Saturday, November 04, 2006

Other Items

Snyder, 23, of Colorado Springs, Colo., said a deal had been reached for a discharge, but he found out he would be returned to his unit at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. His troubles are complicating efforts for those among the 220 American soldiers who fled to Canada and want to return to the United States, according to lawyers, soldiers and anti-war activists. "Nobody's going to come back from Canada anymore," said James Fennerty, a Chicago-based attorney who represents Snyder and other AWOL soldiers. Several soldiers who went to Canada have said they don't want to return to Iraq. Sgt. Patrick Hart, who deserted the Fort Campbell, Ky.-based 101st Airborne Division in August 2005, a month before his second deployment, said he felt misled about the reasons for the war. "How can I go over there if I don't believe in the cause? I still consider myself a soldier, but I can't do that," said Hart, a Buffalo, N.Y., native who served more than nine years in the military. "The whole story behind it, it all feels like a big lie," Glass said. "I ain't fighting for no lie."

The above was noted yesterday. It's an AP article entitled "AWOL Soldiers On The Outside Looking In" and we'll note that Brett Barrouquere is the author of it. E-mails note that it's being carried by many sites and papers. In addition to that, "One Day After Surrender, AWOL Iraq War Resister Flees Again; Says Military Reneged on Deal to Turn Himself In" is the Democracy Now! interview that Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez did with Kyle Snyder yesterday (listen, watch or read). Kyle Snyder is part of a movement of resistance to war within the military. He is only one of the many who have gone public. Others include Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Aidan Delgado, Jeremy Hinzman, Brandon Hughey, Patrick Hart, Corey Glass, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Kevin Benderman, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Robin Long, Ryan Johnson, Clifford Cornell, Katherine Jashinski and Agustin Aguayo.

More 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. In addition Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

It is a movement and it needs to be covered. When covered by independent media, I'm not speaking of Democracy Now!, as members have pointed out, it is too often covered in a "Whatever you may think about . . ." Carl noted an interview, aired on the radio (not a Pacifica program, or an Air American program, for those who can't figure out who hedged bets -- it should be obvious), where the host had to include those qualifiers. Carl noted that such was not the case on other 'acceptable' topics.

I'm glad Carl pointed that out, because I had forgotten it. It is true. Some who do cover it, weaken the coverage by acting as though they're working for NPR or the mainstream media (NPR is the mainstream). Why is that?

And why is that so many in independent media refuse to cover the story of war resisters? Early on, this may have been right before or right after the illegal war started, there was a couple who were both being deployed to Iraq, the husband and the wife. They had children and they were stating that one parent needed to remain with the children. (Rightly stating.) I never read the coverage of that (I'm thinking I was on the road speaking out against the war during it's brief coverage by the press) but I heard about it from a 'left' friend who stated an opinion of "shouldn't have signed up." (The 'left' friend was for the war.) The opinion was that they should have known war was always an option. Should they have also known that the military would be so insane as to attempt to deploy both parents?

Should they have also known that age old notion of just and unjust wars would be tossed aside? (If Bully Boy and Blair's fall 2002 bombings had goaded retaliation, then they could have fashioned a Gulf of Tonkin type cover, Bully Boy didn't even have that). The oath is to defend against all enemies foreign and domestic. It doesn't included "real and manufactured."

If you're against the war, you're for ending it. If a troop refuses to deploy, whether or not they self-check out, to stand up against an illegal war they're showing bravery and you undercut that with your attempts to 'frame' the issue. (I'm not sure the person Carl's referring to is interested in this decade's hulahoop; however, the way that interview was set up strikes me as either using the hulahoop or trying to find cover for what you're about to present.)

After the election cycle is over, it'll be interested to see what happens with independent media outlets and the coverage. When even Adam Nagourney (always one to pick and spin from -- he put out the phoney 'values voters' myth -- then decried it months later without noting his own part in co-writing the faux 'report' that led to the myth being accepted) noting Iraq in his election coverage, it may be that some who are rediscovering Iraq in the last few weeks are doing it just to advance or gas bag about the election. After it's over, if they continue to ignore the war resisters and the peace movement, I think we'll all have some answers. We may not be happy with the answers, but we'll know where the outlets stand.

There hasn't been much life or bravery in independent media on the subject of the war. There's been hide behind the generals, there's been, "Oh look, ___ cheerleaded the war but now he's back in the fold!" (It's always a "he.") I'm wondering how many of those producing independent media accepted the lies of the revisionary history on Vietnam because, to judge by the coverage, either a lot have or they're too cowardly.

If you need an example, try this. The Nation's strongest cover statement of the year on Iraq is going to be that the generals are revolting? (No laughs, they meant they were uprising against the machine.) If they think, all outlets, that they have to water it down for 'the people,' they're not following the polling. The turning against the war did not come this year. To judge by the majority of independent coverage (of what passes for it), you'd think it was April 2003 and not November 2006. The transplant in need of a hair style (length isn't the issue, the fact that the hair is so hideous is an issue) can trash Naomi Klein all he wants (and he obviously wants to very badly) but Naomi Klein didn't have to wait for polling, she didn't have to wait until everyone was ready for a dialogue. The fact that Americans are now ready for a serious dialogue and independent media that can't cover those who self-check out of the military is AWOL is rather sad. Actually, they aren't AWOL. Their months and months of ignoring this topic qualifies for desertion. When Russ Feingold called for withdrawal, where was The Nation's cover story or The Progressive's? A US senator called for withdrawal. Where was the coverage?

Neither appears able to find the peace movement even if you take them by the hand and lead them to it. (You can lead the press to protest but you can't make them attest?) You can get a cover story on Hillary Clinton, in 2006, because she might run for president in 2008, but you can't get a cover out of Russ Feingold? (Or of Ted Kennedy shortly before that.) An opinion journal, which is what The Nation is, is supposed to help shape opinion as well as inform. It's whole reason for existance is to float opinions, expose them to wider circulation and, thereby, influence.

It hasn't done with regards to the war. Thirty years from now, someone stumbling across the complete 2006 print copies of the magazine in an attic will probably have a difficult time determining that the United States started an illegal war that continued to wage in 2006. Tom Hayden's piece on the peace makers meet up in Jordan never ran in the print version. The coverage of Ehren Watada didn't run in the print version. The coverage of Kyle Snyder? The coverage of Kyle Snyder is like the coverage of Ricky Clousing, Darrell Anderson and Mark Wilkerson, non-existant. Same with the coverage of Troops Home Fast, Military Families Speak out's efforts this summer, Camp Casey, Camp Democracy . . .

Do we really need a text equivalent of the chats & chews in terms of topics? That's seems to be what most of 2006 has provided. Don't point to your web only exclusives, or something you said on a program. People pay for the print editions (I've subscribed forever) and if you're not choosing to put into print, you're sending a message that it's not as valuable. It's worth tossing online to have some 'new content' but it's not worth printing. That may not be the intended message, but it is the message received.

Independent media sorely needs to demonstrate some independence. Hiding behind the Harry Reids isn't independence. Harry Reid is an awful 'leader.' Forget the abusive legislation that's come out of Congress, for years (which could be overturned by acts of Congress), we will be living with two Supreme Court Justices who are not qualified and do not represent most Americans. One of them replaced Sandra Day O'Connor who wasn't a 'moderate' but such are the times that she's seen as one. That's a lifelong history of damage and the blame goes to Harry Reid because he was supposed to be leading the opposition in the Senate. From issues of reproductive rights to public interest and everything in between, the public will suffer because of those two votes for years and years to come. Instead of 'exploring' the mainstream media's topic of the week (providing an alternative perspective), the magazines need to be informing about the real alternatives. Example, if Time and Newsweek are gas bagging about Hillary's run in 2008, there's no reason for The Nation to cover Hillary. We don't need an 'alternative' understanding of Hillary Clinton (who's been widely written about for over a decade now). We do need to know about members of Congress who stand up. A John Conyers cover story would be an alternative to the mainstream coverage of Hillary Clinton. Offering instead a cover story on Hillary reads like a copy of one of Marvel Comics' old What If? series.

And it begins to reinforce the 'there two sides to every coin' bromide when, what independent media should be reinforcing, there are actually a wide variety of coins. Not just the ones bearing the face that the mainstream media chooses to shine a spotlight on this week. I like The Nation, I've subscribed for years but as we head towards the four year mark of the illegal war it needs to be to stated that the coverage isn't cutting it.

A few weeks back, when they started their student nation page, I thought we'd provide a link to that. Then I started hearing the complaints from high school students and college students over and over. Their points are valid and they don't feel they're being spoken with (they do feel talked down to), that they're being engaged or that they're being represented. Ty said readers loved "Eisenhower Democrats" to note who The Nation was covering (see "Oh, that 'campus' beat") and they were wondering who came up with that. I was on the road at the beginning of the week so I didn't find out about that until Friday night. If you got an e-mail from Ty answering that, he's correct that I tossed that out. But I didn't coin it. It came from a student activist in Iowa.

