late because i had to nurse the baby and those of us still in d.c. were doing activism during the day and having fun at night. i hollered, as soon as i logged on, 'kat! give me something!' so we're both leading with 'Thousands March for Peace in Washington DC' (feminist wire daily):
Thousands of protesters marched from the White House to the Capitol on Saturday to demand an end to the war in Iraq. Several women’s groups, including CODEPINK and the National Congress of Black Women, sponsored a women’s convergence earlier in the day before joining the larger rally at the White House before the march. Addressing the very large crowd were Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK, Cindy Sheehan, Ralph Nader, and many others.
The march was mostly peaceful, but protestors were arrested after hundreds laid on the ground in a "die in." The Washington Post reports 189 protestors were arrested, including 10 who, according to the march’s organizers, were veterans of the war.
now i'm not big on online activism and don't push most of that stuff. i will note Free Sami Al-Haj because (a) i do think it will have an impact, (b) i do think he needs to be freed and (c) elaine mentioned this saturday morning and all she has to do is ask. c.i. wrote about the petition and sami al-haji much better than i can so read c.i.'s thing on it from saturday.
i'm so tired. kat said 'be lazy like me' (she's not lazy) 'and just take links from the third estate.' but i grabbed from mike.
The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,
Trina's Trina's Kitchen,
and Wally of The Daily Jot
all were in d.c. and i may not mention all (because i'm tired!) but the sentiment and spirit inclues all.
let me talk a little about saturday. due to the crackdown by the d.c. police, we left the baby with a relative of flyboy's for the demonstration and boy was i glad we did. i didn't get sprayed but i swear that is what made dona so sick. she thinks it was a virus. i disagree. she felt sick after the demonstration and it only got worse. she was rubbing her eyes throughout saturday and by late night was throwing up. she's fine now, but i do believe that's why she's sick. both she and c.i. were near the spraying and c.i. had a killer headache. c.i. gets migraines - has for years - they are at the base of the back of the head. this was a top of the head all the way down thing and i kept pointing out, 'that is not 1 of your migraines.' i don't know what the police were using. some reports say pepper spray some say chemical spray. i think it was uncalled for regardless and that a lot of people who weren't even doing anything related to the supposed 'reason' for spraying got sprayed.
c.i. threw up once right after the demonstration and that's the other reason i think it was the spraying. stuff cycles through c.i. quickly. a 24 hour flu is a 6 hour 1. and c.i.'s always bash on through regardless. but i think both of them - c.i. and dona - were sick because of the spraying. (and no pills took away the migraine. c.i. had it until late tonight - non-stop from the demonstration.)
i was really impressed with the huge turnout. as you probably noticed, some organizations elected to sit out and not promote the action.
even so, even without them, the turnout was huge. i would go with 100,000 but note that it could have been more. it was packed.
i thought the 'die-in' made the point beautifully. in the snapshot, c.i. talks about what happened to carlos (beat up by right-wingers attempting to desecrate his son's coffin). i didn't even know about that at the time. the 1st i heard about it was early sunday morning, when c.i. got off the phone and mentioned it while we were working on the edition for third. we were all shocked.
cindy sheehan spoke beautifully and i also loved medea benjamin's speech. i couldn't hear many of the other speakers that well. (including nader. i'm sure he spoke brilliantly but i couldn't hear him, he cut in an out where i was standing.) in my area, i didn't even realize it was ramsey clark speaking. i couldn't hear the intro or the speech. afterward, kat would tell me about ramsey's speech and that was when i realized he was 1 of the 1s i couldn't hear. (i did recognize nader.)
