Thursday, April 16, 2009

April 21st, St Louis, Matthis needs your support

Matthis Chiroux is a very brave person and he isn't afraid to speak the truth even when others feel they have to 'finesse' it. C.I. called this afternoon and asked if I was planning to blog tonight and I was. Did I want to post something about Matthis? Absolutely. This is "Resistance to an Abhorrent Occupation: Press Release of Matthis Chiroux" from World Can't Wait:

The U.S. Army will hear the case of Sgt. Matthis Chiroux, an Individual Ready Reservist who last summer publicly refused activation and deployment orders to Iraq, on April 21 at 1 Reserve Way in Overland, St. Louis, MO, at 9 a.m. Chiroux, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, refused to participate in what he described as "an illegal and immoral occupation" May 15th, 2008, in Washington D.C., after nine other veterans testified to Members of the U.S. Congress about atrocities they experienced during deployments to Iraq.
Chiroux also vowed to remain public in the U.S. to defend himself from any charges brought against him by the military. (see for a record of that speech and others by Chiroux)
"My resistance as a noncommissioned officer to this abhorrent occupation is just as legitimate now as it was last year," said Chiroux, adding, "Soldiers have a duty to adhere to the international laws of war described as supreme in Art. 6 Para. 2 of the U.S. Constitution, which we swear to abide by before the orders of any superior, including our former or current president."
Following Chiroux's refusal to deploy, the military did not contact him until after he and 10 other IVAW members marched on the final presidential debate Oct. 15, 2008, in Hempstead, N.Y. demanding to question then Senators Obama and McCain regarding their war policies and plans to care for returning veterans. After the veterans were brutalized and arrested by police, (one suffered a fractured skull and is currently suing the police for damages) the Army charged Chiroux with "misconduct" for refusing to deploy, announcing their intentions to discharge him from the reserves as a result.
"I go now to St. Louis to honor my promises and convictions," said Chiroux. "Obama or No-Bama, the military must cease prosecuting Soldiers of conscience, and we will demonstrate to them why." Following the hearing, Chiroux and other IVAW members will testify about their military experiences which led them all to resist in different capacities the U.S.'s Overseas Contingency Operation (formerly the Global War on Terror).

I want to put that with something from the March 6th snapshot:

Yesterday in NYC, Elaine Brower, Matthis Chiroux and Debra Sweet discussed upcoming actions and the need for them. Click here to stream at wearechangetv. Debra Sweet is the national director of World Can't Wait and this from the discussion:

Debra Sweet: To my right is Matthis Chiroux who is a resister of the Iraq War -- someone who came out of the US army and decided that he would refuse orders to go into Iraq. And he's courageously right now fighting a battle with the US army so that he's not put in a position of having to back off that stand and he's trying to make a fight on principle. That the war is illegitimate in the first place and no one should have to serve. We got to know him very well when he led a group of
Iraq Veterans Against the War and hundreds of others of us to protest at the last debate between Obama and McCain out in Hampstea,d New York -- a bunch of them got beat up. And what they did were very righteous. To my left is Elaine Brower who is also a member of World Can't Wait and also a member of many other organizations -- such as Peace Action, Military Families Speak Out -- and is leading a national effort to get the Guard out of the federal government which would allow, we hope, them to be pulled out of US military adventures around the [world] including Iraq and Afghanistan. So we want to just have a conversation first among ourselves and, once we turn the cameras off, we'll bring everyone else in New York into this conversation. And again we're urging people listening right now to listen and then go out and make your plans for March 19th. Thursday March 19th is two weeks from today. There's plenty of time to make the kind of strong message we need to put together, emanating from this country. So I want to turn to Matthis and Elaine and ask a couple of questions. We're going to have a conversation. First of all what do we think about the responsibilities of the people living in this country in regards to the occupations of both Iraq and Afghanistan and especially the escalation of Afghanistan 17,000 more troops being sent by Obama and what about the responsibility we have for the US torture state and the announcement that, number one, there will be no prosecution, if Obama has anything to say about it, of the people who put together the us torture state and, number two, that he wants to continue both the use of state secrets to keep this quiet and secret rendition to take people from third countries to be tortured. I guess I've given an indication of what I think about this but let's hear from Matthis and Elaine.

