of the Bush administration, back in the good graces of Exxon-Mobile.
Wally James: Well from the beginning you had Bush saying, you know, this is not about oil, we're not trying to get control of the oil.  And, you know, but under the surface you have this going on and at the same time the US media just isn't reporting on it.  They talk about how this is going to be a good thing if this goes through, how it's going to make for sure that  the oil is divided up evenly in Iraq.
Matthew Rothschild: It is almost impossible, you're absolutely right here, Wally, and I think it's a really good point absolutely impossible to read the mainstream media and figure out what's going on with this Iraq oil behind the scenes.  It's not about, or simply not just about, the equal sharing of the oil revenues.  It's largely about the privatization  of the oil industry in Iraq and allowing US and other foreign oil companies in to grab the oil.  That's what's going on but you might get that in about paragraph eleven or paragraph fifteen and it won't explain really the benefits that are going to acrue to Exxon-Mobile and the other giants.  And it certainly won't tell you that the Iraq oil workers were striking for a week in Basra over this.  I mean, this has been one of the worst bits of coverage by the mainstream media in Iraq since what?  The cover up or the funneling of propaganda about Weapons of Mass Destruction  Prior to the war courtesy of Judith Miller and the New York Times.
Wally James asked Rothschild about the idea that Congressional Democrats might be refusing to impeach because they want Bully Boy around for the 2008 elections (as an issue to run against) and wondered if that was at least part of the reason Congress does nothing to end the illegal war, "they need him around in '08 to beat up" and the Iraq war?  Rothschild responded:  "Well this is kind of pragmatic politics at its worst, it seems to me.  Because I think the same thing happened with the Iraq war vote.  They want the Iraq war to go on so they can go against Bush and the Iraq war in 2008.  But look at how callous that is.  They want a hundred more US soldiers to die every month and 500, 600 to be wounded and what, you know, a couple of thousand Iraqis to die every month  just because it's politically expedient and it might help them win the White House?  I mean, come on, talk about immorality if that's what they're doing that's disgraceful on the war issue."  Next addressed was the issue of impeachment which Rothschild's supported, publicly in his writing, since at least early 2006 and we'll use that as an opportunity to note that Bill Moyers Journal  (begins airing on PBS in most markets today -- check local listings and you can also read, listen or watch online) will explore the topic of impeachment and, among the guests is John Nichols.
Back to Rothschild, he has a new book out entitled You Have No Rights: Stories of America In An Age of Repression (The New Press, list price $16.99) and he's doing stops across the country to promote the book:

Matthew Rothschild reading and signing YOU HAVE NO RIGHTS

Seattle, WA: 7/16 at 7:00PM
San Francisco, CA: 7/17 at 7:30PM
Berkeley, CA: 7/18 at 7:00PM
Portland, OR: 7/19 at 7:30PM
Madison, WI: 7/26 at 7:00PM
San Luis Obispo, CA: 8/14 at 7:00PM
Santa Barbara, CA:8/15 at 7:00PM
Los Angeles, CA: 8/16 at 7:00PM
Baraboo, WI: 9/8 all day

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