maria did a great job editing down the interviews. i believe francisco and miguel helped but i know maria worked hard on it. (their newsletter, el espirito.) we were so far behind and so tired (before dona even got sick) that we decided to pull together the comments we got from others participating and just hand it over raw to maria and let her shape it while we focused on trying to get out the edition of the third estate sunday review. in the middle of a feature, dona started throwing up. i wasn't grossed out - please i deal with spit up and dirty diapers all day these days - but i was shocked. she was looking sick progressively as the day ran on. after people got that taken care of and got her into bed, c.i. declared a two-hour break. jim either co-declared it or went along with it, i don't remember. i was too busy insisting to every 1, 'dona's sick because of the spraying.' but jim wrote a quick note and every 1 went to sleep.
except jim and c.i. who stayed up taking care of dona. i didn't realize she wasn't asleep or i would've helped them. mike woke me up after the nap and goes 'listen'. jim and c.i. were singing to dona to help her finally fall to sleep. (they sang so well together! and c.i. was playing jess' guitar.) by the time i was showered, sipping a cup of coffee and back with the gang, dona was asleep and we worked hard on finishing the edition. dona woke up near the end (in time for the editorial and to add input to other things) but she still looked a little shaky. she didn't want to drink anything - because of the natural fear that if you eat or consume liquids, you'll start throwing up again. but c.i. and elaine insisted that she drink a lot of water. as she did, she started looking a lot better.
no 1 will ever convince me that it wasn't the spraying that made her sick.
and the point to be made there is that the police assaulted protestors. they can say 'people were climbing barricades.' i wasn't close enough to see. i could see dona and c.i. and i knew they weren't climbing. when they started spraying, c.i. pushed tracey hard.
that's ruth's granddaughter. i thought tracey was going to fall to the ground! she was right next to c.i. and c.i. was trying to get her away from the spraying. (tracey said c.i. yelled 'go' and pushed.) tracey didn't get sick and she also didn't get sprayed and wasn't near it (she said, 'when c.i. shoved me and said 'go' i got!')
that was just police brutality and nothing will ever convince me it was anything else.
it's interesting that carlos can be attacked and his attackers not only do not get sprayed, they don't get arrested but the police can spray demonstrators.
if - IF - any 1 was climbing barricades, that was no reason to attack a crowd. the fact that people who weren't doing what the police claimed prompted the spraying demonstrates how indiscrimately force was used. spraying a crowd of people is force.
i imagine we'll see more attacks like that on the people. it's really the only hope there is to continue the illegal war.
let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot' (which kat says she's talking about in her post tonight):
Monday, September 17, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, Ian Williams examines war resistance, Phyllis Bennis and the hosts of CounterSpin stage a contest to determine who can be the most useless/uninformed, NBC's Matt Lauer uses his outdoor voice on Alan Greenspan, Blackwater shoots up more Iraqi citizens, and more.
Starting with war resistance. Nation contributor Ian Williams explores the topic of war resistance and, to no surprise, does so elsewhere. Williams (OpEdNews) addresses both the contemporary history of this illegal war as well as exploring the resistance during the Vietnam era. With war resister Pablo Paredes, Williams explores the issue of the numbers and the US military's refusal to release a full count as well as the fact that though the system is supposed to list a service member as AWOL automatically after 30 days, that is still not the case. (Which goes to the system problems and also benefits the US military by allowing for an undercount.) Williams speaks with war resister Camilo Mejia (now the chair of Iraq Veterans Against the War) about Mejia's continued efforts to get his conviction overturned. (Mejia tells his story in which was released in May of this year. Briefly, Mejia had completed his contract with the US military. He was 'stop-lossed' and his contract was extended; however, Mejia was not a US citizen and the military's stop-loss/backdoor draft could not be used on non-citizens. The US military knew this and, in fact, confirmed to Mejia that he should be discharged immediately. He was not discharged.) Williams also speaks to war resister Kyle Snyder who, after serving in Iraq, self-checked out and went to Canada. Snyder explains his decision, "I saw a lot of things that were changing my mind about this war. I made a conscious choice that I couldn't live with myself if I stayed in Iraq. I felt it was evil, the things that were happening. We were not doing anything positive for the Iraqi people." Williams covers Snyder's attempt to return to the US and turn himself in at Fort Knox in October of last year and, when the US military screwed him over again, Snyder once again checking out. Snyder is back in Canada, married to a Canadian citizen (despite the attempts of the US military to prevent the marriage by having him arrested on his wedding day) and out of the reach of the US military. Snyder is not the only war resister in Canada are attempting to remain in Canada via being official recognized as refugees and granted. (Snyder's marriage should mean he is at no risk of being deported.) Williams explores the case of Jeremy Hinzman who, along with Brandon Hughey, became the first war resisters to go public about moving to Canada during this illegal war. Hinzman explains his decision to resist the Iraq War, "It was an illegal war. We did the right thing by deciding to fight it. Canada refused to fight in the war. To me that said they thought the war was illegal and immoral. When we came here, we knew that the chances were we may not be able to go back to America." Hinzman and Hughey have appealed their case to Canada's Supreme Court and a decision is expected to be handed down this month.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Derek Hess, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko,Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.
