Saturday, April 12, 2008

20 US service members announced dead this week in Iraq

Today, the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier was killed by an improvised-explosive device in an attack at approximately 10:30 a.m. April 12 in northwest Baghdad." This bring's April's death toll to 21 and, note, all but one of those were from this week. 20 US service members have been announced dead this week.

Somehow this week's latest wave of Operation Happy Talk (The Petreaus and Crocker Variety Hour) washed the mass deaths out of the new cycle at most outlets.

Today's Democratic Radio Address was delivered by US House Rep John Yarmuth (Democratic Party, link also has audio):

"Good morning, this is Congressman John Yarmuth from Kentucky's Third Congressional district.
"This week in Washington, General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker appeared before Congress to discuss the state of the war in Iraq. I have the greatest respect for these two distinguished leaders and their service to our nation, but their testimony was disappointing.
"General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker failed to offer a plan to change direction in Iraq and redeploy our troops. Instead, they offered more of the same, with U.S. troops and taxpayers paying the price. "Americans have already endured enormous losses in Iraq. More than 4,000 troops have given their lives in battle and the American people have spent more than half a trillion dollars to prolong our presence there. While the Iraqi government enjoys a multi-billion dollar surplus, American tax dollars are still being used to pay the salaries of Iraqi security forces, and provide basic services to Iraqis.
"Next week, the American people will once again be reminded of the cost of this war. As April 15th approaches, millions of our hard-working citizens will pay their taxes knowing full well that their hard-earned dollars will be shipped to Iraq rather than invested here at home.
"At a time when our nation scrambles for new ways to stimulate the economy, the money we ship outside our borders to Iraq - at least 2 and a half billion dollars per week and 10 billion dollars a month - is not only linked to our economic skid, but is a leading cause of it.
"The American people know the tax dollars they send to Iraq could be put to good use here at home. Across America, our roads and bridges are crumbling and are in desperate need of repair, yet taxpayer dollars are being squandered on an Iraqi government that is riddled with waste, fraud, and corruption.
"Health care costs are skyrocketing in the U.S., yet the cost of one month in Iraq could extend the Children's Health Insurance Program, which the President vetoed, to ten million children of working families for a full year.
"While Iraq runs a surplus because of oil revenues, Americans can't afford to get to work, to pick up a child from school, or to drive to their places of worship because of record prices at the pump. UPS, the largest employer in my hometown of Louisville, warned just this week of lower profits due to increased gas prices.
"Families have seen college costs rise 60 percent in recent years, still the cost of a single day in Iraq would send 18,000 students to college with Pell Grants.
"And in the few minutes I talk to you today, we'll spend more than 1 million dollars in Iraq.
"Democrats have already taken action to revive the American economy and support middle-class families. Working with Republicans and President Bush, we enacted an economic stimulus plan that will provide millions of Americans with recovery rebate checks of up to $1,200. Those checks will arrive in mailboxes in the coming weeks, and they will help families who need relief the most and give our economy a badly needed boost.
"We know we must do more. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said this week that we are in the throes of a recession. Waiting for the economy to improve while families continue to suffer is not an option.
"Unfortunately, that's the only plan President Bush has proposed. This week, the President said he opposes Democratic legislation that would help solve the housing crisis and keep more Americans in their homes. The President also said he opposed Democrats' efforts to enact a second economic stimulus plan that would reinvest in America and assist workers who have lost their jobs.
"President Bush thinks relief for American families can wait. We know relief can't come soon enough.
"In the coming weeks, Democrats will continue to work to reinvigorate the economy. We will fight for a second economic stimulus package that provides more aid to workers, offers support to families, and invests in U.S. businesses that will spur our long-term growth. We will craft comprehensive housing legislation that will help secure the American dream for families at risk of losing their homes. We will continue our fight to change direction in Iraq, and we will once again invest in America.
"Democrats will continue to work for change because we need a New Direction in this country that restores faith in America's future.
"This is Congressman John Yarmuth. Thank you for listening."

Meanwhile Qassim Zein and Hannah Allam (McClatchy Newspapers) report on the fall out from the assassination of Riyadh al Nouri:

Followers of the renegade cleric Muqtada al Sadr chanted anti-American slogans and vowed revenge for the assassination Friday of Sadr's top aide in Najaf, where outrage over the killing threatens to spiral into the second deadly uprising in southern Iraq in a month.
Riyadh al Nouri, 41, who ran the main Sadr office in Najaf and was known as a relative moderate within the movement, was gunned down as he returned home from prayers Friday afternoon, according to Iraqi authorities and the Sadr camp. No group has claimed responsibility for the slaying, which amounted to a highly provocative strike at Sadr's inner circle. Nouri was Sadr's brother-in-law.
"Long live Sadr! Muqtada is the bridge to heaven!" mourners chanted at Najaf's sprawling cemetery. Other slogans cursed the U.S. military and its Iraqi allies. Throngs of Sadr supporters referred to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki as "the enemy of God," "infidel," "coward" and an "agent of the Americans."
"The martyrdom of Seyyed Riyadh al Nouri has burned my heart, and I will not rest until I have avenged him," said Mohamed Hassan, a Mahdi Army militiaman who drove from the town of Kufa for the funeral.
The timing of the killing -- not even two weeks after more than 120 people died and at least 300 were wounded in fighting between Sadr's militiamen and government forces in the port city of Basra -- raises the specter of a wider rebellion that could spread to Sadr's strongholds in Baghdad.

The following community sites have updated since yesterday morning:

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mcclatchy newspapers

Chevron & Iraq

Chevron Corp. confirmed Thursday that it is negotiating with the Iraqi government for a contract to help expand production at a major oil field near Basra.
The company plans to work with French oil giant Total to improve operations at the West al-Qurna field in southern Iraq, said Chevron spokesman Kurt Glaubitz.
The negotiations had been widely reported earlier this year, but San Ramon's Chevron has not confirmed them until now. The company took the step after Total's chief executive officer publicly discussed the proposed deal Thursday at an oil industry conference in Paris.

The above is from David R. Baker's "Chevron seeks contract with Iraq on oil field" (San Francisco Chronicle). The article goes on to repeat the usual (3rd largest country in oil reserves, etc.) including the "outdated equipment". If you paid attention during last week's Senate hearings, you may have been caught by surprise to learn (repeatedly) that Iraq's oil production is now above pre-war levels.

