Saturday, January 22, 2011

14 guests, only 3 were women

Wednesday on NPR's Talk of the Nation, the guests were Ken Rudin, Wayne Slater, Kristen Daum, John Dankosky, Max Judelson, Noah Andre Trudeau, Mary Hadar, Joseph Riley and Paul Ingrassia. 9 guests, only 2 were women.

Thursday on NPR's Talk of the Nation, Ted Koppel, Stephen Kinzer, Parag Khanna, Maxine Hong Kingston and Keith O'Brien. 5 guests, only 1 was a woman.

So over two days last week, Talk of the Nation presented 14 guests and only 3 were women.

Can you imagine what would happen if NPR had a real ombudsperson?

If they did, we wouldn't have had to write "Terry Gross' new low (Ann, Ava and C.I.)" because Alicia Shepard would have written it herself.


This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, January 21, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Tony Blair goes before the Iraq Inquiry again, Nouri's leadership may be in question, guess who has left Iraq (no, not US troops) and more.
Chicken Hawk Tony Blair testified before the Iraq Inquiry. Before we get to the latest round of lies from Blair, let's get into what happened inside the hearing and outside. Alex Barker (live blogging for Financial Times of London) reported, "Details are emerging from the room. The atmosphere was obviously more fraught than it appeared on telly. The mood changed as soon as Blair started talking tough on Iran. Peple began to fidget more and sigh. Then when Blair expressed regrets about the loss of life in Iraq, a woman shouted: 'Well stop trying to kill them.' Two women stood up and walked out; another audience member turned her back on Blair and faced the wall. As Blair began to leave the room, one audience member shouted 'It is too late', another said 'he'll never look us in the eye'. Then Rose Gentle, who lost her son in Iraq, delivered the final blow. 'Your lies killed my son,' she said. 'I hope you can live with it.'"
Rose Gentle's son Gordon Gentle died June 28, 2004 in Basra at the age of 19. Before the hearing, she told Mustafa Khalili and Laurence Topham (Guardian -- link is video) that her son was the driving force in her actions, "It's definitely Gordon that kept me going." She is a co-founder of Military Families Against The War. After the hearing, she noted of Tony Blair, "I don't think I could ever forgive him to be honest." She explained, "He can look at his sons grow up, get married, have kids. We've lost that. We'll never have that."
Because of the illegal war (yes, it was illegal despite spin from the Independent's resident idiot columnist and others -- "just war theory" was not created in the post-WWII period) and those who started it and those who continue it, many have experienced the tragic loss Rose Gentle lives with. But, as she notes, Tony Blair is never haunted by the coffins.
Entrances and exits can be very telling. With a fake, plastered grin on his face and a security detail, Tony Blair walked briefly in the sunlight as cries of "WAR CRIMINAL!" were repeatedly and loudly shouted.
His entrance? Blair snuck in. Like the criminal he is. He snuck in and did so early thereby avoiding the protests. Still they turned out to bear witness on his War Crimes and the destruction that they brought about. Protestors chanted next to a man in a Tony Blair mask holding onto wooden bars (indicating Blair was behind bars).
Call: Tony Blair!
Response: Is a liar!
Stop The War was one of the organizers of the protests. Bryony Jones (CNN -- article has a photo of another man masked as Tony Blair behind bars) reports, "Protesters dressed in Tony Blair masks staged mock arrests as the former British Prime Minister appeared before an inquiry into the Iraq War. [. . .] Waving banners featuring bloody images of the carnage that followed, activists shouted: 'Blair lied -- thousands died' and "Justice prevail -- Blair in jail'." Ruth Barnett and Mark Stone (Sky News) note that Chickenhawk Tony is accused of sneaking into the Inquiry this morning to avoid the protest outside and they have video of protesters offering their take on Blair including this one, "Historians will judge him as a War Criminal as somebody who has lied to the public who has now -- He has -- Who tried to redefine the word lie: 'When is a lie not a lie?' And also I think history will judge him very, very harshly -- very harshly." Peter Walker (Guardian) reports on those protesting:


While many were clearly veteran activists -- the Socialist Workers party had a notable presence -- the crowd was mixed. Jackie, from Essex, had stopped by to wave a "Bliar" placard for 20 minutes before heading to her job at a City law firm.
"I'm not ashamed of it but I don't make a point of publicising it," she said. "I don't think there is much hope anything will come of this. It's all starting to look very much like an establishment cover-up."
More hopeful was the veteran peace campaigner Bruce Kent, who said he believed Chilcot's blocked attempts to release the former prime minister's correspondence with President George Bush, plus doubts about Blair's testimony raised by the former attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, indicated the establishment was starting to turn on Bair.
He said: "I'm not so interested in seeing him in court. I think Blair now knows that the infamy will follow him around forever. I think he's starting to realise that the end is not coming -- that lovely smile is not going to see him through this time,
"It's something of a Shakespearean tragedy. He came into power with such possibilities to transform the country. All those things he could have done and he squandered billions of pounds and thousands of lives to be a sort of second lieutenant to Bush"
Inquiry Chair John Chilcot noted at the start of today's hearing, "We heard some six hours of evidence from Mr Blair a year ago. We have also heard from many other witnesses and have amassed a very considerable body of documentary evidence. As I made clear in launching this round of hearings, there are a number of areas where we need to clarify what happened. We need to find the lessons to be learned and to do that we need to construct as reliable and accurate account as possible and reach our own conclusion." Did that happen?
Not for the public. But they did get to see Tony visibly squirming, his voice go to higher levels than normal and break little a pubescent boy's at one point. A few key exchanges. All testimony quotes are from the Inquiry's official transcript unless otherwise noted. And, also, we're not promoting Blair's book so I'll edit out the title.
Committee Member Martin Gilbert: Mr Blair, the very powerful speech you made to the House of Commons on 18th March 2003 was of critical importance. Without Parliament's approval our troops would not have been able to participate in the invasion. In your speech you drew an analogy with the 1930s, the moment you said when Czechoslovakia was swallowed up by the Nazis. That's when we should have acted. This was not the first that analogy had been made. Jack Straw, for example, recalled the descent into war in the 1930s when he spoke on 11th February. Comparing Iraq with Nazi Germany has enormous emotive force with the British public. It also heightens perceptions of the level and imminence of the threat. In your book [ . . .] you say that you regretted and almost took out that reference and the almost universal refusal, as you put it, for a long time for people to believe Hitler was a threat. Can you tell us why you regretted saying that?
War Criminal Tony Blair: I think I actually said in the speech in the House of Commons on 18th March -- I don't have it in front of me -- we have to be aware of glib comparisons, but there was one sense in which I think there was still valid point to be made about how we perceive threat and that is in this sense, my view after September 11th was that our whole analysis of the terrorist threat and that extremism had to change, and at that point I was most focused on this, that the single most important thing to me about September 11th, as I have often said; that 3,000 people died, but if they could have killed 300,000, they would have.
And he went on to babble repeatedly and at lenght, a non-stop, stream of random babble, never addressing the question asked led to his declaring this final sentence, "So in that sense in a way I would say there is an analogy, but you have to careful of bringing it out too broadly, otherwise you make a point that suggests the circumstances of Nazi Germany were the same as Saddam Hussein and I didn't really mean to suggest that."
Committe Martin Gilbert: So that's what you regretted?
War Criminal Tony Blair: Yes, but I don't -- let me just make on thing very clear, I don't reget the basic point I am making, which is that this is a time in which even though many people would say this extremism can be [. . .]
And he continued to waffle. So the takeaway is that, no, Tony Blair didn't regret making the comparison. His ghost writer and publisher thought it would be a thing that would help paint him as someone who agonized then and now over the decision, someone thoughtful, but that's just not who Tony Blair is. He established and underscored that throughout the hearing.
Committee Member Martin Gilbert: The Cabinet paper for conditions on military action which was issued on 19th July 2002, a version of which has appeared in the press, recorded that you had told the President at Crawford in April 2002: "United Kingdom will support military action to bring about regime change provided certain conditions were met." Was that a turning point?
War Criminal Tony Blair: It wasn't a turning point. It was really that all the way through we were saying this issue now has to be dealt with. So Saddam either comes back into compliance with UN resolutions or action will follow.
So all along they were saying that Hussein had to be dealt with?
Next we'll emphasize this.
Committee Member Roderic Lyne: Just a short question on the Attorney General's involvement in advising on Resolution 1441, as you will have seen, Lord Goldsmith said in his statement that he was not being sufficiently involved in the meetings and discussions about Resolution 1441 and the policy behind it that were taking place at Ministerial level, and he says: "I made this point on a number of occassions." Given the importance that you have placed on Lord Goldsmith's understanding of the negotiations, why wasn't he allowed to be more closely involved in the negotiation of 1441 as well as in the discussions which lay behind it.
War Criminal Tony Blair: Well, I have to say I think I had more to do with Peter Goldsmith on this resolution than I can ever recall on any previous military action that we took. Now --
Committee Member Roderic Lyne: 1441?
War Criminal Tony Blair: Yes. Now I have read what Peter has said now, and obviously that's something it would be sensible to have the Attorney General -- I think in retrospect it would have been sensible to have had him absolutely in touch with the negotiating machinery all the way through, because I think then we wouldn't probably have got into the situation where he thought provisionally, at least, that we needed another resolution, because I think had he known of the negotiating history real time as we were going through it we could have avoided some of the problems later.
Committee Member Roderic Lyne: Yes. I mean, I think he would agree with you there. [. . .] I mean, in his statement he says that he wasn't involved in discussions about 1441. Between the time of his meeting with you on 22nd October, when he told you that the draft then in contemplation did not authorise the use of force, until 7th November when the text was, as he puts it, all but agreed, but you say you were very much involved with him over this resolution. These two statements don't seem to fit together.
War Criminal Tony Blair: No. What I am saying is I was more involved -- I recall having more meetings with Peter about the legality of this issue than I did on any of the other occasions. I did actually -- there was a meeting I think on 17th October, which we then minuted out, including to Peter, where we set the objectives for the resolution. Then he and I had the meeting on 22nd October, and -- I mean, I agree in retrospect it would be better if he had been there, because we would have then -- he would have been sensitised to the evidence that has been given to you by Stephen Pattison and by Iain Macleod, Stephen Patterson being the head of the then Department of the Foreign Office, and Iain Macleod being the legal advisor and the legal counsellor for the UN process and they explained why the Resolution 1441 did meet our objectives and significantly changed in the days leading up to its adoption.
Committee Member Roderic Lyne: Iain Macleod is the legal counsellor advising Jeremy Greenstock in New York. The Foreign Office legal advisors working in London, Sir Michael Wood and those working to him, as has come out from the respective evidence, took a very different view. They took the same view as the Attorney General, and the Attorney General took the view, as you know, that at this time he took the view that 1441 did not authorise use of force unless there was a further resolution, but you have said in your statement that 1441 "Achieved our objectives". Now how could it have achieved our objectives if your Attorney General, your senior legal officer was telling you that it hadn't?
We're not wasting time dictating in Blair's fumbling response. If you know this issue is going to be raised -- and it was known, it was the biggest Blair story in the press all week long beginning at the start of the week, you do not show up and fumble and offer, "I mean, I can't remember exactly what I said after 22nd October [. . .]" You don't do that. Unless you're lying, there's no possible reason to do that. And if you're wondering about my critque of the rambling say nothing Blair, the Guardian headlines their editorial "Blair at the Chilcot inquiry. Jaw-jaw, war-war and law-law." From the editorial:

