Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, July 22, 2008.  Chaos and violence continue, another journalist is announced dead, Barack sucks up all the time with his  Gidget Goes To Europe and the MidEast, John McCain calls it out, and more.


Starting with war resistance, July 15th Robin Long's case was noted on CNN's The Situation Room (here for transcript):


Wolf Blitzer: Americans seeking to dodge the Vietnam War have found a have in Canada.  Many began new lives there.  But, now, right now, times have changed.  Brian Todd is working the story for us.  Brian, it's a different situation for what we're calling the Iraq War generation.


Brian Todd: It certainly is, Wolf.  This one case of an American deserter being handed over turning this theory on its ear, the idea that Canada is an unqualified haven for American deserters.  It's the kind of history Robin Long probably wishes he wasn't making.  He is believed to be the first American deserter during the Iraq War handed back to the U.S. military by the Canadian government.  During the Vietnam War, Canada was haven for US draft dodgers and deserters.  In this case, a Canadian judge ruled that Long didn't adequately prove he would suffer irreparable harm if he returned to the United States.  The leader of a Canadian war resisters group that had supported Long is frustrated.


Unidentified Male: I don't think there's any doubt that someone who has been up in Canada and a vocal opponent of the war will be treated harsly by the American military.


Brian Todd: Long, who had trained as a tank commander, took off from Fort Carson, Colorado, to avoid serving in Iraq.  Even though he had volunteered for the army, his attorney told the court that Long became disillusioned over the mistratment of Iraqi detainees and by the fact that no weapons of mass destruction had been found.  In nearly three years in Canada, he fathered a child, was turned down for refugee status last year, and was arrested recently for not checking in as required with border officials.  Commanders at Fort Carson will now decide his fate.  They can court-martial him, give him a less than honorable discharge, or even reassign him.  A former military lawyer who has defended and prosecuted deserters says the first option is the most likely.


Unidentified male: I do believe that he is going to be most likely court-martialed in this instance.  The fact that he has been vocal, not to say that they would infringe on his First Amendment right to state his case or his objections, but rather his stated reason for leaving, to avoid service in Iraq, is going to be sort of the threshold issue for the legal authorities.


Brian Todd: But experts say US military officials may also be thinking about deterrence here, sending a signal to others thinking of deserting that prison time could await them and Canada may not be so receptive to harboring them in the future.  If he's court-martialed and convicted, Robin Long could get up to five years in prison.  Wolf?


Wolf Blitzer: Do we have any idea how many deserters are in Canada?


Brian Todd: The leader of this war resistance group in Canada who we talked to today about this says that there are about 50 who they know of.  But they say there are hundreds more they think who are living underground in Canada.  You can believe this case is probably going to keep them underground.


Wolf Blitzer: I believe it.  Brian, thank you.


Hasan Arif (Telegraph Journal) notes the above report and it's a shame more in Canada didn't catch it because they might have learned something.  Take the laughable editorial board of Kamplops This Week: "Every one of these American citizens voluntarily joined the military.  Not one was drafted. . . .  These are not the draft dodgers of the Vietnam War era, the young men who had no choice in whether they wished to fight the Vietcong."  Happy to flaunt their ignorance of Canadian history.  The draft wasn't an issue in the decision during Vietnam and Canada welcomed dodgers and deserters.  Deserters were not required to swear they had been drafted and not enlisted on their own.  It wasn't an issue.  And little Billy Bulter is eager to flaunt his ignorance to The Orillia Packet & Times insisting that (a) the term "war resister" (a historical and well used in the last century by the MSM) is not accurate, that anyone can become a CO very easily (Willie Boy, tell them your stupidity is here) and that the war resisters "joined the military"!  We don't normally provide links to trash but the 'movement' needs to take some damn accountablity.  These are the arguments that should never have been made but too many in the 'movement' didn't know their own facts or didn't want to tell it.  They have created this straw-man argument that has no basis in today's reality by refusing to point out that deserters were welcomed in Canada during Vietnam.  There was never a need for any of this nonsense.


