Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Proud of my vote

Bob Somerby offers media criticism at The Daily Howler and this is his heads up for coming attractions:

Why don’t Democrats (and liberals) know how to deal with this sort of thing? These writers all more-or-less asked the same question. But the Derry writer seemed to have noticed something else. This critical question wasn’t “covered” in Perlstein’s original article, he said.
For ourselves, we thought Perlstein’s answers to these on-line questions were weak; we’ll plan to look at those answers on Friday. We don’t mean that as a criticism of Perlstein, whose Nixonland we strongly recommend; there’s no reason why an outstanding historian should also be the world’s top expert on how to win messaging wars. But does anyone know how to answer those questions? At the upper end of the mainstream press corps, Paul Krugman has been the smartest, most important liberal voice since the late 1990s, by far. (And he holds the Nobel Prize in economics!) But alas!
In Monday’s column, we thought Krugman seemed a bit weak on this question too. More on that to come.
“Death panels” are just the latest example! For decades, liberals and Dems have gotten slaughtered in the political messaging wars. Perlstein’s readers wanted to know why our side can’t seem to play this game. Why the hell do we keep getting beaten, even by “ridiculous falsehoods?”
Friend, if you’re a frustrated liberal, it’s the world’s most important question! We’ll be discussing that critical question for the next several weeks.

And that should be interesting but he no longer just has to worry about keeping up with Ava and C.I. (the best media critics), now he's go to compete with Ralph Nader. I voted for Ralph. This is from his "Between the Rhetoric and the Reality" (Nader.org):

The Obama White House—full of supposedly smart political advisors led by the President of the “Change You Can Believe In” campaign movement of 2008—is in disarray. Worse, multiple, confusing varieties of disarray provoking public confusion, internal Democratic Party strife, and the slow withdrawal of belief in Mr. Obama by his strongest supporters around the country.
Two of his most steadfast supporters in the media—columnists Paul Krugman and Bob Herbert of the New York Times are wondering about Mr. Obama’s plans. Krugman repeated his fellow Sunday Times essayist Frank Rich’s observation who wrote about Obama “punking” his supporters with his waffling, reversals and frequent astonishing adoption of Bush’s worst corporatist and military policies. While Bob Herbert, taking to task his political hero for waffling and vagueness regarding health care, issued this reluctant appraisal:“I hear almost daily from men and women who voted enthusiastically for Mr. Obama but are feeling disappointed. They feel that the banks made out like bandits in the bailouts, and that the health care initiative could become a boondoggle. Their biggest worry is that Mr. Obama is soft, that he is unwilling or incapable of fighting hard enough to counter the forces responsible for the sorry state the country is in.”

Betty and I were talking tonight about something we kept discussing in person for the last two weeks, what voting for Ralph meant for us.

There was no way I could vote for Barack. He wasn't qualified. He talked out of both sides of his mouth and ass. He hadn't earned a thing but was getting all the cheers.

Ralph had worked for years. Ralph was talking about the issues that mattered.

Ralph was against the Iraq War and wanted the troops out and would take them out of Iraq.

Voting for Ralph was kind of weird, to be honest, because I'd never not voted Democrat. So I kept asking myself if I would stick to my promise (to myself). And I was still wondering it when I voted.

I don't know how it is in your area, but in my area, it was a pain in the butt to vote third party. We sign in, we get this little cartridge that we plug into the machine we're voting on (it's a screen) and to vote for Dem or Repub, no problem. But I had to raise my hand and ask for help. "He wants to vote for Nader," the woman hollers to another poll worker, "how does he do that?"

So I've got all these people staring at me because they now know my vote and I'm African-American and live in an African-American community. So I'm getting some ugly looks. And then one guy, with dreds, gives me a thumbs up and that made me smile. I gave him a thumbs up again.

But I got to vote for Ralph and I'm glad I did.

Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Tuesday, August 25, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, Cindy Sheehan steps up to the plate again (where's everyone else?), Syria and Iraq move to pull ambassadors, al Qaeda in Iraq claims credit for last Wednesday's bombings, a new study finds a likelihood of increased risk of suicide for those suffering from PTSD, and more.

