i'm a beltway baby and didn't even know it. there was a piece written, by some 1 i happen to respect, that felt too many people were following the alberto gonzales scandal and they were in the beltway or trying to be.
let me clarify, and i'll do it as nicely as possible but let me say i was offended by that, this supposed beltway baby spent last week traveling from texas back home on the east coast in an r.v. a nice r.v. (and thank you to treva who is both a wonderful driver and a wonderful traveling companion.) but an r.v. and maybe charles kuralt would do that but i don't think he's a beltway baby. now i may be wrong on this as well but i don't believe most beltway babies are women and that even fewer are pregnant women.
why the gonzales scandal here?
i really lucked into it. we spent a week driving to texas, a week in texas, a week coming back. in texas, i always had dsl. on the way up and back it depended on the hotel. i knew that going in. i asked c.i. to find things for me to highlight. (thank you, c.i.) after the 1st night's road post, c.i. called to see if those were the kind of things i was looking for and they were.
i said it was too bad that i couldn't follow 1 story because i was without my normal resources. we subscribe to 5 papers (that upped when flyboy moved back in - we agree on 1 paper, i have 1 i prefer to the 1 we both agree on, he has 2 he likes that i don't and i have no idea why we get the 5th), i always have the tv on in the kitchen unless i'm in the living room. even if i'm not in the kitchen, the tv is on in there unless i'm watching in the living room. that comes from when flyboy and i divorced and i just wanted some noise in the house. i'll usually watch amy goodman on satellite, then i'll flip over to cnn. i'll hear various things from all over the house even if i'm not in the kitchen. in the evening, i usually watch the cbs evening news. in between that, during the morning and afternoon, ruth and i are frequently listening to pacifica radio programs. though the bulk are fashion magazines and advertising (the latter because of my former career), i also get several other magazines and between flyboy's and mine, we've got over 40 different titles coming in each month. t usually visits at least once a week and usually has several stories she's clipped for me to read. i am a phone junkie (ask elaine or c.i.) and i always have been. even after i quit working, it was nothing for me to make 50 phone calls before noon. i did have my cell phone with me but used it mainly at night because of signal issues and not wanting to be a rude guest on the trip who was always yacking in her cell phone instead of talking to the people she was traveling with. i probably speak to sunny (elaine's assistant) 10 times a day during the week. i'll leave a message for elaine about 1/2 those times and even on those calls, i'm also calling to talk to sunny who follows several websites. if you're a friend of c.i.'s, you can always count on a truckload of books and documentaries waiting for you to see and read.
now take all the above and you have some idea of why i write about the stuff i do. and i've never considered myself naturally smart. (c.i. is. in college - and c.i. hates it when elaine and i tell this story - got put on the spot 1 class in world lit. we'd been protesting the day before and the teacher was a real stick in the ass prick. we show up for class and, no, we hadn't done the reading. that was only 1 of 2 times i know that ever happened with c.i. - though it happened to me all the time - the 2nd time was when we went to a die for concert. so the teacher is making some rude remark about protesters and how fortunate students were to go to good unversities and should be grateful and b.s. blah. he ends it by saying, 'now tell us about beowulf' to c.i. who didn't read it. c.i. went into this psychological explanation - of a book unread - that blew every 1 away. including the teacher who said, 'oh.' followed by 'very good then.' he went on with his lesson and didn't make another peep about protesters. after class elaine and i were asking, 'when did you read it?' never. c.i. knew the basic plot from the paragraph or so the professor had offered. when c.i. had to do the orals for the masters, even the profs with severe hatred couldn't toss a curveball that didn't smack then back in their own faces.) so i do a lot of work to have something to write.
being on the road, i wouldn't have my constant tv feed. i wouldn't have pacifica radio. i wouldn't have my 5 newspapers. i wouldn't have my constant phone calling. i wouldn't have my magazines, books, documentaries on dvd. there were places we stopped for gasoline, towns where there paper was a weekly paper and that was it. the magazines consisted of tabloids and us and people. it was so bad that i sighed with glee when i saw a time magazine. treva had told me that we could hit major cities and it would have more reading but we planned the trip to stop in on friends of treva's and friends of flyboy and mine, otherwise we were on interstates and highways.
so 1 story would mean i could follow it and not be trying to learn about it each night before i posted. (with dial up - i have too many downloads on my laptop, i need to burn them all to a cd - i really cannot multiple screen it. if i do, the computer slows down and will freeze.)
so c.i. told me what was known about the alberto gonzales and that there was a lot more coming out. i thought it sounded perfect. (and i believe the 2nd day i didn't blog on it, just read everything c.i. sent me on it.)
if we were lucky, and treva had told me this ahead of time, we might have an npr we could listen to and sometimes even an air america radio. that was all we had - and it was mainly just npr though there were stretches when we didn't even have that - on the way up and on the way back. (unless i wanted to listen to right wing radio.)
so that's how i ended up writing about alberto gonzales.
it wasn't an attempt to be a 'beltway baby.'
we're now going to talk about some of the developments but before we do, let me be clear about something as some 1 old enough to remember. cambodia did not bring nixon down in the end. vietnam did not bring him down. his illegal spying did not bring him down. a break in at the watergate building, that he authorized, did. in the early days of that story, every 1 said 'oh it's not important' (every 1 in big media with the exceptions of seymour hersh, carl bernstein and bob woodward.) as the break in was slowly connected up to the white house, then other things began to get exposed. without that 'minor' crime, nixon might never have been forced to step down before he could be impeached.
and you can say, 'rebecca, you're taking a thing pretty personal.' i probably am. and you can pin it on pregnancy hormones if you want. but i'd argue it has more to do with the fact that i respect the person who wrote that thing.
this is from bill scher's breakdown of the sunday morning chat & chews:
Last week, the GOP talking point on the Prosecutor Purge was that Dem Sen. Chuck Schumer shouldn't be involved in the investigation because he also heads the 2008 Dem Senate campaign committee.
But that talking point didn't stick. Mounting evidence of misleading comments from the White House and the Attorney General's offices overshadowed a made-up conflict of interest claim.
So this week, out of rhetorical ammo, GOP senators left the talking points at home.
As the mainstream media has noted, several on the Sunday shows distanced themselves from Attorney General Gonzales.
While none directly called for his resignation, the critical comments clearly indicate that they have no interest in blindly defending him and dragging out the scandal. They'd rather dump Gonzales in hopes of moving on.
What's unclear is if this shift means anything to President Bush, who defended Gonzales to the hilt in his weekly radio address (not to mention, this weekly radio address.)
there's more to it, and the whole thing's worth reading, but i'll use that to set it up. if you're late to the discussion, 8 state prosecutors working for the justice department were fired. the firing was political. harriet miers and karl rove, representing the white house, worked with gonzales (he was in the loop, we'll get to that in a moment) and his assistant kyle sampson to fire these people who were, in 1 e-mail, described as not being loyal, not being 'bushies'.
in the piece that irriated and upset me, the point is made that clinton and others fired state prosecutors. yes, they did. when they came into office. reagan did it. poppy bush did it when he suceeded reagan. clinton did it when he succeed bush. that's not a surprise. they bring in their own choices. they do it openly.
in the instance of the 8, it wasn't done openly. a plot was hatched - conspiracy - of how to replace them and not get noticed doing so, how to replace them and avoid congressional approval (by using some little known section of the patriot act that is probably unconstitutional).
this was an effort to deceive the people and to deceive the congress. when bully boy's white house got rid of all clinton's people after bully boy was installed in the white house, it wasn't news. it was expected. that's what the new occupant of the oval office always does.
it wasn't hidden.
what happened here was that people the white house had put in those jobs were now being outed secretly. they 'resigned.' that was what the people and congress were told. they were forced to resign, they were fired. this was kept from the people and congress. it was kept form the people why they were fired. when it was finally admitted that they were fired we were all told it was due to bad performances. no, it wasn't as many of the evaluations demonstrate. the e-mails released (a new batch came out last friday night) laid out the planning of a conspiracy to deceive the people and the congress. (and there is a huge gap in the e-mails that have been released.)
is it torture? no. so fucking what?
