Monday, March 10, 2008

Iraq snapshot

Monday, March 10, 2008.  Chaos and violence continue, Barack Obama's 'pledge' wasn't a pledge but watch Panhandle Media play dumb, the US military announces the deaths of US service members today, reconstruction and more.
Starting with war resistance.  "The most common hostility that I faced was the ostracism of many of my peers: the young soldiers of the same rank as I," Aidan Delgado explained to Dewey Hammond last August in an interview timed for the release of his book d The Sutras Of Abu Ghraib: Notes From A Conscientious Objector In Iraq.  As the book title notes, Delgado is a CO and Hammond asks him, "At what pointfor you did it become clear that being a soldier could not coexist with being Buddhist?"
Aidan Delgado: After enlistment, during Basic and Advanced training, I began to study and became far more serious about Buddhism but I still felt that there was some way to allow the ideals of being a soldier and the ideals of being a Buddhist to coexist. When I deployed to Iraq and had all the abstractions peeled away, saw what it truly meant to be a soldier, was when I finally decided that Buddhism and militarism were incompatible. That is not to imply that it was a sudden "revelation" on my part; to the contrary, it was the final stage of a long process of questioning and maturation on my part. I didn't suddenly decide that war was wrong when I deployed to Iraq, I knew it already intellectually, but it took the direct experience of war to make it real for me and give me the courage to oppose it.
All war resisters show courage by resisting and war resisters in Canada could use some people backing them up.  They  were dealt a serious set-back when the Canadian Supreme Court refused to hear the appeals of Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey. Today, Canada's Parliament remaining the best hope for safe harbor war resisters have, you can make your voice heard by the Canadian parliament which has the ability to pass legislation to grant war resisters the right to remain in Canada. 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. That is the sort of thing that should receive attention but instead it's ignored.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, 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, Clara 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).

Meanwhile IVAW has a DC action this month:

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'." IVAW's co-chair Adam Kokesh will, of course, be participating and he explains why at his site, "But out of a strong sense of duty, some of us are trying to put our experiences to use for a good cause. Some of us couldn't live with ourselves if weren't doing everything we could to bring our brothers and sisters home as soon as possible. The environment may be unking, but that is why I will be testifying to shooting at civilians as a result of changing Rules of Engagement, abuse of detainees, and desecration of Iraqi bodies. It won't be easy but it must be done. Some of the stories are things that are difficult to admit that I was a part of, but if one more veteran realizes that they are not alone because of my testimony it will be worth it." The hearings will be broadcast throughout at the Iraq Veterans Against the War home page an on KPFA March 14th and 16th with Aimee Allison (co-host of the station's The Morning Show and co-author with David Solnit of Army Of None) and Aaron Glantz hosting and the KPFA live stream will also be available at Glantz' War Comes Home.
Over the weekend, Michael McGuire (The Evening Sun) reports, that IVAW's Daniel Black "spoke about his military experiences to a small group in the community room at the Guernsey Memorial Library in Norwich.  Thursday, he gave a talk to students at Hartwick College sponsored by the Iraq-Iran Group of the Coalition for Democracy of Central New York."  Mason Kerns (Des Moines Register) reports that IVAW was among those protesting Karl Rove at the Univeristy of Iowa (Rove gave a speech there over the weekend) while April West (The Lawrentian) reports that IVAW's John Knox spoke on the Lawrence University campus at the invitation of the Multicultural Affairs Committee and he "discussed the demographics of those in the Army as well as recruiters' tactics.  The bulk of new army recruits' parents make a combined $30,000 - 50,000 a year and are from Texas, he said.  Knox described an exponential correlation in which the more money a family makes the less likely they are to have children in the Army."  Justin Hughes (Golden Gate [X]Press) reports that IVAW's Michael Blake joined with Iraqi journalist Salam Talib to speak at San Francisco State University with Blake explaining, "We are using Iraq to project power throughout the Middle East. . . . These guys are getting filthy stinking rich off this war while everyone else is suffering.  From their perspective, the war is going very well."
From whose perspective is it okay to tell the voters a known lie?
Stephen Sackur: You said that he'll revisit it [the decision to pull troops] when he goes to the White House.  So what the American public thinks is a commitment to get combat forces out within sixteen months, isn't a commitment is it?
Samantha Power: You can't make a commitment in whatever month we're in now, in March of 2008 about what circumstances are going to be like in January 2009.  We can'te ven tell what Bush is up to in terms of troops pauses and so forth.  He will of course not rely upon some plan that he's crafted as a presidential candidate or as a US Senator.
We noted the above on Friday.  The then foreign policy advisor to Barack Obama, Samantha Power, speaking to the BCC.  Most haven't noted the story (the list includes The Nation, Common Dreams, The Progressive among others, see The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Editorial: The Whores of Indymedia" ).  AP noted it.  Gideon Rachman (Financial Times of London) lies but notes not only did Power say it on the BBC, Power also stated similar things to Rachman last week. Rachman's lie is that Samantha Power was against the illegal war before it started. As John R. MacArthur (Common Deams) noted in 2005 -- before so many War Hawks started going in for Extreme Makeovers --  the "humanists such as [George] Packer, [Samantha] Power, and Michael Ignatieff signed on with the neo-conservative crowd for a 'democracy-building' project in Iraq".  David Corn (Mother Jones) embarrasses himself (but give him credit, like Rachman, for not pretending the BBC interview never took place -- many others pretended it didn't take place).  Corn excuses Power's remarks but they don't need any excuse.  She spoke the truth, it's Corn who's spinning claiming that all it means is "a campaign proposal is just that: a proposal."  Since Corny's among the crowd 'jazzed' by the 'youth' for Bambi, Corny should be aware that what his 'seasoned' and non-reasoned (remember his attacks on Gary Webb?) 'insider' status allows him to 'know' is not a known to people turning out at Obama's rallies and hearing him pledge to pull all combat troops out of Iraq in 16 months.  What it is, and Corn knows this, is a lie -- a big fat lie.  Samantha Power revealed it as such in her interview with the BBC and Corn quotes from it selectively.  He really needs to be ashamed of himself. It's the sort of crap that makes Mother Jones just another whore in Panhandle Media and they really ought to be ashamed because more than any other outlet, they used to march to their own drum.  Now they've got their hands out begging like every other cheap hustler.  Barack Obama has declared in ads and speeches that he will withdraw troops 16 months from being sworn in. 
Kristen Senz (The Union Leader) reported that in November, "If elected, Obama vowed to end the war in Iraq within 16 months".  Does David Corn think Senz misunderstood?  Use the link, it goes to Barack Obama's site which reposted that article under the heading "Change We Can Believe In."   "Believe in me" says Bambi.  He's got no record to run on, so he's run on personality and told everyone he has 'judgement' and can be 'trusted.'  But he's lying.  Need more from "Change We Can Believe In"?  Barack's campaign has posted Peter Hecht (Sacramento Bee) reporting Bambi declared, "As president I will end the war in Iraq.  I will bring the troops home.  They will be home in 16 months. . . . America, San Francisco.  Our moment is now.  You can't wait any longer.  Our moment to bring about change is now."  Sounds like a promise because that's what he wants people to hear it as.  On October 2nd (again, link goes to Bambi's campaign site) his campaign posted his speech that day which included Barack declaring, "The first thing we ahve to do is end this war. . . .  I will remove one or two brigades a month, and get all of our combat troops out of Iraq within 16 months."  That's pretty damn clear unless your name is David Corn.  December 18th, campaigning in Iowa, he declared that if he was "the Democratic nominee, I will offer a clear choice.  My opponent won't be able to say that I ever supported the war in Iraq, or that I don't support a clear timetable to bring out troops home."   He also stated in that speech, "So when you consider who to caucus for, I ask you to consider myjudgement and vision for new American leadership.  Leadership that brings our combat brigades out of Iraq in 16 months, renews American diplomacy, finishes . . ."  Get the point? 
