Wednesday, May 27, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, al-Maliki needs a law firm, Sahwa has some regrets and more.
Starting with Iraq Veterans Against the War which announces:
Winter Soldier Southwest was a great success. There were more than half a dozen camera crews shooting it for purposes ranging from independent media to anti-war documentaries. The panelists were quite moving and the audience was extremely supportive and full of positive energy. We want to thank everyone that helped put the event together, including all the panelists from VVAW, VFP, MFSO and Gold Star Families. Most profoundly moving was the testimony of the Gold Star Families panel.
Quite a number of panelists testimonies have found their way onto the internet already, below is a short list of a few links to what's out there
Iraq Veterans Against the War held their Winter Soldier Investigation in the DC area in March of 2008. That was broadcast at War Comes Home, at KPFK, at the Pacifica Radio homepage and at KPFA, here for Friday, here for Saturday, here for Sunday with Aimee Allison (co-host of the station's The Morning Show and co-author with David Solnit of Army Of None) and Aaron Glantz anchoring Pacifica's live coverage. (It was also broadcast at the IVAW site.) This was a West Coast Winter Soldier and the videos are here, here, here, here and here. We'll note one today.
Ryan Endicott: I knew my time had come as I laughed, I ran. This was everything I had hoped for, my chance to kill. I didn't care how or who but someone was going to die today. [. . .] From that moment forward, our efforts became much more intense. We began getting "intelligence" -- quote unquote -- of suspected terrorists safe houses, weapons caches. We would gear up, blare our death metal and pump each other up comparing body counts, telling each other, "It's only a matter of time before we get another." We knew every way to walk right around the line of engagement. The rules of engagement? What a joke. To us grunts, rules of engagement were not rules at all but merely words on a piece of paper, somewhere printed, for the sole purpose of protecting officers if we grunts actually got caught.
Try to imagine yourself tonight as you sleep warm in your bed with your wife, your children in the next room. Two a.m. and your door is kicked in and men are screaming. As they kick open your bedroom door, they're screaming a language you don't understand. They're pointing machine guns at your face as they drag you by your hair from your bed, slamming your face down to the ground, putting their boots on the back of your neck and smashing your face further into the concrete floor. Your struggle to protect your family and your home is futile as you are blindfolded and handcuffed so tight you lose feeling in your hands within minutes. All you know is you can hear your screaming wife and children crying for help and you are too useless to protect them. You were not on a list of suspected terrorists. You were not on a list of known terrorists. In fact, you completely supported the US coming into your country and promising freedom, prosperity. You were simply a man in a house on a street that my platoon decided to search. When your blindfold is finally released, the men left your home, it's destroyed. Your wife and children are huddled in a corner defenseless and crying. Every drawer in your home is thrown. The contents broken, soiled. Your bed has been urinated on. Your wife's panties are glued to the wall. Maybe a family heirloom is missing or other objects stolen. The floor is wet with fresh chewing tobacco spit. And you vainly try to tell your family it will be okay and never happen again but, in your heart you know all the while, your chances are it probably will.
As time continued to pass, my ego grew stronger and my hate boiled within my veins. A scene like this was nothing more than a Tuesday to me. I laughed as I heard a story. One of the platoons had strapped dead bodies to the hoods of their Humvees and drove around the city for hours blasting death metal music as they terrorized the population. Just another Tuesday to me.
Back on post, there was a time when somehow, some way, an Iraqi had managed to get himself lost and ended up knocking on the door to my post which happened to be next to our sleeping area. As I answered the door and I saw the Iraqi standing there, I accepted my fate and I jumped on top of him. I accepted he was a suicide bomber and I had seen my last day as I began to punch him. Brutally I sat on top of him punching him as hard as I could. After a moment I got him under control and handcuffed him. He was simply a man who had just gotten lost. I was punished harshly not for my actions, not for harming an unarmed civilian, but for not killing him. I was told he should have been killed for being there and I would have been protected. I was forced to burn feces, stand hours at an additional post and physically punished. I was ostracized and called a "wuss" and a "girl" for not killing him. I had lost all the respect that I had gained and that I had killed for to earn. I was forced to stand six hours at post at a time directly behind an air conditioning unit with all the heat blasting out of the back side onto my face in the middle of the summer in one of the hottest places on the earth. I stood that post 12 hours a day, four days a week for over a month.
