Saturday, March 03, 2007

Another prisoner dies at Camp Cropper -- play dumb like the MSM

Court-martial proceedings for a Schweinfurt, Germany-based Army medic charged with desertion and missing movement are to begin Tuesday morning at the Leighton Barracks courtroom in Würzburg.
Agustin Aguayo, 35, of 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, went absent without leave in September to avoid deploying to Iraq with his unit. The deployment would have been Aguayo’s second to Iraq.

The above is from Mark St. Clair's "Soldier’s desertion trial set Specialist has applied for conscientious objector status" (Stars & Stripes). Remember that Amenesty International has released a statement on Agustin Aguayo's court-martial and will have a monitor present for it.
Diana notes this from Iraq Veterans Against the War:

Agustin Aguayo served as a combat medic in Iraq from February 2004 to February 2005. He applied for conscientious objector (CO) status in February 2004. When the Army denied his CO application, he filed a civil court suit in U.S. District Court in Washington against the Secretary of the Army; his appeal is still pending. Shortly before he went AWOL, he received an Army good conduct medal. He is a great example of both the courage it takes for our troops to go to war, as well as the courage it takes for them to oppose the war.

He and Helga are also the parents of two small children and he could have been charged with going AWOL but the military wants to make an example and charge him with desertion (by their rule of thumb, they usually reserve that for someone missing more than 30 days -- Aguayo wasn't even missing for the entire month of September).

There are a number of e-mails coming in about whether Ruth will have a new report? I don't know and she doesn't know. Rebecca and Flyboy were driving for the trip (due to Rebecca's pregnancy) and planning to leave on Sunday. Treva, Ruth's friend, was visiting and offered to make a road trip of it in her RV so they (and Elijah, Ruth's grandson) left on Friday. Ruth's not sure whether she'll have a report or not. If there's time for one, I told her she can dictate it over the phone and I'll type it up. (Rebecca has her laptop with her.) So it's still up in the air at this point.

Due to that, I'd planned a second entry for later today after we'd finished doing at least one article for The Third Estate Sunday Review (which we just did). All that's completed will post on Sunday but we're trying to get done early this weekend. Get done early, not ignore it. Which makes us different from the Democrats in Congressional leadership roles (it's called "transition). Marcus highlights Kevin Zeese's "The Democrats and the Peace Movement" (CounterPunch):

Rep. Chris Van Hollen is the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. It is his job to preserve and expand the Democrats majority in Congress in 2008. Rep. Van Hollen is also my congressman. So, this week when he held a town hall meeting I was paying close attention to his message on the Iraq War.
From his talk it is quite clear what they Democrats want. They want the peace movement to work for the Democratic Party rather than the Democratic Party representing the peace movement.
At the meeting there were signs held in the audience urging "use the power of the purse to end the war" and "support vets not war" and people in the audience held "defund the war" signs. A mother of a vet,
Tina Richards, whose son is getting ready to return for his third tour of duty in Iraq, read a poem by her son that explained why he works for peace and described his despair, his thoughts of suicide and the horrors he saw in Iraq. (See this powerful poem below with link to her website.) When she urged a cut-off of funds the audience of several hundred cheered wildly.
But, Rep. Van Hollen, who is the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee did not commit to not voting to fund the war. Instead he pointed to the recent non-binding resolution passed by the House opposing the "surge" as a first step. He highlighted how the Republicans blocked even a vote on that in the Senate. He reminded people that he opposed the war and voted against the use of force resolution. (But, he didn't mention how he has voted for all of the $420 billion in funding for the war.) He concluded to end the war we need to build a political movement because we could not stop the war with the current Democratic majorities in Congress.
The Democrats seem to think the Iraq War is the "goose that lays the golden votes." They hope it is the golden goose that will expand their majorities and bring them the presidency. Keeping the war going, while showing their opposition through non-binding votes, criticizing Bush and conducting high profile hearings that point to the corruption of the administration as well as the mistakes of the commander-in-chief will get them more votes than ending the war. The Democrats can point to the Republicans as the problem and highlight Bush's reckless leadership as commander-in-chief and say "elect us."

Kevin Zeese also writes at Democracy Rising and, to do some housecleaning, that's one of the links we've added on the left (always on the left). The disgust with print media's refusal to call out the war (while falsely scolding "Be Honest") and their refusal to cover students (which only got worse this week when they demonstrated what they thought student activists were) meant (as Beth explained in her column two Fridays ago and I did in mine -- both at the gina & krista round-robin) that I put together a panel of members with the request to find some new links. (The panel was chaired by Keesha and the others on were Liang, Eli, Charlie, Kayla, Marci, Gareth, Gore Vidal Is God, West and Brandon. I asked Keesha to chair, and thank you to Keesha for that, and asked those to serve because they were among the most vocal complaining about the mushy independent print media, and thank you to them for serving. I should have noted that we'd added links here, in this space, but there's never time to note most of what needs to be noted. When Marcus noted Zeese's column, he also pointed out that Democracy Rising was now a link. The panel was selected by me because the e-mails complaining about, for instance, The Nation were becoming too numerous -- both to the private accounts and to Beth who called to ask what was going to be done? All participating were asked to do so that morning and 'met' online that evening. The next scheduled panel is in April and Beth's going to pick the members for that panel.)

In Iraq today, the violence continues.


Dalia Hassan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that three bombings in Baghdad injured 8 police officers and killed one, while another bombing burnt out "American Humvee vehicle". Reuters notes a car bomb in Ramadi that killed 12 (including a child), a roadside bomb near Latifiya "killed a woman and her two children," a roadside bomb near Tikrit killed three police officers and left three more wounded, and a mortar attack in Iskandariya wounded four and killed two.


Dalia Hassan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that Lt. Col Fadhil al Rheem was shot dead in Baghdad. Reuters notes six family members shot dead in Yusufiya and one person shot dead in Hawija (with two more people wounded).


Dalia Hassan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 10 corpses were discovered in Baghdad and two in Takya. Reuters notes a corpse discovered in Iskandariya.

Also today, the US military announced: "Three Multi-National Corps-Iraq Soldiers died Saturday of wounds suffered after an improvised explosive device exploded next to their vehicle in centralBaghdad." They also announced: "A security detainee died Mar. 2 at Camp Cropper, Iraq, from apparent injuries sustained after being assaulted by other detainees." What's missing from the statement is "A prisoner died in American custody." Camp Cropper is a US run facility in Iraq (not far from Baghdad International Airport). It's not uncommon, sadly, for a prisoner to die at Camp Cropper, such as in October 2006 ("from apparent injuries sustained after being assaulted by other detainees"), such as in November 2006 ("from what appears to be natural causes"), and in December 2006 ("from natural causes"). How many deaths does it take to launch a full blown investigation into conditions of American prison in the United States?

Robert Fisk wrote about Camp Cropper in 2003 (Independent of London via Information Clearing House):

Amnesty International turned up in Baghdad yesterday to investigate, as well as Saddam's monstrous crimes, the mass detention centre run by the Americans at Baghdad international airport in which up to 2,000 prisoners live in hot, airless tents. The makeshift jail is called Camp Cropper and there have already been two attempted breakouts.
Both would-be escapees, needless to say, were swiftly shot dead by their American captors. Yesterday, Amnesty was forbidden permission to visit Camp Cropper. This is where the Americans took Qais Al-Salman on 6 June.
He was put in Tent B, a vast canvas room containing up to 130 prisoners. "There were different classes of people there," Qais al-Salman says. "There were people of high culture, doctors and university people, and there were the most dirty, animal people, thieves and criminals the like of which I never saw before.
"In the morning, I was taken for interrogation before an American military intelligence officer. I showed him letters involving me in US aid projects . He pinned a label on my shirt. It read, Suspected Assassin'."

