Saturday, October 14, 2006

"Justice" (Josh White, Karla Adam and Kevin Sullivan)

A U.S. citizen who allegedly orchestrated the kidnapping of three Romanian journalists near Baghdad last year was sentenced to death in an Iraqi court Thursday, prompting his lawyers to ask a federal judge in Washington to block the U.S. military from transferring him to the Iraqi government.
Mohammad Munaf, 53, has been in U.S. custody since May 23, 2005, when he was arrested during a military raid to rescue the Romanian journalists nearly two months after they were snatched. Authorities have alleged that Munaf -- who had ushered the journalists into Iraq and was acting as their guide and translator -- posed as a kidnap victim but was actually involved in a conspiracy for ransom and led them into a trap.

The above, noted by Lloyd, is from Josh White's "U.S. Citizen Sentenced To Death In Iraq" (Washington Post). B-b-but, Iraq's a 'democracy.' B-b-but, Bully Boy says it's 'liberated.'
In Wednesday's snapshot, we noted another 'justice' story:

In Iraq, the puppet governments continue to raise eye brows. Al Jazeera reports on Ayham al-Samarraie who was arrested "on charges of finanical and managerial corruption in August" for his actions while serving as a minister in Ayham al-Samarraie's government (the first post-invasion puppet government) but he was taken from the court and is now protected by US forces. al-Samarraie's "protection" raises serious questions about whether even the appearance of independence will be allowed for the puppet government. It also raises a serious issue of what was a US citizen doing holding government office in the supposedly independent Iraq.

So what's the story? Is there any justice in the Iraqi judicial system?
A sworn statement is filed, as Josh White reports, in US courts not from the attorney objecting to the process but from someone he spoke to on the phone. "I do hearby swear that the following remarks are hearsay"? Is that how that sworn statement reads?

Here's that section of White's report:

Munaf's Iraqi attorneys reported that the Central Criminal Court judge was prepared to dismiss the charges at a hearing on Thursday but that two American officials -- including an unnamed general -- stepped into the courtroom and requested a private meeting. The judge returned 15 minutes later and sentenced Munaf and four other defendants to death without hearing additional evidence, according to a sworn statement by Sean Riordan, a legal intern at the Brennan Center who spoke with Munaf's attorney in Baghdad.

No offense to Riordan, but a sworn statement is usually about what you yourself have observed, not what second hand, relayed news. Munaf's attorneys should be able to figure out how to come up with a sworn statement and fax it to the court.

The Iraqi judicial system is a joke, Americans don't make it any less of a joke by swearing to "This was told to me by someone who observed it" statements. A sworn statement about what happened needs to be made by the person or persons who observed it. We objected, during the military inquiry into the April 21st death of Jake Kovco and the surrounding events, about people testifying to things that they didn't observe. It's the same objection here.

And, this summer, members will remember a presentation made on behalf of someone while that person remained silent. That's not how it works. That's especially not how it works in a court of law. When it happened this summer, eyebrows should have been raised (including mine) because someone speaking on behalf of another person can say anything and then, if it turns out not to be true, the silent can come forward and say "I never said that" or "___ misunderstood what I was saying."

Though sympathetic to the case, I think it's laughable that an intern not present is submitting a sworn statement about what happened. If the attorneys could speak to him over the phone, they could do their own statement. If White's reporting of it is accurate, that's a very sorry state of legal affairs in this country that the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University's law school thinks a sworn statement swearing to hearsay holds up. (I don't doubt the intern's write up is accurate in terms of what he was told. I don't even doubt that the attorneys in Iraq conveyed the events to him accurately. But they need to do a sworn statement, there's no reason to submit a statement, sworn or otherwise, based on hearsay when you should be able to provide an actual sworn statement by those who observed in the court room.)

The larger issue, in terms of Iraq, is about justice.

White's report is disturbing but it goes to the fact that there is no justice in the Iraqi justice system despite all the talk of 'liberation.' In the US, we aren't supposed to allow for secret testimony (and, despite Congressional efforts, the law of the land remains that we don't). So why did "two American officials -- including an unnamed general -- [step] into the courtroom and [request] a private meeting"? A general sure as hell took an oath to uphold the Constitution. It may be one thing for him to follow the laws of another land if he's called as a witness. That wasn't the case. He and another "American official" elected to go to the court, to meet with the judge in private and make a case in a manner that goes against all notions of American justice. Someone should be facing a hearing right now because the oath to the Constitution does not include that you follow it only on US soil.

In the US, when the government tries to sidestep the law, they can face punishment. Someone needs to be facing punishment, two "officials," for engaging in activities that violate the notion of justice. The two aren't sightseers, they're in Iraq officially representing America. They made a mockery of the Constitution, they made a mockery of the notions of legal justice and they conducted themselves in a disgraceful manner.

Presumably, they presented 'evidence' privately to the judge that resulted from torture. The Justice Department is opposing the motions of the Brennan Center. That's not out of any respect for Iraqi justice (as proven with the actions involving al-Samaraie), that's because they're covering their own butts.

If a US general is involved in the passing on of 'evidence' obtained through torture to a judge, he needs to be court-martialed because he's aware of and (in passing on) condoning the use of torture so he's not only in violation of the Constitution, he's in violation of the Military Code of Justice.

The Brennan Center made a mistake in their sworn statement of hearsay. I have no problem calling them out on that. (I think that was laughably ridiculous and that no US court should give the statement any weight.) Other than that, they appear to have a very strong case. And it goes to the issue of what is justice in Iraq today?

There is none. And that "American officials" want to meet in private with a judge and share things that can't be shared in an open court establishes that fact. They are both fully aware that wouldn't pass muster in a domestic (US) court. It's disturbing that a general feels he can dispense with the Constitution and the Military Code of Justice. The other official needs to be identified as well. And people need to start asking why, three years after 'liberation,' people representing the American government are behaving in such a manner?

