Friday, September 05, 2008

Iraq snapshot

Friday, September 5, 2008.  Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, no cutbacks (let alone withdrawals) is the word, al-Maliki pretends his feelings are hurt, Adam Kokesh shares his thoughts at a rally in Minn., and more.
Starting with the news of no 'cutback' (forget withdrawal).  Tony Capaccio (Bloomberg News) explains, "Top U.S. military advisers have recommended that President George W. Bush delay futher combat-troop withdrawals from Iraq until early next year, according to two administration officials."  Julian E. Barnes (Los Angeles Times) reveals, "Under the recommendation, the current level of about 140,000 troops would remain in Iraq through the end of Bush's presidency in January.  Then a combat brigade of about 3,500 troops would be removed by February a senior Pentagon official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the recommendation has not been made public."  Al Jazeera adds: "The recommendation that George Bush withdraw one combat brigade, or up to 5,000 soldiers, from Iraq only early next year was contrary to expectations that improved security in Iraq would allow for quicker cuts."  At the White House today, Dana Perino declared, "I don't recall in the last few times when President Bush has worked with, or has gotten recommendations from General Petraeus, that we have gone too far outside. Of course we -- the President gets an update, as he did on Wednesday evening from Admiral Mullen and Secretary Gates.  They took Secretary -- I'm sorry -- General Petraeus' recommendation and ran that through the chain of command. And then they presented it to the President. He's obviously talking to his national security team, and we'll be consulting with members of Congress before we move forward."  US forces aren't leaving.  Two presidential candidates (Barack Obama and John McCain) have no intention of withdrawing US troops.  At what point does the Iraqi puppet face the wrath of the Iraqi people (many of whom have already figured out that Obama and McCain are the same on Iraq)?
 UPI reports on yesterday's press conference held by Iraq's Sunni vice president Tariq al-Hashimi. The press conference focused on the proposed treaties between the puppet government and the White House and al-Hashimi declared, "I think that we are not in need of an agreement that does not guarantee sovereignty and brings Iraq out from under Chapter VII, and also guarantees Iraqi law as a whole."  Which would seem to put al-Hashimi in a better position with the Iraqi people than the puppet Nouri al-Maliki.  However, al-Maliki was handed a gift today with advance publicity for Bob Woodward's latest book due out Monday.  The book asserts that the White House spied on the puppet.  Not a shocking or surprising claim.  (A) He is there puppet and they don't trust him (as well as see him as inept).  (B) This is the same White House that spied on the United Nations in the lead up to the illegal war.  But al-Maliki's trying to turn it into a national pride issue.  BBC reports that the puppet government is making noises about being shocked and how, gosh darn it, they think they maybe plan to ask the White House if this is true!  Maybe.
At the US State Dept today, Robert Wood (Deputy Spokesperson) handled the press briefing and was asked about the charges made in Woodward's forthcoming book.  He stated originally, "I don't have anything to say other than, you know, I read books, but I don't do book reviews, basically."  Pressed later, he would state he hadn't read the book and "I'm not going to give you a review of it."  The most Wood would offer was, "Well, again, I'm not going to get into the substance of this book and, you know, our characterization of it, except to say that, look, we have a good working relationship, a strong working relationship, with the Government of Iraq. We've worked very closely with Prime Minister Maliki. We'll continue to do so and -- in our efforts to strengthen Iraq's democracy." 
Wood was more expansive on the issue of the "Awakening" Council members, stating,    ". . .  we believe transitioning some members of the Sons of Iraq into the Iraqi security forces, while providing the others with vocational training and other employment opportunities, will be key to sustaining the security gains that have been realized in Anbar and elsewhere in 2007. But I don't have anything beyond that."  In other words, "Thank goodness the puppet government might soon start paying the thugs so we don't have to.  Liability concerns, you understand."  They certainly have the money to pay it since al-Maliki sits on millions and millions while Iraqis suffer. At Inside Iraq, one of McClatchy's Iraqi correspondents contributes "Why Does Iraq Need This Loan" which notes the central government in Baghdad issued a press release Wednesday proclaiming the Italian ambassador and Iraq's Minister of Finance addressed the topic of the "400 million euro" loan:
Until now, everything seems normal and logical. A third world country takes loan money from an industrial country. That would be completely acceptable if this third world country is a poor country but is it acceptable for a country that gained 32 billions dollars only as supplementary budget from the increasing of oil prices?
Why does Iraq need this loan? Our government wastes millions of dollar everyday in putting more blast walls, renewing pavements and of course in buying new armored vehicles for the enormous and increasing number of Iraqi officials. We can buy thousands of agricultural machines with the millions that have been wasted for the faked projects. Of course I'm not talking about the millions that had been stolen by the former ministers or even by the contractors.
Puppet al-Maliki better hope he can get some traction with his mock outrage of "The White House Spied On Me!  Who Could Have Guessed!"  James Denselow (Guardian of London) contemplates al-Maliki, "So how has this situation come to pass and how are things likely to develop? Is Maliki going to detach from his perceived political masters in Washington and be allowed to show independence? Or will such posturing result in Maliki suffering a similar fate to his predecessor, who was replaced when he became too independent?"