The Red Cross was also denied access to a prisoner there that the US held. (In violation of the Geneva Conventions.) Michael Moss (New York Times) wrote about Camp Cropper at the end of 2006:

One night in mid-April, the steel door clanked shut on detainee No. 200343 at Camp Cropper, the United States military’s maximum-security detention site in Baghdad.
American guards arrived at the man's cell periodically over the next several days, shackled his hands and feet, blindfolded him and took him to a padded room for interrogation, the detainee said. After an hour or two, he was returned to his cell, fatigued but unable to sleep.
The fluorescent lights in his cell were never turned off, he said. At most hours, heavy metal or country music blared in the corridor. He said he was rousted at random times without explanation and made to stand in his cell. Even lying down, he said, he was kept from covering his face to block out the light, noise and cold. And when he was released after 97 days he was exhausted, depressed and scared.
Detainee 200343 was among thousands of people who have been held and released by the American military in Iraq, and his account of his ordeal has provided one of the few detailed views of the Pentagon’s detention operations since the abuse scandals at Abu Ghraib. Yet in many respects his case is unusual.
The detainee was Donald Vance, a 29-year-old Navy veteran from Chicago who went to Iraq as a security contractor. He wound up as a whistle-blower, passing information to the F.B.I. about suspicious activities at the Iraqi security firm where he worked, including what he said was possible illegal weapons trading.

Speaking of Robert Fisk, he is among the guests on RadioNation with Laura Flanders (Saturdays and Sundays, 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm EST, Air America Radio, XM radio and online):

When it comes to caring for the sick and the young, Americans still expect unpaid women to do it. It's time we snapped out of our time warp and politicized the personal -- again -- says RUTH ROSEN author of a new article on the Care Crisis. Rosen will be our guest on RadioNation this week, along with award-winning journalist, author and winner of the 2006 Lannan Lifetime Achievement Prize for Cultural Freedom, ROBERT FISK, on the political upheavals of the Middle East. Plus on the anniversary of the day the US constitution went into effect – March 4, 1789 -- the executive director, BILL MOYER of The Backbone campaign will tell us why their MarchForth! campaign will help us create 'more perfect union.'
We'll rebroadcast our February 17th 2007 show on Truth and consequences: You'll hear our interview with 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., 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. [. . .]

Where did Donald Rumsfeld go wrong? We’ll speak with ANDREW COCKBURN, investigative journalist and author about his new book Rumsfeld: His Rise, Fall, & Catastrophic Legacy.

If you missed the show that's rebroadcasting on Sunday, you should catch it. (We wrote about it at The Third Estate Sunday Review in "If he exceeds his reach, you must impeach.") As I noted before, we've already done one feature for The Third Estate Sunday Review already. During that Cedric mentioned a highlight he wanted to note, I'll note it here to save him having to blog. This is from Grace Lee Boggs' "WANTED: AMNESTY FOR BLACK PANTHERS" (Michigan Citizen via The Boggs Center):

The outrageous arrest in San Francisco this month of eight 50-70 year old men, believed to be former members of the Black Liberation Army, for the alleged killing of police officer John V. Young nearly three decades ago, provides movement activists with a unique opportunity to ask ourselves new questions and begin a new kind of organizing.
Should we continue to fight these cases individually and defensively, as in the decade-long struggle to free Mumia Abu-Jamal?
Or has the time come to launch an overall campaign to demand amnesty for Black militants incarcerated 20-40 years ago or now threatened with incarceration?
The main goals of such a campaign would be to (1) restore to the community activists who have been incarcerated or are now threatened with incarceration, and (2) bring an end to the relentless cycle of violence and incarceration that has devastated black families and the black community over the last forty years.

And we're not done with impeachment. 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) and the third one is devoted to impeachment:

Sunday, March 4, 11am-
Actor/author/raconteur Malachy McCourt holds forth.

Monday, March 5, 2-3pm
Playwright Julian Sheppard and actress Katherine Waterston talk about "Los Angeles," a new play at The Flea; author and editor Wendy Lesser on her new book of essays, "Room for Doubt." Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer.

Monday, March 5, 9-11pm
World Can't Wait/Drive Out the Bush Regime Director Debra Sweet hosts this panel with Daniel Ellsberg; activist professor Father Luis Barrios; Hip Hop Caucus leader Rev. Lennox Yearwood; recent college grad Anastasia Gomes and others. With listener call-ins.

The e-mail address for this site is

"Are U.S. Oil Companies Going to 'Win' the Iraq War?" (Antonia Juhasz)

"The U.S. invasion of Iraq was not preemption; it was ... an avaricious, premeditated, unprovoked war against a foe who posed no immediate threat but whose defeat did offer economic advantages." - Michael Scheuer, the CIA's senior expert on al-Qaeda until he quit in disgust with the Bush administration, in Imperial Hubris.
Remember oil? That resource we didn't go to war for in Iraq?
Well, you'll have a tough time convincing anyone in Iraq of this particular claim if a new oil law set to go before the Iraqi Parliament within weeks (or even days) becomes the law of the land.
On Monday, the Bush administration and U.S. oil companies came one step closer to "winning" the war in Iraq when the Iraqi Cabinet passed this new national oil law.
The brainchild of the Bush administration and its corporate allies, the law is the smoking gun exposing Bush's war for oil.
The Oil Law
If passed, the law would transform Iraq's oil system from a nationalized model all-but-closed to U.S. oil companies, to a commercialized model, all-but-fully privatized and opened to U.S. corporate control.
Before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, U.S. oil companies were shut out of Iraq's oil industry with the exception of limited marketing contracts.
As a result of the invasion, if the oil law passes, U.S. oil companies will emerge as the corporate front-runners in line for contracts giving them control over the vast majority of Iraq's oil under some of the most corporate-friendly terms in the world for twenty to thirty-five years.
The law grants the Iraq National Oil Company oversight only over "existing" fields, which is about one-third of Iraq's oil. Exploration and production contracts for the remaining two-thirds of Iraq's oil will be opened to private foreign investment. Neither Iraqi public nor private oil companies will receive any preference in contracting decisions.
The contracts allow for foreign companies to take ownership of Iraq's oil fields without actually having to get to work for as long as seven years. Thus, the companies can take advantage of the incredibly weak negotiating position of the Iraqi government at a time of foreign occupation and civil war, while simultaneously being able to "ride out" the current "instability" in Iraq.
Foreign companies do not have to reinvest any of their earnings in the Iraqi economy, hire or train Iraqi workers, transfer useful technology, or partner with Iraqi companies.

