Monday, January 14, 2008

Iraq snapshot

Monday, January 14, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue, a pregnant US marine is believed found murdered and a search is on for the killer something Democracy Now! shows no interest in but they consider journalism to be attempting to pit woman against woman in the hopes of a 'cat fight' -- Gloria Steinem refused to participate in that that Amy Goodman aired such nonsense and that the other woman involved was eager to take part in just that has outraged this community, delayed the snapshot by HOURS and ticked me off because I didn't have time for this nonsense today.  Remember that when Democracy Now! asks for funds.  Remember it as surely as the fact that in 2007 -- despite all the war resisters coming forward -- the program could not be bothered with interviewing one DAMN war resister.  Rember that Adam Kokesh was brought on not when it could have mattered (before he went to trial) but after and even then he had to correct Goodman on the details of his case.  Remember it when they ask for your money.   
Starting with war resistance.  Camilo Mejia is the first Iraq War veteran to go public about refusing to return.  On Friday around the world (despite attempts by US embassies in other countries to create a panic by sending out e-mails to them proclaiming that the protests were dangerous) demonstrations against the unconstitutional, ongoing imprisonment of prisoners who have never received trials at the US' own gulag on Guantanamo Bay and among those participating, Carol Rosenberg (Miami Herald) reports, was war resister Camilo Mejia in Doral, Florida.  "Due process" was the reason Mejia gave Rosenberg for his participation stating, "It's not about the people who are there.  It's about us.  Everybody's entitled to their day in court."  Rosenberg explains, "Mejia served nearly nine months in a Fort Sill, Okla., lockup for refusing a Florida National Guard call-up to a second tour in Iraq in 2004. He was also busted from staff sergeant to private, and is presently appealing his conviction."  Mejia was also among the many who applied for CO status and had his application rejected -- not only was Mejia's application rejected, the military attempted to strong arm him into writing another after he was in military custody because Mejia had documented the abuses of Iraqi civilians he had seen while serving in Iraq and the US military wanted that stripped out of the record.  Fortunately for the US military, the 'judge' of the military court-martial wasn't interested in facts or truths refusing to allow them to be introduced.  Equally true that Mejia was not a US citizen and his service contract expired while he was in Iraq.  The US military had two choices, get him to sign an extension or let him go.  Mejia refused to sign an extension and the US military -- despite being advised of their legal obligations by their own attornies -- refused to let him go.  Camilo Mejia tells his story in Road from Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia.  As he notes in it:
The court-martial lasted three days and had three main phases.  My lawyers began the first phase of the trial by contending that the military had no jurisdiction to try me because I was a noncitizen soldier who had completed his eight initial years of service and had never applied for U.S. citizenship.  This, they argued, made me nonextendable under army regulations.  In addition, Gale had come across an international treaty between the United States and Costa Rica (of which I am a citizen), which states that Costa Ricans residing in the United States are exempt from all compulsory military service whatsover.  Based on the treaty and army regulation, together with a legal precedent in which the National Guard Bureau rejected a guard unit's request to extend another citizen soldier in almost exactly the same circumstances, the defense presented a motion to dismiss the trial.
The 'judge' agreed with the prosecution to ignore laws and international treaties, then agreed with the prosecution not to allow the lies that led to the illegal war to be brought up in the court-martial and the 'judge' agreed to allow the text of the CO application to be barred as well as any mention of it.  That was allegedly a free and fair trial and military 'justice.'  Mejia was railroaded and, to do that, testimony had to be suppressed, realities had to be silenced and laws and international treaties had to be treated as non-existant.  Along with seeking real justice today with regards to that kangaroo court-martial, Mejia is also chair of Iraq Veterans Against the War.