the democrats control both houses. they didn't make torture an issue in 2002, in 2004 or in 2006. you can hope if you want that this is the year they snap out of it on torture but my own personal belief is that torture will only be addressed if gonzales and others are wounded. this is a wound. exposing a conspiracy to trick the people and the congress, exposing the conspiracy being carried out, is a deep wound.
it's also how the administration has always done business - lie about what they're doing and deny as you attack the 1s raising the issue. thanks to e-mails, it's not working this time.
this is from ap:
Republican support for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales eroded Sunday as three key senators sharply questioned his honesty over last fall's firings of eight federal prosecutors. Additionally, two Democrats joined the list of lawmakers calling for Gonzales' ouster.
with demands for open testiomny, under oath, ap says there is 'a standoff threatening to result in Capitol Hill subpoenas of White House officials' and that is the toughest period gonzales has had to face as attorney general (or as white house counsel before, i'd add). republican senator arlen specter noted that a nov. 27 calender entry/appointment by gonzales 'appear to contradict' that he was never involved in meetings discussing the dismissals of the prosecutors.
that would be 'lie.' he has maintained his innocence in public over and over. he left d.c. and hit the local news outlets because they'd give him an easier time. it hasn't worked out too well.
from the same ap article:
"We have to have an attorney general who is candid, truthful. And if we find out he has not been candid and truthful, that's a very compelling reason for him not to stay on," said Specter, R-Pa.
Specter said he would wait until Gonzales' scheduled April 17 testimony to the committee before deciding whether he could continue to support the attorney general. He called it a "make or break" appearance.
graham uses the word i say could come, 'wounded.' he thinks gonzales is wounded. that's republican senator lindsey graham. i don't think he's wounded yet. i think he's about to be. the a.p. sotry talks about how chuck hagel noted the ever changing story from gonzales and the justice dept. and quotes him saying: 'you cannot have the nation's chief law enforcement officer with a cloud hanging over his credibility.' and democratic senators dianne feinstein and bill nelson are calling for him to step down as attorney general. a.p. also notes gonazles' march 13 claim that 'i never saw documents. we never had a discussion about where things stood.' from the same a.p. story:
But his Nov. 27 schedule, included in a batch of memos sent to Capitol Hill late Friday, showed he attended an hour-long meeting at which, aides said, he approved a detailed plan for executing the purge.
Since the schedule's release, Justice aides have said Gonzales meant he was not involved in selecting the prosecutors when he said he didn't participate in discussions about their firings.
this is from the washington post:
One of the eight former U.S. attorneys fired by the Bush administration said yesterday that White House officials questioned his performance in highly partisan political terms at a meeting in Washington in September, three months before his dismissal.
John McKay of Washington state, who had decided two years earlier not to bring voter fraud charges that could have undermined a Democratic victory in a closely fought gubernatorial race, said White House counsel Harriet Miers and her deputy, William Kelley, "asked me why Republicans in the state of Washington would be angry with me."
now the thing people are starting to suggest is that these changes were also had long-range goals, to influence the 2008 election. now torture is illegal. it's a big deal. so are attempts to deny some 1 of their right to vote. and, in a democracy, 1 is greater than the other. if 1 had to be greater, it would be the right to vote because voters could, ideally, punish torturers. but if you don't have the right to vote, short of mass mobilization (which i haven't seen against torture), there's not going to be any end to torture. 1 of the private complainst was that the prosecutors weren't prosecuting alleged voter rights violations. cases that would benefit the republican party. in 1 instance, a prosecutor was blamed for not pursuing a case that even the f.b.i. had determined there was no cause to prosecute.
this is from the house committee on oversight and reform:
Citing evidence that senior White House officials are using RNC and other political email accounts to avoid leaving a record of official communications, Chairman Waxman directs the Republican National Committee and the Bush-Cheney '04 Campaign to preserve the emails of White House officials and to meet with Committee staff to explain how the accounts are managed and what steps are being taken to protect the emails from destruction and tampering.
