Saturday, February 17, 2007


In nine brief paragraphs, Marc Santora's "Baghdad Plan Is a 'Success,' Iraq Prime Minister Tells Bush" covers Iraq in this morning's New York Times. It's a pitiful article but it was a pitiful day for news on Friday. Not much was being covered -- and wouldn't be when the military controls the bulk of what gets out and what doesn't. So we won't fault Santora for a useless article. We will fault the paper for a reliance on wires and publicly issued statements which is what the bulk of the article is (and perfectly in keeping with the way the paper 'reports').

We will fault him for pushing the myth of the 'cult.' That's the slaughter of Najaf and when Santora was earlier reporting on it, he included qualifiers. They're not in today's article which is all the more embarrassing now that the 'cult' has been exposed as spin fed to the media to cover up a massacre.

We'll note Borzou Daragahi's "38 alleged cult members detained in Iraq: Raids target Heaven's Army, a Shiite Muslim group involved in a battle last month" (Los Angeles Times):

Iraqi forces early Friday rounded up 38 alleged members of a Shiite Muslim cult involved in a battle last month with Iraqi and U.S. troops that left hundreds dead and injured. Three contingents of Iraqi police raided several neighborhoods in the southern Iraqi city of Hillah and detained members of a mysterious religious group called Heaven's Army, said Brig. Gen. Abbas Jabouri, commander of the Hillah-based Scorpion Brigades.
Police also seized weapons, books and leaflets associated with the group. Jabouri said the Hillah raids were an extension of a highly vaunted Iraqiand U.S. security crackdown in Baghdad. Though the operation is meant to stem sectarian violence and restore calm primarily in the capital, similar offensives have been launched in volatile sections of southern Iraq, including Basra.

Alleged members of an alleged cult. That's the Najaf massacre that had the heavily promoted spin of "They're going to kill clerics" when that phoney claim has now been well backed off. They were attacked and they fought back. The reasons why they were attacked have been explored by Dahr Jamail, Ali al-Fadhily, Patrick Cockburn, Tom Hayden and others.

On the topic of corpses discovered in Baghdad, Daragahi notes the count is as it's been all week (low).

The US military announced: "A Marine assigned to Multi-National Force-West was killed Feb. 16 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province." But to read the reports (yesterdays or todays), nothing happened in Al-Anbar Province (I'm referring to no reporting on the 'combat operations'). I'm also not seeing anything on the US military's laughable announcement to the residents of Haifa Street in Baghdad -- pack your stuff and move for a few weeks, we think we can 'pacify' the neighborhood by then and you should be able to return. (Like Iraq's been 'pacified'?) Possibly because to cover that might mean acknowledging that, despite military claims otherwise (that the press ran with), Haifa Street was a very residential area (it was a "mixed district" in US terms -- residential and commerical).

Reuters reports three bombings with 10 killed and 85 wounded total throughout Iraq, three police officers shot dead and five wounded throughout Iraq, two headless corpses discovered and they note:

Militants stabbed a policewoman and her young daughter to death when they stormed their home in the city of Hilla, 100 km (62 miles) south of Baghdad, police said, adding that they had captured the attackers.

And we'll note this from Sue Pleming's "Ex-US envoy says Iraq rebuilding plan won't work" (Reuters):

Kiki Munshi was showcased by the media in September as a seasoned U.S. diplomat who came out of retirement to lead a rebuilding group in Iraq.
Now she is back home, angry, and convinced that President George W. Bush's new strategy of doubling the number of such groups to 20 along with a troop surge of 21,500 will not help stabilize Iraq.
A diplomat for 22 years, she quit her job last month as leader of a Provincial Reconstruction Team -- groups made up of about 50 civilian and military experts that try to help Iraqi communities build their own government while strengthening moderates.

On Ehren Watada, Liang notes Emil Guillermo's "Double Jeopardy, Anyone?" (Asia Week):

According to those present in the Fort Lewis, Washington, courtroom, the trial didn’t have to be stopped.
In fact, both Watada's defense team AND the prosecutors wanted the trial to go on, and at one point urged the judge to continue.
But the military judge, Lt. Col John Head, had a change of heart over a 12-page stipulation written by the Army, that had been signed and agreed to by both prosecution and defense a week earlier, and then gone over, edited and corrected by the judge himself.
That document laid out the framework of the case and limited the charges against Watada to refusal to deploy.
[. . .]

In the end, it was the prosecution that asked for the mistrial, to the protest of the defense. But the judge granted the motion and set a new trial date in March.
It won't be that easy.
The judge just handed Watada a defense.

Once the trial began, and the jury heard the facts, the legal term became applicable: "Jeopardy is attached."
In this country, they only get one shot at you for the same charges. Hence a second trial, subjecting one to double jeopardy, is usually not possible.
Now it's the biggest reason a new trial in March, or anytime soon, is unlikely.

On Friday's snapshot, this appeared regarding Ehren Watada:

John Catalinotto (Socialist Worker) observes: "Watada's military defense lawyer -- appointed by the Army -- Capt. Mark Kim, said that he agreed with Seitz's interpretation of military law."

It's Workers' World, not The Socialist Worker, as an e-mail pointed out. My apologies. I'll note it in Tuesday's snapshot (there may or may not be a snapshot Monday, due to the holidays). As noted here before, the snapshot (at Keesha's suggestion) is posted each day at all sites posting on that day. When Watada selected a military panel (jury) as opposed to a judge to rule in his court-martial, a friend passed on a detail. That was just passed on to me and I didn't realize it. After including that in the snapshot, I got a call and pulled it from the snapshot. It was already up at other sites so everyone had to go in change it. (I believe most used "*" to indicate the change.) That was too much trouble to put on everyone (especially Rebecca who was still in the carefully watched stage of her pregnancy) so that's why it was noted here that all corrections to snapshots would appear in the next one after they were pointed out. So that's how this will be handled (and how two other corrections were handled). If it's something other than the snapshot that I've written, the correction goes into that entry if one is needed. By the way, typos aren't corrected. We gave up on that long ago.

And opinions aren't either. There's a mainstream reporter who wants to bicker over an independent media writer's opinion of his work. He needs to take that up with the writer. (The independent media writer's call was a strong call and one I agree with.) But if you're offended that an Alexander Cockburn judged your writing in a way that you disagree with, you need to take that up with Alexander Cockburn. (Again, I agreed with the writer.) If you disagree with an opinion I have, feel free to complain. It will be factored in. But, unless we're quoting a book, there's a link to the piece (often there is with a book as well) and you can go straight to the source and not whine to me about how unfair you think something was and how you would appreciate that I "correct" an opinion someone else has. (Cockburn's not the writer in question for this example though we did have the same problem months ago on a whiner about something of Cockburn's we highlighted here.) If you're troubled by an opinion by Cockburn or anyone else, whether you're the person being evaluated, you really need to take it to them.

Another person that e-mails usually arrive on is Margaret Kimberley from 'readers' who don't read closely. They some how miss the "from Margaret Kimberley's . . ." intro and instead dash off e-mails that begin along the lines of, "How could you write . . ."

On that note, Keesha notes Margaret Kimberley's "Medical Apartheid" (Freedom Rider, Black Agenda Report):

The name Josef Mengele is so infamous that it needs no introduction. Mengele was the German doctor who performed medical experiments on prisoners at Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp. An American doctor, James Marion Sims was equally monstrous, but his name is less well known.
Sims was a doctor who routinely performed unnecessary and sadistic surgeries on slaves in Alabama. He opened the skulls of babies and performed gynecological surgeries on women. They were forced to endure unimaginable treatments, all without the ether that had by then become available as an anesthetic. Of course, being enslaved people, they had no choice in any decisions that Sims made about their bodies or their lives.
Sims allegedly sought to treat vaginal fistulas caused by complications of child birth. One woman underwent this treatment, without anesthesia, 30 times. He obviously didn't cure her of anything.
Because Sims' victims were black Americans their stories remained largely untold. They were not the first or the last black Americans to be subjected to what can only be called torture in the name of scientific investigation. Sims is called "the father of gynecology" and eventually became president of the American Medical Association. He has been immortalized in a monument that still stands in New York's Central Park.
"Sims' victims were not the first or the last black Americans to be subjected to what can only be called torture in the name of scientific investigation."
Of course, there has been a memorial to the Jewish Holocaust on the Washington Mall for more than ten years. There is still no monument to American slaves who built all of the capitol monuments. Sadistic torture can be condemned as long as it didn't happen here.
A newly published book
Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present, is a comprehensive chronicle of surgeries performed without anesthesia, the notorious Tuskegee experiments that prevented 400 men from being treated for syphilis over a 40 year period, and forced sterilizations.

