"Kerry Calls for Troop Withdrawal" (Democracy Now):
Today's debate comes as major splits continue to emerge within both parties over the war. On Tuesday, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry told a gathering of liberal voters at the "Take Back America" conference in Washington that the Iraq war was a mistake and he was wrong to vote for it. Kerry announced he is introducing a resolution for a withdrawal of troops by the end of the year. Kerry attacked the war's architects as "armchair warriors whose front line is an air-conditioned conference room." In an interview with the Boston Globe, Kerry later added: "It is both a right and an obligation for Americans to… end a war in Iraq that weakens the nation each and every day we are in it." Kerry's proposal would keep some troops in Iraq to train Iraqi soldiers.
That was Tuesday and Kerry got applause and Hillary Clinton got booed. Bet she'd be booed even louder today because we just hit the 2500 dead mark for US forces serving in Iraq. So all these stay-the-coursers, they okay with that? They okay with two or three more years (at least) before they admit the reality (we're not going to "win") and the whole time they live in denial, we're stuck with fatalities mounting month after month? We okay with the number get higher? The 2500 will get higher but I mean the monthly toll. With Italy pulling out and more to follow, we'll have to put more Americans over there on the ground and you better believe as soon as the next election is over, Bully Boy will be shipping more over. By sticking with 150,000 (I think the figure's 130,000-plus right now), they've been able to keep the fatalities down. They double that number and people really will be streaming across the borders.
It's time to bring the troops home. Maybe it's easier for me to say that because I'm African-American and, as a group, we didn't support Bully Boy's illegal war from the beginning. We connected it to oil, to empire, to racism. Attack the 'darkies' -- that's all Bully Boy wanted. Like Kayne said: Bully Boy don't like Black people.
"Reporters, Attorneys Barred From Guantanamo Bay" (Democracy Now):
The US has barred journalists and lawyers from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay. A group of visiting reporters was forced off the island Wednesday under a directive from the Pentagon. A Pentagon spokesperson said the removal was ordered following complaints from other media outlets who had complained they were being denied equal access. But questions are being raised over whether the removals were motivated by the reporters' coverage of the aftermath of Saturday's three detainee suicides. Their articles included interviews with the detainees' attorneys who criticized their clients' treatment. The reporters work for the Los Angeles Times, the Miami Herald and the Charlotte Observer. A Pentagon spokesperson said the revoking of the permissions came not from Guantanamo commanders but from the office of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Meanwhile, lawyers representing Guantanamo detainees have also been barred from visiting their clients at the prison. A lawyer representing a group of detainees said she was told the ban will be lifted on Monday. In a statement, the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has represented scores of detainees, said: "At a time when the administration must be transparent about the deaths at Guantanamo, they are pulling down a wall of secrecy and avoiding public accountability. This crackdown on the free press makes everyone ask what else they are hiding down there? The Bush Administration is afraid of American reporters, afraid of American attorneys and afraid of American laws."
Why do they want the reporters gone? Why won't they let lawyers meet with the prisoners? Because they're doing something even uglier than usual and don't want anyone to know? Because there have been more suicides and they want to put a clampdown on the news? (They waited almost three days, according to Amy Goodman today, before telling the lawyers that their clients had committed suicide.)
And where's Hillary Clinton on Guantanamo? Where's her concern there? No where. She can't say a word about it because she's just a sell out. She needs to buy a clue. She's Whitney Houston. She got into the Senate and may keep her seat but she got in on sympathy.
People were sympathetic for Whitney at first too. After awhile, she just seemed trashy for staying with Bobby Brown. Hillary may think her "I love me a Rough Neck!" will make her loveable but I think everyone's tired of it. They'll give Bill a pass the way they do Bobby, but Hillary's going to be held to the Whitney standard and people are just going to think, "You are so trashy for living with that." I'm talking his past, by the way, not about any rumors today.
If she got the nomination, Republicans would have a field day. (Nomination for president.) They're be all these jokes about, "Do we want to let Bill back in the White House? Who will save the interns?" You can picture it without even trying. What would have saved her was her living up to her old image. Same with Whitney. But Whitney tried to prove she could do dance and all this other nonsense. People liked her because of her ballads. People like Hillary because they thought she had liberal values. She's trying a make over after she's known for loving her some Rough Neck and no one's going to take her seriously.
The more she speaks out in favor of the illegal war, the more I hear friends putting her down. She's not Bill. She can't count on the fact that people who voted for him in 1992 will vote for her in 2008. People make excuses for the Rough Neck, they don't do the same for the woman who's dumb enough to put up with it. Republicans will probably sell doormats with her face on it at their 2008 RNC convention.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Today, Thursday, June 15, 2006, the fatality count for US troops in Iraq has officially reached 2,500. The Pentagon noted the loss of lives today. The Bully Boy marked the milestone by signing a Broadcast 'Decency Enforcement Act (because illegal wars are apparently 'decent') and by apologizing for insulting Peter Wallsten, reporter for the Los Angeles Times, who had the 'nerve' to ask the Bully Boy a question while wearing sunglasses. As 2,5000 Americans have now lost their lives in Bully Boy's illegal war of choice, there's something illuminating in his actions a) what he considers 'decent' and b) compassion is trumped by his sense of entitlement that allows him to mock someone who, it turns out, "has Stargardt's disease, a form of macular degeneration that causes progressive vision loss."