Whether he led straight, however, is more doubtful. It is becoming ever clearer that No 10 spun the country along, not merely by hyping intelligence, but also by committing to the Americans in private while at the same time insisting to people and the parliament that no decision had been made. The general idea of a promise as an undertaking that is not to be given until it is certain it can be honoured was yesterday turned on its head by Mr Blair. "I was going to continue giving absolute and firm commitment until the point at which definitively I couldn't," he explained. He was free, easy and indeed creative with the detail – for example, singling out Iraq's bar on scientists meeting UN inspectors as the "key issue" on the eve of war, when that problem had in fact been resolved by then. It will be open to the committee to damn him with the detail should it choose to do so.

The excerpts from the hearing I selected were are among the things that stood out to me. Joshua Norman (CBS News) was most focused on Tony Blair's claim that the "wretched policy of apology" (Blair's words) must end. And that and the Goldsmith issue are paired up in Emma Alberici's report for Australia's AM (ABC -- link has text and audio):
EMMA ALBERICI: A month before the Iraq war began in 2003, one million people marched through the streets of London.

Almost eight years later, there were barely 100 protesters gathered outside the conference centre at Westminster as Tony Blair returned to the Iraq inquiry for the second time.


The five member panel led by Sir John Chilcot were seeking some clarifications, specifically about private letters between the former Prime Minister and the then President of the United States George Bush - correspondence written, in the year before the war.

TONY BLAIR: So what I was saying to him is, 'I'm going to be with you in handling it this way', right? 'I'm not going to push you down this path and then back out when it gets too hot, politically, because it is going to get hot politically, for me very, very much so'.

EMMA ALBERICI: Earlier in the week, Tony Blair's own attorney general told the inquiry that Mr Blair's claims in the House of Commons that Britain did not need a United Nations resolution explicitly authorising force were not compatible with his legal advice.

Lord Goldsmith told the inquiry that he felt uncomfortable about the way the Prime Minister ignored his official legal advice when making his case for war to the British people.

Tony Blair, who is now the Special Envoy to the Middle East representing the United Nations, the US, the European Union and Russia, said the war in Iraq could not be used to explain the rise in Islamic extremism. And he told a shocked roomful of grief stricken relatives of those killed in Iraq, that the experiences there should not make the world reluctant to invade Iran.

And it's that never-ending impulse to send more people into war, a blood lust, that causes Catherine Mayer (Time magazine) to term Blair "unchanged and unrepentant."
Iraq Inquiry Digest's Chris Ames has been following the story since long before the Iraq Inquiry. At the Guardian, he shares his take:

The specifics and the evidence, including new evidence published today, are against Blair. The evidence makes clear that he was seeking regime change from an early stage.

Opening questions sought to establish when Blair took the decision to pursue a policy that was likely to lead to war and what part the cabinet played. Martin Gilbert asked exactly when Blair took this decision. Blair waffled and evaded the question.

When it came to the way that Blair kept most of his cabinet out of the loop, the tables were turned. Had the cabinet seen the March 2002 options paper, leaked but still officially unpublished, which set out the plan that led to war? Could Blair point to a cabinet discussion of the paper? He could not. So how did Blair expect the cabinet to take an informed view? Blair waffled further, disputing "the notion that people weren't debating and discussing the issue". The cabinet knew what the policy was.


Next week, hopefully Monday's snapshot, we'll address the remarks he made in relation to other issues and how Tony Blair may not be the poodle because a good argument can be made that he's the one who pushed and prodded War Criminal Bush along the path to illegal war. (Bush may have been a dupe, but he was a willing dupe.) And we'll close out on the Inquiry with Mary Riddell (Telegraph of London) offering her take:
The sheer gall of Tony Blair never ceases to startle. And he gets away with it. Once, the revelations emerging from the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war would have been dynamite. The attorney general's advice that the invasion would not, without a second UN resolution, be legal; the Foreign Secretary's worries about the whole enterprise -- these are yesterday's sensations, neutralised by time and by inertia.
And yet there is still something awesome about Mr Blair's intractability. On he marched, in thrall to the US president and unhindered by his supine government and a credulous opposition who have never squared up to their faults either. Blair's lack of remorse and his adamantine belief that he was right cannot be dented now. The loss of the lives of British forces and of Iraqi civilians were, in his view, a wholly necessary price.
To say that Blair is unrepentant does not begin to explain his intransigence. Having prosecuted one disastrous war, he is now squaring up for the next dust-up, with a renewed warning that Iran, a "looming challenge" has got it coming. With luck, the leaders who followed Blair, on both sides of the Atlantic, will shake their heads in disbelief at this madness.
On the second hour of today's The Diane Rehm Show (NPR), Diane and her guests Abderrahim Foukara (Al Jazeera), Elise Labott (CNN) and Moises Naim (El Pais) addressed Iraq. Pay attention to the style of the transcript, I'll explain why in a moment. We're starting with Elise Labot speaking of Lebanon.

Elise Labott: The fear is right now is -- the future of Lebanon is either in the hands of Syria or it's in the hands of Iran. And you have countries like France, like Saudi Arabia, and to some extent even the United States, that really hasn't given Syria a real firm message about meddling in Lebanon. That Syria might be more of a benign force back in Lebanon than Iran. I mean, it's certainly, as Abderrahim said, it's a football right now. Lebanese does not have the sovereignty of its own government, of its own people, because Hezbollah is a proxy of Iran. And Syria wants to meddle as well. So it's really -- the Lebanese people have been fighting for so many years for their own independence, even after the Syrians were thrown out in 2005.
Diane Rehm: And talk about a bloody fight, look at Iraq this week, Elise.
Elise Labott: Well, you had a bombing in Baghdad that killed 60 -- over 60 people as police recruits were waiting to sign up. This really shows that the government -- there's the idea that the government has been able to provide security and you saw that violence in Iraq, for the most part, has been decreasing. December was one of the least violent months since the war really began. But by showing that these police recruits are not safe, the government cannot provide security, they're trying to sow a little discontent with the government as the U.S. is trying to withdraw its troops.
Diane Rehm: And will that change the date at all for US withdrawals, Moises?
Moises Naim: Well, it depends because it's not only the bombs that killed the police, their recruits waiting at a police station on Tuesday. Yesterday, there was another attack on pilgrims -- on Shiite pilgrims going to Karbala in what -- it was a very important pilgrimage that was banned under Saddam Hussein.
Diane Rehm: And who perpetrated all of this?
Moises Naim: And so no one has taken credit for it, but is widely suspected that this is either Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia or remnants of the Ba'ath Party and Saddam Hussein's supporters. But the fact of the matter is that in -- yesterday, 52 people -- 52 innocent pilgrims were assassinated and 150 were wounded. Two days before 52 police recruits waiting to the -- at the police station were also killed. So if this continues, these are the typical events that spark reactions and counterattacks. And if the thing escalates, then I guess there will be some rethinking of what needs to be done.
Diane Rehm: Abderrahim.
Abderrahim Foukara: Well, two things. One is the United States and the other one is Iran. The United States -- the Obama Administration has been saying that Iran is no longer the war that used to be. And these events actually are a disavowal of that. Iraq continues to be a security problem, not just for the Iraqis, but also for the Americans. As to whether that's going to change the calendar, I don't think -- I personally don't think it will, particularly that now in the next two years -- we're already talking about the election of 2012 -- and the Obama Administration is on the record as saying that he's moved on. And I don't think he would want to make -- to go back to changing and fiddling with the dates in -- of withdrawing from Iraq. Iran. The event that Moises was referring to yesterday in Kabala has been a lot of fear that the Iranians have all this strength in their hand in Iraq. And just today we heard from the Iraqi government, basically, a position which is tantamount to giving the Iranians licenses to protect their own pilgrims in Iraq. And it just gives you the extent of the complexity of the situation and of the stronger impact influence that the Iranians wield nowadays in Iraq.
Why did I mention the style? If I'd done it, we would have included repeat words such as "the-the thing I wanted to note . .." That's not to pick on people, that's to give an accurate descriptionof the conversation. Also we all have various vocal tics and some times they are telling, some times they are interesting (some times they are irritating). So I didn't do that trancript. That's the show's transcript.

