Thursday, May 31, 2007

Iraq snapshot

May 31, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military attempts to bully a soldier on his way out (14 days before he leaves, they set up a kangaroo court), the US military announces the death of more US soldiers, Joe Lieberman takes his sour charm to Baghdad and avoids the truth (again), and more.

Starting with Adam Kokesh who is currently in the Individual Ready Reserve through June 18th and had the status of honorably discharged. What concerns us today (we noted this on May 23rd), and we better go slowly because AP gets lost on the details, is what's happening today. In March, Iraq Veterans Against the War took part in DC actions to bring the war home. Adam Kokesh participated in that action wearing fatigues. Following that, the military contacted him and we have to say "the military" because the coward who e-mailed him is too chicken sh*t to be known publicly. This is the point at which AP, in a throwback to their THEY-ALL-WALKED-OUT! Pearl Jam coverage, misses the point.

They leap to "Kokesh, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, responded with an obscenity." Major Chicken Sh*t wrote an e-mail brimming with sarcasm "I know this matter pales in comparsion with recent geopolitical events of which you have shown an interest" being only one example. And "I have a desire to let a fellow Marine know about his obligations and duty" may be folksy but it's not military standard (which is why Kokesh and Tina Richards both wondered if the e-mail was genuine). On line 43 of Kokesh's 44 lined e-mail, the f-word is used. AP reporting that Kokesh was sent "a letter" and that he "responded with an obscenity" is bad reporting. No "letter" was exchanged by either side. (Though an official letter, registered, should have been sent through the United States postal service by the military if they are investigating anyone in IRR.) And Kokesh did not respond to "a letter" with "an obscenity." He responded at length (44 lines). And let's just repeat that point outside of parentheticals: If the US military is investigating someone, the US military's means of contact needs to be official, written in an official manner -- not folksy, sarcastic e-mail. (Again, Kokesh showed the e-mail to Cloy Richards mother Tina and they both wondered about its authenticity.)

Kevin Zeese (Democracy Rising) observes, "The implications of this hearing may be far reaching, as the prosecution of a member of the inactive reserves under these circumstances is unprecedented. At stake is the right of freedom of speech for the hundreds of thousands of members of the Inactive Ready Reserve, as well as the nation's right to get the unbiased truth out of Iraq. Last week, the prosecuting attorney, Captain Sibert, offered Kokesh a general discharge. To accept this would be to allow the Marines to say that members of the IRR do not have freedom of speech, so naturally he declined." The AP notes one of Kokesh's attorneys, Mike "Lebowitz [,] said Kokesh technically is a civilian unless recalled to active duty and had the right to be disrespectful in his response to the officer. He called the proceedings against Kokesh highly unusual and said the military usually seeks to change a veteran's discharge status only if a crime has been committed."

Kevin Zeese reports, "The hearing will be held on June 4, at the Marine Corps Mobilization Command in Kansas City, MO. Kokesh requested the hearing be held closer to Washington, DC, his current residence and a much more convenient location for the witnesses to the event in question, which happened in Washington, but was denied. He has the right to call witnesses, but has to provide for their transportation." Dave Helling (The Kansas City Star) notes, "If the tribunal answers yes, Kokesh will face the punishment a Marine Corps deputy commander has recommended in his case -- immediate discharge from the individual ready reserves, and the reduction of his original honorable active duty discharge to an other-than-honorable characterization of service. Kokesh is fighting both sanctions, he says, because he wants to protect the rights of others in the military to argue against the war." David Montgomery (Washington Post) notes that there are two others the military is going after -- one can't be determined, the other is "Liam Madden, 22, who spent seven months on the ground in Iraq, last fall helped launch the Appeal for Redress, a Web site where military personnel can directly appeal to Congress to support withdrawal of troops. Madden, of Boston, is accused of wearing his caouflage shirt at an antiwar march in Washington in January. He also is accused of making disloyal statement during a speech in February in New York, when he says he wasn't wearing his uniform." June 1st (tomorrow), there will be a press conference and Send off Rally at Union Station (in DC) for Adam Kokesh and then the Yellow Rose of Texas Peace Bus will head for Kansas City, MO.

