Saturday, September 22, 2007

Ruth's Report

Ruth: Listening today to the report Don Gonyea filed on NPR's All Things Considered about the U.S. Senate's nonsense regarding the newspaper ad, I wondered if we understood that we are all Cindy Sheehan?

There was the righteous and useless Senator Carl Levin declaring of and other ads, "They impugn the honor, integrity and patriotism of real patriots."

Made me wonder if he wanted to include journalist Robert Parry in that? Mr. Parry's "Sen. Levin's False History & Logic" (Consortium News) ran back in June and pointed out, "In other words, Levin is historically wrong when he uses Lincoln’s stand on the Mexican War to justify his own on the Iraq War. While Levin says he will give President Bush a blank check as long as the Iraq War continues, there is no reason to believe that Congressman Lincoln would have done the same for President Polk if that Commander in Chief were set on a bloody, indefinite occupation of the entire Mexican countryside."

Listening to Senator Levin prattle on, it became pretty clear that this really was not about the content of's advertisement, it was about the basic premise of it or any advertisement. For that matter, about any questioning of authority.

General David Peteraeus is an employee of the United States. His pay check comes via the people. So does Senator Levin's. Apparently those working for us, those happy to live on the money we pay them, would prefer we go away?

Blaming certainly allows the Congress to deflect from their miserable job performance the week prior when General Petreaus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker sat before them repeating White House talking points. They did a lousy job. Pointing the finger at might distract a few but it will not change reality. As Ava and C.I. observed, "It happened because they forgot they were not elected to the posts of Groupies to the US Military. They were elected to represent the people. Representation means heeding the will of the people. When they instead prostrate themselves before a section of a branch of government that they are supposed to practice oversight over, they've stripped themselves of their own power."

So the U.S. Senate that refuses to end the illegal war launched an attack on free speech this week.

Maybe it will serve as a wake up call to those not in Democratic leadership?

The Democratic Party organ, The Nation magazine, showed a tiny bit of sense recently in applauding the actions of both CODEPINK and Possibly they grasped they could be next?

Any one could be. The Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan refused to be a cheerleader for the Democratic Party and she saw vile heaped on her. The Nation's Katha Pollitt launched a stream of attacks on Ms. Sheehan and came off looking like a seven-year-old girl who has a crush on her teacher. Apparently providing apples and tongue baths for Senator Hillary Clinton was not enough for Ms. Pollitt to earn the title of "Class Kiss Up." In 2006, she used her dubious feminist credentials to go to town on CODEPINK for calling out the War Hawk Hillary Clinton. When Ms. Sheehan announced she would run for the U.S. Congress, there was Ms. Pollitt launching multiple attacks on Ms. Sheehan. One hopes Ms. Pollitt will quickly grow up and grasp that school girl crushes are something best left to childhood.

While Ms. Pollitt continues to ape her late hero, The Ego Of Us All, by wallowing in so-called 'second stage' feminism, The Nation did actually applaud both CODEPINK and indicating that possibly they have started to grasp that total and slavish devotion to Democratic leadership is a dead end street.

Which brings us back to Ms. Sheehan who, in an interview with Matthew Rothschild on The Progressive Radio Show, explained how important it was for Americans to take back their country and urged others to follow her lead. Last weekend, A.N.S.W.E.R., Iraq Veterans Against the War and others staged the most passionate rally D.C. has seen since the start of the illegal war. That, too, was about people reclaiming their power.

While Senator Levin and others joined in an attack on free speech this week, they refused to work for the people who put them in office. Which brings us back to Robert Perry's June report:

But Levin's logic is wrong again. While his proposal -- to impose a troop withdrawal deadline -- would require 60 votes to stop a Republican filibuster and then would need 67 votes to overcome Bush's certain veto, the same is not true for a war-funding cut-off.
To secure the money to continue fighting the war, Bush is the one who needs majorities in both the House and the Senate. Indeed, arguably, he would need 60 votes in the Senate to end a filibuster if anti-war senators mounted one.
More likely, however, if faced with a determined Democratic majority, Bush would have no choice but to seek a compromise in order to get at least some of what he wants.
In other words, if the Democrats were to hold firm against giving Bush another blank check – as their leaders vowed to do in early 2007 -- Bush would have to decide between accepting some strings, such as a withdrawal timetable, or getting no money at all, thus forcing an end to the war.

That is reality. While U.S. Senators puffed out their chests in mock rage, they wasted another week by refusing to end the illegal war. They did made the time to attack free speech and they will probably make a point to do that more often in the future. If you consistently refused to live up to your promise, you would probably attempt to steer the focus elsewhere as well.


Iraq's president threatens to quit, some will call it 'progress'

Anyone needing proof of democracy's demise must witness the government assault perpetrated on Rev. Lennox Yearwood. Yearwood attempted to attend a Congressional hearing open to the public, where Gen. David Petraeus testified that the killing in Iraq must go on as scheduled.
Yearwood is an Air Force reservist, and was the only black person lined up to enter the hearing room. Capitol police, some of them black, determined who would receive the few tickets distributed to the public. Yearwood, wearing a button proclaiming "I love the people of Iraq" was told he could not attend the hearing. When he protested, without violence or threat, he was literally
beaten down. He later referred to his assault and arrest as DMB, Democracy While Black.
There was no outcry from the people who are supposed to defend democracy. There was no statement of protest from the Congressional Black Caucus, no demand for an investigation. Democracy is drawing its last breath.
The attack on Yearwood provides an important lesson in building a new movement. Activism must be disassociated from the machinations of politicians who aid and abet the Bush terror machine. Indeed, many members of Congress must be sent packing, even those who once honestly claimed a progressive mantle. Every member of Congress who has impeded impeachment investigations must face a challenge in the 2008 election. Congressman John Conyers has the power to begin impeachment hearings, but clearly has no intention of doing so. That is why his congressional career must come to an end along with Nancy Pelosi's and others. As Yearwood said, the co-dependent Congress must go too.

The above is from Margaret Kimberly's "Freedom Rider: Democracy is Dead, It's Movement Time (Part 2)" (Black Agenda Report). This is a follow up piece to last week's "Democracy is Dead, It's Movement Time (Part 1)" (Black Agenda Report).

Turning to radio, Martha notes Sunday's RadioNation with Laura Flanders which will feature:

This week on RN
Now that the world's woken up to Blackwater, will the mercenary army be reigned in? Nation author JEREMY SCAHILL thinks not. Then, economist DEAN BAKER suggests solutions for the popping housing bubble. And, continuing quest for progressive organizing in surprising places, we consider synagogues. Nation authors PETER DRIER and DANIEL MAY have found a new wave of activism stirring in Jewish congregations. Finally, with Israel threatening Gaza with more collective punishment, we sit down with AKIVA ELDAR, author of a new book on settlements, "Lords of the Land," to discuss the malignancy of occupation.

RadioNation with Laura Flanders airs at one p.m. Sunday on Air America Radio, XM radio and streams online live.

Rachel notes two upcoming programs on WBAI (broadcasting out of NYC and available to online listeners as well)

Sunday, September 23, 11am-noon
Composer/jazz musician Fred Ho hosts this hour on the 25th Anniversary of his Afro-Asian Ensemble.Monday, September 24, 2-3pm
Playwright Charles L. Mee and director Ann Bogart on the Siti Theatre Company's 15th Anniversary performance of Mee's "Hotel Casseopeia" upcoming at BAM; and author Foster Hirsch on his new biography of "Otto Preminger: The Man Who Would Be King." Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer.WBAI Radio/NY 99.5FMstreaming live at WBAI.orgarchived at

Okay, let's now turn to the news. Peter Bacque (Richmond Times-Dispatch) reports that 19-year-old Dale E. Minter ("Company A, 116th Brigade Troops Battalion in Fredericksburg") was "arrested for desertion" on September 11th. Now that's the fourth arrest we've noted this week and I'm sure others were reported that we missed. Bacque dummies up on how Minter was arrested (he was supposed to report January 1st and did not). But exactly how long are we all supposed to continue to dummy up and pretend that the number checking out isn't much larger than the official figures? Probably as long as the US military is able to get away with continuing to (falsely) claim they don't actively seek out those who go AWOL. Now speaking with the parents of any child who has gone AWOL will quickly underscore just how much effort the US military is putting into tracking them down but we're all supposed to pretend that it's not happening.

