Thursday, February 25, 2010

Spiral down

The tiny circles of family, friends and uniformed men and women that dotted the Trinity Baptist Church fellowship hall formed around the surge of emotion that comes with saying goodbye to loved ones headed off to war.
With hugs and backslaps, tears and kisses, the 150 soldiers of the N.C. Army National Guard’s 105th Military Police Battalion spent precious moments together before the unit leaves Thursday for Fort Bliss, Texas. From there, the unit will go to war in Iraq, where it will work security at an internment camp in Baghdad, Iraq.

The above is from Jason Sandford's "Asheville-based National Guard unit prepares for war in Iraq" (Asheville News). Jonathan Walczak (Asheville Citizen-Times -- link has text and video) also covers the deployment and quotes Maj Shawn Turner stating, "We want people to remember that the mission is not over. These are young people hard at work every day trying to help the Iraqis secure their democracy." US service members are still being sent to Iraq. The Iraq War is not over, it has not ended.

Now it all begins
Or continues to
Spiral down
Spiral down

Look upon the self
Look upon the other
We need a better understanding
Or we'll spiral down

Spiral down
Continue to spiral down
I'm no where near my peace
As you spiral down

-- "Spiral Down" written by Michael Timmins, recorded by the Cowboy Junkies on their album at the end of paths taken

Yesterday's snapshot included:

Marc Lynch (Foreign Policy) explains today, "So you thought that Ahmed Chalabi and Ali al-Lami's Accountability and Justice (De-Ba'athification) Committee had done all they could to wreck Iraq's elections and advance their political agendas? Not even. Yesterday, in what al-Hayat calls a surprise move, Lami announced that the AJC had named 376 military, police and intelligence officers for de-Ba'athification. The list includes a number of important people in senior positions."

Xinhua (link has text and audio) reports
on the banning:

It also included 58 officers from the Defense Ministry, 10 of whom held senior posts, including Aboud Qanber, former commander of the Baghdad Operations.
It is responsible for Baghdad security since early 2007 after the U.S. "surge" plan that brought further American soldiers to quell insurgency and sectarian strife which erupted in the country after the 2003 invasion.
The list also featured 125 officers from the national intelligence agency, including 10 high-ranking officers who were in charge of political assassinations and tracking down the opposition, al-Lami said.

Lynch sees the banning (probably rightly) as a political play on the part of Chalabi in an attempt to box Nouri in. Rhonda Shafei (Columbia Spectator) offers her take on the targeting:

America cannot afford the fallout that is bound to result from the injustices being committed by the Iraqi government.
The most notable injustice is the disqualification of 511 candidates by the Iraqi Accountability and Justice Commission, a subset of the Iraqi Elections Committee. The board is run by two dubious politicians, Ahmad Chalabi and Ali al-Lami, both prominent Shiites who have been accused by top U.S. commander Raymond Odierno of having intimate ties with Iran. But their suspect backgrounds don’t end there: Al-Lami was arrested in 2008 for alleged ties to a Baghdad bombing that killed four Americans and six Iraqis, and Chalabi is the man accused of providing the Bush administration with faulty information on Iraq's weapons program.
It's no surprise, then, that the commission would bar the 500-odd candidates, the vast majority of whom are Sunni politicians with former ties to the Baath party of Saddam Hussein. Both Chalabi and al-Lami acted as key figures on the 2003-2004 Supreme National De-Baathification Commission created by Paul Bremer. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the current justice commision is a continuation of the McCarthyite de-Baathification procedure -- McCarthyite for its arbitrary firing of 30,000 ex-Baath politicians, thousands of intelligence officials, and all military officers above the rank of colonel. There exists no constitutional basis for the disqualification of candidates by the election board. If the elections are to move forward with a substantial number of Sunnis missing from the ballots, how could results possibly be representative of Iraqi society?

Iraqi society is threatened in many ways. BBC News reports that the IMF will be 'loaning' $3.6 billion and "Analysts say the conditions attached to previous IMF loans have caused resentment among Iraqis as they have struggled to compete with neighbouring countries in trade." Look for the grandstanders who walked away from the topic of Iraq some time ago to toss that out as an aside in the midst of their next 4 hour spiel on Haiti or whatever the water cooler topic is that day.

For those who truly want to end the wars . . .


A.N.S.W.E.R. and other organizations are sponsoring March 20th marches in DC, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The march is to demand the withdrawal of all US and NATO troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

In other peace news, Marisa Demarco (News City) reports:

It was a demonstration that went down as one of the biggest clashes between civilians and police in Albuquerque's recent history. Hundreds gathered on March 20, 2003, to protest the invasion of Iraq. But things grew ugly that night in the University Area. From the Alibi's 2003 report by Adam Brown and then News Editor Tim McGivern:
"For 90 minutes Thursday night tensions grew between approximately 600 protesters -- children in strollers, families, teens, adults of all stripes -- and at least 100 police officers, some armed with automatic weapons, batons, and unidentifiable in their gas masks.
"Then, with the whoosh and crackle, burning gas canisters [were] lobbed into the crowd and the pops of pepper balls fired in all directions. Chaos ensued as some protesters lobbed the gas canisters back at police while others ran coughing, tears streaming down their faces, from the scene. The vile smell of CS gas carried in the wind for three blocks as the vapors clung to the air over the Kevlar helmets of police in the intersection of Central and Cornell."
Seven years later, 11 protesters are having their day in court. The defendants include the officials of the time: Mayor Martin Chavez, Department of Public Safety Chief Nick Bakas, Chief of Police Gilbert Gallegos and Capt. John Gonzales, among others. The plaintiffs, all demonstrators from that day, say their civil and constitutional rights were violated.

The following community websites updated last night:

Lastly the Salem-News has a feature on the questions regarding 9-11 (link has text and video). We'll note this in today's snapshot as well.

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thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends