Thursday, December 28, 2006

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, December 28, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq with 41 corpses discovered just in the capital, Bully Boy continues to string along the world as he hints at a 'new' 'plan,' the 3,000 mark for US troops killed in Iraq hovers ever closer, Cindy Sheehan continues speaking out and is arrested in Crawford, Texas, and US war resister Ricky Clousing speaks about his decision to stand up against the war and the 73 days he spent in military prison.

Starting with peace news. "I feel like I chose the path that was meant for me." That's Ricky Clousing speaking to Steve Maynard (Washington's The News Tribune) about his decision to say no to the illegal war. Maynard interviewed Clousing in his mother and step-father's home in Washington and the 73 days he spent in a military brig after his court-martial, his plans for the future (long range, college -- "I've always wanted to be a teacher") and his decision to say "no" to the illegal war: "I don't regret my decision to go AWOL in any way. I served my country better by saying 'no' to being in uniform."

Reflecting on the year, Mark Schneider (The Palestine Chronicle) finds reasons for hope in a number of things including war resisters like Clousing:

Closer to home, cheers of love out to the thousands of U.S. soldiers who have gone AWOL instead of violating their conscience to involve themselves in the U.S. genocide of Iraq. Many have rightly fled to Canada, some have faced court-martial and years in prison in the U.S. The first officer to refuse orders is Lt. Ehren Watada, whose mom, Carolyn Ho, this month has been on a speaking tour talking about parents have a duty to prevent their children from participating in illegal wars.
For years I've had this dream of getting hundreds of U.S. moms and dads taking flights into Amman and Baghdad and then dramatically going to find and retrieve (yanking them by their ears?) their soldier-children. What shame that would bring the U.S.! Cindy Sheehan and Fernando Suarez del Solar are vestiges of such a drama.
During a speech at the August, 2006 Veterans for Peace convention in Seattle, Watada cracked emotion stating, "to stop an illegal and unjust war, soldiers can choose to stop fighting it."
The most powerful element of the anti-war movement against U.S. genocide in Vietnam were the returning Vets, resisters and deserters who used their privileged positions to take radical positions and action. Though I have a separate post with a quick run-down of the best movies I saw this year, this is a good segue to
Sir No Sir, a new film documentary (that has been released for rental), about those Vietnam Vets who resisted. In their promotional material, the filmmakers, thank them, have made the obvious links between then and now go to their website and click on the "Punk Ass Crusade" link).
This film will leave you teared up and inspired.

And, if you're in the Phoenix area, you can see Sir! No Sir! this Saturday. Mike Millard (The Phoenix News) reports that David Zeiger's documentary will be shown at the First Annual Peace on Earth Event in Jamaica Plain at 6:00 pm (85 Seaverns St.) and will be followed by a discussion with Halsey Bernard who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and Joe Bangert who served in Vietnam. The event is co-sponsored by Military Families Speak Out and People United for Peace with a two dollar admission fee.

Meanwhile, David Swanson (AfterDowningStreet) reports that the US military continues to attempt to force reporters to be witnesses for the prosecution in the January 4th pre-trial hearing of US war resister Ehren Watada (to be followed by his Feb. 5th court-martial) and quotes independent journalists Sarah Olson ("It's my job to report the news, not to participate in a government prosecution. Testifying against my source would turn the press into an investigative tool of the government and chill dissenting voices in the United States.") and Dahr Jamail ("I don't believe that reporters should be put in the position of having to participate in a prosecution. This is particularly poignant in this case, where journalists would be used to build a case against free speech for military personnel.").

Clousing and Watada are part of a movement of resistance within the military that includes Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress next month.

War resistance and the peace movement are the only things that will end the illegal war. This morning, the US military announced: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a dismounted Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing two Soldiers southwest of the Iraqi capital Dec. 27. " And the US military announced: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier in an eastern section of the Iraqi capital Dec. 27." Since then, the US military has announced: "One Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 was killed in action while conducting combat operations in the Al Anbar Province December 27." And they have announced: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a dismounted Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier north of the Iraqi capital Dec. 28." The total number of US military deaths in Iraq for the month of December thus far now stands at 102 -- only four less than the month with the highest count this year (October, with 106). The death brings the total number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 2991 -- nine short of 3,000. [AFP notes: "medical advances mean the number is a lot lower than would have been expected." Which also means a rise in the number of seriously injured.]

Carey Gillam (Reuters) reports that "some 140 demonstrations in 37 states are planned to mark the 3,000th U.S. military death in Iraq, a milestone that is likely only days away" and quotes Military Families Speak Out's Nancy Lessin: "This horrific and tragic milestone allows us to remind this country of the daily unending human toll of a war that didn't have to happen."
As the 3,000 mark edges ever closer, Bully Boy continues to contemplate escalation as a 'new' 'plan' to 'win' the unwinnable war and says he is making "good progress" (he grades on a curve).
CNN reports that Cindy Sheehan has once again stood up to the Bully Boy and his war machine and been arrested in Crawford, Texas (along with four other activists) for doing so. On the possible escalation, AP reports: "Many of the American soldiers trying to quell sectarian killings in Baghdad don't appear to be looking for reinforcements. They say a surge in troop levels some people are calling for is a bad idea."


CNN reports two people dead and 19 wounded from a car bomb in Mosul that apparently targeted "an office of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in Mosul". The Canadian Press reports
a bombing in Baghdad this morning using two bombs ("opposite a park in the South Gate area") that claimed 9 lives and left 43 more wounded, 12 more killed and 26 wounded by a bombing "near al-Sha'ab stadium in Eastern Baghdad" and a bombing in western Baghdad that killed two people and left four more wounded. Meanwhile Reuters notes a roadside bomb in Hawija that left 3 police officers wounded.


Reuters reports one police officer shot dead in Kirkuk and another wounded, two Iraqi soldiers shot dead in Tikrit and another wounded and a police officer shot dead in Baquba with two more wounded.


Reuters notes 49 corpses discovered in Baghdad and three in Mosul.

On Cindy Sheehan's arrest, AP notes that she and four others "lay or sat" on a road near Bully Boy's ranchette in Crawford, TX for 20 minutes before they were arrested and that they were part of a "peace surge" to refute Bully Boy's talk of an escalation in the number of US troops in Iraq. (The 3,5000 who will go to Kuwait in January will be used as a reserve to deploy as needed.) Waco's KWTX reports: " The five were taken to the Crawford Police Department and a van was dispatched to transport them to the McLennan County Jail. They were charged with obstructing a highway or other passageway, which is a Class B misdemeanor. The protesters told a News Ten crew as they were led into the police department they didn’t know why they had been taken into custody. In the video KWTX posts, Cindy Sheehan states, "They should have arrested George Bush, not us."

ricky clousing
ehren watada