Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, May 21, 2008.  Chaos and violence, US prisons in Iraq hold children (and deny them rights they would be guaranteed in prisons located in the US), US war resister Corey Glass is told he can't stay in Canada, Hillary wins Kentucky and more.
Starting with war resistance.  Canada's Global TV reports, "Corey Glass, a former U.S. National Guardsman who deserted to Canada in 2006 to avoid serving in Iraq, was told today that his application to stay in Canada has been rejected supporters say.  Michelle Robidoux, a spokesperson for the War Resisters Support Campaign, said Glass could be deported by June 12."  Canadian Press notes: "Ottawa has decided that an American soldier who fled the army over the Iraq war will not face the risk of abuse or mistreatment if returned to the U.S. The means Corey Glass can now be deported to the United States, where he faces possible jail time for desertion." 
On March 30, 2007, Corey Glass stood before Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board explaining he signed up for the National Guard in Indiana to assist with national disasters "on American soil." Iraq War veteran Glass self-checked out, went underground and moved to Canada in the fall of 2006.  After self-checking out, Glass was underground for seven months before going to Canada and, during that time, the Army (which supposedly just waits for traffic violations to catch self-check outs) was visiting his parents, calling phone numbers trying to track him down.  In October of 2006, Corey Glass, Justin Colby, Ryan Johnson and other war resisters in Canada were considering returning to US as a result of the way Darrell Anderson's discharge was resolved.  However, once the military attempted to screw over Kyle Snyder, that changed.  Glass told Brett Barrouqere (AP) at the start November 2006, "After what they did to him, I don't see anybody going back."  Glass stated, "I knew the war was wrong before I went, but I was going to fulfil my end of the bargain, right or wrong and eventually my conscience just caught up with me. . . I felt horrible for being a part of it.  If I could apologise to those people [Iraqis], every single on, I would." 
Today at Trinity-St. Paul's Centre in Spadina, Glass spoke explaining, "What I saw in Iraq convinced me that the war is illegal and immoral.  I could not in good conscience continue to take part in it.  I came here because Canada did not join the Iraq War.  Also I knew Canada had welcomed many Americans during the Vietnam War."   Reuters notes, "If he is returned to the United States, Glass, of Fairmount, Indiana, could face jail time.  He joined the National Guard in 2002" and they quote him stating of his work in military intel in Iraq, "Through this job I had access to lots of information about what was happening on the ground in Iraq.  Through what I saw, I realized innocent people were being killed unjustly."
U.S. Iraq war resister Corey Glass was told today that his application to stay in Canada has been rejected and he now faces deportation. Glass would be the first Iraq war resister to be deported from Canada. Last December the House of Commons' Standing Committee on Citizenship & Immigration passed a motion calling on the Canadian government to "immediately implement a program to allow conscientious objectors and their immediate family members […] to apply for permanent resident status and remain in Canada; and … the government should immediately cease any removal or deportation actions … against such individuals".           
Please take a moment tocall Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion at 613.996.6740 or 613.996.5789            
Tell him you want the Liberal Party...               
• to support the Parliamentary motion to allow Iraq War resisters to remain in Canada,                     
• to oppose the deportation of people of conscience who have resisted an illegal war, and                   
• to support the will of the Canadian people, not Stephen Harper's decision to deport war resisters, and not the U.S.'s war agenda.                 
Some war resisters are in Canada and they need support as well as they wait to see if the motion for safe harbor is going to come to the Parliament floor.  You can utilize the following e-mails to show your support: Prime Minister Stephen Harper ( -- that's pm at who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( -- that's Dion.S at who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( -- that's Bevilacqua.M at who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration.  In addition Jack Layton, NDP leader, has a contact form and they would like to hear from people as well. A few more addresses can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use.         
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Matthis Chiroux, Richard Droste, Michael Barnes, Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Jose Vasquez, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara 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, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Jason Marek, 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, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty 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. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).
Turning to Iraq and starting with a show confession.  CNN reports on testimony -- self-incriminating -- that we're apparently supposed to rejoice over while ignoring the fact that the man is "blindolded and hancuffed" and "crouches in the corner of the detention center while an Iraqi soldier grills him about rampant crimes being carried out by gangs in the southern city of Basra."  For those unaware, these show confessions are the equivalent of American Idol in Iraq and the reason they are taped is to broadcast them.  A real 'winner' or 'audience pleaser' is when they can force of confession of crimes and homosexuality.  That leads to tremendous rejoicing in a segment of the viewing public.  There is no justice in Iraq and there's no need to believe any 'confession' obtained by the military (are we supposed to forget that there is an Iraqi police force?) let alone any confession where the person is "blindfolded and handcuffed".  It's a travesty and it's shameful.  Did the imprisoned kidnap and rape "15 girls"?  You're not supposed to think that far.  You're just supposed to be outraged.  (Rape, kidnapping and murder go on daily in Iraq.  That's not the issue here, the issue here is the show confessions, forced and presented as 'justice' and without question.)
