Saturday, August 11, 2007

Iraq: more deaths, more air attacks, more discovered corpses

Today the US military announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier died Friday in a non-combat related incident, which is currently under investigation."

A6 of this morning's New York Times contains Daniel B. Schneider and Damien Cave's "Security Council Approves a Broader U.N. Mandate in Iraq to Seek Reconciliation" and Cave's covering Iraq violence from yesterday:

9 corpses discovered in Diyala, 11 in Mosul and 6 in Baghdad
3 police officers kidnapped in Mosul and executed

On the UN aspect, skip the Times (or the International Herald Tribune where a version of the story credited to Schneider with an end credit to Cave also runs) and check out Matthew Rothschild 's "The U.N. Mirage in Iraq" (The Progressive) on how you're looking at, best case, 30 UN workers going to Iraq:

The Secretary-General is supposed to involve himself in regional dialogue, as well, though it’s difficult to imagine how he’ll be able to succeed there, as Bush and Cheney are threatening to attack Iran virtually every day now.
It's also difficult to imagine how the U.N. will be able to help the security situation any. The response by Britain's U.N. ambassador, Emyr Jones Parry, was laughable. He said he hopes "the U.N. will soon be able to redeploy a contingent to Basra, where its expertise would be helpful in delivering capacity building in Iraq's southeast."

In today's violence, Hamid Ahmed's "Iraq Militants Target Sunni Sheik's Home" (AP) notes the following:

Militants bombed the house of a prominent anti-al-Qaida Sunni cleric, seriously wounding him and killing three of his relatives in what appeared to be an increased campaign against Sunnis who have turned against the terror network.
The attack, which was followed by a fierce firefight, came after Sheik Wathiq al-Obeidi called on residents in the northern Baghdad neighborhood of Azamiyah to rise up against foreign fighters, a reference to al-Qaida in Iraq, which recently has seen a surge in opposition from fellow Sunnis.

Ahmed also notes 4 corpses "found chopped into pieces in Dujail" and a Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed one life.

Also in violence today, Middle East News (via Monsters & Critics) reports a US air attack has killed 8 electricity workers with two more wounded -- "the workers were installing electricity wires and cables in a power station when their vehicle was hit by a US rocket."

On the issue of those serving in the US who are non-citizens or have family members who are non-citizens, we'll note this from Juliana Barbassa's "Troops Worry Relatives Could Be Deported" (AP):

About 35,000 legal immigrants without citizenship are now serving in the military, and nearly 34,000 other service members have taken the citizenship oath since 2001. That means when immigrant soldiers ship off to Iraq, they may carry with them a worry their American-born counterparts are less likely to share: that their family members might be deported while they are away.
"Every base has immigration problems," said Margaret Stock, an Army reservist and immigration attorney teaching at United States Military Academy at West Point. "The government they're fighting for is the same government that's trying to deport their families."
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Eduardo Gonzalez is a citizen whose wife entered the country illegally from Guatemala when she was 5 years old. Now a young adult, she is in deportation proceedings.
"If I'm willing to die for the United States, why can't I just be allowed to be with my family?" Gonzalez asked.

Those wondering about the lack of Iraq stories in various papers -- Baghdad was placed under curfew (that's just been lifted). That explains some of the dip in quantity. (With regards to the New York Times, people are especially paying attention due to the paper's size reduction.)

Carl notes Margaret Kimberley's "'Terror War' Terrorizes Spineless Democrats" (Black Agenda Report):

When a cowardly congress passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 last fall, many were quick say that in the House of Representatives at least, Democrats never had any realistic hope of stopping it. This anti-constitutional atrocity rolled the cause of human rights back some 800 years, legalizing secret imprisonment, torture, and evidence obtained by torture. It made possible life imprisonment with neither accusation nor trial, and absolved from prosecution all the recently active kidnappers and torturers on US government payrolls and contracts along with those who gave them orders.
But last fall's good news, supposedly, was that the Republican congress was certain to be replaced in a matter of weeks by clear Democratic majorities in the House and Senate who'd stand up to the president, end the war, indict even impeach some of the malefactors, and begin to undo some of the damage inflicted by the most lawless presidential administration in the nation's history. It hasn't happened that way.
Instead, Democratic leaders of the House and Senate have ruled impeachment of Bush, Cheney or Gonzalez off the table. Congressional Democrats have increased the Pentagon's budget by $100 billion over Bush's request. They continued construction of an 80 acre embassy and the largest military bases in the world in Iraq. The end of 2007, a full year of Democratic control of the nation's purse will see more US forces and mercenaries in Iraq than at the beginning of the year. Only last week Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama declared himself
ready to take up the "White Man's Burden" and invade Pakistan. Democrats are scrambling to re-brand the fictitious "global war on terror" as their own, and to outdo Republicans at threatening the peace abroad and scaring citizens at home.
Last week both houses of Congress, including dozens of Democrats approved legislation granting the feds the absolute power to intercept phone, fax and email traffic of anyone, anywhere in the world without the bother of explanations to any judge or competent authority whatsoever. House Democratic leaders denounced it, but didn't stop it. Senate Democratic leaders, including presidential candidates Clinton, Obama, Dodd and Biden if they mentioned it at all, decried the bill. But true to form, none stepped forward to lead a filibuster that might have stopped it.
With Congressional poll numbers nearly as low and the president's the gap between Democratic office holders and Democratic voters has never been wider. At the same time, corporate donations to Democratic candidates are higher than ever. These are two sides of the same coin. The Democratic establishment's uncritical embrace of the so-called "global war on terror" is exposing for all to see the widening fissure between the two Democratic parties --- the Democratic party of voters who are called out once every year or two, and the permanent Democratic party of consultants, pundits, lobbyists and wealthy campaign contributors.

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Somet on East Timor, David Bacon

Opening with a press release sent to the public account. This is from SOMET.

SOMET Calls for End to Violence and Instability in Timor-Leste
New York: John M. Miller (ETAN), +1-718-596-7668; +1-917-690-4391; email:
Philippines: Gus Miclat (IID/APSOC), +63-82-2992574 & 75; email:
Netherlands: Endie van Binsbergen (VOT), +31-30-294-5599, +31-6-2320-8594; email:

August 9 - The Solidarity Observer Mission for East Timor (SOMET) is deeply worried about continued instability in Timor-Leste, despite recent credible elections. Although media reports and past traumas have exaggerated the implications of the limited, sporadic violence of the last few days, we remain concerned that prolonged unrest and allegations of government illegitimacy could undermine Timor-Leste’s fragile democracy.

We urge people to express their views peacefully and legally, without violence. Supporters of all sides should be free to voice their opinions but not to impose them through violence or intimidation. We agree with leaders from across Timor-Leste’s political spectrum who have spoken out against violence, and we hope they will persuade their partisans to remain calm.

Timor-Leste needs a stable government and a peaceful environment to allow it to overcome both long-standing and short-term problems, including those of poverty, security, unemployment, health, justice, infrastructure, and education. Some of these and other critical issues underlie Timor's current insecurity.

SOMET believes that the newly-elected Parliament and President represent the will of the voters, and SOMET reiterates our praise for Timor-Leste’s electorate and electoral officials in conducting three largely free, fair and peaceful elections this year. We continue to believe that legal, constitutional processes are the only way for Timor-Leste to move from its current post-independence adolescence to become a mature, democratic nation.

The four parties which make up the Alliance for Parliamentary Majority include more than half of the members of Parliament. The new Government headed by Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão appears to be the most likely to survive constitutional hurdles, providing essential stability.

