Thursday, June 12, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, today was the day Corey Glass was deported from Canada, what agreement did Iran and Iraq work out, Katie Couric stands up against sexism and Pig Olbermann attacks, and more.
Starting with war resistance. May 21st was when Corey Glass was told he would be deported. Glass is an Iraq War vet and a US war resister in Canada. He was to be deported today. Now he's been 'extended' through July 10th. June 3rd Canada's House of Commons voted (non-binding motion) in favor of Canada being a safe harbor for war resisters. And people and organizations are fighting very hard for Glass and other war resisters to be welcomed in Canada, not deported. Sault This Week carries the following:
FROM LEE ZASLOSKY, coordinator, War Resisters Support Campaign:
To keep the pressure on, Gerry Condon, War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist all encourage contacting the Diane Finley (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration -- 613.996.4974, phone; 613.996.9749, fax; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org -- that's "finley.d" at "parl.gc.ca") and Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, 613.992.4211, phone; 613.941.6900, fax; e-mail email@example.com -- that's "pm" at "pm.gc.ca").
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).
Turning to prisoners. The Supreme Court issued a landmark decision today in Boumediene et al v. Bush, President of the United States, et al [PDF format warning, click here for opinion]. CCR announces: "In one of the most important human rights cases of the decade, the Supreme Court of the United States held today, in a 5-4 decision, that the men imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay have the constitutional right to habeas corpus. One of the oldest and most basic legal protections, habeas corpus affords the incarcerated the right to stand before a judge and confront the charges presented against him or her. The Center for Constitutional Rights has been sending habeas counsel to represent the prisoners at the base since winning the first Guantánamo case, Rasul v. Bush, in 2004, and applauds today's decision." Ari Shapiro (NPR and link has text as well as audio from Shapiro and Ninan Totenberg) observes, "This is the third times the justices have told President Bush that his paln for handling foreign terrorists violates the Constitution." But there's more to today's news than that one aspect. James Oliphant (Baltimore Sun) points out, "In a decision related to its landmark holding Thursday granting Guantanamo detainees habeas corpus rights, the Supreme Court held that American citizens held prisoner in Iraq can also challenge their detentions in federal court. The court's ruling, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, was unanimous in holding that two American Muslims who traveled to Iraq to fight coalition forces there have access to U.S. federal courts to object to their continued detention in Iraq." The opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, is acknowledging that any American citizen held by American forces has a right to appeal that to the US court system; however, the opinion then offers that the two men (Mohammad Munaf and Shawqi Omar) are held in Iraq and that the US courts cannot prevent them from being handed over to the Iraqi government. So it was a victory in terms of affirming that US citizens around the world do have access to the federal courts to appeal imprisonment by the US military but it will not prevent Munaf and Omar from being turned over to the puppet government in Iraq.
On Tuesday, Walter Pincus (Washington Post) reported that prisoners "were likely to be held for longer periods as security risks than those prisoners taken when the U.S. troop buildup first began last year, according to Maj. Gen. Douglas Stone Jr., the former head of the Iraq detention program." Earlier this year, the US military [PDF format, CRC.OPAC.USA.Q1] noted: "Approximately 50 percent of those initially detained in Iraq are determined not to be inperative security threat, and these individuals are released at the unit location. Those assessed to be a threat are transferred to the TIF. At the TIF, the detaining command Magistrate Cell, consisting of judge adocates, conducts a thorough review of each individual's case. Based on this review, the Magistrate Cell either recommends the detainee be expeditiously released or retained as an imperative security threat." "TIF" refers to "Theater Internment Facility." Those claims, presented to the United Nations, just got tossed out the window via Stone's press conference this week. Felicity Arbuthnot (UN Observer) provides some reality on US prisons in Iraq:
However, "quis custodiat ipsos custodes?" "Who guards the guards?" Suppose the abusers are the United States military and the abused children are in their custody in Iraq. Neither Save the Children, Amnesty, Human Rights Watch (HRW) or other agencies have been allowed in to facilities where Iraqi children as young as ten are incarcerated in Iraq, under the oversight of Major General Douglas Stone, Deputy Commanding General Detainee Operations, Multi National Force-Iraq.
The US army has detained 2,400 children as young as ten years old since March 2003, according to a 21st May 2008 Human Rights Watch statement (some estimates are highter). Stone, who took over the position in May 2007, has named one correctional facility "The House of Wisdom", after the famous 9th to 13th century Bayt al Hikmah (House of Wisdom) at which scholars from around the globe studied and where Plato, Hippocrates, Euclid and Pythagoras were translated from the Greek and where Algebra was born.