The above, noted by Charlie, is from Antonia Juhasz' "Are U.S. Oil Companies Going to "Win" the Iraq War?" (The Huffington Post). Juhasz is one of the few people who has followed this and can address it (Global Exchange's Raed Jarrar is another). If, like Mike, you're scratching your head over people who rush in to provide cover for the oil theft (after previously providing cover for Baker-Hamilton), well just remember that despite the myths of today, NAFTA was sold by more than the mainstream and some of the sellers were of the 'left.' Maybe someone's rebelling against Daddy, maybe someone thinks they can read an oil contract (the way they did the Baker-Hamilton garbage) and grasp it (obviously they can't) but if you're of the 'left' and you're providing cover for the theft of Iraq oil, you're raising questions not only about yourself but also about you're comprehension of the term "self-rule."

Skip notes that US war resister Joshua Key, and his new book The Deserter's Tale, garners "attention all over the world, or at least here in Australia." From "Courage under fire" (Australia's The Age):

After seeing Iraqi civilians brutalised by the US Army, Private Joshua Key made the bravest decision of his life - he walked away. Peter Wilmoth reports.
At night, Joshua Key often returns to Iraq. "You close your eyes and you go back there," he says. While the snow piles up outside his home in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, his wife Brandi and four children sleep. But Key can't.
When he sleeps, he "sees" the atrocities he witnessed as a reluctant private in the US Army and, later, as a deserter from it.
Maybe the worst memory that revisits him in these hours is the seven-year-old Iraqi girl who every day would run up to him when he was on guard duty at a hospital. Unafraid of his M249 machine gun, and ignoring his pleas to leave the area, the girl he called "little sister" would call out the only English words she knew: "Mister. Food."
Key would throw her one of his MREs ("meals ready to eat"). Every day, Key made sure he had one of the packets ready for her. He writes about the day their friendship ended in a new book,
The Deserter's Tale: Why I Walked Away From the War in Iraq.
"I saw the girl run out of the house, across the street and towards the fence that stood between us," Key writes.
"I reached for an MRE, looked up to see her about 10 feet (three metres) away, heard the distinctive sound of American machine-gun fire, and saw her head blow up like a mushroom. Even today I can't help thinking that it was one of my own guys who did it. And I can't help feeling I was responsible for her death. She would be 10 or so years old now, around the same age as my eldest son, Zackary."
Key's is a soldier's story that encompasses all the dark sides of life during and after a dirty and unpopular war. It's a story about untramelled power in the hands of young, gun-happy American grunts and commanders happy to avert their eyes; about terror imposed by those charged with rooting out terrorism; about the US Army's manipulation of America's poor, for whom signing with the US forces - the "poverty draft" - is often the only way out. It's a story you won't hear from the spin doctors in Washington or Canberra.
Joshua Key was born in 1978 and grew up in a two-bedroom trailer in a small town in Oklahoma. The family had no books or magazines around, but plenty of guns. He shot a .357 magnum rifle on his ninth birthday. It was a rough childhood characterised by teen drinking, brawling and sometimes brutal farm life. "(But) even in my earliest years I knew right from wrong," he writes. "It wasn't right to kill puppies with a hammer, which is why I shot and buried a litter of pups before my grandfather could get at them in his old-fashioned way."

By the way, I know people have problems with the Los Angeles Times, but remember that Martin Rubin reviewed Key's book. And for visitors who are asking "problems"? That's not content, that's access. The LA Times would do better to stop blaming editors and reporters for their online 'traffic' figures and instead work on making the paper's website accessible. Folding Star e-mailed Wednesday night about this. FS has the same problem everyone else does. You use a link and may get the story (the first one you'd be viewing that visit) or you may get asked to register. Yes, it's a free registration (like the New York Times) but it's also a repeated registration. Every time you visit, you're being asked to log in. It's not a cookies issue, as Brandon pointed out, because his computer has no problem remembering his log in at the Washington Post. It's an issue that the Los Angeles Times' website has and if someone's going to complain to the people in charge of content about the lack of 'traffic,' they damn well need to take a look at the issue of access. Kara doesn't even try to read anything but the excerpts anymore because she's sick of the repeated requests to log in and points out that not only should the website be able to fix that problem, they shouldn't be asking people to log in to read one story. (Kara has a log in and notes that when she visits the New York Times, she's always logged in unless she's cleared her history and cookies but with LA Times, they are asking her to log in again every time she visits.) We'll note it because it's a problem for members and because the paper has griped about the 'traffic' to people in charge of content. What they should be doing is fixing the issue of access -- that's where the 'traffic' problem is.

Staying on US papers, we'll note, from the New York Times, Alissa J. Rubin's "Iraqi Soccer Players Killed; 16 Policemen Found Dead:"

Two soccer players in their 20s were killed Thursday night in front of their teammates in Ramadi by gunmen who claimed that the players had collaborated with a Sunni group that opposes insurgents and is believed to have ties to the Americans, according to witnesses and the police.
As the sun set Thursday, three cars carrying 10 masked men pulled up at a community field where two neighborhood teams were playing less than 300 feet from the main government building in Ramadi, a city west of Baghdad.
The men poured out of the cars and grabbed Muhammad Hammed Nawaf, 26, who plays for the Ramadi club, and his teammate Muhammad Meshaan, who witnesses said was in his early 20s.
They tied the men's hands and tried to drag them toward the cars. Both struggled to get away.
The armed men shot Mr. Meshaan dead. Mr. Nawaf then asked them to free him, said the team manager, who was standing nearby.
"He said, 'If you have anything against me, shoot me; but if not, leave me alone,' " said Khalid al-Ghargholi, the team’s manager. "Muhammad tried to run away, but he stumbled on a rock, fell on the ground, and the armed men shot him dead at once. They started yelling, 'This is the destiny of anyone who works with secret police.' "

And that's it from that paper because, unlike Thomas Friedman, I don't operate from a belief system that if someone doesn't denounce every action in the world, they must be in favor of it. (Those who, like Friedman, apply that belief -- at least to others, if not themselves -- can check out Edward Wong's article this morning.)

Lloyd notes Michael Abramowitz and Steve Vogel's "Army Secretary Ousted" (Washington Post) and we're going to zoom in on two paragraphs, pay close attention especially to the second:

Democrats in Congress, meanwhile, have strongly denounced the administration for what they call insufficient attention to the needs of returning soldiers. At least two committees are mobilizing to investigate the Walter Reed situation. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform issued a subpoena yesterday to compel Weightman to testify at a congressional hearing Monday.
The committee also released an internal Army memorandum reportedly written in September in which the Walter Reed garrison commander, Col. Peter Garibaldi, warned Weightman that "patient care services are at risk of mission failure" because of staff shortages brought on by the privatization of the hospital's support workforce.

The privatization aspect -- again. And where the government should have been providing oversight, oversight was ignored.

Meanwhile, Martha notes Sudarsan Raghavan's "Sunni Insurgents Ascendant in Iraq's Caldron of Violence: 14 Police Officers Found Shot to Death After Call for Retribution in Rape Case" (Washington Post):

In the photos, the 18 men were blindfolded, their hands tied behind their backs. They appeared Friday on the Web site of a Sunni insurgent group that said it had kidnapped the men to avenge the alleged rape of a Sunni woman by members of Iraq's Shiite-dominated police force.
The Islamic State of Iraq said on its site that it had demanded Thursday that the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki hand over the accused policemen and free all female prisoners within 24 hours.