The man that arose from that month was someone I hoped to never meet again. The last bit of humanity and morality I had left was gone. I laughed as marines told me they'd just shot this guy in the head and saw his head explode. Just another Tuesday to me.
One Tuesday they brought a car that had just been shot up. The driver's fully intact brain was sitting in the back seat. And, to the looks of it, the passenger's brains were all over the car. I walked over to the body bag with the passenger in it -- the bag was still twitching. And we could hear his body still attempting to breathe. Even though his brains were clearly all over the car. We laughed as we stomped him. Just another Tuesday to me.
These are just some of the Tuesdays that fill a seven day calendar.
I was given a medium machine gun and unlimited ammo and told to spend a couple of hours per post down at a post that was usually unmanned. It had extended view and less observers that could see what I was doing while I was down there. It was expressed to me that I was now a shooter and was being placed down there to shoot. "Don't worry. We have your back. Make sure your combat reports are rock solid and we'll take care of you. You saw two guys with weapons and one ran off." Rules of engagement may change like the tides of the ocean or the winds of a hurricane but people don't come back from the dead. Sometimes, from one hour to the next, the rules of engagement would change. At ten a.m. someone with a shovel on a certain street would be killed and at ten-thirty he shouldn't be killed. You can change the rule but you can't bring that person back to life. And when you can't bring him back to life, you tell me that I just murdered him.
After returning from the war, I began drinking, not caring. I had an attitude that ruled my life where I didn't care if I lived, if I died, where I went or what I did. As the mental brainwashing and numbing that the Marine Corps had given me dissipated, the only way to substitute that numbing was through alcohol. I started to think back to the people I shot and the lives that I ruined through my hatred and violence and sometimes it was just too much for me to handle. This war has not only taken the lives of countless Iraqis -- men, women and children, but it has destroyed how many? Who knows? Countless American lives have been destroyed. American veterans. People who joined to serve their country and be American heroes. Many vets feel there's just no one out there who can help them and end up on the street homeless with nothing or sometimes worse. Veterans are attempting and committing suicide at an unprecedented rate. That's for a reason. What's worse? To die for no reason or to live a life of violence and destruction, internal structure and hatred every single day for no reason? To live every day knowing that everything that was instilled in me from the moment I was born as a free American boy, all the morals and everything that was taught to me, I gave away -- at the moment I pulled the trigger for acceptance, the moment that I beat another human being half to death simply to feel like the heroes that I held with such regard.
I know today that I cannot mend the things that I have broken. Or fix the lives that I have destroyed. But maybe with my testimony today, I can help one person, they might help two people who can eventually help four. And they'd be all of us together, standing united in preventing these atrocities from ever happening again.
Let's not pretend that Ryan Endicott or anyone like him is getting the help from the government they really need. The administration and the Congress is tossing out the bare minimum and wanting pats on the back and applause for that. Meanwhile, more Ryans and Ritas are created every day because the illegal war has not ended -- even if the interest in it faded. . AP reports "an invitation-only briefing to a dozen journalists and policy analysts from Washington-based think tanks" yesterday was where US Army General George Casey Jr. declared US troops might remain on the ground in Iraq for over a decade more: "Global trends are pushing in the wrong direction. They fundamentally will change how the Army works." Michael Winter (USA Today) notes the remarks here. Casey's remarks are not unique or out of the norm. Repeatedly remarks like his have been made and repeatedly they have been ignored. We're dropping back to yesterday's snapshot:
Military spokespeople weren't the only ones making statements Sunday. The Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff also made statements publicly. The New York Times ignored it naturally. Noting it here led to five e-mails from CENTCOM trying to insist what it did and didn't mean. Sorry folks, I believe Mike Mullen is conversant in English. Sunday Adm Mike Mullen appeared on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos (link has video option and the transcript is here).
