Monday, August 11, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US death toll in Iraq continues to mount, Petraeus needs to lay off the strong stuff, King Abdullah II visits Iraq, and more.
Starting with war resistance. The August 1st snapshot critiqued the dumb ass Rondi Adamson (the same morning's "Rondi Adamson Lies" did so in greater detail). Yesterday the National Lawyers Guild's James Branum takes on Rondi (and today Ithica Journal re-prints Rondi's crap). Branum, who is defending Robin Long and has defended many others resisters (and co-chairs, with Kathleen Gilberd, NLG's Military Law Task Force), makes many strong points but leaves out the most important one: During Vietnam, Canada welcome "deserters." It wasn't just "draft dodgers," Canada also welcomes "deserters." Canada did not have a draft, Canada's position was not based on a draft. Deserters were not asked, "Did you enlist or were you drafted?" It wasn't an issue. The issue was the illegal war. When Rondi shows her ignorance, it's important to call her out on that basic fact. War resisters in Canada today have been undermined repeatedly by 'voices' that refuse to acknowledge the vast number of deserters that Canada accepted during Vietnam. But not noting that very real reality, today's war resisters (and their supporters) have to make the case: "Well, during Vietnam, you welcomed draft dodgers, so you should expand that today to welcome us." The real argument is: "During Vietnam, Canada welcomed deserters and they should today since this is another illegal war the Canadian government has refused to officially sanction." With the first argument, war resisters are placed in a position of weakness where they beg for something more. In the second argument, war resisters are not asking for 'special treatment' or anything different; they're merely asking Canada to do what it did before. That is reality. Rondi is a foreigner to reality. But that's a point everyone else needs to make. That Rondi either didn't know reality or thought she could lie about it goes to the failure to stick to the facts: Canada accepted draft dodgers and deserters during Vietnam.
Branum notes The Christian Science Monitor (which ran the oh-so-bad column August 1st) has refused to publish any of the many letters of complaint they've received. We'll emphasize the section on Robin Long (extradited from Canada) since Branum is his attorney:
First, Robin was promised by his recruiter that he would never see combat in Iraq. Robin was a fool for believing his recruiter, but I would say that it is understandable that he would believe his recruiter and understand that his recruiter is an agent of the US military and is tellilng the truth. And in basic contract law (outside of the military context), such statements could very well be interpreted as part of the contract itself, even if those statements aren't in writing.
Second, a basic tenant of contract law is that a contract isn't binding if it forces a party to engage in an immoral, unethical or illegal action. I would argue (as would Robin and millions of other people) that the Iraq war is all three of those things, and as such an enlistment contract should be invalid if it purports to force a party to participate in such a war. (of course, the enlistment "contract" isn't really a "contract," but that's another discussion. It would be fairer to say that it is an agreement to voluntarily become a slave of the state.)
Third, Robin Long left his unit and went to Canada in large part due to his conscience. Throughout history, we as a people (and I'm speaking of all North Americans and really all people of the world), have respected the idea that sometimes one must break the law if it conflicts with conscience. Dr. King, Gandhi, Thoreau, Jesus Christ, they all lived out this ideal. Contemporaries of the civilly disobedient often attack the character of those who refuse to submit to unjust laws, but the history books paint a different story.
And let's also remember that the US and other nations have long argued in favor of the Nuremberg principles, namely that obedience to the law of the state is no excuse for actions that defy international law. Surely you would agree that a deserter from the Nazi Army during WWII would be taking a righteous act? How is it different for Robin Long?
Branum's response also notes Darrell Anderson, Joshua Key and others. There are multiple sentences in it that could qualify for a "Truest" at Third this Sundy. It's a strong piece.
By mail: Make checks out to "Courage to Resist / IHC" and note "Robin Long" in the memo field. Mail to:
Courage to Resist
484 Lake Park Ave #41
Oakland CA 94610
Courage to Resist is committed to covering Robin's legal and related defense expenses. Thank you for helping make that possible.
