plamegate, bully boy and iraq

Perhaps mainstream journalists have declared war on Fitzgerald over the past few weeks because so many of the country's top reporters have been hauled into court against their will by the special counsel to testify before a grand jury about their conversations with White House officials in the leak matter.
But that's no excuse for rewriting history and depriving the public of the truth.
Case in point: according to documents Fitzgerald obtained, the months that preceded the leak saw many unknown officials in the Office of the Vice President hatching a plan to strike back at Wilson, who at the time was urging journalists and lawmakers to hold the Bush administration accountable for using bogus intelligence to win support for a pre-emptive strike against Iraq.
The April 5 court filing says I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley were two of the key figures who were involved in conversations and meetings at Cheney's office in which White House officials discussed ways of striking back against Wilson's criticism of the administration's war effort. Karl Rove was also involved in the discussions.
The court document Fitzgerald filed in April did not name any other White House officials who were involved in the Wilson smear campaign, but it's well-known that Vice President Cheney, Libby and Rove led the effort. Rove told Novak that Plame worked at the CIA on July 8, 2003, the same day Armitage spoke to the columnist. Evidence has not been produced that proves Armitage spoke to Novak first.
Libby -- not Armitage -- spoke to Judith Miller on July 8, 2003, and told her about Plame's work at the CIA. Moreover, Rove -- not Armitage -- spoke to Matt Cooper of Time Magazine on July 11, 2003, and told him that Plame worked for the CIA. Libby was indicted on five counts of perjury and obstruction of justice for allegedly deceiving FBI investigators and the grand jury about how he discovered Plame worked for the CIA and whether he shared that with reporters.

that's from jason leopold's 'Armitage Shmarmitage.' and on jason leopold, thanks to sherry for steering an article by him c.i.'s way while i was on vacation (and thanks to c.i. for linking to it). i like leopold and think a lot of people hopped on their huffy bikes re: him. i'm always happy to highlight him.

my thoughts on richard armitage? i think we're hearing a lot of hot air. i think the gang captured it well in 'Somebody's Lying' (the third estate sunday review). going by the public record, the story makes no sense and it appears armitage is pulling a george tenet (falling on his sword) for the administration.

they make a good point, this man was trusted with secrets. if he's a gossip (which always struck me as a weak attempt to excuse his actions in iran-contra), the way he and others now imply, he shouldn't have had any sort of security clearance. but i think it's all a lot of hot air where he's become the public fall guy (and it won't hurt him 1 bit - it didn't hurt tenet either).

and to portary him as 'a non partisan gun slinger' is just nonsense. he was a war hawk, a signer of the p.n.a.c. letter to bill clinton urging that saddam hussein be toppled.

so if he's going to fall on his sword, let's see him fall. that means no more government boards to serve on. if he can't be trusted with a secret about a c.i.a. agent identity, he should not be allowed to do anything for the federal government again. we can't have such a free wheeling gossip risking secrets, can we?

and remember, novak said two sources came to him. if you've fogotten that, you really need to read robert parry's 'How Obtuse Is the U.S. Press?:'

As we explain below, the evidence is overwhelming that the White House assault on Wilson was planned weeks before he published an Op-Ed on July 6, 2003, accusing Bush of twisting the yellowcake claim -- and that Bush's operatives responded by pointing journalists toward Plame's identity.
Indeed, the available evidence doesn't even fully support the contention that Novak first learned about Plame from his interview with Armitage on July 8, 2003. According to the Times' own reporting, Novak apparently had been primed to ask a question on this topic.
The Times buries this crucial point in its Sept. 2 story that questions whether Fitzgerald "properly exercised his prosecutorial discretion." In the last sentence of the 17th paragraph, the Times reports that Armitage disclosed Plame’s possible role in arranging Wilson’s Niger trip "in reply to a question."
In other words, Armitage didn’t just toss out Plame’s CIA connection as "gossip," as the Post editorial assumes. He apparently mentioned it in response to Novak's question about how the Niger trip had been arranged, which begs the additional question of who might have suggested that Novak ask that.
The distinction is important because other evidence indicates that Bush's aides were pushing reporters to ask about the circumstances behind the Niger trip, knowing that line of questioning would lead to Plame's identity.
For instance, Time magazine correspondent John Dickerson, who accompanied a presidential trip to Africa shortly after Wilson's article was published, said he was twice urged to pursue the seemingly insignificant question of who had been involved in arranging Wilson's trip.

do you wonder if gwen ifell feels as stupid as she made herself look when she called the outing of valerie plame 'a summer scandal'? in honor of the nit-wit (who home cooks for condi), read ava & c.i.'s hilarious 'TV: Washington Weak' which came about when fly boy was watching that stupid show and called ava and c.i. insisting that they watch it and review it. we got into iraq on lies and it was very important to the administration that any 1 challenging the lies be shut up. fortunately, the press can be very stupid (or 'obtuse' to use robert parry's kinder word) so it's not hard for the administration to continue the lies.

by the way, shame on lotta links for linking to wonkette today. mike may write about that. he was furious. wonketta, the cock tease of online 'journalism,' has been running a smear campaign on cindy sheehan.

"The Central Proof" is betty's latest chapter so be sure to read it! be sure to read wally's 'THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY SAYS "MY BAD"!' and cedric's 'No Link' (joint post). why?

because in the middle of dirty depends month, it turns out bully boy's august 21st attempt to link saddam hussein and al-qaeda (only his most recent attempt) should blow up in his face. but for that to happen, people need to know what bully boy said on august 21st (it's in the snapshot i'll post below). make sure you know that he said it and this isn't a 'democrats are arguing ... but republicans say ...' he said it. he did it long after he knew better.

here's c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

Friday, September 8, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, bits of the long over due US Senate reporton the lies that led to war (they're calling it a look into the intell) are scattered like crumbs, US soldier Mark Wilkerson reflects on how he reached the decision not to take part in the illegal war, US soldier Darrell Anderson is reportedly headed back to the United States after attempts to be granted asylum in Canada,
and Australia's Bully Boy says Brendan Nelson is doing a "fantastic job."

In the United States,
AP was first out of the gate with: "A senate intelligence committee report says there's no evidence Saddam Hussein had a relationship with terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi or his al-Qaida associates before the Iraq war." CBS and AP quote US Senator John D. Rockefeller stating of the report: "Ultimately, I think you will find that administration officials made repeated prewar statements that were not supported by underlying intelligence" and that it shows "the administration pursued a deceptive strategy abusing intelligence reporting that the intelligence community had already warned was uncorroborated, unreliable and in some critical circumstances fabricated."

Reuters notes that US Senator Carl Levin has pointed to the Bully Boy's statement on August 21st and attempted (yet again) to make an unfounded link. Levin: "The president's statement, made just two weeks ago, is flat-out false."

Though the press wants to play Levin's statement as an allegation, public record shows
Bully Boy stated: "I square it because imagine a world in which you had Saddam Hussein, who had the capacity to make a weapon of mass destruction, who was paying suiciders to kill innocent life, who had relations with Zarqawi." As Levin pointed out, that "is flat-out false."

The lies that led into illegal war. Yesterday,
AP notes, the Senate passed a spending measure to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with another $63 billion dollars.

As the cost in blood and currency continues to add up, more and more people turn against the illegal war. In the United States,
Byron Pitts (CBS) reported on the mood in Jacksonville, North Carolina and spoke with retired Marine Colonel Jim Van Riper who admits to vote for Bully Boy twice but intends to vote Democratic for the first time. Van Riper tells Pitts: "I've turn him [Bully Boy] off. I've tuned him out." The cost in blood? AFP notes the Baghdad morgue body count for August stands at 1,584. It also includes 2666 US troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the war, 118 British troops (that includes the one who died Thursday) and 115 "other" for a total of 2899.

Of the US fatality count,
Emil Guillermo (Asian Week) notes, "Ironically, of the Iraq war deaths, over 2,500 came after" Bully Boy's "declared on May 1, 2003, 'Mission Accomplished'."


CNN reports that, in Baghdad, a roadside bomb left six injured and killed three ("including a mother and child" among the dead) and that a US soldier died "south of Baghdad" from a roadside bomb. Reuters reports a car bomb in Baghdad that killed a police officer "and a bystander". Sami al-Jumaili (Reuters) reports the death of eight in Kerbala from mortars.