One of the greatest indictments of the 'free' Iraq is what continues to pass for 'justice' in the country.
Need more indictments?  In an editorial entitled "Iraq And Afghanistan: Recruiting young," the Seattle Post-Intelligencer notes the "up to 2,500 minors" being imprisoned in by the US military. Martha Neil (ABA Journal) explains, "In a report to a United Nations committee, the United States says it is holding 500 juveniles, apparently in adult detention facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan." As April round down, Radhika Coomaraswamy (UN Secretary General's Special representative for Children and Armed Conflict) completed a six-day trip to Iraq where she examined the the status of Iraqi children and stated, "Many of them are no longer go to schook, many are recruited for violent activities or detained in custody, they lack access to the most basic services and manifest a wide range of psychological symptoms from the violence in their every lives."   UNICEF noted, "Ms. Coomaraswamy has urged all parties in the conflict to release any children in their forces who are under the age of 18" and quoted her stating, "Let peace in Iraq begin with the protection of children."
The US government is making a big deal out of the fact that they do not hold "enemy combatants" in Iraq -- they follow Geneva, they insist; however, whomever wrote the government's report to the United Nations needs to check their wording.  Their reply [PDF format, CRC.OPAC.USA.Q1] notes: "Since 2003, the United States has held approximately 2,400 juveniles in Iraq.  The juveniles that the United States has detained have been captured engaging in anti-coalition activity, such as planting Improvised Explosive Devices, operating as look-outs for insurgents, or actively engaging in fighting against U.S. and Coalition forces.  As of April 2008, the United States held approximately 500 juveniles in Iraq.  The response's next sentence (responding to length of time of imprisonment) is, "The U.S. Department of Defense detains enemy combatants who engaged in armed conflict against U.S. and Coalition forces or provided material support to others who are fighting against U.S. and Coalition forces."  If the US government is upset that the media didn't remember the claim that the US follows Geneva in Iraq (follows the guidelines for warfare), they might try explaining that to allegedly honoring to the people writing resporses on behalf of the government.  The response continues: "In Iraq, a great majority of juvenile detainees are released within six months, and most are currently held for no more than 12 months.  A very small percentage of the juveniles detained in Iraq have been held for longer than a year, as they were assessed to be of a high enough threat level to warrant futher detention."
The response futher notes:
In Iraq, detainees are being held by U.S. forces as imperative threats to security with the authorization of the U.N. Security Council and at the request of the sovereign Iraqi government.  Review of a detainee's status occurs at several different levels.  The first level of review is called the Detention Review Authority and is completed by the detaining unit commander and the unit's Staff Judge Advocate to assess whether the individual is an imperative security threat.  Approximately 50 percent of those initially detained in Iraq are determined not to be an imperative security threat, and these individuals are released at the unit location.  Those assessed to be a threat are transferred to the TIF.   
At the TIF, the detaining command Magistrate Cell, consisting of judge advocates, conducts a thorough review of each individual's case.  Based on this review, the Magistrate Cell either recommends the detainee be expeditiously released or retained as an imperative security threat.  Additionally, the Cell recommends either that the detainee be referred to the Central Criminal Court of Iraq (CCCI) if there are grounds for criminal prosecution, or that the detainee's case be referred to the Combined Review and Release Board (CRRB) if he is a security internee.  The CRBB process is consistent with a review under Article 78 of Geneva Convention IV.  The CCCI or CRBB, as appropriate, forms the third review in this system.  Through each of the reviews conducted at the TIF, the detainee is ontified in writing and provided the opportunatiy to present information for consideration.      
Through each of the reviews conducted at the TIF, the detainee is notified in writing and provided the opportunity to present information for consideration.  Additionally, a detainee is authorized access to an attorney and, if referred to the CCCI, will be provided a government defense attorney if he does not have private counsel.   
