Friday, March 20, 2009

The sixth anniversary in broadcast

Today the US military announced: "BAGHDAD -- A Multi-National Divsion- Center Soldier died March 19 from non-combat related causes. 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 announcement brings to 4260 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war. Another death and on the sixth anniversary. This as the Seattle Times reports that next month there will be ceremonies for South Dakota's Army National Guard's 300 members who are deploying to Iraq ("for a year"). No, the Iraq War has not ended, no the US service members have not all come home.

It's a cute little lie. One that continues the Iraq War. One that allows a new wave of Operation Happy Talk to result in the absurd CBS poll Rebecca called out last night. It allows us to ignore the dead, the dying, the wounded, the suffering. The US started that illegal war but we have so many more pressing things to do than address what our government's actions are responsible for. Or that's how it plays out as Barack pursues the third term of George W. Bush. He was speechifying yesterday, with both teleprompters, and you knew it was the sixth anniversary of the start of the Iraq War because he worked it in -- in such a way as to let the whole world know just how 'important' it was to him, "I've also said that we are going to end the Iraq war, which is going to save us money during that period of time." Poor Barry, all tuckered out from having to say so much about Iraq. He's not ending the illegal war. He is insulting the disabled and challenged and the White House can't walk back that. It is the sort of remark one expects from Bully Boy Bush but there's no difference between George W. and Barack. Want to walk it back? How about an apology to everyone Barry insulted and their families? How about he takes his ass down to Philadelphia and gives one of those meaningless, pretty word speeches? Or does he not realize that as offensive as his little 'joke' was, it's all the more offensive when so many Americans are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with disabilities?

What a moron. How tasteless, how tacky and how non-presidential. At some point (possibly in the near future) when Barry gives one of his turn-to-the-right, turn-to-the-left speeches, those cameras are going to pull back enough to show the American people (the bulk of whom are unaware) the teleprompters causing Barry to go rubber-neck throughout every speech. Until then, most Americans don't notice because, if it didn't beam its way onto their TV screens, it simply didn't happen.

And the Iraq War didn't happen. Or it didn't on NBC Nightly News or ABC World News Tonight. They had other things to do. Including flirt with destroying a photogenic TV journalist. Last night, the sort of shift took place that causes loud howls of laughter and, in the eighties, led to one of the most famous TV faces being drummed out of TV journalism. No one caught it because no one pays attention. Ava and I may cover it Sunday. Or we may be kind and just laugh privately.

"It's so deadly now for U.S. troops," Lara Logan reported on The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric yesterday (link has video and text), "that even rebuilding work has to be done at night. U.S. engineers work in the dark to repair a bridge that was blown up by terrorists." She was reporting from Mosul and, no, that doesn't sound like the Iraq War is ending. But that report didn't make it on ABC or NBC so those watching their evening broadcasts were fed 'comfort food' passed off as news. That was only one of the disturbing bits of reality Logan offered. Another was this, "What you can't see in Mosul are the Iraqi soldiers who captured the suspect and then handed him over to their U.S. counterparts. They asked not to be identified, for fear of being killed." The Iraqi soldiers are scared to be seen on camera. For fear of being killed.

And the spin is supposed to be "Iraq War Over, Rejoice!" It's an important report and Mosul overtook Baghdad for violence last year though few bothered to notice. (That does not mean things turned to milk & honey in Baghdad. It means Mosul grew ever more violent.)

Along with CBS Evening News, the only other broadcast news to offer Iraq coverage was PBS. The NewsHour's Ray Suarez moderated an Iraq roundtable (link has text and audio) and we'll note this section:

RAY SUAREZ: Let's go to some of our viewer questions. Armeney writes from Okemos, Mich.: "What's the probability that Shiite-Sunni strains will reemerge when the Americans downsize their forces? Will al-Qaeda in Iraq prey upon Sunni discontent to strike back at the Shiite government?" Ambassador, why don't you take that first?

FEISTAL ISTRABADI: Well, I mean, you know, this of course is the $64,000 question. I don't think any serious observer of the Iraqi security and armed forces believe that they're going to be ready in June of this year or by the end of next year to provide security in Iraq. And what happens when the Americans withdraw?
If I can comment on what was said a moment ago about Maliki taking on the militias in Basra; what he has done is taken on the Jaish al-Mahdi, the Sadrists - what we often call the Sadrist militia in Basra and in Baghdad. He has not yet taken on the militia of his principal coalition partner, in Baghdad, that is to say the militia of the Supreme Council - the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, the Badr brigade. And it's not clear that he can because much of the security forces are in the hands of the Badr brigade militia hierarchy.
So we don't really have a taking on of militias in Iraq. What we have is a choosing of which militias are going to be in ascendancy in Iraq. And this is a real problem.
When American forces start to withdraw, if you still have several militias intact, which can get back to the business of slaughtering the other side's civilians, which is what we had in 2006 and 2007 - and that's my real fear for the future of Iraq in the immediate post-withdrawal.