War resisters have resisted in a number of ways throughout the Iraq War.  That includes the ones who went to Canada seeking asylum.   November 15th, the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear the appeals of  war resisters Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey.  Parliament is the solution.Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper ( -- that's pm at who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( -- that's Dion.S at who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( -- that's Bevilacqua.M at who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use. Both War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist are calling for actions from January 24-26.  The War Resisters Support Campaign has more on the action in Canada:
The War Resisters Support Campaign has called a pan-Canadian mobilization on Saturday, January 26th, 2008 to ensure :
1) that deportation proceedings against U.S. war resisters currently in Canada cease immediately; and 2) that a provision be enacted by Parliament ensuring that U.S. war resisters refusing to fight in Iraq have a means to gain status in Canada.
For listings of local actions, see our
Events page. If you are able to organize a rally in your community, contact the Campaign -- we will list events as details come in.
Join and support January 25 vigils and delegations in support of U.S. war resisters currently seeking sanctuary Canada. Actions are being planned in Washington D.C., New York, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Supporters will meet with officials at Canadian Consulates across the United States in order underscore that many Americans hope that the Canadian Parliament votes (possible as early as February) in favor of a provision to allow war resisters to remain. Download and distribute Jan. 25-26 action leaflet (PDF).
Supporting the war resisters in Canada is a concrete way to demonstrate your support of the troops who refuse to fight. Help end the war by supporting the growing GI resistance movement today!
Organize a delegation to a Canadian Consulate near you .
Host an event or house-party in support of war resisters.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.

March 13th through 16th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation. 
Turning to the United States where a search is on for the killer of US marine Maria Lauterbach.  As noted in  Thursday's snapshot and Friday's snapshot, the Onslow County sheriff's office was doing what the US military refused to do: taking seriously the disapperence of 8-months pregnant Lauterbach.  Maria Lauterbach went missing in mid-December and, for some strange reason, the US military didn't find that an issue or concern despite the fact that she was due to give testimony about the assault she had reported -- by a fellow marine -- in April.  The US military refused to address the assault for months and months and when Maria disappeared, they didn't really think that was important either.  On Saturday, Leo Standora (New York Daily News) reported  that a body had been found in a grave of the back yard of Marine Cpl. Cesar Laurean and that police suspected him to be the murderer.  This would be the same man that Lauterbach had filed assault charges against and the assault was rape.  In April she filed those charges and the US military did nothing.  In December she went missing and the US military did nothing.  The sheriff's department was beginning the search for Laurean on Friday because he went missing on Friday.  The US military despite knowing the details of the charges, knowing that the trial was finally approaching when Maria disappeared, despite knowing that Maria had disappeared did nothing to secure Laurean and he is believed to have slipped away from base in the early morning hours of Friday.  The police suspected Laurean because his wife had earlier turned over a note he wrote her in which Lauren claimed that Maria killed herself and he just buried Maria's body.  That's not what the evidence at the crime scene suggested with splattered blood and the fact that there was an effort to burn Maria's corpse.
Today, CNN reports that Onslow County sheriff's office believes Maria Lauterbach was murdered Dec. 15, 2007 apparently based on forsenic evidence (presumably gathered from the blood inside the house of Ceasar Armando Laurean and from the grave behind it). The autopsy results of the corpse aren't completed yet and they haven't announced that it is Maria Lauterbach (only that they think it is); however, she was eight months pregnant when she disappeared and the corpse buried behind Ceasar Armando Lauren's home was rpregnant as well. Maria Lauterbach's uncle Peter Steiner maintains, apparently speaking for Maria's family, that Laurean would have been the father of the child and that conception took the form of rape by Laurean. The US military, with a lot more than egg on their face, offer the excuse that the vanished Laurean (who vanished last week) was never "taken into custody after Lauterbach reported the alleged rape because there was information the two carried on 'some sort of friendly relationship'" -- which if the military thinks it's an excuse isn't. If they want to claim that they did nothing -- and they did nothing -- because they thought Lauterbach was bringing false assault charges then they had every duty and obligation to resolve the issue quickly. If they found her statements to be false, they were doing a disservice to Laurean by allowing the charges to stand month after month. She disappeared in the middle of December. She made her criminal charges to the military in April. If the military thinks 'we didn't believe her' is an excuse that'll give them a pass, they're mistaken. For nearly nine months, that would mean, they let what they assumed were false charges stand.   Jerry Allegood (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "Lauterbach's family has said authorities did not aggressively investigate her rape allegation against Laurean."  That would be military authorities and that is an understatment.  A full investigation into the command of Camp Lejune is needed and the death of Maria is one more example of what can happen when the US military command refuses to take seriously charges of assault, command rape, rape and other crimes taking place within the military.
