Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, May 28, 2008.  Chaos and violence continue, war resisters are ignored by most media outlets (including pathetic Amy Goodman), Bully Boy gives a speech, and more.
Starting with war resistance.  Camilla Mortensen (Eugene Weekly) reports on US war resister and Iraq War veteran James Burmeister who self-checked out and went to Canada only to return this year, turn himself in and wonder what comes next: "His father fears the Army wants to keep Burmeister quiet about the 'bait-and-kill' teams the he alleges have been used to kill Iraqi civilians.  While James Burmeister awaits the Army's decision, his father [Erich Burmeister] is fighting to bring him home.  From the article:
Burmeister was also distrurbed by the "small kill teams" for which he was asked to provide cover.  On Sept. 24, 2007, the Washington Post investigated the story of the classified program of using "bait and kill" tactics in which sniper teams would scatter "bait" such as ammunition and detonation cords to attract Iraqi insurgents who would then be shot by snipers.  But Burmeister, who had deserted from the Army five months before the story broke, had been telling that story to the media for months. 
In a July 2007 article in The Oregonian, Burmeister said he had participated in a team that placed fake cameras on poles and labeled them U.S. property to give the team the rights to shoot anyone who to tried to move or takes the equipment.
Kill teams?  September 26, 2007, Josh White and Ann Scott Tyson's "Charges Against Snipers Stir Debate on 'Baiting'" (Washington Post) was published.  From the July 16, 2007 snapshot:
James Burmeister is a war resister who went to Canada after serving in Iraq.  He, his wife, Angelique, and their son, Cornell, now live in Ottawa.  Mark Larabee (The Oregonian) reports on Burmeister and notes the "traps" were an issue -- setting out the fake carmera or other equipment so that someone would go for it and then shooting them for touching US property -- with James Burmeister declaring, "As soon as anyone would mess with it, you were supposed to lay waste to them.  I completely disagreed with that tactic.  I can't see how that's helping anyone whatsoever"; and on Iraq, "I though people needed to be free there.  But when I went there it was all about captures and kills and it felt like we messed things up over there."  For some reason, J.E. McNeil is quoted in the story and really doesn't know the first thing about the topic.  I'll call out McNeil the same way I would a right winger.  McNeil's area of expertise and area of interest is C.O.s and that's the topic McNeil should stick to.  I find McNeil's remarks (and ingorance) damaging.  It takes only a few seconds to say, "C.O.s is my focus.  Have you considered calling the War Resisters Support Campaign?"  A voice who does know something on the subject, Helen Burmeister, mother of James, whom Larabee reports is proud of her son and declares, "I don't support the war.  I don't know anybody who supports what's going on in Iraq.  . . . It took guts for him to do what he did."
James Burmeister: Myself, I was a Calvary scout.  We do a lot of reconnaissance, mapping out, a lot of raids.  Our platoon in particular would set up small groups called "Platoon Kill Teams" -- maybe a group of four, five people, some snipers and we would set up fake cameras, we would put "Property of US government" in English and Arabic and we would wait for an Iraqi to come up and touch it because that gives the US the right to kill them -- so they say.  That would be the typical thing we would do.          
Rob Benzie: You called this baiting.  Is that right?            
James Burmeister: Definitely.                     
Join the vigil outside Fort Gordon near Augusta, Georgia Thursday, May 29th, 7:30pm at Gate 1 to demand "Free Ryan Now!" Ryan will be court martialed Friday, May 30th for resisting war. 
Ryan was formally charged with multiple counts of AWOL stemming from his attempt to be released from the Army prior to Iraq deployment. He will face a Special Court Martial--with a maximum one year prison sentence--on Friday, May 30. Since voluntarily returning to Fort Gordon on April 14 and formally applying for a conscientious objector discharge, Ryan has been held in pre-trial confinement at the Charleston Navel Brig.          
Following his arraignment, Ryan was able to call friends for a couple of hours. Primarily, he wanted to express his gratitude for everyone's support, and making him feel that his stand against war, and his time already spent in the brig, meant something. In addition to Courage to Resist members, he was also able to talk to Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace representatives prior to returning to the brig.   
War resisters in Canada today need support as they wait to see if the motion for safe harbor is going to come to the Parliament floor.  You can utilize the following e-mails to show your support: 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.  In addition Jack Layton, NDP leader, has a contact form and they would like to hear from people as well. A few more addresses 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.  Lahey quotes NDP's Oliva Chow, who steered the motion, explaining, "If (Liberal leader) Stephane Dion were to say tomorrow that he supports this motion . . . we will then debate it.  So we need people to call Mr. Dion . . . 'whose side you on Mr. Dion'?"  The number to call is (613) 996-5789.       