The coverage isn't cutting it and if people think it is, they need to get out more. They need to leave their own circles and explore the country because it's not cutting it. Saying that isn't a "war on The Nation." I read the magazine, I subsribe to it. (There's a magazine we will never again note here short of a management change -- which needs to come quick from rumors of its impending death. Visitors could call that ignoring of the magazine "a war" on it, if they wanted to, but when something's beyond hope, I don't waste my time.) There are so many "wars on" that visitors detect. I supposedly have a "war on Damien Cave" (of the New York Times). I have no particular feelings about Damien Cave as a reporter. He's been praised, he's been slammed. That's based upon what makes it into print, what I know behind it (such as a story being heavily shopped around to other outlets that passed -- rightly) and possibly some talk around the Times passed on by friends.

You can argue I have a "war on" Dexter Filkins. Linda Greenhouse gets slammed for a private speech she gives to college alumni. She 'expressed opinions!' (That happened to reflect the opinions that the paper shares in their editorials.) Dexter Filkins didn't just out the Green Zone portion of the paper (in speech after speech, only one of which received mainstream coverage) he insulted them. I don't think there's anything I've ever typed here (even when bored or angry) that was as insulting to those with the paper reporting from the Green Zone as Dexy's take on 'what really happens.' (Like most of his 'what really happens' takes, it came many years after and was in contradiction to everything he'd ever stated in interviews or reported.) For those who didn't grasp it, the reporter Dexy Filkins' much publicized speech said the war was lost. That is an opinion (one I happen to share). But Linda Greenhouse is the one publicly humiliated and taken to task? It's not as though she shared tales out of school about other reporters at the paper. Dexy did. And he also offered his opinions, which is Greenhouse's supposed crime.

Now the mainstream media picked up on that speech. (With fawning coverage of 'truth teller' Dexy.) That speech has been given on campuses for some time. The paper should be aware that wasn't Dexy's first visiting of that topic.

If Judith Miller got the US into war all by herself (as some would have you believe), it's the Dexys who kept American blind to the reality of the war. Allowing the military to determine an interview? Allegedly allowing the military to vet his copy? Whining that Paul Bremer waited until his book to talk about what was 'obvious' to everyone at the time (while Bremer was in Iraq) when, in fact, Dexy didn't report on that (he never mentioned it until he did that laughable book review of Bremer's book)? Turning in some of the most laughable pieces to ever run in the New York Times (including the period when he thought he was Loretta Young playing 'girl reporter in the war zone')?

The Times, post Dexy (as he was preparing to leave) did start get honest about where they could go and where they couldn't (in their actual reporting, this was noted). They got honest about realities outside the Green Zone as well. They could get a lot more honest but there's not one reporter filing from Baghdad right now that doesn't have a byline on a better article than anything Dexy filed. If Tavernise, Sabrina Tavernise, goes wonkish, I'll go off. No one has done a better job of exploring the humanity of this war (at the Times) then she has. I'm not interested in hearing Russell Crowe sing, I'm not interested in reading Tavernise goes wonkish. It's not her strength. Her strength is looking at the chaos around her and finding a way to tell that in understandble terms to the readers. Kirk Semple, Michael Luo, Damien Cave, Richard A. Oppel Jr., Paul von Zeilbauer, all of them have pieces they can point to with pride. The same can't be said of Filkins. His pieces didn't hold up in real time and they don't hold up now. They were and remain an embarrassment on every level (including his attempt to be a sob-sister in his final days -- "So solider, you gotta' a girl back home?"). Even Michael R. Gordon has things in his resume he can be proud of. His strength is in reducing everything to numbers and stats and there are stories where that strength works. (When it doesn't, I'm laughing as I read and laughing as I type up a comment here.)

Juan Forero's 'reporting' gives me a headache. I loathe Juan Forero's 'reporting.' Even before membership decided the focus would be Iraq, a member had to beg and beg to get me to address his 'reporting' because it gives me a headache just to read his spin. If I'm choosing to ingore someone or some outlet, it's because I feel it's beyond hope. Nothing's going to change it, no comment, no observation will ever make a damn bit of difference.

Has the Times gotten that much better? A friend at the paper swears John F. Burns has passed his fed-up point with the lies that the press is regularly told. (If I hold back on anyone, it is Burns because of a friend's view. I hope that bears out.) It has gotten better in the Iraq coverage. But it's also true that it doesn't have a lot of competition from independent media.
And it's honesty (in print, about what can be verified and what can't be) has probably lowered my own expectations.

But whatever negative criticism Damien Cave and Paul von Zeilbauer got for their daily coverage during the summer (they also got praise, though that's never noted by visitors), the fact is they continued to cover Iraq. Some days they did it well (by Times standards), some days they didn't. But when independent media took the summer off from the topic, they remained covering it. (And that was noted here in real time as well.)

To expect The Nation to live up to its stated goal and to criticize it when it doesn't isn't a "war." If the magazine was useles, it would be like another magazine that got delinked and will never be mentioned here again unless management changes. (The "In Style" for the 'left.') You've got a refusal to stand by stories, you've got a jerk who ripped off Mike, you've got a wishy-washy attitude on the war (though they'll point to the cover story, by an outside writer, that they did in 2005), you've got a pointless magazine that's not worth highlighting, not worth handing out a gold star too. It's tanking and if its demise occurs before The Third Estate Sunday Review closes shop (November of 2008 is the plan) we have the parody send off already prepared. Otherwise, it does not exist. That's a "war." At this site, if I'm commenting on something, it means that I think it can be better (and should be). If I'm ignoring something outright repeatedly, over and over, I think it's a lost cause and we should all move on. (Members don't always agree and they get the final word.)

Going through the public account e-mails today, I saw a lot of visitors complaining about this war or that war. You're not part of the community and I really don't care what you think. The community is too large as it is, has been for some time, which is why Brad always jokes about thinning the herd. One caring soul wanted to suggest that "mocking never works, more flies with honey and all that stuff."

We dealt with "Don't Knock the Mock" in our first months of existance. A 'left' blogger was offended that Jimmy Dobson had been called a Fool on the Hill here and wanted to lecture at his site. (As Rebecca would say, of course it was a man.) He wrote an 'inspring' piece of crap about how we had to learn to communicate with James Dobson. It was the sort of crap that only an anti-feminist could churn out because feminists have been charting the war waged by the Dobson types since the eighties (actually the end of the seventies). Go read Gloria Steinem's Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions and you'll find that some 'astute' commentators in the last two years were rather late to the party (though they got a great deal of credit -- even though a number of observations appear word for word in that book -- no surprise, the 'astute' were males). But back then, the 'left' was enthralled with the myth of 'values voters.' They just knew that the 'vangical voters could be swayed. Not by stating positions clearly and strongly, not by an honest dialogue. But, by trickery and hulahoops.

Historically ignorant and probably leery of women's rights (and all rights to non-straight, White males), they rushed in to disown abortion. They had little flags and crosses on their sites just knowing that there was going to be stampede to the Democratic Party if they could just disguise a bit and drop a lot more. There was no running of the bulls. The peeling off wasn't even significant. And you have to be historically ignorant of the ebb and flow of conservative churches in this country to think there would be.

But don't mock? Don't undervalue humor. The mock would be most successful, aimed at the administration, if aimed at Alberto Gonzales because he's someone who truly cares what people think. (Which is why Dems in the Senate should press hard when he appears before it. He sweats, he gets nervous, he starts to reveal and then, when it's time for the next Dem, you get some dumb ass wanting to hear the sound of their own voice instead of following up on what just happened.) (Republican senators are very aware of this quality in Gonzales. It's why they rush to the rescue and pile it on so thick.) That's why he removed the drape, he didn't want to be the national joke that John Ashcroft was. That's why he gets caught in lies. He's probably the most concerned about public opinion of anyone in the administration. (Rumsfled and Cheney don't give a damn. They came of age on the outside and they feed off scorn.) (Bully Boy is oblivious to reality and, on the rare occassion when it does intrude, he looks visibly stunned.)

Saturdays are a pain in the ass because I try to wade through as many of the public e-mails as I can. No one's working the public account on the weekend other than me. If you're a visitor and you want to have your say on something, someone will read it. (Martha & Shirley are now officially working the private accounts in addition to Ava, Jess and myself. Eli's working them on Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks to all for that.) As for going up at the site, unless you're a reporter who's been commented on here (by name), we don't care. We don't care that you think Harry Reid has a 'secret plan' for bringing new life into the Democratic Party. I don't even care enough to structure a response other than the obvious: Really? By squeezing all life out of it first?

We don't care about the the group of troops spelling out that they remember 9-11. Is that supposed to be news? Has anyone forgotten 9-11? Instead of 'remembring' it, try understanding that Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11. It neither supplied nor trained hijackers.
It had nothing to do with 9-11. (But Jess said that photo popped up repeatedly in the e-mails.)