No one in the world needed to hear Tom Hayden yack on and on endlessly in interviews about his 'invasive' physical.  (Tom Hayden never served in the US military.  He was not a draft dodger.  He was not a deserter.  He had no 'war story' so he went to town on a physical and, as Rebecca noted, Tom needs to put his feet in some stirrups before he next whines about 'invasive' physicals.)  Tom-Tom couldn't shut up about the draft.  Even though it has nothing to do with today's illegal war.  He was 'helping' war resisters today . . . by throwing out crap from his past that had no bearing on reality.  No one needed it.  All it did was let some who barely pay attention fixate on "Draft Dodgers!  You hear him, Ma!  But there's no draft today!"  Tom-Tom, the patron saint of the yokels.  Across the border a number need to take accountability and start working on addressing reality.  Unless they're goal is for the 'movement' to repeatedly be undermined with meaningless cries of "There is no draft!"   Someone in Canada speaking truth is University of British Columbia's Canadian Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law, Dr. Michael Byers, who explains to Am Johal (IPS), "Canada also extradited Robin Long, a U.S. war resister, who did not want to take part in possible war crimes.  This is a very different role than Canada played during Vietnam."  Extradition is the only term to describe what Judge Anne Mctavish oversaw and ordered for Robin Long.



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 finley.d@parl.gc.ca -- that's "finley.d" at "parl.gc.ca") and Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, 613.992.4211, phone; 613.941.6900, fax; e-mail pm@pm.gc.ca -- 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 hereThe War Resisters Support Campaign's petition can be found here.  Long expulsion does not change the need for action and the War Resisters Support Campaign explains: "The War Resisters Support Campaign is calling on supporters across Canada to urgently continue to put pressure on the minority conservative government to immediately cease deportation proceedings against other US war resisters and to respect the will of Canadians and their elected representatives by implementing the motion adopted by Parliament on June 3rd. Please see the take action page for what you can do."


There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Andrei Hurancyk, 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).
Puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki was in Berlin today where he met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.  Deutsche Welle reports al-Maliki declared, "Iraq is able to take the security situation into its own hands.  We have achieved great success."  It's an assertion that Patrick Donahue (Bloomberg News) notes and quotes him futher stating in the press conference with Merkel, "Iraq has the foundation and is capable of taking the security situation into its own hands.  We can say with some pride that we're in the position and capable -- with our police and army and with our professional level -- to achieve that."  However, Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that, in Baghdad Monday, Ali Dabbagh, al-Maliki's spokesperson, "announced that Iraq wants American combat troops to leave by the end of 2010."  That would be 24 months after the next US president takes office.  24 months?  Did al-Maliki say they were ready to takeover or not?  AFP ignores the nonsense claims to focus on what the meeting was really about quoting Merkel declaring, "We are pleased that the security situation in Iraq has improved little by little and that is of course a pre-condition for economic and political reconstruction to move forward.  Iraq is a country rich in raw materials and Germany has broad technological and industrial know-how.  We are pleased that some German companies have already expressed interested in helping to rebuild Iraq."
Meanwhile there were dueling Nancy Youssefs over the weekend.  First she filed on the simmering tensions among supporters of Moqtada al-Sadr and quoted residents such as Nadhil al Sudani stating, "There is anger inside our people.  There is a volcano that wants to erupts.  But we are obedient to Sayed Muqtada."  Implication being that al-Sadr is the only thing that's keeping a volcano from erupting. One day later, Youssef was offering: "In a shift toward political reconciliation and away from sectarianism, Iraq's largest Sunni bloc ended a nearly yearlong boycott Saturday and rejoined the cabinet, retaking six ministry spots."  Well one boycott ends and another begins.  Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) reports today on "a walkout by Kurdish lawmakers over how to deal with the disputed oil city of Kirkuk" with regards to the supposedly upcoming provincial elections and quotes Khalid al-Attiya (Deputy Parliamentary Speaker) stating, "We cannot have a vote with an absence of a whole faction.  The vote is useless.  It will be rejected by the represenatives of this bloc and by the presidency council."  CNN notes the makeup of the presidency council: Jalal Talabani (President, Kurd), Tariq al-Hsahimi (Vice President, Sunni) and Adel Abdul Mahdi (Vice President, Shi'ite) and adds, "Many observers believe Talabani would stand with his Kurdish compatriots and vote against the measure, bringing it back to square one."  Kurdish MP Mahmoud Othman is quoted by AP stating, "The draft of the provinical elections law will be referred to the presidential council, which will definitely not approve it.  So the elections will be postponed until next year."
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Kirkuk roadside bombing Monday night in which 2 police officers were killed with five more wounded.  Reuters notes a Mosul roadside bombing that left eleven people wounded.

