Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Iraq snapshot

October 31, 2006.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, war resister Kyle Snyder prepares to turn himself in at Fort Knox, Tony Blair's long-goodbye continues to go off the rails, turns out the Pentagon's not sure how many US troops are in Iraq, Tony Snow Job attempts to attack (but comes off like he's humping Bully Boy's legs), and more tensions between the puppet (al-Maliki) and DC.
Starting in the United States.  War resister Kyle Snyder self-checked out of the US military in April 2005 and moved to Canada where he remained until last Saturday.  Today, Brett Barrouqere (AP) reports is the day that Kyle Snyder will turn himself at Fort Knox. While serving in Iraq, Synder saw many actions go uninvestigated, he saw his girlfriend's pregnancy turn to tragedy -- "The military took my child," Snyder told Karen Button in an interview.  He saw Iraqis died who shouldn't have, he saw Iraqi women brought on to bases as prostitutes.  What he didn't see was reconstruction going on.  As Courage to Resist notes Snyder saying, "The only reconstruction I saw was building Army bases."
In Canada, Synder attempted to be granted asylum.  During the Vietnam era, the Canadian government had done that.  However, the government has so far refused to offer refugee status.  Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey are appealing decisions right now.  Hinzman has been attempting to be granted refugee status since January 2004.  At end of last month, war resister Darrell Anderson returned to the United States from Canada.  Snyder, Hinzman, Anderson, Hughey, Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Ehren Watada, Stephen Funk, Patrick Hart, Corey Glass, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Clifford Cornell, Katherine Jashinski, Agustin Aguayo, Ivan Brobeck, Joshua Key, Joshua Despain, Kevin Benderman, are among those making up the growing movement of war resistance within the military. Last Friday, Different Drummer in Watertown, NY became the first G.I. coffeehouse of this war.  David Zeiger's documentary Sir! No Sir! charts the resistance within the military during the Vietnam era. More information on war resisters can be found at Courage to Resist and at War Resisters Support Campaign.
As Kyle Snyder stands strong, Bully Boy's poodle yelps.  In England, Tony Blair's long goodbye continues to go off the rails.  The glad handing, easy photo-ops and glossy stories that were supposed to abound as he entered his final months of prime minister just can't get traction.  The Scotsman reports he spent "today fighting desperately to avoid a damaging defeat at Westminister over a deman for an immediate inquiry into the Iraq War and its aftermath.  Labour whips were frantically trying to persuade rebels -- including Edinburgh East MP and former Cabinet Minister Gavin Strang and potentially Midlothian's David Hamilton -- not to back the Nationalists and the Liberal Democrats' call for an investigation."  Nick Assinder (BBC) offers: "It is just possible that, more than three years after the Iraq invasion, Tony Blair will be defeated in the House of Commons over the war" and notes that Blair, like Bully Boy, is attempting to defocus by stating a debate on the war would be a 'victory' for terrorists.  Nonsense, responds William Hague of the Conservative Party.  AP quotes him stating: "A responsible government should want all possible lessons to be learned from the efforts to bring order and reconstruction to Iraq and should not be afraid of giving these issues the most searching examination."
The Evening Times notes "a possible Commons defeat tonight over the handling of the Iraq war"  and Nick Assinder (BBC) notes that Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond states that "a defeat for Mr Blair would mean his tenure would be measure in hours and days rather than weeks and months.  Yet even Mr Salmond believes defeat is unlikely".  Regardless of the outcome, Blair's efforts to be Eco-Man of the People (this week's push) were destroyed as the War Hawk was once again confronted with the consequences of his actions.
In the United States, Bully Boy continues to attempt to elude consequences for his illegal war while others aren't as fortunate.  The AFP reports that there are now 150,000 US troops in Iraq "the largest number reported this year" and the numbers are also "the highest levels since December 2005 when US commanders built up US troop levels for the Iraqi elections."  In another report, the AFP attempted to get a response on the increase in US troop numbers from the Pentagon press secretary Eric Ruff.  Ruff: "This is news to me.  Talk to MNF-I (Multi-National Forces -Iraq).  That's General Casey's decision."  Again, the Pentagon's press secretary responds, when asked about the fact that the number of US troops has increased in Iraq, "This is news to me."
That head-up-the-ass moment is rivaled only by last week when Bully Boy, attempting to convince the American people that he's hands-on and following the war, stated "we've lost 93 service members in Iraq" when that day (Wednesday) the count was 91 and would remain 91 until the US military announced more fatalities on Thursday.In both cases, Ruff's and Bully Boy's, it's their job to know the numbers.
The rise to 150,000 US forces in Iraq comes at a time when, as John F. Burns and David E. Sanger (New York Times) reported, whispers among "American officials" are centered on talk of increasing the number of American and Iraqi troops patrolling Baghdad. The 'crackdown' cracked up, in all its forms.  And three years after the illegal war began, the talk centers on how to 'pacify' the capital.  David Martin (CBS) reports that George W. Casey Jr. ("U.S. Commander in Iraq") wants to increase Iraqi forces by 100,000 which would also mean increasing US forces to train them.  (Remember, the US government decided not to continue training Iraqi soldiers in Jordan.)  
The talk of Iraqi forces is misplaced as well.  Amit R. Paley (Washington Post) notes George W. Casey Jr.'s optimistic predicition from last week (a year to a year-and-a-half before Iraqis can take over their country) and reports the reality on the ground as seen by the US military (which predicts that would take decades) and by Baghdad's chief of police, Salah al-Ani: "None of the Iraqi police are working to make their country better.  They're working for the militias or to put money in their pocket." 
Meanwhile, CNN reports that the checkpoints in the Sadr City section of Baghdad have been opened after Muqtada al-Sadr called a strike on Monday in which "[m]ost shops, schools and government buildings" closed down.  To the surprise of only those who've been waiting each day since mid-June for the 'crackdown' to demonstrate positive results, the BBC reports: "The week-long restrictions, checks and searches caused increasing resentment in the densely-populated neighborhood."   The puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki broke with the US over this and ordered the checkpoints opened.  It's being seen as a victory for Sadr City residents; however, they, and all of Baghdad, remain under a nightime curfew.  In addition, Lara Logan (CBS) reports that though the checkpoints are open, they are still physically present and that it "took weeks to put [them] in place .  .  . and it will take as long as that to dismantle them".
