Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Starting with war resisters, John Catalinotto (Workers World) takes a look at war resistance and observes, "Recruiting is way down among African Americans and contested throughout Puerto Rico. The military is drawing from an ever narrower base--small-town USA and immigrants desperate for a quicker road to legal status. Army, Marine and National Guard troops are sent for multiple and longer tours to Iraq and Afghanistan.  Meanwhile, organizers of the GI anti-war movement gathered in St. Louis from Aug. 15 to 19 for conventions of Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW). During the IVAW convention, IVAW elected a new board, and this board in turn selected by consensus one of the first war resisters, former Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia, as its new chair-elect."  Catalinotto then leads a dialogue with Different Drummer's Paul Foley, Appeal for Redress' Jonathan Hutto, and IVAW's Mejia, Margaret Stevens, Liam Madden and Phil Aliff.  Stevens, who became the new treasurer for IVAW, points out, "It has political significance that Mejia is popular in the organization and respected as a war resister. It says a lot about what people think is the right way to challenge the problem. Camilo said three years ago: 'I won't participate. It is a bad military and I won't help participate.' It is a very courageous stand. He earned his stripes."  Camilo Mejia tells the story of his stand and how he came to the decision in Road from Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia published last May.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko,Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.
Turning to violence in Iraq, Ali al-Fadhily (IPS) examines the violence being conducted by the rival Shia sects which "have spread across southern Iraq and Baghdad" and observes, "Many Iraqis are outraged at the government's inability to contain the crisis.  They also say the government is making misleading statements."  Meanwhile Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London via CounterPunch) points out a key factor missing in the 'Petraeus' 'report': "The truest indicator of the level of violence in Iraq is the number of people fleeing their homes because they are terrified that they will be murdered.  According to the UN High Commission for Refugees the number of refugees has risen from 50,000 to 60,000 a month and none are returning.  Iraqi society is breaking down.  It is no longer possible to get medical treatment for many ailments because 75 per cent of doctors, pharmacists have left their jobs in the hospitals, clinics and universities.  The majority of these have fled abroad to join the 2.2 million Iraqis outside the country."  Today on Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman interviewed Rick Rowley and broadcast his documentary on the realities of  the 'model' province, Al Anbar:
AMY GOODMAN: To talk more about General Petraeus's report, we're joined by filmmaker and journalist Rick Rowley of Big Noise Films. He has just returned from Iraq, where he closely tracked the situation in Anbar province. In a few minutes we'll broadcast a report that Rick shot in Anbar province, but first your comments on the testimony of Ambassador Crocker, Rick, and General Petraeus.
RICK ROWLEY: Well, when General Petraeus says that they're merely applauding these tribes from the sidelines, he's lying. I mean, while we were embedded with the Americans, we saw American military commanders hand wads of cash to tribal militias. And when he says that they are facilitating their integration into the country's security forces, what he means is they're pressuring Iraq's government to incorporate these militias wholesale into the police forces. In fact, that's one of the promises that these tribes are given, that after working with the Americans for a few months, they'll become Iraqi police, be armed by the Iraqi state and be put on regular payroll. So it's completely disingenuous, what he's saying.
AMY GOODMAN: Explain who these militias are in Anbar province that the US troops are working with.
RICK ROWLEY: Well, it's been widely reported that these are former insurgents who were fighting Americans in the past. And that, you know, is troubling for American soldiers. But the far more troubling issue for Iraq is that many of these groups are war criminals who are responsible for sectarian cleansing in the region.
We spent a month and a half in the country, and we crisscrossed Iraq. I was traveling with David Enders and met with the production support of Hiba Dawood, and we found entire communities of refugees who had been displaced by exactly the same tribes that the US had been working with in other parts of the country.
So, you know, it's one thing for Americans to call this a reconciliation process and say that, you know, we're fine with working with people who used to be fighting with us, but it's an entirely different thing for them to be funding groups who are already responsible for sectarian cleansing and are arming themselves for a sectarian civil war.
Remember, DN! offers audio, video and transcripts, watch, listen or read the exclusive report. In some of today's reported violence . . .
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad mortar attack that left seven people wounded, a Baghdad car bombing that claimed 1 life and left five more wounded.
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an attack in Diyala that left 2 police officers shot dead, twelve police officers wounded, and 10 assailants dead.  Reuters notes six police officers dead from a checkpoint appointment outside Qaiyara, an Iraqi "security officer" was shot dead in Riyadh while "an Iraqi army officer" was shot dead in Kirkuk.  And, dropping back to yesterday, Robert H. Reid (AP) reports, "Also Monday, U.S. and Iraqi troops killed three civilians during a raid in Sadr City, police and residents said. Bleichwehl, the military spokesman, said the raid targeted a suspected Shiite extremist who eluded capture. He said there were no reports of civilian or military casualties. But residents showed AP Television News the coffins of the people they said were killed in the raid - a woman and her two daughters. A police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons, confirmed they were killed in the firefight."