In its 21st May statement, HRW said detention rates for children had risen drastically in 2007 to an average of 100 new cases a month from 25 a month in 2006. As of 12 May this year, the US military authorities were holding 513 Iraqi children classified as "imperative threats to security", HRW said in a statement.
Stone has said he is now fighting a "battlefield of the mind", introducing education and "religious enlightenment" to detainees. Amongst his charges of all ages are: "rotton eggs, you know, hiding in the Easter basket". Psychiatrists, psychologists, counsellors and interrogators help identify these 'miscreants.' Juveniles are allowed no outside legal representation, according to the UN Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswarmy and there are allegations that, as with women, they are often held to force an adult family male to give himself up. Human rights abuses plummet little lower, apart from rape and child abuse.
Today the ACLU announced they had "filed a federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit today for documents related to an investigation by the Justice Department's Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the abuse and torture of prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. Last month, the OIG released a report on the investigation, which was launched after internal government documents -- uncovered by another ACUL lawsuit -- revealed that FBI agents at Guantanamo raised concerns about abusive techniques used by military interrogators." The Bully Boy of the Unites States, in Rome making nice with Berlusconi, had his own announcement, "First of all, it's a Supreme Court decision; we'll abide by the Court's decision. That doesn't mean I have to agree with it."
And NPR doesn't have to agree with reality. Monday they aired a report on Iraq that's no longer up at their website. "The improved security situation in Baghdad has allowed government officials to reclaim abandoned government property. Displaced Iraqis had been living in the buildings after they were forced to flee their homes because of fighting. Now, they are finding themselves homeless again." Sound familiar? It aired Monday on Morning Edition. It's no longer part of the broadcast. But it was aired and it was disgusting. It was also offensive news re-pimped. If you paid attention, you heard that assertion in 2006. If you paid attention in 2003, you heard how the buildings ended up occupied and why. Edward Wong (New York Times) reported that "American military officials say that although they have allowed squatters to remain in public buildings throughout the city, the Iraqi transitional government that will take power on July 1 will almost certainly want the buildings back for their own use, or at least will want to charge rent. . . . But the transitional government will probably try to sell much of the city's public property, since there is no need to hold on to it, Colonel [Paul L.] Aswell said." The tag sale the White House was lusting for. So, to go by what's known, there is talk (again) that Iraqis squatting in government buildings may be forced out. But, as Anna Badkhen (Salon) reports, there's really nowhere go. Badkhen notes al-Maliki's announcement that refugees need to return and return to their homes; however "in a twist that exemplifies the difficulty of restoring normalcy in Iraq, many of the Iraqis who do decide to return home will face a new obstacle that is a byproduct of American and Iraqi efforts to quell sectarian violence. It is a new law called the National Policy for Displacement, and it states that no displaced Iraqis can be forcibly removed from the place where they found refuge. . . . Many Iraqis who fled their homes found refuge in homes that belong to other people, who had run away from the fighting to go someplace else. Now, as the owners return home, encouraged by their government, they are finding their homes occupied by squatters who are protected by the new rules."
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad grenade attack that left six Iraqi soldiers injured, a Baghdad roadside bomb which "targeted the Shaab's mayor in Shaab neighborhood" and resulted in five people being injured, a Baghdad roadside bombing which "targeted the major general's convoy Sameer Al-Waeli, the head of the social attention in the ministry of interior" and left six injured, three more Baghdad roadside bombing which resulted in nine Iraqi soldiers being wounded, a Baghdad home bombing that claimed the lives of 3 people and left fifteen injured.
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 corpses discovered in Baghdad.
Yesterday at the US State Dept, Gonzalo R. Gallegos (Press Relations Dir) held a media conference and was asked about Nouri al-Maliki's visit to Iran and he replied that he didn't "have an assessment in terms of that" and stated they were "neighbors" and his "hope that the Iranians can engage with the Iraqi Government in a positive manner." But did the Iraqi leader (or 'leader') and the Iranian government come to an agreement? At a time when the White House and the puppet are having so many problems over the treaty disguised as a SOFA? Reuters reported this week that there was an agreement (according to IRNA news agency) that papers were signed (Mostafa Mohammad Najjar and Abdul Qader Jassim -- Iran and Iraq's Defence Ministers respectively) on defense, on "[m]ine clearance and the search for soldiers missing in action" and who knows what else. How would Gallegos or anyone at the State Dept asses that?
Turning to US politics. Yesterday on The CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric delivered one of her Notebook pieces. The piece addressed the fact that sexism was rampant in the media coverage.