Matthis Chiroux: Hi, everybody here, everybody here, joining us at home via the internet, all around the world. Thank you for taking this moment to try and understand where our responsibility lies in this movement to resist the crimes of our government. What Debra said is very true. I think it is our responsibility to not only be organizing and demonstrating against these occupations but to being taking responsibly for them because ultimately I believe this isn't Bush's war, this isn't Obama's war, this is America's war. And in a democratic society, the more we would like to believe that we have a say so, in the same sense the more responsibility that we share for the actions of our elected representatives. It is imperative that the entire country go into mourning on March 19th for the 2 million dead of both of the illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our movement needs to be distancing itself from President Obama. I'm sorry to say it because I know he was many of our candidate. But he has chosen not to be our president instead he has chosen to be an emperor and I protest emperor's and everybody should in this entire country and across this entire planet. So ultimately it is our responsibility and if we are not in the streets on March 19th protesting loudly and furiously the crimes of our government the world will consider it complicity and we cannot afford for that to happen. So, as a brief opening statement, yes, it is absolutely our responsibility to oppose these crimes and to demonstrate in the streets and to be putting our bodies on the line for peace and justice as citizens as the world not simply America. And I'll turn it over to Elaine.

Elaine: Good evening everybody and thanks for being here and thanks for watching. I just want to say that we invaded Iraq. It's six years now. And we protested the invasion before it happened and we need to keep protesting the occupation. And people sort of got complacent with the election coming. And we see that now there's slogans out there "Yes we can end the war," "Yes we can bring the troops home" but we're not saying what we used to say. We're not demanding -- demanding -- that the occupation and the wars end now. What we need to do for the world -- because the Afghani civilians are depending upon us, the soldiers are depending on us and the Iraqi civilians are depending on us to -- get out in the streets in mass mobilization on the 19th and shut down business as usual. We've been saying this for six years we've tried and we haven't accomplished it. People voted for change twice in this country In 2006 they went out and they tried to vote in Democrats for change and that didn't happen. And now they thought, "Well okay so we're going to vote in a new administration that's all Democrats and yes we're gonna get change." Well maybe we'll get some domestic change but we certainly are not getting a change in foreign policy. In fact If you listen to the pundits, they've been saying that they're very disappointed and things are absolutely not changing under this administration. So it's up to us in the movement to make sure that we're visible not on a weekend but during the week when people can see us out in the streets. And I know this is difficult to do this and I know -- I've been doing it myself for seven years, pretty much everybody here has been doing it and I know people that are watching have been doing it. But we cannot stop. This is the point where really need to mobilize and say, "No, you're not going to continue this killing and occupation in our name with out dollars." Obama's not talking about taking the mercenaries out of Iraq or Afghanistan. He's only talking about possibly drawing down troops, maybe. And he could always change his mind depending upon what goes down on the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan. So we've got to make sure that they know we're out there.

Debra Sweet: I'd like to talk for a moment, since I raised it and since it's a demand, I think it's a just demand, for March 19th The occupation of Iraq has to end. I think most people are very clear on that. But I will tell you this right now, many people are not clear about Afghanistan. Many people are not clear that it is a terrible thing to be sending drones dropping bombs on people in Pakistan. Many people are not clear that Obama talking about diplomacy with Iran can be and has been used as just another way of making war on the Middle East and moving towards controlling it. And I think our responsibility -- yes, I think we have a responsibility to resist and I really agree with what Matthis and Elaine are saying, but we have even a heavier responsibility. We have to go out to the people we know who are not in this room, who are not watching who are thinking about something else and thinking everything has been solved and talk to them about why sending 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan after you've already raised the civilian murder rate. The killing of civilians, 40% in the last year, is absolutely unacceptable. And this is, I think, part of this heavier layer of responsibilty that I'd like us all to think about and to talk about. What does it take for people to start looking at this situation not just as Americans but through the eyes of humanity? And to give you a really shaper example, I was at a peace meeting two nights ago and it was a film called Obama's War. A representative of United For Peace and Justice -- of which World Can't Wait and many of us are members -- actually said, "Aren't you glad this is Obama's War and not McCain's War?" And I said, and I thought and said to myself, "How do the people in feel that this is Obama's War?" Do we think they're celebrating that the bombs being dropped on them have a big "D" for Democrat on them? I think hell no. This is an outrage that this president right now is still being seen by people all over the country as an anti-war president. Let's just be for real, this is a continuation of an unjust war no matter what it is called and it is a rebraniding of injustice in the name of something that it isn't, peace. What do you think?