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. Let me move to Iraq then. U.S. combat forces are scheduled to complete their pullout from Iraqi cities by June 30th. But in recent weeks, we've seen an uptick again in the violence. Does that rise in violence mean that the deadline for pulling American forces out of the cities might not be met?
MULLEN: Oh, I think we're still very much on a track in terms of pulling the forces out of the cities, which is the end of next month. We're on track to decrease the number of troops down to 35,000 to 50,000 in August of 2010.
We've had an uptick in violence, but the overall violence levels are at the 2003 levels. It's still fragile. There's an awful lot of political positioning and political debate that's going on right now, and I think that in great part becomes the essence of how Iraq moves forward.
I'm actually positive about what the Iraqi security forces have done, their army and their police in terms of providing for their own security. They've improved dramatically.
So the path, I think, is still the right path. These ticks, upticks in violence are going to occur. We said that going in, even into -- as we talked about coming down in force. So we just have to, we have to constantly keep an eye on that.
Al Qaida is still active. They're not gone. They're very much...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Al Qaida in Iraq.
MULLEN: Al Qaida in Iraq is very much diminished, but they still have potential to create these kinds of incidents.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And the president has said that his overall goal is to have all forces out of Iraq by 2011.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Under the status of forces agreement with the Iraqi government, I intend to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: That is pretty unequivocal. Yet I was reading the proceedings of the U.S. Naval Institute. They had an interview with Tom Ricks, the U.S. military historian, where he says he worries that the president is being wildly over- optimistic. He says we may be only halfway through the war. And he talks about a conversation he had with the commanding general in Iraq, General Ray Odierno, who told him he'd like to see 35,000 troops in Iraq in 2015. Is that what you expect, as well?
MULLEN: Well, certainly the direction from the president and the status of forces agreement that we have with Iraq right now is that we will have all troops out of there by the end of 2011. And that's what we're planning on right now.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But can Iraq be safe with all U.S. troops out of Iraq in 2007 (sic)?
MULLEN: Well, we're on a good path now. And we'll have to see. I mean, the next 12 to 18 months are really critical there in that regard, and I think that answering that question will be much clearer given that timeframe.
The other thing is, we have -- this is a long-term relationship we want with Iraq, and Iraq has stated they want with the United States. And part of that is the possibility that forces could remain there longer. But that's up to the Iraqi people and the Iraqi government to initiate discussions along those lines, and that hasn't happened yet.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It's up to the Iraqi people and the Iraqi government. It's up to the president, of course, as well. But from a military perspective, General Odierno says that he would like to see 35,000 troops in 2015. Is that what you all believe is necessary to secure Iraq from a military perspective?
MULLEN: There's no definitive number right now beyond the end of 2011.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But it's not zero?
MULLEN: Well, I mean, when I'm engaged in other countries around the world, I have very small footprints of military personnel in that engagement. You know, and I would hope long-term, that we would have a great military-to-military relationship with Iraq.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That could include U.S. troops there?
MULLEN: Well, I mean, we've got small numbers of troops throughout the world that conduct training activities, exercises, and those kinds of things. So long-term in Iraq, I would look to be able to do something like that.
"It's not zero," George asked. Basic question. Mullen is a 63-year-old man who's spoken English for at least 61 -- if not 62 -- of those years. Yes, CENTCOM, they speak English in Sherman Oaks. Edward DeMarco (Bloomberg News) caught it, "On Iraq, Mullen said he would like to have some U.S. forces available there for training and exercises with the Iraqi military beyond 2011, when all U.S. forces are set to leave. He didn't specify how many U.S. military personnel would be needed." And though I have to hold my nose to note, Manu Raju (Hedda Hopper Lives!) observed Mullen "left open the option of keeping residual forces there after that deadline passes." Holding my nose for that source (not the reporter, the outlet) but we gave credit where it was due. By the way, Whores For Centcom who lied about what was stated included Janet Adamy (Wall St. Journal), AFP and many, many more. Decide on your own whether it's worse to do as the New York Times did and ignore it or to 'report' on it and deliberately lie.