The program has always made a transcript available at a price Diane Rehm's program is now listen and text. Just go to The Diane Rehm Show website and chose the "transcript" option the way you would "listen." The program is now listen and text and available to all including those who cannot stream and those for whom streaming is useless due to hearing issues. Next Friday, we'll go back to transcribing but try to get the word out on the site offering transcripts.

Violence has swept and slammed Iraq all week. Yesterday's Karbala bombings continued the string of deadly attacks in Iraq. Ali Qeis and Liz Sly (Washington Post) report, "Despite initial reports that the bombings were suicide attacks, investigations showed that they were not, [Maj. Alaa al-] Ghanemi said. Two parked cars and a motorcycle had been rigged with explosives and detonated within quick succession in the three locations, he said." If true, that's even more damning for Nouri al-Maliki. See, when you're dealing with someone willing to take their own life, a considerable segment of the public will see that person as irrational and/or insane and they will allow that there's little you can do to put up prevention obstacles that would halt those people (that once they're in that stage, it's too late). But this wasn't someone waiting until the last minutes to run out among a crowd.

If these bombings were as al-Ghanemi describes, then they were planned ahead of time -- well thought out indicating not just a level or precision but a level of rationality -- and since they were done ahead of time, they should have been prevented by extra security measure which should have been taken due to the religious holiday and the knowledge that over a million Shi'ite pilgrims would be taking part in the religious observation. That steps were not taken reflects very poorly on Nouri. John Leland (New York Times) offers, "The annual pilgrimage, banned under Saddam Hussein, is expected to draw as many as 10 million people this year to the city of Karbala over 10 days. It has long been a target of sectarian violence. Until this week, the holiday had been free of major bloodshed, and Iraqi security forces had claimed progress in their ability to protect the populace from violent extremist groups." Those numbers, and the holiday itself, argue for governmental anticipation and preparation.

Tracey Shelton (Asia Times) offers:

Some blame the recent uptick in violence on the nascent administration that has yet to fill its top security slots, namely the ministers of defense, interior and security. There have been allegations that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is keeping the posts for close confidantes, but others say the same partisan bickering that kept a government from solidifying for 10 months is preventing the appointments of these ministers - and endangering the public.
[. . .]
According to senior Kurdish lawmaker Mahmoud Othman, among others who spoke to Asia Times Online, the clear instigator of these crimes is al-Qaeda and its affiliate ISA. However, as Othman pointed out: "They are supported by elements inside the security apparatus."
The claim of collusion within the ranks of the yet unformed government has become a rallying cry for Maliki's opposition - the Iraqiya bloc of mostly secular Iraqis and Sunnis led by former prime minister Ayad Allawi.
Iraqiya's chief security advisor, Hani Ashor, said many Iraqis have already been murdered due to intelligence leaks within their own government. He and other politicians are calling for the fast-tracking of appointments for the security portfolios.


CNN has a photo essay of the post-bombings scene here.

Friday's violence? We'll most likely hear about it Saturday. But there is big news today out of Iraq. Khaled Farhan, Suadad al-Salhy, Michael Christie and Janet Lawrence (Reuters) report that Moqtada al-Sadr, who returned to Iraq January 5th after being out of the country for over two years, has again left the country and gone back to Iran. For a brief visit? Time will tell. But even a brief visit won't play well with the throngs of admirers who gathered around him and treated his home coming as a major moment. They may feel a little silly now. Those who might have had questions before probably have more now. And al-Sadr may emerge with a reason to explain his sudden departure. But it wasn't strategically smart on his part if he was intending to become an Iraqi leader from inside the country of Iraq.
We'll note two upcoming actions in the US. First, this is the upcoming Iraq Veterans Against the War event:

February 25, 2011 9:30 - 10:30 am
Busboys & Poets, Langston room
14th & V st NW Washington DC
This report back will be to answer questions from media and the peace movement about the recent trip back to Iraq by members of Iraq Veterans Against the War. The war is not over but it is not the same as it was in years past. What is the humanitarian situation in Iraq?
How can we do reparations and reconciliation work?
Speakers are all returning from this delegation and include:
Geoff Millard (IVAW) Hart Viges (IVAW) Haider Al-Saedy (Iraqi Health Now)
Richard Rowely (
Big Noise Films)
The following month, A.N.S.W.E.R. and March Forward! and others will be taking part in this action:

March 19 is the 8th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Iraq today remains occupied by 50,000 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of foreign mercenaries.

The war in Afghanistan is raging. The U.S. is invading and bombing Pakistan. The U.S. is financing endless atrocities against the people of Palestine, relentlessly threatening Iran and bringing Korea to the brink of a new war.

While the United States will spend $1 trillion for war, occupation and weapons in 2011, 30 million people in the United States remain unemployed or severely underemployed, and cuts in education, housing and healthcare are imposing a huge toll on the people.

Actions of civil resistance are spreading.

On Dec. 16, 2010, a veterans-led civil resistance at the White House played an important role in bringing the anti-war movement from protest to resistance. Enduring hours of heavy snow, 131 veterans and other anti-war activists lined the White House fence and were arrested. Some of those arrested will be going to trial, which will be scheduled soon in Washington, D.C.

Saturday, March 19, 2011, the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, will be an international day of action against the war machine.

Protest and resistance actions will take place in cities and towns across the United States. Scores of organizations are coming together. Demonstrations are scheduled for San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and more.

Click this link to endorse the March 19, 2011, Call to Action.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

London protest on Friday

Blair


Who is that? It's Tony Blair. Tomorrow he appears before the Iraq Inquiry. I know some community members in England are planning to take part in the protests and I want to wish them well and also help get the word out on the protest.

So Stop the War UK is the organization preparing the protest and leading it and here's some more information about it:


Reasons to protest when Tony Blair is recalled to give evidence to the Iraq Inquiry on 21 January:

JOIN THE PROTEST 21 JANUARY
QEII Conference Centre 8am-2pm
London SW1P 3EE

(Tube Westminster or St James's


If, like me, you're not in London? You can still follow the coverage of the hearing tomorrow. And think good thoughts for the protesters.


This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


Thursday, January 20, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, more deadly suicide bombings slam Iraq, Tony Blair prepares to again face the Inquiry, the Inquiry releases a page of testimony which states Blair declared he wanted to go to war and then it was declared that no notes would be kept on that session, calls continue for Tony to release his private correspondence with George W. Bush, a woman from the right wonders where feminists are on the war (and she's correct to wonder), an hour of finger-pointing offers no illumination, and more.
Once again this week, Iraq is slammed with suicide bombings. Despite that, as Mark Leon Goldberg (UN Dispatch) points out, "It hasn't quite made the top of the news here in the United States, but Iraqi is in the midst of a very violent week. On Tuesday, at least 49 people were killed when a suicide bomber targeted a line of police recruits in Tikrit. Yesterday, a suicide bomber driving an ambulance killed 15 people in Diyala. They were also lined up a recruiting station for security forces." And today? First up, Reuters notes a suicide bomber attacked a police station in Baquba. Counting 3 dead (plus suicide bomber) and twenty-seven wounded, Xinhua reports, "A suicide bomber drove his explosive-laden car into the checkpoint of the main entrance of the provincial headquarters of Diyala police and blew it up, causing severe damages to the surrounding buildings at the scene, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity." Aseel Kami and Rania El Gamal (Reuters) add that "the attack took place in the centre of the city near government buildings, including police headquarters." Ali al-Tuwaijri (AFP) reports that 2 of the dead were police officers and the third was female Iraqi journalist "Wejdan Assad al-Juburi, [who] had been a reporter for the Iraq al-Mustaqal (Independent Iraq) newspaper.)" AFP adds, "A total of 255 journalists and media workers have been killed in Iraq since the US-led invasion in 2003, according to the Baghdad-based Journalism Freedoms Observatory." Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) explains the death toll is now at 4 and the number injured at thirty-three and reports another bombing: "Separately, a Shiite pilgrim was killed and nine others were wounded in southern Baghdad's al-Dora district Thursday when a roadside bomb struck a procession of Shiite pilgrims, who were making a three-day trek by foot to Karbala for Arbaeen, police said."
However, those bombings were quickly overshadowed by suicide bombings in Karbala. Xiong Tong (Xinhua) reports twin suicide bombers took their own lives, one after the other, as well as the lives of 45 Shi'ite pilgrims with another one-hundred-and-ten people injured. AFP states the bombers were in cars. John Leland (New York Times) counts three cars. BBC News has a photo essay here. Salar Jaff and Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) note that the death toll has risen to 56 and they quote survivor Ghassan Hashim explaining, "I turned and saw my wife covered with blood and she lost her leg! I lost control and fainted. I don't know where my wife is now. It was a mess and crowds were crying everywhere. It was like doomsday." Shashank Bengali and Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy's Miami Herald) give the death toll as 63 and cite hospital officials and they observe, "The spate of attacks, which began Tuesday with a suicide bombing that killed 60 people outside a police recruitment center in Tikrit, north of Baghdad, mark the first major spike in violence since Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki unveiled a new government in December." Jim Muir (BBC News) warns, "The sudden flare-up of violence over the past three days is bad news for the fledging Iraqi government, for several reasons." Martin Chulov (Guardian) gets right to the point: "The sharp upswing in violence has happened as Iraq remains without ministers to fill the posts of defence, national security and the interior. They are regarded as the most critical positions in the government, yet the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, is reluctant to name names more than three weeks after he formed a government and almost 11 months since a national election was held." Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) adds, "Al-Maliki serves as acting defense, interior and national security minister." Dan Murphy (Christian Science Monitor) attempts to offer analysis but something's missing in his article or something's missing in his observations. He's commenting on Iraq's civil war (ethnic cleansing) of 2006 and 2007.
Could today's attack have that kind of impact? Probably not by itself. As recently as July of 2009, five Shiite mosques were simultaneously bombed in Baghdad, claimed 29 lives, and it didn't prompt major reprisals.
Today, Iraq has a fully sovereign government, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is a Shiite, and the party of the assassinated Ayatollah Hakim (since renamed the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq) has a major voice in government. Militant Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose militiamen committed many of the atrocities on Sunnis during the worst of Iraq's fighting, has muted his rhetoric. Last week, in his first major speech since returning home from religious schooling in Qom, Iran he denounced sectarian violence and is giving signs that he wants to focus on a political route to power, at least for now.
Still, the symbolic power of the time and place of this bombing can't be ignored. Millions of Shiite pilgrims are descending on Karbala for Arbain, the culmination of a 40-day mourning cycle for Hussein, the grandson of the prophet Muhammad [. . .]
Do you see what's missing? He's saying a renewed civil war is not possible. Why? Because Shi'ites are in control of the government? I'm confused. Who was in charge in 2006 and 2007? Oh, right, same groups. It's not as if Sunnis were in charge then. And, oh, yeah, Sunnis the ones he leaves out when explaining (or 'explaining') why a civil war can't take place today. (And, no, his second to the last paragraph in the article doesn't explain 'right' the article.)
In addition, Reuters notes a Kanaan roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 pilgrim and left two more injured while, overnight, Baghdad "celebratory gunfire" resulted in thirteen people being wounded and Kirkuk "celebratory gunfire" resulted in two people being wounded. "Celbratory gunfire"? Omar al-Jawoshy (New York Times) explains that Nouri's outlawed it -- but apparently it's not enforced -- and quotes Nael al-Aboid insisting, "It is our tradition, to shoot our guns at all celebrations. Guns and swords represent the power of the tribes and the person himself. It is showing happiness, with a touch of manhood." Maybe there's been a little too much touching of manhood in Iraq?
Still on macho posturing, in England on Friday, former prime minister, forever poodle and eternal War Hawk Tony Blair is set to reappear before the Iraq Inquiry to offer additional testimony after his testimony last year just didn't appear to add up.
Stop the War UK is organizing protests against War Criminal Tony Blair.


