Thursday, November 1, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, resistance brews, the US military does their usual stunt of announcing deaths after the press reports the totals for the month and more.
Starting with war resistance. "I am standing here today on behalf of the men, women and children of the Middle East, who have fallen victim to this Administration and it's complete lack of compassion and total disregard for both U.S. and International laws of war. I stand with them so that the entire world can take notice, and so that they will know that they are not forgotten," announced war resister James Circello in New Orleands over the weekend at a rally to end the illegal war, restore the Constitution and rebuild the Gulf Coast. Audio-visual can be found here and IVAW has the text of his speech posted as well. From the speech:
A little about myself:
I enlisted directly after the attacks of September 11th, I thought I was going to be a part of something noble and would be defending my country and family. Defending this, that and every other thing soldiers are told they defend.
All I ended up defending were corporate interests.
I served in Iraq during the initial invasion as an Airborne Infantryman with the 173rd Airborne Brigade from March 2003 to March 2004.
And while there, something incredible happened, something so revolutionary no one would ever believe me. . .
But while I was in Iraq I actually made friends with the people of that country. Muslims, Christians, Arabs, Kurds, Turks -- all of them.
It was unbelievable, all this time I was told that Arabs wanting to kill me for my freedom and because I was American.
I quickly became disillusioned about our mission there. We were being told that we were giving these people Democracy, unfortunately what I saw would best be described as martial law, or what we called "The Old West." Soldiers joked that "anything goes", which was true and still is, for the most part, today.
Time went by and I moved on to other places in my career, but I never forgot what I did while in Iraq and what I saw happening: Other kids turning into animals.
Some as young as 17, brutalizing, bullying and humiliating individuals sometimes old enough to be their grandparents, and sometimes young enough to be their children.
And it wasn't just the men and women on the receiving end, suffering through illegal and tiresome searches of their homes and vehicles, simply for being brown skinned, but the same methods were applied to women and children as well.
No one was innocent.
No one was innocent. No one.
I was against the invasion before I was deployed but shortly after I came home from Iraq, I decided I was completely against the Occupations and would refuse to participate in them any longer -- though it would take me over 2 and a half years to finally do something about it.
But then I did.
I left the Army on Easterm morning of this year, in protest of this Administration's War-Crimes and on that day I decided I would never again wear the Uniform of War.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, 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, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, 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, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty 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 [(877) 447-4487], 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.
The National Lawyers Guild's convention begins shortly: The Military Law Task Force and the Center on Conscience & War are sponsoring a Continuing Legal Education seminar -- Representing Conscientious Objectors in Habeas Corpus Proceedings -- as part of the National Lawyers Guild National Convention in Washington, D.C. The half-day seminar will be held on Thursday, November 1st, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the convention site, the Holiday Inn on the Hill in D.C. This is a must-attend seminar, with excelent speakers and a wealth of information. The seminar will be moderated by the Military Law Task Force's co-chair Kathleen Gilberd and scheduled speakers are NYC Bar Association's Committee on Military Affairs and Justice's Deborah Karpatkin, the Center on Conscience & War's J.E. McNeil, the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee's Peter Goldberger, Louis Font who has represented Camilo Mejia, Dr. Mary Hanna and others, and the Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's James Feldman. The fee is $60 for attorneys; $25 for non-profit attorneys, students and legal workers; and you can also enquire about scholarships or reduced fees. The convention itself will run from October 31st through November 4th and it's full circle on the 70th anniversary of NLG since they "began in Washington, D.C." where "the founding convention took place in the District at the height of the New Deal in 1937, Activist, progressive lawyers, tired of butting heads with the reactionary white male lawyers then comprising the American Bar Association, formed the nucleus of the Guild."
NLG president Marjorie Cohn spoke with by Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) today:
AMY GOODMAN: You're celebrating the seventieth anniversary of the National Lawyers Guild. Can you talk about why it formed?
MARJORIE COHN: In 1937, seventy years ago, the American Bar Association would not admit people of color. So the National Lawyers Guild started as an alternative to the American Bar Association. And during the last seventy years, National Lawyers Guild legal people -- lawyers, law students, legal workers -- have been involved in the cutting edge struggles to support the rights of people. And our preamble says it all, and we're dedicated to the proposition that human rights are more sacred than property interests.
AMY GOODMAN: You have written a great deal about the Bush administration. What do you think is President Bush's greatest offense at this point?