Mullen was not the first person before Casey. There have been many others and Gen Ray Odierno, the top US commander in Iraq, has repeatedly made similar statements.
The above from yesterday's snapshot also now includes the links that were left out yesterday. Alex Spillius (Telegraph of London) reports on Casey's remarks and also notes that there are approximately 139,000 US troops in Iraq at present. Casey's remarks get a little more attention than did Mullen's remarks. Maybe the trick there is to speak them to an invited audience and not on the broadcast airwaves? Regardless, Casey is just another to say what so many have arleady stated. This is a lot like Time magazine deciding to piss on their correspondent in Vietnam because they didn't want the war to hurt JFK so an exec, who hadn't been there, wrote a cover story about how wonderful things were going in Vietnam. If the American people had really known the truth then, that illegal war wouldn't have gone on into the late sixties, let alone the seventies. But how many people wanted to know the truth? Even then? Even now we hear revisionist exclaim (while beating their chests) JFK wanted troops out of Vietnam! He would have done it! He was already saying so! Privately! The only US citizens JFK wanted out of Vietnam were American reporters. Less than thirty days before he was assassinated, he ws trying to get then-publisher of the New York Times Arthur Ochs Sulzberger to pull David Halberstam out of Vietnam because Halberstam was offering too much reality for JFK. (Kennedy stated Halberstam was "too involved" with the story.) The same fools who want to believe in St. John (who apparently violated The Mann Act to give Marion Beardsley Holy Communion in France) want to believe in St. Barack and how's that delusion working out for you?
Today the US military announced: "BAGHDAD -- A Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier died of combat-related injuries after an improvised explosive device detonated near a patrol in western Baghdad May 27. The Soldier's name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin. The names of the service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense Official Website at [here]. The announcements are made on the Website no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin." The announcement brings to 4302 the number of US service members killed in the illegal war and the number for the month of May so far to 20.
In other reported violence . . .
Sahar Issa and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) report a Baghdad roadside bombing which left two people injured, an Abu Ghraib car bombing which left fifteen people wounded (this is the bombing that claimed the life of the US soldier), a Mosul roadside bombing which wounded one person and, dropping back to yesterday, two Mosul roadside bombings which wounded two police officers and claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier. Reuters notes 4 died from the Abu Ghraib bombing.
Sahar Issa and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) report 1 grocer shot dead in Mosul and 1 person in a car shot dead in Mosul. Reuters notes a Mosul drive-by shooting which killed a man "near his house".
In Iraq, the trade minister's out and the oil minister may be next. Nada Bakri (Washington Post) examines the ouster in terms of Aya al-Samarrai, the Speaker of Parliament, and conflicts between Parliament and Nouri al-Maliki. MP Wael Abdel Latif states, "The government kept parliament weak for the past three years. But now, with Samarraie in power, it's becoming stronger, and it's assuming its rightful place." Last week, puppet of the occupation and despot with training wheels Nouri al-Maliki lashed out against representative democracy indicating that if he can ever kill every Sunni in Iraq, his next goal would be to abolish democratic guidelines in Iraq. When not arranging for the murders of Sunnis or attacking Constitutional government, Nouri likes to attack the press. In his continued efforts on that, he's now filed a lawsuit. Mayada Al Askari (Gulf News) reports he's filed suit seeking damages of one billion in dinars (Iraq's currentcy) over an article at the start of the year which "accused Al Maliki's chief of staff of using his position to get jobs for his relatives." While we ponder whether Nouri would even have standing (it would be the chief of staff who would have standing), he lives to be litigious and intimidating so it's only one of two lawsuits in the news. Martin Chulov (Guardian of Manchester) reports his paper is being sued by Nouri who claims defamation over a "story by award-winning correspondent Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, [which] was published in April, when the Iraqi leader was in London on an investment drive. It included interviews with three unnamed members of the Iraqi national intelligence services (INS), who said elements of Maliki's rule resembled a dictatorship." Nouri demanded the INS sue for damages. (Apparently he grasped standing in that instance.)