On Sunday, Deborah Sontag and Lizzette Alvarez (New York Times) reported on the crimes being committed in this country by veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq War which presumably result at least in part due to the lack of medical care being provided to returning veterans.  The reporters note,

The New York Times found 121 cases in which veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan committed a killing in this country, or were charged with one, after their return from war. In many of those cases, combat trauma and the stress deployment -- along with alcohol abuse, family discord and other attendant problems -- appear to have set the stage for a tragedy that was part destruction, part self-destruction.

Along with the issue of PTSD it may also be, in part, result of non-PTSD reactions to what was seen in combat as well as a result of lowering the standards and granting a record number of 'moral waivers' in order to meet recruitment goals.  Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) explained today, " The Times said the numbers indicated a nearly 90 percent increase in homicides involving active-duty military personnel and new veterans since the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. The Times said about one-third of the victims were spouses, girlfriends, children or other relatives. The Times reports that while many of the veterans showed signs of combat trauma, they were often not evaluated for or diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder until after the homicides."
Also on Sunday came news of a 'benchmark' supposedly being reached.  Not at all.  Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Steven Myers (New York Times) wrote about the Iraqi parliament passing legislation (that still must be signed into law) which "would allow some former officials from Saddam Hussein's party to fill government positions but would impose a strict ban on others." The reporters note:

However, it was unclear on Saturday how far the legislation would go toward soothing Sunni Arabs, because serious disagreements merged in the hours after the vote about how much the law would actually do.

In other words -- we know this much, we don't know all. The legislation (we're pulling things, I'm told the snapshot is too long) means?  Nothing.  It's not signed into law.  It's not clear what it would or would not do.  There's no talk of a tracking measure for it.  It's sop tossed out to the US to comfort them that 'progress' is being made.
In some of today's reported violence . . .
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Diyala house bombing that went on during a raid and claimed the lives of 3 Iraqi 'security forces' and left seven more wounded, a Baghdad mortar attack wounded a child, and a Mosul car bombing claimed 1 life and wounded six.
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Judge Amir Jawdat Al-na'ib ("member of the federal appeal court") was shot dead in Baghdad along with his driver today.
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 5 corpses were discovered in Baghdad while 2 corpses were discovered in Basra.
Turning to US political news, today on Democracy Now! a debate was hosted on gender and race.  It's appalling that this passes for an issue, it's appalling that DN! took part in that nonsense.  A discussion on the intersection of race and gender would have been more than fine.  The refusal of DN! and every other public affairs program to address gender will never apparently deemed a topic worthy in an of itself.  So today we got a White feminist and an African-American non-feminist woman pitted against one another.  It was not a proud moment for public affairs broadcasting. 
I found it personally offensive and I am very angry that we have to use the snapshot to address it.  However, we reached a record number of e-mails on this with members outraged.  Including everyone's comments would be impossible.  A committee was created quickly composed of Gina, Krista, Liang, Keesha, Martha, Ava, Kat, Maria and myself.  As we went through the e-mails and then grouped together on the phone to discuss them the key points were:
* It is offensive that Democracy Now! pitted two women against one another in a sort of CrossFire match up.  What was needed was a discussion on gender.  Gender is a discussion that may get a segment once a year on Democracy Now! if that.  We are not referring to the overt attacks on women worldwide, we are talking about very real gender issues in this country.  By contrast, racism is noted repeatedly each year on Democracy Now!