MARJORIE COHN: The war in Iraq is clearly his greatest offense, and the torture is part and parcel of that. And in his co-called war on terror, he has really made us less safe. He has put many of our lives in danger. And more than 3,800 people have lost their lives in this country. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed. Untold numbers of people have been wounded on both sides. And, in fact, he is rattling -- he and Cheney are rattling the sabers against Iran and promise to do even more horrible damage.
AMY GOODMAN: Have the Democrats coming to power in Congress made a difference?
MARJORIE COHN: They are holding hearings. So far, that's the only difference. They gave him the so-called Protect America Act, which legalizes his illegal spying program, which is not used just to spy on the terrorists, but also used to spy on dissidents, people who dissent against the administration policy. And I've seen a lot of timidity on the part of the Democrats. This vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee that's going to happen next week on the Mukasey nomination is going to be very telling, to see if the Democrats put their money where their mouth is. And it's not just waterboarding. If you look at his testimony, it supports the Bush administration in lockstep right down the line.
Returning to actions over the weekend, Adam Kokesh writes about the action he took part in. From "The Rally in Philly:" "The crowd was a bit disappointing, but still solid given the weather. I got to meet up with some friends from Veterans For Peace and some student organizers I've worked with just before Kelley Dougherty, the IVAW Executive Director, got on stage to speak. Despite having a very sweet demeanor and voice for an Iraq vet, she has a way of always getting people riled up and passionate about direct action, which she did. I did a couple TV interviews when the caravan stopped in Baltimore to pick some people up at a church, and said that this day of protests was one for the movement, one for the people. We're deliberately not doing something in DC because we are sick of asking for them to end this war. We the people have to stand up and stop this war for ourselves." On Friday, Kokesh spoke at his university (Georgetown). Hadas Gold (The GW Hatchet) reports, "About 30 people, most community members and some students, listened to Kokesh speak about Iraq, the military and the inherent racism in both. 'There really is some shame associated with having been a part of (racism in the military),' said Kokesh, who served in the Marines. Kokesh spoke of how the military dehumanizes Iraqis by using racial slurs and other names . . . to make the killings easier on the mind. . . . 'You cannot love what you do not understand,' Kokesh said. 'We would be na've to think America has been an exception to this historic trend.' Kokesh said everyone has the capacity for racism and that it is too often recognized as acceptable in our culture." Kokesh is co-chair of IVAW.
While Adam Kokesh works to get the word out, Nancy Youssef files another bad report for McClatchy Newspapers. She writes, "Of October's [US military] deaths, 27 were caused by enemy action, Iraqi Coalition Casualty Count reported on its web site." She tells you there were 36 for the month of October. Now McClatchy knows damn well the US military announces deaths late. The number is 39 because 3 October deaths were announced today. McClatchy -- of all people -- shouldn't be caught with their pants down. But what of the nine who died from something other than a non-combat classification? Did McClatchy determine the cause of death. Or did they just accept the military's "under investigation"? As we noted in Tuesday's snapshot, Christopher Monroe (whose parents have filed a lawsuit against the mercenary company responsible for their son's death) died October 25, 2006. The US military announced a death that sounded like a fender bender ("5-ton truck was involved in an automobile accident with a civilian vehicle") when the reality was that Monroe got run down by mercenaries in an armored Suburban (the mercenaries worked for Erinys -- Monroe's parents are suing them over the death of 19-year-old Christopher). Here's the reality for McClatchy -- which has done this dopey report for at least three months now -- if you don't know about the other deaths, you really can't write about the ones classified as "combat." That glaring error is not erased by erasing mentions -- even in passing -- of the others who died. Furthermore, in what reads like a report of 'progress,' Youssef notes, "A report by the Government Accountability Office in Washington warned Tuesday that the U.S. and Iraqi governments haven't taken advantage of the drop in violence." And? That's it. Youssef is done with it; however, yesterday James Glanz (New York Times) reported, ". . . Joseph A. Christoff, the director of international affairs and trade at the Government Accountability Office, said some measure of what some see as progress in Iraq were not as clear-cut as they might seem. For example, Pentagon statistic indicated that a drop in violence in Iraq over the past several months 'was primarily due to a decrease in attacks against coalition forces,' Mr. Christoff said in written remarks to a subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. 