Also: You are also welcome to contribute directly to Robin's legal expenses via his civilian lawyer James Branum. Visit girightslawyer.com, select "Pay Online via PayPal" (lower left), and in the comments field note "Robin Long". Note that this type of donation is not tax-deductible.
Robin Long, CJC
2739 East Las Vegas
Colorado Springs, CO 80906
Robin's pre-trial confinement has been outsourced by Fort Carson military authorities to the local county jail.
Robin is allowed to receive hand-written or typed letters only. Do NOT include postage stamps, drawings, stickers, copied photos or print articles. Robin cannot receive packages of any type (with the book exception as described below).
Anything Robin gets (postage stamps, toothbrush, shirts, paper, snacks, supplements, etc.) must be ordered through the commissary. Each inmate has an account to which friends may make deposits. To do so, a money order in U.S. funds must be sent to the address above made out to "Robin Long, EPSO". The sender's name must be written on the money order.
4. Send Robin a book
Robin is allowed to receive books which are ordered online and sent directly to him at the county jail from Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble. These two companies know the procedure to follow for delivering books for inmates.
War resisters in Canada also need support and 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 email@example.com -- that's "finley.d" at "parl.gc.ca") and Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, 613.992.4211, phone; 613.941.6900, fax; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org -- 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. 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 Yovany Rivero, William Shearer, Michael Thurman, 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).
Georgian troops are leaving Iraq due to violence in their own country. Yesterday Deborah Haynes (Times of London) reported on US Gen David Petraeus' declaration that the US is providing transportation for the Georgian soldiers -- an estimated 2,000 were stationed in Iraq. People in the US need to pay attention. If you're not getting it, Yochi J. Dreazen (Wall St. Journal) reports, "The U.S. began flying Georgian troops out of Iraq on American military aircraft Sunday, and U.S. officials expect to have all of the Georgians home by midweek 'so that they can support requirements there during the current security situation,' according to Col. Steve Boylan, a military spokesman. Dreazen goes on to note that this "was the third-largest foreign force in Iraq" and that the departure, quoting Boylan, was "unexpected." Wednesday is mid-week. The reporters both say the US began transporting troops out of Iraq on Sunday. And today, Pentagon spokesperson Bryan Whitman announced that the transportation of those 2,000 troops will be completed today. That's basically 2,000 troops out of Iraq at the drop of a hat (in one day!) with no pre-planning and War Hawks in the US want you to believe that (a) a withdrawal cannot really be planned (changes on the ground!) and that it would take 16 months just to remove US "combat troops." Lies. Bill Richardson (while he was a candidate for the Democratic nomination) called those lies out. At the drop of a hat, unplanned, the US can -- while still fighting in Iraq -- transport 2,000 soldiers to the former Soviet Union but we're supposed to believe that a planned withdrawal could happen no sooner than 16 months (and then only the so-called "combat troops"). I believe life on the ground just told on them. At the very least, it called Barack, et al, "Liar." (And don't bring up 'equipment.' Most equipment isn't worth bringing back and any equipment brought back should be signed off on by a high ranking general swearing that the US military will not need to replace it for at least 5 years -- otherwise there's no point in it being brought.)
In an interview with Haynes that the Times of London published today, Petraeus declares of Iraq, "In the economic arena, all of a sudden you are seeing private investment . . . you see the electricity grid is literally all up for the first time in about three years . . . and oild production is up by some 400,000 barrels I think in the last six months as well in part because of electricit, which then means there is more fuel for the electricity." He is stoned, right? Good to know the military brass can still get the best weed; however, when he comes down from his high, someone might want to correct him on the electricity and, on the private investment, they can just wave today's front page of the New York Times at him while he satisifies his munchies. There he'll find Campbell Robertson's report on the faltering private sector in Iraq detailing Iraq's increased their government payrolls from 1.2 million in 2005 to 2.3 million today and how MPs explain they vote raises to garner . . . votes while some worry that should these people go off the payroll (there's even a 2 year payoff if you leave the government for the private sector -- 2 years of paydays from the government), they might quickly become part of the resistance. (Of course, al-Maliki's payroll is heavy with thugs and he has a problem with the US training Sunni thugs -- the "Awakening" Councils --- who might fight his own Shi'ite thugs.) Stoner Petraeus gets off some real howlers in the interview with Haynes. We may come back to it later in the week and explain where even he knows he's lying.
