Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, August 26, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, Kurds feel left out, al-Maliki is not to be believed (if you believe his cabinet), independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader gears up for tomorrow night's Super Rally and more.

Starting with war resistance, US war resister Robin Long was court-martialed Friday at Fort Carson. His civilian attorney was James Branum who shared a few thoughts at his blog on Sunday:

The last few days have been a dizzying blur for me. I've been in Colorado Springs for Robin Long's court-martial at Ft. Carson, as well as to the support IVAW's State of the Union base tour.
The trial itself was pretty intense. I was so proud of Robin and witnesses: Pete Haney (of the Colorado Springs Justice & Peace Commission), SGT Matthis Chiroux (IVAW and resister to an ordered Iraq deployment) and COL Ann Wright (who can't even begin to summarize her bio). I also want to thank the folks who sent supporting written statements. We used some in the trials, but will be using all of them in the upcoming clemency/parole fights.
In the next day or two, I'll write up a lengthier blow-by-blow account of the trial, but for now I'll just say that while we (Robin and I) are disappointed by the sentence, we are happy that we got to present Robin's case. I think that in the future, the record will show that Robin's decision to go to Canada might have been illegal under US law, but it was supremely moral act and it was one in compliance with International law.

US war resister Jeremy Hinzman is the US war resister who was the first to go to Canada and apply for asylum. August 13th, he was informed he had until September 23rd to leave Canada or be deported. J. Gilbert of Orilla draws the comparison to the two cases in a letter to the editors of the Orillia Packet & Times:

On June 3, the House of Commons voted to stop the deportations of American servicemen and women who come to Canada rather than participate in the fighting in Iraq.
Incredibly, the Harper government has chosen to ignore the decision of the House of Commons. In spite of that clear vote, they deported Robin Long, an American soldier seeking sanctuary in Canada, back to the U. S.
Last week, Robin was sentenced to 15 months in prison at a military penitentiary. He also received a dis-honourable discharge. This has huge implications for the rest of his life: he will be ineligible for student loans, mortgages, and many employment opportunities. Even worse, he will never be able to return to Canada, where his two-year-old son lives.
His crime? Refusing to participate in an illegal and immoral war, once its true nature became clear to him.
In Robin's own words: "I remember that a soldier is just a uniform following orders, a warrior is the man or woman that follows their conscience and does the right thing in the face of adversity." This he has done, and continues to do.
Jeremy Hinzman has received his deportation date: Sept. 23. It is clear that he is a conscientious objector. It is wrong that he be punished for following his conscience.
What has been done to Robin Long cannot be fixed. But it must not be repeated.
The Harper government has an obligation to comply with the will of the House. The deportations must stop.

To show your support for Jeremy and other US war resisters in Canada, Courage to Resist alerts, "Supporters are calling on Hon. Diane Finley, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, to intervene. Phone 613.996.4974 or email finley.d@parl.gc.ca,"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: finley.d@parl.gc.ca."

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).

August 18th US Lt Gen Lloyd Austin briefed the press going on and and on about 'success' in Iraq and "our security gains continue to trend in a positive direction" and happy talk, happy talk, more and more Operation Happy Talk. Waves of reality wash all that happy talk away. Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "A suicide car bomb targeted a recruiting centre in the twon of Jalowlaa, 70 km to the northeast of Baquba at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday killing 27 recruits, wounding 45." AFP explains that the "bomber thwarted a security check" point as he "rushed into a crowd of potential recruits and detonated his explosives-laden vest". Yassen Taha and Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) report that the bomber was disguised "as a security officer" and that the the hospital states "they'd received 30 bodies of dead recruits, a higher figure than police reported to McClatchy Newspapers." Stephen Farrell (NYT via IHT) states some believe it was actually a car bombing. CBS and AP quote eye witness (and police member) Falah Hassan stating, "I saw burned bodies, wounded people and small pools of blood." Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) quotes Mohammed Adnan who dclares, "There was black smoke everywhere, dead bodies on the ground, and people panicking and helping to transfer the injured to the hospital." Let'd drop back to August 18th one more time for Lt Gen Austin, "Today, the Multinational Corps Iraq is operating in more areas of the country with fewer troops, and our security gains continue to trend in a positive direction even after the redeployment of five brigade combat teams, and most recently the Georgian brigade. We've been able to achieve this success because of an increasingly effective Iraqi security force, one that is growing in capability and in confidence." Woops! Who said this: "The suicide bombing of Jalawla is striking evidence that Iraqi security forces are unable to impose security on the area from which Peshmerga have just withdrawn"? Iraqi Brig Gen Nadhim Najim Ahmed to Sherko Raouf (Reuters) and he said it today regarding the bombing: "The suicide bombing of Jalawla is striking eveidence that Iraqi security forces are unable to impose security on the are from which Pershmerga have just withdrawn." The Peshmerga are the Kurdish forces. Are Kurdish leaders about to pull a Bully Boy and use tragedies to their own advantage? BBC asserts of the bombing, "This is the latest in a series of attacks, launched mainly by Sunni Islamists in Diyala." Ned Parker explains, "The attack followed a suicide bombing on Sunday night at a tribal sheik's banquest in the western Baghdad suburb of Abu Ghraib".