Reuters notes "an Iraqi journalist working for a Kudrish magazine" was shot dead in Kirkuk Monday and 5 people wounded in shootings in Haswa while Tirkit was the site of an attack today "on the convoy of Khalid Burhan, head of health office of Salahudding province" that left his guards wounded.  The journalist was Soran Mamhama.  He was 23-years-old and AP states he worked for the "magazine Leven and often covered government corruption."  Reporters Without Borders issued a statement condeming the murder and stated, "We call on the Kudristan authorities to carry out a thorough investigation into the circumstances of Hama's murder.  He wrote hard-hitting articles about local politicians and security officials and had received threats from people telling him to stop his investigative reporting.  The authorities should therefore give priority to the theory that he was killed because of his work." Xinhua notes Soran was shot dead outside his home and quotes Journalist Freedoms Observatory's Ziyad al-Ajili stating, "The first step to halt the assassinations against journalists is to capture those culprits."  Iran's Press TV quotes Latif Satih Faraj (Kurdish Journalists Union in Kirkuk) stating, "If the government can't protect Kurdish journalists in Kirkuk, we might adviste them to withdraw from this city."   Iraq's The Window reports Leveen is calling for an investigation and that "Leveen, which is an independent Kurdish magazine founded 6 years ago in Sulaimani, is known as a muckraking journal in Kurdistan and Iraq."
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad.  Reuters notes 1 corpse discovered in Dibis.



Not much Iraq news?  Of course, not Barack's sucking up all the limited coverage with his photo-ops passed off as news.  It's like he's gone to Europe and the MidEast to FaceBook in real.  Said Rifai and Saif Rasheed (Los Angeles Times) were among the few brave enough to report the realities:


During his brief visit to Iraq, Barack Obama has been greeted by busloads of Iraqi cameramen vying for shots of his arrivals and departures at meetings with government officials.       

But on government-sponsored Al Iraqiya television Monday, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee received second billing to Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's departure for Europe. Only Al Hurra, the U.S.-sponsored channel, led with the story.  

The situation has been similar on the streets of Baghdad, where Obama's visit has been duly noted but is not the No. 1 thing on people's minds.Iraqis tend to be jaundiced about American politics and skeptical that the differences between the presidential candidates have anything to do with them. 

"If either McCain or Obama visits Iraq, it would be for campaign purposes, and therefore at this point in time it won't have any effect on the situation in Iraq," said Khalil Ibrahim, 34, a perfume shop owner. 