On Friday, officials found the bodies of 14 policemen in Diyala province east of Baghdad. All had been shot in the head.
"The government did not give any importance to their blood," the Islamic State of Iraq said. A government official said he doubted the dead were the men in the photos.
More than two weeks into a new Baghdad security plan, Sunni insurgents are asserting responsibility for an increasing number of violent attacks against U.S. and Iraqi security forces and civilian targets, while Shiite militias are lowering their profile.

The following community sites have updated since yesterday morning:

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

Saturday and Keesha beat everyone by noting Margaret Kimberley first (on Wednesday). From Kimberley's Kimberley's "Top Ten Questions for Would Be Presidents" (Freedom Rider, Black Agenda Report):

It is early 2007 and the 2008 presidential race is already in full swing. Not that you would know it from the level of discourse the corporate media presents to the public. Republicans get positive coverage while Democratic front runners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama trade nasty barbs through surrogates in the entertainment industry. Dennis Kucinich, the most progressive candidate, is either ignored or ridiculed.
What should you say if you bump into Hillary, Barack, Dennis, John Edwards, Chris Dodd or Bill Richardson? None of the Democratic candidates should be given a pass by the rank and file. Fund raising prowess plays too large a role in the nominations process but it would be even more shameful if progressives shrugged off efforts to engage candidates and ask them hard questions about important issues.
Fortunately all of the candidates will have to debate one another and occasionally interact with the public. When they do they should have to tell us how they will restore democracy and end the terrible wrongs committed by the Bush administration. Here are ten questions they should answer before getting progressive support.
1. Will you end the occupation of Iraq?
The invasion and occupation of Iraq is a terrible crime committed against the Iraqi people. More than 600,000 of them have been killed by the U.S. military, their resources have been stolen, and Uncle Sam replaced Saddam as the Abu Ghraib jailer. Halliburton and other corporations have grown fat thanks to welfare provided courtesy of the American tax payer.
2. Will Jose Padilla still be in prison? Will you close Guantanamo?
Before George W. Bush became president, the United States government put suspects on trial. They had to be indicted and were then tried before juries comprised of civilian citizens. Even suspects in terror cases, whether American citizens or not, were entitled to due process. There were no "enemy combatants" driven to suicide by physical and psychological torture.
3. Will you enact a plan for universal health care?
The health care system currently in existence is the most expensive on the planet yet doesn't provide the best care or any care at all for millions of people. Insurance companies make enormous profits because they deny coverage to sick people. Only Americans are subjected to such an awful system.

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antonia juhasz
raed jarrar

Friday, March 02, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Friday, March 2, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; the non-issue of rape (to follow the US coverage) turns out to be not such a non-issue (surprising only to big media); Walter Reed continues to be a problem for the Bully Bully (similar to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the incompetence of management); Amnesty International issues a statement about a US war resister; and the targeting of minorities in Iraq continues to be a minor story in the mainstream media (domestic).

Starting with war resisters, Agustin Aguayo faces a court martial in Germany Tuesday, March 6th. Amenesty International has released a statement:

Amnesty International is closely monitoring the case of Agustin Aguayo, a US army medic who is scheduled to face a US court-martial on 6 and 7 March in Wurzburg, Germany, for his refusal to deploy to Iraq.
In February 2004,
Agustin Aguayo applied for conscientious objector status. He says that he began developing doubts about war shortly after enlisting in the army and that he now feels that he cannot participate in any war based on his moral objections to hurting, killing or injuring another person. Whilst his application was being considered, Agustin Aguayo was order to deploy to Iraq where he received formal notification in July 2004 that his application had been turned down. The army's Conscientious Objector Review Board had found that he did not present clear and convincing evidence of his beliefs.
Agustin Aguayo served a year in Iraq where he says he refused to carry a loaded gun. He says that "I witnessed how soldiers dehumanize the Iraqi people with words and actions. I saw countless lives which were shortened due to the war. I still struggle with the senselessness of it all . . ."
Agustin Aguayo's unit was ordered to redeploy to Iraq in September 2006, he did not report to duty and went absent without leave (AWOL). He has been charged with desertion and missing movement and is currently held in pre-trial detention at a US military base in Mannheim, Germany. If convicted on both these charges he could be sentenced to up to 7 years in prison.
Lawyers for
Agustin Aguayo filed a write of habeas corpus in US federal court in August 2005, asking for his honourable discharge from the army as a conscientious objector. This request was denied and a subsequent appeal turned down. The judge wrote that "Though Aguayo stated that his Army training caused him anguish and guilt, we find little indication that his beliefs were accompanied by study or contemplation, whether before or after he joined the Army."
Amnesty International is sending a delegate to observe the court-martial proceedings in Germany next week to learn further details about the case and assess whether
Agustin Aguayo would be a prisoner of conscience if convicted and imprisoned.

Speaking with Gillian Russom (Socialist Worker), Helga Aguayo, Agustin's wife, stated the following on war resisters: "They're important because they're taking a stand that all the Americans who are against the war can't really take. They're making it difficult for the Army to continue their mission. My husband's a paramedic, and medics are needed desperately in Iraq. I think that these soldiers who stand up and say, "I won't do it," are frustrating the plans of these particular units. It's important for the antiwar movement to adopt these soldiers and say that this guy has taken a remarkable step. We need to support him because he's doing what we would do if we were in his position."

Meanwhile, US war resister Kyle Snyder was arrested last Friday at the request of the US military who have no jurisidiction in Canada. Snyder served in Iraq, then self-checked out of the US military and went to Canada. In October of 2006, he returned to the United States to and on October 31st, he turned himself in at Fort Knox only to self-check out again the same day (no, AP, he did not turn himself in during the month of November -- AP seems to have confused Snyder with Ivan Brobeck who turned himself in November 7, 2006 -- election day). Snyder was arrested the day before his planned wedding ceremony (the wedding has been rescheduled for this month). The British Columbia police, at the US military's request, at the residence he shares with Maleah Friesen (the woman he'll be marrying this month) and US war resister Ryan Johnson and Johnson's wife Jenna. As Sara Newman (Canada's Globe & Mail) reported, the police showed up at the door, asked for Kyle and when he came to the door in his boxer shorts and robe, they grabbed him and refused to let him either change into some clothes or bring any along with him. Snyder told Vancouver News: "I couldn't believe it could happen that way. The only thought that was going through my head was I thought Canada was a completely separate country, thought it was a sovereign nation. I didn't know they took orders from the United States." ForLawyers Against the War's statement click here. Snyder tells Newman: "Basically the next step is to keep doing what I'm doing, go on with my life. I'm planning on getting married to a very wonderful woman, and I am planning on trying to find the best way to move on with my life." Before he decided to return to the US, Kyle enjoyed working with disabled children.

