Wednesday, October 27, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, DoD confirms the death of one soldier (while rumors swirl more than one was killed), Drama Queen John F. Burns continues to insist the WikiLeaks story is all about him (and his 'suffering'), an editorial argues Barack should ready Congress for the US military staying in Iraq past 2011, and more.
Today the Christian Science Monitor's editorial board weighs in on Iraq noting that "many experts predict Iraq will soon ask Mr. Obama to extend the time for US forces to stay, not only to protect the nation's fledgling democracy but to help Iraq survive as a nation in a hostile neighborhood. Iraq is far behind the schedule set in the 2008 security pact with the United States to bolster its military and police. Its ability to defend its borders and its oil fields -- both of which are critical to US interests -- is years away. And there is much doubt in Washington about the US State Department's ability to take over the American military's role in managing key security aspects of Iraq, such as Kurdish-Arab friction or forming new police forces." The editorial appears to be advocating for a continued US military presence in Iraq so it's a little strange that they don't attempt to bolster their editorial by noting what went down at the State Dept press briefing on Monday. From Monday's snapshot:
Today Robert Dreyfuss (The Nation) reports that former US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker spoke last week to the National Council on US - Arab Relations and " that when the dust clears in the formation of a new government in Iraq that Baghdad would come to the United States to ask for an extension of the US military presence beyond the end of 2011. By that date, according to the accord signed in 2008 by the Bush administration, all US troops are to leave Iraq. But Crocker said that it is 'quite likely that the Iraqi government is going to ask for an extension of our deployed presence'." (He also expressed that Nouri would remaing prime minister. Why? The US government backed Nouri as the 'continuing' prime minister after Nouri promised he's allow the US military to remain in Iraq past 2011.) Today at the US State Dept, spokesperson Philip J. Crowley was asked about Crocker's remarks. He responded, "Well, we have a Status of Forces Agreement and a strategic framework. The Status of Forces Agreement expires at the end of next year, and we are working towards complete fulfillment of that Status of Forces Agreement, which would include the withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq by the end of next year. The nature of our partnership beyond next year will have to be negotiated. On the civilian side, we are committed to Iraq over the long term. We will have civilians there continuing to work with the government on a range of areas – economic development, rule of law, civil society, and so forth. But to the extent that Iraq desires to have an ongoing military-to-military relationship with the United States in the future, that would have to be negotiated. And that would be something that I would expect a new government to consider. [. . .] Should Iraq wish to continue the kind of military partnership that we currently have with Iraq, we're open to have that discussion."
The Christian Science Monitor's editorial board argues that Barack needs to prepare Congress for the possibility of an extended military stay in Iraq for, among other reasons, the money that would be required. With Joseph Stiglitz, Linda J. Bilmes has long been charting the financial costs of the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War. At The Daily Beast today, she writes:
Already, we've spent more than $1 trillion in Iraq, not counting the $700 billion consumed each year by the Pentagon budget. And spending in Iraq and Afghanistan now comes to more than $3 billion weekly, making the wars a major reason for record-level budget deficits.
Two years ago, Joseph Stiglitz and I published TheThreeTrillion Dollar War in which we estimated that the budgetary and economic costs of the war would reach $3 trillion.
Taking new numbers into account, however, we not believe that our initial estimate was far too conservative -- the costs of the wars will reach between $4 trillion and $6 trillion.
Turning now to the WikiLeaks revelations or, as John F. Burns believes, The John F. Burns Story. I believe the theme song is Joni Mitchell's "Roses Blue" or at least the line "Inside your own self-pity, there you swim." Though some people focus on the torture revelations, for Big Boned John, it's all about him. Yesterday we were noting his appearance on The Takeaway and Rebecca covered it even more in depth. John F. Burns whine and whined about the suffering . . . he'd been through. Apparently unable to afford therapy, he also showed up on PRI's To The Point yesterday. He repeated how hard life was for him because people leave comments on his New York Times' article and he gets e-mails and mean bloggers and whine, whine. But he had a new whine: Academia is attacking him! Academia is unreasonable. A lot of these e-mails he's getting, their e-mail address ends with "edu" and, in fact, some are from Harvard!!!!! Stephen Walt, who is a professor at Harvard and who was on the broadcast, offered, "To suggest that it's a group of academics who have it in for him is not useful."
