Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, July 16, 2008.  Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, reactions to US war resister Robin Long's deportation, today's scheduled court-martial, Katty-van-van takes it on the chin and nose, BonusGates still ignored by Panhandle Media, and more.


Starting with war resistance.  As noted yesterday, US war resister Robin Long was deported from Canada. Robin's story makes the New York Times today (A14) with an article by Ian Austen and a photo by Darryl Dyck (The Canadian Press) of Sarah Bjorknas.  Austen notes, "Mr. Long was expelled a day after the Federal Court of Canada rejected his request to delay his removal order pending further legal appeals.  That decision and Mr. Long's expulsion were somewhat unexpected.  Two other American deserters received Federal Court permission this month to stay in Canada to continue their appeals. . . . Sadia Qureshi, a spokeswoman for Diane Finley, the immigration minister, said agents from the Canada Border Service Agency sent Mr. Long back to the United States from British Columbia, where he had been living, at 9:55 a.m. local time."  Petti Fong (Toronto Star) speaks with War Resisters Support Campaign - Vancouver's Sarah Bjorknas, "In Ontario, where he lived for a time, Long was engaged to be married and had a child, according to Sarah Bjorknas, one of his supporters.  About 50 American deserters are currently making refugee claims to stay in Canada, said Bjorknas, and a couple of hundred are presumed to be living quietly underground." Robin and Renee had a child (the child and Renee are Canadian). That should have been enough for any Canadian court. Some form of immigration status should have been granted Robin since he was the father of a Canadian child. Check the laws -- something Judge Anna Mactavish appears not to have done.  As Ruth noted last night, "Today is very sad because Robin was deported. It is also very sad because a Canadian judge decided to break up a family. I hope the young boy is able some day to ask Judge Mactavish why she sent his father out of the country."  Chris Cook (Gorilla Radio) interviewed Sarah Bjorknas Monday nightUPI cites 'word warrior' army Major Nathan Banks who "said Long would be returned to Fort Knox, Ky., for disciplinary procedures, which could include prison time."  Courage to Resist explains, "Courage to Resist has made civilian legal representation available to Robin and will be doing everything possible to provide him our full support. We plan to collaborate with many other groups in our efforts to help Robin in the coming weeks. Refusing to fight in an illegal war is not a crime--except under the Uniform Code of Military (In)Justice."


Liam Lahey (The Villager) explores the reactions and notes: "Dale Landry is wanted by the U.S. Air Force for refusing to fight in Iraq after serving in Afghanistan.  Landry spent the night of July 14 in full uniform outside the U.S. Consulate on University Avenue in support of Long.  The Parkdale resident, who turned 23 this past week, lives with two other American military personnel in a small apartment."  Tom Banse (OPB News -- link has text and audio)

speaks with Iraq Veterans Against the War  Ash Woolson US war resister  who states, "The Canadian people are not for the war in Iraq.  It seems that the government is really pushing against these veterans and it's not the people."  Meanwhile Janice Tibbetts and Linda Nguyen (Canwest News Service) dig into the legal aspects: "'We've got a divided court,' said Toronto lawyer Geraldine Sadoway, whose client, Justin Colby, recently lost his refugee bid, after fleeing to Canada two years ago following a one-year stint as a medic in Iraq.  Ms. Sadoway says she cannot figure out why the Federal Court rejected Mr. Colby's claim on June 26, only one week before it handed the first ever victory to deserter Joshua Key, who also served in Iraq."