If you're a reporter and you want to disagree in private, it will be read by me eventually. I will not do a response. I'm not interested in a having a private conversation, I have enough conflicts of interest as it is. But it will be read and it will be factored in. (And has been the site started.) If you want to have your say here, it will go up here. Not in bits and pieces, in full. Felicity Barringer remains the only one who wanted to disagree and wanted it noted publicly. Again, agree with her or disagree with her, she had the guts to go public. Due to the response from the members over that, should anyone else want to go public, it will probably result in two entries. One where they have their say (unedited except by them) and one that contains a response. Originally, it was have your say, I've had mine already.

But I don't have the time to deal with e-mails from members who feel that this statement isn't accurate or that one wasn't, which was the result of Barringer's comments. (Though no one ever asked, my opinion was she was sincere in her opinion and I believe I personally disagreed with every one of them. She had a right to have her say, my personal opinion. I also know that even those who disagreed with her strongly, have read what she said more than once because e-mails from members continue to note her response. They still don't agree with her but they do not what her opinion was.)

If you are e-mailing about an event, you need to give lead time. There is no way, even with others working the acounts, that all e-mails are going to be read within 24 hours. It would help if you'd note what it was and the date in your heading. That would make it more likely for it to be read. I'm not interested in Democratic events. There are plenty of places to read about that online. We will note Green events when possible because we do have Green members, Greens get less attention, and I'm not trying to push a party off anyone. (Gina and Krista's polling found that 71% of members responding identify as Democrat.)

We're a site for the left. We don't link to the right. There was a blogger recently who wanted a link and I've stated here that I will try to do that for anyone who is starting a site because e-mails have made clear how difficult it can be to start up for some. If you can't reply to an e-mail I wrote asking if you're right wing, you don't need to be asking for a link. And after the many stabs in the back Rebecca got from the 'girl' bloggers, if you don't reply to such an e-mail, I note it to everyone in the community so they won't waste their time linking to you either.

[For those not aware, Rebecca has had support from some 'girl' bloggers who 'love what you write and let's trade links!' but then they never could. "You're too contorversial right now. Give me a week or two." I didn't know about that in real time. I only found out when Elaine subbed for Rebecca the first time and called me to say she was cleaning up Rebecca's blogroll and why. Those who'd done Rebecca that way that were linked from this site were pulled. Rebecca's a lifelong friend, we've known each other since college, and you jerk her around and you cease to exist in my book. It pisses me off, and I'll wrap this up quickly because I will go into non-work-safe language if I stay on the topic, that so many wanted to write those 'let's stick together because we're women' b.s. e-mails to Rebecca and got their links and then refused to link to her. All those sites are forever banned at this one. They will never be noted. They will never be linked. They are a joke and an embarrassment run by scared little girls who wanted to ride Rebecca's readership but didn't want to publicly be associated with her. One even requested -- and was 'loaned' money by Rebecca -- 'loaned' because that was about two years ago and it was never repaid. In my book, you are a joke. Your little ditherings about your vactions and your inability to address the war make you a joke. No, you make yourself a joke, your posts only reflect that. At the end of each day, Rebecca's made a difference with her readers and all you've provided was a distraction.]

I think that basically sums up vistor e-mails except for the 'concern' expressed by one who wanted to advise that "You could get mentioned on ___ if you would tone down" criticism re: Iraq. For the record, the site, not me, was mentioned on ___ in our first year. I didn't see that as a highpoint or as a cause for celebration. I've purposely avoided those type of entries since then to avoid being mentioned on ___. Your measure of success ("you could really make some money") fails to grasp that I don't need to "make some money," that I'm not interested in making "some money," that I'm not interested in gas bagging on radio or TV. Cokie Roberts has been ritually crucified -- they cut off her head and a million Cokies sprung up to replace her -- some of which were supposedly going to 'change it all.' Before there was Cokie Roberts, there were millions in different eras. There always will be. The concerned closed with "And reporters would mention you if you were nicer to them." I'm not interested in "nice," thanks all the same. And though my comments (humor or serious) may shock some, I grew up around the deciding group, not the reporters filing stories. My comments on reporters are far less damning than anything I heard as a child in the living room or dining room. If it's a shock to you (or a reporter) that's the reality of how they're discussed.

I have friends who are reporters and I'm not trying to insult them (though I know the phone will ring as soon as it goes up), but the 'power' of the reporter is a myth for the most part. Woodward and Bernstein, with Watergate, became stars. Since that time, the mainstream media needs to inflate to justify the guests they bring on their chats and chews. But there really aren't 'stars' these days. And in any era, there really weren't. Not working within the mainstream. They are the paid employees. They're spoken of the same way any other worker is by the boss. If that bursts any bubbles, sorry. It's a comic book creation -- Clark Kent, Brenda Starr -- it's just rarely reality (and rarely has been reality).

Having dispensed with the visitor e-mail (if you get a reply in an e-mail, you had something worth responding to -- and that's always the case though I tend to focus on the inane e-mails here) we'll wrap up quickly. Brenda notes this from Reuters:

But after a reporter called to ask about the deployment and news of it began to spread, senior commanders ordered Specialist Cardona to stay in Kuwait, fearing he and his unit could be singled out by insurgents because of his role at Abu Ghraib.
Later on Friday, they announced that he would return to his base at Fort Bragg, N.C.
The Army offered no explanation as to why Mr. Cardona's unit commanders had planned to deploy him, given his record in Iraq. The abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib came to light after pictures of it were discovered in 2004.

That's an update to something noted in yesterday's snapshot:

In other news of deployment status, Jamie McIntrye (CNN) reports that Santos Cardona will be sent to Kuwait and not Iraq, the Army has decided, due to the fact that Cardona was the "U.S. Army dog handler who was convicted of abusing detainees at Abu Ghraib prison". As to how he's been allowed to remain in the service? In June, Santos was "sentenced . . . to 90 days hard labor and a reduction in rank . . . found guilty of derelecition of duty and aggravated assault" (AP). The prosecution had recommended a discharge for bad conduct but apparently the actions fit into someone's understanding of 'service' and Cardona has managed to remain in the military instead of being drummed out of the service.

The question of how they thought they could get away with that and what sort of a message that sends to the ranks will go undiscussed because the chance to discuss the lowered standards (a very real concern for career service members) passed this week. To the slogan we don't note here add "blindly": "____ ___ _____ Blindly." And superficially. That was the message when all the spin and counterspin, from both camps, was over.

We'll also note Sabrina Tavernise's "7 U.S. Troops Die in Iraq; U.S. Intelligence Chief Visits:"

The American military, meanwhile, announced the deaths of seven more American troops. All were killed Thursday, three in a roadside bomb in eastern Baghdad and four in the roiling western province of Anbar in sniper and bomb attacks.
Hidden killing continued across the capital, with 83 bodies and a severed human head found in the two days ending Friday. At least nine other Iraqis died in violence on Friday, Reuters reported, including a freelance journalist, a singer, a taxi driver and a gas station employee.

[. . .]
The tale of a kidnapped American soldier took a fresh turn on Friday, with a relative saying that kidnappers had demanded a $250,000 ransom for his release. Entifad Qanbar, a former associate of Ahmad Chalabi, identified himself as the soldier's uncle and said by telephone from Baghdad that American officials working for his release had met with an intermediary trusted by the kidnappers earlier this week.
[. . .]
The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said on Friday that it lacked the money to care for the soaring number of Iraqi refugees inside and outside the country. A spokesman, Ron Redmond, told reporters in Geneva that just two-thirds of its $29 million budget had been financed, and that some employees were going without salaries.

Jonah passes on this regarding two WBAI programs (broadcast over NYC airwaves, you can also listen live online and WBAI archives broadcasts as well):

Sunday, November 5, 11am-noon
Author/actor/Green guberanatorial candidate Malachy McCourt holds forth.
Monday, November 6, 2-3pm
Pianist Simone Dinnerstein on her debut recital at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; actress Megan Dodds on her solo performance in The Royal Court Theatre's long-awaited production of "My Name is Rachel Corrie,"; and novelist Heidi Julavits on "The Uses of Enchantment," her Rashomon-like novel about a high school girl who vanishes and returns to accusations that she faked her abduction. Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer.-
--Cat Radio Cafe, online at

And it's the weekend which means RadioNation with Laura Flanders, on Air America radio, online, XM satellite radio, live at 7:00 pm EST till 10:00 pm EST Saturday and Sunday:

The least watched races could affect women and people of color for years to come. We'll hear from South Dakota, on the battle over the nation's meanest abortion law, with women's health advocate CHARON ASETOYER and feminist author and Nation writer JENNIFER BAUMGARDNER. Plus civil rights attorney KIM CRENSHAW on Michigan, where an initiative to end affirmative looms. And plans to Video the Vote with film maker IAN INABA and Guerilla News Network's ANTHONY LAPPE.
As an Iraqi court delivers its verdict on Saddam Hussein, Iraqi law expert SCOTT HORTON on its timing, how it was planned and the reaction. Our media roundtable features the Nation's KATRINA VAN DEN HEUVAL and syndicated Cape Cod Times columnist SEAN GONZALES. Plus election protection experts ELLIOT MINCBERG of People for the American Way and WARREN STEWART of VoteTrustUSA.