Matthis Chiroux: I absolutely agree. I think one of the most important things for this movement to remember right now is that while this war was a liability to the Bush administration, it is something that was an embarssment for them. Every time something about the war came up, they were on the defensive -- trying to defend why we had to go get Saddam Hussein and why we still had to be going after bin laden in Afghanista. And people thought, "Oh, this is your fault. This is your mistake." This war is not a liabilty to Obma. This war is potentially something he can use to look like he's being strong on terror as a Democrat. This is something that he can escalate. And if the slightest, tiniest bit of progress can come out of it, this country will want to hail him as the hero of peace and justice and all of that stuff when, in reality, what we're doing is what we've always done. And I can say it having been in the US military and having been part of the occupation of German and Japan sixty years after WWII. I literally lived in the old Axis of Evil. And what I learned is that: we never leave. Right now in Iraq, while people believe that the war is over and that we won and we've struck a blow upon the anvil of imperialism and so on and so forth, it is just not the case. We are building permanent bases and leaving troops on a permanent timetable when we ought to be admitting wrong and paying reperations to people whose society we have destroyed. And there's no amount of capitulation that we can do to the Obama administration that is going to make the bombs stop falling. It was one of the first things he did when he took office, the bombs started falling on Pakistan. And then it came out that he was going to continue this legacy of state secrets to hide the fact that tortture does take place on a regular basis by the orders of the US government .
Fahad Hasmi is still lingushing in solitary confiement right here in NYC We're talking about Guantanamo closing in a year as being a great victory for this movement when, in fact, all that's going to happen is they're going to shut down and they're going to move them back into the federal system here where every bit as much injustice is occuring. For those who do not know, Fahad Hashmi is an American citizen who has been held in solitary confiement now for more than a year while in a state of presumed innocence for the supposed crime of allowing af riend to sleep on his couch for two months three or four years ago. It's craziness. Obama . . . I, right now, have a hearing with the military where I'm going to have to defend my decision not to report to duty last summer to deploy to Iraq The army's decision [applause], I say that because the army's decision to prosecute me, to set a date and show up, didn't come until after Obama took office. If we could expect serious change that would have stopped. But It's not. Those policies are continuing policies that are keeping poeple like Fahad literally, I'm sorry you don't have to water board someone to torture him. I think leaving him in a solitary confined space for a year without telling them what they did wrong is torture and we have to oppose that just as loudly. Look we have to understand change will absoultely not manifest itself in this country until we cease the unjust practices of the past. And when those unjust practices are simply being rebranded under a different face and a different name, it is our responsibility as a movement to provide clear contrast to something that people want to believe in but is ultimately a fairytale. Obama has plotted* a clear choice for this country from imperalism to impearlism-lite And I said it before and I'll say it again, as any ex-smoker will tell you, just because you switched from Reds to Marlboro Lights doesn't mean you quit the habit. You don't quit the habit until you put it out and we need to extinughs this war on terror because until we do the habit continues

Debra Sweet: I want to ask Elaine a specific question because I've known Elaine snce after her son was deployed to Afghanistan -- right aft 9-11 -- and since then he's been in Iraq twice and in fact he's there for the second time now. So this is a very personal question and a personal quest but what do we say to people who say that Afghanistan is the good -- "Yeah, yeah, I know Iraq is bad, we should get out of there. But what about Afghanistan isn't that the good war, isn't this a good thing?"