So what's with the "equipment" talking point that we hear over and over. It's not about concern for the environment. There's no cry of "new equipment to save the country!" (Though considering Harper's report a few months back on the pollution, that might be what the oil industry next latches on to.) Old equipment or not, Iraq's perfectly able to continue pumping up out tons of barrels of oil for the forseeable future. But "equipment" is one of the rallying cries of the oil industry. They've used that repeatedly to argue that the "production sharing agreements" (theft of Iraqi oil) are 'fair' and 'legitimate.' Iraq needs to fork over approximately 70% of the profits from the oil under the nation's land to foreign multi-nationals, Big Oil argues, because they need new equpiment! It's all a bit like Summer Stock when Judy Garland wants a new tractor for the farm but learns after that she's expected to marry the son of the man who gave her the tractor on credit. With or without the tractor, Garland's farm would have gotten along just fine. And with or without the equipment Big Oil floats to ensnare Iraq, the country would get along just fine.

A trinket for control of a the Iraqi's resource, Big Oil wants to call it a fair trade.

Chevron's also in the news today for their new hire of William Haynes II as chief corporate counsel. Mavis Scanlong (East Bay Business Times) notes Haynes "is under Senate scrutiny for his role at the Pentagon, specifically his role in crafting policies that led to alleged abuses of detainees and terror suspects at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay" and his arrival at Chevron as the court battles "over alleged pollution by its Texaco subsidiary" in Ecuador heat up:

But Haynes is familiar with the attorney who launched the Ecuadorian actions against Chevron, human rights lawyer Cristobal Bonifaz.
He oversaw the government defense in a 2003 case, Doe v. Bush, brought by active-duty military members and their families and members of the House, that sought an injunction that would prevent the president and Donald Rumsfeld, then the Secretary of Defense, from launching the war in Iraq. Bonifaz was the attorney representing the plaintiffs in that action.

Tess highlights Margaret Kimberley's "Pope Benedict Go Home" (Black Agenda Report):

Why would American media, politicians and average citizens welcome a Hitler Youth member who personally worked to insure Bush's re-election and who openly praised the genocide conducted against American Indians? If the man in question becomes pope, it obviously doesn't matter what he says or does. Otherwise sensible people suddenly act like illiterate medieval peasants and fight to kiss his ring.
Benedict XVI will make his first visit to America as pope next week. Since his elevation in 2005, Benedict has proven himself to be among the worst, most retrograde popes in modern times. Worse even than his predecessor, John Paul II. John Paul's iconic "pope mobile" and international visits gave him the appearance of a warm and cuddly spiritual leader. Yet he was every inch a politician, and a right wing one at that.
John Paul personally and forcefully opposed the liberation theology movement that swept Latin America in the 1970s and 1980s. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI, was just like his boss. As head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which used to be called the Inquisition, Ratzinger crushed all efforts to question church authority or promote leftist political activity. Known as "God's Rottweiler," Ratzinger forced Fr. Leonardo Boff, the father of
liberation theology, to retire to a monastery and shut up about liberating oppressed people.

A visitor who estimates he's written 17 times this year to gripe about what's been up here e-mails this morning with a highlight and to say "Obama lost me" -- due to Barack's remarks about Small Town America:

You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. It's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

The visitor notes that his state (Kansas) already voted and he voted for Barack but he is now supporting Hillary. He writes "I applaud this" and he's referring to "Hillary Clinton Responds to Senator Obama's Recent Characterizations of Pennsylvanians" (

Hillary Clinton delivered the following remarks at a campaign event in Indianapolis, Indiana:
For video,
click here:
"I grew up in the Midwest. Born in Chicago, raised outside of that great city. I was raised with Midwestern values and an unshakeable faith in America and its promise.
"Now, like some of you may have been, I was taken aback by the demeaning remarks Senator Obama made about people in small town America. Senator Obama's remarks are elitist and they are out of touch. They are not reflective of the values and beliefs of Americans. Certainly not the Americans that I know -- not the Americans I grew up with, not the Americans I lived with in Arkansas or represent in New York.
"You know, Americans who believe in the Second Amendment believe it’s a matter of Constitutional rights. Americans who believe in God believe it is a matter of personal faith. Americans who believe in protecting good American jobs believe it is a matter of the American Dream.
"When my dad grew up it was in a working class family in Scranton. I grew up in a church-going family, a family that believed in the importance of living out and expressing our faith.
"The people of faith I know don't "cling to" religion because they're bitter. People embrace faith not because they are materially poor, but because they are spiritually rich. Our faith is the faith of our parents and our grandparents. It is a fundamental expression of who we are and what we believe.
"I also disagree with Senator Obama's assertion that people in this country "cling to guns" and have certain attitudes about immigration or trade simply out of frustration. People of all walks of life hunt - and they enjoy doing so because it's an important part of their life, not because they are bitter.
"And as I've traveled across Indiana and I've talked to a lot of people, what I hear are real concerns about unfair trade practices that cost people jobs.
"I think hardworking Americans are right to want to see changes in our trade laws. That's what I have said. That's what I have fought for.
"I would also point out that the vast majority of working Americans reject anti-immigration rhetoric. They want reform so that we remain a nation of immigrants, but also a nation of laws that we enforce and we enforce fairly.
"Americans are fair-minded and good-hearted people. We have ups and downs. We face challenges and problems. But our views are rooted in real values, and they should be respected.
"Americans out across our country have borne the brunt of the Bush administration's assault on the middle class. Contrary to what Senator Obama says, most Americans did much better during the Clinton years than they have done during the Bush years.
"If we are striving to bring people together -- and I believe we should be -- I don't think it helps to divide our country into one America that is enlightened and one that is not.
"We know there is an unacceptable economic divide in America today, but that is certainly not the way to bridge it. The way to do that is to roll up our sleeves and get to work and make sure we provide, once again, economic opportunity and shared prosperity for all Americans.
"People don't need a president who looks down on them; they need a president who stands up for them. And that is exactly what I will do as your president.
"Because I believe if you want to be the president of all Americans, you need to respect all Americans. And that starts with respecting our hard working Americans, and what we need to do here is to take a lesson from Allison transmission."

