Monday, August 20, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Monday, August 20, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces the death of another soldier, the Dems don't debate and the moderator doesn't care, another governor is assassinated in Iraq, UK and US troops are "stretched," and more.

Starting with war resisters. This year has seen three war resisters publish their stories in book form. First up was Joshua Key's The Deserter's Tale which was followed in May by Camilo Mejia's Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia and then, this month, Aidan Delgado's The Sutras Of Abu Ghraib: Notes From A Conscientious Objector In Iraq. Susan L. Rife (Sarasota Herald-Tribune) reports on Delgado who will "speak at various book-related events in Florida in September and October". Delgado explains, "As a child, I always thought of myself as a writer, always wanted to be a writer. . . . I encountered a lot of writer's block. So I would write whatever section seemed the most immediate to me, then once I had a bunch of little modules or sections, I'd write them together." Delgado is a reader (which always helps when writing a book). In a book discussion at The Third Estate Sunday Review, Mike noted that Delgado's "descriptions really make it come alive and he's a really strong writer," with Rebecca offering, "I think the book is a more 'You are there' approach than a reflection," while Cedric focused on the way Delgado captured his religious awakening in Iraq and Elaine comparing his writing style favorably to Lillian Hellman's noting, "He has a very good eye for physical detail but he also is very strong in zooming in on the telling incident." Rife writes, "The son of an American diplomat who had spent his childhood in Thailand, Senegal and Egypt, the former New College of Florida student was deployed to Iraq as a mechanic with the 320th Military Police in Nasiriyah and at the prison in Abu Ghraib. Outraged by treatment of Iraqi prisoners and prejudice against civilians, he filed for conscientious objector status." According to the Taguba Report, the US Army Criminal Investigation Command into the crimes at Abu Ghraib began in May 2003. As Delgado recounts on page 184-185, as late as January 2004, a commander was telling people to destroy evidence:

The first sergeant calls us to attention and then turns the formation over to the commander. The captain dispenses with the military formality and begins to rant at us immediately.

"I just came back from Brigade Headquarters with all the other company commanders, where General Karpinski chewed our asses about all these g**damn rumors going around! You all need to stamp this talk out! Immediately. Apparently there's word going around that some MPs were doing some things they weren't supposed to be doing and somebody took pictures of it all. You don't need to be writing about this to your families, you don't need to be telling them on the phone, and you don't need to be talking about it to each other. You better stop spreading these g**damn rumors!"

The commander pauses for a moment and then switches tactics, becoming suddenly congenial and chummy, "Look, we're all a family here. We don't air our dirty laundry in public. If we have a problem within the military, then we'll handle it internally. We don't need to let the media and the civilians into our business. If you have photos that you're not supposed to have, get rid of them. Don't talk about this to anyone, don't write about it to anyone back home. We're a family and we're going to handle this like a family. I don't want to hear any more of this kind of talk in my unit. You all just focus on going home in March, hoo-ah!"

Hoo-ah, we responded. The commander rambles on for a bit and then dismisses us. As I leave, I wonder what could have possibly gotten the entire base so worked up. There's no doubt now that everything we've heard about is true, and it must be even worse than we thought, for the commander himself to get on our backs about it. All a family? I laugh. We're only a family when the captain wants us to do his bidding or conceal some wrongdoing. The Army has tried that rhetoric before, talking about family and Army pride and everything else to try to get you to buy into what they do. When the Army talks about "handling something internally," it's only because they've done something so obviously wrong, they can't allow the rest of the country to see it. This doesn't surprise me. After all, if Americans back home saw Iraqi prisoners shot dead for throwing stones, saw the wretched conditions inside Abu, or saw the way the MPs dealt with the prisoners, what would they think of our glorious and righteous invasion? The truth about Abu Ghraib has to be concealed, has to be "kept in the family," because if the average citizen saw what we're doing to the people here, they would know in their guts that it's un-American.

Again, Delgado's The Sutras Of Abu Ghraib: Notes From A Conscientious Objector In Iraq came out this month.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Timothy Richard, 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, Abdullah Webster, 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, Dale Bartell, 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.