Another US war resister in Canada is Joshua Key (as his wife Brandi and their children) and he's put his story down on paper in The Deserter's Tale. Reviewing the book, Martin Rubin (Los Angeles Times) quotes Key: "I never thought I would lose my country, and I never dreamed that it would lose me. I was raised as a patriotic American, taught to respect my government and to believe in my president. Just a decade ago, I was playing high school football, living in a trailer with my mom and step dad, working at Kentucky Fried Chicken, and hoping to raise a family one day in the only town I knew. . . . Back then, I would have laughed out loud if somebody had predicted that I would become a wanted criminal, live as a fugitive in my own country, and turn my wife and children into refugees as I fled with them across the border." Rubin observes, "One of the book's great pleasures is in seeing the author's personal development, the journey he has taken, turning away from violence and destruction to become more humane. 'One's first obligation, Key says, 'is to the moral truth buried deep inside our own souls.' He understands a soldier's obligations under the Geneva Conventions and the Nuremberg doctrine not to participate in atrocities. He has pad a stiff price for his desertion: exiled in Canada (where he may not be able to remain) and shunned by much of his family. Near the end of his tale, Key insists that he is 'neither a coward or a traitor.' He is believable, as he has been from the outset, and through his words and the actions he describes, he conveys hard-earned honesty and integrity. In this testament of his experience in military service in Iraq he is making a substantial contribution to history."

Aguayo, Snyder and Key are part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as Ehren Watada, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, 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.

Turning to Iraq, Brian Murphy (AP) notes that Iraq's health ministry says 1,646 Iraqi civilians died in Iraq in the month of February while the AP count is 1,698 and the UN "and other groups often place the civilian death count far higher." (For good reason including the mainstream rarely notes deaths of Iraqis who do not fall into one of three groups: Shia, Sunni or Kurd.) On this week's CounterSpin, Peter Hart addressed last week's hula-hoop -- bad Americans don't care about the deaths of Iraqis as witnessed by a poll that found most estimated 9,000 Iraqis had died in the illegal war. Hart noted that people get information from their media so the finger pointing might need to point at the media. Equally true is the fact that attempts to count the number of Iraqis who have died are met with the right-wing screaming "Foul!", muddying the waters and the mainstream media playing dumb as though there's no way to sort out the truth. (Most recently, this was seen when The Lancet's study found that over 655,000 Iraqis had died. Instead of noting that the sampling method used was a standard method used by the US to estimate deaths, the media played dumb.) Without any sort of standard number used in the press (and note, AP runs their monthly toll but rarely notes a running total), it bears noting that the US military keeps a running tally.

Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) broke that story last summer. The US military refuses to release that number to the American people. Presumably, they utilize the numbers when evaluating how their 'mission' is performing. Since a democracy is built upon the foundation of the will of the people and since Congress is currently debating whether to do anything, the American people would benefit from knowing that number (an undercount to be sure and the US military only admits to keep a count since June of 2005).

The American people would also benefit from reality in the reporting. While rape has been a topic in foreign press and on the ground in Iraq, the US press (mainstream) has dropped the issue -- or thought they had. It pops back up today. Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) reports that a claim by a group in Iraq that they had "kidnapped 18 interior Ministry employees in Dyiyala province in response to claims that Shiite-led security forces had raped a Sunni Arab woman" was followed by police discovering the corpses of 14 police officers in Baqubah. AFP quotes Uday al-Khadran ("mayor of Khalis, the slain officers' hometown in Diyala province") stating: "They were found in the streets of Baquba. Their throats had been cut and their hands were bound." Al Jazeera quotes their reporter Hoda Abdel Hamid: "Sabrin al-Janabi did come and say that she was raped by three Iraqi security forces. The government at first reacted by saying that it will conduct an investigation. . . . Hours later, the government came back and said the three men were cleared of that accusation, that Sabrin al-Janabi had come out with false accusations, and that the three men would each be given a medal of honour. That has caused a big uproar among the Sunni groups." AFP observes: "The alleged rape of Janabi -- who appeared in a video broadcast on Arab news networks to complain of being raped by interior ministry officers -- has triggered a bitter row at the highest levels of the Iraqi state."

If that sounds at all familiar, you probably heard Dahr Jamail and Nora Barrows-Friedman discussing that on KPFA's Flashpoints Tuesday. Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily (IPS) report today on Wassan Talib, Zaineb Fadhil and Liqa Omar Muhammad -- "[t]hree young women accused of joining the Iraqi insurgency movement . . . [who] have been sentence to death, provoking protest from rights organisations fearing that this could be the start of more executions of women in post-Saddam Hussein's Iraq." The fairness of the trials are in question as is the women's guilt.

Fairness is nowhere to be found in the puppet government. Minority Rights Group International's (PDF format) report "Assimilation, Exodus, Eradication: Iraq's minority communities since 2003" drives that home. While the mainstream continues to speak in terms of Shia and Sunni with the occasional Kurd tossed in, minority groups in Iraq are regularly targeted for violence, death, and theft. As the report notes: "The Armenian Church of Iraq said it was working with government officials to obtain the return of property that the former regime had forced it to sale. Although the church was paid fair market values for six properties in Mosul, Basra, Kirkuk, Baghdad and Dohuk, it was coerced. Church officials said discussions with the transitional government yielded no results in 2005." Let's hope they don't take a check for payment or they may find themselves in the same situation as the Mandaens in Baghdad whose property was taken by the post-invasion installed government and was given a check for 160 million dinar ($100,000 in US dollars) but, when they attempted to deposit the check, they "were told that the signature was not legitmate, and payment was refused." Let's also hope the Armenian Church also has some form of documents -- also not easy in the post-invasion. From the report: "According to Zaynab Murad of the Cultural Association of Faili Kurds, during the Anfal campaign Faili merchants and traders were summoned to an emergency meeting and told to bring all their documents. When they complied, they were arrested. Their documents were confiscated and they were sent to the Iraq/Iran border without their families. To reclaim property today, those documents must be presented. 'The question is -- who owns [sic] the documents that prove that they are true owners of the property?' he said."

Brian Murphy (AP) notes that "4 million Iraqis are displaced within the country or are refugees abroad, mostly Sunnis who fled to neighboring Syria or Jordan, international agencies estimate." Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) reports that, in Baghdad, "Maliki has taken a tough line, labeling as terrorists everyone living in homes that were taken by force and informing parliament they would be arrested." That, of course, doesn't apply to the minority groups whom al-Maliki has been more than fine with seeing stripped of property.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that Philippe Douste-Blazy (France's Foreign Minister) is sounding the alarm that Iraq could be partitioned at any point as the chaose continues and that he stated: "We think that the only solution, we have already said so, is to have a withdrawal by 2008 of the international forces which are in Iraq today and at the same time the restoration of the rule of law."

As Iraq crumbles further, the US Congress dithers and dallies. AP reports: "House Democratic leaders have coalesced around legislation that would require troops to come home from Iraq within six months if that country's leaders failed to meet promises to help reduce violence there, party officials siad Thursday. The plan would retain a Democratic proposal prohibiting the deployment to Iraq of troops with insufficient rest or training or who already have served there for more than a year. Under the plan, such troops could only be sent to Iraq if President Bush waives those standards and reports to Congress each time. . . . The Senate, meanwhile could begin floor debate on Iraq as early as next week." Ned Parker (Times of London) notes that prior to "the US November midterm elections four out of five voters siad that if the Democrats won Congress US troop levels in Iraq would fall." Those four out of five aren't idiots, that's how it was sold by a number of outlets. It's just not what's happening currently.

Yesterday Military Families Speak Out's Nancy Lessing spoke with Dennis Bernstein on KPFA's Flashpoints and noted: "There is no military solution, there is no good outcome from the US military occupation continuing, it's only going to make more deaths. So we're at that moment where we're at that moment again where, I think, the majority of people at all levels of this country understand that there is no military solution and yet we have Congress not doing what it needs to do -- which is to cut the funds for continuing the war and bring the troops home. So we as military families and together with Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace and Vietnam Veterans Against the War will continue to be building the movement. And I've said it before on this program and I'll say it again, we do understand that it's never been a politician that's ended a war it's always been a social movement and so our goal is to build our movement as strong as it needs to be to get Congress to do what it needs to do."