This story is a bit like the US weapons on the Iraq blackmarket. When we started noting that here over two years ago, there were all these right-wingers e-mailing to say that wasn't happening, they just knew it wasn't happening because no one was reporting it. Wake up call for the right wingers, AP is reporting that Blackwater is now under investigation to dtermine whether they "illegaly smuggled into Iraq weapons that may have been sold on the black market and ended up in the hands of a U.S. - designated terrorist organization". Blackwater may or may not be guilty of that but there is a huge and thriving blackmarket for US weapons in Iraq. (Reuters has Blackwater's denial of involvement.) From Leila Fadel and Warren P. Strobel's "Blackwater Incident referred to Iraqi magistrate" (McClatchy Newspapers):

Iraq's Interior Ministry has completed its investigation of last weekend's shooting incident involving Blackwater USA security guards and has referred the case to a magistrate to determine whether criminal charges should be filed, a spokesman said Friday.
Abdel Karim Khalaf, the ministry spokesman, said the evidence collected in the case, in which 11 people died and 12 were wounded, includes videotape from nearby cameras. That tape indicates that the Blackwater guards fired first and weren't responding to an attack, as Blackwater has claimed, Khalaf said.
It's unclear what would happen if the magistrate decided to press charges in an Iraqi criminal court. Khalaf said the Interior Ministry would push to have the Blackwater guards face charges in Iraq, but current law exempts foreign security companies and their employees from Iraqi jurisdiction.

A visitor notes Aaron Levin's "Dramatic Increase Found in Soldier Suicides" (Psychiatric News) which includes this, "The U.S. Army announced in August that 99 soldiers committed suicide in 2006. That translates to a rate of 17.3 per 100,000. There were 948 soldiers who attempted suicide. " Two things, suicide is undercounted and the official count never includes those who return from Iraq or Afghanistan and then take their own lives. Thank you to the visitor for noting the article because it is not receiving enough attention.

Meanwhile Barbara Boxer continues her wobbles in the Senate. Lloyd notes this piece in the Washington Post (actually, I didn't see it in the paper so it may be online only or I missed it)which is about Joe Biden's efforts to divide up Iraq into three regions and Boxer and Republicans have signed on. I guess that's another way to 'give' democracy to Iraq -- for the US to decide it needs to be partioned.

AP reports that 25 have been arrested in the killing of the sheik who was a friend of Bully Boy. It's amazing how many murders take place in Iraq and never get investigated but let a friend of the Bully Boy get murdered and it's roundup time. Meanwhile KUNA reports another threat of withdrawal from the US installed government in Iraq and this one may pack more of a punch because it's from the Accord Front and the threat of withdrawal is coming from Iraq's president Tareq al-Hashemi who declared the intentions of his bloc and himself to withdraw stating they would not "be marginalized" and that, "Now we have withdrawn from the Iraqi government, but we will quite the presidency and the parliament in case our talks with the government reached a dead end". So there's more 'progress'? Iraq's president is threatening to quit his post and we're supposed to believe that all is well and moving along nicely in Iraq?

ICCC's current total for the number of US service members who have died in the illegal war since it began is 3795. Five away from the 3800 mark.

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

Kevin notes Robert Borosage's "Craven Fools" (Common Dreams) as "what not to do." I would agree. I'll add my opinion quickly. While condemning 22 Dems for being "craven" it is equally craven and foolish to dub's ad title ("General Petraues or General Betray Us") "unfortunate." If you think it's "unfortunate," then "craven fools" have every right to vote a resolution denouncing it. It wasn't "unfortunate" -- it was the bravest thing WalkOn's done in some time. It's a play on words (and Wally & Cedric were there with it long before WalkOn -- when Wally read that over the phone to me, I laughed, it's funny -- after Wally and Cedric started using the play on words, so did the Times of London and I don't believe the Senate's made a motion to declare their outrage over Rupert Murdoch's paper -- but then our 'left' at the mikes don't appear to be able to read, do they?) and there's nothing "unfortunate" it. It is "unfortunate" that Borosage thinks anyone's above criticism and it is "craven" to hide behind the US military. Ava and I dealt with this nonsense last Sunday while writing about Bully Boy's televised address:

After Thursday night's episode was finished, time was rounded out with a gag reel. Someone portraying US Senator Jack Reed jerked around a lot physically while muttering little-nothing lines that failed to note the illegal nature of Bully Boy's war and, apparently sending up the Democrats non-stop desire to hide behind the US military, had very little to say about democracy. Paired together, the two shows could have been billed as Junta!
The Reed impersonator didn't call for an end to the illegal war or bringing US troops home, he instead issued a call that the US "redefine our mission in Iraq". The last time we checked public opinion, "redefine our mission" wasn't what the people were calling for.
But it's what the parody offered and elected Democrats have no one to blame for the cheap shots but themselves. For over four years now, they've not only hidden behind the US military, they've glorified it as if the point of a democracy was to worship the US Army. We started wondering if churches will shortly begin replacing crosses with shrapnel?
The parody was so spot-on because it perfectly captured last week when the Congress heard from General David Petraeus. Petraues is an employee of the United States. Members of Congress are representatives of the people. But nothing in the proceedings indicated that these basic facts were grasped. We can't imagine, for instance, the Head of Health and Human Services being repeatedly thanked and praised for their service. We can't imagine the agency head being told repeatedly how much respect there is for the agency.
Like that agency, the military is in the employment of the United States. Elected Democrats refuse to make that point. Instead they glorify and build up repeatedly only to be defeated in the spin wars and then whine, "How did this happen?" It happened because they forgot they were not elected to the posts of Groupies to the US Military. They were elected to represent the people. Representation means heeding the will of the people. When they instead prostrate themselves before a section of a branch of government that they are supposed to practice oversight over, they've stripped themselves of their own power. It's really sad that it was John McLaughlin (on PBS' The McLaughlin Group) who semi-jokingly raised the issue of whether what took place last week (with the will of the people being ignored) was a silent coup? But such is the state of TV today.

Borosage's 'defense,' like the weak ass 'defense' of Lynne Stewart so many offered, indicates that a lot on the left should just wear t-shirts announcing "I Gave Away My Strength In Exchange For The Spotlight." Borosage is upset that WalkOn got attacked in Congress but he can't bring himself to defend them. I do not like WalkOn, I think they are ineffective and too tied to the Democratic Party; however, the ad they did was clever and funny. It made its point and there was nothing wrong with it. They should be applauded for running the ad. Offering that it was "unfortunate" weakens any defense of the ad. It was a strong ad, it caught attention and it was clever. They have nothing to apologize for that ad, they did nothing "unfortunate." No link to Borosage, we don't link to trash. And trash can be defined as wasting everyone's time by saying the Senate was wrong but WalkOn ran an "unfortunate"ly titled ad. Grow the hell up. Really, grow the hell up. This weak ass 'defense' does nothing but put out the 'even the left feels the ad was unfortunate' and 'even the left can't defend the ad' nonsense. It's shameful, it's cowardly and it needs to stop.

The e-mail address for this site is

Community note

The offensive link has been pulled. For the record, with no knowledge of Molly Ivins' writing, he attacked her and, when she died a few weeks later, wrote a post that pretended he hadn't just slammed her. It's no loss to delink from anyone who one week tells you how "sick" they are of Ivins and then, when the tributes to her starting coming out, decides he needs to hop on the bandwagon as well. If just one member had raised the issue of delinking then, it would've been pulled because I was enraged. Now he's taken to attacking CODEPINK which doesn't surprise me or even offend me. After he invented lies about Molly Ivins, there's nothing he could do that would shock or offend me.

Amanda e-mailed this morning and wrote that if something was being delinked, I might want to take a look at something else. Monkey Gossip has been delinked. One of the monkeys has written about . . . Naomi Klein's new book?