Late Friday, WikiLeaks released 391,832 US military documents on the Iraq War. The documents -- US military field reports -- reveal torture and abuse and the ignoring of both. They reveal ongoing policies passed from the Bush administration onto the Obama one. They reveal that both administrations ignored and ignore international laws and conventions on torture. They reveal a much higher civilian death toll than was ever admitted to. There are many more revelations to be found in the documents. The World Socialist Web Site editorializes:
The US-led conquest of Iraq stands as one of the most barbaric war crimes of the modern era. Writing in April 2003, one month after the invasion, the World Socialist Web Site noted that during the buildup to World War II "it was common to speak of the Nazis' 'rape of Czechoslovakia,' or 'rape of Poland." What characterized Germany's modus operandi in these countries was the use of overwhelming military force and the complete elimination of their governments and all civic institutions, followed by the takeover of their economies for the benefit of German capitalism. It is high time that what the US is doing is called by its real name. A criminal regime in Washington is carrying out the rape of Iraq." (See, "The rape of Iraq")
The devastation inflicted on the Iraqi people has only intensified over the past seven-and-a-half years. The US has engaged in sociocide -- the systematic destruction of an entire civilization. In addition to the hundreds of thousands killed, millions more have been turned into refugees. There has been a staggering growth of disease, infant mortality and malnutrition. The US military has destroyed the country's infrastructure, leaving an economy in ruins, with an unemployment rate of 70 percent.
To the horror of the world's population, the Iraqi people have been made to suffer an unimaginable tragedy at the hands of the most powerful military force on the planet. And for what? To establish US domination over the oil-rich and geostrategically critical country.
Every major institution in the United States is complicit in this crime. In the face of broad popular opposition within the US, both Democrats and Republicans authorized the war and have supported it ever since, expending hundreds of billions of dollars in the process. The American people have sought repeatedly to end the war through elections, only to be confronted with the fact that the war continues regardless of which corporate-controlled party is in office.
Obama, elected as a result of popular hostility to Bush and the Republicans and their policies of war and handouts to the rich, has continued the same policies. Running as a critic of the Iraq War, he now praises the US military occupiers as "liberators."
Gil Hoffman (Jerusalem Post) reports, "National Union MK Michael Ben-Ari urged UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday to investigate actions by the American military in Iraq that may constitute war crimes as alleged by the WikiLeaks website." Hoffman quotes from Ben-Ari's letter, "The latest revelation of US military documents regarding the war in Iraq detailing torture, summary executions, rape and war crimes by US and US lead security forces in Iraq, paint a terrifying portrait of US abuse and contempt of international treaties. [. . .] That the Pentagon is looking to cover up these crimes from the world shows the US government has much more to hide." BBC News notes that the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, calls for the US and Iraq to conduct an investigation and quotes her stating, "The US and Iraqi authorities should take necessary measures to investigate all allegations made in these reports and to bring to justice those responsible for unlawful killings, summary executions, torture and other serious human rights abuses," she said in a statement." AFP adds, "Pillay, based in Geneva, said the United States and Iraq should investigate all allegations in the Wikileak documents and 'bring to justice those responsible for unlawful killings, summary executions, torture and other serious human rights abuses.' She said documents released by the whistleblowing website added to her concerns that serious human rights breaches had occurred in Iraq, including 'summary executions of a large number of civilians and torture and ill-treatment of detainees'."
The mercenaries, some of whom earn more than $500 per day, are accountable to no one. Soon after the US invasion of Iraq, Paul Bremer issued "Order No. 17," giving security firm employees total immunity from Iraqi laws. Nor has any US court punished the contractors, even for known instances of murder. They are also not under the jurisdiction of the US military, freeing them from the court martial and even the often-flouted rules of engagement laid out in the US Army Field Manual.
WikiLeaks documents analyzed by Al Jazeera, the Arab-language media service, reveal at least 14 previously unknown cases in which employees of the most infamous private security firm, Blackwater International, fired on civilians. These attacks resulted in 10 confirmed deaths and seven serious injuries.
