Saturday, January 20, 2007

Ruth's Report

Ruth: As C.I. mentioned, my plan was to do a report on Monday. Thursday was my next opening and there were more problems with Blogger/Blogspot. As Mike guessed, I was in bed before it was possible to log on. Last week, Rebecca suggested that I come by later on Fridays because of the Friday morning group in my neighborhood where we discuss Iraq. So last weekend, I found out what would be on yesterday's agenda. One thing was the way the mainstream media was covering Iraq. I thought of watching a chat & chew and reporting on the way that went to the group; however, it seemed they were all signed up for already. Then I remembered The McLaughlin Group and, sure enough, no one had signed up.

So last weekend, that is the program I watched. It airs on PBS, John McLaughlin is the host. "From the right," you have Pat Buchanan and Tony Snow. "From the left," you have Eleanor Clift and a rotating seat. The "right" and "left" really translates as party diehards from each of the two major parties. If you have never seen The McLaughlin Group, I hope that provides you with enough background.

Watching, I was shocked. Who knew I would ever in my life agree with John McLaughlin but after the discussion of escalation, which I will cover in a second, Mr. McLaughlin made the point that when the 3,000th US service member died in Iraq, it got very little attention from the press. Mr. McLaughlin is correct and he went on to compare the lack of coverage of the 3,000 when contrasted to the non-stop coverage of the show-death of Saddam Hussein.

On the issue of escalation, Eleanor Clift struggled bravely to get a word in when it was actually her turn; however, she was up against Tony Snow. Even with Mr. McLaughlin asking Mr. Snow to let Ms. Clift speak, she really did not have much luck. It did not help that the other "left" chair was occupied by a U.P.I. correspondent who seemed to be taken aback that shouting, screaming and cutting each other off passes for a "dialogue" in this country. (The correspondent was from England.) In bits and pieces, Ms. Clift tried to mount a case against escalation.

Mr. Snow was obviously for it. Mr. Buchanan? Though he's presented as a voice against the illegal war, he came off as in favor of escalation. That may or may not be his position. No one gets to express their position in full except, of course, Mr. McLaughin who is the host. But Mr. Buchanan was repeating the tired, false line about how people do not grasp what will happen in Iraq when the U.S. forces leave. That tired line also got repeated in The Nation, sadly by Katha Pollitt.

I cannot speak for the "anti-war movement" because I am part of a peace movement. From the people I know in it, we are all fully aware that when the U.S. troops leave, it will not lead to instant peace. We are also aware, even if Mr. Buchanan and Ms. Pollitt are not, that it is the U.S. presence that fuels the resistance. We are aware of that because we are not idiots. We are smart to grasp that if a foreign country entered the U.S. tomorrow to 'liberate' us from the Bully Boy, some might be initially grateful but, after four years of occupation, we would be wondering excatly when we get our country back?

That would be true even if the country invading us did not feature leaders making insulting remarks about us. That is a basic fact because no country wants to be occupied by a foreign presence.

Friday, I shared the above and was not surprised to learn from the others reporting on a chat & chew that they felt I had more substance in the program I watched than they found in their programs. Reflexive thought and conventional wisdom pass for a "dialogue" on the network chat & chews. To be sure, party lines were trotted out on The McLaughlin Group but the nature of the exchange (hostile) means that the paid pundits are not all nodding and agreeing with one another, speaking in the mildest of terms, while they convey as bipartisan and journalistic. I do not know that more honesty emerges in statements on The McLaughlin Group, but I do think the exchange manner is far more honest than what Ellie termed, "We all love you Tim!" to Mr. Russert on Meet The Press.

As we noted throughout, no genuine left voice was present. Ms. Clift argues for the Democratic Party and one wonders if the D.N.C. has ever thought to provide her with a neckbrace for the whiplash she must suffer as they dramatically move from one position to the next?

As Crossfire and other shout-fests have disappeared, one wonders if Mr. McLaughlin has ever considered the value in adding a genuine left voice? A show that exists for the sheer volume it can produce might be able to really up the level if they invited on a Norman Solomon, Medea Benjamin, Alexander Cockburn, Margaret Kimberley, etc. That is not to imply that any of those voices is a "shouter." It is to state that if Mr. Snow head reels from what Ms. Clift attempts to say, it might explode and shoot off his shoulders if an actual voice from the left joined the panel.

On escalation, Ms. Clift managed to get across that more U.S. troops are not the answer and that the violence will only continue. Any other point she had made was lost due to Mr. Snow's constant interruptions. Which is not to imply she is a shrinking violet but, after all these years, this viewer was surprised to tune in after a long absence and still hear Ms. Clift insisting, "Tony, let me speak!" After all these years, Ms. Clift should have resorted to much stronger words though, if she had, it might have led to punches joining the words thrown.

[Ruth is referring to Pollit's "Happy New Year!" which runs on page of the January 22, 2007 edition of The Nation. The column will be addressed in a roundtable at The Third Estate Sunday Review tomorrow.]

"U.S. helicopter crash near Baghdad kills 13" (Borzou Daragahi, LA Times)

A U.S. helicopter crashed northeast of Baghdad today, killing all 13 crewmembers and passengers aboard, the military said.
The U.S. military also reported the deaths of three other troops in insurgent violence elsewhere in Iraq.
Iraqi officials said the crash took place near Tarefiya, a rural Sunni enclave of canals and wheat fields about six miles south of the provincial capital of Baqubah. The area is known as an insurgent stronghold.
Emergency crews secured the area, a news release said. The Iraqi official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said U.S. forces had cordoned off a vast area of farmland and sheep pasture to search for survivors.
The cause of the crash was under investigation and the names of the victims were being withheld pending notification of next of kin. But one Iraqi witness who spoke on condition of anonymity claimed the chopper was felled by ground fire. The U.S. military could not confirm that account.
"I'm not sure if it was a rocket or other projectiles," said the man, a farmer. "After the helicopter was fired upon it was obvious that it was losing control. Then it crashed with an explosion and the smoke started."

The above is from Borzou Daragahi's "U.S. helicopter crash near Baghdad kills 13" (Los Angeles Times) and it will be interesting to see how the New York Times tries to report it since it doesn't fit with their attempt to convey the (false) impression that a corner's being turned.

It's worth recalling this from Warren P. Strobel's "Middle East hasn't turned out the way Bush, Rice predicted" (McClatchy Newspapers):

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's Air Force jet, a specially equipped Boeing 757, passed west of Baghdad as she left the Middle East this week, giving those on the cabin's right-hand side a crystal-clear view of the tortured Iraqi city below.
The Green Zone, home to Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki's government, the U.S. Embassy compound and whatever hope remains for restoring peace, was visible. But Rice wasn't stopping.

In an update to the LA Times report on US troops announced dead, we'll note all that have been announced today (and tomorrow -- it's Sunday in Baghdad). The US military announced today: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier assigned to 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, was killed Friday as a result of injuries sustained from an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations in Ninewah Province. Two other Soldiers were wounded and transported to a Coalition Forces’ medical treatment facility." And they announced: "A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier died when an improvised explosive device detonated near a patrol in a northern section of the Iraqi capital Jan. 20." And they announced: "One Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died Friday from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." Sunday, they announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier assigned to 105th Engineer Group, died Saturday of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle while conducting combat operations in northern Iraq." They actually have three announcements on Saturday about a death in Ninewah Province. Those may be three different deaths; however, in the past, they've had to issue an "OOPS" after announcing the same death more than once so we'll treat it as the same death unless it's reported otherwise. Sunday, they also announced: "The Provincial Joint Coordination Center (PJCC) in Karbala was attacked with grenades, small arms and indirect fires by an illegally armed militia group Jan 20. Five U.S. Soldiers were killed and three wounded while repelling the attack." That's nine deaths announced, if I've counted correctly.

That doesn't include the helicopter attack which may have included civilians on board. Here's the US military announcment on that:

A US forces helicopter went down northeast of Baghdad this afternoon. Emergency Coalition Forces responded and secured the scene.
Thirteen passengers and crewmembers were aboard the aircraft and all were killed. The names of the servicemembers are being withheld pending notification of next of kin.This incident is under investigation.

The following community sites have updated since yesterday morning:

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

Ruth's latest will go up this evening. She's written and saved to draft so that the heads up to Flanders could be the last thing showing up until Flanders' program was off. Ruth intended to write on Monday (due to the fact that I had already said there might not be a snapshot -- there wasn't) but Blogger/Blogspot was nonstop problems. Tuesday was a family birthday so she figured she'd post on Thursday but again Blogger/Blogspot problems. It does go up this evening (check after Flanders' goes off air).

Flanders? This weekend on RadioNation with Laura Flanders:

The President wants his critics to advance alternative proposals. How about a whole world of alternatives? This weekend on RadioNation, a report from the seventh annual WORLD SOCIAL FORUM which kicks off this Saturday in Nairobi, Kenya. For the first time in Africa, the Social Forum will bring together activists, artists and social movements from every continent, dedicated to building sustainable peace and rolling back the profit-not-people empire. Another World Is Possible. Find out how. Plus, the latest on the US military build up off the Horn of Africa.

The e-mail address for this site is

Watada and Anderson

Darrell Anderson -- who spent seven months in Iraq, received a Purple Heart and later deserted from the Army -- set up camp [C.I. note: This is Camp Resistance.] in a school bus earlier this month across the freeway from Fort Lewis. As soldiers exited the base, Anderson offered them a power fist of protest.
Sometimes the soldiers responded with jeers and raised middle fingers. Sometimes, they cheered and clenched their own fists or flashed a peace sign.
"A lot of them have families to take care of. They can't resist. They have too much to lose," Anderson said. "They don't want to be like me with nothing, by the side of the road, talking about how wrong it is."
Anderson was drawn to the Northwest by the upcoming court-martial trial of 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, a Fort Lewis officer who faces up to six years in prison for his refusal to serve a first tour of duty in Iraq and for attacks on the Bush administration's conduct of the war.
The trial has become a rallying point for Northwest anti-war activists, who have scheduled a "citizens hearing" on the legality and conduct of the war in Tacoma this weekend. And Anderson, speaking at rallies, schools and meeting halls, has emerged as a vivid protest voice against the wrenching emotional toll of fighting a war amid a civilian population.

The above is from Hal Bernton's "Upcoming Watada trial drew Army deserter to Northwest" (Seattle Times) and we'll be addressing (or that's the plan) at The Third Estate Sunday Review tomorrow. The trial is Citizens' Hearing on the Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq which started today and concludes Sunday at the Evergreen State College Tacoma Campus (10:00 am to 4:00 pm each day).

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NYT: Selling the war like it was their own mother

As the Iraqi government attempts to secure a capital city ravaged by conflict between Sunni and Shiite Muslim Arabs, its decision to bring a third party into the mix may cause more problems than peace.
Kurdish soldiers from northern Iraq, who are mostly Sunnis but not Arabs, are deserting the army to avoid the civil war in Baghdad, a conflict they consider someone else's problem.
The Iraqi army brigades being sent to the capital are filled with former members of a Kurdish militia, the peshmerga, and most of the soldiers remain loyal to the militia.
Much as Shiite militias have infiltrated the Iraqi security forces across Arab Iraq, the peshmerga fill the ranks of the Iraqi army in the Kurdish region in the north, poised to secure a semi-independent Kurdistan and seize oil-rich Kirkuk and parts of Mosul if Iraq falls apart. One thing they didn't bank on, they said, was being sent into the "fire" of Baghdad.
"The soldiers don't know the Arabic language, the Arab tradition, and they don't have any experience fighting terror," said Anwar Dolani, a former peshmerga commander who leads the brigade that's being transferred to Baghdad from the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah.

The above is from Leila Fadel and Yaseen Taha's "Kurdish Iraqi soldiers are deserting to avoid the conflict in Baghdad" (McClatchy Newspapers). Nothing on it in the New York Times because selling the war is much more important to them than reality. The proposed escalation comes at a time when more and more countries are pulling out of Iraq and, now, it appears the Kurds are also saying "no." It's so much easier to fluff as James Glanz does today in "Draft Law Keeps Central Control Over Oil in Iraq." No, it doesn't. Read the article (Glanz didn't write the headline) and you'll see that if you do this or that (for instance produce over 150,000 barrels of oil a day) you avoid the centralization. "Eventual privatization" Glanz mentions before moving on quickly and you know the issue of the foreign companies getting 75% of all profits isn't dealt with. Should an occupied country with a war still raging allow a puppet government to determine their future profits? No. But Glanz isn't up for that either.

Smart bookers would be contacting Antonia Juhasz (The BU$H Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time) immediately because, while others have pooh-pahhed the issue -- she has stayed on top of it. Juhasz will be among those participating at the Citizens' Hearing on the Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq, beginning at ten a.m. and ending at four today and tomorrow, at the Evergreen State College Tacoma Campus where issues that a military 'judge' refuses to allow Ehren Watada to present as his defense will be explored in public. (Also putting the hearing far ahead of the Congress.)

At the Times, the headline writer must really hate David S. Cloud because as many problems as Cloud's piece has, one of them is not claiming that Casey said escalated troops would be back in the US by the end of summer.

Tamara was the first to note Margaret Kimerley's "Racism, Fascism at CNN and ABC" (Freedom Rider, Black Agenda Report):

Racist and fascist speech is alive and well, transmitted over the airwaves and cables of major U.S. media. Hosts who call for the burning alive, torture and lynching of minorities and leftists are paid big bucks to spread hate, while bloggers who 'out' the culprits can be shut down.
"And that's all we're hearing about, are the people in New Orleans. Those are the only ones we're seeing on television are the scumbags ..."
"Every night I get down on my knees and pray that Dennis Kucinich will burst into flames."
"I'm thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I'm wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it. No, I think I could. I think he could be looking me in the eye, you know, and I could just be choking the life out -- is this wrong?" --
Glenn Beck, CNN, ABC commentator
People who fantasize about choking and burning usually keep their thoughts to themselves. Such sentiments are generally frowned upon in civilized society. At the very least they are disdained, and at the worst they invite calls to the police and to the men in white suits.
None of those scenarios apply if those words are spoken by political conservatives in the corporate media. The more venomous, fascistic and racist their statements, the more likely they are to enjoy career success.

Read the above or the entire thing (judging by the e-mails, many already have read the whole thing) and note how media criticism can be written from the left when you're not fearful that you won't get booked, won't get your book reviewed just so, won't . . . . Go down the list. Little foppish males continue to eat up valuable print space (AlterPunk among them) without ever saying anything. Kimberley writes strong. Like it matters because it damn well does.

Back to the Times. Sabrina Tavernise falls hook, line and sinker for a story she better pray doesn't blow up in her face. The US military didn't confirm who they had. For a paper that supposedly doesn't trust al-Sadr, they certainly rush to print a one-sourced claim backed up by al-Sadr's spokesperson. While Tavernise pimps "I am changing," the real world is far less glittery.

Gareth notes Colin Brown's "The battle to save Iraq's children" (Independent of London):

The desperate plight of children who are dying in Iraqi hospitals for the lack of simple equipment that in some cases can cost as little as 95p is revealed today in a letter signed by nearly 100 eminent doctors.
They are backed by a group of international lawyers, who say the conditions in hospitals revealed in their letter amount to a breach of the Geneva conventions that require Britain and the US as occupying forces to protect human life.
In a direct appeal to Tony Blair, the doctors describe desperate shortages causing "hundreds" of children to die in hospitals. The signatories include Iraqi doctors, British doctors who have worked in Iraqi hospitals, and leading UK consultants and GPs.
"Sick or injured children who could otherwise be treated by simple means are left to die in hundreds because they do not have access to basic medicines or other resources," the doctors say. "Children who have lost hands, feet and limbs are left without prostheses. Children with grave psychological distress are left untreated," they add.
They say babies are being ventilated with a plastic tube in their noses and dying for want of an oxygen mask, while other babies are dying because of the lack of a phial of vitamin K or sterile needles, all costing about 95p. Hospitals have little hope of stopping fatal infections spreading from baby to baby because of the lack of surgical gloves, which cost about 3.5p a pair.

Remember all the faux outrage over the p.r. manufactured lie that babies were being tossed out of incubators in the first Gulf War? Hollow. As demonstrated by the lack of concern over this. (The Times isn't even interested. They've got an escalation to sell and an industry to privatize.)

John R. MacArthur exposed the propaganda of the first Gulf War and Eddie notes a highlight by him, "Who's the Journalistic Hypocrite?" (Harper's magazine):

Whenever liberals moan about the sorry state of American print journalism, I'm reminded of A.J. Liebling, the great New Yorker press critic of the 1950s and '60s, who remarked that “freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”
The same goes for quality. You want free-thinking, courageous reporting, unpolluted by government intimidation and big money interests? I'm afraid that in a country hooked on private enterprise, it's the special privilege of owners to hire good journalists and encourage them to do honest work. Get used to it or else get busy raising a billion dollars to start your own daily newspaper. Meanwhile, you're free to blog yourself silly (or shout out the window).
Granted, the increase in corporate ownership of newspapers and magazines has muddied the question of who actually controls the press, but there's usually still a dominant shareholder to hold accountable, be it Rupert Murdoch at News Corp. or Donald Graham at the Washington Post Co. Blame Murdoch, not Judith Regan, for the O.J. confession debacle; blame Graham for any number of sins committed by Bob Woodward.
Nevertheless, we shouldn't absolve individual reporters of all responsibility for journalistic malpractice. There was nothing preventing James Risen of the New York Times from breaking his big, suppressed scoop about President Bush's illegal National Security Agency wiretapping program before the November 2004 election. Just because his bosses at the Times were too cautious to print the story promptly (they waited more than a year) doesn't mean that Risen couldn't have gotten the story printed elsewhere—in time, perhaps, to drive Bush from office.
Likewise, nothing compelled Nicholas Lemann, a noted author and dean of the Columbia University School of Journalism, to write his shoddy, disingenuous appraisal of the left-wing journalist I.F. Stone, published in the New Yorker last November. As unfair as it was, Lemann's piece got me thinking again about Liebling's dictum, not only because I admired Stone's journalism, but because Stone took Liebling to heart. When his last newspaper was shot out from under him in the early 1950s, Stone started his own newsletter and himself became an owner.
Which makes Lemann's article all the more disturbing, since it runs down Stone's reputation under cover of the "The Wayward Press" rubric--the very moniker that Liebling made famous when the New Yorker was an independent and liberal magazine that regularly took on the conglomerate media.
Everything in Lemann's piece is hedged, including the snide and highly conditional praise. He cites, with a yawn, what he calls the "official catechism" on Stone: "courageous"; "stood up for civil liberties"; "an impassioned advocate of civil rights" for blacks before it was popular; "opposed the Vietnam War well before the Gulf of Tonkin incident"; "aggressively questioned the government at a time when the best-known journalists were cheerleaders," etc. Lemann acknowledges Stone's "dazzling mind" and "erudition," and then with faint condescension informs us that "Izzie," as he was known, was an "excellent, if unconventional, reporter."
God knows Lemann is a conventional reporter, so in case you didn't know how fatally left Stone was, Lemann makes sure you won't forget it [. . .]

There will be another entry later today. We're heading to the airport, so this is very rushed. Follow along if you were able. The Times isn't interested in Iraq today except to sell you war, war, war. They'd sell their own mother at this point if they thought it would even eight more months to the illegal war.

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Friday, January 19. 2006.  Chaos and violence continue, but speculation is so much more fun for the mainstream press; war resisters stand up and some stand with them; General Casey uses weasel words;
Starting with news of US war resister Ehren Watada who, in June 2006, became the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq.  Watada faces a court-martial February 5th and the 'judge' has stripped him of the right to present a strong defense.  Arguments that can't be made in a kangroo court can be made by in the real world at Citizens' Hearing on the Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq which starts tomorrow and concludes Sunday at the Evergreen State College Tacoma Campus (10:00 am to 4:00 pm each day).  As Michael Gilbert (The News Tribune) reports "a lineup of speakers will make the case that the war and the ongoing occupation are illegal under international and U.S. law, and that an officer such as Watada has a duty to disobey orders to take part in it."  Zoltan Grossman tells Gilbert that "the event will take the shape of a congressional hearing" and notes that those participating include the following: Denis Halliday, Ann Wright, Francis Boyle, Daniel Ellsberg, Darrell Anderson, Harvey Tharp and Nadia McCaffrey.
While some stay silent (The Nation) Peter Michaelson (BuzzFlash) steps up, "The world is upside down, and one brave first lieutenant tries to set it right.  The U.S. war in Iraq is illegal and immoral, says 1st Lt. Ehren Watada.  In thus choosing reality over fallacy, and refusing to deploy to Iraq with his Stryker brigade, the 28-year-old Honolulu native faces six years in the brig when his court-martial begins next month at Ft. Lewis near Seattle."  Peter Michaelson and BuzzFlash stood up.  FYI, BuzzFlash is offering Peace buttons and Howard Zinn's A Power Governments Cannot Suppress.
Also standing up, of course, in support of Watada is Iraq Veterans Against the War have set up Camp Resistance and Portland IMC has audio of Dennis Kyne and Darrell Anderson speaking about Camp Resistance.  Anderson spoke of how they were camping outside Fort Lewis, "That bus is parked right there and it's not leaving until the trial is over, not till February."  Anderson noted the positive reaction from soldiers at Fort Lewis, "They see the bus, they know who we area.   After six days, we had soldiers honking, soldiers rolling by in their civilian clothes and screaming out the window.  And I remember like, wow, I was just coming up here for Watada and Suzanne Swift and I didn't think the soldiers were going to  . . . I never heard of soldiers power fisting anti-war guys.  And that's when it hit me, that they're done.  They're not going back for a third time.  'Cause that's where I'd be if I didn't go AWOL, I'd be at my third tour right now.  Three years in Iraq, three years.  Could you imagine Vietnam vets, could you imagine going back to Vietnam three times?  Three years and you don't come back from that.  You go to Iraq, but you don't come back."
As Ehren Watada's February 5th court-martial approaches, this week the US military announced their decision to charge Agustin Aguayo with desertion and missing movement which carry a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.    Watada, Aguayo, and Anderson are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes Kyle Snyder, Agustin Aguayo, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.
Bring the Peace Mandate to D.C. on J27! On Election Day voters delivered an unmistakable mandate for peace. Now it's time for action. Join CODEPINK in a national march to D.C. on January 27-29, to send a strong, clear message to Congress and the Bush Administration: The people of this country want the war and occupation in Iraq to end and we want the troops home now! See our latest actions, and click here for details.
In Iraq today?
Reuters reports a bombing of a butcher's shop that killed the butcher in Hilla. Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing ("at AL ELLWIAH intersection in KARDA") that killed a police officer and left another dead, a mortar attack ("near haifa street") that killed 2 and left 3 more wounded, another martar attack ("bayaa area western Baghdad") that left one person injured and a mortar attack that killed a woman and wounded 3 more people. Kim Gamel (AP) reports that a Shi'ite mosque was bombed "in sourthern Baghdad" (before the bombing, two guards of the mosque were killed).
CBS and AP report that "a man working for the Ministry of Tourism and Archaeology Affairs . . . was shot to death near his home in a predominantly Sunni neighborhood in western Baghdad."  Reuters reports three shot dead in Falluja (Iraqi soldier and two ex-police officers), a Sunni preacher was shot dead in Kirkuk, and an attack on a minibus left two wounded in Hilla. Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that, in Tikrit, a vehichle was stopped an official checkpoint, the car contained 4 family members and began accusing one ("OMAR") of having fake identification but they waived them on only for them to be stopped by "unknown gunmen" immediately after who wanted to know which one was Omar "and killed him immediately and stabbed his other brother" leaving his sister and mother to drive to the hospital in Tikrit.

Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 17 corpses were discovered in Baghdad today ("1 yarmouk, 2 amil, 1 aour, 2 zaafaraniyah, 1 selakh, 1 kamaliyah, 4 rahmaniyah, 1 bayaa, 1 shurta khamsa and 3 in dora. some were tortured and handcuffed").
In addition to the above, today US military announced today: " A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier died when an improvised explosive device detonated on a patrol in a northwest section of the Iraqi capital Jan. 18" and the BBC reports that six British oldiers were wounded following an attack utilizing rockets and mortars ("on the Basra Palace camp").
In legal news, on Thursday, three US troops confessed and to review that:
*Hashim Ibrahim Awad who was the grandfather kidnapped and then murdered last year (April). Eight US service members were charged. They are known as the Pendleton Eight. Four had already confessed to their involvement. Yesterday, Trent Thomas became the fifth with his plea agreement.

*Three Iraqis, on May 9th, were detained by US troops, placed in plastic handcuffs, released (handcuffs cut off) with the intent to kill them ("Kill them all" is what some defense lawyers argued their clients were told). Four US troops were charged with this. William B. Hunsaker confessed (and was sentenced) earlier this month, Juston R. Graber also confessed to his involvment this month. Raymond L. Girouard maintains his innocence. Yesterday, Core Clagett entered a plea agreement. (It should be noted his attorney, Paul Bergin, has his own problems these days.) So that's three out of four having admitted guilt.

*Abeer is the one Megan says she can follow but just to recap for anyone who is confused -- three admissions of guilt in three different war crimes took place yesterday -- Abeer Qasim Hamza (14-years-old), Hadeel Qassim Hamza (five-years-old, Abeer's sister), Qassim Hamza Raheem and Fakhriya Taha Muhasen (her parents) were all killed on March 12, 2006. In addition Abeer was gang raped before being killed. Those charged in the incident were Steven D. Green (to be tried in a civilian court because he had left the military before the war crimes were learned of), Jesse Spielman, Bryan Howard, James P. Barker and Paul Cortez. (Anthony W. Yribe was not charged with participating -- he was charged with failure to report the crimes, dereliction of duty.) Green has entered a plea of not guilty in a federal court. James P. Barker confessed in court in November (and named Cortez as a co-gang rapist). Paul Cortez confessed yesterday but his attorney maintains Cortez was an 'oberserver.' Was he an observer in rape?

Barker's testimony was that it appeared Cortez was raping Abeer but, from his statements, he wasn't able to determine penetration. (Wasn't able to determine it from his angle. Whether Cortez penetrated or not, he took part in the gang rape, according to Barker, because Barker confessed to how they took turns holding Abeer down during the gang rape.)
Meanwhile Robert Gates visits Iraq and calls the current climate a "pivotal moment." Meeting up with the outgoing George Casey ("top American commander in Iraq"), CBS and AP report that Casey declares: "I think it's probably going to be the summer, late summer, before you get to the point where people in Baghdad feel safe in their neighborhoods."  Is that what you think?  Casey's not done with feelings checks or predictions, Robert Burns (AP) reports that escalated troops (the 21,500 Bully Boy wants to send into Iraq) COULD be back "home by late summer".  COULD.  A weasel word. 
"Casey, didn't you say US troops would be back home by late summer?" 
"No, I said could."
Meaningless weasel words meant to comfort and lull a public that's enraged by an illegal war with no apparent end.  AP reports that Nancy Pelois (US House Speaker) has declared Bully Boy "has dug a hole so deep he can't even see the light on this.  It's a tragedy.  It's a stark blunder." 
CBS, CNN and the whole mainstream press report that Muqtada al-Sadr's top aide was arrested, this following yesterday's reported arrest of Shi'ite fighters, and that al-Sadr is now in hiding fearing for his life and moving his family around while stating that a holy period of Muharram (the new year -- short answer).  al-Sadr is quoted stating that no attacks will be initiated by him during the holy period (however, a response would be another issue) but when it is over, "we'll see."  How much of this is true, how much of this is the sort of jerk-around we were once supposed to believe during Vietnam (remember Henry Kissinger really, really wanting to have those Paris Peace Talks -- at least publicly?), who knows.
More importantly, what Nouri al-Maliki is willing to go along with (not order, he doesn't have the power to order) at this minute and after more troops are on the ground is also a question mark. 
Most importantly, Baghdad is a city.
Al-Anbar Province and Baghdad are where Bully Boy wants to send the bulk of esclation.  As Webster Tarpley and Bonnie Faulkiner discussed Wednesday on KPFA's Guns and Butter, house-to-house, blah, blah, blah (the kind of nonsense that makes Michael Gordon light headed) creates a flank, you have less power to move in a city (tanks, et al).  Tarpley compared it to the desperation measures of Hitler when commander-in-chief of the Eastern Front against Russia. 
As people get exicted over who may have gotten arrested and who may not have, what al-Sadr might have said or not, what al-Maliki might do or not, what COULD happen this summer, it seems (yet again) some basic realities are being ignored.  Noting one reality is Warren P. Strobel (McClatchy Newspapers): the illegal war "hasn't turned out the way advocates of the Iraq invasion had hoped or the way Bush and [U.S. Secretary of State] Condi Rice had predicted."   Nor the way the New York Times and many others predicted either. 
For more reality, Anthony Arnove, author of Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal, will be speaking tomorrow as well as next Saturday:
*January 20, 7 pm,
Chicago, IL (with Jeff Engelhardt)

University of Illinois-Chicago
Contact: Adam Turl, 773-567-0936,

*January 27, 5 pm,
Washington, DC (with Kelly Dougherty)
Busboys and Poets

Food fight? Enjoy some healthy debate
in the Yahoo! Answers Food & Drink Q&A.

Other Items

A stepped up military offensive that targets mosques, religious leaders and Islamic customs is leading many Iraqis to believe that the U.S.-led invasion really was a 'holy war'.
Photographs are being circulated of black crosses painted on mosque walls and on copies of the Quran, and of soldiers dumping their waste inside mosques. New stories appear frequently of raids on mosques and brutal treatment of Islamic clerics, leading many Iraqis to ask if the invasion and occupation was a war against Islam.
Many Iraqis now recall remarks by U.S. President George W. Bush shortly after the events of Sep. 11, 2001 when he told reporters that "this crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take a while."
"Bush's tongue 'slipped' more than once when he spoke of 'fascist Islamists' and used other similar expressions that touched the very nerve of Muslims around the world," Sheikh Abdul Salam al-Kubayssi of the Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS), a leading Sunni group, told IPS in Baghdad. "We wish they were just mere slips, but what is going on repeatedly makes one think of crusades over and over."
Occupation forces claim that mosque raids are being conducted because holy places are being used by resistance fighters.
A leaflet distributed in Fallujah by U.S. forces late November said mosques were being used by "insurgents" to conduct attacks against "Multi-National Forces", and that this would lead to "taking proper procedures against those mosques."
The statement referred to daily sniper attacks against occupation forces in Fallujah in which many U.S. soldiers have been killed.
Local people refute these claims made by coalition forces.
"Fighters never used mosques for attacking Americans because they realise the consequences and reactions from the military," a member of the local municipality council of Fallujah told IPS on condition of anonymity. "Nonetheless, U.S. soldiers always targeted our mosques and their minarets."
During Operation Phantom Fury of November 2004, scores of mosques in Fallujah were damaged or destroyed completely. Fallujah is known as the city of mosques because it has so many.

The above is from Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily's "The War Becomes More Unholy" (IPS) and Billie noted it. As propaganda targets the American people yet again (sell us that turned corner, one more time and all the show-moves that accompany it), it's good to open with reality.

Megan writes "HELP!" and notes that she's confused over the guilty pleas. There were three yesterday.

*Hashim Ibrahim Awad was the grandfather kidnapped and then murdered last year (April). Eight US service members were charged. They are known as the Pendleton Eight. Four had already confessed to their involvement. Yesterday, Trent Thomas became the fifth with his plea agreement.

*Three Iraqis, on May 9th, were detained by US troops, placed in plastic handcuffs, released (handcuffs cut off) with the intent to kill them ("Kill them all" is what some defense lawyers argued their clients were told). Four US troops were charged with this. William B. Hunsaker confessed (and was sentenced) earlier this month, Juston R. Graber also confessed to his involvment this month. Raymond L. Girouard maintains his innocence. Yesterday, Core Clagett entered a plea agreement. (It should be noted his attorney, Paul Bergin, has his own problems these days.) So that's three out of four having admitted guilt.

*Abeer is the one Megan says she can follow but just to recap for anyone who is confused -- three admissions of guilt in three different war crimes took place yesterday -- Abeer Qasim Hamza (14-years-old), Hadeel Qassim Hamza (five-years-old, Abeer's sister), Qassim Hamza Raheem and Fakhriya Taha Muhasen (her parents) were all killed on March 12, 2006. In addition Abeer was gang raped before being killed. Those charged in the incident were Steven D. Green (to be tried in a civilian court because he had left the military before the war crimes were learned of), Jesse Spielman, Bryan Howard, James P. Barker and Paul Cortez. (Anthony W. Yribe was not charged with participating -- he was charged with failure to report the crimes, dereliction of duty.) Green has entered a plea of not guilty in a federal court. James P. Barker confessed in court in November (and named Cortez as a co-gang rapist). Paul Cortez confessed yesterday but his attorney maintains Cortez was an 'oberserver.' Was he an observer in rape?
Barker's testimony was that it appeared Cortez was raping Abeer but, from his statements, he wasn't able to determine penetration. (Wasn't able to determine it from his angle. Whether Cortez penetrated or not, he took part in the gang rape, according to Barker, because Barker confessed to how they took turns holding Abeer down during the gang rape.)

So those are the three incidents that three people entered into confessions/plea agreements with on yesterday.

Now, quickly, Borzou Daragahi and Louise Roug (LA Times) write about Iraq's budget for 2007 and how it's a $41 billion budget. There are details of the budget (which the reports have a copy of) but note that there is "$8 billion left over from last year" -- $8 billion that could have been spent (spent in Iraq, not al-Maliki playing Diamond Jim Brady and tossing it around to other countries) wasn't. If you missed it, the waters not potable, the electricity comes and goes and the hospitals are in crisis. That's just three that spring to my mind, I'm sure others could provide additional examples. How do you not spend $8 billion that you have when your country is in crisis?

The US military announced today: " A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier died when an improvised explosive device detonated on a patrol in a northwest section of the Iraqi capital Jan. 18." As for Wednesday deaths (of civilians), today is Friday. AP wrote about it in time to make the Thursday paper (NYT). The Times didn't. Today is Friday. It's sad when anyone dies; however, the majority dying are Iraqis. And the majority of those dying Iraqis never even get their names reported in the US press, forget a story about their lives. Has the Times ran the story on Thursday, we would have noted it. But we noted it on Thursday (without them).

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NYT: If myths were true, Gordo would be blind by now or it would have fallen off

When Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus assumes his duties as the new American commander in Iraq, he will be guided by a new military doctrine on counterinsurgency that makes the security of the population a chief objective.
But a pressing question that is likely to emerge when the Senate takes up his confirmation next week is whether the administration's new Iraq strategy will draw on enough forces to ensure security -- as measured against the general's own guidelines.

War pornographer Michael Gordon fluffs in "In Baghdad, Pressing to Meet, With Iraqi Help, Pentagon’s Own Standard for Force Levels" in this morning's New York Times. The brain is dead, but the war-on's dripping as Gordo pens another. "But a pressing question . . . [is] will [it] draw on enough forces to ensure security"?

Gordo's so hot for the escalation, he sells it like everyone is. A pressing question might be (which is just a prediction -- as opposed to reporting something that actually happened): What makes the escalation a 'plan' or anything 'new' from what the administration has been doing for the last four years?

(Answer? Not a damn thing.)

We're done with Gordo but Alexander Cockburn addresses him on last week's CounterSpin -- sorry. You can use the CounterSpin link to here it. Today, Sarah Olson will be a guest for those curious as to what she'll contradict today, or whether she supports Ehren Watada today or not, whether she's going to say she can't talk about what she's going to do (as she's told almost everyone) or whether she'll say she's not testifying (as she told Laura Flanders on air) . . . For those whose time matters, skip her dance.

Turning to the Los Angeles Times, we'll note a report (credited to the Times staff and wires) on the UN report which the Iraqi government is criticizing (the article notes that at least 60 died yesterday in violence) -- from "Iraq bristles at U.N. report:"

Although not rejecting the casualty figure, government spokesman Ali Dabbagh said the U.N. Assistance Mission report was "not professional or neutral as we would expect from the missions of the international organization. The report was superficial in dealing with several points."
A compilation of Iraqi government figures from three agencies put the number of civilians killed last year at 12,357.
But a Health Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to disclose the information, said 16,000 bodies of victims of violence had been taken to the Baghdad morgue alone last
year and it appeared that the U.N. figure was "about correct."
When asked what the government didn't accept about the report, Dabbagh said, "I am not talking about figures. I am talking about details in the report."
The U.N. report, released Tuesday in Baghdad, also criticized the government's human rights record, raising concern about homosexuals and other vulnerable groups.

Polly notes this from BBC:

Six British soldiers have been hurt after rockets and mortars struck a military base in southern Iraq, the Ministry of Defence has said.
One soldier was seriously wounded while the others received minor injuries in the attack on the Basra Palace camp.
Four soldiers were taken to a field hospital and two received treatment on the spot, a spokeswoman said.

Mia notes the plan re: Iraq that was proposed by Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters and Lynn Woolsey and which doesn't feel is getting enough attention online. (Noting it may also wash away some of the stink of Gordo's war porn.) So from Lee's website:

Lee, Woolsey and Waters Unveil Alternative to President’s Iraq Escalation Plan
New Iraq Legislation Would Bring Troops Home Within Six Months
(Washington, DC) -- Congresswoman Barbara Lee joined with Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chair, Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), and Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chair and Co-Founder of the Out-of-Iraq Caucus, in unveiling new legislation designed to bring about the withdrawal of all U.S. forces currently in Iraq within six months at a press conference on Capitol Hill today.
"In November the American people called on our government to end the occupation and bring our troops home, not to escalate a losing strategy," said Lee. "This legislation offers a rational alternative to the President’s proposed escalation."
The Bring the Troops Home and Iraq Sovereignty Restoration Act, which is designed as a comprehensive alternative to the Bush administration’s proposed escalation of the Iraq war, would repeal the authorization for the use of force, fully fund a six month withdrawal of U.S. forces and military contractors from Iraq, prohibit permanent military bases in Iraq, provide economic and political aid to the Iraqi government and fully fund the VA Health Care system for all military veterans.
The bill also goes beyond any measure introduced to date, as it sets forth not only a clear plan for withdrawal over a six month timetable from enactment of the bill, but also clarifies U.S. involvement in Iraq following the withdrawal. The bill:
Prohibits any permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq
Accelerates funding for military/contractor training of Iraqi forces
Authorizes wide array of non-military U.S. bilateral and multilateral assistance for reconstruction and reconciliation in Iraq
Prohibits US access to Iraqi oil production prior to the Iraqi government establishing clear rules for foreign ownership and participation
Guarantees health care for U.S. veterans of military operations in Iraq and other conflicts
Creates a bi-partisan joint committee to investigate the process by which the U.S. was led into war under false pretenses and make recommendations on how such a situation can be prevented in the future.
The following is Congresswoman Lee's statement from the press conference (as prepared):
"Last week, the President went before the American people and admitted that mistakes have been made in Iraq and said that he was responsible for them. I expected him to tell us that he planned to rectify these deadly errors by announcing a plan to end the occupation and bring home our troops.
"Instead, he proposed an escalation of his failed policies at precisely the time when the American people are calling for us to end the occupation of Iraq and bring our troops home. He's like the man who finds himself stuck in a hole and decides the best way out is to keep digging.
"The American people oppose this escalation. Members of Congress oppose this escalation. The President's own military advisors oppose this escalation.
"The question that Congress and the American people must now answer is how many people should die so the President can avoid admitting he has staked his presidency and his legacy on an unnecessary war whose implementation his administration has botched at every turn? How many have to die so the President can save face?
"The President said that critics of escalation have a responsibility to offer an alternative, and that is what we are here to do today. We come here not out of a sense of obligation to the President, but out of a sense of obligation to the millions of Americans who registered their rejection of the failed policy in Iraq in November and called for an end the occupation of that country and to bring our brave men and women home.
"The Bring the Troops Home and Iraq Sovereignty Restoration Act is a comprehensive, rational alternative to the President Bush’s proposed escalation.
"Our bill provides for the full funding of the withdrawal of all U.S. troops and military contractors over a six month timeline.
"This legislation does what the administration has refused to do, namely recognize the situation on the ground for what it is, an occupation and a civil war. The President insists on appealing to patriotic sentiments and fear with talk about victory and defeat in Iraq, but the truth is that you cannot win an occupation, no more than the U.S. can win an Iraqi civil war. The longer we stay there, the worse it gets.
"This legislation also makes a clear statement of policy that we will not maintain permanent military bases in Iraq, or try to exercise control over Iraq's oil resources. We should not permanently occupy Iraq, period.
"In October, the President was asked if he would rule out the possibility of permanent bases, and his refusal to do so only fed the mistrust of the Iraqi public, strengthened the insurgency and fueled the violence on the ground.
"A recent poll found that not only the overwhelming majority of Iraqis want the U.S. to leave, but that the overwhelming majority believes that the U.S. plans to keep permanent bases in Iraq, and that belief is highly correlated with support for attacks on U.S. forces.
"The poll, released by the Program on International Policy Attitudes in late September, found that almost 80 percent of Iraqis believe the US military is "provoking more conflict than it is preventing" and 71 percent want US forces to leave in the next year.
"Nearly 80 percent of Iraqis believe that the US intends to maintain permanent military bases in Iraq, and six in 10 approve of attacks on U.S. forces, an increase from January, when less than half approved of such attacks. According to the poll, "If the US were to commit to withdraw, more than half of those who approve of attacks on US troops say that their support for attacks would diminish."
"Last year, we succeeded in blocking FY 2007 funds from being used to establish permanent military bases, and we will continue to work to block funds, but by introducing this bill we are working to make sure that when our troops come home, they all come home, and that it will be the official policy of this country not to maintain permanent military bases in Iraq or to exercise control over that country's oil resources.
"This legislation also makes good on our nation's promise to the brave men and women who have served in Iraq and elsewhere, by ensuring that the VA Health Care system is fully funded to meet any needs they may have, including mental health needs.
"Finally, once the withdrawal is complete, this legislation provides for the formation of a bipartisan joint committee that will undertake a thorough and final investigation into how our nation came to be misled into this unnecessary war, and make recommendations on how we can prevent such a situation from ever happening again.
"It is time to bring this war and occupation to an end. It is time for military measures to be replaced with diplomacy and engagement with Iraq's neighbors. It is time to take the targets off our troops back and to bring them home. And that is what this legislation does."

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

Early in 2006, women had decided that the nation needed to go in a new direction (see Ms., Summer 2006), especially around the Iraq War. And election-eve polling showed that they voted for change. Indeed, without the women's vote in key races, the balance of power in Congress would not have shifted.
For example, if only men had voted, then Jim Webb (D-Va.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mont.) would all have lost their races and Republicans would still control the U.S. Senate. According to network exit polls, in the Webb/George Allen race, 55 percent of women voted for Webb and only 45 percent of men -- a whopping 10 percent gender gap. Also without African American voters, especially African American women, Webb would have lost.
[. . .]
The Ms./WDN polls showed that voters' top priorities for this session of Congress are the war in Iraq (75% rate it high to very high in importance), health care (74 percent), and the economy and jobs (72 percent). Yet gender gaps emerged on these and other key issues (see chart below).

To see below, you'll need to check out the Winter 2007 issue of Ms. The above is from Eleanor Smeal's "Women Voted For Change" (and for Robin who has to do a report on the election results for her high school class, that's page 13).

Ms. also features an article on Ugly Betty by Yeid M. Rivero. For any visitor wondering why that's included in this post, Ava and I wrote about Ugly Betty and Ty says there are a number of e-mails from people who enjoy the show. We'll try to link to it Sunday but it could get forgotten so it's being tossed in here. I'll do that throughout this entry but I think all the other things will be Iraq related.

So, as Eleanor points out, Iraq was a deciding factor in the elections (and women's votes were key). Two things worth remembering as many try to rewrite recent history (Yawn Emanuel among them). So what does the public have to show for that?

Senate Dems collectively are wasting energy to try to pass . . . nothing. A non-binding resolution has no teeth, has no weight, that is nothing but a symbolic measure. It's a lunchtime poll brought to you by Joe Biden, Chuck Hagel and Carl Levin. Ted Kennedy has a real plan; Maxine Waters, Lynn Wolsey and Barbara Lee have a real plan; Christopher Dodd has a real plan, Dennis Kucinich has a real plan . . . And Biden wants to be president . . . for the symbolic value? Maybe he'll get some symbolic support for that campaign if not actual support.

To some Jo-Jo Biden's showing 'bravery' -- or merely symoblic bravery? In the real world, people are dying and they're injured and the symoblism looks like that the cowardly action that it is.

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 number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 3018. Tonight? 3024 by ICCC's count. Wally and I have been talking about the ICCC count since Friday when it went down. It's gone all over this week. Wally thinks we need to switch to the AP count. Currently the AP count which, Wally noted on the phone and also e-mailed this article, from Wednesday, where the AP count is 3028. If you check Wednesday's snapshot, you'll see the 3028 count noted from AP and also from ICCC. I have no idea why, since last Friday, the count has gone up and down at ICCC. There's no note posted at the site (in the past there has been). I would prefer to utilize the ICCC count but they dropped it Friday morning after last Thursday's "And the war drags on" went up. Then it was up again, then it was down. Yesterday it was 3028. Right now, it's 3024. I think we may switch to the AP count. If someone has a problem with that, e-mail. Wally and I have been discussing this since Friday. Kayla and Marci have both e-mailed asking why the ICCC count kept changing? I have no idea. Using the AP count, of 3028 on Wednesday plus the one death announced today, the total is 3029 currently. That's 11 more than last Thursday. And escalation only means even more.

What can Congress do? Besides symbolic measures? Dick Cheney took to the chat & chews Sunday to lie and say nothing, attempting to scare the American people of governing by committee (which is how it works -- executive branch, legislative branch and judicial). Kyle notes Ted Kennedy's response to Cheney's nonsensical claims:

"By escalating the war, the President is ignoring the advice of his generals, the bipartisan Baker Hamilton commission, the voice of the American people -- and now as Vice President Cheney has made clear he intends to ignore Congress. The stubbornness of this Administration means repeating the same colossal mistakes over and over and failing to achieve a new policy that is worthy of the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform.
The President took two months to determine his new plan -- yet he'll do anything to prevent Congress from debating it and giving the American people a voice in this very wrong and tragic decision."
Congress' Historical Role in Policing Military Escalation
On numerous occasions over the past several decades, Congress has exercised its constitutional authority to limit the President's ability to escalate existing military engagements by capping the number of American military personnel available for deployment and by refusing to release appropriated funds. It is incumbent upon Congress to exercise that authority to ensure that our men and women are not put in harm’s way unnecessarily or without a plan worthy of their great sacrifice.
? In the Foreign Assistance Act of 1974, P.L. 93-559, enacted during the Vietnam War, Congress limited the number of American military personnel in South Vietnam to 4,000 within six months and 3,000 within a year of the Act’s enactment.
? The Lebanon Emergency Assistance Act of 1983, P.L. 98-43, required the President to "obtain statutory authorization from the Congress with respect to any substantial expansion in the number or role in Lebanon of the United States Armed Forces, including any introduction of United States Armed Forces into Lebanon in conjunction with agreements providing for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Lebanon and for the creation of a new multinational peace-keeping force in Lebanon."
? Through the Department of Defense Authorization Act of 1985, P.L. 98-525, Congress prohibited the use of funds appropriated in the Act or in subsequent Acts from being used to increase the number of U.S. military personnel deployed in European nations of NATO. The Act provided that Congress might authorize increased troop levels above the prescribed ceiling upon the Secretary of Defense’s certification to Congress that the European nations had taken significant measures to improve their defense capacity.
? In the Military Construction Appropriations Act of 2001, P.L. 106-246, Congress limited the involvement of U.S. military personnel and civilian contractors in counter-narcotics activities in Colombia by prohibiting the use of appropriated funds to expand their presence above specified levels.
? The Second Supplemental Appropriations Act of 1973, P.L. 93-50, specified that none of the funds appropriated by the Act were to be used "to support directly or indirectly combat activities in or over Cambodia, Laos, North Vietnam, and South Vietnam or off the shores of Cambodia, Laos, North Vietnam and South Vietnam by United States Forces and after August 15, 1973, no other funds heretofore appropriated under any other Act may be expended for such purpose."
? Congress authorized the use of U.S. Armed Forces in Somalia in the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 1994, P.L. 103-139, but set a deadline after which appropriated funds could no longer be used to pay for their involvement. The Act specified that the deadline could only be extended if requested by the President and authorized by the Congress.
? In the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 1995, P.L. 103-335, Congress required congressional approval of "any change in the United States mission in Rwanda from one of strict refugee relief to security, peace-enforcing, or nation-building or any other substantive role" and blocked funding for continued participation of the U.S. military in Operation Support Hope beyond a specified date.
? The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1998, P.L. 105-85, provided that no funds appropriated for fiscal year 1998 or any subsequent year could be used for the deployment of any U.S. ground combat forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina after a specified cutoff date unless the President first consulted with Congress and then certified to Congress that certain conditions existed in the field.

Congress does have the power and has used it in the past. Just because Bully Boy still wants to hold onto his illegal war doesn't mean he gets to. Enough people are dead and wounded. How many more?

Brandon notes an interview that I hoped to put into the snapshots all week and never had time to. Each day, there are things that could fit in but time runs short so, since Brandon e-mailed about it today, here's a section from Joshua Scheer's interview with Ron Kovic, "Surging Past The Tipping Point" (Truthdig):

Truthdig: We hear so much about "support the troops" while they're in war. But what does it mean to support the troops when so many of them are coming back home wounded?
Kovic: I don't see how this administration is supporting the troops when they're clearly cutting back the budgets of the veterans hospitals around the country. That is outrageous. That is unacceptable. How can you spend billions of dollars fighting a war in Iraq and not care for those who are wounded when they come back home?
I have opposed this war from the very beginning. I was speaking out against it before it began. I sensed we were being deceived just as we were deceived during the Vietnam War. I wasn’t going to let it happen again. I made one promise to myself in 1968 after I was shot and paralyzed in Vietnam. (During those years that I was involved with the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, so I was speaking not only for myself, but for many, many other Vietnam veterans like myself who opposed that war, who went to jail with me.) We said back then, "We're never going to allow what happened to our generation to ever happen again." And to watch this nightmare unfold all over again....
And in particular this week, the outrage that not only I feel, but also all my brothers and sisters in the antiwar movement, and all my fellow citizens all over this country ... that outrage that all of us feel, that the majority of the people of this country oppose this war, including many of our generals and the architects of this policy.... And yet the president of the United States is acting like a dictator. He's not listening to the people. What do we have to do? How many demonstrations do we have to have? How many hearings and investigations do we have to have before this president begins to listen to the people? Because isn't that what America is supposed to be about?
We can make a difference, and I think this is an important week of reflection. For every single American; not just me, Ron Kovic, sitting in this wheelchair, or people who have been directly affected by the wars of this government, and who have been so grievously injured by policies that should never have been to begin with--we are more important than we realize. I think this is a week of important reflection for all of us. We have to really think about the direction this country is heading in right now. We have to ask ourselves, "Have we done enough? Have we the courage to really say what needs to be said? Have we the courage to really do what needs to be done?" Because lives are at stake, and people are dying on both sides. This is unacceptable. This is outrageous. Rather than listening to the voice of the people of the United States, and rather than listening to the Iraq Study Group's conclusions, rather than listening to reason, the president of the United States has decided to do the exact opposite. He's putting us all in greater danger. He's creating the potential for a wider war, for a potential cataclysm, and he's putting Americans' lives in jeopardy. If the United States is attacked again, if, God forbid, there's another 9/11, it should be directly attributed to the fact that, this crucial week, Bush decided to push forward in this very reckless agenda.

How many more are going to be wounded in this illegal war the way Ron Kovice was injured in Vietnam? How many more scars (physical and mental), how many more deaths?

The only thing that's going to stop the illegal war is courage -- courage to speak out, courage to get active. shows tremendous courage. Even when so many in independent media ignore him, he continues to stand up. We can all stand up. Well, not The Nation. But everyone else can stand up.

In yet another tips-to-Democrats, The Nation offers this "Can a single man force a nation to fight an unpopular war? Here's how Congress can stand up to Bush." Micah noted that and noted that The Nation is "crap and I'd say worse but I know you'd edit me. It's crap. Who has the power? We do. But what crap are they pushing off on readers again? 'Plead and wait for a savior!' They're the most useless, cowardly piece of crap on the left. While they stay silent on Ehren, they do offer up a look at the monies spent on college sports. Where is the leadership at that magazine? It has gone down the toilet each year. It is an embarrassment to the left that this is our magazine with the highest circulation. Katrina vanden Heuvel needs to step down as editor immediately because she has led that magazine into Crap City. It won't address the war in it's pages, it won't cover Ehren, it's the most useless crap in the world and I'm as sick of her inspirational sermons as I am the photo of her on her blog. I think Rebecca made this point but only an idiot, when the country was going to hell, would waste everyone's time with 'Sweet Victories' columns. If she wants to be a romance writer or Marianne Williams, I urge her to go do it. Just quit the magazine before you destroy it any more. The magazine will not do a story on Ehren, that thing [sidebar] wasn't a story, but they'll tell you about the sports rackets at colleges. I've had it with vanden Heuvel and her inept leadership. I've had it with the touchy-feely crap. I've had it with the useless articles and the useless editorials. If you're not a Democrat in Congress, the magazine's not written for you. I'm 24 years-old, I don't need to know who's the cutest is Congress or this other Tiger Beat crap. It's an immature, cowardly magazine and that has happened as she has taken over. Katrina vanden Heuvel needs to go. Her immaturity and lack of courage shines through every page of the magazine."

As noted in columns, and by Elaine, I know vanden Heuvel. I would love to be able to come to her defense but the magazine has become a very sad read and Micah's entitled to his opinion. Two groups of students today were outraged with a column in an issue (I think it was the most recent). Like I told them, I can't defend the magazine so I won't even try. It is cowardly, Micah is right, it's cowardly not to cover Watada. It's cowardly to waste everyone's time with tips for Congress. It's cowardly to rob people of their power. (On the "Sweet Victories" columns, I will note that they were intended to help people see that, even in the face of all that is going wrong with the country, there are some victories. I'm not defending them, I'm just noting that because there seems to be a lot of confusion about why they ever existed in the first place.) Obviously, I'm not pleased with the war coverage, I'm not pleased with the ignoring of war resisters, peace activists or peace demonstrations. I'm not pleased with the very low number of women the magazine elects to publish. The lack of attention to the students in this country (the ones not bankrolled by centrists). Go down the list.

The Nation has ignored the nation. Katrina vanden Heuvel is the one in charge of the magazine and, as it continues its slide into uselessness, she has to take some of the responsibility for that. People at the magazine have voiced the same concern about it having no direction. I'm not surprised that others are picking up on that. Alexander Cockburn, David Corn and others who succeed in their writing are to be applauded; however, there is a lot of junk making into print -- junk writing, junk topics.

They have blown the moment that they had and anyone who doubts that needs to remember that before others in indymedia were calling the time of death for The Village Voice, Micah had beat them to it. Unless the magazine can find the guts to write about Watada (or Abeer as Martha pointed out), we'll only highlight pieces at their website by either Naomi Klein or Katha Pollitt. (We highlight Cockburn via CounterPunch).

On Cockburn, tomorrow I believe the latest edition of CounterSpin starts airing (it airs on different dates around the country but I think the new show starts airing tomorrow for stations that carry it tomorrow). He is one of the guests. He discusses the New York Times' continued attempts to sell the war, he hits hard on Michael Gordon. (Near the end of the interview, there's an exchange that I wish had come sooner because it goes to the heart of the problem with the paper which is the internal struggle that's been going on for years. There wasn't time for that discussion so, hopefully, they'll have him back at some point to address that again.) He's not the full show, but I don't know who the other guest is, sorry. So those who enjoy Cockburn (and there are many in the community who do) make a point to listen. (I've already called Elaine to tell her and she plans to write about it in her entry tomorrow night.)

Alexander Cockburn has a niece and she's as much as (or maybe more of) a favorite to members as is he, Laura Flanders. Martha e-mailed to pass on that the e-mail on RadioNation with Laura Flanders had already gone out when I was doing the morning post (we didn't notice it Saturday because it hadn't, I even called Martha to make sure I wasn't missing it in the e-mails). Here's what's coming up this weekend on RadioNation with Laura Flanders:

The President wants his critics to advance alternative proposals. How about a whole world of alternatives? This weekend on RadioNation, a report from the seventh annual WORLD SOCIAL FORUM which kicks off this Saturday in Nairobi, Kenya. For the first time in Africa, the Social Forum will bring together activists, artists and social movements from every continent, dedicated to building sustainable peace and rolling back the profit-not-people empire. Another World Is Possible. Find out how. Plus, the latest on the US military build up off the Horn of Africa.

Returning to the topic of Watada, Maria asked if we could note something (of course) from the interview we noted earlier today. This is from Ave Diaz and Lance Holter's "Q & A With Lieutenant Ehren Watada" (Haleakala Times):

Lance Holter: How are you holding up through all of this and how do the other soldiers feel about you?
Lt. Ehren Watada: I think that trying to get the message out has been very exhausting, difficult and very challenging at some points. There have been a multitude of soldiers of all ranks, even dependents, who have approached me on base and off base and given me their support and respect for what I have been doing.
Lance Holter: As I followed your story I became aware that you had studied the United Nations charter and Geneva accords to determine that this war was illegal. How did you [discover this]?
Lt. Ehren Watada: It's not very difficult to find it. It just requires the willingness to want to know the truth and you can find it. It’s definitely not difficult at all for anyone to find. Certainly you have to go through a multitude of information and filter out a lot but the truth is out there.
Lance Holter: In the Geneva accords and clearly in the UN charter it is an illegal war. It was not mandated by the UN and the Geneva accords say there is no such thing as a preemptive war. Is this your conclusion?
Lt. Ehren Watada: Yes, definitely, and even more I think it's dangerous to our country and to our society to think that one branch of government deliberately misled another branch of government in order to authorize war, and illegal for that matter, and in our country we pride ourselves in having a separation of powers, checks and balances, and those things that prevent tyranny and authoritarianism, and when we have a breakdown of that in which we have seen over this war, and many different other things, that can be very dangerous for our future.

Watada is showing courage and when people do not even have the spine to cover him, it gets attention. (I heard all about it from two groups -- so much that I told Ava and Jess -- who are also speaking to students this trip -- that I wouldn't be surprised if the next three recommended burning The Nation. That's how outraged the first two groups were by the magazine.) (The other three groups didn't bring it up, thankfully.) It would take courage to do what Ehren Watada is doing -- that's even if you get support from the supposedly left media. When you only get silence and keep speaking out, that makes it even more courageous. (And makes the Coward's Silence even more appalling.) The Nation wants to ask if a single man (Bully Boy) can make a nation fight an unpopular war and they're gearing it to Congress. A real alternative magazine would have made their weekly cover a head shot of Watada with the question: "Can a single man stop a war?" (The answer is no, it takes many. But asking that question might force them to realize how much time, space and energy they have collective wasted. Not to mention readers' patience.)

On magazines, John wanted to note a successful piece of mail. He just received a mailing from Harper's magazine. He was going to trash it because he gets mailings all the time (I think we all know that feeling) but he said the outside of the envelope caught his interest. He typed up what the envelope said on it (besides sender address and return address):

How the CIA suberts the U.S. government. Christian singles dating questionnaire. America's emerging caste system. How Wall Street stands to profit from AIDS. Stalking the campus thought police. The myth of missing children. How the Pentagon hides $22 billion. The feminist case for pornography. Robert Stone takes a crack at cocaine.

It caught his eye and he ended up opening it. If you get a lot of mail, you know what he means when he says he usually tosses all the non-bills and non-personal letters. He thought it was a good use of space and a successful mailing but wondered if we'd have time to note it? Not unless I squeeze into this entry. For those thinking, where is the Iraq connection? Harper's published the article that's most linked to at this site. Most linked to in 2004, 2005 and 2006. If you're confused, two words: Naomi Klein. (If you're still confused, you've missed Beth's columns at the end of each year on what articles got the most links.)

To go out on another non-Iraq related detail, Dallas subscribes to the New York Times and e-mailed to say his Thursday paper contained Thursday's paper and Wednesday's paper. The Dallas-Fort Worth area has had "ice and sleet" and his paper wasn't delivered Wednesday so he's assuming they delivered them both today (in one plastic bag) in an attempt to make up for that. He suggests the paper's new motto should be, "Subscribe to the New York Times: We'll get there eventually."

Lastly, five of the Pendleton Eight have now confessed or entered into plea agreements over their actions involved in kidnapping a man and killing him. That's one of the three high profile cases. Ryan Lenz (AP) notes Paul Cortez' confession in the war crimes against Abeer Qasim Hamza and her family as well as this:

In another case involving members of the 101st Airborne, a lawyer for Pfc. Corey R. Clagett said Thursday that his client has agreed to plead guilty to his role in the killings of three detainees during a raid on a suspected al-Qaida compound last year in Samarra, Iraq.
Clagett, 21, of Moncks Corner, S.C., is one of four soldiers charged with murder in the May 9 raid; two have pleaded guilty. He had to reach a plea agreement because a co-defendant implicated him, defense attorney Paul Bergrin said.

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