so not only is there a huge gap in the e-mails (while we're supposed to believe all have been released) there may be even more that have been hidden. when i read the above, i thought of bully boy, a few years back, bragging about not knowing much about e-mails. when he speaks, he tends to confess in reverse. he says 'we don't torture' and of course he's authorized torture. there are many of examples of those type of statements (think of his comments that they would use f.i.s.a. when, in fact, they were already circumventing it to spy on americans). i thought it was strange that any 1 would claim not to know how to use e-mail. i remembered his claim that he didn't read newspapers - which he did and does. and i've always wondered about that statement. so, if they have been using the r.n.c. to avoid it showing up on the white house records, i wonder how far back that goes?
now kyle sampson is no longer with the justice department. until the scandal became public, he served immediately under gonzales. the official story was that sampson worked this out with miers and rove and that gonzales was not involved. (the calander disproves that as do e-mails.)
while the white house continues to insist that rove and miers should be allowed to speak to congress (some members only) in the chit-chat manner usually reserved for a barabra walters special, without a transcript being kept and no oaths taken, sampson has said he will testify under oath and is apparently not too happy with being the fall guy.
that news came out friday and i wrote about it then. but another person has decided not to testify. not only that, she plans to plead the 5th. from ap:
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' liaison with the White House will refuse to answer questions at upcoming Senate hearings about the firings of eight U.S. attorneys, citing her Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination, her lawyer said Monday.
"I have decided to follow my lawyer's advice and respectfully invoke my constitutional right," Monica Goodling, Gonzales' counsel and White House liaison, said in a statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The revelation complicated the outlook for Gonzales, who is traveling out of town this week even as he fights to keep his job.
now mobsters usually plead the 5th. government employees?
so those are the developments. the issue, for me, is that a conspiracy was hatched to put 1 over on the people and congress and to circumvent congress' approval. when it began to come to light, it was denial, denial, denial. then kyle sampson was cut loose and we were supposed to believe he was the 1 and only bad egg. now e-mails (read them closely) and now the calander suggest that gonzales was involved in the decisions.
yeah, i think this is important. if some 1 wants to say it's partisan, while i do hate the bully boy and what he's done to the country (and do think this could lead to impeachment talk and possibly even impeachment itself), after the pelosi measure last week, the democrats in congress can kiss my pregnant ass. i'm not interested in saving them or protecting them or scoring points for them. i've called out dianne feinstein her many times. yeah, i love russ feingold. i think he's smart (and in hormonal moments, i think he's very sexy - i have enough hormonal moments these days to know when i'm having 1 and my anger over what was written about 'beltway babies' had nothing to do with hormones). russ feingold really isn't a part of this story. like mike, ted kennedy and john kerry are my senators. (flyboy uses his family home. where we live was our vacation home until we divorced, i got it - the only thing i asked for in the settlement - because i liked the slower pace of the island and wanted to live here year round - and also, due to the last pregnancy's ending, wasn't in the mood to be around people so living on the island seemed ideal.) my senators aren't involved in this. i really don't see this is a 'democratic issue.' some may and more power to them. to me this is about the same way the adminstration has worked on every thing since day 1: lie to the people, plot in secret, deny, deny, deny. the only difference is this time they're being pressed and this time evidence isn't letting them get off the hook. by all means, say i hate the bully boy - i do - but don't claim i'm trying to score points for the democrats. after that embarrasing iraq measure from the house, they can honestly kiss my ass.
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,
i swiped that from third estate sunday review.
why? i'm having the worst computer problems. when i copied and pasted my 1st highlight, the ap story. the whole thing went screwy. i was trying to figure out what was going on when the phone rang and flyboy grabbed it. he starts to hand it to me and i say, 'whoever it is tell them i'll call them back.' flyboy says, 'it's c.i.' i snatched the phone and screamed, 'help!' at that moment, the computer was moving so slow (a good thing - it started moving slow as soon i copy and pasted the thing from ap) and c.i. said 'hit the x button at the top right now!'
i did. it was trying to take me to some ad page. and doing that would mean leaving my post which would mean losing my post. c.i. said, 'save it! right now!' i did that.
