"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills)
Chaos and violence continue in Iraq today, August 4, 2006 and one of the locations is only a surprise to those not paying attention to yesterday's (US) Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. There was a key section that was apparently missed by several. Mosul's one of today's hot spots so let's draw back to this exchange from yesterday's hearing:
Senator John McCain: So, General Abizaid, we're moving 7,500 troops into Baghdad, is that correct?
General John Abizaid: The number is closer to 3,500.
[. . .]
McCain: And where are these troops coming from?
Abizaid: Uh, the troops, the Styker Brigade, is coming down from Mosul.
McCain: From Mosul? Is the situation under control in Ramadi?
Abizaid: Uh, the situation in Ramadi, is better than it was two months ago.
McCain: Is the situation under control in Ramadi?
Abizaid: I think the situation in Ramadi is workable.
McCain: And the troops from Ramadi came from Falluja, isn't that correct?
Abizaid: I can't say senator, I know that --
McCain: Well that's my information. What I' worry about is we're playing a game of whack-a-mole here. We move troops from -- It flares up, we move troops there. Everybody knows we've got big problems in Ramadi and I said, "Where you gonna get the troops?" 'Well we're going to have to move them from Falluja.' Now we're going to have to move troops into Baghdad from someplace else. It's very disturbing.
A transcript of this (Congressional Quarterly) can be found at the Washington Post. For audio of the above (most), check out Leigh Ann Caldwell's report which aired on Thursday's The KPFA Evening News and Free Speech Radio News.
Mosul? That's where the 172nd Stryker Brigade (scheduled to be back home before their year deployment got four additional months added to is) was pulled from, Abizaid testified. Reuters is reporting: "Heavily armed insurgents battled U.S. and Iraqi troops in the restive northern city of Mosul on Friday where at least four policemen, including a top officer and four militants were reported killed."
That is the "strategy" (being generous) and it's the very point McCain was making yesterday. (McCain generally uses that type of observation to support adding more troops to the slaughter, I believe the troops themselves add to the conflict.) The exchange was not heavily stressed in most reporting but McCain was outlining what currently passes for "strategy" in Iraq -- a "strategy" that once again (always) blew up in the military geniuses' (and the administration's) faces.
BBC notes that the US announced last week the withdrawal of 5,000 troops "to re-deploy them in the capital, Baghdad". AP places the figure at 3,500. China's Xinhua notes that "Mosul, some 400 km north of Baghdad, has been a bastion of insurgency against U.S. and Iraqi forces since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003." Reuters reports that, in Mosul, "authorities have ordered everyone off the streets until Saturday and closed the city's bridges across the Tigris river."
AFP notes that, today, "Mosul woke to a dawn blitz of six bombs and a hail of mortars which killed at least nine police officers and triggered a six-hour gunbattle in which an unknown number of insurgents were killed." One bomb, Reuters notes, resulted in the deaths of "police Colonel Jassim Muhammad Bilal and two bodyguards". The Times of London estimates that, in Mosul alone, 24 people died today from car bombs of various kind.
AFP reports a man was shot dead in Amara. The Associated Press reports that two police officers were shot dead in Falluja and describes one of the incidents: "armed men attacked several government buildings and police patrols in central Fallujah at about 8:30 s.m. (0430 GMT), leaving a policeman dead and two others wounded".
AFP notes that a couple enroute to a hospital in Baquba for the impending birth of their child were killed by a roadside bomb (cab driver and mother-to-be's sister were wounded) and that, in Baghdad, a civilian was killed by a roadside bomb targeting a police patrol. Reuters reports that a bombing in Hadhar, during a football game, resulted in 10 dead and 12 wounded. A police officer described the attack ("suicide car bomber") to the AFP: "He drove into the police guarding the pitch, and blew up." KUNA notes of the attack on the football game: "the football field was for the use of Hadhar policemen and police department staff only."
CBS and AP notes one corpse was discovered (in the country). AFP notes the interior ministry declared twelve corpses were discovered in Baghdad. The AP notes that six corpses were found in Kut with "four of them decapitated".
In court news, prosecutor/Captain Joseph Mackey delivered his closing argument in the Article 32 hearing of Corey Clagett, William Hunsaker, Raymond Girouard and Juston Graber, who stand accused in the May 9th deaths of three Iraqis. Mackey argued that the three Iraqis were not killed while trying to escape but had, instead, been released by the four US troops and then killed by them, "For this they are not war heroes, they are war criminals. And justice states that they face trial." As Reuters notes, all four accused elected not to provide testimony to hearing (the military equivalent of a grand jury).