The visitor wants it noted that (a) he lives in a small town in Kansas and (b) he went to see Barack speak in Kansas and applauded loudly "but I guess he wasn't telling me what he really thought."

The e-mail address for this site is

Friday, April 11, 2008

Iraq snapshot

Friday, April 11, 2008.  Chaos and violence continue, The Petraeus & Crocker Variety Hour week concludes, Najaf under curfer, and more.
Starting with war resistance.  "As the Vietnam War fades into the past, the struggle for reinterpretation continues.  One area that has received insufficient attention is war resistance.  The script offered in public circles often reads like this: the war has ended for resisters; isolated numbers of people resisted military service, most of them 'draft dodgers'; all of the legal issues surrounding military resisters were resolved -- they eventually 'got off' and people only refuse military service when they face a draft.  These myths, like most others about the war, are designed to influence future generations of potential warriors," reminds Harold Jordan (AFSC) in an essay reviewing the realities now fogged and ignored.  Reality does make a difference and reality has been torn apart by those who continue to falsely insist that war resisters who went to Canada during Vietnam were just those avoiding the draft.  Some had already been inducted into the service, some had deployed to Vietnam.  There was never a procedure in Canada, during this period, where you had to state, "I left the service but I was drafted in!"  It did not matter.  In fact, it was assumed those going to Canada after serving in Vietnam were not only taking a courageous stand but were also bearing witness.  Those who repeat the lies that it was just draft evaders have made the current climate in Canada more difficult as everyone latches on to the pot-hazed memories (of people who did not resist) as proof that the Vietnam era war resisters were only granted safe haven because there was a draft.  The draft was not the issue, the illegal war was.  As it is today. 
James Burmeister is a class of 2007 war resister -- tranlation, Panhandle Media ignored him.  While serving in Iraq, he saw the Bait and Kill teams -- US materials being planted (not just weapons, as the MSM reported when they picked up on the story in the fall of 2007) so that Iraqis could be shot when they touched US property.  Burmeister returned to the US last winter, turned himself in at Fort Knox waiting to hear what happens next.  Courage to Resist posts an interview (audio) with him and his father Erich Burmeister.  Asked whether or not Canada had placed "pressure on you to leave," James Burmeister explained, " Of course.  You know, they kind of drag out the decision on whether or not they will let us stay.  They make it hard for us to get jobs or financial assistance.  We're kind of in the middle up here and that's how they pressure us, they don't really give us the status.  They make it hard to live up here."   Erich Burmeister spoke of the help Ann Wright and Anita Anderson Dennis (Darrell Anderson's mother) have provided.  He also noted the kill teams.
Erich Burmeister: It was more what he was involved in there.  Particularly what really bothered him was the bait and kill thing which now is a pretty infamous subject which has come up in some of the trials of some of the soldiers that have been put on trial for murder.  This sniper, you know, putting out pieces of equipment and waiting for someone to touch it and they shoot him.  And that really, really bothered him.  Plus the fact that when they would go through these neighborhoods and, you know, kick in people's doors and raid their houses and just loot their houses, and the terror that he saw on people's faces.  He told me these things had really bothered him.  And the devestation he saw around him.  It was -- it was really hard for him to deal with that.  He told me times that he would see people digging through garbage, women digging through garbage, and he couldn't believe the conditions that the Iraqis were forced to live under and he felt like he was somewhat responsible for this. 
While Burmeister waits to find out what the military will do, war resisters in Canada wait to find out whether they will be granted safe harbor.  The Canadian Parliament will debate a measure this month on that issue.  You can make your voice heard. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: 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. A few more 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 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, 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, 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. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).  
The week's biggest story is the death of 19 soldiers this week. Should have been but few seem aware of it (and, in fact, one news program yesterday evening said there were 16 deaths for the month so far, no, there have been 20 for the month thus far).  ICCC has had problems (hacking their server) and possibly that's left some outlets confused.  But yesterday's deaths resulted in 19.  There are 20 for the month.  The only death prior to this week was Travis L. Griffin who died in Baghdad from hostile fire on April 3rd.  Clicking here will show you the 20 and the days they died.  Starting Sunday (April 6th -- when 8 died), there have been 19 deaths.  The deaths, little noticed and incorrectly counted when noted, came as The Petraeus & Crocker Variety Hour got some attention.  But what would the reaction have been to the dog and pony show this week had most Americans read on the front page of their newspapers or heard at the start of their news broadcasts that 19 US service members were killed in Iraq this week thus far?  Due to the media snoozing on the job, we can only guess.
On today's second hour of NPR's The Diane Rehm Show, Rehm spoke with Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers), Demetri Sevastopulo (Finacial Times of London) and Michael Hirsh (Newsweek) about the week's events in the US and Iraq.
Diane Rehm: And this week, Moqtada al-Sadr threatened to call of the cease-fire.  What is weighing, Nancy?  And what does it mean for the security situation in Iraq?
Nancy A. Youssef: Well it's critical to the current, current political situation, because even the US conceeds that that cease-fire has been a key reason behind the recent drop in violence.  This week Nouri al-Maliki threatened that anyone with any sort of militia behind them would not be able to participate in the elections and I think that's one reason Sadr is considering his actions this week.  If he lifts it, it would substantially change the security situation and I think it would also raise questions about the directions he's headed in.  When he declared the cease-fire, many interpreted Sadr as trying to rebrand himself as a Shia nationalist.  He spent a lot of time in Iran building up his religious credentials if you will and if he lifts the cease-fire, I think that will put all of that into question.  It would also say that he's pretty confident that he can control those forces which I think many people question right now whether he can.
Diane Rehm: The other question that arises, Demetri, is to what extent did the diminishment in violence that occurred in Iraq come about because of the surge or because Moqtada al-Sadr declared a cease-fire?
