Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, August 8, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue, the US military and the British military both announce deaths, a dawn air attack by the US on a residential area kills civilians, war resister Eli Israel tells his story, meet "The Other Iraq," and more.

Starting with war resisters.  Camilo Mejia is the first war resister to return to the US and refuse to return to the US.  Stephen Funk is the first war resister to refuse to to Iraq period.  Eli Israel is the first known war resister to refuse while serving in Iraq.  At Courage to Resist, Eli Isreal tells his story.  He writes of growing up "in the custody of state of Kentucky," living on the streets, attempting to join the Marines at 16 but having no diploma and no GED so being turned down.  Israel got his GED, took some college courses and, at 18, enlisted in the military.  After leaving the military, he re-enlisted in 2004.  In Iraq he was "a JVB Agent -- the JVB (Joint Visitors Bureau) served as protective service for 'three star generals and above' and their 'civilian equivalents'.  This included the Vice President, the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff," etc. and "when we didn't have any missions at JVB, it was common for us to be called on for 'search and cordon' operations and other infantry assignements".  Israel writes:

I claimed like many that my actions during these missions were justified in the name of "self-defense."  However, I came to realize it was that my perception was wrong.  I was in a country that I had no right to be in, violating the lives of people, and doing so without regard to the same standards of dignity and respect that we as Americans hold our own homes and our lives to.    
I had taken and/or destroyed the lives of people who were defending their families from being the "collateral damage" of the day.  Iraqi boys are joining groups like "Al Qaeda" for the same reason street kids in the U.S. join the "Crypts" and the Bloods".  It's about self protection, a sense of dignity, and a way of making a stand.          
The young man whose father and cousin we "accidentally" killed, and whose mother and siblings cry every time the tank rolls through the neighborhood, doesn't care about who Osama Bin Laden is. 

Israel writes of the destuction of Iraq, the daily deaths of Iraqis, martial law, the denial of basic services, and more leading to a realization: "The day I saw myself in the hateful eyes of a young Iraqi boy who stared at me was the day I realized I could no longer justify my role in the occupation."  So Eli Israel attempted to become a CO but when he informed his superios of that decision, he was immediately isolated and placed under military guard for two weeks after which he was sent to Camp Arifjan for 30 days in prison which became 25 and he's now  discharged and "scheduled to be out-processed from the Army within the month and plan on joining forces with anti-Iraq-War movements, such as Courage to Resist and Iraq Veterans Against the War."  That's a synopsis and, again, you can read his story in his own words at Courage to Resist.  He concludes, "Objecting to the war and standing up to the miliary was without question, one of the best decisions I have ever made.  I made a stand that was the right one, and I have my freedom back as a bonus.  Maybe ten years from now those of us resisting from within the military today will be seen as some of the first few to speak the truth and to follow up with action.  Even now I have many to remind me that I'm not alone in my thinking, even a majority of Americans who know that all the pieces of this conflict simply don't add up."

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee,  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 Kjar, 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 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. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. IVAW and others will be joining Veterans For Peace's conference in St. Louis, Missouri August 15th to 19th.

Turning to Iraq where the air war continues.  CBS and AP report that a dawn attack on the Sadr City section of Baghdad, a US helicopter attack, has left at least 9 civilians dead (2 women included in the fatalties).  Reuters says the number, according to hospital officials, is 13 and note: "Hundres of angry mourners later marched chanting through the streets of the slum after the raid on the eve of a major Shi'ite holy day."  BBC offers a series of photos of the mourners which include (a) a man seated on the ground holding his head while a small boy cries next to him, three boys and a man slumped over a table while two women cry, and a photo of marchers which numbers over a thousand -- not the "hundreds" billed -- taking to the treets, walking around buses, clutching their chests and their heads.  BBC reports eye witnesses stating children were also killed and that the US military does conceed the point that women and children were present -- obvious point, this is a residential area that was bombed at dawn -- they assert none died.  Later the US military is expected to also issue assertions that the Easter Bunny exists. Jaime Tarabay (NPR) notes that officials in "Sadr City say that there were no 30  terrorist killed  there were acutally 9 civilians killed and among those were women and children and there were also six people that were injured."