And (for a whiner) we'll also gladly note Brendan's highlight, Alexander Cockburn's "Sold to Mr. Gordon, Another Bridge!" (CounterPunch):

It requires no special skill to sell Michael Gordon, chief military correspondent of the New York Times, the Brooklyn Bridge. All you have to do is whisper down the phone to him that the transaction will occur at a background "briefing" by anonymous intelligence sources and a "senior official" or two.
One would think that it would require astonishing rhetorical ingenuity on the part of the salesteam (in fact operating out of the U.S. Defense Department) to keep on selling Gordon the Brooklyn Bridge, long after the deed from the first sale has been pronounced an obvious fraud. But it's not so strange, really. Your true sucker is a vain fellow, who can never accept the evidence of his own gullibility and who therefore regards each successive purchase of the Brooklyn Bridge as a sound investment, certain to re- establish him in the public eye as a man with a keen eye for the good deal. He thus becomes psychologically and professionally a captive of the bridge salesmen.
On September 8, 2002 the New York Times editors published Gordon and Judith Miller's fictions concerning aluminum tubes in Iraq, supposedly part of Saddam's nuclear program. Much too late this bout of bridge-buying on the part of the Times duo prompted widespread derision and finally the embarrassed Times editor banned Miller from bridge-buying altogether.
No such restraints were placed on Gordon. After lying low while Miller took the heat, he was back late last year, promoting the famous "surge", sold him by General Petraeus and others. Then, Saturday, February 10, the Times excitedly announced another major purchase.

Brendan's not the whiner, just to be clear.

Back to e-mails. We get great e-mails from visitors. If someone needs help with locating a resource (shelter or attorney), we're happy to provide you with (public) information. But there are four e-mails Jess and Ava have found this morning where you're writing to someone who was highlighted here. If you use the link, whenever you find a highlight you enjoy, you should be provided with some sort of contact information. We're not a fan mail service. One is a very personal e-mail and I am going to forward that (because I know the person that's being written to) and we'll try to do the same with the other three; however, in the future, they're all going in the trash. Two hours ago, I finished reading the papers and sat down to start this entry. Even with Jess and Ava helping with the e-mails this morning, it's still not finished. That goes to the amount of e-mails coming in. So from now on, the public account is not going to match you up with writers you enjoy. (Many enjoy Kat and Ruth and Isaiah -- who does The World Today Just Nuts -- they can still be written to at the public address. They will get the e-mails. But I'm talking about writers who are not part of the community.)

Also, visitors should be able to grasp that the focus here is Iraq. That was at the request of community members. If you're writing to have something highlighted and it's not on Iraq, it's not going up here. From time to time, we'll carry it over to The Third Estate Sunday Review. But, in the case of one e-mail, Jess' feeling is the person didn't even grasp the focus of this site, their issue has been well covered elsewhere (Mother Jones did a lengthy story on it last year) and it's not a topic that concerns the regular readers of The Third Estate Sunday Review, nor is it one that we necessarily think should be. It's a regional (actually one state) issue that goes to consumer issues. If the person creates a site to cover it and e-mails again, we'll be happy to note the site in an entry here but if we're covering consumer issues at The Third Estate Sunday Review, it needs to be issues of concern to the regular readers and people who have hundreds of thousands to spend are not the regular readers of The Third Estate Sunday Review. They're a young readership, students, young couples and young families starting out. That's the core readership. (And many can't afford cable or satellite which is why Ava and I only review broadcast TV shows.) So while I'm not dismissing your issue as not worthy of attention elsewhere, you're pitching it to the wrong site (The Common Ills -- our focus is Iraq) and, if you thought it could be carried over to The Third Estate Sunday Review, the wrong readership. It is a tragedy when anyone loses money. But the figures at play aren't the type that the readership of Third will relate to (or be sympathetic to). Sorry that you were screwed but I believe, along with Mother Jones, PBS and NPR have been all over that story.

A visitor also objects to the fact that this site has "endorsed Dennis Kucinich." That's certainly news to me and I would assume many members (who are sharing their picks in the gina & krista round-robin). I haven't endorsed anyone and will not endorse anyone in the Democratic primary. People need to make up their own minds. Kucinich appears in the snapshot quite often because he talks seriously about Iraq. It's not "When elected in 2008, I will take measures in 2009 to . . ." Coming from any member of Congress, that's an appalling statement.
Kucinich is running for president and, when there's time, if he's mentioned, his presidential site gets a link. There isn't always time for that. But he is running for president and he is talking seriously about Iraq. That gets a mention and a link. If we deal with someone who offers nonsense we don't provide a link to them. Lynn Woolsey, Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters are also running in 2008 -- for Congress. They get mentioned because they're trying to seriously address Iraq. If there's any other element at play, on my part, in the Kucinich coverage, it stems from the fact that he wasn't covered appropriately by the mainstream press in 2004. As has long been noted, I supported John Kerry in that primary (beginning in early 2003). Even as a Kerry supporter, it was obvious the press alternated ridiculing with ignoring. He is a serious candidate and if he's treated any differently for reasons other than his work (I don't think he is) that's why. If that reason does come into play (I'm not sure it does) then you can consider it a corrective to the mainstream that fixates on handicapping horse races. When he's mentioned here, we're addressing his stand on Iraq. (Community members can share their own endorsements here if they choose to -- in 2008 -- but I won't be endorsing anyone in a primary.)

You're vote is your vote. You don't need my approval to vote. (Or to note vote if that's your choice.) Some members will vote Democratic Party, some will vote Green, some will vote for a third party or indepdent party candidate. That's their vote and they should use (or not use it) as they see fit.

Eddie found a great highlight, Camilo Mejia's "Sow Peace, Reap Justice" (IPS):

Camilo Mejía was the first U.S. soldier who served in Iraq to go public with his refusal to re-deploy. He spent nine months in military confinement for deciding to follow his conscience. He is a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War and is the author of the forthcoming book Road From Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Sergeant Camilo Mejía (New Press).
THIS YEAR'S Veterans For Peace (VFP) convention, held at the University of Washington in Seattle, covered an impressive variety of issues in workshops for the more than 500 participants, who gathered August 10-13 to discuss strategies for moving beyond war. With the slogan "Sow peace, reap justice" the twenty-first annual VFP convention highlighted many important issues facing today's peace movement. Prominent among them were the voices of women in the United States military as well as the resistance against the Iraq War within the armed forces' own ranks.
Women speaking out
One of the most impressive testimonies during the workshop "Voices of Women Veterans," moderated by former Army colonel turned activist Ann Wright, was that of Colleen Helmstetter, who served in Vietnam as a nurse. It wasn't until the Iraq War "sent her in a downward spiral," that Colleen began to connect her trauma of many decades-nightmares, panic attacks, etc.-to her own traumatic experience in Vietnam.
While serving as a nurse at the age of twenty-one, Colleen got through her one-year tour in Vietnam by "acting like a robot and ignoring what I was doing." At times taking refuge in a bitter sense of humor and referring to severe burn victims, soldiers in their late teens and early twenties, as "crispy critters." Twenty-seven years after her experience, Colleen was shocked by her diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but soon she accepted it, realizing how "all the past twenty-seven years of my life suddenly made sense." Today Helmstetter receives treatment for PTSD.
Another powerful presentation during the same workshop was given by Eli Painted Crow, a Native American and Army veteran of twenty-two years. She told the audience that she had joined the military to get off welfare and how this experience has led full circle because she is now back on county aid as she's unable to continue in her profession. She shared her experience of a briefing by a senior non-commissioned officer (NCO) who had just returned from a commanders' briefing in which he quoted the discussion to the unit by referring to enemy territory as "Indian country."
"It made me wonder what side I should be on," remarked the veteran.
Racism and discrimination in the military were the real enemies for Eli in Iraq.
"Soldiers of color (mostly Black) were ordered to train white soldiers, and were told if they did a good job they could later become their assistants," continued the former sergeant first class. "They stripped them of their authority, and many were shipped as far as Baghdad." Her problems stemmed from trying to take care of the lower ranking soldiers on all levels.
After a reported incident of rape rocked Eli's base camp, a woman soldier from the civil affairs Criminal Investigations Division was called to the base to give training on sexual assault. Her advice: "There are a bunch of horny guys out there, so be careful." Eli complained to the equal employment opportunity officer about the gravely inadequate solutions to several problems she was encountering with the commanders' methods of disempowering the soldiers of color, and the inadequate training that was taking place. Instead of dealing with the issues, superiors transferred her to a different location and banned her from the base. She was told the transfer was not punitive but that her new job would be on the shooter mission-providing security for civilian convoys. Previously, Eli had been working at a battalion level coordinating convoys from the battalion Tactical Operations Center.
Before being deployed to Iraq, U.S. Army medical personnel purposely deemed her fit for duty, even though Eli's medical diagnosis was identified as severe endometriosis. This is a common military practice to ensure units meet their required combat strength quota to deploy to war. The lack of available care for women at her base camp led to Eli having a hysterectomy when she returned home on leave. "The place where my children were made," she reflected.
What was very painful for Eli was the recent news of a female soldier and friend who served in Iraq with her. This soldier was found dead at home after two days of not reporting for work. She had been suffering from PTSD and depression. It was reported that she committed suicide. A number that is not included in the toll of the deaths we hear about daily.
But in spite of feeling dissociated from her loved ones, in spite of all the hardships she continues to face since her return, and despite all the injustices she has endured, Eli does not consider herself a victim, but rather a survivor. "Women are healers and givers," she said. "We need to speak out and tell the people that the war doesn't end when we come home."
The workshop concluded with testimony by Sara Rich, the mother of war resister Suzanne Swift, who, like Helmstetter, suffers from PTSD. But Swift's trauma is not the result of her combat experiences, but of the sexual harassment and attacks that she underwent in Iraq by her fellow soldiers.
Sara shared with the audience how male sergeants in Iraq joke and make bets about "who can make that (female) private his private." Women soldiers are assigned to barracks where their supervisors can have easy access to them. "One time," continued Suzanne's mother, "when my daughter asked her new squad leader where she should report, the sergeant replied 'in my bed naked.'" When Suzanne complained the sergeant was transferred, but she was labeled and ostracized as a traitor.
One of the most disturbing things happening in Iraq is known as command rape; it happens when low ranking soldiers are forced to engage in sexual relationships with their leaders in order to gain protection and survive in the combat environment. "Once her NCO returned from leave," continued Sara about her daughter's ordeal in Iraq, "Suzanne refused to continue the relationship," a decision that only exacerbated the harassment.
When Suzanne reported the incidents upon her unit's return to the U.S., she was once again treated as a traitor and later forced to wave her eighteen months of stabilization time in the States to prematurely redeploy to Iraq, along with some of the perpetrators of her assault.
Under such circumstances, Suzanne refused to return to Iraq and instead took refuge in her mother's house, where months later she was detained by the local police, locked in a county jail, and then transferred to the Fort Lewis, Washington, army base, where she awaits the military's decision on whether she will be criminally charged.