it's a pain in the butt since. i'll run a virus scan after i get this posted. but i'm just copying and pasting mike, c.i. and elaine's sites - i've mentioned them in the post and my readers should know who they are but for visitors ...
c.i. said mike had problems tonight as well and couldn't get his post to work. so i'm supposed to call c.i. back if i can't get this to post. but thank you to c.i. for calling. and i can't scroll up. there's a thing somewhere that should say 'e-mails and calanders.' it just says 'e-mails.' add 'and calanders' because i can't move the screen up to get to it.
here's c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'
Monday, March 27, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, KPFK Lila Garrett (Connect the Dots) and, on WBAI's Law and Disorder, guest Anthony Arnove note that the Pelosi measure that pass Friday is full of holes (on KPFA the myth that all US troops will be brought home continues to be broadcast -- again, Charlie Gibon's not the only one who needs someone to do on air corrections for his 'news' delivered), Zalmay gets a good-bye farewell from the Iraqi resistance, and, for news on Iran, stick with Patrick Cockburn.
On KPFK's Connect the Dots with Lila Garrett today, Garrett spoke with US House Reps Barbara Lee and Dennis Kuckinich -- both of whom voted against the Pelosi measure and Dennis Kucinich is also running to be the Democratic Presidential nominee in 2008.
Garrett: What is good in this bill?
Lee: Just having the House of Representatives establishing a timeline is good. Whether you agree or disagree with the timeline, whether it's enforceable is another question.. . .
Garrett: Barbara Lee, we want to know what's enforceable? Is the banning of permanent bases enforceable? Is the banning of torture enforceable?
Lee: It's enforceable if the Bush administration wants to follow the law. But, remember now, he's going to veto this bill and, remember, the only enforceability that you can require on a supplemental bill is taking him to court -- Congress can take the Bush administration to court. But how many times have you seen the Congress take the administration to court?
Lee went on to note the things in the bill such as its attempt to address avian flu and other non-bird related and, certainly, non-Iraq related issues.
Garrett: You have a lot of good things here but my question is how much of it is enforceable and what you're telling us is that really, basically, none of it is enforceable because he has the option should he decide that the circumstances warrant it not to follow this bill, isn't that true?
Lee: Yeah, that's the waiver positon but also remember he's going to veto it . . .
For those who missed it, the answer to Lila Garrett's question, which she asked more than once, is that the Pelosi measure cannot be enforced -- or as Garrett noted near the end of the interview, "The bill forces him to do nothing." (Contractors and a number of other issues -- including Iran were discussed. Jeremy Scahill also was on the program to discuss his book on the mercenary company BlackWater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army which is a BuzzFlash premium -- those unable to listen to Garrett's interview can also check out BuzzFlash for their interview with Scahill.) Garrett then spoke with Kucinich in an interview taped right after Friday's vote.
Kucinich: I voted against it and I voted against it because it will continue to fund the war through the end of the president's term. That President Bush is talking about vetoing it is no small comfort. The Democrats essentially bought the war and now President Bush is saying even that isn't enough.
Garrett: The bill has contained with in it, some people will argue, and some of the Democrats argued, some very positive things. The president wanted 93 billion dollars to continue the war and he got it, but there were 25 billion dollars worth of things, some of which were very worthwhile, 1.7 billion for the health care for the veterans, there was money for child and spousal abuse, there was money for contractor control, there was money that banned permanent bases, banned torture, that provided troop readyness. What's your response to the so-called positives in this bill?
Kucinich: Are you kidding? The war's going to keep going through the end of President Bush's term. No amount of attempt to sweeten this is going to make it anything but a mess. We need to get out of Iraq, the Democrats have the power to do it. Why they chose not to excercise it today is beyond me but I will tell you this that the American people are going to have a rising demand for peace, they're fed up with this war, they're fed up with the Democratic party not standing up for the people, And frankly the idea that somehow we can end the war somehow we can end this war if we just give it a little more time? Baloney. You end the war by ending a war you don't end the war by letting it go for another year or two. And it's the same kind of thinking that got us into Iraq -- says, "Well, you know, we don't have any other alternative to go and attack Iraq and now we're saying we don't have any other alternative but to keep the war going for a year or two until we figure out what to do with it. We got to stop this war and I voted against it.