Starting in the United States. President Barack Obama is vacationing on Martha's Vineyard. Despite promising to end the Iraq War, he hasn't. He promised troops out in 16 months in his rah-rah speeches on the campaign trail and then, in Februrary 2008 speaking in Texas, suddenly said 10 months after being sworn in, he'd have the troops out of Iraq. Of course, he was lying. He is a politician. But that is what he promised. There are 130,000 US troops in Iraq currently, more than were present before Bully Boy Bush started his 'surge' in 2007. Barack was sworn in during the first month of the year, January. It's now August, the eighth month. It's possible to get 130,000 troops out before the tenth month but he's not planning on it. He wasn't planning even when lying through his War Hawk teeth. March 7, 2008, Sammy Power was suddenly out of Barack's campaign. The
BBC was airing an interview. Though Tom Hayden would play dumb about the interview until July 4, 2008, we called it out in real time. Here's what she told the BBC:

Stephen Sackur: You said that he'll revisit it [the decision to pull troops] when he goes to the White House. So what the American public thinks is a commitment to get combat forces out within sixteen months, isn't a commitment is it?

Samantha Power: You can't make a commitment in whatever month we're in now, in March of 2008 about what circumstances are going to be like in January 2009. We can'te ven tell what Bush is up to in terms of troops pauses and so forth. He will of course not rely upon some plan that he's crafted as a presidential candidate or as a US Senator.

From the
March 7, 2008 snapshot:

Power was not a campaigner, she was a high level, longterm foreign policy advisor being groomed to be the next Secretary of State. As
Krissah Williams (Washington Post) notes, Senator Clinton's response to Power's BBC interview was to note Power's agreement that Obama's pledge to have "combat" troops out in 16 months was never more than a "best-case scenario". Hillary Clinton: "Senator Obama has made his speech opposing Iraq in 2002 and the war in Iraq the core of his campaign, which makes these comments especially troubling. While Senator Obama campaigns on his [pledge] to end the war, his top advisers tell people abroad that he will not rely on his own plan should he become president. This is the latest example of promising the American people one thing on the campaign trail and telling people in other countries another. You saw this with NAFTA as well."

And the response from
Panhandle Media -- the US' alleged "alternative" media? Silence. March 9, 2008, we editorialized on this at Third Estate Sunday Review in "Editorial: The Whores of Indymedia." And we returned to the topic in July, after Tom Hayden 'suddenly' noticed Samantha Power's March BBC interview, "Letters to An Old Sell Out: Iraq." The old sellout Tom-Tom was insisting that this interview which he'd suddenly -- like Columbus -- discovered was ignored by "the media" and by "rival campaigns". Like his hero Barry O, Tom-Tom Hayden can lie through his teeth. And you can check Third's editorial ("Letters to An Old Sell Out: Iraq") to find examples of the Real Media outlets that covered it while Tom Hayden and all the beggars of Panhandle Media played dumb -- it's playing right? No one can really be that dumb, can they? What is known is that the watch doggies didn't bark in March 2009. Not Tom-Tom, not Jeremy Scahill, not the forever climbing on the soap box Naomi Klein, not Laura Flanders, not The Nation, not Amy Goodman, not Matthew Rothschild, not one damn radio show on KPFA, WBAI, KPFK, go down the list. (David Corn did cover it in real time for Mother Jones -- in order to insist it wasn't important. That everyone knew -- everyone, he insisted -- that Barack didn't mean any promise he made on the campaign trail.)

They played dumb then and they play dumb now. They refuse to use their power to speak out against the Iraq War. They've all written their books, apparently, and can no longer squeeze a dime out of the illegal war. They've all got 'better' things to do. And besides, as Naomi insisted to her imaginary anarchist friends (as made up as was her huge laughable lie about what she saw on election night -- and that says a great deal that The Progressive printed that obvious lie), she just wanted to enjoy Barack. Don't wake the Mall Rat, she thinks we're alone now, there doesn't seem to be anyone around.