The Sadr City 'crackdown within a crackdown' began when a US solider went missing Monday night.  AP identified him on Friday as Ahmed Qusai al-Taei. On Sunday, reports surfaced that the US soldier had left the Green Zone not to visit an aunt as previously reported, but, as Michael Luo and Qais Mizher (NYT reporters reporting in the Times' International Herald Tribune) explained, it was now being stated that he was "visiting an Iraqi woman whom he had secretly married three months ago" when he was kidnapped according to the woman's family. al-Taei remains missing.
And chaos and violence continue throughout Iraq.
In Baghdad, CNN reports a car bomb left members of a wedding dead or injured: 15 dead and 19 wounded.  The dead included four children, as Aileen Alfandary noted on today's KPFA's The Morning Show.  Also in Baghdad, Reuters reports, a car bomb and a roadside bomb left at least four dead and at least thirteen wounded. Outside of Baghdad, Reuters notes a roadside bomb in Falluja (two dead; two wounded);
Reuters reports a police officer was shot dead (and three wounded) in Baquba and that two shop owners (also in Baquba) were shot dead, an Iraqi soldier was shot dead in Falluja, and one in Tal Afar as well as four "gunmen".
CNN reports that ten corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters reports eight people were discovered in Suwayra and eight in Baquba. 
In addition CNN notes that "at least 40 people" were kidnapped north of Baghdad.
In ridiculous news, CBS and AP report that the White House (which can't even give an accurate count on how many US troops have died in Iraq -- not even one that matches their own Pentagon's count) is attacking US Senator John Kerry as a 'troop basher' because he noted in a California speech on Monday: "You know education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well.  If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."  The truth in those remarks (recruiters target the lower class with less hopes of a college education) struck to close to home with the White House leading Tony Snow to demand that Kerry apologize to all those serving.  The apology should come right after Bully Boy apologizes for (a) starting the illegal war and (b) using Daddy's connections to get out of serving in Iraq and yet not even bothering to show up for his National Guard Training.
Instead of demanding apologies from John Kerry, the White House might be better off apologizing to the families lied to by their government.  AP reports: "The families of seven soldiers who died in Iraq or Afghanistan were given incorrect or misleading information about the deaths, the Army has concluded after a review of war casualty reports."  White House flack Tony Snow Job should grasp that lying to the families of the dead was the "absolute insult."
In reality news, News Dissector Danny Schechter examines the 'strategy' of those who (my summary, not his) kind-of-sort-of-maybe think the illegal war wasn't such a good idea but would rather talk 'strategy' than reality and reduce Iraqis to extras in the supposed story of their own lives and also notes the effects of this on the Democratic Party: "So in the same way that Fox News pushed all other news outlets to the right, the GOP has imposed its worldview on the whole political spectrum.  As a result, many Dems are not challenging this distroted ieology, only the personalities identified with it.  Bush's message points, Cheney contentiousness, and Rumsfeld's ravings make them a perfect foil for those who say what they want to do is right -- but the way they are going about it's wrong."  Meanwhile Jack Randon (PEJ News) pens an open letter to Iraq's parliament: "You have a problem.  The occupiers are pushing you to disarm the militias yet you are acutely aware that any community left unprotected will be swept away in the next wave of violence.  Your people would hold you accountable for the bloodbath that followed.  You cannot comply.  Conseuqently, the Americans will accuse you of being unable and unwilling to govern -- yet if you did comply, there would be open rebellion.  If you stand up to the occupiers, you will surely lose their support.  You will be evicted from the Green Zone and cast out in the streets where the price of politicans and collaborators is cheap."
In other reality news, the US troops death toll for October has reached 103.  That puts it behind three other months -- January '05 (107), February '04 (135) and November '04 (137).  It also needs to be noted that 103 may not be the final toll since the US military has a way of releasing numbers a few days 'late' -- usually after the press has written up their "monthly count" story.  If the number sticks, it's the fourth worst month of the illegal war for US troops.  Three years-plus after the illegal war began.  The worst month for Iraqis is each advancing month as The Lancet study pegs the number dead due to the war at approximately 655,000 and the UN has to update their estimates for daily deaths every few months.
Turning to Australia, a report has been handed to Angus Houston who is the Air Chief Marshal of Australian's military NEWS.com reports. The report is the product of the military inquiry into the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco and into the events that immediately followed.  Throughout much of the summer, the inquiry heard testimony.  Some witnesses 'testified' about things they never observed.  When asked who had passed that on to them, in one instance, a witness was allowed to get away with offering up Nah-Nah-Nah-I-don't-want-to-say-and-you-can't-make-me. Theories were floated that had no basis in DNA science but it took a DNA expert's testimony to bury that nonsense.  The proceedings included the testimony-counter-testimony of Houston and Brendan Neslon (Minister of Defence) over whether or not Nelson was warned not to be a Chatty Cathy.  (Houston maintained Nelson was warned -- the larger question of why Nelson needed a warning not to talk to the press about things he knew nothing about went unexplored.)  There is no word on when the report will be made public.
And Kyle Snyder has now turned himself in at Fort Knox.  Prior to that, he held a news conference in Lousiville (at a Presbyterian church) and, Dylan T. Lovan (AP) reports, stated: "I don't see a lot of positive things coming from this war.  I see it as a counterproductive mission."  Lovan also reports that, according to his attorney James Fennerty, Kyle Snyder "will receive an other-than-honorable discharge.  That would be the same punishment received by . . . Darrell Anderson".
In other war reistance news, Ehren Watada's father Bob Watada and his step-mother Rosa Sakanishi continue the speaking tour to raise awareness on Ehren -- the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq.  Upcoming dates include:
Oct 31, 7-9PM
Norman, OK
Location: Cleveland County Fairgrounds - Lobby
615 E. Robinson
Sponsor: Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War
Contact: Jeri Reed, 405-307-0352, cell 405-606-9598,

