Tag Archives: iraq

Ann Richard’s message true today

I always loved listening to Texas Governor Ann Richards. She spoke at the 2004 Democratic Convention and her words are just as relevant in this election and a good reminder to all of us today. My thoughts today are with Texas, my old stomping ground, and those folks along the gulf who will not be sleeping tonight when the hurricane roars ashore.

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Supreme Court Rules Bush Exceeded His Powers

I found this L.A. Times article on Truthout.com By trying to stack the court he thought he’d have them in lockstep with him. Didn’t quite work out that way at least on this vote. Every time I see Republicans trying to back away from Bush I think of swimming lessons when I was a kid. Do you remember treading water backwards? I do and I was very good at it…better than my swimming in the forward direction. Anyway tread on Republican friends…the Constitution was written for you too. Now go out there and protect it…this Guy isn’t out of office…yet.

Supreme Court Rules Bush Exceeded His Powers
By David G. Savage
The Los Angeles Times

Wednesday 26 March 2008

Saying he does not have “unilateral authority” to force states to comply with an international treaty, justices vote 6-3 to reject presidential order to reopen cases of foreign nationals.

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A few Articles of Interest Here

Here’s an article I found in the Times about Trans…”When Girls will be Boys” check it out here: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/16/magazine/16students-t.html?em&ex=1205899200&en=fa3092b6bb658df8&ei=5087%0A

In other news…Cheney is on an “Unannounced” visit to Iraq to try and force the Iraqi People to turn the oil over to the U.S. Oil Companies. I guess he figures they only have less than a year to steal it before the Dems take over. How many barrels a day between now and then would that be for Exxon and the rest? Wonder if he’s using thumb screws or just horse heads in the bed…

Iraqi Refugees: Life In The Shadows
One of my fellow progressive podcast network podcasters went over to Jordan for a different reason…to document stories of iraq refugees. Those suffering the results of this mess. Caught up in the horror of it all…
Check out his work and then pass the link on to others and/or blog about it…trying to help him spread the word…

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Ancient Artifacts also destroyed in War

Something I don’t hear talked about much about Iraq has to do with antiquities lost. Maybe to some it’s because it doesn’t seem appropriate to worry about stuff when so many innocent lives have been lost. I think too it’s because most Americans don’t have a clue what has been destroyed.

pyramid

Close your eyes for a minute and pretend in your mind that the Iraq war wasn’t in Iraq. Pretend for just a minute that instead the exact same thing had happened in Egypt. Then imagine all the loss of lives both innocent civilians, local fighters and American soldiers. Then imagine how you would feel if I told you that in addition to the human toll, the sphinx and the 3 pyramids at Giza were all gone. Not only that but sitting where one of the pyramids once stood for all those thousands of years was now a burger king. The burger joint put there so our soldiers have a little comfort from home.

I just finished reading Nemesis by Chalmers Johnson, the third book in a trilogy focusing on the American empire. Empire is not something that I thought we were about here in the good ole USA but these days apparently that is what our fearless leaders are striving for. Johnson goes in depth into the rise and eventual fall of the Roman Empire and the similarities are obvious. Can you say Military Industrial Complex? For early warnings about how this could prove to be our downfall see President Eisenhower’s final farewell speech.
I think he knew a little about the subject being a four star general and all.

Getting back to the loss of the artifacts let me just say that they go back a very very long time. Biblical references to Iraq called it something else…Mesopotamia. Another empire named it Iraq…The British Empire. That Empire didn’t fair to well either as I recall. What we now know as Iraq is where written language may have been first recorded. A million books, clay tablets and scrolls are now gone. Thank George Bush. Rumsfeld didn’t provide for any protection of the museums during the invasion and they were all looted or reduced to rubble or both. When asked about it he said something like “stuff happens…it’s war.” Maybe when this nightmare is all over Bush could donate a few copies of My Pet Goat to Iraq to put on the empty shelves of their new library. (In this infamous video the secret service whispered to Bush about the planes hitting the World Trade Center while he sits there for 7 minutes reading my pet goat to this class)

I know it’s just stuff but when stuff like that manages to survive thousands and thousands of years and then it’s the age that I’m living in that finally destroys it that makes me very sad. For historians, archeologists and scholars I’m sure it makes them very very sad. For the people in Iraq I think they are going to be very very pissed off someday when they get on with living after losing their countrymen, women and children and figure out the extent of what else has been destroyed. The only reason they haven’t yet is they’re still too busy just trying to survive.