A few things to note just on the above.  First US law (and British law -- those would be the two occupying powers in Iraq running prisons) recognizes "in loco parentis" which can be dumbed down "in place of a parent" and we also use "ward of the state."  What the US government says in their response (in too many words), is that if you're an Iraqi child imprisoned by the US as a criminal suspect, you will be allowed an attorney and even have one provided for you if you need it; however, if you're imprisoned for security reasons, you're told you can have one and not provided with one by the US.  (It would be interesting to see England's policy in writing on Iraqi juveniles.)  That's not 'justice' and it's not 'freedom' and the US is over it.  Not just in the puppet master way the US is over everything that happens in Iraq, but in the basics.  The US is running the prisons in question, that's what they are responding about: US prisons in Iraq.  This is a policy the US military has put in place in Iraq and, were they to try it in the US, it would meet with loud objections.  A 'security' prisoner (as opposed to a criminal one) does not need an attorney -- according to the US military.  Supposedly stating that they can have one is enough when the reality is that statement is meaningless.  The bulk of children imprisoned have no contact with their families (including families who assume their disappeared child is dead).  So telling a juvenile, "We won't provide you with an attorney but, hey, if you can somehow magically conjure up one, go for it" is crap.
US policies and laws apply to US jails and prisons, regardless of where they are.  (As the current administration will most likely learn in 2009.)  A juvenile imprisoned by the US is a ward of the state and needs to be provided with legal counsel.  That is a basic.  This is not to justify those charged as 'criminals' (but obviously never tried in the real sense of a 'trial') but that is to loudly call out the nonsense that someone who is so not a criminal that they can't even be charged with that, a child, is expected to navigate the complex legal labyrinth the US has constructed in their Iraqi prisons.  That's ridiculous.  That's shameful.
So is the credit the US wants for 'schools' they provide the juveniles with.  Read closely and the school was established in August 12, 2007.  How many of the nearly 2500 Iraqi children imprisoned in US prisons since 2003 had already been deprived of school by then?  If you think about, you'll remember that in June of 2007, US soldiers were hailed as heroes (and that group, for that action, deserved that praise) for discovering and rescuing mentally disabled children in a facility where they were (at best) neglected.  By August 17, 2007, the orphanage was back in the news. But if we're going to talk seriously about neglect, let's talk about the reality that prior August 12, 2007, US prisons in Iraq were holding children and not providing schooling.  No offense intended to the US soldiers who rescued the Iraqi children in June 2007, they did a wondeful thing.  But while they didn't seek to applaud themselves (they did deserve applause, however), the chain of command went crazy trying to applaud the military.  (It was only August of that year that the chain of command would finally recognize the soldiers who deserved the credit.)  It takes a lot of gall for the chain of command to point to neglect in an Iraqi children's facility while Iraqi children are held in a US prison (!) and denied education.  (Most, the response rushes to assure, were only held for six months.  That's six months too long and, if there's no way around it, you at least meet the same basics in Iraq that you are required to in the US.)  AFP quotes the US Department of Defense's dept. assistant secretary Sandra Hodgkinson's "The US does detain juveniles that are encountered on the battlefield.  We go to great lengths when we do detain juveniles to recognise the special needs of the juvenile population and to provide them with a safe environment away from hostilities."  It takes a lot of nerve to make that claim with a history of denying Iraqi children imprisoned education and attorneys.
According to the ACLU, the lack of protections and consideration for the juvenile status of detainees violates the obligations of the U.S. under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict that the U.S. ratified in 2002, as well as universally accepted international norms. The CRC oversees compliance with the Optional Protocol, which mandates countries to protect children under 18 from military recruitment and guarantees basic protections to former child soldiers. The CRC will question a U.S. government delegation on its compliance with Protocol obligations on May 22 in Geneva.  
According to the government report, approximately 2,500 youths under the age of 18 have been held, in some cases for months and years without being charged with a crime, in U.S.-run facilities overseas. As of April 2008, there are approximately 500 youths being held in US-run detention facilities in Iraq alone. The government report claims that it is holding Iraqi children in prison in order to educate them to "contribute positively to the future of Iraq."
Over the weekend, Jessica Lipnak (The Industry Standard) reported that Iraq isn't safe anyone:
"Many people have been killed going to meetings in Iraq." It was an offhand remark made by a US military advisor in a casual conversation about virtual work -- its benefits, its pitfalls, its resisters, its committed participants. Until that moment, it had never before crossed my mind that traveling to a face-to-face meeting could be lethal.                 
