31 October 2006

Real American Hero: Ricky Clousing

Soldiers are coming out in droves against the war in Iraq. There is good reason for them to do so. The US invasion of Iraq was and is, immoral, unjust, and downright illegal. The atrocities that are occurring in Iraq on a daily basis are degenerative toward the whole of humanity. The daily violence is traumatic and horrific, for both the Iraqi people and American soldiers, like Ricky Clousing, and Ehren Watada, among others.

The war is wrong. Those who led the USA into the war must be held accountable.
As a tactical interrogator assigned to question detainees at the scene of infantry raids, Ricky did not witness the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. What he did witness, however, was hardly less horrifying: American soldiers indoctrinated to view Iraqis as less than human, as "ragheads" or worse; American soldiers out on the streets of the Iraqi capital ramming the cars of Iraqi civilians for sport; American soldiers laughing as they slaughtered the livestock of local farmers; and American soldiers shooting an Iraqi teenager who had simply made a wrong turn.

Ricky was on patrol when he saw a boy, "probably 18 years old, a small maybe high-school age kid" turn down a road his unit was attempting to secure. The teenager, Ricky said, was quite visibly terrified at the sight of "a whole bunch of Americans with big weapons" staring him in the face. He started turning the car around, but didn't get very far. This is how Ricky described what happened next:
"One of the soldiers in the turret of the humvee behind me just opened up fire on the machine gun on the vehicle. As the vehicle was turning away, all I heard above my head was "pop, pop, pop, pop." This was my first deployment, my first combat experience was that moment right then, and just the sound of machine guns going off over my head. He popped about five or six rounds in the side of the vehicle. Myself and two of the other guys ran over to the vehicle, smashed the window, and pulled the guy out to provide first aid on him… I was looking down at this kid who had just been shot in the stomach for no reason really -- he was trying to leave…I was still just standing there in shock, looking down at this kid, and he looked right up at me. And his mouth was foaming. His stomach was falling out in his hands… I was looking down at this kid, this young boy who was just trying to drive around town and took a wrong turn and tried to go the other direction, was shot at and killed, and I'm looking down at him now. And we made eye contact for about five seconds, and he just looked at me with the most empty, terrified look in his face that will never leave me in my whole life I'm sure."
Ricky Clousing told us on that sunny afternoon in Washington:
"I felt that my involvement in the army, whether it be directly or indirectly, whether in Iraq or training guys to go to Iraq, I was still that piece of machine in the system that was still allowing this war to take place and still supporting that. My actions, whether or not they were on the front line or back safely at home, were still part of the body of the machine that's occupying [Iraq]. So I ultimately felt that the only thing I could do was to leave, so I packed my stuff last June and I went AWOL."
On August 11, 2006, the day he turned himself in, Sgt. Clousing made a simple statement:
"We have found ourselves in a pivotal era where we have traded humanity for patriotism. Where we have traded our civil liberties for a sense of security. I stand here before you sharing the same idea as Henry David Thoreau: as a soldier, as an American, and as a human being, we mustn't lend ourselves to that same evil which we condemn."
Ricky Clousing -- now serving a three-month sentence in a military brig at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina -- is not the only peace hero. Others are making themselves known in growing numbers and you can read about them at the Courage to Resist website. Although we have no way of assessing the numbers from here, I have no doubt that there are also soldiers trying to do the right thing in Iraq.
link: http://www.tomdispatch[...]

28 October 2006

Olympia Nightscape

capitol campus
cresent moon

p.s. "What I want for Christmas."

Cheney: No Waterboarding, Just "Dunking"

Here is the face of a new American Century:

News for you Mr. Cheney: Fascism Not Welcome Here.

That said, I am sure that there is an island somewhere, where you can establish a petty fascist state over those who would wish submit to your will. But we humans deserve a choice.

Waterboarding or no. So, waterboarding is an unacceptable practice. Does this mean that those Americans found to have participated or enabled this practice will be prosecuted under applicable statutory codes?

