An important story you should catch is Dina Temple-Raston and Melissa Block's "Iraqis Say U.S. Guards Used Drugs, Defied Orders" (All Things Considered) and here is the summary NPR provides:
Some Iraqi civilians have filed a civil lawsuit against the Blackwater guards involved in a September shooting incident in a Baghdad traffic circle.
The suit claims that the Blackwater personnel were in the traffic circle against the instructions of their dispatcher. The suit also alleges that they had improperly taken steroids.
The Justice Department is investigating the incident and does not expect to have a decision on whether or how to prosecute the guards for some months.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:
Thursday, November 29, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, cholera is back in the news, some have hopes for Kevin Rudd but some do not, the US military announces a death, and more.
On November 15th Canada's Supreme Court announced they would not hear the appeals of US war resisters Following the refusal of the Canadian Supreme Cour to hear the appeals of US war resisters Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey.
Transcription to a video:
Comments on U.S. War
Resisters in Canada
January 27, 2007
Geoffrey Millard: Do you think it's wise for US service members to take the option to go to Canada?
Susan Sarandon: I think if you conscience tells you that you don't want to fight, that this is an unjust war, there's a long tradition of refusing and resisting to fight and I think that really I just wish that there was more press about that as an alternative because I've run into so many people who -- who are in the position now and don't know what will happen if they refuse who are very frightened either to not go back or to go for the first time. On the train coming up here I spoke to a woman whose twenty-year-old brother was in ROTC he got called up and he's getting two weeks of training in Tacoma and being deployed in the 'surge' and he is just stunned. He married his girlfriend this weekend, from high school. He doesn't know what's going on and I said, 'Well maybe he shouldn't go?' She said, "Oh, he said he can't do that because he'd be thrown in prison and prison's terrible and blah, blah, blah
Geoffrey Millard: If you could say one thing to soldiers going to Canada what would it be?
Susan Sarandon: I would say, "God bless you. And, you know, I admire your courage and know that there are people here who -- who see this as an honorable thing and that I hope that you can reach out and make it known to other people who have these kinds of doubts and convictions to have the courage of their convictions and to refuse.
United for Peace and Justice
You can find that and other videos on war resistance at this page of the War Resisters Support Campaign. In answer to a question as to why we're doing transcripts in full of videos on war resistance: (1) It's an important issue; (2) Just because you have the ability to stream and/or hear don't make the mistake of thinking everyone else does. The disabled community includes veterans and it is a very active community. Lee Berthiaume (Canada's Embassy magazine) explains:
Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis and NDP Immigration critic Olivia Chow butted heads over whether the committee should jump straight to the war resister issue, as Ms. Chow wanted, or whether the committee should first finish the work it started during the last session. Also, while Ms. Chow originally asked that the study focus on U.S. war resisters, specifically the two deserters facing extradition back to the United States, Mr. Karygiannis asked to open up the issue to deserting soldiers from other countries. After much debate, the committee agreed to look at Iraq war resisters and Iraqi refugees on Dec. 6 and 11. Citizenship and Immigration Canada officials are also slated to testify about undocumented workers on Dec. 13, while members spent four hours drafting a report on the loss of Canadian citizenship yesterday and will continue their work today and tomorrow.
Cindy Sheehan (OpEdNews) urges people to utilize Courage to Resist's easy to mail or e-mail resources to allow the Canadian government to know you are watching and to support organizations supporting war resisters as well as supporting war resisters:
Support actual war resisters in Canada by sending them expense money. From my friend Ryan (I gave him and his wife money to get to Canada over two years ago):
In light of the recent Supreme Court denial in Canada, I (Ryan Johnson), My wife (Jen Johnson) and Brandon Hughey need help raising funds to travel to Ottawa to attend hearings before the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, where War Resisters will be giving Testimony to the committee. At these hearings the committee will be deciding on whether or not to make a provision to allow war resisters to stay in Canada. This is one of our last chances to be able to continue living in Canada. We will be leaving December 7th because the hearings are December 11th, 2007 so we need to act fast. They may try to send guys back soon and we need to have a strong War Resister Presence. We appreciate all of the support and Want to thank all of you who can help.
