Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Timothy Saltpeter

Starting with war resistance.  Michael Amsel (Asbury Park Press) reports on Daniel Marble who was been AWOL from the US army for two years starting in July of 2006 and turned himself in at Fort Knox February 2nd.  Amsel reveals that he began rethinking things while on leave, "That was my first chance to really reflect on what my actual job would be in combat, which is to kill people.  You go through this vigorous daily training shooting targets and human silhouettes and you become a machine to some point.  You don't have clear thoughts about what you are doing.  Once I seriously thought about killing people, I was not comfortable with it.  I couldn't bring myself to go back."  Instead of being discharged, Danile's been sent to Fort Bragg and his lawyer, Larry Hildes, believes he will most likely be ordered to deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan.  Asbury Park Press has set up a forum where readers can discuss Daniel Marble's decisions.  Yesterday US war resister Cliff Cornell turned himself in.  Frenchi Jones (Coastal Courier) reports, "Arkansas native Cliff Cornell stood outside the gates of Fort Stewart Tuesday afternoon trying to stop the tears streaming down his un-shaven face."  Jones quotes Cliff's attorney James Branum explaining, "He was tired of looking over his shoulder. . . . He just wanted it to be over.  We're going to go for less than six months.  He stood up for what he believed in.  Cliff might have broken the law, but in the end he did the right thing.  The truth of the matter is, he's really a sweet guy, someone who was scared and probably should have never been in the military."   Darrell Bellaart (Nanaimo Daily News) quotes Cliff's adopted mother Annie Nichols stating, "He just called us from the base about five minutes ago.  He's doing OK.  Of course they have their pressures -- they're the military.  He's only being charged with being AWOL which is a good thing.  And we'll know more later as the process goes along." Cliff's attorney states that the AWOL charge is standard ("basically it's a form letter") at this point and does not reflect whether or not additional charges will follow.  Lyndell Nelson (WSAV) reports, "When asked if he would do it all over again, Cornell said, 'Yeah, because I am not over there taking part in this illegal war, I'm not over there killing innocent people or taking part in the torturing that is goin on'." Dee Knight (Workers World) reports US war resister Chris Teske, who -- like Cliff -- was facing a deporation from Canada, "crossed the British Columbia-Washington state boarder unassisted on Jan. 22 at an undisclosed location."  Susan Lazaruk (The Province) quotes Chris declaring the day before he left, "I'm completely shocked that this is happening.  I hope everything goes well when I cross the border tomorrow."
A.N.S.W.E.R., Iraq Veterns Against the War and other groups are gearing up for an action next month on the sixth anniversary of the start of the illegal war.  A.N.S.W.E.R. explains:
We are organizing a Mass March on the Pentagon on Saturday, March 21, and it is important that you and your family, friends, co-workers and fellow students put on your marching shoes that day.  People are coming from all over the country.  Simultaneous demonstrations are taking place in San Francisco and Los Angeles.   
Why are we still marching even after the war criminal George W. Bush has left office?  Because the people must speak out for what is right.  More than 1 million Iraqis have died and tens of thousands of U.S. troops have been wounded or killed.   
The Iraq and Afghanistan war will drag on for years unless we act now.  The cost in lives and resources is criminal regardless of whether the Democrats or Republicans are in charge of the government. 
[. . .]
If Bush's war and occupation of Iraq was an illegal action of aggression -- and it was -- how can the new government say that it can only gradually end the war over a number of years?  The Iraqis don't want foreign military forces running their country.  No one would! 
The Pentagon has employed 200,000 foreign contractors (mercenaries) and 150,000 U.S. troops to maintain the occupation of Iraq.  They have no right to be there.  A few thousand are being brought out of Iraq only to be redeployed to occupy Afghanistan, and the fools in the media proclaim "the war is winding down."  That is not true.   
President Obama decided to keep the Pentagon just as it was under Bush.  He even selected Bush appointee Robert Gates to keep his position as chief of the Pentagon.  Gates announced that the new administration would double the number of troops sent to Afghanistan.  That is certainly not the "change" most people though was coming following the end of Bush's  tenure.   