Eddie wondered if we'd seen that already? No. Great catch. If we'd seen it last Saturday, we would have included it in Sunday's "Women and the military" (The Third Estate Sunday Review). While a lot of what Ava and I found ended up not used (there was too much, we were awake when everyone else was 'resting their eyes' for four or more hours -- which is also known as "sleeping," not even "napping") but that wasn't something that ended up not making the cut. There's much more in the article besides what's highlighted above so be sure to check out Mejia's article. And, before someone e-mails, we don't consider Suzanne Swift a war resister at this site due to the fact that no statement was made in the early days by her. If she's made one since, please point it out. It's also been noted, repeatedly, that selling/pitching her story as a war resister defeated the natural sympathy and outrage her story should have received. (And, again, I believe every thing Suzanne Swift says was done to her did occur. The military failed her and, having failed her, they should have apologized to her and immediately discharged her -- honorably discharged her. When the illegal war ends, her story will be one of the ones that people will ask, "How come nothing was done to help her?" She should have been helped, there should have been a Congressional investigation and the media, big and small, should have covered this story. It's criminal what happened to her when she was attempting to serve and it's criminal what the military has since done while calling that 'justice.')

We'll excerpt Mejio again in Sunday night's entry. Radio? Martha notes RadioNation with Laura Flanders (Air America Radio over the airwaves, XM radio and online, 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm EST, Saturday and Sunday):

Truth and consequences: CRAIG UNGER author of
House of Bush House of Saud about the tricky truth of who is funding whom in Iraq. ELIZABETH de la VEGA, author of United States v. George W. Bush, et al. and DAVID SWANSON, Washington Director of, and co-founder of the coalition, on the I-word and the option Congressional Democrats say is off the table. Plus, former child solider ISHMAEL BEAH, on what brutality does to the soul.
The Nation Magazine's
MAX BLUMENTHAL and PETER WACHTER assess the media coverage of the week's big stories and author and commentator JANE SMILEY on her new book Ten Days in The Hills, and sex, war and movies.

Rachel notes these upcoming programs (Sunday and Monday) on WBAI -- over the airwaves in the NYC area (and beyond) and also available online (times given are EST):

Sunday, February 18, 11am-noon
Kate Valk and post-Warholian radio artists Andrew Andrew investigate newtheatre in New York.

Monday, February 19, 2-3pm
The 35th anniversary broadcast of the Poisoned Arts Council RadioTheatre's production of David Dozer's "George Washington's Birthday PartyCherry Pie Eating Contest," with comments from original cast members; MarcFisher reads excerpts from his book on radio, "Something in the Air."
Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer.

The following community sites have updated since yesterday morning:

Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Cedric's Big Mix;
Kat's Korner;
Thomas Friedman is a Great Man;
Mikey Likes It!;
Like Maria Said Paz;
The Daily Jot;
and Trina's
Trina's Kitchen