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco continues. Eleanor Hall and Conor Duffy discussed the latest development's on The World Today (Australia's ABC) noting that "military standing orders" were not followed with the transportation of Jake Kovco's body (contractors with Kenyon International were used instead) and that, while the Australian government alleges this was for speed, Jake Kovco's roommates say it was due "to cost and they told the inquiry that they thought that if it had been a foreign dignitary or even a more senior officer, that military aircraft and US military morgue would have been used throughout the whole procedure."
For anyone arriving late to this story and wondering why Kovco's destination back to Australia matters, Kovco's body was somehow switched and the body of Bosnian Juso Sinanovic was sent to Australia while Kovco's body remained at the motuary. AAP notes that Alastar Adams ("first secretary at the Australian Embassy in Kuwait") testified that "he had not checked the photo against the corpse of a Bosnian carpenter . . . he had taken a quick look . . . told the mortuary staff they could close the coffin and stamp it with the embassy's official seal."
The AAP also notes the following which appears to back up Kovco's roommates' judgement: ". . . air force warrant officer Chris Hunter told the inquiry he believed the body mix-up could have been prevented if the civilian morgue had not been used. He said Pte Kovco's body was transferred from a professional and clean mortuary facility in Baghdad run by US troops to a rund-down morgue remsembling 'a third world country hospital'. WO Hunter stopped eight of PTE Kovco's soldier mates, who had accompanied the boday as a bearer party, from entering the morgue, fearing they might start a riot upon noticing its condition."
In court news in the United States, the Justice Department is announcing that Faheem Mousa Salam "has pleaded guilty to violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by offering to bribe an Iraqi police official" at the start of this year by offering "approximately $60,000 in exchange for . . . [help] facilitating the sale of approximately 1,000 armored vests and a sophisticated map printer for approximately $1 million." Though the Justice Department fails to note it, he was then employed by Titan Corporation.
In peace news, Phil Runkel is in "a federal courtroom in Alexandria" today facing "a maximum of six months in jail and a fine of $5,000 for his war protest last March" reports Dennis Shook for WisPolitics.com. Runkel and other peace activists (51 in total) were arrested March 20th in front of the Pentagon. Brian Huber (GM Today) notes that the activists were wanting to meet with Donald Rumsfeld and that some climbed or went "under a temporary fence that Runkel said was erected to stop them, resulting in their arrests."
Activists on the CODEPINK and Global Exchange sponsored trip to Amman, Jordan --including Cindy Sheehan, Ann Wright, Medea Benjamin, Tom Hayden and Diane Wilson -- have arrived in Amman. Cindy Sheehan (Truth Out) reports: "The most horrifying testimony of the day was when we met with "Dr. Nada," an Iraqi doctor who stayed in Baghdad to help her people during the sanctions and the invasion. She didn't abandon her country, or sell it out like many privileged people who exited during the Baathist regime (like Iyad Allawi or Ahmed Chalabi) or the sanctions ... which she, as a supervisory physician at a major Baghdad hospital, said killed two million children. The children died of pollution and sicknesses from depleted uranium during the first gulf mistake of George the First. The babies died because of the war, but also because there is no medicine and very limited medical facilities to treat them. Dr. Nada brought the daughter of a friend, three-year-old Farrah, who had short brown hair and big brown eyes. There were so many young children playing in Queen airport yesterday when I got here and dozens running around the hotel. My heart almost bursts with sorrow when I think of all of the children in Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan who have had such horrible lives and had many of their lives cut short by the evil war machine that seems to be running our world."
The Troops Home Fast continues ("We will keep the fast going until September 21, International Peace Day, when there will be a week of mass actions against the war")
with at least 4,350 people participating from around the world on the 32nd day since the action began. Some are fasting long-term, some are grabbing a one-day, one-time fast, some are grabbing a one-day fast each week. More information can be found at Troops Home Fast.
Finally, Michelle Tan (Army Times) reports that Ehren Watada will likely face an Article 32 hearing August 17th because Eric Seitz's pretrial offer of a "reprimand, fine and reduction of rank" has not yet been accepted. As noted before, this offer was twice refused. Courage to Resist and ThankYouLt.org are calling for a "National Day of Education" on August 16th, the day before Ehren Watada would be due to "face a pre-trial hearing for refusing to deploy to Iraq." ThankYouLt.Org notes: "On August 16, the day prior to the hearing, The Friends and Family of Lt. Ehren Watada are calling for a 'National Day of Education' to pose the question, 'Is the war illegal?' This day can also serve to anchor a 'week of outreach' leading up to the pre-trial hearing."