No, that would require reading it and reading is apparently too hard. So instead, he writes about a 2004 conversation he had with Klein and gets an 'expert' to rebut the conversation. That gets passed off as a rebuttal of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism. I'm reading Amanda's copy & paste of that piece of nonsense and thinking how these false equations (Klein to hack Thomas Friedman) go a long way towards explaining the mess the left is in thanks to real idiots who have no reluctance about flaunting their stupidity.

Amanda asked if I'd checked out the links at what I'm terming Monkey Gossip? No. I don't go to the site. (I don't go to many sites. I also don't decide the permalinks.) So I took a web trip and what did I see?

I saw male, male, male. I saw that a woman I respect raised a sexist pig for a son. I called my own children to see if they would grasp my outrage were they to do what Monkey Gossip did? I was told they would expect to be chewed out and that they always thought the brat was a weasel. "Weasel" describes him perfectly. Women do not exist. Possibly when your mother's famous and your attempt to carve out a name in a similar field crashes and burns so badly, you have a real problem with women?

But he has no problem with centrists and links to the do-nothing org of Mommy's Pantyhose. (They are 'tight' and I knew that already.) But Iraq Veterans Against the War, the War Resisters Support Campaign or Courage to Resist? Nope.

Parents, you've failed your children. If you're of the left and you've raised a sexist centrist, you have failed your children. And if you're a woman and wrote a groundbreaking book that was ridiculed by all but the true left in real time, you should be damn well offended that today, when Klein writes another breakthrough book, your child's org pushes the modern day attacks.

If the left is in disarray a large reason for that has to do with the inability of people to get their own homes in order.

We don't link to trash. Two sites are gone from our permalinks. My daughter's writing a piece on the weasel for Polly's Brew so check your inboxes on Sunday for that and thank you to Amanda for e-mailing about Monkey Gossip.

Also, the snapshot appeared three times because it was e-mailed repeatedly when it wouldn't show up. The two extras have been deleted.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Friday, September 21, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, 'progress' is no where to be found in Iraq, the US loses weapons and the Iraqi resistance reportedly now has them, and more.
Starting with war resistance.  Alaam News reports that a US family of five (three children) is seeking asylum in Finland "with local media speculating that it is opposition to the Iraq war" that has led the family to leave the United States and start over in Helenski this week.  If true, it would  be only the second time this decade that an "American citizen . . . [has] filed an asylum application in Finland during the current decade."  Meanwhile IVAW's Michael Prysner (PSL) reports, "The number of deserters is also steadily climbing, with official numbers now reaching over 10,000 since the war began.  Many believe these numbers may actually be much higher.  The G.I. Rights Hotline reports an average of 3,000 calls a month by new recruits and active duty soldiers who have decided they want to abandon the military. . . . Soldiers against the war have begun organizing within the military.  Active duty soldiers started the Appeal for Redress, a petition calling for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.  It was formulated less than a year ago, and has collected over 2,000 signatures of soldiers currently serving in the military.  Membership in Iraq Veterans Against the War is nearing 600. . . . Soldiers like Lt. Ehren Watada and Camilo Mejia have set the example, publicly refusing deployment and condemning the war for its illegal and immoral nature."
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Derek Hess, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, 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.
Peter Hart spoke with Anthony Arnove (IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal) on this week's CounterSpin (airing on most radio stations today) about the issue of contractors.
Anthony Arnove: There is effectively a doubling of the US occupation in Iraq right now through the employment of private contractors of whom as many as 50,000 are armed -- effectively private mercenaries working in the employee of the US occupation.  Blackwater is operating under the employment of the State Department.  What's interesting is that very early on in the US occupation, Paul Bremer -- who was acting as the colonial viceroy -- in his capacity of head of the Coalition Provision Authority deliberately exempted these mercenaries and other US contractors from Iraqi law.  And they've created basically a legal black hole in which these mercenaries  can operate without any accountability.  And the few times there have been incidents in which Iraqis tried to pursue contractors for violations they've been skirted out of the country so as not to have to face any prosecution.  They do technically fall under rules of engagement set down for US contractors -- whether that's Pentagon rules or State Department rules.  But like we've seen with active duty troops who've engaged in abuses of human rights in Iraq, there's really been no accountability certainly not up the chain of command.
No accountability.  And Bremer and the CPA were nothing but a shell game.  Bremer stripped Iraqis of oversight and, in fact, the US may not have any legal right to oversight as well.  As Naomi Klein explains in her new book  The Shock Doctrine: The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism:
Bremer's CPA would not try to stop the various scams, side deals and shell games because the CPA was itself a shell game.  Though it was billed as the U.S. occupation authority, it's unclear that it held that distinction in anything other than name.  This point was forcefully made by a judge in the infamous Custer Battles corruption case.
Two former employees of the security firm launched a whistle-blower lawsuit against the company, accusing it of cheating on reconstruction-related contracts with the CPA and defrauding the U.S. governments produced by the company that clearly showed it was keeping two sets of numbers -- one for itself, one for invoicing the CPA Retired Brigadier-General Hugh Tant testified that the fraud was "probably the worst I've ever seen in my 30 years in the army."  (Among Custer Battles' many alleged violations, it is said to have appropriated Iraqi-owned forklifts from the airport, repainted them and billed the CPA for the cost of leasing the machines.)
In March 2006, a federal jury in Virginia ruled against the company, finding it guilty of fraud, and forced it to pay $10 million in damages.  The company then asked the judge to overturn the verdict, with a revealing defense.  It claimed that the CPA was not part of the U.S. government, and therefore not subject to its laws, including the False Claims Act.  The implications of this defense were enormous: the Bush administration had indemnified U.S. corporations working in Iraq from any liability under Iraqi laws; if the CPA wasn't subject to U.S. law either, it meant that the contractors weren't subjected to any law at all -- U.S. or Iraqi.  This time, the judge ruled in the company's favor: he said there was plenty of evidence that Custer Battles had submitted to the CPA "false and fraudulently inflated invoices," but he ruled that the plaintiffs had "failed to prove that the claims were presented to the United States."  In other words, the U.S. government presence in Iraq during the first year of its economic experiment had been a mirage -- there had been no government, just a funnel to get U.S. taxpayer and Iraqi oil dollars to foreign corporations, completely outside the law.  In this way, Iraq represented the most extreme expression of the anti-state counter-revolution -- a hollow state, where, as the courts finally established, there was no there, there.
Contractors in Iraq -- with the permission of the US government and sometimes on the orders of the US government -- have been allowed to act with impunity. Daniel Howden and Leonard Doyle (Independent of London) provide a look at the rise of outsourcing governmental tasks and note, "A high-ranking US military commander in Iraq said: 'These guys run loose in this country and do stupid stuff. There's no authority over them, so you can't come down on them hard when they escalate force. They shoot people.' In Abu Ghraib, all of the translators and up to half of the interrogators were reportedly private contractors."
Rosa Brooks (Los Angeles Times) also addresses the reality of governmental tasks being sold off to the private section, "What's been happening in Iraq -- and in Afghanistan, Columbia, Somalia and the Pentagon and the State Department -- goes far beyond the 'outsourcing of key military and security jobs.'  For years, the administration has been quietly auctioning off U.S. foreign policy to the highest corporate bidder -- and it may be too late for us to buy it back.  Think I'm exaggerating?  Look at Blackwater.  Its $750-million contract with the U.S. State Department employees in Iraq is just one of many lucrative U.S. (and foreign) government contracts it has enjoyed (and it's a safe bet that Sunday's episode will be only a minor PR setback for Blackwater).  As for Blackwater's most recent slaughter, Kim Sengupta (Independent of London) reconstructs the events on Sunday via eye witness testimony: " We have found no Iraqi present at the scene who saw or heard sniper fire. Witnesses say the first victims of the shootings were a couple with their child, the mother and infant meeting horrific deaths, their bodies fused together by heat after their car caught fire. The contractors, according to this account, also shot Iraqi soldiers and police and Blackwater then called in an attack helicopter from its private air force which inflicted further casualties."  Apparently unable to speak to Iraqis, Sabrina Tavernise and James Glanz (New York Times) rely on a leaked report from the Ministry of the Interior which "has concluded that employees of a private American security firm fired an unprovoked barrage in the shooting last Sunday," "that the dozens of foreign security companies here should be replaced by Iraqi companies, and that a law that has given the companies immunity for years be scrapped" -- and the reporters offer: "The Iraqi version of events may be self-serving in some points."  And the US version may be what?  Tavernise and Glanz ignore that prospect.  Blackwater's apparently ignoring some things as well.  Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes, "In Iraq, the private security firm Blackwater USA is reportedly back on the streets of Baghdad despite an announced ban on its activities. The Iraqi government said it had revoked Blackwater's license this week after its guards killed up to twenty-eight Iraqis in an unprovoked mass shooting. But a Pentagon spokesperson said today Blackwater is guarding diplomatic convoys following talks with the Iraqi government."  So, as Ian Thompson (PSL) judged it, "Even the Iraqi puppet government leadership spoke up -- but its words were hot air.  Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki wants to gain credibility and appear to be independent of his U.S. colonial masters."  The events appear to answer  Thursday's question ("For the US government, it's a quandry: Do they use this moment to provide al-Maliki with a chance to alter his image or do they continue to let greed rule?"): Greed again won out.
Self-serving?  Sabrina Tavernise and James Glanz apply that to the report from Iraq's Interior Ministry and it's doubtful they'd ever use the term for the upcoming US report.  Along with the issue of equality, there's also the fact that the term is flat out wrong.  The Interior Ministry is not self-serving, it's US-serving.  Dropping back to the September 6th snapshot:
Turning to retired generals,  Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reported today, "A panel of retired US generals is urging the United States to disband and reorganize the Iraqi police force because of infiltration by sectarian militias.  The generals also report Iraq's security forces will be unable to fulfill their essential security responsibilities independently for at least another twelve to 18 months."  Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) explains that the national police force as well as the Iraq Interior Ministry are "riddled with sectarianism and corruption" by the Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq headed by James Jones (Marine general) in there 150-plus page report which also finds the Iraqi army at least  a year to 18 months away from being able to handle "internal security".  Tim Reid (Times of London) reports, "The 20 member-panel also said today that the Iraqi Army was incpable of acting independently from US forces for at least another 18 months, and 'cannot yet meaningfully contribute to denying terrorists safe haven'."  
The militias of the Interior Ministry are thugs who terrorize.  Who trained them?  Who introduced the "Salvador option"?  The US.  Who has refused to disband them?  The US.  Self-serving?  The Interior Ministry wishes it were self-serving.  Then it could really go to town slaughtering 'enemies.'  It wouldn't have to worry that one of the many torture chambers they are running might result in a US military 'rescue' of their torture victims.  If they were independent and self-serving, all of their torture chambers would be signed off on and not just some.
Today on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show,  Rehm spoke with the Washington Post's Karen DeYoung, the Wall St. Journal's Neil King Jr. and Newsweek's Michael Hirsh about a number of topics.  On the topic of Blackwater, Hirsh declared, "Often all that happens is that the employee is spirited out of the country.  That happened last Christmas Eve when a Blackwater employee shot and killed a guard to a senior Iraqi official inside the Green Zone which was obviously a little politically toxic.  And he left, the company has since refused to disclose his name and he has not been prosecuted."
Neil King, Jr. (Wall Street Journal): The thing that is extraordinary about it is that we had the Petraeus hearings last weekend or last week, and all the discussion "we want Iraq to be a country, we want it to step up, we want it to meet all these benchmarks" etc. And yet we don't really actually treat it as a country to the extent that we've got thousands of our own nationals driving around with machine guns and opening fire on people and then being totally immune from the law and as is the case of this shooting last week -- sorry, last December -- where a person shot a security guard who was the personal security guard of the vice-president of Iraq and the person's spirited out of the country.  Nobody ever knows what his name was and he's gone.  There'll never be -- I mean if you reverse the scenario and imagine any remote corrolary to that in the United States which is literally unimaginable.