Reasons to protest when Tony Blair is recalled to give evidence to the Iraq Inquiry on 21 January:

JOIN THE PROTEST 21 JANUARY
QEII Conference Centre 8am-2pm
London SW1P 3EE

(Tube Westminster or St James's
Please publicise as widely as you can
Tim Shipman (Daily Mail) reports, "David Cameron yesterday called on the public to pressurise Tony Blair into disclosing his secret letters to George Bush from 2002 promising to go to war in Iraq. Downing Street insisted the former prime minister should drop his demands for secrecy when he testifies at the Iraq Inquiry tomorrow." From yesterday's snapshot:

Rosa Prince (Telegraph of London) notes today that the letters are quoted in recent books by Alastair Campbell (his published diary) and Jonathan Powell and she notes: "Sir Menzies Campbell, the former Liberal Democrat leader, criticised the ban. He said: 'It is a bit thick that Mr Blair and Mr Bush have been able to draw on these documents for their own memoirs and to be entirely selective in the use to which they have put them'." Rosa Prince goes on to demonstrate just how much Bush and Blair have quoted from the (private) letters in their books.


David Cameron is the current Prime Minister. With Gordon Brown (who was prime minister between Blair and Cameron) in the office, Blair might have hoped for some cover. Without him, Cameron is making very clear that this is not a "state's secrets" issue and that there is no reason the documents should be hidden from the public.
Nigel Morris (Independent of London) reports:

The questions facing Tony Blair at tomorrow's Iraq inquiry hearing are piling up. It emerged last night that parts of Mr Blair's conversations with the United States President George Bush in the build-up to war were expunged from Whitehall records.
Sir John Chilcot's team also heard yesterday from a senior civil servant that Downing Street ignored Foreign Office warnings over publishing the infamously exaggerated dossiers on the threat from Saddam Hussein's supposed weapons arsenal.
Mr Blair's private secretary at No 10 routinely deleted any mention of his correspondence with Mr Bush from the Government minutes, the inquiry has found out. The disclosure will fuel anger over the failure to release the memos between the two leaders in the run-up to war, which could fill in gaps for when Mr Blair took key decisions over the war. David Cameron, challenged over the refusal to publish the memos, said that he was powerless to order their release.
At 4:30 a.m. EST, Tony Blair will be testifying and CSPAN 2 is supposed to carry it live. Before that happens, there's another revelation. Tim Shipman reports, "Downing Street ordered a cover-up after Jack Straw made an 11th-hour attempt to stop Tony Blair going to war in Iraq, it was claimed last night [it's morning in the UK]. Explosive anonymous evidence given to the Chilcot Inquiry said Mr Blair responded to his Foreign Secretary by insisting that he wanted to go to war. Officials at Number 10 then allegedly ordered that no record was kept of the confrontation." PDF format warning, the document is here. And it is anonymous to the public but the Inquiry knows whose testimony it is.
In the US, Kelly B. Vlahos (Antiwar.com) weighs in on the talk of a move towards women being in combat officially:
Combat is considered the "final frontier" for women in the military, though they have already been serving, albeit unofficially and off the books, in combat-related roles throughout the current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. It will be interesting to see if it again it becomes a cause célèbre for feminists at the level of say, the 1990s, when women like Democratic Rep. Pat Schroeder and Sara Lister battled openly against the he-skeptics in the Republican Party over gender discrimination in the ranks. The debate became a mostly academic, glass ceiling affair, and eventually opened up many new military positions for women, but not combat.
But that was then -- peacetime -- and this is now -- wartime -- and the feminists have, up to now, been pretty distant from the issue of women in the Global War on Terror, though women now make up some 14 percent of the total Armed Forces and 255,000 of veterans who have served overseas in Afghanistan and Iraq. Truth is, without a draft, the military would not have been able to fight the Long War without them. Women have been flying combat aircraft and serving as military police, gunners, interrogators and prison guards -- as close as it gets to the action.
"It's something whose time has come," said retired Navy Capt. Lory Manning of the Women's Research and Education Institute. She said ending the ban on women in combat would be "a logical outcome of what women have been doing in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the Army and Marines have been essentially ducking the policy."
Indeed, everything looks "logical" on its face. Why wouldn't anybody want to be recognized and rewarded for the work they are already doing? No doubt women are missing out on valuable promotions and short changed in so many other areas. However, as the war zone has been going through a 10-year "shock integration" that they had themselves set into motion, feminists and many proponents of full combat equality for women have been rather quiet about all the bad things that have happened to women precisely because of their desire to be treated "just like men" in war.
Unlike Kelley B. Vlahos, I am a feminist. I have not advocated for full combat rights. If asked, I've stated of course women should be equal. Equality doesn't mean happiness. (Nor does it mean unhappiness. Happiness come from within.) Equality should mean fairness. Equality is a goal we should strive for. As Kelley notes in her title, combat is the "meat grinder." I don't know exactly what she wants feminist to have said or not said on this issue and that's not sarcasm. As she notes "feminists have, up to now, been pretty distant from the issue of women in the Global War on Terror". Off Our Backs did a great issue on these very issues and then, shortly afterwards, stopped publication. Once upon a time a number of feminists spoke out against the Iraq War. Robin Morgan, where did you go? Jane Fonda, am I wrong or did you say "Silence is no longer an option" when speaking in DC at the January 2007 rally? Did you not end with, "So thank you for being here and we'll continue to be here as long as necessary. God bless."? We'll continue to be here as long as necessary?
In less than a week 4 US soldiers have died in Iraq, another was injured, the way the week's shaping up the death toll for Iraqis could easily reach 200 or more by Saturday. Does that sound like the war ended? Because it doesn't from where I'm looking.
I'd love to be able to write, "Kelley, you're dead wrong." But when feminists -- especially when the very few that spoke out to begin with -- have nothing to say about the ongoing wars, they're abdicating a seat at the table that a lot of us marched, fought and suffered to have. So in the future, when you want to speak on an issue, how about letting us know if there's a sell-by-date? As in, "I'm saying 'you have me forever' in my speech because it's such a good line but I really just mean as long as a Republican's in the White House." Just give us a little truth in advocacy, please.
I can point to the strong feminists in this community and we're still outraged and calling out the wars. But outside of this community, where could I possibly point? CODEPINK? Antiwar.com remembers their Afghan waffle and they won't take them seriously. Arianna Huffington doesn't claim to be a feminist (and I'll never forget when Cass Ellliot told Arianna how wrong she was on that issue) so we can't count her but she hasn't forgotten the Iraq War and hasn't stopped speaking out against it, to give her credit. Ms. magazine? Let's be kind and ignore the magazine (you're not missing anything -- except Ms. allowing a War Hawk-Council on Foreign Relations to preach what they're calling 'success' in Afghanistan) and turn instead to the tired magazine's very lively blog.
Here's one, Kelley! A feminist is writing at Ms. blog about this issue and her name . . . Well, his name. His name is Kyle Bachan. Good for you, Kyle and I firmly believe men can be feminists. But it is rather disappointing that a woman couldn't or wouldn't grab the topic.
We'll also give credit to Michaela A. Null. To the best of my knowledge, Michela doesn't sponsor or co-sponsor V-Day. She doesn't work with at risk young women. But she still found time -- while many who sponsor V-Day didn't -- to call out the nonsense attacks on the two women who may have been raped -- the nonsense attacks launched non-stop by Naomi Wolf these days. At the Ms. blog, Michaela A. Null rejects Naomi Wolf's latest which is to call for the names of rape victims to be circulated in the press:
Wolf suggests that shielding rape victims is outdated because, well, it's not like we live in the Victorian Era! This is a silencing argument that women hear all the time -- something to the tune of, "There has been so much progress for women. I mean, you can vote, what are you bitching about?" That would be like me saying to Naomi Wolf, "Worrying about government corruption is so outdated, it's not like we live in the McCarthy Era!" Of course, the McCarthy Era is a shameful piece of our history, but it does not mean the government never does anything wrong or unethical now and that people shouldn't be up in arms about wrongdoings.
So, according to Wolf-think, it's of little matter that those who make rape accusations are often re-victimized and harassed and vulnerable to further violence. To shield them from that is to treat them as though they are children! Equity, though -- as distinguished from equality -- is not about infantilizing a group of people and patting them on their heads: Equity is for grownups, based on the idea that in order to achieve a fair and just society, you have to account for the fact that some groups of people are oppressed, disadvantaged and do not have the same access to, say, bodily integrity, justice or safety that other groups of people have.
[. . .]
But for right now we don't live in that ideal world. We still live in a place where women's issues are seen as secondary and where victims of sexual assault are often treated dismissively, disdainfully and even violently. In order to do justice to women and to all victims of sexual assault, we must listen to them. Instead, Wolf is dead set on ignoring the voices of women and victims of sexual assault, publicly condescending to them and asserting over and over that her "23 years of experience" -- a phrase used so repetitiously it became the hashtag #23yrs on Twitter -- means she knows what's best for them and they don't.
I wrote at length about Katha Pollitt's ''Naomi Wolf: Wrong Again On Rape' (The Nation) in Polly's Brew. I'm not sure I ever noted it here. If not, Katha deserves credit -- big credit -- for that column. And for the previous one as well (which I did already note). But the reality is that, with very few exceptions (Katha being one of them), those that are supposed to be voices and leaders are no where to be found on these very important issues. In fact, Katha is the only "name" feminist to have called it out. (That is not meant as a slap in the face to Jill who does great work at Feministe or Jessica Valenti or Amanda Marcotte or any other strong women who became well known on the web and have not allowed their fame to silence them. When I say "name," I'm referring to the hiearchy roll call that exists in feminism -- which we usually pretend doesn't exist, but we all know does.) One publication that has not forgotten the wars or felt the need to fall silent because lefty men might not say nice things about you is Womens eNews and today they publish attorney and professor Wendy Murphy's analysis of what Naomi's calling for:
In a truly just world, no type of crime victim would have their name revealed without their consent. This would help redress growing concerns about threats and intimidation tactics from criminals who hope to escape responsibility for their violence by terrorizing victims into silence.
It's hardly a gender-specific problem, which disposes of Wolf's argument that concealing the identities of rape victims is a form of sexism.
But there is a valid reason to put a thumb on the scale for rape victims. The very nature of sexual violence, indeed the location of the "crime scene" on a woman's body, is such that a public trial is certain to reveal things that are not only highly personal but likely to be protected by statute, common law and even constitutionally-based privacy rights. Unlike robbery cases, rape prosecutions involve the revelation of things like whether the victim became infected by HIV or became pregnant or had an abortion. Because such facts are highly relevant, they must be revealed during the public trial.
Anonymity policies, therefore, are not about "protectionism" so much as due process. They make up for the fact that disclosure of private facts at trial involving a victim--who is not a party to the litigation and thus cannot even argue against disclosure--causes unavoidable harm to fundamental rights. Anonymity polices mitigate the harm by allowing disclosure of private facts without attaching those facts to a publicly-identifiable individual.
These are serious issues, they belong in the public sphere. But let's about the wasting of our public sphere. The polluting of it. On Morning Mix (KPFA's morning show), Mickey Huff and Adam Bessie kicked things off -- and into the gutter -- with a lot of huffing and finger pointing. Excerpt:
Adam Bessie: As you know, anyone with a thought and a connection to the computer can get onto the participatory networks -- Facebook, MySpace and so on. And what was fascinating in the research that we found, in a section called Junk Food News Feed is that [Bessie now yammers away about a male celebrity -- we're not interested] was covered less than the decision to pull out of Afghanistan by Obama [what decision was that Adam Bessie, you moron?] . However, when you looked at what people were talking and writing about on social networks and by the cooler, they were talking more about [male celebrity] according to a Pew study at that time. So basically what we found with the internet, again, was basically unprecious, anybody and everybody can get on there, is that people are really becoming what they eat and after years of consuming junk food news, now they go on social networks and you can create your own junkfood news. Instead of having to watch [female celebrity] on The Today Show, you can have your friend be [mispronounces female celebrity's name] or you can be [again mispronounces female celebrity's name] and write about the trials and travails of your own life or somebody else. And you can also write about celebrities. And so we're now -- The sea change I think we're seeing is that we're participating in this infotainment society.
You think? Adam Bessie surely is participating in it. First off, how is it news that many people are concerned with their own lives? Most people are concerned with their own lives. The Confessions was not Saint Augustine writing about Descartes, it was Augustine writing about himself. The idea that people would write about their own lives should not be shocking to an English professor -- even a junior college English professor. Second, Barack didn't announce he was pulling out of Afghanistan, he announced a troop "surge" into Afghanistan. Sorry professor, your example, which you bring up? You damn well better know what you're talking about. Third, the male celebrity? A sports star. Covered in the sports press during the 'scandal' but Adam Bessie forgets them, doesn't he?
Adam Bessie? Did he have anything to contribute other than a whiney voice and a lot of stupid? Nope. He and Mikey blathered away forever about Barack being compared to Hitler. They did this on January 20, 2011. Point? It was the exact same remarks and 'findings' Bessie already wrote about in this bad December 1, 2008 column at OpEdNews. Who's wasting time? Who's oversaturated with infotainment? (And, as usual, Bessie ignored that Bush was compared to Hitler during the eight years he occupied the White House.)
Then what did we get? Another junior college professor. This one couldn't pronounce "suggest" -- but for some reason included the term in the copy he wrote for himself to read aloud. Robert Abele offered commentary which was snide and ugly and his attempts to link Sarah Palin with the Tuscon shooting were appalling. He 'shaded' throughout. For example, he said right-wing radio is responsible for a number of Republicans believing Barack Obama is Muslim. But Abele didn't explain who was responsible for Democrats believing that. In fact, he didn't even acknowledge that the poll he was referring to found only 46% of Democrats stated Barack was a Christian. Take any of Abele's items and check Bob Somerby's archives at The Daily Howler -- you'll usually see how Abele shaded one thing after another with his half-the-story approach. And why the heck isn't Bob Somerby invited on the program to begin with? Oh, that's right, he's not condemning the people.
"It's so hard," huffed Kristina Borjesson, "to try and get these people to understand that there's a whole universe of information that they should be looking at . . ." And if you're feeling smug and thinking, "Yeah, Tina, sock it to those right-wingers!" . . . Well, you might want to pause. She was referring to the public. You know, "these people." So frustrating, so uninformed. Way to win people over, Borjesson. She then insisted she didn't watch TV news anymore because, in her opinion, "they've made themselves irrelevant with ranting [. . .] opinion journalism." Thanks for sharing your opinion which was opinion -- maybe even ranting? -- but wasn't news. Finger Pointer, condemn thyself.
"In the meantime," she called out from her high horse, "what's going on in Afghanistan? What's going on in Iraq?"
What is going on in either? You didn't find out from her or from the hour long Morning Mix. You know what? That's an hour of radio that we need. What you offered? We don't need that at all. Don't need it, don't want it. You had nothing to offer for a full hour. While slamming the MSM for wasting people's time, you had nothing to offer.
I can sit here all day and call out this outlet and that outlet for not covering Iraq but if I'm not covering it here, I'm a hypocrite because I'm in charge of what goes on here.
By the same token, they are in charge of what they do each Thursday on Morning Mix. Today they were full of themselves and how other people don't cover Iraq . . . as they refused to cover Iraq. Borjesson was insisting that even now we need to be covering the lies that got the US into Iraq. Well, Borjesson, where's that going to take place? You didn't go into those lies, Mickey didn't. But you finger wagged at everyone else, now didn't you?
Land of snap decisions
Land of short attention spans
Nothing is savored
Long enough to really understand
-- "Dog Eat Dog," words and music by Joni Mitchell, from her album of the same name
Which brings us to professional liar Greg Mitchell. (Liar? Changing your errors online after they're called out and 'forgetting' to note your changes makes you a liar.) Greggy wants credit for, well, let's let him tell it: "As I've done for more than seven weeks, I will be updating news and views on all things WikiLeaks all day, with new items added at the top." Oh, is he covering WikiLeaks' revelations? Writing about those?
He's not writing a damn thing. If you were generous, you'd call his bits and pieces "Tweets." It's basically a glorified gossip column with a dozen items.
Nothing is savored long enough
To really understand
Our focus is Iraq. When WikiLeaks did their Iraq release in October, we covered it for two weeks here (here and here) every day. At Third, Ava and I wrote "TV: The WikiLeaks reports" and "TV: Media of the absurd" on the media coverage in real time. The Nation and Greg Mitchell weren't interested in covering the Iraq leaks. Greg Mitchell's still not interested in actually covering anything. He's Louella Parsons offering chatty, breezy gossip items. Or, if you prefer, he's like a character in Heathers, rushing in insisting, "Did you hear? School's cancelled today because Kirk and Ram killed themselves in a repressed homosexual suicide pact."
Greg Mitchell showed up on Antiwar.Radio and the real decay of journalism is hearing the former Crawdaddy writer thinking his gossip blog on WikiLeaks is somehow covering something. He was bragging about how popular the tweets are. And that now he's turning "the live blog" into a book. How about you do something of value right now instead of finger pointing that "The media forgot about it" [WikiLeaks revelations]. And how awful that Scott Horton said that Greg was "doing great work." (In fairness to Scott Horton, he clearly hasn't read the "live blog" Greg Mitchell is doing.) What Mitchell does most days is a Julian Assange watch -- with the same whiff of sexism that was there in his Crawdaddy work and which he carried all through his career.
In every culture in decline
The watchful ones among the slaves
Know all that is genuine will be
Scorned and conned and cast away
-- "Dog Eat Dog"
And be sure that Greg will continue to scorn and con and cast away that which is genuine as he does his bad gossip column. (Which is not a "live blog." Someone explain the term to him. You live blog a trial. He could "live blog" the Iraq Inquiry. But just blogging during the day really doesn't count as "live blogging.") The interview with Mitchell is frightening for just what a condemnation it is of so-called independent media. Around the time Greg's confessing, "Frankly, I don't have time read everything I link to," you realize how little standards he ever had.
Since we're addressing Project Censored (the Morning Mix Thursdays on KPFA is a Project Censored broadcast), KPFA's Women's Magazine Blogspot outlined one of Project Censored's biggest problems back on January 3rd:
The Project Censored List of Top 25 Censored Stories of 2009-2010 includes not one story related to a women's or gender issue. NOT ONE! Does that mean women's issues get lots of attention? We don't think so. Instead, it points to the masculinist bias of even the progressive media and media watchdogs.
So producer Kate Raphael has produced her own quite inexhaustive list of censored or underreported stories related to women and gender in the last year. See what you think. If you want to comment on one of her choices or suggest one of your own, please email us at kpfawomensmag@gmail.com.
Listen to the show, which also includes memorial tributes to Dorothy Height, Wilma Mankiller and Mary Daly.
The list below is not in ranked order, though Kate feels that Iraq does belong at the top.