Always several decades behind the times, Canada gives us their own Tiffany, Little Miss Naomi Klein. Daughter of a war resister who can't even talk about that to most outlets and had to be cornered into the topic to begin with. Her father went to Canada to avoid being shipped to Vietnam. Back then, you didn't need refugee status, you could just go through the process and become a Canadian citizen. Coward and liar, Naomi refuses to do a thing to help today's war resisters other than sign a petition. Get that. Grasp it. Because a hell of a lot of us back in the day helped her father and others. But Mall Rat Naomi doesn't believe in pay it forward, she just believes in gimmie, gimmie, gimmie. And in her Selfish Paradise, she has no time to help end the Iraq War, let alone help US war resisters in Canada. But if you ask her to dish on which New Kid On The Block she found dreamy, she can go for an hour. (Joey! Yes, Joey was her NKOTB. No, I don't know which one that is. But I'm a functioning adult.)

So while they've all Walked On, WalkOn.org, hurried away from Iraq -- because, goodness, who knew it would be work to end a war? -- Cindy Sheehan's still standing.

Peace Mom's still fighting to end the Iraq War. And, take note those who thumbed a ride over to Afghanistan, Cindy's fighting to end that one as well. Today Cindy Sheehan lands on Martha's Vineyard and prepares to demonstrate against the continued wars.

Dave Cook (Christian Science Monitor) reports she will hold a news conference tomorrow "morning at the Oak Bluff's Elementary School on the island resort." Cape Cod Today adds that among the actions will be members of the peace movement sailing around Martha's Vineyard August 27 through the 29th and quotes her stating, "I am calling in the Peace Movement to encircle our country with our united demand for an immediate return of all U.S. forces around the globe. Bring every one of our troops home NOW! We need them in our families and towns. This world needs a permanent vacation from war." Jake Berry (Cape Cod Times) also reports on Cindy's impending arrival and quotes her stating, "The body bags aren't taking a vacation." Part of the demonstrations will include encircling the island on SS Camp Casey, named after Cindy's son Casey Sheehan who died April 4, 2004 in Iraq. IPA notes Cindy will hold a news conference tomorrow starts at 11:00 a.m. and quotes her stating, "I think that people are waking up to the fact that even if they voted for Barack Obama, he doesn't represent real change. July was the worst month for U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Innocent people in Iraq and Afghanistan are continuing to be killed in these wars. These policies were wrong when Bush was president and they're wrong now that Obama is president." Speaking to Jennifer Harper (Washington Times), Cindy stated, "Our demand from the peace movement has always been 'troops home now,' and I am going to reassert the moral demands that we insisted upon from the Bush administration to an Obama administration." At her website, they note the following:

Her schedule of public events is as follows: Wednesday, Aug. 26, 11am, Press Conference at Oak Bluffs Elementary School. Wednesday, Aug. 26, 8pm, Peace Vigil, Ocean Park Bandstand, Oak Bluffs. Thursday, Aug. 27, Friday, Aug. 28 and Saturday, Aug. 29: Boat trips with Cindy for peace movement leaders, press and public. These 'shipboard peace summit' meetings will leave Vineyard Haven twice daily on the 105 foot sloop 'SS Camp Casey' in the afternoons. Call for details. No charge, so reserve ahead. 207-604-8988 or email:
lauriegdobson@yahoo.com. Saturday Aug. 29, 9 to 5 Peace Vigil Ocean Park, Oak Bluffs and Walkabout around the Island Saturday, Aug. 29, 8pm Cindy Sheehan speaking event "Peace Now, Again", Katharine Cornell Theater, 54 Spring St., Vineyard Haven. Cindy is scheduling press and media interviews throughout the week. Call Laurie Dobson at 207-604-8988 or email: lauriegdobson@yahoo.com or Bruce Marshall at 802-767-6079. In addition to these planned events, there will be impromptu gatherings during the week. A memorial site will be present on the island with an outdoor area designated as 'Camp Casey', a living tribute to her son Casey Sheehan, who died in the Iraq War, as well as honoring others who were war casualties. The SS Camp Casey will welcome all those who wish to come to meet Cindy. She will be also available on the Vineyard for gatherings of visitors, which will be open to the public, the press, and anyone desiring to connect with those for whom the costs of war are a daily reality in their lives. For information on the events, please contact Chris Fried at (508)-693-7741 and for information about Cindy, please contact Laurie Dobson at (207)-604-8988 or email: lauriegdobson@yahoo.com.

