Hill's sixth book, "Someone Knows My Name," a novel, became a national bestseller in Canada and was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. In a review earlier this year, The New York Times called the book "a wonderfully written fictional slave narrative ... populated by vivid characters and rendered in fascinating detail." Hill's seventh book, the nonfiction work " The Deserter's Tale: the Story of an Ordinary Soldier Who Walked Away from the War in Iraq" (writ ten with Joshua Key), also ap peared in 2007 in Canada, the United States and Australia and is being translated and published in eight other countries.
Meanwhile, due to the fifth anniversary of the illegal war, everyone was talking Iraq yesterday. William M. Arkin (Washington Post) offers a score card:
When it comes to making sense on Iran, Hillary Clinton wins hands down over Barack Obama, John McCain and George Bush.
In his zeal to describe the mess created by the war in Iraq, Obama falls into the trap of lumping Iran in with our "enemies." McCain is even more offensive, borrowing from the president's always-change-the-justification playbook to argue that the Iraq war is ultimately about Iran. And President Bush is more confused than ever, fretting about emboldening Iran if we leave Iraq, but oblivious to how invading and occupying Iraq may have had the same effect.
[. . .]
We throw the word "enemy" around way too much these days. Is that what Obama thinks Iran is? The same country he has pledged to negotiate with?
In his five-year anniversary speech about Iraq yesterday, Obama said Iran "poses the greatest challenge to American interests in the Middle East in a generation, continuing its nuclear program and threatening our ally, Israel." It is time to present Iran "with a clear choice," Obama said, to abandon its nuclear program, its support for terrorism and its threats to Israel.
"Make no mistake," Obama bellowed about Iran, "if and when we ever have to use military force against any country, we must exert the power of American diplomacy first."
Gee, I'm no Republican and have no confidence in the Bush administration. But that sounds like current White House policy.
Sometimes Obama's Chicken Sop for the Soul doesn't go down easy.
Iraq Veterans Against the War staged the Winter Soldiers investigation which concluded on Sunday. If you are able to stream and missed the testimonies (or would like to experience it again or share it with someone), you can find it at Iraq Veterans Against the War, at War Comes Home, at KPFK, at the Pacifica Radio homepage and at KPFA, here for Friday, here for Saturday, here for Sunday. Aimee Allison (co-host of the station's The Morning Show and co-author with David Solnit of Army Of None) and Aaron Glantz were the anchors for Pacifica's live coverage.
Marcia notes Michael Kramer's "Troops confirm U.S. war crimes" (Workers World):
Hundreds of military veterans of the Bush administration’s so-called war on terror attended the Winter Soldier 2008 hearings held here March 13-16 at the National Labor College, an AFL-CIO affiliate just outside Washington. The four-day event was organized by Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW).
Most of the veterans had taken part in the occupations of Iraq and/or Afghanistan—many doing multiple deployments of up to 15 months each. Some are still on active duty.
They described the systematic beating, jailing, torture, humiliation and killing of civilians by U.S. forces. And they explained that it was not just the work of a few deranged individuals but was part of standard military operations, especially as the opposition of the people to the occupation of their country became more obvious.
Many were wracked with traumatic memories and remorse for having participated in such acts.
The hearings were conducted in eyewitness panel formats with topics such as Rules of Engagement; Corporate Pillaging and Military Contractors; Divide To Conquer: Gender and Sexuality in the Military; and Racism and War: The Dehumanization of the Enemy.
Besides the panelists, the everyday brutality of the occupation was documented by more than 100 other veterans, who submitted detailed statements about their experiences.
Speaking on the first day of the hearings in the Rules of Engagement panel, Iraq veteran Adam Kokesh, who had been in Fallujah, Iraq, for a year beginning in February 2004, said his commanders "changed the RoE more often than we changed our underwear." These RoE are the rules that determine when a soldier can use deadly fire. "At one point, we imposed a curfew on the city and were told to fire at anything that moved in the dark. I don't think soldiers should be put in the position to choose between their morals and their instinct for survival."
Steve Casey, who spent a year in Iraq beginning in mid-2003, not long after the U.S. invasion that was supposed to "liberate" the Iraqi people, said: "I watched soldiers firing into the radiators and windows of oncoming vehicles. Those who didn't turn around were unfortunately neutralized one way or another--well over 20 times I personally witnessed this."
Jason Hurd was on duty in central Baghdad for a year, beginning in November 2004. He told how, after his unit took stray rounds from a nearby firefight: "We fired indiscriminately at this building. Things like that happened every day in Iraq. We reacted out of fear for our lives, and we reacted with total destruction."
