Tuesday, June 16, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, a lot people play 'proud parents' of Iraq, a call to halt executions in Iraq, and more.
Yesterday on KPFA Flashpoints, Iraq Veterans Against the War's Camilo Mejia appeared with soldier Victor Agosto who has refused to deploy to the illegal war in Afghanistan.
Camilo Mejia: I actually was pretty much against the occupation from even before my deployment. I had not bought into the whole rationale of weapons of mass destruction and links to al Qaeda and 9-11. But it was all very political and all very -- I guess not very heart felt. I wasn't really willing to put my livelihood or my good military record on the line and I figured, you know, I'd just go to the theater, to Iraq, and get it over with and put it behind me once I returned home. But when I went to Iraq, my opposition to the war became more moral, more spiritual, more personal. It wasn't just an abstract thing. It wasn't just political because the first mission that we had was basically to run a POW camp -- a prisoner of war camp -- and to keep prisoners sleep deprived and for that we used a number of psychological tactics fear tactics that amounted to torture. And being an infantry man and being an infantry squad leader, following that mission we engaged not just the enemy but basically the population of Iraq particularly in a place called Ramada. And it just became a really horrible situation you know it became something that you're not ready to do as a human being. But at the same time my experience was very intense we didn't really have a whole lot of time to think philosophically or morally. Basically we wanted to get out of the place alive and in one piece so the will to survive kicked in and pushed aside moral concerns and it wasn't until I returned home on leave and I had a little bit of piece of mind and safety that I went back to my questioning of the war -- not just political but now moral as well and coming from a personal experience. I realized that I had to choose between being an obedient soldier and following my conscience you know I couldn't do the two at once. So I chose to follow my conscience and to not go back to the war and to eventually speak out against the war like Victor is doing. And there are different angles from which you can look at what Victor's doing and some people will say what awaits him is jail time and court martial and a lot of stress, the rejection of some of his peers and a harsh future in life. But in reality I think that his decision not to go back to an occupation that he finds immoral and illegal that goes against his conscience -- it's quite liberating and in the end going to work better for him than obeying something that is against his principals. And that's something you find from people who have gone through similar things like we have gone through like Stephen Funk and Augustin Aguayo and Kevin Benderman and other resisters. Yes, there's jail time and you may be put behind bars and some people may call you a coward or a traitor, but in the end you did what you knew was right in your heart and there's no greater sense of satisfaction and spiritual freedom than following your conscience. So I support him and I think that he's doing the right thing and I think that he's to be much better off resisting even if it means jail time than going back to Afghanistan and doing things that he later on will not be able to live with.
Nora Barrows Friedman asked Camilo about the state of things currently.
Camilo Mejia: For an organization like Iraq Veterans Against the War for instance, who depend greatly upon contributions from the public and support from ally organizations, we're having a very difficult time right now getting through to people and fund raising and doing things like that because the sense right now within the larger public is that the Iraq War is ending, that the Iraq occupation is coming to an end -- which is not true, and that the Afghanistan War is now the good war and that the -- Basically the Iraq War became indefensible. People turned against it. And they needed a new centerpiece for the global war on terror which is just another excuse for invading and occupying another country to go after their natural resources and Afghanistan is that war now. So a lot of people are on the fence or skeptical or giving President Obama the benefit of the doubt. If you add to that the financial crisis and a lot of people out there who are holding on to their savings and taking pay cuts and unemployed and not contributing the same and don't really feel like anti-war issues are any more that relevant, not as relevant as before. So that's the civilian side of things. I think right now we are on a stand-by when it comes to the civilian side. When it comes to the GI side? Regardless of what the official rhetoric is soldiers are still being deployed -- soldiers, marines, air service men and women -- we're still being deployed. And people are still coming back form Iraq and Afghanistan with untreated Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, returning to poverty in a broken economy being recycled from Iraq to Afghanistan. The VA crisis is really bad. We're short staffed. We have people who are suicidal who are waiting months to see a psychiatrist or psychologist or even a case worker. So regardless of the state of the civilian side of things we're going to continue to resist because our experience hasn't changed.