CNN reports that three people were shot dead in Baquba and a sunni tribal chief was shot dead in Hawija. Reuters identifies the man as Ibrahim al-Khalaf and notes that an Iraqi soldier was shot dead near Samarra (with two others wounded).


AFP reports six corpses were found in Baghdad ("tortured . . . shot to death"). Reuters reports the corpse of Haider Hamza was discovered "shot dead in front of his house" and that he had been "an interpreter working for Danish troops in Iraq".

AFP reports that Brigadier Muzher Kamel Mohammad ("head of the police force protecting Iraqi courts") was kidnapped in Baghdad. This as Reuters reports the US is clashing with people in Falluja and "U.S. troops used loudspeakers to demand people turn in 'insurgents' or face a 'large military operation'." Falluja. Again. As if November 2004 wasn't destructive enough. Hearts and minds, as Mark Wilkerson has noted, are not being won.

And the much touted non-handover? As
Jim Sciutto (ABC) notes: "Watching the headlines in the American media today, you might think the U.S. military handed over military control in Iraq to Iraqis. There was certainly a ceremony yesterday -- a handshake at a military base where Iraqi commanders took control of an Iraqi army division from coailtion commanders -- but the real story is the arithmetic. Yesterday's handover affects the tiny Iraqi navy and air force, with a few hundred folks in each, and a single Iraqi army division, the 8th Army with 5500 to 7000 troops. This means only about five percent the 115,000 regulars in the Iraqi army now take their cues from the Iraqi prime minister. The rest remain firmly under foreign control -- and so do the most dangerous areas of the country, such as Baghdad and the volatile Anbar province in the west. The 8th Army operates in the relatively small -- and relatively quiet -- Diwaniyeh province in southern Iraq."

In peace news,
Diana Welch (Austin Chronicle News) reviews the case of war resister Mark Wilkerson noting his disillusionment ("When we went, our general mission was to win the hearts and minds of the people. But when I got there, and I saw the people and how we were treating them, I thought, 'We're doing exactly the opposite'."), his awakening (finding out who was profitting -- "certain individuals were making on this war, how much money the corporations like Halliburton were making"), having his conscientious objector application rejected as he was called up for another tour of duty, and then deciding to check himself out. Alan Gionet (CBS4) reports that Rebecca Barker, Matt Wilkerson's mother, stated, "I think the public is looking at anyone who goes AWOL as cowards and it goes much deeper than that." Welch notes that Wilkerson could face a special court-martial (if found guilty, one year sentence is the maximum) or a general one (which would led to seven years if found guilty). Gionet reports: "Wilkerson is confined to base while his unit faces what could be its third deployment."

Phinjo Gombu (Toronto Star) reports that war resister Darrell Anderson will be leaving Canada and returning to the US, according to his mother Anita Anderson. This should take place during the last weekend of September and he will be met at the border by peace activists and Vietnam veterans as well as by Jim Fennerty, his attorney. "If he is not arrested immediately, Anderson plans to travel to Fort Knox in Kentucky to turn himself in. It is one of the two army bases where deserters are kept while the army decides whether to court-martial or discharge a soldier."

In Washington, DC
Camp Democracy continues through September 21st. It is free and open to the public. Today's events focused on labor issues. Saturday, September 9th, many events will be taking place and among those speaking will be Antonia Juhasz (The BU$H Agenda), Ray McGovern and Bill Moyers. The events will kick off at 9:00 a.m. in preparation of the 9:30 a.m. march around the Capitol Building "To remember the fallen and remind Congress and the public of the human cost of the War on and Occupation of Iraq." Sunday, September 10th will feature Juhasz, Ann Wright, Raed Jarrar and others. A complete schedule can be found here.

And beginning September 21st (International Peace Day), via
United for Peace & Justice:

It's time to answer fear with courage, to step out of our personal comfort zones and take bold action to end the Iraq War.
Join us in a week of nonviolent action, including civil disobedience, from September 21-28, and in pressuring pro-war politicians all this fall through the Voters for Peace pledge.
In Australia, Defence Minister Brendan Nelson continues to be a subject of discussion over his role as self-designated media spokesperson for the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco.
First into the fray was prime minister John Howard who has "full confience" in Brendan Nelson. Of course he also claims to have "full confidence" in Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston whose testimony directly contradicts Nelson. And it's also true that Howard is the Bully Boy down under. So no one really cares what he says as he speaks from both sides of his mouth except possibly for this statement which has strong echoes of "Heck of a job, Brownie" -- from ABC's The World Today, Howard: "Dr Nelson is doing a fantastic job." Fantastic of a job, Brendie!

For those who missed it,
yesterday Houston told the hearing that he had repeatedly warned Nelson not to speak to the press because the events of Jake Kovco's death were not clear. Or as WA Business News sums it up: "Defence force chief Angus Houston has directly contradicted the Defence Minister's statement to police about private Jake Kovco's death, saying Brendan Nelson ignored repeated warnings not to speculate about the shooting."

Samantha Hawley summarizes (on ABC's PM) thusly: In a witten submission to the Military Board of Inquiry, Dr Nelson says it was Air Chief Marshal Houston who told him that Jake Kovco had been handling his loaded weapon in some way when it discharged. But Angus Houston directly contradicts that claim. In his own submission, the Defence Force Chief indicates he repeatedly urged the minister against speculating about the cause of death, saying it appeared to have been a tragic accident but this would need to be confirmed by the Board of Inquiry."

We turn to this statement from
April 27, 2006: "Of course we are, and I'm personally, very angry about it. I'm very disappointed. The inquiry and the investigation will get to the bottom of it. But I just ask Australians, it's very easy to criticise Defence. It's a large organization. It does wonderful things for Australians and for people in times of trouble, but don't just, I just say to Australians, don't just take a free kick here."

A free kick? Hasn't Brendan Nelson earned it? The statement above was when he went to the press to announce that Jake Kovco's coffin had returned home but not his body. It's been one mix up after another. Put yourself in the Kovco family's place, think of all the mix ups/screw ups Nelson's overseen and been responsible for and wonder if Brendan Nelson is the poor-put-upon he'd like to paint himself or someone performing their job very poorly.


the mouse that purred for the bully boy

when john conyers asks for anything, i pay attention. this is an e-mail he's sent out to people signed up for alerts:

ABC is planning to air a two-part mini-series entitled The Path to 9/11 this Sunday and Monday.
In spite of its claim to be based on the 9/11 Commission Report, the film reportedly includes numerous inaccuracies and lays the blame for the September 11 tragedy on the Clinton Administration. One scene reportedly depicts a senior Clinton Administration official calling off the capture or killing of Osama bin Laden. This depiction of events has been refuted by former Bush Administration anti-terrorism chief, Richard Clarke.
It also has been reported that the film blames the intelligence breakdowns on bureaucratic obstacles allegedly created by the Clinton Administration, even though Republican 9/11 Commissioner Slade Gordon has previously refuted that claim.
Because of my concerns that false and inflammatory information would be widely disseminated to the American public, I, along with Representatives John Dingell, Jane Harman and Louise Slaughter, asked ABC to correct the film before airing it. To view a copy of our letter,
click here.
The more people the network hears from, the more likely they are to correct the errors in the film. But we do not have much time.
Contact them now to let them know they should not politicize this tragic event in our nation's history.
Thank you again for your commitment to a stronger democracy.