Hurd told how the calloused attitude toward Iraqi civilians worsened as the occupation dragged on. "Over time, as the absurdity of war set in, individuals from my unit indiscriminately opened fire at vehicles driving down the wrong side of the road. People in my unit would later brag about it. I remember thinking how appalled I was that we were laughing at this, but that was the reality."
Jason Wayne Lemieux, a Marine, served three tours in Iraq. He told how the rules of engagement were changed each time to encourage even more slaughter of civilians. By his second tour, if a person "was carrying a shovel, or standing on a rooftop talking on a cell phone, or being out after curfew, they were to be killed. I can't tell you how many people died because of this. By my third tour, we were told to just shoot people, and the officers would take care of us."
One Marine veteran, machine gunner John Michael Turner, pulled the medals off his shirt and threw them to the floor as he testified about shooting down people he knew were innocent. "I want to say I'm sorry for the hate and destruction that I and others have inflicted on innocent people," he concluded. "It is not okay, and this is happening, and until people hear what is going on, this is going to continue. I am no longer the monster that I once was."
The event was streamed live over the Internet but was boycotted by almost the entire U.S. corporate media. It was well organized, with logistical and support staff provided by Veterans for Peace and Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Mental health and legal professionals were available at all times.
While most of the panelists were IVAW members, expert witnesses also testified. Iraqi civilians, including refugees, described their experiences with the occupation through detailed interviews that had been video recorded in Iraq, Jordan and Syria. IVAW Advisory Board member Dr. Dahlia Wasfi raised the occupation of Palestine
IVAW is a growing organization with over 800 members. The leadership is diverse: the chair of its Board of Directors was born in Nicaragua and the co-chair is African-American. The treasurer and executive director are women. The group is LGBT-friendly.
Most members come from the enlisted ranks and are under 30 years old. They are from both urban and rural areas. Many were on track to be career noncommissioned officers--the foundation of any military organization. Their membership in IVAW is a major defeat for the U.S. imperialist war machine.
Readers are urged to check out the hearings and testimonies at www.ivaw.org.
The writer is a member of Veterans For Peace--Chapter 021 and was part of the support staff at the Winter Soldier hearing.
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Also noting Winter Soldier is Leila Nathoo (Guardian of London):
Last weekend a historic event occurred near Washington DC, when the Iraq Veterans Against the War group held its event, "Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan - eyewitness accounts from the occupations". The four-day conference brought together veterans from across the US to speak about their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, just as the original Winter Soldiers of 1971 told their stories about what they had witnessed in Vietnam.
Today's veterans spoke candidly about the treatment of civilians, insurgents and detainees. "The Iraqi people ... they were 'hajjis' ... We were the law, there was no one else above us," said Iraq veteran Hart Viges. Another, Mike Totten, agreed: "We were told, the hajji are an obstacle - do not let them get in our way". Some offered solemn admissions of their own racism and complicity in humiliation, abuse and killing. This self-criticism actually makes such soldier testimony more powerful, as young American patriots speaking candidly have far more impact than nameless, foreign victims of abuse, trying to make their voices heard.
These testimonies are invaluable, in part because they confirm the brutality of warfare, as well as allowing the soldiers to relieve the burden of their experiences and re-establish their humanity. But the crucial purpose of soldier testimony is to provide a unique perspective on abuses in war. Soldiers bridge the divide between the military establishment, who isolate individual perpetrators as "bad apples", and human rights advocates who speak up for victims. Listening to the voices of soldiers refocuses attention on the context in which abuse is carried out and the institutional details that facilitate its occurrence.
This community defended Florida and Michigan long before the two states held their primaries. We continue to defend the right for their votes to count and their delegates to be seated in the DNC convention in Colorado this summer. Wally and Cedric have long covered this issue and may today but it is coming up in the e-mails and it will be covered Sunday at The Third Estate Sunday Review. This is "Hillary's Remarks at the 'Solutions for America' Event in Detroit, MI" (HillaryClinton.com):
Thank you very, very much. Wow. I am thrilled to be here. It is great being here at AFSCME Council 25. I want to thank President Al Garrett for inviting us to his house and have this opportunity to be with you. I want to also thank Javier for his wonderful comments. I love seeing the way so many young people are intensely involved in this campaign and we want to keep it that way, including the young people right here in Michigan. I want to recognize just a few other people that I am pleased to be here with: Jim Blanchard, former Governor of Michigan, along with his wife Janet. Jewel Ware, who has done a wonderful job as the chair of the Wayne County Commission. I know her husband is here, and I am grateful Jewel’s support. David Hecker, president of the Michigan AFT, Ron Duncan of RWDSU. I know that Debbie Stabenow your fabulous Senator was here earlier and her husband Tom Athans is here. I am thrilled to be with you in Michigan once again, because Michigan is a Bellwether state, it is a diverse state, it’s a proud union state, and is a critical state for Democrats to win in November. I am here for one simple reason - to make sure Michigan votes are counted and your voices are heard in this election.