The e-mail address for this site is And I'm still going through the public e-mails. To the person with the hotmail account, your highlight will be noted tomorrow. I just saw it and it's about an event on Monday.

And the following community members have updated their sites since Friday 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

At Kat's Korner, Betty filled in on Monday, Ruth filled in on Wednesday, and I filled in last night.

NYT: John F. Burns offers an analytical look at Iraq

The cycle of discord and strained reconciliation that has broken into the open between Iraq's Shiite-led government and the Bush administration has revealed how wide the gulf has become between what the United States expects from the Baghdad government and what it is able or willing to deliver.
Just in the past 10 days, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has rejected the notion of an American "timeline" for action on urgent Iraqi political issues; ordered American commanders to lift checkpoints they had set up around the Shiite district of Sadr City to hunt for a kidnapped American soldier and a fugitive Shiite death squad leader; blamed the Americans for the deteriorating security situation in Iraq; and demanded speeded-up Iraqi control of its own military.
The estrangement has developed despite the two governments' mutual dependency. The Maliki government needs the United States for the protection its 150,000 troops afford, and without which, most Iraqi politicians agree, the country would slide into full-blown civil war. For the Americans, success for the government that won a four-year term in January's elections seems central to any hope for an orderly American disengagement from Iraq.
Without doubt, there has been an element of political grandstanding by Mr. Maliki that reflects his need to rally support among fractious Shiite political partners and the restive masses they represent. With American pressures focusing on the need for political concessions to the minority Sunnis by the majority Shiites -- the principal victims of Saddam Hussein's repression, and, since his overthrow, the main targets for Sunni insurgent bombings -- the prime minister cannot afford to be seen to be at America’s beck and call.

The above is from John F. Burns' "For U.S. and Top Iraqi, Animosity Is Mutual" in this morning's New York Times. (It's marked "News Analysis.") A friend was mentioning this yesterday on the phone (and swearing that after the trial is over -- we don't cover that trial here -- Burns will be reclaiming his 'mantle') so yesterday evening this was a topic of discussion among everyone who dropped by.

Here's the consensus. The US election gives Nouri al-Maliki manuever room. Which he is using. Anyone who doubts that needs only remember that the slaughter of Falluja in November 2004 was on hold until after that year's election. This is the period where the US administration is at its weakest and the puppet government can step out a bit. al-Maliki's also quite aware of the rumors of his impending US overthrow. If that's attempted or happens, he needs the support of Iraqis. If he's hoping to have a strong resistance to an overthrow (or dreaming he can be reinstalled if overthrown -- he can't, this isn't Venezuela and he's not a popular figure like Hugo Chavez), he needs to demonstrate some sort of spine to inspire people to support him and he needs the backing of Muqtada al-Sadr. If he is replaced (by the US government) life (whether he flees Iraq or stays) won't be very easy due to the fact that he's consistently demonstrated his inclination to act whenever the US administration pulls his strings. Using the power he has during the brief time before the upcoming US election, he's called off the checkpoints in the Sadr City section of Baghdad and announced that would be happening before he met with the US officials. (Right before that meeting started.)

He's a puppet but the consensus is that he may forget that post-election or refuse to return to that role in which case he'll be out. He's not a popular figure within Iraq (he's devisive). So it's seen as a lose-lose situation for al-Maliki once the elections are over.

That was the consensus. Here's my two-cents worth (I may be overappraising the value), he's demonstrated he has no vision for Iraq. At a time when he actually has a bit of power, he's used it to make 'grand' statements (he and others in the puppet government) that not go against the wishes of most Iraqis (foreign troops on Iraqi soil for several years to come). (If you survived only due to living in the heavily fortified Green Zone, you wouldn't want foreign troops to leave either.) He's done nothing to improve the daily life except for those in Sadr City. (The checkpoints led to protests and the lifting of them was well received by the residents.) He could have forced the US administration's hand on reconstruction during this period. Electricity, water, he could have picked just one and used the weeks leading up to the elections to get the US administration to pull out the stops on one project. That would have had real effect. He didn't. He doesn't think big, he thinks of save-his-own-ass. That is the thought of a puppet, which is what he is, but it's not thinking of a leader. (Also reflected in his repeatedly missing the official deadline as well the unconstitutional extensioned deadlines he gave himself.)

His 'four-point' plan (most news consumers only heard about the first two steps) was a joke (and worse). Worse in terms of the curbs on the press. Joke in terms of all the praise he received for stealing an idea that not only did he not come up with, but that originated outside of his government as a result of the chaos and violence his leadership couldn't or wouldn't address. (Neighborhoods came up with the idea of security councils and put them into place.)

Mia notes Sharon Smith's "Those Damned Democrats" (CounterPunch):

Meanwhile, the sometimes-antiwar liberal Todd Gitlin anticipated a post-election "rebirth of liberalism" on the Guardian website, predicting that the Republican Party's misfortunes will allow "American liberals" to "dare lift their heads and contemplate long-unimagined possibilities."
A "revolution" without struggle?
To be sure, the Democrats are likely to benefit from mass discontent against the Bush administration. But if the Democratic Party does finally manage to eke out a Congressional majority from the scandal-ridden Bush regime, Democrats should not congratulate themselves prematurely. The Republican Party is imploding due to its own outrageous "stupidity" and "arrogance", as senior U.S. diplomat Alberto Fernandez recently described in an interview with Al-Jazeera television.
This election has been declared a referendum on the Iraq war. But no Democratic congressional leader has called for a fixed deadline for troop withdrawal. And the Democratic Party has refused to articulate a coherent alternative to the over-riding aims of the Bush administration, merely continuing its long-standing and calculated orientation to the swing-voting "center"-while disparaging its own antiwar voting base. This has resulted in continuing the rightward shift in mainstream U.S. politics rather than challenging it.
James M. Lindsay, a former national security official in the Clinton administration, justified Democrats' reluctance to call for withdrawal. "The problem is you also have to win the general election," he argued. "You don't need to appeal to people who have made up their mind and had a bumper sticker on the back of their car for the last four years."

Mia wasn't sure what to excerpt so she copied and pasted the entire article. I chose to start with ribbit-ribbit. Smith's worth reading in full.

There will be a second post. I'm just moving slowly this morning.

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Friday, November 03, 2006


This is a scan of the KPFA ballot. It's not to be used as a ballot (and won't be accepted if it is). I'm about to do a guest entry for Kat and she had asked me to note the elections at her site.
And it has been noted in this entry.
Posted by Picasa