John Conyers, Jr.

kat's talking about this tonight as well. it's important and matters. 30 years from now, some 1's going to be flipping the channels late at night, bored, see that and watch. maybe s/he is only 19 years old. think about an event that happened before you were born and what you know about it? so this 19-year-old woman or man is going to watch it and think, 'oh, that's what happened.'

neither kat or i worship at the feet (or any other body part) of bill clinton. though i like bill clinton slightly better than i do hillary, that's not saying all that much.

but if you've got source material, you stick to it. you don't invent things. and if you do invent things and 1 group continues to get the short end of the stick (in this case, clinton's administration), don't kid that you're not wrapping your arms (and mouth?) around bias.

abc should be ashamed. and the nonsense i heard today on the radio, that they're still editing it and no 1 knows what will be in it - you don't edit like that under normal circumstances. spike lee had his cut of his mini-series airing on hbo right now set in stone before the 1st episode aired. that's nonsense. it's only when something is highly controversial that you are editing up to the last minute. if indeed abc had planned to edit up until the last minute, that just demonstrates that they knew going in that they had crossed a line.

when kat, c.i. and i were discussing this topic today, c.i. pointed out the original action to film and how powerful it was - how it still is but we're not shocked by it because we've grown up with it. it's power is intense. and abc is willing to harness that power for the bully boy.

now let's sing the praises of missy! she started a chant of 'dirty depends' in her classroom today when they were watching yesterday's news on the vcr and bully boy started using his scare tactics.

she writes that she was in the back of the classroom muttering and then she said 'dirty depends' and her boyfriend said it the next time with her and then it became a chant with students participating without really knowing why but knowing their teacher looked frazzled by the chant.

way to go, missy!

if you're late to dinner, grab a chair and take a seat. bully boy's trying to scare america so that his party has a shot of winning in the november election. that means what?

moving the topic away from iraq. he has no accomplishments to point to so he's doing a dump of all the crimes he committed and saying that he did it to 'protect' us all. he broke the law but it was to 'protect' us and he needs to keep breaking the law in order to 'protect' us.

it's all a load of crap and we're in for a month of it.

the g.o.p. is calling it 'security september' but it's really just 'dirty depends.' and it's typical karl rove. try to take your weakness and turn it into a strength.

what's his weakness? iraq. here's c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

Thursday, September 7, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, in Australia -- Brendan Nelson learns the morning after isn't always pleasing; a US soldier who went AWOL to Canada may be returning; Bully Boy & the GOP continue "Dirty Depends" actions, in Baghdad -- puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki closes a TV station, al-Maliki also calls it "a great day" as Iraqis and US soldiers die throughout Iraq; and Camp Democracy continues in Washington, DC.

Starting with the US soldier who may be returning.
Jim Warren (Lexington Herald-Leader) breaks the news that war resister Darrell Anderson "wants to come home." Anita Anderson tells Warren that she's urging her son Darrell not to come back "because he's probably going to get sponsorship in Canada now that he is married to a Canadian girl. But he's constantly stressed out and worried, and he feels like he can't live out the rest of his life this way."

War Resisters Support Campaign notes this of Darrell Anderson: "Darrell Anderson arrived in Toronto from Lexington, Kentucky in Januray 2005. He served 7 months in Iraq and was awarded a Purple Heart after being wounded by a roadside bomb. When faced with a second deploymnet to Iraq, he chose instead to come to Canada. His experience in Iraq convinced Darrell that the war was unjustified. Innocent civilians are being killed, and young soldiers are dying for an illegal war. 'Coming to Canada doesn't ruin your life,' said Darrell, 'it saves lives.'"

On the redeployment,
Anderson told Gary Younge (Guardian of London): "I was supposed to leave for Iraq on January 8th. On the 3rd I started to talk to people about the war. By the 6th I woke up and had hit a brick wall. I just knew I wasn't going to be able to live a normal life if I went back."

His mother Anita Anderson cites his reasons for wanting to return as economic, his PTS has gotten worse and that he wants to make.

Darrell Anderson needs to make the choice that will serve him best. Should he remain in Canada, he will be part of a movement that includes Brandon Hughey, Kyle Synder, Jeremy Hinzman, Patrick Hart and others. He will also be part of a historic movement. (And it needs to be remembered that even in the wake of Watergate, Jimmy Carter, as president, would not grant an amnesty to those who checked themselves out. The amnesty only covered those who avoided the draft, not those who enlisted and checked out.) If he returns to the US, as his mother fears, he will be part of a movement of refusal. This summer has seen
Ehren Watada become the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. We also saw Ricky Clousing and Mark Wilkerson turn themselves in.

There is bravery in either stand and Darrell Anderson needs to make the choice that's right for him. Like
Cindy Sheehan, he's already done his part and then some.

Turning to cowardice, the Bully Boy continues his
Dirty Depends campaign with the hope that it will scare up votes for the GOP in November. Which is why he boasts of his unconstitutional secret prisons, extends the national emergy act from 9-11 and attempts anything to change the topic away from Iraq. As Matthew Rothshchild noted on The KPFA Evening News yesterday, Bully Boy can't run on the war. How true that is gets brought home in a recent report by the AP that notes Bully Boy is losing his "once-solid relationship with Southern women" and quotes "self-described Republican since birth and the mother of three" Barbara Knight stating, "I think history will show him to be the worst president since Ulysses S. Grant. He's been an embarrassment."
AP notes: "The movement of some Southern women away from the Republican Party tracks with national poll results showing that women have become more disillusioned with the war and were more likely than men to list the conflict as the important issue facing the country." AP cites their own polling numbers and they track with Ms. Magazine's poll which earlier (poll conducted from May19th to 22nd) found 55% of women (43% of males) wanted US troops withdrawn "immediately or next year."

And in Iraq?

KPFA's Flashpoints yesterday Nora Barrows Friedman spoke with Dahr Jamail about life on the ground in Iraq. Jamail: "Overall the situation in Iraq is worse than ever . . . but particularly in al-Anbar province the US military really doesn't have much control of anything there, outside of the areas around their immediate, or inside, I should say, their immediate bases. . . . It's important the people remember that Ramadi is the capital of al-Anbar province. So what the US has done there to try to get control of that city is there's an area right in the middle where the government offices are centrally located in Ramadi and the US has been unable to keep people, resistance fighters, from attacking the government offices so, as a result, what they're doing is literally demolishing, making a no-man's-land between, all of the buildings between the government offices in the middle of the city and then the rest of the city. So they're literally leveling at least eight city blocks, an area of at least eight city blocks, around those government offices to try to prevent them from being attacked so regularly. Of course what this is doing is infurating people of Ramadi who are saying, 'Look, you've already destroyed so much of our city, you've already launched massive operations in here . . .' Recently snipers, US snipers have killed at least four people there, mostly women and children. Just one travesty after another has been occurring inside Ramadi. The people are angry and now this takes it to a whole nother level where the people are outraged, they don't really know what to expect next. And, of course, the end result of these brutal, heavy-handed military tactics, just like we saw in Falluja, it doesn't actually stop the resistance. It maybe pauses it for a few days, or a few weeks. But then in the end it generates more people. It really causes more people to join the resistance or become sympathetic towards them if they're not already."

Two of the three US troops (one Marine, two soldiers) who died on Wednesday (
US military announced deaths today) died of wounds received in al-Anbar province. The US government has announced that another Marine has died today from "wounds sustained from enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province September 6."

Oh, but, as the BBC reported, Nouri al-Maliki called it a "
great day". He was referring to supposed "control" handed over by the US (to him, the puppet) of the Iraqi military. It's not really a handover. It's more like, "Here are the keys to the car and if you do everything we say, we might let you take it for a spin on the weekend but, right now, it's still our car." Which is why "[a] BBC correspondent in Baghdad says the transfer of control could be long, slow and fraught with problems."


AFP notes "a suicide bomber ploughed his explosives-laden car into a police fuel depot in the town centre, killing at least 12" police officers in Baghdad. AP notes another bomb, also in Baghdad ("hidden under a parked car") that killed three and wounded 20. Reuters notes two roadside bombs, also in Baghdad, that claimed the lives of two and left seven wounded while another roadside bomb, still in Baghdad, killed one person and left two wounded and, still in Baghdad, another roadside bomb left four wounded. Outside of Baghdad? Reuters notes four police officers were wounded by a roadside bomb in Kirkuk.


Reuters notes that two police officers were shot dead in Baghdad (four civilians wounded); a police officer was shot dead in Hay; and, in Mosul, a man and a woman were shot dead in parking lot while a father and his teenage son were shot dead elsewhere in the city.


CNN reports four corpses were discovered today in Baghdad. Reuters notes six corpses discovered in Mosul ("multiple gunshot wounds"), three corpses were discovered (one, a female, was beheaded) in the Tigris river near Suwayra and two were discovered in Kirkuk ("signs of torture").

On the subject of deaths,
AP is reporting that contrary to the hype, there was no decrease in the figures for violent deaths in Baghdad. As Aileen Alfandary noted on KPFA's The Morning Show today, the US government had attempted to earlier say the numbers had lowered as a result of the 'crackdown' when in fact, August's actual numbers were "the same number as July."

