Friday, June 06, 2008

Iraq snapshot

Friday, June 6, 2008.  Chaos and violence continue, Barack isn't 'pledging' to do anything on Iraq, the VA computer systems lack all security, Nader qualifies for Arizona ballot, and more.


Starting with war resistance.   Teviah Moro (The Orillia Packet & Times) reports that the Quakers in Orillia will demonstrate tomorrow in an attempt to register their support for war resisters in Canada. Ottawa, Nelson, B.C., Victoria, B.C., Port Dover, Sarnia and Strathory will also hold demonstrations. Moro notes: "Organizers of the Orillia rally, to be held outside the Opera House from 12:30 to 1:30 p. m., aim to explain the underlying issues of the pending deportations and will have petitions on hand."

The rallies will be taking place to underscore the recent action in Canada's Parliament. Tuesday Canada's House of Commons passed a motion granting war resisters safe harbor. The motion is non-binding but it is hoped that the country's prime minister, Stephen Harper, will honor it. It is especially important with regards to US war resister Corey Glass. May 21st, US war resisters and Iraq War veteran Glass was informed that he had until June 12th to leave Canada or he would be deported. That is six days from now. Will the non-binding motion prevent the conservative Harper from ordering Glass' deportation? Rick Salutin (Toronto Globe & Mail) doesn't seem optimistic noting that from an AIDS conference (global conference) to any other issue, Harper loves to say no to the people: "Lately, it's been no to a safe-injection site in Vancouver; provincial climate plans; Ontario's budget; an inquiry into the Bernier case; letting U.S. war resisters stay. For a government, the Conservatives are uniquely, bizarrely litigious, the sign of a mentality that loves to fight."

With more on that, this is from Michael Werbowski (OhmyNews International) reports that the vote on the motion "comes just in time for US army recruit Corey Glass, 25, a war resister who came to Canada in 2006 and was recently told to leave Canada by June 12 or face removal to the United States, welcomed the vote. Upon hearing the news of the motion passed by the lower house, Glass expressed his appreciation for the parliamentarians, "I'm thankful that the MPs voted to let me and the other war resisters stay in Canada. I'm also thankful to all the Canadians who urged their MPs to support us."


Meanwhile, It was two years ago today, as Austin Jenkins (OPB News) notes, that Ehren Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse deployment to Iraq in June 2006. In August 2006, he faced and Article 32 hearing. In February, he faced a kanagroo court-martial. Judge Toilet (aka John Head) declared a mistrial over defense objection as Watada was about to take the stand (after which the defense would have rested and the military jury would have reached a decision). Judge Toilet forgot a lot that day. He announced that a new court-martial would take place in March but that was really beyond his call (and why no court-martial took place then). He also forgot about the US Constitution, popularly known as "the law of the land," and it's provision against double-jeopardy. In November of last year, as Judge Toilet repeatedly tried to force another court-martial, US District Judge Benjamin Settle ruled that no action could take place until the double-jeopardy was resolved. Watada has been in limbo since. William Cole (Honolulu Advertiser) speaks to Ehren's father, Bob Watada who has "suggested to his son's attorneys that they somehow force a conclusion to the issue" and whom Cole quotes stating, "The attorneys are talking to the Army.  They aren't telling me what they are saying, but they are talking to them."  Austin Jenkins (OPB News) quotes one of Watada's two civilian attorneys, Ken Kagan, declaring, "It's conceivable that the appeals process in the 9th Circuit could consume anywhere from 18 months to three years.  So that is a limbo that is very hard for Lt. Watada to imagine but he's prepared to do what he needs to do."