Checks/money orders can be sent for Ryan, Jen and Brandon to:312 Tower RdNelson, BC V1L3K6
If you are in Canada, you can utilize the contact info at War Resisters Support Campaign to let members of the Canadian Parliament know you support legislation allowing war resisters to stay in Canada. If you are in the United States (or elsewhere), you can utilize the contact info and/or forum at Courage to Resist. Public outcry didn't stop the illegal war from starting and public opposition has yet to end it. War resisters in Canada who have gone public are putting a great deal on the line. Use the links to show your support for them.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).
The voice of war resister Camilo Mejia is featured in Rebel Voices -- playing now through December 16th at Culture Project and based on Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove's best-selling book Voices of a People's History of the United States. It features dramatic readings of historical voices such as war resister Mejia, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Malcom X and others will be featured. Musician Allison Mooerer will head the permanent cast while those confirmed to be performing on selected nights are Ally Sheedy (actress and poet, best known for films such as High Art, The Breakfast Club, Maid to Order, the two Short Circuit films, St. Elmo's Fire, War Games, and, along with Nicky Katt, has good buzz on the forthcoming Harold), Eve Ensler who wrote the theater classic The Vagina Monologues (no, it's not too soon to call that a classic), actor David Strathaim (L.A. Confidential, The Firm, Bob Roberts, Dolores Claiborne and The Bourne Ultimatum), actor and playwright Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride, Clueless -- film and TV series, Gregory and Chicken Little), actress Lili Taylor (Dogfight, Shortcuts, Say Anything, Household Saints, I Shot Andy Warhol, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, State of Mind) and actor, director and activist Danny Glover (The Color Purple, Beloved, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Rainmaker, Places In The Heart, Dreamgirls, Shooter and who recently appeared on Democracy Now! addressing the US militarization of Africa) The directors are Will Pomerantz and Rob Urbinati with Urbinati collaborating with Zinn and Arnove on the play. Tickets are $21 for previews and $41 for regular performances (beginning with the Nov. 18th opening night). The theater is located at 55 Mercer Street and tickets can be purchased there, over the phone (212-352-3101) or online here and here. More information can be found at Culture Project.
Meanwhile IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC event:
In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.
Click here to sign a statement of support for Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan
March 13th through 15th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation.
In Australia, many hopes were raised with the Saturday election of Kevin Rudd to the post of Prime Minister. Rudd's call for pulling Australian combat troops out of Iraq was seen as "troops out of Iraq." Greg Barns (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) informed yesterday that "one of the first acts of Rudd's government will be to immediately withdraw the 550 Australian combat troops still in Iraq -- something that will no doubt irk in Bush." Less than a week since the election and already Australia's ABC reports that the supposed independent and elected ruler of Australia won't make a move without a nod from the US according to Robert McCallum (the US ambassador in Australia): "Mr McCallum says Mr Rudd has promised to speak to the United States before making any changes in Iraq." Meanwhile Brendan Nelson's whose 'rising star' status should have crashed and burned over his public statements regarding the late Jake Kovco is now the leader of the Liberal party -- the party John Howard, previous prime minister, hails from. Australia's Herald Sun reports Nelson is talking of Australia's 'responsibility' to the US and, as an after-thought, Iraq (link also offers video and Nelson's hair appears to have been set in homage to SNL's Coneheads). "The gloves are off now," the Herald Sun reports Rudd stating and notes he has announced his cabinet. How long did it take al-Maliki to announce his cabinet? Back to Rudd, Michael Fullilove (Los Angeles Times) expresses hope, "The results of the Australian election last weekend, however, may give pause to some in Washington: A social conservative, once described by President Bush as a 'man of steel,' was thrown out of office (and his own parliamentary seat) by a former diplomat who speaks Mandarin. On such issues as climate change and the war on terror, ousted Prime Minister John Howard was Bush's most faithful international supporter. After the inglorious departures of Britain's Tony Blair and Spain's Jose Maria Aznar, Bush and Howard were the last men standing of the Western leaders who invaded Iraq. Now Howard too is gone. It's as if the Sundance Kid charged alone into the rifles of the Bolivian army, leaving Butch Cassidy fiddling with his six-shooter."