Demetri Sevastopulo: Well I think depending on when you asked the US military and the commanders this question, the answer had been different.  For example, when President Bush went to Al Anbar Province last fall, as we were traveling out there, some officials said that the decline in violence there, the so-called Sunni "Awakening" where the shieks who had previously been fighting the Americans, allied themselves with Americans to take on al Qaeda.  And we were told that that was in some ways serendipity and that surge was now going to have to build on that. Other officials said no, it wasn't serendipity, the surge created the situation or the platform for that to happen.  I think it's very difficult to say.  What you see at the moment is that the cease-fire is in danger of unraveling.  Formally it's still in place.  But the violence in Basra, the violence in Basra that has also spread to Baghdad is showing that it's very volatile.  So I think, really, it's too early to tell and we're just going to have to wait and see.  And General Petraeus  yesterday warned that he was concerned the cease-fire could break.
Diane Rehm: So how did that upsurge in violence effect General Petraeus' comments,  Ambassador Ryan Crocker's outlook?
Demetri Sevastopulo: It's been a difficult one for them to address because when it started in Basra, when Nouri al-Maliki launched his offensive, President Bush said this was a defining moment -- the Iraqi Prime Minister was showing the Iraqi people that the Iraqi troops were standing up on their own two feet, they were fighting for their country. On the other hand, Genereal Petraeus, he welcomed that, but he also pointed out that the operation was poorly planned that Mr. Maliki did not take his military advice and I've been told by some of my sources that Mr. Maliki also rejected offers of support from British forces who've been in Basra albiet pulled back at the airport. 
[. . .]
Diane Rehm: Here's an e-mail from Josh in Athens, Ohio, Nancy, he says "What happened to the benchmarks that President Bush shared last year?  Has anyone forgotten what he said about marked progress?  How will we end this war?"  Nancy?
Nancy A. Youssef: You know, it's funny, the benchmark question came up during testimony on Capitol Hill this week from some legislators asking that very thing. The administration says that the Iraqis have met three of the eighteen benchmarks.  But Ryan Crocker, the Ambassador, was quick to point out that if the Iraqis meet the benchmarks that doesn't necessarily mean that the security situation will improve or that it will lead to political reconciliation -- which was very interesting.  And he, essentially, in saying that, really questioned what the benchmarks were for?  Was it for the Iraqis?  Or was it for the US to say here's tangiable proof that the Iraqi government is working on something?
Diane Rehm: So how much of what we're seeing in this upsurge is political and how much of it is military, Michael?
Michael Hirsh: You mean in terms of the politics here?
Diane Rehm: Yes, exactly.  Politics here and the politics there as well.
Michael Hirsh: I think it's equal parts both.  Clearly Petreaus is very serious about pursuing the surge and believes that Iraq would fail, come apart, if US troops were not there in current strength.  But at the same time Bush came out yesterday, essentially embraced Petraeus' recommendations, said there had been a strategic shift in Iraq and that we now had the initiative -- is how he put it -- and that's obviously a political message for the fall campaign for those who might be or might not be voting for McCain.  John McCain's candidacy, and the Republican ascendancy, and, I think,  Bush's legacy as he sees it is very much wrapped up in McCain being seen and Iraq being seen in a positive light as McCain goes into November.
Meanwhile Petreaus spoke with Katie Couric (CBS Evening News -- link has audio and text) for Thursday's broadcast and among the questions Couric put to him, "In our latest poll, 54 percent of Americans think the war is going badly.  More than half obviously.  How can you sustain this effort without more popular support here at home?"  He replied with a denial statement insisting there was progress while acknowledging that "you have to leave that to the American people, who have to be the judge ultimately, who have to weigh all the different consequences along with of course our leaders."  At the end of that segment, Couric notes, "General Petraeus also revealed for the first time that he's been engaged in secret diplomatic efforts.  In recent months, he's quietly visited several Middle Eastern countries, including Jordan, Kuwait and Turkey, hoping to convince those governments to stop the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq." And of course Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, US Ambassador to Iraq, plan to visit Saudi Arabia to discuss Iraq.  Which leads one to wonder exactly what is the US Secretary of State doing? As US Senator Chuck Hagel noted Tuesday during the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting Condi Rice doesn't appear to be doing anything "Kissinger-esque".  The Senate Foreign Relations Committee Thursday hearing was reported on by Paul Richter (Los Angeles Times), "Committee Chairman Sen. Joseph Biden Jr. (D-Del) noted that at least two of the presidential candidates disagreed with President Bush on overall Iraq policy.  He warned David Satterfield, the State Department's top Iraq advisor, that 'if the president persists in this course, the Congress will insist on a role in approving or disapproving' the agreements.  'This is folly!' Biden said."  The agreements sought by the White House are the Status of Forces Agreement and what's seen as a strategic framework agreement. 
Bully Boy's bad speech yesterday dominated the bulk of the press.  It was nothing new.  As US Senator Joe Biden noted of it, "The President confirmed what I've been saying for some time -- he has no plan to end this war.  His plan is to muddle through and then to hand the problem off to his successor.  So the result of the surge is that we're right back where we started before it began 15 months ago: with 140,000 troops in Iraq, spending $3 billion every week, losing 30 to 40 American lives every month -- and still no end in sight."  After week long wave of Operation Happy Talk from the administration and its surrogates, what really happened?  Peter Schmitz (Der Spiegel) observes, "Bush, in short, is changing nothing -- unless one counts the reduction in a tour of duty from 15 months to 12 months."  And that change doesn't kick in until August 1st of this year.  Anyone sent over prior to that date will be sent over on a 15 month term.  Ann McFeatters (Scripps Howard News Service) pointed to the happiness of some, "[US Senator John] McCain exulted that progress has been made, even though Petraeus stressed it is 'fragile' and reversible.'  . . . [McCain] and his buddy, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, are among few optimists left in Washington." While those two got happy in the Land of Denial, Frank James (Baltimore Sun) notes John McCain's former National Security Assistant Anthony Cordsman declared this week, "The Congress, our military, and the American people deserve more than inarticulate Presidential bluster that seems to thinly camoflage a leadership vacuum."
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad rocket attack on the Palestine Hotel that claimed 3 lives and left seven wounded, a rocket attack on the Green Zone, 2 Baghdad roadside bombings that resulted in 4 deaths and three people being injured, a Baghdad mortar attack that claimed 2 lives and left five people wounded, a Ramadi car bombing claimed the lives of 4 members of the "Awakening" Council members and left three people wounded, a Salahuddin Province car bombing that claimed the life of 1 "Awakening" Council member, 2 Diyala Province roadside bombings that claimed the lives of 1 child and 2 Iraqi soldiers and left six family members of the child injured.  Reuters notes a Mosul mortar attack that left eleven people injured.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the Najaf assassination of Seyid Riyadh al-Noori ("brother in law to Seyid Muqtada al-Sadr") "as he was returning from Friday prayers." CBS and AP note that Najaf is now under curfew. Reuters notes a police officer was shot dead outside Baiji and "three of his children" were wounded in the attack while, elsewhere in Mosul, 1 more person was shot dead.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad and 1 corpse (police officer) in Kirkuk.