And the
BBC reports that Mahmoud al-Mashhadani's nephew has been kidnapped in Baghdad. al-Mashhadani is the speaker of Iraq's parliament and was also the target of a He's-Out-Of-Here-So-Out-Of-Here campaign at the end of July and start of August. al-Mashhadani remains in parliament, his nephew Ahmed al-Mashhadani has been kidnapped.

al-Mashhadani is Sunni and switching to parliament news, yesterday
AFP reported: "Iraq's dominant Shiite alliance submitted a draft of a new law to govern the division of the country into autonomous regions". Today the Associated Press notes that Mahmoud al-Mashhadani "interrupted a stormy legislative session on Thursday after a draft bill submitted by the largest Shia party led to accusations from Sunni Arabas that they were trying to divide the country." al-Mashhadani: "The parliament speaker does not know about this draft bill. Is that credible? Who else should know about it if the speaker does not know? When was it announced?"

Switching to the issue of broadcasting, were they showing episodes of Barney Miller or NYPD Blue? Who knows but police pulled the plug on the satellite network al-Arabiya in Baghdad.
CNN was told by a company official (Najib Ben Cherif) that the offices "is being shut for a month." AP is iffy on who gave the order but notes that Nouri al-Malike started making warnings/threats to television stations back in July. CNN reports: "A news alert on Iraqi State TV said the office of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered the office closed for a month."

In the United States,
Camp Democracy continues, free and open to the public, five tents worth of activity and more in Washington, DC. Tomorrow's activities include a focus on labor issues. A complete schedule can be found here.

In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco continues -- probably much to the regret of Chuckles Brendan Nelson.
Yesterday, Nelson, the Defence Minister, sought to deny statements, credited to him in the press, made back when he saw himself as Johnny-On-The-Spot and felt that the nation needed each unparsed idea that tumbled from his mouth. Today?

Malcolm Brown and Cynthia Banham (Sydney Morning Herald) report that "Chief of Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, has contradicted the Minister for Defence, Brendan Nelson on key events surrounding the death of Private Jacob Kovco." How so? Dan Box (The Australian) sums it up as Houston states Nelson "had ignored repeated warnings not to speculate about the death" and that Houston denies evey telling Nelson that Jake Kovco had been "handling his weapon in some way and it discharged."

AAP notes this "directly contradicts" Nelson's statement yesterday and, in addition, Houston states that he "told the minister several times that a proper investigation was needed". What was Chuckles Nelson, the 'rising star,' doing issuing those statements (statements he had to retract and yesterday attempted to disown)? Justin Vallejo (Daily Telegraph) notes that the statements came after Nelson was warned not once, not twice, but three times (by Houston) "that it was too early to speculate". But when your a 'rising star' and you can interject into a national story, even if your actions cause more pain to the mourners, why sit on the sidelines waiting for information to come in? Russell Skelton (The Age) reports that the three warnings were given the day after Jake Kovco's death "[b]ut Dr Nelson went ahead and told the media that Private Kovco was shot while 'maintaining' his nine-millemetre Browning pistol -- a statement he was forced to retract five days later."

Let's be clear. No one knows what happened in the room where Jake Kovco died. (Or, if they do, they're not telling.) However, the reason polls demonstrate Australians haven't bought the official story (whatever it was from week to week) goes directly to Brendan Nelson, with all the authority of his post, declaring X one week and then saying Y the next. Now Houston
and Lieutenant-General Peter Leahy have both denied that they ever provided Nelson with any of the information he (Nelson) took to the airwaves with.

If the grief and heartache his statements have inflicted upon the Kovco family isn't enough to give pause, it needs to be noted that the doubts about the inquiry have their roots in Nelson's very public, ever changing story.

Anthony McClellan (The Australian) lays it out very cleary noting: "It has taken a clear cry this week from the Kovco family to help us understand how bad this is. The family is sitting there every day in Victoria Barracks in Sydney, listening, I would think with increasing incredulity, as incompetence after incompetence, and worse, is documented. The family has now taken its criticism even further from its intital rage over the mishandling of his body." McClellan notes the need for transperancy and calls the 'national security' claim (the excuse for not giving the names of the soldiers testifying) "plain bunkum" and closes with this:

To sum up, here's a short competency primer for Defence headquarters at Canberra's Russell Hill:
* Wrong body.
* Initial investigators underfunded, obstructed and overruled by army command.
* Interference in the investigation.
* Death scene not preserved; forensic evidence removed.
* Those present in the room allowed to clean up.
* A litany of miscommunication.
Can it get any worse? Yes. If we do not find out what really happened.


body counts and how america isn't good enough for the bully boy

on Flashpoints tonight, dahr jamail spoke of ramadi and other iraq topics. he noted that the pentagon has stated 800 iraqis are dying a week. he stated this proves that they do keep body counts. i'm sorry to be the 1 to inform dahr (whom i like) but nancy a. youssef, aaron glantz and ips all were on that (as well as c.i., c.i. brings that up at least 5 times a week if not more), months ago. nancy a. youssef broke the story. those paying attention to iraq this summer knew about this in june.

i'm not trashing dahr but i like him. the next person who tries to slip it in or acts like this is somehow news that has just emerged i will trash. independent media abandoned iraq (with very few exceptions) for almost the entire summer. i'm glad dahr's talking about the body count but nothing he said made me believe he was aware of nancy a. youssef, aaron glantz --

i had to search the common ills and wasn't having any luck, so finally i just grabbed the phone and called c.i. who recommended i go to august 17th for a list of the 3 known writers who wrote about this. i did that. this is from the common ills and notes who wrote about the body count:

Last Thursday, the American troop fatality stood at 2597. Tonight? 2604. On The KPFA Evening News, it was noted that 26 have died this month and that 17 of them had died in the Anbar province. We learned today (via the New York Times) that July was the most violent month thus far in terms of bombs. (Bombs not dropped or discharged from US aircraft.) We might be able to offer some sort of number (probably an undercount) on how many Iraqis have died since the illegal invasion but that would require people being aware of Nancy A. Youssef's"U.S.: Civilian deaths feeding insurgency" or Aaron Glantz' "Pentagon: Tell Us How Many Civilians You've Killed" or Juliana Lara Resende's "50,000 Dead, But Who's Counting?" -- pressure can't be brought on the administration to release figures that most Americans don't know exist. So the count, like the war, drags on and it's hidden from the American people.

now those weren't published on august 17th. they were published long before it. but c.i. has noted and noted and noted it again because indymedia wasn't covering iraq. those 3, nancy a. youssef, aaron glantz and juliana lara resende, did cover it in real time and they deserve credit for doing so. elaine spoke about this in august, how the u.s. was keeping a body count and people were shocked. this was an educated college audience of students who try to keep up with iraq because they care about the issue. but elaine had to back up and walk them through it because, in august, this was news to them. it should have never happened.

dahr is 1 person and he landed in beruit when everything broke out. i like him and that may be why i'm cutting him slack. but he is 1 person. he has an excuse. people in the united states? no excuse at all. (that's not a slam at nora barrows friedman, she was in palestine at the time. i am slamming so-called news and news commentary & critique shows that never could find the time to address it. and i'm not slamming flashpoints either.)

i will cut dahr (and nora) slack. but people who present news programs that are supposed to inform you and could not stop 1 damn 2nd to inform you should be ashamed of themselves. we all know who i mean and we've all read mike's 'war as an after thought' in polly's brew. those outlets elected to make themselves useless. they have no excuse for not covering it or noting it or linking to it because they were notified of it. they chose to ignore it.

when 1 of them decides it's time to make an issue out of it and they want to act like it's breaking news, i will tear into them.

check out kat's latest where she's talking about a number of important things including today's Guns and Butter. also check out wally's 'THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY HOLLERS 'I AM A CROOK!"' and cedric's 'The Dirty Depends (humor)' which are driving home the point of 'dirty depends.' today the bully boy bragged, bragged!, about the fact that he has secret jails around the world. does that make you feel safe? does that sound like anything you find in the bill of rights or the constitution? no. it's got nothing to do with a democracy. bully boy needs to be impeached. he has betrayed every foundation this country is built upon. he started out an embarrassment, now he is just a disgrace.

he tried to talk a good talk about how he HAD TO do it. he didn't have to circumvent the constitution, he didn't have to disregard the rule of law. he CHOOSE to. and he tried to say that he HAD TO. he had nothing to point to. did you notice that? 'gloves off' and all, says alternative methods (aka torture) were used but he has nothing from it.

because torture doesn't work.

what did work? our understanding of the law. our understanding of the criminal justice system. that wasn't good enough for the bully boy. what has evolved over 200+ years, wasn't good enough for the bully boy. the american justice system wasn't good enough for the bully boy.

and this is the man who's in charge?

he ought to move to a country where torture is allowed. he shouldn't be the leader of this country. it's past time to impeach.

with more reality news, here's c.i.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, September 6, 2006, chaos and violence continue in Iraq, England's Tony Blair and the United States' Donald Rumsfeld cause waves, Condi Rice -- who failed at national security -- fails at US history, Australia's Defence Minister Brendan Nelson tries to pretend he didn't say what he said and peace activities are ongoing at Camp Democracy.