I know that Governor Granholm couldn’t here because she was long scheduled to be in Western Michigan, where she is working to help create jobs and grow the economy. But I want to applaud her for her energy, her creativity, her tenacity and dedication in tackling the problems that Michigan faces. Let’s give Governor Granholm a big round of applause. I know Michigan, probably more than any other state, deserves a president who understands the challenges of a struggling economy, unfair trade policies, the loss of manufacturing jobs, the deterioration of health care coverage, and all of the other challenges from rising gas process to rising college costs. You deserve a president who will be your partner and that is what I intend to be if given the chance to serve.
This has been an incredible primary season so far. There’s been more passion and enthusiasm than anyone could have ever predicted. Democrats across the country are turning out in record numbers to have their say in this historic election. Here in Michigan, 600,000 people turned out on a cold and snowy day in January to cast your votes and you made it abundantly clear that you wanted your voices to be heard and your votes to be counted. In Florida, 1.7 million people did exactly the same. Now, these nearly 2.5 million Americans are in danger of being shut out of our democratic process. I think that is wrong and, frankly, it is un-American, and we cannot let that continue. My very first job in politics was working for the Democratic National Committee, going door-to-door, registering voters in Texas in 1972. I threw myself in to that hard work because I believed then, as I believe now, that every American has a right to be part of our great democracy.
Every voice should have the chance to be heard and every vote counted. This goes way beyond this election and it goes way beyond who's running, because no matter where you were born, or how much money you were born into, no matter where you worship or the color of your skin, it is a bedrock American principle that we are all equal in the voting booth. For me, it has been a long struggle to get to the point where barriers were knocked down and doors opened and we still haven't completed that journey.
But it is the vote that has given voice to the voiceless and power to the powerless. It is through that vote that women, African American, Latinos and so many others have claimed their rights as full and equal citizens. We have made our laws more just and our society more fair. Each vote is a declaration of our dreams for our children and a reflection of our prayers for our nation's future. That is why generations of brave men and women marched and protested, risked and gave their lives for this right.
It is because of them that both Senator Obama and I stand before you as candidates for the Democratic nomination. It is because of all those who came before that we are both in this race today. We should carry on that legacy by saying clearly that we will protect and cherish the right to vote for all people.
I’ve always stood up for voting rights. I’m proud of the legislation I’ve sponsored in the Senate to assure that every eligible voter can count and every vote is counted and I will always defend your right to vote, no matter whom you choose to vote for in the end, it is not about that at all. Because I believe that Michigan's families are just as important as the families of any other state. The father in Detroit wants the same opportunities for his children as the father in Des Moines, and he deserves the same voice in the future. The mother in Lansing needs access to health care just as much as the mother in Los Angeles, and she deserves the same voice and how we will provide quality, affordable health care to everyone. The families in the U.P. need good paying jobs that stay right here in America just as much as the families in Central PA, and they deserve the same voice in trying to get that done. The soldiers from across this great state need a Commander-in-Chief who will end the war in Iraq and bring them home.
They certainly deserve the same voice in choosing that person. That's why I've been saying for some time that the people of Michigan and Florida must have a voice in selecting our nominee for president. I have called repeatedly for an agreement that would seat Michigan delegates at our national convention, because I believe your voices and your votes should count. When others made the decision to remove their names from the ballot, I didn't, because I believe your voices and your votes should count. That's why I've been saying we need to either count the votes that have already been cast in Michigan and Florida or have new, full, and fair elections so that we can have your voices and your votes counted.
Senator Obama speaks passionately on the campaign trail about empowering the American people. Today, I'm urging him to match those words with action, to make sure the people of Michigan and Florida have a voice and a vote in this election. I have accepted the plan for a new vote in Michigan, proposed in draft legislation and approved by the Democratic National Committee. In fact, the DNC put out a statement earlier this morning making clear that the proposal fits within the DNC rules. It is fully within the party's rules. I call on Senator Obama to do the same.
This is a crucial test. Does he mean what he says or not? I am pleased and grateful that on this issue, the people of Michigan have had such outstanding advocates in their Democratic leaders, and there are so many, including the Governor and Senator Stabenow and members of the legislature. But I especially want to thank four who have really been at the forefront: Senator Carl Levin, Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, Debbie Dingell and Ron Gettelfinger of the UAW.