Turning to US presidential politics.  "I believe that impeachment was taken off the table because it's far easier to distance one's self from the American people than it is to distance one's self from the corridors of power," Cynthia McKinney declares to Cindy Piester (video only).  McKinney is running for the presidential nomination from the Green Party.  In a wide ranging interview, Piester takes you through McKinney's long years of public service, in Georgia's state legisture, in the US Congress and the social justice issues that matter to her campaign.   Kevin Zeese (Dissident Voice) writes of McKinney, "McKinney served 12 years in the U.S. House of Representatives where she urged an end to the Iraq occupation, advocated for impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney, sought release of 9/11 Commission's underlying data, advocated on behalf of Katrina victims and sought to cut the bloated military budget.  Twice she was defeated in the primary by a Democratic Party leadership approved candidate who worked with Republican cross-over voters for her defeat.  She registered Green in September and became a candidate in a 'Power to the People' campaign in October.  She is the putative nominee of the Green Party and will be on the ballot in almost all states."  Stephanie M. Lee (The Daily Californian) reports on Wednesday's political forum at UC Berkeley and notes: "Larry Shoup, a local activist backing Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney, said preserving minority viewpoints is crucial in a democracy. 'Once (Clinton or Obama) are elected, in our view they're going to move to the center,' Shoup said.  'The only way we can keep them honest and moving toward good positions is if we have an independent movement."  How might Obama respond to that?  "And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations"?  Susan UnPC (No Quarter) notes that statement of Obama's that's raising eyebrows. Hillary Clinton's response is: "I saw in the media it's being reported that my opponent said that the people of Pennsylvania who faced hard times are bitter. Well, that's not my experience.  As I travel around Pennsylvania, I meet people who are resilient, who are optimistic, who are positive, who are rolling up their sleeves. They are working hard everyday for a better future, for themselves and their children.  Pennsylvanians don't need a president who looks down on them, they need a president who stands up for them, who fights for them, who works hard for your futures, your jobs, your families."
Meanwhile Judi Panasik (The Weekly Reader) points out, "Obama, like the last two Bush campaigns, is playing off of the fears and concerns of voters with no real merit behind what he is saying.  . . . And correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't it Bush that convinced us the country was divided and that he would be the one to bring us all together?"  From Obama to a candidate who actually stands for something . . . Ralph Nader is running for president.  He has selected Matt Gonzalez as his running mate.  Angelica Dongallo (The Daily Californian) reports that Gonzalez spoke about Obama's voting record:
"I'm picking on Senator Obama ... because your professor told me this is a pretty strong Obama crowd," Gonzalez said. "It says something about a candidate that can stand in front of you and repeatedly say, 'I can change the culture of Washington, (D.C.)' ... without giving you an accounting of what is going on here. What are these votes about?"
Earlier this week, Foon Rhee was 'covering' (not covering) Senator Hillary Clinton's proposals for breast cancer researchRhee (Boston Globe) is back to gloat that Nader's campaign "is off to a slow start filling its campaign coffers" having pulled in $321,700 through February.  Though not the millions the 2008 Democratic and GOP races that began in 2007 has gotten many to accustomed to, that's an impressive amount for a third party candidate. Rhee seems unaware when Nader declared he was running for president -- February 23rd.  Again, that is an impressive amount to have pulled in.   Ralph Nader writes: "
April 15 is around the corner.           
Could the corporate executives of this country please stand up and show a little appreciation?             
To the taxpayers who subsidize them? And bail them out?         
How about the $30 billion bailout of reckless Bear Stearns as the most recent and egregious example?              
I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that April 15th of each year be designated Taxpayer Appreciation Day, a day when corporations receiving taxpayer subsidies, bailouts, handouts and other forms of corporate welfare can express their thanks to the citizens who provide them.          
US Senator Hillary Clinton is running for the Democratic presidential nomination.  Nichola Gutgold (WMC) compares and contrasts the way Clinton and Obama are speaking to voters in Pennsylvania and determines Hillary's is more effective and cites this example of Hillary connecting with voters:
I met with a group of truck drivers in Harrisburg yesterday. They are pretty fed up with high fuel prices and they were making their opinions known. Who is listening? I'm listening, but it doesn't seem like the White House is listening. The president is too busy holding hands with the Saudis to care about American truck drivers who can't afford to fill up their tank any longer. I meet workers all over Pennsylvania and elsewhere who lost their pensions; they have seen companies go into bankruptcy and discharge their obligations. We have a vice president, who, when he was CEO of Halliburton--which now gets all these no bid contracts, don't they, from the government?--workers lost $25 billion in pensions. But Dick Cheney got to strap on a golden parachute worth $20 million. You get tax breaks to people who don't need them while our children get stuck with the bill.
Also at WMC, Peggy Simpson interviews pioneer and political scientist Jo Freeman about the 2008 race.  One point not made in the must-read-article is that, should Clinton win the nomination, November would find two women on the ballot for president -- Clinton and McKinney.  Meanwhile Delilah Boyd (A Scriverner's Lament) weighs in on the insulting way Obama's been speaking to women lately.  Nancy Reyes (Blogger News Network) notes a poll by Lifetime TV. The poll had an interesting finding that some reports are mentioning but no one is highlighting.  This finding directly contradicts everything the MSM has repeatedly told news consumers.  From Ellen Wulfhorst (Reuters):
As to Obama, 23 percent said they liked him more now than in January, citing his personal characteristics, while 22 percent said they liked him less. Of those, the most common reason was the Illinois senator's controversial relationship with the outspoken Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
That would be the 'non-issue' Wright who damned the United States from the front of his church in the midst of a sermon. One who did get it was Stuart Taylor Jr. and click here for his piece Monday for National Journal (that was noted in Tuesday's snapshot but the link didn't make it into the snapshot).
Tonight (in most markets) NOW on PBS explores poverty. Bill Moyers Journal (also PBS and also tonight in most markets) looks at hunger in America. On the issue of economic realities David Bacon examines day laborers as he continues to report on immigrants and, in September, his latest book is released on this topic: Illegal Workers -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press). You can also see his work here at Political Affairs magazine. Sunday on WBAI (11:00 a.m. EST), The Next Hour is hosted by Andrew Andrew and, on Monday, Cat Radio Cafe (2:00 p.m. EST):