Maybe the Sahwa should sue him? They could sue for lack of payment and breach of contract. It would catch his attention and nothing else appears to. Paul Wiseman (USA Today) reports on Sahwa and quotes Sheik Ali Hatem stating, "The Americans made the Sahwa militias to fight al-Qaeda, then they abandoned them. The heads of Sahwa are beginning to feel it would have been better to stay with al-Qaeda."
Turning to the US where yesterday was David A. Schaefer Jr.'s funeral. The Belleville, Ilinois native died May 16th in Baghdad due from a bombing. Jennifer Bowen (Bellville News-Democrat) reports on his funeral, "People lined the sidewalks on South Illinois Street and around Belleville's fountain, some holding American flags, others with their hands over their hearts as the hearse was escorted by police vehicles and the Patriot Guard Riders to Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in Missouri. Flags around the city were flown at half staff, and American flags from Memorial Day flew from utility poles and hung from the front of the courthouse. . . . Schaefer leaves behind a wife, Shelly, and three children, Jason Phillips, 13, Logan Schaefer, 7, and Savanna Schaefer, 6. The family had planned to move to Germany as soon as Schaefer's second tour in Iraq ended in November. He joined the Army in 2006 after serving in the National Guard." The state's governor, Pat Quinn, is quoted declaring, "We lost a heor and a role model. Schaefer was a true hero, someone to look up to, and I hope his children know what a hero their father is." Meanwhile, Theresa Harrington (San Jose Mercury News) reports that Marie Coon took her own life as a result of her step-son's death two years ago. Walnut Creek, California's James J. Coon died in Balad from a bombing on April 4, 2007. Harrington explains, "On Mother's Day -- after struggling for more than two years to cope with the loss of the young man she loved as her son -- Marie committed suicide by locking herself in the cab of a pickup truck at Lake Arrowhead with portable lighted barbecues and a pail of burning coals. She left a note, saying she wanted to be with Jimmy. She was 48."
As noted in yesterday's snapshot, a bombing on Monday claimed the life of 1 US soldier, 1 unnamed Defense Dept employee and Terry Barnich who was a State Dept employee. At Thomas E. Roeser's "Terry Barnich, RIP. Valiant Defender of Peace" (Chicago Daily Observer), Mimi Jordan has shared:
Terry hired me as a paralegal in Governor Thompson\'s office and later discovered I was a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat. I never had a better debating partner, and never learned so much from a conservative, perhaps because he was the only truly principled, intellectually consistent conservative I ever met. This is a heart-breaking loss for all of us.
Aamer Madhani (USA Today) reports, "When Terry Barnich took leave from his lucrative job at a Chicago telecommunications consulting firm in 2007 to assist the U.S. State Department's reconstruction efforts in Iraq, he planned on returning home in a year. A year turned into two and then a bit longer as Barnich, 56, saw progress being made, said his friend and former Baghdad colleague Philip O'Connor." Marc Santora (New York Times) adds, "The attack took place within a few miles of the bridge where four American contractors were killed in March 2004, their bodies burned and mutilated, and dragged through the streets. The jarring images of that attack were a major factor in the American military's decision to begin its first major offensive in Falluja, a center of the Sunni insurgency, months later."The US State Dept has done a lousy job noting the passing of one of their own while in a war zone. See Marica's "Terry Barnich died in Iraq" from last night and you can click here for this site this morning. The Defense Dept has identified their employee: "Cmdr. Duane G. Wolfe, 54, of Port Hueneme, Calif". Janene Scully (Santa Maria Times) reports he worked at Vandenberg Air Force Base for 24 years, that the base is planning a memorial and quotes two colonels speaking of Wolfe. Col David Buck states, "Each and every member of our team feels this tragedy, but we will pull together and help our own." Col Rick Wright states, "Duane's death will leave a hole in the Mission Support Group that can never be filled. He was a great team member and even greater friend. His 24 years of service at Vandenberg Air Force Base will be missed dearly." Jill James (KSBY) notes that their evening newscasts and nightly news will feature a report on Wolfe, that he is survived by a wife, a son and two daughters and includes the Vandenberg Air Force Base press release.