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Reuters notes Ahmed Chalabi was the target of an assassination in Baghdad today via a car bombing that claimed the lives of 2 and left seventeen injured (Chalabi was not among the dead or injured).
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Dbdulameer Hasen Abbas ("Advisor to the Ministry of Defence") was assassinated in Baghdad.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse was discovered in Nineveh Province today (a police officer who was kidnapped yesterday).
Today the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division – Center Soldier died of non-combat related injuries in Baghdad Sept. 5."  The announcement brought to 4154 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war.
This as Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reports, "Suicides among active-duty soldiers this year are on pace to exceed both last year's all-time record and, for the first time since the Vietnam War, the rate among the general U.S. population, Army officials said yesterday. Ninety-three active-duty soldiers had killed themselves through the end of August, the latest data show. A third of those cases are under investigation by the Armed Forces Medical Examiner's Office. In 2007, 115 soldiers committed suicide."  Pauline Jelinek (AP) adds, "As officials have said before, [Brig. Gen. Rhonda L.] Cornum said the main factors in soldier suicides continues to be problems with their personal relationships, legal and financial issues, work problems and the repeated deployments and longer tour lengths prompted by an Afghan war entering its eighth year and Iraq campaign in its sixth."
While the military does keep saying the same thing over and over, it really doesn't hold up.  Take the case of Dustin Mark Tucker whom Mary Callahan (The Press Democrat) reported on Thursday.  The doctors can't explain the death (kidney failure is suspected -- the cause, no one knows) and his family can't either:
 "He has no family history or personal history of any kind of medical issues," said his mother, Cindy Tucker. "He didn't complain of not feeling well . . . He was happy. He was busy. He was excited for his vacation. He was on top of the world."
Tucker, 22, was home for an 18-day leave, his first since his March deployment as a gunner with the Army's 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division out of Fort Hood, Texas. 
He was thrilled to be home, where his family had planned plenty of free time for golf, fishing and other activities. 
He was fatigued and jet-lagged after days of traveling from Baghdad to Kuwait, then Ireland, Atlanta and Los Angeles before finally flying into San Francisco and the embrace of his family. Despite the lengthy trip, he seemed ready for some fun, they said.  
Since arriving home Aug. 25, he had visited family and friends, played golf, bought a motorcycle and was looking forward to a family fishing trip at Clear Lake this week. 
He complained of no pain, discomfort or illness, but did mention being tired Aug. 27 when he decided to hang out with his two brothers rather than go out with friends, Cindy Tucker said.
Dustin Mark Tucker, apparently healthy, got on the couch and died there.  And there are no answers.  And there doesn't appear to be a great deal of interest in finding out what happened -- the same way they're not all that interested in the suicides.  It's a pattern of pass-the-buck that hasn't been deal with despite the scandals of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Turning to the US presidential race.  Yesterday's financial goal for the Ralph Nader campaign was to reach $100,000 in the donations for the Nader Media Fund which led to some mocking in the press.  Not only did they reach $100,000, the campaign surpassed it, hitting $104,500 via donaors from around the country -- Texas, Wisconsin, Arizona, California, Oregon, Illinois, Colorado, Hawaii and elsewhere.  Meanwhile Richard Winger's Ballot Access News reports Ralph Nader is currently on the ballot in 38 states (the Green Party in 31, the Constitution Party in 33 and the Libertarian Party in 42 -- see chart at the top of the page). Hamza Shaban (The Cavalier Daily) observes, "What Democrats have failed to realize is this: Nader is most dangerous when he is ignored. As a politician on the fringe, he does not seek the broadest coalition but makes new ones. If his platform is not integrated into the Democratic party's, then he will relentlessly go after the disaffected and carve out his own demographic. What loyal Democrats call "spoiling," Nader calls a systemic and deliberate boycott."  Team Nader notes:

The Invisible Man, song by 98 Degrees - Justin Jeffre and Jeff Timmons.


The revolution will not be televised - but thanks to your help, it will be on youtube.
We passed our media fund goal of $100,000 and brought in over $20,000 yesterday alone! 
This video is our highlight reel from the "Open the Debates" super rally in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The rally took place on September 4, at the same time as the Republican National Convention in neighboring St. Paul. I flew to Minnesota to shoot video of this exciting event, then stayed up all night editing - I hope you enjoy the  result. Also, because of your generous support, you will see much more coverage of future events. 
Please forward this video to your friends & family. Also please help us - subscribe to our youtube channel and rate our videos and comments! 
Haven't had a chance to help our media fund grow? There's still time...contribute to our campaign today.  
