Monday, July 21, 2008

Iraq snapshot

Monday, July 21, 2008.  Chaos and violence continue, Amy Goodman can't stop lying, Barack blusters like a Bush, and more.


Starting with war resistance.  Oregon Public Radio (OPB) has been reporting on US war resisters.  Two reports they filed on Friday include this by Rachael McDonald (link has text and audio):


Rachel McDonald: James Burmeister was injured by a roadside bomb.  He went AWOL while recuperating in Germany.  Besides being given six months in jail, Burmeister was denied pay, reduced in rank to private and given a bad conduct discharge that will deny him veterans' benefits. Burmeister's mother Helen says the sentence was unfair.


Helen Burmeister: I'm very disappointed in the way they feel they can treat veterans of war.  I think the reason that my son went AWOL was for a good reason and I don't think he deserves the punishment that he got.


Rachel McDonald: Helen Burmeister says she's unsure whether to appeal the ruling because it could prolong James' stay in jail. James Burmeister says he left because of military bait and switch tactics.  Soldiers would plant equipment to lure Iraqis whom American snipers would then kill.  I'm Rachel McDonald in Eugene.


Dee Knight (Workers World) clearly grasped what was done to Burmeister and why, hence the title "Army court-martials resister for blowing whistle on 'bait-and-kill'." Knight speaks to Erich Burmeister (James' father) who reveals the military attempted an deal where a guilty plea by Burmeister would result in 1 "year in military prison and a dishonorable discharge" which means -- looking at the sentence Burmeister received last week -- it was very smart to turn down that proffer.  Knight also reports, "His parents have waged an unceasing struggle for the Army to release him.  They called on their representative, Peter DeFazio, to launch a congressional inquiry into James's case, but have so far heard nothing." No surprise there.  US House Rep DeFazio doesn't do a damn thing. Suzanne Swift was the victim of rape, abuse and harassment.  DeFazio grabbed a lot of feel-good headlines before the 2006 elections and then refused to do a damn thing.  As Sara Rich, Swift's mother, explained of DeFazio to Jennifer Zahn Spieler (Women's eNews) in December 2006, "His office gave us a lot of red tape.  And he basically laughed at our petition.  I walked away feeling rather humiliated by him."


Retired army Col and US diplomat Ann Wright (reposted at Securing America Community) reports, "The prosecution brought up the public statements and interviews Burmeister gave on 'bait and kill.' . . . He was taken from the court directly to jail." 


Turning to US war resister Robin Long, Tom Banse (OPB, link has text and audio) filed this report on Friday:


Tom Banse: A spokesman for the army's Desertion Information Center says the punishment for the Boise native could fall within a wide ranger.  At the light end: reprimand and return to duty; at the severe end: court-martial and jail time -- according to the army's Ryan Bruce.


Ryan Bruce: It would be treated more seriously if a soldier did desert his or her unit during a time of war, especially if that unit was at war or going to war, as opposed to a soldier who just deserted from initial entry training, for instance.


Tom Banse: Private Long fled to Canada to avoid deployment to Iraq.  His unit went to war and has since returned to Fort Carson, Colorado.  Instructive perhaps is the sentence handed down this week to a soldier from Eugene.  Private 1st Class James Burmeister fled to Canada while on leave from his unit in Iraq.  He got six months in jail after returning voluntarily to face punishment. I'm Tom Banse in Olympia.