As the military continues to crack down the war resistance movement within the US military continues to grow and that includes people such as Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.
Turning to Iraq where the military wants you to forget that 2 US soldiers remain missing since May 12 and the press is happy to distract you from that reality by heavy panting over the missing 5 British contractors. Reuters reports that "an Iraqi husband and wife employed by the US embassy in Baghdad" were kidnapped last week and the Islamic State in Iraq is claiming credit for the kidnapping and stating that they killed the couple Monday. They were Iraqis so there was apparently no need to send 9,000 US service members to look for them. But there is plenty of time for US service members to be used searching for 5 British citizens who elected to go to Iraq to profit from the illegal war. For the record, when the search for the then-3 missing US soldiers was going on it was billed as a US and Iraq joint-operation -- no British soldiers were brought up from, for instance, Basra to help in that search. But this is about Big Business so everyone has to drop what they were doing and go searching. Not unlike when the death of mercenaries led to the attacks on Falluja.

As if that wasn't bad enough, US service members also had to endure a visit with Senator I Will Say Anything And Sell Out Anyone Just To Keep My Senate Seat. Though this century's Zell Miller has yet to embrace the GOP designation, he's all Repube. Joe Lieberman (who destroyed the 2000 recounts in his vanity appearance on NBC's Meet the Press) went to Iraq where he did and will do more damage. Lelia Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the water mark piece on Lieberman's visit. After a "lunch of roast beef and turkey sandwiches" No-Mentum, Joe-Mentum had the need to ride this photo op for all it was worth and used it sell the illegal war (violence apparently only bothers on movie screens and in rap lyrics) by saying "To pull out would be a disaster." That might have worked on his two wives (and explain the three children) but none of the rest of us are willing to let Jo-Jo get limp and drippy on top of us for one minutes and six seconds. Jo-Jo then used the soldiers to hide from reality, "They're not Pollyannaish about his. They know it's not going to be solved in a day or a month." Too bad for Jo-Jo's photo op, Fadel showed up before the senator and heard the soldiers. David Williams had "two note cards" with questions from "30 other soldiers" and the biggest one: "When are we going to get out of here." Williams told Fadel that returning for his tour in Iraq mean that he missed the birth of his child and "I didn't want to come back. . . . We're waiting to get blown up." Will Hedin tells Fadel, "We're not making any progress. It just seems like we drive around and wait to get shot at."

Then Jo-Jo crawled in with an announcement of "To pull out would be a disaster" and other assorted ass wipings. Is it any wonder the soldiers didn't speak frankly? No, and it's no surprise that Joe Lieberman can't see reality even when it sits down next to him.