A point the paper of record misses.  Self-serving also wasn't applied by the New York Times to any of Gen. David Petraeus' many laughable reports to Congress.  Rather strange considering Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London via CounterPunch) was reporting in the midst of the dog & pony show on how Petraues was explaining how he wanted to be President as early as 2004 but thought 2008 would be too soon to run.  As Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reported earlier this week, safety "is deteriorating in southern Iraq as rival Shiite militia vying for power have stepped up their attacks after moving out of Baghdad to avoid U.S.-led military operations, according to the latest quarterly Pentagon report on Iraq".  If it all sounds familiar it's because it's the same story that's been playing out over and over across Iraq.  But this was hailed last week as 'progress.'  Let's stick with 'progress' for a bit.  Remember how the meaningless soccer victories didn't change anything but were hailed with waves of Operation Happy Talk?  Strangely, that's not been the case for a title Iraq actually won.  The title?  Kim Sengupta (Independent of London) reported mid-week that "Iraq holds the world record for both the first and second highest amounts taken in the history of bank robberies."  Number one!  Number one!  In fact, the chart accompanies the article reveals that four of the top five Iraq bank robberies have taken place this year for a total of $282 million (US equivalent).  And how about the 'progress' in the spreading of cholera?  What had been a crisis for nothern Iraq is now reaching into Baghdad with Andrew E. Kramer (New York Times) reporting that there are now two confirmed cases of cholera in Baghdad.  And it's not stopping at Baghdad.  Katrina Kratovac (AP) reports that "a baby in Basra" is "the farthest south the outbreak has been detected."  "Progress"?  Robert Burns (AP) reports that Iraqis control approximately 8 percent of Baghdad -- only 8 percent -- which Burns points out is not a large growth even though Maj Gen Joseph Fil claims it is, "Despite the slow pace of progress towards having Iraqi forces maintain control of Baghdad neighborhoods with minimal U.S. troop presence, Fil said he was hopeful that it would accelerate in coming months."  He's hopeful -- that's supposed to have us all glowing. 
Well maybe there's 'progress' to be found in oil news?  Tuesday Press TV reported on the bombing outside Beiji of an oil pipeline "causing huge quanties of crude oil to spill into the Tigris River" which has "caused oil to seep into the Tigris River damaging water stations and triggering their temporary closure in Tikrit". And the Tigris flows. Last night  AP reported, "City officials urged Baghdad residents Thursday to conserve water and fill up their tanks in case water treatment stations have to be shut down because of an oil spill in the Tigris River."  Progress?  Just more violence.
In some of today's reported violence . . .
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Hawija bombing of the home "of the former chief of Hawija police". Reuters reports 1 Romanian soldier dead from a Tallil bombing that left five more injured, a Kirkuk roadside bombing that claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and 1 Iraqi police officer, an Iskandariya mortar attack that claimed 1 life (three more injured)
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 8 corpses were discovered in Baghdad and three female corpses in Basra.  Reuters notes that three corpses were discovered in Yusufiya and 1 in Bajwan.
Today the US military announced: "A soldier assigned to Task Force Lightning died in a non-combat related incident in Kirkuk province Sept. 20."  And they announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier was killed in Diyala Province Thursday when an explosion occurred near his vehicle."  The deaths bring the total number of US service members killed in the illegal war since it began in March of 2003 to 3794 (ICCC).  That's six announced deaths away from the 3800 mark.
Finally, the CBS Evening News' Armen Keteyian looks into the missing weapons "the U.S. military could not account for" (190,000 of them) and discovers a large number of the Glock pistols have ended up in the hands of the Iraqi resistance: "According to an intelligence source, the U.S. contractor in charge of the Glocks somehow lost track of an entire shipment. That mysterious disappeance is now part of a massive military bribery investigation centered around a contracting office run out of a small trailer at a military base in Kuwait. Eighteen federal investigators are digging into the actions of dozens of high-ranking U.S officers and military contractors."

Luggage? GPS? Comic books?
Check out fitting gifts for grads at Yahoo! Search.