The RNC wrapped up their convention last night.  John McCain is the Republican nominee.  Governor Sarah Palin will be his running mate.  CBS Evening News' Cynthia Bowers reported on Palin (link has video and text) todayCBS Evening News with Katie Couric found the anchor interviewing Cindy McCain on Wednesday (link has text and video).  Barack supporter Hillary Rosen (CNN) shows a stronger grasp of feminism than a number of leaders when she compiles her reasons for not supporting the John McCain-Sarah Palin ticket but first calls out rank sexism, "I am a woman who someone took a chance on several years ago when they gave me a job that had only previously been done by old white guys. Experience? How do you get any if no one takes a chance on you? And the decision to take a chance can be instinctive, as John McCain said. And what about the argument that she is a negligent mother who will be distracted from her important role? I am a mother who constantly feels the pressure from others about whether I am fit to be a parent, whether I put my kids first often enough and whether my children get enough of my attention. Who has the right to judge my family? My grandmother always said, 'You can't tell time on someone else's clock.' Judgments about people's personal lives are better left unsaid and unrealized."
Tuesday night in Minneapolis, IVAW's Adam Kokesh participated in the Rally For The RepublicKokesh has posted a video of his speech at his website and below is transcription of the remarks he delivered:
Adam Kokesh: Thanks to a few neocon, chicken-hawk draft dodgers I was sent to Falluja in 2004 with the Marine Corps Civil Affairs Team and I found out the hard way that the greatest enemies of the Constitution of the United States of America are not to be found in the sands of some far off land but rather right here at home.  It's not enough to understand that the war in Iraq is simply unjust, illegal, unconstitutional, costing us a horrendous amount of money and destroying our military.  The issues before us today are a matter of life and death.  I continue to serve my country today as a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace and the Campaign for Liberty.  It is through the Campaign for Liberty that we will take Ron Paul's message, we will take the torch of freedom that he has borne so well for us, we will take it back to our communities and set brushfires of freedom in the mind of every liberty loving man, woman and child in this great country.  I'd like to take a second to recognize the veterans in the room -- if you would please stand -- and any active duty service members please stand.  These are the brave men and women who swore an oath with their lives to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.  And while it is our responsibility now to resist tyranny civily while we still can, there may come a time when we will say to the powers that be "With your blood or ours, we have come to water the tree of liberty."  And it is those veterans and myself, we will be on the frontlines.  Who will stand with us?  Thank you for taking that stand.  To all of you loyal soldiers in this new revolutionary army, it is an honor to count myself among your ranks and I salute you.  You want a revolution?  You better be ready to fight for it. Now I want you all to get back on your feet, take that stance for liberty with me, with all the veterans in this room, make for yourself the same committment with your lives, your fortunes and your sacred honor to our cause and make that pledge from your hearts where the fire of liberty burns that we will not rest 'till we achieve our goals and we get this new revolution in America.  Now I want you to stay on your feet for just for just another minute -- you're going to want to stay on your feet for this -- because now I have the great pleaure of introducing on behalf of the Campaign for Liberty, someone you have all been waiting to see, Aimee Allen.
Note, Adam is co-chair of IVAW.  He was speaking for himself at the Ron Paul rally as do all IVAW members participating in political campaigns for candidates.  IVAW does not endorse any single candidate, they do not belong to or serve one party.  IVAW is a diverse group in all ways including politically.  Their shared beliefs include an end to the illegal war, reperations for the Iraqi people and that US veterans' service is honored (and promises kept) by the US government.
Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney has held multiple events in Wisconsin today and has more planned for tomorrow: Today she held a lunch (10:30 a.m.), a town hall (Walden III School, Racine) at one p.m., and a Park Six meet and greet starting at 4:30.  Saturday she will be speaking at the Fighting Bob Festival (Baraboo, Wisconsin at 10:20 in the morning and will be hosting another meet and greet this time at High Noon Salloon in Madison beginning at 5:30 p.m.). 
NOW on PBS begins airing tonight in most markets. (Check local listings.) On the program this weekend (the above is a web exclusive and not a part of the show), Brancaccio interviews Christine Todd Whitman (billed as a moderate Republican) about the state of the GOP. Bill Moyers Journal brings back Dr. Kathy -- no doubt because America doesn't have enough worthless gas bagging on TV. The program moves into reality with a look at the National Guard members serving in Iraq. Gwen and the gas bags reteam to scare America on the latest installment of Washington Week. The Washington Post's David Broder and Vanity Fair's Todd S. Purdum are the two names that can be mentioned with minimal shudders. The others would produce screaming. In terms of radio, The Next Hour airs on WBAI Sunday (eleven to noon EST) and this week Janet Coleman and David Dozer "appear with yarrow sticks and The Book of Changes."  Bill Moyers Journal tackles protests (and, some would say attention getting) so we'll include this section:
Perhaps the most prominent arrest was that of journalist Amy Goodman, anchor of the daily television and radio news program, "Democracy Now!" Police had taken two of her producers into custody as they were trying to cover the news. Goodman went out looking for them, but didn't get very far.  She was stopped, slapped into handcuffs, and hauled into a detention center, along with almost 200 hundred other people. They had come to demonstrate, she had come to report on them. Goodman was released a few hours later and back on the job anchoring her daily radio and TV show, a favorite of listeners and viewers who go to her for news they won't find in the mainstream or rightwing press.
Winship is very kind to attention seeking Goody and what she actually offers. The essay is available in full online at Bill Moyers Journal.