That's an excerpt. The roundtable was very in depth. (We noted another section last night.)
For the record, disarming the militias? Also a benchmark. For those playing on the home editions, that would be benchmark seven (disarming) and benchmark thirteen was ensuring that the militias do not have "control of local security." And these benchmarks? They are not supposed to be 'near' them today. The 'surge' was done to create the political space for the 18 benchmarks to be achieved. All of the 18 were supposed to have been achieved before January 1st. They were not. That is why the 'surge' was a failure.

The Brookings Idiots (see previous entry) want to LIE to you and pretend things were achieved and are being achieved. The 18 benchmarks weren't open-ended. They had a due date. The 'surge' was a failure. The puppet government of Nouri al-Maliki failed (and continues to fail). That's reality and it's reality Americans need to grasp as they sit on their fat asses and say, "I'm okay with the Iraq War dragging on . . . Now that the cutey Barry Obama is in charge. Go Bam-Bam!"

What's that? You're not sitting on your fat ass? Your ass isn't even fat? Well prove it.
Saturday, those wanting to call out the illegal war can join with groups such as The National Assembly to End the Wars, the ANSWER coalition, World Can't Wait and Iraq Veterans Against the War -- all are taking part in a real action. Iraq Veterans Against the War explains:

IVAW's Afghanistan Resolution and National Mobilization March 21st
As an organization of service men and women who have served in Iraq, Afghanistan, stateside, and around the world, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War have seen the impact that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have had on the people of these occupied countries and our fellow service members and veterans, as well as the cost of the wars at home and abroad. In recognition that our struggle to withdraw troops from Iraq and demand reparations for the Iraqi people is only part of the struggle to right the wrongs being committed in our name, Iraq Veterans Against the War has voted to adopt an official resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and reparations for the Afghan people. (To read the full resolution, click here.)
To that end, Iraq Veterans Against the War will be joining a national coalition which is being mobilized to march on the Pentagon, March 21st, to demand the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and further our mission and goals in solidarity with the national anti-war movement. This demonstration will be the first opportunity to show President Obama and the new administration that our struggle was not only against the Bush administration - and that we will not sit around and hope that troops are removed under his rule, but that we will demand they be removed immediately.
For more information on the March 21st March on the Pentagon, and additional events being organized in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Orlando, to include transportation, meetings, and how you can get involved, please visit: or

We'll come back to Iraq in a moment. Public broadcasting notes. NOW on PBS looks at the economy:

How the economic collapse is creating a health care calamity.
Losing your job is a blow not just to your income, but also to your health insurance. Many can't afford high COBRA premiums, much less private insurance. And the sputtering economy is making a bad situation tragic.
NOW travels to Nevada, where a huge budget deficit, spiking unemployment, and cuts in Medicaid and other public services are forcing people to gamble with their own lives. Recently, the only public hospital in Las Vegas had to shut its doors to cancer patients and pregnant women. Should the government be helping out?
NOW shares the human stories behind the distressing numbers, and investigates possible solutions and responses with insight from Dr. Howard Dean, former Vermont governor and chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
With the economic disaster blowing holes in society's health care safety net, who's left to catch our fall?

Washington Week also focuses on the economy and Gwen sits down with Jackie Calmes (New York Times), Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times), Alexis Simendinger (National Journal) and Pierre Thomas (ABC News).

Bill Moyers Journal offers Socialist historian Mike Davis (who will hopefully speak of more than the economy), a segment billed as "American Dissidents: Against the Tide, From Thomas Paine to Ralph Nader" (and we may crucify this, Ava and I, on Sunday -- Ralph? Ralph whom Bill couldn't have on throughout 2008 when he was running for president?) and Marta Pelaez of Family Violence Prevention Services. Will Bill's commentary this week note the illegal war or will he be one more voice of silence? Tune in tonight. (Or catch it online -- transcript, audio and video are the options and Moyers' program is the only PBS one that strives to serve all segments online.)