While Bully Boy marked the milestone with his usual lack of attention or sense of gravity, in Iraq, chaos and violence continue. In Baghdad, the "crackdown" continues. As Bloomberg News notes of the "crackdown" : "Measures include increased checkpoints, a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, and enforcement of weapons laws, the military said in an e-mailed statement today." The AFP reports that the "crackdown" also includes "a vehicle ban [which] was announced for during the Muslim midday prayer hours on Fridays."
Despite, or because of, the "crackdown" (but certainly "during" the "crackdown), the AP reports that kidnapping continues in Baghdad (an engineer) as does killing (an engineer and a "a detergent factory worker"). How common are those actions in Baghdad at this point? The Guardian of London reports those two deaths and the kidnapping while stating "but no major violence was reported in the capital." Not noted by the Guardian, but noted by Bloomberg (citing AFP) was the fact that discovered corpses remain a regular occurrence of the illegal occupation: in Baghdad on Thursday, seven corpses were found.
With "26,000 Iraqi soldiers, 23,000 Iraqi police and 7,2000 coalition forces deployed in Baghdad" (Bully Boy figures) for the "crackdown," what's happening elsewhere?The AP reports that 10 Shi'ites were pulled from a bus and shot dead in Baquba -- "as they were heading to work" notes Reuters. In Qara Taba, Reuters notes an explosion in a graveyard which wounded "[a] woman and her son." In Tikrit, the Guardian notes the storming of "a Sunni mosque . . . killing four people and wounding 15". Reuters notes that three roadside boms in Tal Afar "killed five [Iraqi] soldiers" and wounded at least six; the death of another Iraqi solider in Haweeja; and, in Baquba, the death of "police Colonerl Ali Shakir Mahmoud, director of units protecting oil installations in Baquba".
Meanwhile in Ramadi, Al Jazeera reports that roads were "blocked, and a giant wall of sand has been piled up around the perimeter, and everything went silent preparing for the final onslaught, a scene we saw two years ago in another Iraqi city, Fallujah". Al Jazeera reports that the city is surrounded on all four sides; "jet fighters" and helicopters "hover over the city"; that American troops are preventing anyone from entering or leaving while they have cut "off all electricity supplies . . . as well as drinking water facilities": and that American forces have "shelled medical supply stores, closed down all medical clinics and confiscated all medical supplies". The Marines of 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment are hoping to rename "the highway connecting Fallujah and Ramadi" "Darkhorse Drive" according to Marine Corps News. Possibly they should call it "Press Blackout Avenue"?
Stephen Fidler (Financial Times of London) reports that since "victims are killed by between four and 12 bullets, the cost of taking away a life in Baghdad is now $2.40." Reminder -- the US averages the worth of an Iraqi life at approximately $2,500 judging by compensation figures. As noted by Amy Goodman this moring, marine corporal Joshua Belile has stated his "song was intended as a joke and bore no connection to the killing of Iraqi civilians by US Marines." Margaret Neighbor (Scotsman) describes the song thusly: "In a four-minute video called Hadji Girl, a singer who appears to be a marine tells a cheering audience about gunning down members of an Iarqi woman's family after they confront him with authomatic weapons." As Sandra Lupien reported Wednesday on KPFA's The Morning Show the song included lyrics such as: "the blood sprayed from between her eyes." As Lupien noted today on KPFA's The Morning Show, the apologetic Belile stated that "People need to laugh at it and let it go."
The US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants has found that, "The global refugee population has begun to rise for the first time in four years, largely due to instability in Iraq" according to the AFP, resulting in "644,500 more Iraqi refugees in Jordan and Syria in 2005".
Along with noting the death of 2,500 American troops since the inception of the illegal war, the Pentagon also stated today that 18,490 troops have been wounded while serving in Iraq. On KPFA's The Morning Show this morning, Phyllis Bennis addressed the realities versus the photo ops noting that the flight in and out of Baghdad earlier this week by the Bully Boy was "One more attempt to add to a list of so-called turning points . . . We have a litany of talking points and turing points. . . . . [Reality in Iraq] is the lack of water, lack of electricity, lack of education and, worst of all, the lack of security." Commenting on the Pew Research Center poll that noted a decline in support for US policies around the world, Bennis noted that there was a line drawn between the government of the US and the people of the US in many minds because of the awareness of the peace movement against the war which "speaks to how much attention it gets globally even when the mainstream press in this country ignores it."
Meanwhile, as 450 Iraqi prisoners were released for US run-prisons in Iraq, the United States Senate voted the emergency funding bill that continues to fund the illegal war in Iraq (as well as other things -- the cost continues to be tacked on in a bill here, a bill there).
In Ireland, Owen Bowcott (Guardian of London) reports that the discovery of the "handcuffed and manacled marine . . . on board a military charter flight at Shannon airport" has led to Ireland's foreign affairs minister Dermot Ahern making statements that random inspections are now on the table involving US planes landing at Shannon. (Bowen reports the handcuffed marine was allegedly being transported to Georgia, reportedly accused of stealing clothes.)
Finally, again, the Pentagon has confirmed that 2,500 American troops have lost their lives in Bully Boy's illegal war of choice.
Check out Elaine's "Iraqis protest, Take Back America silences protest ," Kat's "Guns & Butter, the war hawk Hillary," Wally's "THIS JUST IN! IN THE CHURCH OF THE BULLY BOY ...," and C.I.'s "NYT: Nothing to see, is there ever?" and "Other Items (Phyllis Bennis on KPFA's The Morning Show)." And go visit Mike's site because we're covering the same items tonight.
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