As if that image of the US government isn't bad enough, AP reports that the US State Department's John Bellinger III says the US needs 'clarification' on the Geneva Conventions (try remedial lessons in it) and claims that Bilal Hussein can be imprisoned (19 months and counting) because "his understanding was that American forces were operating under an international mandate that allows for the detention of people who might pose a security threat" but, as the AP points out, "The Geneva Conventions contain specific references to the protection of journalists operating in war zones, including that they be treated as civilians unless they take part in hostilities." Bilal is the AP photographer -- Pulitzer Prize winning photographer who has been held since April 12, 2006. Free Bilal is a resource where you can find out more and sign a petition in support of him. As Ruth noted earlier this week, Bilal was the topic on NPR's All Things Considered Monday as Associated Press CEO and president Tom Curley spoke with Robert Siegel. Curley explained that they still didn't know what the charges would be but were told they might find out later this week. Curley reviewed how the AP's own investigation found nothing trouble. Not stated but it should be noted, the US has tried this in the press before and their charges have fallen apart under scrutiny. Siegel asked if Bilal was basically being punished for doing his job and Curley replied, "We can't find any other reason." Daryl Lang (Photo District News) reports the US military announced today that they will "present evidence against" Bilal on December 9th. The 'trial' would take place in an Iraqi 'court.' Curley has [PDF format] written a letter to puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki which opens with: "I write to ask your help in assuring that justice is done in the case of Bilal Hussein, an Iraqi citizen and photographer for The Associated press who has been detained by the United States military since April 12, 2006. They say they suspect him of aiding terrorists. U.S. military officials have made many accusations against Mr. Hussein, although they have provided no evidence to support them. AP has conducted its own investigation of every specific allegation and has found them all to be either not credible or absolutely false. We believe the real reason for Mr. Hussein's detention and incarceration for 19 months without charges is that he produced images of conflict in Anbar Province which the military did not want the citizens of Iraq and the United States to see." In addition, Joe Strupp (Editor & Publisher) reports that "MIlitary Reporters and Editors became the latest group Wednesday to weigh in on the controversy regarding Associated Press Photographer Bilal Hussein, who is facing unspecified terrorist charges in Iraq." The letter opens with: "It could happen, we fear, to any journalist covering the war in Iraq. A soldier confiscates your notes, cameras and gear, and takes you into custody. Once jailed you have no rights -- not to remain silent, to call a lawyer or see a judge. That was the fate of Bilal Hussein, an Associated Press photographer who was part of a team that wona Pulitzer Prize in 2005. He has been jailed for 19 months by the U.S. military. . . . We at Military Reporters & Editors wonder how this incident has been allowed to go on for so long. We also wonder if it could happen to other Iraqi journalists who have risked their lives to tell American and the world about life in Iraq. . . . Bilal Hussein's imprisonment is contrary to every notion of justice, fair play and the U.S. Constitution, which every member of America's military swears to uphold and defend." AP's page on Bilal is here.
While the US tries to railroad Bilal, it also tries to force through a permanent occupation of Iraq. Bully Boy and his puppet think they can by-pass the Iraqi parliament. From Monday's snapshot: "(Question: Who ratifies treaties in the United States? The Congress. One more aspect of 'democracy' that never got exported to Iraq.)" Today, Bruce Ackerman (Los Angeles Times) reminds Americans that "the Constitution requires congressional approval before the nation can commit itself to the sweeping political, economic and military relationship contemplated by the 'declaration of principles' signed by Bush and Maliki to kick off the negotiations. U.S. legislative approval can come in two forms: Either two-thirds of the Senate can vote for a treaty under Article II of the Constitution, or a simple majority of both houses can authorize the agreement under Article I. But there is no constitutional provision or precedent authorizing this new form of Bush unilateralism."
In this morning's papers, Cara Buckley (New York Times) is one of the few to report from Iraq. Buckley notes that the Wednesday bused and bought refugees from Syria that came back to Iraq in "20 busloads" with a "government spokesman" hailing the return of 800 while the city coucil says it was more like 200 and cites Dana Graber Ladek (International Organization for Migration) explaining that the those returning in the trickle "have discovered squatters living in their homes". Buckley also notes the cholera outbrak ("with 101 new cases reported in recent weeks") and notes issues of sewage. CNN reports that UNICEF is warning there may be "a larger outbreak" of the disease in Iraq and quotes UNICEF's Claire Hajaj explaining, "While national caseloads are declining, we are increasingly concerned about a possible outbreak in Baghdad. The capital accounts for 70 percent all new cases and is now up to 101 cases, the vast majority reported in the past three weeks."
