Monday, January 12, 2009

US military announces another death

Today the US military announced: "A U.S. Solder died as a result of a non-combat related injury near Samarra, Iraq Jan. 11. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next-of-kin and release by the Department of Defense. The incident is under investigation." The death brings to 4225 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war.

Lloyd notes Ernesto Londono's "U.S. Troops Uneasy as Rules Shift in Iraq" (Washington Post):

Tens of thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq started the year calibrating their missions to conform with a new security agreement that demands that American combat troops depend more heavily than ever on their often-bungling Iraqi counterparts. Sometimes that means dragging one or two along on patrol.
American troops, who for years were the ultimate and only unquestioned authority in Iraq, have lost the right to detain Iraqis without warrants and are being asked to coordinate all missions with Iraqi security forces. Soldiering without the robust protections of the U.N. Security Council resolution that expired Dec. 31, in a country where animosity toward U.S. service members runs high, has left some troops feeling uneasy and vulnerable.

And reminder, there are two types of warrants now -- arrest and detention. Detention can be granted as late as 24 hours after you've detained the person. In this morning's New York Times, Alissa J. Rubin's "Iraqi Lawmakers Delay Naming a New Speaker" that Iraq's Speaker of Parliament remains a vacant position and MPs are thinking they might decide this Saturday. Or maybe not. If they did decide, that would be the 18th. For those keeping track, Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani was forced out December 23rd. Nearly a month later and they have no Speaker. Is anyone noticing that? Not just that the spot remains vacant (Sam Dagher and Kimi Yoshino and Ali Hameed reported on that yesterday), but also how long it has been vacant?

From Rubin's article:

"We are waiting for our Sunni brothers to choose their candidate," said Jalaluddin al-Sagheer, a leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, one of the most powerful Shiite parties in Parliament. "We prefer not to interfere in the Sunni decision. We think it's better to wait and give them room and let them make their own decisions. We don't have a position in advance and we don't want to bias the decision."

Meanwhile Reuters notes at least 7 dead from multiple bombings in Baghdad today and that incoming US vice president Joe Biden has landed in Iraq.

The Kurdish Regional Government released the following Saturday

Masrour Barzani says constitution must be respected

» US deputy secretary of Defense Gordon England and Chief of Kurdistan Intelligence Masrour Barzani

Chief of Kurdish intelligence in Washington says that Kurds are determined to see the full implementation of Iraq's embattled constitution.

Masrour Barzani, the Director of the Kurdistan Intelligence (Parastin) and one of the key figures participating in the negotiations that led to the establishment of Iraq's constitution, told his hosts in the US Defense Department that Kurds defy any future challenges that would undermine the country's charter.

Meeting with the US Deputy Secretary of Defense, Gordon England, Barzani said that the execution of the country's well-known article 140, is the solution to some of the most grave national dilemmas in Iraq.

Barzani's remarks echo the mainstream opinion in Iraq's semi autonomous Region of Kurdistan where much has been put at stake hoping for a swift realization of Iraq's federal constitution, which would than embrace the geographical and political future of the disputed places such as Kirkuk and Khanaqeen.

Expressing gratitude towards the liberation of Iraq from what he called "the tyrannical regime of the Ba'ath", Masrour Barzani said that Kurds and Iraqis are still counting on continued US support.

The Bush administration has in the past showed complete support for Iraq's hard-won constitution calling it a milestone in the regions history. But some of Iraq's political factions, including the current Iraqi prime minister's Al- Dawa party have loudly argued against the constitution saying the charter was drafted in a rush, and does not properly meet the demands of today.

In the mean time, during his meeting with Masrour Barzani, Deputy Secretary of Defense, Gordon England, reiterated the significance of solving Iraq's internal disputes according to the country's constitution and said his country's position remains supportive of a democratic and federal Iraq.

Bonnie notes Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Princess Brat's Big Plan" and Kat's "Kat's Korner: The really best of Janis Ian" went up yesterday.

Catherine Austin Fitts' "Will Defense Run the 'Real' Stimulus Package?" (Information Clearing House) notes the 2.3 trillion dollars 'missing' from DoD in 1999 and asks why certain individuals are being brought back into the government:

Today, President Elect Obama nominated William J. Lynn III as the Deputy Secretary of Defense. The press release said, "Lynn brings decades of experience and expertise in reforming government spending and making the tough choices necessary to ensure that American tax dollars are spent wisely."
Obama also nominated Robert Hale to Lynn’s former position, Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller). From 1994 to 2001, Mr. Hale served as the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Financial Management and Comptroller). That means that Hale, same as Lynn, was in charge of the money when all the money disappeared.
I guess the guys who got the last $3.3 trillion were pretty happy with Mr. Lynn and Mr. Hale and decided to bring them back.