Nov 1, TBA
Miami, Florida
Democracy for America Miami Dade and the South Florida Veterans For Peace Chapter 32
Venue and time TBA

Nov 2, TBA
Cincinnati, OH
Meet Dr. Victoria (Vic) Wulsin, candidate
for congress 2nd district Ohio currently leading Jean Schmidt who
called Rep John Murtha from PA. a coward.
Sponsor: Vietnam Veterans Against the War
Venue: TBA

Nov 3, TBA
St. Paul MN.
Location: Quaker Peace Center -- 1725 Grand Avenue
Sponsors: Veterans for Peace Chapter 27
Contact: Barry Reisch, (H) 651-641-1087 © 612-269-8934

Nov 4, 11AM
Milwaukee, WI.
Location: Great Lakes Arlington Event
Contact: Mark Foreman, 441-760-9991,
Sponsor: VFP Chapter 102
* See the unveiling of a new "Arlington"

Nov. 5, 2PM
Boston, MA
Encuentro 5
33 Harrison Ave. 5th floor
Asian American Movement Ezine
Asian American Resource Workshop
Boston Hawaiian Club
Chinese Progressive Association
Massachusetts Global Action
New England Japanese American Citizens League

Nov 5, 7PM
Cambridge, MA.
Location: Unitarian Church, Harvard Square
Sponsor: Veterans for Peace Chapter 9, Smedley Butler Brigade and Chapter 45, Samantha Smith Chapter
Contact: Lee VanderLaan, 978-257-2350

Nov 6, 2-4:30PM
Boston, MA
Location: University of Massachusetts/Boston
Sponsor: The Institute for Asian American Studies
William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequence
Time: 2-4:30 pm

Nov 6, 7PM
Worcester, MA.
Location: Clark University – University Building, Lurie Room
Sponsors: Veterans For Peace Chapter 10
Contact: Bob Flanagan, 508-755-1479,
A full schedule can be found at Veterans for Peace and those interested in hosting a Bob Watada speaking engagement in their area are urged to contact Doug Zachary.

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