* While we're fully aware that it takes an idiot to front a racism charge against Gloria Steinem, there's no need to present an idiot in debate.  There are many feminists of many races who could have been brought on.  Some of whom may in fact disagree with Gloria.  That's fine.  There's no question that their sincere in their support for women.  It would be equally true of those women that they knew history.  Putting on a woman uneducated in women's history -- which is what happened -- is an embarrassment in and of itself.
* Amy Goodman (unlike Juan Gonzalez) continues to allow the hype of Barack Obama to be flashed on the program without question.  On Iraq, Gloria was questioned about Hillary's record and quotes from Hillary were provided.  No such thing happened with Obama.  In 2004, he told the New York Times he didn't know how he would have voted if he'd been in the Senate in 2002, he told the same thing in 2006 to The New Yorker, he told a Chicago townhall (which no one has picked up on outside this community), after he was in the Senate, why he wouldn't advocate for withdrawal.  Amy Goodman has one set of standards for the candidate Hillary Clinton and has no standards at all for Obama based upon the fact that Bambi supporters are NEVER asked about the illegal war.  That was true last week as well with the debate there.  Goodman repeatedly avoided asking the pro-Bambi guest on the issue of the war.
* The whole thing was an embarrassment for women because it pitted two women against one another and seemed to whip up a desire for a 'cat fight.'  It was offensive.  It was offensive that a woman who knew nothing was allowed to attack Gloria Steinem. It was offensive that feminism is only a topic we can get coverage of from DN! if there's a hope of a 'cat fight.'  It was offensive that after having published in the skin magazine by the pervert (L.F.) regularly featured on Demcracy Now!, this is seen by some as Goodman's contribution to womanhood.
* As the e-mails were too large even for all of us to read any member wanting their comments noted should contact Gina and Krista for the gina & krista round-robin by Wednesday.  After Wednesday, you should contact Polly or Maria, Francisco or Miguel and it will run in Polly's Brew or El Espirito on Sunday.  Hilda will comment on the nonsense tomorrow in Hilda's Mix.
To address it today, and we have to address it because that b.s. passing off as a public affairs has enraged this community, it was decided Betty and Keesha were the go-to voices because they have regularly addressed race and gender and are feminists. These are the comments they made
Betty wants noted, "Professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell, you're an 'author' the way a porn maker is a film maker.  Your book titles are nothing but rip-offs of popular culture, you're unable to make an argument in book form that's of interest without ripping off others.  You're a Barack lover.  You are complicit in oppressing other Black women and I will hold you accountable.  You insulted, you distorted, you flat out lied.  You shame not just yourself, you shame my race and you went on with a set of talking points -- all distortions -- but you're the water carrier for the Bambi campaign.  If you are indeed a Black woman, as opposed to bi- or multi-racial, it's really sad to know that one of my own would lie so loudly and so cravenly in public to advance the needs of a bi-racial man at the expense of all women.  Get a life, write a real book, one that has a real title and not your pop-culture rip offs.  Educate yourself and learn history, you stupid, stupid woman.  On Sunday, I quoted the same thing Gloria Steinem today, from Sojourner Truth.  You're nothing but a ditzy, pop-culture faux academic and you're being sent out to trash a woman. You are disgusting.  Save your soul, it's too late for your self-respect." 