Iraq Veterans Against the War has been requesting people call their Congress members and demand a No vote on the War Supplemental:
In mid May, we asked you to take action by contacting your legislators about the supplemental funding bill that would continue the U.S. occupation in Iraq and escalate our presence in Afghanistan. Well, since then, there have been some interesting developments, and we may have a real opportunity to defeat this funding.
Republicans who previously voted for the earlier version of the bill do not want to give the IMF funds to bail out international banks or the economies of developing countries that have been affected by the global economic crisis. And progressive Democrats do not want to support money for the IMF due to its lack of transparency and its track-record of offering small nations economic bailouts with high interest rates and other nasty strings attached. Both sides have pledged to vote "NO" on the current version of the bill that now includes the IMF funding.
This vote is expected to go to the House of Representatives TODAY. Please contact your member of the House today and tell them to vote "NO" on the Supplemental Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2009 (H.R. 2346).
This morning Carolyn Lochhead (San Francisco Chronicle) reported on US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's strong-arming attempt to get 218 out of 256 Democratic House members to support funding the illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the undeclared war in Pakistan. US House Rep Lynn Woolsey is quoted stating, "I see no reason to be keeping our troops in Iraq that much longer and to start into Afhgnaistan when there's no end in sight. If we were voting on funds to bring our troops home from Iraq, I'd vote for it in a minute. . . . I just hope we're not repeating the mistake we made in Iraq." Lynn Woolsey went public last week on Pelosi and the White House's strong arming techniques earning the wrath of Barack's sock puppets and professional whores across the internet. Woolsey is a member of the Out of Iraq Caucus and one of the most telling votes will come from another member of that caucus, one who spent 2007 cutting details for her support of Barack and setting her own end up. Should she vote as she's led the White House and Pelosi to believe, one so-called dove will be sprouting her War Hawk feathers. Should it happen, it will be a big shock to her constituents and aid the challenge being planned against her in 2010. Rebecca notes her former pen pal has an article at CounterPunch wherein David Swanson notes MoveOn attempts a bait-and-switch by endorsing a non-binding amendment proposed by US House Rep Jim McGovern: "And MoveOn's timing, together with other organizations in the Win Without War coalition, was telling. Because many members of these groups oppose the war and have complained about their organizations' silence on the supplemental vote, the organizations' leaders chose the moment of the war vote to propose something else that might at least look like a halfway step. In reality, however, it may turn out to be counterproductive -- a development that would please Pelosi and [White House Chief of Staff Rahm] Emanuel." There is a chance the War Supplemental could go down in flames. If enough Dems and Republicans say "no," it won't pass. Walter Alarkon (The Hill) reports that the Republican plan in the House is "to vot en bloc against the $106 billion war-spending bill".
This morning Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) spoke with Bob Fertik of Democrats.com and he explained Republican opposition to the War Supplemental and demonstrated the problems with his organization's 'strategizing':
AMY GOODMAN: And what do you make of --what you're asking for is the Democrats to join with the Republicans in voting against the appropriations bill. Why are the Republicans against it?
BOB FERTIK: Because of the $5 billion for the IMF, which is a bailout for European banks.
AMY GOODMAN: And so, you're asking Democrats to join with the Republicans.
BOB FERTIK: Well, we're asking them to vote no on the bulk of the bill, which is the war funding for Iraq and Afghanistan, Pakistan.
He defines, he himself defines, the IMF issue as "a bailout for European banks" but when Amy follows up that he's asking for Dems and Republicans to join together? "Well, we're asking them to vote no on the bulk of the bill . . ." Because heaven forbid the man from Democrats.com work together with anyone to end the funding. I'm so sick of that nonsense. Yes, Dems and Republicans opposed to the bill -- for whatever reasons -- need to work together if they can. And that's in Congress and it's out of Congress. And Bob earlier wanted "everybody" to "call their representative at (202) 225-3121" -- everybody. And, guess what, Bob, some of those US House Reps that "everybody" will be calling? Republicans. For those who missed it, partisanship has ended the Iraq War, stopped the Afghanistan or prevented the undeclared war on Pakistan. Corey Boles (Wall St. Journal) reports Steny Hoyer is bragging publicly that he believes the Dems have the votes to pass the War Supplemental. Hoyer notes Barry O's efforts to push the bill through and praises him for possibly toying with an executive order barring the release of the torture photos because, after all, America is an executive order. What's that? It's a democracy? Don't tell Steny, he might pee all over himself in shock. Jeremy Scahill (Rebel Reports) points out, "In funding the wars, the White House has been able to rely on strong GOP support to marginalize the anti-war Democrats who have pledged to vote against continued funding (as 51 Democrats did in May when the supplemental was first voted on). But the White House is running into trouble now because of Republican opposition to some of the provisions added to the bill (and one removed), meaning the pro-war Democrats actually need a fair number of anti-war Democrats to switch sides. In short, the current battle will clearly reveal exactly how many Democrats actually oppose these wars."