He's campaigned on this over and over in speeches and commercials.  Tom Hayden has assumed it was a real pledge.  He's written column after column praising Bambi.  You better believe others have taken Bambi at his word.  At the Barack Obama campaign website it reads here that "In September 2007, he laid out a detailed plan for how he will end the war as president.  Bring Our Troops Home Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq.  He will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat briages out of Iraq within 16 months."  Will is the verb in the final sentence (written by Bambi's campaign and posted on his website).  While David Corn embarrasses himself, NBC' Domenico Montanaro (reporting on the same press call Corn did) explains that "when (now former) top Obama foreign policy adviser Samantha Power told BBC that Obama 'will, of course, not rely on some plan that he's crafted as a presidential candidate or a U.S. Senator,' the Clinton campaign found something tangible to seize on." 
And the Hillary Clinton campaign released "MEMO: Obama's Iraq Plan: Just Words" which opens with, "Once again, it looks like Senator Obama is telling voters one thing while his campaign says those words should not be mistaken for serious action.  After months of speeches from Senator Obama promising a hard end date to the Iraq war, his top foreign policy adviser that counseled his campaign during that period is on the record saying that Senator Obama will 'not rely on some plan that he's crafted as a presidential candidate or a U.S. Senator.  Voters already have serious questions about whether Senator Obama is ready to be Commander-in-Chief.  Now there are questions about whether he's seriou about the Iraq plan he's discussed for the last year on the campaign trail. . . . It turns out those attacks and speeched were just words.  And if you can't trust Senator Obama's words, what's left?"  Nothing.  And certainly nothing that indicates the illegal war's ending. 
While Bambi tries to figure out what he thinks today, people are dying.  In fact, 8 US service members appear to have died today.  Nancy A. Youssef and Hannah Allam (McClatchy Newspapers) report that at a time when most outlets are aware of 5 dead.  Deborah Haynes (Times of London) reports, "Five American soldiers were killed and three wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself up in the middle of a foot patrol in Baghdad today, in the deadliest strike against the US military in the city since last June."  And that was when it was five (the other three dead are not the three wounded in the bombing we're focusing on right now.)  CBS and AP note that an Iraqi interpreter was also injured in the bombing.  CNN offers, "The explosion marks the deadliest attack against the US military since five soldiers were killed January 28 in a roadside bombing in Mosul."  Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) explains, "Iraqi police said a man with explosives strapped to his waist walked up to the soldiers during a foot patrol int he upscale Mansour meighborhood and blew him self up.  The blast also killed an Iraqi civilian and injured 11 other Iraqis, police and hospital officials said." That brings the total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 3980.  But, as noted before, Youssef and Allam write that 8 died today and they report 3 more "died while on a patrol in Diyala province, the official said.  He asked not to be identified as he isn't an official spokesman."  Now might be a good time to note  that Rear Admr. Gregory Smith declared yesterday in his Iraq press conference, "I would not look at the last few weeks as an increase or a trend of an increase."
In other reported violence today . . .
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad truck bombing that claimed the life of 1 person and left five more wounded, a Baghdad mortar attack wounded two people, a Baghdad roadside bombing wounded two people, a Baghdad car bombing claimed 1 life and left four people wounded a Diyala Province bombing that claimed the lives of 2 police officers and left twenty people wounded, a Diyala Province roadside bombing that claimed the life of an Iraqi soldier and wounded two others in the Iraqi military and a bombing targeting the Sulaimaniyah Palace Hotel which claimed the life of 1 guard and left thirty-four people injured.  Reuters reports a Diyala Province bombing today credited to "female suicide bomber" which has claimed the life of Thaer Saggban al-Karkhi who had been a US collaborator in an "Awakening" Council (and whom Reuters describes as "a prominent Sunni Arab tribal chief") as well as three people with him. Al Arabiya News Channel notes the dead includes two bodyguards and one of the chief's niece and that another bombing in the same province took place at a police station and resulted in 2 deaths and twenty-two people being injured.
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 police officer shot dead in Salahuddin Province.  Reuters notes an armed clash in Mosul left 2 dead and two more wounded.
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad while Dr. Khalid Nasir's corpse was discovered in Basra.  In the continuing targeting of educators, doctors and officials, Dr. Nasir was kidnapped on Sunday.  CBS and AP note, "According to figures from the Iraqi Health Ministry released earlier this year, 618 medical employees, including 132 doctors, as well as medics and other health care workers, have been killed nationwide since 2003."
Yesterday, James Glanz (New York Times) reported that senators Carl Levin and John Warner's plan to use their positions on the Senate Armed Service Committee in order to determine "how Iraq is spending its soaring oil revenue" two months after the 'accountability' office in Iraq "reported that Iraq had spent a meager 4.4 percent of its 2007 reconstruction budget by August of that year, the most recent figures available at the time." CNN adds: "Iraq's ability to spend its $10.1 billion capital projects budget in 2007 was one of the 18 benchmarks used to assess U.S. progress in stabilizing and rebuilding Iraq, according to the GAO.  The United States has spent more than $47 billion on Iraqi reconstruction efforts since 2003, according to the 2008 quarterly audit by the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction."

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