Wednesday, July 2, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, Corey Glass gets big news, 'discussions' in Iraq (at the direction of DC), attacks on Iraqi judges continue, and more.
Starting with war resistance. In a dramatic development for US war resister Corey Glass, currently residing in Canada, there are no charges against him. May 21st was when Corey Glass was told he would be deported. Corey Glass is an Iraq War veteran and a US war resister. He went to Canada seeking asylum -- the kind of welcoming Canada provided to war resisters ("draft dodgers" and "deserters") during Vietnam. After being told he was being deported, 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. This morning Russell Goldman (ABC News) reported: "Unbeknownst to him and his legion of supporters, Glass, 25, was actually discharged from the U.S. Army shortly after he went AWOL in 2006. . . . According to U.S. Army documents and officials Glass was discharged from the California National Guard on Dec. 1, 2006, four months after he arrived in Canada and six months after he failed to show up to a required muster." Goldman quotes Corey stating, "I had absolutely no idea that I had been discharged. This is insane. This is so weird. There are no warrants? No one is looking for me?" According to Major Nathan Banks, the US military does not consider Glass AWOL or a deserter, there are no charges against Glass and Glass is out of the military.
Events planned are still being held. Corey Glass is not the only US war resister in Canada and he is also not necessarily in the clear. In the US, Courage to Resist is planning "July 9th actions at Canadian Consulates nationwide:"
Washington DC - Time TBA - 501 Pennsylvania Ave NW (map). Sponsored by Veterans for Peace. Info: TBA
To pressure the Stephen Harper government to honor the House of Commons vote, 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"). Courage to Resist collected more than 10,000 letters to send before the vote. Now they've started a new letter you can use online here. The War Resisters Support Campaign's petition can be found here.
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 Iraq, Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) reports that, unlike the US Congress, the Iraqi Parliament is postponing the summer vaction. Zavis reports that this is said to be in response to the allegedly upcoming provinical elections and the failure to pass the legislation that the US White House wants. For those remember last summer, the Iraqi Parliament was under criticism last year for taking a summer break. They ended up taking one resulting in some harsh criticism from inside the US. Meanwhile Sabrina Tavernise (New York Times) paints a portrait (intentionally or not) of Iraqis being conned: Hoshyar Zebari (Iraq's Foreign Minister) declares that immunity for contractors has been lifted and Iraq might have control of their own air space and . . . . Who is advising Iraqis on these contracts? Attorneys for the White House? The US State Department? Doubt it? James Hider (Times of London) speaks with a contractor who explains what the 'law' says and the 'reality': "But bringing to book any Western security guards accused of shooting civilians would be difficult, the contractor noted. 'If it's someone like Blackwater, nine times out of ten the individual is spirited out of the country'." Zebari was talking it up in Baghdad again today. Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) reports that Zebari declared at a Baghdad press conference today, "We have reached a comfortable stage of negotiations and the differences have been narrowed." As Raghavan and the Los Angeles Times' Doug Smith and Raheem Salman all note, Zebari is talking 'concessions' already (on both sides!). That would put the US client-state in an even weaker position. And is anyone else starting to note that 'progress' always 'happens' when Jalal Talabani is absent? Fresh from having the Mayo Clinic unplog his arteries, the ever-expanding Jalal Talabani is back in the news. BBC reports that yesterday, in Athens, Jalal (attending a conference, he wasn't there for sunbathing) shooks hands with Irsrael's Defense Minister Ehud Barak. And that Talabani's office quickly issued a "statement [which] said he was responsding to a request from Mr Abbas and was acting as leader of his Kurcihs party and deputy president of the Sociliast International, not as Iraq's president." Finishing the Talabani portion, Turkish Daily News reports he "was elected to a vice-chairmanship in the Socialist International over the leader of the main opposition Republican People's Party, or CHP, who avoided attending the summit in Greece and therefore was not nominated". On the issue of the treaty, Watching America has translated Palestinian Writer's piece (written for al Jazeera):
The first step in getting Iraq out from underneath its catastrophe is the withdrawal of American troops. . . . The most stunning of those who fear for an Iraq in which the Americans leave are those who want to sign a security agreement with the Bush administration, or an American-Iraqi treaty which is now on the agenda and of which some items have already been leaked. It gives the right for the occupation to stay in Iraq for an indefinite amount of time of up to several years, or even a permanent occupation. And with a permanent occupation would come a permanent catastrophe that would be renewed and everlasting. Signing a security agreement or a militay/political/security treaty alongside the crime that is the proposed oil agreement would require a hand in treachery to Iraq, to Arabs and to Muslims, under any and all circumstances.