It's interesting that two "American officials" want to participate/interfere in private but, in another legal matter, didn't bother to show up in any form. We're talking about Terry Lloyd's inquest. Kevin notes Karla Adam and Kevin Sullivan's "Coroner Says U.S. Forces Unlawfully Shot Reporter" (Washington Post):

A British coroner ruled Friday that U.S. troops unlawfully killed a British television journalist during the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.
Coroner Andrew Walker, after an eight-day inquest, also said he would seek prosecution of the U.S. troops responsible for the death of Terry Lloyd, a veteran reporter for British television network ITN. Walker said he would ask Britain's attorney general and director of public prosecutions "whether any steps can be taken to bring the perpetrators responsible for this to justice."

Pay attention to this section:

No U.S. military officials testified at the inquest, although several submitted written witness statements. Walker ruled those statements inadmissible because he did not have the opportunity to question the troops who wrote them.

With regards to the English judicial system (where the US traces its own roots), the military can't be bothered with appearing (are they attempting to suggest that England's not 'liberated' and practices a mockery of justice?) but in Iraq, where the US is supposedly aiding 'liberation' and 'democracy' officials of the US can present 'evidence' behind closed doors and
not allow the defendant (who is facing the death penalty) to hear it or the chance to refute it?

It's the weekend which means a Saturday and Sunday evening broadcast (on XM satellite radio, Air America radio stations and online -- live from 7:00 to 10:00 pm EST) of RadioNation with Laura Flanders:

As more signs of a failing presidency mount - North Korea acquires nukes, deaths in Iraq hit new levels - western states Democrats are poised to win big. Kari Chisholm of the blog,, on how Dems are doing it. Plus an update on ballot initiatives from Kristina Wilfore of the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center.
Finally, singer-songwriter Catie Curtis on her new CD, "Long Night Moon," and having hope in dark times.
Our media roundtable features Tom Engelhardt of The Nation Institute's TomDispatch, and Linda Feldmann, Washington, DC reporter of the Christian Science Monitor.

The following have posted since yesterday morning:

Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix;
Mike of Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz;
Wally of The Daily Jot
and Trina of Trina's Kitchen

Ruth's latest will go up later today, and Ruth guest blogged for Kat on Wednesday, Betty did so on Monday and I filled in last night.

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NYT: "Iraiq Interior Minister to Purge Agency to Stem Killings" (Semple and Luo)

Iraq's interior minister, under pressure from Western officials and some Iraqi leaders to purge the ministry of sectarian influence, said Friday that he was preparing to reshuffle its leadership, and that he had the political backing to carry out the plan.
The minister, Jawad al Bolani, said in an interview on Friday that he had received the support of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, a Shiite, to make all necessary changes among his top commanders.
[. . .]
In Hilla on Friday, a bomb exploded in police headquarters, killing the commander of an Interior Ministry commando brigade as well as his deputy, according to the American military. State-run television reported that at least eight other police officers were killed in the blast.
Mr. Bolani said there was "a probability" that the attack had been coordinated from within the police force.

The above is from Kirk Semple and Michael Luo's "Iraqi Interior Minister to Purge Agency to Stem Killings" in this morning's New York Times.

Let's note that it wasn't an interview, it was either a press conference or the equivalent of a junket since, as the article notes, the press present for the 'interview' included the Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post. As for the 'probability' that the attack in Hilla was an inside job -- since the bomb has been reported to have been either under the chair or under the desk of the "Pirate Jenny" nature would suggest an inside job.

Dropping back to yesterday's snapshot, you can purge all you want but the issue of training remains -- more so now that the US has cancelled the contract with Jordan for training (over Patrick Leahy's public objections), the training center in Baghdad (badly constructed by Parsons) is a joke that needs rebuilding just to meet the basic health requirements and suspicions that the Eighth Brigade of the Second Division of the Iraqi police force was involved in mass kidnappings in Baghdad has resulted in the decision to retrain over 700 police officers.

As the Washington Post, as Martha highlights in her e-mail, Ellen Knickmeyer's "Official: Guard Force Is Behind Death Squads" covers the conference or junket:

Iraq's interior minister on Friday rejected allegations that Iraq's police and military have played a major role in the death squads blamed for Baghdad's surging violence, saying that only a small number of all those caught in U.S. or Iraqi raids were members of the police or army.
Jawad al-Bolani, speaking to a small group of reporters in Baghdad, blamed the Facilities Protection Service, or FPS, a massive but unregulated government guard force whose numbers he put at about 150,000.

[. . .]
Bolani and his predecessor as interior minister, Bayan Jabr, both have minimized the possibility of any police involvement in the nightly killings. "We are experiencing a problem of impressions" regarding a police role in killings and militia infiltration of police, Bolani said Friday.
American generals were among the first to publicly express suspicion that the Facilities Protection Service was playing a key role in the growing sectarian killings. U.S. commanders themselves started the agency soon after the 2003 U.S-led invasion, intending it to be a force of a few thousand men who would guard buildings against looting.
The service today has grown to a size rivaling that of the U.S. force in Iraq, although control of the service's men is split among the various ministries they are nominally assigned to guard. Most wear uniforms similar or identical to those of the police.

Borzou Daragahi covers the story for the Los Angeles Times in "Iraqi Official Deflects Criticism" (and, like the Times of New York, the term "interview" is used -- wrongly in my opinion):

He said more than two-thirds of sectarian slaying victims were found in areas of Baghdad under the control of the Defense Ministry, which oversees the Iraqi army, suggesting that U.S. and Iraqi focus on the alleged abuses by his forces was misplaced."Baghdad is not only the Ministry of Interior," Bolani said in his office in the capital. "It is divided in responsibility."The Shiite-dominated Interior Ministry has been accused by Sunni Arab politicians of harboring or tolerating Shiite Muslim militias linked to killings of Sunni Arab civilians. Dozens of corpses showing signs of torture show up daily in the Tigris River or in abandoned lots. At least 18 bodies were discovered Friday in Baghdad.

Let's do a mini- snapshot of today in this entry. Scripps News Service weighs in on the "out of control" financial cost of the war in Iraq noting: "According to the Congressional Research Service, Congress already has appropriated $437 billion for war, not including $70 billion approved by the Senate as part of next year's record-breaking Pentagon budget. That's half a trillion dollars -- about three-quarters of it for Iraq, 20 percent for Afghanistan and 5 percent for increased security against terrorism at other foreign bases."