Citing Fort Carson spokespersons Gregory Dorman and Karen Linne, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported Robin was in El Paso County Jail as of Friday night and "is being held on a military confinement order, jail records show."  (The Denver Channel credited the paper for breaking the news, AP 'forgot' to give credit.)  Jim Fox (St. Petersburg Times) 'reported' on Long Sunday without mentioning his name ("A U.S. Army deserter who fled to Canada was ordered deported from British Columbia . . .") and without getting his facts right (he was not "returned to his unit in Fort Knox, Ky." -- his unit at Fort Carson, CO).   KBS Radio notes, "According to Bob Ages who is the chairman of the Vancouver war resisters campaign Robin Long was in Buckley which is South East of Seattle as of Friday, and was moved once again to a location that is unknown to the group."  Ann Wright observes, "Ironically, war resister Long was handed over to US officials at the Peace Arch on the US-Canadian border, just north of Seattle, Washington."  As noted here Saturday and at Third on Sunday, Robin Long was not deported, he was extradited.  Deportation would be expelling him from the country, turning him over to the US government is extradition.  Judge Anne Mctavish will have a lot of questions to answer if anyone's paying attention.  W.E. (Bill) Belliveau (Times and Transcript) points out that Robin being expelled was "the first time a resister to the U.S. war effort in Iraq has been removed from this country by Canadian authorities."  Workers World quotes Gerry Condon explaining, "This is a gift from [Canadian Prime Minister] Stephen Harper to George Bush.  And it is a gift to the headline writers, who will trumpet that Canada is no longer a safe haven for AWOL GIs.  But it is an illusion because this is not the first of many deportations.  It may be the first and the last.  A minority government that ignores the will of its people and its Parliament will not be allowed to rule much longer."  Vietnam war resister Michael Hendricks informs the Toronto Star that the Haper government's decision to ignore the motion passed by Parliament and the huge support for war resisters means Canadians have to ask themselves a few things: "The questions we have to ask before the next federal election are: What is the government doing to the Canada that we treasure?  Do we really want to live in a Canada built in the image of the present government?"  Harris MacLeed (Hill Times) quotes War Resister Support Campaign's Lee Zaslofsky stating, "We've been trying to get a meeting with [Immigration Minister] Diane Finley and we've basically been told she'll be busy until she dies." Meanwhile apparent bar fly Karin Wilson (Kelowna Capital News) explains "one of those bar conversations I'll probably remember for a lifetime" and declares that the expulsion of Robin should have everyone "hanging our heads in shame.  Here was someone willing to stand up for what he believed in and leave his country rather than fight in a war he believed was illegal." Wilson goes on to repeat the myth that leaves deserters out of the group Canada received during Vietnam hinting that it's best not to confine your research to bar room coversations.


Harris MacLeed (Hill Times) tells the story of Canadian citizen Andrei Hurancyk who decided (2005) to become an American citizen and enlist in the Iraq War. He began serving in Iraq in March 2007, then self-checked out and returned to Canada. He states "I just realized we're not fighting terrorists there, it's just the occupation of the country and a lot things go unreported there, things that are not supposed to be happening in a war zone, things being covered up."  July 4th, Judge Robert Barnes' decision in US war resister Joshua Key's case was released. Tamam Ahmed Jama (Al-Ahram Weekly) quotes Josh's attorney Jeffry House explaining, "It's a huge victory for numerous soldiers who are here and maybe others who are thinking of coming here" and quotes Joshua remembering his time in Iraq, "Children cry, women scream at you; we were tormenting these people.  We never found anything -- no potential terrorists, no cache of weapons, nothing.  After a while, you start to ask yourself: 'Why are we continuing to do this?' . . . You're not supposed to have sympathy, you're not supposed to have a conscience.  You're supposed to be the 'perfect' American soldier -- a killing machine who does as he is told.  But I realised that it was my concern and it was my business, that I did have my conscience."  Key tells his story in The Deserter's Tale (written with Lawrence Hill).


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 -- that's "finley.d" at "") and Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, 613.992.4211, phone; 613.941.6900, fax; e-mail -- that's "pm" at "").  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 hereThe War Resisters Support Campaign's petition can be found here.  Long expulsion does not change the need for action and the War Resisters Support Campaign explains: "The War Resisters Support Campaign is calling on supporters across Canada to urgently continue to put pressure on the minority conservative government to immediately cease deportation proceedings against other US war resisters and to respect the will of Canadians and their elected representatives by implementing the motion adopted by Parliament on June 3rd. Please see the take action page for what you can do."