In the United States, Alan Greenspan has a new book coming out. As Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes, the book is receiving attention for contents such as, "I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil." Greenspan was the chair of the US Federal Reserve until recently. He is also married to Andrea Mitchell of the network NBC which explains why the Today show (NBC) pimped his book like crazy this morning. Following an overly long soft and gauzy profile, Greenspan sat down across from Matt Lauer for an interview that consisted primarily of Lauer attempting to "emote" and suggesting Lauer needs his hearing -- if not his meds -- checked. In what passes for "news" on NBC, Lauer felt the need to raise the issue of the elderly Greenspan in a bathtub taking a bath. To make sure the point got across, Lauer then had to belabor it by insisting he did not want a mental image of that. Obviously Lauer did need such an image because he immediately brought up Andrea Mitchell being in the bathtub with Greenspan while still insisting he didn't want a mental image of that. When not wallowing in his own filth (or blaming the victims of the housing scandal), Lauer asked Greenspan about the Iraq statement or led him through what someone felt Greenspan needed to say. Lauer insisted Greenspan wasn't saying the illegal war was based on lies and Greenspan quickly agreed. In a court of law, it would have been termed "leading the witness." When Greenspan mentioned that he felt stability in the region was important, Lauer seized on that, cut off the discussion and stated it was about "stability." Prior to that, Lauer had led Greenspan to agree that the price of oil per barrell could be even higher were it not for the illegal war. Putting aside Lauer's need to shout loudly and emote as well as the fact that future Today show guests should be warned Lauer wants to dominate all interviews and guest should just say "yes" or "no" while Lauer tells them what they mean to say, the issue of "stability" is worth exploring -- so naturally Lauer didn't do that. "Stability" for who? "Stability" how? "Stability" defined?
Greenspan is an economist -- a bad one, but an economist none the less. What was the region being stabilized for? The answer can be found in Naomi Klein's new book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism. Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) explains the book as Klein's argument that, "The history of the contemporary free market was written in shocks. Some of the most infamous human rights violations of the past thirty-five years, which have tended to be viewed as sadistic acts carried out by anti-democratic regimes, were in fact either committed with the deliberate intent of terrorizing the public or actively harnessed to prepare the ground for the introduction of radical free-market reforms." Today Amy Goodman interviewed Klein:
AMY GOODMAN: It's very good to have you with us. Why don't you start off by talking about exactly what you consider to be the shock doctrine?
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, the shock doctrine, like all doctrines, is a philosophy of power. It's a philosophy about how to achieve your political and economic goals. And this is a philosophy that holds that the best way, the best time, to push through radical free-market ideas is in the aftermath of a major shock. Now, that shock could be an economic meltdown. It could be a natural disaster. It could be a terrorist attack. It could be a war. But the idea, as you just saw in the film, is that these crises, these disasters, these shocks soften up whole societies. They discombobulate them. People lose their bearings. And a window opens up, just like the window in the interrogation chamber. And in that window, you can push through what economists call "economic shock therapy." That's sort of extreme country makeovers. It's everything all at once. It's not, you know, one reform here, one reform there, but the kind of radical change that we saw in Russia in the 1990s, that Paul Bremer tried to push through in Iraq after the invasion. So that's the shock doctrine.