The e-mail address for this site is

Friday, February 16, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Friday, February 16, 2006.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq (despite the capital crackdown), the House acts 'symoblically,' Ralph Nader explains the importance of making demands, and The Russians Are Snickering!
Starting with news of war resisters.  In June 0f 2006, Ehren Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq.  Last week, he faced a court-martial at Fort Lewis in Washington.  
Recap: On Monday, the court-martial of Ehren Watada began with jury selection for the military panel (seven officers were selected) who would, as Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) pointed out, "determine whether Watada spends up to four years in prison in one of the most high-profile cases to be tried at Fort Lewis."  Watada was facing up to four years in prison and Lt. Col. John Head (aka Judge Toilet) refused to allow him to argue the reasons why he refused to deploy.  This is why Norman Solomon (CounterPunch) called the proceedings "a kangaroo court-martial."  .  On Tuesday, the prosectution presented their case.  Aaron Glantz discussed the day's events with Sandra Lupien on The KPFA Evening News noting: "The prosecution had 3 witnesses.  It did not go as well as the prosecution would have liked.  Lt. Col Bruce Antonia, who was the prosecution's star witness, as Lt. Watada's commander, said that nothing tangibly bad happened from Lt. Watada's refusal to go to" Iraq and "[a]nother thing that did not go well for the prosecution today was that their own witnesses clearly showed that Lt. Watada tried other methods of expressing . . . [his opposition] to the Iraq war, internally within the military, before coming forward to speak to the public."  Also noting the prosecution's poor performance on Tuesday (when they rested their case), was civil rights attorney Bill Simpich who told Geoffrey Millard (Truthout): "The prosecution asked too many questions.  By the time it was over, the prosecution witness had become a defense witness because the field was open.  The defense was able to ask nuanced questions, it told the story clearly to the jury."  On Wednesday, Judge Toilet began talking mistrial and, due to the lousy performance by the prosecution, it was seen as an attempt at a "do over" even before he called the mistrial
That was last week and, since then, many legal experts have weighed in to offer that, as Watada's civilian attorney Eric Seitz has stated, Watada can't be retried without double-jeopardy entering into the picture.  John Catalinotto (Socialist Worker) observes: "Watada's military defense lawyer -- appointed by the Army -- Capt. Mark Kim, said that he agreed with Seitz's interpretation of military law."  Geov Parrish (Eat The State) offers that Watada may have won not just the round but the battle: "How did this happen?  It happened because one young officer stuck to his principles, even under enormous pressure, and the Army didn't know how to react.  Its handling of the case has allowed Ehren Watada -- young, photogenic, articulate, and deeply moral -- to become a folk hero within the antiwar movement, so much so that even his (supportive) parents have become minor celebrities in their own rights.  US House Rep and 2008 presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich issued a statement last week:  "The court improperly denied Lt. Watada's right to a dfense by blocking him from explaining why he believes the war in Iraq is illegal.  Procedural decisions by the court have effectively denied Lt. Watada the right to engage in a protected activity -- freedom of speech.  This [the declaration of a mistrial] is a significant ruling which empowers people to speak out against this unjust war."
Jim Cohen (Pepperdine University's The Graphic) ties recent news on the US administration's lies into the Watada story: "A recent report from the Pentagon has concluded that the former policy chief from the Pentagon, Douglas J. Feith, took 'inappropriate' actions by advancing unsubstantiated evidence to bolster the Bush administration's case for war in Iraq.  Watada's justification of abstention to fight in Iraq has, in fact, been substantiated.  This new information will hopefully give Watada the peace of mind by knowing he was right for following his former commander's advice to study everything, our government's arguments for going to war in Iraq as well as the purpose of the mission.  By failing to do this kind of hard work, the commander in chief has left the troops without a mission caught in the middle of a civil sectarian war."
Watada is a part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as Agustin Aguayo (whose court-martial is currently set to begin on March 6th), Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ivan Brobeck, Mark Wilkerson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight 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, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.
Dave Ward (The Gazette) profiles Tim Richard, a war resister from Iowa who now attends the University of Western Ontario, who tells Ward: "I joined the army with the idea that I would be defending America.  But Iraq has nothing to do with defending America. . . . I did have to pay some personal prices.  My marriage broke up over it.  Not to mention [I lost] what I had identified myself as, which was a U.S. soldier, a very patriotic American.  At the same time, I did what I felt was the right thing to do -- which was not to participate in something I knew to be wrong.  So I don't regret doing that."
Meanwhile Lance Hering's parents have been interviewed by Jodi Brooks for Boulder's CBS affiliate (CBS4).  Hering, a marine who served in Iraq, was on leave and back in the United States when he disappeared on an August 29th hike.  Hering, whose rank is Lance Cpl., has no made press statements but the friend he was hiking with has maintained they staged/arranged Hering's disappearance so that he would not have to return to Iraq.  That is what his friend, Steve Powers, has told the press.  Hering has not spoken to the press.  He may or may not be a war resister.  His parents, Lloyd and Ellyne Hering, tell Brooks that Lance's disappearance has led them to begin "talking about the war.  Lloyd said he and Ellyne realized that supporting the troops meant stopping the war.  Lloyd and Ellyne have traveled to Washington, D.C. twice to urge Congress to stop funding the war.  Ellyne writes postcards as part of a nationwide campaign to stop special appropriations for Iraq."  Lloyd Hering tells Brooks: "We're here to help him whenever he decides to come back.  He'll get legal help, financial help, counseling help, and all the love that we can provide anytime he comes back."
Also in the United States, the House of Representatives passed their nonbinding resolution opposing Bully Boy's planned escalation of US troops in Iraq.  As noted by Kris Welch in the middle of KPFA's Living Room, the vote was 246 in favor of the resolution and 182 against.  Nicholas Johnston (Bloomberg News) puts it this way: "The House of Representatives renounced President George W. Bush's latest strategy to resolve the four-year war in Iraq, passing a nonbinding resolution that disapproves of his decision to send about 21,000 more U.S. troops to the conflict.  The vote may be the strongest rebuke of a president during wartime since Congress in 1970 rescinded the Gulf of Tonkin resolution that authorized military action in Southeast Asia."  Susan Cornwell (Reuters) notes the measure was "symoblic but politically potent".  M.E. Sprengelmeyer (Rocky Mountain News) offers excerpts (text) of statements made during the days of deliberation by Colorado Representatives and KPFA has exceprts (audio) of Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, John Conyers, Lynn Woolsey, Mike Thompson, Dennis Kucinich, Barbara Lee, Mike Honda, Ellen Tauscher.  As CNN notes, the Senate now prepares to vote on the resolution tomorrow (yes, that is Saturday, yes they will be in session).
Yesterday US Rep Dennis Kucinch noted that the measure "is a nonbinding resolution.  The war, however, is binding.  The real -- and Constitutional -- power of Congress, as a co-equal branch of government, is to cut off fund for an immoral and illegal war.  Money is there right now to bring our troops home, and bringing our brave troops home is part of a plan that involves enlisting the support of the United Nations to mobilize international peacekeepers so our men and women can come home.  I have a 12-point plan which I have circulated among Members of Congress as to how we can get out of Iraq.  The American people will not tolerate nonbinding resolutions as being an excuse for strong and substantive action to end the war as quickly as possible."  Meanwhile Reps Lynn Woolsey, Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters issued their statement on the measure yesterday as well (Roll Call via Truthout): "Contrary to Republican claims that Democrats have no alternative plan for Iraq, there are in fact several on the table.  Our own comprehensive bill, the Bring Our Troops Home and Sovereignty of Iraq Resotration Act, would complete a fully funded military withdrawal from Iraq within six months while ensuring that our troops and contractors leave safely and accelerate the training of Iraqi security forces.  In addition, our bill would remove the specter of an endless occupation by preventing the establishment of permanent military bases and reiterate our commitment, at the invitation of the Iraqi government, to working with the international community to assist Iraq in its reconstruction and reconciliation efforts.  We also would stand ready, if asked by the Iraqis, to participate in an international stabilization force."
US Rep Maxine Waters is BuzzFlash's Wings of Justice honoree for the week and among the examples cited is this statement Waters made on the House floor: "The citizens of this country are sick and tired of this war.  It is not enough to talk the talk.  You have got to walk the walk.  They know the difference between nuancing and posturing, and they want action.
. . .  They will know whether or not we mean business if we are prepared to stop funding this war." 
Meanwhile, Matthew Schofield (McClatchy Newspapers) surveys Soviet veterans of the Afghanistan war and learns "many soldiers who fought there believe they're seeing history repeat itself.  The United States -- then the force behind the Afghan resistance -- now appears trapped in a similar downward spiral in Iraq, besieged by a collection of forces not unlike those it trained and equipped to crippled the Soviets two decades ago."  This as AP notes that Philip H. Bloom "whose companies made more than $8 million in Iraq reconstruction money through a gifts-for contracts scheme was sentenced Friday to nearly four years in prison."  And as the AP reports that "three top auditors overseeing work in Iraq told a House committee their review of $57 billion in Iraq contracts found that Defense and State department officials condoned or allowed repeated work delays, bloated expenses and payments for shoddy work or work never done. . .  Of the $10 billion in overpriced contracts or undocumented costs, more than $2,7 billion were charged by Halliburton Co., the oil-field services company once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney."
Would you rather have health insurance
you can actually aford, or bomb Iraq?
Would you rather have enough inspectors
to keep your kids from getting poisoned
by bad hamburgers, or bomb Iraq?
Would you rather breate clean air
and drink water free from pesticides
and upriver sh*t, or bomb Iraq?
-- "Choices," by Marge Piercy, Poets Against The War, p. 179
Stephany Kerns (Military Families Speak Out, mother of Nickolas Schiavoni who was killed November 15, 2005 in Iraq) writes: "Every time I hear George Bush talk about his determination to make those tax cuts of his permanent it makes me so upset.  In reality, he is setting up this scenario: military families grandchildren will be part of the population that pays for this war.  If these tax cuts are made permanent, it won't be George Bush or Dick Cheney's grandchildren that pay for it.  It will be your grandchildren and my grandchildren who pay. Yes, my grandchildren, who lost their father in this war, will pay for the war that killed their Dad."  Grandparents are in other binds as well.  Donna St. George (Washington Post) reports on children being raised by grandparents when their parent dies in Iraq and finds that it's not at all uncommon for the $100,000 benefit to either be held (until the child turns 18) or to go elsewhere (such as the husband of Hannah McKinney who got her $400,000 life insurance but is not taking care of her son -- her parents Barbie and Matt Heavrin are.)  The stories are all too common and the lack of foresight and compassion on the part of the US administration (can't have it all when you're rushing into an illegal war) is echoed in the (mis)treatment of veterans.  Aaron Glantz (IPS) reports on the lack of a support system, the lack of money and the lack of oversight in the supposed 'care' for returning veterans.
In Iraq?  It's Friday.  There's never a great deal of reporting coming out of Iraq about Iraqis.  Officials?  Maybe on a day where they issue non-stop statements. 
Reuters notes a roadside bomb in Kirkuk that killed one person and left three more wounded.  Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an IED killed one Iraqi soldier and left another wounded in Baghdad.
Reuters notes the discovery of eleven corpses in Baghdad and four in Mosul.
Kim Gamel (AP) reports that Iraqi Brig. Gen. Qassim Moussawi claims the "only 10 bodies" (eleven) demonstrates "a big reduction in terror and killing operations in Baghdad" because the average is 40 or 50 corpses and that his remarks were echoed by US Major General Joseph Fil.  Really?  I suppose some will buy it, some idiots. 
But the reality is the figures come from Iraqi officials and US officials.  Which may be why many have ignored noting the deaths in the past few days.  So citing a decrease in figures you largely control the release of really proves nothing.   That also explains why the shooting deaths the press is reporting today are from Thursday.  (As AFP notes, they previously tried to pitch five corpses as success.)  It'll be interesting to see if "___ died February 16th" announcements are released tomorrow, Saturday or Sunday by the US military.
Ned Parker and Michael Evans (Times of London) paint a more accurate picture of the latest 'extreme crackdown' in Baghdad noting that both it "and Basra ground to a halt yesterday" which is why the crackdown -- ongoing since June in Baghdad -- has never been a 'strategy' or a 'plan.'  It's a holding move and every few weeks, the US administration and the puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, increase it even more.
Tom Hayden (Huffington Post) offers four points to end the illegal war and occupation and we'll focus on the first: "Stop funding a sectarian Baghdad regime based on lethal militias. . . . . The coalition is carrying out ethnic cleansing in the name of security.  Baghdad, once a mixed city of five million people, is dominated by a huge Shi'a majority."  [Hayden recommends the creation of a transitional regime.] 
Nader spoke with Kris Welch today on KPFA's Living Room and noted of the two party system that encourages cowardice, "We've got to really ask ourselves, 'What's our breaking point?'  . . . [when you make no demands]  You just say, 'You've got my vote, take it and run with it.'  If you don't make demands . . . the corporate interests are pulling in the other directions 24 hours a day.  which is why both parties get worse when you engage in least worst voting without putting demands on the least worst candidate."  He also noted that, "The Democrats have become very good in the last 20 years at electing very bad Republicans."
Finally, as Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today: "College and high school students across the nation walked out class Thursday in a national student strike against the Iraq war. In California, an estimated 1,000 students at UC Santa Barbara blocked traffic on a freeway. Up to 3,000 students turned out for an anti-war rally at UC Berkeley. And at least four hundred rallied at Columbia University here in New York. More than a dozen other schools took part around the country."