In other violence . . .


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports four Baghdad mortar attacks that claimed 2 lives and wounded twelve, a Baghdad roadside bombing that left three Iraqi soldiers wounded, a Kirkuk roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer (six more wounded), a Kirkuk car bombing left four police officers and a civilian wounded.  Reuters notes a bombing in a Baquba barbre shop that claimed 5 lives and left eight more wounded, a Samarra mortar attack that claimed 7 lives, and a Hawija roadside bombing that left one person dead.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports two women wounded ("a mother and her daughter") in a shooting attack, while attorney Emad Dosh was shot dead in Najaf and Talai Bilal was attacked in Kufa but survived -- two security guards were wounded.  Reuters notes a police officer was shot dead in Dujail and one person was shot dead in Jurf Al-Sakhar and another in Mahaweel.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 11 corpses discovered in Baghdad and the corpse of Muthhir Ali was discovered in Kirkuk.

Today the UK Ministry of Defence announced: "It is with deep sorrow that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of a British serviceman from 1 Squadron, RAF Regiment in Basra City, southern Iraq last night, Tuesday 7 August 2007.  The serviceman died as a result of small arms fire attack which occurred at approximately 2030 hours local time during an operation in the Karmat Ali district of Basra City."  ICCC's total for the number of British soldiers killed in Iraq is now 166.  This follows Monday's announced death in Basra of 20-year-old Craig Barber whom, the UK Ministry of Defense notes, "leaves behind his loving family, including his wife Donna and son Bradley."

And today the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier was killed and four others wounded during combat operations in a western section of the Iraqi capital when an improvised explosive device detonated near their patrol Aug. 7."  ICCC pegs the number of US service members killed in Iraq this month at 22 thus far and since the start of the illegal war at 3681.

As all this goes on, Bernd Debusmann (Reuters) offers a story on tourism in Iraq or to what is billed as "The Other Iraq" -- the Kurdish area.  Why not? asks the headline.  Gee, maybe because of the cross border struggles with Turkey that yesterday's meet and greet with al-Maliki didn't solve.  Maybe because, as Steve Negus (Financial Times of London) pointed out a week ago, the census that was supposed to be taken of the area never was and December is when a vote is supposed to "determine the fate of a large oil-rich and bitterly disputed swathe of the country". Or how about  James Cogan (WSWS) noting that Massoud Barzani ("president of the autonomous Kurdish Regional Government") has called for "a real civil war" if Kirkuk ("oli-rich" Kirkuk) does not become part of the Kurdish territory.

Turning to Japan where recent elections shifted the power.  David Pilling (Financial Times of London) reports that the Democratic Party of Japan "took control of the upper house Tuesday" and "is considering introducing a bill to end Tokyo's logistical support in Iraq" meaning curtailing "the supply flights the Japan Air Self-Defence Force flew to Baghdad and northern Iraq from Kuwait." 