Other Items

On Oct. 15, 1969, a nationwide protest called the Vietnam Moratorium was held. Millions of people in thousands of communities around the United States participated in what was up to that time the largest public protest in American history.
Students walked out from public schools. There were sit-ins at draft boards and induction centers and workplace "sickouts." There were public meetings, vigils, candlelight processions and church services. There were massive gatherings in major cities. In Boston, more than 100,000 gathered peacefully on Boston Common that day.
From every walk of life, people participated in any way they could with one goal in mind -- ending the war in Vietnam and bringing our soldiers home.
The Nixon administration pretended not to notice the events of Oct. 15. But they couldn't ignore what happened a month later, on Nov. 15, 1969, when nearly a million people streamed into Washington to protest the war.

[. . .]
In the spirit of the original Vietnam Moratorium, today has been designated Iraq Moratorium Day. It is a day designated for locally organized opposition to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. It is the start of what the event's organizers hope will be a monthly event, on the third Friday of each month, until our troops leave Iraq. You can find more details about it at

The above, noted by Kyle, is from The Brattleboro Reformer's "Voices must be raised together." Also noting the Iraq Moratorium is Zach who steers us to Joe Piasecki's "Pause for Peace" (Pasadena Weekly):

Friday marks the first Iraq Moratorium, a national effort by peace activists to engage the millions of Americans who are against the war but have not yet stood publicly to say so.
The idea is for everyone who opposes the continued occupation to do something -- anything -- on this day to express their views, explained Paul Krehbiel, a member of the national Iraq Moratorium Organizing Committee and a Pasadena resident.
That could be as simple as wearing a peace button or a black ribbon or armband, writing to your congressman or local newspaper (email, or organizing your own small gathering and announcing it at
"We don't see what we're doing as an alternative to other antiwar activities; we see it as adding to them. A lot of people don't feel comfortable marching in the street, so we needed to do more things to include more people," said Krehbiel. "Really, our goal is to reach out to the mainstream of society and encourage people to express their opposition to the war however they feel comfortable."

The Iraq Moratorium begins today. Meanwhile the cholera epidemic spreads in Iraq. From Andrew E. Kramer's "Cases of Cholera Reach Baghdad" (New York Times):

The first cases of cholera appeared in Baghdad on Thursday, in a sign the epidemic that has already sickened thousands in northern Iraq is now spreading more widely in a population made vulnerable by war to a normally preventable disease.
The World Health Organization and Iraqi Red Crescent Society reported two cases here and Iraqi television reported another case, in a 7-month-old baby, in Basra, far to the south.

Well into the article, you learn that the BBC is relocating their correspondents outside of Baghdad due to a threat or threats they have received. So much for the 'safer' Baghdad the White House keeps yammering on about. And note it is now "cases" -- two -- of the outbreak in Baghdad.

The e-mail address for this site is

NYT reporting for the State Dept

Iraq's Ministry of Interior has concluded that employees of a private American security firm fired an unprovoked barrage in the shooting last Sunday in which at least eight Iraqis were killed and is proposing a radical reshaping of the way American diplomats and contractors here are protected.
In the first comprehensive account of the day's events, the ministry said that security guards for Blackwater USA, a company that guards all senior American diplomats here, fired on Iraqis in their cars in midday traffic.
The document concludes that the dozens of foreign security companies here should be replaced by Iraqi companies, and that a law that has given the companies immunity for years be scrapped.

Reporting for the State Dept, that's from Sabrina Tavernise and James Glanz' "Guards' Shots Not Provoked, Iraq Concludes" in this morning's New York Times. Doubt it? Ask yourself when you've ever seen the following sentence but with "White House" or "US military" in place of "Iraqi": "The Iraqi version of events may be self-serving in some points."?

If we can leave the "self-serving" report by the Times, Kim Sengupta (Independent of London) doesn't wait around for reports to be handed over. For some strange reason Sengupta believes reporters go out and investigate. From "The real story of Baghdad's Bloody Sunday:"

The reports we got from members of the public, Iraqi security personnel and government officials, as well as our own research, leads to a markedly different scenario than the American version. There was a bomb blast. But it was too far away to pose any danger to the Blackwater guards, and their State Department charges. We have found no Iraqi present at the scene who saw or heard sniper fire.
Witnesses say the first victims of the shootings were a couple with their child, the mother and infant meeting horrific deaths, their bodies fused together by heat after their car caught fire. The contractors, according to this account, also shot Iraqi soldiers and police and Blackwater then called in an attack helicopter from its private air force which inflicted further casualties.
Blackwater disputes most of this. In a statement the company declared that those killed were "armed insurgents and our personnel acted lawfully and appropriately in a war zone protecting American lives".
The day after the killings, Mirenbe Nantongo, a spokeswoman for the US embassy, said the Blackwater team had " reacted to a car bombing". The embassy's information officer, Johann Schmonsees, stressed " the car bomb was in proximity to the place where State Department personnel were meeting, and that was the reason why Blackwater responded to the incident" .
Those on the receiving end tell another story. Mr Salman said he had turned into Nisoor Square behind the Blackwater convoy when the shooting began. He recalled: "There were eight foreigners in four utility vehicles, I heard an explosion in the distance and then the foreigners started shouting and signalling for us to go back. I turned the car around and must have driven about a hundred feet when they started shooting. My car was hit with 12 bullets it turned over. Four bullets hit me in the back and another in the arm. Why they opened fire? I do not know. No one, I repeat no one, had fired at them. The foreigners had asked us to go back and I was going back in my car, so there was no reason for them to shoot."

In fairness to the Times, possibly they were yet again leery of leaving the villa. After all, if security firms are causing tensions, their private army of black t-shirted thugs ("THE NEW YORK TIMES") may have only added to the tensions. The paper's never reported on their security guards so maybe that should be filed under "self-serving"?

The Independent of London's Daniel Howden and Leonard Doyle also provide an overview of the growth in the mercenary trade and we'll note this from that article:

A high-ranking US military commander in Iraq said: "These guys run loose in this country and do stupid stuff. There's no authority over them, so you can't come down on them hard when they escalate force. They shoot people."
In Abu Ghraib, all of the translators and up to half of the interrogators were reportedly private contractors.

While the mercenary trade grows, the housing market withers. Martha notes Megan Greenwell's "Fear Drives Baghdad's Housing Bust" (Washington Post):

Immediately after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, home prices in Baghdad skyrocketed, fueled by widespread expectations that the war would end quickly and foreign corporations would pour money into Iraq's economy. Rich families who had left the country under the rule of Saddam Hussein returned, buying extravagant homes in upscale neighborhoods such as Karrada, Kadhimiyah and Mansour. Scores of new real estate companies opened across Baghdad.
"All my friends were asking me how to become a real estate agent. Some weeks, I was selling a home every day to people as investment properties," said Jawad al-Maliki, who operates a real estate company in Kadhimiyah, in western Baghdad. "They thought when all the foreign investments came Baghdad would be the new Dubai."
But as the war dragged on and insurgent groups gained power, property values began a free fall that real estate agents say has not yet hit bottom. The wealthy families who had returned to fancy homes in Baghdad left again for the stability of Jordan or Syria, in many cases leaving their houses empty. Lower- and middle-class people, desperate to afford the high cost of emigrating, rushed to sell their homes for any price. Altogether, nearly a million people have been displaced from Baghdad, according to the Iraqi Red Crescent Society.
"The neighbors told us how much we could get for it based on how much the militia would pay," said Sabah Nouri Motlaq, a Sunni who helped sell his brother's house in Sadr City, an overwhelmingly Shiite slum controlled by the Mahdi Army in eastern Baghdad. "They didn't have any choice, and if we had said no, they would have pushed us out for no money or killed us."

The e-mail address for this site is

Thursday, September 20, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

U.S. troops arrested an Iranian man during an early morning raid on a hotel in this northern Iraqi city Thursday and accused him of helping to smuggle a deadly type of roadside bomb into Iraq.
But the Kurdistan Regional Government in a statement called the arrest "illegitimate," said the man was a member of a trade delegation that had been invited to Sulaimaniyah by the local government and demanded that he be released.
"Actions like these serve no one," the statement said.