In Iraq, the parliament yesterday,
Al Jazeera reports voted to extend the state of emergency for the country (not for Baghdad as I noted yesterday). AP reports that the measure "has been renewed every month since first being authorized in November 2004" before the slaughter of Falluja. Edward Wong (New York Times) notes that
"[t]here has been no serious move to roll it back" and that "[d]espite the affirmation of emergency powers, violence continued to roil Iraq." Also raised yesterday was the issue of breaking up the nation into a federation.
Al Jazeera reports: "Abbas al-Bayati, spokesman for the largest Shia bloc, the United Iraqi Alliance, predicted: 'In the next few sessions the parliament will discuss the law for the formation of provinces.'" Also making predictions is Mahmoud al-Mashhadani (whom many predicted would be gone when parliament resumed -- they were wrong). CNN reports that al-Mashhadani, the speaker of parliament, estimates that Iraq has "three to four months" before collapse if the warring factions persist.

Over the weekend, "
Iraqi army boasts they squeezed out Number Two -- but did they remember to wipe?" and the boast was called into question by Richard A. Oppel (New York Times) who reported that an unnamed American official expressed doubts as to the man being a "top-tier guy" and stated "I'm not sure we are ready to put a number on him." Now Qais al-Bashir (AP) is reporting that the arrest did not take place recently, it "took place in June" -- June 19th. A battle of spinmeisters causes William B. Caldwell IV to emerge and state that fellow spinner Mowafak al-Rubaie was wrong that the so-called "number two" was squeezed out this weekend, but that "permission to announce the arrest . . . had been given a few days earlier." For those assuming that he truly is number two . . . if he were flushed down June 19th, it obviously didn't make a damn bit of difference since the violence and chaos hasn't been effected (or diminished) by his June 19th arrest.

Their eyes are all asking
Are you in, or are you out
And I think, oh man,
What is this about?
-- "In or Out" written by Ani DiFranco

Tony Blair, is he in or out? Should he stay or should he go?
Nick Assinder (BBC) reports that while Blair wants another year as prime minister, "Senior party figures were openly arguing over whether prime minister should be allowed to stay for another 12 months or beforced out, in a Thatcher-style coup, much sooner." CNN reports that: "The acrimonious row over the timing of the departure . . . has grown with the resignation of a dissident minister and six ministerail aides." A memo has been leaked, reportedly detailing the plans for his exit, and Blair refuses to comment on it. Gulf News says the plans "will see him treated like a rock star, with slots on popular TV shows and a stage-managed farewell tour. It opened the Prime Minister to charges of vanity and ruined his attempts to douse speculation of an imminent departure that he fears could turn him into a lame duck." Commenting on attempting to sell Blair as a much wanted rock star, Iain Macwhirter (The Herald) points out: "Where have these people been for the last two years? The crowds aren't calling for more, they're calling for Tony Blair to go -- now." Fiona Hudson (Herald-Sun) reports, if the memo is accurate, Blair would "step down as Labour leader on May 31 next year and quit as PM on July 26."

And, in the United States, Donald Rumsfeld? The Secretary of Defense was rumored to face Democratic opposition in the Senate but
Andrew Taylor (AP) reported it was a ceremonial measure (nonbinding resolution) and that "Democrats conceded there's not likely to be any vote whatsoever." White House Lap Dog Tony Snow says, "It's not going to happen." David Lightman (Hartford Courant) reports that Ned Lamont, who is vying with Joe Lieberman for the Senate seat Lieberman currently occupies, has stated that if he wins the race and Bully Boy attempts to replace Donald Rumsfeld with Joe Lieberman "he would probably not vote to confirm" No-mentum.

Meanwhile the
AP reports that Condi Rice, US Secretary of State, is comparing the current on the ground realities in Iraq to the US Civil War. While it is true that the Bully Boy, in March 2003, issued what could be termed an Obliteration Proclamation, no foreign invasion is known to have started the US Civil War.

Turning to Iraq . . .


Xinhua reports that, in Nineveh, a car bomb killed six police officers and left an additional six wounded. AFP reports that at least six people died "in twin bombings in Baghdad." AP notes that nine people died from the Baghdad bombings (not six) and 39 were wounded. Al Jazeera also reports nine dead and notes that they included two Iraqi soldiers. CBS and AP report that: "Mortar attacks in residential areas in Diyala province, north of Baghdad, killed three people: a two-year-old child in the Khan Bani Saad area and two people in Muqdadiyah". Reuters notes a bomb took the lives of two and left eight wounded when it went off near a funeral tent in Baghdad.


In Baquba,
AFP reports a woman was shot dead and a the owner of a store was shot dead as well. AP notes that "three construction workers waiting for a bus" in Baquba were shot dead. Reuters notes that two people were shot dead in Mosul. (The total for the above, bombings and shootings, should add up to twenty-seven reported dead from bombings and shootings.)


CNN reports that 19 corpses were found in Baghdad ("Overnight . . . signs of torture"). Reuters reports the 19 and notes that 15 more corpses were found in Baghdad today ("blindfolded with some showing signs of torture").

Still a wee bit touchy about abandoning a base (see
August 24 and August 25), AFP reports that the British continue to maintain that, basically, they left because they felt like it. Of course they did.

In peace news,
Camp Democracy is up and running and "free and open to the public."
Petula Dvorak (Washington Post) quotes Charlie Richardson (Military Families Speak Out) stating, "Every day, we realize there is a war in Iraq. But the vast majority of Americans don't; the forget. Less than 1 percent of this population has gone to war. And we need to get those troops out now." Australia's The Advertiser reports that the
"[f]ive tents will be open until at least September 21 for panels, protests and press conferences" and quotes Charlie Anderson stating, "This administration does not want to have a discussion especially with those of us who have lived the nightmare of what this war is really about." Anderson was also quoted on
The KPFA Evening News yesterday where he spoke about his growing realization that the war was wrong and what encouraged him to speak out.

Tomorrow is Immigrants' Rights Day at
Camp Democracy and director Robert Greenwald (The Burning Bed, Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War; Uncovered: The War on Iraq; Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism, Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices and the upcoming Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers). A complete schedule can be found here.

Other peace actions are going on and will be going on. In NYC, Friday September 15, Saturday September 16 and Sunday September 17 (7:00 pm each night), The People Speak directed by Will Pomerantz and Rob Urbinati. This is a workshop adaptation of
Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove's Voices of a People's History of the United States. The workshop will take place at The Culture Project's Bleecker Street Theater on 45 Bleecker Street. Tickets are ten dollars and can be ordered online here or here or purchased in person at the box office (box office does not take ticket orders). For those in NYC or that will be during those dates, click here for a map. The presentation is part of the Impact Festival.

CODEPINK's Troops Home Fast action continues is on day 64, and due to continue through September 21st, with at least 5,023 people participating. Those wanting to fast can grab a one-day fast at any point between now and the 21st or grab a one-day a week fast. Long term fasts are also possible but seek out advice before embarking on any long term fast.