Okay, check your morning paper and see what made it in and what didn't. That's pretty much what you need to know minus some items that might have broken later. Dona woke me up this morning and apologized for that saying she figured I was already up or wouldn't have called. I usually am up early but I'd forgotten to set the alarm clock so no harm, no foul. But one thing she pointed out was that it took an hour and a half for the snapshot to hit The Common Ills site yesterday. (It's e-mailed in.) They were all meeting with different groups yesterday so it was an "on the fly" entry for C.I. grabbing a few minutes here, a few minutes there, and then hoping there was enough (there was) and sending it in. They were done and went back to C.I.'s and the first thing Jim's doing is checking to see if it hit. It didn't but a few minutes later it had. Point? If you read it when it hit or in the first half-hour after, "C.I. scooped Associated Press." That's how long it took AP to get a story together (or maybe notice) that the guy with Titan had pled guilty. So see, you get breaking news in those snapshots. I told Dona I'd mention that.
The main reason she was calling was to see how my discussion group on Iraq went last night and if we'd watched the film Sir! No! Sir! Not having the film, it would be difficult to watch it, I told her. She said it must have came late. I go to the front door, open it, and there's a package. I've written before about how C.I. has friends bring packages to me because anything that's shipped never seems to make it (or, if it does, looks like it's been stomped on, opened, stomped on again).
I'm glad Dona called because while I have good neighbors for the most part, this woman down the hall has her nephew visiting and he's always grabbing papers and flyers off doors.
Sir! No! Sir! is a great movie. When we were all out in California, we got to see it at a movie theater. It's out on DVD now and if you can watch it by yourself, I think you'll enjoy it but I think you'll enjoy it even more if you watch it with a group of friends. We're going to watch it next Friday in my discussion group (I've made a unilateral decision -- don't call me the Bully Boy). After that, I'll start loaning it out to friends at work and in church. I think I'll take it over to the nursing home before Friday because Three Cool Old Guys are really interested in seeing it. They can remember those days (during Vietnam) and they asked about it before I saw it (C.I. mentions the documentary all the time -- all the time -- at The Common Ills) and after I got back from California, they wanted to hear about. In fact, I may try to drop it off with them tonight. If I do that, I probably won't be able to watch it with them (or watch all of it) because we've got the latest edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review to start tonight but besides watching things on their own time, they do have a Saturday night "movie night" at the nursing home and, thanks to Three Cool Old Guys, everyone there has heard of the film. Okay, I've decided, I'm dropping it off. I have to run to the hardware store later to get some things (my grandmother's sink's leaking) and I'll run by the nursing home and drop it off with them before I get started on my Saturday project. They're going to be so excited and, I'm guessing, they'll probably do a shout out to it or maybe a review in next Friday's gina & krista round-robin.
By the way, they're big celebrities now. This week, I took two co-workers with me to visit them because their columns in the round-robin get everyone at work talking. So Micis and Kendall wanted to meet them. I knew Three Cool Old Guys would love that. They get a lot of visitors now.
If you know my old site on blogdrive, you probably remember that it was Four Cool Old Guys and when my friend died I had some really strong words for his family. I don't regret what I wrote. It made some of them mad but, oh well. On the plus side, it's made the families of the three remaining a lot more aware and they visit now. They also visit because Gina and Krista added some of them to the round-robin mailing list. So they read that and it probably reminds them, "I haven't visited" but it also probably reminds them that Three Cool Old Guys aren't just sitting around going, "Remember when . . ." They're a part of this world today and they have thoughts on what's going on. One of their sons was visiting when I took Micia and Kendall by and made a point to say that what I wrote when it dropped from Four to Three really woke him up.
That's good because you shouldn't do that to your family, just dump them somewhere and forget them. Yes, they've got other people around but you're supposed to be there family. Thinking thirty minutes at Christmas and maybe a birthday card is keeping in touch is just crap.
Now that they're online, they're able to keep in touch with grandkids via e-mail and I know that meant a lot to them but I was also worried it might become "Well, I e-mailed! I don't need to go visit!" but that hasn't ended up the case. They've each got at least one grandchild that visits every week. They're so popular now that most Sundays, at least one of the three isn't there because he's having Sunday dinner (that's lunch after church) with his family.
You can see the difference too. They look younger now. They've got more energy.
I knew them because they go to my church and I started visiting because our pastor was talking about how we really had members who came to church and that might be it for them in terms of going out or being around people. My pastor and his wife paired some of us up with some people and I think I was lucky and blessed to have gotten paired up with them. I don't just consider those men friends, I consider them good friends. I feel really lucky to call them my friends.