All three begin airing on most PBS stations tonight. Some air later in the week or repeat later in the week. Check your local listings for times and air dates (and you can use the links to find out the air dates in your areas -- "Where do I watch?" is the title at Washington Week, I believe and there are similar links at the other two shows as well). Moving over to commercial broadcast TV, Sunday, on CBS' 60 Minutes:

President Obama
The president discusses the most pressing issues of his first two months in office, including the economy, the bailouts, his budget and America's involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Steve Kroft will talk to Barack Obama in the Oval Office for the interview, expected to be longer than any other he has granted.
Mr. Ayers And Mr. Lopez
Discovered living on the streets by Los Angeles Times newspaper columnist Steve Lopez, mentally ill musician Nathaniel Ayers has become the subject of a book by Lopez and now a Hollywood film. Morley Safer reports. | Watch Video

Back to Iraq and what friends are calling about (and asking, "How could you have missed . . .!") MADRE released the following:

Unleashing a Campaign of Violence
- Since the US invasion of 2003, Iraqi women have endured a public campaign of harassment, beatings, abduction, rape, and assassinations.
- The main perpetrators are militia fighters who see violence against women as a way to enforce their vision of Iraq as an Islamist state.
- Anyone perceived to challenge that vision is in danger from the militias. Women professionals, artists, intellectuals, lesbians, and human rights activists have been specifically targeted.

Revoking Women's Rights
- The largest Islamist militias are the armed wings of Iraqi political parties brought to power by the US.
- In 2003, US authorities hand-picked Islamist leaders to sit on the Iraqi Governing Council. The Council was presented in the US as the gateway to Iraqi democracy, yet these US appointees openly declared their intent to restrict women's rights.
- Once empowered, Islamists quickly moved to rescind Iraq's 1959 family law which guaranteed women equal rights in crucial areas of life.
- They also produced a constitution—with strong backing from the US—that discriminates against women in numerous ways.

Arming the Killers
- In 2005, under a policy called the "Salvador Option," the Pentagon began providing money, weapons, and military training to Shiite militias known to attack women wherever they patrolled.
- Since early 2007, the US has also funded Sunni militias, including groups that murder women who do not dress or behave to their liking.

Fighting Back
- Six years of occupation have demonstrated that the Bush Administration's rhetoric about "liberating" Iraqi women was never more than an excuse for invading Iraq.
- President Obama has pledged to draw down US military presence in Iraq but plans to leave as many as 50,000 troops through 2011.
- A recent poll shows that more than 80% of Iraqis support US withdrawal from Iraq.

- Half-measures and partial reduction of US military forces are inadequate. MADRE calls on the Obama Administration to:

1. Withdraw all US troops, US-paid foreign mercenaries and contractors.

2. Immediately close all US military bases and turn them over to Iraq.

3. Renounce all efforts to control Iraq's oil resources.

4. Assume responsibility for the humanitarian crisis that the US has caused in Iraq.

5. Fund an Iraqi-led reconstruction process and uphold UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which calls for the full participation of women in all phases of reconstruction.

Partners for Peace
- Many Iraqi women and men reject both the violence of US occupation and the repression of Islamist ideologues boosted to power by the occupation.
- These Iraqis have a vision of a multi-cultural, pluralistic Iraq grounded in genuine democracy and human rights. They share the broad progressive values of many in the anti-war movement and they deserve our support.
Learn more about Iraqi women demanding peace and women's human rights and MADRE's partnership with the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq.

That I will note. I'm not interested in their weak-ass, fall to your knees and beg Barack to do something b.s. online letter. Get off your knees, quit being so damn weak. Translation, "You make it so easy, don't you? Waiting for some Batman to come and save you." (Michelle Pfeiffer, Batman Returns. C.I. note: Quote corrected.)

Will England finally get the public inquiry into the Iraq War so many want? Nigel Morris' "Whistle-blower urges Iraq war public inquiry" (Independent of London):

A large number of secret documents detailing government blunders over Iraq remain buried in Whitehall, a Foreign Office whistle-blower said yesterday as he called for a full public inquiry into the war.
Carne Ross, formerly Britain's top Iraq specialist at the United Nations, protested that the Butler and Hutton inquiries had not fully examined the events leading to military action in 2003. He told MPs, who are investigating leaks and whistle-blowing by civil servants, that the intelligence available to the Foreign Office made it "very clear" that Saddam Hussein did not possess weapons of mass destruction. But he protested that he was not given a proper chance to raise his worries with ministers in the build-up to war.
Mr Ross resigned in 2004 as a civil servant after giving anonymous evidence to the Butler inquiry and is now an independent diplomat.