Any parties that disagree can use the process provided for in the Constitution by introducing a parliamentary motion of no confidence. If it passes, they will have the opportunity to form their own Government. However, if Parliament affirms its confidence in Xanana Gusmão’s Government, FRETILIN and other parties should accept its legitimacy and serve as a responsible, vigorous and constructive parliamentary opposition. A cycle of repeated Government dissolution and creation and will only add to Timor-Leste's political uncertainty.

We encourage all political parties not in the Government to be strong watchdogs, proposing and advocating alternative policies and legislation. We also expect the Government to respect the opposition and to respond to its views, as well as to those of civil society. Everyone should learn from the policies and attitudes over the past several years and work to restore the confidence of the people in democratic institutions. Timor-Leste needs more cooperative relationships among politicians from all parties, as well as between the government and the people.

SOMET will soon issue its detailed report of its observations of the June 30 election and its recommendations for future electoral processes. Previous SOMET reports are available online at

Solidarity Observer Mission for East Timor (SOMET) is a nonpartisan observer mission including both international and domestic non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to monitor the 2007 Presidential and parliamentary elections in Timor-Leste.

SOMET was created by the US-based East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN), in cooperation with Stichting Vrij Oost Timor (VOT) of the Netherlands, Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) and the Asia Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC) based in the Philippines, and the World Forum for Democratization in Asia (WFDA), in response to requests from several civil society organizations in Timor-Leste. In Timor-Leste, SOMET cooperates with Asosiasaun HAK, Timor-Leste NGO Forum, La'o Hamutuk, FOKUPERS, Bibi Bulak and the Kadalak Sulimutuk Institute.

We're a little more casual on the weekends (look at the morning entry I do on any Sunday) so we can fit that in even though the focus is Iraq. (And we've noted them before.)

David Bacon is someone we've also noted before (many times). He is one of the few labor reporters left in this country. He is also an artist with an exhibit entitled "Living Under Trees" focusing on the indigenous Mexican farmworkers in the state of California that is being shown now through August 23rd, at the Arte Americas at 1630 Van Ness Avenue in Fresno (93721 zip for anyone attempting to use Yahoo or Google maps). The cost is $3 per person ($2 if you are a student or a senior citizen) and hours are 11:00 am until 5:00 pm Tuesdays through Saturday (closed on Sunday and Monday -- open until 8:00 pm on Thursdays).

Margaret Slaby examines the the showing in "Visual Eloquence: Photo exhibit at Arte Americas reveals a rich community among poor farmworkers" (The Fresno Bee):

A reality check is the way David Bacon describes his collection of photographs and text narratives of indigenous Mexican farmworkers in California on display at Arte Americas in downtown Fresno.
"It shows the realities of their lives," says Bacon, a photojournalist and writer who lives in Berkeley.
The exhibit, "Living Under the Trees," features 42 color photographs (including six measuring 3 by 4 1/2 feet) and six text narratives (in both English and Spanish). The photos show faces that are sun-bronzed from long hours in the fields and the dirt-covered hands of a worker who spent the day picking olives. They show the wooden shacks and tents many workers call home -- and the sagging mattresses inside. The exhibit also depicts a rich culture, including dancers in brightly colored costumes and a Sunday mass in a ravine near Del Mar.

I think we're at the fair use limit on that article. It will have other showings in California as well and I've got them marked in my date book so (hopefully), I'll remember to note that when those dates come up. Those interested in seeing the exhibit but not able to make it to Fresno can consult the article which does include later dates and locations as well as some photographs.
You can also click here to see some of the photos (Political Affairs). I assume everyone knows that photos in a paper or magazine (or film) are never captured to the degree that they are in person (that's a warning to anyone able to check out the exhibit who tells themselves, "Oh, I saw two online.").

Cedric's "The Black Commentator has been delinked" went up this morning and gets special mention because these days Cedric and Wally do their joint-posts (and they'll have one of those up shortly this morning). This is a solo post by him and, to add to it, Gina was also a leader on this issue and, in fact, made that the topic for the roundtable (conducted Thursday night, ran in Friday's gina & krista round-robin).

This isn't the main entry for the morning, by the way. This is me going through the e-mails and typing with one hand while drying my hair with the other.

The e-mail address for this site is

Friday, August 10, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Friday, August 10, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue, the US military starts another whisper campaign about al-Sadr, a US helicopter goes down, Joe Biden comes out against the privatization of Iraqi oil, and the draft is in the (US) air again.
Starting with war resisters.  Agustin Aguayo served as a medic in Iraq and refused to load his weapon.  He had applied for CO status but was told he'd have to wait until after deploying to Iraq to find out the status.  His CO status was denied and he took the issue to the civilian courts.  After serving one tour in Iraq and while his case was working through the courts, the military expected him to deploy a second time.  Aguayo self-checked out and was gone for less than thirty days before turning himself in.  Despite being gone less than thirty days (September 2nd through September 26th) and turning himself in, the US military prosecuted Aguayo for desertion (the general rule is that you have to be gone 30 or more days for desertion). Aguayo and his wife Helga Aguayo are now telling his story and how it effected their family.  Rosalino Munoz (People's Weekly World) reports that Agustin and Helga are attempting to decide what to do with regards to the civilian case and must decide by September 5th whether or not to appeal to the Supreme court.  Munoz notes, " At issue is whether a soldier's conscienctious objection to war can develop after enlistment and outside of an organized religion, as well as whether the Army can deny a soldier's claim to conscientious objection without a response to the soldier's arguments."
Were the military to follow their own stated policies, there would be no questions as to what qualifies for a CO but they don't, as Aguayo, John A. Rogowsky Jr. and many others have discovered.  From the US military's  "Selective Service System: Fast Facts:"  "Beliefs which qualify a registrant for CO status may be religious in nature, but don't have to be."  Despite that basic reality, Aguayo, Rogowsky and others have been told that they're not religious enough, that their religion is not recognized, when religion really is NOT required for CO status.  In Aguayo's case, the military refused to recognize that time in Iraq deepened Aguayo's faith (already present when he enlisted).
Munoz notes that Aguayo's attorneys believe he has a strong case but Aguayo wants to review the strengths with them before going further with the case due to a concern that a loss in the Supreme Court could reverse the gains that service members had made during Vietnam.  Aguayo is a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War and another IVAW member, provides an update on war resister Marc Train. Adamo Kokesh (Sgt. Kokesh Goes to Washington) reports that Train has been charged "under Article 15 of the UCMJ for being AWOL for 114 days . . . They are now in the process of kicking him out under Chapter 12-14. . . . So a little soft time at Fort Stewart and he should be home free."  Train self-checked out after taking part in the DC actions to end the illegal war in March of this year.  Kokesh also reposts Eli Israel (the first service member to publicy refuse to continue serving in the illegal war while stationed in Iraq) story, told in Israel's own words.  Sarah Olson (Political Affairs) reported on Train in June and quoted him stating, "Just because we volunteered, doesn't mean we volunteered to throw our lives away for nothing.  You can only push human beings so far.  Soldiers are going to Iraq multiple times.  The reasons we're there are obviously lies.  We're reaching a breaking point, and I believe you're going to see a lot more resistance inside the military."  Tran is a member of IVAW (and was on his way to being discharged from the military -- by mutual agreement between him and the brass -- until he signed on to Appeal for Redress) and, like other IVAW members, has posted about his experiences and observations there.  At the end of April, he wrote, "This Administartion has been emboldened by the lack of effective mass outrage.  Now, what I mean by that is that our country as a whole has not effectively demonstrated its outrage about the policies of this Administration; the workers are still going to their jobs, the traffic is still flowing; products are still being consumed.  As long as this is all functioning and every measure of control is in place, and as long as Congress continues to nervously shift about and take no determined action, the Administration does not feel threatened by the anger of its opposition."