AFP notes that today officials announced the Friday evening slaughter of ten family members in Saifiyah by unknown assailants. This follows yesterday's report by Christopher Bodden (AP) of two girls and six women were shot dead in Suwayrah (while two more were kidnapped). On the latter, yesterday's The KPFA Evening News noted that the Suwayrah attack was clearly an attack on women -- a sign of the increased violence targeted at Iraqi women. Five women and three children were among the ten killed in yesterday evening's slaughter in Saifiyah. Reuters reports that today in Iraq: mortar rounds targeting a police headquarters near Hawija and a person was shot dead in Diwaniya. AFP notes that the person was a teacher. Dropping back to Tuesday October 3rd, Free Speech Radio News and The KPFA Evening News, aired a report by Aaron Glantz and Salam Talib which explored the issue of the deaths of Iraqi professors and noted that 161 professors, minimum, have died in Iraq since the beginning of the illegal invasion.

Returning to today, AFP reports four beheaded corpses were found in Suweira, the corpses of 26 people who'd beeen kidnapped earlier today were found in Balad, and fourteen corpses were discovered in Baghdad (on the latter, they were discovered "between dawn on Friday and Saturday"). Bombs went off in Baghdad, as usual and that's only some of the reported violence.

We'll close with a highlight from Eli, Tom Raum's "Bush keeps revising war justification" (AP):

President Bush keeps revising his explanation for why the U.S. is in Iraq, moving from narrow military objectives at first to history-of-civilization stakes now.
Initially, the rationale was specific: to stop Saddam Hussein from using what Bush claimed were the Iraqi leader's weapons of mass destruction or from selling them to al-Qaida or other terrorist groups.
But 3 1/2 years later, with no weapons found, still no end in sight and the war a liability for nearly all Republicans on the ballot Nov. 7, the justification has become far broader and now includes the expansive "struggle between good and evil."

And that won't play either. The administration's that marketed an illegal war is now stupid enough to think they can go from a concrete lie (WMDs -- which people could conjure up in their minds and be scared of) to the more porous catch all of his "good and evil" -- requiring that people play with dualities the way he does and that, after all this time, his word on what's what carries much weight.