Blackwater, now known as Xe Services, is most notorious for a 2007 attack it carried out in Baghdad's crowded Nissour Square, killing 17 civilians and seriously wounding 18 more. Five Blackwater mercenaries were charged with murder, but a US judge ruled the prosecution had engaged in misconduct and threw the case out.
"With all the attention focused on WikiLeaks' most recent release -- a trove of documents that paints a bleak picture of the war in Iraq," notes Razzaq al-Saiedi (Global Post), "it's easy to forget that the Iraq of today still has no government." al-Saiedi reminds that Sunday Iraq's Supreme Court ordered Parliament to reconvene and hold sessions. At present, they've only held one session since the election -- they took roll, took their oaths and adjounred -- all in less than 20 minutes..
March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's seven months and twenty days and still counting.
Alsumaria TV is covering the latest developments. They report, "During his meeting with Kurdistan leader Massoud Barazani in Arbil, head of Al Iraqiya List Iyad Allawi cautioned that the government formation has grew into a serious and critical issue." And that: "Iraqi National Alliance announced after a meeting held at the house of Ibrahim Al Jaafari that it will send a delegation to take part in the meeting between the political blocs expected to be held on Wednesday in order to activate the initiative of the head of Kurdistan region Massoud Barazani who called for dialogue between the different political parties."
The statlemate continues and so does the violence.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed 2 lives and left four people injured and a Baghdad sticky bombing claimed 1 life and left four people injured. Alsumaria TV also reports an Abu Ghraib bombing which left two Iraqi soldiers injured. Reuters notes a civilian was also wounded in that bombing and that a Baghdad bombing -- possibly targeting the Sunni Endowment -- injured two guards of the Endowment and four by-standers, a Jalawla roadside bombing claimed the lives of Mohammed al-Tememi and 3 bodyguards (al-Tememi headed the criminal investigation unit), Jalawla sticky bombing which injured two police officers, and, dropping back to last night, a Kirkuk bombing which injured three people.
This morning, DoD was still unable to issue a release on the death of 21-year-old David Jones in Iraq Sunday -- despite the family having gone public. And despite new details emerging. Steve Flamisch (WRGB) reports the family of David Jones has been told by "a service member" that Jones and another soldier were killed Sunday by a third US soldier on a rampage. David Jones' mother Theresa Bennett (biological aunt, raised him as her own -- last time we're making that reference, she was his mother) is quoted stating, "Two died, and three others were in urgent care." Pat Bailey (WKTV -- link has text and video) reports that Pfc David Jones "leaves behind 7 brothers" and that the family is stating they will get to the bottom of how he died. Julie Tremmel (Fox23 News -- link has text and video) reports that US House Rep Paul Tonko states there will be "a thorough investigation" and his brother Bernie Bennett states, "If he was out in the battlefield when he died that would be something else. But he was in his room and they say that he got murdered by just a gunshot to his head, and it's just so hard to explain." Dennis Yusko (Albany Times Union) reports, "The aunt of Army Pfc. David Jones received a copy of a text message Tuesday from a soldier in Iraq saying that the Montgomery County soldier was one of five people killed or wounded Sunday in a shooting "rampage" on a U.S military base in the Iraqi capital, Jones' cousin George Bennett said Wednesday." Paul Grondahl (Albany Times Union) quotes Theresa Bennett stating, "We were told he was shot by one of those very long rifles and there's no way he could have done it himself. There's no way this was a suicide." Grondahl also speaks with Colleen Murphy, mother of Staff Sgt Amy Seyboth Tirador who was killed in Iraq a year ago (November 4, 2009) and who has never been able to get answers about her daughter's death that made sense (the military insists -- despite many details to the contrary -- that Amy Seyboth Tirador took her own life). Colleen Murphy states, "I'd gently encourage whoever is strong enough in the Jones family, when they're ready, not to take what the military says at face value and to challenge it. To allow the Army to get away with closing these cases as suicides is not fair to our soldiers." If the family's being told is true about an "enraged" US soldier killing David Jones and another as yet unnamed US soldier (and wounding three otehrs), it also echoes last month's shooting in which John Carrillo and Gebrah Noonan were shot dead and a third soldier was wounded. The suspect charged in that shooting is US Spc Neftaly Platero. If it does turn out to be similar, the Army's going to have to do a lot of explaining on how, the second month in a row, this took place. Today DoD released a statement: "The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation New Dawn. Pfc. David R. Jones Jr., 21, of Saint Johnsville, N.Y., died Oct. 24 at Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries sustained in a non-combat incident. He was assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Hood, Texas. For more information, the media may contact the Fort Hood public affairs office at 254-897-9993 or 254-287-0106."