For now we'll move on to Saturday when Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reported on the new practice of rounding Iraqi women and imprisoning them becuase the might be "future bombers? Maybe. Maybe not." Three women (out of 22) were released last Thursday. Of course the Iraqi police really can't round up "suicide bombers" because (unless they fail) their monicker indicates that they are no longer around. What's going on? The implementation of the policy Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reported on July 5th that Iraqi MP Sajar Qaduri tried to sell as 'freedom' and 'liberating.' The policy is actually profiling. Round up all the women who lost sons, husbands, fathers, cousins, boyfriends -- bascially your average Iraqi woman -- and imprison them but call the prisons "shelters" to pretty is all up. The sickness isn't the small number of female self-bombers (some of whom may not be bombing by choice), the sickness is the illegal war and continued occupation. Resistance is a normal response and, in a zone of violence, responding with violence is not surprising and not uncommon to the human condition. As noted July 5th: "A condition that's developed from the sickness of the Iraq War will be 'treated,' if Qaduir gets her way, by divorcing it from the very cause and treating the women's response as abnormal when what happened to their husbands was the abnormal thing. Instead, Qaduir's accepting as 'normal' the illegal war, the occupation that goes along with it and all the violence involved. The only 'abnormal' thing to her is that some women might respond in violence. Imagine what she would have recommended for American woman participating in the Revolutionary War."
The non-successful escalation ('surge') has ended and with nothing to show. Violence didn't vanish. And none of the benchmarks were reached, now were they? That was what Bully Boy claimed the 'surge' was supposed to accomplish. Analysts say there will be no provincial elections (a benchmark! designated by the White House) in October as long promised and that it might not be possible for them to be held this year. The Iraqi Parliament ended their regular session and then ended their special session. They are now on vacation (as is the US Congress). Leila Fadel (Baghdad Observer) reports that the "last controversial session before their summer break was attended by just over half of the legislatures. And those that stuck it out didn't pass the provincial elections law after a bitter dispute over the oil rich city of Kirkuk." But Fadel reveals the new Parliament building was still unveiled to a few spectators -- a tiny group "so small at the televised ceremony that the camera zoomed in on one section of the seating to give the illusion of a full crowd" -- and puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, showed up to give a speeh but stopped before he completed it because, as he noted, "I can't talk for a very long time because it's very hot. I hope they put in the air conditioning soon." The building, constructed immediately outside the Green Zone, is nothing but a shell. Shell? The shell game that Iraqi forces are taking over or will take over. Anna Badkhen (Salon) reports, "The United States has spent four years and more than $20 billion on training and building Iraqi security forces; American instructors say the Iraqis are now mostly able to fight insurgents and sectarian militias on their own." But Iraqi forces feel different such as SWAT team member in training Haidar whose response is, "No! We are not going to be ready to do it without the Americans!"
Sunday the New York Times took the day off from Iraq. Today Campbell Robertson and Suadad Al-Salhy showed up to inform that one US service member died yesterday. Anyone getting their news only from the print edition of the New York Times would have no idea that 11 US service members have already been announced dead this month. Late Friday an announcement was made by M-NF: "Two Multi-National Force – West Marines died as the result of a non-combat related incident near Karmah Aug 7. The Marines names are being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense." Saturday yesterday they announced: "One U.S. Soldier was killed and two others wounded after an improvised explosive device struck their patrol in Baghdad at approximately 9:30 p.m. Aug. 8." Sunday the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier and four Iraqi citizens were killed, and others wounded during a complex attack in the Tarmiyah district, north of Baghdad at approximately 2 p.m. Aug. 10. After an initial improvised explosive device detonated, an MND-B team was sent to investigate. Shortly after the team's arrival, a suicide vest attack occurred and was followed by small-arms fire. The attacks also wounded two U.S. Soldiers, 15 local nationals, three Iraqi Policemen and three Sons of Iraq members." When 13 US service members died for the entire month of July it was news for days -- as the press launched another wave of Operation Happy Talk. It's August 11th, the death toll for the month thus far is 11. At what point is the press going to convey that or are we all still supposed to pretend the 'surge' worked?
Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) observes of yesterday, "Sunday's attacks showed the challenges still facing American forces in Iraq, who number about 140,000, and the Iraqi security forces who ultimately will have the task of protecting the country." Yes, violence is on the rise (and it never stopped) in Iraq with at least 35 reported deaths over the weekend by last night. Sunday alone, Baghdad saw one bombing after another. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reported a Baghdad roadside bombing that wounded two Iraqi civilians and two Iraqi soldiers, another Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed 2 lives and left ten wounded, a third Baghdad roadside bombing that wounded three Iraqi military members, another Baghdad roadside bombing that wounded two security contractors, a Baghdad car bombing that claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier (five more wounded), another Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed 3 lives and left ten wounded and a Baghdad bomber who killed themselves and claimed the lives of 10 people with twenty more wounded -- all on Sunday.
Hammoudi also reported on a Sunday Diyala Province car bombing that claimed the life of the driver as well as 3 civilians (twenty more wounded). Diyala Province -- home of the for-show 'offensive' that's supposed to convince Americans that a corner has been turned. That the Iraqi military is on the rise and kicking butts and taking names . . . of no one. Hard to find any 'insurgents' when you announce your impending action weeks in advance. So it's really no surprise that AP's Bushra Juhi reports today that Nouri is saying the for-show operation in Diyala Province is taking a one-week vacation "to give insurgents time to surrender". Nicholas Spangler (McClatchy Newspapers) adds that the "limited amnesty" is being hailed by Abudl Kareem Khalaf, Interior Ministry flack, as "a very clear message to the insurgents that there will be no other chance." Presuming 'insurgents' were ever in Diyala in large numbers to begin with, this is, what, their third such warning? First came the warning telling them when the action would start, then came the warning when they were on the ground in Diyala and telling people to turn themselves in and, now, it's "Turn yourself in. We'll stop everything for one week, turn yourself in." If you were an insurgent, you'd probably have figured out the whole thing is playing like a close-out sale and that a better offer is probably 'just around the corner' (as the White House might put it).
The treaties remain the source of endless speculation (Strategic Framework Agreement: SFA; Status of Forces Agreement: SOFA). The White House promised they would be nailed down by July 31st. Didn't happen. The UN mandate (covering only the occupation and not retroactively giving permission for the illegal war) can be extended. It expires at the end of the year. Let's wait for some real news about any treaty. Here's actual news, Jordan's King Abdullah II was in Iraq. Waleed Ibrahim and Peter Graff (Reuters) report Abdullah is "the first leader to visit Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003". Deborah Haynes (Times of London) notes the "trip was shrouded in secrecy because of security concerns and revealed only when he had headed home." Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) explains, "Ties between the two neighboring countries had been strained since the fall of Saddam because of Jordanian fears that Iraq's Shiite-led government was too friendly with Shiite-dominated Iran. Jordanian officials have been concerned about Iranian influence in Iraq and the loss of discounted oil, which Saddam once provided."
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that left two people wounded, a Baghdad car bombing that claimed the life of the driver (the bomb was stuck to the car with adhesive), another Baghdad roadside bombing with no known casualties, a Baghdad rocket attack that wounded three people, another Baghdad roadside bombing that wounded eight people, a Diyala Province roadside bombing that claimed the lives of 5 women with three males wounded, a Basra roadside bombing that wounded two police officers and a Baquba bombing where the bomber blew herself up and claimed the life of 1 police officer with seventeen people injured. Reuters notes a Mosul car bombing that left two people wounded.
