Monday, July 7, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, a Canadain judge issues a verdict favorable to US war resister Joshua Key, Nouri 'floats' the idea of US withdrawal, the grassroots campaign of Ralph Nader meets their goals, and more.
Starting with war resistance. On Friday, a decision was released in Canada. The Canadian Press notes the finding of Judge Robert Barnes of Canada's Federal Court, issued Friday, which found that, contrary to the Immigration and Refugee 'Board''s opinion, "Officially condoned military misconduct falling well short of a war crime may support a claim to refugee protection." ["Board" because the full committee does not hear the claims or the appeals, one person does.] The individual's case under review was Joshua Key who stated, "It's quite a statement."
Joshua Key: There was one incident in Ramadi, my second time there, which I was on a QRF mission. It was like a SWAT team for the military for some instance. We were on call for a twenty-four-hour timeframe. We got the call late at night, early in the morning. It was--we were going on the banks of the Euphrates River. We took a sharp right turn, and on the left-hand side I see four decapitated Iraqi bodies. When we parked our armored personnel carrier, I was told to get out and find evidence of a firefight or such, if happened. There was this American soldier on the right with American soldiers around him, and he was saying they had lost it there. On the left-hand side, there was American soldiers kicking one of the heads around like a soccer ball. So at that time, I got back inside my APC. The next day, I asked if I could see a written statement or if I could put my--for what I had seen at that location, and I was told it was none of my concern, none of my business. So, that's when I started questioning things.
Saturday Kitchener-Waterloo War Resisters' Support Campaign held a rally and, among the speakers, US war resister Kevin Lee. Appeal from Canada's faith communities to the Government of Canada:"
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 where Doug Smith (Los Angeles Times) reports that the United Arab Emirates has agreed to forgive Iraqi debt and that the amount is said to be four million dollars but may go as high as seven million. Camilla Hall (Bloomberg News) notes a development in the ongoing illegal war: press reports that puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki intends "to set a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops as part of the agreement" the White House and al-Maliki are engaged in devising/scheming. BBC uses the term "floats" to underscore this isn't an actual position, merely a concept, and that al-Maliki might find support for the treaty from Iraq's Parliament if it was carried out. The puppet has a history of standing up to the White House for a day or two before caving. (Such as when he said the concrete walls would not go up in Baghdad -- a statement that had the Iraqi military ignoring him and the US continuing to build them.) It may also be an attempt to soften resistance to the treaties in Iraq just by floating the notion. Yesterday Lourdes Garcia-Navarro (NPR's All Things Considered) reported the treaty (commonly known as the "Status of Forces Agreement" -- there is another one as well) was "in trouble." Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) observes, "Many Iraqis, including members of Maliki's own government, view a deal as a surrender of sovereignty to an occupying force. Setting a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops could ease those fears." James Hider (Times of London) quotes al-Maliki speaking with plenty of wiggle room, ""The current trend is to reach an agreement on a memorandum of understanding either for the departure of the forces or to put a timetable on their withdrawal."
In today's New York Times, Alissa J. Rubin reports on a trip last month to Diyala Province, seemingly calm, but with fighting around the edges (and within as daily violence reports demonstrate -- including today). Police chief Ghanem al-Khoreishi states he has "lost 1,585 policemen and had 1,650 wounded," that his home has been bombed and that for one four-month period, he was not able to leave the police headquarters (even to go home) due to safety issues. Zaid Sabah (Washington Post) reports, "A wave of attacks in Baghdad and areas north of the capital Sunday shattered a relative lull in violence, killing 16 people and injuring 15 a day after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki declared that Iraq's government had defeated terrorism." Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reported Sunday's wave including multiple bombings (with at least 14 dead and at least twenty-nine wounded), 1 person shot dead (another wounded), 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad and 2 "female students" kidnapped in Mosul.