Katie Couric: Over the last week it's been almost impossible to pick up a newspaper or turn on a cable show and avoid the endless post-mortems on Hillary Clinton's campaign. Senator Clinton has received her fair share of the blame and so has her political team. But, like her or not, one of the great lessons of that campaign is the continued and accepted role of sexism in American life -- particularly in the media. Many women have made the point that if Senator Obama had to confront the racist equivalent of an "Iron My Shirt!" poster at campaign rallies or a Hillary nutcracker sold at airports or mainstream pundints saying they instictively cross their legs at the mention of her name, the outrage would not be a footnote, it would be front page news. It isn't just Hillary Clinton who needs to learn a lesson from this primary season, it's all the people who crossed the line -- and all the women and men who let them get away with it. That's a page from my Notebook, I'm Katie Couric, CBS News.
As Peggy Simpson (WMC) noted earlier this week, Couric was just awarded an Alice award (named after the groundbreaking Alice Paul) by the Sewell-Belmont House. At the ceremony, she gave a speech where she noted that the media's job was to be objective. Some are seeing this as reference to Lee Cowan's on air confession to Brian Williams that it's "hard" for him to be objective about Barack Obama. If it was a reference to Cowan specifically, Couric was correct and media critics would be quick to agree. When you confess on air that you have a "hard" time being objective about someone you're covering, in a real news world, your ass is pulled from that beat because it's not only an issue of whether you can or cannot be objective, it's also an issue of how you are perceived. Couric was 100% correct. And FAIR and other outlets -- all strangely silent today -- have long made that point. What gives with the silence? As Jake Tapper (ABC News) points out, Keith Olbermann -- supreme PIG -- elected to 'award' Katie Couric the "Worst Person in the World" 'award' last night in yet another of his foaming at the mouth attacks on women which MSNBC so loves to broadcast. Couric's media criticism in her speech accepting the Alice was correct and there's not an ombudsperson that can beg to differ with her (and NPR and Washington Post ombudspersons in the past have made the exact same call on the need to avoid even the perception of a conflict of interest). Katie Couric's real 'crime' was daring to think that sexism was worth calling out because, as we have all seen for months and months, media 'critics' have stayed silent. They've treated sexism as a non-issue. Or, as Mike noted, when forced to deal with it, the way Howard Dean was, they toss out a word or two and then rush off to the topic of racism -- implying that sexism doesn't qualify as a topic in and of itself, certainly not an important one. Katie Couric was correct in her criticism and Keith Olbermann has attacked another woman for the 'crime' of expressing of an opinion. On the plus side, some seem to have received the message and we're not seeing non-trashing of Couric; however, some need to stand up and call Olbermann out. They egged him or gave their approval by refusing to call him out. Couric's comments are not out of bounds. They 'dare' to treat sexism as an offensive issue and 'dare' to say, yes, women matter in this world. For that, Pig Olbermann labels her the "Worst Person of the Week." Will FAIR stay silent? Will The Nation? We saw them stay silent for months as Olbermann foamed at the mouth and ripped apart women. Ava and I will be picking up this topic Sunday.
If you haven't donated to Nader/Gonzalez yet, please give five dollars now.
Here's why: despite what you've heard, we're making a difference in the here and now.
According to an article in today's Politico, two words explain the reason Obama and the Democrats are sounding more populist: Ralph Nader.
The author, Jeremy Lott, writes this:
"Nader's challenge convinced the powers that be in the party that they simply cannot afford to let a serious challenger get to the left of the party's presidential candidate. That helps explain why Dean was given the DNC chairmanship over a Clinton loyalist and why concerns about electability were brushed aside to make way for the junior Illinois senator's nomination."
We don't buy Lott's conclusion that the Democratic Party is now Nader's party.
Most of the Democrats' populism is mere posturing.
They talk national health insurance, but reject single payer public health insurance.
They talk about peace in the Middle East, but bow down to the right wing Israel lobby.
They talk about change, but want to increase the bloated wasteful military budget.
So, yes, Ralph Nader has had an effect.
The Democrats are now talking a more progressive game.
But it's mostly talk, talk, talk, no action.
Nader, on the other hand, is the real deal.
The mainstream media, like Politico, is starting to take note of our grassroots, independent campaign.
Nader is at six percent in national polls.
We're moving aggressively nationwide to put Nader/Gonzalez on the ballot.
And to get Nader and Gonzalez into the debates.
But now, more than ever, we need your help.
Today, we ask each of you to donate $5 to Nader/Gonzalez.
Of course, the more the merrier.
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