Thursday, October 12, 2006

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, October 12, 2006.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; Judy Collins once sang "Hard Times for Lovers" but Bully Boy whimpers "Tough Times for Bullies"; war resister Ricky Clousing faces down the military and now faces sentencing, John Howard suffers from a grossly inflated sense of self, a study published in a medical journal continues to attract attention (as it should), and George McGovern weighs in on the 'cut & run' reality.
As the AFP notes, Bully Boy "has acknowledged that 'these are tough times in Iraq'."
Possibly he's considering another pledge to go off sweets while the war in Iraq wages?  He wasn't able to keep the first pledge, but considering what passes for a "plan" with his administration, who knows?
Bully Boy's facing questions about Iraq due to several issues including a study published in The Lancet which estimated that 655,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the war as well as the facts on the ground in Iraq that he can't hide from such as the American troop fatality count which now stands at 44 for the month and 2757 since the beginning of the illegal war.
Criticism is even growing within his own party.  As Sandra Lupien noted on Tuesday and Wednesdays The KPFA Evening News,  Olympia Snowe has become the latest Republican US Senator to break with the Bully Boy's Deaf-Dumb-Blind Iraq policy.  AP notes Snowe's Tuesday statements including "that staying the course is neither an option or plan."  As Lupien noted, Snowe has joined the company of John Warner, Susan Collins and Chuck Hagel in questioning the 'validity' of the 'stay the course' nonsense.
Speaking on KPFA's The Morning Show, George McGovern noted that the real 'cut & run' was "when we cut & run from reality and common sense" and the US administration began the illegal war with Iraq.  McGovern is a former US Representative, Senator and the 1972 Democratic Party nominee for president.
Also in US election news, Katrina vanden Heuvel (The Nation) notes CODEPINK's Give Peace a Vote  and "is the same pledge signed by aproximately 80,000 voters as part of the Voters for Peace campaign which includes Gold Star Families for Peace, Peace Action, Global Exchange, United for Peace and Justice (a coalition of 1,400 local groups in itself), CodePink and others."  The pledge also has it roots in the November 28, 2005 Nation editorial entitled "Democrats and the War."  And CODEPINK is celebrating its fourth anniversary this month.
CBS and AP report "a synchronized bomb attack [in Baghdad, which] killed five and wounded 11 others" that began with a car bomb and was followed with a roadside bomb.  CNN notes a motorcycle bomb in Baghdad which killed three and wounded 15 more as well as "a bomb . . . near a fuel station" which left four injured.
Aseel Kami (Reuters) reported eleven dead in Baghdad when "[g]unmen stormed the officers of a new Iraqi satellite channel in Baghdad".  The BBC reports that two people managed to escape and quotes a witness who states: "Some of the attackers were wearing police uniforms and other civilianc lothing.  All were masked."  Thursday's raid, Al Jazeera notes, followed one "at 8:30pm Wednesday" in Diwaniya on "the city's Hamza police station, killing one policeman and freeing 10 prisoners who were being held on various criminal charges, police Lieutenant Raid Jabir said."
Al Jazeera notes four corpses were discovered in Suwayrah ("signs of torture").  CNN notes that 40 corpses ("bullet-riddled") were discovered by police in Iraq and that
"[m]ore than 400 bodies have been found in similar condition in Baghdad this month alone."  And, on Wednesday, Al Jazeera reports that the corpse of an Iraqi priest who had been kidnapped, Amer Iskender, was discovered in Mosul.
As the violence and chaos continue the study published in the Lancet continues to get headlines, no matter how Bully Boy, his poodle Tony Blair and John Howard (to dopey to rate a nickname) dismiss it.  Sarah Boseley (Guardian of London) reports that "the US researches [of the study] have the backing of four separate independent experts who reviewed the new paper for the Lancet.  All urged publication.  One spoke of the 'powerful strength' of the research methods, which involved house-to-house surveys by teams of doctors across Iraq."  Andrew Buncombe and Ben Russell (Independent of London) note that the study breaks down as follows: "Fifty-six per cent of violent deaths were caused by gunshots, 13 per cent by car bombs, 14 percent by other explosions and 13 per cent by air strikes."  Paul Craig Roberts (CounterPunch) wonders: "What is America's reward for Bush's illegal wars that have killed 655,000 Iraiqs, an uncounted number of Afghanis,  and disabled as many as 400,000 US troops?"