Robin is from Idaho and the Idaho Statesman notes, "A Boise native is believed to be the first deserter from the Iraq war to be deported back to the U.S. from Canada.  Late Tuesday, Robin Long, 25, was en route from Canada to Fort Lewis, Wash., said Army Capt. Greg Dorman.  From there, the private first class will be taken to Fort Carson, Colo., where he was assigned to the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, which was recently renamed the 4th Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, said Dorman, a Fort Carson spokesman."  Robert Matas (Globe and Mail) explains that "Canadian authorities failed to co-ordinate the deportation with U.S. military police.  Mr. Long spent last night in a jail cell at the Whatcom County prison, just south of the Canada-U.S. border" and quotes police Sgt Ernie Stach declaring, "We're in the process of co-ordinating the transfer.  I don't know when he will go."  We know where he won't go: Fort Knox.  After ignoring the story all week -- declared today, "He's expected to be returned to his unit at Fort Knox, Kentucky."  Pravda on the Hudson.  Linda Nguyen (Canwest News Service) quotes Fort Knox spokesperson Ryan Brus who states Long will be going to Fort Carson until a recommendation is made by the unit commander about what to do next and that he is returning in time to "witness the case of James Burmeister, an American deserter who is currently facing criminal charges at Fort Knox."  July 4th, Louisville's WHAS11 reported (text and video) on James Burmeister


Renee Murphy: . . . But first here, our top story, we're looking at the charges being brought against a US soldier.  Supporters say that Private 1st Class James Burmeister should be back in Oregon with his family this Fourth of July holiday but instead he is being held at Fort Knox facing a court-martial on AWOL and desertion charges. WHAS11's Kelsey Starks joins us now ith more on our top story.  Kelsey?


Kelsey Starks: 23-year-old James Burmeister is being held at Fort Knox for five months now.  He is charged with deserting his army unit while on leave from Iraq.  Yesterday he got a court-martial date but his friends and family say because he suffers from head injuries Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after surviving a roadside bomb attack in Iraq, they're hoping some of those charges can be dismissed.


Helen Burmeister: My son is an Iraqi War veteran.  And I'm very proud of him today.  He fought bravely in Iraq.  He followed orders.  He was wounded in a roadside bomb.  And he's been diagonsed with PTSD and a possible brain injury.


Kelsey Starks: Video blogger James Pence followed Helen Burmeister to Fort Knox last week where she was fighting for her son, hoping to get him out of Fort Knox.  PFC James Burmeister enlisted in the army in June of 2005.  Two years later while on leave he went AWOL -- Absent Without Leave -- to Canada.  After ten months, he turned himself in to Fort Knox.


Nina Benson: He went AWOL after six months of being there when he was back in Germany on his rest and recuperation because he didn't feel that the treatment that he was getting for his injuries were proper -- were up to par with what he should be getting.


Kelsey Starks: Fort Knox is one of only two processing centers for army deserters.  Nearly 5,000 army army soldiers were charged with deserting last year -- that's a number up 92% from 2004.


Harold Trainer: They really do need to find more solutions.


Kelsey Starks: Harold Trainer and his wife Carol [Rawert-Trainer] are following James' case very closely here in Louisville.  They both served in the military during Vietnam.


Carol Rawert-Trainer: It's not rare that there are so many suffing from PTSD today that aren't getting help.  That part's not rare.  And it's not even rare that we have AWOLs anymore.  The rare thing is how aggressive the army is going after James instead of just giving him a discharge.  


Harold Trainer: Those young men and women give our country and our government a blank check when they sign to go into the military.  The country and the government really needs to give them a blank check back to take care of them.


Kelsey Starks: Now a Fort Knox spokesperson did not return our phone calls this afternoon.  If James is convicted of desertion, he could get a dishonorable discharge and even face time in prison.  His court-martial date, by the way, is scheduled for July the 16th.  Kelsey Starks, WHAS11 News.