They have released an open letter to Congress (PDF format) here:

We are asking that, as leaders in Congress, you exercise leadership. Your voice is needed now more than ever. Tell the American people the truth about President Bush's funding request. President Bush is not asking for more funds for the troops. He is asking for more funds to continue a war that should never have happened, a war that is killing so many U.S. service members and leaving even more physically and psychologically damaged on a daily basis. This is a war that has killed untold numbers of Iraqis, is draining our national treasure and cultivating a growing hatred against our nation. Hope, a rare commodity for us these days, is even harder to find within the current morass of non-binding resolutions and rhetorical statements in Congress about preventing "surges" and changing strategies. Hope is hard to find when we see so many in Congress adopting the morally indefensible stand of opposing escalation of this war, while poised to support its continuation.It is not too late for you to do the right thing. We ask you to exercise your leadership, stand up and call for the de-funding of the Iraq War. Stand strong when you explain that de-funding the war is not de-funding or abandoning our troops. Let the American people know what we as military families and Veterans know -- that de-funding the war will not leave our trooops without equipment or supplies. Stand strong when you explain that there are sufficient funds available to bring our troop shome quickly and safely, and that if more funds are ever needed, Congress has the ability to re-program monies from the Department of Defense budget to use for this purpose. Stand strong and fight to bring our troops home.Stop telling us that you don't have the votes and work to secure them. That is what leaders do.Right now, it seems that you cannot see the political upside of doing what we and the majority of people in this country are calling on you to do. It is important that you understand the political downside of allowing this war to continue. If you provide further funding for the war in Iraq, it will no longer be President Bush's war. You will be co-owners. You will share responsibility for the continued chaos and loss of life in Iraq. You will have lost the opportunity to provide leadership when it is sorely needed. You will have given license to more years of a failed policy and countless deaths.

John Walsh (CounterPunch) places blame both on elected Democrats and on "the 'mainstream' peace movement" which he argues should be demanding actions such as filibusters but instead plays 'nice': "Whenever a UFPJ group goes to 'lobby' the Congressmen or Senators, the unwritten rule (violated by the present writer on many occasions) is to 'make nice'. Do not risk weakening the 'relationships' with legislators and staff is the mantra. It is all carrot and no stick. And what are the results? No filibuster. Continued war. And from first hand experience, when one threatens the legislator with supporting another candidate in the coming election, a pained look comes over the UFPJ 'facilitator,' and one can rely on being tut-tutted into silence."

In Iraq today . . .


CNN notes 10 dead and 17 wounded from a car bombing "at a popular used-car lot in Baghdad's Sadr City" and a car bomb "near an Iraqi National Police patrol in the Saydiya neighborhood in southwestern Baghdad" that killed one police officer and left two more wounded. Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) reports that it was three police officers wounded in that bombing (with one dead). Robert H. Reid (AP) reports a roadside bomb "southeast of Baghdad" killed one Iraqi soldier. Reuters notes a mortar attack in Iskandariya that either killed 4 and left 20 wounded (US military) or killed eight people (Iraqi police) that is provided "the reports were referring to the same incident."


BBC reports: "Two players from the Ramadi football club are shot dead by gunmen as they take part in a training session". Reuters notes that the two men were Mohammed Hamid (27-years-old) and Mahommed Mishaan (23-years-old).


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 5 corpses discovered in Baghdad
Reuters reports 6 corpses were discovered in Balad.

On CounterSpin today, Peter Hart interviewed Mark Benjamin about the Walter Reed Army Medical Center scandal. Why now is it getting attention? (As opposed to 2004 when Diane Sawyer reported on the medical scandals in April 2004 -- not mentioned on the program.) Benjamin felt there was more interest/acceptance in something other than happy talk on both the part of the public and the press. Another reason it's getting more attention now is because Dana Priest and Anne Hull didn't file a one day story that they picked up on weeks later. It was a series of articles (Washington Post) and Bob Woodruff's return to ABC News (Tuesday) with a hard hitting look at what he (he was injured while reporting in Iraq) went through and what service members go through helped focus attention. As noted in yesterday's snapshot, Major General George Wieghtman was fired as the head of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center yesterday. Today, Steve Holland (Reuters) reports Bully Boy is "[s]crambling to answer an outcry over shoddy health care for U.S. soldiers wounded in Iraq" and has made the announcement that "a bipartisan commission" will be created "to review health care for military veterans." And Holland and Kristin Roberts (Reuters) report that "U.S. Army Secretary Francis Harvey has resigned after reports that troops wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan were being poorly treated at the Army's top hospital". CBS and AP note that Harvey has been in charge "since November 2004."

agustin aguayo
kyle snyder
nora barrows friedman
dahr jamail
dennis bernstein
nancy lessing

Other Items

There are also a growing number of in-your-face deserters living both in Canada and underground in the United States. One such war resister, Carl Webb, went as far as to maintain a website while he was on the run. The military ended this embarrassing situation not by finding and prosecuting him, but by discharging him, albeit dishonorably.
The all-'volunteer' armed forces
Speculation about a Vietnam-style GI uprising is often tempered by the argument that during the Vietnam war-era, most soldiers were reluctant draftees. Today we have an all-volunteer military. The inference is that the military is now a career choice and that today’s fighters are gung-ho.
The counterargument is that we do in fact have a draft today. The skyrocketing cost of a college education and the cuts in student aid, coupled with the disappearance of good entry-level jobs in the U.S. economy, has, many argue, created an economic draft. As a result, the vast majority of Iraq and Afghanistan casualties come from poor and working-class backgrounds.
Former NBC News correspondent Peter Laufer, author of Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq, interviews military resisters such as AWOL soldier Ryan Johnson, who says he joined because he was poor, describing himself as "a guy who made a wrong decision who wants a forklift job." Another told Laufer that he couldn’t support his family on a McDonald’s salary. In effect, while we might not have an official military draft, the new Wal-Mart economy keeps the supply of cannon fodder coming.
Then there’s the "stopgap" draft. The military reserves the right to "call up," or draft, military veterans who have served their time and earned honorable discharges, but technically remain in what the Pentagon calls the Independent Ready Reserves. These draftees, people who served and chose to leave military life only to be put back into the military against their will, make up the angriest and most vocal group of today’s military resisters. That’s because they, like their Vietnam predecessors, are clearly draftees.
People who feel that today's volunteer military is less likely to engage in resistance and disobedience need to look back at another little-known fact about the Vietnam war. According to David Cortright, author of Soldiers in Revolt: GI Resistance During the Vietnam War, enlisted troops were more likely to resist fighting than were draftees. Many joined out of patriotism and were sorely disappointed with the reality on the ground in Vietnam. Others, like today's volunteers, were victims of an economic draft.
Also, during the Vietnam war, once soldiers served on one tour of duty, they were done. In Iraq and Afghanistan, almost one-third of the 1.4 million service members who were deployed to the war zones were deployed at least twice, and many considered their second rounds as a draft.
And finally, there's the National Guard, the "weekend warriors," many attracted by educational benefits, who signed up primarily to serve their communities during natural disasters. The National Guard was never a part of the Vietnam equation. It's where George W. Bush hid out during the Vietnam war, before finally going AWOL himself.
Today National Guard troops from all 50 states and Puerto Rico are dying in Afghanistan and Iraq. Others are having their lives upended. They didn’t sign up for this. In effect, they, like the stopgap veterans, are draftees. And for the most part they don’t support this war or this president.