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Friday, October 13, 2006

Iraq snapshot

Friday, October 13, 2005.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; a coroner finds US forces guilty in the death of a reporter; war resister Ricky Clousing was court-martialed and sentenced yesterday; a British general grabs the headlines with his thoughts on Iraq; southern states in the US are polled on the war; Iraqi police continue to be an issue; and is that friendly person marching in the protest 'cool' or military intelligence?
Starting with Ricky Clousing who faced a court-martial yesterday and was charged with desertion but pleaded to AWOL.  As the AP noted last night, Clousing will be confined for three months and "receive a reduction in rank before getting a bad conduct discharge."  April Johnston (Fayetteville Observer) notes that the location Clousing will be defined has yet to be determined and charts the awakening of Clousing faced with realities in Iraq and his own spiritual beliefs which led him to self-check out "for nearly 14 months" before he turned himself in.  Laurie Goodstein (New York Times) covers the awakening as well and notes that the military took the case seriously: "Yet the military prosecutors made it clear on Thursday that the stakes were high.  Although they did not challenge his motives, they said if one young soldier disilluioned by the reality of war could give up the uniform punishment, what of others?"
Of course the military saw that the stakes were high.  Clousing is part of a movement of war resistance within the military that only continues to grow.  The US military grasps that.  Does independent media? 
Goodstein interviews Chuck Fager of the Quaker House who took Clousing's call: "This call was unusual. . . .  I don't have these kinds of probing discussions about moral and religious issues very often. . . . I said to him, you're not crazy or a heretic for having difficulty reconciling Jesus' teachings with what's going on in Iraq."
Last Friday, war resister Darrell Anderson was released by the US military and informed that he would face a dishonorable discharge.  Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo and Ehren Watada are war resisters currently awaiting word from the US military.Courage to Resist  covers all public war resisters.  Jeremy Hinzman, Brandon Hughey, Patrick Hart, Kyle Snyder and Corey Glass are among the war resisters who are attempting to be granted asylum by the Canadian government.
War resistance and other efforts to end the war come at a time when the American public has turned against the war and polls have tracked this trend for too long and it's too firm for for it to be shaken.  CounterPunch News Services reports on a new poll from the Institute for Southern Studies and the School of Public and International Affairs at North Carolina which finds: "56% of Southerners believe the U.S. 'should have stayed out of Iraq'"; "Southerners are skeptical about the goals of the Iraq mission"; and "62% of respondents in the South said they were 'very sad' about the course of the war".  CounterPunch reports: "The results signal a shift in Southern attitudes towards Iraq.  As recently as July 2005, a Pew Center poll found 53% of Southerners believed using military force against Iraq was 'the right decision,' the highest level of support in the country." 
Next week, October 19th, Vietnam war resister Dave Dellinger will speak about "Resistance to War in a Volunteer Army" at Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South in Manhattan from seven pm to nine pm.
As the resistance grows, more voices speak out from all places and all areas.  Richard Norton-Taylor and Tania Branigan (Guardian of London) report on the surprising statements of British General Richard Dannatt who "dropped a political bombshell last night by saying that Britain must withdraw from Iraq 'soon' or risk serious consequences for Iraqi and British society.  In a blistering attack on Tony Blair's foreign policy, Gen Dannatt said the continuing military presence in Iraq was jeopardising British security and interests around the world."  The BBC reports: "Tony Blair has said he agrees with "every word" the new head of the British Army said on the Iraq war.  But the agreement depends upon a watered-down interpretation of the remarks.  Regardless of how the remarks are interpreted, Australia's ABC reports that Chatty Cathy Brendan Nelson, who holds the title of Defence Minister in Australia, doesn't care: "So long as I remain Minister, we are there to see the job through."  Of course, should the military inquiry into the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco do its job and apportion accountability (don't hold your breath), Nelson might not "remain Minister" for very long.
Last Friday, Nicholas Walshe testified at an inquest in London that he'd seen ITN reporter Terry Lloyd "shot in the head by US troops as he was driven away from a gunfight."  Lloyd was killed March 22, 2003 as was Huseein Osman who was acting as interpreter.  Fred Nerac, the camera operator, has never been found.  CNN reports that Andrew Alker, the coroner, has ruled: "Terry Lloyd died following a gunshot wound to the head.  The evidence this bullet was fired by the Americans is overwhelming." 
Lynn Lloyd, wife of the late Terry Lloyd, is quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald stating that the US military "allowed their soldiers to behave like trigger happy cowboys in an area in which there were civilians travelling."  The Pentagon denies any wrongdoing took place.  CNN reports that Chelsey Lloyd wants justice in the death of her father and has stated of the US military: "They did not come to this inquist to explain their actions.  Let them now do so in our criminal courts where they are guaranteed to get a fair trial."  The BBC reports that the killing has been called a war crime by the National Union of Journalists and notes a statement by David Mannion ("editor in chief" ITN): "I have no doubt it was the fact that the vehicle stopped to pick up survivors that prompted the Americans to fire on that vehicle.  I would also like to say something that I know Terry would have wished me to say.  Independent, unilateral reporting, free from official strictures, is crucial; not simply to us as journalists but to the role we play in a free and democratic society."
Terry Lloyd died in March 2003 -- one of the early fatalities.  And the chaos and violence continues.
Reuters reports that a bombing of police station in Hilla resulted in six deaths and 12 wounded. A later Reuters story reports the number wounded dropped to ten -- because two more moved over to the death column for a total of eight dead.  CBS and AP note that the bomb was placed "under his [police commander] desk or chair, apparently by someone who evaded security". And the US military announced today that soldier died in Iraq on Thursday from "an improvised explosive device."  [The death brought the US military fatality count to 46 for the month and 2759 since the start of the illegal war.]
Christopher Bodeen (AP) reports that two girls and six women were shot dead in Suwayrah (while two more were kidnapped), "a father and his two sons" were shot dead by in Baquba while another two people were shot dead elsewhere in Baquba.
CNN reports that, in Dhuluiya, the corpses of 14 people kidnapped on Thursday were discovered "dumped in an orchard". Reuters notes that seven corpses ("riddled with bullets") were discovered in Balad and another two were discovered "near Garma, near Falluja".
As the violence and chaos continue in Iraq, James Gordon Meek (New York Daily News) reports: "The Bush administration plans to shut down a highly successful Iraqi police academy in Jordan even as security in Iraq worsens, the Daily News has learned.  The Jordan International Police Training Center near Amman will stop training Iraqi police recruits this year, having already graduated 40,000 cops from its eight-week course since 2004, U.S. officials confirmed." Meek notes that the Baghdad Police College "has to be rebuilt because of bungled construction."  Confused?  This follows Griff Witte's September reporting (Washington Post) on the issue of Parsons' "botched construction of a $75 million police academy in Baghdad so badly that human waste dripped from the ceilings" and, therefore, "posed a health risk".
This also follows the news from last week that the Eighth Brigade of the Second Division of the Iraqi National Police was the primary suspect in a mass kidnapping leading even the Giddiest Gabor in the Green Zone, Willie Caldwell IV, to declare:
"There was clear evidence that there was some complicity in allowing death squad elements to move freely, when in fact they were supposed to be impeding their movment.  It was realized that removing them from Baghdad would, in fact, enhance security." The 'answer' then was 'retraining.'  Retraining where may be the question to ask today.  Of course, as James Hider (Times of London) noted last week, "US forces have been re-training the Iraqi police, but the programme has had little impact".  Most recently, reporting on the mass slaying of the employees of the Baghdad TV station, both Kirk Semple and Qais Mizher (New York Times) and Ellen Knickmeyer and Naseer Nouri (Washington Post) noted that witnesses described the assailants as being clad in police uniforms and driving vehicles bearing the markings of the Iraqi police.
But not to worry.  Gerald Burke (the American "National Security Adviser to the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior") tells AFP that the ministry he advises/controls 'budgets' for deaths of police officers and, currently, they're 'budgeting' for the death of 25 Iraqis each day.  Sounds like just the thing to stress at the next Jobs Fair.
In peace news, the ACLU has released some documents.  Are you now or have you ever been a peace activist?  Chances are you've been spied upon during the illegal war in Iraq.  The ACLU finds: "The documents show that the Pentagon was keeping tabs on non-violent protesters by collecting information and storing it in a military anti-terrorism database" and quotes attorney Ben Wizner stating: "When information about non-violent protest activity is included in a military anti-terrorism database, all Americans should be concerned about the unchecked authority this administration has seized in the name of fighting terrorism."  Those with longer memories will recall the days of spying on peace activists, feminists, civil rights workers and basically anyone else 'guilty' of 'thought crimes.'  (If your memory is short, click here.)
Meanwhile, Bob Watada, father of Ehren Watada, is nearing the end of the second speaking tour to raise awareness about his son --  Ehren Watada is the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq.  The upcoming dates include:
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
To see the schedule in full, PDF, click here.  More information on Ehren Watada can be found at Courage to Resist and
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Other Items

Sabah al-Atia sometimes calls home every 10 minutes when he is working to let his wife know he is still alive. After all, his job is one of the most dangerous in the city.
Mr. Atia is a trash collector.
In a city where a bomb could be lurking beneath any heap of refuse, and where insurgents are willing to kill to prevent them from being discovered, an occupation that pays only a few dollars a day has become one of the deadliest. Most of the 500 municipal workers who have been killed here since 2005 have been trash collectors, said Naeem al-Kaabi, the city's deputy mayor.

"When we are working, we are working nervously," said Mr. Atia, 29, who started collecting trash during Saddam Hussein's rule. "We are carrying our souls in our hands."
The danger to trash collectors is at the root of one of the most visible symptoms of collapse in Baghdad. Garbage is ubiquitous, especially in dangerous neighborhoods, blanketing street medians, alleys and vacant lots in stinking, fly-infested quilts. Trash collection has joined a long list of basic services, including electricity, water and sewerage, that have slipped badly in many places since the American-led invasion.