What's the media reaction going to be? Have you heard Amy Goodman mention it? Even in her headlines? Nope. Well that's the Queen of Panhandle Media. And Real Media? Last week, Charlie Gibson issued the royal edict of "Enough already." Apparently grouchy due to the fact that no longer co-hosting Good Morning America means he's unable to nap on live TV, Queen Charlie Approximately showed just how nasty a TV reader who elected to leave the news department to go into entertainment (Good Morning America is produced by ABC entertainment) could be when forced to form an opinion that goes beyond, "Mmm. Smells good. In our next segment, we're joined by entertainer Joey Heatherton. And later,
Shari Lewis joins us to talk about Lamb Chops brave battle with lint balls. Stay tuned!" Cindy responded to Charlie Gibson's nonsense and pointed out, "I certainly am not the anchor of a major network news show, but last time I checked, people are still dying at a heartrending clip in Iraq-Af-Pak. If my goal was '15 minutes of fame,' I could have gone quietly away a long time ago. I started because I wanted the wars to end, and I will figure I can go away when the wars end…but when is that going to be? In my lifetime, probably not." When will the war ends? The issue is raised in a letter today to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel Times:

When I returned from Vietnam in the late 1960s, it seemed the deaths of soldiers and civilians were treated as though they were but the melodramatic nuance to somebody else's Aquarian Age. Today, the deaths seem cast as acceptable losses in the transition from the Bush to
Obama policies. Protests are minimal, staunched by administrative promises proven insubstantial. One by one by hundreds, people are losing their lives, and still the wars go on. What was not accepted from Bush is tolerated from Obama. The United States needs to leave Iraq and withdraw from Afghanistan, now. Accusations of isolationism don't wash while American soldiers and Iraqi and Afghani civilians die to prove the falsehood that intervention is peacemaking.Jerry Maxham, Davie

We'll stay with the US for a big longer to address some of the damages from the illegal war.

"They gave me a gun" he said
"They gave me a mission
For the power and the glory --
Propaganda -- piss on 'em
There's a war zone inside me --
I can feel things exploding --
I can't even hear the f**king music playing
For the beat of -- the beat of black wings."
[. . .]
"They want you -- they need you --
They train you to kill --
To be a pin on some map --
Some vicarious thrill --
The old hate the young
That's the whole heartless thing
The old pick the wars
We die in 'em
To the beat of -- the beat of black wings"
-- "The Beat of Black Wings," words and music by
Joni Mitchell, first appears on her Chalk Mark In A Rainstorm.

Friday's snapshot noted:Today the US military announced that Staff Sgt Enoch Chatman, Staff Sgt Bob Clements, Sgt Jarrett Taylor and Spc Daniel Weber are all "charged with cruelty and maltreatment of subordinates . . . The four Soliders are alleged to have treated Soldiers within their platoon inappropriately." CNN states they are accused of "cruelty and maltreatment of four subordinates in Iraq after a suicide investigation brought to light alleged wrongdoing, the military said Friday." Michelle Tan (Army Times via USA Today) reports, "The alleged mistreatment consisted of verbal abuse, physical punishment and ridicule of the subordinate soldiers, Lt. Col. Kevin Olson, spokesman for Multi-National Division-South wrote in an e-mail to Army Times."The soldier has been identifed as Keiffer Wilhelm. August 4th the US military announced: "A Soldier assigned to Multi-National Division - South died of a non-combat related injury August 4. The Soldier's name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin." The Department of Defense announced August 5th: " Pvt. Keiffer P. Wilhelm, 19, of Plymouth, Ohio, died August 4 in Maysan province, Iraq, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 13th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas. The circumstances surrounding the incident are under investigation." Andrew Kreighbaum (El Paso Times) reported August 6th, "Wilhelm, an infantryman from Plymouth, Ohio, enlisted in the army in December after graduating from Willard High School last year. His father, Adrian Wilhelm, said his son joined the Army to be like his older brother, who is in the U.S. Air Force. Adrian Wilhelm said Keiffer Wilhelm was the best man at his brother's wedding in Arizona on May 7 and was sent to Kuwait soon afterward. The wedding was the last time he saw his son." Chris Roberts (El Paso Times) reported Monday that Keiffer Wilhelm "was abused by his 'first-line supervisors,' Sgt. Brandon LeFlor wrote in an e-mail. He is a spokesman for Multi-National Division-South in Basra, Iraq." Roberts quotes Keiffer Wilhelm's parents stating, "We only want justice and to prevent this from happening to another family."