And it's not claiming that right-wingers in a contemporary age are the only people who have ever exploited crisis, because this idea of exploiting a crisis is not unique to this particular ideology. Fascists have done it. State communists have done it. But this is an attempt to better understand the ideology that we live with, the dominant ideology of our time, which is unfettered market economics.
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism is ambitious and compelling study of exactly what it takes to 'create' so-called 'free' markets (hint, a lot of violence) and is released tomorrow in the United States. In the book, Klein makes very clear that this is not a right-wing issue by exploring neoliberals and necons use of the shock doctrine to advance the interests of big business. That would be the "stability" Greenspan and Lauer kind-of-sort-of addressed on Today this morning. Another excerpt from Goodman's interview with Klein:
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about, Naomi Klein, the destruction of Iraq. Talk about "Shock and Awe," the shock economic therapy of Paul Bremer, the shock of torture, as well, putting them all together in Iraq.
NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah, well, as I said, you know, in Chile we see this triple-shock formula and torture as an enforcement of these policies. And I think we see the same triple-shock formula in Iraq. The first was the invasion, the shock-and-awe military invasion of Iraq. And if you read the manual, the military manual that explained the theory of shock and awe -- a lot of people think of it as just like a lot of bombs, a lot of missiles, but it's really a psychological doctrine, which in itself is a war crime, because it says very bluntly that during the first Gulf War the goal was to attack Saddam's military infrastructure, but under a shock-and-awe campaign, the target is the society writ large. That's a quote from the shock-and-awe doctrine.
Now, targeting societies writ large is collective punishment, which is a war crime. Militaries are not allowed to target societies writ large; they're only allowed to target military. So this was -- the doctrine is actually quite amazing, because it talks about -- it talks about sensory deprivation on a mass scale. It talks about a blinding, cutting off the senses, of a whole population. And we saw that during the invasion, the lights going out, cutting off of all communication, and the phones going out, and then the looting, which I don't actually believe was part of the strategy, but I think doing nothing in some ways was part of the strategy, because, of course, we know that there were all kinds of warnings that the museums and libraries needed to be protected and no action was taken. And then you had the famous statement from Donald Rumsfeld when he was confronted with this: "Stuff happens."
So, it was, I think -- it was this idea that because the goal was, in New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman's famous phrase, not nation-building, but "nation-creating," you know, which is an extraordinarily violent idea, if you stop and think about what it means to create a nation in a nation that already exists, something has to happen to the nation that was already there, and we're talking about a culture as old as civilization. So I think that because there was this idea that we were starting from scratch and this idea that is often portrayed, you know, in the US media as idealistic, of wanting to build a model nation in the heart of the Arab world that would spread to neighboring countries and lead to an opening up, this idea of building a model nation is -- you know, it has all kinds of colonial echoes. It really can't be done without some kind of a cleansing. And so, I think that the ease, the comfort level with the looting, with the erasing of Iraq's history, has to be seen within that vision of, OK, well, we're starting over from scratch. So anything that's already there is really just getting in the way. So if it's loaded onto trucks and it's sold in Syria and Jordan, that sort of just makes the job easier. And so, I think we saw that on many, many levels.
In The Shock Doctrine: The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism, Klein explains the effect the attacks on phone systems had:
On the night of March 28, 2003, as U.S. troops drew closer to Baghdad, the ministry of communication was bombed and set ablaze, as were four Baghdad telephone exchanges, with massive bunker-busters, cutting off millions of phone across the city. The targeting of the phone exchanges continued -- twelve in total -- until by April 2, there was barely a phone working in all of Baghdad. During the same assault, television and radio transmitters were also hit, making it impossible for families in Baghdad, huddling in their homes, to pick up even a weak signal carrying news of what was going on outside their doors.