Iraq snapshot

Friday, November 3, 2006.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, US war resister Kyle Snyder tells his story to Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez on Democracy Now!, the Giddiest Gabor in the Green Zone mistakes himself for Jackson Pollock, Bully Boy finally wins at a poll but it's doubtful he'll be happy, nearly 60 corpses are discovered in Baghdad, eight US troops have died since Wednesday, John Dimitri Negroponte heads to Iraq for a surprise visit, and the US air force goes on a spending spree because, hey, it's not their money.
On Saturday, US war resister Kyle Snyder returned to the US from Canada where he'd self-checked out to in April 2005.  Tuesday, he turned himself in at Fort Knox only to learn that the arrangement between the US military and his attorney, James Fennerty, was being tossed aside.  At which point, Kyle Snyder self-checked out again.
Today, he spoke with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez for Democracy Now! detailing his experiences in Iraq and Canada. Synder detailed the promises of recruiters and how they mirrored the empty promises of the agreement the military offered Synder's attorney:  "They can verbally promise anything, but once you are in their custody they can do anything they want with you."  Between the broken promises of recruitment and return came the assignment to tasks he wasn't trained for.  This is the point of the stand Melanie McPherson has taken. McPherson was trained to be a journalist for the military  (at Fort Meade, MD) in April 2000 and then, just as her contract was winding down, she gets orders to report to Fort Bliss to ship out to Iraq.  She reports on July 23 of this year and discovers she'll be serving in Iraq as a military police officer, something she has not been trained.  McPherson tells her own story here (scroll down).
Jim Fennerty was also a guest and he explained that the military wants to send him (Snyder) to Fort Knox (KY) and that he can't get a call returned from Fort Leonard Wood (MO).  Fennerty also addressed the issue of another of his clients, Ivan Brobeck.  Brobeck is from Virgninia and went o Canada after serving seven months in Iraq.  Like Synder, Brobeck arrived in Canada in April 2005.  Unlike Snyder, Brobeck is in the Marines.  Fennerty spoke of the different processes in the different branches of the US military and that "Ivan will be taken into custody" and "he'll be placed in the brig" at which point he would most likely face a court-martial.
Snyder stated to the following when asked by Goodman what he would say to other soldiers:  "To the soldiers that are in Iraq, for the third or fourth time.  A lot of them are scared to make decisions about moral and consientious choices, they're told by their commanders that they can't make these decisions  Just follow your heart if you feel that you need to be in Iraq and that you're doing the right thing, that's fine and I understand that. But if you feel like you're doing the wrong thing, please speak out.  The G.I. resistance is very important in changing the policits of this country right now and I feel that as G.I.s start coming out that's what's going to stop this war.  And that's the only thing that's going to stop this war. As far as the soldiers that are in Canada right now, I love every single one of you, just know that whatever happens here, just keep that in mind, and I'll be keeping in contact with them."
On those still in Canada, Brett Barrouqere (AP) spoke with US war resisters Corey Glass and Patrick Hart who are currently in Canada.  Glass is now reconsidering his own decision to return from Canada and both Glass and Hart consider the war to be based on lies.  Glass states, "After what they did to him [Kyle Snyder], I don't see anybody going back."  Hart says, "I could see going back under some kind of amnesty program or something like that.  But I don't trust them."
More 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.  In addition Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.  On the latter, Courage to Resist is asking supporters to call 502-624-2707 to speak to Major General Robert M. Williams and tell him "Discharge Kyle Snyder!"
In other news of deployment status, Jamie McIntrye (CNN) reports that Santos Cardona will be sent to Kuwait and not Iraq, the Army has decided, due to the fact that Cardona was the "U.S. Army dog handler who was convicted of abusing detainees at Abu Ghraib prison".  As to how he's been allowed to remain in the service?  In June, Santos was "sentenced . . . to 90 days hard labor and a reduction in rank . . . found guilty of derelecition of duty and aggravated assault" (AP).  The prosecution had recommended a discharge for bad conduct but apparently the actions fit into someone's understanding of 'service' and Cardona has managed to remain in the military instead of being drummed out of the service.  On a similar note, AP reports that Steven D. Green has been indicted in a civilian court (he was discharged from the military before the allegations were public) in Kentucky for the "premeditated murder in the death of Abeer Kassem Hamza al-Janabi, her father, mother and 6-year-old sister in the central Iraqi town of Al-Mahmudiyah.  Green is accused of raping the teen and then killing her after rounding up and killing her family with the help of other soldiers in his unit."
And in Iraq today.
CNN reports that mortar rounds in Baghdad claimed the lives of three and left six wounded.  Reuters notes four police officers dead in Madaen from a roadside bomb, two young males dead from a landmine in Kut, and three people dead from a roadside bomb in Baghdad.  (CBS and AP note: "Police Lt. Thaer Mahoud said the death toll in the rush hour bombing of a crowded market in Baghdad's Sadr City district Thursday had risen to 11 on Friday, with 51 reported wounded." Yesterday, the known dead from that bombing was seven.)
Reuters notes that "Resan al-Sayab, a local singer" was shot dead in Baghdad, while, in Kirkuk, a preacher (Sunni) and a gas station worker were shot dead (the preacher Thursday night), the shooting death of "a bodyguard of Shiite cleric Sadiq al-Hakim" near Najaf, and a cab driver shot dead in Baghdad.
Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reports that 56 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes that the corpse of Abdul Majeed Ismael Khalil, freelance journalist, was discovered in Baghdad in addition to the 56 other corpses and that a severed head was found as well.
Today the US military announced "Three Marines assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died Nov. 2 from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province," "One Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died from injuries sustained due to enemy action Thursday while operating in Al Anbar Province," "Three Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldiers died at approximately 2:15 p.m. Thursday when the vehicle they were riding in was strcuk by an improvised-explosive device in eastern Baghdad."  That makes eight reported deaths for US troops since Wednesday.  Iraq Coalition Casualties currently lists the toll for the month thus far as 11 dead (and 2829 dead since the start of the illegal war) which would indicate more announcements will be made later today or tomorrow.  All as Italian troops prepare to leave Iraq and the so-called coalition continues to suffer from shrinkage.
Activst, author and Vietnam vet Ron Kovic (Truthdig) reflects on the wounded US troops in Iraq, noting that he was paralyzed January 20, 2968 while serving in Veitnam, and describes the moments after: "They are being put on a helicopter, with the wounded all around them.  They try to stay calm.  Some are amazed that they are still alive.  You just have to keep trying to stay awake, make it to the next stage, keep moving toward the rear, toward another aid station, a corpsman, a doctor a  nurse someone who can help you, someone who will operate and keep you alive so you can make it home, home to your backyard and your neighbors and your mother and father.  To where it all began, to where it was once peaceful and safe.  They just try to keep breathing because they have got to get back. . . .  They are alone in their rooms all over this country, right now.  Just as I was alone in my room in Massapequa.  I know they're there -- just as I was.  This is the part you never see.  The part that is never reported in the news.  The part that the president and vice president never mention.  This is the agonizing part, the lonely part, when you have to awake to the wound each morning and suddenly realize what you've lost, what is gone forever.  They're out there and they have mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, husbands and wives and children.  And they're not saying much right now.  Just like me they're just trying to get through each day."
As for the man responsible for so many US troops wounded and dead, for so many Iraqis wounded and dead, the polls haven't been very kind to him of late.  However,
the Guardian of London is reporting that Bully Boy is 'Top of the Pops' in a new poll [ICM polled Isreal, Canada, Mexico and England for the poll].  Before Laura breaks out the good china and heats up the Frito Pie, the survey found that 69 percent of British respondents "believerd US policy had made the world less safe since 2001"; that 71 percent of British respondents felt the illegal war "was unustified, a view shared by 89% of Mexicans and 73% of Canadians"; and it "ranked President Bush with some of his bitterest enemies as a cause of global anxiety." 
Anxiety was in the air as John Negroponte made a surprise visit to the heavily fortified Green Zone area of Baghdad.  What exactly was the Director of National Intelligence doing in Iraq?  Advising the death squads?  Paying them off?  He was a long way from Honduras or Nicaragua.  John O'Neil (New York Times) reports that Negroponte had no public statements (proving he's smarter than the Giddiest Gabor in the Green Zone). Al Jazeera reminds that Negroponte "had served as the American ambassador to Iraq before the current envoy Zalmay Khalilzad."  For those who've forgotten, it was his security detail that fired at the car carrying Giuliana Sgrena who had just been freed from her kidnappers.  Nicola Calipari was in the car and killed.  Sgrena sustained serious injuries.  As AFP notes, the trip followed Stephen Hadley's (National Security Advisor for the Bully Boy administration) trip by three days and followed the video conference held last Saturday. 
Staying in the Green Zone for news of the Giddiest Gabor, as Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted, Willie Caldwell made a surprising remark yesterday.  Apparently inspired by the 140 million dollars a painting by Jackson Pollock fetched the other day, Little Willie decided to jazz it up a bit.  Briefing the press yesterday, the Giddiest Gabor began with a presentation including slides ("Slide please").  The presentation included the following prepared remarks (note, this was not in response to a question, this was part of the presentation): "A transition is not always a pleasant thing to watch as it happens.  But when common goals are achieved, speed bumps and differecnes of opinion along the way are soon forgotten.  Every great work of art goes through messy phases while it is in transition.  A lump of clay can become a sculpture; blobs of paint become paintings which inspire."  As most know, there's no scarier stage than when a starlet fancies herself an artist.
Meanwhile, after requesting what Reuters called "a staggering 50 billion in emergency funding for fiscal 2007," the US air force quickly handed out contracts. Lockheed Martin got 30 million, DRS got $6.3 million, L-3 got $42 million and Boeing got a whopping $229.8 million. The whisper-it-to-the-press-but-don't-attribute 'reason' for the request in emergency funding is that, otherwise, wounded and dead US troops might not make it home.  The shopping spree calls that 'reasoning' into question. 
In more money being burned news, Thom Shanker and David S. Cloud (New York Times) report that the Pentagon is created a new office which will include the "rapid response unit" that they hope and pray will make all the reality vanish the way those waves of Operation Happy Talk used to.  Remember the discolored fingers?  Remember the any-day-now turned corner?  Even most of the press sees new attempts at waves as a wipe out so the Pentagon intendes to dispense with the messenger and lie directly to the people.
Until then, some reality news still comes out.  James Glanz (New York Times) reports that Stuart W. Bowen Jr. will be outed from his post as Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction next October as a result of Congressional legislation that no one in Congress appears able to explain or even able to figure out when that section entered the bill. 
In election news, Carol Britton Meyer (TownOnline) reports that, in Massachusetts, Mary Sochacki, Shirley Brown, Katharine Sangree, and Chartis Tebbetts were among those members of the South Shore Peace Forum gathering signatures to put a resolution on next Tuesday's ballot "calling for an immediate end of the war in Iraq".
In other peace news, US war resister Mark Wilkerson reflects on his time in Iraq and notes: "Before I deployed to Iraq during OIF1, I was full of optimism for what we could do to help the people of Iraq.  One of our missions, after all, was to 'win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.'   And in that regard, we have failed miserably.  In the year I was in Iraq, I saw kids waving American flags in the first month.  Then they threw rocks.  Then they planted IEDs.  Then they blew themselves and others up in city squares full of people. The only conlcusion I can come up with as to why this happened is the way the American troops have treated the Iraqi people as a whole.  From random raids of whole city blocks, to checkpoints that interrupted the daily lives of the Iraqis, to incidents of torture and even massacres, a majority of Iraqis now feel as though the American soldiers, once hailed as heroes and saviors, are now seen as conquerors."    Wilkerson still awaits news on what the army intends to do now that he's returned from his self-check out.
Wilkerson isn't the only war resister who has said no to war and still awaits a decision/ruling.  Keeping the issue front and center,  Ehren Watada's father Bob Watada and his step-mother Rosa Sakanishi continue their speaking tour to raise awareness on Ehren -- the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq. Upcoming dates include:

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 (Chinatown)
Sponsors: 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,
Nov 7, 4:30PM  Portland, ME Location: Meditation Center Sponsor: Veterans for Peace, Chapter 1 Contact: Doug Rawlings, 207-293-2580,,
Nov. 7, 6-9PM Brunswick, ME Location: Morrill Room, Curtis Memorial Library, 23 Pleasant Street Pot luck supper and speaking engagement Time: 6 - 7:30pm

Nov 8, 7PM Albany, NY Sponsor: VFP National Location: TBA
Contact: Elliot Adams, 518-441-2697,
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.

We have the perfect Group for you. Check out the handy changes to Yahoo! Groups.

Other Items

Investigations led by a Republican lawyer named Stuart W. Bowen Jr. in Iraq have sent American occupation officials to jail on bribery and conspiracy charges, exposed disastrously poor construction work by well-connected companies like Halliburton and Parsons, and discovered that the military did not properly track hundreds of thousands of weapons it shipped to Iraqi security forces.
And tucked away in a huge military authorization bill that President Bush signed two weeks ago is what some of Mr. Bowen's supporters believe is his reward for repeatedly embarrassing the administration: a pink slip.
The order comes in the form of an obscure provision that terminates his federal oversight agency, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, on Oct. 1, 2007. The clause was inserted by the Republican side of the House Armed Services Committee over the objections of Democratic counterparts during a closed-door conference, and it has generated surprise and some outrage among lawmakers who say they had no idea it was in the final legislation.

The above is from James Glanz' "Congress Tells Auditor in Iraq to Close Office" in this morning's New York Times because when you don't like what's being revealed, get rid of the inspector. Just like when you don't like the reality emerging, create fantasy -- and effort which Thomas Shanker and David S. Cloud detail in "Pentagon Widens Its Battle to Shape News of Iraq War:"

The Pentagon is reorganizing its public affairs operation in an attempt to influence news coverage, amid internal frustration at the tone and substance of reporting on Iraq and on Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.
The expanded office, which was first described by department officials in an informal press briefing on Monday, features a "rapid response unit" to react to news reports. It is also stepping up efforts to arrange appearances by department officials on talk radio and cable television, and to recruit "surrogates" who are not on the department's payroll to defend its policies.
A dozen new staff members have started to work behind a newly installed wall in the Pentagon’s press office.

Meanwhile, Italian troops prepare to leave Iraq. The US military announces one death and also three deaths of US troops in Iraq. And 56 corpses are discovered in Baghdad.

In the Times, Paul von Zielbauer's "Father of Missing U.S. Soldier Says Son Just Made a Mistake in Quest to Find His Calling" attempts to flesh out the story of the US soldier who has been missing since last week, Ahmed Kousay al-Taie, however, there's nothing on when he married and that is a key point since the date has changed/evolved as the story has been covered by the media. (His mother wants it noted, and von Zielbauer notes it, that he comes from a family of Shia and Sunni Iraqis. He sees no division.)

Kirk Semple's "General Plays Down Discord Between U.S. and Iraqis" addresses the ongoing tension between the puppet and the US (which will probably be addressed right after the US election) and notes this about al-Taie:

The manhunt has angered some American troops in Iraq, who have privately complained that the military should not expend any additional resources, or put any troops at further risk, to search for a soldier who had violated military rules and exposed himself to danger by leaving his post without military protection.

It should be noted that some Iraqis have doubts about the current where abouts of al-Taie and believe his disappearance is being used as an excuse for the actions that led the residents of the Sadr City section of Baghdad to protest (and led Nouri al-Maliki to lift the checkpoints during the day).

And, as noted last night, Steven D. Green has been indicted. From the AP:

Steven Green, the former Army private arrested in the March rape and slaying of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl while he was on duty south of Baghdad, was indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday on 17 counts of murder, sexual assault and obstruction. Twelve charges carry the death penalty.
The 22-page indictment issued in Louisville, Ky., accuses Green, 21, of premeditated murder in the death of Abeer Kassem Hamza al-Janabi, her father, mother and 6-year-old sister in the central Iraqi town of Al-Mahmudiyah. Green is accused of raping the teen and then killing her after rounding up and killing her family with the help of other soldiers in his unit.

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Kyle Snyder needs your help

Since going to Canada to avoid another deployment in Iraq, Corey Glass has thought about returning to the United States.
But after hearing about the travails of fellow former soldier Kyle Snyder - who surrendered to the military but was ordered to return to his unit instead of being discharged - Glass may not return at all.
"They're not going to win the hearts and minds like that," said Glass, 24, who signed on with the Indiana National Guard in 2002.
Snyder, a one-time combat engineer who joined the military in 2003 to help pay for college, went AWOL on Wednesday, just 24 hours after surrendering at Fort Knox and 18 months after running to Vancouver, Canada, instead of redeploying to Iraq. Snyder, 23, of Colorado Springs, Colo., said a deal had been reached for a quick discharge, but he found out he would be returned to his unit at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. There the unit's commanding officer would decide Snyder's future.
Snyder's troubles are complicating efforts to have more of the 220 American soldiers who fled to Canada return to the United States, according to lawyers, soldiers and anti-war activists.
"Nobody's going to come back from Canada anymore," said James Fennerty, a Chicago-based attorney who represents Snyder as well as other AWOL soldiers.
Several of the soldiers who went to Canada and spoke out have said they don't want to return to Iraq. Sgt. Patrick Hart, who deserted the Fort Campbell, Ky.-based 101st Airborne Division in August 2005, a month before his second deployment to the desert, said he feels misled about why the war was launched.
"How can I go over there if I don't believe in the cause?" asked Hart, a Buffalo, N.Y., native who served more than nine years in the military. "I still consider myself a soldier, but I can't do that."
Glass echoed Hart and other deserters about why they went to Canada.
"The whole story behind it, it all feels like a big lie," Glass said. "I ain't fighting for no lie."

The above is from Brett Barrouquere's "AWOL soldier's travails give pause to others in Canada" (Associated Press). Associated Press, airing on public radio, college radio, some NPR stations . . . . (Yes, that was a joke.) The illustration is from The Third Estate Sunday Review and Rebecca was kind enough to freshen it up last night. Last Friday, when Mike Howell's
"U.S. army deserter ready to head home" (Toronto Star) broke the news that Snyder was returning Saturday, could you have pictured all the twists and turns in this story? Could you have guessed that independent media would be so uninterested it?

Snyder self-checked out, originally, in April 2005. Then he turned himself in at Fort Knox on Tuesday only to find out that the same military that lied to him (in recruitment and in training) was lying to him again causing him to check out again.

Maria passes this on from Courage to Resist (not up at the site yet, it's from an e-mail they sent out and will be up at the site probably later today):

Tell Ft. Knox Commander "Discharge Kyle Snyder!"
Kyle's future is uncertain and your phone call can make a difference. Forward this action alert to your friends!
Kyle Snyder, Iraq veteran and war resister, returned from Canada to turn himself in to Army authorities on October 31, 2006 at Fort Knox. Now he is once again AWOL after officials at Ft. Knox have reneged on a previously arranged deal with his attorney, Jim Fennerty, to discharge Kyle.
The Army broke its promise to Kyle and his lawyer, a promise which led Kyle to abandon his refugee claim in Canada and return to the U.S. in good faith."We wouldn't have brought him back here if we knew this was going to happen," Jim Fennerty said.
Instead of discharging him, as promised, the Army dropped him off at the Greyhound bus station in Louisville and told him to head for an ominous and uncertain fate at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
In fact, nobody in authority at Fort Knox has been willing to explain the Army's turnabout. Your phone calls can make a difference! Make the call today.
Commanding General of Fort Knox, Major General Robert M. Williams 502-624-2707

Demand that Ft. Knox honor their agreement to discharge Kyle Snyder.
If you can't reach him directly be sure to leave a message
Your donation toward Kyle Snyder's legal and political defense is needed!
Take Action to Support GI Resistance and GI Rights Dec. 8-10th!