Veterans for Peace concluded their conference in St. Louis Sunday (it ran from August 15 through the 19th). It was their 22nd annual conference. They note that the "temperature was hot (100 degrees), the worshops were hot, the speakers were hot, and IVAW was hot!" Tim Townsend (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) reported on Dennis Kucinich's strong reception Friday noting that Kucinich declared "the U.S. Congress should force the Bush administration to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq. But he also brought the crowd to its feet multiple times with a passionate delivery of his positions." AFP notes that Kucinich declared, "The Democratic leadership of the House and the Senate must finally live up to their responsibility and the promise they made to voters last year to end this war." This was followed with, "It doesn't take legislation, it simply requires a refusal to approve any additional funds and to use the $97 billion recently appropriated to bring our troops home as quickly as possible."

Earlier in the conference (Wednesday), Bud Deraps, WWII vet, spoke about Depleted Uranium: "We have learned that DU was first used in our 1991 Gulf War and that inhalation is the major cause of DU contamination. It has long been believed that it takes ten years or more for lung cancer to form from smoking. The NY Sun reported in an Aug. 6, 2007 article that there are increasing cancer cases being found in US troops that have served in the Gulf for as few as 2 to 3 years. For example, 40 year old Army chaplain Fran Sturart served in Iraq for a year after Mar. 2003. In Mar. 2006, she had a rare form of ovary germ cell cancer seen only before in teenage girls. Army Sgt. Lauderdale went to Kuwait in Jan. 2005. By the end of Mar. they found he had Stage 2 cell cancer of the mouth and tongue. Taken to Walter Reed on April 1, a doctor there said he had seen a 21 year old just back from Iraq with a similar cancer. Lauderdale, 59, died at Reed on July 14, 2006, a year and a half after arriving in Kuwait. Currently, the State Dept. Web says the US military cites four separate studies by NATO, the Rand Corp., the European Commission and the World Health Org - that found NO evidence of adverse health effects from Depleted Uranium! It is reported that we used over 320 tons of DU weapons in the brief Gulf War and over 2000 tons in the years 2003 and 04 alone. Massive bombings continue to this day. The Iraq environment minister confirms 350 sites DU contaminated by heavy bombing, saturating much of that destroyed nation. Frequent sand storms, helicopter take-offs and landings carry the deadly dust size ceramic particles aloft where they are being spread far and wide. Counting the Gulf and our present wars, we have had well over a million troops, contract and government workers cycle in and out of the region, many on their 4th tour, all possibly DU contaminated."

Larry Ingram (Collinsville Herald) reported last week on Roland James and Lane Anderson who made the decision to travel to the conference via bicycles and to do some from the Vietnam Veterans Against the war convention in Chicago because they trace the illegal war to the US "dependence on Persian Gulf oil". Zhanda Malone (Edwardsville Intelligencer) notes Anderson "handed out index cards" throughout the journey of "Things we can all do to prevent wars for oil" which "included drink needed liquid from the tap, not bottled water, drive and accelerate slower, walk and bike whenever possible; carpool to school and work; resist impulse buying; share, repair and care for power equipment; use manual tools; and grow food at home."

On September 15th (see ANSWER for more information) a mass protest will be taking place in DC and IVAW will lead a "die-in". This will be part of a several days of action lasting from the 15th through the 18th. September 17th IVAW will kick off Truth in Recruiting. CODEPINK will be conducting a Peoples March Inside Congress (along with other groups and individuals) on September 17th. United for Peace & Justice (along with others) will begin Iraq Moratorium on September 21st and follow it every third Friday of the month as people across the country are encouraged to wear and distribute black ribbons and armbands, purchase no gas on those Fridays, conduct vigils, pickets, teach-ins and rallies, etc. And those are only some of the upcoming actions.