And the War Resisters League issues the following:

(212) 228-0450


Stephen Zunes (831) 425-2975, (831) 234-9648
Frida Berrigan (347) 683-4928
Jim Haber (415) 828-2506


The War Resisters League decries the horror of Gaza with a broken heart and a grief that only strengthens our commitment to the broken rifle, the icon of our 85-year-old organization.

The rhetoric justifying violence­for Israel, for Israel’s backers in Washington, for Hamas­is deep and layered and rooted in real grievance and pain. But ultimately, this war (if that is the appropriate term for a conflict between a major military power and a non-state militant group), like all wars, is fueled by a raw and brutal combination of the will to power, political expediency, and the belief that might makes right. The War Resisters League condemns all those factors without equivocation.

We have watched the seeds of future wars planted on the battlefields of victory and watered by armistices that deliver only privation, division, and desperation. We know that the effective means of minimizing the appeal of violence and extremism­and ensuring security­is and always has been only through freedom and justice. We believe that the most effective means of fighting for freedom and justice, including freedom from foreign military occupation, is through strategic nonviolent action.

We know, too, that Israeli security and Palestinian rights are not mutually exclusive but mutually dependent upon each other. We therefore support the many Palestinians and Israelis who, despite the war crimes committed by both sides, are continuing to struggle nonviolently for freedom and justice.

Amid much diplomatic doublespeak and the conflating of vengeance with defense, we listen for the voices of Gazans, Palestinians, and Israelis who call out for an end to bloodshed, who call out for peace, and who have a vision and the tools to build that peace. We strain to hear these brave voices above the din of myopic fear-mongering and rationalizations.

We know that the solution for the Middle East will be built from this vision and these tools­but only if we in this country help it. There is a wide range of actions we can take, and pressing reasons for people here to take them.

The war is waged “over there.” But it is bought and paid for here in the United States. Through successive U.S. administrations, both Democrat and Republican, Israel has received more military aid than any other country. This unconditional military support, along with concomitant diplomatic and financial support, makes the Israeli sieges, occupation, and colonization of Palestinian territory possible. U.S. tax dollars buy the F-16 fighter jets, the M-60 tanks, the transport planes and attack helicopters, missiles, and depleted uranium munitions that Israel wields with such devastating effect.

Many groups are organizing pro-peace forces to demand that Congress and the new White House withdraw that support. The War Resisters League has joined in and endorsed protests, rallies, and marches; we have crafted letters to editors; we have opposed one-sided Congressional resolutions that blame Palestinians for the violence done to them. Beyond those efforts, however, there are two areas that WRL has focused on more intently than have many other groups: War tax resistance and conscientious objection.

War tax resistance­as a symbolic “no” to war and as a concrete deduction of the funds available to foment war­is a key component of WRL’s work; at this moment, it is also a first step towards ending the “war” against Gaza by ending taxpayer-financed U.S. military support for Israel. Finally, we affirm “the right to refuse to kill” and urge support especially for Israel’s conscientious objectors, the high school seniors who face repeated jail terms for refusing to be inducted into the Israeli Defense Forces, the occupying power in Palestine.

The laws of war were clearly defined in the last century, primarily in the treaties and agreements collectively known as the Geneva Accords: No collective punishment. No indiscriminate attacks­military action must be taken against military targets. No use of overwhelming firepower­military action and re-action must be in proportion with the threat or counter-attack. .

The laws of war fill volumes and are never followed. But: what if war only killed uniformed combatants in a targeted, commensurate and proportional way? Would it be just and appropriate then? For that kind of war to occur would mean that exploitation, empire, and occupation were no more. That kind of war has never happened and never will.

WRL therefore affirms, now as it ever has, that all war is a crime against humanity, and that we will struggle nonviolently for the end of all war, and for the removal of the causes of war, including racism, sexism, and human exploitation.



War Resisters League
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New York, NY 10012


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the washington post

the new york times
alissa j. rubin

kimi yoshino

the new york times