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An amazing thing happened in a courtroom at Fort Lewis on Feb. 7. The US Army was in the third day of what, to all appearances, was a kangaroo court-martial of Lt. Ehren Watada, over his refusal to deploy for what he believes to be an illegal war in Iraq. (Noted one courtroom observer: "I had images of robe-clad kangaroos hopping through my head...") The judge, Lt. Col. John Head, had seemingly done his best in the trial's first two days to ensure conviction, while Watada had steadfastly maintained his belief that he had a duty not to follow an illegal order to deploy to Iraq.
Then, suddenly, the Army blinked, and there was a mistrial. And due to double jeopardy issues, the Army may be unable to retry Watada, or to give him anything as punishment beyond a dishonorable discharge.
Essentially, Head coerced the mistrial, ruling that Watada "did not understand" a pre-trial stipulation, prepared by the Army and signed by Lt. Watada prior to the trial, which dropped two additional charges in exchange for Watada acknowledging, among other things, that he willfully refused to deploy. Head had already ruled that Watada could not use his reason for refusal--the illegality of the Iraq conflict--as a defense, and so Head had excluded all of the defense team's witnesses to that effect. To the judge, this then meant Watada was acknowledging guilt in the pre-trial stipulation. But when the Watada team successfully motioned to include a jury instruction that Watada be found innocent if he "reasonably believed" that what he was doing was legal, after prosecution witnesses had already testified to that effect, the Army's case fell apart. Head, in his haste to control the damage, wound up declaring a mistrial over Watada's objection.
Head tentatively set a retrial date in mid-March. And the Army has said it will seek a retrial. But a judge or prosecution cannot simply abandon a trial in mid-proceeding over the defense's objection because it doesn't like the way a trial is going. That's what double jeopardy is about, and Watada's attorney has already said he will fight any effort to retry the lieutenant. That's why, after the mistrial, Army spin doctors were doing their best to express satisfaction with the bizarre outcome by noting how it shows the fairness of the military justice system--rather than by reiterating the Army's belief that Watada acted illegally.
Watada, in other words, improbably, won this round, and may have won his battle with the Army. (The war, however, still rages on.)

The above is from Geov Parrish' "The Army Blinked" (Eat The State) and Brenda e-mailed to note it. March 19th is the date Judge Toilet wants the court-martial to start again. From Courage to Resist:

Demand Army drop charges and accept Lt. Watada's resignation now!
Next step following mistrial victory: Demand that the Army respect the constitutional prohibition on double jeopardy by not attempting to court martial him again. Also:

Brady highlights Hope Yen's "Audit: Billions wasted in Iraq, more to come" (AP):

The U.S. government has squandered as much as $10 billion in public money on Iraq reconstruction aid because of overcharges and unsubstantiated expenses. More is yet to come, federal investigators said yesterday.
The three top auditors overseeing work in Iraq told a House committee their review of $57 billion in Iraq contracts found that Defense and State department officials condoned or allowed repeated work delays, bloated expenses and payments for shoddy work or work never done.
More than one in six dollars charged by U.S. contractors were questionable or unsupported, nearly triple the amount of waste the Government Accountability Office estimated last fall.

Now how will the spinners try to clamp down on the above? Will they try to tell you it's not really US money? And from another version of Yen's article:

Of the $10 billion in overpriced contracts or undocumented costs, more than $2.7 billion was charged by Halliburton, the oil-field services company once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney.

Meanwhile, Skip notes this from AAP:

Prime Minister John Howard's visit to New Zealand has ended with a press conference being abandoned over persistent questions about Iraq.
A day after anti-war protesters staged a noisy demonstration against Mr Howard's arrival, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark walked out of the press conference when a reporter from online left-wing news site
Scoop continued to ask about the war.

Helen Clark was apparently not willing to address the illegal war (which New Zealand opposes) in front of war hawk John Howard. It is currently the front page story at Scoop with photos and audio.

Heads up, Steve Rendall addresses Air America Radio and more on this week's CounterSpin. Danny Glover's a guest on today's Democracy Now! And Susan notes Bill Gallagher's "GEARING UP FOR NEW WAR IN IRAN" (Niagra Falls Reporter):

It's frightening to realize that one of every three Americans is bonkers. They think George W. Bush is a good president, doing a good job. They cling to the belief that the war in Iraq was essential for national security and, although there have been some setbacks, the United States will prevail and "victory is our only option."
Polls show a sorry one-third of the American people are still attached to the lies, myths, hoaxes and deceptions that formed the basis of our policies toward Iraq and the ongoing disaster the war has brought. This one-third is so resistant to the truth and so consumed with delusion that their views are beyond political conversion and only medical intervention makes any sense. They're nuts. And we all know far too many of them.
A handful of people consumed with political power and/or greed escape the nut brand. Blind partisans and political hacks stick with Bush and his puppeteer, Vice President Dick Cheney. So, too, do corporate moguls, oil barons, military contractors and the super-rich who are the beneficiaries of raids on the U.S. Treasury and the taxpayer-funded largess they receive from this vile administration. But the normal, the sensible and the sane have long abandoned them.
It's revealing that so many shills in the corporate media are card-carrying members of the sorry one-third, still echoing the administration's lies and failing to challenge "Bubble Boy" Bush's aversion to reality.
But Bush and his dwindled supporters remain dangerous as they gear up to sell the war with Iran just as they did with Iraq. They are again using fear and deceit to propagate the aggression and imperialism the neocons employ to foster U.S. domination of the world's resources.
The Project for the New American Century types have long had Iran in their crosshairs, just as they did Iraq. It has nothing to do with fighting terrorism and everything to do with controlling oil and Israel's "security." In spite of their failures in Iraq, these crazies still dominate the Bushevik foreign policy and world view. Make no mistake about it -- they're aiming their guns at Iran.
They figure this is the time, since Bush's days are numbered and another war will divert attention from the mess in Iraq. Just bomb the bejesus out of Iran's nuclear facilities and watch the 24-hour media coverage bolster public support for the president.

Today on KPFA, The Morning Show (7:00 am to 9:00 pm PST) will feature Matthew Rothschild and Kris Welch's Living Room (noon to 1:00 pm PST) will feature Ralph Nader. Zach passed both of those on.

The e-mail address for this site is

It all looks so peaceful (Borzou Daragahi, Damien Cave)

Streams of unmarked white SUVs filled with masked security officers pointing assault rifles at motorists passed by. Blue-and-white police pickups with makeshift plates of armor slapped to the sides kicked up dust and exhaust as they sped past motorists.
The heavy police and army presence, as well as the advance publicity, may have scared off many of the gunmen. Few shops were open, and traffic was scant along the once-glittery 14th Ramadan Street in the Mansour district of west Baghdad, the site of frequent battles over checkpoints between insurgents and security forces.