Turns out Army commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan have taken measures to reduce travel. "One of the first things I did here was set up a collaborative network to offset the fact that we couldn't travel easily or safely," Lieutenant General Jim Dubik explained in an email to me.
Meanwhile Sami Moubayed (Asia Times) grades puppet of the occupation Nour Al-Maliki's two year pretend reign and finds him lacking in every regard.  Moubayed notes that al-Maliki just "fired Mutaa Habib Khazraji, the commander of the 2nd Army Division, which is based in Mosul.  He was accused of supporting officers implicated in terrorist attacks.  Additionally, the prime minister recalled nearly 5,000 retired soldiers from their homes, all being residents of Mosul, to take part in the fighting, along with 400 officers from the war-torn city."   This follows Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reporting yesterday that that an armed clash in Sulaimaniyah resulted in the death of "gunmen" and one of those turned out to be "a captain in the army forces". Moubayed notes unemployment in Iraq is at 50%, sewage problems unaddressed, fear of cholera returning, Mosul school exams postponed, refugees, and on and on the list of al-Maliki's failures go.  Anna Badkhen (Salon) observes, "Trash pickup in most of Baghdad ended with the rule of Saddam Hussein.  Now the garbage chokes the capital's streets and clogs the sewage pipes and canals, which overflow and burst.  The sewage that leaks out of broken pipes seeps through the dirt of roads that were once paved, but now have mostly turned to dirt because the tracks of American tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles have destroyed the asphalt over five years of war."
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing that wounded four people, 3 Baghdad car bombings that claimed 3 lives and left thirteen wounded, an Al Anbar Province bomber who blew up herself and claimed the life of 1 "Awakening" Council members while leaving three others wounded and a Baghdad assassination attempt on Judge Qasim Ali Motar via a bomb attached the car -- the judge appears to have survived the explosion however he "lost one of his legs in the explosion".  Reuters notes 3 dead from a Baghdad mortar attack.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the Ministry of Transportation's Col Abdul Kareem Muhsin was shot dead in Baghdad and 4 "Kurdish security members known as Asayish" were shot dead in Baquba.  Reuters reports 11 Iraqis shot dead by US forces in Iraq for the suspected crime of being "militants".
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 5 corpses discovered in Baghdad, 10 corpses were discovered in two mass graves in Baquba, the corpses of 2 "young men" were discovered in Baquba -- the two men had been arrested along with thirteen others two hours prior.
Turning to US political races.  As Ruth noted last night, "Senator Hillary Clinton has won the Democratic Party primary in Kentucky by a blow-out. This comes as she picks up another super delegate."  Kentucky was a major victory.  "Once again tonight, you and I stood together and showed America what we're made of," Hillary Clinton declared in last night's Kentucky primary victory speech. "Every time we win another state, we prove something about ourselves and about our country. And did we ever prove something tonight in Kentucky. We showed America that the voters know what the 'experts' will never understand -- that in our great democracy, elections are about more than candidates running, pundits commenting, or ads blaring."
And, yes, despite the false media narrative that the race is over, despite the rants that Hillary should drop out, Hillary won Kentucky last night, adding yet another state to her list of recent victories which most recently includes West Virginia and Indiana. 700,690 Democrats went to the polls and voted. Hillary beat Barack in a 35.5% win with 459,093 voters selecting her -- nearly 250,000 more votes than he received (his total is 209,869). Third place went to "UNCOMMITTED" (17,526 votes) and, coming in dead last, John Edwards (14,202 or 2% of the vote). (Results posted here at Kentucky's Secretary of State website.)

In her victory speech, Hillary pointed out, "Some have said your votes didn't matter, that this campaign was over, that allowing everyone to vote and every vote to count would somehow be a mistake. But that didn't stop you. You've never given up on me because you know I'll never give up on you." Voters tend to agree judging by exit polls. CNN notes 49% of those voting in the Democratic primary (which was a closed primary) declared that if Hillary was not the Democratic Party nominee come November, John McCain and not voting become their choices with 33% choosing McCain and 16% choosing to abstain from voting in the presidential race -- an increase of 5% from West Virginia where 44% stated they would vote for McCain or not vote if Barack was the nominee in November.
