Monday, June 30, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, attempts to assassinate five Iraqi judges take place, four Abu Ghraib prisoners sue, and more.
Starting with war resistance. Henry Aubin's "Canada is wrong not to give asylum to U.S. war resisters" (Montreal Gazette) ran earlier this month. Today The Montreal Gazette notes the column was very popular with readers explaining "most writers supported Aubin's contention that welcoming U.S. war resisters would be the right thing to do" and quotes Nadia Alexan writing that "if there was ever a case made against an unjust immoral, manufactured war, the agression against Iraq should take the cake."
May 21st was when Corey Glass was told he would be deported. Corey Glass is an Iraq War veteran and a US war resister. He went to Canada seeking asylum -- the kind of welcoming Canada provided to war resisters ("draft dodgers" and "deserters") during Vietnam. After being told he was being deported, he's been 'extended' through July 10th. June 3rd Canada's House of Commons voted (non-binding motion) in favor of Canada being a safe harbor for war resisters. Douglas Glynn (The Barrie Examiner) quotes Corey stating, "The motion is not legally binding, though the majority of Parliament voted for it. I realized innocent people were being killed. I tried to quit the military while in Iraq," he said, "but my commander told me I was just stressed out and needed some R and R (rest and relaxation), because I was doing a job I was not trained to do. I went home on leave and said I was not coming back." So that's where it stands currently.
Washington DC - Time TBA - 501 Pennsylvania Ave NW (map). Sponsored by Veterans for Peace. Info: TBA
To pressure the Stephen Harper government to honor the House of Commons vote, Gerry Condon, War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist all encourage contacting the Diane Finley (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration -- 613.996.4974, phone; 613.996.9749, fax; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org -- that's "finley.d" at "parl.gc.ca") and Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, 613.992.4211, phone; 613.941.6900, fax; e-mail email@example.com -- that's "pm" at "pm.gc.ca"). Courage to Resist collected more than 10,000 letters to send before the vote. Now they've started a new letter you can use online here. The War Resisters Support Campaign's petition can be found here.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Megan Bean, Chris Bean, 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).
Over the weekend, Joseph G. Cote filed "Marine is arrested, turned over" (Nashua Telegraph) which addressed the arrest of Marine Lance Cpl Jose Flores in Hudson, New Hampshire." Citing Police Capt Donald Breault, Cote reported that "[a] Marine representative had contacted Hudson police and asked them to arrest Flores because he was deemed a deserter". Saturday AP's nonsense brief was filed and Sunday AP filed more nonsense. Read the original article by Cote (which the first AP brief credits) and then the AP stories which maintain Flores was arrested at a traffic stop when there's not only no mention of that, what Cote reports is that the marines contacted the local police and told the police to pick up Flores. It does matter. When the military has told the police to go to a parents' home in Colorado and search, when the military was calling police stations up and down California to alert them to Kyle Snyder, when 'traffic stops' turn out to be searching homes (one war resister picked up at a 'traffic stop') was actually picked up at his brother's home and discovered during the search. The military wants to lie and pretend all they do is enter a name in a data base after thirty days. The reality is an entire unit is patrolling the web looking for tidbits, checking out MySpace pages, phoning in tips to local police. It's time for the lying to stop and the AP has now made the same mistake two days in a row. At this point, it is no longer a mistake, it is a lie.
Turning to Iraq. Nothing to note. Didn't you hear? The 'surge' worked. What's that? It didn't? It was nothing but whack-a-mole on a larger scale? Well someone forgot to tell Nation editor and publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel who declared the 'surge' a "success" yesterday on ABC's This Week. In the real world (your visa is revoked, Katrina), the targeting of officials only increases in Iraq with today seeing an apparent record number of assassination attempts on judges in Baghdad. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing "targeting the house of judge Suliaman Abdallah," " a Baghdad bombing "targeting judge Ali Hameed al Allaq," a Baghdad bombing apparently targeting "Judge Ghanim Abdallah al Shimmari, his wife and his daughter" (all three were wounded), a Baghdad car bombing targeting Judge Hasan Fouad and a Baghdad bombing that targeted Judge Alaa al Timimi. Other than al Shimmari, no judge was noted to be injured in the bombing. Five bombings today in Baghdad targeting judges. Friday, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) was reporting on Judge Kamal al-Showaili being shot-dead while "driving home" in Baghdad. Today Tawfeeq notes, "Hundreds of members of the Mehdi Army militia have been imprisoned in recent months in the wake of an Iraqi-led military crackdown to stamp out Shiite militants and establish authority in Shiite-dominated areas of Iraq." Reuters quotes High Judicial Council spokesperson Abdul Satar Birqadr declaring, "These attacks were organised. ALl happened on the same day, in the same way and the same part of Baghdad." (Reuters also states that the only person injured in the bombings was wounded except for "[t]he wife of Ali al-Alaq.") Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reported last week that, since the start of the illegal war (March, 2003), "40 judges have been assassinated" according to the High Judiciary Council.