On Saturday, Julian E. Barnes and Carol J. Williams (Los Angeles Times) reported that Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno declared that Bully Boy will need to change strategy or "the elevated U.S. troop levels in Iraq will continue until this time next year". That would mean, if Odierno is correct, any departures would come in August 2008, just in time for the GOP national convention. The numbers being tossed around for drawbacks (not withdrawal) would leave approximately 140,000 US forces in Iraq which is higher than the pre-escalation total present at the start of this year. Also on Saturday, Steven Lee Myers and Thom Shanker (New York Times) reported on the White House's intentions regarding the September 15th reports to Congress (Petraeus and Crocker) which is to use the reports to resell the illegal war all over again and cited unnamed White House officials including one who "made it clear that the goal of the planned annoucement was to counter public pressure for a more rpaid reduction and to try to win support for a plan that could keep American involvement in Iraq on 'a sustainable footing' at least through the end of the Bush presidency." On Sunday, the BBC reported UK General Richard Dannatt declaring that "the government has overstretched our armed forces" but, for some reason. Sarah Baxter and Michael Smith (Sunday Times of London) explained that Stephen Biddle, "military advisor to President George W Bush," that the British departure from Iraq will lead to "a number of British casualties" and the reporters note this is in keeping "with British military estimates that withdrawal could cost the lives of 10 to 15 soldiers." Tim Shipman (Telegraph of London) reported that British officers are listened to far less now by "America's top commanders" and quoted one "senior US officer familiar with Gen Petraues's thinking" summarizing it: "The short version is that the Brits have lost Basra, if indeed they ever had it. Britain is in a difficult spot because of the lack of political support at home, but for a long time -- more than a year -- they have not been engaged in Basra and have tried to avoid casualties. They did not have enough troops there even before they started cutting back. The situation is beyond their control." And, along with British troops being stretched, Lolita C. Baldor (AP) reported that "the [US] Army has nearly exhausted its fighting force and its options if the Bush administration decided to extend the Iraq buildup beyond next spring."

On Sunday, the New York Times ran a piece written by seven active duty service members entitled "Iraq As We See It" (click here for Common Dreams, click here for International Herald Tribune -- available in full at both without registration) which noted "Two million Iraqis are in refugee camps in bordering countries. Close to two million more are internally displaced and now fill many urban slums. Cities lack regular electricty, telephone services and sanitation. 'Lucky' Iraqis live in communities barricaded with concrete walls that provide them with a sense of communal claustrophobia rather than any sense of security we would consider normal. In an environment where men with guns rule the streets, engaging in the banalities of life has become a death-defying act. Four years into our occupation, we have failed on every promise, while we have substituted Baath Party tyranny with a tyranny of Islamist, militia and criminal violence. . . . In the end, we need to recognize that our presence may have released Iraqis from the grip of a tyrant, but that it has also robbed them of their self-respect. They will soon realize that the best way to regain dignity is to call us what we are -- an army of occupation -- and force our withdrawal." The piece is signed by US Army specialist Buddhika Jayamaha, Sgt. Wesley D. Smith, Sgt. Jeremy Roebuck, Sgt. Omar Mora, Sgt. Edward Sandmeier, Staff Sgt. Yance T. Gray, Staff Sgt. and Jeremy A. Murphy.

Of course the Iraqis have been clear, in poll after poll, about wanting ALL foreign troops out of their country. The puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, is among the roadblocks. At Inside Iraq (McClatchy Newspapers), an Iraqi correspondent notes the puppet's claims that Iraq is now sovereign by describing Sadoon Street in Baghdad "Anyway whoever controls Sadoon Street, its not the Iraqi government which means that our Prime Minister doesn't tell the truth which means that we are not really sovereign country. When a government can't control a street, its not a government, its only a group of puppets. When a government can't provide the minimum level of security, its just a shadow, when a government take the instruction from other places than its country, its just a shadow. Its time to get rid of all the Iraqi puppets in the Green Zone and start searching for real Iraqi" leadership.

The puppet is in Syria now after his 'alliance' proved to be such a bust. Megan Greenwell (Washington Post) reported Sunday that the country's "top five government leaders began a review of the country's de-Baathification law Saturday but appeared not to have reached an agreement on that topic or any of the other critical issues that have plunged the country into a political crisis. . . . . The lack of concrete results from meetings this week diminish hopes of creating a unified government by Sept. 15, when President Bush and Congress are to receive a report about condtiions in Iraq." AFP notes the Bully Boy has stopped mentioning 'benchmarks' when speaking of Iraq and that's because the situation is so grave and because the puppet trashed 'benchmarks' two and sixteen when he shut Sunnis out of his new 'alliance.' On Sunday, Damien Cave (New York Times) offered an analysis of the puppet noting "Some American officials privately describe him as a paranoid failure," describing US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker's observation about the "pretty striking" visible Iraqi frustration with the puppet but "noted that there was as much anger within the government as outside, on the streets," while Iraqis either search for an alternative or "complain that they are not able to replace Mr. Maliki until the Americans signal strong opposition and identify a replacement."