[. . .]
The Kurdish Regional Government said the man was Aghai Farhadi, a member of an economic and commercial delegation from the Iranian governorate of Karmanshah, which borders Iraq's Sulaimaniyah and Diyala provinces.
Hassan Baqi, the head of the Sulaimaniyah chamber of commerce, said Farhadi had been in Sulaimaniyah for a week for discussions on opening a border crossing near Panjween,68 miles east of Sulaimaniyah, and other trade-related issues.

The above is from Jay Price and Yaseen Taha's "Kurds denounce U.S. detention of Iranian" (McClatchy Newspapers) on the arrest of the Iranian that was supposed to distract us from the realities like the cholera spreading to Baghdad, or the fact that the long promised handover has been postponed until July at the earliest . . . For those who have forgotten, this was supposed to take place, per the White House, by November of this year.

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, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 3776. Tonight? 3792. Just Foreign Policy's total for the number of Iraqis killed since the start of the illegal war stood at 1,042,599. Tonight? 1,060,494. "Progress" is apparently the climbing death toll.

3792, repeating, is eight away from the 3800 mark. As Cindy Sheehan noted during her interview with Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive Radio Show this week), the Democrats bought the illegal war. They now co-own it. But no need to worry about people dying when there's money to be made, right? The Minneapolis Star Tribune notes: "The Kuwaiti company building the U.S. embassy in Baghdad has been accused of agreeing to pay $200,000 in kickbacks in return for two unrelated Army contracts in Iraq. The scheme, outlined in a now-sealed court document, allegedly involved First Kuwaiti General Trading & Contracting and a manager for Kellogg Brown & Root Inc." As long as Dick Cheney's babies clean up, we're all okay, right? That is what the White House is all about: enriching your own pockets, right?

From Naomi Klein's new book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism:

Before stepping down as CEO to be George Bush's running mate, Cheney negotiated a retirement package that left him loaded with Halliburton stocks and options. After some uncomfortable press questions, he agreed to sell some of his Halliburton shares, making an impressive $18.5 million profit in the process. But he didn't cash out entirely. According to the Wall Street Journal, Cheney hung on to 189,000 Halliburton shares and 500,000 unvested options even as he entered the vice-presidency.
The fact that Cheney still maintains such a quantity of Halliburton shares means that throughout his term as vice-president, he has collection millions every year in dividends from his stocks and he has also been paid an annual deferred income by Halliburton of $211,000 -- roughly equivalent to his government salary. When he leaves office in 2009 and is able to cash in his Halliburton holdings, Cheney will have the opportunity to profit extravagantly from the stunning improvement in Halliburton's fortunes. The company's stock price rose from $10 before the war in Iraq to $41 three years later -- a 300 percent jump, thanks to a combination of soaring energy prices and Iraq contracts, both of which flow directly from Cheney's steering the country into war with Iraq.

Returning to the death toll for US service members, the 3792 doesn't include Nickolas Lee Hopper. Hopper didn't die in Iraq. He died last week in North Carolina, AP reports, "from wounds he received two years ago in Iraq".

But don't feel down, make like the press corps and get excited. Dave Montgomery (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) reports that the air war is about to get a little 'oomph' as "[t]he first combat squandron of tilt-roter V-22 Ospreys" heads to Iraq "ushering a new form of aerial technology into 21-st century warfare." We're apparently supposed to get the tingles over that -- though the sexual high may require press credentials. There is, however, a cautionary note offered, "But the Osprey's entry into combat will be under intense scrutiny after years of controversy that included delays, steadily rising costs and two fatal crashes in 2000 that nearly led to the program's cancellation. Critics say the tilt-rotor concept is still unproven and could endanger the lives of its crew members in combat. Supporters say it is ideal for combat and will enable Marines to get into hot spots faster and safer." The under-reported air war. The hardware used gets more coverage than the actual use of it in Iraq and certainly more than those who are killed by it.

Turning to the topic of oil, UPI reports that in a press conference today, Bully Boy declared he was in the dark on the Hunt Oil deal with Iraq's Kurdistan region. Bully Boy is reported to have declared, "I knew nothing about the deal" -- conjuring echoes of his spiritual antacedent's claim, "I am not a crook." UPI notes Hunt Oil's CEO, Ray Hunt, was twice appointed "to the president's Foreign Intellignece Advisory Board" and "has also been a major fundraiser for Bush and held a top Republican Party position." Here's that exchange in full:

Q: You recently spoke just earlier about the importance of oil revenue sharing in Iraq. Recently a company called Hunt Oil, run by one of your long-time supporters, Ray Hunt, signed a deal with a Kurdish regional government to drill for oil up there. That deal has come under intense criticism from the national government in Baghdad. They say it undermines the discussions about oil legislation. What's you're opinion of that kind of deal and how it impacts this long-stalled legislation?
Bully Boy:: Our embassy also expressed concern about it. I knew nothing about the deal. I need to know exactly how it happened. To the extent that it does undermine the ability for the government to come up with an oil revenue sharing plan that unifies the country, obviously if it undermines it I'm concerned.

Tuesday, Press TV reported on the bombing outside Beiji of an oil pipeline "causing huge quanties of crude oil to spill into the Tigris River" which has "caused oil to seep into the Tigris River damaging water stations and triggering their temporary closure in Tikrit". And the Tigris flows. So it's no surprise that AP reports, "City officials urged Baghdad residents Thursday to conserve water and fill up their tanks in case water treatment stations have to be shut down because of an oil spill in the Tigris River."

Seeing any 'progress'?

How about that recommendation that the Iraqi police force be disbanded? (See September 6th snapshot.) Tom Hayden (Huffington Post via Common Dreams) tackles the topic:

The little-noticed new report exposes the lethal nature of the counterinsurgency doctrines promoted by Gen. David Petraeus and the official warfighting manual developed in collaboration between the Army, the Marines and Harvard's Carr Center.
In comparison with past public outcries about "tiger cages" and Operation Phoenix in Vietnam, death squads in El Salvador and Honduras, or ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, there is little or no attention today to the issues raised in the new report. All the major Democratic presidential candidates support maintaining thousands of American trainers embedded with what the new report calls "dysfunctional and sectarian" forces. In short, whether intentional or not, all the major proposals on Iraq are based on a lower-visibility, lower-casualty dirty war reminiscent of Algeria, Central America, South Vietnam and, today, Afghanistan.
Gen. Petraeus was the commander of US transitional forces [MNSTC-I] in 2004-2005, in charge of training, arming and organizing Iraq's military and police forces. A scandal involving tens of thousands of missing weapons on Petraeus’ watch has been pursued by the American Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction since that time. A Petraeus subordinate, Col. Theodore Westhusing, committed apparent suicide on June 5, 2005, leaving a note which said,
"I cannot support a [mission] that leads to corruption, human rights abuses, and liars...I don't know who to trust anymore." [Newsweek, Aug. 20-27]
The new report thoroughly documents the violence, ethnic hatred, and lack of transparency surrounding the Iraq Ministry of Interior, which is responsible for some 300,000 police, national police, and border enforcement services, many of them tied to the Shi'a militias of the Badr Brigade, the paramiitary arm of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq [SCIRI] which the Americans empowered after the fall of Saddam Hussein.Called "The Report of the Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq", the Sept. 7, 2007 report was issued by Marine Gen. James Jones [ret.] and a panel of some 30 top military experts, many with 30 years' experience. The media noted its primary assessment, that the Iraqi army was progressing but would require another 12 to 18 months before being combat-ready. The explosive sections of the 130-page, single-spaced report were ignored.