Kucinich and Garrett then discussed the reality of Iraq today ("bombed their country to smitheerens") and the nonsense behind the attitude that demandes "benchmarks" from an occupied, puppet government. Kucinich then spoke of "making the administration accountable for their actions." Kucinich propsed a national discussion on impeachment. To be clear for those who didn't hear or won't be able to listen, he's proposing a discussion of the topic -- he's not (or not yet) proposing introducing a bill in the House. On why he's now bringing up this issue, Kucinich stated, "I didn't talk about it as long as there was a chance that we could stop this war but with Congress determined to give the president the money he wants to keep the war going, it appears that the war is going to just keep going no matter what and so I think, at this point, we need to get back to how we got into war. We got into war because President Bush and Vice President Cheney lied to the American people. You know what? There's got to be consquences for that. And I think it's time for us to have a discussion so I'd like to hear from your listeners, I'd like to hear from others as to whether or not this is the time to start talking about impeachement and the time to start drawing up resolutions of impeachment.
Garrett brought up a conversation she had with US Senator Ted Kennedy about impeachment where he asked her if she would like President Dick Cheney and Kucinich responded, "When you talk about resolutions you need to use the plural 'resolutions'." To repeat, Kucinich is proposing a dialogue on this issue and, from that, other steps would or would not be taken.
On WBAI's Law and Disorder today, Michael Ratner noted that Anthony Arnove's latest book was IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal and asked him about the Congressional measure and what's been proposed by US Senators and presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and Barack Obama.
Anthony Arnove: In terms of the proposal that's now in Congress about withdrawal it has about 8 million loopsholes. First of all it refers to combat troops even those combat troops that it talks about setting a timetable for removing from Iraq -- that timetables is based on conditions so in other words at any point along the line they can say "well the conditions require us to continue as an occupying force". Then, of course, it's not calling for a complete withdrawal of troops. It's not talking about the mercenaries that the US is sponsoring in Iraq.
Ratner: Which are probably almost the equivalent of the US soldiers, right? It's over 100,000.
Arnove: Well there are more than 100,000 private contractors. We don't know if all of those are involved as actual mercenaries but certainly the second largest contigent of military force in Iraq is private contractors, not England -- which is what you hear about in the media. But also the plans say nothing about removing US military bases. They don't address the fact that today the US is building the largest embassy it has in the world in Baghdad.
Ratner: It's 300,000 square feet, right?
Arnove: It's just this enormous compound. And it's very clear that they're going to stay that they want to establish military bases, that they want to establish a client regime in Iraq, they want to continue a presence in Iraq and they want to be able to not only control events in Iraq and, of course, control the oil in Iraq. but They want to be able to use Iraq as a staging ground to protect their power in the region particularly vis a vi Iran but also Syria and other countries.
Ranter and Arnove then discussed Antonia Juhasz' op-ed that ran in the New York Times regarding the oil privatization and how the issue was about the control -- who will get it, who won't, a weapon against other countries whose oil needs are growing such as China. Michael Ratner is one of the co-hosts of Law and Disorder (Daliah Hashad, Michael Smith and Heidi Boghosian are also co-hosts) and that's the segment I heard but the firend who phoned (and held up the phone so I could hear) also wanted me to note that today's program features, in music between segments, a very strong acoustic performance of "People Have The Power" by Patti Smith.
I believe everything we dream
Can come to pass through our union
We can turn the world around
We can turn the earth's revolution
We have the power
People have the power . . .
"People Have The Power," written by Patti Smith, originally on her Dream of Life
Which also acts as segue to Howard Zinn who wrote (in The Progressive): "As I write this, Congress is debating timetables for withdrawal from Iraq. In response to the Bush Administration's 'surge' of troops, and the Republicans' refusal to limit our occupation, the Democrats are behaving with their customary timidity, proposing withdrawal, but only after a year, or eighteen months. And it seems they expect the anti-war movement to support them. That was suggested in a recent message from MoveOn, which polled its members on the Democrat proposal saying that progressives in Congress, 'like many of us, don't think the bill goes far enough, but see it as the first concrete step to ending the war.' Ironically, and shockingly, the same bill appropriates $124 billion in more funds to carry the war. It's as if, before the Civil War, abolitionists agreed to postpone the emancipation of the slaves for a year, or two years, or five years, and coupled this iwth an appropriation of funds to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act. When a social movement adopts the compromises of legislators, it has forgotten its role, which is to push and challenge the politicians, not to fall meekly behind them."
