Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, August 27, 2008.  Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, 2 US soldiers state they killed handcuffed Iraqis and did so on official orders, Ralph Nader's Super Rally takes place in Denver tonight, Courage to Resist speaks with US war resister Robin Long and more.
Starting with war resistance.  In Canada yesterday, protests took place.  Total Catholic reports, "Catholic groups demonstrated outside Canada House in London on Tuesday in protest against the deportation of US soldiers who refused to fight in Iraq and sought asylum in Canada."  It notes the groups included Voices in the Wilderness, Pax Christi, the Fellowship of Reconciliation and Catholic Worker Movement and that they carried posters with photos of war resister and the following "Canada: Stop Deporting US Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in the Illegal War in Iraq."   Bruce Kent explains, "In the year that Franz Jagerstater was beatified by the Pope in recognition of his conscientious objection and subsequent execution for refusing to serve in Hitler's army, it seems extraordinary that the Canadian Government is adopting this position.  These soldiers have every right to refuse to fight in an illegal war."  While they stood up "White boy" (read his article -- better yet, don't) Nathaniel Hoffman (Boise Weekly) blathers on about the DNC convention (24 paragraphs) before including this: "Now for a few updates on the home front. Army deserter Robin Long, a Boise native, was sentenced to 15 months in jail, after being kicked out of Canada and returned to his unit at Fort Carson, Colo. He will also get a dishonorable discharge."  That would be Robin's local weekly and that's all they have to offer.  Never forget the 'alternative' press always has something else to do.  Robin was court-martialed last Friday and Courage to Resist spoke to Robin spoke with him later that day:
Courage to Resist: Well Robin your court martial is done, you got 15 months in military prison, how are you feeling about the outcome?
Robin Long: I -- all in all -- on the day of the trial, had a really good day.  I got to tell the army and the world exactly how I felt and I got to meet one of my heroes, one of my heroines, Col. Ann Wright and I enjoyed all the support that was there, all the people that came to see.  It was kind of funny, when I was leaving, they rushed me off to a Humvee and they had -- they had the military police escort front and behind and they stopped traffic at all the intersections.  And while I was leaving, all the supporters, a lot of them were saluting so that felt really good.  I was kind of looking at different figures -- that I could be out as early as April of next year.  With everything so . . .  I don't know.  I'm just looking forward to getting the RCF Unit and start doing my time.  And when I come out, start speaking for peace again and my word will be that much more powerful.  I can talk now in the States instead of being up there in Canada. And hopefully, we can end this occupation, this war. 
Courage to Resist: Now you said you got to tell the army exactly how you felt?  What did you tell them?
Robin Long: Oh, I told them, I mean, with my defense case, Col. Ann Wright and with the other witnesses, we basically got to say to a forum and an audience that normally wouldn't hear the things we were saying about the legality of the war in Iraq and, you know, following your conscience and international law, a higher duty and it felt really good to say those things.  And to let people know that they can think for themselves and follow their heart.
Courage to Resist: And did Col Wright testify at your trial?
Robin Long: Yes, she did.
Courage to Resist: And what did she say?
Robin Long: She was basically saying the things she saw working in the army and with the State Department and her decision to resign from her position in opposition to the Iraq War and also she kind of said that she wasn't offended because she's part of the military you know she wasn't offended by me deserting.  Having a colonel, someone in that high of a position, you know, with the State Department, working with different embassies, MongoliaSomaliaia, Afghanistan that maybe they paid attention to her.  The military judge looked really interesting in what she was saying so.
Courage to Resist: You said that she was one of your heroes.  I'd be willing to be that the next time we see Ann Wright, she'll be saying that you're one of her heroes.  So now you're back in the county jail?
Robin Long: Yep, I'm here at the El Paso jail waiting for transport transfer.  They haven't told me yet where I'm going.
Courage to Resist: Any hints, any clues about where you might be headed?