Practices such as waterboarding demean and degrade all of humanity Mr. Cheney. These methods of torture are all illegal according to, both domestic and international, legally binding statutory codes.
Cheney Defends 'Dunk in the Water' Remark
Addressing Alarm Over the Comment, Vice President Says He Was Not Referring to Waterboarding
By Dan Eggen

Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 28, 2006; Page A02

Vice President Cheney said yesterday that he was not referring to an interrogation technique known as "waterboarding" when he told an interviewer this week that dunking terrorism suspects in water was a "no-brainer."

Cheney told reporters aboard Air Force Two last night that he did not talk about any specific interrogation technique during his interview Tuesday with a conservative radio host.
link: http://www.washingtonpost[...]

Wikipedia on Waterboarding:

"Waterboarding is a coercive interrogation technique characterized by some as a form of torture. The modern form of the practice simulates drowning and produces a severe gag reflex, making the subject believe his or her death is imminent while ideally not causing permanent physical damage.
The physical effects of poorly executed waterboarding can include extreme pain and damage to the lungs, brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation and sometimes broken bones because of the restraints applied to the struggling victim. The psychological effects can be long lasting. Prolonged waterboarding can also result in death.

Congratulations Dick! Do you feel pride? What is it that moves you? Why not change yourself for the better? Return from your hell, the world is waiting.

27 October 2006

Election Problems

Greg Palast reports on a plague that has set in on the American election system. Funny how things have just gotten worse since Bush's grappling rise to power.
Recipe for a Cooked Election
by Greg Palast

A nasty little secret of American democracy is that, in every national election, ballots cast are simply thrown in the garbage. Most are called "spoiled," supposedly unreadable, damaged, invalid. They just don’t get counted. This “spoilage” has occurred for decades, but it reached unprecedented heights in the last two presidential elections. In the 2004 election, for example, more than three million ballots were never counted.

link: http://www.yesmagazine[...]

Uncounted ballots? What's going on? I thought this was America, the land of the free, the home of the brave! America: where good triumphs over evil, where corruption is limited to back alleyways and mafia boss offices. If the republicans win this November, there will be some serious questions to answer regarding any voting irregularities, which might become apparent.

23 October 2006

A Morally Bankrupt White House

Thankfully, there are people like Ray McGovern who are willing to do the hard work of speaking out in opposition to the Bush administrations moral and ethical shortcomings. Here he took his message to a place where it can do some good, perhaps a place where it needs to be, a house of worship. May George W. Bush be held accountable for these deleterious assaults on the common good.
LANCASTER COUNTY, PA - Ray McGovern has seen the inner workings of the intelligence world and believes the United States is in desperate need of rediscovering its morality.
The former CIA intelligence officer and Iraq War critic addressed the audience at Lancaster Church of the Brethren Sunday afternoon as the feature speaker at the Lancaster Interchurch Peace Witness Fall Forum.

His speech, "Prospects for a Moral U.S. Policy in the Middle East," focused on the ethical dilemmas facing the American public and lawmakers and ways to use faith to point the country's moral compass back in the right direction.

McGovern's group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, has spent the last three years lobbying the Bush administration to admit to what it calls the "lies" that led to the Iraq War.

link: http://local.lancasteronline...

20 October 2006

Corruption and Faith

The former chief of the infamous White House project on faith based initiatives disillusioned to the lies and deception of George W. Bush. Not too late to make a splash before the mid-term elections in November. Pass it on.
Losing Faith in the President
Critical Book by Ex-Staffer in Religion-Based Effort Is Out
By Alan Cooperman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 17, 2006; Page A19

White House officials realized they had a problem, former staffer David Kuo writes in his new book, "Tempting Faith," when they saw how a panel rated the first applications for grants under the "faith-based initiative," President Bush's vaunted effort to help religious charities.


"It was obvious that the ratings were a farce," he writes, adding that he and other White House aides feared that if the list became public, "it would show once and for all that the initiative was purely about paying off political friends for their support."

link: http://www.washingtonpost...

Now, really George, what, exactly, would Jesus do?

Take these truths to church, to temple, etc... George Bush's policies do not make spiritual sense.

