Wednesday, August 20, 2008. Choas and violence continue, another US service member is dead, Richard A. Oppel Jr.'s reporting has the UN and US in damage control, Bully Boy lies to the VFW, lies surround yesterday's assaults in Diyala Province, and more.
Starting with war resistance. US war resister Tim Richard could not take part in the illegal war in Iraq for legal and ethical reasons so he went to Canada. At the London War Resisters Support Campaign, he notes J.M. Branum's response to the ridiculous Rondi Adams. James Branum, a member of the National Lawyers Guild and co-chair of their Military Law Task Force, is representing US war resister Robin Long expected to face a court-martial shortly after being extradited from Canada last month.
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 Long was extradited. It was done under the cloak of deportation because Judge Anne Mactavish knew that if she openly instituted extradition proceedings, there would be higher checks on her actions which could have prevented Robin from being forced out of Canada. It is not a minor point and it's one that's all the important as US war resister Jeremy Hinzman has been informed he has until September 23rd to leave Canada. In Robin's case, Mactavish was willing to ignore the law as well as guidelines covering refugees and immigrants (most obvious in her decision to extradite Robin and break up a family -- Robin is the father of a Canadian child) and willing to oversee the handover of Robin Long to US authorities (that's what makes it extradition and not deportation). Hopefully, Jeremy's expulsion from Canada will be stopped. But people need to pay attention to what happens if it is not. Robin was locked away for weeks and kept from contact with those who could have advised and offered support. He went from a Canadian jail to being handed over to US authorities. Judge Mactavish argued that Robin had to be imprisoned because he was a "flight risk." A "flight risk"? If someone you are debating expelling is a "flight risk," you don't lock them away. You hope they decide to leave on their own to avoid your government paying the costs of a hearing. Mactavish got a way with a lot. If Jeremy is expelled, all eyes should be watching to ensure that laws are not broken. Jeremy is being highly pro-active and has already taped a video, which you can find at the War Resisters Support Campaign, where he speaks directly to Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada:
Jeremy Hinzman: Hello, Mr. Harper. This is my family Nga, Liam and Meghan. We've been in Canada for the last four and a 1/2 years. I was a specialist in the 82nd Air borne division of the United States Army and served honorably in Afghanistan. In 2004, my family and I came to Canada because we would not participate in the Iraqi War, a war which Canada also refused to participate in because it was condemned by the international community. One of your predecessors, Pierre Trudeau, once said that Canada should be have from militarism and we took him at this word. On June 3, 2008, the Canadian Parliament passed a motion saying that United States war resisters should be able to remain in Canada. We're asking you to abide by this motion and allow us to stay in Canada. Thank you.
Title Card: On September 23rd, the Harper government plans to deport the Hinzman family back to the United States.
Title Card: Hinzman faces a court martial and up to 5 years in military prison for opposing the Iraq war and coming to Canada.
Title Card: War Resisters Support Campaign (Canada): www.resisters.ca
Courage to Resist alerts, "Supporters are calling on Hon. Diane Finley, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, to intervene. Phone 613.996.4974 or email email@example.com,"Iraq Veterans Against the War also encourages people to take action, "To support Jeremy, call or email Hon. Diane Finley, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, and ask her to intervene in this case. Phone: 613.996.4974 email: firstname.lastname@example.org." In addition to that, Canada's War Resisters Support Campaign is staging an emergency meeting this week (August 20th, Wednesday, 7:00 pm, Steelworkers Hall at 25 Cecil St.) and planning a day of action (September 13th) where
"[a]ctions, demonstrations and pickets will take place in cities and towns all across Canada."