Before we go into other news emerging today, let's drop back to the weekend. Hannah Allem (McClatchy Newspapers) reported Saturday on a Friday US raid in Karbala that resulted in at least one civilian death, a relative of Nouri al-Maliki's. Allem continued covering the story over the weekend. She noted, "Outrage over the mysterious operation has spread to the highest levels of the Iraqi government, which is demanding an explanation for how such a raid occured in a province ostensibly under full Iraq command." And, citing Iraqi sources, noted the raid was conducted by US special forces and that this put the treaty (passed off as a Status of Forces Agreement) in jeopardy. Allam and Qassim Zein reported that the man's name was Ali Abdulhussein al-Maliki and he "was killed at his guard post outside the villa belonging to Maliki's sister" and the brother of the late al-Maliki, Abdulhussein al-Maliki, told McClatchy US helicopters arrived before dawn and "about 50 American ground troops in camoflage then stormed into Janaja". The death of al-Maliki's relative follows last week's other known civilian deaths: 3 bank employees shot dead by US forces while returning to work and 4 members of a family killed in a US air bombing. Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reports that the central government in Baghdad issued a "statement [which] demanded that the [US] soldiers be held accountable in Iraq." Doug Smith (Los Angeles Times) reports that the rumbles in Baghdad are that al-Maliki will announce "[t]he appointmen tof a judge to hear evidence against U.S. soldiers" and quotes Iraqi MP Haider Abadi (from al-Maliki's Dawa Party) stating, "It's not acceptable, Iraqis getting killed without even knowing if it is the result of a tragic incident or this is negligence on the part of the U.S. military."
On the theft of Iraqi oil, Andrew E. Kramer (New York Times) reported today that the US State Department took part in the awarding of no-bid contracts to Big Oil despite previous claims that the Iraqis had made the decision with help from Big Oil that the US paried them with (click here for Kramer's June 19th report). Kramer notes that "any perception of American meddling in Iraq's oil policies threaten to inflame opinion against the United States, particularly in Arab nations that are skeptical of American intentions in Iraq, which has the third-largest oil reserves in the world." Andy Rowell (Price of Oil) quotes Greg Muttitt stating that "the contracts start to look very strange. For a start, the deals are with the wrong companies. The companies which usually carry out TSCs [technical service contracts] are specialist providers, like Schlumberger, Sapem or Baker Hughes. They are often hired in for geological, construction or drilling expertise, or to install a piece of technology. In no other country are the likes of BP or ExxonMobil carrying out such TSCs."
Though the contracts were supposed to be signed today, AFP reports that they haven't been and that "Iraq is still negotiating with Shell, BP, ExxonMobil, Chevron and Total" as well as Small Oil and quotes Hussein al-Shahristani, the country's Oil Mister, declaring, "We did not finalise any agreement with them because they refused to offer consultancy based on fees as they wanted a share of the oil." This as CBS and AP report that the price of a barrel of oil hit $143 today.
In other news Daren Butler (Reuters) reports that four Iraqis have announced they "are suing U.S. military contractors CACI International Inc, CACI Premier Techonology and L-3 Services Inc (formerly Titan Corp) as well as three people who they say tortured them while they were detained in Abu Ghraib prison." The Center for Constitutional Rights (Katherine Gallagher), Burke O'Neil LLC (Susan L. Burke and William F. Gould) and Akeel & Valentine (Shereef Akeel) are representing the four who are:
• Mohammed Abdwaihed Towfek Al-Taee, a 39-year-old taxi driver who was detained and horrifically abused for nine months before his May 2004 release. He later learned that he likely was the victim of a customer who presumably turned him over in exchange for American money for intelligence "tips."