In other dangers on the ground in illegal war . . .
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing this morning which left six people wounded, another that left five wounded, a Baquba mortar attack on a police station that left two police officers wounded, an Al-Muqdadiyah mortar attack that wounded two, an Al-Salam mortar attack that claimed 12 lives and left twenty-five wounded, a Baquba roadside bombing that left two wounded and a roadside bombing outside Bamo village which claimed the lives of 2 Iraqis ("one officer and a soldier"). And in what may or may not be an attempted attack on an official. Reuters reports 2 car bombs were found ("and detonated") "in the Baghdad office complex of the leader of the country's main Sunni Arab bloc" -- Adnan al-Dulaimi. In addition, Reuters reports two Baghdad roadside bombings near mini-buses that left eleven people injured and a Mosul car bombing that left two police officers wounded. CNN notes that the US military announced today that "a team of U.S. Apache helicopters fired 30 mm cannon and Hellfire missiles at a house from which insurgents attacked a coalition convoy on Tuesday. Three insurgnets were killed". They hope three 'insurgents' were killed. The actual news it the US military fired on a home and killed three. At this point the three dead are not known to have been anything other than civiliains.
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baquba attack on Hamid Ibrahim ("the head of Hibhib police) that wounded two of his bodyguards and, in another attack targeting officials, the son of Sheikh Dhamim Al-Ajeel was shot dead in Salahuddin and, in another attack targeting officials, Amar Mohammed Al-Hamadani ("Hawijah district mayor"), was injured 1 of his bodyguards killed in an attack in Hawijah. Reuters notes that yesterday "the mayor of a district in central Tikrit" was shot dead and (also yesterday) "Five bodyguards who work for Iraq's acting minister for tourism and antiquities were wounded when Iraqi soldiers opened fire on their convoy in western Baghdad on Wednesday, the ministry said. The minister was not in the convoy and the incident was under investigation."
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 6 corpses were discovered in Baghdad.
Today the US military announced: "Small-arms fire killed one Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldier in a western section of the Iraqi capital Nov. 28."
Turning to US politics, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes, "Former President Bill Clinton is under scrutiny for claiming he opposed the Iraq war 'from the beginning.' Clinton made the claim Tuesday while campaigning for his wife Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in Iowa. But a look at Clinton's public statements from 2002-on reveal he never unequivocally opposed the war and at times voiced nuanced approval. In March 2003, Clinton criticized France for opposing the invasion and defended British Prime Minister Tony Blair for taking part. Meanwhile a former senior administration official is now claiming White House officials personally briefed Clinton in the lead-up to war and that Clinton voiced his support. The official, Hillary Mann Leverett is the former White House director of Persian Gulf affairs. She says she was 'shocked' and 'astonished' at Clinton's claim to oppose the war. Leverett says former administration official Elliot Abrams emerged from one pre-war meeting 'glowing' after Clinton promised he would publicly support an Iraq invasion." While it is hard to believe anyone would ever describe Elliot Abrams as "glowing," Tom Baldwin (Times of London) quotes Bill Clinton's spokesperson Jay Carson stating, "As he said before the war and many times since, President Clinton disagreed with taking the country to war without allowing the weapons inspectors to finish their jobs."
Turning to a topic noted in Monday and Tuesday's snapshot. Dia al-Kawwaz stated that 11 of his relatives had been murdered by Shi'ites on Sunday and that during a wake Tuesday, there was another attack. Late yesterday, his mother and other family members appeared on a US funded Iraqi channel to maintain that was not true. Reports Without Borders quickly issued a statement. Too quickly, some might argue since we've had one set of charges (from Dia al-Kawwaz) and another set of charges (from his mother and others) with no investigation. Dia al-Kawwaz may very well be sick enough to state make up the death of 11 members of his family. On the other hand, he may have made up nothing. If the latter is true, 11 members of his family may have been killed or he may have been told 11 members died as some sort of a cruel trick. Since nothing more is known at this point then he says ___ and others say ___, since nothing's been verified, maybe it's a bit early to beat him up? Maybe Reporters Without Borders should have stuck with their original call for an investigation into the events because that's the only way what did or did not happen -- and how -- will be known.
jeremy hinzmanbrandon hughey
anthony arnovehoward zinn
iraq veterans against the war
the new york times
the los angeles times