Adam Mansbach talks about his new novel, "The End of the Jews"; Stephen Frailey, head of the Department of Photography at the School of Visual Arts discusses "The 2008 Mentors Exhibition"; and painter Simon Dinnerstein discusses his collaboration with his daughter, virtuoso pianist Simone Dinnerstein and radio star Robin Quivers on "A Night of Music & Art with the Dinnersteins," a fundraiser for Healing Bridges, an organization creating jobs for women in Africa.


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President Bush's decision to shorten soldiers’ deployments is a tacit admission of how Iraq is putting untenable strains on the U.S. military, its personnel and their families.
At the same time, his refusal to consider further troop reductions after a planned drawdown this summer shows that America remains stuck in the sand, and Iraqi progress will remain stuck in neutral.

The above is from the Waco Tribune's "Editorial: Wheels spinning in Iraq" (and the link has text and audio). And we're just taking a look at the reaction to his Thursday speech. DK notes this from Peter Schmitz' "Carte Blanche for General Petraeus in Iraq" (Der Spiegel):

Bush, in short, is changing nothing -- unless one counts the reduction in a tour of duty from 15 months to 12 months. For soldiers currently serving in Iraq, however, the change means nothing. It is also doubtful whether this small concession will be enough to ease resentment among top American commanders over the strain on their troops. In his testimony to the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday General Richard Cody, the Army's outgoing vice chief of staff, said that the "Army is out of balance."

Lyle notes this from Ann McFeatters "Petraeus and Crocker paint grim reality of Iraq" (Scripps Howard News Service):

McCain exulted that progress has been made, even though Petraeus stressed it is "fragile" and "reversible." McCain said, "We are no longer staring into the abyss of defeat, and we can now look ahead to the genuine prospect of success."
But he and his buddy, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, are among few optimists left in Washington. (And yet again McCain seemed confused as to the difference between Sunnis and Shiites.)

On where things stand in terms of 'ease' on the military, Peter Grier's "Stress still high on U.S. Military" (Christian Science Monitor, link also provides audio by Grier on the hearings this week):

But 140,000 US troops will remain in Iraq at least through September, per the recommendation of top commander Gen. David Petraeus. Many military experts believe that stabilizing the situation there could require a substantial US presence for years to come.
The bottom line: Many ground units have deployed multiple times to Iraq, and "people are tired," according to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen. Army leaders say the readiness of their brigades is down, their equipment is worn, and their ability to respond to any new contingency is questionable.
"We face a large and growing gap between our military commitments and our military capabilities. Something has to give," Andrew Bacevich, a West Point graduate and professor of international relations at Boston University, said in a Senate hearing Wednesday.
By most accountings Iraq is now the third-longest conflict in US history, shorter only than Vietnam and the Revolutionary War.
More than 500,000 US troops have served in Iraq since the 2003 invasion. Almost 200,000 have been deployed there more than once.

Frank James (Baltimore Sun) notes one reaction regarding Bully Boy's military 'plan':

Wow! Anthony Cordesman, one of Washington's most-respected national-security experts, just let President Bush have it. He opened up a can of you-know-what on the commander-in-chief.
In a new commentary on Gen. David Petraeus and Amb. Ryan Crocker's testimony this week, he reads the riot act to Bush in no uncertain terms.
"The Congress, our military, and the American people deserve more than inarticulate Presidential bluster that seems to thinly camouflage a leadership vacuum," writes Cordesman, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.
"Inarticulate presidential bluster" aka IPB. What do you really think, Mr. Cordesman?
Cordesman's outrage come from the inability of Petraeus and Crocker to provide a clear path to success in Iraq. But he doesn't blame them. He blames the man he accuses of IPB.
In a nutshell, Cordesman believes the U.S. has to lay down the law to Iraqi officials, give the Iraqis a limited amount of time to get their act together and head for the exits once the planned timeline reaches its end.

NPR's All Things Considered offers
a report on Bully Boy's request for $102 million more in illegal war funding and the page the link goes to offers audio reports on this week's testimony before Congress.

Reuters reports: "TOP AIDE TO SHI'ITE CLERIC SADR KILLED IN HOLY CITY OF NAJAF, CURFEW IMPOSED-IRAQI POLICE." Meanwhile, from Stephen Farrell's "Making Perfunctory Preparations for Combat in Anti-American Cleric’s Stronghold" (New York Times):

A trench, 4 feet long and 2 feet deep, had been dug in advance, taking up half the width of the main street.
It was halfheartedly concealed by an advertising sandwich board, although none of the hundreds of shoppers and passing drivers paid any attention to the two unmasked, casually dressed militiamen carrying out what is a relatively mundane activity for Sadr City, the Baghdad neighborhood that has been the focus of fighting between government forces and the Mahdi Army.
A few hundred yards along the road another roadside bomb was being laid, also in broad daylight. Again nobody blinked, and there were no government or American troops anywhere nearby to hinder the militia’s leisurely preparations.
This was the scene here on Thursday in the center of Moktada al-Sadr's east Baghdad stronghold, where the Mahdi Army, led by Mr. Sadr, an anti-American cleric, remains in control of much of the district. In other areas there was heavy fighting with American and Iraqi forces, which continued into Thursday night.
Hundreds of portraits of Mr. Sadr and his white-bearded father adorn streetlights and are plastered on walls every 25 yards in some areas.

For those wondering if the US military or the puppet have learned anything from last month's assault on Basra, the answer would appear to be no. They seem intent on ensuring Moqtada al-Sadr receives martyr status. Noah Barkin and Wisam Mohammed (Reuters) report:

U.S. and British forces killed 12 gunmen in air strikes on Iraq's southern oil-hub of Basra and the eastern Baghdad militia stronghold of Sadr City overnight, military officials said on Friday.
Basra had been the scene of fierce fighting late last month between Iraqi troops and black-masked militiamen loyal to radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, but Iraq's second largest city has been relatively quiet over the past two weeks.
In the early morning hours of Friday, however, Iraqi troops were fired upon when they tried to enter the northern Basra district of Hayaniya, a stronghold for Sadr's Mehdi Army, Iraqi police said.