Thursday DoD identified Matthew Hastings as one of the fallen.
Kevin Canfield (Tulsa World) reported on the death and quotes Hasting's mother Lawanda Lowry stating, "He was just an all-American kid. He was so proud to be in the Army and he was so proud to serve our country. [. . .] He called me when he was graduating from basic training and said, 'Mom, I have accomplished far more and greater things than I ever thought possible'." Saturday Manny Gamallo (Tulsa World) reported the family believes his death may have been a suicide and cited sister Michelle Brazil explaining that e-mails her brother sent to Kristy Moore (friend), Clark W. Hastings (grandfather) and herself "were basically the same. He said he couldn't take it anymore, and he was going to hang out with Clark tonight. [. . .] They were almost like twins. They wore the same clothes, had the same friends, did everything together." Clark was Matthew Hasting's brother who passed away. Earlier this month, Iraq War veteran Wesley David Gilson was shot dead by US authorities. His obit notes his survivors included his wife Carol Gilson, his children Christian, Danny, Emily, Mary, Ethan and Anna, his mother Joan Pass, a sister Karen Knoblich, an ex-wife Lisa Clark. Livingston Today reported he was "in a multihour standoff with police" and they later found they he had left a suicide note. Earlier this month, Jim Spellman and Wayne Drash (CNN -- link has text and video) reported on Iraq War veteran Thomas Delgado who is charged with attempted murder of his wife who states Delgado "needs medical help, not prison":

Shayla Delgado says her husband grabbed a gun and rattled off suicidal thoughts. "I've been thinking about how I'm going to do it," she recalled him saying. "I just can't live like this any more. I can't do it, I can't do it."
"He was telling me, 'Take our son and leave because you don't want to be here for this,'" she said, breaking down in tears. "I was really, really scared."

Iraq War veteran Jacob Gregory Swanson will be buried tomorrow.
Glenda Anderson (Santa Rosa Press Democrat) reports, "Swanson turned a handgun on himself after shooting and killing his sometime girlfriend, Amy Salo, 36, Mendocino County law authorities said. Swanson's family said he had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder before his discharge from the Army in 2005." Earlier this month, Kathy Mellott (Tribune-Democrat) reported Iraq War veteran Nicholas Adam Horner's defense in a murder trial will include his three tours of duty.

From American soldiers to British ones, Danny Fitzsimons is facing a trial in Iraq and could be sentenced to death. He served in the British military for eight years and was stationed in Afghanistan and Kosovo. He is
accused of being the shooter in a Green Zone incident this month in which 1 British contractor, Paul McGuigan, and 1 Australian contractor, Darren Hoare, died and one Iraqi, Arkhan Madhi, was injured. Eric and Liz Fitzsimons spoke to the BBC (link has video) and noted that they are not asking for Danny to 'walk.' They stated that he has to take responsibility. But they want a fair trial and do not believe that is possible in Iraq. His legal defense team doesn't believe he can get a fair trial either stating today that the British military's presence in Iraq during the war means that Fitzsimons will be used as scapegoat. The Sunday Mail quoted Danny Fitzsimons yesterday stating, I see Paul and Darren's faces every night before I sleep and every morning when I wake up." Jonathan Owen (Independent of London) quotes him describing his cell, "There's 12 of us sleeping on the floor; some are sharing – two to a mattress. The guys that are in here with me are a really good bunch, but the water gets turned off at odd hours and the electricity goes off. It could be a lot worse – I'm not complaining. [. . .] The only thing that gets me stressed out is the amount of people in here. It's quite loud. I like to be able to escape somewhere on my own but I can't. In the scheme of things I know that's trivial. I've got nothing to moan about -- this is as good as it gets here." The Manchester Evening News adds, "His British lawyer, John Tipple, is stepping up efforts to have him extradited to Britain under an unused provision in the Iraqi legal code that dates back to the 1930s." Tipple is quoted stating, "We are not going to let the British government hang him out to dry. He is a British national and the right place for him to be tried, if at all, is at home." Today Matthew Cookson (Great Britain's Socialist Worker) reports on the issue:

John Tipple told Socialist Worker, "There is no way that a fair trial can take place in Iraq.
"We fear that Daniel will be scapegoated for the decision made by Tony Blair to make Britain a key part of the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
"Daniel spent eight years in the Parachute Regiment. He was diagnosed with adjustment disorder after seeing horrors in Bosnia and Kosovo.
"After he left the army he had a few brushes with the law, and his situation began to deteriorate when he became a private security contractor.
"The British government has abandoned its duty of care towards soldiers. When they return from war zones, often brutalised by their experiences, they are left to their own devices.
"That is why there are a disproportionate number of soldiers in the prison system, with mental health problems or homeless. They are victims of war as well as the people of Afghanistan and Iraq."