'Attacks against Iraqi security forces and civilians have declined less than attacks against coalition forces,' Mr. Christoff wrote." None of that is in Youssef's article. When the New York Times is doing a better job on Iraq than McClatchy, there is a problem. Or, as a correspondent for another paper e-mailed the public account to assert, "You're going to pass Nancy again." Ruth called it out the start of last month. Youssef is one of the strongest print reporters on Iraq at any paper but this new monthly series is garbage. There were other things to call out before but only McClatchy appears to have not grasped that the figures you run with for that first-of-the-month-report-on-the-first-of-the-month change. The US military knows those reports are in the works -- it's why they now regularly feed the key talking points two weeks before the end of the month in press conference after press conference -- so they regularly have a few 'holdover' announcements on deaths. Already today, the US military has announced 3 October deaths. Anywhere in the report (which appears as confused as John McCain on the campaign trail -- though McCain is pretending confusion re: Iraq, in August 2006, he outlined all that has happened) about the key element of October? Nope. ". . . Bush's military strategy has employed its own indiscriminate firepower -- from loose 'rules of engagement' for U.S. troops, to helicopter gun ships firing on crowds, to jet air strikes, to missiles launched from Predator drones. For instance the U.S. military acknowledged on Oct. 23 that an American helicopter killed 11 people, including women and children . . ." Who wrote that? Not Youssef. Robert Parry (Consortium News) pointed that out this week. It's sad that a monthly-round-up piece by Youssef on violence in Iraq can't even note the most obvious trend for the month of October. As we noted Sunday at The Third Estate Sunday Review: "If September's big story was Blackwater, the key story of October was US military air strikes that killed civilians -- with the US admitting to a few while using 'under investigation' to cover others. That too is falling out of the early accounts so we're not hopeful to see it explored in the end of the month (published first day of the month) stories." If fell right off the charts, onto the floor and slid under the rug before McClatchy could apparently notice because in a report on violence for the month of October, Youssef writes as if she's unaware of the vast number of reports on Iraqis killed by US 'air power'. She's happy to type up, "Police blame the violence on al Qaida in Iraq . . ." but apparently noting the killings that were the key development of the month (the key was them being reported on, the development itself is not all that new) was too much to ask for. The report is useless. It was useless before 3 more deaths being announced made the figures wrong. If you're wondering, for the second month in a row McClatchy Newspapers plays vauge on the Iraqi death statistics. Youssef zooms in on Baghdad but fails to note the figures throughout Iraq. AFP reports, "The number of Iraqis killed in insurgent and sectarian attacks" note that leaves out the Iraqi civilians killed in US air strikes "rose in October, in a blow to a nine-month-old US troop surge policy. At least 887 Iraqis were killed last month, compared to 840 in September, according to the data compiled by the Iraqi government." AFP keeps their own figures -- these are not them. These are figures released by the Iraqi government, the ministries of interior, defence and health. Meanwhile the site that is known for undercounting the dead, IBC, has a total of 1,1817 Iraqi civilians killed for the month of October. Neither goes with a Happy Talk "Troops coming home anyday now!" theme. AFP also notes, "The United Nations, one of the reliable sources of information, also stopped providing the data since early this year." Of course you could always pull a Ned Parker and compare this month's toll with January's (as he does in the Los Angeles Times) and trumpet "DECREASE!" Apparently, the saying is never be a nosy parker nor a Ned Parker. Call it a sign of the sorry state of journalism or a sign of hope but college student Emily Watson (UT's The Daily Texan) clearly grasps what so many refuse to:
The Associated Press reported this week that the projected death toll for October - 36 - is the lowest in 19 months, almost half of last month's casualties. But who are we, as citizens and journalists, to say that the casualties of the Iraq war, at only 36, are the lowest they have been in 19 months? Only one casualty in a month is not a feat - it still means that one life has been lost. Let's stop speaking in numbers and death tolls and start looking at what really happens when a nation is at war. The federal government prohibits the publishing of any photographs of dead soldiers' coffins. Perhaps that's how they want to keep it: We can see the numbers of coffins, but not the coffins themselves. If death isn't real to the American public, then the war is just something that whispers its way into the nightly news or that creeps quietly into the RSS feeds of our blogs. We turn a blind eye to the soldiers walking the halls of America's Veterans Affairs hospitals. College-aged women and men return from war less their legs, arms, eyes or ears, hoping to one day be normal again.
Today the US military announced, "Two Task Force Iron Soldiers were killed by an explosion near their vehicle while conduting operations in Nineveh province Oct. 31." And they announced: "A Task Force Iron Soldier was killed by an explosion near his vehicle while conducting operations in Salah ad Din province Oct. 31." Also today, AP reports that research by the Veterans Affairs Department has found "that at least 283 combat veterans" have taken their own lives after leaving military service between October 7, 2001 "and the end of 2005". Those figures leave out nearly two years worth of data.