-- The impact of 7 years of occupation on Iraqi women (Malihe Razazan of
Voices of the Middle East and North Africa comments)

--
Sexual assault in the military hits epidemic proportion (includes excerpt of report by Scott Shafer of KQED TV)
For the full list click here.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Talk of whose Nation

Monday on NPR's Talk of the Nation, Jeanette Halton-Tiggs, Dave Cullen, Annette Gordon-Reed and Anthony Shadid. There were four guests and two were women and two were men. Pretty good.

But it couldn't last, could it?

No.

Tuesday the guests were Adam Goldberg, Micheal Millin, Randall Friese, Ronen Bergman, Ed Harris, Jason Beaubien and Jose Raul Perales. That's seven guests. And how many were women? Zero. How do you not notice that you've booked seven guests and not one of them was a woman?

The answer is: You do notice. You just don't care.


This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


Wednesday, January 19, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, another suicide bombing leads to mass casualties, though Tony Blair's people insist they weren't on a path to war documents released from 2000 and 2001 tend to indicate otherwise, the US Army brass talks suicides, and more.
This morning at the Pentagon, Gen Peter Chiarelli, Maj Gen Ramond Carpenter and Lt Gen Jack Stultz held a press conference on suicides in the Army. Chiarelli noted at the top that the statistics being used "includes soldiers from the Guard and Reserve [. . .] So when I say 'active component,' I also include members of the Army Reserves and the Army National Guard who are mobilized during that year." The take away the military wanted to emphasize was a small dip (Chiarelli called it a "modest decrease") in the number of suicides last year from the last five and not the news that the Guard and Reserve saw a doubling in the number of suicides for non-active duty members in 2010 (from 82 suicided to 122 in 2010). If you don't divide the numbers -- sequester? -- as the military wants you to do, you notice that theme is the number of suicides increased in 2010. That is the bottom line and one that escaped Chiarelli even when he claimed to be providing context, "And I just, you know, to try to put this in context, we're talking about 343 suicides here. But some of the numbers that I've seen in the country last year, the numbers could be as high as 35,000. So we're talking less than 1% of that total number. And it will be interesting when the CDC catches up -- if they ever do catch up -- to then go back and --"
Stop. Chiarelli is counting on people just nodding along. I don't know why he does this sort of thing. He knows he's full of it everytime he does. He is saying that 343 isn't that high because he's heard there might have been as many as 35,000 suicides in the general population in the US. Do the math. He claims 1.1 million is the Army population and, out of that 1.1 million (we're using his figures), 343 committed suicide in 2010. (Not attempted, these people took their own lives.) And he wants you to believe that, golly, gee, that's not such a big number because, in the total population for the US, (his number) it's 35,000 for 2010. Now we have to provide a non-Chiarelli number. The 2010 census found that the US population was 311,919,805. Do you see the problem? Yes, 35,000 is a larger number than 343. It's approximately 10 times greater, in fact. But 311,919,805 is approximately 300 times greater than 1.1 million. His little number exercise did not prove what he thought it did.
Chiarelli stressed a number of factors he credited for the decrease in suicides among active duty soldiers including marriage and family life counselors and he noted the need for substance abuse counselors which he insisted the military had the money for but they were short on them to demands of the market ("It's not a money issue. It's a supply issue.") He said, "It seems like everytime I hire ten, I lose ten and it's not because" they get hired somewhere else as substance abuse counselors it's because they become behavioral life counselors. That is because of the licensing requirements for counselors. A substance abuse counselor -- in most states -- is lower ranked (therefore requiring less hours of education and training) and most of them (for their own education, fulfilment and for money desires) get additional training and education which allows them to move up to higher license or certificate. Some are ideally suited for substance abuse and perfectly content in that field but it's not at all surprising that some people would choose to move up the accreditation ladder.
Noting the number of hours any soldier will be spending with their families, Lt Gen Jack Stultz insisted that "We've got to make the suicide prevention plan a family plan." They would the ones, he pointed out, that would first see "the signs, the high-risk behavior."
Gen Peter Chiarelli: The bottom line is that this is a significant issue and clearly there is much to be done. But I am confident many of our nation's very best and brightest men and women from academia, industry, the medical community, DoD and government as a whole are working tirelessly in this seminal area. I assure you, we remain committed to finding further ways to promote resiliancy, reduce the incidents of high risk behavior, improve the quality of family and soldier support programs and eliminate the stigma associated with seeking and receiving help across our force of 1.1 million and beyond to include our department of the Army's civilian and family members.
If anyone's wondering Carpenter spoke about "high risk" behavior like motorcycle riding. He had an analogy he kept circling but never parked the car by.
Charley Keyes: I was wondering if you can share your own personal reaction and level of frustration as the suicide numbers became clear over the course of the year and also identify any particular installation -- maybe Fort Hood, for instance -- has taken particular steps to combat the suicides.
Gen Peter Chiarelli: What you learn when you do this over time -- it's been two years now -- is that every year there's going to be one post that has more than any other post, that's just the nature of the business and that's how we keep track. And Fort Hood was our highest post this year. And do you immediately go back and say, "Well wait a second now, we had the events of November 5, 2009 is there any link to that and what occurred?" And I can tell you of the 21 suicides we had at Fort Hood last year, we only know of one individual who was remotely uhm associated with that horrific event and that was an individual that was being seen in the emergency room for something totally different at the time that people were being brought into the emergency room. So we were watching Fort Hood very, very carefully and as the numbers started to go up at Fort Hood we were, in every single case, trying to see if there was any connection between those two events and -- or the event of the individual suicide and what happened November 2009. And there clearly wasn't.
November 2009? What's he talking about? The Fort Hood shooting. Charley Keyes brought up Fort Hood because it's had the highest number of suicides in 2010. He didn't bring up the 2009 shooting. Chiarelli did and somebody needs to tell him: Name and claim.
If you're going to talk about therapy and tools and blah, blah, blah, you damn well better be able to name and claim because while talking about the need to be upfront and address anguish and a crisis, if you yourself can't even say "the Fort Hood shooting," you've got problems and you're conveying problems to others. Charley Keyes has a write up at CNN here. He does not note the question he asked or Chiarelli's curious response.
Yesterday a suicide bombing in Tikrit resulted in at least 60 deaths with over one hundred-and-fifty more left injured. AP reports today that the death toll has risen to 65. Since The NewsHour (PBS) couldn't get the death toll accurate yesterday, possibly they will tonight? Today's big bombing in the Iraq War is in Baquba. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports a suicide bombing involving a vehicle attack on Baquba's Force Protection Services resulted in at least 13 deaths with seventy people left injured while, "south of Baquba," a suicide bomber possibly targeting Sadiq al-Husseini ("deputy head of Diyala's provincial council") injured al-Husseini and fourteen other people and claimed the lives of 2 people (in addition to the life of the suicide bomber). Independent Television News notes, "An Iraqi police training centre has been attacked by a suicide bomber driving an ambulance killing 12 people and wounding more than 50." Aseel Kami, Ahmed Rasheed, Suadad al-Salhy and Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) quoted an unidentified police officer stating, "I can see hands and legs of dead policemen sticking out from under the rubble." Ali al-Tuwaijiri (AFP) reports that the hospital notes 14 deaths and 120 injured and quotes Sumaya Sabr, "I was on my way to the market close to the building when I saw the ambulance arrive at the entrance. The guards tried to speak to the driver, and when they got close to the ambulance, it blew up. I can't remember anything else -- I woke up in the hospital." BBC News reports, "Two attackers were thought to have been involved. One stepped out of the ambulance and opened fire on guards at the entrance of the city's special security police centre before the vehicle was driven into the compound and detonated, reports said." Ned Parker and Salar Jaffe (Los Angeles Times) add that "the bomber had sped his car inside the headquarters compound of the Facilities Protection Service, a special force responsible for guarding public buildings and smaller state offices. The blast flattened the building in Baqubah, Diyala's capital."
John Leland (New York Times) notes, "The three-month gap since the last major attack, a siege on a Baghdad church that left nearly 60 people dead, demonstrates the progress made by Iraq security forces as American troops prepare to withdraw at the end of this year, said Lt. Gen. Robert W. Cone, deputy commanding general for operations of American forces in Iraq." No, it doesn't. And it's really sad if that's the best thinking the US military can offer.
First, it's not a three month gap -- don't they teach the brass how to count -- and second it's completely predicatable and you only have to look 2009's major attacks to see that pattern. How stupid is the brass or are they just lying for public consumption? And if they still can't figure it out, they can start by examining the pattern of the late summer through fall 2009 attacks. If you don't remember -- and apparently the US military doesn't . . .
You had the "Bloody Wednesday" -- Baghdad bombings (two) August 19, 2009 that claimed at least 100 lives (over 600 people wounded -- Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) sums up, "At the site of the deadliest Baghdad bombing in 18 months, Iraqi faith that their security forces could protect them lay shattered in the wreckage."). This was followed (next massive bombing) by "Bloody Sunday" -- the two Baghdad suicide bombings of October 25, 2009 which claimed at least 155 lives (over 700 injured -- Eleanor Hall (Australia's ABC's The World Today -- link has text and audio) explained, "Twin suicide bombers targeted the Iraqi Ministry of Justice all but destroying the government department's headquarters, which are just outside the high-security 'green zone' in the centre of Baghdad."). That was followed by "Bloody Tuesday" -- the December 8, 2009 multiple bombings in Baghdad which claimed at least 120 lives (over 400 injured -- Natalia Antelava (BBC News -- link has text and video) emphasizes, "All five explosions targeted symbols of this state. Not only ministries but also a university and Baghdad's Institute of Fine Arts."). Three months apart, insists Lt Gen Robert W. Cone today, "demonstrates the progess made"? No, demonstrates 2011 is not all that different from 2010. There is no progress and I'm so sorry, Lt Gen Robert W. Cone, my home edition of Let's All Play Stupid* didn't arrive in the mail yet so you'll have to play that board game all by yourself. [*Trademark and patent pending.] Or, as Jason Ditz (Antiwar.com) puts it, "But what is clear is that despire official claims of major progress, the insurgnecy remains able to launch major attacks against security forces."
Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) also reports, "south of Baquba," a suicide bomber possibly targeting Sadiq al-Husseini ("deputy head of Diyala's provincial council") injured al-Husseini and fourteen other people and claimed the lives of 3 people (in addition to the life of the suicide bomber -- and the three were Shi'ite pilgrims). Ali al-Tuwaijri (AFP) notes this attack took place in Ghalbiyah and "Mr al Husseini was visiting with worshippers as they gathered ahead of commemorations for Arbaeen, which marks 40 days since the anniversary of the death of the revered seventh century Shiite Imam Hussein." Liz Sly (Washington Post) explains, "It was not immediately clear whether the bomber was targeting the official or the pilgrims, who are frequently attacked by Sunni extremists. Attacks on pilgrims are expected to escalate in the coming days as people set out to participate in commemorations for the Shiite religious holiday of Arbaeen next week."
In other violence . . .
Bombings?
Reuters notes a Mosul roadside bombing injured two civilians. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) notes a Taji bombing wounded five Sh'ite pilgrims.
Shootings?
Reuters notes 1 person was shot dead outside his Mosul home, police shot dead 2 Mosul bombing suspects.
Coming to Iraq? WRAL reports that an estimated 750 Fort Bragg soldiers are headed to Iraq for "a yearlong deployment." Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick is quoted stating, "The Iraqis will be the ones to determine whether we vacate or not. It's not going to be us." In addition, WMAZ reports that the Macon-based 352nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion is sending 120 reserve members to Iraq.


