Sunday, February 10, 2008

Gates goes to Iraq, violence continues

On Saturday, several thousand protesters gathered in Marienplatz to continue the protests. Americans were well represented at the event by the Munich American Peace Committee, which presented U.S GI war resister Chris Capps with a peace medal. Capps refused deployment to Afghanistan by going AWOL in March of 2007 after completing a tour of duty in Iraq. Two months later, he turned himself in at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma and was discharged from the Army a few days later. He is now living with his wife in Germany and has started a chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War in that country. The demonstration at Marienplatz was followed by a peaceful march to Odeonsplatz. Approximately 3,700 police monitored the marchers. There were 14 arrests.

The above is from Amy Bradley's "Thousands of peace activists protest against the 44th annual Munich Security Conference" (Indybay IMC). And we'll move from that to Ben's highlight, this is the opening of Erin Emery's "Ill GI says he was deployed from hospital" (Denver Post):

A Fort Carson soldier who says he was in treatment at Cedar Springs Hospital for bipolar disorder and alcohol abuse was released early and ordered to deploy to the Middle East with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team.
The 28-year-old specialist spent 31 days in Kuwait and was returned to Fort Carson on Dec. 31 after health care professionals in Kuwait concurred that his symptoms met criteria for bipolar disorder and "some paranoia and possible homicidal tendencies," according to e-mails obtained by The Denver Post.
The soldier, who asked not to be identified because of the stigma surrounding mental illness and because he will seek employment when he leaves the Army, said he checked himself into Cedar Springs on Nov. 9 or Nov. 10 after he attempted suicide while under the influence of alcohol. He said his treatment was supposed to end Dec. 10 but his commanding officers showed up at the hospital Nov. 29 and ordered him to leave.
"I was pulled out to deploy," said the soldier, who has three years in the Army and has served a tour in Iraq.
Soldiers from Fort Carson and across the country have complained they were sent to combat zones despite medical conditions that should have prevented their deployment.
Late last year, Fort Carson said it sent 79 soldiers who were considered medical "no-gos" overseas. Officials said the soldiers were placed in light-duty jobs and are receiving treatment there. So far, at least six soldiers have been returned.
An e-mail sent Jan. 3 by Capt. Scot Tebo, the brigade surgeon, says the 3rd Brigade Combat Team had "been having issues reaching deployable strength" and that some "borderline" soldiers were sent overseas.
"The chain of command takes each and every allegation of improper care of soldiers seriously," said Col. B. Shannon Davis, chief of staff at Fort Carson. "Caring and competent commanders make these decisions. All soldiers' medical records are protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and, without prior authorization from the soldier, it would be inappropriate and unfair for us to discuss the specifics of any soldier's medical care."
Paul Sullivan, executive director of Veterans for Common Sense, was outraged.
"If he's an inpatient in a hospital, they should have never taken him out. The chain of command needs to be held accountable for this. Washington needs to get involved at the Pentagon to make sure this doesn't happen again.

Focusing all week on the Democratic primaries -- wasn't that Goodman's focus last week? -- won't get those stories out. Maybe that's the point?

In the Sunday New York Times, Iraq's relegated to A12 (and not even the top of the page) where Alissa J. Rubin's "Conflicts Deepen Between Local Iraqi Governments and U.S.-Backed Sunni Groups." US-backed Sunni Groups? The so-called "Awakening" Council, the US collaborators. The ones who grabbed at some coins tossed their way. Rubin informs that it's not just Diyala Province that's a problem (the 'Awakening' Council there is on strike), it's also Anbar Province. She informs that in Diyala there was a "walkout" to "protest against the Shiite police commander for the province" whom they say has ties to Moqtada al-Sadr and who in return says that many of them are "continuing their past activities of killing and displacing Shiite families". In Anbar Province, the conflict is over elections. The Iraiq Islamic Party won the election which might be good news for the 'Awakening' Councils there (both are Sunnis); however, it is very much a turf war and it's a war between two Sunni groups.

Attached to her report are six brief paragraphs credited as "By The New York Times" with a small title of "Army Sniper Testifies" which continues (weakly) Saturday's report on the court-martial of Evan Vela ("second and final day of testimony") where Vela states he was tired, sleep deprived, and was ordered to shoot so he shot the unarmed Iraqi civilian. The shot itself, he states he doesn't remember. The article notes, "Prosecutors said that Sergeant Vela had killed Mr. [Genei Nesir Khudair al-] Janabi unnecessarily, and then attempted to cover it up by lying to investigators. Two other soldiers, including Sergeant [Michael] Hensley, have been convicted of planting a weapon near the body to make the shooting appear justified." He was found guilty today and sentenced. Click here for Solomon Moore's report that should make tomorrow's paper.

Meanwhile the US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is in Iraq. From Steve Lannen's "At least 45 die in car bombings, fighting in Iraq as Gates arrives" (McClatchy Newspapers):

A few hours before he landed in Baghdad, a big suicide car bomb exploded near a local market in Yathrib, north of Baghdad in Salahuddin province, killing at least 23 people and injuring 45. The explosion brought down part of the market building and may have trapped shoppers in the rubble, according to police.
Another car bomb exploded near Ramadi, killing three, and further north two car bombs were reported in Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city. Both of them targeted Iraqi soldiers and four were killed in one of the explosions, police said.
To the west of Mosul, 21 people were killed in fighting between insurgents and members of the U.S.-funded local awakening council militia. An Iraqi army official said Al Qaida insurgents provoked the battle by killing a family of six in the town of Sinjar, and awakening council members retaliated at the insurgents hideout.
Five awakening members and 10 insurgents died in the early-morning fighting, a U.S. Army spokesman said.

Remember, IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC event:

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.
Click here to sign a statement of support for Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan

March 13th through 16th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation. Dee Knight (Workers World) notes, "IVAW wants as many people as possible to attend the event. It is planning to provide live broadcasting of the sessions for those who cannot hear the testimony firsthand. 'We have been inspired by the tremendous support the movement has shown us,' IVAW says. 'We believe the success of Winter Soldier will ultimately depend on the support of our allies and the hard work of our members'." As part of their fundraising efforts for the event, they are holding houseparties and a recent one in Boston featured both IVAW's Liam Madden and the incomprable Howard Zinn as speakers.

New content at The Third Estate Sunday Review:

Truest statement of the week
Truest statement of the week II
A Note to Our Readers
Editorial: State of 'Independent' Media
TV: What's the measurement?
What you didn't hear on Pacifica last week
Reality check
Women, you're her third choice!
Philip Roth, stuck on stupid
Katrina vanden Heuvel kind of remembers she's a woman

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