Turning to the US, on this week's Law and Disorder Radio, hosts and attorneys Michael Ratner, Heidi Boghosian and Michael S. Smith discussed Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
Heidi Boghosian: Michael, what do you think of the new Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy?
Michael Ratner: Well there was a recent federal court decision, Heidi, that was terrific. A federal court judge said that the law, the regulations and essentially memorandum supporting it what we call Don't Ask, Don't Tell was unconstitutional. That it was a violation of Due Process, that you couldn't let go of people in the military or get rid of them or give them discharges just because they were gay, lesbian, etc. So it's a remarkably good ruling and we're all excited about it. The problem with the ruling is, of course, Obama -- who has claimed repeatedly that the policy is disriminatory, he said it again, he said it again and again -- has decided to ask the court and then the appeals court for a stay of the ruling so it isn't implemented right away and then he's thinking about appealing the ruling. So let's think about that. A federal judge basically issues an order saying a particular statute is unconstitutional, the Obama administration which says 'this statute is discriminatory' and also in which the House of Representatives has voted to repeal the statute, the Senate hasn't taken any vote yet -- hasn't gotten to the floor, the Obama administration says, 'We're not only going to appeal, we're going to ask for a stay.' The positive thing that has happened since then is that the Pentagon, because there's no stay given and the federal judge refused to give a stay, it will have to go to the Court of Appeals now, they now have a policy they've just changed it as of this week to say that will no longer toss people from the military or refuse to recruit them into the military because they're gay. One interesting thing about the statute, I finally went back and read the statute, and it's the long usual b.s. statute with all kinds of clauses about how important military readiness is and all this junk. But I never realized what the statute said. The statue basically allows someone to be let say "caught" in a homosexual, as they refer to it in the statute, act but still allows them to be kept in the military if -- and this is what I can't get over -- if you're caught like that, if you've engaged in or attempted to engage in or solicited others to engage in a homosexual act you can still be kept if "(a) such conduct is a departure from the member's usual and customary behavior." If you just do an occassional homosexual act, you can still be kept. Or, it looks like an "or" to me, "such conduct is unlikely to recur" -- maybe all of them have to recurr? -- "such conduct was not accomplished under the use of forth and under the particular circumstances, the member does not have a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts." So it's completely bizarre. I just can't --
Michael S. Smith: It has nothing do with human sexuality or psychology to start with. It's bizarre.
Heidi Boghosian: So one night stands are allowed.
Michael Ratner: One night stands are allowed. How many? I don't know. You could even conceivably have a week-stand and still stay in there. But when you see what Obama did -- I read both New York Times pieces on this. The Times reporter says the government is appealing -- in the first article, he said because they're required to because they're defending a law of Congress.
Michael S. Smith: That's what -- Think about that.