Many Iraqis say that the shredding of their phone system was the most psychologically wrenching part of the air attack. The combination of hearing and feeling bombs going off everywhere while being unable to call a few blocks away to find out if loved ones were alive, or to reassure terrified relatives living abroad, was pure torment. Journalists based in Baghdad were swarmed by desperate local residents begging for a few moments with their satellite phones or pressing numbers into the reporters' hands along with pleas to call a brother or an uncle in London or Baltimore.
Again, the book comes out tomorrow. NYC residents can purchase it tonight at a book launching Klein will be attending with Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) acting as moderator at the New York Soceity for Ethical Culture, 2 West 64th Street." (The book is discussed at The Third Estate Sunday Review.)
The shock of violence is not limited to outside the United States. Saturday a demonstration took place in DC and police arrested a number of peace demonstrators. However, a man was attacked by a right-wing mob and there were no arrests. Carlos Arrendo's son Alex died in the illegal war August 25, 2004. Among the demonstrations he has taken place in is traveling with a flag draped coffin bearing photos of his son around the country. He was in DC to take part in the peace demonstration. As Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) explained today, "a pro-war supporter tried to rip a photo of Carlos' son from the coffin. When Carlos tried to save the photograph, he said a group of pro-war activists attacked him." Arrendondo explains, "I was assaulted by a group of pro-war people. They come into the ground, and they kicked me and punched me. As a citizen of this country, it's my duty and my responsibility to participate. As a father, who I lost my son in Iraq, I got to honor my son." Joe Tresh (Joe Tresh's Washington ) reports, "Arredondo was subsequently attacked by counter-demonstrators until the scene was disbursed by the police." Though war lovers who physically attack a person aren't arrested, a number of peace demonstrators were. (Which recalls the Crawford, Texas incident where the crosses placed at Camp Casey were run over.) Amy Branham (Amy's head) notes that peace activists numbered 100,000 and that 160 to 200 of them were reported arrested. A.N.S.W.E.R. notes the sponsors of the action included: "The ANSWER Coalition; Ramsey Clark; Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation; USLAW; Mounzer Sleiman, Vice Chair, National Council of Arab Americans; Cindy Sheehan; Camp Casey Peace Institute; Cynthia McKinney; Veterans for Peace (National); Garett Reppenhagen, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Chair of Board of Directors; Tina Richards, CEO of Grassroots America; Rev. Lenox Yearwood, CEO of Hip Hop Caucus; Code Pink; Father Roy Bourgeois and Eric LeCompte, School of Americas Watch; Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition; Kevin Zeese, Democracy Rising; Navy Petty Officer Jonathan Hutto, co-founder Appeal for Redress; Liam Madden, Pres., Boston Chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War and co-founder of Appeal for Redress; Malik Rahim, founder of Common Ground Collective, New Orleans; Howard Zinn, Author and Historian; Carlos & Melida Arredondo, Gold Star Families for Peace; Rev. Graylan Hagler, Ministers for Racial, Social and Economic Justice; Latino Movement USA; Hermandad Mexicana Nacional; Ron Kovic, Vietnam Veteran, author, Born on the 4th of July; Leonard Weinglass, Cuban 5 attorney; Michael Berg; National Lawyers Guild; Father Luis Barrios, Iglesia de San Romero de las Americas - UCC; World Can't Wait; Frank Velgara, ProLibertad Freedom Campaign; Pam Africa, International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal." Tina Marie Macias and Jordy Yager (Los Angeles Times) report that among the speakers were Cindy Sheehan, Ramsey Clark and Ralph Nader, that Iraq Veterans Against the War staged the die-in (which the paper estimates contained 5,000 participants), that the police used pepper spray on demonstrators (but not on the attackers of Carlos) and quote San Gabriel UCLA student Jessica Ramirez explaining why she traveled to DC to participate, "It's about doing something that you believe in." Michelle Boortstein, V. Dion Haynes and Allison Klein (Washington Post) report that "chemical spray" was used against the activists and quote IVAW's Geoff Millard (who was among those arrested) declaring, "It's time for the peace movement to take the next step past protest and to resistance." Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) explained, "The arrests occurred when protesters started climbing over a barricade at the foot of the steps to the Capitol. Police sprayed at least two people with chemicals. Estimates that nearly 100,000 people attended the rally and march. Student protester Jacob Berger said he traveled to Washington from New York where he attends Columbia University: 'The large problem today is apathy. Most people feel like they can't make a change in this world. They feel like its too big and we are here to prove that we can change and we need to get that sort of rallying together like the people did back in Vietnam and that's what got us out of Vietnam and that's what we are trying to do to get out of Iraq'." The Los Angeles Times quotes IVAW's Garett Reppenhagen explaining, "The Iraqi people do not see us as peacemakers. They see us as occupiers and murderers."