Could that increase the cost of the illegal war for the US?  On the topic of the cost . . .  On July 31st, Gordon England, the US Dept. Secretary of Defense, appeared before the House Budget Committee of the US Congress and declared, "As Secretary Gates has said, the Department is firmly committed to an open and transparent dialogue with the Congress about war costs."  Though only 8 days ago, England's remarks are already laughable.  Today Tom Vanden Brook (USA Today) reports that the Pentagon is now insisting that $750 million is needed immediately in order "to urgenly airlift needed armored vehichles to troops facing roadside bombs in Iraq."  As Cedric and Wally pointed out Monday, the House just approved $459.6 billion in funding to military spending.  Nicholas Johnston (Bloomberg News)  reported this was  "for fiscal year 2008".  John Nichols (link goes to CBS) observed there was "virtually no debate" before the House approved the bill and that the "amount does not include the extra $147 billion Iraq war funding that the Bush administration has demanded that Congress approve when the Congress returns from its August recess."  This latest last minute funding request comes as the cost of the illegal war continues to mount and not that long after noises about how Americans would not be paying for the illegal war in piecemeal, that the American people needed to know the true costs of the illegal war.  In fact, one of the people decrying this sort of "haphazard, piecemeal funding" was the Bully Boy of the United States himself  on May 10th.  At the end of last month, Walter Pincus (Washington Post) noted Congress gave  the Defense Department "$1.7 billion for military construction in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2007, according to CRS [Congressional Research Service], but offered no breakdown of how the money was spent."  Dropping back to December  2006, Carl Hulse (New York Times via IHT) noted that the Democrats who had just won control of both houses in the November elections were "planning to assert more control over the billions of dollars a month being spent on the conflict [Iraq] when they take charge of Congress in January."  Hulse quoted two tough talkers.  In the Senate, Kent Conrad declared, "They have been playing hide-the-ball, and that does not serve the Congress well nor the county well, and we are not going to continue that practice."  From the House, John Spratt who stated, "We need to have a better breakout of the costs -- period."  Possibly, Hulse misquoted Spratt and he really said "breakout of the costs -- period period period"?  Ellipses would certainly make more sense when Spratt is quoted by Tom Vanden Brook today sounding ready to toss around the (public's) money without asking any questions such as why the Pentagon's only now interested in shipping the vehicles or what pork the Pentagon can eliminate on their own instead of expecting the US tax payers to foot the bill for every goody on their wish-list.  Noting the waste in the bloated budget, John Nichols wondered "why was there no serious debate on the Pentagon budget?  It's not just that the Bush administration and its Republican allies in Congress continue to use the war on terror as an excuse to enrich defense contractors such as Dick Cheney's Halliburton.  As Winslow Wheller, a veteran of 31 years working with mostly Republican senators on defense issues and a former assistant director of evaluations of national defense programs with the U.S. Government Accountablility Office, 'Now in control of Congress and having made multiple promises to restore oversight of the war in Iraq and the executive branch in general, the Democrats have been successfully rolled by the White House, the military services, and the big spender pundits'."  To repeat, July 31st, Dept. Secretary of Defense Gordon England stated to Congress that "the [Defense] Department is firmly committed to an open and transparent dialogue with the Congress about war costs."

Turning to US politics.  Yesterday the AFL-CIO hosted a 'debate' with Democratic hopefuls for the 2008 presidential nomination (Mike Gravel was not present).  US Senator Barack Obama is hindered by how much of his genuine rage (and he's got rage) he can show.  He declared, at one point, "I find it amusing that those who helped to authorize and engineer the biggest foreign policy disaster in our generation are now criticizing me".  He declared?  Well, he moved his lips.   Samantha Power scripted that line.  Samantha Power who immortalized herself with  the autobiography A Problem From Hell (oh, it's not an autobiography? well with that title . . .) Barack Obama yesterday: "the biggest foreign policy disaster in our generation are now criticizing me."  Samantha Power August 3rd "the worst strategic blunder in the history of US foreign policy."  Sammy, get your axe.  Or at least your Blackberry.  The odor of Samantha Power lingers over the Barack Obama campaign and not merely because she was perviously an advisor to Obama.  It's also because you look a bit unhinged when you mass mail, as Power did last week, your thoughts on Obama to "Interested Parties."  Where Babmi can't show more than spunk, Power can.  She will do it, she can do it, and she will bloody well control the White House! 