Also weighing in is Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan (via AfterDowningStreet.org) -- against the weak measure and against MoveOn while noting, "In 2002 the Democrats authorized Bush to invade Iraq (or any other country he deemed to support terrorism, for example Iran) in hope he would become involved in an unpopular war which would produce a Democratic White House. The Democrats 2007 policy is equally political, and may have the paradoxical effect of producing Republican victories in 2008. The prolongation of the occupation is now opposed by two-thirds of all Americans; we want our troops safely home by this Christmas, not politically chicanery. As a consequence Americans now think even more poorly of Congress than ever; the failure to withdraw from Iraq dropped Democratic support of Congress from 44% to 33% according to the latest Gallup poll. The Democrats failue to stem what has become a Democrats war will be a factor in the 2008 elections."
Military Families Speak Out's Stacy Bannerman offers her takes at AfterDowningStreet.org,
"Busy week here on the Hill, and I'm sure you know that the 110th Congress just bought the war in Iraq. On Monday, the 19th, the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, Military Families Speak Out held a press conference on the steps of the Cannon House building. We unveiled the Certificate of Ownership, complete with warranty -- the brainchild of MFSO member Tammara Rosenleaf, who stayed with me and is planning to return in April. (You can download the certificate at Military Families Speak Out) Iraq War veterans also spoke, taking a break from Operation First Casualty, which had them in uniform "patrolling and occupying" the streets of D.C. and Capitol Hill (Photos are available at http://digitalgrace.livejournal.com/ ). After the press conference, the veterans went deep into enemy territory i.e. the White House, and several dozen military family members and supporters went to Congresswoman Pelosi's office to pepper the staff with questions, and make another seemingly futile request for a meeting with the Speaker. Military family members spent several hours canvassing Congressional offices with the Certificates, appealing to Representatives to stop the supplemental and end the war."
Another source for the conversation that media -- big and small -- largely seems determined to avoid is CounterPunch where World Can't Wait's Sunsara Taylor (CounterPunch) observes, "Anyway you slice it, yesterday's vote is no 'victory' for the people of this country, of Iraq, or of the world, all of whom overwhelmingly oppose the Iraq war and are aching for it to be stopped. Instead it means that after four years of war crimes, massacres, rapes, torture and what can only be called a colonial occupation that has cost more than half a million deaths and led to the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world, the Iraqi people must now brace themselves for more!" John V. Walsh (CounterPunch) speaks for many when he writes, "And so it was basically a bill to make the Democrats look good without terminating the war." In his interview with Lila Garrett, Dennis Kucinich speaks of how Congress is using the same excuses and offering the same rationalizations for voting in favor of the Pelosi measure that they did in supporting the bill which Bully Boy used to go to war on Iraq. Equally true is that the same 'logic' defending the current support was heard over and over (from the same party flacks and hacks) following the 2002 vote.
Turning to news of war resistance, Ehren Watada became the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq in June of 2006 and, in February 2007, the first to be court-martialed. That court-martial ended when Judge Toilet (Lt. Col. Head) ruled it a mistrial. In making that ruling (over the objection of the defense, legal experts have argued, double jeopardy was immediately attached which would mean Watada cannot be court-martialed again for the same charges. ThankYouLt.Watada has prepared a "Mistrial Synopsis" to walk people through the events and singles out the stipulation (the agreement that Watada wouldn't dispute reported accounts which meant there was no need to call journalists as witnesses) which was signed a week prior (an agreement between the prosecution and the defense) and those reviewing and signing off were "the Prosecution, the Staff Judge Advocate (the legal advisor to Lt. Gen Dubik), Lt. Gen Dubik, the Defense, Judge Head and Lt. Watada. All parties should have known what they were signing. In addition: "Judge Head had already questioned Lt. Watada throughoutly about his understand of the Stipulation of Facts, when the court martial opened and before the Panel was sworn in." This was the agreement that, on day three of the court-martial, Judge Toilet was suddenly 'concerned' about and ended up throwing the case out over. Currently, despite double jeopardy, the US military has scheduled the pretrial for May 20th through 21st with the court-martial to begin July 16th.
