Monday, September 10, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Monday, September 10, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, CODEPINK again shows more bravery than Congress, and more.

Starting with war resistance, Laura K (We Move To Canada) offers some basic needed steps to support the war resisters who have gone to Canada:

Here are some practical ways you can help.
Buy the video. "Let Them Stay" was produced by the War Resisters Support Campaign. It's an excellent introduction to the issue, and can help educate you and others about what US war resisters are facing in Canada. The Support Campaign is an all-volunteer organization. 100% of your $20 will go towards legal and material aid for war resisters.
Contact the federal government. Write your MP. Write Stephen Harper. Write the Immigration Minister. Tell them this is the Canada you want to live in. Tell them: let them stay.
Sign the petition. If you haven't done so already, join 14,000 of your countrypeople in asking the government to let them stay.
Spread the word. How many Canadians don't even know there are US war resisters seeking refuge in Canada? Among those who know, how many mistakenly believe the former soldiers can just live legally in Canada? Talk to your friends, your co-workers, your running buddies, the folks at your dog park. You can help raise awareness, and help create support for those three words.
October 27, 2007 is an International Day of Action Against War. Join your neighbours to protest the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. There will be simultaneous protests
in Canada and the US. Resisters will be there. Let them stay.

These steps and others are needed because, though unreported (big suprise), the number of US war resisters in Canada continues to grow.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko,Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

As Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today "the Bush administration's top two officials in Iraq are set to give Congress their long-awaited progress report on the Iraq war. The expected outcome is more of the same." In August, a CNN poll found 53% of Americans "suspect that the military assessment will try to make it sound better than it actually is" (Wally's "THIS JUST IN! US SAYS: 'PETREAUS WILL BETRAY US!'" and Cedric's "Petreaus wet & wild moment haunts him" noted the reaction as well) with the Polling Director, Keating Holland, for CNN saying that he didn't "think the mistrust is directed at Petreaus as much as it is what he represents." That was in August. Today, Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted a Washington Post - ABC News poll just released that found . . . 53% say "they believe Petraeus will try to sugar-coat the situation on the ground." The poll was reported by the Post on Sunday and also found 64% disapprove of the Bully Boy's "handling his job," 62% declaring that the Iraq War was "not worth fighting," 60% say the US "is not making significant progress toward restoring civil order in Iraq," 58% say the escalation "hasn't made much difference," 54% do not believe "the security situation" in Iraq will improve "over the next few months," 58% want to see the number of US service members in Iraq decrease," 55% support setting "a deadline for withdrawing U.S. combat forces from Iraq by next spring" and 62% say the US should withdraw "right away". Let's repeat that: 62 percent of those polled said the US forces should begin leaving Iraq "right away." When you add in the portion for "By the end of the year" (27%) the percentage leaps to 89%. 89 percent of Americans support US troops beginning to leave Iraq by the end of 2007. Not 2008, not 2009. CBS and the New York Times poll released Sunday (by CBS) found 45% of those survey saw "no impact" from the escalation. That poll (with a 3% plus/minus margin) found a six percent increase in the number supporting the escalation since August. On ABC's This Week Sunday, it was the never ending Dinasour Tour as Cokie Roberts, George Will and Sam Donaldson (on tamborines) joined George Stephanopoulos for the roundtable and Cokie Roberts pimped (from apparently the CBS poll) the tiny increase as big news until Stephanopoulos corrected her by pointing out just how small the increase in this one poll was. Stephanopolous also noted the 62% figure in the CBS - New York Times' poll who stated the US "made a mistake getting involved in Iraq." That figure matches up with the 62% in the Washington Post - ABC poll who stated that "the war with Iraq" was not "worth fighting." (If Stephanopolous was referring to the Post poll, he should have noted the six percent increase in the escalation making things "better" -- also a margin of +3 or -3 -- that "no difference" also had an increase. Guests or moderator stating "a poll by ___" would also clarify which poll was being cited.)