McClatchy Newspapers' Nancy A. Youssef is among the panelists on the second hour of NPR's The Diane Rehm Show today. Broadcast will be archived and the second hour of the live broadcast begins airing at 11:00 EST this morning. Tonight (in most markets) NOW on PBS explores poverty. Bill Moyers Journal (also PBS and also tonight in most markets) looks at hunger in America. On the issue of economic realities David Bacon examines day laborers as he continues to report on immigrants and, in September, his latest book is released on this topic: Illegal Workers -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press). You can also see his work here at Political Affairs magazine. Sunday on WBAI (11:00 a.m. EST), The Next Hour is hosted by Andrew Andrew and, on Monday, Cat Radio Cafe (2:00 p.m. EST):

Adam Mansbach talks about his new novel, "The End of the Jews"; Stephen Frailey, head of the Department of Photography at the School of Visual Arts discusses "The 2008 Mentors Exhibition"; and painter Simon Dinnerstein discusses his collaboration with his daughter, virtuoso pianist Simone Dinnerstein and radio star Robin Quivers on "A Night of Music & Art with the Dinnersteins," a fundraiser for Healing Bridges, an organization creating jobs for women in Africa.

Rachel notes Howard Wolfson's "HUBdate: Safe and Secure Communities" (

Previewing Today: Hillary delivers a “Solutions for Safe and Secure Communities Now” speech in West Philadelphia with Mayor Michael Nutter and outlines her $4 billion a year crime-fighting plan…the plan cuts murders in half, and “put[s] 100,000 more cops on the streets, create[s] a $1 billion grant program to fight recidivism, and provide[s] more funds to combat gangs and drugs.” Read more and more.

Recapping Yesterday: Hillary responded to President Bush’s address on Iraq: "The President refuses to face the reality that we are confronted with in Iraq"... "Mrs. Clinton also dismissed Mr. McCain's housing market proposals as 'warmed-over' and 'half-hearted' versions of her own plans." Read more.

Basking in Support: At last night's Allegheny County Democratic Dinner, Hillary "bask[ed] in support" ... and "invoking her mother, her daughter and the other women in her family, Pittsburgh's first female mayor [Sophie Masloff] endorsed a candidate battling to be the first woman to preside in the Oval Office." Read more.

Three In 36 Hours: Hillary received the support of three new automatic delegates over the past 36 hours...the campaign also announced that Hillary has now received the endorsement of over 270 elected officials in Pennsylvania. Read more and more.

Renewing the American Dream: Yesterday, Hillary attended the Beaver County Democratic Dinner in Hopewell Township, where "she promised a boisterous Democratic audience that she'd renew the American dream and repeatedly said she could fix mistakes made by President Bush on the economy and the war in Iraq." Read more.

On Tap in Indiana: Hillary will host "Solutions for the American Economy" events in Indianapolis, Mishawaka, and Valparaiso on Saturday. Sen. Bayh previewed the trip on a call with reporters. Read more.

Standing Strong: Other elected officials, including Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) are joining Hillary in her calls for President Bush to boycott the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics because of the recent human rights violations committed by the Chinese government against Tibetan protestors. Read more.

In Case You Missed It: Sen. Obama has lost the 10-point lead nationally over Sen. John McCain he had a month ago, while Hillary leads McCain 48% to 45% in the same poll. View here.

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Who's watching

The US military says it will continue to hold Iraqi news photographer Bilal Hussein while it reviews a government amnesty order.
The Associated Press (AP) man has been held for two years on suspicion of helping Iraqi insurgents.
But Iraqi judges on Wednesday dismissed the accusations and ordered his release under this year's Amnesty Law.
A US military spokesman said Mr Hussein would still be held as a "terrorist" threat pending a review of the order.

Polly notes the above from BBC's "US stalls on Iraq amnesty order." Free Bilal and, as Polly notes, the whole world is watching. Which is a solid point. But how many were watching the hearings? I dread reading this morning's New York Times which has (intentionally) missed everything about hearings. Also true is that apparently a lot in the press -- Real Media and Panhandle -- gets giddy over a general which would explain the extremely low attention paid to yesterday's hearings. There are a few exceptions such as Paul Richter's "Senators Warn Bush about Iraq security agreements" (Los Angeles Times):

The administration is negotiating two agreements with Iraq -- over long-term security strategy and over rules for activities of the U.S. military. Administration officials have said they intend to keep Congress informed about the deals but will not seek explicit approval from lawmakers.At a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, members said the agreements would be viewed by Iraq as lasting commitments. They said the dispute could lead to a major collision between the White House and Congress before the November election.
Committee Chairman Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) noted that at least two of the presidential candidates disagreed with President Bush on overall Iraq policy. He warned David Satterfield, the State Department's top Iraq advisor, that "if the president persists in this course, the Congress will insist on a role in approving or disapproving" the agreements. "This is folly!" Biden said.
Sen. George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio) joined in the criticism. "Do you understand what you're up against?" he asked Satterfield. Voinovich said congressional unhappiness had reached the point where "you're not going to get this done."

The Washington Post highlights some of Senator James Webb's exchange on what's being built in Iraq in "What Basis for 'Permanent' Bases?" The highlights are from yesterday's morning's Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Yesterday, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Senator Biden began hearings on Iraq last week but you didn't read or hear much about them and, when you consider what was offered in Congress this week, you really didn't hear (or read) much about this week's hearings.

The Bush administration has repeatedly said it will keep Congress informed but not ask for its approval on either a strategic framework agreement defining long-term ties with Iraq or a separate "status of forces" agreement outlining rules and protections governing U.S. military activity in Iraq.But Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joe Biden labeled as "folly" the outgoing White House's plans to forge a deal that Iraq might view as a long-term commitment of U.S. troops."If the president persists on this course, the Congress will insist on a role in approving or disapproving these agreements," Biden, a Delaware Democrat, told the State Department's coordinator on Iraq, David Satterfield, at a congressional hearing.Republican Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio warned Satterfield that congressional unhappiness with the administration's plans for a bilateral accord with Iraq was so great that "you're not going to get this done.""This Congress, this Senate, are going to get involved in this issue," Voinovich told Satterfield. "Do you understand what you are up against?"