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, Daniel Baker, 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 Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "A key pillar of the U.S. strategy to pacify Iraq is in danger of collapsing" and she's referring to the counter-insurgency 'strategy' of putting thugs on the US payroll so that they will, as US Ambassador to Iraq outlined to Congress repeatedly in April, stop attacking Americans (the 'strategy' is: Fork over your lunch money and you'll be safe on the playground). Call them "Awakening" Council or "Sons of Iraq" or whatever, they're thugs paid to play nice. Fadel notes that the Shi'ite dominated government of puppet Nouri al-Maliki refuses to bring these Sunni militias into the government and quotes "one senior Iraqi commander in Baghdad" explaining, "We cannot stand them, and we detained many of them recently." That part is no surprise. The next part of the quote? "Many of them were part of al Qaida despite the fact that many of them are helping us to fight al Qaida" can be seen as the cover explanation that will be offered (and has been offered) for not bringing them in. One group of thugs in power doesn't want to share with another. The US installed one group and then, "counter-insurgency" (brought to Iraq by such 'great' minds as Sarah Sewall and Monty McFate) decided paying off the other dominant (in the population) group of thugs was just the thing to . . . throw the whole country off balance. Which it has. Let's hear it for the quackery of Sidewalk Social Scientists. Fadel quotes one thug leader of the "Awakening" Council, Mullah Shahab al Aafi, declaring, "If they disband us now, I will tell you that history will show we will go bacck to zero. I will not give up my weapons. I will never give them up, and I will carry my weapon again. If it is useless to talk to the government, I will be forced to carry my weapons and my pistol."
As Fadel notes the White House has repeatedly sold the "Awakening" Councils as a success story. So let's drop back to April for some basics. From April 8th, when US Amassador Crocker and US General David Petraeus brought their variety show to Congress:
How much lunch money is the US forking over? Members of the "Awakening" Council are paid, by the US, a minimum of $300 a month (US dollars). By Petraeus' figures that mean the US is paying $27,300,000 a month. $27 million a month is going to the "Awakening" Councils who, Petraeus brags, have led to "savings in vehicles not lost". Again, in this morning's hearings, the top commander in Iraq explained that the US strategy is forking over the lunch money to school yard bullies. [. . .] Crocker's entire testimony can be boiled down to a statement he made in his opening statements, "What has been achieved is substantial, but it is also reversible." Which would translate in the real world as nothing has really changed. During questioning from Senator Jack Reed, Crocker would rush to shore up the "Awakening" Council members as well. He would say there were about 90,000 of them and, pay attention, the transitioning of them is delayed due to "illliteracy and physical disabilities."
That afternon, the Senate Foreign Affairs committe chair would outline the three reasons violence was "down" (but had not ceased), Joe Biden: "First, the Sunni Awakening, which preceded the surge. Second, the Sadr cease-fire. Third, sectarian cleansing that left much of Baghdad segregated, with fewer targets to shoot or bomb. These tactical gains are relative. Violence is now where it was in 2005 and spiking up again. Iraq is still incredibly dangerous and, despite what the President says, very far from normal. And these gains are fragile. Awakening members frustrated at the government's refusal to integrate them into the national security forces could turn their guns back on us." What if the "Awakening" Council members turned their guns? It's not pie-in-the-sky, it's a question that should have been answered back in April. The frustrations are boiling over as al-Maliki continues to refuse to fold them into the government forces. Back to that snapshot and focusing on Senator Barbara Boxer's time:
She then turned to the issue of monies and the militias, "You are asking us for millions more to pay off the militias and, by the way, I have an article here that says Maliki recently told a London paper that he was concerned about half of them" and wouldn't put them into the forces because he doubts their loyalty. She noted that $182 million a year was being paid, $18 million a month, to these "Awakening" Council members and "why don't you ask the Iraqis to pay the entire cost of that progam" because as Senator Lugar pointed out, "It could be an opportunity" for the Iraqi government "to turn it into something more long term." This is a point, she declared, that she intends to bring up when it's time to vote on the next spending supplamental. Crocker tried to split hairs.
Boxer: I asked you why they couldn't pay for it. . . . I don't want to argue a point. . . I'm just asking you why we would object to asking them to pay for that entire program giving all that we are giving them in blood and everything else?
Crocker declared that he'd take that point back to Iraq when he returned.