How can it make a difference? Maybe you're asking that? Maybe you're independent media and you're asking that in a "Why should I bother to cover it" kind of way?

Darrell Anderson scared the hell out of them. For four reasons. 1) His mother, Anita Anderson, had made it very clear (and very public) that when her son returned, she'd be outside every day protesting. 2) Since he had married a Canadian citizen, he could have stayed in Canada. That's true of all war resisters in Canada but with Anderson, there was no threat of deportation because he was legally married to a Canadian citizen, Gail Green. 3) He was awarded a Purple Heart on his tour of duty in Iraq. 4) There was no attempt to help him (or most) with PTS. They didn't want that messy public fight.

With Ehren Watada, there's a measurement of how interested is the public? Have they lost interest? (No and Bob Watada's efforts continue to keep his son's name in front of the public.) So they bide their time despite the fact that the Article 32 hearing was in August. (Remember how quickly Ricky Clousing was court-martialed?)

So with Snyder, they looked at the situation and thought they could screw with him. He grew up in foster homes. Indymedia showed no interest in his story. Not even noting it until after he turned himself in and then just as a headline. They thought they had the perfect case where they could railroad him and no one would be looking.

Your call lets them know Snyder is not alone. Your call lets them know that Snyder might have fallen through the cracks as a child but he's not alone today. They don't want public, they don't want messy. They don't want to discharge him or anyone else but they will if they fear not doing so will result in more publicity.

Only by repeatedly lowering the standards were they able to meet some of their quotas this year. Kyle Snyder is their recruitment nightmare. If he gets attention, one urge will be to 'wrap it up quickly.' They don't want the attention, they don't want potential recruits to hear his story.

So be your own media, get the word out on Kyle Snyder and make that call.

The e-mail address for this site is

Thursday, November 02, 2006

And the war drags on . . .

Talking from Louisville, Kentucky, on a borrowed cellphone, 23-year-old U.S. army deserter Kyle Snyder informed the Georgia Straight he was about to turn himself in.
It was Halloween, and the Colorado-born Snyder was off to Fort Knox--about 55 kilometres from Louisville--to obtain what he hoped would be an honourable discharge from the U.S. military.
Snyder was scheduled to speak at an antiwar protest rally in Vancouver the previous Saturday, where thousands marched from Waterfront Station to the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery to demand that Prime Minister Stephen Harper bring Canadian troops home from Afghanistan. According to Juergen Dankwort of the War Resisters Network, who spoke to the Straight at the time, Snyder was a no-show because he was antsy about TV cameras ahead of his Fort Knox showdown.
"I think maybe he's nervous," said the Swedish-born Dankwort, a Kwantlen University College sociology instructor and Vietnam War--draft evader who came to Canada from New York almost 40 years ago. "I saw him the other night when we all had dinner."
(Accompanied by Vancouverite Gerry Condon, Snyder was in transit to Kentucky all day October 30.)

The above, noted by Vic, is from Matthew Burrows' "U.S. deserter misses Canada" (Canada's The Straight). Since that story was filed, there have been developments. And our Canada members whose names start with V both represent for this entry. Vince notes "U.S. deserter from Vancouver goes AWOL again" (Canada's CBC):

Snyder refused to report to his unit and said he is now in hiding in Kentucky.
He said if the matter isn't resolved soon, he'll return to Canada and apply for refugee status again.
Snyder also said he wants to warn other U.S. deserters to stay in Canada.
"Just don't come down. Don't trust it. I mean, if they're doing this on a case-by-case basis, like they said, then it's not worth it."
U.S. military officials could not be reached for comment on the case.

And with more on the story, Dick Foster's "AWOL soldier hides again as Army deal evaporates" (Rocky Mountain News):

Neither his attorney, Jim Fennerty, nor Gerry Condon, his sponsor from Project Safe Haven, a Seattle- based sanctuary for AWOL American soldiers, would reveal the whereabouts of Kyle Snyder, 23.
Now, Condon said, Snyder wants any deal with the Army in writing before he will surrender.
[. . .]
Fennerty said he thought he had brokered a deal for Snyder with Maj. Brian Patterson, the head of the Army's Personnel Control Facility at Fort Knox, Ky. Fennerty and Condon escorted Snyder from Vancouver, B.C., where he had lived for the last 18 months, to Fort Knox on Tuesday.
"We had an understanding with the Army officials at Fort Knox that he'd be in and out of their facility in three days with an other-than-honorable discharge with no further punishment," said Condon, a former Army medic who moved to Canada rather than accept orders to Vietnam.

Want to end the war? Treat the peace movement like it matters. Grasp that Kyle Snyder's story is one you should be sharing. And it's obvious we can forget about any assistance on that from independent media. For more on that topic, check your inboxes tomorrow for the gina & krista round-robin, that's the topic of the roundtable. With Gina and Krista's permission, I brought a friend into the roundtable who could speak of how they covered the peace movement then compared to how today's press covers it now. You won't want to miss that. Especially the comparisons to mainstream media then and now contrasted with alternative media then and now. Isaiah's also done an illustration on the coverage coming from independent media. Eli contributes a column on the peace movement spanning decades. Three Cool Old Guys ask why all the experts in independent media tend to be White? Beth runs down the three questions that have popped up the most this summer and offers her thoughts on them. And much more. Polly understands that come Sunday morning, I'm just trying to throw something together as quick as possible and get back to the sessions for The Third Estate Sunday Review. So I rarely am able to note Polly's Brew. So let me plug it now. There will be a roundtable on the peace movements in England and the US. (Polly has one more slot open for a US member. If you're interested, e-mail her for the time on Friday that it's taking place.) Pru has a hilarious column about foreign correspondents entitled "Lost In England." Gareth and James in Brighton are putting together visuals from recent rallies. Mike and Goldie both have columns. Mike's not sure what he's going to write about but Goldie's going to explain how the news of Kyle Snyder has been received at her middle school. (Goldie's finished her column and it's very good.) DK is taking a look at the theatre as an agent of change. And Wally and Cedric will have a joint entry (not a humorous one) about their efforts to turn out the vote in their areas. Dominick has something planned as well but he's still working on it. (I will have a column but I haven't even thought of anything to write about yet, so I have no idea what it will be about. The column for the round-robin is on Abeer.) Polly's Brew hits inboxes Sunday morning.

And the peace movement hits independent media when?

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 2809. Right now? 2826. The passing of the 2800 mark received little attention. And are we surprised? After all this time, are we surprised? Here's something that might surprise, the toll thus far for the month of November is 8. It's the second day of November, the toll is eight. If the deaths for the month of October (105) are averaged out it comes to 3.52 deaths a day.

In other news, AP reports:

A former soldier in the 101st Airborne Division was indicted Thursday in the rape and death of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and the slayings of three of her relatives last March.
Former Army private Steven D. Green, 21, was charged with murder, aggravated sexual assault and conspiracy, among other offenses, in the federal indictment. If convicted, Green could face life in prison or the death penalty, a Justice Department statement said.

From Reuters:

The indictment charges that Steven Green, 21, and four other soldiers who are still in the Army sexually abused 14-year-old Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi, then killed her and her father, mother and 6-year-old sister. Green is accused of trying to burn the bodies to conceal the crime. Another soldier is charged with covering up the March 12, 2006, crime in Mahmudiya, Iraq.
Among the charges brought against Green were murder, murder in perpetration of aggravated sexual abuse, conspiracy charges, sexual abuse of a minor, and obstruction of justice.

Yes, Abeer and, yes, AP seems to not know her name to judge by that report. Steven D. Green spent the days before enlisting in jail. But let's not talk about the lowered standards Donald Rumsfeld has imposed upon the military, right? There was an effort, post-Vietnam, to professionalize the military but Rumsfled junked that to meet the quotas needed for the illegal war, but we're all supposed to look the other way. People in the military don't look the other way. Those who have elected to make it their life and chalked up years of service don't look the other way. But let's all pretend that Rumsfled has done a bang up job.

Why not? Everything else under the Bully Boy's reign has improved, right? Wrong. But we won't talk about that or about "The ones we never know." There's always something else to talk about, right?

And we wonder why the war drags on?

And who makes the money. Reuters reports:

The U.S. Air Force asked the Pentagon's leadership for a staggering $50 billion in emergency funding for fiscal 2007 -- nearly half its annual budget, defense analyst Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute said on Tuesday.
The request is expected to draw criticism on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers are increasingly worried about the huge sums being sought and approved "off budget" to fund wars, escaping the more rigorous congressional oversight of regular budgets.