The above is from Michael Luo's "Even Picking Up Trash Is a High Risk in Baghdad" in this morning's New York Times. It's a portrait of the 'liberation,' of the 'democracy' that the Bully Boy keeps insisting is there or on the way or will be some day if everyone will just agree to ignore the deaths and killings and give a couple more years to the illegal war sold as a 'cakewalk.'

Not everyone's so agreeable about 'cakewalking' From Here to Hell. Lloyd notes the AP's "British General Calls for Pullout 'Soon' From Iraq:"

Britain's new army commander said British troops in Iraq are making the situation worse and must leave the country soon, according to an interview published Thursday.
Gen. Richard Dannatt said the British military should "get ourselves out sometime soon because our presence exacerbates the security problems," according to the interview with the Daily Mail released on the paper's Web site.

"Whatever consent we may have had in the first place" from the Iraqi people "has largely turned to intolerance," he said. The Defense Ministry and Prime Minister Tony Blair's office said they could not immediately comment.

"Army could be broken by Iraq, warns chief officer" by Tim Shipman (Daily Mail) *provides you with the link to the earlier reporting as well as video.* Those needing or wanting an audio report can refer to yesterday's The KPFA Evening News. And you'll get much more from that audio broadcast then you will from Democracy When which can't be bothered with much more than a few lines and a suggestion that you go to their website where they interviewed him in August -- as they put it at the time: "In a Democracy Now! broadcast exclusive, we speak with Sgt. Ricky Clousing" blah, blah, blah.

That's all it is. Blah, blah, blah.

They got their "exclusive" and now that Clousing has been sentenced, it's just a headline to be dismissed with quickly -- not even a lead headline. What it is, actually, is what Goodman noted of the New York Times' protest coverage, "A MATTER OF EMPHASIS." And let's stop kidding that it's "going where the silence is." But expect to hear the pitch requesting money and the guilt trip about how if you don't donate the show can't continue to . . . do what Rebecca's termed the "Baby cried the day the circus came to town" coverage. It's not cutting it.

Not at last night's big east coast gala was April Johnston which is why she can cover the story and does in "AWOL Bragg soldier pleads guilty" (Fayetteville Observer)

Clousing, 24, was a military intelligence interrogator who left Fort Bragg in June 2005, shortly after returning from a five-month deployment to Iraq, where he supported the 82nd Airborne Division’s 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment.
It was the atrocities he witnessed while there that compelled him to leave, he said.
"My experiences in Iraq forced me to reevaluate my beliefs and ethics," he told the judge. "Ultimately, I felt like I could not serve."
[. . .]
After Clousing received his sentence, they lined up to shake his hand, pound his fist or throw an arm around his shoulder.
Though Clousing knows that many people, and especially soldiers, do not understand or sympathize with his decision, he said he would make that decision all over again if given the choice.
"I'd rather spend a year in jail than participate in an illegal war and be part of the machine suppressing Iraq," he said.

You can also check out Laurie Goodstein's "A Soldier Hoped to Do Good, but Was Changed by War" from the New York Times. Which did cover yesterday's events. I'd love to have woken up today and be able to write about the amazing job Amy Goodman did and how it really taught the Times a thing or two but that's not reality. Reality is that the Times showed up for work today and Democracy Now! is promoting a film -- not a documentary. Reality is that the Times covers what happened yesterday. That's reality.

People may not like to hear it. Some didn't like it being pointed out that FAIR shouldn't slam The NewsHour for not having a peace activist on (October '05 through March '06) when FAIR's CounterSpin didn't provide a peace activist as a guest in the same period. Too bad, that's reality. And I really don't think you slam The NewsHour (which, for the record, I hate) for only having one woman for every four male guests you present when CounterSpin presents one female guest for every three males. (See "Are You On CounterSpin's Guest List?")

We're all supposed to stay silent on that, look the other way. I won't. Clousing matters and independent media is where? Going to where the silences are, this morning, apparently means lengthy clips from a theaterical film. Now if Janet Coleman covered that on WBAI, fine -- she does an arts show. But the idea that promoting a 'dramatic recreation' qualifies as news is kidding yourself. Devoting an hour last week to an infomercial for Bill Moyers' latest PBS offering was kidding yourself as well. Tim Robbins (whom I like) is discussing what the film provides "on a pure entertainment level". This is 'news' today. Maybe next they can track Survivor or do any of the other staples of the big three's morning talk shows?

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[C.I. note: Post corrected thanks to Polly catching my mistake. Shipman's article covers today. In it are links to earlier coverage.]

NYT: Laurie Goodstein covers Ricky Clousing's court-martial

Sgt. Ricky Clousing went to war in Iraq because, he said, he believed he would simultaneously be serving his nation and serving God.
But after more than four months on the streets of Baghdad and Mosul interrogating Iraqis rounded up by American troops, Sergeant Clousing said, he began to believe that he was serving neither.
He said he saw American soldiers shoot and kill an unarmed Iraqi teenager, and rode in an Army Humvee that sideswiped Iraqi cars and shot an old man’s sheep for fun -- both incidents Sergeant Clousing reported to superiors. He said his work as an interrogator led him to conclude that the occupation was creating a cycle of anti-American resentment and violence. After months of soul-searching on his return to Fort Bragg, Sergeant Clousing, 24, failed to report for duty one day.
In a court-martial here on Thursday, an Army judge sentenced Sergeant Clousing to 11 months in confinement for going AWOL, absent without leave. He will serve three months because of a pretrial agreement in which he pleaded guilty.
"My experiences in Iraq forced me to re-evaluate my beliefs and my ethics," Sergeant Clousing said, sitting stiff-backed in the witness chair. "I ultimately felt I could not serve."