Now we're flipping over to the April 10th snapshot and bringing in the topic of the treaties:
Senator Joe Biden: We will hear today about the two agreements that the Administration is negotiating with Iraq which were anticipated in the November Declaration. On Tuesday, Ambassador Crocker told us that these agreements would set forth the "vision" -- his phrase -- of our bilateral relationship with Iraq. One agreement is a "strategic framework agreement" that will include the economic, political and security issues outlined in the Declaration of Principles. The document might be better titled "What the United States will do for Iraq," because it consists mostly of a series of promises that flow in one direction -- promises by the United States to a sectarian government that has thus far failed to reach the political compromises necessary to have a stable country. We're told that the reason why we're not continuing under the UN umbrella is because the Iraqis say they have a sovereign country. But they don't want a Status of Forces Agreement because that flows two ways. The Administration tells us it's not binding, but the Iraqi parliament is going to think it is. The second agreement is what Administration officials call a "standard" Status of Forces Agreement, which will govern the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq, including their entry into the country and the immunities to be granted to them under Iraqi law. Unlike most SOFAs, however, it would permit U.S. forces -- for the purposes of Iraqi law -- to engage in combat operations and detain insurgents. In other words, to detain people that we think are bad guys. I don't know any of the other nearly 90 Status of Forces Agreements that would allow a U.S. commander to arrest anyone he believes is a bad guy.
The treaties are back in the news but before we get to them, April 10th, Biden was calling out the "internal threat" aspect and explaining that it required the US "to support the Iraqi government in its battle with all 'outlaw groups' -- that's a pretty expansive commitment," and one that requires the US "to take sides in Iraq's civil war" when "there is no Iraqi government that we know of that will be in place a year from now -- half the government has walked out. . . . We want to normalize a government that really doesn't exist." Senator Russ Feingold would add, "Given the fact that the Maliki government doesn't represent a true coalition, won't this agreement [make it appear] we are taking sides in the civil war especially when most Iraqi Parliamentarians have called for a withdrawal of troops?" All of the issues raised in today's news cycle were not only known some time ago, they were raised by the US Congress repeatedly in April (and brushed aside by those sent before them to offer talking points). AP reports that US sources are saying the treaties (both of them) have been worked out and will soon be formalized. Yesterday, US White House spokesperson Gordon Johndroe confirmed that the White House had been sent a draft.
On December 31st of this year, the United Nations authorization for the occupation of Iraq (there was never any authorization for the illegal war itself) expires. Nouri al-Maliki has already angered the Iraqi Parliament by twice ignoring it and renewing the mandate. But nothing is preventing the UN from offering a stop-gap measure of some form to briefly cover the occupation while the US presidency switches hand (Bully Boy has had his two terms and on his way out the door). Even better, no extension -- even a brief one -- would end the illegal war because foreign forces would have to leave Iraq. Instated, the White House is pushing long-term treaties that they attempt to call by other names to avoid the US Constitutional requirement that requires Senate authorization of all treaties. (al-Maliki has stated that, on Iraq's ends, the Iraqi Parliament will follow their own Constitution to some degree and the Parliament will have some form of approval.)
The United Nations raised Iraq yesterday in their daily press briefing where a spokesperson (Farhan Haq) spoke for Ban Ki-moon and asserted "that, over the past five years, the United Nations has continued to help the people of Iraq -- and others throughout the world -- who suffer from violence, disease and want." It is the fourth anniversary of the bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad (22 UN staffers died) and the spokesperson declared, "This work is often dangerous, but it must go on. Those who died on August 18th, 2003 would have it no other way." When you're arguing for continued actions on the backs of the dead, you're arguing from a position of weakness and "position of weakness" describes the UN's role throughout the Iraq War. Naturally Bloody War Hawk Samantha Power (taking time out from praising counter-insurgency) took to the New York Times yesterday to satisfy her blood lust with a column. Despite providing a cloak for the ongoing illegal war, the anniversary of the UN bombing yesterday resulted in no 'shout out' from the White House with Gordon Johndroe not even acknowledging it in his press briefing.