17 October 2006

American Forces Let Violence Reign in Iraq

From Michael Luo
The New York Times

Tuesday 17 October 2006
Baghdad - American military units joined with Iraqi forces on Monday in maintaining a fragile peace between Sunni and Shiite communities in Balad, a rural town north of the capital where an explosion of sectarian violence over the weekend left dozens dead.

In the aftermath of the reprisals, some residents of Balad asked why American troops had not intervened when the killings began in earnest on Saturday. One of the largest American military bases in Iraq, Camp Anaconda, which includes a sprawling air base that serves as the logistical hub of the war, is nearby.

"People are bewildered because of the weak response by the Americans," said one Balad resident who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals. "They used to patrol the city every day, but when the violence started, we didn't see any sign of them."


16 October 2006

Condi Points Her Finger

"North Korea cannot endanger the world and then expect other nations to conduct business as usual" - Condoleeza Rice Same to you.

This photograph startled me, it would be funny, if it wasn't frightening. Yes - Frightening. This woman doesn't represent me! Please wake me up now. I have had enough of this nightmare. Bush is stealing my country from me. Send help.

On another note, Joshua Holland recently published an article about the oil situation in Iraq. It's at alternet.org (linked here).

Even though the world is fucked up, I hope that you are doing well.

15 October 2006

Standing in the Shoes of an Iraqi

Can you imagine the daily trauma that so many Iraqis are experiencing? And with no good reason at all. George Bush must be held accountable for this. Like a bank robber, like any criminal suspect, his actions, and those of his henchmen, necessitate apprehension and confinement until trial.

Here's an excerpt and link to an exceptional piece of writing from The Observer. Mary Riddell:

Even all-out anarchy would be unlikely to dislodge the US, which would impose martial law, according to Amyas Godfrey, a strategic expert and former aide-de-camp to a British general in Iraq. No Republican administration, and possibly no Democrat one, would dare risk the ripple effect of a collapsed state.

Meanwhile, the fate of Iraqis grows more hideous. A road-sweeper says he works with 'his soul in his hands'. Stand on the Syrian border and you will see, each day, 1,000 refugees fleeing Iraq. They drive Mercedes and Chevrolets, these doctors or engineers driven out by kidnap, rape and brutality from streets where muggers kill for a mobile phone.

A middle class is on the move, to Syria, Jordan and to Europe. Such itinerants are not poor, but they soon will be. Their host countries will grow weary of a diaspora sinking into destitution. The UNHCR believes this exodus is the biggest displacement in the Arab world since the flight from Palestine in 1948. Meanwhile, those without the means to leave stay home and die.


Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

13 October 2006

The Reality in Iraq

The overthrow of Saddam Hussein was supposed to bring them freedom democracy and peace. But murder, kidnap and lawlessness have become the facts of life for the people of Iraq. In an exclusive extract from his new book, Patrick Cockburn describes the terrifying disintegration of a nation

Published: 12 October 2006
A sense of utter lawlessness permeated everyday life in Baghdad as the war approached its fourth year in spring 2006. In his Memoirs of an Egotist Stendhal describes how, when he visited a city, he tried to identify the 10 prettiest girls, the 10 richest men and the 10 people who could have him executed; he would have had his work cut out in Baghdad. Veils increasingly concealed girls' faces, the rich had fled the country - and almost anybody could have you killed. To give a picture of Baghdad, surely the most dangerous city in the world at this time, it is worth explaining just why a modern-day Stendhal would be in trouble if he tried to identify any of the three categories he mentions.

Iraqi women used to enjoy more freedom than almost anywhere else in the Muslim world, apart from Turkey. Iraq was a secular state after the overthrow of the monarchy in 1958. Women had equal rights in theory and this was also largely true in practice. These were eroded in the final years of Saddam Hussein as Iraqi society became increasingly Islamic. But under the constitution negotiated with the participation of the American and British ambassadors and ratified by the referendum on 15 October 2005, women legally became second-class citizens in much of Iraq. About three quarters of the girls leaving their schools at lunchtime in central Baghdad now wore headscarves. The reason was generally self-protection. Those girls who were truly religious concealed all their hair, and these were in a minority. The others left a quiff of hair showing, which usually meant that they wore headscarves solely because they were frightened of religious zealots.