People in Michigan and particularly Democrats in Michigan know that Michigan matters, both in the primary and in the general election. The road to a Democratic White House goes through Michigan and Florida. If Democrats send the message that we don't care about your vote, I'm sure John McCain and the Republicans would be happy to have them. In fact, the Republicans will argue that Michigan and Florida voters shouldn’t trust the Democrats to look out for them when we won’t even listen to you. Ignoring Michigan and Florida would be a grave mistake. We won't be able to end the war in Iraq, we won’t achieve universal health care, we won't end the housing crisis and get the economy moving again unless we win in Michigan and Florida in November.
For me, it's really very simple. We need your voices and you have a right to your vote. I am proud to stand with the people of Michigan in this cause and I hope that Senator Obama will join me, because when we look at the stakes of this election, they could not be higher. The next president of the United States will inherit a huge mess from George W. Bush and we're going to have to do a lot of cleaning up. I can just imagine what it will be like to try to undo the damage that we will inherit plus taking on the neglected agenda that the votes sand families of Michigan and American are waiting to have addressed.
I've been criss-crossing our country, saying very clearly that I offer solutions, 21st century solutions about how we're going to get the economy moving again and creating good jobs with particular emphasis on a state like Michigan that deserves even more attention from the next president because you’ve been neglected and you've been ignored and your needs have been denied.
It was amazing to me that the big three auto companies in the UAW had to beg for years just to have a meeting with the president. I met with them more than the president met with them, and what we were waiting for was just a smidgen of presidential leadership - we didn't ask for a lot. A little would have been welcome. Some idea that, you know what, the auto industry and our big three manufacturers and the hard-working members of the UAW deserve some help as we make this transition into a higher gas mileage economy, as we look for ways to support innovation from hybrid cars to more flexible fuel. That's all they were looking for, a partner who would be with them in this fight to save American jobs, to make sure that we retained leadership globally as we navigated through a much more challenging economy. But it didn’t happen.
So we're going to really have to go into high gear starting in January 2009 because we’re going to have to make up for all the lost time and the lost opportunities. We have big challenges - how are we going to create new jobs? How are we going to get the tax codes to quit rewarding businesses for exporting jobs out of Michigan to foreign countries? How are we going to make that tax code fair and quit yielding a lower tax rate to some Wall Street money manager who makes 50 million dollars? Then what is paid by nurse, a teacher or a truck driver making $50,000 right here in Detroit or elsewhere across Michigan? And what are we going to do to finally tackle our energy dependence? We can’t live with $112 a barrel, oil and gas moving up to $4 a gallon. The average American is going to just be bewildered and distressed trying to figure out how to cover all the expenses because the price of everything is going up, but wages are not going up. People are not being rewarded for working harder, doing more, and more, and more. How many of you know someone with two, and even three, jobs that don't pay what used to be paid in the job they used to have before it was exported or done away with?
And we cannot continue the moral outrage and the economic calamity of having a health care system that doesn't cover everyone and continues to cost more and more and more every single year. We've got to move for universal health care and we've got to do it quickly because we can't be globally competitive and expect to have our individual businesses bear all these costs. And we're sure going to have to deal with our education system, with more opportunities for children in the pre-school years so that they're better prepared to go to school, with universal pre-kindergarten and more Head Start and early childhood development. And I will end the unfunded mandate known as No Child Left Behind, which hasn’t worked and is not working. And we will make college affordable again for young people from middle class and working families.
There's so much to be done here at home and, of course, around the world we have to restore America's leadership and our moral authority and that means we've got to begin ending the war in Iraq. And I have been outlining this week, as we mark the fifth anniversary of George Bush's preemptive war that he waged, I have been outlining plans as to what we can and must do to begin bringing our sons and daughters home. I am convinced that we can start within 60 days and do it in a responsible and careful manner, recognizing that the Iraqi government has to take responsibility for its own future, that we have given them the precious gift of freedom and it is up to them to decide whether or not they will use it. But we cannot win their civil war. There is no military solution.
And as we bring our troops home we must take care of them. Our veterans deserve our greatest efforts to fulfill our obligations to them. Get the healthcare and the other services that they have so richly earned and we've got to have a 21st century GI Bill of Rights for these young men and women so they can go to school or start a business or buy a home.
So there's a lot of work ahead but I am confident and optimistic that we can do this work together. And I know that the next president of the United States is going to have to have a united country with everyone once again believing that our best days are ahead, and working to achieve big goals again like universal healthcare and energy independence and so much more. Well, I sure want Michigan and Florida to be right in the forefront of helping to make the choice as to who will walk into that Oval Office next January.
Thank you all very, very much.
Wally's mother asked that we note the above and it's noted gladly.
the times of trenton
william m. arkin
the washington post
the third estate sunday review
the daily jot
cedrics big mix