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee,  Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell,  Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.        

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. IVAW and others will be joining Veterans For Peace's conference in St. Louis, Missouri August 15th to 19th.
Meanwhile, the US military is trumpeting the news that the Army met its targeted recruitment goals for the month of July . . . while hoping no reporters note that the target was brought down some time ago both in terms of numbers and qualifications. And hoping no one notices how much money is being spent on a still non-existant draft in the US.  In an indication of things being explored and floated, if not yet on the way,  Bully Boy's assistant and deptuty National Security Director on Iraq and Afghanistan Lt. General Douglas Lute spoke with Michelle Norris on NPR's All Things Considered today where he pushed the draft
("a national policy decision point that we have not yet reached, Michelle" -- note, "not yet reached") and declared of the draft, "I think it makes sense to certainly consider it and I can tell you, this has always been an option on the table, but ultimately, this is a policy matter between meeting the demands for the nation's security by one means or another."  While "one means or another" may be a nicer way of saying "by all means necessary," there's no denying that draft boards have been set up, that tax payer monies are being spent on them and that Bully Boy's assistant is now floating the option which -- pay attention, Nancy Pelosi -- unlike impeachment is not 'off the table.'   Returning to the issue of the qualifications waived to meet the targets, Stephen D. Green, fingered as the ring leader by others who participated in the war crimes against 14-year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi and her family (Abeer was gang-raped while her parents and five-year-old sister were murdered in the next room, then she was murdered and her body set on fire to destroy any evidence) is an example of the lowering standards since he went from jail to the military via a 'moral waiver' that overlooked not only his most recent arrest but his prior arrests. In other military crime news, Feminist Wire Daily reports that Cassandra Hernandez' rape by "three of her malecounterparts" in the US Air Force has led not to punishment for the alleged rapists, but instead to charges against Hernandez with the three alleged rapists being "granted immunity from the sexual assault charges" for agreeing to testify against Hernandez.   This assault on Cassandra Hernandez is only a surprise to those who have looked the other way while the US military brass has regularly and repeatedly excused and ignored the assualts on women serving in the military. The assault by the brass on Suzanne Swift is only one of the more recent public disgraces.  The US military brass has repeatedly and consistently refused to address the assaults on women (and on gay male victims of assualt) and Congress has repeatedly and consistently refused to excercise their oversight obligations.
On a related crime note, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today: "In other news on Iraq, the U.S. military has dropped all charges against two Marines connected to the shooting deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha. Lance Cpl. Justin Sharratt had been charged with three counts of premeditated murder and Capt. Randy Stone with dereliction of duty for failing to properly report the civilian deaths. Five Marines still face charges for shooting dead two dozen unarmed men, women and children in Haditha on November 19, 2005."
Goodman also notes Joe Biden's nosies with regards to punishments for the Bully Boy (we'll get back to that) but that's not really the big news regarding US Senator and 2008 Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden.  Appearing yesterday on PBS' The Charlie Rose Show, Biden discussed the upcoming September 'progress' reports to Congress and noted that there has been no military progress in Iraq though he understood why Gen. David Petraeus would attempt to finesse that bit of reality.  Biden then went on to offer his take on the administration's political attempts (which have failed, as Biden noted) in Iraq and identified Dick Cheney as the one blocking progress.  (I'm not endorsing that, or endorsing Biden's kind words for US Secretary of State and Anger Condi Rice, et al.)  Rose questioned whether Cheney could really be against progress and Biden utilized the oil revenue sharing 'benchmark'.  We've heard that utilized before by all Dem candidates for president except Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich in a manner that lumps the oil revenue sharing and the theft of Iraqi oil into one provision.  Biden didn't lump them together -- a possible sign that other candidates may also join Kucinich and Gravel in calling out the theft of Iraqi oil.  Biden delcared, "Look at what we keept trying to write into the law: privatization.  Who are we to tell them to privatize?"
Biden's comments come as growing resistance mounts in the US (led by United Steel Workers) to the theft of Iraqi oil and as news of a poll gains traction.  Aaron Glantz (OneWorld via Common Dreams) reports on the  Oil Change International poll of Iraqis that "found nearly two thirds od Iraqis oppose plans to open the country's oilfields to foreign companies.  The poll found a majority of every Iraqi ethnic and religious group believe their oil should remain nationalized.  Some 66 percent of Shi'ites and 62 percent of Sunnis support government control of the oil sector, along with 52 percent of Kurds."  Glantz quotes Antonia Juhasz (author of The BU$H Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time) explaining, "We're talking about opening up the second largest oil reserves in the entire world to foreign investment.  It costs about $75 a barrel -- and about 60 cents to get it out of the ground.  Do the math."
As Great Britain's Socialist Worker reports, "The pro-US Iraqi government has outlawed the country's oil workers' union under a law passed during the regime of Saddam Hussein.  The order comes as opposition is mounting to a proposed oil law that would hand over the country's natural resource to foreign companies.  The Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions (IFOU) has spearheaded opposition to the proposed law."
On February 23, 2007,  Antonia Juhasz spoke with Kris Welch on KPFA's Living Room
about the oil law and explained the basics:.
Antonia Juhasz: It's really American, and let me clarify that as Bush administration, propaganda that this law is the path towards stability in Iraq.  It is absolutely propaganda.  This law is being sold as the mechanism for helping the Iraqis determine how they will distribute their oil revenue.  That is not what this law is about.  That is the bottom end of an enormous hammer that is this oil law.  This oil law is about foreign access to Iraq's oil and the terms by which that access will be determined.  It is also about the  distribution of decision making power between the central government and the region as to who has ultimate decision making power and the types of contracts that will be signed.  There are powers that be within Iraq that would very much like to see that power divvied up into the regions, between the Kurds and the Shia in particular, and then there are powers that would like to see Iraq retained as a central authority.  The Bush administration would like the central government of Iraq to have ultimate control over contracting decisions because it believes it has more allies in the central government than it would if it was split up into regions.  The Bush administration is most concerned with getting an oil law passed now and passed quickly to take advantage of the weakness of the Iraqi government.  The Iraqi government couldn't be in a weaker negotiating position and the law locks the government in to twenty to thirty-five year committments to granting the most extreme versions of exploration and production contracts to US companies or foreign companies.  Meaning that foreign companies would have access to the vast majorities of Iraq's oil fields and they would own the oil under the ground -- they would control the production and they would in contracts yet to be determined get a percentage of that profit but they'd be negotiating essentially when Iraq is at its weakest when Iraq is hardly a country.  And that's what this oil law is all about.  What Iraqis are saying very clearly and have said to Raed [Jarrar] and, in particular, to the loudest voices being the Iraqi oil unions is that the only people who want to see this law passed now are the Americans.  There's no other reason to push that law through."
Turning to some of the violence on the ground in Iraq . . .