Turning to the issue of violence, Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reported Sunday that a Baghdad shooting (by private contractors) killed 9 Iraqi civilians and left fifteen more wounded. Later on Sunday, CNN reported, "In the Baghdad gun battle, which was between security forces and unidentified gunmen, eight people were killed and 14 wounded, most of them civilians, an Interior Ministry official said. Details were sketchy, but the official said witnesses told police that the security forces involved appeared to be Westerners driving sport utility vehicles, which are usually used by Western companies. The clash occurred near Nisoor square, in western Baghdad. CBS and AP report that Abdul-Karim Khalaf, spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, announced "it was pulling the license of an American security firm allegedly involved in the fatal shooting of civilians during an attack on a U.S. State Department motorcade in Baghdad," that "it would prosecute any foreign contractors found to have used excessive force" in the slaughter (eight dead, 13 wounded) and they "have canceled the liscense of Blcakwater and prevented them from working all over Iraqi territory." The news was addressed today on Democracy Now!:
AMY GOODMAN: We have this breaking news out of Iraq today: The Iraqi government says it's pulling the license of the US security company Blackwater over its involvement in a fatal shooting in Baghdad on Sunday. Interior Ministry spokesperson Abdul-Karim Khalaf said eight civilians were killed and thirteen wounded, when security contractors believed to be working for Blackwater USA opened fire in a predominantly Sunni neighborhood of western Baghdad. Khalaf said, "We have canceled the license of Blackwater and prevented them from working all over Iraqi territory. We will also refer those involved to Iraqi judicial authorities." It was not immediately clear if the measure against Blackwater is intended to be temporary or permanent. Naomi Klein, take it from there.
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, that's an extraordinary piece of news. I mean, this is really the first time that one of these mercenary firms may actually be held accountable. You know, as Jeremy Scahill has written in his incredible book Blackwater: The Rise of the [World's] Most Powerful Mercenary Army, the real problem is, there haven't been prosecutions. These companies work in this absolute gray zone, and, you know, they're either boy scouts and nothing has going wrong, which completely doesn't mesh with what we know about the way they're behaving in Iraq and all of the sort of videos that we've seen online of just target practice on Iraqi civilians, or the lawlessness and the immunity in which they work has protected them. So, you know, if this is -- if the Iraqi government is actually going to kick Blackwater out of Iraq, it could really be a turning point in terms of pulling these companies into the law and questioning the whole premise of why this level of privatization and lawlessness has been allowed to take place.
The mercenary corportation Blackwater has not only made a lot of money in Iraq, it's had a lot of friends in the US White House (and members of Congress who looked the other way). So it's little surprise that Aseel Kami (Reuters) reports US Secretary of State and Anger Condi Rice plans a firm phone call to puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki in which she will "make it clear" that the US is "investigating this incident" -- no doubt in the usual look-the-other-way manner the US government has "investigated" other incidents. No word on whether she plans to use haul her favorite false line out of mothballs, "No one could have guessed . . ."
In some of today's reported violence . . .