Michael Ratner: So one of the reasons for Obama's request for presume both the stay as well as an appeal here is that it's the obligation or the necessity or somehow the Justice Dept is supposed to defend acts of Congress when they're held unconstitutional because they are an act of the political branches that are signed by the president. The first New York Times coverage of this said that the government was required to appeal these cases. Obviously they got letters about that because they're not required to. There's many circumstances where they aren't required to -- or there's no requirement at all, but where traditionally they haven't. The article that I've just read about it now says that they've traditionally appealed cases in which a statute is held unconstitional. But even that to me would be very subject to what this case is actually about. First, you have 70% of the country saying they think this policy is just b.s. Secondly, you have the president who says it's discriminatory -- essentially saying it's unconstitutional, the House rather, now saying it should be appealed, the Senate it hasn't been brought to a floor vote. So you have a situation now that is different than a normal case in which there's a statute of Congress held unconstitutional, the president doesn't think it's unconstitutional, both houses of Congress say, this is our statute go with it. In this case, this is really Obama. That's what it is. And someone told me -- and I'd be interested in the reaction of my two hosts here -- when I criticized this policy the other day, someone said, "Well, lookit, this is the deal, Michael, Obama wants to get us out of Afghanistan, the Pentagon does not want to have Don't Ask, Don't Tell [repeal] implemented and the deal here is that Obama will continue to fight for Don't Ask, Don't Tell even though he doesn't like the policy as a deal for the Petraeus to get out of Afghanistan. I'll take reactions from either of you and we'll end this little update.
Michael S. Smith: How do you know what's inside his head? All you can do is judge him by what he's doing which is not good.
I agree with Michael Smith but since Heidi didn't answer, we'll stop there to point out something. I'm not fond of these "what he really meant was" stories. Any woman who's worked any time at all on the issue of battering damn well knows just how f**king useless "what he really meant" stories are. But I find the homophobia in the person who passed that story on to Michael Ratner appalling. The "what he really meant" game here is that Barack wants out of Afghanistan (where's the proof on that?) and he's going to pretend to care about repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell while refusing to actually repeal it. He's going to do that to please the Pentagon, the tall tale goes. And the person telling this to Michael is doing so to justify Barack. There's no justification for that and you have to have a whole lot of homophobia -- and disrespect for the people's right to know and the will of the people -- to see this as 'three dimensional chess' and something good about Barack.
Obviously, since they taped the update, there's been another flip. The appeals court issued a stay on the no-discharges policy Judge Virginia Phillips had put in place during the appeals process (appeal of her ruling that Don't Ask, Don't Tell is unconstitutional). War News Radio covered that on their latest program (began airing Friday). Excerpt:
Sam Hirshman: US Court Judge Virginia Phillips ruled the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy unconstitutional in September. About a month later, she issued a world-wide injunction on the policy. According to Diane Mazur, a professor at the University of Florida, an expert on the Constitution and the military --
Diane Mazur: What it means is that she's issued an order barring the military from enforcing Don't Ask, Don't Tell in any place that the military operates at any time, in any way. It is as a broad as an order can be on this -- on this subject.
Sam Hirshman: Suddenly, it was okay to be gay in the US military -- at least in the eyes of the law. A flurry of legal activity followed the injunction: motions, replies, appeals, stays and orders. For now it looks like Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the 1993 policiy banning gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military will stay in place. The injunction was in effect all of eight days. During that time, the Dept of Defense allowed gay people to enlist in the military, service members could come out during the injunction and continue serving but the DoD warned that such statements may have adverse consequences.
Choi is unapologetic. He says he resents it when anyone, especially those in the gay-rights movement, discourages him from exploring—well, sexually—his newly revealed homosexuality.
"I think our movement hits on so many nerves," he says, "not just for reasons of anti-discrimination and all the platitudes of the civil rights movement. I believe that it's also because it has elements of sexual liberation. And it shows people that through what we're trying to do, they can be fully respectful of themselves, without accepting the shame society wants to throw upon them."
"Sexual liberation" -- that probably won't play well on Capitol Hill. And therein lies the conflict between Choi and the establishment. His bold public actions --from chaining himself to the White House fence (twice) to going on a hunger strike for seven days -- as well as his almost complete lack of inhibition about making his private behavior public, unnerve the old guard of both the military and the gay-rights movement.
Everyone, he says, is "happy to send out e-mails when a good court case comes out, but no one is willing to take a risk for fear of taking blame. If people want to blame me for being the reason 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' isn't repealed, I say fine. Bring it on, motherf**kers."
Nicole Colson: In terms of the response to the FBI raids, I know there were several demonstrations in cities in the days following the raids, and when the first grand jury appearance was scheduled, even though all the activists refused to testify, people came out for that as well. Do you think that kind of public pressure is important?