CBS and AP report a US helicopter that went down in Kirkuk, wounding two Americans on board, cite the Iraqi military as the source for the news that the helicopter hit an electric pole and note that on July 31st and July 3rd US helicopters were brought down "after coming under fire".
Reuters reports a Kirkuk car bombing that claimed 11 lives (with at least 45 more people wounded). CBS and AP report a Baquba roadside bombing that claimed the lives of 2 bus passengers and left at least four others wounded.
Reuters reports Wisam al-Maliki (the son of sheikh over puppet Nouri al-Maliki's tribe) was shot dead in Garna.  CBS and AP report a man was shot dead in Baquba.
Reuters reports that three corpses were discovered in Rutba.
In other news, Reuters reports that the UN Security Counsel has backed a proposal for a slightly more visible United Nations role in Iraq and denies charges that the US strong-armed the proposal in order to shift the responsibilites off on the UN; however, they do note that Hoshiyar Zebari, Iraq's Foreign Minister, has stated the obvious via a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that "prior consent" for any authorization having to do with Iraq needs to have the "prior consent" from Iraq's government.  Iraqi's Parliament was rightly outraged when the US government got the UN to extend authorization for their role as 'peace keepers' in Iraq without either the US or the UN bothering to seek the input or authorization of the Iraqi government.
Meanwhile, as the government of US puppet Nouri al-Maliki is in disarray (while he visits Iran), Sue Pleming (Reuters) reports that the US administration continues to (publicly) stress their support for al-Maliki while Olga Oliker (Rand Corporation) notes that replacing the puppet now would "backfire" on the administration and states, "To be a colonial puppet master you need a much stronger understanding and subtle knowled of the culture and history than the U.S. has demonstrated over the past few years in Iraq."  In an apparent move to defocus attention from the US puppet government's many failures (security, electritcy, water, food, etc.), AFP reports that Col. John Castles is the point-person to restart the whisper campaign that Moqtada al-Sadr is in Iran.  Though the allegations earlier this year were never proven, they did serve to distract for a number of weeks.  No doubt that is again the hope with the latest whisper campaign.
In political news, Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan officially announced her candidacy for California's 8th Congressional District in the 2008 election yesterday in San Francisco.  Sheehan will be competing with other candidates including US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi who currently holds the seat. Among those present for the announcement was whistle blower Daniel Ellsberg who endorses the run. Sheehan will be running as independent candidate and for more on this see Rebecca's post from last night.
Sheehan declared last month that she would run for Congress if Pelosi refused to put impeachment back on the table by July 23rd after repeated (and rightful) anger over the Democratically controlled Congress' refusal to end the illegal war.  As legal scholar Francis A. Boyle (Dissident Voice) observes, ."Despite the massive, overwhelming repudiation of the Iraq war and the Bush Jr. administration by the American people in the November 2006 national elections conjoined with their consequent installation of a Congress controlled by the Democratic Party with a mandate to terminate the Iraq war, since its ascent to power in January 2007 the Democrats in Congress have taken no effective steps to stop, impede, or thwart the Bush Jr. administration's wars of aggression against Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, or anywhere else, including their long-standing threatened war against Iran. To the contrary, the new Democrat-controlled Congress decisively facilitated these serial Nuremberg crimes against peace on May 24, 2007 by enacting a $95 billion supplemental appropriation to fund war operations through September 30, 2007."  Or as veteran DC correspondent Helen Thomas (Seattle Post-Intelligencer via Common Dreams) points out, "President Bush has the Democrats' number on Capitol Hill. All he has to do is play the fear card and invoke the war on terror and they will cave.What's more, the president has found out that he can break the law and the rubber stamp. Democratic Congress will give him a pass every time."  Sheehan's announced candidacy comes as Matt Renner (Truthout) reports, "The Blue Dogs have apparently informed the Democratic leadership in the House that they support the ongoing occupation of Iraq. According to Mahoney, he met with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and told her 'The president should be free to maintain troops in Iraq, if the purpose is to thwart terrorism'."  The Blue Dogs are War Hawks (and include Loretta Sanchez whose greedy hands would rather grabs billions in pork than end the illegal war) and centrists who have repeatedly stabbed the Democrats base in the back.  The 2004 demise of Blue Doggie Martin Frost should have been a lesson -- a Republican-lite running against a Republican will lose every time.  That's what happened to Texas' Frost who shortly before his political demise was toying challenging Pelosi for the House leadership post.  Frost, like most Blue Dogs, runs from the Democratic Party while taking the national monies.  Frost's campaigns were noted by Texas community members for their use of yard signs and campaign materials that never mentioned Frost was a Democrat and for slurs and slams against other Democrats perceived as liberal (such as Pelosi) to assure voters he wasn't one of those 'crazy Democrats'.  Long term Congress member Frost went up against newbie incumbent Pete Sessions thanks to the illegal redistricting of Texas' congressional lines (assisted in the process by the US Homeland Security Dept. which spied on state Democrats).  Voters presented with wishy washy Frost and proud-to-be-a-Republican Sessions chose Sessions.  There's a moral in the story.   There's a moral in the story of St. John Conyers as well as in some outlets rush to claim that racism is involved in expecting a senior member of Congress who has repeatedly advocated impeachment of the Bully Boy, who has written a book about the necessity to impeach the Bully Boy, and who shows up at various gatherings (such as the large peace rally in DC this year) to state the people can fire Bully Boy.  St. Conyers wants all the applause and refuses to do anything.  For some reason, some outlets see themselves as defenders not of the people or the Constitution but as St. Conyers' personal fan club.  The reality is Conyers could move on impeachment and, by his public statements (which his office often later recants or distorts) but elects not to.  Disgusing those realities by suggesting a racist attack is going on against Conyers is really pathetic and, interesting to note, that many suggesting that lie were no where to be found when Cynthia McKinney was twice ousted from the House of Representatives via racial slurs.  As  Betty, Cedric and Ty have noted: "As we said last week, he's old, he's tired, it's past time he gave up his seat and let some new blood in. The only disgrace has been what he has done to his own image."  (Betty's seen the latest nonsense and notes that it will be addressed by her in Sunday's roundtable.)  The topic of impeachment wasn't avoided on PBS where Bill Moyers examined it seriously last month.  That one hour look (including guests such as John Nichols) at impeachment on Bill Moyers Journal  is repeating and can also be viewed, listened to or read online currently. As a weak alternative to impeachment, Senator Joe Biden is floating 'later actions.'  As Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today: "Impeachment has been making headlines recently in the city of Kent, Ohio. Democratic Presidential candidate Senator Joe Biden has suggested criminal charges could someday be filed against members of the Bush administration. In a recent interview with Newsweek, Biden said there are alternatives to the impeachment of President Bush. Biden said: 'I think we should be acquiring and accumulating all the data that is appropriate for possibly bringing criminal charges against members of this administration at a later date'."  This 'later' nonsense has also been floated by St. Conyers is nothing but nonsense.  The 1992 elections gave Democrats the control of Congress and the White House and they unwisely decided to put Iran-Contra behind them.  The crimes of Reagan and Bush were swept under the rug and we're all paying for that today.  By the same token, in January 2009, after Bully Boy leaves office, the DC conventional wisdom (that so many elected Dems are held hostage by) would be, "He's out of office, leave it alone."  If impeachment does not take place, Bully Boy walks and anyone suggesting otherwise is taking an ahistorical view of the situation.