The above is from Laurie Goodstein's "A Soldier Hoped to Do Good, but Was Changed by War" in this morning's New York Times. That's right, you can read about Clousing's court-martial in the New York Times. Couldn't hear about it or read about it on/in most independent media yesterday. Is the article perfect? No. For instance, "Five sat in the courtroom on Thursday, in uniform, waiting to hear clues about their future in the judge’s sentence." Who are the five?
But the reality is that the New York Times covered it. Looking at the e-mails this morning, people note that they heard about a gala on the east coast, they heard upcoming appearances, they just didn't hear about Ricky Clousing -- whom Goodstein was able to speak to. In fact, yesterday, before the court-martial, Clousing held a press conference but independent media wasn't interested either.

If you're going to finger point at big media, you probably need to be covering what you say matters. For instance, if you think that The NewsHour should have had at least one peace activist on from October 05 through March 06, it's probably a good idea for you to have put one on your own program. Anyone who is confused by that can refer to The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Are You On CounterSpin's Guest List?" which has a planned follow up piece for this Sunday.

You should also check this morning's gina & krista round-robin for a strong critique of the ignoring of Iraq by a member whose brother ships out to Iraq this month.

Turning to Iraq (and biting my tongue), Kirk Semple and Qais Mizher report on the Wednesday attack on a TV station in Baghdad with "Gunmen Kill 11 Employees of a Satellite Television Station in Baghdad:"

Neighbors who witnessed the raid reported seeing assailants in police uniforms, but government officials denied that their forces were involved and said they had opened an investigation. Security officials have said that crimes are often committed by people wearing stolen uniforms.
The attack began about 7 a.m. when five sport utility vehicles and a pickup truck with police markings pulled up in front of the station headquarters in southeastern Baghdad, witnesses said. The gunmen stormed the house and shot everyone they found, employees and witnesses said.
Two employees were seriously wounded and left for dead. They remained in critical condition in a Baghdad hospital late Thursday, Iraqi police and the station’s staff members said. An employee and his two daughters, who were asleep on the rooftop, managed to escape unharmed.

On the same topic, Martha notes Ellen Knickmeyer and Naseer Nouri's "Gunmen Attack TV Station in Baghdad" (Washington Post):

"The killing police left the scene after killing those Iraqis," said Saad Saleem, a 43-year-old teacher who lives near the house where the station is located. Gesturing at police who responded to cordon off the station after the killings, Saleem said: "These police arrived only later. For us, Iraqis, we cannot tell the difference."

Supposedly, the uniforms are stolen and supposedly a switch to a new version of uniforms will address the issue. Are the vehicles stolen as well? With all the alleged theft of uniforms in the last few months, you'd think, were it true, police officers would be left to patrol Baghdad in their underwear at this point.

Again, the Times covered Ricky Clousing's case. Dropping back to yesterday's question: Where was independent media?

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

And the war drags on . . .

"Denial is killing us."

It certainly is. Today, I spoke to a group of students and one brought along her mother. Until a few weeks ago, as the woman discussed, she didn't pay attention to the war. She made a point to avoid it.

What changed? Her son ships out the 22nd of this month to Iraq. He signed up before the Iraq war and he wasn't going to have serve there, that's what he told her. She avoided the Iraq war in the news which isn't very hard to do. It usually meant skipping one story in the paper a day ("if that," as she noted). She's preparing dinner during the evening news and the news magazines "aren't really interested in Iraq." The only thing her son's stated that he's worried about is storing his car but he thinks the military will pay for that (this is what he's told her) so when he gets back, he won't have any hassles.

She's not sure how much truth she's getting from him as opposed to sugar coatings to keep her from worrying. Right now what she's pinning her hopes on are:

* That he makes it home safely in seven months.
* The November elections.

The press? She's not pinning any hopes on the press. When she first learned he was going to Iraq (it was in a week at that point then it got moved back to the 22nd of this month), she stopped "hiding" and started trying to immerse herself in what was going on in Iraq. There's a day here, there's a day there in the print and broadcast media. She's been reading books (and cited Aaron Glantz' How America Lost Iraq as the best she's read).

She said it's not very difficult to avoid the topic of Iraq if "you try a little, it's not like it's anything that the media's interested in." Her biggest disappointment? Independent media.

Her daughter's a community member and has written about this for tomorrow's gina & krista round-robin so be sure to check your inboxes tomorrow. (I checked with both ___ and her mother to be sure that it was okay to include what's noted here.)

The mother spoke very movingly and explained that she was in denial thinking if she avoided the issue, it would protect her son. "But it didn't," as she noted. The three of us went to lunch after (one of the reasons the snapshot was so late today) she asked a question she's asked everyone she knows: How can she stop him from going?

She can't. The answer she gets from everyone. He's an adult. If he refuses to deploy (there's no indication that he will), it will have to be his decision. She blames herself and she doesn't need to. Yes, she could have paid attention to the war before this but it's a natural impulse for many who have a loved one that could be involved. I know people involved with fire fighters or police officers that avoid breaking local news for the same reason.

People like that especially need others to pay attention. There are people to blame for not paying attention but someone who can't deal with facing the possibility isn't anyone I'd blame.

She knew about Ehren Watada but that was really it. (She and her daughter haven't been able to talk about the war, she wouldn't listen when her daughter would bring it up.) Ricky Clousing was offered as a war resister and we were filling her in on him and his case today.

She couldn't belive someone was being court-martialed for resisting the war and the news was no where. But that's the reality of today and those who e-mailed about this statement in today's snapshot: "WHERE THE HELL WAS INDEPENDENT MEDIA?" -- that's the background on it. No one complained about it in the e-mails. But some did enjoy that it was "finally in a snapshot" (to quote Keesha).

So Ricky Clousing had a court-martial today and did you even hear about it or read about in the media? Did your day start with a heads up to it and a note that there would be a rally today, that he would speak to the press? Where was independent media?

Clousing? He was on his own. He was at the mercy of the big media which has not demonstrated a great deal of interest in the subject.

The AP was there. From the AP's "Paratrooper gets three months confinement for going AWOL:"

A Fort Bragg paratrooper who says he left his military base because he disagreed with the U.S. mission in Iraq was sentenced to three months of confinement after pleading guilty Thursday to going absent without leave.
Sgt. Ricky Clousing, 24, of Sumner, Wash., also will receive a reduction in rank before getting a bad conduct discharge. His plea allowed him to avoid a more severe sentence for desertion.

