Friday, March 14, 2008. Chaos and violence continues, IVAW continues their Winter Soldiers Investigation, the Pentagon thought they were keeping a report offline, John McCain makes plans with a travel buddy, and more.
Starting with war resisters. Judith Scherr (Berkeley Daily Planet) reports the Berkeley's City Council was set to adopt the measure of sending Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper a letter in support of war resisters; however, Council member Gordon Wozniak demanded a full discussion (in what was a big whiney move on Wozniak's part). The discussion took place Wednesday night. Kriss Worthington and Max Anderson recommended the letter to Harper, Diane Finley (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) and Stephane Dion (Liberal Party leader). The [PDF format warning] text of the recommendation notes the request would be "that the government of Canada establish provisions to provide sanctuary for U.S. military service members who are living in Canada to resist fighting in the Iraq War." [PDF format warning] The proposal notes:
Throughout the Vietnam War era, Canada provided a place of refuge for United States citizens seeking to resist the war. Because of Canada's rich tradition of being a refuge from militarism, approximately 200 U.S. military service people have moved to Canada to resist fighting in the Iraq War.
However, it has become more difficult to immigrate to Canada and these war resisters are seeking refugee status in accord with United Nations guidelins. Unfortunately, their requests for refugee status have been rejected by the Canadian Refugee Board. Several resisters have appealed the Refugee Board decisions to the Supreme Court of Canada. While a court decision is pending these resisters are vulnerable to deportation back to the United States where they may face years of incarceration or even worst penalties.
In November 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org -- that's pm at gc.ca) who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion (Dion.S@parl.gc.ca -- that's Dion.S at parl.gc.ca) who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua (Bevilacqua.M@parl.gc.ca -- that's Bevilacqua.M at parl.gc.ca) 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).
Iraq Veterans Against the War Winter Soldiers Investigation which began last night and continues through Sunday and the hearings will be broadcast at the Iraq Veterans Against the War home page an on KPFA 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 as well as on KPFK, WBAI and at the Pacifica Radio homepage which notes its live coverage will be from (EST times) 10 in the morning to seven at night on Friday, nine in the morning until seven at night on Saturday and ten in the morning until four in the afternoon on Sunday that should apply to all Pacifica stations that are broadcasting the hearings. Viewing options and meet ups can be found at Iraq Veterans Against the War. (Dish Network is airing it on satellite TV -- today and Saturday). Today's testimonies will cover rules of engagment, healthcare, contractors and war profiteering and the aims of the wars (Iraq and Afghanistan). Tomorrow will kick off with discussions on gender and sexuality, racism and the 'other' to dehumanize the enemy and various costs of the illegal war. Sunday will cover how the US military is breaking under the strain of the wars and GI resistance. (Click here for a schedule.)
The IVAW website was overwhelmed with visitors today so, should you have trouble streaming, remember the other streaming alternatives. The first panel was moderated by Jose Vasquez who explained the rules which included that after someone testified, they would then have a decomposing support session and should not be approached by the press or anyone else until that was taken care of. In addition, unlike the VA, they have set up support groups and systems to ensure that all witnesses offering testimony had support for the next few days. The basic pattern was that each veteran would give their name, explain when they served (in either Iraq or Afghanistan) and then share their testimony. Some non-veterans testified as well on areas of corruption and war profiteering.
There were many strong highlights. This is not an exhaustive list. Other community sites will be posting (Trina's called dibs on Adam Kokesh) and we'll be covering this at The Third Estate Sunday Review (Sunday's hearings will be covered in Monday's snapshot). Hart Viges spoke of his time serving in Iraq and how he would go on round-ups and think the guilty and innocent were sorted quickly. Only later did he find out that "people being detained are being detained for years -- their parents don't even know where they are." Jason Washburn discussed how you could shoot an Iraqi civilian and get away with it -- by his third tour he noticed that they were unofficially (wink-nod) allowed by the command to have shovels and "if we accidentally did kill a civilian we could just drop a shovel" which would indicate -- under the US military command's screwed up understanding -- that the person shot must have been digging a hole to plant a roadside bomb, in which case, the killing was a-okay. John Michael Turner began his testimony by tossing his dog tags to the audience (IVAW members were in the front rows, so they caught them and can return to them to him if he wants them back) declaring, "F.U. I don't work for you no more." He spoke of the damage done in Iraq and spoke so clearly that the damage the illegal war had done to him was audible. He declared, "I am sorry for the hate and destruction that I have inflicted on innocent people" and noted that "until people hear the truth about what is going on in this war, people will continue to die." That really is the point of the hearings and various witnesses made it very clear that they were not attacking those they had served with, that this was not about finger-pointing at US service members, this was about the policies in place and the orders being given by higher ups through the chain of command.