The first killing was at the hands of the Americans. Early one morning a surgeon called Basil Abbas Hassan decided to leave his house in al-Kudat for his hospital in the centre of Baghdad at 7.15am in order to beat the morning rush hour. Dr Hassan, a specialist in head surgery, was the kind of man who should have been one of the building blocks of the new Iraq. He drove his car out of a side street on to the airport road without noticing that an American convoy was approaching from behind him. A US soldier thought the car might be driven by a suicide bomber and shot Dr Hassan dead. Not many of his friends attended his funeral because so many had already left Iraq.


The situation is only getting worse. Yesterday we heard from the British general in charge of Iraq, who said that the British military will be excised from Iraq "soon" because, he implied, the presence of foreign military is exacerbating the problem with violence and terror. The sad thing is that we knew this would be the situation four years ago. George Bush, Dick Cheney and the rest are truly unfit for command.

Another disturbing story about Ricky Clousing's situation in court martial with the US military. Ricky didn't' want to return to Iraq after doing a tour of duty there because the mission conflicted with his Christian morality. An excerpt from a NYT article:
...after more than four months on the streets of Baghdad and Mosul interrogating Iraqis rounded up by American troops, Sergeant Clousing said, he began to believe that he was serving neither.

He said he saw American soldiers shoot and kill an unarmed Iraqi teenager, and rode in an Army Humvee that sideswiped Iraqi cars and shot an old man’s sheep for fun — both incidents Sergeant Clousing reported to superiors. He said his work as an interrogator led him to conclude that the occupation was creating a cycle of anti-American resentment and violence. After months of soul-searching on his return to Fort Bragg, Sergeant Clousing, 24, failed to report for duty one day.

Clousing was sentenced to 11 months confinement (though he will only serve 3) for going AWOL. This reeks of injustice.


11 October 2006

655,000 Iraqis Dead Resulting from Invasion

655,000 Iraqis dead as a result of the US invasion of that country. In other words, if the USA had not invaded Iraq, there would be 655,000 more Iraqis alive today. This, according to a recently released study, conducted by doctors in Iraq.

Mr. Bush doesn't think the study has credibility. Well you know what Mr. Bush - You don't have any credibility.

Here's an excerpt from the Washington Post article:

Ronald Waldman, an epidemiologist at Columbia University who worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for many years, called the survey method "tried and true," and added that "this is the best estimate of mortality we have."

This viewed [sic] was echoed by Sarah Leah Whitson, an official of Human Rights Watch in New York, who said, "We have no reason to question the findings or the accuracy" of the survey.

"I expect that people will be surprised by these figures," she said. "I think it is very important that, rather than questioning them, people realize there is very, very little reliable data coming out of Iraq."

The survey was conducted between May 20 and July 10 by eight Iraqi physicians organized through Mustansiriya University in Baghdad. They visited 1,849 randomly selected households that had an average of seven members each. One person in each household was asked about deaths in the 14 months before the invasion and in the period after.

The interviewers asked for death certificates 87 percent of the time; when they did, more than 90 percent of households produced certificates.

According to the survey results, Iraq's mortality rate in the year before the invasion was 5.5 deaths per 1,000 people; in the post-invasion period it was 13.3 deaths per 1,000 people per year. The difference between these rates was used to calculate "excess deaths."

Of the 629 deaths reported, 87 percent occurred after the invasion. A little more than 75 percent of the dead were men, with a greater male preponderance after the invasion. For violent post-invasion deaths, the male-to-female ratio was 10-to-1, with most victims between 15 and 44 years old.

Gunshot wounds caused 56 percent of violent deaths, with car bombs and other explosions causing 14 percent, according to the survey results. Of the violent deaths that occurred after the invasion, 31 percent were caused by coalition forces or airstrikes, the respondents said.

Burnham said that the estimate of Iraq's pre-invasion death rate -- 5.5 deaths per 1,000 people -- found in both of the Hopkins surveys was roughly the same estimate used by the CIA and the U.S. Census Bureau. He said he believes that attests to the accuracy of his team's results.