Michael I. Niman's "WHO'LL STOP THE WAR? The Vietnam War didn't end until the soldiers stopped fighting it. Is that the way out of Iraq?" (Orlando Weekly). Gina's brother passed that on. A topic in the gina & krista round-robin (check your inboxes if you haven't already) is Kyle Snyder and AP has put together a worthless article entitled "AWOL U.S. Soldier Briefly Detained In Canada." (We're going with that link because Kevin noted it has a video clip of Mark Wilkerson.) The AP article? Why was Kyle "detained" (AP avoids "arrests")? AP can't tell you.
[Sara Newman's "U.S. military deserter arrested in Nelson:Former soldier seeking asylum in Canada had planned to get married on Saturday" (Globe & Mail) can.] Bad wording may account for why it appears James Fennerty is still Kyle's lawyer (he's not and has not been for some time). But proving that no one thought facts were too important -- "He returned to the military last November" begins one sentence.

Here's a paragraph that pops up in the snapshots fairly often in one form or another (Feb. 5th is what I've pulled it from):

In other news of war resistance, US war resister Kyle Snyder has returned to Canada. Gerry Condon (Soldier Say No!) reports that Kyle Snyder and Maleah Friesen "moved to the quaint little town of Nelson" where "they have joined another war resister couple, Ryan and Jenna Johnson from California. Now the four of them are urgently seeking funds so they can rent a 2-bedroom apartment together" -- donations can be sent to Kyle Snyder, 310 A Victoria St., Nelson, BC, V1L 4K4, Canada or online via Courage to Resist (where they are tax-deductable). Synder depolyed to Iraq and, returning to the US in April of 2005, made the decision to self-check out and went to Canada. Following war resister Darrell Anderson's return from Canada to the US, Snyder decided to return as well, his attorney worked out an agreement with the US military, so, on October 31st, he turned himself in at Fort Knox only to self-check out again when the military refused to live up to the agreement. Condon quotes Synder stating: "I didn't leave Canada in order to go to jail -- just the opposite. I returned to the U.S. because the Army said they would discharge me with no jail time. But the Army lied to me -- again."

Lawyers Against the War's statement on the events can be found here. Vic notes 24 Hours Vancouver's one paragraph summary:

U.S. war resister Kyle Snyder is fighting deportation after he was arrested in his Nelson home last Friday. He came to Canada in 2005 while on leave from the Iraq war, and applied for refugee status, claiming the war was "illegal and immoral."

Sabina notes Prensa Latina's "Another US War Resister Court Martialed:"

The court martial of US soldier and conscientious objector Agustin Aguayo, who refused to return to Iraq because of the atrocities he witnessed, will start at US Mannheim Base in Germany on Tuesday, military sources confirmed.

As Sabina notes, there's not a lot of press on Agustin Aguayo. So we'll note a different section of Gillian Russom's interview with Helga Aguayo, the wife of Agustin. From "They're taking a stand for all of us" (Socialist Worker via Dissident Voice):

GR: What have the effects of Agustín’s deployment and then his incarceration been on you and your family?
HA: It's been emotionally draining for me. I consider myself a pretty assertive and strong woman, and I've seen myself become so stressed out, to the point where I've almost felt broken.
What I experienced firsthand from the military -- the questioning, the searching of my home -- is intimidation on such a high level. You're not used to being interrogated and questioned by people in uniform when you're just a regular person. It was intense, to say the least.
But they haven't broken me, and they won't break me. I will stand by my husband.
We will continue to fight this. If anything, it's made us stronger. Our daughters have a resolve and have learned some valuable lessons on standing up for what you believe in. As hard as it's been, we've been given this amazing voice that I never imagined having, and that’s a positive thing.
When my husband enlisted, we were very ignorant. We had both graduated from college and had no idea about history or the military. Now, our eyes are wide open.
I just found out that Los Angeles is the number-one place for military recruitment in the country. That’s unacceptable to me -- the way they recruit and prey on the people who have the least.
I want to bring awareness to these issues. I've already started counter-recruitment, and I know Agustín is committed to that. We will never be quiet ever again.
To learn more about Agustín's case, how you can show your support, and to donate to his defense fund, go to on the Web.

For those not interested in Mr. Crazy (a number of e-mails this morning), Billie notes "EXCLUSIVE: DEMOCRACY NOW! Confronts Wesley Clark Over His Bombing Of Civilians, Use Of Cluster Bombs And Depleted Uranium And The Bombing Of Serb Television" (Democracy Now!):

This is in sharp contrast to statements Clark made as a commentator on CNN before the bombing last year. In January, Clark told CNN, "He [Hussein] does have weapons of mass destruction." When asked, "And you could say that categorically?" Clark responded: "Absolutely."
In February, Clark told CNN, "The credibility of the United States is on the line, and Saddam Hussein has these weapons and so, you know, we're going to go ahead and do this and the rest of the world's got to get with us...The U.N. has got to come in and belly up to the bar on this. But the president of the United States has put his credibility on the line, too. And so this is the time that these nations around the world, and the United Nations, are going to have to look at this evidence and decide who they line up with."

And we'll also note, September 18, 2003, "General Wesley Clark: The Anti War Warrior?" (Democracy Now!):

STEVE RENDALL: Well, Amy, I had to study the transcripts we did. Some of the listeners may know that we did study of the first three weeks of the war and we looked at six nightly newscasts including CNN. As you know, Wesley Clark was a hired analyst on CNN. And when we started hearing him in this sort of furious speculation about whether or not he was going to run, especially in the last few weeks we kept hearing him cast as antiwar candidate. Well, I hadn't seen much of that.
If I could give you couple of sites here the Boston Globe described him as a 'former NATO commander who also happens to have opposed the war'.
Michael Wolf writing a in New York magazine said 'Face it, the only antiwar candidate America is ever going to elect is one who is a four-star general.' Which I guess means the only legitimate antiwar person is a four-star general.
Newsweek's Howard Fineman said, Clark 'is as anti-war as Dean'. Washington Post described Clark and Dean, 'both opposed to the war in Iraq, and both are generating excitement on the Internet with grassroots activists'.
Now a couple of months ago, still well after the war, in an interview with Paula Zahn on CNN, some people might have mistaken Clark as having opposed the war when he said 'from the beginning I have had my doubts about this mission, Paula, and I have shared them previously on CNN'.
But a review of his statements during, before and after shows that he never made any definitive statement against the war at any time. What criticisms he had were criticisms of the logistics, tactics, criticisms meant to increase the effectiveness of the fighting force there. What we were able to find I think.