BBC adds:

Former senior defence intelligence expert Brian Jones also made the case for an inquiry into the war, claiming nothing had changed as a result of the Hutton and Butler probes.
He told MPs: "Having seen all that has happened since the Iraq war and the evidence that has come from the various inquiries, beyond a very small group of MPs who have, as it were, seen through some of the nonsense, for someone like me it has been very disappointing."
Mr Jones, a former colleague of Dr David Kelly, became a whistleblower in 2004 when he said intelligence chiefs ignored warnings from their own experts that they could not be certain Iraq had chemical and biological weapons.
He told MPs he had formally complained about a dossier on Saddam's alleged weapons as he feared the intelligence community would be "crucified" after its publication.
He said he was "surprised" that MPs did not spot its flaws by themselves, telling the committee: "I don't think it needed someone of my expertise to look at the dossier and see the difference between the prime minister's foreword and what was in the main body of the dossier."

Heather Lockwood's "Student Protesters Arrested on Sixth Anniversary of Iraq War" (Scripps Howard Foundation Wire) reports on some DC actions yesterday:

Dancing down the sidewalks to loud funk music, DC Students for a Democratic Society, protested "the war machine" as they were followed by police officers in cars, on horseback and on motorcycles.
The group of a few hundred carried signs that said "Funk the war" and "Student power against empire."
D.C. police arrested at least two protesters, one for spraying graffiti on a wall, but did not respond to calls for further details.
"Basically the message is war is a waste of our youth," said Lehana Penaramda, a sophomore at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Md.

Kristy Kuhn's "Veterans say Iraq war is occupation, not liberation" (Deseret News):

The United States' presence in Iraq is not a liberation -- it is nothing short of an occupation.
That was the message from Iraq war veterans who spoke to a small group of 12 people who gathered at the Salt Lake Main Library on Thursday night for a public forum on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"It's not even covert; it's overt -- it's an occupation," said Andy Figorski, who served two deployments in Iraq between 2004 and 2007.
The veterans said that the occupation was never about helping the Iraqi people but was, instead, engineered to line the pocketbooks of a group of "profit-mongers" while the American soldiers pay the ultimate price.
"People are getting extraordinarily rich off the blood of the soldiers," said Jeff Key.

And staying with IVAW, Chris Vaughn's "Iraq veteran becomes activist against the war" (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) reports on Dustin Alan Parks:

Dustin Alan Parks is accustomed to the angry stares.
He listens to the snide comments, the outrage, the insults. Traitor. Terrorist. Pinko.
But Parks, in many ways, welcomes the hostility, virtually inviting it in a place like Texas. All he has to do is wear his favorite T-shirt -- "Support G.I. Resistance."
"I’m a tad confrontational," he concedes.
Parks, 23, a combat veteran and card-carrying proselytizer for Iraq Veterans Against the War, uses the impromptu discussions to engage people in something more than a reflexive insult or stereotype, to try to get them to understand why he, as a soldier who served in Iraq, wants nothing more than the end to a war he no longer believes in.
Not that it always works.
"It backfires all the time," he said. "People think I’m some punk-ass kid, anti-war, anti-military, all about peace and love. I’m not against the military, and I love America."
On Saturday, Parks takes his newfound activism to a new and much more public stage.
He organized what he calls the Rock Bottom Peace March at 10 a.m. in General Worth Square in downtown Fort Worth, just one day after the sixth anniversary of the U.S. launching of an invasion of Iraq.
In Fort Worth, home to tens of thousands of veterans, a naval air station and a handful of major defense contractors, one never knows what an anti-war rally will draw. Parks hopes for a few hundred people.

I don't know that it will help but we will note that event in today's snapshot and, fingers crossed for luck, tomorrow in the morning (I may forget). We have focused on Saturday's action for months now and stuck with that because it makes more sense -- when so few are paying attention -- to get the word out on one event. Dustin's event may be part of the local actions tomorrow. I'm not sure on that. But it is in the Dallas - Fort Worth area and we do have a large number of community members in that and surrounding regions. We'll promote it and check your inbox for today's gina & kirsta round-robin which breaks down state-by-state what actions are going on. (If there's another D - FW action tomorrow, I am not saying, "Do Dustin's instead!" Participate in any action that feels right to you but we will include the above action in today's snapshot.)

The e-mail address for this site is

the cbs evening news with katie couric
the newshour
ray suarez
60 minutes
 washington week
now on pbs