Michael Ratner: I think those have been very helpful. I was really excited to see that there were 27 cities that had demonstrations around the raids and the grand jury appearances. And the fact that everybody decided to take the Fifth Amendment and not testify I think surprised the government. The government didn't come back immediately and give certain people immunity, or maybe it realized they overreached a bit, and that it was a fishing expedition. I think the demonstrations made a difference in that. That's not saying that something more won't happen, because you know they don't do these things and then just walk away. But I think demonstrations did help, and protests really limit the scope that the government can act on in these kind of raids. I think they are absolutely a crucial part of opposition. I think that if there weren't those protests, for all I know the government would have enforced those subpoenas right away and dragged those people right in to the grand jury. But now, maybe they're rethinking it. They may still do it selectively -- I don't have any idea -- but I certainly believe that making this into the civil liberties fight that it really is, is crucial.
On September 24, 2010, in various localities in the United Stated the Federal Bureau of Investigation executed search warra nts on the homes of, and served grand jury subpoenas on, several anti-war and solidarity activists involved in solidarity work with Palestinian and Colombian people. The United States has demanded that these peaceful activists produce, to a Federal Grand Jury, emails, pictures, bank records and other personal records relating to travel to Colombia, Jordan, Syria, the Palestinian Territories, and Israel.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the National Lawyers Guild strongly denounces the attacks on free speech, freedom of association, right to dissent, and expressions of solidarity represented by these raids and grand jury subpoenas. We further resolve that the National Lawyers Guild shall continue to zealously defend the right to dissent, the right to act in solidarity with oppressed peoples, and resist the chilling effect of Holder v. Humanitarian Laws Project at al. Consistent with the NLG approach to opposing this type of attack we support all efforts to enjoin the grand jury and prosecution, as the NLG did in the case of Dombrowski v. Pfister.
Indeed, most Americans who were marching in the streets, denouncing what they called "Bush's war," voted for Barack Obama for President. They supported him enthusiastically, a number of the activist types campaigned for him, and now that we're living through what Bob Woodward calls "Obama's Wars," these former peaceniks have buttoned their lips.
When Obama was elected, the main peace coalition, which called itself United for Peace and Justice, congratulated him in a front page article on their web site – and then promptly dissolved! Oh, they still claim to oppose the wars we are fighting – in theory – but in practice they just aren't all that interested in doing anything about it. And we're not just talking about the limousine liberal set here: hard-line Marxists, who have always been involved in the various peace movements, are also going squishy. At a recent "antiwar conference" held in Buffalo, New York, which was dominated and largely organized by a Trotskyist group known as Socialist Action, the participants voted to pour their energy into building the October 2nd pro-Obama demonstration recently held in Washington, D.C., which dubbed itself "One Nation Working Together."
Yeah, right, One Nation Working Together for the Democratic Party.
The rally, a left-wing version of the Glenn Beck pray in, was basically a get out the vote effort on behalf of the beleaguered Democrats. From the platform, speaker after speaker told the rather thin crowd that their moral duty was to go out and vote Democrat. That's the ticket! And what did they get in exchange for acting as water boys for the union bureaucrats? Nothing – not a single speaker, not a single slogan, not a single antiwar placard onstage. Nothing, nada, zilch. There was no official antiwar speaker precisely because the rally was organized and controlled by the Obama-crats, who all support their commander-in-chief as he wages a war of conquest in Afghanistan and extends it into Pakistan. However, the party hacks lost control of the stage, at one point, when Harry Belafonte shattered the silence.
Charging that "the wars that we wage today in far away lands are immoral, unconscionable and unwinnable," the famous musician delivered a stunning denunciation of the war – a moment you can bet was not supposed to happen. Belafonte then started railing about how we're headed for "a totalitarian state in America," which kind of made him seem like a tea partier – except that in the next breath he accused the tea party of being the "villainous" force behind this sinister trend. Go figure.
According to more than one eye witness, the reception to Belafonte's antiwar message was "muted," at best. But of course it was. The Democrats don't want to bring up the war issue, because it's just another reason for their base to stay home on Election Day. The only other reference to the military — aside from some patriotic comments to the troops — was Jesse Jackson's call to "Cut the military budget." A few moments out of hours. Big deal.