Tomorrow is a day that anyone can take part in. United for Peace & Justice (along with others) will begin Iraq Moratorium on September 21st and follow it every third Friday of the month as people across the country are encouraged to wear and distribute black ribbons and armbands, purchase no gas on those Fridays, conduct vigils, pickets, teach-ins and rallies, etc. The e-mail address for this site is

tom hayden

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, September 20, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, Blackwater is still hot water, cholera comes to Baghdad, the Iraq Moratorium starts Friday, and more.
Starting with war resistance.  Last week, Carol Mulligan (The Sudbury Star) reported on the Sudbury chapter of War Resisters Support Campaign to find lodging for an expected arrival -- a family of four.  The Canadian community pulled together and went to work.  Today Carol Mulligan (The Sudbury Star) reports that, "The soldier planning to come to Canada with his family to avoid deployment to combat in Iraq has been transferred to a non-combat role" after being granted CO status and will not moving to Canada and that Lee Zaslofsky (national co-ordinator of  War Resisters Support Campaign) congratulated the community on their strong work and to "assure you that, with the current volume of inquiries from potential war resisters in the U.S., there will likely be war resisters in Sudbury very soon" with 2 war resisters having "arrived unexpectedly in Ottawa" as well as the London chapter having a family arrive "last weekend and another settled in the Niagara region." 
Last week, Anthony Lane (Colorado Springs Indy) reported on Brad McCall, 20 years old, army private, who made the decision to self-checkout of the US military.  Lane explained, "Soldiers tell him details of fighting in Iraq meant to make his pacifist blood boil.  Soldiers who've been and returned say he'll see the bodies of dead little girls, if and when his unit is deployed.  They goad him with stories of a soldier they say peeled charred flesh from an Iraqi civilian's corpse and ate it."  McCall considered applying for CO status but didn't think the chances were likely of his being granted that status.  So, while Lane was working on the report, McCall self-checked out and, "He'll join hundreds of other U.S. soldiers in Canada.  He'll go to college, in the States, if he can get discharged.  If not, maybe in Canada. . . .  Army officials notified McCall's family on Tuesday that he had disappeared.  Charlotte McCall, his mother, says she's saddened and worried."  While she expects that he will change his mind, Lane reports "McCall contends that staying in the Army could only lead to bad things, particularly if he is deployed.  The fighting in Iraq has put soldiers in nerve-wracking situations where some have fired their weapons only to realize they killed civilians, he says.  'How would I live [with] myself,' he asks, 'knowing I killed an innocent person fighting in a war I didn't believe in?'"
Already in Canada, war resister Patrick Hart is attempting to be granted refugee status. His band will be playing in Winnipeg Sunday.  David Schmeichel (Winnipeg Sun) notes, "Yes, the Refuse & Resist tour lineup is jam-packed with punks who oppose the war in Iraq.  But before you dismiss 'em as snotty agitators, know that Skull Device guitarist Pat Hart is something of an expert on the topic.  Hart served 9 years with the U.S. military before going AWOL and fleeing to Canada, and now faces up to 30 years in prison if our government denies his bid for refugee status.  He's got the support of tourmates Nikki's Trick and My Shaky Jane, (plus local recruits C-Punisher and Saxton)."  Patrick Hart went to Canada at the end of August 2005 and was followed a few weeks later by Jill Hart and their son Rian.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Derek Hess, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, 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.
McCall tells Lane that he doubts the US military will even look for him.  If that has to do with his own record in the military, he may be right.  But the reality is that the US military does attempt to track down members who check out.  In news on some recent AWOLs . . .   Brad Zinn (Virginia's The News Leader) reports Denise A. Jones checked out, turned herself in and was arrested (she's 42-years-old and now at the Fort Knox Deserter Control Point).  Russ Rizzo (The Salt Lake Tribune) reports Austin Lee Sommers developed pink, bronchitis, pneumonia and cellulitis while in basic training (marines) and checked out and stay with an aunt when the Orem police -- tipped off by the military and, his aunt believes, Austin's brother -- showed up to arrest him.  Meanwhile in Maryland another AWOL soldier has been shot.  Rocco Vertuccio (R News) reports Aberdeen was the location where 22-year-old Evan Parker of Rochester, NY was shot after he was picked up at a motel in the Aberdeen area and then returned to base (Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland) on Sunday only to go AWOL again and return to the same motel: "As an officer approached Parker, they say Parker displayed a gun.  Police told Parker to drop the gun.  They say instead, he waved it at the officer.  The officer then fired several shots, hitting Parker in the abdomen, the leg, and upper chest. . . .  Parker is now in stable condition at the University of Maryland Shock and Trauma Center.  Aberdeen Police say, while Parker was being taken to the hospital, he told them and the medical personnel, he wanted police to shoot him."
This week on The Progressive Radio Show, Matthew Rothschild interviews Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan about the illegal war, the Democrats and the Republicans and why she is running for Congress from the eighth district in California.
Matthew Rothschild: Cindy, what does it mean when two-thirds of the public is against the war and yet the war and surge goes on?
Cindy Sheehan: I think it means that what our country was founded on, which was being a representative republic, has transformed into a country or government by -- instead of by and for the people -- by and for the corporations, the special interests.  I think that both parties -- the people in both parties are very similar in their ideologies, they're very similar in the people who pull their strings, the people who fund their campaigns and so I think that our government and, you know, with most of the people's consent by their silence, we're sliding into a form of fascism and I think that that is, it's corporate, you know Benito Mussolini famously said, it's when corporations and government -- it's the merger of those two interests and I think that's what we have right now.
Matthew Rothschild: How do we stop that slide?  How do we reverse that slide?
Cindy Sheehan: I think we have to take back our government. I think we have to take back our representative republic. On July 23rd, I went with Ray McGovern and Rev. Lennox Yearwood  to meet with John Conyers about impeachment.  We took a petition with over a million signatures.  We had three hundred people lining the halls by his office on Capitol Hill and, while we were there, there was a call every thirty seconds demanding impeachment and John Conyers said, "I can't do it."  And I said, "So what you're telling me is that we the people have no voice in our government, we have no recourse."  He said, "Yes, you do in the ballot boxes."   But the candidates we vote for are the ones that the elite, the corporate elite pick for us and the media picks for us and they don't do what the people want them to do what kind of representative republic . . . do we have.  So I think that we have to challenge this two-party system which really is just one party basically.  People have to challenge their congress people like I'm challenging Nancy Pelosi. And I think that challenging her as an independent, unaffiliated with any party, that you can truly look at the human and not the politics --  you know, what would be right for me politically or what would make me more money -- but look at a human being and say, "What would be best for humanity?  What would be best for our country?"  And not what's best for myself and my own interests or the people who owns me interest. So I think that by challenging her I'm not just challenging Pelosi, I'm challenging the system and I'm challenging the military industrial complex that I think controls our system.
Matthew Rothschild: Cindy Sheehan, why do you think John Conyers told you that he couldn't do it?  Because the time before in Congress, when the Democrats weren't in control, he did introduce a bill to explore grounds of impeachment.
Cindy Sheehan:  This is just so puzzling to so many people -- especially people who have been impeachment-anti-war activists.  A lot of people in the movement don't link impeachment  with peace but there's many of us who do because first of all there's the thing of accountability.  Second of all, George Bush has said the troops aren't coming home while he's president.  And you know if Nixon had been held accountable for the, you know, for the prosecuting of Vietnam and for the illegal bombings of Laos and Cambodia I think it would reign in future presidents. But John Conyers wrote a book called The Constitution in Crisis and he laid out, he and his staff laid out, the crimes and the charges against George Bush.  And in my many meetings with him since they've become in the majority, I've said, "You know, Congressman,  what happened, all the sudden are they like innocent of these crimes?  You know you have to put them to trial, you have to give them a hearing." And there's been a lot of speculation  that Nancy Pelosi,  and we know she did because before they were even elected she said election was off the table.  And we think that Nancy Pelosi is reigning-reigning his hand in.  And you know he keeps saying 'I don't have the votes, I don't have the votes".  Well you're not going to have the votes if you don't put the resolution for impeachment out there and we think it's a Constitutional duty, we thank it's mandatory  and he thinks he has discretion.  And one thing he told me that broke my heart  because I really have admired him -- even before I knew him, you know, even before my son was killed -- I admired him.  And  he told us that it's more important for him to have a Democratic president than to end the war.  So what the democratic leadership are doing are playing politics with our flesh and blood and the people of Iraq and our soldiers are being put in the middle of this political struggle.  And I think it's inherently immoral.
