Friday, February 29, 2008

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President Bush's leading nemesis in the Middle East, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, begins a two-day state visit to Iraq on Sunday, attempting to highlight Iran's role as the region's major power and upstage Bush and the U.S. military presence.
Unlike Bush, who's traveled to Iraq twice unannounced and on his last visit never left an American base in Anbar province, Ahmadinejad not only announced his trip in advance but also is planning to visit two major Shiite Muslim holy sites, Karbala and Najaf, at the end of a mammoth Shiite pilgrimage that was marred by a suicide bombing.
The out-of-town visits raise security questions in the face of the continuing threat from Sunni Islamist extremists. But the images of Ahmadinejad at sacred sites are certain to impress Iranians, who in two weeks will vote in parliamentary elections at a time when soaring oil prices haven't eased Iran's economic troubles.

The above is from Leila Fadel's "Iranian Pres. Ahmedinejad's visit to Iraq may upstage U.S." (McClatchy Newspapers). While Iran's elected leader prepares to visit Iraq, no front runner from the Democratic or Republican party running for president in the US intends to end the illegal war. From Yochi J. Dreazen's "Many Troops Would Stay In Iraq if a Democrat Wins" (Wall St. Journal):

Despite the rhetoric of the Democratic presidential candidates, significant numbers of U.S. troops will remain in Iraq regardless who wins in November.
In their final push to win the nomination, Sens. Barack Obama of Illinois and Hillary Clinton of New York are repeating their vow to start withdrawing U.S. forces shortly after taking office. But both candidates draw a distinction between "combat" troops, whom they want to withdraw, and "noncombat" troops, who will stay to battle terrorists, protect the U.S. civilian presence and possibly train and mentor Iraqi security forces.
Conducting such missions would likely require the sustained deployment of tens of thousands of American military personnel, foreign-policy advisers from both campaigns acknowledge.
"No one is talking about getting to zero," said a foreign-policy adviser to Sen. Obama.

Meanwhile Fellicia Smith's "Woman bails out on Army, lands in jail" (Repository)reported earlier this month on Michelle Harrold who signed up with the army and then realized she'd made a mistake before starting boot camp. She self-checked out and "was arrested at her parents' home on a warrant for military desertion" -- but remember the US military does not pursue people who go AWOL -- that's the lie anyway. From the article:

"There is virtually no way to get out if you find out you don't want to do it," Harrold said. She was deployed to Fort Jackson, S.C., in August.
Upon her arrival at Fort Jackson, Harrold told superiors she had made a mistake and wanted out.
"I guess I couldn't handle it," Harrold said. "It's not an easy process to go through, missing your family. People are really mean to you in the military. I got beat up twice."
Douglas Smith, a spokesperson for the Army's recruiting command at Fort Knox, said if someone truly wants out of their commitment, it's possible before or after leaving for boot camp.
"We're an all-volunteer force, but we don't go out of our way to talk about this," Smith said. "Our expectation is that they're going to honor their side of the contract, and were going to honor ours.
"Going AWOL (absent without official leave) is not the way to handle it. Until the person ships off to basic training, they can ask to be signed off."
No one listened to her desire to leave the military, Harrold said.

KeShawn asks that we highlight "Hillary Clinton to be Joined by Senior Retired Military and Defense Officials at Today’s Foreign Policy Speech: Clinton Unveils List of Flag Officers Endorsing Her for President:"

Hillary Clinton will set out her approach to American foreign policy in the 21st Century in a speech at George Washington University today. Joining her will be a group of senior retired military and defense officials who have endorsed her to be this nation's next Commander-in-Chief. They are: General Wesley Clark, Lt. General Joe Ballard, Major General Antonio M. Taguba, Rear Admiral David Stone, Brigadier General John M. Watkins, Jr. and former Secretary of the Army Togo West. Generals Taguba and Watkins will formally announce their endorsement of Senator Clinton today.
Many of our nation’s most distinguished military officers stand proudly with Hillary Clinton because they believe that she has the strength, experience and leadership necessary to be President and Commander-in-Chief. They include three four-star generals, a former chairman and vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many other Americans who have served their country with honor and distinction.
In addition to the endorsements of Generals Taguba and Watkins, Senator Clinton is proud to announce the endorsement today of Admiral William Owens (Ret.).
Admiral Owens served with distinction for more than 30 years in the Navy, rising to become Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nation’s second highest ranking military officer.
Major General Taguba served his country with distinction for 34 years, retiring from the Army in 2007. The son of a Filipino-American who survived the 1942 Bataan Death March, General Taguba led the Army’s investigation into prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib in 2004.
Brigadier General John M. Watkins, Jr. served nearly 30 years in the Army and completed his military career as the Chief Operations Officer/Deputy Director of the Defense Information Systems Agency.
Admiral Owens, General Taguba, and General Watkins are among 27 flag-rank military officers who have endorsed Senator Clinton to be our nation’s next Commander-in-Chief. They join more than 2,000 veterans and military retirees who are members of Senator Clinton's national and state veterans’ steering committees.
Flag Officers Endorsing Hillary Clinton for President and Commander-in-Chief

