Friday, March 14, 2008

Other Items

In 1971 there was an event called "Winter Soldier.'' It was Vietnam vets gathering together to tell the truth about that war.
They testified about the war crimes - the burning of villages, free fire zones, forced relocation of villagers, mistreatment of civilians, electrical torture, mutilation of bodies - that were de facto policy of our military.
It was an extraordinary attempt to speak truth to power.
That power, of course, did not want to hear, and those voices were only minimally heard and their message went largely unheeded.
So now, more than 30 years later, another generation of young soldiers must gather to tell their truth to a power structure once more engaged in an unnecessary, illegal and immoral war.
On March 13-15, Iraq and Afghanistan vets will gather together near Washington, D.C., to testify from their knowledge and experience.
And, of course, the power structure will do all in its power to mute their voices.
The mainstream media will do what they always do to underplay such an event to the vanishing point.
But if our nation chooses to send its young people to do its dirty work, then it has a solemn duty to listen to their voices when they get home.
Please let the media hear from you. Let them know you want these voices heard. Let them know you want them to do their jobs.
Maybe if they heard from enough of us, some of them would prove worthy of the title "journalist.''
At stake is the country's soul and its future.
The hope would be that another generation will not have to follow in these young soldiers' tragic footprints.
The event is sponsored by Iraq Veterans Against the War.
A local participant will be Jason Wallace, Green Party candidate for Congress from the 11th District.
Gregg Brown

The above letter to the editor is entitled "Listen to war veterans; nation's sould at stake" (The Pantagraph). 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.) On notes that Peace Action-Wisconsin is offering a meet-up where people can watch the hearings together:

Winter Soldier Live Broadcast
Peace Action Center, 1001 E Keefe Ave

Thursday, Mar 13, 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Friday, Mar 14, 08:00 am to 7:30 pm
Saturday, Mar 15, 3:00 pm to 7:30 pm
Sunday, Mar 16, 09:00 am to 2:00 pm

The University of Illinois is another location groups can gather to watch. We'll note this press release from Jason Wallace again:


CONTACT: Tanya Austin, 831-917-5448,

Emilie Surrusco, 202-253-7298,

Iraq Veterans' Winter Soldier: It's our turn to tell our stories

Central Illinois Chapter to send four members for testimony and participation

Champaign, IL -- For the first time since the U.S. invasion, hundreds of veterans of the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan will be gathering in Washington to speak out and tell their stories. Local veterans will be joining the effort by showing a live feed of the Winter Soldier event at the University of Illinois Urbana/Champaign campus – and joining a nationwide network of veterans and service members committed to speaking out about a reality that, until now, has remained hidden.

From March 13-16 at the National Labor College just outside of Washington, D.C., veterans from across the country will be standing up to share their experiences at Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan. Their stories will show the human consequences of failed policy. Central Illinois Chapter members of Iraq Veterans Against the War that will be participating at the event include Martin Smith, Nathan Peld, Tanya Austin, and Jason Wallace the Green Party candidate Illinois' 11th Congressional District, .

"We've heard from the politicians, we've heard from the generals, we've heard from the media – now it's our turn," said Kelly Dougherty, executive director of IVAW and a former sergeant in the Colorado Army National Guard, who served in Iraq as a military police officer. "It's not going to be easy to hear what we have to say. It's not going to be easy for us to tell it. But we believe that the only way this war is going to end is if the American people truly understand what we have done in their name."

WHAT: Winter Soldier Testimony -- Live Feed

WHO: Central Illinois Chapter of IVAW

WHERE: University of Illinois, Lincoln Hall, Room 106. 702 S. Wright Street, Ave. Urbana, IL.

WHEN: Friday, March 14, 6:00-7:30pm

WHY: To give local veterans the opportunity to participate in this groundbreaking event
Iraq Veterans Against the War was founded in 2004 to give those who have served in the military since September 11, 2001 a way to come together and speak out against an unjust, illegal and unwinnable war. Today, IVAW has over 700 members in 49 states, Washington, D.C. and Canada and on military bases overseas.