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Other Items

Reuters reports a Kirkuk car bombing that's claimed 11 lilves, 3 corpses discovered in Rutba and Wisam al-Maliliki ("son of the sheikh of the Bani Malik tribe of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki") shot dead in Garna.

Charlie notes Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun Times) is pimping for the war mongering No End In Sight. Ebert's third sentence is: " I would like them to see "No End in Sight," the story of how we were led into that war, and more than 3,000 American lives and hundreds of thousands of other lives were destroyed." No Big Squish, it is not "the story of how we were led into that war" and, in fact, it avoids that issue. It exists to sell illegal war by arguing it only needs fine tuning.

Ebert's a TV face and people wrongly give him too much credit. Here's what he deserves credit for: Destroying film criticism. His 'books' with paragraph synopsis of films did more damage than anything else (although his observations truly can be boiled down to one paragraph -- in fact, they'd probably lose nothing if the 'books' just featured the film title and a diagram of a thumbs up or a thumbs down). Ebert's a squishy critic and a squishy lefty.

With his original TV chat head, he embarrassed himself in a way that should have led to strong calling out but no one noticed. No, it wasn't when the original partner decided he knew more than Jodie Foster (who had just won her second Oscar for Best Actress) about acting jobs for women in the film industry. It was when he and Ebert decided to 'review' Point of No Return in dirty locker room style (a place you'd assume the two avoided like crazy during the school years) by lamenting that Bridget Fonda didn't fondle and stroke the guns in the film. If only, they whined, the violence could have been sexualized (by a woman), that would have been something to see. Well, possibly, to the perverts 'in the balconey'.

Ebert, as usual, sat through a film and responded to the rush but failed to have a single clue about what passed before his eyes. And, no surprise, I don't believe Ebert has bothered to review War Made Easy. Equally amazing in these alleged journalistic reviews is that they never bother to tell you that the director of No End In Sight not only supported the illegal war before it began he also believes that US troops need to remain in Iraq for years to come. It's as though Hillary Clinton made a documentary and supposed voices calling for Troops Home Now! rushed in to marvel over her well funded documentary without ever noting the actual message of the film.

Zach notes Francis A. Boyle's "Fighting the Democrats’ Complicity with Bush" (Dissident Voice):

Despite the massive, overwhelming repudiation of the Iraq war and the Bush Jr. administration by the American people in the November 2006 national elections conjoined with their consequent installation of a Congress controlled by the Democratic Party with a mandate to terminate the Iraq war, since its ascent to power in January 2007 the Democrats in Congress have taken no effective steps to stop, impede, or thwart the Bush Jr. administration's wars of aggression against Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, or anywhere else, including their long-standing threatened war against Iran. To the contrary, the new Democrat-controlled Congress decisively facilitated these serial Nuremberg crimes against peace on May 24, 2007 by enacting a $95 billion supplemental appropriation to fund war operations through September 30, 2007.
In the spring of 2007 all the Congressional Democrats had to do was nothing. They could have sat upon the supplemental appropriation request for war operations by the Bush Jr. administration and thus failed to enact it into law. At that point, the money for war operations would have gradually run out, and the Bush Jr. administration would have been forced to have gradually withdrawn U.S. armed forces from Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead of so doing, the Congressional Democrats knowingly prolonged these wars of aggression and thus in the process became aiders and abettors to these Nuremberg crimes against peace.
Under the terms of the United States Constitution, the President cannot spend a dime unless the money has somehow been appropriated by the United States Congress. Article 1, Section 9, Clause 7 of the United States Constitution expressly provides: "No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law..." Furthermore, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 12 of the Constitution also provides that "Congress shall have power . . . To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years . . . "
America's Founders and Framers deliberately strove to keep America's prospective military establishment on a financial short-leash tightly held by the hands of Congress precisely because of their well-founded fear that a standing army would constitute a dire threat to the continued existence of the Republic based upon their recent experience confronting and defeating King George III’s standing army. As the American July 4, 1776 Declaration of Independence stated their objections in part: "[H]e has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies, without the consent of our Legislatures. He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power . . . For quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us..."
Congress must use its constitutional power of the purse to terminate the Bush Jr. administration's wars of aggression immediately. Those Congressional incumbents of either political party who refuse to do so must be replaced by men and women of good faith and good will of any or no political party who will do their constitutional duty to terminate ongoing Nuremberg crimes against peace. To the contrary, the current leadership of the Democratic Party (though, to be sure, not all Democrats), let alone most of the Republicans, have been complicit with all the atrocities that the Bush Jr. administration has inflicted upon international law, international organizations, human rights, the United States Constitution, civil rights, civil liberties, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and elsewhere since September 11, 2001.

And now would probably be a good time to note that Boyle and Ramsey Clark were brought in (by the Dems) for a talk about impeaching Bully Boy before the illegal war started. The talk went very well and appeared to have support until Yawn Emanuel showed up screaming that to go with impeachment would hurt Dems' election chances.

And with more on the insane, Kyle notes Matt Renner examination of the craven in "Blue Dog Democrats, Staunch Bush Allies" (Truthout):

The Blue Dogs have apparently informed the Democratic leadership in the House that they support the ongoing occupation of Iraq. According to Mahoney, he met with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and told her "The president should be free to maintain troops in Iraq, if the purpose is to thwart terrorism."
Mahoney's description of the Blue Dog's hawkish stance is not officially part of their platform, according to their spokesperson and their web site. The group does not issue press releases on national defense votes, although they have played an instrumental role in passing controversial bills that have been framed by the Bush administration as legislation intended to prevent terrorism.
The Blue Dogs have provided key votes on controversial bills backed by the Bush administration. In September of 2006, 31 Democratic representatives voted with the Republican majority in the House to pass The Military Commissions Act. The controversial act empowered Bush to designate individuals as "enemy combatants," and deny them certain legal rights. Twenty-three of the Democrats who supported the bill were Blue Dogs. At 10:20 PM on Saturday, August 4, 2007, with the help of 31 Blue Dogs, the House Republicans passed the Protect America Act, a bill that altered the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and weakened safeguards against domestic warrantless wiretapping. The bill, a replica of a proposal by the Bush administration, passed with a 44 vote margin, with 227 Yeas and 183 Nays. Despite comprising 76 percent of the Democratic support for the bill, communications director for the Blue Dogs, Kristen Hawn, said that the Blue Dog Coalition took no official position on the bill.
Despite the fracture among Democrats, Pelosi allowed the Republican bill to come to the floor for a vote. After it passed, she went on record saying that the bill "does violence to the Constitution of the United States."

Billie notes this from Adam Kokesh's "Update on Marc Train and Eli Israel" (Sgt. Kokesh Goes to Washington):

I spoke to Marc recently and he told me about his situation, which I will do my best to recount here. The first action the Army took against Marc was to charge him under Article 15 of the UCMJ for being AWOL for 114 days. The punishment was 45 days of extra duty and base restriction. He is working at the First Brigade, 3rd ID Headquarters. He does normal clerical Private BS work during the day from 6am to 6pm and does janitorial work until 11pm. He is working seven days a week, but evenings and weekends they mostly just hang out because there is a whole squad of soldiers in his situation and their only task is to clean their one building. But being the Army, they sit around until 11pm anyway.
They are now in the process of kicking him out under Chapter 12-14. From a Chapter 12-14 separation counseling sheet:
Your actions constitute serious misconduct. The least favorable type of separation you can receive is an Under Other Than Honorable discharge. You would lose all accrued leave and be reduced to E-1 upon separation. Your ability to obtain decent employment in the civilian community would be extremely limited.
So a little soft time at Fort Stewart and he should be home free. Marc, if it’s any consolation, I’m sure you will have no trouble obtaining decent employment in the civilian community.

The e-mail address for this site is Apologies for the delay in this morning's entries. As noted last night, we were speaking early. The snapshot will go up today and hopefully before 6:30 pm EST. No promises. Thank you to a friend who's tagging these entries (or trying to -- it's fine if they're not tagged) this morning.

US helicopter goes down, Iraq dictoator talk floated

An Iraqi army officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to release the information, said the helicopter went down after hitting an electricity pole at about 1:30 a.m. He said the raid was targeting a senior al Qaeda in Iraq leader in the agricultural area. Burwell said he could not confirm that report.

The above is CBS and AP on the US helicopter that went down in Iraq, wounding two Americans on board. The US military is working on a report which they will stall until everyone forgets and one outlet (like UPI for the July crash?) will finally report, in a few weeks, what actually happened (in the case of the July crash, the US military found that it was shot down -- UPI may have been the only outlet to cover that).