In today's New York Times, Adam Nagourney and Jeff Zeleny don't lead with that information and pretty much disregard the rising anti-Barack sentiment (he peaked in Februrary) and stress his campaign's claim (as opposed to reporting) that, come November, he will be able to pull her "supporters into his camp; winning over elements of the Democratic coalition like working-class whites, Hispanics and Jews". Not very likely. Not only is Hillary ahead in the popular vote, Barack can't connect with working-class voters as a group. He remains distant and detached from them and that connection is not a 'skill' you suddenly pick up. His disdain for them and his campaign's disdain for them has been apparent throughout the primary cycle. This is not something you easily 'heal' in a matter of months especially when you avoid visiting states. (He would not have done significantly better in those states had he visited during the primary. The issue is that by refusing to campaign there he only solidified the message that he doesn't care for those voters.)  Kristi Keck (CNN) observes of Barack, "He's yet to make his case with the working-class vote."  She's not sure it's a lost cause.  Mike is sure it's a lost cause for Barack and provides a long list of why in his post last nightTaylor Marsh observes: "The thing is that when you don't respect people enough to walk in to where they live, talk to them about their troubles and assure them you get it, they won't give you their vote. It's not a black - white thing, it's a ego thing; as in you think you're too good for them. People can sense political arrogance a mile away and Obama's got it in abundance. That's why if he thinks he's going to get beat he doesn't even bother.
This isn't about race. It's about ego. Obama's, that is."
Ruth notes the victory speech including a significant word, "Referring to whomever the Democratic presidential candidate might be, Senator Clinton used the pronoun 'she.' It was a statement and vision of the possibilities her campaign is creating and it may also be seen as a rebuttal to former 2008 Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards' repeated emphasis on the best 'man' for the job when endorsing John Edwards last Wednesday."
In Oregon, Barack won with 349,132 votes (58.19%) to Hillary's 245,770 (40.96%).  Jeryln (TalkLeft) notes, "Regardless of what the DNC does on May 31 with FL and MI delegates, the popular votes were certified by the states.  Their numbers are real and they must be added to her popular vote total."  Hillary leads in the popular vote and, for those who have forgotten, Barack's campaign used to use that as a marker and scream "the will of the people."  The press appears to have 'forgotten' that fact.
Eloise Harper (ABC News, text and video) reports, "In her most emphatic argument yet for counting the votes in Michigan and Florida, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, traveled Wednesday to Palm Beach County, Florida -- ground zero for hanging chads and the vote-count controversy of the 2000 election" and quotes Hillary stating:
We believe that the outcome of our elections should be determined by the will of the people. Nothing more. Nothing less. And we believe the popular vote is the truest expression of your will. We believe it today just as we believed it back in 2000 when right here in Florida you learned the hard way what happens when your votes aren't counted and a candidate with fewer votes is determined the winner.
Meanwhile, Paul Bedard (US News & World Reports) notes Sidney Blumenthal pointing out the obvious: "Don't run against GOP nominee John McCain by painting him as Bush III, because he's not."  He isn't and if that's how some in the DNC think Barack could pull off a win, they're kidding themselves.  Blumenthal notes re: Iraq, that McCain's son is serving there and someone appears to have missed that point.  (Well, MoveOn's never been that smart, have they?)  In addition, as Ava and I noted last week of a report on CBS' The Early Show:
It featured a clip where Barack was mouthing about how a vote for John McCain would be giving a third term to the Bully Boy and that's part of Barack's problem. The myth is that he was against the illegal war from the start and that he stayed against it. It's not true but it's too late to change perceptions. So when he speaks about mistakes, he is on dangerous ground. No one likes a know-it-all. "Eggheads" do, it's a case of like attracting like. The reality is that a lot of Americans voted for Bully Boy. He wouldn't have been in the White House if that wasn't the case. (Yes, 2000 was stolen.) A lot of Americans supported the illegal war.                   
Barack's Little Mister Perfect. The eggheads and his campaign don't grasp that they created that trap for him. He's always right! That's the myth. And his statements are inprecise and often hit voters.                          
He thinks he's targeting the Bully Boy but he's shooting scatteshot and hitting a lot of voters with his charges.                        
Hillary's position on Iraq, as portrayed by the media, is more consistent with the public view. Barack's is "I was right! I was right!" And it really irritates people because not everyone knew everything from day one. So when he criticizes McCain, he needs to be specific about policies (Barack's weakest area) and stop insulting voters. His "third term" nonsense doesn't play well. It does for Hillary to say it but for him to say it, it plays into his larger image problems, "He really doesn't like us. Oh, look, he's insulting us again."
People voted for Bully Boy.  A lot of people may not like him today but you have to be very careful when campaigning not to give people the impression you think they are idiots.  In word and deed, Barack gives that impression every day.