For more information on Winter Soldier:

Jason Wallace, Candidate
U.S. House of Representatives
Illinois 11th Congressional District
PO Box 708
Bloomington, IL 61702-0708
Office 309.532.3446
Cell 309.826.5290
Fax: 1.866.554.3176

Paid for by the Committee to Elect Jason Wallace

There are a variety of options to follow the hearings and they are important. Pay attention to who gives them the time they deserve and who doesn't and remember that when they're next asking for money or asking you to renew your subscription or support their foundation or blah, blah, blah. Next week the illegal war hits the five-year-mark. Silence isn't ending it.

But the 'cakewalk' is such a success! Lloyd notes Cameron W. Barr's "Petraeus: Iraqi Leaders Not Making 'Sufficient Progress'" (Washington Post):

Iraqi leaders have failed to take advantage of a reduction in violence to make adequate progress toward resolving their political differences, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said Thursday.
Petraeus, 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.
The general's comments appeared to be his sternest to date on Iraqis' failure to achieve political reconciliation. In February, following the passage of laws on the budget, provincial elections and an amnesty for certain detainees, Petraeus was more encouraging. "The passage of the three laws today showed that the Iraqi leaders are now taking advantage of the opportunity that coalition and Iraqi troopers fought so hard to provide," he said at the time.

I wouldn't get too excited about the above. Petraeus is stating the extreme obvious and since his last testimony was demonstrated to be a joke (demonstrated by reality), he has to offer something in the build up to "Petraeus is coming!" April madness if he's expected to be believed by anyone.

Vic passes on this press release from Canada's Rabble.Ca:

On the 5th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq,
Canadian war protesters are taking their message to the world by partnering
with the online news source as it launches rabbletv. Between
1:00p.m. - 6p.m. EST on Saturday, March 15, rabble will place the rabbletv
video player on the home page of ( Visitors to the
page will be able to watch both live and recorded coverage without having to
download any special software. The official video channel for,
rabbletv is an interactive video platform that allows viewers to comment in
real time and discuss events as they are happening.
On March 15, the webcast will begin at 1:00p.m. EST. At 2:30p.m. EST
rabbletv will go live to Toronto to present the World Against the War rally
(see: The indoor rally, organized by the
Toronto Coalition to Stop the War, features music, local speakers and war
resisters. It takes place at 427 Bloor Street West, Toronto, Ontario.
Tarnjit Johal, rabbletv producer, said "rabbletv's role is not merely to
report on the event but to provide a dynamic space for debate, give insight
from the diverse communities affected by the war and to encourage grassroots
"This anniversary is important because it marks the occasion 5 years ago
when hundreds of thousands of Canadians spoke up loudly against the invasion
of Iraq, directly influencing Canada's decision not to join the war," said
James Clark from the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War. "This is the time to
celebrate our resistance to the Bush-Harper agenda, and to send the message
that the anti-war movement will continue to organize until we bring all our
troops home." is Canada's most popular online site for alternative news and
views. rabble features original articles and reprints along with a dynamic set
of Canadian podcasts, a book review section and a moderated discussion board
with thousands of registered users. is a non-profit, member
supported media outlet. Following the protest, rabbletv will feature a week of
programming on the war.
For further information: Tarnjit Johal, Producer, rabbletv cell: (416)
670-1790, email:

And staying with press releases, Amnesty International released this one today:

Press release
02:19 pm - Friday
Amnesty International: former detainee reveals details of secret CIA program
Rome, Italy - Regarding the secret detentions
(WAPA) -- "The cruelty and illegality of the US government’s program of secret detentions can be illustrated by one man’s story. It is the story of a man who was never charged with any crime, but who was held in secret CIA custody for nearly three years, becoming the victim of enforced disappearance.
This man is 31-year-old Yemeni national Khaled Abdu Ahmed Saleh al-Maqtari, one of the men most recently released from the CIA's secret detention program. In interviews with Amnesty International, he has given a full account of his ordeal since he was taken into custody by US forces in Iraq in January 2004.
Initially held in Abu Ghraib, Khaled al-Maqtari was transferred by airplane first to a CIA secret prison in Afghanistan, and then, in April 2004, to a second secret prison in an unidentified country -- possibly in Eastern Europe. He was held there in complete isolation for a further 28 months, before being sent to Yemen and eventually released in May 2007.
His account contains numerous allegations of torture and other ill-treatment in detention. These include prolonged isolation, repeating beatings, sleep deprivation, forced nudity, exposure to extremes of hot and cold, as well as sensory deprivation and overload with bright lighting and loud music or repeated sound effects.
The effects of torture
Khaled al-Maqtari is now a free man, but he suffers the effects of psychological and physical torture and other ill-treatment.
The abuses that have affected him most, he said, were the years of endless isolation, his total uncertainty about his future, the constant monitoring by cameras and his segregation from the outside world, particularly the lack of contact with his family.
'At no point during his 32-month confinement was Khaled al-Maqtari told where he was or why. He did not have access to lawyers, relatives or any person other than his interrogators and the personnel involved in his detention and transfers. This clearly violates the USA’s international obligations. The US government has a case to answer', said Anne FitzGerald, Senior Adviser at Amnesty International, who interviewed Khaled al-Maqtari.
Khaled al-Maqtari has not received any reparation from US authorities, who have yet to even acknowledge his detention.
Torture and enforced disappearance are both crimes under international law. They cannot be justified under any circumstances. Amnesty International has called on the US authorities to end these practices and bring those responsible for human rights violations to justice".