Graeme Wilson's "PM no closer to withdrawal from Iraq" (Telegraph of London):

In the process, the Prime Minister has succeeded in creating the impression that he would like nothing better than to extricate our troops from the killing fields of southern Iraq.
Yet despite the mood music, he has been unable to escape the core commitment that British troops will only withdraw from the streets when their Iraqi counterparts are able to take their place on the front line.

With the Poodle's exit and Gordon Brown's installation there were hopes for some that the transition of power would mean some form of an end to England's participation in the illegal war and, of course, that hasn't happened. What has happened, as Thomas Harding (Telegraph of London) observes, is that "British forces are set to suffer more deaths in Iraq this year than during the invasion of 2003." And it also comes when a new option is being pushed which has had very little coverage in the US -- installing a new dictator in Iraq. Yesterday we noted Damien McElroy's "Iraq needs a dictator, says group" (Telegraph of London):

After hundreds of British and American troops died trying to restore democracy to Iraq, a new lobby in the United States has concluded the country must go back to dictatorship.
[. . .]
But Michael Oppenheimer, director of New York University's Centre for Global Affairs, claims a dictatorship is now the most likely route to salvage Iraq. "If you can find a more authoritarian, non-constitutional figure in Iraq, you should probably go for it," he said. "Everyone else is clinging to threads that are things are improving when they are not."

If anyone's thinking, "Oh, that just an academic, what influence could they have?", then they obviously haven't been paying attention in the last few years. (Or throughout the 90s when the neocons invaded domestic college campuses and began preaching and fine tuning their nonsense there.)
Meanwhile, Rosa Brooks continues to take op-ed space in the Los Angeles Times that should go to a columnist who lives in the area. Problem enough but this is from her column on the New York Times down sizing/reducing the physical size of the daily paper:

A democracy needs reporters. True, journalism hasn't entirely covered itself with glory lately (think the New York Times' Judith Miller and her misleading prewar reports on WMD in Iraq). But for every Judith Miller, there have been reporters such as the Los Angeles Times' Kenneth R. Weiss and Usha Lee McFarling, who, with photographer Rick Loomis, won a 2007 Pulitzer Prize for a series on the world's distressed oceans, or the Washington Post's Barton Gellman, whose recent reporting brought out previously unknown details on how Vice President Dick Cheney acquired unprecedented power within the Bush administration.

Every Judith Miller? Every outlet pretty much had a Miller but thanks to the likes of Rosa Brooks, they can all hide in safety and silence because in 2007, Judith Miller's the target for Rosa Brooks. Michael Gordon remains with the paper. Maybe that would take real guts to note, eh Brooks? And maybe the physical size of each morning edition of the New York Times is the last thing to gas bag over on the pages of the Los Angeles Times? Maybe there are actual issues that a columnist based in the LA area could cover the way Bob Herbert does from time to time with regards to New York (he also covers national issues)? Maybe you shouldn't mention "training" and talk about basic journalism when all you offer is the text equivalent of a Sunday chat & chew? Brooks gets out a shout out to and a quote from Thomas Friedman and readers of the Los Angeles Times get another column that reads as if it was put together in about five minutes with 30 seconds going for research.

And most importantly, Sub Rosa, Jo Becker co-wrote the "Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency" series with Barton Gellman. It's called giving credit where it's due. (Then again, maybe the issue here is having gathered a few facts before you sit down to jaw bone.) There's something truly sad about a woman who, by choice or ignorance, praises work but rips the credit for it from a woman. The series had two writers: Gellman and Becker.

It's equally amazing that she trots out Judith Miller for another round of Bash the Bitch when Michael Gordon not only did his part to sell the current illegal war but also continues to attempt the selling of war with Iran. From Editor & Publisher:

One day after The New York Times placed Michael R. Gordon's latest story about Iranian weapons allegedly blowing up large numbers of Americans in Iraq, President Bush warned that action might be taken against that country. McClatchy Newspapers meanwhile warned in a Web headline, "Cheney Urging Strikes on Iran."It was reminiscent of the day in September 2002 when Cheney and other officials went on Sunday talk shows and touted the now-infamous Gordon-Judith Miller front-pager in the Times on the "aluminum tubes" in Iraq and the possible "mushroom cloud" on the horizon. The Times, and Gordon specifically, have been giving the unproven Iranian IED charges far more prominent play than any other major news outlet.

From Warren P. Stobel, John Walcott and Nancy A. Youssef's "Cheney urging strikes on Iran" (McClatchy Newspapers):

Nor is it clear from the evidence the administration has presented whether Iran, which has long-standing ties to several Iraqi Shiite groups, including the Mahdi Army of radical cleric Muqtada al Sadr and the Badr Organization, which is allied with the U.S.-backed government of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, is a major cause of the anti-American and sectarian violence in Iraq or merely one of many. At other times, administration officials have blamed the Sunni Muslim group al Qaida in Iraq for much of the violence.
For now, however, the president appears to have settled on a policy of stepped-up military operations in Iraq aimed at the suspected Iranian networks there, combined with direct American-Iranian talks in Baghdad to try to persuade Tehran to halt its alleged meddling.

[. . .]
A senior Iraqi official in Baghdad said the Iraqi government received regular intelligence briefings from the United States about suspected Iranian activities. He refused to discuss details, but said the American position worried him.
The United States is "becoming more focused on Iranian influence inside Iraq," said the official, who requested anonymity to discuss private talks with the Americans. "And we don't want Iraq to become a zone of conflict between Iran and the U.S."

But by all means, let's all pretend Judith Miller was the only one 'reporting' and that she's still the most important topic today and ignore Gordo's work selling one illegal war and pushing a second.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

The pretexts for starting the wars on Vietnam and Iraq preceded the pretexts for continuing them. While antiwar activism took hold and public opinion shifted against the war effort, the Congress lagged way behind. Today, the need for a cutoff of war funding remains unfulfilled. To watch rarely seen footage of Wayne Morse and Barbara Lee is to see a standard of decency that few of our purported representatives in Congress are meeting.
There’s no point in waiting for members of Congress to be heroic. When we're blessed with the living examples of a few genuine visionaries in office, they should inspire us to realize our own possibilities. Ultimately, our own actions -- and inaction -- are at issue.
"Incontestably, alas," James Baldwin wrote a few years after the killing of Martin Luther King Jr., while the war in Vietnam still raged, "most people are not, in action, worth very much; and yet, every human being is an unprecedented miracle. One tries to treat them as the miracles they are, while trying to protect oneself against the disasters they've become. This is not very different from the act of faith demanded by all those marches and petitions while Martin was still alive. One could scarcely be deluded by Americans anymore, one scarcely dared expect anything from the great, vast, blank generality; and yet one was compelled to demand of Americans -- and for their sakes, after all -- a generosity, a clarity, and a nobility which they did not dream of demanding of themselves.... Perhaps, however, the moral of the story (and the hope of the world) lies in what one demands, not of others, but of oneself."

The above, noted by Mia, is from Norman Solomon's "Let Us Now Praise an Infamous Woman -- and Our Own Possibilities" (CounterPunch). Cindy Sheehan officially announced her candidacy for the House seat from California's 8th Congressional District today (Rebecca noted it here). Bully Boy pinned the problems in Iraq on Iran. A helicopter had a 'forced landing' which is a really sweet way of saying 'crash' for any helicopter forced down in Iraq. NYU's Michael Oppenheimer is even more openly arguing that a dictator be installed in Iraq. The deaths continue to mount . . .