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing that left four people wounded, a female bomber in Diayal Province who killed herself in 2 other people with fourteen wounded ("mostly women and children"), a Baquba roadside bombing that claimed 2 lives, another that claimed 4 lives with three people wounded, a Mosul mortar attack that left six people wounded, a Kirkuk roadside bombing targeting the home of "Mayor of Sulaiman Bek" which wounded him and "other civilians in the vicinity," and, dropping back to Sunday, an Al Anbar Province car bombing ("targeted Sahwa Council offices") which left eleven "Awakening" Council members wounded. Reuters notes a Samara car bombing that killed the driver and claimed the lives of 4 "Awakening" Council members with nine more wounded.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a woman shot dead in Baquba, an "Awakening" Council member shot dead in Baquba, 1 person shot dead in Salahuddin Province with another wounded
Turning to the US race for president. Barack Obama's (presumed Democratic Party nominee) waffle on Iraq is still in the news. As "Letters to An Old Sell Out: Iraq" (The Third Estate Sunday Review) notes, Tom Hayden took to blog on July 4th insisting that Samantha Power's March interview on the BBC (given while she was still Barack's foreign policy advisor, aired after she resigned) indicated the current waffle (it did) and that Hillary Clinton campaign's and the MSM ignored it (they didn't -- Clinton issued statements, her campaign held a confrence call on the issue -- which David Corn sneared at online at Mother Jones, the campaign made a commerical; the Washington Post and Boston Globe were among the MSM outlets covering it as real news). Hayden's playing jilted bride was all the more comical when one looks at Panhandle Media and, specifically, his outlet The Nation magazine. Panhandle Media worked overtime to ignore that BBC interview. The Nation never mentioned it (though they repeatedly -- and falsely John Nichols -- wrote of Powers after she left the Obama campaign) (she's back with it now). The failure to get the word out (that Power revealed Barack's 'promise' to withdraw combat troops from Iraq wasn't actually a promise and he'd decide what to do if elected) was the fault of the allegedly 'independent' media which IGNORED the interview because they were all in love with Barack. Apparently in tears that he wouldn't get to wear his wedding dress to Barack's inauguration, Hayden (who couldn't stop citing his own 2007 writing) forgot to inform his readers that among the ones refusing to tell the people about the BBC interview was . . . Tom Hayden himself. It's a nice day, as Billy Idol once sang, to start again.
Meanwhile Christopher Keating (Capitol Watch) reports on independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader, "Despite getting relatively little attention from the national media, presidential candidate Ralph Nader says he is chipping away as his campaign moves toward Election Day on Nov. 4. The Connecticut native's campaign announced that it has reached its goal of being on the ballot in 10 states by July 6. The overall goal is 45 states, which would be an increase from Nader's level of 34 states in 2004." Team Nader notes:
What to do now?
On July 4, the New York Times documented Obama's flip flops on each of these issues and then proclaimed Obama New and Not Improved.
When we ask our friends who support Obama about his recent flip-flopping on these and other issues, they say something like this:
You have to pander to become President.
It doesn't matter where Obama stands on the issues -- it's the symbolism of change that matters.
Okay, so if it's the symbolism of change that matters to you, and not the substance, then please go and support Obama.
But if you actually want a candidacy that stands steadfast for shifting the power from the corporations back to the people, then please drop a five spot now on Nader/Gonzalez.
You'll be supporting a positive, rock solid, steadfast campaign.
Already, we're penciled in in ten states.
Richard Winger, the King of Ballot Access (and editor of Ballot Access News) predicts that come November, Nader/Gonzalez will be on in 44 to 45 states - up from 34 in 2004).
We're at six percent in the most recent CNN poll.
If we hit 10 percent, Ralph Nader will be debating the candidate of perpetual war McCain and the panderer in chief Obama in the Google/Youtube debates in New Orleans.
(Check out John Nichols this morning calling on Google to let Ralph debate.)
If Ralph gets into the debates, we're convinced he'll move above 10 percent.
If he moves above ten percent, America will sense a three way race.
If America senses a three-way race, why would it be any different from when Jesse Ventura ran for Governor of Minnesota?
(Okay, Ralph doesn't wear a boa.)
(By the way, in case you missed it, here's Ralph's July 4 riff on patriotism.)
All things are looking up.
All systems are go.
But we need your help to propel this campaign to the next level.
Together, we are making a difference.