He thinks further evidence of the survey's robustness is that the steepness of the upward trend it found in excess deaths in the last two years is roughly the same tendency found by other groups -- even though the actual numbers differ greatly.

An independent group of researchers and biostatisticians based in England produces the Iraq Body Count. It estimates that there have been 44,000 to 49,000 civilian deaths since the invasion. An Iraqi nongovernmental organization estimated 128,000 deaths between the invasion and July 2005.

The survey cost about $50,000 and was paid for by Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Center for International Studies.
It's important to remember that Bush has waged an illegal war of aggression here. The premises for war were faulty and have been shown to be fraudulent in nature.

10 October 2006

Unpublished Letter to the Editor

[edit: Sunday October 15, 2006: This letter was published in today's Olympian. Thanks to the Editors at the Olympian for proving me wrong. And on a Sunday to boot! Yeah! Here's a link.]

Here's a letter to the editor I submitted to The Olympian almost two weeks ago. They only rarely let letters they receive go unpublished - so says their editorial policy. But this one, thus far, has gone unpublished. No letter that I have sent to the editor has taken this long to be published. However, if they do eventually publish it, I'll be sure to update this blog entry.
When a thief enters a bank and hands the teller a note demanding cash at gunpoint, there is no question as to the illegality of that act. It is bank robbery, and it is a criminal act.

When a nation’s military might is used to perpetrate a war of aggression, a similar logic holds true. The war of aggression is an illegal act, and its masterminds and executors are criminals.

The war in Iraq was based on fraudulent premises. A variety of sources and examples support and confirm this conclusion. For example, a Downing Street memo stated, “the facts were being fixed around the policy.”

Its fraudulence laid bare, it becomes clear that the war was not designed as a police action, but as a power grab. It was designed not to secure WMD, or to eliminate terrorism, but instead, it was designed to pave the way to Iraq’s oil resources.

First Lieutenant Ehren Watada has done the right thing. His principled refusal to serve in an illegal war sets a good example for those in the military, and for American citizens in general.

It is time to inject a dose of accountability into the federal government, as well as into the USA's mainstream media.

The people deserve an ongoing and thorough examination of the foundations, and of the current conditions, of the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
The only major thing that I would change comes in the second paragraph, when I stated that the "masterminds and executors are criminals." I would change this part because they must be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Guilty of committing a criminal act, yes. But "criminal" as such, not quite.

Why do you think it goes unpublished? The editorial policy says they won't publish letters that they consider slanderous. Do you think this letter fits the definition of slander? I do not think that it does.

09 October 2006

World Anger at Hyprocisy of USA

The indefatigable Robert Fisk comments on the prospects of security in the "West" in the face of counteracting politics and policies, which serve to undermine safety, security and stability - not only in the Middle East, but in Britain and the USA as well.
Freedom of speech is a precious commodity but just how precious I found out for myself when I addressed the American University of Beirut after receiving an honorary degree there this summer. I made my usual points about the Bush administration and the growing dangers of the Middle East only to find that a US diplomat in Beirut was condemning me in front of Lebanese friends for being allowed to criticise the Bush administration in a college which receives US government money.

And so on we go with the Middle East tragedy, telling the world that things are getting better when they are getting worse, that democracy is flourishing when it is swamped in blood, that freedom is not without "birth pangs" when the midwife is killing the baby.

It's always been my view that the people of this part of the Earth would like some of our democracy. They would like a few packets of human rights off our supermarket shelves. They want freedom. But they want another kind of freedom - freedom from us. And this we do not intend to give them. Which is why our Middle East presence is heading into further darkness. Which is why I sit on my balcony and wonder where the next explosion is going to be.
Here's a link: http://news.independent.co.uk...

I am in continuing disapproval of the actions of Mr. Bush et al. as they steer the USA toward further decline and repudiation with the essentials of truth and justice.

Mr. Bush can run from the truth and can hide from justice only for so long before he is apprehended.

The safety and security of the people of the world, all of the world's people, depends on holding men like Mr. Bush accountable for their actions.