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, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 3662. Tonight? 3684. British deaths since the start of the illegal war now stand at 168. Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London) reports:

Two more British soldiers were killed in southern Iraq yesterday, raising the death toll in the UK's least successful military campaign since Suez in 1956. In both cases the British casualties were low but British forces wholly failed to achieve their objectives.
Two Irish Guardsman were killed and two were seriously wounded in the early hours of yesterday when their convoy was hit by a roadside bomb near the Rumaila oilfields west of Basra. The deaths bring to 168 the number of British personnel who have died in Iraq since the invasion in 2003.
British losses have increased as they prepare to abandon their last base in Basra city and retreat to their frequently attacked air base on the outskirts of the city. Here the contingent of 5,500 troops has been hit by mortars and rockets more than 600 times in the past four months.

We've added Just Foreign Policy's counter to the site (to the left, always to the left) and it currently reads 1,000,985 Iraqi deaths due to the invasion. The dying goes on and on.

The lies go on and on. And when they're not called out, we're not stopping the illegal war, we're allowing it to continue.

Eddie e-mailed to note (language warning) Rob Nelson (Dallas Observer) and his "hideous" review of the hideous No End In Sight. Eddie's right, it is hideous. Possibly a critic who can't get through his opening sentence without using the f-word has problems that go beyond judgement? Nelson cites "the early title card" in the bad movie: "It is a story in which many people tried to save a nation." That alone should tell people this is a film that's selling the illegal war. No one in the US administration was attempting to "save" Iraq. Nelson feels it is a documentary about "the ultimate failure" and, like the dopey Council for Foreign Relations director, the "ultimate failure" is not an illegal war itself. The issues of how the illegal war came to be are not explored or questioned. Nelson manages to notice that the film "scarcely acknowledges the fraudulent justification and fundamental immorality of the Iraq invasion" so how does he end up praising it?

Because he's not very bright. He writes: "For those of us who've opposed the war for years, the movie is at once intensely frightening and, it must be admitted, disturbingly reassuring." Reassuring? Well glad Nelson got his jollies. But the reality is, and Nelson might try reading his own review because the points are there to note what an awful piece of propaganda the film is, No End In Sight exists for one reason and one reason only: Illegal war is okay but next time it needs to be planned better.

The title may be more telling than the reviewer, "No End In Sight" -- translation, get used to it and let's hunker down for better planned illegal wars next time!

Eddie mentioned that the Council for Foreign Relations got no mention in the review. Maybe Nelson's never heard of them? You can't be very bright when you praise a film that endorses illegal wars. Going back to Amy Goodman's point (made while the War Liars were moving forward but the illegal war hadn't started), if it's not the time to talk about the war itself before it starts or when it's going on, when is the time? After, when it's over?

No End In Sight doesn't want to address the reality. It wants to offer showy footage (that cost a fortune) that misleads audiences into thinking that they're seeing a film that's about the illegal war. But a film about the illegal war is one that requires addressing that aspect. Instead, the film offers highlights. It is as much a lie as The Deer Hunter was and exists for the exact same reason. (Maybe rumors will abound in a few years that the director of No End In Sight has gone the pre-op route as well?)

We're at a point where we can call out the mainstream media; however, the power of film being what it is, some get confused and think they're watching an indictment of illegal war. They aren't seeing that. They're seeng (and many will unknowingly internalize) an argument for illegal war when it's better planned. "No End In Sight when the peace movement gets behind crap" covers this and we noted in that, if you're looking for a real look at the issues underlying illegal wars and the lies that get countries into them, see Norman Solomon's War Made Easy. But strangely, I've not seen the peace crowd that put me on their foward when they were praising No End Sight do an e-mail on Solomon's film. Maybe because it's not got the rah-rah they need, the rah-rah they're addicted to? Solomon's film is a powerful one. If you've been tricked into seeing No End In Sight, you can wash that filth away with War Made Easy.

A friend called and I'm too tired to include something they noted. The program (at their network) will be noted in the snapshot tomorrow. I mention that because it has to do with the topic we're going out on. Pru notes "Iraq occupation uses Saddam's law to ban oil union" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

The pro-US Iraqi government has outlawed the country’s oil workers' union under a law passed during the regime of Saddam Hussein.
The order comes as opposition is mounting to a proposed oil law that would hand over the country’s natural resource to foreign companies.
The Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions (IFOU) has spearheaded opposition to the proposed law.
Earlier this year the government issued arrest warrants against Hassan Jumaa and other leaders of the IFOU after they organised successful strikes in the south of the country.
The latest attacks come after the government froze the assets and bank accounts of the oil union.
According to a statement from the Nafatna campaign (Arabic for "our oil") the ban is “a pre-emptive measure to weaken the union’s successful campaign against the proposed oil law, which was instigated and is being imposed on Iraq by the occupation government”.
The ministry of oil issued a directive on 18 July declaring that the union "no longer has legal status" under decree 150 -- issued at the height of the Iraq-Iran war in 1987.
"Popular opposition is such that the government has failed to meet several deadlines laid down for it by the George Bush administration and US Congress to enact the law," the Nafatna statement said.
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The e-mail address for this site is Tomorrow morning's entries will probably be late. It's late now and we're also speaking early in the morning. I'll probably have to do entries after that.

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, August 9, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Bully Boy says Iran is the cause of the destruction of Iraq, talk of installing a new dictator surfaces, impeachment remains 'off the table,' and more.

Starting with war resisters.  Camilo Mejia is the first known Iraq War veteran to become a war resister.  At the end of last month, Maria Hinojosa of NOW with David Brancaccio interviewed Mejia (transcript, audio, excerpt) about his time in Iraq, his determining that the war was illegal and his book  Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia (The New Press) which was published in May.  "When you join the military," Mejia declared, "you think that you're going to do it to protect freedom to fight for democracy.  And finding yourself in a war that's not legitimate by international law standards, where you're abusing prisoners in a war that's being fought in the streets, and you see that the bulk of the human loss, it's civilian, it's very difficult to conciliate your participation in that war and what you're doing in that war with the reasons that led you to -- to sign a military contract."  And in Mejia's case (and many others), a contract  that  is worthless for the signee because the US military isn't bound by it.  (Mejia, a non US citizen, had reached the end of the 8 year contract but was the victim of 'stop loss' despite the fact that, as a non citizen, this was not allowed under prior or existing policies.)  Noting that Amnesty International declared him a prisoner of conscience (following his was court-martialed and sentencing), Hinojosa asks him where he see his "place now in the year 2007 in these United States?"  Mejia responds, "I see myself as part of a movment.  And the number of people -- deserting the military when I returned from Iraq was 22.  And I believe the number is up to nine -- 9,000 or more soldiers who have deserted or gone AWOL since the beginning of the Iraq war.  And I see a l-long way ahead of us.  I see a long struggle.  And I see myself as part of that struggle."  

Amnesty International also supported Abdullah Webster who was court-martialed in June 2004 after he refused to serve in Iraq citing religious reasons (Webster is Muslim) for refusing to serve in the illegal war.  Webster joined the US military in 1985 and was set to retire in 2005.  The came the illegal war.  Webster had served in the first Gulf War but had converted to Islam (1994).  Webster first attempted (September 2003) to be granted CO status and then followed that with a request for assignment to non-combat services.  Instead, the US military said he would deploy to Iraq (Feb. 2004).  His wife Sue spoke of the June 3, 2004 court-martial and his being sentenced to 14 months noting, "An abiding memory I have is of him being led off back to his cell as I watched distraught, in tears, holding our 22-month-old daughter in my arms."  In April of 2005, Webster was released from military prison.     

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee,  Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell,  Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.        

