Monday, March 10, 2008

Power still down & other Iraq news

Clinton's campaign continued to hit Obama over comments from Harvard professor Samantha Power, who resigned from his campaign Friday after being quoted calling Clinton a "monster." Power had also suggested Obama's proposal on Iraq, calling for troops to be brought home in the first 16 months he is in office, was a campaign plan he would not be bound by if he were elected.

That's from Tamara Lytle's "Florida may redo primary by mail" (The Orlando Sentinel via News & Observer) which is a roundup of recent election news. Also noting the Power remarks regarding Iraq is Bill Van Auken (WSWS):

In a BBC interview, Power insisted that Obama "will revisit" the plan once he enters the White House. "He will, of course, not rely upon some plan that he has crafted as a presidential candidate or a US senator," she continued. "He will rely upon an operational plan that he pulls together in consultation with people on the ground."
This position leaves virtually nothing to distinguish Obama’s prescription for US policy in Iraq from that of Clinton, both of which would keep US forces, even if on a reduced scale, in an indefinite colonial-style occupation of Iraq.

[. . .]
Obama is unable to conduct such a campaign. First, it would not be credible as he has never really been an antiwar candidate. As Clinton herself has often pointed out, since entering the Senate, his voting record is exactly the same as her own, including support for successive measures funding the war and keeping US troops in Iraq. It is true that he didn’t vote for the war, like her, in 2002, but then he wasn’t yet in the Senate to do so.
That Obama’s reputation as an opponent of the war is an illusion is widely recognized within the ruling establishment. Significantly, the right-wing Wall Street Journal editorial pages featured a half-page defense of Obama's foreign policy credentials Friday by Martin Peretz, editor of the New Republic. Peretz--an early supporter of the Iraq war who opposed the election of Democrat John Kerry in 2004 on the grounds that he would be a "disaster for Israel" -- wrote that Obama had "won my confidence."

Meanwhile, 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. But remember, 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." There's your laugh. Here's your sad, he also stated, "Well, first of all, I think we need to continue to look at historically what has happened over the last year to really put in perspective a one week or two weeks worth of activity inside Baghdad." "Historically." This month the Iraq War hits the five-year mark, the 'cakewalk' goes on and it can be spoken of 'historically' (though Smith doesn't do so accurately).

Smith also used the press conference to push the allegation (never proven, after all these years of it being made) that Iran was somehow involved with unrest in Iraq (as if unrest didn't result as the soon as Iraq was targeted with war?). Borzou Daragahi (Los Angeles Times) puts Smith's statements into context:

The latest accusations, made during a news conference here, were part of a renewed drumbeat of U.S. charges over Tehran's role in Iraq after a period of faint improvement in relations.
Last week, after a visit to Baghdad by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno and Navy Adm. William J. Fallon accused his government of destabilizing Iraq. Iran, meanwhile, alleged that the U.S. had reneged on an agreement to hold a fourth round of joint talks with Iraqi officials about security in Iraq.

San Diego Union-Tribune includes this AP item:

A Camp Pendleton Marine has been sentenced to 27 months behind bars and given a bad-conduct discharge for fatally shooting a fellow Marine while deployed in Iraq.
Cpl. Douglas Sullivan, 23, acknowledged he failed to check whether another Marine's rifle was loaded before he lifted it to his shoulder, flipped off the safety, aimed at the back of Lance Cpl. Kristopher Cody Warren's head and pulled the trigger.

Finally, Olive notes John Pontifex' "Iraq: Is Archbishop Faraj Rahho still alive?" which is billed as a press release so we're noting it in full:

CONCERNS are growing for an archbishop from Iraq seized at gunpoint after ominous signs from his kidnappers.
Exactly a week after Archbishop Faraj Rahho of Mosul was kidnapped at gunpoint outside his cathedral, his captors have still refused to let anybody speak to him directly despite regular contact with mediators acting on behalf of the Church.
Soon after the archbishop was taken, his kidnappers issued a ransom demand of US$1 million, subsequently raised it to US$2 million and today (Friday), it went up to US$3.
Speaking from Iraq in an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk said: "We are really very worried about the archbishop.
"On Friday, he was able to make a call from the back of the car in which he was kidnapped but since then nothing," he said. "The people in contact with the kidnappers have over several days asked to hear the archbishop's voice but they are constantly refused."
The archbishop said he was alarmed by the increase in the ransom demand, saying that it contradicted the normal pattern of successful negotiations in which the sum was normally reduced.
"It leaves us with two possibilities," Archbishop Sako said. "Either the archbishop is sick or injured or he has been killed and the kidnappers just want to get as much money as possible."
He stressed the archbishop's poor health, noting his heart condition for which he needs regular medication.
He added: "Really, this is a kind of mourning time. There is nothing from the archbishop – no sign. We don't know where we are heading with this process – the future is totally unknown."
The archbishop said it was now clearer who was behind the kidnapping but "for security reasons" could not say more.
Archbishop Sako said: "At the beginning, I was thinking that they could be criminals, or that they are just out for money. Now I am thinking something quite different." He added: "They are organised people."
He said that for the kidnappers releasing the archbishop ran the risk of him later identifying them and giving an eye-witness account of the killing of the three men who were with him when he was seized last Friday (29th February).
Archbishop Sako's comments contrast sharply with the optimism on Monday (3rd March) when Bishop Andreas Abouna of Baghdad told Aid to the Church in Need that Church leaders were "full of hope" for Archbishop Rahho's release.
Pope Benedict XVI has made repeated appeals for Archbishop Rahho's release, stating on Sunday (2nd March) before the crowds at the Angelus prayer at St Peter's Basilica, Rome: "I express my closeness to the entire Church in Iraq… which has once again been dealt a serious blow.
"I encourage all of the pastors and faithful to be strong and firm in hope."
Editor's Notes:
Directly under the Holy See, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity – helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.
Founded in 1947 by Fr Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named "An Outstanding Apostle of Charity", the organisation is now at work in about 145 countries throughout the world.
The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative's launch in 1979, 45 million Aid to the Church in Need Child's Bibles have been distributed worldwide.
For more information, contact please contact the Sydney office of ACN on (02) 9679-1929. e-mail: or write to Aid to the Church in Need PO Box 6245 Blacktown DC NSW 2148. Web:

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Kamikaze Sammy" went up late last night (and will be used with another comic and a press release in the next entry), Kat's "Kat's Korner: Jack's not snoozing" went up last night and Ruth's "Ruth's Report" went up late Saturday night. The e-mail address for this site is