There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Megan Bean, Chris Bean,  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).
Shhhh.  Listen?  It's the sound of hundreds of computers in Panhandle Media  booting up over their sobs as they force determination to yet again sell their political crush as someone who will end the illegal war.  Media anointed Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is not 'anti-war' and is not seriously opposed to the illegal war.  But if you didn't have Tommy Hayden, Laura Flanders and the gang lying for him non-stop, people wouldn't think otherwise, now would they?  (Those two named because they have both -- in February -- talked about how Barack's feet need to be held to the fire and yet they've never done so.  Someday I suppose, as the Mighty Bosstones once sang.)
The Press Trust of India reports that Barack told CNN he would "not tule out the possibility that conditions on the ground could alter his policy of immediately beginning a troop withdrawal and that Barack insisted of his 'pledge' to end the illegal war, "Well, you know, I'd never say there's 'nothing' or 'never' or 'no way' in which I'd change my mind."
Confronted with his statements on withdrawal policy, Obama replied, "Well, you know, I'd never say there's 'nothing' or 'never' or 'no way' in which I'd change my mind".  He spoke of "broader perspective"s and offered praise for Gen David Petraeus.  It's shocking only if you've trusted the liars of Panhandle Media.  Barack has changed his position on the Iraq War repeatedly.  While running for the US Senate, he told Elaine and I at a big money, private fundraiser that he didn't favor withdrawal.  His attitude was that the US was in Iraq now and had to win.  (Neither Elaine nor I contributed to his run.  We both immediately walked out of the fundraiser.)  At that point he was a myth of the radical left, an "anti-war" candidate.  The press picked up on that and he became the "anti-war" Senator which required ignoring not only his public statements (his many public statements) but his continued voting for the illegal war once he got into the US Senate.  Throughout the campaign, he has signaled (and sometimes stated) to the mainstream press that his stance is far from it's portrayed.  "Hopelessly Devoted To Barack" Tom Hayden made a real ass out of himself doing a quickie write up of an NYT article co-written by Michael Gordon.  The reality of what was what was in the transcript of the interview which the paper posted online.  In February, after his advertsiments where he robotically declared that his mother died of cancer, the campaign went into overtime with an advertisement that played like the Pepsi Generation (truly, it was the late 60s and early seventies Pepsi generation commercials).  To a bad 'rock' guitar, the commercial opened and featured quick shots of Barack barking out sentences while groupies swooned.  "We want . . ." he barked over and over, a laundry list of demands.  The Iraq War was on it.  But Barack wasn't running to be "we," he was running to become the nominee of the Democratic Party and then the president.  There were no "I will end the Iraq War."  All he did was offer what "we" wanted.  It got the psychos in Panhandle Media excited.  Of course, were he serious about ending the illegal war, his campaign would have stolen not the Pepsi commercials of that period, but the Coke commericals: I'd like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony . . .
There was no "pledge" or "promise" made to end the illegal war, despite the groupies like Tom Hayden going bug-eyed crazy in their efforts to pretend otherwise (a fleeting sentence delivered in Houston, TX, as ginned up by Hayden into a new plan for Iraq). Then came the crash and burn of his advisor (a counter-insurgency supporter and War Hawk) Samantha Power.  The pathetics in Panhandle Media made themselves laughable -- and include John Nichols, Davey D and BuzzFlash at the top of that list.  Poor Samantha "fired" (Power resigned) for calling Hillary Clinton a "monster."  Poor sweet Sammy.  No, she resigned because of the damage she did with the press in England.  The "monster" insult was the trivia the MSM pumped out.  On that same trip, she insulted Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of the UK and presumed ally of the next US administration regardless of who becomes president, and she gave an interview (that Panhandle Media refused to cover) to the BBC where she explained that Barack would be not be held accountable, if elected president, to any 'pledges' about Iraq he's making on the campaign trail.  She explained, as an advisor to Barack and a campaign insider, that any plans about what to do in Iraq would be decided only after he entered the White House.  Had that interview gotten the attention it should have, Barack would have faced tough questions.  That didn't happen.  It wasn't of interest to the corporate media (which still wants the illegal war) to give it much traction and the rejects of Panhandle Media are in love with Barack because of his 'connections' (his using of) Saul, Bernardine and Bill.  They deluded themselves into believing he was a Socialist when he is just a user who will use anyone regardless of political ideology in his efforts to climb to the top.
The Queen of the Beggars, Amy Goodman, wanted credit for a few minutes (two?) she aired of her speaking with Barack.  In it, he basically repeated what Samantha Power had said.  Goody never pursued that in panel discussions (all panel discussions accepted the lie that he was against the illegal war and would immediately end it).  Goody never connected it with the Samantha Power BBC interview (though Barack was making the same points Power had months prior) and she never wrote one of her bad columns, where she recycles some segment of her show, on the topic.  It was lie, lie, lie, denial, denial.  They worked overtime not to include  Eli Lake (New York Sun) report in the narrative.  Lake reported that the "day-to-day coordinator" of Barack's campaign had just written a paper which argued for 60,000 to 80,000 US troops to remain in Iraq "as of late 2010, a plan at odds with the public pledge of the Illinois senator to withdraw combat forces from Iraq within 16 months of taking office."
Among the very few who have tried to maintain perspective and stick to reality about War Hawk Barack are Phyllis Bennis, John Pilger, Doug Henwood and Juan Gonzalez. It's a very small list.  By contrast, most have offered 'reasons' of support for Barack like the insane Dave Lindorff who believes Barack should be supported because Barak is "a black candiate who has risked jail by doing drugs."
The violence continues every day in Iraq and Barack, not even having the nomination, already signals it's a-okay with him.  In some of today's reported violence . . .
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a home bombing in Sulaiman Beck, a Jalwla roadside bombing that wounded one person. Reuters notes a woman blew herself in at a Ramadi police station claiming the life of 1 police officer and injuring four more and, dropping back to Thursday, that 4 people were killed in Sadr City from a US air strike.
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 suspects shot dead in Al Anbar Province, 1 police officer shot twice in Al Anbar Province and wounded and 1 civilian shot in Kirkuk. Reuters notes 3 police officers were shot dead in Dour.
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 person kidnapped in Kirkuk.
Yesterday CNN's Jamie McIntyre broke the latest Department of Defense news on CNN Newsroom:
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT:  Asked to resign, which is code for firing, is the top civilian in charge of the Air Force, Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne and the top military general in charge of the Air Force, Air Force Chief of Staff General Mike Moseley. The two top leaders of the Air Force are being replaced because Secretary Gates has received a highly critical report of how the Air Force has reacted to an embarrassing incident last year which a B-52 bomber flew across country with six nuclear-tipped cruise missiles that nobody knew were live nuclear weapons until the plane landed in Barksdale , Louisiana .There were supposed to be big changes made from that. But a recent inspection of the base was less than satisfactory, and Secretary Gates just got a report on his desk from an independent investigator, a Navy admiral who has been in charge of reviewing what the Air Force has done to take care of this. It's not just this issue though. There have been a number of leadership issues in the Air Force including questions about a conflict of interest around a high-profile public relations contract that was left from the Air Force. And all of that together led Secretary Gates to decide that he was going to take decisive action.It's not unlike what he did when he heard about the shortcomings at Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital . In that case, he fired the Army secretary and head of the hospital there, as well -- Brianna.