Meanwhile Donald C. Hudson Jr. pens an op-ed from Iraq (Clarksville Online): ". . . I have been serving our country's military actively for the last three years. I am currently deployed to Baghdad on Forward Operating Base Loyalty, where I have been for the last four and a half months. I came here as part of the first wave of this so called 'troop surge', but so far it has effectively done nothing to quell insurgent violence. I have seen the rise in violence between the Sunni and Shiite. This country is in the middle of a civil war that has been on going since the seventh century. Why are we here when this country still to date does not want us here? Why does our president's personal agenda consume him so much, that he can not pay attention wo what is really going on here? Let me tell you a story. On May 10, I was out on a convoy mission to move barriers from a market to a joint security station. It was no different from any other night, except the improvised explosive device that hit our convoy this time, actually pierced through the armor of one of our trucks. The truck was immediately engulfed in flames, the driver lost control and wrecked the truck into one of the buildings lining the street. I was the driver of the lead truck in our convoy; the fifth out of six was the one that got hit. All I could hear over the radio was a friend from the sixth truck screaming that the fifth truck was burning up real bad, and that they needed fire extinguishers real bad. So I turned my truck around and drove through concrete barriers to get to the burning truck as quickly as I could. I stopped 30 meters short of the burning truck, got out and ripped my fire extinguisher out of its holder, and ran to the truck. I ran past another friend of mine on the way to the burning truck, he was screaming something but I could not make it out. I opened the driver's door to the truck and was immediately overcome by the flames. I sprayed the extinguisher into the door, and then I saw my roommate's leg. He was the gunner of that truck. His leg was across the driver's seat that was on fire and the rest of his body was further in the truck. My fire extinguisher died and I climbed into the truck to attempt to save him. I got to where his head was, in the back passenger-side seat. I grabbed his shoulders and attempted to pull him from the truck out the driver's door. I finally got him out of the truck head first. His face had been badly burned. His leg was horribly wounded. We placed him on a spine board and did our best to attempt 'Buddy Aid'. We heard him trying to gasp for air. He had a pulse and was breathing, but was not responsive. He was placed into a truck and rushed to the 'Green Zone', where he died within the hour. His name was Michael K. Frank. He was 36 years old. He was a great friend of mine and a mentor to most of us younger soldiers here. Now I am still here in this country wondering why, and having to pick up the pieces of what is left of my friend in our room. I would just like to know what is the true reason we are here? This country poses no threat to our own. So why must we waste the lives of good men on a country that does not give a damn about itself? Most of my friends here share my views, but do not have the courage to say anything." Nobody tell Joe Lieberman about that -- he still thinks because he went on a heavily guarded tour he knows, really knows, reality in Iraq.

Editor & Publisher notes actual reality: a new Gallup poll asked participants what they would tell Bully Boy about Iraq if they had 15 minutes? 565: "focus on getting out of Iraq," 6% own your mistakes and admit them, 7% work with the UN and study groups. And representing the mentally unbalanced, the Joe Liebermans and gag writers everywhere, 4% would tell the Bully to stay in Iraq. (I'm sure a large number would voice support for sending Bully Boy to serve in Iraq, but that wasn't asked.)

In Iraq today . . .


Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reports that a bombing in Falluja killed "as many as 25 people" and noted a funeral procession ("some of the women wailing and beating their chests, marched through Sadr City") in response to a "U.S. helicopter strike before dawn" that killed two people and which the US military denies but Iraqi police confirm. Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports three people wounded in a roadside Baghdad bombing, a Ramadi truck bombing that killed one person (wounded 13), and a Kirkuk roadside bombing that wounded four. Reuters notes that the Ramadi bombing's death toll has risen to 5, a Baghdad car bombing wounded 2 Iraqi adults, 1 child and 8 US soldiers, 2 roadside bombs in Tal Afar resulted in the death of 1 Iraqi soldier and five people wounded (four police officers, 1 Iraqi soldier), and a Tal Afar rocket attack killed one person.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a police officer was shot dead in Baghdad, one police officer was wounded by "a sniper" in Tikrit and "Dr. Muhammad Aziz, who works as a lecturer at Fine Arts Academy in Basra" was shot dead. Reuters reports a home invasion in Iskandariya left tribal leader Ubaid al-Masoudi and his wife injured.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 29 corpses were discovered in Baghdad, 1 in Zubair, and 3 corpses discovered in Baquba. Reuters reports five corpses were discovered in Mosul.

Today the US military announced: "While conducting combat operations northwest of the Iraqi capital, a Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was seriously wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated May 28. The Soldier was taken to the Combat Support Hospital but died of wounds May 29." And they announced: "While conducting combat operations in the southwest section of the Iraqi capital, two Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldiers were killed when an improvised explosive device detonated May 30." The three deaths bring the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 3474 thus far and May's toll to 123 thus far. Only April and November of 2004 have had higher monthly tolls (135 and 137). The four year mark was passed in March and, along with boots on the ground, the only things escalating are death tolls, chaos and violence.

Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan's decision to take time to recharge and refocus continues to be noted. Amy Branham (Amy's Head) writes, "I don't know of anyone who could stand up under the pressure that Cindy has been in, who could stand up to the nastiness, the lies, the ignorance, the threats, the mind and body numbing travel schedule. All I do know is that I'm glad to see my friend take a break a while. And I do agree with her when she says that if the American people don't step up to end this war, we deserve what we get." Danny Schechter (writing at Common Dreams) observes:

Personally, I know how she feels. When I made the film, WMD (Weapons of Mass Deception) challenging the media role in the war, many anti-war groups paid lip service to its message and then did little or nothing to promote it. Perhaps that's why some activists call "" when it comes to the issues of media deception or for that matter any issues that also holds Democrats and corporate media institutions accountable.
It is so much easier and emotionally self-righteous to attack easier targets like the Republicans and Bush White House.
Lets face it, the media has not really changed and nor have many Democrats. They believe in convenient truths and don't recognize the importance of demanding media integrity. Don't forget that most of the media coverage was hostile to Democrats setting a timeline and many pundits pressured them to relent in the name of "pragmatism," patriotism, or getting the pork they wanted for their own districts.
I don't think Cindy has really resigned from politics. But she is upset and has a right to be. She has lost so much and is also apparently in debt--something this director of the film
In Debt We Trust can relate to
Sometimes I wish I could resign from the media reform movement that I helped organize because it has been so hard for us to get support for, our fabulous media and democracy online network now in its 7th year. We will have to close our doors in a month unless we can find the funding to keep our modest operation alive.

And remember independent journalist John Pilger is on a speaking tour with his new book Freedom Next Time and his documentary Breaking the Silence: Truth and Lies in the War on Terror (which looks at DC, Afghanistan and Iraq). June 7th, he will discuss his book with Amy Goodman at The New School, Tishman Auditorium, 66 West 12th Street, beginning at 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:15). Admission is $5 per person and students (with ID) can attend for free. Pilger will sign copies of his book afterwards and Amy Goodman will sign copies of her latest book (written with her brother David Goodman) Static. "For ticket information, contact (212) 229-5488 or For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or For more information, click here or e-mail"
June 11th, Pilger will be in Los Angeles at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (244 S. San Pedro St.) and will discuss his book and show his documentary beginning at 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:00 pm). The price of admission to the even is five dollars. "Directions, maps, and parking info at:
Presented by The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, and The Nation Institute, with support from the Wallace Global Fund. For ticket information, call or visit the JACCC. Box office: 213-680-3700 (Box Office Hours: Monday - Saturday: Noon - 5 pm)For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or For more information, email"

June 13th finds him in San Francisco showing his film and discussing his book at Yerba Beuna Center for Arts (beginning at 7:00 pm, doors open at 6:00 pm) and the price of admission is $15 general and $5 for students. "Presented by The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, The Nation Institute, and KPFA, with support from the Wallace Global Fund. For ticket information, call 415-978-2787 or order online at In person tickets at YBCA Box office located inside the Galleries and Forum Building, 701 Mission Street at Third. (Hours: Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat & Sun: noon - 5 pm; Thu: noon - 8 pm.) For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or For more information, email"
From San Francisco, he moves on to Chicago for the 2007 Socialism conference. At 11:30 am Saturday June 16th, he and Anthony Arnove will participate in a conversation, audience dialogue and book signing (Arnove is the author most recently of IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal) and that evening (still June 16th) at 7:30 Pilger will be at Chicago Crowne Plaza O'Hare (5440 North River Road, Rosemont, IL 60018) as part of a panel of international activists. To attend the conference, the fee is $85. For Saturday and Sunday only, the price is $70. To attend only one session, the cost is ten dollars. "Presented by The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, The Nation Institute, with support from the Wallace Global Fund. Co-sponsors: Obrera Socialista, Socialist Worker, International Socialist Review, and Haymarket Books. For ticket information, call 773-583-8665 or e-mail For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or For more information, email"

The Socialism 2007 conference will take place in Chicago from June 14-17. Along with Pilger and Arnove, others participating will include Dahr Jamail, Laura Flanders, Kelly Dougherty, Joshua Frank, Amy Goodman, Sharon Smith, Dave Zirin, Camilo Mejia, Jeremy Scahill, Jeffrey St. Clair and many others.

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