Ehren Watada is a part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Joshua Key, Dean Walcott, Joshua Key, Agustin Aguayo, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.
Meanwhile, Ian Herbert (Independent of London) reports today that: "Thousands of British soldiers have gone absent without leave since 2003 because the Army is unwilling to accept the gravity of mental problems caused by their tours in Iraq. The Ministry of Defence estimates there have been 10,000 Awol incidents since the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and 1,100 servicemen are currently 'on the run' from the Army." This follows Paul von Zeilbauer's (New York Times) report last Friday on revealing that the US army was undercounting their figures and that the "new figures also show a faster acceleration in the rate of desertions over the previous two fiscal years than the Army had disclosed. In 2006, for instance, desertions rose by 27 percent, not 17 percent, as the Army previously said, and Army spokesman said."
Meanwhile Joshua Key's The Deserter's Tale continues to receive praise. In the book, Key explains what he saw while serving in Iraq, how it transformed him, and how that led to him to self-check out and move to Canada with his wife (Brandi Key) and his children. John Freeman (Louisville Courier-Journal) reviews the book and concludes "as a chronicle of the experiences that led one soldier to this irrevocable step, Key's is a grim and necessary book."
In Iraq today?
In No-It-isn't-An-Acid-Flashback news, Reuters reports that "hours after outgoing U.S. ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad told reporters that he was cautiously optomistic about the future in Iraq" "[a] rocket lnaded in Baghdad's heavily fortified international Green Zone . . . rocking the U.S. embassy". If it seems strangely familiar, last Thursday United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon had just declared "improvement in the situation on the ground" when he was suddenly very close to the ground as he crouched, "flinched" and "ducked" in the face of a mortar attack.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad mortar attack that left 1 person dead and wounded three ("from the same family"), a downtown Baghdad car bombing that killed 2 people and left 4 wounded, a Baghdad rocket attack that wounded 4 ("from one family"), a south west Baghdad bombing that injured two people, and a west Baghdad bombing that killed 1 person; a Tikrit bombing that killed a police officer (3 wounded), a bombing in Baquba that injured a family (five members) and "The spokesman of Basra police said that 4 mortar shells fell on the British consulate downtown Basra city without referring to any casualties." Reuters reports two people died in Iskandariya from a mortar attack. CNN notes it was "at least two" (five were wounded) and also "Insurgents detonated exposives . . . beneath a crude oil pipeline near Baiji in northern Iraq, a police official said. The attack ignited a massive oil fire that burned for several hours. No one was injured, police said."
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a police commando was shot dead and two more were wounded in Baghdad, a person was shot dead in north Baquba,
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 15 corpses were discovered in the capital today, 2 corpses in Tirkit,
In terms of Iran, Patrick Cockburn (CounterPunch) reports the events on Friday: "The Iranians pick up 15 British servicemen searching ships in the Shatt al Arab. The cold war between Iran and the US, with Britain trotting along behind, is getting colder. The confrontation with Iran is very much Bush's doing and once again Blair has given him a blank check with no sign that he gets any influence over Washington's policies in return."; and on Saturday: "The 15 British servicemen have been taken to Tehran. It was foolish to have them searching vessels in disputed waters off the Shatt al-Arab as friction with Iran increased this year." The 15 are apparently being questioned by mainstream reports. Considering some of the details to 'emerge' this weekend, we'll be very careful about who we cited on this story. We'll miss out on beyond belief stories of eye witnessing, unnamed fishermen who suddenly emerge (such as this past weekend) but we can all do without that nonsense.
Finally, today Edward Wong (New York Times) verifies Tom Hayden's reporting from November about the government's secret talks with Iraqi resistance.