The healthcare issue was addressed as well. Eli Wright spoke of how "military healthcare doesn't get enough attention" and advised service members struggling to get the medical care they have been promised, "Don't keep it quiet and, unfortunately, in many cases you can't rely on your command" to do the job for you. He noted how difficult it could be, while you serving, to speak out for your healthcare needs but that it's often the only way to receive treatment. In Monday's snapshot, we will note the veteran by name but I didn't know him and if we wait to find out who he was the snapshot will never go up. A veteran discussed how he was told repeatedly about the benefits he would have. How it would apply to his family. Reality was the military provided nothing. (His last name may have been Peterson.) He was serving in Iraq and his wife began to miscarry. She phoned and was told that she was probably miscarrying. Could she get an ambulance? Did she have $1500? The wife ended up hunting down a friend to take her to the facitilities. They arrived at 4:00 pm. She was miscarrying but they closed at 4:30 and couldn't see her. The woman was miscarrying and the US military was refusing treatment. They wouldn't even request an ambulance. Her friend drove her over 20 miles to another facility where she miscarried. Eric Estenzo spoke of injuring his back in Iraq and getting wonderful care -- while enlisted. As soon as he was discharged, he found a different life. He suffered from PTSD, he had trouble readjusting which made keeping a civilian job very difficult. He felt on top of the world, with $17,000 in cash, and quickly found himself homeless though he didn't realize it then and was, in fact, "house surfing" before he realized what was happening. He was in Hollywood, attempting to stay with a friend, and saw some people giving out food to the homeless. He was hungry and thought it would be fine to grab some food. Eating it, he realized he was homeless. It took a support network of other veterans and his own courage and strength to fight the VA system and demand the care he needed.
Corruption and war profiteering was another panel. KBR was the focus of Kelly Dougherty's testimony. She discussed how she and others serving in Iraq assigned to protect convoys were repeatedly put at risk when a KBR vehicle broke down, how they were told it was an asset to be protected even if that meant killing someone and then they would be told to forget it, to destroy the vehicle and move out. Iraqis desperate for fuel or the contents of the truck were not a concern and, if pressed, the US military command would instruct service members that distributing something in the trucks (before destroying them) could cause a riot. All of which goes to Doughtery's statement of Iraqis, "I'm looking at people I can't even look in the eye." Moving to Kuwait after serving in Iraq and while waiting to be sent back homes, service members were living in a KBR tent city. Doughtery explained, "When we were leaving . . . we were put in these tent cities. Our tents were completely covered with mold on the inside." The tents had bunk beds and not cots so service members were not allowed to (as some wanted) sleep outside the tents to avoid what appeared to be Black Mold. Instead, they suffered from respitory infections. Dougherty noted "this living condition where we couldn't even be in the place were we were supposed to live without getting sick." KBR made a big profit of the illegal war. KBR provided the troops with tents that made them sick. Where's the audit on that? Non-veteran Antonia Juhasz spoke about the realities that some (including some in the peace movement) forget, "the very extensive pre-planning." [Me: Because of that really bad 'documentary' (No End In Sight) some have yet again forgotten reality and claim that there should have been planning or better planning. What's taking place in Iraq was planned.] Juhasz went over how this was planned in depth, how Paul Bremer continued to the plan with his Bremer laws and how the Iraqi people are the ones suffering and there is no 'win' to be found. The only answer is for foreign troops to leave Iraq and allow "Iraqis to sort it out." Juhasz has documented this at length in her writing (including her book The BU$H Agenda).
Veteran Adrienne Kinne, speaking on healthcare, offered this reality, "The best preventative healthcare for our soldiers in uniform is to not use them to fight illegal wars." The hearings continue Saturday and Sunday. [Again, that is not everyone who poke and today and early tomorrow you will find more at the community sites -- Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Cedric's Cedric's Big Mix; Kat's Kat's Korner; Betty's Thomas Friedman is a Great Man; Mike's Mikey Likes It!; Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz;
Wally's The Daily Jot; Trina's Trina's Kitchen; Ruth's Ruth's Report; and Marcia's SICKOFITRADLZ.]