The above is from Borzou Daragahi's "Baghdad crackdown underway" (Los Angeles Times) which we'll pair with this from Damien Cave's "Dispute Over Iraqi Cleric, Said to Have Gone to Iran" (New York Times):

For the second day of their sweep, American troops found almost no resistance, instead mostly encountering compliant residents and children begging for attention. In the afternoon, some troops decided to cruise through nearby Sadr City. From the hatch of a 19-ton Stryker armored vehicle, the district appeared far less friendly than the three nearby neighborhoods had. There were lots of antagonistic hand gestures, hard stares and grimaces from young men.

And we'll note that no one's gone, they're just melting in, only to resurface. "Pirate Jenny" come to life, if anyone wants to pay attention. A repeat of the same thing that happened in 2003. And, in fact, right on time with the schedule the US military has already charted where attacks intensify and then appear to stop of slow down. Soon, we'll all be expected to play shocked. At some point, someone may want to ask Willie Caldwell about that. But apparently, we're still not there press wise. And the ebb and flow is always supposed to come as a surprise.

Along with the long maintained claim that the US military wasn't keeping a count of Iraqi deaths, the fact that the patterns of violence weren't long ago charted is something we're all supposed to ignore.

Repeating, today on KPFA, The Morning Show will feature Matthew Rothschild and Kris Welch's Living Room will feature Ralph Nader. Zach passed both of those on.

The e-mail address for this site is

Thursday, February 15, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

The court-martial of the first Army officer to refuse to go to Iraq because he felt the war was illegal ended in a mistrial, Feb. 7. Last June, Lt. Ehren Watada refused to board an Iraq-bound plane, saying, "An order to take part in an illegal war is unlawful in itself."
Watada's mother Carolyn Ho said, "I continue to remain hopeful my son will be exonerated."
Retired Army Col. Ann Wright called the Army's case "a mess," adding it reflects the "mess in Iraq." Wright resigned a diplomatic post in protest against the invasion of Iraq.

Military judge Lt. Col. John Head, who declared the mistrial, set a mid-March retrial date, but legal experts expect that date to change and some say a trial may not occur at all. Noting that a person cannot be tried twice for the same crime, University of Washington law professor John Junker said a new trial for Watada would constitute "double jeopardy."
National Lawyers Guild President Marjorie Cohn, who was scheduled to testify in Watada's defense, said his "orders to deploy were unlawful, and Lt. Watada had a duty to disobey them."

Erika noted the above from Denise Winebrenner Edwards' "NATIONAL CLIPS" (People's Weekly World). And just to clarify, Cohn was there to testify, the judge (Judge Toilet) refused to allow her, Michael Ratner and others to testify. Today, many campuses participated in student strikes and many students (college and high school students) walked out. Deena Guzder has written a piece on the whys of the strike at The Columbia Spectator entitled "Why You Should Strike:"

One day of protest alone will not stop the war, but our action will help forge a larger, more united student anti-war movement that can contribute to stopping the senseless bloodshed in Iraq. Every serious historian of the Vietnam War acknowledges the critical role that the anti-war movement-including the mass protest and civil disobedience of students-had in ending that horrible war. As Noam Chomsky said in his lecture earlier this month, student protests were critical in challenging the American campaign in Cambodia during the 1970s. Also, let us not forget that Columbia was responsible for significantly bolstering the anti-apartheid South Africa divestment campaign in 1985 when hundreds of students took over Hamilton Hall until the administration addressed their concerns. "The work of those students had a real impact on ending apartheid," said professor Dennis Dalton. "The Columbia administration claimed divestment would make matters worse and even went so far as saying it would be rejected by Desmond Tutu, but then we got an actual letter from Tutu supporting the peace activists!" Large, informed, and united protests full of passion and conviction have historically inspired dormant activists to join social movements and directly engage in critical forms of resistance.

Written before the strike but the usual crowd who suffer from literacy problems are already pooh-pahing a very real accomplishment by students across the country. It doesn't fit in with the pre-fab story that lets them pretend everyone's apathetic (if everyone's apathetic, then they don't have to worry about their own apathy -- so the club they use to strike is students also doubles as their security blanket). On the strike, we'll note Matt Cota's "UCSB Students Strike in Protest of Iraq War: Nearly 1,000 students shut down Highway 217 in two-hour standoff with police" (KSBY):

UCSB students go on strike to protest the war in Iraq. Nearly a thousand refused to work, shop or go to class. And late this afternoon, the protesters shut down a major South Coast highway.
It started as a student strike -- the simple act of not going to class to protest the war in Iraq. But after an hour of speeches at an Isla Vista rally, the crowd grew restless.The students -- nearly a thousand strong -- marched through campus and began walking on Highway 217, which is the main thoroughfare to the UCSB campus and to the Santa Barbara Airport. It was immediately shut down by the Highway Patrol. More than two dozen law enforcement officers, some dressed in riot gear, met the students on the highway.
[. . .]
"I think this is great," says protest organizer Will Parrish. "The students are feeling really inspired and empowered and we made a really important statement that a lot of people across the country are paying attention to. And we also did something instrumental, which is stop business as usual at our university."

And we'll note Bob Roberts' "Columbia College Students Stage Sit-In To Protest War In Iraq" (WBBM):

Students from Columbia College staged a day-long sit-in and strike Thursday on the ground floor of the school's classroom building at 623 S. Wabash Av.
Some sat cross-legged in front of an elevator in the entryway of the building, holding signs that read, "Planet of the Nuclear Dead;" "Impeach Bush;" "Terrorism: Brought to You by the U.S. Army;" "All They Ask of You is Silence," and "An Eye for an Eye Leaves the World Blind."
Others took turns speaking at an open microphone for part of the day. Also scheduled was a musical performance by a group of Columbia students and several hours of "teach-ins."

Students turned out. If it had been five, it would have made a difference, with the thousands and thousands it made a difference as well. Anyone passing them had to leave their comfort zone of silence long enough to grasp that a war was going on -- hard to believe from the media coverage -- and, in addition, they planted seeds. Today, students stood up and did their part to say "no" to the illegal war.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.

-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Thursday, AP's number for the US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 3114. Tonight? 3132 is the AP count. That's the number that have died in the illegal war and there are many recorded as wounded as well. But what about the ones who don't appear wounded (or don't appear it if it might actually cost the government something to provide care)? On that topic, Lynda notes Aaron Glantz' "US Ill-Equipped to Deal With Wave of Troubled Vets" (IPS):

"A lot of guys really want to get out," Garrett Rappenhagen, chairman of the board of Iraq Veterans Against the War, told IPS. "And the military, rather than take the responsibility that this guy has actually just fought in a war and is possibly damaged from that, is just allowing these guys and almost helping these guys get these discharges just to get out of the military and get rid of a problem."
The problem, says Rappenhagen, is that soldiers thrown out of the military for drug and alcohol abuse are often not eligible for veteran's benefits because they've gotten a less than honourable discharge. That extends not only to health care, but also to the housing and college education programmes usually available to returning servicemen.
The results, Rappenhagen says, are often tragic.
"In Colorado, there was a woman that I had for Vets4Vets counseling sessions named Jessica Rich," he said.
A 24-year-old Army reservist, Rich served a tour in Iraq and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in 2004. She received a medical discharge in 2005.
Her friend, Makayla Crenshaw, who served with Rich in Iraq, told the Denver Post that Rich couldn't shake some of the memories from war, including witnessing the suicide of a fellow soldier in Iraq.
"She was having nightmares still, up until this point -- flashbacks and anxiety and everything, the whole bucket of fun," Crenshaw said. "She said it was really hard to get over it because she couldn't get any help from anybody."
Rich died last Thursday after a high-speed auto accident on a Colorado interstate highway. The coroner's report put her blood alcohol level at twice the legal limit.
"She got tanked up and was speeding down the wrong side of the interstate with no seatbelt and slammed head-on into a suburban (SUV) that killed her instantly," Rappenhagen explained. "So, these things are happening and there's not a lot being done to treat these soldiers. It's common. Really common."
A recent investigation by McClatchy Newspapers, which analysed 200 million records released under the federal Freedom of Information Act and interviewed numerous mental health experts and returning veterans, found that nearly 100 Veterans Administration clinics provided virtually no mental health care in 2005.

Mental health care wasn't funded? A shocker only to the useless idiots of Nothing was provided for. Serve in the illegal war and, if you're wounded, disappear from site because the only thing the administration wants to be less visible than coffins is the injured. "Close your eyes and it never happened" was the way the Bully Boy was raised and it goes to the earliest death within his only family and it goes to his ability to ignore reality. A family member dies and they all act like it didn't happen. A life in denial. And the world pays the cost.
It's funny because all the people with their idiotic bumper stickers and their war rallies shouldn't be surprised by the fact that returning veterans aren't cared for or provided for -- in the United States, it's a story as old as the history of the country.