On coverage of Robin Long, many, like the Detroit Free Press and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, cover the story in their around-the-world briefs roundup.  Marcia noted The Canadian Press' article, Rebecca noted Dan Karpenchuk's report for Australia's ABC, Kat noted the roundup in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Mike noted the Bombay News Net's coverage and that instead of writing their own article Sydney Morning Herald just ran AP's -- Ruth noted which did write their own article -- while Elaine noted Al Jazeera's coverage and the idiot Suzanne Goldberg (Guardian of London) of whom Elaine points out, "Stupid Goldberg should know that it war resisters leaving the US during Veitnam were not just war resisters 'fleeing the Vietnam draft.' She should know that because war resisters -- deserters and draft dodgers -- also went to England. England had no Pierre Trudeau and would cowtow to Richard Nixon in such a craven manner that it makes Tony Blair's lackey days to the Bully Boy look almost like 'independence'." In addition, the story was picked up by Thaindian News, the BBC, and RTT among others.



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).
In Iraq today one handed, one halted.  Deborah Haynes (Times of London) reports that Qadisiyah Province was handed over to Iraqi control -- or what passes for it.  That's one handed.  Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) reports that the handover of Al-Anbar Province "could be delayed because of a dispute between Sunni Arab trial leaders and politicians in the vast desert region. . . .  The row hinges on who should be in charge of security in the former insurgent heartland.  The council wants ultimate control, which normally happens when U.S.-led forces transfer security, while tribal leaders want Iraq's military to have the final say."  Handed, halted and still the violence continues.  As Richard A. Oppel Jr. (New York Times) observes today, "For all the statistics showing improved security in Iraq, many parts of the country remain astoundingly violent, places where bullet-ridden bodies turn up every day and bombs destroy lives and families in an instant." The BBC reports a Tal Afar car bombing that "targeted afternoone shoppers."  Xinhua notes that 16 died and 94 were wounded.  Iran's Press TV reports, "The town's mayor said all the dead were civilians."
In other reported violence . . .
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 Baghdad roadside bombings that left six people wounded, a Mosul roadside bombing that left two people wounded, a Mosul car bombing that claimed 2 lives with either more injured, and another (this would be the third) Mosul car bombing that killed the driver of the car and left six people wounded.  CBS and AP report: "A female suicide bomber blew herself up Tuesday evening inside the Baghdad house of a municipal leader who was planning to establish a U.S.-allied Sunni group in the area" -- "Awakening" Council -- with 3 left dead (plus the bomber) and seven injured.  Reuters notes a Mosul mortar attack that left two people injured and an Iskandariya roadside bombing that left one "Awakening" Council member injured.
Reuters notes 1 Iraqi soldier shot dead in Mosul and 1 Shi'ite cleric shot and Basra and left wounded.


Today the US military announced: "A Multi-National Force - West Marine died of wounds he received in action against an enemy force in al-Anbar Province July 14."  The announcement brought the total number of US service members who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4121.


Before anything else, Martha, Shirley and Eli advise about several topics in the e-mails. First, Ava's response to one bit of b.s., "When you go out of your way to insist you're not Latino -- to the point that your statements are insulting -- you really have no right to then try to speak for Latino.  Stick to Queens -- where you're still not hanging around with Latinos -- and stick to speaking for the racial group you have chosen to self-identify with.  You have given up the right to speak for or to Latinos.  And we don't need your lies.  Hillary had huge Latino support.  You can try shutting your damn mouth instead of lying.  And shame on KPFA for playing that nonsense -- but note that it was a Hillary Hater who did the interview. As a Latina based in California and on the road across the country every week, I think I know my own community a little better than someone who rejected them publicly and repeatedly.  Shut your damn mouth, dear." This is something we can explore further in our TV piece Sunday.  And e-mail complaints about the nonsense passing for 'journalism' at too many outlets is not being ignored.  The TV program (entertainment) Ava and I are reviewing this Sunday allows us to pull all the nonsense in.  That includes the disaster broadcast today which included "And US war resisters may see refuge in Canada." When the piece runs (which we haven't written yet), it'll be clear why Ava and I have both alluded to things here but otherwise just walked on by them.  The trash that's passed for 'news' this week fits perfectly with the program we're reviewing and we're both taking plenty of notes and reading the e-mails. 