Elaine: Well it's interesting because as a member of
Military Families Speak Out, we just opened up a discussion form because it became a hot topic. Now what's happening is a lot of the military families are seeing their loved ones instead of going to Iraq, they're going to Afghanistan. And this is something they never expected. So there's a real debate now amongst military families, shouldn't we add this to our mission, shouldn't this be a part of our mission statment that we do not want to send our soldiers to afhgnaistan? And people now are sort of getting on board with that it's dawning on them, "Well why are we going to afghanistan?" They're questioning that: "Well what are we looking for? The Afghani people never attacked us. Okay, so mabye it was bin Laden, who knows? We don't even know that for a fact. But let's say it was that's one person and al Qaeadea is one group of people. So we just bomb Afghansitan? Do we send soldiers into the mountains to kill innocent people in villages that have nothing to do with this?" So this discussion is starting to surface. And, no, it is absolutely wrong to send soldiers into Afghanistan. In fact today I was talking about National Guard and now they're taking the national guard and sending them to Afghanistan. For what? Our National Guard is supposed to be here in the United States responding to any emergeinces we have here -- whether they be hurricanes or accidents of major magnitude. But they're no longer here. In fact, yesterday in Wisoncisn, they sent 3200 national gaurd members to Iraq they happened to go, but here from Rochester we lost 2000 national guard going to Afhgnistan. So this is definitaly a situation where, being a military family member, I live and breathe this every day. I have to tell you personally when you have children what you do -- or a loved one -- I knd of have this little grid in my head. And I know where my daughter is. And I know where my husband is. And when my son joined the military I lost track of him in this grid. And I had to place him where ever he was. And I was thinking today on my wall, I used to have a map and I had thumbtacks in it. And before 9-11 and he was in Afghansitan I'd put a thumbtack and then he went to Australia and East Timor and then he kind of got lost in Iraq and it was very traumatic for me. And I have been going through this for seven years. And there are other military family members who are saying "When is this going to end? Even if he's going to keep 50,000 troops in Iraq, who are those 50,000? Are they the same people that have gone three four times already? Or are they now freshly recruiting right out of high school" -- which we've seen new young people -- "to go over there to do what? What are they protecting?" They're protecting this monstrotisty of an embassy What are we doing there? What's the purpose? So Afghanistan is defintely wrong. I know that and I think now it's sort of bubbling to the surface and people are starting to question that which they didn't before. But I think we're going to see more of that. Getting out on the 19th, to me, is very critical because . . . I do not want my son to come back from Iraq -- he's supposed to come back in June, I hope he comes back in one piece -- I don't want to see him go to Afghanistan. Or back to Iraq for that matter. I want this over and I think pretty much everyone who is in my position does also.

All three spoke important truths and I don't wish to take anything away from the other two speakers but Matthis really broke with the 'script' and called truth to power. Bless him for doing so. He is very brave. (Adam Kokesh has also shown real bravery.) That's what it's going to take to take on the War Party dominating the US and end the empiralistic, illegal wars.

You can read an interview with Matthis by clicking here. C.I. will be noting Matthis' press release in tomorrow's snapshot but she knows how important I think Matthis is and gave me the chance to note it first in our community. (Thank you, C.I.) For more on Matthis, you can check his website.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Thursday, April 16, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, Iraq tries to firm up a deal with Total oil, the LGBT community remains targeted, New York Times runs state propaganda passed off as 'reporting,' Deborah Haynes exposes state propaganda (demonstrating what actual reporting is), and much more.

Today a bombing attack on a US and Iraqi military base in Al Anbar Province took place and the results are in disputes.
BBC maintains that there were no deaths but twenty-six people were wounded. Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) explains Iraqi Maj Gen Mrdhi Mishhen Al Mahalawi and others are insisting that no one died. Aseel Kami (Reuters) states 16 are dead with at least fifty injured, that a suicide bomber in Iraqi military garb took his own life and the lives of others by detonating "at the base's cafeteria". At the New York Times website, Steven Lee Myers reports the confusion, offers reports of "at least 15 Iraqi soldiers" dead and identifies the location as Tamouz Air Base while noting that all journalists have been banned from the base and from the hospital where the wounded and/or dead were taken. As stated several times already this month, Nouri al-Maliki has no respect for the press, has no interest in a free press and the idea that 'democracy' will ever come to Iraq while US puppet Nouri sits in the catbird seat is laughable. AP spoke to two Iraqi officers and allowed them to remain nameless, one confirmed deaths but would not give a number, the other told AP 16 Iraqi soldiers had died. Iran's Press TV also states 16 killed and says fifty were wounded.

While the puppet government attempts to control the reporting on today's bombing,
Kim Sengupta (Indpendent of London) reports on a new study by Iraqi Body Count which finds that "[a]ir strikes and artillery barrages have taken a heavy toll among the most vulnerable of the Iraqi people, with children and women forming a disproportionate number of the dead." The report, entitled "The Weapons That Kill Civilians -- Deaths of Children and Noncombatants in Iraq, 2003-2008," is co-authored by Iraqi Body Count and King's College London and Royal Holloway, University of London in the UK and it is published in the New England Journal of Medicine. IBC notes:

For Iraqi females, and children, events involving air attacks and mortar fire were the most dangerous. In air attacks causing civilian deaths, 46% of victims of known gender were female, and 39% of victims of known age were children. Mortar attacks claimed similarly high proportions of victims in these two demographic groups (44% and 42%). By comparison, 11% of victims across all weapons types were Iraqi females, and 9% were children. The authors argue that their findings showing that air attacks (whether involving bombs or missiles) and mortars killed relatively high proportions of females and children is further evidence that these weapons should not be directed at civilian areas by parties to conflict because of their indiscriminate nature. As co-author Professor John Sloboda of Royal Holloway, University of London, who is also a co-founder of IBC, notes, "Our weapon-specific findings have implications for a wide range of conflicts, because the patterns found in this study are likely to be replicated for these weapons whenever they are used."