Dropping back to Tuesday's hearings, Micah highlights this from Fernando Suarez (CBS News):

During today's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Hillary Clinton called continuing the Bush Administration’s policies in Iraq "irresponsible" and said the Bush strategy in Iraq has "not produced the results that we have been promised time and time again, at such tremendous cost to our national security and to the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States military."
Clinton, who sits on the committee with John McCain, took the opportunity under the spotlight to hammer the Bush Administration's handling of the war, including President Bush’s decision to increase the number of American troops in Iraq.
"The purpose of the surge, as described by Bush administration, was to create the space for the Iraqis to engage in reconciliation and to make significant political progress," Clinton said. "However, since Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker last testified in September, even Gen. Petraeus, as recently as three and a half weeks ago, has acknowledged that the Iraqi government has not made sufficient political progress."
Clinton pressed the four-star general, asking Petraeus what it would take for him to recommend to the president to start bringing the troops home. "What conditions would have to exist for you to recommend to the president that the current strategy is not working? And it seems apparent that you have a conditions based analysis, as you set forth in your testimony, but the conditions are unclear, they certainly lack specificity, and the decision points with respect to these conditions are also vague."

The New York Times offers Steven Lee Myers and Thom Shanker's "Bush Signals No Further Reduction of Troops in Iraq" on the front page of this morning's paper:

Speaking at the White House to a small audience that included Vice President Dick Cheney, the secretaries of State and Defense and representatives of veterans' organizations, he signaled that an American force nearly as large as at any other point in the last five years would remain in Iraq through his presidency. He left any significant changes in policy to the next president.
"Fifteen months ago, Americans were worried about the prospect of failure in Iraq," he said, sounding a triumphant note about his decision last year to send 30,000 additional troops. "Today, thanks to the surge, we’ve renewed and revived the prospect of success."
As was the case during two days of Congressional testimony this week by the American commander, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the Democratic presidential candidates offered assessments that diverged sharply from Mr. Bush's. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York said the president "refuses to face the reality that we are confronted by in Iraq."
"It's time for the president to answer the question being asked of him," she said while campaigning in Pittsburgh. "In the wake of the failed objectives that were laid out to be met by the surge, what is the exit strategy in Iraq?"

Not bad . . . for a report in a news weekly.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

I Hate The War

The FBI just announced that it has captured the Marine who is accused of killing a pregnant colleague last year in North Carolina.
The Bureau says Cpl. Cesar Laurean was found in Mexico and is being held by the authorities there pending extradition to the United States, where he is facing state and federal charges in connection with the death of Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach.

That's from Mike Carney's "Fugitive wanted for Marine's murder caught in Mexico" (USA Today). Maria Lauterbach told military authorities that Cesar Laurean had raped her. They didn't do anything. She was still expected to be around him. When she disappeared, he was the last one they could think of suspecting. Which is how, after the media was on the story of her disappearance, he was able to slip off base. His wife told the police that he told her Maria killed herself but that's not what her corpse indicated. In addition, he apparently tried to burn the body before burying her in his backyard. He'll have his chance to tell his side of the story now.

So Bully Boy gave his speech today. War drags on, if you missed it. The bone he tossed out was that tours of duty would be shortened from 15 months to 12. What does that mean? Not a darn thing. William Cole (Honolulu Advertiser) explains the drop from 15 months to 12 will only apply to those who were deployed after August 1, 2008. So all the ones currently serving 15 months and any sent over prior to August 1st will be serving 15 months.

By the way, not today's hearings, but Wednesday's were also live blogged by Barbara Barett, Dave Montgomery and David Goldstein (McClatchy Newspapers). Lewis e-mailed to point that out. Also on Wednesday, Erich Sclichte (The Daily Collegian) reports, some members of Iraq Veterans Against the War shared their thoughts

The evening started off with film clips from "Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan," an event held in Washington, D.C., last March. The footage served to set the tone as veterans discussed the ineffectiveness of U.S. forces in urban areas, racial issues, a disregard for the rules of engagement and a lack of leadership from the higher-ups in the chain of command. All of these problems would be further expounded upon by the IVAW panel from the Amherst chapter.
The IVAW panel spoke to a predictably anti-war crowd of about 80 people for more than two hours, with each veteran explaining his or her own experiences and drawing on them to show why they are now opposed to the Iraq war.
The first speaker was Adrienne Kinne, the Regional Coordinator for IVAW in New England who served actively as well as in the reserves for a decade. Kinne decried the U.S. government and military for its deceptive practices.
"It is wrong and immoral to use the tragedy of 9/11 to try to gain support in the United States to kill thousands of innocent civilians," she said. "How many Sept. 11ths is that?" Kinne went on to discuss the cost of the war at home such as the crisis in veteran health care.
She detailed how the government would not screen for certain mental illnesses in returning veterans because so many cases would be found. She claimed the government would not have the resources to treat them all.
Mike Van Valkenburg's focus was the dehumanization of the enemy seen in Iraq. He noted the prevalence of racial slurs and the overall degradation of the Iraqi people. He also recalled how he had been told by an officer, "You have to kill the women and children too, some day they may be the terrorists."

Michael LeDuc and Nathan Lusignan also spoke. If you missed Winter Soldier, archives are online at Iraq Veterans Against the War, at War Comes Home, at KPFK, at the Pacifica Radio homepage and at KPFA, here for Friday, here for Saturday, here for Sunday. Aimee Allison (co-host of the station's The Morning Show and co-author with David Solnit of Army Of None) and Aaron Glantz were the anchors for Pacifica's live coverage.

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

Last Thursday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4013. Tonight? 4032. And we're guessing there because ICCC is down. (That was the number earlier today.) Just Foreign Policy lists 1,197,469 up from 1,196,514 as the number of Iraqis killed since the start of the Iraq War.

Free Bilal. Pulitzer Prize winning news photographer Bilal Hussein has been imprisoned since April 12, 2006. From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's "Detained Photographer: Injustice in Iraq:"

To recap: U.S. forces detain a man for 20 months without any charges. They hamstring his lawyers by not allowing them proper access to the evidence against him. When he finally gets his day in court and is exonerated, the U.S. military can still refuse to free him. How's that for justice?

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