Wally's The Daily Jot; Trina's Trina's Kitchen; Ruth's Ruth's Report; and Marcia's SICKOFITRADLZ.]
At McClatchy Newspapers' Inside Iraq, an Iraqi correspondent expresses disgust with the ongoing lying and shares, "I will tell a story of a friend who is in Sweden who had the residency card by a lie he had made. He is a Shiite but he claimed that he is a Sunni and the Mahdi army threatened him and his family to levae the Shiite neighborhood he used to live giving him hours otherwise the whole family would be killed. As a result of this lie, this man had got a warning from his wife to get divorce if he doesn't tell the Swedish authorities the whole truth that he is a Shiite Iraqi who left Iraq to live his life as it is a disaster to live there for all Iraqis whether he is a Sunni or a Shiite."
Meanwhile Erica Goode (New York Times) reports on the death of Iraqi journalist Qassim Abdul-Hussein al-Iqabi who was 35-years old and working for The Citizen before he was shot dead yesterday while en route to work in Baghdad. The Committee to Protect Journalists' Joel Simon states, "We offer our deepest condolences to Qassim Abdul Hussein al-Iqabi's family and colleagues. His death serves as a stark reminder of the dangers journalists face daily in Iraq and of the urgent need for their protection as they work to bring the news of the conflict to the world." Cameron W. Barr (Washington Post) notes the journalist had been "walking in Baghdad's largely Shiite Karrada neighborhood" when he was shot dead.
Yesterday, Archibishop Paulos Faraj Rahho's corpse was found in Mosul. On He was leaving the Catholic Church in Mosul when he, his driver and two others were stopped on February 29th, while leaving the Catholic Church in Mosul with three other people, he was kidnapped (the other three people were shot dead. Today he was buried in Mosul and Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) describes the scene: "Hundreds gathered at the church in the village of Kramleis on the plains of northern Nineveh province to memorialize the most senior Christian clergyman targeted by armed groups in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion five years ago" and quotes Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly explaining to the mourners, "I ask the people of the church to be steadfast and patient. He became a martyr because of his great faith, and his love for his service." Parker notes the ransom the kidnappers had requested at one point was at least one-million dollars. Ryan Lenz (AP) also describes the funeral, "Carrying flowers and olive branches, mourners wept and wailed as they carried a wooden coffin holding the body of one of Iraq's most senior Chaldean Catholic clerics for a proper burial in northern Iraq on Friday. Leading the procession down the streets of a village outside Mosul was a church official who held a wooden cross with Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho's picture." Borzou Daragahi (LA Times) explains, "Chaldeans are part of the Catholic Church. Chaldean parishes around the world grieved the loss of Rahho."
Turning to the US. Senator Crazy's campaign slogan is "VOTE INSANE! VOTE JOHN MCCAIN!" and Alex Spillius (Telegraph of London) reports John Mccain has declared that Iraq must be a "success" (no chance) and quotes him declaring, "One of the debates of this election will be if the American people want a candidate who wants to get out [of Iraq] as quickly as possible. If we do that then al-Qa'eda wins, we have chaos and genocide throughout the region and they will follow us home. That's been my position -- forever." Forever? If true, that would mean he's been wrong "forever." Jesse A. Hamilton (Hartford Courant) reports that Senator Crazy will team up with The Senator With No Part for a joint-visit to Iraq -- in other words, back off girls and boys, Joe Lieberman's got him all next week.
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that wounded a garbage truck driver today and 2 car bombings in Nineveh that claimed the lives of 3 Iraqi soldiers and leaving ten more people wounded. Reuters notes a motorcylce bombing in Kut that claimed 1 life and left six more wounded.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an ongoing armed clash in Rabi'a district. Reuters notes that yesterday Iraqi police shot at a car in Samarra and killed a 15-year-old female while a police officer was shot dead in Najaf on Thursday.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses were discovered in Baghdad today.