In both polls, 62% of Americans declare the illegal war a mistake. The Washington Post - ABC News poll, again, has 89% of Americans wanting the US forces to beginning withdrawing "right now" or by the end of 2007. We could go to Congress, but let's go to the peace movement instead because it's not pretty. This weekend, Common Dreams posted Tom Hayden's strategy for . . . "Ending the War in 2009." 2009. 2009? It's 2007 and people are yet again being encouraged to wait for two more years. Tom Hayden is hitting the snooze button when America needs to be waking up. Rabbi Micheal Lerner, on Friday, posted a transcript of various members of the peace movement participating in a dialogue with some members of Congress. In a news article (link goes to Common Dreams, we don't link to the original site), Lerner states that "even the people in the anti-war movement don't have - a coherent alternative world view from which to base a strategy." My "world view" sees him beating the hell of his "inner child." If that does something for him, more power to him. However, there is no "world view" needed to end the illegal war (if a "world view" is indeed missing currently). Nor is there a need to wait for 2009 to end the illegal war. And you have to wonder why US House Rep Lynn Woolsey even bothered to participate in the dialogue that Lerner later posted if no one's going to listen to her?

In the dialogue Tim Carpenter, of Progressive Democrats of America, discusses how his group and UFPJ have "been working hard" and "doing email blasts during the recess and Congressional visits. We've generated a little over 9,000 of those emails blast into the [Speaker's?] office . . ." No offense to Carpenter but did he, Lerner or anyone else participating follow what Woolsey replied?

Lynn Woolsey: That's all very useful, Tim, and it's very meaningful. Because people aren't in the streets, because they're electronically communicating, it's easier for the Congress or the media to pretend that it isn't happening, but it isn't visible. Now people start asking: "Why aren't people on the streets?" And I say that they are on the streets, they're on their blog, and they're communicating. We get 3000 emails sometimes in a day, and other members are too, and you cannot pretend the public's not interested in this.

Woolsey is a nice person so it would be a smart thing to strip away the kind words and zoom in on: "Because people aren't in the streets, because they're electronically communicating, it's easier for the Congress or the media to pretend that it isn't happening". I know several people participating in that dialogue and am not trying to beat any of them over the head, but what Woolsey is saying should be loud and clear to everyone.

Leslie Cagan (UPFJ) notes that the strategy that's been pushed (by has been target Repubes and notes that she feels (I agree with her) that "a lot of their strategy is geared towards the Presidential elections and the Congressional elections next year." What does Woolsey respond? "Well, maybe you folks should go after the Democrats." Woolsey is a nice person, she's also very smart. Now maybe in a conversation, those statements can drift over heads. When they appear in the transcript, there should be no confusion.

Medea Benjamin (CODEPINK -- whom I have tremendous respect for) is focused, in her first two sentences, on the fact that US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi won't meet with activists. Pelosi won't. Benjamin's correct. Benjamin (far smarter than I) should be able to grasp Pelosi is NOT GOING to. If she's forced, she might. Pelosi talks it up when she comes home but what does she ever do when she's in DC? What has she ever done? (Disclosure: I have donated to Pelosi's campaigns -- all of them -- in the past. I have already stated I am behind Cindy Sheehan in this race.) Pelosi plays a cute little show when she comes home. She's all grins and spins. Her final townhall (apparently -- though it hadn't been billed as the "Farewell Townhall" to those of us attending) had her getting a taste of reality at the same time members of district eight got a taste of reality. Pelosi insisted that she would oppose the construction of any permanent bases in Iraq. When confronted with the fact that permanent bases were already being constructed, Pelosi tried to finesse the term "permanent" and actually said, "Nothing last forever." In that moment, Pelosi, who's been treated with kid gloves for the most part, demonstrated just how great the gulf between her and the citizens who put her into office is. Pelosi grasped the startled reaction and she's not done another townhall. I don't remember if Medea was at that townhall but I know she's heard of it. Peace activists need to grasp Pelosi wrote them off then. It's been a slow estrangement ever since. So the point here is, forget Nancy Pelosi. She doesn't represent the district. She's made that very clear on every issue. Target others. (In DC work. I'm not saying call off any vigils outside Pelosi's office. She needs to be made uncomfortable. But realize that's all that's going to help. She's got her eyes on the 2008 elections and she doesn't give a damn about ending the illegal war.) After noting Pelosi's refusal to meet with the activists (Pelosi should be written off and so should Joe Lieberman -- nothing is achieved by meeting with either), Benjamin asks the money question: "Can't she [Pelosi] decide that we're not going to keep funding this war?" Lerner (rightly) points out, "Pelosi could simply not bring up any funding bill for the military. She could not bring it up, and then say: 'We're only going to bring it up if you agree to end the war'." -- to which Woolsey adds, "That we're only going to be spending our money to bring the troops home. And that's what we're [the Progressive Caucus] going to be pushing for, I promise."

As I'm reading Woolsey's remarks three things are needed (out of many) right now. (1) Physical mobilization (not e-activism). (2) Democrats needing to be targeted. (3) Support for the Progressive Caucus made clear.

Starting with the third point. In March Party Hacks were so busy spit shining the shoes of Pelosi and Steny Hoyer that they flat out lied. They used terms like "conspiracy theorist" to those stating US House Rep Barbara Lee had an amendment on Iraq that Pelosi refused to allow Lee to offer (this is when the Dems bought into the illegal war). That was not a "conspiracy theory" -- that was reality. Woolsey appeared, before the Friday vote, on Democracy Now! and explained that troops home now would not be in the vote, wouldn't even be an amendment but "there will be no amendments". Woolsey, who supports Troops Home Now, was explaining what was going on. To clarify, Juan Gonzalez followed up on the amendment issue and Woolsey agreed that their needed to be amendments but House leadership wasn't allowing them, "I think if our amendment, the Barbara Lee amendment, is made an order, which it wasn't last night and it's not going to, there's a lot of people that would like to vote 'Yes, what I really want is to bring the troops home, but, yes, I will vote with the supplemental, but I want my constituents to know that I really want to bring them home sooner than that'."

Point two. Democrats, by not being targeted, have been allowed to fall into the beltway lazy conventional spin. They've been allowed to relax in official DC and think all is fine and dandy for them (it isn't) and they can just coast. Cagan worded it a lot nicer than I would. If you're 'activism' is "Vote Democrats!" then you aren't part of the peace movement. The peace movement is not an electoral party. Reaching out is one thing. Blurring the line is another. A member of a group participating in the dialogue, trying to apparently speak for the organization, e-mailed this site repeatedly to defend someone attacking war resisters and IVAW, to defend someone who not only attacks those who are part of the peace movement but also someone who thinks targeting Republicans qualifies for peace work. The organizations need to send clear messages to their members. And when Democrats are called out for cowardice by brave voices, such as Howard Zinn, we really don't need to read in Foreign Policy in Focus that 'both' Zinn and Sad Sirota (playing Party Hack and providing non-stop cover) have 'a point'. If Foreign Policy in Focus can't get their own act together enough to grasp that Zinn speaking to truth to power is not on the same level as Sirota providing cover for Democrats, the peace movement will be hopeless and the illegal war will drag on. Too many lines are being blurred. When people think it's okay to attack war resisters, the peace movement is defeating itself by allowing that to go unchallenged. When people want to equate the historian Zinn with Sad Sirota (who was the one shouting "conspiracy theorist" -- after Woolesy had appeared on Democracy Now! so he's either uninformed or a liar) then it's not at all surprising that this illegal war continues to drag on.

Point three. As long as the lines are blurred e-activism will continue to take hold. It's "nice," it doesn't challenge. is a Democratic Party organ that attempts to present itself as "anti-war" (and the press assists them with that). We do not need more silent gatherings. We need more people like Tina Richards, Cindy Sheehan, the members of IVAW, etc, willing to speak out and use their voices. Those preaching e-activism or silence in public are not part of the peace movement and that needs to be made clear. As long as it's not, some people will elect to choose e-activism as opposed to real activism because e-activism is so much easier. When the peace movement cannot make the difference between the two clear, it really can't expect people to turn out in large numbers for actual actions. There are some people who may not be able to participate due to physical challenges/disabilities, agoraphobia or living a remote region. That is grasped. But for those with mobility and proximity, it needs to be made clear that physical action and e-activism are not equivalent. It's like telling someone that both candy and brocolli will provide you with calcium -- most would then choose candy. The reality is candy doesn't provide you with calcium and e-activism (for those with mobility and proximity) is not activism. But as long as those lines continue to be blurred, when faced with going out into the streets or sitting at home, most will choose to sit at home.

Failure to make that clear, failure to make any of the three clear, means the peace movement will spin the wheels until 2009 at which point another voice will instruct us as to "Ending the war in 2011." The illegal war has gone on long enough. It never should have started. The peace movement has had some real success but failure to make it clear what is and what isn't activism, what is and what isn't the peace movement (electoral campaigns rarely ever make for peace campaigns), and what is and isn't reality -- such as standing up to the spin from Party Hacks -- will mean the peace movement's early success will either fall away or that many represented in the dialogue will find themselves out of the peace movement. When organizations do not serve the movement, they fall away. It happened in the 'sixites' and it's already beginning to happen today with new organizations coming to life.

We're going to turn to violence and if there's time to cover the spin going on right now, we will. If not, well, David Petraues hair color (that's not natural -- I have no idea how it looks on TV, but up close, that color does not look natural and it wouldn't be on a man half Petraeus' age) was as phony as his statements.

Today CNN reports: "The U.S. military data obtained by CNN indicates that 165 Iraqis were murdered in Baghdad last month, a slight increase from the previous two months. However, the number represents a significant decrease since the Baghdad security plan began earlier this year. It is not clear how the U.S. military obtained the number, but CNN statistics -- compiled from numbers released by the Iraqi Interior Ministry -- suggest 428 Iraqis were murdered in Baghdad in August, their bodies dumped in the streets. In July, 612 Iraqis were murdered, according to the Interior Ministry." This follows Renee Schoof (McClatchy Newspapers) reporting on Labor Day, "Statistics that McClatchy Newspapers collected in Baghdad don't show any drop in violence. Civilian deaths in the capital were about the same in July as in December, before the American troop increase began. U.S. officials in Baghdad declined to provide data to back up their claims of lower violence." Last week, Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) reported on the skepticism by "many experts within and outside the government" over the US "military's claim that violence has decreased sharply in Iraq in recent months" and explained why including that intelligence analysts note classifying "sectarian" or "criminal" based on whether the bullet went in the front of the head or back is "cherry picking". This story was kind-of, sort-of denied by Petreaus today. He didn't really deny it, just stated he wasn't aware of it. He's grabbing the Ronald Reagan covers. In addition, the GAO also stated that violence hasn't dropped. Renee Schoof and Warren P. Strobel (McClatchy Newspapers) reported last week that the GAO crunching of the figures "found that daily attacks against civilians in Iraq have remained 'about the same' since February, when the United States began sending nearly 30,000 additional troops" into Iraq (the escalation). CNN joins the above in reporting that there has been no descrease in the violence, despite the claims of the US administration and military.

Yesterday, both McClatchy Newspapers and the New York Times examined the realities in Iraq today. Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) notes Bully Boy's declaring (January 2007) that the escalation would mean the puppet government in Iraq would have "breathing room" and be able to work on the political issues but "[w]ith less than a week to go before the White House delivers a congressionally mandated report on that plan, none of this has happened." What has happened? Fadel reports on the increasing segregation in Baghdad where "Sunni Muslims in the capital now live in ghettos encircled by concrete blast walls to stop militia attacks and car bombs" while Shia militias engage in their slaughter of all (including slaughtering Shi'ites), that the militias have "heavily infiltrated" Iraq's national forces, no decrease in civilian deaths and that Al Anbar Province is the only exception to the continued decay. We'll get back to Al Anbar Province if there's time. Damien Cave and Stephen Farrell (New York Times) reported (on the front page and for two full pages inside -- A12 and A13) on the "Unmet Goals" noting that there is still not "a unified and trusted national government," and that the escalation coincides with the departure of over 35,000 from their residences in the capital. On Al Anbar Province, Cave and Farrell note that those currently working with the US in the alleged "model province" (where one US marine died September 7th and the US military announced the death yesterday, FYI) "made it abundantly clear that their cooperation did not come fre" -- nor is this a long-term arrangement. Cave and Farrell quote El Paso's Timothy Johnston who notes a a bombing attack targeting US service members in June didn't appear to phase the new 'friends' leading him to declare, "I don't trust them. They will smile in your face and stab you in the back. They were just too close to that E.F.P. not to have known." Back to Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) on Al Anbar Province -- "that success has little to do with the 4,000 U.S. troops who were sent to Anbar as part of the surge of 30,000 additional troops to Iraq. Instead, it began more than four months earlier, with the formation last September of the Anbar Salvation Council to fight the escalating terror of Sunni extremists. Officials agree that the anti-Islamist coalition in Anbar has yet to ally itself with the Shiite-led government in Baghdad, and a recent National Intelligence Estimate warned that it might even threaten it."
Today, Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) examines Al Anbar Province noting that nothing is clear regarding whether alliances formed or permanent or not and quotes Maj. Jeff Pool admitting that (if there are gain) the much lauded "Anbar model" isn't exportable due to "too many unique variables."

Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing that claimed 2 lives (five more were wounded), a Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed 2 lives (thirteen more wounded), a Kirkuk roadside bombing that claimed 1 life (four more wounded) and a Mosul truck bombing that claimed 10 lives and left at least sixty more wounded. On the Mosul truck bombing, Reuters puts the injured at 78 (sticks with 10 for the figure dead) and says it was actually outside Mosul in Tal Marag village and they note an Iskandariya mortar attack that injured 13 Iraqi soldiers,


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Basra attack where "the manager superviser of finace" was shot dead and then his corpse was set on fire. Reuters notes three police officers "killed in clashes with militants in easter Mosul,"


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 10 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes 3 corpses discovered in Mahmudiya.

The US military announced today: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier died from injuries sustained from rocket fire while on patrol in Kirkuk province, Sunday. One Soldier was also wounded and transported to a Coalition medical facility for treatment." And they announced: "One Soldier died and two Soldiers were injured this morning east of Baghdad when the vehicle they were travling in overturned and caught fire." " And they announced: "Seven Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldiers were killed and 11 others wounded in a vehicle accident in a western portion of the Iraqi capital Sept. 10." The last two announcements use that popular phrase, as Ruth pointed out Saturday, "under investigation." The announced deaths for the month of US service members in Iraq now stands at 29 with the total number announced dead in the illegal war since it started currently at 3771.

Today, Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) observes, "Besides commanding U.S. forces in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus has become the administration's top pitchman for the strategy in Iraq." This as the AP reports on their poll (Associated Press-Ipsos) which finds 57% saying the Iraq War was a "mistake," 59% declaring "they believe history will judge the Iraq war as a failure" and finds an even smaller 'boost' in support for the war due to the escalation (smaller than the two polls noted earlier) with only a 4% increase in those who believe the escalation "has helped stabilize Iraq" (up to 36%). 57% saying, in that poll, the illegal war is a mistake, 62% in the other polls cited. The American people want the illegal war to end. They can make nice with Petraeus and Crocker all day in Congress, it doesn't change the fact that the public wants the illegal war over. Nor does it change the data contained in the Washington Post-ABC News poll. Who does the American public trust to handle the issue of Iraq? Democrats by 42%. But don't break out the party hats just yet. Not only did 31% say Republicans, there's a "trend." In May of 2006, Dems scored high on this category with 50% of respondents citing them. It then dipped as low as 43% until it went higher, 51% in October of 2006 (just in time for those elections). Since then? It's fallen to 42%. Republicans have also fallen. But Dems were swept into control of both houses of the US Congress with the promise of ending the illegal war. Who is keeping the illegal war going at this point? Not the American people who say end it. Not Iraqs who declare the escalation a failure (by 70% in the BBC, ABC News and NHK poll just out which also finds "nearly 60% see attacks on US-led forces as justified."). It's Congress and White House that are refusing to end the illegal war.

Petraeus declared today, "Blah, blah, LIE, blah, blah, SPIN, blah, blah, AVOID . . ." That more than notes the nonsense.

Turning to what does matter. As noted Friday, Tina Richards (Grassroots America), Adam Kokesh (Iraq Veterans Against the War) and Ian Thompson were arrested on Thursday for the 'crime' of posting fliers. As noted yesterday, "Editorial: You should be very angry" (The Third Estate Sunday Review), Richards and Kokesh held a press conference yesterday. Nathan Grossman (The GW Hatchet) interviewed Kokesh who declared, "Welcome to the police state" and notes, "We were ready to get arrested, but I really wasn't expecting that level of brutality." Actions continue today with Suevon Lee (New York Times) reporting members of CODEPINK have been ejected from a public hearing after showing up three hours before the hearing began to be sure they would be able to get at least one of the twenty general public seats and hear Petraeus speak. AFP reports nine members of CODEPINK were ejected and "One woman screamed 'No, No, No, No,' as she was dragged out." Reuters states it was "No! No! No! I have a right to be heard!" William H. McMichael (Navy Times) notes that cries of "Tell the truth, general!" were the apparent 'crime' and also states Cindy Sheehan was among four women arrested. National Journal's Hotline reports that two women with CODEPINK were chanting, "The American people don't believe you anymore!"

adam kokesh
iraq veterans against the war

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