There have been a number of issues with the Veterans Administration Dept as well but no heads are rolling.  At the start of the week, Mary Mosquera (FCW) reported, "Sensitive data on about 1,000 patients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and other military hospitals might have been compromised, Walter Reed spokesman Chuck Dasey said.  The names of the patients, who are enrolled in the Military Health System, their Social Security numbers and birth dates were among the personally identifiable information in a computer file that was shared without authorization, officials said June 2." AP broke this news about the May 2006 breach at Walter Reed.  The key point of the reports is how the Office of Management and Budget issued orders, in 2006, for increased securit on the part of the VA.  But they broke it with the government explaining this week about the 2006 computer breach.  We (Ava and C.I.) revealed earlier this week that there's a VA breach that took place after the breach the government is now admitting to.  This breach has nothing to do with Walter Reed.  The basics are that an over-forty-years-old male (who name rhymes with "Los Lobos" and who is a veteran) used a civilian computer to access veterans records.  The government is not only aware of the breach, they investigated it.  They didn't do a very good job.  The government does not know what the person viewed or changed.  They know that, from the basement of a non-federal government building, he used a PC to enter the VA's computer database without permission or authorization.  Present when he did this was a woman (also a civilian and one who has never served in the military) whom the government never questioned.  What the government did do was call together the suspect's superiors at his place of employment -- a four story building whose fourth floor is not used for anything (the basement counted as a floor makes for five floors) -- on the second floor in what passed for an investigation.  Those civlians 'assisting' in the investigation of the breach that happened at their place of business were known as "administration."  (E.g., they spoke with "administration.")  The investigation could not figure out whether the supsect was telling the truth about why he entered the VA system without permission and, certainly, to know about that they should have spoken with the woman present when the breach occurred.  The suspect offered two versions of his story and that may be what confused the investigators (though it was very simple for us to track down the particulars).  They do know, due to the suspect admitting to it, that the records of someone who served during Vietnam (and only during Vietnam) were accessed.  (Hint to reporters, that leads to your human interest angle).  The suspect briefly told government investigators a story regarding that Vietnam era veteran that the investigators did not buy; however, it was easily checked out had they bothered to speak to the Vietnam veteran (which they never did).  There is fear that the suspect altered the Vietnam veteran's record (we are told by civilian sources that no alteration of that record took place).  Why does the government think that?  It goes to the human interest angle.  In terms of hard news, the angle is the "how."  The "how" of it goes to a huge flaw that was supposed to have been addressed and was never addressed.  It goes to lack of oversight at the VA. 
We're not here to spoonfeed news outlets, get off your lazy asses and don't expect two media critics to do all your work.  (It's as if today's Woodward & Bernsteins expect you not only to spill the beans, but also type up their reports and then wipe their asses.)  The federal goverment made a big deal this week about honesty and 'fessed up to problems in May of 2006.  The 2007 breach is more serious not because of the suspect or what he may or may not have done but how he got into the system without authorization.  The breach should never happened and were basic guidelines followed (guidelines that any civilian computer system would follow), it never would have happened.  The big story is the "how" of the breach, not the "who." And it goes to the OMB's orders not being followed.  The first three digits of the civilian location where the breach took place are "312."  The street has "East" in it.  And the street's name was also the name of a long running TV show but in singular not plural.  We're done spoonfeeding the press except to advise NYT that Ralph should have had this story.
This is our third (here's the second) and last spoonfeeding.  After the "how," the "who" still isn't the next big story.  The big story then is how the federal government attempted to bury the breach.  That wasn't just by still not telling the public about it.  It also included a rush to wrap up the investigation before it was complete (the orders for the wrap up came from high up).  That's why the woman who witnessed the breach was never interviewed.  It was that woman's computer that was used to breach the VA system.  There's no reason not to interview her.  All this time later, she's still not been interviewed by the government.  When the investigation was ongoing, a family emergy meant she was "unaccessible" (to her place of employment but nothing prevented the investigators from seeking her out away from her place of her work) and the rush to wrap up the investigation and keep the entire matter on the down low meant she was never interviewed.  The big story is the "how" and goes to the lack of security.  The next angle is the rush to keep the story as quiet as possible which includes rushing through an investigation.  The suspect himself is really not a huge part of the hard news story.  (And the suspect, for the record, is the only person we have not spoken to.) (There are feature articles to be found throughout.)
Turning to US political news, Team Nader reports that US presidential candidate Ralph Nader needed nearly 22,000 signatures to get on the ballot in Arizona and that over 65,000 were collected.  Ralph Nader and his running mate Matt Gonzalez should now be on the ballot in Arizona -- barring any dirty tricks on the part of the DNC.  Despite Nader's strong polling when his name included in the polling, there is an effort on the part of the MSM and Panhandle Media to ignore his campaign.  Today, Team Nader points to another example of how the independent candidate is shut out of the discussions and argues the case for Nader-Gonzalez as the only agents of change:

"How do you get people to vote against their own self interest?  That's the trick.

One way is to make people believe in a dream. That's what all of the mainstream politicians are doing - feeding that dream. Obama is feeding a dream - a dream of change and renewal. He's feeding a dream that the conditions that surround us - Iraq, the economy, the racial divide, the class divide in this country - that they are magically going to go away by voting for this centrist Democrat. That is nonsense, of course. Obama is not proposing any structural changes.  McCain is feeding us the dream, the fantasy of power and control. That somehow the military might of the U.S. will prevail across the globe. These are fantasies that are being fed by the politicians. They are not so much lies, as delusions. But we will have brought it on ourselves by supporting these politicians.

By ignoring any candidate or any ideas that might conflict with those dreams. The Obama moment is a feel good moment. It makes us feel good. But the programs Obama is proposing - up and down and all around - are the same centrist Democratic positions.

The same people are going to be running the show. All of the corporations are rapidly switching their contributions to the Democrats."

These are the words of the American novelist Russell Banks.

We heard Banks the other day interviewed by Chris Lydon on Radio Open Source. (Listen to the interview here.) What wasn't mentioned was Nader/Gonzalez. So, let us say it loud and clear. Nader/Gonzalez. Shift the power from the few to the many. Free our government of corporate domination. Restore the sovereignty of an engaged people. Don't fall for the trick. Help us put Nader/Gonzalez on the ballot. We're on our way to give the American people a choice in November. But we need your help. And we need it now.

You can give up to $4,600. But please, give whatever you can. Shift the power.

Feed the living, breathing people-powered alternative. Support Nader/Gonzalez.