On Friday, contractor Jim Kitterman was stabbed to death in the Green Zone. Jennifer Radcliffe (Houston Chronicle) reports he was 60-years-old, that his survivors include "his mother, an uncle, two aunts, a brother, son and three grandchildren" and quotes his older brother Cliff Kitterman stating that the family grabs "comfort in knowing he was doing something he loved. . . . He developed a close relationship with many Iraqis and their families. He thought he could be a part of something big and good by helping rebuild the infrastructure of a nation."
Today Amy Goodman donned her White hood. In the old days of what she calls "the People's Republic of Brooklyn," her ass would have been kicked several times over for the little stunt she pulled with regards to Senator Roland Burris.
What does the wiretap say? I don't know. Nor does Goodman. There is a transcript that's been made availabe to the press. (Click here for the Chicago Tribune.) Roland Burris, according to the transcript, did not buy his Senate seat. Then-Governor Rod Blagojevich's brother Rob called him for a donation. Senator Burris does offer a check towards the governor's re-election campaign. Not a big one. Obviously.
Had there been a check, none was nailed down during the call, it would have been a small one. That's clear to anyone reading the transcript. (Apparently Goody was too busy fingering herself and gasping, "I love bi-racial Barack! I hate Black men!" over and over and didn't have time to read the transcript.) Burris states that business is "terrible" and that "we might lose Burris and Lebed because we've been trying to get contracts. We don't have any clients renweing for 09." He then adds, "We have no clients renewing for 09. Fred is dying on the vine because, I, you know, a lot of our clients have run out." Read the transcripts. Burris isn't playing high roller. He's talking about losing his business.
He had no money to buy the seat with. In the transcript, he offers no big payout. The press has repeatedly gone after him. Goody left out that Burris didn't object to the transcript being released. Why would he? It backs up what is on the record. (Goody pretends no affidavits were ever filed.) What you have is a lynching.
FIND THE CRIME. Read that damn transcript and find the damn crime. There is none. Goody and all the rest need to explain what the crime is or leave the man alone. This has gone on long enough and it's past time that anyone who is opposed to racism started calling it out. Every few months they claim they have something and every few months they're forced to back down because they have NOTHING.
This is the United States of America in the year 2009 and it's damn embarrassing the lengths some will go to in order to railroad the only sitting Black senator. Every few weeks Amy Goodman and these other racists show up insisting "PROOF!" and there's never any proof -- except of their hatred towards Black people. It's getting old and it's getting ugly.
As for Patrick Fitzgerald -- the 'prosecutor' who couldn't draw a link between Scooter Libby and Dick Cheney -- Libby's boss. Maybe it's time to stop chasing headlines and do the actual job? If he's got a case against Burris, he would have charged Burris. All this time later, he still hasn't. (Goody left that out as well.) Burris has NEVER been charged with a crime despite all this gossip and drama. There is still NO proof of a crime.
And here's another reality Fitzgerald better start thinking about: The jury. If Blagojevich was trying to sell the Senate seat, IF, it appears Fitzgerald's desire for headlines and press may have ruined the case because Burris couldn't buy it. Burris didn't have the money. And after Fitgerald harmed his own case by going public too soon, Blagojevich may have chosen to appoint Burris just because it was obvious Burris didn't have the money to buy the seat (which would look good for defendant Blagojevich if he feared standing before a jury).
the associated press
thomas e. roeser