One of the most effective things that doesn't cost the government a thing (which doesn't mean they even support that) is vets sharing their own experiences with each other. Organizations like Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace exist to provide support as well as action. (And there are pro-war groups that also exist for vets who are pro-war.) Jamie wanted to know if we could highlight the coffee house again and noted Michelle York's "A Cafe Opens to Serve a Mission to End the War" (New York Times via Citizen Soldier):

On Veterans Day, John Hartlaub wandered into the newest cafe in Watertown, N.Y.
It was sparsely furnished, with three Internet stations, a black sofa and an offering of hot or cold cider. A customer who actually wanted coffee would have to buy it a few doors away.
Mr. Hartlaub stayed most of the afternoon anyway. He browsed a few dozen military books for sale, then pulled up a folding chair to watch "Poison Dust," adocumentary about the health effects of depleted uranium weapons on soldiers returning from Iraq.
He left with mostly positive feelings. "It could end up being very informative and helpful," said Mr. Hartlaub, 41, who has served in the military on and off since1985.
The organizers of the cafe were hoping for such a reaction. But, being not far from the largest military installation in the Northeast, they are prepared for backlash, too.
They say theirs is the country's first G.I. coffeehouse for the war in Iraq. It is a project of the peace movement that is focused on changing opinions within the military, with an ultimate goal of ending the war.

The coffeehouse is Different Drum and, hopefully, it will be one of many. Of course, it exists without government monies. Like everything else. Addressing the issue of what gets the coin and what doesn't is Iwana's highlight, Cindy Sheehan's "Money Trumps Peace...Sometimes" (Common Dreams):

"Money trumps peace" should be the rallying call of all the Democrats and Republicans who are exploiting our tired and wounded soldiers in the field to justify handing BushCo more money to complete his mission of totally decimating the Middle East for the oil companies, construction contractors, and defense industries. How many times have we heard: "We have to vote for the emergency funding for the troops." That money is not for the troops, never has been for the troops, and the troops in the field wouldn't need any support if they used the money that was already in the pipeline to bring our soldiers and marines home from the killing deserts. I talked to a young lady at a university in Minnesota whose good friend was a Marine in Iraq who just got home and one of the only things that he shared with her was that he had to eat ants. If you don't believe me, just ask Mr. "You go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you want." Our troops have never been supported in this monstrous mistake of a war and they have never received the tools they need to survive, let alone be successful in their so-called mission. The money goes to one thousand dollar a day mercenaries---not our two thousand dollar a month grunts.
"Money trumps peace" when while asking for tens of billions of more dollars for war, George is balancing the budget off of the backs of vets who have served this country honorably by cutting back on VA benefits. Many times I am asked: "What would you say to Bush if you were to meet with him now?" I think my first question would be: "How the hell do you look at yourself in the mirror?" How dare he?
"Money trumps peace" is one of the reasons why true peace won't be possible when our country is mis-governed by people who are beholden to and entrenched in the military industrial complex. K-Street palm greasers have an easier passage in the Halls of Congress than do activists with petitions, or a Gold Star Mother wearing a "protest shirt" do.
"Money trumps peace" is the problem when some leaders of Congress, who should be working day and night to bring our troops home to save Iraq and the lives and souls of our brave soldiers and marines, are out raising money for presidential campaigns that are still a year away. Sometime between now and the first primaries in 2008 we will be holding vigils for the 4000th troop killed in Iraq and thousands of Iraqi families will be overcome with grief and pain while the talking head shows are already consumed by election fever.

Tomorrow on KPFA, The Morning Show will feature Matthew Rothschild and Kris Welch's Living Room will feature Ralph Nader. Zach passed both of those on. If there's time tomorrow morning (when we'll be heading home), I'll try to include a heads up then as well.

And Molly asked if we could end with an excerpt ("a positive note," Molly writes), from Democracy Now!'s "'Shut Up and Sing': Dixie Chicks' Big Grammy Win Caps Comeback From Backlash Over Anti-War Stance:"

AMY GOODMAN: Over the past four years, scores of popular musicians have spoken out against the war in Iraq and the Bush administration. The list includes Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Jay-Z, Missy Elliot, Sheryl Crow, Barbra Streisand, and that list goes on. But perhaps no musical act has paid a bigger price for speaking out against the war than the Dixie Chicks, the biggest selling female music group of all time. On Sunday night, the group was the big winner at the Grammy Awards.
DON HENLEY: Yes! And the album of the year, the Grammy for album of the year goes to the Dixie Chicks.
AMY GOODMAN: The group won a total of five Grammys, including record of the year, song of the year and best country album. However, if you tuned into many country radio stations today, you won't hear the Dixie Chicks's music. They've been largely blacklisted for the past four years, ever since the eve of the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003. That's when the group's lead singer, Natalie Maines, told an audience in London the group was against the war and ashamed that the President, President Bush, is from Texas.

The lesson is that you can take a stand and not be destroyed, you can take a stand and rise from the ashes. Or, as the lyrics to "Not Ready To Make Nice" (written by Natalie Maines, Emily Robison, Martie Maguire and Dan Wilson) "It turned my whole world around, And I kind of like it." Which really is the point of this entry -- if there is one -- the need to speak out, the need to take part and engage. You're standing against the illegal war gives others the strength to take the steps they need to. Those staying silent prolong the war and endorse the death and destruction. Students today used their voices and used their power. Cindy Sheehan has demonstrated repeatedly the power that one person and that movements can have. Aaron Glantz and Amy Goodman, to name two, demonstrates the power of journalism when it uses, recognizes, honors and celebrates its power. Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace and Different Drum demonstrate the power of using your voice and joining it with others. And Molly's point is well taken. The Dixie Chicks were supposed to be the cautionary tale -- speak out and suffer. The reality is usually quite different and the better moments in US history came not form silently going along but working for change.