In reported violence today . . .
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad explosion that claimed 3 lives and left four wounded, a Diyala car bombing claimed the lives of 3 Iraqi soldiers and 3 Iraqi civilians (eighteen more soldiers were wounded) and, in the latest attack on officials, a Diyala roadside bombing "targeted the convoy of Baladrouz police chief in Baladrouz, killing six of the bodyguards and injuring two others." Meanwhile Kim Gamel (AP) reports, "U.S. helicopters opened fire after a ground patrol came under attack southest of Baghdad on Wednesday, and Iraqi police said three officers were killed and one wounded in the strike." So, yesterday, another US air strike -- 'precision,' to be sure -- resulted in the deaths of 3 Iraqi police officers.
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a man shot dead in Baghdad, while three civilians and police officer were wounded in a Baghdad shooting, and Saleh Al Jizani ("brother of a prominent member of Mahdi army militia and Sadr trend in Basra") while yesterday "a member of Mahdi army military" was shot dead in Basra.
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 5 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes Professor Sabri Abdul-Jabar's corpse was discovered outside of Kirkuk today.
Turning to documentaries, Meeting Resistance is the new documentary by journalists Molly Bingham and Steve Connors. The film examines the Iraqi resistance to the illegal war and occupation. Mike Ferner (CounterPunch) reports on how the documentary came in to being and quotes Steve Connors delcaring, "This film is seen as somehow really radical. I've covered 10 conflicts and this is the first time I've heard it's radical to cover the other side. As a German friend of mine asked, 'Americans consider this news?'"; and Bingham explaining, "We didn't know what to expect at all, but what we found was that the vast majority of people we spoke with didn't wait to see how the administration of Baghdad was going to go. They just saw they were being occupied and that occupation required a response. Most of the people we inteviewed were organizing within a week (of the fall of the Saddam Hussein government in early April, 2003), finding people to work with." Reminder, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) interviewed them about the documentary on October 18th, it's listen, watch or read online.
Turning to the continued tensions between Turkey and northern Iraq, Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reports on the meet up US Secretary of State Condi Rice and others will have in Turkey noting the tensions as Rice attempts "not to antagonize either" Turkey or Iraq. Evren Mesci and Hidir Goktas (Reuters) report, "Turkey said on Thursday planned economic sanctions would only target outlawed Kurdish militants and groups providing them with support in northern Iraq."
Returning to resistance. Some in the service are resisting going to Iraq. Yes, we are talking about the State Department. Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) reports:
Uneasy U.S. diplomats yesterday challenged senior State Department officials in unusually blunt terms over a decision to order some of them to serve at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad or risk losing their jobs. At a town hall meeting in the department's main auditorium attended by hundreds of Foreign Service officers, some of them criticized fundamental aspects of State's personnel policies in Iraq. They took issue with the size of the embassy -- the biggest in U.S. history -- and the inadequate training they received before being sent to serve in a war zone. One woman said she returned from a tour in Basra with post-traumatic stress disorder only to find that the State Department would not authorize medical treatment. Yesterday's internal dissension came amid rising public doubts about diplomatic progress in Iraq and congressional inquiries into the department's spending on the embassy and its management of private security contractors. Some participants asked how diplomacy could be practiced when the embassy itself, inside the fortified Green Zone, is under frequent fire and officials can travel outside only under heavy guard."
AP dubs the meeting "contentious" and maintains that diplomats "peppered officials with often hostile comments". Phillippe Naughton (Times of London) calls it "an unprecendented rebellion by foreign service officers over a threat to force diplomats to accept postings in Iraq". Matthew Lee (AP) reports Rice's response -- sending out a cable insisting "that foreign service officers have an obligation to uphold the oaths they took to carry out their policies of the government and be available to serve anywhere in the world".
Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers a look at "Curveball" -- one of the phonies backing up Bully Boy's lies of war -- who is identified in Bob Simon's report as Rafid Ahmed Alwan. While PBS' NOW with David Brancaccio (Friday night in most markets, check local listings) looks at farming and asks, "Can local farmers change course and crops and still survive in a shifting economy?" Brancaccio interviews Bill McKibben and Steven L. Hopp is also interviewed on the program while online Hopp and Barbara Kingsolver (they are married) will offer an excerpt of their new book which, unless I'm thinking of another book, includes a third author -- Barbara's adult daughter Camille Kingsolver. If that's the book in question, it's entitled Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.
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