Some or all of above may have resulted from experiences in the war zones. And there are many more reports of violence aimed within and outside. The point in noting this is not to say, "Iraq War vets are crazy and dangerous!" That's not the point. The point is that experiences impact different people differently and that some conditions, such as PTSD, are easier to manage for some veterans than for all. PTSD is the topic of "Posttraumatic Stress Disorder as a Rsik Factor for Suicidal Ideation in Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans" (Journal of Traumatic Stress, Vol. 23, No. 4, August 2009, pp 303 - 306). For the study, 435 Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans were used for the sample. Half of the sample was diagnosed with PTSD (49.6%). The study notes:

Prior research with Vietnam veterans with chronic PTSD has established an association between PTSD and suicide (Bullman & Kang, 1994). This study extends these findings by demonstrating an association between suicidal ideation and PTSD in treatment-seeking OIF/OEF veterans with more acute forms of PTSD. PTSD was significantly associated with suicidal ideation after accounting for age, depression and substance abuse, with PTSD veterans over four times more likely to report suicidal ideation than veterans who did not screen psotive for PTSD. Among veterans who screen positive for PTSD, there was no significant increase in risk for suicidal ideation associated with a single comorbid disorder. However, the likelihood for suicidal ideation was 5.7 times greater in veterans with PTSD who screened positive for two or more comorbid disorders relative to veterans with PTSD alone. Results suggest that veterans with PTSD who have multiple psychiatric comorbidities may be at greater risk for suicidal ideation. This increased likelihood of suicidal ideation associated with comorbidity is notable because, of those OIF/OEF veterans diagnosed with a mental disorder, 27% have three or more different mental health diagnoses.

Repeating, a veteran with or without PTSD is not 'crazy' or 'dangerous' either to his or herself or others either because of being a veteran or because of having PTSD. But some suffering from the war -- with or without PTSD -- are really struggling and, a percentage of that struggling group, is obviously not getting the help they need.

Turning to Iraq, where the big story is apparently still yesterday's news that Nouri wasn't wanted in the new Shi'ite coalition.
Ernesto Londono and K.I. Ibrahim (Washington Post) observe, "Maliki's exclusion from the alliance was not entirely surprising. Despite his considerable popularity, the prime minister has become a divisive figure, and a recent surge in violence has triggered criticism from Iraqis who view his administration as cocky and incompetent." Even the headline points to this, "Major Shiite Political Parties Exclude Maliki in Forming Coalition" but when we switch the channel to state-run media, we find Steven Myers of the New York Times spinning a yarn about how Nouri is the one who didn't want to join. Pick the knee-jerk reaction in defense of Nouri and there the paper will go. Nouri wants to continue as prime minister and the new coalition doesn't need him and made it known they wouldn't make any promises. But Myers frantically works as Nouri's p.r. man and scribbles, "Mr. Maliki's refusal to join the alliance, after weeks of negotiations behind the scenes, intensified a bitter political struggle over the leadership of the country's largest sect ahead of parliamentary elections in January." Liz Sly and Caesar Ahmed (Los Angeles Times) add that Nouri "has so far been unable to sway any significant Sunni or Kurdish factions to join his prospective coalition." Adam Ashton (McClatchy Newspapers) observes of Nouri, "His stature, nonetheless, took a dent last week when suicide bombers detonated explosives in front of two government ministries, killing at least 95 and wounding more than 1,200, and undercutting the image of stability that Maliki has tried to convey while American forces reduce their presence in Iraq." Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) reports on the new political coalition noting, "The 10-party Iraqi National Alliance includes two groups whose leaders are both in Iran -- the country's largest Shiite party, cleric Abdul Azis al-Hakim's Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, and the bloc of anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr." Robert Dreyfuss (The Nation) explains that one-time CIA asset Ahmad Chalabi is among the founders of the new coalition and he addresses the potential meanings of what is taking place:

First of all, although Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has so far opted not to join the pan-Shiite religious alliance, American Pollyannas who see Maliki as a nationalist, pro-American ally are wrong. Like the new INA alliance, Maliki is in thrall to the Iranians, too, only slightly less so. His secretive, cult-like Dawa Party -- which has split and split again -- provides nearly all of his inner-circle allies and advisers, and according to Iraqi sources Maliki is heavily vested in ties to Iran and its intelligence services. He shrewdly, though unconvincingly, positioned himself and his new party, State of Law, as a pro-unity, nationalist party during the January provincial elections, but although Maliki tried to find allies among secular Iraqis, religious Sunnis, and Kurds, nearly all of his votes came from Arab Shiites. He got votes from Iraqis who were unhappy with their country's religious-right drift and who rejected ISCI and its allies, in part by lavishing patronage to newly created tribal councils in the Shiite-majority provinces. As a result, Maliki has been riding high of late, and a well-placed former Iraqi official told me that Maliki felt strong enough to tell the founders of the Iraqi National Alliance that he'd refuse to join unless they let him run the show, with a guarantee that he'd be reelected as prime minister if the Alliance wins a majority in the January, 2010, election. Maliki may or may not have overestimated his strength, but in any case he may decide to join the Alliance at a later date -- or, alternately, he might join them after the election in a coalition government. In either case, Iran will be the big winner, especially as US forces move out.

In other news, who can pull out their ambassador first? That's the game Syria and Iraq are engaged in.
Xinhua reports that upon learing Iraq was withdrawing their ambassador, Syria decided to withdraw its ambassador to Iraq and notes that Iraq is demanding Syria hand over Ba'athists living in Syria (it's neither a crime to be a Ba'ahist or to live in Syria) whom they insist are responsible for the last Wednesday's bombings. This as Khalid al-Ansary, Suadad al-Salhy and Missy Ryan (Reuters) report the al Qaeda in Iraq-linked Islamic State of Iraq has issued a statement claiming credit for the bombings: "As we announce our reponsibility for this blessed foray, we want to clarify, as we have said repeatedly, that we target the foundations of this evil state and those who supported it and helped establish it." Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) quotes this from the group's statement, "The ground shook under their feet, their hearts were torn with fear, and the weakness of their states and their disputes were exposed to everyone." CNN, citing SANA (Syrian media outlet), notes the Syrian government response, "Syria had informed the Iraqi side of its willingness to host an Iraqi delegation to review the evidence it has on those who carried out that attacks [but] considers the evidence that is being broadcast in Iraqi media as fabricated for internal political agendas." The Syrian government is referring to the 'confession' televised. The sole confession and not even for the worst attack -- the 'confessor' 'confessed' to an attack on the Finanical Ministry when the attack on the Foreign Ministry did the most damage. (Iraq has a history of torturing prisoners to produce confessions. It also has a history of trumpeting 'captures' that turn out not to be what they were promoted as.)

In reported violence today, at least 5 dead and eighteen wounded,


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing which left four people wounded, a Baghdad sticky bombing which left five people wounded, a Baghdad roadside bombing which left four police officers wounded and a Baghdad sticky bombing which left one person wounded. Reuters notes a Samarra roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left another injured.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 person shot dead and a police officer injured in Mosul today while last night a mosque invasion resulted in a Sheikh being wounded in a shooting. Reuters notes 1 Mosul hospital patient was shot dead in an attack today that also injured a hospital guard and an assailant and, dropping back to last night, they note 1 police officer shot dead in Baghdad and 1 university professor shot dead.

The US military has farmed out . . . a responsibility that probably wasn't their responsibility to begin with. US media outlets look at their staffing issues and determine whom to assign where. But a new hurdle's emerged for those they might want to embed with US troops.
Charlie Reed (Stars and Stripes) reports the Rendon Group is now in charge of that decision, "Rendon examines individual reports' recent work and determines whether the coverage was 'positive,' 'negative' or 'neutral' compared to mission objectives, according to Rendon officials. It conducts similar analysis of general reporting trends about the war for the military and has been contracted for such work since 2005." And the US government is paying for that. Anyone remember Kenneth Tomlinson and his efforts to have Bill Moyers and Diane Rehm's work 'graded'? With tax payer money? And how outraged everyone rightly was? What's the difference? What's the difference between the outrageous actions of Kenneth Tomlinson and the US government farming the same tasks (plus access) to the Rendon Group?