In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco continues.
Another soldier has testified via videolink. This one, Soldier 20, shared a room with Soldier 14 whose DNA was found on Jake Kovco's pistol. Soldier 20 appears to have left himself ample wiggle room.
The Advertiser reports that Soldier 20 stated Soldier 14 was in the room with him, that they both yelled at the room next door (Kovco's) due to the "loud music, singing and 'obnoxious digger s**t" and that he was attempting to sleep and Soldier 14 was on a laptop. But when asked "if Soldier 14 could have left the room while he was trying to sleep" the response from Soldier 20 to this yes or no question was, "To the best of my knowledge sir, he didn't leave the room."

More wiggle room could be found in the testimony of Brendan Nelson, Defence Minister and "
star on the rise in the Government" (Michael Edwards, ABC's PM). Nelson's come under considerable heat for issuing statements, attention getting ones (well he's a 'star on the rise,' isn't he?). So Brendy gave his statement to the inquiry and, guess what, it wasn't him. Malcolm Brown reports (Sydney Morning Herald) that "Brendan Nelson, has distanced himself from a story that circulated soon after Jacob Kovco was killed in Iraq -- that he [Kovco] accidentally shot himself while cleaning his weapon." Nelson's statement contains this laughable statement: "The media used the term, 'cleaning his gun,' I never did, now was I told by any person." Fortunately for Chuckles Nelson, ABC is more than ready to clean up after him. On PM, Michael Edwards states Nelson's laughable claim (we'll get to it -- it's laughable) and then an actor recites Nelson's statement (in a re-inactment). That passes for reporting.

Will it pass for the truth? Only if ABC scrubs their own earlier stories. Nelson's trying to deal reality. We noted reality here
on April 27th:

"As noted by Australia's ABC and
WBAI's Wakeup Call, Jake Kovco remains in Iraq. Kovoco died in Iraq last week. Jacob Bruce Kovco was twenty-five years old and was to be honored this week in the Gippsland community of Briagolong. For that to happen, Kovco's body would need to make it to Australia. The wrong body was in the coffin. Brendan Nelson, Australia's Defense Minister, tells of breaking the news to Shelley Kovco and when the widow demanded to speak with Prime Minister John Howard, Nelson dialed the number. Nelson then angered family members (brother of the deceased, Benn Kovco, and mother of the deceased, Judy Kovco) by making statements regarding the death (which is still under investigation)."

From ABC's "
Kovco's family demands answer" (April 27, 2006 8:12 pm): "Defence Minister Brendan Nelson has further angered the family of dead Australian soldier Jake Kovco with comments about the manner of the Private's death in Iraq last week. . . . . Dr Nelson had previously said Private Kovco was maintaing his weapon when it discharged, killing him, but today he told Macquarie radio that is not the case. 'He wasn't in fact cleaning his weapon,' he said. There was obviously a live round in it which there should not have been.' His comments have angered Prviate Kovco's mother Judy."

While his original statements did use "maintaining" (as opposed to "cleaning"), it is the same difference. And when he felt the need to take to the airwaves with new statements, he clearly stated "cleaning." AAP reports that Nelson's statement also included this: "I would like to say there was no attempt at cover-up, deceit or misinformation." Presumably, he means then because his statement to the inquiry seems to attempt several.

Brendan Nelson's original statement: "I am advised that the soldier was simply handling his weapon and maintaining it as soldiers are required to do and for some unexplained reason, the firearm discharged and the bulletin unfortunately uh-uh entered the soldier's head.

Brendan Nelson's second statement (April 27, 2006): "He was in a room, uh, with two of of his mates who were doing other things, working on a computer and so on, and he was, it appears, the information I now have, is he wasn't, in fact, cleaning his weapon. It was near him, in his vicinity, and he made some kind of movement which suggest that it discharged. Obviously there was a live round in it which there should not have been. That's as much as I should probably say right now."

Or maybe it was more than you should have said to begin with? The media used the term because Nelson used "maintaining" and Nelson used "cleaning" himself. Take some accountability.

Things just happen under Chuckles Brendy Nelson's watch. Things just happen and they're never his fault. The Kovco family is obvioulsy overreacting. So is the Lawton family, we're sure. The Lawton family? Oh, Paul Lawton died August 31st.
Mark Dunn (Herald Sun) reports that his mother and his "former wife" learned of his death via . . . a cell phone calls (no sympathies expressed). So, no, it's not just the Kovco family. Nelson's department appears as unwilling/unable to learn from mistakes as he does. (Hint: First step is accepting the blame for your actions.)

The hearing also heard from someone many Americans probably hoped never to hear from again: Robert Jensen. Speaking in his role as mouth piece, president and CEO of
Kenyon International, Jensen told the hearing the mix up between the corpses of Jake Kovco and Juso Sinanovic wasn't his company's fault. Michael Edwards reported to Eleanor Hall (The World Today) that Jensen blamed (a) "the lack of experience within the Australian Defence Force," (b) the use of visual identification [which apparently wasn't used -- but it's clear you can say anything to this inquiry board and never be challenged], (c) Australia lacks clear guidelines on how to "repatriate bodies" [which one might assume is something Kenyon International should have pointed out when they won the contract] and (d) "unreal expectations."

Flashback to Robert Jensen jawing in the after effects of Hurricane Katrina a year ago: "
This is not going to be quick or easy. It is not something that will be handled in a couple of weeks." Well he got that right. While he was jawing away, it's surprising no one asked him to offer a theory as to how Soldier 14's DNA ended up on Jake Kovco's gun because Jensen is a forensic scientist (or was i.d.ed as such plenty of times on CNN prior to Hurricane Katrina). But apparently physical evidence, like shifting stories, are something the inquiry will ignore.

Russell Skelton (The Age) reports that Jake Kovco's father-in-law, David Small, has termed Jensen's comments "pathetic nonsense" and stated, "We are utterly disgusted. The contract was to bring Jake Kovco home and they failed to do that. They had an obligation to check the contents of the casket. . . . Kenyon was not hired just to bring a casket home."


dirty depends

september is 'dirty depends.' if you missed it, repubes are calling it 'security september' and they intend to do their best to frighten the american public and to paint democrats as weak. the reality is that it's 'dirty depends.' the g.o.p. is not afraid to soil the country or their own pants in order to frighten up votes.

so every time you hear mitch mcconnell or any other repube say 'security september,' shout back 'dirty depends!' (if that's not how mcconnell spells his name, i really don't care. i'm not running a g.o.p. fan site.)

3 things to note quickly. "Ruth's Report" is exploring the issues involving why ehren watada has refused to deploy to iraq and you really need to read that. "Kat's Korner: Michael Franti & Spearhead Yell Music! (Are you listening?)" went up after the photo i posted yesterday. i've added the link to the photo post but in case you miss it there, it's here as well. great cd. great review. 'TV: Swift Justice' is the latest tv commentary from ava and c.i. and you better read it quick. it's wonderful and wonderfully funny but a little bird tells me this upcoming sunday's tv commentary will be 1 of those that makes you forget every 1 that came before so read 'TV: Swift Justice' and prepare yourself for sunday.

sherry e-mailed me this upi article, 'Sept. 11 idea likely cost Janeane Garofalo Air America Radio airtime:'

Former Air America Radio co-host Janeane Garofalo may have been downgraded to "guest host" status months ago due to a planned Sept. 11 show.
While no reason was given for the outspoken actress' exit from her daily role on the radio network's "Majority Report" broadcast in July, the New York Daily News reported that a source said the 41-year-old is saying she left due to a disagreement over a Sept. 11 piece.

sherry wondered what i thought? i don't doubt it. i'm also aware that some on the right are claiming mike malloy was fired for his interview with a 9-11 skeptic. that's been a big thing in right-wing circles but the left hasn't picked up on it. big surprise, huh? the right trumpets that 9-11 got malloy fired, coverage of it, and the left has their thumb up their ass.

most are acting as though nothing even happened. but 1 supposed lefty took to the airwaves last week to spew lies. the third estate sunday review writes about her in 'Stupid.' you need to read that.

i didn't work on the edition this weekend. it was going to be hard to because of plans i already had so i'd given a heads up that i'd only be able to participate some. fortunately, they told all of us to take the weekend off (so no guilt on my part!).

what was i doing? seeing the incredible meryl streep in the incredible mother courage. fly boy got tickets and we were going to take trina and her husband (which we did) but we also ended up taking mike and elaine since every 1 was given the weekend off.