The repercussions from this war are yet unseen but one thing not being discussed is returning any found artifacts to the people of Iraq. Several thousand items from the museums we didn’t protect during the invasion have all ready started to turned up in countries around the world including the U.S. I hope the next president takes this issue under consideration and helps return these items as they are found back to the Iraqi people where they belong. National treasure as well as natural resources belong to the people where they are from. One of the reasons countries protect their boundaries is to protect these treasures and resources from plunder. If and when we put any thought into helping put their country back together again I hope some effort is put into stopping illegal trade in these ancient artifacts and in returning them to the place where they belong…in Iraq.

When the ancient Buddha statues where destroyed by the Taliban a few years ago the world was outraged. Read Chalmers Johnson’s book Nemesis and you will be too. One more thing your not hearing about in the U.S. media.

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Protest against Guantanamo Bay Prison

Eighty Arrested at Protests Calling for Closure of Gitmo
The Associated Press

In orange jumpsuits to simulate detainees they were arrested inside and outside of the supreme court. here’s a link to their story. http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/011108R.shtml

Officials briefly closed the court building during the protest. It reopened around 2 p.m. EST.

The original story was in the New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/AP-US-Guantanamo-Protest.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
Protests were also held some other world capitals.

In Manila, Philippines, about 30 activists picketed the U.S. Embassy to demand the camp’s closure. ”We are appealing to President Bush and the U.S. government to close Guantanamo Bay now,” said Aurora Parong, director of Amnesty International in the Philippines.

Small demonstrations by Amnesty supporters, also in orange jumpsuits, were held in Rome; Prague, Czech Republic; Brussels, Belgium; and Budapest, Hungary.

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Rachel Maddow on Air America

Rachel Maddow
The Rachel Maddow Show – Airs Live 6-8 P.M. Eastern

Rachel Maddow is the host of “The Rachel Maddow Show” on Air America Radio. It airs Monday-Friday 6-8PM Eastern on Air America affiliates coast-to-coast, online at airamericaradio.com, and on XM Satellite Radio.

Rachel has a doctorate in political science (she was a Rhodes Scholar) and a background in HIV/AIDS activism, prison reform, and other lefty rabblerousing. She shakes a mean cocktail, drives a bright red pickup, hates Coldplay, loves arguing with conservatives, spends a lot of money on AMTRAK tickets, and dresses like a first-grader.

She is 33 years old and lives in New York City and rural Western Massachusetts with her partner, artist Susan Mikula.

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I thought this was great…

A great idea!!!
When doing your Christmas cards this year, take one card and send it to this
Address. If we pass this on and everyone sends one card, think of how many
cards these wonderful special people who have sacrificed so much would get.

A Great Idea!!! When you are making out your Christmas card list this
year, please include the following:

A Recovering American Soldier
c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20307-5001

If you approve, please pass it on.

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Ain’t War Great?

Lockheed Martin, the nation’s top weapons manufacturer, reaped a 22 percent increase in profits, while rivals for the defense buck, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics, increased profits by 62 percent and 22 percent, respectively. Boeing’s profits jumped 61 percent, spiked this quarter by its commercial division, but Boeing’s military division, like the others, has been doing very well indeed since the terrorist attacks. As Newsweek International put in August: “Since 9/11 and the U.S.-led wars that followed, shares in American defense companies have outperformed both the Nasdaq and Standard & Poor’s stock indices by some 40 percent. Prior to the recent cascade of stock prices worldwide, Boeing’s share prices had tripled over the past five years while Raytheon’s had doubled.”
-Robert Scheer/Truthdig
posted 10-31-07

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Party like it’s 1999…

I find these stories and it just drives me nuts. Our troops waited 9 months to get body armor, when they get it it’s not good enough to stop a 9mm (A PISTOL!) bullet. Meanwhile, the owners of the company making them and collecting hundreds of millions from the government is throwing 10 million dollar parties in New York. Check this out on today’s Daily Kos

Body armor execs finally indicted for stock fraud, tax evasion
by seesdifferent

Thu Oct 25, 2007 at 04:46:46 PM PDT

I guess, from the indictment, they went to war with the inventory they wanted, not the inventory they had.
Maybe this explains why the troops never quite had enough body armor. And, of course, if these guys are actually crooks, what sort of dealings got them the exclusive contract?
link

Two former top executives of the leading supplier of body armor to the U.S. military were indicted today on charges of insider trading, fraud and tax evasion in a scheme that netted them nearly $200 million, federal prosecutors said.
Read more here

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What is Blackwater?