And we'll close with Dee Knight's "U.S. military morale and capacity plummet" (Workers World):

Long, unjust wars, like the one the U.S. fought in Vietnam and the ones it is fighting now in Iraq and Afghanistan, inflict enormous damage. Not only are the occupied countries affected, however, but also the U.S. soldiers forced to fight against them. Several mutinies have been reported in Iraq, and personal GI testimony suggests there have been many more.
A U.S. Army report released on March 6 said 27.2 percent of noncommissioned officers--the sergeants responsible for leading troops in combat--have mental health problems during their third or fourth tours of duty. A similar percentage of all soldiers on repeat tours of duty show severe anxiety, depression and other mental health problems. The report found a sharp increase in marital problems among GIs, an increased suicide rate and greater depression among soldiers in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has reached epidemic proportions among veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan as well as active duty GIs. But the brass remain coldly indifferent to it. Army Spec. Bryan Currie says commanding officers "disregarded and ridiculed the medical finding" that he is unfit for active duty and that he should receive a medical or honorable discharge. They told him they wanted to send him overseas again, for a second combat tour.
Currie was injured by a roadside bomb during his 2006 deployment to Afghanistan. He spent a month in a hospital recovering from a broken jaw, burns, shrapnel wounds and injuries to his knee and back, but he managed to complete his tour. He was awarded a Purple Heart and Army Commendation Medal of Valor. The 21-year-old was also recently diagnosed with PTSD, but he was rebuffed in his attempts to seek help for his anxiety, depression, nightmares and insomnia.
With assistance from attorneys Tod Ensign and Louis Font of Citizen Soldier, Specialist Currie has asked Army Secretary Pete Geren to convene a court of inquiry--a rarely used administrative fact-finding process—to investigate top generals at Fort Carson, Colo.; Fort Drum, N.Y.; and Fort Hood, Texas. The court should "investigate the extent to which the [generals] have been derelict in failing to provide for the health and welfare of wounded soldiers," Currie's request says.
Generals won't listen
The willful refusal of the generals to listen is paralleled by a dramatic increase in physical loss of hearing among GIs and veterans. The Associated Press on March 7 reported that new figures from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) show hearing damage is the number one disability from the Iraq war. Ambushes, bombs and firefights all cause violent changes in air pressure that can rupture the eardrum and break bones inside the ear. Some 60 percent of U.S. personnel exposed to blasts suffer from permanent hearing loss and 49 percent also suffer from tinnitus--ringing in the ears--according to military audiology reports.
For former Staff Sgt. Ryan Kelly, 27, of Austin, Texas, the noise of war is still with him more than four years after the simultaneous explosion of three roadside bombs near Baghdad. "It's funny, you know. When it happened, I didn't feel my leg gone. What I remember was my ears ringing," said Kelly, whose leg was blown off below the knee in 2003. Today, his leg has been replaced with a prosthetic. His ears are still ringing.
"It is constantly there," he said. "It constantly reminds me of getting hit. I don't want to sit here and think about getting blown up all the time. But that's what it does." (AP, March 7)
The suicide rate among returning GIs is high, according to the VA, which also found that more than half of all veterans who committed suicide after returning from the recent wars were members of the Guard or Reserves. That actually reflects the proportion of GIs in Iraq and Afghanistan from those reserve units, the VA reports.
Can't get recruits
The heavy use of the Guard and Reserve, of "stop loss" extensions of active duty, and of three and four combat tours all underscore the recruitment problem faced by today's military commanders. As the Army's official newspaper for the troops put it, "The military is spending a ton of money on recruiting enough troops to maintain the overall force. ... Yet it's doing so in a field that is increasingly difficult to plow--fewer eligible recruits, fewer parents willing to back a military career and a falling propensity to serve." (Army Times, March 10)
In other words, with more than two thirds of the population opposing the war, it has become harder and harder to convince troops to fight it or to motivate parents to encourage their children to join the military.
One major difference between the Vietnam era and the present has begun to be a significant factor. Unlike the Vietnam period, the U.S. is currently facing a gigantic economic crisis. Active duty GIs themselves, along with their families and parents, are suffering the ravages of mortgage foreclosures, loss of jobs and increasing worries about the future. These worries, combined with bitter disillusionment about politicians' invented reasons for the war, have stimulated a new level of opposition within the ranks of the military.
The White House, in the face of the current recruitment problem, along with extending combat tours and using the Guard and Reserve, has chosen to use mercenaries instead of instituting a draft. They have a very real fear of a mass rebellion of youth across the country, as well as an even more intense rebellion within the ranks of the military. This is part of the legacy of the resistance and rebellion that swept the country and the military during the U.S. war against Vietnam.
Appeal for Redress
Another legacy of the Vietnam era is the growing resistance among active duty GIs. The Appeal for a Redress of Grievances, initiated a year and a half ago by Navy Communications Spec. Jonathan Hutto and Marine Sgt. Liam Madden, has now been signed by more than 2,100 active duty troops. The long-term goal, says Hutto, is "to build permanence with the formation of an Active Duty Network that can advocate on behalf of active duty members on a range of issues to all levels of government."
That network is now forming and expanding very fast. The Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) has committed itself to encouraging resistance among active duty GIs. As IVAW has organized chapters at military bases across the country and around the world, it has in turn received strong and active support from Vietnam Veterans Against the War and Veterans For Peace—whose membership of thousands of Vietnam-era veterans has mobilized enthusiastically in support. Military Families Speak Out (MFSO) has also joined in, providing a strong voice from the families of active duty GIs in support of their resistance.
IVAW has been especially notable in the clarity of its goal of organizing active duty GIs to finally put a stop to the illegal U.S. war in Iraq. It has also undertaken a serious drive to educate its current and future members, and to actively train them in the skills necessary to reach out effectively to the GIs. The refusal of U.S. GIs to participate in U.S. imperialist wars is a crucial factor that can make all the difference.
Articles copyright 1995-2007 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved. Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
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Lastly, this is a press release on a Noam Chomsky collection:

For the past fifty years, Noam Chomsky's writings on politics and
language have established him as a preeminent public intellectual and as one
of the most original and wide-ranging political and social critics of
our time. Among the most influential figures in linguistic theory over
the past century, since the 1960s Chomsky has also secured a place as
perhaps the leading dissident voice in the United States. Now, The New
Press has compiled selections of many of Chomsky's seminal works into a
Chomsky's work has served as essential touchstone for dissidents,
activists, scholars, and concerned citizens on subjects ranging from the
media to human rights to intellectual freedom. His scathing critiques of
the U.S. wars in Vietnam, Central America, and the Middle East have
furnished an intellectual inspiration for antiwar movements for nearly four
decades, and are more relevant than ever.
THE ESSENTIAL CHOMSKY, edited by Anthony Arnove,
assembles the core of his most important writings over the past several
decades. It is an unprecedented, comprehensive overview of Chomsky's
thought -- and a vital component to any Chomsky collection.
The Essential Chomsky
by Noam Chomsky, Edited by Anthony Arnove
The New Press / January 30, 2008
Paperback / $19.95 / 528 pages
ISBN: 978-1-59558-189-1
Also available in a special jacketed hardcover edition:
Hardcover / $35.00 / 528 pages
For more information, please go [here]

Among many other fine books, The New Press also published Camilo Mejia's
Road from Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia (Meija is chair of
IVAW). If you're listening or watching to the hearing, consider sharing them. Invite someone over, if you're at work, turn up the volume loud enough so that someone around you can hear. And be sure to get the word out. The hearings continue today, tomorrow and Sunday.

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