06 October 2006

The Impeachment of Bush (and Cheney)

Tom Engelhardt has published an article by David Swanson on the topic of impeachment. It covers the reasons for impeachment as well as some of the historical contexts for impeachment, as well as the means by which the impeachment clause can be evoked.
Never before has the system of government established by the U.S. Constitution been as seriously threatened; never before has the built-in remedy for the sort of threat we face been as badly needed; never before have we had as good an opportunity to use that remedy exactly as it was intended.


An official censure by Congress would do nothing to compel the President to obey laws he chooses not to obey. Impeachment would do nothing. Only impeachment followed by removal from office will cure this cancer on the American political system. The current situation is exactly what the authors of the Constitution had in mind when they made impeachment and removal from office the means of protection against tyranny.

link: http://tomdispatch...

Impeachment, looking better and better as Mr. Bush plummets into deeper and deeper realms of criminal misconduct.

05 October 2006

Terrorism is in the Eye of the Beholder

Posada: A Double Standard in the War on Terror

Posted on Friday, October 6, 2006. By Michelle Garcia.

On October 6, 1976 seventy-three people were killed when terrorists blew up Cubana Flight 455, which was on its way from Barbados to Cuba. Thirty years later, on September 11, 2006, Luis Posada Carriles, one of the men who allegedly carried out the attack, was sitting in a Texas prison when a federal judge in El Paso, Texas, ordered him released from detention. If a U.S. district court upholds the ruling, Posada could be on the street within a few weeks.

Why would the U.S. government set free a notorious terrorism suspect when it was simultaneously turning the American legal system upside down to permit the indefinite detainment and torture of suspected terrorists? Terrorism, it seems, lies in the eye of the beholder.

link here

{edit 10/6/06:] Is terrorism in the eye of the beholder? Or does Mr. Bush operate within the parameters of an ever expanding bully pulpit, which allows him to define and re-define terms according to his own interests? Is Mr. Bush is setting the nation's agenda according to his personal motives, or is he serving the public interest?

To those of the Bush Administration, terrorism may be in the eye of the beholder. To me, terrorism is not in the eye of the beholder, rather it is defined by a certain set of ingredients. Terrorism is not limited to those who wish to do the US harm. Acts of terror are perpetrated in my name, by the US government. Not that I approve, of course. No more terrorism in my name! Put Posada on trial!

04 October 2006

Libby and Fitzgerald in Preparation for Trial

Elizabeth de la Vega via Tomdispatch.com:

The seemingly unstoppable imminence of his trial isn't just a problem for Libby; it's an Excedrin Extra Strength-sized headache for George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and their entire senior staff, not to mention the Republican Party. Once the trial begins, the administration will have little or no control over the proceedings. Trials are not conducive to spin. Spin requires secrecy; trials, on the other hand, are decidedly public. Reporters will be there. Citizens who have the patience to stand in line can watch. Government officials who testify will actually have to identify themselves before speaking. Their statements will be transcribed and made available to the public almost immediately.

link here

The trial date is set for the beginning of 2007.

03 October 2006

Iraq War Debacle

Frank Rich:

The facts of Iraq are not in dispute. But the truth is that facts don't matter anyway to this administration, and that's what makes this whole N.I.E. debate beside the point. From the start, honest information has never figured into the prosecution of this war. The White House doesn't care about intelligence, good or bad, classified or unclassified, because it believes it knows best, regardless of what anyone else has to say. The debate over the latest N.I.E. or any yet to leak will not alter that fundamental and self-destructive operating principle. That's the truly bad news.

This war has now gone on so long that we tend to forget the early history that foretold the present. Yet this is the history we must remember now more than ever, because it keeps repeating itself, with ever more tragic results. In the run-up to the war, it should be recalled, the administration did not even bother to commission an N.I.E., a summary of the latest findings from every American intelligence agency, on Iraq's weapons.

link here

It is far past the time to call for accountability from Mr. Bush and the masters of this war. It is time to press for justice on this matter. The world cannot rest until some measure of resolution is reached. For the sake of the dead and the maimed, let the force of what is good and right be brought to bear upon the Executors of the Iraq venture.