On Sunday, the death toll for US soldiers since the start of the illegal war stood at 3975. Currently, the toll stands at 3987 -- thirteen away from the 4,000 mark. As noted earlier this week, PEW Research Center revealed, "Public awareness of the number of American military fatalities in Iraq has declined sharply since last August. Today, just 28% of audlts are able to say that approximately 4,000 Americans have died in the Iraq war. . . . In August 2007, 54% correctly identified the fatality level at that time (about 3,5000 deaths). In previous polls going back to the spring of 2004, about, half of respondents could correctly estimate the number of U.S. fatalities around the time of the survey." As Antonia Juhasz noted in her testimony at Winter Soldiers Investigation today, Iraq War coverage has fallen off the radar. The Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) noted in December that, "Through June , more than half of all stories [for 2007] were about violent incidents, but that number fell to roughly one third in September and October." November 28's snapshot discussed the Project for Excellence in Journalism's [PDF format warning] "Journalists in Iraq: A survey of reporters on the front lines" and we noted, "In other findings, 62 percent say that their 'editors back home' have lost interest in reports of day-to-day violence (no kidding) and the only significant increases have been in reports on contractors (79%) and 'U.S. military strategy' (67%)." It was and is a big point. It was a big point before you could see the impact -- the survey was conducted in August and September. Knowing that the "number fell to roughly one third in September and October" from the December study and noting that during that time period, American correspondents in Iraq were stating that their "editors back home" have lost interest in reports of day-to-day violence, let's not pretend the message was sent out clearly to journalists in Iraq that the brass didn't want to know about violence. Of course this was when David Petraeus was attempting to sell another wave of Operation Happy Talk -- but that's just a coincidence, right?
General Petraeus returns to Congress next month. Cameron W. Barr (Washington Post) reports that "Petraues, who is preparing to testify to Congress next month on the Iraq war, said in an interview that 'no one' in the U.S. and Iraqi governments 'feels that there has been sufficient progress by any means in the area of national reconciliation' or in the provision of basic public services." He apparently is attempting to soften up the media for more rah-rah coverage next month. He shouldn't worry so hard. A10 is where the New York Times runs "Study Finds No Qaeda-Hussein Tie" in today's paper. The four-tiny paragraphs are in stark contrast to the paper's repeatedly pushing the false link in the lead up to the illegal war. (And, since some 'voices' are too stupid or too chicken, let's note Judith Miller wasn't the first in the 'news' section to make that false link. Chris Hedges wrote the first article making that link and it ran on the front page in October of 2001.) At the start of the work week, Warren P. Strobel (McClatchy Newspapers) reported on a "Pentagon-sponsored study, scheduled for release later this week" that reviewed "more than 600,000 Iraqi documents" and "found no evidence that Saddam Hussein's regime had any operational links with Osama bin Laden's al Qaida terrorist network." On Thursday, Strobel reported that things had changed: "Rather than posting the report online and making officials available to discuss it, as had been planned, the U.S. Joint Forces Command said it would mail copies of the document to reporters -- if they asked for it. The report won't be posted on the Internet." Well, not posted online by the government anyway. Click on "Saddam and Terrorism Pentagon Report Online" to read the report the government thought they could downplay.
Final section, independent journalist David Bacon (he can honestly be called that) offers "Black and Brown Together" in the new issue of The American Prospect:
In big U.S. cities African Americans and immigrants, especially Latinos, often are divided by fears that any gain in jobs or political clout by one group can only come at the expense of the other. In Mississippi, African American political leaders and immigrant organizers favor a different calculation: Blacks plus immigrants plus unions equals power.
Since 2000, all three have cooperated in organizing one of the country's most active immigrants' rights coalitions, the MIRA. "You will always find folks reluctant to get involved, who say, it's not part of our mission, that immigrangs are taking our jobs," [Jim] Evans says. "But we all have the same rights and justice cause."
Evans, whose boombing basso profundo comes straight out of the pulpit, remembers his father riding shotgun for Medgar Evers, the NAACP leader slain by racists in 1963. He believes organizing immigrants is a direct continuation of Mississippi Freedom Summer and the Poor People's March on Washington. "To get to peace and freedom," Evans says, "you must come through the door of truth and justice."
PBS Roundup Bill Moyers Journal Ellen Spiro and Phil Donahue on their documentary Body of War. NOW on PBS will feature Mark Klein being interviewed about illegal wiretapping and Wynona Ward on stopping domestic violence. Washington Week will feature Martha Raddatz and Todd S. Purdum on the gas bag panel. All can air as early as Friday night but local stations may carry them at various times -- especially with some PBS stations being in pledge drive mode. All programs can be streamed online. Moyers will have full transcript up this evening after the program airs. Washington Week posts their transcripts on Mondays -- so both of those programs are accesible to all. (Washington Week will be added to the links for that reason as soon as I find the time to add it.)
Looking for last minute shopping deals? Find them fast with Yahoo! Search.