The three people being sued are contractors for the companies: Adel Nakhla, Timothy Dugan and Daniel E. Johnson.
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Mosul car bombing that claimed 1 life and left thirteen people wounded and a Baghdad car bombing that involved "an unidentified" corpse.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an armed clash in Mosul that claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 5 corpses discovered in Baghdad and the corpse of 1 Iraqi soldier discovered in Mosul.
Moving to US politics. "It's political bigotry," independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader explained to George Stephanopoulos ABC's This Week yesterday when asked about (unfounded) anger at him for his 2000 run being taken out against organizations he is no longer a part of. "Why are all these people who agree with us on the issues behaving this way? Because they believe that the two parties own the voters in this country and you go for the least-worst party. And if you go for that least worst-party, you don't make demands on that least-worst party, your votes are going to be taken for granted and the corporate interests are going to pull both parties in their direction. They can't seem to figure that out. The Nation magazine for example and The Progressive magazine have all these recommendations and reforms and they're hostile or indifferent to the Nader-Gonzalez campaign which is the only one that comes up 6%, 4% sometimes 8 and 10% in Michigan in the polls is pushing their vergy agenda. They have no breaking point, George. There's no moral imperative. They will forever put the ring in their nose and provide the tether for the least worst Democrat." We'll address Nader's appearance later in the section on the presidential race; however, let's focus on the bigotry first. In the roundtable, George would declare Katrina vanden Heuvel's "name was invoked in the last" segment" (George invoked it, Ralph never mentioned her by name). Katrina declared, "First of all let me say that Ralph Nader, great citizen number one, but his great crusade against corporate power and for consumer rights has come from outside the electoral system. The Nation in 2004, again 2008 again said 'Ralph, don't run.' But the key thing, and I think Ralph understand this, and he mentioned another name, Bill Fletcher, Barack Obama is running for president, he is not running for the messiah. I'm shocked that he's moving to the center. I'm shocked. But we don't whine." If we did, we might whine, "Who told her to wear that ugly eye shadow?" Should we stay with this issue because Katrina didn't. She was asked about Nader's critique and she instead bragged that the magazine she is editor and publisher of ran a "Ralph, Don't Run" campaign in 2004 and again in 2008. That's something to be proud of? If she can tear herself away from whatever Russian bodice ripper she's currently thumbing through for a second, could Katrina refer to the Constitution and examine Article II? Could she try explaining how Ralph's criticism of her magazine and The Progressive was wrong? It wasn't wrong. Barack's caved on illegal spying and caved on public financing so far this month. Where's the feet to the fire? If The Nation will not support third-parties, will they even bother to hold Barack's feet to the fire? No. Nader's criticism was that he's shut out by 'independent' media (The Nation and The Progressive) whose stated beliefs and opinions are the ones his campaign is built on while they go with the least-worst choice from the Democratic Party. He is correct. Katrina refused to have that discussion. Not only is he correct on that, it's equally true that having decided to go with the least-worst of the two major parties, they betray their own beliefs. You saw it in all of Katrina's excuses (usually prefaced with "I'm not apologizing for" him as she went on to do just that). There was no attempt to hold him accountable. But Katrina doesn't dislike all third parties, she revealed. "The one who I think is going to gain real traction in this country," she said grinning like a demented fool, "is Bob Barr." So Bob Barr, whom Katrina sees as not 'winning' votes but 'stripping them away' from McCain is her kind of third party candidate. For Katrina, the 'good' third party is the one who does 'damage' to the candidate she dislikes. That's really more frightening than her pride over The Nation's undemocratic "Don't Run!" nonsense.