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a student was kidnapped in the "village of Taxa (south Kirkuk)."
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 12 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes a corpse was discovered in Abbasi.
Meanwhile, in DC, the circus goes on as Gen. David Petraeus maintains he wrote his own report -- and apparently dyed his own hair -- while repeating every bit of spin the Bully Boy's handlers could dream up.  Cindy Sheehan observes of the US Congress' refusal to end the illegal war (observes at Common Dreams):
How do I know that Congress is playing politics with human hearts? All one has to do is observe the lack of action on the part of the red and blue pigs to come to this sad but inevitable conclusion. Apparently, MAJORITY Leader, Harry Reid (D-NV) has spent more time over his summer recess trying to convince red pigs to go against George's war plan than he spent trying to coalesce his blue caucus into something that would not resemble the red pigs so closely that the blur becomes purple. He and Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) have already decided that they do not have enough votes to end the occupation just as they decided that impeachment was "off the table" even before they were elected! So they will happily hand over to George more of your tax money and China's money to continue the killing fields in Iraq. Why are they so miserly with democracy, but generous with our treasury and with our dear human treasure?        
I got two very overt answers to this question one day in Congress this past spring when I was on the Hill. In one of my meetings with Congressman Conyers, he told me that it was more important to put a Democrat back in the White House in '08 than it was to "end the war." After I recovered from my shock, I knew it was confirmed that partisan politics is exactly what is killing our children and the innocent civilians in Iraq. My next stop was in a Congresswoman's office who has always been 100% correct about the war. She is a lovely woman with a lovely heart and does not in anyway qualify (and there are a few dozen others who do not) as a blue pig. She had tears in her eyes when she told me: "Cindy, when I go to Speaker's meetings and we talk about the war, all the talk is about politics and not one of them mentions the heartbreak that will occur if we don't pull our troops out, now." People are dying for two diverse but equally deadly political agendas. The red pigs want to keep the war going because they feed out of the trough of carnage and the blue pigs want to keep it going for votes! Either way is reprehensible.
Just Foreign Policy's Robert Naiman notes (at Common Dreams) of the Democrats' purchasing of the illegal war before their summer break, "It's true that under current Senate rules, on a free-standing bill, 60 votes would be needed on an Iraq bill to overcome a filibuster threat. (Why we tolerate that only 51 Senate votes are needed to confirm nominees to the Supreme Court who oppose fundamental civil rights protections for all Americans, but 60 Senate votes are needed to pass free-standing legislation to end the Iraq war, is a question that deserves a great deal of further scrutiny.) But as we saw on the fight over the supplemental, only 51 votes are needed to attach withdrawal language to legislation that continues to fund the war. With less than 60 votes, the Senate attached a timetable for withdrawal. The President, as expected, vetoed the legislation. Then the Senate backed down. There was no legal or constitutional reason for the Senate to back down. It was a political decision. As a legal matter, the outcome of a confrontation where the Senate and the President agree to fund something, but don't agree on the legislative language to go along with the funding, is undetermined. It's just a question of who blinks first. The Senate could have agreed to continue funding on a temporary basis while the confrontation continued -- that's what the House did -- but 51 Senators didn't have the stomach for that either."  He goes on to explain that with Tim Johnson back in the Senate and Republican Senators indicating (such as Chuck Hagel again today) a break with the White House over Iraq, leadership could round up 51 votes.  It's also true, as Ruth reminded us over the weekend, Mike Gravel laid out another way to get legislation through when he was a guest for the August 8, 2007 broadcast of NPR's The Diane Rehm Show:
Real simple. You see, they do a cloture vote. Oh one cloture vote, two, can't do it. Stop. Or an override veto. Can't do it? Stop. That's ridiculous. The rules permit to have a vote on cloture every single day, seven days a week, and all the way through this August recess which they're all taking -- and then when the bill comes back vetoed they can repeat it every single day and, I promise you, Diane, that in twenty, forty days we will have a law on the books to withdraw the troops from Iraq. Now time is fleeting. This could have been done by Labor Day and all, I mean all the troops, would come home by Christmas.
Grasping what Congressional 'leadership' refuses to, Gwen Van Veldhuizen lays out very clearly in her letter to The Modesto Bee: "The time has come for our healthy young Americans to be pulled out of Iraq.  They are in harm's way.  They are in the middle of a civil war.  A recent documentary has shown that if Iraqis run away from American troops, our troops are instructed to shoot.  My niece, who is in the Army, confirms this. [. . . ] The troops who have changed their hearts and minds about their mission in Iraq have goen absent without leave.  They have seen fathers killed while their children cry.  Soldiers don't go AWOL on a whim.  A lot of serious consequences follow such a decision.  Amid all this turmoil, I hear that President Bush's daughter is getting married . . . how sweet."

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