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports five (two of which were police officers) Iraqis were wounded in a Baghdad bombing earlier this morning, while a noon Baghdad bombing injured three more and a Baghdad car bombing claimed 3 lives (eight more wounded). Reuters notes, "Ikhlas al-Shimari, a female member of the Kut governing council, escaped unhurt from a bomb attack on her house overnight in the city of Kut, 170 km (100 miles) southeast of Baghdad, police said" and that 10 Iraqi soldiers were wounded in a Hilla bombing of their base "overnight."
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports assailants wounded a person in Hawaija, shot dead Monther Saad Elyan who was enroute to Hawija, shot dead "a Kurdish citizen" in Mosul, and that Iraqi police officer, Brig. Gen. Edan Jaber Kareem was targeted by snipers today but survived in Basra.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 11 corpses were discovered in Baghdad today.
Staying with the issue of the deaths, Friday (in most markets), FAIR's Counterspin began airing and one of the guests was Phyllis Bennis who is receiving criticism for a report co-authored with Eric Leaver on behalf of United for Peace and Justice that undercounts the Iraqi dead: the authors present a range for the number of deaths -- their "low" is the Iraqi Body Count figure from this month and their "high" is "600,000 plus" based on the lower of two figures from last year's Lancet study which ended their tally in July 2006, over 14 months prior to when Bennis and Leaver wrote their so-called "Iraq: People's Report". This being CounterSpin, naturally the issue of the undercount was not addressed because, while CounterSpin feels there are standards for mainstream media, they regularly look the other way when 'big' independent media has no standards. This is how they could infamously praise an article in The Nation magazine that consisted solely of the testimonies of US service members who had been stationed in Iraq as telling the story of "the impact on Iraqis". It takes a lot of stupidity and xenophobia to declare a story told by foreigners as being the story of the people of Iraq. It's the sort of thing that, had the mainstream media pulled such a stunt, FAIR, Extra! and CounterSpin would have cried foul over loudly. Despite the fact that while reviewing mainstream coverage at the start of the show, co-hosts Janine Jackson and Steve Rendall castigated the US mainstream media's coverage noting that the New York Times appears to send the message that some "deaths matter more than other" and taking to task a columnist at The Washington Post because he "can't even get the numbers right". This was the preface to the Phyllis Bennis interview and, again, both she and the hosts of the program avoided the very real criticism of Bennis' undercounting the Iraqi dead which did not begin with the report she co-authored for United for Peace and Justice. Mainstream media is now having a good laugh at CounterSpin which brought it upon itself by deciding to lease a glass house last Friday (the show was taped on Thursday). Had the show been taped on Friday, they might have had to deal with the undercount since (as noted in Friday's snapshot), not only does Just Foreign Policy place the estimate of Iraqis killed in the illegal war at well over a million (not "600,000 plus"), so does a new study by England's Opinion Research Business which Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reported on Friday.
Whether because the hosts themselves didn't know or because they are uncomfortably correcting their own, they allowed Phyllis Bennis to note that Tommy Franks said the US doesn't do body counts (Rendall supplised the name Tommy Franks for Bennis) and then muse publicly over where the numbers Gen. David Petraeus provided to Congress (in charts) throughout last week came from? Bennis mused, "Now apparently they're making body counts. So nobody has asked them, 'Excuse me, general, when did you start doing body counts?' From the beginning you told us 'We don't do bodycounts.' When did that begin? When do these figures start from?" Apparently not content to have students chanting "Get your facts right or get off the stage!" over her undercounting, Bennis now needed to underscore how uninformed she actually is as to the illegal war. If the hosts knew any better, they weren't assisting. So everyone had ass on their face.