Robin Long: No, not yet.  They said whichever place has availability.  It's kind of -- kind of weird.  I can't bring anything with me in jail.  Like all of the books that nice people have sent I can't bring any of that stuff with me.  Mail, I can't even bring address book.  So I'm going to be sending out all my, my papers that I need to have with me to somebody so that can mail them back to me when I find out where I am.
We'll note more from Robin's interview later in the week (hopefully tomorrow).  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.
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,"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:"
Aidan Delgado is a war resister who has told his story in book form. The Sutras Of Abu Ghraib: Notes From A Conscientious Objector In Iraq is now out in soft cover (list price $15.00).  Eric Snider (Creative Loafing) states,  "The most engaging aspect of The Sutras is Delgado's quest for CO status; although he's ostracized for his stance, overall he's treated quite fairly."  Three other war resisters have told their story in book form: Kevin Benderman's Letters from Fort Lewis Brig: A Mater of Conscience, Camilo Mejia's Road from Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia (Camilo plans a second book), and Joshua Key's The Deserter's Tale.  Peter Laufer's Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq details many war resistersincludingng Joshua Key and Jeremy Hinzman) and Aimee Allison and David Solnit's Army of None: Strategies to Counter Military Recruitment, End War, and Build a Better World covers war resistance with a strong focus on stopping it at the point of the entry.  Many of these books (and other items as well) are available at Courage to Resist.
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.  At the US Pentagon today Gen James Conway declared that there might be a drawdown of some marines because "to do more in Afghanistan, our marines have got to see relief elsewhere". No, that would not be withdrawal, no that would not be troops home.  Now or later.  It is an acknowledgement -- public -- by a marine commander ("The Commandant of the Marine Corps," says the Defense Dept) that the US military is stretched to the limit fighting two illegal wars that neither the White House nor the Congress has the guts or desire to end.  So the Pentagon announces: "This week the Army and Coast Guard announced an increase, while the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps announced a decrease. The net collective result is 4,519 more reservists activated than last week." Conway also declared that Al Anbar Province would be turned over to Iraqis (Iraqis under the control of the puppet government controlled by the US).
Meanwhile Khalid al-Ansary (Reuters) reports that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani says US troops (of some formation) will be out (or 'out') of Iraq in 2011 and that the US wanted 2015 but Iraq held firm.  Take a second to let the laughter die down.  Aboard Air Force One this afternoon, Tony Fratto held a White House press briefing and said nothing about any agreement.  At the State Dept, Robert Wood (Deputy Spokesperson) held a press briefing was asked if the US had asked for the US to maintain their presence through 2015 and Wood refused to answer that and stuck "there are discussions going on between the United States and Iraqi Government.  We're working to try to finalize an agreement by the end of December.  I don't have anything new to offer other than what we've said, and that we think this is an important agreement.  And once we have an agreement, we will certainly make that known to the publics." 
This morning Paul von Zielbauer (New York Times) reported that "a first sergeant, a platoon sergeant and a senior medic, killed four Iraqi prisoners with pistol shots to the head as the men stood handcuffed and blindfolded beside a Baghdad canal, two of the soldiers said in sworn statements."  The bodies were then dumped in the canal according to Sgt 1st Class Joseph P. Mayo and Sgt. Michael P. Leahy Jr.'s statements which have each man killing one Iraqi and stated that 1st Sgt. John E. Hatley killed two and ordered the killings.  von Zielbauer quotes Leahy's statement: "I'm ashamed of what I've done. . . . When I did it, I thought I was doing it for my family.  Now I realize that I'm hurting my family more now than if I wouldn't have done it."
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that left five wounded, another that left six wounded, a Baghdad car bombing that claimed 1 life (seven wounded), another Baghdad car bombing that wounded one person, a Tal Afar car bombing that resulted in fourteen wounded (and the driver dead), 2 Mosul "suicide car" bombings -- one targeting "an American patrol" with no known casualties for eitehr bombing. Reuters notes the Tal Afar wound count is not at twenty-two "according to Sabih Hussein, chief physician at the Tal Afar government hospital".  The US military announces: "Coalition forces killed three terrorists – two of whom were wearing suicide vests – and detained six suspects, including an alleged al-Qaeda in Iraq leader, during operations in Diyala province Wednesday."