We've focused largely on US war resisters in Canada of late due to so much news in that region.  There are a number of things that have been held.  One was about IVAW's chair and US war resister Camilo Mejia.  Earlier this month, Federico Martinez (The Muskegon Chronicle) reported on the popularity of State Radio and "Camilo" at Michigan's music festival and noted, "State Radio's song is about Sgt. Camilo Mejia, who in 2003 spent six months in combat in Iraq, but then refused to return from a two-week furlough because he objected to a war that was 'illegal' and 'immoral.'  Chad Stokes, lead guitarist and vocalist for State Radio, tried to explain the song's popularity during a pre-festival interview. 'It's just a human story,' said Stokes. 'It's about a human connection.  It's symbolic, but it's still his individual story.  I think that's why people connect to it."  The video can be found on YouTube here.  A portion of the lyrics directed to the White House:


Your words just a bloody fallacy  

A house of cards you painted white   

You tried to recreate Normandy        

But you made up the reason to fight       

And now red oil is spillin' down on the street        

And your eyes so big for the belly is weak    

Will you not refuse this currency   

Or is blood money just money to you   

Is blood money just money to you         


News of an event that Camilo Mejia will be appearing at, "A faith-based nonprofit organization hopes to inspire attendees at the annual convention of a major religious denomination to make ending the war in Iraq their major focus for the rest of the 2008 political year. The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), an international human rights organization based in Cambridge, Mass., will be hosting a series of training sessions and workshops at the General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association to be held from Wednesday, June 24 to Sunday, June 29, at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center, Fort Lauderdale, Florida."  Mejia will be a speaker on June 25th as well as on June 28th.  More information can be found here.


There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Andrei Hurancyk, 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).
Turning to Iraq, Sabrina Tavernise and Jeff Zeleny (New York Times) report on puppet of the occupation Nouria al-Maliki attempting to play a 'do-over' as he "tried to step back Sunday from comments in an interview" with Der Spiegel published on Saturday where al-Maliki appeared to voice support for Barack Obama's limited non-promise that he might withdraw US combat troops (only combat troops -- leaving behind an estimated 50,000 other US troops) in 16 months were he to be elected president. Tavernise and Zeleny tell you that al-Maliki's surrogates insist he was misquoted; however "the interpreter for the interview works for Mr. Maliki's office, not the magazine."  From Der Spiegel's interview:
SPIEGEL: Would you hazard a prediction as to when most of the US troops will finally leave Iraq?    
Maliki: As soon as possible, as far as we're concerned. U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes.  
SPIEGEL: Is this an endorsement for the US presidential election in November? Does Obama, who has no military background, ultimately have a better understanding of Iraq than war hero John McCain? 
Maliki: Those who operate on the premise of short time periods in Iraq today are being more realistic. Artificially prolonging the tenure of US troops in Iraq would cause problems. Of course, this is by no means an election endorsement. Who they choose as their president is the Americans' business. But it's the business of Iraqis to say what they want. And that's where the people and the government are in general agreement: The tenure of the coalition troops in Iraq should be limited.   


The New York Times listened to tape of the interview and had it translated:

Nouri al-Maliki: Obama's remarks that -- if he takes office -- in 16 months he would withdraw the forces, we think that this period could increase or decrease a little, but that it could be suitable to end the presence of the forces in Iraq. . . . Who wants to exit in a quicker way has a better assessment of the situation in Iraq.

Der Spiegel notes the controversy over the story and that "SPIEGEL stands by its version of the conversation."  Nobody bothers to note that al-Maliki is either more stupid than anyone thought or joining in the lie passed off as truth that Barack's talking withdrawal.  Combat troops only.  And his 'promise' isn't a promise -- he told CNN on June 5th he'd decide what to do after he became president (such an ego) which echoes what War Hawk Sammy Power told the BBC in March.  Bambi spoke to CBS' Lara Logan (Face The Nation) yesterday -- transcript here, video here -- and declared, "There's starting to be a broad consensus that it's time for us to withdraw some of our combat troops out of Iraq, deploy them here in Afghanistan. And I think we have to seize that opportunity. Now's the time for us to do it."  Barack wants to fight a war that should never have started and will be seven years shortly.  He wants to "withdraw some of our combat troops out of Iraq" and send them to Bully Boy's other misbegotten war.  He's not a dove, he's not a peacenik and he's not anti-war.  Despite the false claims by Katrina vanden Heuvel, Tom Hayden, Laura Flanders, Jeremey Scahill and oh-so-many others, Barack again demonstrated that he has no respect for any other country's national soveriegnty: "What I've said is that if we had actionable intelligence against high-value al-Qaeda targets, and the Pakistani government was unwilling to go after those targets, that we should. My hope is that it doesn't come to that - that in fact, the Pakistan government would recognize that if we had Osama bin Laden in our sights that we should fire or we should capture him."  Translation, if Pakistan doesn't act on US intelligence (whether it's valid or not or -- remember the start of the Afghanistan War -- whether or not it's shared with Pakistan), Barack's happy to bully his fat belly to the bar and go-it-alone.  (For those who do not remember, the US asked the Taliban -- then in control of Afghanistan -- to turn over Osama bin Laden.  The Taliban asked for proof.  Then US Secretary of State Colin Powell stated they would get the proof after they turned over bin Laden.  They refused to, the bombing began.)  Check the interview and wonder if the real reason Barack Obama won't produce his birth certificate is because, under father, it reads "George W. Bush"?  He sounds exaclty like the Bully Boy when Logan asks him to define what would be 'success' for him in Afghanistan: "Well, a 'mission accomplished' would be that we had stabilized Afghanistan, that the Afghan people are experiencing rising standards of living, that we have made sure that we are disabling al-Qaeda and the Taliban so that they can longer attack Afghanistan, they can no longer engage in attacks against targets of Pakistan, and they can't target the United States or its allies."  Terrorism is a crime and best addressed through the courts.  Everything else our once-again-lip-glossed Senator is speaking of (sounding just like the current White House occupant) is not why the military exits and has nothing to do with a legal war. 