1. General Wesley Clark
2. General John M. Shalikashvili
3. General Johnnie E. Wilson
4. Admiral William Owens
5. Lt. Gen. Joe Ballard
6. Lt. Gen. Robert Gard
7. Lt. Gen. Claudia J. Kennedy
8. Lt. Gen. Donald L. Kerrick
9. Lt. Gen. Frederick E. Vollrath
10. Vice Admiral Joseph A. Sestak
11. Major General Roger R. Blunt
12. Major General George A. Buskirk, Jr.
13. Major General Edward L. Correa, Jr.
14. Major General Paul D. Eaton
15. Major General Paul D. Monroe, Jr.
16. Major General Antonio M. Taguba
17. Rear Admiral Connie Mariano
18. Rear Admiral Alan M. Steinman
19. Rear Admiral David Stone
20. Brigadier General Michael Dunn
21. Brigadier General Belisario Flores
22. Brigadier General Evelyn "Pat" Foote
23. Brigadier General Keith H. Kerr
24. Brigadier General Virgil A. Richard
25. Brigadier General Preston Taylor
26. Brigadier General John M. Watkins, Jr.
27. Brigadier General Jack Yeager

That should have gone in a snapshot already this week in some form but if KeShawn hadn't e-mailed this morning, I probably would have forgotten. There's a hearing (Senate) that took place yesterday that hopefully will make it into the snapshot in at least limited form today. A few visitors have e-mailed asking why we didn't note Russ Feingold and the Senate on Iraq this week? No members asked. We're not interested in for show actions. Feingold is a grown up. If he wants to end the illegal war, he knows how to do it. We had real things to note because they mattered, things to note because they wouldn't get attention (and the hearings we've noted this week received no attention unless they were reduced to a single-sentence talking point), we haven't had time for a number of things. But we have focused on matters. Story of the week should have been Senator Jim Webb's exchange with General George Casey. We managed to include that and it was far more important than the for-show performance in the Senate.

In other Iraq news, Senator Hillary Clinton's office released the following yesterday:

Senator Clinton Cosponsors Legislation to Ban Use of Private Security Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan
Washington, DC -- Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton announced today that she has cosponsored legislation to ban the use of Blackwater and other private mercenary firms in Iraq.
"From this war's very beginning, this administration has permitted thousands of heavily-armed military contractors to march through Iraq without any law or court to rein them in or hold them accountable. These private security contractors have been reckless and have compromised our mission in Iraq. The time to show these contractors the door is long past due. We need to stop filling the coffers of contractors in Iraq, and make sure that armed personnel in Iraq are fully accountable to the U.S. government and follow the chain of command," said Senator Clinton.
The legislation requires that all personnel at any U.S. diplomatic or consular mission in Iraq be provided security services only by Federal Government Personnel. It also includes a whistleblower clause to protect contract personnel who uncover contract violations, criminal actions, or human rights abuses.

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Adding to C.I.'s entry, Jim here, this came into the public account:

In celebration of Women's History Month, Women's Voices. Women Vote is honoring women in the blogosphere, through our Women's Voices Making History contest.
We're inviting people to nominate their favorite female bloggers through March 21. After the nominating period, we will list the top 10 female bloggers at and ask you to vote for your favorite.
Check out the form and vote for your favorite blogger today, and encourage your readers to do the same. We've created a button for your site that will take your readers directly to the voting form.
Click here to nominate your favorite female blogger today!
Thank you-
Sarah Johnson
Communications Director
Women's Voices. Women Vote

C.I. will note this tomorrow as well and we'll note it at Third this weekend. Think of a blogger to nominate (C.I. will tell you The Common Ills is not a blog, NOT, so think someone else) and consider participating.