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Matthis Chiroux, Richard Droste, Michael Barnes, 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, Jose Vasquez, 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, Logan Laituri, Jason Marek, 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. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).
Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Qais Mizher (New York Times) report, "Iraq's largest Sunni political bloc suspended its return to the Shiite-dominated government on Tuesday, saying Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki had refused to give it the cabinet ministries it wanted."  The bloc is the Accordance Front and Al Jazeera reminds, "The Accordance Front pulled out of the national unity government in August, seeking the release of mainly Sunni Arab detainees in Iraq's jails." Leila Fadel (Baghdad Observer, McClatchy Newspapers) explains that the group "was supposed to return to the government three weeks ago" instead of continuing "the nearly year-long boycott to the government".  Sinan Salaheddin (AP) observes, "The decision was a setback to Prime Minister Nori al-Maliki's efforts to bring the Sunnis back into the political fold to shore up recent security gains."  CNN notes: "Reidar Visser, a scholar of Iraq who is editor of the Iraq-oriented Web site, said Sunni Arab states are unhappy with al-Maliki's leadership because he seems to favor a tripartite Iraq comprised of Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish regions.  Among Sunni Arabs' qualms with this philosophy is that there is no oil wealth in the Sunni heartland. The Kurds have a semi-autonomous region, many Shiites want their own and both want areas where there is abundant oil production."
While al-Maliki's latest public embarrassment (he's like Bully Boy without the carrier to parade around on) garners attention, Moqtada al-Sadr calls on action.  As noted in yesterday's snapshot, cleric al-Sadr is calling on weekly Friday demonstrations protesting a treaty Bully Boy and the puppet are attempting to hammer out.  Amit R. Paley (Washington Post) reported Tuesday that the al-Sadr "has since emerged as an ardent nationalist who commands the support of hundreds of thousands of devotees and the scorn of those who see him as a thuggish militia leader of limited intellect.  He has lartely sought to reposition himself as a more mainstream figure, even in the face of increasing pressure from Iraq's Shiite-led government.  His decision last week to allow the Iraqi army to enter the capital's Sadr City district, his base of power, was the latest in a series of calming edicts that began last summer."  On Sunday, Mark Kukis (Time magazine) reported on al-Maliki and US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker visiting Najaf to meet with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and noted: "It raised questions whether Sistani is making a comeback as a voice in political decision-making in Iraq.  For years Sistani and Muqtada al-Sadr have seesawed with each other as Iraq's two main Shi'ite power players.  In the early days of the occupation, Sistani's call for calm undoubtedly allowed American troops to avoid fierce resistance to their presence in southern Iraq.  But Sistani's repeated appeals for peace lost their weight as sectarian violence rose in Iraq, with Sadr leading the Mahdi Army militia in an inexorable year-long quest for Shi'ite revenge following the bombing of a revered shrine in Samarra in early 2006."  Last week Hamza Hendawi and Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) noted, "Iraq's most influential Shiite cleric has been quietly issuing religious edicts declaring that armed resistance against U.S.-led foreign troops is permissible -- a potentially significant shifty by a key supporter of the Washington-backed government in Baghdad."  Yesterday, UPI declared al-Sistani might be angling for "a comeback" and asserts, "Crocker was in Najaf amid reports that Sistani was losing patience with the U.S. pace of reconstruction in Iraq, while Maliki emerged from his meeting with Sistani Thursday with vague pledges of support, signaling a possible political play by the reclusive cleric."  Egypt's Middle East Times editorializes that Senators John McCain and Barack Obama should visit Iraq because things are 'changing': "The U.S. George W. Bush administration has already suffered two new serious blows to its policies this week.  First, Iraq's Sunni Muslims have pulled out of talks to enter the Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.  And second, Mahdi Army leader Moqtada Sadr has called for nationwide protests against the proposed Status of Force Agreement that U.S. diplomats are pressuring Maliki to sign. . . . Maliki's officials have been leaking hints and claims of his opposition to SOFA for weeks and even the ulta-cautious Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most eminent religious leader of Iraq's Shiites, has been reported by his aides as favoring non-violent resistance to the agreement."  Meanwhile CNN notes al-Sadr's demonstration are referred to "an organized media action" 
"Hey now we're bleeding for nothing/ It's hard to breathe when you standing on your own/ We'll kill ourself to find freedom/ You'll kill yourself to find anything" (Agustana's "Hey Now," Can't Love, Can't Hurt, Epic Records)
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that left eight people wounded (two were police officers), a Baghdad mortar attack on an Iraqi government buildment, a Diyala Province roadside bombing that claimed 2 lives ("father and his son") with another son injured and a Kirkuk bombing that may have been an attack on Col Fo'ad Shwani ("deputy of emergency police in Kirkuk") that resulted in one of his body guards being wounded.