While the US continues sending troops to Iraq, Sweden continues forcibly deporting Iraqis.
DPA reports, "Swedish police Wednesday briefly detained 25 activists who attempted to block the entrance to an asylum centre to prevent a pending repatriation of some 20 Iraqi refugees. About 50 activists took part in the protest, police said. The Iraqi asylum seekers were taken to Stockholm's Arlanda Airport." Iraq is not safe and the United Nations has repeatedly called out forced deportations. Yesterday in Geneva, UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming stated:



UNHCR is very concerned by reports that Sweden plans to send around 25 Iraqis back to Baghdad tomorrow, Wednesday 19th January. We understand that a number of those scheduled for return belong to religious and ethnic groups targeted by violence in Iraq. They, and others slated for return, appear to have profiles that would warrant protection under the 1951 Refugee Convention or the European Union's Qualification Directive.
We are troubled that our advice, including on the situation of minorities in Iraq, is not sufficiently taken into account by Sweden when reviewing negative decisions that were made in 2008 and 2009. We believe that the recent deterioration in the situation of minorities in Iraq has not been adequately taken into account.
UNHCR has frequently appealed to states to ensure that asylum applicants originating from Iraq's central governorates of Baghdad, Diyala, Ninewa and Salah-al-Din, as well as from Kirkuk province, benefit from international protection in the form of refugee status under the 1951 Convention or another form of protection depending on the circumstances of the case. We understand that many of those being returned on Wednesday come from these areas.
Our position reflects the volatile security situation and the still high level of prevailing violence, security incidents, and human rights violations taking place in these parts of Iraq. UNHCR considers that serious – including indiscriminate – threats to life, physical integrity or freedom resulting from violence or events seriously disturbing public order are valid reasons for international protection.
UNHCR offices in Syria, Jordan and Turkey have recently registered a number of Iraqi refugees who left Iraq after they have been forcibly returned by European countries. One Christian man fled again after he narrowly escaped an attack on a church in Baghdad in October 2010, shortly after being sent back by Sweden. We are pleased that Sweden has now agreed to re-admit him.
In England on Friday, former prime minister, forever poodle and eternal War Hawk Tony Blair is set to reappear before the Iraq Inquiry to offer additional testimony after his testimony last year just didn't appear to add up. Stop the War UK is organizing protests against War Criminal Tony Blair.

Reasons to protest when Tony Blair is recalled to give evidence to the Iraq Inquiry on 21 January:

JOIN THE PROTEST 21 JANUARY
QEII Conference Centre 8am-2pm
London SW1P 3EE

(Tube Westminster or St James's
Please publicise as widely as you can
Today the Iraq Inquiry heard from Tom McKane (held the post of Deputy Head of Defense & Overseas Secretariat from 1999 to 2002) and Stephen Wall (Prime Minister's Adviser on European Issues and Head of the Cabinet Office's European Secretariat, 2000 - 2004). Before we get to an exchange from McKane's testimony, we need to note a few documents the Inquiry published today. All are PDF format. First, a letter from Alan Goulty (Director Middle East and North African Department) dated October 20, 2000 to McKane. Most important part is: "Containment, but a looser version, remains the best option for achieving our policy objectives towards Iraq. International support is vital if this is to be sustained. SCR 1284 delivered the balanced package envisaged in the May 1999 DOP paper. Need for some tactical adjustments to make policy sustainable in the medium term."
SCR 1284 is United Nations Security Council Resolution 1284. Of the five permanent Security Council members, only the US and England voted for it. (France, Russia and China chose not to vote. Had any one of them voted against it, it would not have passed.) This turns weapons monitoring duties over to the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission. Previously, United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) had done the monitoring. (In March of 1999, Barton Gellman reported for the Washington Post that "United States intelligence services infiltrated agents and espionage equipment" in UNSCOM.) The October 20, 2000 letter from Alan Goulty notes that international support for SCR 1284 is weakening but calls it "the best means of pursuing our policy objectives" and insists "It would get us off the hook of responsibility for the humanitarian situation. It provides Iraq -- and us -- with an exit route out of sanctions. But its shelf life is limited. If there is no progress by next summer, SCR 1284 is likely to lose credibility, lending to growing pressure for a change of approach." The British government -- as evidenced by the letter -- assumed that whomever emerged as the Oval Office occupant in 2001 (Al Gore or George W. Bush), it wouldn't make a difference and the US would maintain a hard position against Iraq:
Most commentators (inside and outside the Administration) point out that either a Gore or a Bush Administration could be expected to be 'tougher' on Iraq. Bush's team includes noted hawks, and Gore (with [Leon] Fureth, his National Security Adviser) has consistently been at the harder end of the spectrum within the Clinton Administration. But neither has come up with specific policy directions. Bush attacks Clinton/Gore for failing to get rid of Saddam for eight years, but under the rhetoric, he goes no further than Clinton's stated red lines for military action, and he has avoided endorsing the "rollback" (regime change) philosophy of some of his advisers. Gore has made a big show of backing the Iraqi Opposition, but has also stressed continued containment, along the lines pursued by the current Administration.
Regardless of who wins, the letter cautions, "We cannot wait until the new Administration beds down to tackle them on Iraq policy. We need to get in early, before they make too many public policy statements from which it would be difficult to draw back, and be prepared to press them hard." Why? International support is waning, "sanction busting" is increasing.
February 15, 2001, McKane wrote John Sawers and noted, among other things, that sanctions were in danger of losing support because "there is an increasing sense that economic sanctions are unfair to the Iraqi people, ineffective as a means of pressuring the regime, and indeed counter-productive because Saddam and his cronies benefit disproportionately from the smuggling which undermines the sanctions." Now from today's hearing.
Committee Member Martin Gilbert: In February 2001 on the eve of the first meeting between the Prime Minister and the newly elected President Bush you were asked to produce a note by officials to highlight the key issues.
Tom McKane: Yes.
Committee Member Martin Gilbert: That were going to be settled in the course of the review of Iraq policy in order to basically inform the Prime Minister for the meeting. That note has been published today. Can you tell us who contributed to.
Tom McKane: It was the same group of people who had been engaged in the discussions on the Foreign Office's draft paper the previous autumn. So it would have been pulled together and coordinated in the Secretariat, but it would have included contributions from the Foreign Office and from the Ministry of Defence principally, but others would have seen the draft, other departments around Whitehall.
Committee Member Martin Gilbert: Were suggestions being put forward by Number 10?
Tom McKane: there was a sense in Number 10 I think that the official machine was running too much along well-worn tracks and that it needed a bit of a jolt, that, you know, there was -- that the way the options had been reviewed in the first draft of the paper looked too much like a regurgitation of what we'd been doing up until then. So the paper was sharpened up at the request of Number 10, although my memory is that they were not the only people who thought the first draft was deficient, and it was quite frequent in that job to find quite a lot of comopetitive drafting going on, departments offering their version of the paper that you were trying to produce. That was a perfectly normal part of the way we did our business, but the end result, which I suppose is then encapsulated in the 7th March note, still is focusing on a policy of containment, not a policy of regime change.
And he keeps insisting that throughout his testimony. However, they knew sanctions were "increasingly" unpopular as was the UN Security Council resolution and they knew the No-Fly Zones patrols were also unpopular (one plan was to suggest to the US that British military fly them only) so for all of his talk about regime change not being a policy, you see that they are walling themselves off -- intentionally or not -- from maintaining what they had and, as for what replaces, it, they really only see war. That's most obvious in the sections of the February 20, 2010 letter which are edited out but indicate that, for example, to remove Saddam Hussein from Kuwait would require war and, specifically, the military of a neighbouring country (the country is whited out).
New developments also emerged (in the press, not from the Inquiry) on the private correspondence of Bush and Blair. From yesterday's snapshot:
Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) reports, "Britain's top civil servant, Sir Gus O'Donnell, is preventing the official inquiry into the Iraq invasion from publishing notes sent by Tony Blair to George W Bush -- evidence described by the inquiry as of 'central importance' in establishing the circumstances that led to war. O'Donnell, the cabinet secretary, consulted Blair before suppressing the documents, it emerged tonight." John Chilcot is the Chair of the Iraq Inquiry and, in his opening statement at today's session, he commented on the efforts to keep things from the public: [. . .]
Rosa Prince (Telegraph of London) notes today that the letters are quoted in recent books by Alastair Campbell (his published diary) and Jonathan Powell and she notes: "Sir Menzies Campbell, the former Liberal Democrat leader, criticised the ban. He said: 'It is a bit thick that Mr Blair and Mr Bush have been able to draw on these documents for their own memoirs and to be entirely selective in the use to which they have put them'." Rosa Prince goes on to demonstrate just how much Bush and Blair have quoted from the (private) letters in their books.
Moving to the US, on Antiwar Radio, Scott Horton spoke with John V. Walsh and we'll note this section (we're editing Horton's use of term because we don't allow any deity's name to be used in vain):
Scott Horton: And it really is just amazing how you can have Barack Obama who we all know for a fact with no exceptions -- every single one of us knows -- that this guy kills people every day. And then he can go and give this speech and cry all of these crocidile tears about "Oh my G**! An employee of the State was on the receiving end of some violence one day." And according to all the polls and TV and the newspapers and whatever this has really done good for him and given him a bump in the polls and he needs to exploit this tragedy the way Bill Clinton did the Oklahoma City bombing, a Democratic strategist told the Politico. And apparently it's working. In fact -- I'll say one more thing before I turn it back over to you, John -- I only heard a small bit of Obama's speech in Arizona. And the small bit I heard, all I heard from him was blah, blah, blah, whatever. But what was interesting to me was the audience. They were whooping and cheering and whistling and celebrating and clapping and acting like it was a campaign appearance. "Oh my G**! There he is in real life!" Like he's a TV star or whatever. And here he is trying to eulogize the dead and exploit this tragedy and they're sitting there like literally whistling and yelling "WOO!" and things at him.
John V. Walsh: Well actually, I would also say that in the antiwar sentiment that we see on the left and the right, I have been impressed that there is much -- if I read the Antiwar.com or the Future Freedom Foundation or Lew Rockwell, there's much more concern about the loss of human life in war than I see very often on the left, I'm sad to say. Because very often the left is talking about the cost of the war and how we could have more if only we weren't killing people over there. But that's true. We're a pretty wealthy country to begin with, that's true. But it certainly is not as important -- important though it may be -- as the loss of innocent life, the loss of life in general. Probably a million in Iraq alone. Certainly hundreds of thousands, there's no question about it. And people displaced by the millions -- four million in Iraq. Who knows what is going on? So there has to be some morality and concern for life attached to this. And it's kind of outside the discourse of the mainstream media. And it really almost has to be if we're going to continuing waging war because too much attention on that is going to distrub the average person. And so it's almost that we've fallen into a culture of -of irreverance for human life. It almost follows from having an empire. And that's very sad, it's of our own doing. Actually, in the Boston area, there's a syndicated NPR program called On Point and it's a talk show and you know, they have been, the host Tom Ashbrook, has been over -- all over this [Tuscon] story and the concern about guns and the Congresswoman's life. Yes, all of that is terrible. But it took him, I think, until something like 2006 before he ever had on his program anybody who was against the war.
Scott Horton: Huh.
John V. Walsh: He had experts that were for it in various ways. But not until well after there was a majority against the war did you ever one voice. And you rarelyl hear it anymore.
[Break]
Scott Horton: Welcome back to the show. This is Antiwar Radio. We're talking with John V. Walsh of CounterPunch and Antiwar.com about the permanent crisis and, I guess, the partisanship that is at the root of why we can't seem to get anything about it done. I mean, you think back, John, to the antiwar, anti-Bush rhetoric of the last decade and it wasn't just, "Well geez, we don't like this guy because he pretends to be a hick even though he's from Connecticut and we want power, not him." The criticism was that he's tapping our phones, he's murdering people, he tells lies all day, he's spending way too much money and breaking the dollar and real criticism. Yet when Barack Obama does all of these exact same things -- including killing kids like, I don't know, right this minute -- "Oh, no, we still love him. We woop and cheer and whistle." Just like the idiots who loved George Bush.
John V. Walsh: Yes. Well, you know, actually that brings me to another thing I wanted to mention while I was here. And that is one of the guarantees to make sure that this does not become a partisan issue -- that backing Obama or backing Bush or whatever -- doesn't take precedence over opposing war is to have -- as Antiwar.com has been pushing for for a long time -- is to have a right-left coalition against war. And I just wanted to mention, I don't know if you've had this on yet or not, but you know that a year ago there was the conference in Washington, DC. There were about 40 of us, people who write and talk and do some organizing with respect to war -- to oppose war. And we came from left and right and there is now a book out called Come Home America and it's a book of essays from the people who participated from the left and from the right. I have a piece in there. Justin Raimondo has a piece in there. Ralph Nader has a piece in there. The editor of The Nation who was not as enthusiastic as the people on the right about this project but nevertheless she came. And the editor of the
American Conservative and so on and so on.
Scott Horton: Is David Beito's piece in there?
John V. Walsh: I'm not, I don't recall. [C.I. note, Beito's piece is on the American Anti-Imperalist League and it is in the book.]
John V. Walsh: I need to get a copy of that book soon.
John V. Walsh: It is available. And if people want to get it you can find it -- well, you can find it on Amazon. But I would recommend you buy it from another source.

Scott Horton: Right. Agreed.
John V. Walsh: But if you write the -- it's a little tricky to get the title. It's Come Home America all one word or if you write it in three words it's Come Home America.US. And there are the rationales and the ideas of people who want to do this and I think it's right-on. There are people who blame Bush -- and I would say that's -- antiwar people who blame Bush and cannot bring themselves to utter a word against Obama. Or if they do, it is so gentle and so muted and so in the vein of "Well he really means well, he just can't do anything about it." Which is baloney. He has the power to stop the conflict at once. Just like Dwight Eisenhower had the power to stop the Korean War and was elected to do that and did it.
Scott Horton: Right.
John V. Walsh: So you can't say -- which, by the way, was the first undeclared [by Congress] war -- you can't say it is impossible. It is quite possible and, as a matter of fact, that was the reason that a lot of people -- not myself because I never believed it -- went out and worked for Obama because they thought they would get peace.
ComeHomeAmerica features many essays including one by Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan. It came out at the end of 2010, don't accidentally confuse it with Will Grider's 2009 book Come Home, America. For more from John V. Walsh on the topic you can refer to his "Sarah Palin's Cross Hairs -- and Obama's."
MFSO has partnered with Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) and other ally organizations for a weekend of actions, training, and lobbying in Washington DC to mark the 8th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Join us and make your voice heard!
A brief overview of the schedule....
  • Saturday, March 19th - actions to mark the anniversary of the Iraq War, TBD
  • Sunday, March 20th - MFSO meet-up and issue-area trainings
  • Monday, March 21st - lobbying, media, and organizing trainings
  • Tuesday, March 22nd - opportunity for lobby visits, and we will be delivering 20,000 postcards to members of Congress with the message "Bring our troops & tax dollars home!"
Some logistical info (more details coming soon)...
  • Housing - we are working to find homestays and affordable housing for as many Military Families and Gold Star Families as possible. Please indicate below if you need housing, can offer housing in DC, or already have a place to stay.
  • Travel - Please indicate below if you need financial assistance to get to DC. We will have limited scholarships available for Military Families and Gold Star Families.
  • Trainings - the trainings are being organized by FCNL for a small fee of $20 (this price includes lunch and refreshments on Sunday and Monday)
Using the link will allow you to find more information and also to sign up if you'd like to.

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