Yesterday Hala Jaber (Times of London link has text and video) reported that the 5 contractors kidnapped in May 29, 2007 was allegedy down to four according to a videotape released by those holding the five men which asserts that "Jason" killed himself -- the group holding the men have called themselves The Shi'ite Islamic Resistance in Iraq and they state: "This proscrastination and foot-dragging and lack of seriousness on the part of the British government has prolonged their psychological deterioration, pushing one of them, Jason, to commit suicide on 15/5/2008.  He surprised our brethren, who were taking care of him, with his suicide."  AFP reports UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown used the opportunity to grandstand by declaring, "This abhorrent film will only add to the anguish of families who have suffered a great deal over a year for their loved ones who have been kept in captivity."


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




Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad house bombing (the home belonged to "the mother of Mithal al Alosi, a lawmaking in the Iraqi parliament"), a Baghdad car bombing that left five people wounded, a Diyala Province tractor bombing that claimed 5 lives and left eight more wounded, a Falluja residential bombing at the home "of the father of Falluja police deputy chief Lieutenant Colonel Esa Sayer" which left five wounded and another Falljua residential bombing at the home of "Asif Ghazi, an officerin Falljua police" with no reported wounded or dead but an addition two bombs were discovered "near the house and . . . detonated under control." Reuters notes a Mosul car bombing that killed the driver of the car and 2 bodyguards outside of the car.




Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 "Awakening" Council member shot dead in Diyala Province, sheikh Abdul Ghaffar Abdullah shot dead in Diyala Province.  Reuters notes 2 people shot dead as they traveled in the car in Mosul and 2 brothers and 1 cousin shot dead while driving in their car in Mosul. 




Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes 1 corpses discovered in Mosul.