June 23rd, news broke that Heath Druzin, of Stars and Stripes, was being barred from an embedding assignment in Iraq. At that time, New West Boise's Jill Kuraitis declared, "In my opinion, it's a serious matter when the delivery of accurate and timely news is denied to the American people who always deserve the truth in accordance with our founding principles. We are funding the war with our tax dollars, which makes us even more deserving of the information. Druzin is a professional trained to do exactly what he is doing, and his efforts to be accurate should not be impeded, nor his priorities manipulated." She is correct and why is it that a firm is 'vetting' journalists? Stars and Stripes, to focus on them, isn't smart enough to know their own reporters? They assign someone to Iraq or wherever because they feel that is their best correspondent available. But the government needs to approve it? This is no different than the stomping of the feet by brutal governments that the US regularly decries but this is coming from the US. SourceWatch provides an overview of the Rendon Group and we'll excerpt their section on James Rendon and Iraq:Rendon was also a major player in the CIA's effort to encourage the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. In May 1991, then-President George Bush, Sr. signed a presidential finding directing the CIA to create the conditions for Hussein's removal. The hope was that members of the Iraqi military would turn on Hussein and stage a military coup. The CIA did not have the mechanisms in place to make that happen, so they hired the Rendon Group to run a covert anti-Saddam propaganda campaign. Rendon's postwar work involved producing videos and radio skits ridiculing Saddam Hussein, a traveling photo exhibit of Iraqi atrocities, and radio scripts calling on Iraqi army officers to defect.A February 1998 report by Peter Jennings cited records obtained by ABC News which showed that the Rendon Group spent more than $23 million dollars in the first year of its contract with the CIA. It worked closely with the Iraqi National Congress (INC), an opposition coalition of 19 Iraqi and Kurdish organizations whose main tasks were to "gather information, distribute propaganda and recruit dissidents." According to ABC, Rendon came up with the name for the Iraqi National Congress and channeled $12 million of covert CIA funding to it between 1992 and 1996. Writing in The New Yorker, Seymour Hersh says the Rendon Group was "paid close to a hundred million dollars by the CIA" for its work with the INC.[12]ClandestineRadio.com, a website which monitors underground and anti-government radio stations in countries throughout the world, credits the Rendon Group with "designing and supervising" the Iraqi Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) and Radio Hurriah, which began broadcasting Iraqi opposition propaganda in January 1992 from a US government transmitter in Kuwait. According to a September 1996 article in Time magazine, six CIA case officers supervised the IBC's 11 hours of daily programming and Iraqi National Congress activities in the Iraqi Kurdistan city of Arbil. According to a Harvard graduate student from Iraq who helped translate some of the radio broadcasts into Arabic, the program was poorly run. "No one in-house spoke a word of Arabic," he says. "They thought I was mocking Saddam, but for all they knew I could have been lambasting the US government." The scripts, he adds, were often ill conceived. "Who in Iraq is going to think it's funny to poke fun at Saddam's mustache," the student notes, "when the vast majority of Iraqi men themselves have mustaches?"[13] In any case, the propaganda campaign came to an abrupt end on August 31, 1996, when the Iraqi army invaded Arbil and executed all but 12 out of 100 IBC staff workers along with about 100 members of the Iraqi National Congress.

iraqcindy sheehanthe christian science monitordave cookcape cod todayinstitute of public accuracyjake berrycape cod times
south florida sun sentinel-times
joni mitchell
michelle tanel paso timesandrew kreighbaumchris robertstulsa worldkevin canfieldmanny gamallo
caroline alexanderbloomberg news
the sunday mailjonathan owenthe independent of londonthe manchester evening news
stars and stripescharlie reedjill kuraitisthe washington posternesto londonothe new york timessteven lee myersthe los angeles timescaesar ahmedliz slymcclatchy newspapersadam ashton

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