Speaking about the study on The KPFA Evening News yesterday, Dahr Jamail noted that the study follows an earlier one --  published in the Lancet) ". . . October 29, 2004, since that time we've had the second siege of Falluja, countless other major US military operations and the even more importantly is the massive widespread abuse of the death squads in Iraq by the various militias and various political groups in that country and the criminal element which now is generating even much more deaths than the US military which is quite a staggering thing to say."
Today, Dahr Jamail (Truthout) writes: "In the context of the horror stories that have reached us over the three-plus years of the occupation, this latest figure is not nearly as shocking as when the first Lancet report was published in October of 2004.  It has been abundantly clear since then that the number of Iraqis being killed by and because of the occupation has continued to increase exponentially."
While the study and the numbers are discussed, John Howard, prime minister of Australia, appears to think the Iraq war is all about him.  That might be a good thing since no WMDs have been found and that claim, and all the others, have been revealed as lies.  However, Ian McPhedran (The Daily Telegraph) reports Howard is stating that if Australia leaves Iraq "then it is good enough for the Americans and the British to do the same. . . . The present reality is if we pull out and the Americans pull out and the British pull out . . ."  The answer to that long winded sentence to nowhere is, as George McGovern noted on The Morning Show today, no one knows for sure. But Howard seems convinced that he is the last glue holding Blair and Bully Boy together.
Returning to reality, in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Ricky Clousing's court-martial began and ended (and the world wonders: WHERE THE HELL WAS INDEPENDENT MEDIA?).  April Johnston (Fayetteville Observer) reports that Clousing "pleaded guilty to being absent without leave" and that was the end of the hearing:  "The Army originally charged Clousing with desertion, but allowed him to plead guilty to the lesser charge."  AP reports: "Sgt. Ricky Clousing, 24, of Sumner, Wash., was expected to be sentenced Thursday afternoon.  His attorney, David Miner of Seattle, has said he would argue against sending Clousing to prison."
War resister Ricky Clousing is part of a larger story of resistance within the military as well as the story of one person's brave stand.  In June 2005, he self-checked out of the military after returning from Iraq.  On August 11th of this year,  Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) broke the news that 24-year-old Ricky Clousing had decided to turn himself in and noted that Clousing went AWOL from "Fort Bragg in 2005 after returning from Iraq with the 82nd Airborne Division." Clousing spoke publicly about his decision to return at the Veterans for Peace conference that was being held in Seattle. Clousing turned himself in at Fort Lewis (Washington) and was instructed that Fort Bragg handled the issue. On August 18th, Clousing turned himself to Fort Bragg. September 1st, the military announced, to Clousing's attorney David Miner, that Clousing had been charged with desertion the day before. Again, Miner states he will argue against sending Clousing to prison. 
What if they gave a war and no one showed up?  What if they gave a resistance and indymedia was too busy partying?  (And promoting the party.)  The "coverage" isn't cutting it.
Instead, the peace movement depends upon word of mouth, peer-to-peer, to get the word out.  Which is why Ehren Watada's father, Bob Watada, continues the second leg of his speaking tour to raise awareness on his son, the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq.  Ehren Watada feels that the war is illegal and that to participate would mean he and anyone serving under him would be committing war crimes.  Some of the upcoming dates for Bob Watada's speaking tour include:
Thurs 10/12 6:00 pm Whittier Area Coalition for Peace & Justice, Mark Twain Club Potluck
($3 donations) Bob speaks at 7:00 pm.  First Friends Church of Whittier, 12305 E. Philadelphia St., Whittier
Contact: Robin McLaren 562-943-4051 email:
Sat 10/14 morning Press Conference San Diego
Contact: Reiko Obata 858-483-6018 email: for San Diego events.
Sat 10/14 6:00 pm Lt. Watada Dinner/Fundraiser San Diego (suggested donation: $15)
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of San Dieguito, 1036 Solano Drive, Solano Beach
Mon. 10/16 4:30-5:30 pm National Lawyers Guild of San Diego
Room 300, Thomas Jefferson Law School, 2120 San Diego Ave, San Diego
All of that can be found online but, WARNING, PDF format.  For those who can view PDF, click here.  Again, the speaking tour, Bob Watada's second, begins in October.
More information on Ehren Watada can be found at Courage to Resist and
As the resistance grows, as the fatalities grow, as the wounded grow, it's worth remembering not only the lies that led to war but the reality of Iraq today.  As Amit R. Paley (Washington Post) reported: "Parliament on Wednesday approved a controversial law that will allow Iraq to be carved into a federation of autonomous regions, after Sunni Arabs and some Shiite Muslims stormed out of the session in protest."
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