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Iraq snapshot

Thursday, February 15, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq -- despite the never ending 'crackdown' and it's latest phase, the Iraqi refugee crisis continues to be largely ignored though Bully Boy wants applause for doing practically nothing, the US military announces the death of more troops and reality slaps against the latest Operation Happy Talk.
Starting with news of war resistance.  Today, City on a Hill Press editorialized in favor of Ehren Watada, the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq and the subject of a recent court-martial that ended in a mistrial.  City on a Hill Press notes: "As the house of cards that was constructed to lead us into Iraq continues to fall down, City on a Hill Press salutes US Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada, who is courageously standing atop the most solid of foundations--the United States Constitution.  The first active-duty soldier to refuse deployment in Iraq and publicly speak out against the war, Lt. Watada has joined the growing group of brave dissenters whose voices and rights are being repressed after questioning the unjust decisions of the Bush Administration. With the war in Iraq escalating toward more violence and chaos each day, and Bush's preparations to attack Iran, this country desperately needs the likes of Lt. Watada to fulfill duties as soldiers, as Americans, and as humans."
Meanwhile The Santa Barbara Independent reports on the January 20-21st Citizens' Hearing on the Legality of U.S.Actions in Iraq and we'll note this conclusion from the hearing: "Institute mandatory training of all members to recognize their responsibility not to follow illegal orders that violate international law, and to cease training that may condition soldiers to view civilians as the enemy".  Ben Hamamoto (Nichi Bei Times) reports that Judge Toilet has scheduled the next court-martial of Watada for March 19th but notes Eric Seitz (Watada's civilian attorney): "It's my belief that there are going to be serious problems re-instating this case" due to the issue of double-jeopardy and quotes attorney Robert Rusky explaining, "The problem appears to be that the Army wanted to argue that Ehren had implicity stipulated he had a duty to deploy to Iraq once he received his orders.  . . . How can the Army be allowed to argue Ehren had a duty to comply with the deployment order, which necessarily assumes it was a lawful order, while denying Ehren the right to contest that it was a lawful order?  (The ruling) inherently and clearly frames the issue.  I think we need to emphasize: the legality of the Iraq invasion that the deployment order was part of."
Watada is a part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as Agustin Aguayo (whose court-martial is currently set to begin on March 6th), Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ivan Brobeck, Mark Wilkerson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight 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, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.
And Courage to Resist  noted the following yesterday:
Demand Army drop charges and accept Lt. Watada's resignation now!
Next step following mistrial victory: Demand that the Army respect the constitutional prohibition on double jeopardy by not attempting to court martial him again. Also:
"How Lt. Watada and GI resistance movement beat the Army"We (heart) "Augie"
U.S. Army Spc. Agustin Aguayo is a Iraq War vet facing court martial in Germany on March 6 for refusing to return to Iraq. Send him a Valentine's Day support greeting!
Mark Wilkerson refused to redeploy, sentencing Feb. 22
"There comes a time in a person's life when they must do the right moral decision for themselves, doubtless of how popular," he told the media in Crawford, Texas last August. (link only)
Ivan Brobeck, Iraq vet and war resister, released from brig!
Marine L/Cpl Ivan Brobeck was released from the Marine Corps brig at Quantico, Virginia on Feb. 5, three months after returning to the United States from Canada with a letter to President Bush asking him to "Bring the Troops Home Now!" (link only)
On January 27th in DC, following the massive rally and march, people gathered at Busboys and Poets later in the evening to hear Kelly Dougherty and Anthony Arnove speak.  The Socialist Worker provides the text of Kelly Dougherty (co-founder and executive director of Iraq Veterans Against the War) speech and we'll focus on this section:
People ask me: If the war is wrong, and soldiers know it, why don't they just not go?  I think that leads to the bigger issue of war resisters.  We were joking in the Iraq Veterans Against the War office that February and March are the two court-martial months, because Lt. Ehren Watada is being court-martialed at Fort Lewis on February 5, Spc. Mark Wilkerson at Fort Hood on February 22, and Specialist Agustin Aguayo in Germany on March 6.  There are all these public war resisters, taking the lead, following those who came before them, and standing up and saying no -- and putting themselves and their families at a big risk, because people are getting sentenced to prison.  Lt. Watada faces six years in prison, and the judge said that he couldn't use his defense, which is that the war is illegal.  So basically, he has no defense.  He's facing six years for refusing to go.  Other men and women have spent up to a year in prison.  When people say that they support the war resisters, I think they really need to do more than just say, "Oh, that's great."  Because these are men and women who are poised to lose everything.  They can lose the people they care about, because a lot of their friends and family may not agree with their stance.  And there's a huge financial drain as well, because attorneys are hugely expensive.  So I think this is really one of the crucial things -- to encourage GI resistance.  We need for us all to put our money where our mouth is, so to speak -- and really show that we're in solidarity with war resisters.  We're going to be there."
And Iraq Veterans Against the War was there, leading the demonstrations, at Fort Lewis and doing an amazing job.  Anthony Arnove spoke after and The Socialist Worker also provides his speech in text form -- we'll highlight the following:
We're almost four years into the occupation of Iraq, and you have to laugh because the media says, "Oh, you're talking about a hasty withdrawal from Iraq."  First of all, as Kelly pointed out, we've been there for a lot longer than four years.  The United States was bombing Iraq.  Their presence in the Middle East goes back a long time.  It's not just this occupation, but the occupation of Palestine goes back more than 40 years.  So this isn't a hasty withdrawal that we're talking about.  The United States had no right to invade in the first place, and it should get out immediately now.  But all of the reasons that they put forward for why we should stay in Iraq are as bogus as the reasons for why they said we had to go in.  Let's spend a moment on democracy.  First of all, right now, we're in Washington, D.C.  Would anyone like to speak to the level of democracy here in Washington, D.C.?  We just had an election in November where the majority of people in this country said they want the troops to come hom and they reject the policies of this administration.  And we have a president who says he doesn't give a damn, and a Congress that doesn't seem to have heard us either.  Is that democracy?  We have an opposition party whose form of criticizing the occupation of Iraq is to pass a nonbinding resolution criticizing the escalation of an additional 21,500 troops -- but not questioning the fundamental presence of the United States as an occupying power in Iraq.  It's not about the 21,500 additional troops alone.  It's a whole package.  You cannot fund the war, you cannot support 132,000 troops in Iraq, as Hillary Clinton is doing, and say you're against the war.  You're not -- you're for the war.
Anthony Arnove is the author, most recently of, IRAQ: The Logic for Withdrawal.
Meanwhile, Bully Boy is expecting applause, Hail Marys and apparently a Nobel Peace Prize for allowing 5,000 to 7,000 Iraqi refugees to resettle in the United States.  5,000 is a laughable figure when the United Nations has estimated that over two million Iraqi refugees have left the country while almost two million refugees (1.8 million) are internally displaced within Iraq.  Rachel L. Swarns (New York Times) reports that the proposed "legislation being considered" wouldn't be based upon need but would give extra points to those "who have worked for the United States government in various capacities or have associated with American officials".  Some are calling the proposed plan "Snitch Relief"  others point out that it's in keeping with a White House that has always, domestically, put who you know ahead of the needs of the people.  On Monday, the UN noted that there were over "5,000 Iraqis, fearful of being deported under Syrian immigration regulations, queued up outside the United Nations refugee agency office in Damascus today to register."  "Snitch Relief" won't address that.  Snitch Relief won't address the nearly 4 million Iraqi refugees.  The BBC notes that since the start of the illegal war, the US has only taken in 463 Iraqi refugees and that it has only recently pledged the laughably low $18 million "to the UNHCR to help the millions of people who have fled Iraq since the war began." 
The Financial Times of London editorializes: "Nobody in the world with access to a televsion can be in any doubt that the US-led invasion of Iraq four years ago has been a disaster.  What they, and we, are much less aware of is that it has already produced the worst refugee crisis in the Middle East since the mass exodus of Palestinians that was part of the violent birth of the state of Israel in 1948.  And what we should all be scandalised by is how little the two countries most responsible for the Iraq misadventure -- the US and the UK -- are doing to alleviate this crisis."  While Mark Turner (Financial Times of London) notes that the laughable 5,000 to 7,000 'news' "came after Ms [Condi] Rice met Antonio Guterres, the head of the UNHCR, who has recently returned from a tour of the Middle East where he had complained that the burden of the refugee crisis meant that 'a very limited number of countries is paying a very heavy price'."  Meanwhile, IRIN reports that the latest version of the ongoing crackdown in Baghdad is resulting in concerns that it "would create more problems than it would solve" and quoted Mizzal Jassim Wasfi ("Baghdad-based independent political analysis") stating, "It is impossible to achieve this goal -- at least for the time being.  You can't solve a problem by creating more problems.  The government has to find places for those who are occupying such houses or ensure security in the neighbourhoods they have been displaced from to go back to their homes."  The analyst is referring to a pattern of homes being claimed by someone other than their occupants.  Yesterday, Said Rifai (Los Angeles Times) reported on how his parents home, after they sought refuge in Jordan, was taken over ("house-jacked") by "armed gunmen" and there was really little to do -- the US military "wouldn't do anything," the Iraqi police had done nothing during a home invasion prior so "it's unlikely they would do anything now" and attempts to seek help through Sunni politicians resulted in no help or assistance.  So the crackdown, juiced up yet again, ongoing since June, having destroyed any prospect of life in the capital, now sees more hours added to the curfews, more checkpoints, the closing of libraries, searches (home and body) and other 'fun' things.  Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Damien Cave (New York Times) quote positive Iraqis on the crackdown.  In the real world, a report aired on Al Jazeera today (2:17 pm EST) by Al Jazeera correspondent Hoda Abdel-Hamid presented alternate views from Iraqis -- one tired man stated, "We hope it's the last one.  Everyday people are getting killed" and another man who points out that the crackdown hasn't stopped the violence at all: "There was a traffic jam near a checkpoint.  A man left his car and it immediately exploded."
CNN reports 5 children dead ("ranging in age from 4 to 8") from a roadside bomb in Tikrit.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports  four dead and twenty wounded from "two parked car bombs . . . near one of the main vegetable markets in the southern section of Baghdad", 3 dead and 25 wounded from "a parked car bomb . . . near Al Hay Market in Sadr City eastern Baghdad"  and two British soldiers wounded "by Katyusha rockets and small arms fire in Al Hussein neighborhood . . . west of Basra".  Reuters notes three car bombs in Hawija that killed three people and one police officer dead from a roadside bomb in Mosul.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a woman was shot dead and two more were wounded in an attack on a minibus en route to Balad, an Iraqi soldier in Baghdad was shot dead, a police officer was shot dead in west Baghdad, while gunfire and mortar attacks in the Diyala province claimed 8 lives and left 14 wounded, and a police officer was shot dead in Khalis.  Reuters notes a police officer shot dead in Mosul.  AFP notes an attack on the bodyguards of Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari "in Iraqi Kurdistan" that resulted in three of them being shot dead and two more wounded.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 20 corpses discovered in Baghdad.
The US military announced today: "Task Force Lightning Soliders were attacked while conducting combat operations in Diyala Province Feb. 14.  Three Task Force Lightning Soldiers were killed as a result of injuries sustained following explosions near their vehicles.  A fourth Soldier later died of wounds at a Coalition medical facility."  And they announced: "A Marine assigned to Multi-National Force-West was killed Wednesday while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province."

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