Today in Florida, the Bully Boy of the United States addressed the VFW. Gordon Johndroe had explained in yesterday's White House press briefing that the speech would be "a look-back on significant moments in the war on terror," and indeed Bully Boy attempted to use the 'war on terror' to justify everything but daughter Jenna's wedding expenses. If he could fold it into the so-called war on terror, he obviously would have. On Iraq he referenced Saddam Hussein as "a brutal dictator who murdered his own people" leaving out the fact that he was installed by the US and took most of his actions with US approval. "Because we acted, the dicator is gone," he declared striving really hard to sound like a munchkin in The Wizard of Oz, "and 25 million Iraqis are free." Bully Boy is wrong, approximately 2 million Iraqis are 'free' -- the external refugees who face new tragedies in other countries. No one in Iraq is 'free.' Not checking out the news cycle, Bully Boy complained that Iraq's suitation was once criticized and that some "were willing to give up on the mission." Bully Boy made clear he would never apologize for the illegal war he started. He did make time to lie about "political and economic progress . . . taking place". Lying is all the rage in front of the VFW this month. Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama lied this week. He hailed presumptive Republican candidate John McCain's ("served this nation honorably") and then used his speech to attack McCain claiming that he (Barack) had always been consistent in his opposition to the illegal war. A lie. Another was hailing Nouri al-Maliki as "democratically-elected." al-Maliki wasn't even the first choice of the US in the spring of 2006 (nor was he the first choice of the Iraqi parliament). al-Maliki was installed. It's that kind of lie -- one that comes so easily to Barack -- which goes a long, long way towards explaining how he's not vested in ending the illegal war. Attempting to dispell his 'stranger' quality to the VFW, he ignored speaking of his father and his many wives and instead emphasized the American side of his family. He also claimed wife Michelle had been speaking to veterans knowing no one would check into that (she's not sought out veterans) and knowing few would dare point out that Barack's refused a request for debate by, yes, veterans. He repeatedly went nasty on McCain (including on the GI Rights Bill) knowing that as the darling of the press corps he can continue to attack and only McCain's attacks on him will ever be noted. The only improvement for Barack is that someone has tutored him enough that he now no longer speaks of "the bomb" dropped on Pearl Harbor and appears aware that it was multiple bombs. Yes, he truly is that stupid.
Yesterday's snapshot noted Richard A. Oppel Jr.'s "Kurdish Control of City Creates Political Powderkeg in North Iraq" (New York Times) on what Kurds are boasting as their takeover of oil-rich Kirkuk. Missy Ryan (Reuters) reports today that US ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker is insisting that Iraqi MPs must not be "bitter" over events in Kirkuk and that It's important that the elections law focus on elections, not on attempting to use this legislation to solve a difficult and much more complicated problem." Had the US government wanted to stop it, Kirkuk's fate would not appear sealed today. Crocker sanctimonously added, "It is important to remember what brings you together, not only the differences." Economically, one difference is that Kirkuk is oil-rich and it's not as simple as Crocker wants to portray it. Peter Graff (Reuters) reports that the UN's Staffan de Mistura declared at a press conference today that the UN was working on a "grand deal" to be revealed in September or October that would hopefully "resolve a looming row without fresh bloodshed" and, regarding Kirkuk, the UN would not advocate a referendrum but would instead attempt "to negotiate a broad political deal which could then be put to a 'confirmatory referendum', backed by all sides."