We're now on the US race for president.  Susan (Random Notes) observes of self-loathing lesbian (which would make her a Barack supporter) Donna Brazile: "It was people like you who created the situation in the first place by not fully seating or stripping Clinton delegates from Florida and Michigan, by not apologizing for the filthy, race-baiting campaign 'Obama' ran, for not admitting 'Obama' didn't have the majority of the popular vote, for not allowing Clinton to take the contest all the way to the convention, and for not condemning the smears by the attack dogs from the media and the 'progressive' blogosphere for creating the rift."  Susan's referring to closet case Donna's attempt to do a reach-around on female Hillary supporters.  Back off Donna Brazile, you Bob Packwood-wanna-be, no one wants your greasy, filthy, corporatists hands on them.  She really thinks after her infamous e-mail regarding Hillary supporters ("Message to the base: stay home") that any Hillary supporter gives a damn what she says?   Donna, the loudmouth trash she was born as and will die as, is now penning such tough-talk as, "How many ways do these Hillary delegates, voters and supporters need to hear it before they get it?"  LSekhmet (Alegre's Corner) calls out Donna's latest lies, "We're angry because the nomination was stolen from the rightful winner -- we're angry because the winner of the popular vote has been hindered, not helped -- we're angry that a man who truly isn't read to be President at this time has been propped up by the DNC and the Democratic Party as a whole.  And most especially, we're angry at the supposition that we only have two choices in the fall election -- Obama or McCain, neither of whom are acceptable."  That is offensive and someone might try explaining that to Philip Maldari who declared on KPFA's The Morning Show today of the next president, "whether it's McCain or Obama" . . .  This was when KPFA brought on a Democratic Congress member to schill for Barack. That was really cute -- and so fair!  It's really not Philip's role to decide who will be president.  His role is co-host of a morning chat show.  This was followed by a roundtable for the next segment where you had two Barack supporters and one that you didn't know.  Didn't know because Aimee Allison (hopefully unintentionally) cut him off just as he started to reject the notion of voting "the lesser of two evils."  Kevin Zeese thinks petitions will get Barack to change his views.  He thinks if there's a mass exodus of support for Barack to Cynthia McKinney or Ralph Nader that it will force Barack to change.  At which point, what?  By Zeese's 'logic,' people go running back to Barack.  Kevin Zeese is the perfect example of why third parties struggle.  Zeese supports them and has done tremendous work on campaigns in the past.  However, when it's time to talk, third party and independent candidates do not exist for their own qualifications and merits.  In Zeese's world -- as stated on The Morning Show today -- they exist solely to blackmail the Democratic Party within the midst of an election. When you 'cast' them as supporting characters, it is very hard for third party and independent candidates to assume lead roles.  People like Zeese need to start demonstrating some awareness that they keep the two-party system going.  And KPFA needs to grasp that bringing on a Democratic member of Congress to try to assure the Bay Area that Barack's-plenty-liberal-not-everyone's-as-liberal-as-we-are is not only nonsense it's the sort of garbage we'd expect from Rush Limbaugh.  And if that point is not clear, we then got the Barack delegate to the DNC, Norman Solomon.  That is what he is now.  He is not a media critic.  And he does not belong on KPFA as an 'objective' observer.  It was shameful that, well into the roundtable,  Norman told listeners he was a Barack delegate ("like Barbara Lee!" he insisted hiding behind Lee's skirts).  That disclosure was required to be made at the top of the roundtable and Aimee Allison should have made it.  In no way did The Morning Show offer anything that justified their free use of the public airwaves.  (While begging yet again for more money.)


If you're not grasping, that nonsense on KPFA (or take the crap Democracy Now! squeezed out this morning) is exactly why people see the media as in the tank for Barack.  Gary Chapel Hill (The Confluence) writes of the recent Rasmussen poll which found that the number of voters who "believe most reporters will try to help Obama with their coverage" rose 5% since June to reach 49%.  49%?  That figure is appalling.  Journalists are not supposed to be seen as biased.  That the figure has climbed to 49% should be a wake up call for those working in Real Media (there's no hope for Panhandle Media -- they're all in that because they couldn't get work in Real Media).  Only 24% believe they can expect unbiased coverage.  That is APPALLING and it is an indictment of the media.  (14% belived the media "will try to help" McCain).  Don't dismiss that 49% with, "That's all Republicans!"  27% of Democrats feel the media is attempting to put Barack into the White House.  Those respondents not self-identifying with either of the two major parties?  50% of swing voters "see a pro-Obama bias".  This is an indictment of the media.  With Congress and the White House already polling so low, you'd think the usual gatekeepers would come out loudly insisting that the media at least pretend independence. 