Turning to the US race for president.  Presumptive GOP nominee John McCain has been turned down by the New York TimesReuters reports McCain wrote a column and the Times (which just published Barack's ditherings last week) turned it down and turned it down with this nonsense "that a new draft should articulate how McCain defines victory in Iraq."  Excuse me, McCain delcared victory in Iraq last week.  Considering the bulk of the garbage that stinks up the NYT op-ed pages, it's never been apparent that anyone was turned down for any reasons other than political (such as when Alice Walker's column against the impending Iraq War was rejected).  McCain's the presumptive GOP nominee.  That means you run his column.  In a real democracy, that would also mean you run columns by Bob Barr, Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader.  The paper appears to think it's not well written.  If so, let him embarrass himself but, again, the paper's only real reason for turning down columns is political.  McCain should post the rejected column at his website, I'm sure many sites would be happy to repost it in full.  And the New York Times should be called out loudly for that nonsense.  (Before any drive-by e-mails, I have said since this site started in 2004, I will not vote for John McCain.  This is not about my vote, this is about an informed society needed for a real democracy.)  Meanwhile, in his addition to this morning's entry, Jim steered everyone to the July 14th snapshot for this point: "Leave it to Aileen Alfandary to bring in 'uninformed' which, for the record, she did on the first news break of KPFA's The Morning Show where she declared of  the Cynthia McKinney and  Rosa Clemente ticket, 'This year's Green ticket marks the first time a US has nominated women of color for both president and vice-president.'  Uh, no, Alfandary, it's not.  From Friday's snapshot: "What About Our Daughters? explains that, if McKinney is the nominee, this is the third time two women of color would be on the ticket with the first being Lenora Fulani and Maria Elizabeth Munoz in 1992 (New Alliance Party) and Monica Moorehead and Gloria La Riva (Workers World Party) in 1996." Dumb ass Amy Goodman (or maybe just liar) declared today that McKinney and Clemente (aka "Don't call me a Latina!") were "the first all-women-of-color presidential ticket in US history."  During the interview, Goody couldn't stop lying: "What do you make of Senator Obama's trip to Iraq and Afghanistan to talking about a timetable for pullout, Nouri al-Maliki saying he shares his view, though he was castigated, it looks like, by the President, and Senator McCain saying Barack Obama has the most extreme record in the Senate, suggesting perhaps he's a socialist?"  Amy Goodman needs to meet the truth one day.  The recap of Dave Helling (Kansas City Star) interviewing McCain via Jake Tapper (ABC News):


At a town hall meeting in Kansas City, Missouri, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said that rival Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, had the "most extreme" record in the Senate.   

Kansas City Star reporter Dave Helling later asked McCain about that comment.

"Extreme?" Helling asked. "You really think he's an extremist? I mean, he's clearly a liberal."   

"That's his voting record," responded McCain. "All I said was his voting record, and that is more to the left than the announced Socialist in the United States Senate, Bernie Sanders of Vermont."       

Asked Helling: "Do you think he's a socialist, Barack Obama?" 

"I don't know," McCain said with a shrug. "All I know is his voting record, and that's what people usually judge their elected representatives by.'"


No, LIAR Amy Goodman, McCain didn't suggest Barack was a socialist.  He was asked it by Helling (who brought the issue up) and McCain said he didn't know.  "Most extreme voting record"?  McCain's referring to the National Journal labeling "Obama: Most Liberal Senator in 2007" at the end of January based on their examination of his record.

February 8th on CounterSpin, Janine Jackson demolished the claim.  However, that was the same February 8th that Goodman allowed Robert Kuttner to cite that same study as reason to support Barack: ""I think it was National Journal recently came out with a rating that showed that Obama has the most left-of-center record."  So when Kuttner cites it, Goodman raises no objection.  McCain cites it and she's ripping him apart with lies.  Get your act together.  What a disgrace.  [Jackson's demolishing of the National Journal and Kuttner's idiocy on Democracy Now! were covered Feb. 10th at Third.]  Repeating, McCain referred to the National Journal 'finding' that Goody accepted on her show from Kuttner.  He was then asked if he thought Barack was a Socialist.  He didn't raise that issue, he was asked.  When asked, he stated he didn't know.  This is exactly the garbage Ava and I were talking about Sunday: gossip -- uninformed gossip -- passed off as news intended to make you enraged.  In headlines today, Goodman pimped the same gossip: "In campaign news, Senator John McCain has accused Barack Obama of having the most extreme record in the Senate and suggested Obama might be a socialist. McCain was asked about his views in an interview with the Kansas City Star." No, McCain didn't ACCUSE Barack of having the most exterme record, he was referring to the National Journal study -- one Goody allowed to be cited Feb. 8th on her show without objection or question.  And McCain NEVER suggested Barack was a Socialist.  Get your damn facts right, Pravda on the Hudson.


Ralph Nader is running for president and Team Nader notes:


Well, you did it.

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The Nader Team

PS: Last week, we offered the DVD An Unreasonable Man--autographed by Ralph Nader--to anyone who donated $100 or more by yesterday midnight. Well, 242 of you came through. That offer is now closed. We will be shipping those DVDs out later this week.


james burmeister

tom bansee
dee knight

robin long
workers world
w.e. (bill)belliveau

jim fox

 andrei hurancyk
 harris macleed

 joshua key

the new york times
sabrina tavernise

 jeff zeleny

jake tapper