Reuters notes an armed clash in Baghdad that began yesterday and ended today with 7 'suspects' killed and three police officers wounded while also noting "A mob stormed the house of a member of a U.S.-backed neighbourhood patrol and stabbed him to death in the town of Garma".
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 8 corpses discovered in Baghdad
In other news, the puppet government is stating it will hold a census at the end of next year -- yes, they've promised a census before.  Don't get your hopes up.
"I said, hell is so close, and heaven's out of reach/I ain't givin' up quite yet/ I've got too much to lose" (Augustana's "Sweet and Low," Can't Love, Can't Hurt, Epic Records).  Bully Boy gave a speech in Colorado Springs today.  Michael Abramowitz (Washington Post) observes, "President Bush acknowledged to 'learngin as we go' in building democracy in Iraq, as he used a commencement address at the U.S. Air Force Academy Wednesday to counsel patience and resolve in America's wars of the 21st century." For laughs, full speech here and note how he's confused about which people ("a new mission: Protect the American people -- Iraqi people") and here's Bully Boy defining 'success' and 'victory': "So in Iraq and Afghanistan, we set a clear definition of success: Success will come when al Qaida has no safe haven in those countries and the people can protect themselves from terror. Success will come when Iraq and Afghanistan are economically viable. Success will come when Iraq and Afghanistan are democracies that govern themselves effectively and respond to the will of their people. Success will come when Iraq and Afghanistan are strong and capable allies on the war on terror. Men and women of the Air Force: These successes will come -- and when they do, our nation will have achieved victory, and the American people will be more secure."  Barack Obama would like to be president -- first he'd need to win the Democratic Party's presidential nomination -- and certainly anyone idiotic enough to think the US has 57 states is Bully Boy's undeclared son.  Yesterday he was caught in yet another lie: His uncle rescued people in Auschwitz.  Only it wasn't his uncle.  Maybe it was his "great uncle".  Oh, and maybe it was Buchenwald.  Here for Jeralyn (TalkLeft), here for Elaine, here for Mike and Wally and Cedric's did a joint-post on it.
Today Amy Goodman demonstrate she is filth, human trash and so much more than just living in a political closet.  Long after the nonsense over Friday's remarks by Hillary were over, Trash Goody had to 'cover' them today.  The same piece of trash that has NEVER mentioned James Burmeister's name, has NEVER told her audience that Corey Glass was informed last Wednesday that he was being deported from Canada on June 12th, go down the list.  She's not but human filth.  Bob Somerby (Daily Howler) explains how trash came to make the non-story a story: "Obama's campaign told the 'press corps' to jump.  The 'press corps' barked and then wondered: How high?"  There was nothing wrong with what Hillary Clinton said and it wasn't news in March but Obama's campaign e-mailed and faxed it and got all the WHORES of the 'press' (include Red Amy Goodman right next to Keith Olbermann) to swing their tired, flabby asses under the streetlamp for another night -- may they call contract a social disease.  In the real world (translation, where propagandist Amy Goodman could never work), Jake Tapper (ABC News) reports Gallup's latest poll "seems to re-affirm Sen. Hillary Clinton's argument that she is likelier to beat Sen. John McCain than is Sen. Barack Obama."  Maureen Dowd (no link to trash) produced more trash for today's New York Times and, at some point, maybe someone should ask the obvious: Why would Bill Clinton tell Hillary to drop out and why would she follow that?
As someone who has known the Clintons for over 15 years, yes, Bill listens to Hillary, yes, Hillary listens to Bill.  But they both make up their own minds.  It sure is interesting that no man's wife was ever instructed by the press to tell him to drop out but the press feels more than comfortable insisting Bill should tell Hillary to drop out.  It's sexism and let's not pretend it's anything else.  Caryl Rivers (WeNews) notes the very real backlash Hillary is confronting:
Put these disparate items together and you see the clear message: Women have gone too far, and they shouldn't be running for president. They belong at home, and in fact are choosing to stay home. So why shouldn't males get the college spots, and who cares about workplace discrimination?         