Yesterday, Iraqi security forces raided Sunni politicians, killed and arrested. Nicholas Spangler and Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) report four police officers were wounded in the Diyala actions, the governor's secretary was shot dead, Hussein al Zubaidi ("provincial council member and head of security committee") was arrested, computers were seized and "Taha Dria, a Shiite lawmaker from Diyala who was not in the government compound during the raid, said the armed forces were from Iraq's Emergency Response Unit, an American-trained unit similar to U.S. Special Forces" quoting him explaining that, "They were wearing khaki. Their weapons were American. The Humvees they used looked American. They didn't have any ranks on their shoulders. They didn't talk." They also report eye witnesses saw two US helicopters and that the helicopters fired on the Iraqi people. The US military issued a denial on accusations yesterday and maintained that one helicopter was in the area but for other reasons and it was not involved in actions. Ned Parker and Usama Redha (Los Angeles Times) note the US military's denial and also explain that "a prominet Sunni university dean" was also arrested, that the Iraqi forces involved "reports to Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's counter-terrorism office" but al-Maliki claims he was unaware and his office insists, "These special forces work with the Americans. They are not associated with the Ministry of Defense. They have goals, and they didn't inform anyone else." Nichoals Spangler (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that the US continues to deny any involvement in yesterday's lawless activities with US Big Gen James Boozer insisting, "It was what appears to be a rogue operations." If true, it would reflect poorly on Bully Boy's declarations today, wouldn't it? Spangler notes, "Both men arrested are Sunni Muslims, and the Iraqi Islamic Party, the largest Sunni party in the country, immediately condemned the raids as part of a sectarian campaign by the largely Shiite Muslim security forces." So busy spinning, M-NF apparently was too busy to announce a death which is how the death toll for the month thus far reached 18 US service members with no one noticing (4145 since the start of the illegal war). Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that left two people wounded. Reuters notes four were wounded in that bombing
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports two Iraqi soldiers were wounded in a Baghdad shooting and a Nozad Sirwan ("engineer") was shot dead in Kirkuk. Reuters notes 1 person shot dead and two more wounded in Tuzkhurmato, 1 person shot dead by the US military in Abu Alapa, .
Reuters notes 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad and 2 corpses were discovered in Hilla.
Turning to the US presidential race. Cynthia McKinney, Green Party presidential nominee, continues her campaign stops in Tennessee. Tomorrow she starts the day in Dickson and moves on to Nashville where she will hold a press converence at Legislative Plaza (11:00 a.m., open to the public) and then and she has upcoming appearances this week (tomorrow and Thursday) followed by a public Q&A.
Indpendent presidential candidate Ralph Nader continues his campaign for ballot access. Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez' independent presidential bid has set the goal of appearing on 45 states' ballots and Ryan J. Foley (AP) reports that the Nader campaign in Wisconsin is 100 signatures away from the required number of signatures to gain access to the state's ballot and that they expect to more than exceed the required number by the September 2nd deadline. In other news, Team Nader notes:
As late as yesterday, we didn't think we had a chance.
For the first time in this campaign, we were at serious risk of missing a self-imposed financial goal.
Then, yesterday, you came through.
And now, we're back in it.
Now, we're just shy of $42,000.
And we have a chance to hit our goal of $50,000 by 11:59 pm tonight.
But we're going to have to bust a gut to get there.
So, we are calling on 900 of you -- our most loyal supporters -- to donate $10 each now to push us over the top.
(900 times $10 equals $9,000, right?)
And for every $10 contribution you donate today, we will give free admission to a needy student who wants to come to hear Ralph Nader at our Open the Debates Super Rally at the University of Denver's Magness Arena. ($10 in advance, $12 at the door.)
Ralph will be joined by his running mate Matt Gonzalez.
And -- breaking news -- a star studded line-up will join Ralph and Matt in a call to open up the Presidential debates.
Featuring -- Val Kilmer, Cindy Sheehan and Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello, Jello Biafra, Nellie McKay, and Ike Reilly.
So, please -- give a student a chance to attend this historic event.
Donate $10 now -- or whatever you can afford -- and send a student to raise the banner in Denver -- Open the Presidential Debates, More Voices, More Choices.
Keep an eye on our widget throughout the day.
Watch your name go up in lights.
And see if we blast through our goal.
And let's get it done.
Together, we will not be denied.