mother courage is a play by bertolt brecht. brecht saw it as a counter to the rise of facism and nazi-ism. and we need the play today (in case you haven't noticed). if you missed it, you really missed something amazing. meryl streep was amazing in the lead. she plays a woman who thinks she'll be profitting from war and ends up losing all her children to the war. my only disappointment, personal, was that austin pendleton played the man interested in streep. he's a funny actor (and was quite good in the play). people may know him as the rich guy every 1 wants money from in what's up doc? or as barbra streisand's safety-net date (that she's cut off) in the mirror has 2 faces. i would have flipped him and kevin kline. neither gave a bad performance in their roles but there is a (film) history between kline and streep and i think the chemisty they have would have served the play better had he played the man smitten.

from a tossed aside chuckle to the moment of realization, i don't think streep had a false note in her entire performance. this really was a play worth seeing and i'm glad we got to see it before it closed.

this is just a quick post. elaine called after she posted tonight and said, 'i can't believe how rusty i felt.' that's because of the days off. well you just get back in there and start swinging. (which elaine did.)

closing with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot' which gives you the information you need to know about iraq today:

Tuesday, September 5, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Bully Boy spouts hot air, the so-not-successful 'crackdown' in Baghdad is extended for another month, Ehren Watada and others rally in Seattle, Washington and, in Australia, the family of Jake Kovco delivers a blistering evaluation of the hearing into the death of Kovco.

As already noted, 29 US troops have died in the last ten days (that's counting today). The figure has already risen. Centcom reports that: "Two Marines and one Sailor assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died Monday due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." 32 in ten days -- and where is the coverage? The total number of US troops who have died in Iraq since the beginning of the illegal war now stands at 2656 (three up since this morning as a result of Centcom's announcement of three more deaths on Monday). (117 is the number of British troops killed thus far, including the two who died on Monday Retuers reports a British soldier has been shot north of Basra and is "seriously wounded.".)


China's People's Daily reports that three are dead and five wounded from a roadside bomb and a car bomb in Samarra. AP reports that "a house explosion" in Mosul left two wounded.


CNN reports that a drive-by shooting left three dead in Baghdad while four drive-bys resulted in seven deaths in Baquba. Tthe sevend dead includes three police officers. Reuters reports that they were killed by "a rocket-propelled grenade" aimed at their car and that, near Latifiya, a Shi'ite pilgrim was shot dead and three others wounded.


Reuters reports five corpses ("blindfolded . . . gunshot wounds . . . signs of torture) were discovered near Suwayra and seven corpses discovered in Baghdad.

And the
BBC reports the kidnapping, on Friday, of Ghanim Khudayer, 22-year-old football player/star who had been planning to sign with a team in Syria to escape the violence in Iraq. Khudayer was kidnapped in Baghdad.

Baghdad, city of the fabled 'crackdown' that began on June 14th and has been so 'successful.' Baghdad is also where the Iraqi parliament is meeting for the first time in a month (a month's vacation when your country is falling apart seems more than a bit indulgent -- to put it mildly).
AP reports that their first act was to renew the so-called crackdown for another month. Al Jazeera reports that "a possible federal break up of the country at the top of its agenda." AFP reports that discussion times was also devoted to the issue of a new flag, this on the day when at least twenty Iraqis have been killed. No word as to whether or not Nouri al-Maliki should sport mutten chops is also on the agenda.

Alastair MacDonald (Reuters) reports that Iraqi president Jalal Talabani has stated that all British forces in Iraq could leave by the end of 2007; however, like the last guest who won't take a hint no matter how you yawn to indicate the hour is late, Margaret Beckett, England's Foreign Secretary pooh-paed the notion and termed progress on the ground in Iraq "very slow." Yes, but you were all but ordered to leave.

In the United States,
AP reports that Bully Boy has delcared the nation to be "safer but not safe" which is either an attempt to, yet again, personally profit from fear or he's got a self-destruct wish and continues to feel the need to feed fuel to the impeachment efforts.

In peace news,
Jennifer Sullivan (Seattle Times) reports that a march and demonstration for immigrant rights, reproductive rights, an end to the war and more led to a thousand participating including Ehren Watada and eleven members of The Raging Grannies Action League who sang, as Raging Granny Carolyn Hale put it, "for peace and justice for all. We have a lot to sing about."

Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing, heard testiomony Thursday August 17th and has since recommended a court-martial for Watada. As the recommendation works through the chain of command, more information on Watada can be found at Courage to Resist and ThankYouLt.org.

In Washington, DC,
Camp Democracy is up and running and "free and open to the public" though they caution you should bring your own chair if possible. Among today's scheduled activities was a march and tomorrow Congress members Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey, Maxine Waters, Jim McGovern and Bob Filner are among those scheduled to be participating in events. A complete schedule can be found here.

One person who is not at Camp Democracy is Cindy Sheehan.
Speaking to Bill Whitaker (Waco Tribune-Herald), Cindy Sheehan explained that due to her surgery and (intense) activity over this summer, she's going to be taking some time to heal and rest in the immediate future. Sheehan noted that Camp Casey is a permanent presence and, on the subject of the Bully Boy's avoidance of Crawford this year, stated: "I don't see it as so much a victory as just proof that our presence is very effective. I would rather he was here because then he would see us and we would still be out at the (ranch) checkpoint all the time protesting and things like that. I believe they (the White House) changed their schedule constantly when we changed our schedule." Reflecting on the differences between last summer's Camp Casey and this summer's Camp Casey III, Sheehan noted: " Well, if you look at the past year, so many things have happened. When I came to Crawford last year, 51 percent (of the American public) disapproved of the war. Now I've seen some as high as 67 percent. I'm seeing so much grass-roots activism all over the country. Just this past week there were thousands of people protesting in Salt Lake City."

Sheehan is the subject of a song on
David Rovic's new CD out today. "Song for Cindy Sheehan" is among the tracks appearing on Halliburton Boardroom Massacre.

In legal news,
Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi (usually reduced to "14-year-old girl") was raped and murdered in Iraq on March 12, 2006. Also murdered were her parents Qassim Hamza Raheem and Fakhriya Taha Muhasen and her five-year-old sister Hadeel Qassim Hamza. On June 30th, Steven D. Green was arrested in the United States and will be tried in federal courts for his alleged role in the rape and murders. Green had been discharged from the military. On August 17th, an Article 32 hearing was held in Baghdad for five soldiers still serving in the military. One of the five, Anthony W. Yribe, was charged with failure to report the alleged crimes (dereliction of duty). The other four were charged with rape, murder and arson and the Article 32 hearing was to determine whether the evidence merited moving forward with the charges.

Rebecca Santana (AP) reports that Col. Dwight Warren has recommended that the other four (James P. Barker, Jesse V. Spielman, Paul E. Cortez, and Bryan L. Howard) face a court-martial because, his report states, "reasonable grounds exist to believe that each of the accused committed the offense for which he is charged." During the Article 32 hearing, the defense argued stress, fatigue, etc. (And, in fact, the New York Times, with Robert F. Worth and Carolyn Marshall's "G.I. Crime Photos May Be Evidence," manged to argue that defense before the hearing could even commence.) As CNN reported, Captain Alex Pickands' counter argument to those claims was, "Murder, not war. Rape, not war. That's what we're here talking about today. Not all that business about cold food, checkpoints, personnel assignments. Cold food didn't kill that family. Personnel assignments didn't rape and murder that 14-year-old little girl." Santana reports that David Sheldon, attorney for James P. Barker, intends to arguein a court-martial that, in the field and in the Article 32 hearing, his client didn't get the support he needed.

Turning to Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco continues. Yesterday,
Sydney's ABC reports, military psychologist Col. Peter Murphy testified that Jake Kovco "was not behaving in a way that would suggest he was likely to commit suicide" and that he did not display any of the known indicators of sucide.
Jake Kovco was killed by a bullet to the head, the gun used was his own and that's about all, after all this time, that anyone's been able to establish. A variety of contradicatory testimony has been given throughout the hearing.
Last week, Soldier 14 admitted that he and Kovco's roommates, Soldiers 17 and 19, "had discussions on a numerous occassions trying to work out what happened." Unlike Soldier 17's claim that Kovco was a 'cowboy' with his pistol, this statement wasn't amplified (or headlined). For any who have fogotten, though Soldier 17 admitted he never saw any such behavior himself (and remember that Jake Kovco was well versed in guns long before he joined the military), he stated he'd 'heard' about it from people that he couldn't name -- and he got away with that. (And his charge, about something he'd never seen, was amplified and headlined.)