Meanwhile United for Playgrounds and Naptime wants you to tell . . . Congress to end the illegal war.  Yeah, you tell Congress because Leslie Cagan won't let you tell Barack to end it.  Someone tell Leslie no cookies and punch when she gets off her mat at the end of naptime.    Wide awake and not hiding is IVAW's  Matthis Chiroux who offers' "I Have a Date With the Army!" (World Can't Wait):
March 12, I'll attend a board hearing in St. Louis, Missouri, to determine what the nature of my discharge from the Individual Ready Reserve will be. The Army has alleged "misconduct" and they're shooting for a "general discharge," but I'm pushing for "honorable," as my refusal to deploy was not an act of misconduct.
I will attend this hearing in uniform as ordered, but only for the purpose of these administrative proceeding. I'm not contesting the fact that I did
not report as ordered to deploy to Iraq. However, I intend to paint a clear picture of my convictions to the military, and I seek to corroborate them with first hand accounts of occupation.  
No person is bound to act against the dictates of conscience, let alone their understanding of the law. I know the occupation of Iraq and further, the Global War on Terror, to be an illegitimate and ultimately murderous campaign waged for economic gain, fueled by misinformation and greed. I know it to be in violation of not only international law, but the U.S. Constitution. Far more importantly, it is against the dictates of my own conscience, and never again will I compromise my humanity to support or ignore the crimes of my government.         
I will be working closely with Iraq Veterans Against the War to plan what we hope will reflect a Winter Soldier event in the form of our members testifying under oath to the military about their experiences in the Global War on Terror.
I seek only truth to be heard and considered by the military. If reconciliation is possible, I seek that, as well.         
[. . .]      
We are continuing to gather funds needed to cover travel expenses and accommodation for those who will be testifying. I hope anywhere from 15 to 30 veterans, military family members, Iraqi civilians and constitutional experts will appear before my board. Please consider making a donation to my defense campaign either through my website,, or through
In Iraq, Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal's Baghdad Life) reports on the process Iraqis applying for refugee admittance into the United States go through which includes some "ridiculous and strange" questions: "Friends of mine have been asked whether they would try to instigate a coup d'etat or a revolution if they moved to the U.S.  A sampling of other eyebrow-raising questions are as follows: Are you a member of al Qaeda?  Would you think about financing al Qaeda if you moved to the U.S.? Are you a member of Mahdi  Army (the militia linked to anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtdad al-Sadr)?  Would you be willing to work as a spy?  For America or al Qaeda?  My friends were bewildered by these queries.  Even if their answer was 'yes,' did the people asking the questions really believe they would get honest answers?"  Earlier this month the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported on the Iraqi refugees in Egypt, Syria and Jordan: "While many Iraqi refugees have been following the provincial elections closely, some people are either not interested or pessimistic, seeing no real benefit in the exercise."  An Iraqi  man in Damascus says, "The elections carry no significance.  The country is destroyed and people care only for their personal gains, positions."  An Iraqi women in Cario states, "Most of my family members have either been killed, kidnapped or are now refugees scattered across the globe.  I am not going to return to Iraq. . . . Do you think it matters to me who will win the provincial elections?  It does not matter, at least to me." 
Meanwhile in Iraq, attacks on various ethnic and religious minorities continue to add to the refugee crisis.  Marc Santora and Alan Cowell (New York Times) report a Christian woman was shot dead in Mosul.  Last fall's assault on Iraqi Christians in Mosul resulted in a mas exodus for many weeks.  Assyria Times reports the Assyrian Universal Alliance has written US President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden about the plight of Iraqi Christians.  This is the text of their letter to Barack:

On behalf of the Assyrian Universal Alliance and its affiliates worldwide, it gives me great pleasure to extend my warmest congratulations on your historical inauguration as President of the United States of America. At the same time, I would like to take the opportunity to thank you and Vice President Joseph Biden for your continuing support of the Assyrian people; however, our work is not finished and our nation urgently needs your help.   

We recognize the significance of your election and take this opportunity to equally congratulate the American people for ushering in a bright new chapter in the progress of civil liberties for U.S. citizens. We rejoice with all those who have struggled for a very long time to bring this significant era to fruition. Although the road has been long and difficult, they have kept the dream alive. As a nation that has been in a similar struggle for many centuries, we Assyrians feel a special sense of the joy, relief, and accomplishment that your election carries. As we fight for our survival, we hope that our cry for help will be heard by someone who intimately understands the predicament we face as a nation.  

As you know, the situation of Assyrians in Iraq is dire and the recent news from Mosul, the heart of Assyrian ancestral lands, points to alarming deterioration of our nation's status. With so many Assyrians having fled Iraq, the very survival of the Assyrian nation hangs in the balance. Our numbers are dwindling and our communities are being shattered. Should this continue, the world will witness the demise of one of its most ancient and historically significant nations.  

We appeal to you to urge the Iraqi government to agree to the essential institution of an Assyrian Autonomous Region in the historical and ancestral Assyrian lands in Northern Iraq as part of modern day Iraq. This newly-formalized Assyrian region which will be administrated and protected by Assyrians under the jurisdiction of Iraq's central government is crucial to the security and survival of our nation and will encourage Assyrian refugees, whether those internally displaced in Iraq or those scattered in Diaspora, to return.  

We eagerly await your leadership in promoting the establishment of this Assyrian Autonomous Region and thank you again for your continuing campaign to ensure the survival of one of world's most ancient nations. We look forward to meeting with you to further discuss our situation and implement strategies to secure the future of our people.  
Meanwhile Marc Santora and Alan Cowell (New York Times) report  on puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki's attention-seeking stunt in the midst of French President  Nicolas Sarkozy's visit to Iraq and they laughably assert puppet Nouri al-Maliki is attempting to go from client-state to equal partner with the US -- and doing so by insulting US vice president Joe Biden (see yesterday's snapshot). Hilarious. Are your sides aching yet? The reporters strive for stand-up with this one-liner: "Mr. Maliki also contended Tuesday that his government had fixed the missteps of the Americans after the invasion, like the American decision to dismantle the pre-war Iraqi Army."

The Baathists? What has al-Maliki done? Not a damn thing. The White House benchmarks were signed off on by al-Maliki personally. He has had over two years to do something. One of them was about the Baathists. Paul Bremer (with the White House signing off -- including Colin Powell who now loves to whisper to reporters that it was all Bremer) disbanded the Iraqi military and did so as part of his Baathist purge. There was no reason for that and it was a mistake. It has been seen as a mistake by most for many years now. One of the benchmarks was to fix Bremer's de-Baathification policy (which would be de-de-Baathification). Though al-Maliki finally got around to pointing at a law, it's never been implemented and it had no checks or balances. And when rumors surfaced at the start of the week that al-Maliki was in talks with former Baathists to bring them into the government, what did he say? (This was specifically Baath officials from Saddam's regime who are now exiles -- and, no, no domestic outlet bothered to report on these rumors or al-Maliki's on-the-record response.) al-Maliki stated it wasn't true and it couldn't be true because the Iraqi Constitution would have to be changed first.

The Iraqi Constitution would have to be changed first? And he wants to claim he's fixed US mistakes? The puppet was installed by the US. The puppet sits on billions while Iraqis suffer. Biting the hand that's fed him is never a trait to strive for and for those who missed the reports of Nouri Talking To Baathists, here's one example. Ma'ad Fayad's "Iraqi Dawa Party Official: No dialogue with Armed Groups" (Asharq Alawsat) and al-Ibadi is Haydar al-Ibadi who is spokesperson for Dawa (Nouri's party):

Al-Ibadi categorically denied that any official in the state spoke to Baathist leaders whether inside Iraq or abroad. He explained: "The Iraqi constitution does not allow this. Besides, the public' general mood does not support the Baath Party because it committed a lot of crimes during and after the rule of the [former] regime."  
He added: "The Baathists have committed a lot of crimes and killed a large number of Iraqis since 2003 to date. It is they who allowed the Al-Qaeda Organization to enter the country and who were involved in the killing of hundreds of Iraqis." He asked: "So, how can such a party rejoin the political process?"         
However, Al-Ibadi noted: "There are Baathists who returned to their jobs and who live a normal life without any problems. But they did so as Iraqis, not as members of the Baath Party, which is known for being a conspiratorial military party that does not believe in democracy and does not allow the establishment of a democratic rule."         
He added: "Permission for the return of the Baath Party to political action needs a constitutional amendment, and I very much rule out the possibility of such a move."   

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