Another source familiar with the Air Force plans said the extra funds would help pay to transport growing numbers of U.S. soldiers being killed and wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Times are tough for the air force. Supposedly. They need "extra funds" to just get troops home.
Probably be a bit more convincing if other news wasn't breaking. AP reports Lockheed Martin just got a contract for $30 million and that it will go to things such as "the Dual Miniature Inertial Measument Unit Single Startracker configuration for the Defense Meteorological Systems Group Flight 19 and 20." Doesn't sound like it's going to help troops return from Afghanistan and Iraq. But there's more. The largest contract announced today, according to AP, went to Boeing, $229.8 million, to produce "Wideband Gapfiller Satellite (WGS) Space Vehicle 4." L-3 got $42 million. 'Poor' DRS only got $6.3 million. None of its for the troops. It's for gadgets. The same military that couldn't provide body armor now prepares to spend a fortune so that the air force can fight in space (see previous) and cyberspace.

It's the same old story every war. Promises are made, then you come back wounded or the war is over and the government breaks the agreement. It's been going on since the days of George Washington (longer outside the United States). And when scare tactics may be on the way out, it's time for the greed to really kick in to squeeze those big money funds out of Congress. If the people don't have health care coverage provided by the government and the school systems are woefully underfunded, where does the money go? Not to the troops.

Kayla notes Thomas Farragher's "LAST OF FOUR PARTS: THE WAR AFTER THE WAR' I need to blaze my own trail'" (Boston Globe via Military Families Speak Out):

He'd worked until midnight, drank late-night beers with the boys, and as a mid-winter dawn broke, Andy Wilson stood in the rutted parking lot of a dingy after-hours bar, pointing his gun at a man who had pushed him too far.
"I snapped the other night," Wilson wrote in a mid-February e-mail. "I went out after work on Saturday and a friend of a friend decided to try to tell me what to do. I pulled my gun on him, fired a shot, and have no regrets."
He was lying about the last part.
Wilson had purposely aimed high and wide, and he was frightened and embarrassed by what he'd done. He apologized, drove the man home, and when he recounted the incident later that week to his veterans support group, he was inconsolable.
"He curled up in a ball and just cried," said Will Thiery, a Desert Storm veteran who coordinates the weekly sessions at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Dayton. "He lost it."
More than a year after returning from Iraq, Wilson was barely hanging on. The smiling, hopeful 30-year-old student who had begun classes at Wright State University in early January had grown sullen and isolated. It didn't take much to set him off.
"One day I'm cool," Wilson said. "The next day I want to lock myself in the attic."
His complex relationship with his mother was wearing him down. His $6-an-hour job at a drive-through convenience store near the college was hardly inspiring. And his weekly stint as disc jockey at the campus radio station hadn't blossomed into a more regular gig.
The medicine chest in his apartment was now stocked with pills to battle sleeplessness, anxiety, and depression. Zoloft. Trazodone. Clonazepam. Risperidone.
"I feel sedated all the time," he said. "It's like I'm not even living life anymore."

Kayla also notes Karen Jowers' "Military families group seeks Rumsfeld meeting" (Air Force Times via Military Families Speak Out):

A national organization of about 3,000 people with family members or loved ones in the military has asked for a meeting with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to speak their minds about the war in Iraq.
Representatives of the group Military Families Speak Out will deliver a petition to Rumsfeld and Congress calling for an end to the “backdoor draft” and for all troops to be brought home now.
Examples of this “backdoor draft,” they say, are troop extensions, stop-loss orders, involuntary recalls and multiple deployments to Iraq.
“As Secretary of Defense, it is not only your job but your moral duty to hear what they have to say and to answer questions that they have,” wrote Nancy Lessin and Charley Richardson, co-founders of Military Families Speak Out, in the Oct. 30 letter to Rumsfeld in which they ask for a Nov. 9 meeting.

But remember, Bully Boy's on the campaign trail bragging about Rumsfled and what a great job he's doing (apparently in an alternate universe-- the Bully Boy universe where 'up' is 'down' and 'war' is 'peace').

Susan notes that CODEPINK is attempting to bring the Iraqi people into the discussion with a new exhibit:

Walk In Their Shoes. Shoes, like this pair representing the 3-year-old daughter of Hussein al Tarish, help people visualize unspeakable pain and suffering this war has inflicted on the Iraqi people. In the final weeks of the election season, let's take shoes like these to the doorsteps of pro-war candidates--outside a fundraiser, a debate, their campaign headquarters or their homes.

CODEPINK continues to be creative and inspiring. Also inspiring are rallies. Last weekend, A.N.S.W.E.R. held rallies around the country. We noted the one in Los Angeles earlier this week and Kyle wanted to note the one in Chicago. This is from A.N.S.W.E.R.'s "Thousands protest Iraq War on Oct. 28" which also notes Florida, New Haven (Conn), New York, Seattle and San Francisco:

In Chicago, the ANSWER Coalition organized a "People's Street Campaign to Vote to End the War on Iraq." Campaign teams set up at busy street corners at 12 noon all over the city with people's ballots, ballot boxes, sandwich boards and leaflets for an upcoming anti-war educational forum on Sunday, Nov. 12. The teams were very well received, especially on Chicago's south side, a predominantly African American community where disgust with the capitalist elections is very high. Throughout the city, cars honked in approval and people stopped at campaign tables to line up to vote on the people's ballot against the war. Campaign organizer Stefanie Beacham said, "There really was an overwhelmingly positive response to the campaign. It's obvious from being out on the street that the vast majority of people are against the war. If a referendum about the war was on the ballot on Nov. 7, the troops would be coming home on Nov. 8."
The people's campaign in Chicago was part of a month long effort in Chicago by activists and volunteers to take the anti-war movement to the people. All throughout the month of October, campaign teams went out to every community to conduct the people's vote on the war. The campaign reached out to thousands of people in the greater Chicago area.

The rallies are no longer a one organization thing or a twice a year thing (March and September). Organizations are registering their voices weekly (weekly may be an understatement). In communities everywhere. Each one, whether it's covered by the media, big or small, sparks an idea, adds to the movement. It's true now and it's true in every era. Contrasting today's illegal war and Bully Boy with an earlier one, Robert Scheer's "Turning the Corner Into Madness" (Truthdig):

Every time I hear President Bush railing against those who would "cut and run" in Iraq instead of pursuing "victory," as he does almost daily, I think back to similar claims being made for the Vietnam debacle when I reported from Saigon in the mid-'60s. Back then, the U.S. troop presence was lower and casualties fewer than now in Iraq, but the carnage, on all sides, would escalate for the next decade, as we waited miserably for the corner to be turned.
Then, as now, calls for setting a timetable for an orderly withdrawal were rejected as emboldening our enemy to attack America. Instead of a dignified withdrawal, we plunged ever deeper into the quagmire, leaving 59,000 U.S. troops and 3.4 million Indochinese dead as tribute to our stupidity. Finally, there was nothing to do but "cut and run" in the most ignominious fashion. With our U.S. personnel being lifted by helicopter from roofs near our embassy, it seemed like a low point for U.S. influence, and there were dire predictions of communism's global dominance--just as there is today for the "Islamo-fascist" bogeyman the president has seized upon.
Those predictions, however, proved dead wrong. Communism did not advance as a worldwide force after our defeat in Vietnam. On the contrary, a victorious communist-run Vietnam soon went to war with the China-backed communists of Cambodia--overthrowing Pol Pot's evil Khmer Rouge--and with communist China itself, in a bloody border war.
Today communist Vietnam is still battling communist China--but now it is for shelf space in Wal-Mart and Costco. The United States, meanwhile, spending itself silly under the haplessly irresponsible President Bush, is now dependent on China both to carry its debt and contain communist North Korea’s nuclear threat.

That was Micah's highlight and it's important to grasp the historical burps (if not gags). History repeats as long as we let it. But the repeat of the bad can also mean the repeat of the good. Bully Boy declares an illegal war and the people respond. In larger and larger numbers and respond in various waves that make up the peace movement. Tracey, Ruth's granddaughter, notes Katrina vanden Heuvel's "The Soldiers Speak Out" (Editor's Cut, The Nation) on one wave:

"As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq. Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for US troops to come home."
This statement --
the Appeal for Redress -- has been signed by over 600 active-duty soldiers who have had enough of seeing their brothers and sisters sacrificed to the disastrous war in Iraq. In this month alone, 101 American soldiers have been killed, more than in any month since January, 2005 and the fourth highest monthly total since the war began in March, 2003.
Seaman Jonathon Hutto and Marine Sergeant Liam Madden spearheaded the Appeal which is co-sponsored by
Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace and Military Families Speak Out. It is the latest effort stemming from the antiwar energy that has emerged among military families, veterans, and active military, including generals and other high-ranking officers. It's also the first antiwar movement organized by active military personnel since the Vietnam War.

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