So Bob Fertik wants you to stop the funding of the illegal war -- apparently without working with any of those cootie-laced Republicans. And what of the other brave hearts? American Freedom Campaign forgot about the Iraq War -- woopsie! -- but did find time today to send out an e-mail entitled "Book Recommendation: Daybreak" (no, not the Joan Baez book from decades ago, a new book by David Swanson). Those brave men and women at TomPaine, surely, they're all over this, right? Wrong. They sent out an e-mail today too . . . . On public health care. Well The Nation, surely The Nation magazine . . . . Oh, they e-mailed on "Iran's Twitter Revolution." Well put a twit in charge of The Nation, expect Twittering. Besides Katrina vanden Heuvel sold the 'good war' of Afghanistan. She'll moan a little ("Oh, the humanity!") but otherwise march along as she's told. Curse of the unpopular still desperate to fit in. True Majority e-mailed . . . to tell you it was your "last chance" to help Barry O with his his health plan. Good. Now they can find something else to mail about. (They won't.) CODESTINK is, of course, silent. They whored it out to Barack throughout 2007 and 2008. They whored it out and they've no credibility remaining. So it's probably good they just stand in their corners for the rest of 2009 and think what about they did. MoveOn tries to distract from the War Supplemental vote by suddenly pretending they care about the environment via a pollution e-mailing. Anyone else remember the "The earth can't wait one more minute!" screaming of 2007 and 2008? Anyone else noticing that Barack doesn't give a damn about the environment (first hint: Pro-mountain top removal and pro-nuclear energy)? Anyone else noticing the silence from the Crazies who were screaming "End of Times" last year and the year before? Sheryl Crow and her gal pal plan to corner David Axelrod and scream at him about what's happening to the administration? Just wondering.
Meanwhile the New York Times' John F. Burns is just a whore who will never recover from whoring. That's apparent today in the crap he scribbles under the headline "Britain to Investigate Role in Iraq." Couldn't keep it in his pants Burnsie played Go-Go Boy Gone Wild in the Green Zone and if there's one person who filed in Iraq that brought more shame to the paper than Dexy Filkins, it was his teacher, mentor and wet nurse Burnise who was way too old not to know better. He's still way too old not to know better and his article is an embarrassment. We gave him the benefit of the doubt yesterday and just avoided it for the snapshot. He might be rushing. He apparently was rushing. He rounded it out by taking the Conservative leader's speech and basically presenting points from it as a critique. Possibly that's a good thing since his own critical abilities fail him. There's not any informed and honest follower of the David Kelley inquiry at this late date who would refer to it without serious questioning. But Burnsie thinks it's an example of a great inquiry. And public, too! For those who've forgotten, the BBC accused Blair's cabinet of sexing up the intel and that was based on information provided by the late David Kelley. The inquiry was a whitewash. Only later revelations, after the inquiry closed, proved how right the BBC was. But this was after heads rolled. It takes a real idiot to invoke the Kelley inquiry as anything worthy of praise but Fat Ass Burnsie's been a real idiot for years now. Link provided for laughter only. Laugh at him and grasp he can't just sit at a desk in this economy. In the past the paper would keep useless garbage like Burnsie on the payroll for decades as long as they reported for work each day. They never had to actually compose a story worth publishing. It was sort of the payroll version of the "Gentleman's C." Those days are largely over. Catherine Mayer (TIME magazine) manages to actually report, pay attention, Burnsie. She quotes Rose Gentle protesting the non-public 'inquiry,' "What is the point of an inquiry behind closed doors? No family would be happy with that. We already feel that we have been lied to by the government. We don't want any more lies." And Mayer notes that "the new inquiry has no powers of subpoena and will hold no public hearings. Its report will be published, but with some information considered potentially harmful to national security redacted."