I've got a lot to do today but I want to note Law and Disorder. Mike's noting it too. It airs on various stations but you can catch it online Mondays on WBAI at ten EST or after via the WBAI archives or you can listen at the show's website if it doesn't air in your area. The segment I'm writing about is from the Amnesty International meeting in Portland. There was a lot on the show but this was probably my favorite (after the segment we're going to talk about at The Third Estate Sunday Review). Dalia Hashad was interviewing various people who attended. You got to hear the thoughts of people like you and me.
There was a woman who has a brother serving in Iraq and she spoke of how if she wasn't doing something and he died over there she'd never be able to live with herself. That was pretty powerful. There was a man who spoke about how we needed to get the Republicans out of office and how, once the Democrats were in control of Congress, we needed to stay on their backs to make sure they did their job.
I think that was the thing I indentified most with. Listen, if you haven't, because you might identify with something else. But for me, that was the biggest. A year and a half ago -- I can tell you when, it was before I found The Common Ills, I would've had the idea, "Elect them and then we've done our part."
That's not the reality. You elect them and, even if it's someone who wants to the right thing, you then go to sleep, they're hearing from everyone else but you. How do they know what matters to you? The right-wing's very organized and if you're staying silent on something, but they're hearing the opposite view from the right-wing, they may think, "Oh well, I won't take a stand here because it's not what my constituents want."
Now that's with the good ones and I'd guess that there might be about 30 good ones in both houses combined. The rest of them? Bums. But they're our bums so we have to stay on them and make them remember that they're not there for big money, they're in office to represent "we the people."
They've done a really poor job of that, I think. The next few years, whether they get control of Congress or not, it's going to be put up or shut up for the Democratic Party. So listen and see if you don't hear some voices talking about how you feel. Also listen to the voices saying things you're not thinking about yet. I really love that show.
Carl does to and he e-mailed with a question and a comment. His question was why I didn't note it the week before last (or Mike or Ruth)? Ruth's Report is really focused on Iraq now. She loves the show and usually listens every week. But the show that aired the last Monday in July (week before last), I missed it. So did Ruth, so did Mike. We were all in Mexico because we'd gone there for a few days for Rebecca's wedding.
I got a heads up Friday morning before hand. Rebecca's someone I'm close to (I'm close to everyone but Rebecca and I probably keep in the most contact -- that's true even with her on her honeymoon). But the reason she gave me a heads up (and swore me to secrecy) was because I would have to ask for time off from work to go. She gave the same heads up to Betty. I thought everyone got it and we were all just putting together the edition and not talking about it. That wasn't the case. When we were down there, Betty let it slip but didn't know she was letting something slip. Rebecca ended up explaining that with so many staying with C.I. and knowing Elaine and C.I. would, and could, drop everything to be down there, she didn't worry about them. She did check with Wally's mother to make sure he didn't have anything big going on but didn't say why she was checking. Mike works part-time, and goes to college, but Rebecca knew his boss wouldn't have a problem with him leaving. (She also worried that too much heads up time for Elaine would mean Elaine would barely be there. She'd start looking at her patient schedule and trying to arrange it so she could do both -- see her patients and dart down to Mexico for the wedding.) So we were all down there. (Ruth had her grandchildren Eli, Tracy and Jayson with her.)
When everybody got back, we were all worn out. (What day did Rebecca get married? A few have asked that. It's in the round-robin. If you have to ask, you don't need to know. C.I. and Rebecca's mother-in-law both felt that wasn't anyone's business outside the community. We have enough lurkers and stalkers -- especially Rebecca.) I never did catch that episode. C.I. has caught it and we got a heads up to it. If I have time today (ha ha), I'll listen to it. But we missed it in real time.
Carl's comment was that Heidi Boghosian had done a great job the last few weeks as "anchor."
I agree with that. They've had recorded segments of talks, discussions, people on the street, etc. All four of the hosts, Hashad, Boghosian, Michael Smith and Michael Ratner, are attorneys and activists. It's summer and I bet some probably need some vacations as well. So instead of them four being together for the full hour, they've had segments and Boghosian has been the person introducing the segments. Carl wanted to be sure she got credit for that and I agree with him she deserves it. Law and Disorder is the show and if you haven't listened to it, try it out.
Last thing. Goeff Brady is the producer so while we're doing a shout out to Boghosian, we should probably give a shout out to him as well. (And they had Phil Ochs' song again. I love that song.)