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. IVAW and others will be joining Veterans For Peace's conference in St. Louis, Missouri August 15th to 19th.

To stay on PBS' NOW with David Brancaccio for a moment before moving on, this week's show will feature David Cay Johnston (New York Times) and Beth Shuman discussing with Brancaccio "the state of our country's vast income divide and how it's hurting those just trying to make ends meet."  The program begins airing Friday on most PBS stations, check your local listings.

Moving to the New York Times, has the new, smaller size resulted in less need for facts?  Damien Cave semi-reports on the US bombing a resedential section of Baghdad but forgets to list the number of civilians local authorities say died.  This is the same Damien Cave who couldn't tear himself away from any detail in February 2005 (including the very serious crime -- we're sure -- of manure being flung in Ohio) to push the "ATTACKS ON US MILITARY WITHIN THE US" alarmist nonsense that (we're sure) he wishes everyone could forget.  Ladies and gentlemen, the Divine Damien, Dung Will Be Flung Tonight.  When it comes to vandalism (being passed off as terrorism), Cave doesn't miss a detail.  When it comes to human lives, he apparently misses 17.  That is the number of civilians Megan Greenwell (Washington Post) reports killed in the US air strike on Sadr Ctiy citing "military and Iraqi police".  Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted that "U.S. troops and warplanes have waged a major attack on the Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City in Baghdad. . . . The Washington Post described the raid as one of the largest in a series of U.S. attacks against Shiite militias. The raid on Sadr City came shortly after Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki left Baghdad for Tehran where he met with several Iranian leaders. Hundreds of Baghdad residents held protests last night against the U.S. for attacking Sadr City less than 24 hours before the start of a major Shiite holiday. Meanwhile Iraqi officials have imposed a strict curfew and banned all vehicular traffic in Baghdad until Saturday in an attempt to prevent car bombings during the holiday."  Also in today's Washington Post, Ann Scott Tyson reported on the lastest switcheroo by the US which is now backing the Sunni leading to worries and concerns within the puppet government and, presumably, within the US military.  Col. Steve Townsend seems rather blase as he tells the Post, "I assume they . . . have killed some of us [US troops].  We have killed a lot of them.  If they are willing to move foward with us, I'm willing to keep an open mind."  Of course, "Col" Townsend won't be the one doing any training, that will fall to lower leveled service members.  While any meaningful peace plan would have to pull him the resistance (which the US has been in talks with for over a year now), there is a difference between that and what's being done here.  It's equally true that the real point is to keep everyone off balance -- or at least Sunni and Shia (the US has operated the illegal war as if no one else was present in Iraq).  You can apply the "learned helplessness" technique Jane Mayer discussed with Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) yesterday.  Keep 'em off balance, keep 'em guessing.  Pit Sunni against Shia, Shia against Sunni, let chaos and violence run free and maybe the US won't be seen as the illegal invader it is but instead as the great savior. 

On the topic of Iraqi deaths, Patrick McElwee appeared on KPFK's Uprising today where he spoke with host Sonali Kolhatkar about the 'benchmark' the US administration probably won't flaunt.  Next week, Iraqi fatalities since the start of the illegal war are expected to reach the one million mark.  Where is the coverage?  McElwee noted that Fox "News" recently had Britty Hume embed in Iraq where he was on US aircraft while it dropped around 25 bombs and though there was time for rah-rah, there was not one report about where the bombs landed and what happened to the people present.  McElwee declared that's "what's needed now is some organized pressure on our leaders to end this war."  McElwee is with Just Foreign Policy and you can learn more by visiting this page of their site.

As the deaths pile up, so do the insults.  Kim Gamel (AP) reports that Saad Eskander, director of the Iraqi National Library, has repeatedly attempted to get US and Iraqi troops to leave the facilities but has been ignored while windows have been broken and US forces have repeatedly "entered the building without permission".
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Basra mortar attack that wounded a police officer "and other civilians."  Reuters notes a Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed 3 lives and a Baghdad mortar attack that killed 1 person and left 2 more injured and that "two small bridges in Salahudding province" were blown up.  AP reports a bombing "near the house of a Shiite family" which claimed the lives of a wife and husband and left their child injured.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 Iraqi soldiers wounded by gunfire.  Reuters notes a man shot dead in Najaf.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 9 corpses discovered in Baghdad.
Yesterday, the UK Ministry of Defence announced the death of one British soldier in Basra.  Today, they identified him, 20-year-old Martin Beard. And they announced two more deaths: "It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the deaths of two British soldiers from 1st Battalion The Irish Guards in Basra, southern Iraq in the early hours of this morning, Thursday 9 August 2007.  The soldiers were killed, and another two seriously injured, when an Improvised Explosive Device detonated next to their patrol just after midnight local time."  This announcement brought the total number of British soldiers killed in the illegal war to 168.  David Byers (Times of London) notes, "Britain has now lost four soldiers in Basra in one week, as the Shia Mahdi Army increases its attacks in the southern city."

Today, the US military announced: "A Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West died Aug. 7 in a non-combat related incident in Al Anbar Province." And they announced: "A Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West died Aug. 7 in a non-combat related incident in Al Anbar Province." And they announced: "A Multi-National Division - Baghdad soldier died from a non-combat related cause Aug. 8."  ICCC's total for US service members killed in the illegal war thus far this month is 25 and is 3684 since the start of the illegal war.

In the Joke for the Day news, Matt Spetalnick (Reuters) reports the Bully Boy of the United States has stated "Iran is a destabilizing force in Iraq".  Not since Bully Boy joked about WMD in public has he made a bigger fool of himself.  As  The Toledo Blade editorialized yesterday, "the United States has essentially destroyed Iraq as a country".
Meanwhile Damien McElroy (Telgraph of London) reports that NYU's Michael Oppenheimer is arguing that the answer for Iraq is a dictator.  Oppenheimer is an associate professor has been arguing that since at least mid-July when he declared following a workshop, "The best idea we were able to generate -- a National Unity Dictatorship -- is the only plausible route to stability in both Iraq and the region, and one we can make more likely if we choose to.  This would, of course, represent the failure of democratization in Iraq, at least in the short term."  McElroy notes that Oppenheimer believes the US could 'create' "a viable dictatorship in Iraq."  So now the US is going to explore imposing a dictatorship? 
In activism news, members of Military Families Speak Out were among those arrested at the Garden Grove office of US House Rep. Loretta Sanchez yesterday, Jennifer Delson (Los Angeles Times) reports, after Sanchez refused to agree not to vote for the $145 billion funding bill for the Iraq war noting that "$2.1 billion for C-17 production" -- pork she steered her own way via her spot on the House Armed Services committee -- was too important to her, more important than any deaths in Iraq.  "Funding the war is killing the troops!" cry Iraq Veterans Against the War and Tina Richards and Military Families Speak Out while Sanchez plays Gimmie! Gimmie! Gimmie!  How proud she must be and how untroubled her sleep.
In news of other cowardice, St. John Conyers, burned at the stake of his own words, is the Congress member who could start impeachment.  He refuses to.  He refuses a great deal.  Ken Silverstein (Harper's magazine) reports that he was supposed to interview Conyers back in May and, as requested, he did it via e-mailed questions.  Despite following up repeatedly, Conyers still hasn't replied.  Possibly questions about whether "leading the country into the war in Iraq" constitutes high crimes and misdemeanors and why impeachment isn't "on the table" are questions St. Conyers prefers to avoid?  The topic of impeachment wasn't avoided on PBS where Bill Moyers examined it seriously last month.  That one hour look (including guests such as John Nichols) at impeachment on Bill Moyers Journal  is repeating and can also be viewed, listened to or read online currently.

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