Where was independent media?

David Miner, Clousing's attorney, is quoted as saying that Ricky Clousing doesn't regret his decision (by the AP). Good for him. He shouldn't. He should be proud of himself, he's demonstrated true bravery. But any war resister who wants to complain about the lack of coverage has every right to do so. Bob Watada is on his second speaking tour and who's interviewing him and who isn't?

Mark Wilkerson is in a state of limbo, awaiting to hear what charges will be brought against him. He was a one day news cycle and, if he's charged, after his hearing he might get another one-day cycle. It doesn't cut it.

There have been some improvements. The Nation has upped their coverage. One piece by Katrina vanden Heuvel that I don't believe we noted was "Quagmire Accomplished" (which ran on Tuesday at their site).

Mark Mericle is covering Clousing right now on The KPFA Evening News but that's been one of the few exceptions when it came to providing coverage on Iraq. He's also covered a story I haven't heard of today, about a woman who interrupted Bully Boy's energy speech today by yelling "Out of Iraq now!" and, as she was being pulled out, yelling, "What are you doing? You're killing us!"

He is. So is the silence, so is the denial. Again, I'm not going to slam anyone who's in denial because they're not ready to deal with picturing a loved one in the service being sent to Iraq. I am willing to slam media, big and small, which won't address the war.

This summer, a movement got traction, the war resistance movement within the military. It got traction via word of mouth, it had very little assistance from independent media and it still has very little traction in the independent media. Marcus forwarded an e-mail (it's already been noted at the mirror site) and we'll note it here:

"In Iraq, we are fighting an immoral war, much the same as Vietnam was 40 years ago. Today's soldiers, armed with the knowledge gained from watching Sir! No Sir! have the potential to rise up and stop another war that should have never started. Get this into the hands of our troops in Iraq and just wait for the movement to erupt."--Tim Goodrich, Co-Founder of Iraq Veterans Against the War
Ehren Watada, Katherine Jashinski, Agustin Aguayo, Mark Wilkerson--The past few months have seen a sharp rise in GI resistance, spearheaded by these and other courageous individuals who are publicly refusing deployment to Iraq and speaking out against the war.
In honor of the growing resistance in the military and as Veterans Day approaches, WE HAVE SLASHED THE PRICE OF THE LIMITED EDITION DVD of Sir! No Sir! from $19.95 to $14.95. If you haven't yet bought the DVD, now is the time to do so. Buy the film, show it to friends, and organize house and public screenings to support GI and veteran resisters from Vietnam to Iraq.
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We are also now offering new books that are essential reading for those who want to support GI resisters--what we call the GI Movement Trilogy:
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The first and most thorough portrayal of the Vietnam GI Movement.
--The Spitting Image by Jerry LembckeThe book that exposes the myth of spat-upon Vietnam Vet.
--Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq by Peter Laufer
The first book describing the experiences of current military resisters.
These books are now available at
We also want to take this opportunity to urge you to buy, watch and spread The Ground Truth, Patricia Folkroud's incredible film that reveals the brutality of American military tactics in Iraq through the eyes of the soldiers themselves, and chronicles the burgeoning resistance among today's "War on Terror" veterans.
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[Tim Goodrich spoke out against the war many times, including at the World Tribunal on Iraq in June of 2005.]

War resistance within the military is only one area of resistance against this war. The war the Bully Boy lied a nation into, the war big media sold you and the war small media lost interest in has many strands of protest. Each one of them is needed to stop the war.

"Denial is killing us," said a mother today. "You are killing us," screamed a woman at the Bully Boy. Why?

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.

-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Thursday, the total number of US troop fatalities stood at 2738. Right now? 2758. That's twenty additional deaths since last Thursday. It stands at 45 for the month. As the war drags on, the numbers climb. For Iraqis, a study published in The Lancet gives the best estimate thus far, approximately 650,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the illegal war. 'Freedom,' 'liberation,' are the buzz words of Operation Happy Talk but the reality is corpses. As George McGovern noted today on KPFA's The Morning Show, the cut & run started the second the administration "cut & run on reality and common sense" and it's only continued. The 'plan' (as opposed to the buzz words) was documented by Naomi Klein in "Baghdad Year Zero" (Harper's magazine).

While some paid (with their lives, their limbs, their loved ones), some stuffed their pockets. Such as with the next highlight, Brenda notes "Ex-Army Corps of Engineers employee pleads guilty to taking payments" (AP) on Gheevarghese Pappen:

A former U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employee pleaded guilty Thursday to taking almost $50,000 in bribes from a Kuwaiti real estate agent while working to get apartments for U.S. personnel stationed in Kuwait and en route to Iraq, officials said.

You can pair the above with "American Accused of Taking a Bribe for Work on Iraq" (credited to "The New York Times") which addressed the case of Bonnie Murphy:

A former Pentagon employee accepted gold jewelry worth thousands of dollars for illegally steering nearly $6 million in contracts to an Iraqi company for work at a sprawling American military base adjacent to Baghdad’s main airport, according to an indictment released yesterday by the Justice Department.

You can also pair it with this from Amit R. Paley's "Parliament Approves Measure Allowing Autonomous Regions" (Washington Post):

Also on Wednesday, former electricity minister Aiham al-Sammarae was convicted of corruption and sentenced to two years in prison. Afterward, U.S. troops took custody of Sammarae, who holds dual Iraqi-American citizenship, because he feared being killed if he was placed in jail, said government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh.

I've pulled probably sixteen paragraphs from this. I'm sure members can supply their own critiques of what we've gotten instead of Iraq coverage. But, more importantly, check out the round-robin tomorrow morning for a member writing about how her brother's about to be shipped to Iraq. It contains a blistering critique of independent media and I doubt any member will disagree with her or be offended by her examples.

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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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Ricky Clousing stands trial today (and will the media cover it?)