Alsumaria notes the report finds that for all Iraqis, "abudctions of people who are later executed" results in the bulk of deaths. "Relatives of the dead, most of them women and some quietly wiping away tears, sit in a room trying to spot the missing among the photos of men and boys, many mutilated or severely decayed, cycled on a bank of screens," reports Mohammed Abbas (Reuters) on the unclaimed and unidentied corpses that continue, year after year, at Baghdad's central morgue.

Martin Chulov (Guardian of Manchester) plays 'ignore the violence there, look over here!' Chulov is all giddy about a reconstructed shrine in Samarra which will allegedly soon re-open. It's more garbage from a piece of trash outlet and if you're wondering where little Chulov got his 'idea,' Dallas Morning News religious reporter Bruce Tomaso noted Monday an article in the Smithosian (by Joshua Hammer with photos by Max Becherer) which explores the rebuilding of the shrine. Chulov buries the lede which is that Sunnis and Shi'ites were working on the rebuilding together -- the only point of interest to the story that took beyond the Smithsonian for most people. Chulov 'forgets' to mention the brief by Tomaso or the article in the Smithsonian and wants you to believe he's reporting on something he witnessed (he's reporting from Baghdad, he didn't go to Samarra) -- that actually is funny. But the Guardian's nothing but a laugh these days anyway as it attempts to battle Google and whine about profits -- for those not in the know, the Guardian is set up in the non-profit mode. In reality, it's nothing but a party organ (and therefore apologist) for the neo-liberal New Labour Party. Any article not pushing/pimping/excusing neo-liberal policies exists in the hope that it will attract readers it might otherwise miss and hopefully bring them over to neo-liberalism during their stop-over. Joshua Hammer opens his article with:

I'm standing on a street corner in the center of Samarra--a strife-scarred Sunni city of 120,000 people on the Tigris River in Iraq--surrounded by a squad of American troops. The crackle of two-way radios and boots crunching shards of glass are the only sounds in this deserted neighborhood, once the center of public life, now a rubble-filled wasteland. I pass the ruins of police headquarters, blown up by an Al Qaeda in Iraq suicide truck bomber in May 2007, and enter a corridor lined by eight-foot-high slabs of concrete--"Texas barriers" or "T-walls," in U.S. military parlance. A heavily guarded checkpoint controls access to the most sensitive edifice in the country: the Askariya Shrine, or Mosque of the Golden Dome, one of the holiest sites in Shia Islam.
Here, in February 2006, Al Qaeda militants blew up the delicate gold-tile dome atop the thousand-year-old Shiite shrine, igniting a spasm of sectarian killing that brought the country to the edge of civil war. For the past year and a half, a committee led by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has been working with United Nations consultants to clear debris from the site and to begin rebuilding the Golden Dome--a $16 million project that aims to restore the shrine sufficiently to receive Shiite pilgrims by this summer.
I've been trying for three days to get close to the shrine, stymied by an order from al-Maliki's office barring journalists from the site--an indication of how sensitive the bombing remains in this country. U.S. military officers in Samarra have pulled strings on my behalf with the mayor, Iraqi police officials and the Ministry of Planning in Baghdad. This time, after I reach the checkpoint, a friendly commander of the Askariya Brigade, a predominantly Shiite police force dispatched from Baghdad last year to guard the site, makes a call to his superiors in the Iraqi capital, then escorts me through.

Joshua Hammer wrote a very good article, we don't, however, buy into the belief that it was the moment that changed everything. The bombing provided photos and the press ran with those. The bombing was only one of a long series of incidents that cemented the sectarian conflict.