As president Hillary Clinton could change at least some of this. That's why it's so hard to listen to the delegate-counters say her prospects are fading.
Some women are fighting back.
On May 20, the Women's Media Center launched a "Sexism Sells, But We're Not Buying It" campaign against the pervasive sexism in the media's election coverage. The group's Web site offers a petition for you to sign, chiding media outlets for their performance. "Sexism isn't a partisan issue," it says. "We're not going to let anyone hit the snooze button on this important issue!"
To which I say, "Amen!"
Meanwhile Shamus Cooke (Socialist Appeal) observes, "As Barack Obama's anti-war rhetoric is blasted around the country in his attempt to seal the Democratic nomination, his real position on U.S. militarism is being revealed discretely to his political, military, and corporate colleagues. Two recent examples prove beyond any doubt that Obama is in total conformity with the U.S. ruling class on the issue of maintaining -- or even expanding --  the role of the military in the Middle East. This of course is the complete opposite of what he tells those who fill stadiums to hear him speak."  Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report) explores Obama at length but we'll note this section:
It is fair to say that Somalia is the first African war to be tackled by the new American military command, Africom. So widespread is public opposition on the continent, fearing an attempt to re-colonize the region, no country has agreed to host the Africom. But Barack Obama fully supports the robust U.S. military presence. "There will be situations that require the United States to work with its partners in Africa to fight terrorism with lethal force," said Obama. "Having a unified command operating in Africa will facilitate this action."          
Obama's enthusiasm for swamping Africa in an ever-expanding "war on terror," is obvious.
On the western shores of the continent, Obama was rumored in early May to have proposed a cease fire in the guerilla war over oil resources in Nigeria's Niger River delta. The insurgents, who claim the central government excludes delta residents from the benefits of oil production, have also asked former President Jimmy Carter to mediate the dispute. Whether anything comes of either request, it is certain that Nigeria, Africa's number one oil producer, will always be a leading candidate for Africom intervention. The presence of guerillas in the delta is all the Americans - including, based on his own words, Obama - will need to invoke the terror threat.
For more on the topic, see The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Idiots:"
As we've long noted, Barack also promotes war in Africa and, as others seem to forget, the whole point of abandoning Europe and setting up bases in Africa was that the US wants to stage new wars in that region. Bully Boy, attempting to secure land for bases, was rebuffed by African leaders. Do you really think "Son of Kenya" is going to be rebuffed? Do you really think some of the hype about Barack on the part of the same media that sold you the illegal war isn't over the fact that US imperialism can expand? 
Hillary trying to get US bases is just another White impearilist to rebuff. (She's made no statements indicating she wants the US to take part in wars in Africa. By contrast, Samantha Power got on board Bambi's Senate work to sell him war on Darfur and he still echoes Power's opinion.) "Son of Kenya" could get those bases. And it's amazing that so many allegedly 'anti-war' types are silent on that fact.         

The Iraq War has taken place. It is ongoing. It's laughable to see 'peace' 'leaders' refuse to call out what's set to come in Africa. It's laughable to watch them avoid using the term "

AFRICOM was supposed to be up and running by now. It is up and running . . . in Germany but the failure to secure land deals for bases has stymied it somewhat.  May 23, 2002,
Mike Crawley's article in The Christian Science Monitor opened with the following:

In the search for alternative sources of oil outside the politically volatile Middle East, the US is increasingly turning toward a place not normally seen as a major energy producer: sub-Saharan Africa.           
The region's crude oil production surpassed 4 million barrels a day in 2000 – more than Iran, Venezuela, or Mexico. The US currently gets 16 percent of its oil imports from sub-Saharan Africa -- almost as much as from Saudi Arabia. And, according to projections by the National Intelligence Council, that proportion will reach 25 percent by 2015, surpassing the entire Persian Gulf. The vast majority of it will come from a stretch of coastline between Nigeria and Angola called the Gulf of Guinea.
Samantha Power, for those who've forgotten, is Our Modern Day Carrie Nations and The Nation magazine (the 'anti-war' Nation magazine) has been happy to run her garbage.  Those in the peace movement stupid enough to listen to 'leaders' saying Barack will end the illegal war damn well better be willing to own what's planned for Africa.