And yet the disaster that the US government has intentionally (and illegally) created in Iraq doesn't dissuade an itching for war with Iran. Today Stephen Farrell (New York Times) observed US Major General Rick Lynch claimed that "50 members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard Corps" training Shi'ite militias fell apart when the general "conceded that no Revolutionary guard members had been captured in his region . . . The accusations came days after United States officials said the White House might list the Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization."

Also this weekend came news of life in Iraqi prisons. Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today, "In other Iraq news, new images have been released showing hundreds of Iraqi prisoners packed into cramped wire cages. The video was released after Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi visited the Rusafa prison camp in Baghdad. The prisoners are held by the dozens in wire mesh covered with plastic sheeting. On the tape, al-Hashemi is seen addressing the prisoners about their conditions. Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi: 'Those who are outside are no better than you, at least you have security. It is true that you do not have freedom , but you are better than many outside'." Saturday Waleed Ibrahim and Peter Graff (Reuters) reported on the "hundreds of inmates packed into tented wire-mesh cages" and the claim by Lt. Col. Christopher Garver that the US isn't responsible for the treatment or the conditions.

Turning to some of today's violence . . .


Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted "the governmor of the province of Muthanna has been killed in a roadside bombing. The assasination of Mohammed Ali al-Hassani is the second of provincial governor in Iraq in the last two weeks." Bushra Juhi (AP) reports that he was traveling in a SUV "en route to his office" with three bodyguards, an office manager and a driver -- along with al-Hassani, a bodyguard and the driver were killed. CBS and AP note that three people died besides the governor. On August 11th, Khalil Jalil Hamza was killed. He had been the governor of the Qadasiyah province. The Belfast Telegraph notes that both assasinated governors "were members of the Surpreme Islamic Iraqi Council, a Shi'ite group that has been fighting the Mahdi Army militia for control of oil-rich southern Iraq." As noted in Friday's snapshot, The assassinated Khalil Jalil Hamza was just replaced with Shiek Hamid al-Khudhan who is "secretary-general of the Badr Brigade".

Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a motorcycle bombing in Baghdad that claimed 1 life (twelve wounded), a Baghdad car bombing that claimed 5 lives (twenty wounded), a Baghdad roadside bomb that left four wounded and a Kirkuk roadside bombing that claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier.


Reuters reports two police officers (brothers) were shot dead in Baiji and "a civil servant" was shot dead in Hawijia.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 12 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Reuters reports 2 corpses (police officers) were discovered in Mosul.

Today the US military announced: "An MNC-I Soldier died of non-battle related causes August 19 in Baghdad." The announcement brought the ICCC total to 49 US service members killed in Iraq this month so far and 3707 killed in the illegal war since it began." The cause of death? "Under investigation." Last week, the US military announced 17 deaths, 3 of which were Baghdad deaths that have "an investigation ongoing" (the 2 US service members who died August 16th in Baghdad and Shawn D. Henset who died August 14th in Baghdad).

Turning to politics in the United States, yesterday at Drake University, the candidates for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination . . . met. Couldn't really call it a debate, couldn't call it a discussion since George Stephanopoulos has no idea how to moderate. For instance, a knowledgeable moderator wouldn't wait to well after the third way mark to finally get to the topic of Iraq while, at the same time, noting "I want to move on to another issue we're hearing about a lot from the voters from Iowa in the poll. More voters wrote in questions for us on the issue of Iraq than any other single issue." Again, Steph got to that well after a third of the debate was over, close to the half-way mark. If the point's not clear, voters wanted to hear about Iraq but Steph wasted everyone's time wondering about Obama and what was said about Obama and blah blah blah useless blah. Does he have a secret crush on Obama? In the Iraq section, Bill Richardson had a question for Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden and there's little Steph saying he wants "Obama on that question." Does Obama need that much hand holding just to make it through public appearances?

Bill Richardson declared: "Here's my plan: My plan is that, to end this war, we have to get all the troops out, all of them. Our kids are dying. Our troops have become targets. My plan has diplomacy, a tri-partite entity within Iraq, a reconciliation among the three groups. I would have a division of oil revenues. I'd have an all-Muslim peacekeeping force, headed by the United Nations, a donor conference. But none of this peace and peace building can begin until all of our troops are out. We have different positions here. I believe that if you leave any residual forces, then none of the peace that we are trying to bring can happen. And it's important. And it's critically important that we do this with an orderly timetable. But what is key is all of the troops out -- no residual forces. You leave residual forces behind, the peace cannot begin."