Released today in the US was [PDF format warning] "Joint Audit of Blackwater Contract and Task Orders for Worldwide Personal Protective Services in Iraq." It is the latest report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. As explained in the Executive Summary, "this report focuses on Blackwater contract in Iraq". The report questions oversight of the contract (including on labor costs billed to the government by Iraq). It's a minor report (44 pages of text -- largely outlining what Blackwater told them -- Blackwater, though not identified as such, is the primary source for the report. That's apparent due as they go through the step-by-step hiring process of Blackwater, etc. There was little independence in this report which really should have given Blackwater co-authorship of this report since they took all claims by Blackwater on employment hiring practices at face value.) Viola Gienger (Bloomberg News) notes that the report finds US diplomats were at "unnecessary risk" because Blackwater did not staff properly. Yes, a scary thought, all the damage Blackwater did in Iraq and they were understaffed. Imagine how many civilian slaughters they could have carried out if they'd been full staffed? CNN goes with the understaffed aspect as well but emphasizes the finanical portion: "The State Department failed to seek $55 million in penalties from the American security firm once known as Blackwater for not properly complying with its security contract for protecting diplomatic personnel in Iraq, an audit shows." Yochi J. Dreazen (Wall St. Journal) doesn't see a failure to seek penalties so much as "the State Department overpaid the contract-security firm".
While the press debates that, few bother to note that the European Union issued "Declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on the continuation of mass executions in Iraq:"
The European Union is deeply disturbed at reports that in recent days further death sentences were carried out in Iraq, probably totalling number 20.
Moreover, the European Union is severely alarmed about indications that further mass executions might be imminent.
The European Union opposes the death penalty in all cases and in all circumstances. Our view is that the abolition of the death penalty contributes to the enhancement of human dignity and the progressive development of human rights. The European Union considers the death penalty as a cruel and inhuman punishment and a violation to the right to life. We consider that it provides no added value in terms of deterrence.
At a time where a positive image of Iraq and of its achievements is emerging, the resumption of the execution of capital punishment affects that image and does not help the effort aiming at promoting the awareness of the positive developments in Iraq within the international community and public opinion.
The European Union is particularly disturbed about the way in which the death penalty is applied in Iraq, a country where the judiciary is still being developed. The EU recalls that any miscarriage or failure of justice in the application of capital punishment represents an irreparable and irreversible loss of human life.
The European Union considers it indispensable that where States insist on applying the death penalty, it is carried out with due respect to international obligations for the protection of human rights, including the obligation that the death penalty may only be carried out pursuant to a final judgment after legal process which gives all possible safeguards to ensure a fair trial, at least equal to those contained in article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, including the right of anyone suspected of or charged with a crime for which capital punishment may be imposed to adequate legal assistance at all stages of the proceedings.
The EU therefore urges the Government of Iraq to resume the de facto suspension of the execution of death penalty, which had been observed in Iraq since August 2007, pending legal abolition. This suspension should include all cases still on death row in Iraq. Such a step would be in line with the global trend towards abolition, as demonstrated, inter alia, by the recent UN General Assembly Resolutions calling for a moratorium with a view to considering the abolition of the death penalty for all crimes.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania and Montenegro, and the EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Armenia align themselves with this declaration.
* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.
CTK adds, "A halt to the executions in Iraq was also recently demanded by Amnesty International human rights watchdog." From yesterday's snapshot, we'll note:
Nell Abram (Free Speech Radio News) reports a hunger strike in Iraqi, "Dozens protested outside an Iraqi prison today where hundreds of detainees have launched a hunger strike -- they're protesting what they describe as abuse. Most of the 300 men at Iraq's Rusafa prison have been held without charge for at least a year. Last week, a Sunni lawyer who was a prominent voice for prisoners' rights was killed. Harith al-Obeidi, the head of Sunni Iraqi Accordance Front, had publicly called for Iraqi officials to respond to claims of torture in Iraqi jails."
Hey, kids, who runs that prison? The Ministry of the Inerior. Last November, they were offering Andrew North (BBC News) a tour of the Baghdad prison to disprove allegations of abuse. Is a potential pattern emerging?