Reuters notes 1 person shot dead in Mosul.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes 1 female corpse was discovered in Numaniya.
Today the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier died at a Coalition forces medical facility in Baghdad today as a result of wounds sustained following an IED attack Aug. 26.  The Soldier was wounded after the vehicle he was traveling in was struck by an improvised explosive device in northeastern Baghdad Aug. 26."   The death brings to 4148 US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war and 20 since the start of the illegal war.
Moving to the US race for president.  Tom Hayden lied (there were many but where there are Barack lies, there is Tom Hayden) that Barack had done a bang up job helping Hillary retire her campaign debt.  He DID NOTHING.  As community member Eddie points out, even Danny Schechter's fallen for the lie ("Remember, Barack's campaign helped her retire her campaign debt!").  Reality, New York Times, A16 today (buy a paper), Michael Lau and Griff Palmer report: "The analysis by The Times found that Obama donors gave $300,000 to Mrs. Clinton in July and $135,000 in June."  Chump change.  He did nothing to help retire the debt.  He's gotten credit from liars like Hayden and from people too smart to give credit like Danny.  Her worshippers, Danny?  Her worshippers?  And you're puzzled so many see you and Media Channel as part of the problem?  Hillary busted her ass for the Democratic Party last night and it is exactly the attitude Danny's exhibited today (short on facts and sprinkles of insults) that has no defense.  There is no defense for it.  And, no, PBS' convention coverage is not praise worthy?  Was no one watching last night?  Ava and I skimmed last night's coverage today and sexism was on parade.  We'll address it Sunday.  One example: Maybe someone thinks it's 'natural' to have three historians on repeatedly during the broadcast to talk about Hillary and the women's liberation movement when . . . all three are men.  Talking about the struggle for women's equality?  PBS should be ashamed.  Unless they're so ignorant that they believe there are no female historians?  Is that it?  And because women know they can count on attacks from all sides, be sure to check out how Eleanor Smeal chose to smear other feminists.  When a DC lobbyist takes over Ms., feminism suffers -- and it has suffered.  In the real world, To The Contrary's  Bonnie Erbe (at US News & World Reports) observes, "The Democrats nominated a junior, inexperienced Senator with no legislative accomplishments on his resume to whom young Americans and latte liberals swarmed due to his cool, celebrity-like demeanor. But then, those same Democratic leaders act surprised that Middle America isn't following suit. How bizarre!!!"  Kownhaus notes, "The meltdown of Progressive Blogosphere 1.0 is due in large part to major 'A' list bloggers turning a blind eye to misogyny and sexism because it helped the candidate they supported.  MASSIVE FAIL!"  Meanwhile Jerry White (WSWS) takes on the latest nonsense from fauxgressives Katty-van-van Heuvel (who doesn't do corrections) and Robert L. Borosage, "Apart from their assertion, which is false, that Obama will end the occupation of Iraq, the authors make no attempt to substantiate their claim that Obama represents a 'stark ideological contrast' with McCain. In fact, they virtually acknowledge just the opposite."  And White drives it home with this section:
The Nation is no more able to explain how such a movement represents an alternative to the "entrenched order" than they are able to establish Obama's reformist credentials. Both in their support for Obama and their insistence that all social opposition after the election remain oriented to the Democratic Party, the Nation reveals itself to be a critical prop for precisely the reactionary order they claim to oppose. They themselves are simply its "left" flank.
Of course, the political milieu for which the Nation speaks has a direct and personal stake in the outcome of the election. They count on the arrival of a Democratic administration as an opportunity for many in their ranks to secure choice positions and enhanced status within the apparatus of power in Washington DC, whether as congressional staffers, trade union functionaries or researchers at Democratic-linked think tanks in the capital.