Turning to the US race for president. The so-called 'unity' campaign keeps floundering. Yesterday on CBS' Face The Nation (link has text and video), Barack Obama surrogate Wesley Clark was vouching for Barack's "good judgment" and other ridiculous things that Clark can see with some sort of decoder ring apparently. While the recordless Barack got a tongue bath from Clark, fur balls seems to be coughed up as Clark turned his fire on US Senator John McCain (the presumed GOP presidential nominee). While claiming "I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war," mere minutes later, 'honor' turned to 'trashing' as Clark declared, "Well, I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president." CNN reports that McCain surrogate Rick Davis appeared on the cable network's American Morning today and declared, "Sending Wesley Clark out as a surrogate for your campaign and attacking John McCain and his war record and his military experience and his service is, I think, just the lowest form of politics." In the ongoing, illegal Iraq War, Byron W. Fouty, Alex R. Jimenez and Ahmed Quasai al-Taeli are classified by the Defense Department as "Missing or Captured." Rick Klein (ABC News) instructs, "Please, find me a single Democrat who thinks it's good politics to call into question the military credentials of a man who spent five-and-a-half years as a prisoner of war." Brian Montopoli (CBS News) reports the McCain camp assembled the following for a Monday morning conference call with the press: "Sen. John Warner, POWs Col. Bud Day and Lt. Col. Orson Swindle, McCain foreign policy advisor Bud McFarland, and Carl Smith a retired Navy pilot who served with McCain". Indpendent presidential candidate Ralph Nader was among the guests on ABC's This Week. The appearance preceded a Connecticut fundraiser which the AP reports raised $2000. AP also reported last week that 5% of Hillary Clinton supporters were now supporting Nader in the general election.
"If you really want to cover everybody in health insurance and save hundreds of lives and . . . hundreds of thousands of illnesses," Nader declared to Stephanopoulos, "you would go for single-payer which the majority of American people want and the majority of doctors want. . . . The HMOS are opposed to single-payer, the big health insurance compaines are opposed to single-payer. If you want to give a hundred million Americans a break in terms of their livelihood and wages, you would go for labor law reform. You'd repeal Taft-Hartley and give them the opportunity -- low-income workers -- to organize and collectively bargain. . . . If you want more jobs in the innercity, you know, public works, schools, clinics, libraries, sewage treatment systems, you've got to reduce the bloated, wasteful military budget, George."
"I think the two parties are hurting our country," said Nader of the Democratic and Republican Parties, "and they need more competition. As we see on our website VoteNader.org, you will see the issues we have on the table are majoritarian issues: single-payer health care, do something about the wasteful military budget, labor law reform, consumer protection . . . living wage, etc. . . . The problem is, George, there's too much political bigotry against small parties and candidates. You see it in these huge ballot access laws which we're trying to overcome now with our roadtrippers, very, very costly. We're excluded from the debates. Why do we ration debates? We ought to have staggered debates. You've got Wimbledon, the sixtieth seed gets a chance, you've got the NCAA, the sixtieth team gets a chance. You have a huge roll of wealth on it. We're appealing to the people in this country. . . . We're appealing to the people in this country who want more choices on the ballot and Nader-Gonzalez provides those choices." Team Nader states:
We need $10 from you to get Nader/Gonzalez on ten state ballots in ten days.
So, if you haven't donated to Nader/Gonzalez yet, now is the time - please give ten dollars now.
Our goal - $40,000 by July 6.
We have more than fifty young, energetic roadtrippers busting it on the ground all around the country for Nader/Gonzalez - the only candidacy that will shift the power from the corporations back to the people.
(If you think Obama is that guy, think again. Obama is moving in the other direction - running away from the people into the arms of the corporations. Check out Obama's most recent flip-flop on giving immunity to telecom corporations under the government surveillance and wiretapping bill. And then watch Ralph Nader say no to wiretapping here.)
In Illinois we've collected and turned in more than twice the signatures we need.
In Arizona, we've collected and turned in more than three times the signatures we need.
In Nevada, we will turn in more than twice the signatures we need.
By July 6, with your help, we'll be penciled in for ten states - Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Tennessee, and Utah.
And we're targeting 40 states by the end of the summer.
There is a reason the corporate Democrats and corporate Republicans are concerned about Nader/Gonzalez.
We're at six percent in the most recent CNN poll.
And we plan to be on 45 state ballots come November (up from 34 in 2004.)
So, drop a ten spot on Nader/Gonzalez now.
Of course, the more the merrier.
But $10 is what we're asking from each and every one of you - our loyal supporters.
So do it now.