[. . .]
STEVE RENDALL: Well, I'm here as sort of like the correcting-the-record guy, I'm not here to debate what somebody from what Wesley Clark's campaign. But to point out at a time, back in January, when millions of people leading up to one of the biggest demonstrations worldwide that's ever happened, Clark said on CNN 'I probably wouldn't have made the moves that got us to this point. But just assuming that we're here at this point, then I think that the President is going to have to move ahead, despite the fact that the allies have reservations.'
A little later, this was in early February, remember the huge demonstrations around the world, and I believe that was on February 12th, Clark said on CNN 'the credibility of the United States is on the line, and Saddam Hussein has the weapons, and so you know we're going to go ahead and do this, and the rest of the world has got to get with us. The U.N. has got to come in and belly up to the bar on this.'
These are hardly the words, when millions of people just week later would be in the streets demonstrating against the war, these are hardly the words of an antiwar candidate.

[. . . ]
ROBERT FISK: I have to say first of all about General Clark, that I was on the ground in Serbia in Kosovo when he ran the war there. He didn't seem to be very antiwar at the time. I had as one of my tasks to go out over and over again to look at the civilian casualties of that have war.
At one point NATO bombed the hospital in which Yugoslav soldiers, against the rules of war, were hiding along with the patients and almost all the patients were killed.
This was the war, remember, where the first attack was made on a radio station, the Serb Radio and Television building. Since then we've had attacks twice on the Al Jazeera television station. First of all in Afghanistan in 2001, then killing their chief correspondent, and again in Baghdad, this year.
This was a general who I remember bombed series of bridges, in one of which an aircraft bombed the train and after, he'd seen the train and had come to a stop, the pilot bombed the bridge again.
I saw one occasion when a plane came in, bombed a bridge over a river in Serbia proper, as we like to call it, and after about 12 minutes when rescuers arrived, a bridge too narrow even for tanks, bombed the rescuers.
I remember General Clark telling us that more than 100 Yugoslav tanks had been destroyed in the weeks of that war. And when the war came to an end, we discovered number of Yugoslav tanks destroyed were 11. 100 indeed.

Steve Rendall is with FAIR and one of the three hosts of CounterSpin whose latest weekly episode (begins airing today in some markets) features Salon's Mark Benjamin discussing Iraq veterans and Sam Husseini is the other guest for the half-hour program.

ADDED: Just heard the interview (I don't watch DN!, I catch it on KPFA) so . . .

Dum, dum, dum, honey what have you done?
Dum, dum, dum, it's the sound of a gun.
Dum, dum, dum, honey what have you done?
Dum, dum, dum, it's the sound
Wesley's got a gun
Wesley's got a gun
The whole world's come undone
He's saying he may run
What did he ever do?
What did he put Serbia through?
He says that he was just tested
Amnesty charged "war crime"
But he told Amy they had it comin' Now that Wesley's got a gun
He ain't never gonna be the same
Wesley's got a gun
Wesley strokes his gun

(Sing to the tune of Aerosmith's "Janie's Got A Gun.")

The e-mail address for this site is

agustin aguayo

Odds and odds

Mention the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to Lawrence Eagleburger and he explodes.
"I defy anyone to tell me how you can use that many people. It is nuts . . . it's insane and it's counterproductive . . . and it won't work," says the Republican former secretary of state and member of the Iraq Study Group. "I've been around the State Department long enough to know you can't run an outfit like that."

The nerve center of Iraq reconstruction efforts, housed in an ornate former Saddam Hussein palace with soaring ceilings and its own espresso bar, the embassy in Baghdad is one of the largest foreign missions ever operated by the State Department. Its complexity and expense, some say, hampers reconstruction efforts and drains cash from diplomatic efforts worldwide.

The above is from Elizabeth Williamson's "How Much Embassy Is Too Much?" (Washington Post) which Lloyd noted and offers: "That's how the mainstream will critique anything Iraq related, when a Republican does." Lloyd also notes a piece on Eliot A. Cohen that we're not linking to and wonders about that? Cohen is not a "war critic." Cohen was PNAC (is PNAC), he's one of the professors that disgraced John Hopkins with his war cheerleading. What Cohen did was critique some of the techniques of a war that he supported and backed and advocated for. Why? Because he was one of the many who grasped that Bully Boy might not be able to pull of the neocon's dream and knew the ground work for blame had to be laid early -- which basically goes: Neocons were not wrong, it was the government that blew the plan. It allows the neocons some cover, if it's accepted, and pins the blame elsewhere allowing them (Cohen hopes) to slither away and plan for another day.

In the New York Times, Alissa J. Rubin's on Iraq duty today with "7 at a Baghdad Wedding Are Killed by a Car Bomb:"

A car bomb that was apparently aimed at a policeman's wedding party in Falluja, west of Baghdad, killed seven guests on Thursday and wounded six, the local police said.
The attack appeared to be part of a mounting battle in western Iraq between insurgents with ties to Al Qaeda and other local and tribal groups, local residents said.
The bomb exploded in the late afternoon as the wedding party was gathering at the home of the groom, a policeman. Neither the bride nor the groom was wounded, but those killed were friends and relatives of the couple, said Abu Khalid, a cousin of the groom.

And Gareth ask us to remember Mr. Tony's empty spin of success not all that long ago as we note this from the BBC:

An attack on a British military base in Basra caused a fire in fuel stores, a military spokesman has said.
The petrol and diesel storage area caught alight after "indirect fire" hit the Iraq base, which is near the Shatt al-Arab Hotel in the city centre.

A visitor wonders why we didn't note Simon Tisdall's "Military chiefs give US six months to win Iraq war" (Guardian of London):

An elite team of officers advising US commander General David Petraeus in Baghdad has concluded the US has six months to win the war in Iraq - or face a Vietnam-style collapse in political and public support that could force the military into a hasty retreat.
The officers - combat veterans who are leading experts in counter-insurgency - are charged with implementing the "new way forward" strategy announced by president George Bush on January 10. The plan includes a controversial "surge" of 21,500 additional American troops to establish security in the Iraqi capital and Anbar province.
But the team, known as the "Baghdad brains trust" and ensconced in the heavily fortified Green Zone around the US embassy, is struggling to overcome a range of entrenched problems in what has become a race against time, said a former senior administration official familiar with their deliberations. "They know they are operating under a clock. They know they are going to hear a lot more talk in Washington about 'Plan B' by the autumn - meaning withdrawal. They know the next six-month period is their opportunity. And they say it's getting harder every day," the former official said.
By improving security, the plan's short-term aim is to create time and space for the Iraqi government to bring rival Shia, Sunni and Kurd factions together in a process of national reconciliation, us officials say. If that works within the stipulated timeframe, longer-term schemes for rebuilding Iraq under the so-called "go long" strategy will be set in motion. But the next six months are make-or-break for both the US military and the Iraqi government.

We almost noted it via Amy Goodman's mention of it in the headlines for Democracy Now! yesterday and we almost noted in via Times of London. In the end, there were other things that needed noting and wouldn't be noted in many places. It's also true that they don't have six months. (Public opinion turned a long time ago and public opinion has hardened. The 'crackdown' in its latest form has offered nothing but the same old same old.) In the end that's the reason we went with other things. P.S. Goodman's got Wesley Clark scheduled for today's broadcast. So heads up for any Clark supporters or those who think he's too crazy to run for president. (Attempting to start WWIII qualifies as 'crazy.') Second entry will go up this morning but there's a story that has everything so wrong I want to read over it and see if there's not a longer version (with less mistakes) available elsewhere.

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