Martha saw that highlighted by Susan (Random Thoughts from Reno) and Susan has my nomination for "Truest Statement of the Week" at Third this weekend:  "The party is 'worried' now about mass defections by Clinton supporters to John McCain.  Well, what in the hell did they expect? After the May 31 charade effectively handing Obama the nomination, they lost what little chance they had in the fall.  Don't expect Clinton supporters to 'get over it' any more than Gore supporters when the 2000 election was stolen."  Hillary Clinton gave a great speech last nightJess, Dona, Eli, Martha and Shirley report the community members e-mails agree it was great and agree it didn't change their mind one bit.  Who are they supporting?
Ralph Nader is the independent candidate for president.  Tonight he and running mate Matt Gonzalez hold their first Super Rally.  This one in Denver.  From Team Nader:
Denver tonight 6 p.m.
University of Denver Magness Arena.
Sean Penn, Tom Morello, Cindy Sheehan, Jello Biafra, Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez will be there.
Standing up to the corporate two-party controlled debate commission.
Calling for an opening up of the Presidential debates.
If you are in the area,
see you at the event
If you know people in the area, call them, text them, e-mail them -- and give them the details.
Free Speech TV will be streaming the event live on the Internet. (Wednesday, August 27, 7 p.m. Mountain time, 9 p.m. Eastern.)
Just click here to watch.
Also, Free Speech TV will be broadcasting the event live on Dish Network Channel 9415.
If you are home watching convention coverage on cable, watch for Ralph.
He'll be in the DNC belly of the beast at the Pepsi Center today.
He'll be on Fox TV with Neil Cavuto in this afternoon at about 4 p.m.
And MSNBC with Dan Abrams tomorrow morning at about 10 a.m.
Other mainstream media interviews are being nailed down as we speak.
Stay tuned for more details.
The bottom line is this.
The conventions are supposed to be about democracy.
But in fact, they're two big corporate parties.
Talk about corporate crime and corporate power, and you are drummed out of the building.
Talk the happy corporate talk, and they invite you in for a drink.
Thank you Ralph Nader for having the guts to stand up.
For the American people.
Against the corporate takeover of our democracy.
Stand with Ralph today.
If you are in Denver, come on down and join with us at the Magness Arena tonight at 6 p.m.
If you are not in Denver, give whatever you can afford -- $10, $20, $50, $100 -- to help defray the costs of tonight's event. (Renting the arena, sound, lights, stage hands, video crew and equipment, flying in road trippers, printing of 100,000 fliers -- you get the picture.)
By the way, great start on the fundraising drive -- we're at close to $15,000 after just two days. But we have to hit $100,000 by September 4. So, let's get 'er cranked.
Thank you for your ongoing support.
With your help, tonight, we will shake it up.
Onward to November.
Green Party presidential candidate's Cynthia McKinney spoke in Denver this week and Black Agenda Report (which is endorsing McKinney for president) posts her speech.  This is an excerpt:
Cynthia McKinney: Our country has been hijacked and the Democrats have proven themselves to have been in on the plan.  When it came to the Constitution, the Democratic leadership showed us that aiding and abetting illegal spying on us was more important to them than protecting our civil liberties.  When it came to war and occupation, the Democratic leadership showed us that financing an illegal and immoral war, based on lies, was more important to them than they people's desire for peace.  And when the people, hurting from the financial mismanagement of this country, called foaccountabilityty for the crimes that have been committed against the people here, against the global community, against nature, itself, the Democratic leadership took impeachment off the tableGrassrootsts Democratic Party activists want a livable wage! A "Medicare-for-all" type of health care system, repeal of the Bush tax cuts that have ushered in the greatest income inequality in this country since the Great Depression.  But the Democratic Party has shown itself to be incapable of providing even a semblance of the values even of its own activists.  The Democratic Party's national leadership didn't even mention Hurricanes Katrina and Rita survivors in their Congressional agenda for the first 100 days.