I found this on the Nation website. If you don’t know who these guys are and what they are doing with our tax dollars and in our name, please, please read this. This is going on every day over in Iraq. In the US there are Black Water Training camps being built. This is a private army and they follow no rules of military conduct. They answer to whoever hires them and right now that’s Bush. He sent them into New Orleans after Katrina. Instead of finding help some citizens there reportedly were met by armed men forcing them off bridges etc. The head of Blackwater, a guy by the name of Eric Prince, has ties to both AMWAY and the Christian Fundamentalist movement. (Gary Bower and others)
President Eisenhower gave a speech warning us of the dire consequences of a military industrial complex that thrived and prospered off of war. Well we have it now. If you are for peace this must change and organizations like Blackwater must not be able to function as a private army of the United States. Tell your senator an congressman or woman to hold back money to fund these guys. Tell them to fully fund a withdrawal from Iraq and no more. -Val

From The Nation
Jeremy Scahill’s Testimony Before the Senate Democratic Policy Committee

September 21, 2007

My name is Jeremy Scahill. I am an investigative reporter for The Nation magazine and the author of the book “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.” I have spent the better part of the past two and a half years researching the phenomenon of privatized warfare and the increasing involvement of the private sector in the support and waging of US wars. During the course of my investigations, I have interviewed scores of sources, filed many Freedom of Information Act requests, obtained government contracts and private company documents of firms operating in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. When asked, I have attempted to share the results of my investigations, including documents obtained through FOIA and other processes, with members of Congress and other journalists.

I would like to thank this committee for the opportunity to be here today and for taking on this very serious issue. Over the past six days, we have all been following very closely the developments out of Baghdad in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of as many as 20 Iraqis by operatives working for the private military company Blackwater USA. The Iraqi government is alleging that among the dead are a small child and her parents and the prime minister has labeled Blackwater’s conduct as “criminal” and spoke of “the killing of our citizens in cold blood.” While details remain murky and subject to conflicting versions of what exactly happened, this situation cuts much deeper than this horrifying incident. The stakes are very high for the Bush administration because the company involved, Blackwater USA, is not just any company. It is the premiere firm protecting senior State Department officials in Iraq, including Ambassador Ryan Crocker. This company has been active in Iraq since the early days of the occupation when it was awarded an initial $27 million no-bid contract to guard Ambassador Paul Bremer. During its time in Iraq, Blackwater has regularly engaged in firefights and other deadly incidents. About 30 of its operatives have been killed in Iraq and these deaths are not included in the official American death toll.

While the company’s operatives are indeed soldiers of fortune, their salaries are paid through hundreds of millions of dollars in US taxpayer funds allocated to Blackwater. What they do in Iraq is done in the name of the American people and yet there has been no effective oversight of Blackwater’s activities and actions. And there has been absolutely no prosecution of its forces for any crimes committed against Iraqis. If indeed Iraqi civilians were killed by Blackwater USA last Sunday, as appears to be the case, culpability for these actions does not only lie with the individuals who committed the killings or with Blackwater as a company, but also with the entity that hired them and allowed them to operate heavily-armed inside Iraq–in this case, the US State Department.

While the headlines of the past week have been focused on the fatal shootings last Sunday, this was by no means an isolated incident. Nor is this is simply about a rogue company or rogue operators. This is about a system of unaccountable and out of control private forces that have turned Iraq into a wild west from the very beginning of the occupation, often with the stamp of legitimacy of the US government.

What happened Sunday is part of a deadly pattern, not just of Blackwater USA’s conduct, but of the army of mercenaries that have descended on Iraq over the past four years. They have acted like cowboys, running Iraqis off the road, firing indiscriminately at vehicles and, in some cases, private forces have appeared on tape seemingly using Iraqis for target practice. They have shown little regard for Iraqi lives and have fueled the violence in that country, not just against the people of Iraq but also against the official soldiers of the United States military in the form of blowback and revenge attacks stemming from contractor misconduct. These private forces have operated in a climate where impunity and immunity have gone hand in hand.