Like most of independent media, Bennis and FAIR (in all it's variations) dumped Iraq like a hot potato (or left over mashed potatoes) in the summer of 2006. They were geared up (as were most independent media outlets and voices) for the two big topics (there was no planning meeting that determined this -- it's just the incestuous nature of most independent media that they all ended up on the same page): the elections in Mexico and Israel in wack-mode again. While they churned out page after page and broadcast after broadcast on those two topics they missed out on reality. Sabrina Tavernise had already co-written an article (for the New York Times) at the end of 2005 that mentioned the US military was keeping track of some Iraq deaths.
While the hosts sat silent (or didn't know any better), Bennis mused as to why no one in the press had asked about this count and why they hadn't asked when the count was started?
From the June 26, 2006 Iraq snapshot: "In what might get the most attention today, reporting from Baghdad, Nancy A. Youssef (Knight Ritter) breaks the news that the United States now admits to keeping some figures on Iraqis who have died during the illegal war. Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli tells Youssef that 'the number of civilian dead and wounded' via US troops 'is an important measurement.' Chiarelli reveals that "he reviews the figures daily.' The US government has denied that any figures were being kept." Well, obviously I was wrong. While we cited that report repeatedly in other snapshots, independent media couldn't make the time for it because Iraq was off the media radar (as Molly Ivins and Jimmy Breslin would note). Knight-Ridder is, of course, now McClatchyNewspapers. In the article, Youssef demonstrated that she asked the question Bennis alleges the press has refused to ask. The US military maintained to Youssef they began keeping a body count in July of 2005. The link to the article no longer works (not a surprise with any daily paper); however, the story can be found here. From Youssef's June 21, 2006 article:
U.S. officials previously have said they don't keep track of civilian causalities, and Iraqi officials stopped releasing numbers of U.S.-caused casualties after Knight Ridder reported in September 2004 that the Iraqi Ministry of Health had attributed more than twice as many civilian deaths to the actions of U.S. forces than to "terrorist" attacks during the period from June 2004 to September 2004.
Chiarelli declined to release the numbers, but he said that U.S. soldiers are killing and injuring fewer Iraqi civilians this year in so-called "escalation of force" incidents at checkpoints and near convoys than they did in July of last year, when officials first started tracking the statistic.
If the 'media analysts' at FAIR want to continue to trash their own reputations, have at it. Laughter is the key characteristic today in the offices of many they've taken to task in the past over news of the Friday broadcast. If Phyllis Bennis wants to make sport of Alexander Cockburn (in a heavily reposted, snide commentary that was posed at various sites -- none of which bothered to post Cockburn's original column or his own response to Bennis), possibly she should work on getting her facts right. That is, after all, the job of an analyst. Before she next corrects another person -- be it Cockburn or anyone else -- she needs to hunker down with all the Iraqi coverage she missed while she joined others in the alternative landscape in dropping Iraq and traveloguing to other regions. She and the hosts of CounterSpin made asses of themselves on Friday and, yes, Phyllis, the mainstream press has asked that question, has published the answer and anyone who cares seriously about ending the illegal war is damn well aware of that. Bennis was wrong, CounterSpin included misinformation in the program. It is now incumbent upon CounterSpin to issue a correction to the error they broadcast on Friday. (But as one friend at ABC News pointed out, "They never do. It's always do as I say not as I do with them.")
Finally, Sally Field won the best actress Emmy last night (in the drama category) and the ceremonies were broadcast on Fox . . . although Field was among the censored. The broadcast was on tape delay which enabled them to censor other words but include the rest of the remarks. So, for example, TV audiences heard Ray Romano exclaim that "Fraiser is [bleeped] my wife." The verb in the sentence was pulled. As Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today, Fox viewers heard Sally Field declare, 'If mothers ruled the world, there would be no ____." Were this not a case of political censorship, the Fox network would have done as they did with Romano and removed the word they found objectionable allowing viewers to hear Field declare, "Let's face it, If mothers ruled the world there would be no [bleeped] wars in the first place." AP reports Field's take on the censorship, "Oh well. I've been there before. Well, good. I don't care. I have no comment other than, oh well. I said what I wanted to say. I wanted to pay homage to the mothers of the world, and let their work be seen and valued."