Turning to US presidential politics.  The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee is getting back slaps and ass pats from his fawning press which refuses to note (a) he's only promising a partial-withdrawal, (b) his 'promises' are meaningless and (c) this is a reversal of his earlier statements that the US would leave (combat troops only) Iraq in 10 months.  Remember that?  He declared it in Houston Texas.  One single sentence.  Had Tom-Tom Hayden so excited he stretched that one-liner in a "Gosh, Wally . . ." column.  Speaking of Jerry Mathers, Little Andy Malcolm (Los Angeles Times) blogged this morning, "A funny thing happened over on the Barack Obama campaign website in the last few days.
The parts that stressed his opposition to the 2007 troop surge and his statement that more troops would make no difference in a civil war have somehow disappeared. John McCain and Obama have been going at it heavily in recent days over the benefits of the surge."  Does it all seem so very familiar?  From the January 10th snapshot:

"But since you raised the judgment issue, let's go over this again. That is the central argument for his campaign. 'It doesn't matter that I started running for president less a year after I got to the Senate from the Illinois State Senate. I am a great speaker and a charismatic figure and I'm the only one who had the judgment to oppose this war from the beginning. Always, always, always.' "      
"First it is factually not true that everybody that supported that resolution supported Bush attacking Iraq before the UN inspectors were through. Chuck Hagel was one of the co-authors of that resolution. The only Republican Senator that always opposed the war. Every day from the get-go. He authored the resolution to say that Bush could go to war only if they didn't co-operate with the inspectors and he was assured personally by Condi Rice as many of the other Senators were. So, first the case is wrong that way.""Second, it is wrong that Senator Obama got to go through 15 debates trumpeting his superior judgment and how he had been against the war in every year, numerating the years, and never got asked one time, not once, 'Well, how could you say, that when you said in 2004 you didn't know how you would have voted on the resolution? You said in 2004 there was no difference between you and George Bush on the war and you took that speech you're now running on off your website in 2004* and there's no difference in your voting record and Hillary's ever since?' Give me a break.       
"This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen...So you can talk about Mark Penn all you want. What did you think about the Obama thing calling Hillary the Senator from Punjab? Did you like that?"   
"Or what about the Obama hand out that was covered up, the press never reported on, implying that I was a crook? Scouring me, scathing criticism, over my financial reports. Ken Starr spent $70 million and indicted innocent people to find out that I wouldn't take a nickel to see the cow jump over the moon.       
"So, you can take a shot at Mark Penn if you want. It wasn't his best day. He was hurt, he felt badly that we didn't do better in Iowa. But you know, the idea that one of these campaigns is positive and the other is negative when I know the reverse is true and I have seen it and I have been blistered by it for months, is a little tough to take. Just because of the sanitizing coverage that's in the media, doesn't mean the facts aren't out there. "   


Bill Clinton offering some reality to the delusional.  As Glen Ford and Bruce Dixon's "In Search of the Real Barack Obama: Can a Black Senate Candidate Resist the DLC?" (Black Agenda Report) documented during Barack's US Senate run, Barack loves to disappear Iraq from his campaign websites.  It's a scary thought to the delusional in Panhandle Media -- the Todd Browning version.  Adolph Reed Jr. (Black Agenda Report) addresses the sickness in so many so-called 'independent' 'journalists' and that includes The Peace Resister herself, Katrina vanden Heuvel:


A friend called me a few days ago from Massachusetts, astounded at a WBUR radio program featuring Glen Greenwald from and Katrina vanden Heuvel of The Nation, in which vanden Heuvel not only unflaggingly defended Obama's open and bald embrace of right-wing positions during the last few weeks against Greenwald's criticism, but also did it from the right herself, calling him a "progressive pragmatist." She affirmed Tom Hayden's insistence on the Progressives for Obama blog that the candidate is a progressive, but a new kind of progressive, or some such twaddle. In response to Greenwald's sharp rebuke of Obama's FISA sellout, she acknowledged that he had 'missed an opportunity to lead.' Defending his June 30 patriotism speech that included a gratuitous rehearsal of the right-wing line about anti-Vietnam War protesters from the "counterculture" who "blamed America for all that was wrong in the world" and the canard about antiwar activists "failing to honor" returning Vietnam veterans, which Obama asserted "remains a national shame to this day" despite the fact that is an utter lie, vanden Heuvel pointed again to Hayden's endorsement as a sign that Obama's cheap move must be okay because, after all, Hayden was a founder of SDS.   And perhaps most tellingly, despite their disagreements, Greenwald and vanden Heuvel both supported Obama's practice of going out of his way to attack black poor people, most recently in his scurrilous Father's Day speech and again before the NAACP. (And, by the way, he grew up without a father and is running for president, no?) To vanden Heuvel, Obama's contretemps with Jesse Jackson, who, ironically, has his own history of making such attacks, around this issue reflects a "generational division" among black people, with Obama representing a younger generation that values 'personal responsibility.' She also, for good measure, asserted that Obama has been 'nailed unfairly' for his cozying up to the evangelicals and promising to give them more federal social service money. In explaining that he comes out of a 'community organizing' tradition based in churches in Chicago, she didn't quite say that the coloreds love their churches. But she didn't really have to say it out loud, did she?


Reed recommends an article with a link that's not working currently.  I think this is the Liza Featherson, Doug Henwood and Christian Parenti article ("Action Will Be Taken") referred to. When Reed's hard hitting column ends, you can scroll down to comments for Tom-Tom's running buddy rushing to lie yet again.  I'm really not sure, maybe this is just me, that a New Alliance Party (Marxist) member is really the person to rush to defend Barack or Tom-Tom.  But have at it, Carl, it's your funeral.  Meanwhile John Murphy (Dissident Voice) examines the Democrats' BonusGate scandal in Pennsylvania in light of the criminal charges that have emerged against Democrats for their illegal efforts to keep Ralph Nader off the state ballot in 2004 (Amy Goodman hasn't said one word about this since proof emerged, has she?): "The grand jury report described a 'massive' effort by House Democrats to oust the independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader from the ballot in 2004.  The report also says that in 2006 the same machine was fired up again to remove Carl Romanelli, the Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate.  The grand jury found that as many as 50 Democrat House Caucus staff members participated in the Nader petition challenge and contributed a staggering number of man hours."  Peter Jackson (AP) quotes Nader's attorney Oliver Hall stating, "We are going to aggressively pursue every avenue to oppose this judgment.  It now appears to be clear that (the judgment) is the result of a criminal conspiracy."  Here's a thought on the silence from the 'independent' journalists -- maybe when you devalue and disrespect democracy so much that you launch and join "Don't Run ___" campaigns, it's just a short step to breaking the law to prevent a candidate from making the ballot?  Maybe their silence is due to their own guilt?


Nader is running as an independent presidential candidate this year and Heidi Przybla (Bloomberg News) reports that Morley Winograd ("former chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party") could get a considerable number of votes in Michigan if his campaign gets on the ticket, "You have in Ralph Nader's candidacy a genuine Arab-American who has a lot of notoriety and publicity."  Winograd estimates Nader could receive a qurter of the Arab community's vote.  Kris Alingod (AHN) reports Nader is now on the ballot in 12 states.


The Nader Team notes:


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Lastly, Andrea Lewis debuts as the host of the Sunday Morning Show on KPFA this weekend.  The two hour broadcast (which streams online) airs Sunday from nine in the morning until eleven in the morning.  Lewis was formerly co-host of The Morning Show with Philip Maldari (Aimee Allison took over for Lewis). 


robin long
joshua key
ian austen
the new york times
janice tibbetts
linda nguyen
liam lahey
petti fong

the los angeles times
andrew malcolm
glen ford
bruce dixon
richard a. oppel jr.
the new york times