Active duty soldiers who commit crimes or acts of misconduct are prosecuted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the court martial system. There have been scores of prosecutions of soldiers– some 64 courts martial on murder-related charges in Iraq alone. That has not been the case with these private forces. Despite many reports–some from US military commanders–of private contractors firing indiscriminately at Iraqis and vehicles and killing civilians, not a single armed contractor has been charged with any crime. They have not been prosecuted under US civilian law, US military law and the Bush administration banned the Iraqi government from prosecuting them in Iraqi courts beginning with the passage of Coalition Provisional Authority Order 17 in 2004. The message this sends to the Iraqi people is that these hired guns are above any law.

US contractors in Iraq reportedly have their own motto: “What happens here today, stays here today.” That should be chilling to everyone who believes in transparency and accountability of US operations and tax payer funded activities – not to mention the human rights of the Iraqis who have fallen victim to these incidents and have been robbed of any semblance of justice.

The Iraqi government says it has evidence of seven deadly incidents involving Blackwater. It is essential that the Congress request information on these incidents from the Iraqi authorities. What we do know is that in just the past nine months, Blackwater forces have been involved with several fatal actions. Last Christmas Eve, as Katy mentioned, an off-duty Blackwater contractor allegedly killed a bodyguard for the Iraqi Vice President. Blackwater whisked that individual out of the country. Iraqi officials labeled the killing a “murder” and have questioned privately as to why there has apparently been no consequences for that individual. Blackwater says it fired the individual and is cooperating with the US Justice Department. To my knowledge no charges have yet been brought in that case.

This past May, Blackwater operatives engaged in a gun battle in Baghdad, lasting an hour, that drew in both US military and Iraqi forces, in which at least four Iraqis are said to have died. The very next day in almost the same neighborhood, the company’s operatives reportedly shot and killed an Iraqi driver near the Interior Ministry. In the ensuing chaos, the Blackwater guards reportedly refused to give their names or details of the incident to Iraqi officials, sparking a tense standoff between American and Iraqi forces, both of which were armed with assault rifles.

The actions of this one company, perhaps more than any other private actor in the occupation, have consistently resulted in escalated tension and more death and destruction in Iraq–from the siege of Fallujah, sparked by the ambush of its men there in March of 2004, to Blackwater forces shooting at Iraqis in Najaf with one Blackwater operative filmed on tape saying it was like a “turkey shoot” to the deadly events of the past week.

Col. Thomas Hammes, the US military official once overseeing the creation of a new Iraqi military has described driving around Iraq with Iraqis and encountering Blackwater operatives. “[They] were running me off the road. We were threatened and intimidated,” Hammes said. But, he added, “they were doing their job, exactly what they were paid to do in the way they were paid to do it, and they were making enemies on every single pass out of town.” Hammes concluded the contractors were “hurting our counterinsurgency effort.”

Brig. Gen. Karl Horst, deputy commander of the 3rd Infantry Division said of private security contractors, “These guys run loose in this country and do stupid stuff. There’s no authority over them, so you can’t come down on them hard when they escalate force…They shoot people, and someone else has to deal with the aftermath. It happens all over the place.” Horst tracked contractor conduct for a two month period in Baghdad and documented at least a dozen shootings of Iraqi civilians by contractors, resulting in six Iraqi deaths and the wounding of three others. That is just one General in one area of Iraq in just 60 days.

The conduct of these private forces sends a clear message to the Iraqi people: American lives are worth infinitely more than theirs, even if their only crime is driving their vehicle in the wrong place at the wrong time. One could say that Blackwater has been very successful at fulfilling its mission–to keep alive senior US officials. But at what price?

It is long past due for the actions of Blackwater USA and the other private military firms operating in Iraq–actions carried out in the names of the American people and with US tax dollars–to be carefully and thoroughly investigated by the US Congress. For the Iraqi people, this is a matter of life, and far too often, death. In the bigger picture, this body should seriously question whether the linking of corporate profits to war making is in the best interests of this nation and the world. I would humbly submit that the chairs of relevant committees in both the House and Senate use their power of subpoena to compel the heads of the major war contracting companies operating on the US payroll in Iraq to appear publicly before the American people and answer for the actions of their forces. I am prepared to answer any questions.

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