If all the numbers leave you confused, you're not the only one.
Last week, Australia's Nine Networks aired footage of Soldier 14 (whose DNA was found on Kovco's pistol) and they were the first to break the policy not to identify (by name) anyone testifying or to show them. (Those wishing to see the video, this page has a link.) The Australian reports that Australia's Defence Minister Brendan Nelson is making noises of how such actions (showing the footage or revealing names) could destroy morale and therefore security and blah, blah, blah. They're witnesses in a public hearing. No one's argued that they need any sort of witness relocation program after the hearing. And Nelson was far from worried about morale when he made (obviously false) claims to the media (for which he had to issue a retraction). Were a screen capture possible from the footage, we would have posted Soldier 14's face here last week.

Soldier 14 was on duty with Kovco the day he died. He was "two-seconds away" from the room Kovco died in. His DNA is on the gun. His 'excuse' for why it was on the gun was deemed ridiculous
by the DNA expert. (He stated he must have touched a bullhorn, radio, or something that Kovco did while they were both on duty. Then Kovco must have touched it and then Kovco must have transferred it to the gun. The DNA expert, Michelle Franco, stated that was unlikely to have occurred and noted that Soldier 14's DNA on the pistol's slide was greater than Kovco's which, even if a transfer had been likely, means that it did not get on the gun via a transfer of the sort Soldier 14 describes. For it to have been on the slide in the concentration it was, she stated, he would have had to have touched the gun.) But he and all other soldiers testifying are numbered and not named. National security? Morale?

On the latter, since it seems very likely (
best explanation for the bungles) that the early investigation and Jake Kovco's body were rushed so he could arrive home by Aznac Day (only he didn't, the body of Bosnian carpenter Juso Sinanovic was mistakenly sent to Australia instead) to score a p.r. coup (even Juso Sinanovic didn't arrive then, he arrived the day after), morale is a laughable resort at this late date. Morale probably also went out the window when Nelson claimed on national TV that Kovco had killed himself while cleaning his gun (he had to retract that false claim).

Australia's ABC, which has followed the strange guidelines to the letter, reports that "director-general of the Defence Community Organisation, Janet Stodulka, says it is a common sense decision, appreciated by soldiers and their families" -- it being the decision not to identify witnesses in the PUBLIC hearing. Australia's ABC was where Nelson made his (false) claim about how Jake Kovco had died -- back when "morale" and "national security" weren't apparently a big concern and "common sense" was in short supply.

Meanwhile, Amanda Dynes (who for some strange reason, can be identified with no risk to national security or morale) has testified.
ABC reports that Group Captain Dynes, a military doctor, testified that she doesn't understand how the mix up of Juso Sinanovic and Jake Kovco occurred -- noting that there was a twenty year age difference between the two (Sinanovic was twenty years older), that she observed an identification tag on Juso Sinanovic's arm properly identifying him, and that Juso Sinanovic had a "thick moustache and a hairy body, while there was little hair on the body of Private Kovco" -- leading her to wonder if anyone had even bothered to open the body bags before sending what was thought to be Jake Kovco's body to Australia?
Belinda Tasker (NewsCom) reports that Dynes also testified to an identification tag on the body bag containing Juso Sinanovic, the fact that he had intravenous tubes, while Kovco had a tatoo and "badly bruised eyes." But supposedly, the body was checked -- that's what previous testimony has noted. If Dynes is being truthful (not doubting her), the question remains as to how anyone could have done their assigned duty (and it was an assigned duty, not a favor, they were ordered -- that includes not just Soldier 2) and Juso Sinanovic's body could have been shipped to Australia by mistake.

Judy Kovco, mother of Jake Kovco, previously referred to the "Keystone Cop" mentality at play and had to leave the hearing because she was so upset by the bungles and what she saw (which this community agrees with) as ineptitude continuing throughout the hearing. What's being called a family statement (and apparently represents the parents of Jake Kovco, Judy and Martin, Shelly Kovco, Jake's widow, as well as Jake Kovco's siblings) was read by Jake Kovco's step-brother Ben to the inquiry Monday.

Tracy Ong and Dan Box (The Australian) provide the background to the statement noting the stripping of Jake Kovco's room (where he died -- before forensic tests could be conducted, and the clothes he was wearing were also destroyed before testing) and note that the Kovco family has termed this a "face-saving exercise" on the part of senior officers of the Australian Defence Force and that the actions indicate "negligence that defies belief." Belinda Tasker (The Age) reports the statement included: "Though we would like to believe otherwise, it is very difficult to move beyond the undesirable idea that the ADF and its representatives have gone out of their way to destroy as much evidence as possible in an attempt to protect the organisation and its personnel from any implication of wrongdoing." Malcolm Brown (Syndey Morning Herald) reports: "Mr [Ben] Kovco said he believed there had been a conspiracy to cover up, collusion between soldiers, that the room had been contaminated as a crime scene and the Defence Force had waited for nine days before interviewing witnesses."

ABC reports the response of the Australian Defense Association disputes the statement and that the head, Neil James (and remember these are his words), stated of the integrity issue, "We don't have too much of a concern about it, remembering that of the three-man board of inquiry, one of them is an outsider, is an independent member, a retired New South Wales coroner and one of the other two members, whilst he is in the military as a reservist, is a respected New South Wales judge in civilian life," Well, they certainly haven't conducted themselves as if they ever had "too much concern".

Via The Australian (which provides extracts of the Kovco's family statement), we'll close with (some of) their words read to the inquiry by Ben Kovco:

"Given the current evidence of Jake's roommates, at the time officers in Iraq would have very soon after the incident been aware that neither could, or was willing to say, how Jake was killed. Under these circumstances, even the most ill-informed, indeed an individual who had never before investigated a potential crime scene, would know better than to allow the only potential witnesses to wash their clothes and themselves, return to their daily duties and then allow the clothing of the deceased to be destroyed.

"Trained military officers and MPs have no excuse. They are not new to this environment. It is hard to imagine what the NSW Police officers must have thought, arriving to a fully stripped, effectively sterilised room with a couple of blood stains on the carpet and a hole in the ceiling. "Hearing the testimony of the soldiers directly involved with Jake on April 21st was frustrating in the extreme. To touch on the absurdity of their evidence, we have Jake killed by a gunshot wound while in very confined quarters with two other individuals, soldiers 17 and 19. Soldier 19 claims to be looking away from Jake when he heard the gun shot yet says he reacted and turned quickly enough to see Jake falling to the floor. Soldier 17 openly admits to have been facing Jake, sitting so close that he was almost in bodily contact, yet saw nothing. In fact, the claim is that he heard the gun shot and was completely unaware of an imposing six-foot tall man falling to the floor practically on top of him. Difficult to stomach from professional soldiers, whose training equips them better than most to observe and report. "Soldier 14 is then unable or unwilling to adequately explain the presence of his DNA in larger quantities than Jake's own DNA on the weapon that killed Jake ... He also offers an account of Jake supposedly mishandling his pistol the week before his death, accounting in detail an event that has been demonstrated in the inquiry to be physically impossible. Furthermore, Soldier 14, via his legal representative refuses to co-operate with the NSW Police.
"Soldiers 14, 17 and 19 have provided all this to the board as their sworn testimony, but as conscious individuals, it is absolutely insulting to have this evidence put to us as the full and honest truth. Perhaps these soldiers can live with the decisions they have made and the effect it may have on finding the truth about Jake's death. Likely, it will play on their minds for the rest of their lives. I hope they can live with that because we cannot. Not knowing exactly what happened to our son and brother will haunt us for the rest of our lives. "Though we would like to believe otherwise, it is very difficult to move beyond the undesirable idea that the ADF and its representatives have gone out of their way to destroy as much evidence as possible in an attempt to protect the organisation and its personnel from any implication of wrongdoing. The actions described above (among many others) coupled with the disturbing inability of the witnesses to the event to provide any credible account of what happened, makes it very nearly impossible to reach the truth of what occurred in room 8 and in this the ADF is solely responsible and their actions have almost ensured that the truth may never be found.''