This was in opposition to Joe Biden and Richardson replied, "Well, Anthony Cordesman from ABC News, a distinguished military expert, many generals agree with me that we can complete this withdrawal within six to eight months."

Biden wants to partition Iraq into three regions. Apparently he's running for the role of God. Steph wanted to lunch time poll in the midst of a debate and the results were as stupid as his efforts. Hillary Clinton wanted to make something clear.

What? Who knows. Speaking of what needs to be done, by her plan, to get troops out of Iraq, she declared "this is going to be very dangerous and very difficult. A lot of people don't like to hear that." And since she thinks they don't want to hear it, she doesn't follow up on it changing the topic to equipment. Hillary Clinton stumbled around and the point is she's not for bringing all troops home -- not before the election, not if she's sworn in January 2009. The same is true of Barack Obama. A lot of people do NOT like to hear that. Not in the Democratic Party.

Chris Dodd was left out of the discussion -- apparently Steph has no crush on him. Edwards stated that he felt there was an "orderly way [to] bring our troops out over the next nine or 10 months." Instead of following that with an explanation, running with it to demonstrate a distinct reason why anyone should support him, he instead wasted the rest of his spot playing cheerleader for other candidates. Steph then all but served the question to Hillary's clone/twin Barack Obama who gave non-answers as well but -- as usual -- made a point of whining that in 2002 he was against the illegal war. In 2002, Obama was against the illegal war. In 2004, he was for continuing the illegal war and against bringing the troops home. Once sworn into the Senate in Januray 2005, he voted for every proposal to continue the illegal war until this past summer. But in 2002, America take note, in 2002 Barack Obama was against the war -- which appears to be all his campaign has to offer.

After Steph tossed to to Obama, Dennis Kucinich declared, "We can talk about George Bush driving a bus into a ditch, but let's not forget there was a Democratic Senate in charge that OK'ed the war. And those senators who are up on this stage helped to authorize that war and they have to take responsibility for that. Likewise, they have to take responsibility for funding the war. You say you're opposed to it, but you keep funding it. I think the American people have to look at that and ask, What's going on? Now, I've had a plan on the table for four years to get out of Iraq, and Democrats in Congress have to stand up to the pledge they made in 2006 to take us out of that war. They have to tell the president now, 'Bring the troops home. We're not going to give you any more money for that war.' The American people have a right to expect that we're going to take a new direction. But, frankly, you cannot expect a new direction with the same kind of thinking that took us into war in the first place. We cannot leave more troops there. We cannot privatize Iraq's oil. We cannot partition that country and expect there's going to be peace. We need a president who understands that, one who's been right from the start, and one who has shown the judgment, the wisdom, and the maturity to take the right stand at the time that it counted most, when the American people needed someone to stand up. And I'm the one who did that."

And that was pretty much it. Less than a third of the debate was spent on the issue of Iraq. Steph declared, before Chris Dodd could even weigh in, "Let's move on now. We've got a question -- we've got an e-mail question from Seth Ford of South Jordan, Utah." Seth wanted to know about prayer. Apparently he thought ABC was seeking input on the 20/20 'news' special "A Presidential Confidant." And too much reality makes Steph's do drip so it was off to nonsense. But remember what Steph said at the start of the tiny Iraq section: "I want to move on to another issue we're hearing about a lot from the voters from Iowa in the poll. More voters wrote in questions for us on the issue of Iraq than any other single issue. They all wanted to know what your plans were to get out of Iraq, and to get out safely from Iraq."

The voters wanted to know about Iraq. Steph wanted to talk prayer. Mike Gravel was cut off during the Iraq section. John Donnelly (Boston Globe) notes Gravel asking, "Why do we think that we can rule that country? This is American imperialism you're hearing up here, and that hasn't worked and it will never work."
Since Gravel wasn't allowed to speak freely (interruptions and crosstalk) and since he was shut out of the previous debate, we'll note that on August 8th, he was a guest for the first hour (the only guest) on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show.

Mike Gravel: It's important to be in these debates so that people can hear my voice and say that guy looks a little unusual, "I didn't know he was still alive" or "I never heard of him before." Keep in mind people who generally are over 40 who remember or are a little bit interested in politics 30, 25 years ago

Diane Rehm: You're 77.