On the political front, Iraq remains in disarray. Yesterday Corinne Reilly and Ali Abbas offer "
Kurdish-Arab tensions continue to grow in northern Iraq" (McClatchy Newspapers) and Liz Sly and Caesar Ahmed's "Establishment of Iraq provincial councils drags" (Los Angeles Times) documented many of the problems and today Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) reports:

Two and a half months after the elections, the 14 provinces that voted have only now begun forming provincial councils, the equivalent of state legislatures in the United States. Five provinces, including Babil, Najaf and Basra, still have no functioning governments, despite a deadline that passed last week, as party leaders squabble over the selection of governors, council chairmen and their deputies. Elections that were supposed to strengthen Iraq's democracy, unite its ethnic and sectarian factions, and begin to improve sorely needed basic services -- water, electricity, roads -- have instead exposed the fault lines that still threaten the country's stability.

In an update,
Alsumaria reports a president and a vice president for Najaf's provincial council has been elected today. Myers refers to the economic 'problems' of Iraq -- other countries have economic problems, the puppet government in Baghdad is rolling in the cash. Provincial governments should not be effected by the decrease in price per barrel of oil unless there has been major theft within a province. The reason for that is none of them spent all their previous yearly budgets. They stockpiled that money. So were their budgets slashed, they'd still have the excess from previous years which they didn't spend. If they don't have that money, it's because someone or somones stole it. We'll return to the issue of the money 'troubles' shortly.

This morning the Daily Coverup (aka New York Times), found
Alissa J. Rubin joining with Rod Nordland for more please-love-us-and-don't-kick-us-out-of-the-country efforts. This follows yesterday's garbage (Rubin's "Iraq Tries to Prove Autonomy, and Makes Inroads") made it into print for anyone who didn't grasp what was what yesterday. Today's article never goes deeper than the headline ("U.S. Military Expresses Concern About Perception of an Iraqi Crackdown on Sunnis"). It's not an article, it's a damn press release and your first clue is the fact that the headline expresses a point of view which Rubin and Nordland carry through in their article. Reporters do not do that. If one person has a point of view and they present that point of view in their article, they also present other points of view. So X is saying there is no problem. A reporter then goes to Z, goes to Y, etc. to find out whether or not the claim is true. Various points of view are presented -- especially when a claim cannot be independently verified.Rubin and Nordland don't do that. They're not interested in evaluating the claim, they're only interested in making sure they were good little stenographers who dotted every "i" and crossed every "t" in what the US military told them to write down. It's shameful and it's embarrassing. The New York Times is never supposed to be part of the US military's counter-insurgency operations but that's what they do this morning and it's shameful and it needs to be called out. There is no excuse for it at all.For the record, the press didn't create the tensions between Sahwa and Nouri. Those tensions were always present and you can go back to 2007 reports and find that. In terms of the Baghdad armed conflict which took place last month, BBC and Reuters were the only ones filing early reports (when the conflict had just started) and those were innocuous reports nothing like what would come out by the end of the day about US forces joining with Iraqi forces to battle Sahwa in the Fadhil section of Baghdad. The press didn't create that armed struggle, didn't encourage it and, honestly, was caught by surprise when those tensions flared up so dramatically. Yesterday Rubin served up propaganda that rivaled the garbage Eason Jordan attoned for in a Times' column (he admitted CNN regularly covered up stories of abuse in Iraq to curry favor with Saddam Hussein). Today, Rubin and Nordland enlist in the US military in order to pull a fast one on the public in the US and in Iraq. Today they set journalism aside because they've been told they need to serve a 'higher purpose.' Any journalist who has so little pride in their field that they'd do this sort of stenography needs to take a good hard look at themselves and whether they belong in journalism.What Rubin and Nordland have written is an embarrassment and it's an embarrassment for their paper which indicates just how awful their article is. Check "Rudith Miller" for how the paper works. It always cowtows to what the US government wants. But even Judith, even Judith Miller, knew you just bury the contrary opinions when presenting government assertions as fact. Rubin and Nordland present US government assertions as fact but they're worse than Judith Miller. Take a moment to grasp that. While Miller would wait until paragraph 13 to briefly note a voice that called into question a government claim, Rubin and Nordland just eliminate those voices, they refuse to cover them, they refuse to include them. The US military is doing cartwheels this morning because they dictated an article to the Times and the Times ran it without any efforts to verify it and without any efforts to include any other opinions. This is propaganda pure and simple and, no, that is not how an allegedly free press works. And for those who wish to play as dumb as Rubin and Nordland, among the people real reporters could have interviewed to round out and evaluate a claim were: Iraqi police officers, Sahwa, academics who follow the situation (especially academics in Baghdad and Dubai) and NGOs. By refusing to do so, by printing 18 paragraphs that's nothing but an attempt at perception management on the part of the US military, the reporters disgrace themselves and their profession.
And we return to the money issue by noting one of the most laughable US military assertions that made it into print this morning, that Sahwa's not being paid due to money shortages. Nouri's got money problems because of falling oil prices, the US military insists and Rubin and Nordland spit back at American readers without question. From
yesterday's snapshot, "AFP reports reality, 'Iraq has signed a contract with British engineering and construction company Foster Wheeler to build the country's largest-ever oil refinery, an Iraqi official said on Wednesday'." The cost of the plant? $128,000,000. That deal was announced yesterday. And Rubin and Nordland want to repeat (without question) US military tales of Nouri having to count and watch his pennies. Remember Nouri always says "only boys who save their pennies make my rainy day." Alsumaria reports Iraq's Shi'ite vice president Adel Abdul Mehdi met with French president Nicolas Sarkozy today and delcared that oil conglomerate Total was very likely to win a contract in Iraq -- that would mean, pay attention, more money forked over to Iraq. Meanwhile Simon Webb and Amena Bakr (Reuters) interview Iraqi MP Jabir Khalifa who states that the Parliament is seeking to revoke the contract Royal Dutch Shell made with the country's Oil Ministry because it is "unconstitutional and detrimental to Iraq's economic interests".