That's actually how the unhinged Samantha Power plays out to many -- and for good reasons that aren't limited to the fact that she fires off those e-mails not from her own personal e-mail account but from the account she has as "Founding Executive Director, Harvard University Carr Center for Human Rights Policy".  As Noam Chomsky (ZNet) noted, in response to a question about Sammy Power, "A little more interesting is Power's tacit endorsement of the Bush doctrine that states that harbor terrorists are no different from terrorist states, and should be treated accordingly: bombed and invaded, and subjected to regime change"; "It's of some interst that Power is regarded -- and apparently regards herself -- as a harsh critic of US foreign policy.  The reason is that she excoriates Washington for not paying enough attention to the crimes of others."; and "From a desk at the Carr Center for Human Rights at the Kennedy School at Harvard, that's doubltess how it looks."

The Carr Center?  Tom Hayden (writing at The Nation, link goes to Hayden's site) asked last month: "Should a human rights center at the nation's most prestigious university be collaborating with the top U.S. general in Iraq in designing the counter-insurgency doctrine behind the current military surge?"   Hayden goes on to reveal how The Carr Center's Sarah Sewell steered the creation of "the new Army-Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual" which not only white washes the US involvement in the Salvadorian death squads of the Reagan years, it also seeks to use academic discipline to abuse a people.  Hayden cites Stephen Biddle ("Baghdad adviser to Gen Petraues") explaining the real purpose of the plan the Carr Center took part in: "to manipulate both Shi'as and Sunnis into depending on the US occupation for self-protection."  As Hayden points out, "counter-insurgency, being based on deception, shadow warfare and propaganda runs counter to the historic freedom of university life."  As noted before the academy is abused today by the US military recruiting anthropologists to figure out how to lie and trick Iraqis.  They've also found some psychologists eager to do their bidding and encourage torture which is a topic Amy Goodman again revists on today's Democracy Now! with The New Yorker's Jane Mayer and the ACLU's Jameel Jaffer.
But let's not leave Sammy Power just yet.  Hayden notes: "Power is a close adviser to Sen. Barack Obama who supports a withdrawal of US combat troops by next year with exceptions for 'advisers' and special units to battle al-Qaeda.  Power, who worked last year in Obama's Washington DC office, writes that even the proposed combat troop withdrawal can be reversed if Iraq's condition continues to worsen.  Intentionally or not, the cautious, complicated Obama proposal as described by Power leaves open the likelihood of thousands of American troops remaining in counter-insurgency roles for years ahead.  If that is the limit of legitimate debate at Harvard, the Pentagon occupation of the academic mind may last much longer than its occupation of Iraq, and may require an intellectual insurgency in response."  The Carr Center is a collaborator in an illegal war and that reality is only surprising to anyone who doesn't grasp the realities of Sammy "Get me the axe!" Power. 

While the War Hawk Loons seek ever more war, today The Toledo Blade editorializes on "Iraq's demise" noting that "the United States has essentially destoryed Iraq as a country" and concluding, "The only action left, assuming that the people of the United States do not want to take on Iraq as a project for the next 20 or 30 years, is to state categorically that we have done all that we are going to do there and leave." 

In other news, Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) notes that even on something as mild as censure ("just a public spanking"), the Dems in Congress can't get it together and that if they really believe impeachment "would tie up" everything, what's their problem with censure?  Cynthia Cooper (FAIR's Extra!) points out that the mainstream media ignores the prospect of impeachment or mocks it and makes false comparisons such as claiming Bully Boy isn't as awful as Tricky Dick: "But the 'consensus' on Nixon came after five months of inquiry by the House Judiciary Commitee, complete with subpoenas, sworn testimony and a staff of 100.  A full consensus only emerged days later, when the U.S. Supreme Court ordered Nixon to release tapes that contained damning comments by the president, and Nixon resigned."  In disgrace, he resigned in disgrace.  No offense, but let's not forget that detail.  He was a petty crook and he left in disgrace.  On PBS, Bill Moyers offered a serious discussion on impeachment.  That one hour look (including guests such as John Nichols) at impeachment on Bill Moyers Journal  is repeating and can also be viewed, listened to or read online currently.

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