Reuters notes 1 police officer shot dead in Mosul.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad.
Turning to the US presidential race, Harper's John R. MacArthur (at The Providence Journal) explains, "Obama spends so much time courting the rich that I'm not surprised that James Webb has removed himself from consideration for vice president. Webb is the most articulate Senate critic of America's class divide. 'The most important -- and unfortunately the least debated -- issue in politics today is our drift toward a class-based system, the likes of which we have not seen since the 19th Century," he wrote two years ago. Webb understands that class stratification is aggravated not only by tax and trade policy but also by public schools that serve increasingly as holding pens for students who can't afford better private or parochial education. Attendance at an elite private school or university, as Obama well knows (and his Ph.D. mother appreciated), is one of the greatest aids to upward mobility in America today, as well as the best guarantee, along with a low inheritance tax, that people of means will maintain their children in the economic status they've become accustomed to." And are you surprised? Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader is in Canada. Ralph will be speaking at seven p.m at the Design Exchange on 234 Bay Street in Toronto -- admission is free but donations are welcome and An Unreasonable Man will be shown.
Meanwhile, Jason Kafoury of Team Nader notes:
Well, you did it.
Two weeks ago, we asked you for $100,000 to get us on the ballots in 30 states.
You came through with flying colors - over $120,000 - with half of that - $60,000 - coming in the last four days.
Thank you to everyone who helped make that happen.
In return, we did it.
Nader/Gonzalez is now done with our ballot access effort in 30 states, on our way to 45 states by September 15.
This is all good news.
And now add this:
I just got in the office - took the red eye from Denver - where I spent the weekend laying the groundwork for a Nader/Gonzalez Super Rally.
On Wednesday, August 27, right during the heart of the Democratic National Convention, we will be holding a Super Rally for 5,000-7,000 people at the University of Denver Magness Arena. (Check out our new Nader/Gonzalez video promoting our rallies here.)
And we'll be hosting a second super rally in Minneapolis on September 4th at the Orchestra Hall during the week of the Republican National Convention.
To protest the corporate control over our political system and to call for opening the presidential debates.
During his 2000 campaign, Ralph Nader drew sellout crowds to super rallies in arenas from Portland's Memorial Coliseum to Madison Square Garden.
After the election, the NewsHour's Mark Shields called the Nader Super Rallies "the most exciting political development of the campaign year."
"My apology to Ralph Nader for not demanding that he be included in the debates," Shields said.
In 2004, the Democratic Party - along with its Republican allies - smothered the Nader campaign with phony lawsuits in a coordinated campaign of petition sabotage.
We had a tough time keeping our heads above water.
Just last month, legislative leaders responsible for illegal use of tax money to keep us off of the ballot in Pennsylvania in 2004 were indicted by a grand jury in Harrisburg.
Now, in 2008, Nader is back, and - thanks to you - on track to be on the ballot in 45 states - we were on only 34 in 2004 - and the Nader/Gonzalez ticket is at six percent in the latest CNN poll.
Now, we need your help for another breakthrough.
We are launching a campaign to Open the Debates.
In its first phase, the super rallies will rise again in Denver and Minneapolis during the Democratic and Republican conventions.
We call all of our supporters to action from every corner of the United States: come to our first rally in Denver on Wednesday, August 27, 2008.
Plan to make the trip to Denver - or Minneapolis - or both.
These rallies will be part of an massive outpouring of protest in Denver and Minneapolis against the two corporate controlled parties and their policies of perpetual militarism and war.
We'll be filling in the details on the two rallies in the days to come.
But for now, we need you to spread the word.
Nader/Gonzalez is aiming to bust open the presidential debates.
As Ralph says, if tens of millions of Americans can hear the Nader/Gonzalez message through the
Presidential debates, it will be a three way race.
Send this e-mail message to your address book.
Tell friends and family.
The super rallies are back.
Time to get on board.
Onward to November