Yes, it is the Ministry of the Interior and Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) reports today, "Iraq's interior minister promised on Tuesday to punish any prison workers found guilty of abusing inmates." Iran's Press TV also notes it is "an interior ministry prison".
Today in Iraq, Reuters reports a bus accident in southern Iraq has resulted in the death of at least 14 people ("many of them children") with at least thirty more injured. The dominant thread coming out of Iraq today is a lot of press members playing proud parents. You know how those are. A B-report gets inflated to an A, etc. So they hope no one attended Nouri's recital and saw the hole on the seat of his tights when he was doing an Arabesque. Instead, everyone's supposed to pretend that the acres and acres of the US Embassy that anchor the Green Zone don't exist and that Nouri really, honest!, has control over the Green Zone!!!! And forget those sprawling US bases bordering and running through Baghdad and Mosul, Nouri's got control!!! Control!!! It's such a proud moment and we're all so very -- Nouri, don't pick your nose. Stop that. But it's such a proud, proud moment and we're all so very . . . . It's not news. It's not even good propaganda. It's reporters shaming themselves in public. Way to drop that whole pesky disinterested, objective pose. In other reported violence . . .
Laith Hammoudi and Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) report a Baghdad roadside bombing which wounded two Iraqi civilians and one US service member, a Mosul roadside bombing which wounded four people and, dropping back to Monday night, a Mosul roadside bombing which left two people wounded. Reuters notes a Monday Mosul bombing which left "a judge and two of his aides" injured and a Monday Kirkuk car bombing which claimed the life of 1 person and left five more injured.
Laith Hammoudi and Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) report the US military fired at a car in Mosul and ended up hitting a woman and a driver on a bus, wounding both.
Laith Hammoudi and Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) report 1 person stabbed to death in Kirkuk today. Reuters reveals that the victim owned a cell phone store and was killed in it.
Laith Hammoudi and Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) report 2 people kidnapped last night in Kirkuk.
Today the US military announced: "CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq -- A Multi-National Division-South Soldier was killed by an improvised explosive device near the city of Samawah June 16. The Soldier's name is being withheld pending notification of next-of-kin. The name of the Soldier will be announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official Web site at http://www.defenselink.mil/. The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next-of-kin." The announcement brought to 4313 the number of US service members killed in the Iraq War.
In the US, Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan continues speaking out against the war machine. Her latest book is Myth America: 10 Greatest Myths of the Robber Class and the Case for Revolution. She's on the road and June 17th will be in St. Petersburg, Florida (6:00 pm at NOVA 535 and 8:00 to 9:00 pm at Cafe Bohmia). June 18th to 23rd, she blankets Philadelphia and surrounding areas with eight different venues. June 20th she will hold a noon event at Penn Wynne Presbyterian Church in Wynnewood, PA, then at three p.m. an event at Center City Phildelphia, then that night, at beginning at seven thirty, she'll be at the Moonstone Art Center in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. June 21st finds her at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Princeton, New Jersey starting at two p.m. and later that night, 6:30, at St Luke's United Church of Christ. June 22nd she'll be at Phila Community Center starting at two p.m. and at Central Bucks & Montgomery County that night at seven. June 23rds events include the Unitarian Universalist Church in Bethlehem, New York at seven p.m. June 24 and 25th are NYC. For a full listing click here. Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox is Cindy's weekly radio program and Dallas radio station 1360 AM, Rational Radio, is now carrying it on Sundays. World Can't Wait has video of Cindy's protest last week at Bush's home in Dallas.
In other news, "This Is Why" is a mailing sent out by the Democratic Party today (Democratic National Committee), it's filled with lies so big surprise it's signed by Barack Obama. (Wall Street bought and paid for you Barack, only you're most demented still believe your myth of small donors.) It's another "Send money!" Another, "You got a dollar?" The begging is appalling. It's not 2010. It's not begging for a political race. It's just begging. It's just greed. Some people need to start worrying about how tacky and cheap they're coming off. It's bad enough to have Celebrity In Chief. It's far worse to have one who can't stop whoring it out for a few dimes. Try to maintain the dignity of the office. Please stop trying to prostitute the office of the presidency due to your never ending greed.