Parker also sets up the larger perspective: "Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's negotiators are also bogged down in talks over a long-term security agreement with the United States, despite a December deadline looming for a deal. The Shiite-led government has also initiated a crackdown on leaders and members of the U.S.-funded Sons of Iraq movement, which includes many former insurgents, who allied themselves with America in 2007 to fight Al Qaeda in Iraq. Since May, Iraqi security forces have started arresting Sunni fighters. Leaders from the Sons of Iraq have warned that the measures could drive some of their men back to fighting the government." This morning Tina Susman and Parker reported on puppet of the occupation Nouri's "fixed deadline for the departure of all U.S. troops troops from Iraq" and observered, "His words appeared to rule out the presence of any U.S. military advisors, special forces and air support after the withdrawal date." Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) observes it is "a direct challenge to the Bush administration, which insists that the timing for troop departure would be based on conditions on the ground" and quotes al-Maliki stating, "There is an agreement actually reached, reached between the two parties on a fixed date, which is the end of 2011, to end any foreign presence on Iraqi soil." Campbell Robertson and Riyadh Mohammed (New York Times) cite "Iraqi negotiators" who insist that's al-Maliki didn't mean what he said and "than an agreed-upon 2011 date is for combat forces only". CBS and AP add, "Despite the tough words, al-Maliki's aides insisted a compromise could be found on the two main stumbling blocks to an accord governing the U.S. military presence in Iraq after a United Nations mandate expires at the end of the year."

Turning to some more of today's reported violence . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that wounded two "Awakening" Council members and another Baghdad roadside bombing that wounded four people (two were police officers) and a Tikrit car bombing that claimed 4 lives and left thirteen wounded. CNN reports the Tikrit bombing was an attempted attack on "the general manager of the health administration, Dr. Hassan Zein Al-Abideen". AFP states police maintain there were no deaths in the Tikrit bombing. Citing "a security official," Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) puts the dead at 5 and the wounded at eight. Al Jazeera adds, "A police official says the bomb was planted in a car parked on a street used by local government officials going to work."


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an attack on one police officer in Mosul that left him wounded and, when more police officers showed up, 1 person was shot dead and another wounded.

Turning to the US presidential race. The nonsense goes on in Denver inside the Pepsi Arena where a candidate's spouse (not a candidate) gave a bad speech as did the Speaker of the House (both stammered, stumbled and had nothing of value to say). Tonight Hillary speaks which means more crackpot theories from Amy Goodman & company tomorrow morning. Just like the garbage offered up on Monday. The convention is giving Panhandle Media a chance to explain to the country why they can't work in Real Media. Covering the exact same events -- despite all the hectoring and lecturing over the years -- they have nothing 'alternative' to offer. The Democratic Party Convention allows them to demonstrate the real reason they're in Panhandle Media: they aren't qualified to work in real journalism jobs. Tonight Hillary Clinton speaks and as Marie Cocco (Washington Post Writers Group) observes that it's seen as 'natural' for Hillary to do the heavy lifting: "But it is usually the job of the party nominee to build unity once a vanquished rival has conceded and made the right gestures. Unless the loser happens to be a woman. Then it's just like high school, and she must do the work." And everyone will pretend not to notice just like they pretend not to notice the absence of Iraq from the DNC infomercial. Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez' campaign issued a press release of 12 issues the Democrats will refuse to address at the convention and we'll note number eleven:

The Democrats will not call for the United States to begin a military and corporate total withdrawal from Iraq. Such a withdrawal would result in mainstream Iraqis no longer supporting or joining the insurgency. Internationally UN-supervised elections will allow for appropriate autonomy for the Kurdish, Sunni, and Shi'ite communities within a unified Iraq. Seriously waging peace will be far cheaper than a permanent war economy which is generating huge deficits and diverting attention, talent, and resources from the necessities of the American people.

Meanwhile Austin Cassidy's Independent Reporter notes Sewer Dweller Alexander Cockburn's attempt to make like Alexis Carrington (yes, Alex is that out of date) and get catty about Ralph Nader. Cassidy's confused by this. Cockburn 'reported' wrongly that Ralph wouldn't run this year. When Nader contacted him for a correction, Cockburn wrote a hateful piece (all he can really muster in his career's dying days) instead of just issuing a correction. More garbage can be found at The Socialist Worker which has always been on board with Barack. And, in fact, the John McCain campaign should probably start including some of the Socialist Worker's gushing praise for Barack in their campaign ads. (And to note the true 'international' spirit of Barack's campaign, toss in the raves he receives from Workers' Liberty in the United Kingdom -- which does know it's not voting in a US election, right?) Today the Socialist Worker tells you that Cynthia McKinney (Green Party presidential nominee) and Ralph Nader's campaigns don't matter (and insist that they won't "get a significant hearing" -- certainly not at the Socialist Worker). Daniel Williams (Denver Daily News) reports Cynthia spoke on Monday at the Mercury Cafe in Denver declaring, "We must have an opposition party in this country, and the Green Party with over 200 elected officials on the local level can be that opposition, but we have to expand and broaden the Green Party to reflect the entire fabric of all of the communities that are in this country. . . . We have done a great job of reaching out to people of all diverse backgrounds, and we wanted to make sure that people understood that not only is Green Party a viable alternative, it is imperative." Gabriel San Roman (Uprising, KPFK) interviewed Cynthia over the weekend and the interview was broadcast on Monday's show. We'll note her speaking on how she became a member of the Green Party.

I left the Democratic Party . . . Probably the Democratic Party left me a long time ago -- before I even realized that it had indeed left me. But I left the Democratic Party because it has failed during the time that it had a majority in the Congress -- to provide us a live-able wage, single-payer health care system, it's failed to repeal the Patriot Act, the Secret Evidence Act, the Military Commissions Act, failed to repeal the Bush tax cuts, and, in fact, the hallmark of the Democratic majority in Congress is failure. And therefore, when I took an inventory of my values, a alongside the values of the policies that were being implemented in Washington, DC, it was very clear that the Democratic Party no longer reflected my values so I decided to do something that I hope other people will follow suit as well. And I declared my independence from the national leadership that had made our country so complicit in crimes against humanity, crimes against peace, crimes against the global community and crimes against the American people.

And she explained:

The Congress has voted to spend $720 million every day for war and occupation. That's above the one-half trillion dollars that the Pentagon gets in so-called 'defense' spending. And so consequently we are seeing more and more of hard earned tax dollars being sucked into a war and military industrial complex that does not serve the aims, objectives and ends and interests of the people of this country. So of course we want to see an end to militarization of US policy. We want to see a restoration of the bill of rights, we want to see a rollback of those infringements, as I said, the Patriot Act, the Secret Evidence Act, the Military Commission Act and we could go on. We want to see an end to the drug war. We want to see an end to the private operation over our US currency as it is now with the Federal Reserve. Most people don't even know that the Federal Reserve isn't "federal" at all, it's private. We would like to see an end to the drug war, an end to prisons for profit. We also are not afraid to talk about race and gender in this country. And we understand. The Green Party took as its 2004 platform position the fact that this country was built on genocide of indigenous people and we think that it is outrageous that the United States didn't support the United Nations' declaration on indigenous rights. The fact that this country also -- the economic foundation of this country was based on the enslavement of
Africans. And so the 2004 Green Party platform discusses the facts about reparations and, of course, we know that the two corporate parties and the two presumptive nominees have said that reparations is not something to be discussed. The status of women in this country is something that also needs to be discussed and its definitely something more than cleavage and whether or not a woman wears a skirt when she is campaigning for public office. The fact of the matter is that women wake up every morning and they go to work equally equipped as their male counter-parts and yet, at the end of the month, they bring home less money. We need to talk about that. We understand that it took seventy-two years when women and men decided together that they were going to declare their independence from the current political order that denied women the right to vote -- it took seventy-two years for that to be accomplished. So what we are hoping to kick start in this country is not only that the Green Party becomes the opposition party but that the Green Party becomes the vanguard of the movement for justice that this country so desperately needs.

August 26, 1920, US women (all US women) finally won the right to vote with the passage of the 19th Amendment which states: The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforse this article by appropriate legislation." Susan Fauldi offers "Second-Place Citizens" (New York Times -- click here for it at der Spiegel).

"Open the Debates" Super Rally at the DNC
Speakers/Performers: Val Kilmer, Sean Penn, Tom Morello, Jello Biafra, Nellie McKay, Cindy Sheehan, Ike Reilly and more
Magness Arena, University of Denver
2199 South University Blvd. Denver, CO 80208
Click here to go to the Denver Super Rally web page
(303) 832-2509 or events@votenader.org
Map it
Jess spoke with Ashley Sanders, the Super Rally Media Coordinator this evening, and she states, "We're hoping for 5,000 people and we want the mood to be thoroughly democratic and we want the peopl to feel inspired about voting for candidates who actually represent them." Which is a good time to note Ruth's post last week:

I had an e-mail on that today. A Barack supporter insisting Mr. Nader was running a vanity campaign. A "vanity" campaign would have seen him endorse Barack Obama back in February or after so he could get the love The Cult loves to offer. Being ridiculed and mocked does not feed "vanity." Mr. Nader is running because he thinks the country needs to change. He, Mr. Gonzalez, and the many who play a role in the grassroots campaign are working to change the country. They are working to keep democracy alive. It strikes me as very funny that someone supporting the vague and airy corporate candidate Barack would have the nerve to suggest that issue-heavy Nader campaign was a "vanity" campaign. And that is before you get into the cult's behaivor of fainting in the presence of Saint Barack. Mr. Nader is for ending the illegal war now. Not possibly in four years from now. Mr. Nader supports universal, single-payer health care. Not some program that might insure childen while leaving millions of Americans uninsured (and a program that is a mandate, despite Mr. Obama's lies otherwise). Mr. Nader supports the right to unionize, the repeal of Taft-Hartley. Mr. Obama supports making life even easier for corporations.

Drop $39 now on Nader/Gonzalez.
To protest Obama's choice of the Senator from MasterCard for VP.
That would be Senator Biden.
(By donating $39 now to the Nader Media Fund, you'll be helping us report more on Mr. Plastic in the days to come, but for starters, check out this account of how Biden fronted for the credit card companies in Congress.)
As a protest against the VP candidate from MasterCard.
Because $39 is key rip off number for the credit card industry.
Let's say you miss your credit card payment by one day.
What does the credit card company do?
They sock you with a $39 late fee.
And now, if Obama/Biden win the election, MasterCard and Visa will have a lock on the White House.
And who will stand up to the credit card industry and tell them -- no more rip off late fees?
And --
Only Nader/Gonzalez will stand up to the avaricious credit card corporations.
Who trap their consumers with --
29 percent interest rates.
$39 late fees.
Over limit fees.
Double cycle billing.
Disappearing grace periods.
$15 phone payment charges.
And every other possible way to rip you off.
To keep you in hock.
Forever and ever.
So, step up to the plate.
You'll be protesting the corporate Democrats' descent into credit card hell.
And supporting the only campaign that has the independence and guts to stand up to the industry and say -- enough!
Better late than never.
Onward to November.