Meanwhile the United Arab Emirates' The National sees talk that the Sunni bloc -- (Tawafaq Front) boycotting for a year now -- might return to the Iraqi Parliament as a sign of optimism. Remember that in a few weeks. (False hopes always die hard.) Closer to reality, Sabrina Tavernise reported today: "Another judge was the target of an intimidation campaign on Tuesday, at least the sixth in two days, in a trend that has alarmed Iraq's judiciary. A bomb was placed near the house of Judge Qusay al-Bayati, of the Court of Appeals in eastern Baghdad. The judges previously attacked were on the same court. The bomb was defused and did not explode."
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a US military camp in Baghdad was the target of an attack early this morning which started with exchanges of gunfire and then had "two 107mm rockets" fired at it (according to the US military) and 2 civilians were killed when the US returned fire, three Baghdad roadside bombings resulting in 2 deaths and nine people wounded
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Azad Argoshi was kidnapped Wednesday morning and later "found in very bad shape".
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad.
Turning to the US presidential race. Barack Obama continues to attempt to prove he is patriotic. Meanwhile this is how Ralph Nader described the country to Jim Lehrer (PBS' NewsHour) in 2000, "Well there are ups and downs. Obviously the slavery period was counteracted by the antislavery movement, women got the right to vote, workers got the right to form trade unions. They built the middle class. As they say, they gave us our weekend, they gave us benefits. The farmers' popular progressive movement against the banks and railroads companies that leavened power more; it gave people a chance to have more voice. So I think we have to look back at our history and say why is it every time concentrated power got too much and social justice movements opposed them, and the dominant business community opposed a social justice movement and finally lost, America was better as a result. Everybody benefited, including the businesses because democracy tends to expand markets." In 2000 at this time, Nader was coming in at four-percent in most polls. The most recent CNN-Opinion Research Poll found him to be holding at 6%.
On the Iraq War, while Barack wants credit for a speech he 'gave' in 2002 (online recording is a 're-creation'), what has he done since? While Barack was supporting Bully Boy's illegal war throughout 2004 and stating repeatedly that he didn't know how he would have voted if he had been in the Senate, Ralph Nader knew where he stood in 2004: "Every day our exposed military remains in war-torm Iraq, we impreil U.S. security, drain our economy, ignore urgent domestic needs, and prevent Iraqi demonstratic self-rule. We need to announace a withdrawal of our troops, not increase them." In May of 2004, speaking to the Council of/for/from Foreign Relations, he would explain (in the belly of the beast): "After 9-11, it's now become quite clear that whatever emphasis there was on the al Qaeda apparatus, there was a superior emphasis on removing Saddam Hussein from Iraq. What's interesting about this is the following. It illustrated -- in ways perhaps never before illustrated in our country -- the fragility of our democratic institutiatons. Here is a nation run by a tottering dictator presiding over a diplated army, with troops not willing to fight for him, surrounded by hostile Kurds to the north, hostile Shiites to the south, surrounded by three very powerful countries compared to his military ability: Iran, Turkey and Israel. And had he directed one aggressive threat toward any of them, they would have obliterated his regime. And yet Iraq under Hussein was viewed as a threat to the United States? But what was most troubling was the lack of any deliberative process by the US Congress which was stampeded into this situation, lack of any deliberative or investigative process by the mass media which clicked their heels and loved the graphics that they were given, and without a deliberative attentiveness to the perceived concerns of the American people. Before the invasion of Iraq, we tried to have Bush meet with one or more distinct groups in our country who had knowledge and were concerned about the invasion of Iraq. Thirteen of these groups, with very little press attention, wrote open letters to President Bush in February and early March, asking for a meeting. They included letters signed by the National Council of Churches, former military officers, former intelligence officials, student groups, women's peace advocates, a business group, labor group. I don't know of any other impending hostility that had such an ecumentical coming-together, expressing doubt and opposition to the pending move. None of these letters were answered by the White House. There were no meetings. President Bush, being the messianic militarist that we've come to know so well, was not interested in meeting with anyone who was critical of his proposed Iraq policies. That was a severe scar on our democratic fabric."
Meanwhile Steve Holland (Reuters) notes Barack's "flexibility" and "nuance on Iraq". Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report), endorsing Cynthia McKinney (presumed Green Party nominee), observes, " The true voices of peace speak clearly, in simple language. 'The U.S. should withdraw all troops and mercenaries from Iraq in as orderly a fashion as possible,' says former Georgia congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, candidate for the Green Party's presidential nomination. 'This withdrawal should be quickly accomplished, since the troops and the equipment were all pre-positioned in the area to start with, at the start of the invasion'."
And Team Nader notes:
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