Mike Gravel: That's right. They know who I am. I was very, very controversial. I was what they call a maverick. But also I took some very hard stands. And it's interesting, when you talk about ending the draft, when you talk about releasing the Pentagon Papers, stopping a nuclear testing on the North Pacific, starting the nuclear critique so that we wouldn't use it for, for a generation of electricity and then, at the time, I was looked at, I was marginalized by mainline media. And so now, when we look back 25 years, people say, "My God, you did a lot of courageous things." Well I did a lot of things that the media didn't buy into because I wasn't conventional wisdom then and I'm not now.

Diane Rehm: Considering the current situation in Iraq, do you believe it was a mistake to end the draft?

Mike Gravel: No, not in the slightest. In fact, I'm very proud of the fact that George Bush does not have the boots on the ground to invade Iran. They're going to have to do it with some other device. And thank God for Sy Hersh who blew the whistle on their possible use of nukes in that regard. And as you recall, in the first debate I challenged Hillary, Obama, Edwards, they all pledged that the nukes were still on the table with respect to Iran. Iran's done nothing to us. We're the -- they have have a beef with us. We destabilized. There were only two democracies in 1953 in the Middle East. One was Israel the other one was Iran. And what did we do? Our CIA and Kermit Roosevelt [Jr. -- known as "Kim"], the grandson of Teddy Roosevelt, was so proud, wrote a book [Countercoup] about how we destroyed their democracy and look what -- we put in a king, then a king got lost, now we got the ayatollahs. If we would just leave the Iranians alone, they have a real interesting record of moving to democracy.

On the topic of Iraq, he declared, "I see nobody in sight that's prepared to truly end the war. And what I see is politics as usual whether it's on the liberal side let's say with Dennis Kucinich or on the middle or the far . . . right with other Democrats. But there's no, I see no will to end the war because you end it right now in the Congress with the leadership, the Democrats have taken over, and this is a tragic failure. I submitted to the Congress a procedure, a law, I call it "The Withdrawal Act" that would make it a felony and would put Bush in jail or set up a prima facie case for impeachment if he did not follow the law. The Constitution's very clear: the Congress makes the laws, the Executive has to enforce and obey the laws. But you now have to set it up so that he'll veto and how do you get this passed, this law passed? Real simple. You see, they do a cloture vote. Oh one cloture vote, two, can't do it. Stop. Or an override veto. Can't do it? Stop. That's ridiculous. The rules permit to have a vote on cloture every single day, seven days a week, and all the way through this August recess which they're all taking -- and then when the bill comes back vetoed they can repeat it every single day and, I promise you, Diane, that in twenty, forty days we will have a law on the books to withdraw the troops from Iraq. Now time is fleeting. This could have been done by Labor Day and all, I mean all the troops, would come home by Christmas.

Of Sunday's debate, China's People Daily Online sums up the Iraq section with, "A few, including Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich and former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel, talked about an immediate withdrawal, while others warned that it would be difficult to mount a swift withdrawal." Anne E. Kornblut (Washington Post) analyzes the debate here. Javier C. Hernandez ( Boston Globe) profiled Dennis Kucinich over the weekend in solo face time for the hour (the candidate was meeting with the Boston Globe's editorial board) during which Kucinich likened his foreign policy to Jimmy Carter's and noted that the White House was guilty of "committing a 'monstrous crime' by going to war in Iraq, pointing to what he described as hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties and to questions about whether administration officials lied in making the case for war. Kucinich, who has called for the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney, said US forces should immediately end their 'occupation' of Iraq and said a multinational peacekeeping force should be brought in to help stabilize the country."

In the Democratic forum held yesterday, the moderator repeatedly refused to ask, "WHAT IS YOUR PLAN?" Candidates went soft and fuzzy (with the few exceptions noted already). That's a waste of time. It's also much worse because Iraq is dropping off the media radar yet again. Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reported today, "In media news, a new study shows corporate news coverage of the Iraq war has dropped sharply in the last four months. According to the Project for Excellence in Journalism, the Iraq war accounted for just fifteen percent of news coverage, down from twenty-two percent earlier this year. Network evening news coverage of the war went from forty-percent to nineteen percent. The Democratic and Republican presidential campaign emerged as the most-covered issue over the same period."