Saturday, July 28, 2007

Still Dick





Starting with war resisters. From September 2nd through September 26th, Agustin Aguayo was absent without leave. Aguayo self-checked out when facing a second deployment to Iraq and while his case was moving through the civilian courts. Aguayo was denied CO status by a military that doesn't know their own regulations. John A. Rogowsky Jr. is another, among many others, who have been wrongly denied CO status. From "Selective Service System: Fast Facts:" "Beliefs which qualify a registrant for CO status may be religious in nature, but don't have to be."

Despite that basic reality, Aguayo, Rogowsky and others have been told that they're not religious enough, that their religion is not recognized, when religion really is NOT required for CO status. In Aguayo's case, the military refused to recognize that time in Iraq deepened Aguayo's faith (already present when he enlisted).

Speaking with Don Bustany on KPFK's Middle East in Focus Wednesday, Aguayo shared his story.and noted that when he arrived in Iraq in February of 2004, the medics were gathered for a speech that was in conflict in with the printed training material. They were told that they were medics and they were combat troops and that, "'You medics,' speaking to us, 'has to make it clear, has to make it clear in the minds of your infantry man that they must finish their job because if they don't then there will be more work for you'." As Aguayo looked around he saw acceptance and an eagerness to get back to the routine but "I could not accept that I was being told those things."He also spoke of the eagerness to blame Iraqis for any problems as opposed to questioning the illegal war or the Bully Boy who sent them there. Aguayo began to realize, "I was a particiant, a supporter, of all the missions that took place." Today Aguayo is sharing his story publicly. Mialka Bonadonna (LAist) reports he will be speaking tonight (Friday) in Los Angeles, 7:00 pm at 3303 Wilshire Blvd., 2nd floor.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Jared Hood and James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Care, 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, 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.

From reality to Operation Happy Talk. The push-back is on and Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno has enlisted. Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) writes of the press briefing Odierno gave yesterday where he issued the talking points that US military deaths were falling. Parker rightly notes that seven deaths were announced after the press briefing and the one of the deaths announced on Thursday dated back to Sunday. The US military was delaying announcing deaths. Reality is that in terms of what has been annouced, the deaths were 67 on Thursday and that July is not yet over but July 2007 is already the deadliest July for US service members since the start of the illegal war. July 2006: 43 US service members were killed in Iraq. In July 2005 and July 2004, 54 US service members were killed in Iraq. In July 2003, 48 US service members were killed in Iraq.

Last week, Odierno enlisted in the push-back in a vareity of ways at a press briefing with reporters at the US Pentagon via video-link. In terms of downgrading expectations for the September report to the US Congress by the military, he declared that the report that was needed would come in November and clarified, "What I was saying is -- again, my remarks were, in 45 days I will have a better idea if the trends are continuing, and that's September. Obviously, we have an assessment we will conduct in September that will provide -- that General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker will provide. I was not looking at extending that time frame when they have to report back. What I imagine we'll have to do is do assessments that follow that initial assessment in September, and that's -- I'm assuming we'll continue to do assessments while we're here." Yesterday, Odierno stressed "trends" as well but forgot to include 7 deaths he should have known about in his remarks.In addition, at the same press briefing, he attempted to yet again sell the non-proven link between resistance fighters in Iraq and the Iranian government. When pressed by reporters for evidence, Odierno's confident remarks of such a link were replaced with his statements that, "We don't see any evidence -- significant evidence". And a third way he enlisted was in calling into question the right of an open debate in a free society when he took to suggesting that discussions in the media and in the US Congress about US forces withdrawing from Iraq, was 'emboldening' al Qaeda. Again, when pressed, Odierno had to back off from his original remarks and admit he had "no specific intelligence" on any such emboldening.

Operation Happy Talk is not confined to the US military brass and the US administration. Andrew Grice (Independent of London) reports that the UK Air Chief Marshal Jock Stirrup (I did not make that name up) has declared, "We are very close to being able to hand over Basra in my judgement. Just when we will reach that point is at the moment uncertain but I am fairly confident it'll be in the second half of the year." Basra is one base, the Basra Palace (and it's also the last of four provinces the British military currently controls -- the other three were already turned over) Grice interprets Jock Stirrup's remarks to mean control of Basra could be handed off before the year's end; however, it could come much sooner. After all, British troops, the Soldiers of the Queen's Royal Hussars, proved they could hustle when they pulled out of the Maysan province with less than 24 hours notice after their base their repeatedly was attacked back in August. As Haidar Hani (AP) reported then that following the British hitting the road in 'stripped down mode': "Looters ravaged a former British base Friday . . . taking everything from doors and window frames to corrugated roofing and metal pipes". Iraqi authorites noted then that the British had only given them 24 hours notice that the departure was coming. As with that base, the Basra Palace has been under rocket and mortar attacks repeatedly. In addition, IRIN reports that approximately "150 doctors in Basra, Iraq's second largest city about 600km south of Baghdad, began a three-day strike on 23 July, demanding the government protect them and their families."

This was to call attention to the lack of security and this comes as over "618 medical employees" have been killed since the start of the illegal war.Turning to realities that US administration prefers we don't know. Noam N. Levey and Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) report that the White House "has stopped reporting to Congress a key quality-of-life indicator in Baghdad: how long the power stays on." This is an agreed upon 'benchmark' by the US administration and Congress -- and one even Iraqis could agree to even though they were consulted when it was time to draw on benchmarks. When you can't meet the benchmark, this administration stops reporting it. This approach is an affront to democracy and one of many the current administration has repeatedly shown not only to people in the US but to people around the world.

Today, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) hosted a debate on the issue of impeachment. All sides were represented, with Cindy Sheehan representing the pro-impeachment and Dan Gerstein representing the lunatic fringe. Gerstein is a Democratic Party Hack and not even a good one. His full credentials were not listed on the program and that's probably due to the fact that if he'd had to sit through even a partial litany of his many losses, he would have walked off on air.Gerstein doesn't want impeachment. He doesn't think anything that's been done rises to the level of impeachment. He thinks the way to 'fix' is to vote Democrats into power in 2008 (he might want to check out his consulting p.r. faxes because I'm seeing something about him being in favor of Democrats "all things being equal"). To impeach the Bully Boy and/or Cheney would be a distraction that would harm the Democrats chances to regain the White House in 2008.Gerstein's been more wrong than right when gazing into his crystal ball and that may say it all but for those who've forgotten his nasty snit-fits when his boy Joe Lieberman lost the primary to Ned Lamont, try google-ing. The reality, as Cindy Sheehan pointed out, is that impeachment hasn't been a problem in terms of the White House. Gerstein is wrong, Sheehan is right. Gerstein tried to use the 1998 Congressional election (not a White House election) as an example. After the 2002 Congressional election demonstrated that no patterns were holding, no tea leafs could be read, Gerstein might try sticking to reality and leaving his fantasy land where he knows the outcome. (If he truly did, he might be a player and not a Lieberman lackey.)

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot""Other Items""Rewriting Ned Parker on the death toll"
"And the war drags on . . .""Hominy Salad in the Kitchen""Thomas L. Friedman is off today""democrats play in the alberto cesspool""tony snow tries to dance around the cesspool""Impeachment""Walking you through""Light post""Elaine's post with a bit from me (Sunny)""Dave Lindorff on impeachment, and me on Koo Koo""The bravery of war resisters""The non-panel""THIS JUST IN! MORE SURFACE SKIMMING BY THE MSM!"

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