Matthew Rothschild: I mean that -- when I'm most cynical I think the Democrats want the war to go on because it will help them.
Staying on the topic of peace and truth telling, Amanda Grosgebauer, Karin Scott and Kathleen Kreuger at Texas A&M refused to let a War Hawk columnist go unchallenged as he spewed hate and attacks and called him out as the pig he was.  Good for them.  Maybe he'll think twice before he tries to distor the work of Iraq Veterans Against the War?  And a time when so many women paid to pen their opinions elect to be silent on the topic of the illegal war, the three college students show far more strength and passion that most 'professionals'.  The "women of tomorrow" are already here and Kathleen Kreuger, Karin Scott and Amanda Grosgebauer make that very clear.  Another strong woman is IVAW's Kelly Dougherty.  Paul Pryse and Chris Chable (The Badger Herald) explain how Dougherty's story intersects with corporate profits: "When Kelly Dougherty was deployed to Iraq in 2003, her unit was assigned to escort truck convoys, usually from Kellogg Brown and Root Inc., then a subsidary of the Halliburton Company.  Dougherty remembers one incident when her unit was guarding a broken-down truck containing produce and a crowd of destitute Iraqis assembled and begged for food.  After Hallibruton told them to destroy the truck, Dougherty and other soldiers asked if they could distribute the food first, but were refused because it would be 'too hectic.'  'We sat there and burned produce in front of people struggling to get by, living not only under an occupation, but without jobs, without healthcare,' Dougherty said.  To most people, this is wanton cruelty.  However, under Halliburton's 'cost-plus' contract, they made a profit by charging the costs of that truck, the produce, plus an extra percentage to taxpayers."  Which is why students at University of Wisconsin-Madison were protesting today as Halliburton showed up on campus for a job fair.  Ryan J. Foley (AP) reports Chris Dols leading the hundreds of students in singing "From high to low, Halliburton got to go" and Foley observes, "The event is drawing parallels to a 1967 protest against recruiters for Dow Chemical Co., which made napalm used in Vietnam.  A peaceful sit-in that ended in a bloody confrontation between students and club-wielding police officers galvanized the anti-war movement."  Anita Weier (The Capital Times) notes the ingenuity of the students in the following: "They were allowed to enter the career fair but were told not to chant, so they sang.  They were told to use conversational tones, but they did so with a bullhorn."
They aren't the only ones standing up.  Alive in Baghdad offers their latest video report and this one is on the Al Hurriya section of Baghdad which was once a mixed neighborhood but has become pure Shi'ite and was the scene for Nabeel Kamal's report of a protest following the murder of Jawad Kadhim Al Sultani which called for all US forces to "leave our safe district and be replaced with Iraqi Forces".  Who led the protest?  Women.  Carrying banners and accompanied by small children, they changed We defend our country and we're call terrorists, No, no to America!  No, no to America!  Maliki government, how long will you be silent?"
Turning to the topic of Blackwater.  Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes today, "Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is promising to hold the private military firm Blackwater USA accountable for its deadly attack on Iraqis last weekend in Baghdad. Maliki's pledge comes as the estimated death toll from the shooting continues to rise. Iraqi officials now say as many twenty-eight Iraqis were killed when Blackwater guards opened fire. The initial estimate was of nine dead. On Wednesday, Maliki said Iraq would not allow the killing of Iraqis 'in cold blood.' He also called on the Bush administration to cut ties with Blackwater. The shooting has put new scrutiny on the free reign companies like Blackwater enjoy in Iraq. The State Department says its formed a joint committee with Iraqi officials to suggest ways to improve regulation of private military firms."  Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that Nouri al-Maliki declared yesterday that the mercenaries of Blackwater "have been involved in at least seven serious incidents" already and Mohammed al Askari (spokesperson for the Defense Ministry) declares "one of the incidents was former Iraqi Electricity Minister Ahyam al Samarrai's escape from a Green Zone jail in December.  Samarrai had been awaiting sentencing on charges that he had embezzled $2.5 billion that was intended to rebuild Iraq's decrepit electricity grid.  Another incident, Askari said, was the shooting death last month of a Baghdad taxi driver when Blackwater guards led a convoy the wrong way down a street."  Steve Fainaru (Washington Post) informs that "the State Department's oversight of Blackwater became a central issue as Iraqi authorities repeatedly clashed with the company over its aggressive street tactics. Many U.S. and Iraqi officials and industry representatives said they came to see Blackwater as untouchable, protected by State Department officials who defended the company at every turn. Blackwater employees protect the U.S. ambassador and other diplomats in Iraq.
Blackwater 'has a client who will support them no matter what they do,' said H.C. Lawrence Smith, deputy director of the Private Security Company Association of Iraq, an advocacy organization in Baghdad that is funded by security firms, including Blackwater."  Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reports, "Two American diplomats speaking on condition of anonymity have told The Times that the State Department had failed to take Blackwater to task in past cases in which Iraqi civilians were shot. The diplomats complained that the State Department's security office in Baghdad had often failed to scrutinize Blackwater's actions."
Let's get the alleged 'progress' out of the way before we go further.  This morning Paul Tait (Reuters) reported that serial liar Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno is again claiming violence is a-dropping.  He's got nothing to back it up, just his oft disproven claims.  But it sure does eat a lot of press time (which is always the point of a wave of Operation Happy Talk).  Meanwhile, no one knows anything about an arrest of an alleged Iraian for alleged smuggling but that eats up even more time.  Maybe they'll distract from the looming 3800 mark for the number of US service members killed in the illegal Iraq War?  Or maybe from AP's report on the 'handover': "In another sign of U.S. struggles in Iraq, the target date for putting Iraqi authorities in charge of security in all 18 provinces has slipped yet again, to at least July. The delay, noted in a Pentagon report to Congress on progress and problems in Iraq, highlights the difficulties in developing Iraqi police forces and the slow pace of economic and political progress in some areas. It is the second time this year the target date for completing what is known as 'Provincial Iraqi Control' has been pushed back. The Pentagon report submitted to Congress on Monday hinted at the possibility of further delays."  Or maybe it will distract from the cholera outbreak in northern Iraq that, bad sign, has now moved to Baghdad according to the World Health Organization
In other violence . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing claimed 1 life (police officer) and left three more people wounded, another Baghdad bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and left a second injured, a Baghdad car bombing claimed 3 lives and left eleven others injured and 2 Falluja roadside bombings claimed 2 lives (police officers) and left four more wounded.  Reuters reports a mortar attack in Madaen claimed 2 lives (ten more were injured).
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Sheikh Khalid Salim Faris al-Bayati was shot dead in Tuz Khurmato today while Lt. Col. Mejeed Shnan "was shot in the shoulder and is being treated in hospital" after surviving an attack. Reuters notes that "radio presenter" Muhannad Ghanim was shot dead in Mosul that Judge Mustafa Kadhim was shot dead in Baghdad,  and a person was shot dead in Hawija
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 7 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes that 3 corpses ("including a woman and her daughter") were discovered in Mosul.
Today the US military announced: "A Soldier assigned to Multi-National Force-West died Sept. 19 in a non-combat-related incident in Al Anbar Province."
corporate media picks for us and the elite and they don't do what the people
In yet another sign of how the US Veterans Affairs Dept continues to fails service members, Reuters reports Fort Riley's cemetary "has run out of space" and that US Senators Pat Robers and Sam Brownback are "urging . . . full funding for a new cementary for Fort Riley" -- that two US Senators (they are Republicans) have to urge the Veterans Affairs Dept to do their job is only one example of how mismanaged the department has been under the Bully Boy.
On WBAI today, The Largest Minority Radio Show devoted a segment to remembering Dave Cline.  In addition, yesterday's note on David Zeiger's piece didn't include the link to the website.  First, language warning before clicking to get the essay, second, the site is Sir! No Sir! -- site of the amazing documentary.  You can also Zeiger's piece and others (including one by Cindy Sheehan) at Veterans for Peace's memorial online.

Don't let your dream ride pass you by. Make it a reality with Yahoo! Autos.