While Rubin and Nordland serve up propaganda, independent journalist
Dahr Jamail offers some reality at ZNet:

While the US military maintains 138,000 soldiers in Iraq, and there are over 200,000 private contractors enabling the occupation, and the president intends on keeping at least 50,000 US troops in Iraq indefinitely, Obama managed to keep a straight face whilst pressuring the Iraqi government to "take responsibility for their country" and adding that the United States has "no claim on Iraqi territory and resources." All of this nice talk from President Obama, which he articulated just hours after a spate of bombings across Baghdad killed 15 Iraqis and wounded 27, was complimented by his and Bush's Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who claimed that al-Qaeda in Iraq appeared to be making a "last gasp" attempt to foment sectarian violence in Baghdad. Those who have been following the news about the US occupation of Iraq closely over the last six years know all too well how many "last gasps" and "turning the corners" there have been - of which there are too many to count. This one is no different, and the fallacy of the statement was punctuated on April 10 in Mosul, when a suicide car bomb attack killed five US soldiers, along with two Iraqi troops. Taking another page out of the Bush playbook for the occupation of Iraq, while speaking at Baghdad's airport, Obama also said the next 18 months are "going to be a critical period." Again, there have been more "critical periods" in Iraq throughout the occupation than I care to remember. Two days after Obama's visit to Baghdad's airport, Gen. Ray Odierno told The Times that US combat troops may remain in Iraq's cities beyond the June 30 deadline mandated by the Status of Forces Agreement. Of course, throughout all of this rhetoric, the glaring omission is any discussion about the massive "enduring" US military bases in Iraq and the US "embassy" that is the size of the Vatican City. Meanwhile, the bloodletting and destruction of Iraq continues.

Surprisingly, Dahr Jamail isn't the only one taking on propaganda.
Peter Baker (New York Times) observes, "For all the perception of a major course correction, Mr. Obama so far appears to be presiding over a foreign policy that may seem more different than it really is. As Mr. Obama heads to Mexico on Thursday for his second foreign trip of the month, he is bringing with him many of the same American interests as his predecessor, even if they are wrapped in a different package." On Iraq, Baker explains, "Mr. Obama's decision to withdraw from Iraq is not as sharp a change as it once seemed during the presidential campaign. Mr. Obama deferred to military commanders in agreeing to leave the vast bulk of American forces in place until next year, when a phased pullout would begin, leaving 50,000 troops in place after August 2010." The third term of George W. Bush is more than underway as is obvious by this headline at CBS News "CIA Off The Hook For Past Waterboarding"-- no punishment for those crimes against humanity. Barack prefers to instead just walk on by, don't stop, just walk on by. How very Bully Boy Bush of him. The policies of the previous administration also continue when it comes to the silence on the targeting of Iraq's LGBT community as Doug Ireland reports at GayCityNews noting State Dept staffer Felming (who spent a year in Iraq under Bully Boy Bush) dismissing concerns for LGBT Iraqis recently. Ireland reports:

Hili told this reporter, "There is an intensive media campaign against homosexuals in Iraq at this time which we believe is inspired by the Ministry of the Interior, both in the daily newspapers and on nearly all the television stations. Their reports brand all gays as 'perverts' and try to portray us as terrorists who are undermining the moral fiber of Iraqi youth." Hili said the current homo-hating media campaign appears to have been sparked as an unfortunate reaction to an April 4 Reuters dispatch that reported: "Two gay men were killed in Baghdad's Sadr City slum, a local official said, and police said they had found the bodies of four more after clerics urged a crackdown on a perceived spread of homosexuality... The police source said the bodies of four gay men were unearthed in Sadr City on March 25, each bearing a sign reading 'pervert' in Arabic on their chests."
Amnesty International has called out the targeting -- publicly called out the targeting which puts them way ahead of the United Nations, the US White House and the US State Department. We'll note this section of Ireland's report:

Dalia Hashad of Amnesty International told Gay City News, "Amnesty has been unable to get from the Iraqi government any confirmation that the men are in custody or that they are facing execution, but from what we have heard from individuals in Iraq, they were sentenced to die for belonging to a 'banned group.' We are protesting to the Iraqi government and are continuing to try to investigate, but it is very difficult to get any information about such prisoners in Iraq."

Dalia Hashad is an attorney and, along with Michael Ratner, Heidi Boghosian and Michael Smith, she co-hosts
WBAI's Law and Disorder. Rex Wockner (PrideSource) adds that there is a lack of clarity over whether or not Iraq re-instated (in 2003) a law making same-sex relations illegal. He quotes Iraqi LGBT's Ali Hili explaining, "That's what they have been told by a judge in a brief court hearing. I don't think this is in the Iraqi constitution as a death penalty (crime). The court is ... kangaroo-style. It was brief and people weren't able to present legal representation or defend themselves in that kind of court. Our information is that these five members have been convicted to death for running activities of a forbidden organization on Iraqi soil."
In the most shocking refusal to report propaganda,
Deborah Haynes (Times of London) takes a train ride in Baghdad and quickly grasps that it is proganada and -- pay attention Alissa J. Rubin and Rod Nordland -- reports examples of that. An alleged commuter train, supposedly to transport workers, "leaves at 8am -- rather late in the morning for Baghdad's only commuter service" and that's far from the only puzzling moment. She asks a 'commuter' where he is going and he gets the destination wrong. And then there is this:

The picture-perfect scene looks too good to be true. There is also the mystery of why commuters are so eagerly commuting in reverse, from the centre of the city to the outskirts. Further fuelling our suspicion, a local television crew is conveniently on hand to film the hustle and bustle. A press officer at the station tells us upon arrival that the train has been laid on especially for the media. He then changes his story, after seeing our crestfallen expressions, to explain it is a later service that sometimes follows the earlier train at 6.30am.
This is really an
amazing report and praise for Deborah Haynes for reporting it.
Alsumaria reports, "Iraq Army units supported by US air forces launched a wide scale operation in southern Kirkuk after a suicide bombing killed 10 policemen and wounded around 20 others. Second Brigade Commander Abdul Amir Al Zaidi affirmed that two senior officials of Ansar Al Sunna were killed and two others were wounded in the operation after Iraq Army received intelligence about their involvement in yesterday's bombing." They report it and only they report it, why is that? A major operation, an assault, and where is the press coverage from US outlets?

In some of today's reported violence . . .


Laith Hammoudi and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Mosul grenade attack which left three injured, a Mosul car bombing which injured three prison guards and a Baquba sticky bombing which claimed the life of 1 Sahwa leader.


Laith Hammoudi and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 police officer shot dead in Mosul and another injured. KUNA reports a border clash between the Turkish military and the PKK resulted in 1 Turkish soldier being killed.

Yesteday's snapshot noted the conviction of US Master Sgt John E. Hatley in Germany. In today's New York Times, Paul von Zielbauer quotes James D. Culp ("former Army trial defense lawyer"), "When the first sergeant of a company snaps, taking a sergeant first class and a senior medic with him, it's a sign that they've just had too much." AP reminds, "Military cases go through an automatic appeal process, and his sentence also could be reduced in a clemency proceeding."

iraqthe new york timessteven lee myers
alissa j. rubinrod nordlandmcclatchy newspaperscorinne reillyali abbasthe los angeles timescaesar ahmedliz sly
aseel kamipaul von zielbauer
kim sengupta
laith hammoudimcclatchy newspapers
leila fadel
hussein kadhim
peter baker
mohammed abbas
dahr jamail
doug ireland
law and disordermichael ratnermichael smithdalia hashadheidi boghosian
deborah haynes