This takes place as they're lead around by their rings in their noses.  Campsunk (Alegre's Corner) posts the video of NBC News's Andrea Mitchell on Hardball explaining of Barack's for-show campaign stops outside the US, "He didn't have reporters with him, he didn't have a press pool, he didn't have a press conference while he was on the ground in either Afghanistan or Iraq.  What you're seeing is not reporters brought in, you're seeing selected pictures taken by the military, questions by the military, and what some would call fake interviews, because they're not interviews by a journalist.  So there's a real press issue here." Indeed.  AlwaysforHillary (which is now supporting McCain in the general) exclaims, "It seems practically every news person flew to be with 'the Holly One' to get interviews with the Messiah!  Maybe Obama will replace LOURDES and people with disabilities and illnesses can get blessed and have their problems disappear by touching the ANOINTED ONE!! DISGUSTING!!" It truly is and Jeremy Pelofsky's little jabs at McCain's calling it out ("Is the media in love with Obama?" -- Reuters) don't make the media look independent.  Elizabeth Rauber (San Francisco Business Times) reports that not only is McCain calling it out, the campaign has created a video entitled "Obama Love." Click here to see the videos at the McCain site -- two with different songs and you can vote for which you enjoy best.  The one set to "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" is currently leading over "My Eyes Adored You."



Back to the Idiot Brazile with her "It's Barack or John!" nonsense. "The central issue of this election is not Barack Obama versus John McCain. The central issue is the future of the Democratic Party,"  Democrat Violet Socks (Reclusive Leftist) explains, "Young feminists, for example: they say things like, "but don't you know that Republicans are anti-choice?" Yes, dears; that's the point. Republicans are anti-choice, which is exactly why it's so important that Democrats continue be pro-choice -- and pro-women's rights, pro-Fourth Amendment, pro-separation of church and state, pro-health care, pro everything that the Republicans are against. That's why we're trying to keep Barack Obama from taking over the party. I'm willing to lose one election if it means ejecting him and getting our party back to its values."


Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate, his running mate is Matt Gonzalez.  They are adding events to their busy schedule.  Times given are the times in those areas.  Friday at noon, Nader will be in Columbia, South Carolina for a lunch, at 5:30 on Friday (25th) a Nader for President rally will be held at the University of Georgia, at 8:00 p.m. (still Friday), in Atlanta there will be an "Evening with Ralph Nader."  Saturday (26th) Ralph will be at Lemuria Bookstore in Jackson, MS for a book signing and speech, two hours later (still in Jackson) he'll be do another "Evening with Ralph Nader."  Sunday (27th) he and Matt Gonzalez hit Texas.  First up, Hilton University of Houston where they will speak at 2:00 p.m. Then they head to Austin for an event at the Trinity United Methodist Church.  Information about those events and others can be found hereW. Gardner Selby (Postcards From The Ledge) reports on the upcoming Austin event.  Meanwhile Richard Winger (Ballot Access News) reports that the Sixth Circuit hear arguments today in Nader v. Blackwell about the efforts of the then-Ohio state secretary Kenneth Blackwell to limit ballot access in 2004 and Winger points out, "Ralph Nader is unique in the history of U.S. ballot access, for trying to redress wrongs that were done to him and his voters. Other presidential candidates who were kept off ballots, such as Henry Wallace in 1948, Eugene McCarthy in 1976, and John Anderson in 1980, were content to fight to keep themselves on various ballots. But they never took legal action of their own after the election to redress harms they had suffered. Only Nader has done that, most notably in his lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee, plus his complaint against the DNC filed with the Federal Election Commission, and also this particular Ohio lawsuit."  Meanwhile Dandelion Salad has posted video of Matt Gonzalez speaking to the National Lation Congresso on July 18th.  Among the issues addressed at the national meetup was starting a five-million-dollar, non-partisan voting effort: "Bolstered by a recent study conducted by the William C. Velasquez Institute that found more than one million new Latino voters registered to vote during this primary season, convening organizations of the National Latino Congreso will use the third annual gathering to launch a massive voter registration and get-out-the-vote effort geared at adding an additional 1-2 million new Latino voters to the rolls in time to vote in November's election."  Southwest Voter Registration Education Project president Antonio Gonzalez explained, "Latino leaders will use this gathering to organize and fund-raise to launch a massive nonpartisan voter mobilization campaign.  Already more than 10 million Latinos are registered to vote in America, and our efforts will help drive that number up to between 11 and 12 million."



robin long
nancy a. youssef

said rifai
saif rasheed
the los angeles times