The American-financed rebuilding of an Iraqi police headquarters that was meant to show a new approach to reconstruction has instead turned out to be rife with shoddy construction and is exposing security forces to unnecessary risk, a federal oversight agency said yesterday.
The criticism has come in the midst of an intensive American push to train and equip a police force capable of restoring order to Iraq's increasingly violent streets.
The headquarters project, in the ethnically divided and volatile northern city of Mosul, is the second police-related contract to face harsh criticism recently. Two weeks ago, the same oversight agency told Congress of grotesque plumbing failures and other problems at a $72 million police college in Baghdad.
In the earlier project, most of the criticism was directed at Parsons, the American contractor hired by the United States Army Corps of Engineers to carry out the work with the help of Iraqi subcontractors. But this time, in a step the Army Corps has said will eliminate some of the construction problems, the work was contracted directly to a local Iraqi company.
But the Mosul police headquarters project, a $988,000 contract that was much smaller and presumably simpler than the earlier one, suffered some of the same troubles, according to a report released yesterday by the agency, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.

The above is from James Glanz' "U.S. Agency Cites Flaws in Another Iraqi Construction Project" in this morning's New York Times. Within the daily US papers, this has turned out to be Glanz' beat and, should he choose to explore this in book form, he'd have a better and more useful book than anything his peers at the paper can produce on Iraq (that includes a much laughed at proposal making the rounds currently). It's the story of Iraq, behind the WMD lies, behind the 'democracy' and 'liberation' talk. It's Naomi Klein's "Baghdad Year Zero" (Harper's magazine) over and over and there's a reason for that. And if you don't get that, please read Klein's article -- one of the most important pieces written on Iraq. We'll drop back to this topic in a moment but today is Thursday, October 11th. From Courage to Resist's"Sgt. Ricky Clousing to face Court Martial for Desertion Charge TODAY! " which, again is today:

Clousing and attorney to hold press conference at 10am
Supporters to gather at Noon in Fayetteville, N. C.
Sgt. Ricky Clousing to face Court Martial for Desertion Charge today Oct. 12Clousing and attorney to hold press conference at 10amSupporters to gather at Noon in Fayetteville, N. C.
Ricky Clousing at press conference outside Veterans for Peace conference on August 11, 2006 photo by: Jeff Paterson
Sgt. Ricky Clousing, who served as a U.S. Army Interrogator in Iraq in 2004 and 2005 has been charged with desertion by the Army and will face court martial on Thursday, October 12 at Ft. Bragg in North Carolina. Prior to the court martial Clousing and his attorney, David Miner, will hold a press conference at 10am at the Quaker House in Fayetteville, NC (223 Hillside Ave) and at Noon supporters will rally in downtown Fayetteville to demonstrate their support for Sgt. Clousing. Clousing left Fort Bragg, North Carolina where he was stationed in 2005 after returning from Iraq with the 82nd Airborne Division. He had been AWOL until August 11th, 2006, when he called a
press conference in Seattle, WA coinciding with the annual Veterans for Peace national convention.
At the press conference, Clousing went public with his stand stating, "In Iraq I operated as an interrogator and was attached to tactical infantry units during daily patrol operations. As an interrogator I spoke to Iraqis each day. This gave me an idea of what local civilians thought of coalition forces. Throughout my training very appropriate guidelines for the treatment of prisoners were set. However, I witnessed our baseless incarceration of civilians. I saw civilians physically harassed. I saw an innocent Iraqi killed before me by US troops. I saw the abuse of power that goes without accountability. Being attached to a tactical infantry unit and being exposed to the brutalities of war, I began to doubt and reconsider my beliefs."

Read entire statement...
Later in the day, he turned himself in to Fort Lewis military police where he was confined for two days and then ordered to report to Ft. Bragg. If Clousing is convicted for desertion he faces up to a year confinement and a bad conduct discharge.
The 82nd Airborne of the United States Army has opened two parallel investigations into disclosures made by Sgt. Clousing about the abuse of power and lack of accountability of the U.S. Military in Iraq, but has not yet released the findings of this investigation. Clousing will testify at his court martial about the abuses he witnessed while serving in Iraq and the defense may call other witnesses.
In response to charges related to his 14 months absent-without-leave, Ricky stated: "Since I left the army I have known that being court martialed was a possibility I could face. I am at peace with my decision. I followed my conscience and, if need be, I will feel honored to join the ranks of others who have been prosecuted for doing the same."
Clousing does not claim to be a conscientious objector, as is defined by the U.S. military, he is opposed to the war and occupation of Iraq based on his firsthand experience in country, which brought him to the conclusion that the Iraq war is a "war of aggression" that has "no legal basis to be fought".
Donations are urgently needed for legal fees. Please
DONATE today! For breaking news and for updates about actions you can take to support Sgt. Clousing visit:

Get the word out and I'm sure we can expect the usual silence on this topic from the usual sources. All the more reason to get the word out. Returning to the topic of disaster capitalism and who profits, Erika noted "American Accused of Taking a Bribe for Work on Iraq" (credited to "The New York Times") which covers the case of Bonnie Murphy:

A former Pentagon employee accepted gold jewelry worth thousands of dollars for illegally steering nearly $6 million in contracts to an Iraqi company for work at a sprawling American military base adjacent to Baghdad’s main airport, according to an indictment released yesterday by the Justice Department.

Not mentioned in the Times today is Ayham al-Samarrae who is, however, covered elsewhere today. From Martha's highlight, Amit R. Paley's "Parliament Approves Measure Allowing Autonomous Regions" (Washington Post):

Also on Wednesday, former electricity minister Aiham al-Sammarae was convicted of corruption and sentenced to two years in prison. Afterward, U.S. troops took custody of Sammarae, who holds dual Iraqi-American citizenship, because he feared being killed if he was placed in jail, said government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh.
Dabbagh said that the Iraqi government had demanded his return and that the Americans agreed. "The government of Iraq expects that the Americans will respect Iraqi juridical authority," he said.
Lou Fintor, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy, said he could not comment because "federal privacy law prohibits us from releasing information concerning U.S. citizens in the absence of a Privacy Act waiver."

You really need to think about the above. It demonstrates that Iraq has no legitimate government, no legitimate authority. No surprise there, it's been a puppet government all along. But the US is willing to run in and pull custody? What other countries can you think of where that would happen?

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