Keesha wants noted, "The woman is an idiot, an ahisotrical idiot, who is having an argument with Gloria Steinem -- when she finally gets to anything resembling an actual issue -- that is an argument with Betty Friedan.  Dumb Ass Professor, learn your history, you dumb disgrace.  Steinem was the one pushing sisterhood of all, races and sexuality, Betty Friedan was the one running from both and she did nothing but push middle-class, White women.  Steinem regularly toured as a part of a team and did so in order that the Black feminist experience would be and could be heard not as a sidenote but front and center in the feminism debate.  Steinem is not the one you have an argument with and there is no excuse for your shameful ignorance on feminism except that you are not one.  You also say Steinem wrote an 'op-ed' when she wrote a column -- one more indication of how lacking your pathetic education has been.  As for your laughable column you reference, it should have resulted in dumb threats.  I am the one who led the argument at this site for the closing of the comments and the comments were closed off when I was insulted by 'Blue Dog Democrats' who haunted the site.  I was insulted and degraded both for my gender and my race.  It wasn't one or the other, it was both.  You seem highly ignorant of that.  If you want sympathy for death threats, you've come to the wrong community.  Ava and C.I. have received threats of being gutted with knives for TV reviews -- for TV reviews -- and Betty had to step away from her e-mails due to the fact that her humor site was resulting in so many e-mails.  You don't know anything and you're nothing but a woman making herself pathetic to prop up a man who is not Black, he is bi-racial.  He has played the race card and you lie about that.  He is a War Hawk and you lie about that.  You are either the most uneducated woman put on a television as a professor or you are a liar.  Regardless you are a disgrace and you need to learn a little history before you speak in public again.  Whites should also be offended by your remarks and, were I a White who sent my child to Princeton, I would be on the phone complaining to the president of your university about your characterization of students where you teach.  You are pathetic, and you've been working on your latest bad book -- I read your first, cut & paste journalism at its best passed off as an exploration -- throughout 2007.  Focus on finishing that bad book and spare us all the embarrassment of flaunting your ignorance in public over the airwaves.  My comment to Amy Goodman: I want a discussion on gender.  I want women in the studio.  I want to see as many races as possible and I want women there to discuss women, not to act as help-mates and cheerleaders for men."
Note the name Keesha mentioned is not mentioned here at any other time.  She is referred to as The Ego Of Us All here.  Because of her racism and homophobia we do not note her by name even when she passed away.  (The Ego Of Us All is a jab at her giant ego and noting that, no, she is not the mother of us all.)  Because Keesha included the woman's name in her comments, her name appears today.  It will not ever appear here again.
On Sunday, the Green Party of the US held their first presidential debate for the 2008 election.  Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today, "The Green Party held a presidential debate on Sunday before 800 people in San Francisco featuring former Democratic Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and four other candidates. Ralph Nader, who ran on the Green ticket in 2000, spoke at the event but did not take part in the debate. Nader has not yet announced whether he will run for president again."
Ralph Nader: You want healthcare for all? Who says no? It's the health insurance industry, the drug companies and the HMOs. You want living wage? Who says no and makes it stick? It's McDonald's. It's Burger King. It's Wal-Mart. You want peace in the world, and you want a country to wage peace and become a humanitarian superpower? Who's opposed to that? The Lockheed Martins. What Eisenhower condemned is a military-industrial complex. Just ask: Who keeps saying no? And you know what the focus of a Green Party and an alternative party political movement has to be.
Amy Goodman: Cynthia McKinney cited Ralph Nader as part of why she was running on the Green ticket. 
Cynthia McKinney: Mr. Nader, in a recent piece, asked us to take the next step if we don't like what's happening in our country. I've heeded his advice: I've joined your party. I'm helping Green candidates, and I'm here with you today. I ask you to take the next step with me.
Amy Goodman: Also participating in the Green Party debate were Jared Ball, Jesse Johnson, Kent Mesplay and Kat Swift.
Below you'll see tags.  I put in the tags and usually the links.  Then I call and dictate the snapshot.  Look at what's noted below and grasp all we missed because we had to address the embarrassment that was Democracy Now! today.  That's not a complaint that we have addressed it, that is noting very clearly that it was an embarrassment, it was appalling and, let's note again, it was one more time the show avoided covering Iraq.  And, let's note again, this happened on a day when there is a search for a killer of a woman -- another woman assaulted while serving in the US military and her charges not addressed.  Find a mention of that on today's Democracy Now! -- you won't.

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