Sunday, September 30, 2007
Friday, September 28, 2007
I got choked up halfway through. Nothing new for me. She spoke so powerfully and with words that invoked the passion we all feel in the antiwar movement.
I did not hear about a SINGLE Ahmadinejad protester getting arrested. If anyone reading this has heard of one of the other protesters getting arrested, please let me know.
Scene of Blackwater Shooting Was Chaotic
By JAMES GLANZ and SABRINA TAVERNISE
BAGHDAD, Sept. 27 — Participants in a contentious Baghdad security operation this month have told American investigators that during the operation at least one guard continued firing on civilians while colleagues urgently called for a cease-fire. At least one guard apparently also drew a weapon on a fellow guard who did not stop shooting, an American official said.
The operation, by the private firm Blackwater USA, began as a mission to evacuate senior American officials after an explosion near where they were meeting, several officials said. Some officials have questioned the wisdom of evacuating the Americans from a secure compound, saying the area should instead have been locked down.
These new details of the episode on Sept. 16, in which at least eight Iraqis were killed, including a woman and an infant, were provided by an American official who was briefed on the American investigation by someone who helped conduct it, and by Americans who had spoken directly with two guards involved in the episode. Their accounts were broadly consistent.
A spokeswoman for Blackwater, Anne E. Tyrrell, said she could not confirm any of the details provided by the Americans.
The accounts provided the first glimpse into the official American investigation of the shooting, which has angered Iraqi officials and prompted calls by the Iraqi government to ban Blackwater from working in Iraq, and brought new scrutiny of the widespread use of private security contractors here.
The American official said that by Wednesday morning, American investigators still had not responded to multiple requests for information by Iraqi officials investigating the episode. The official also said that Blackwater had been conducting its own investigation but had been ordered by the United States to stop that work. Ms. Tyrrell confirmed that the company had done an investigation of its own, but said, “No government entity has discouraged us from doing so.”
An Iraqi investigation had concluded that the guards shot without provocation. But the official said that the guards told American investigators that they believed that they fired in response to enemy gunfire.
The Blackwater compound, rimmed by concrete blast walls and concertina wire in the Green Zone in central Baghdad, has been under tight control. Participants in the Sept. 16 security operation have been ordered not to speak about the episode. But word of the disagreement on the street has slowly made its way through the community of private security contractors.
The episode began around 11:50 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 16. Diplomats with the United States Agency for International Development were meeting in a guarded compound about a mile northeast of Nisour Square, where the shooting would later take place.
A bomb exploded on the median of a road a few hundred yards away from the meeting, causing no injuries to the Americans, but prompting a fateful decision to evacuate. One American official who knew about the meeting cast doubt on the decision to move the diplomats out of a secure compound.
“It raises the first question of why didn’t they just stay in place, since they are safe in the compound,” the official said. “Usually the concept would be, if an I.E.D. detonates in the street, you would wait 15 to 30 minutes, until things calmed down,” he said, using the abbreviation for improvised explosive device.
But instead of waiting, a Blackwater convoy began carrying the diplomats south, toward the Green Zone. Because their route would pass through Nisour Square, another convoy drove there to block traffic and ensure that the diplomats would be able to pass.
At least four sport utility vehicles stopped in lanes of traffic that were entering the square from the south and west. Some of the guards got out of their vehicles and took positions on the street, according to the official familiar with the report on the American investigation.
At 12:08 p.m., at least one guard began to fire in the direction of a car, killing its driver. A traffic policeman said he walked toward the car, but more shots were fired, killing a woman holding an infant sitting in the passenger seat.
There are three versions of why the shooting started. The Blackwater guards have told investigators that they believed that they were being fired on, the official familiar with the report said. A preliminary Iraqi investigation has concluded that there was no enemy fire, but some Iraqi witnesses have said that Iraqi commandos in nearby guard towers may have been shooting as well, possibly leading Blackwater guards to believe that militants were firing at them.
After the family was shot, a type of grenade or flare was fired into the car, setting it ablaze, according to some accounts. Other Iraqis were also killed as the shooting continued. Iraqi officials have given several death counts, ranging from 8 to 20, with perhaps several dozen wounded. American officials have said that no Americans were hurt.
At some point during the shooting, one or more Blackwater guards called for a cease-fire, according to the American official.
The word cease-fire “was supposedly called out several times,” the official said. “They had an on-site difference of opinion,” he said.
In the end, a Blackwater guard “got on another one about the situation and supposedly pointed a weapon,” the official said.
“That’s what prompted this internal altercation,” the official said.
The official added that in the urgent moment of a shooting events could often become confused, and cautioned against leaping to hasty conclusions about who was to blame.
CNN Report on Blackwater
Blackwater shooting indiscriminately calling Iraqis "Niggers"
Aljazeera English on Blackwater
By JAMES RISEN
WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 — The State Department said Thursday that Blackwater USA security personnel had been involved in 56 shootings while guarding American diplomats in Iraq so far this year. It was the first time the Bush administration had made such data public.
Blackwater, a large, privately held security contractor based in North Carolina, provided security to diplomats on 1,873 convoy runs in Iraq so far this year, and its personnel fired weapons 56 times, according to a written statement by Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte.
The State Department did not release comparable 2007 numbers for other security companies, but the new Blackwater numbers show a far higher rate of shootings per convoy mission than were experienced in 2006 by one of the company’s primary competitors, DynCorp International. DynCorp reported 10 cases in about 1,500 convoy runs last year.
The New York Times reported Thursday that Blackwater’s rate of shootings was at least twice as high as the rates for other companies providing similar services to the State Department in Iraq.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has asked Mr. Negroponte to oversee the department’s response to problems with security contractors.
A government official who was briefed on an hourlong meeting involving State Department officials on Thursday morning said that Ms. Rice had appeared surprised at the report that Blackwater had been involved in a higher rate of shootings than its competitors.
“She needs to be convinced that Blackwater’s hands are clean,” the government official said. Ms. Rice was also said to be taken aback by pressure from Representative Henry A. Waxman, the California Democrat who is chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, who issued an angry letter to her this week complaining about what he saw as the State Department’s efforts to block his panel’s investigation into Blackwater.
The meeting on Thursday with Ms. Rice seems to signal that the State Department’s leaders now recognize that the Blackwater issue is more serious than they had first thought, and that it may become harder for the Bush administration to defend Blackwater and allow the company to retain its prominent role in providing diplomatic security in Iraq.
Since the Sept. 16 shooting in the streets of Baghdad involving an American convoy guarded by Blackwater that left at least eight Iraqis dead, the Bush administration has fended off public demands by the Iraqi government for Blackwater to be evicted from the country.
Instead, the administration has said that it will conduct an investigation jointly with the Iraqis into the shooting, while American government officials have repeatedly indicated that they do not believe that the White House or the State Department would force Blackwater out of the contract.
The Pentagon said on Wednesday that it had sent a team to Iraq to investigate the role of security contractors there, in what appeared to be an effort to put private contractors under greater control by the United States military. The State Department quickly joined the Pentagon, and said that it would also send a team to review the role of contractors in Iraq.
Separately, a new study issued Thursday by Mr. Waxman’s oversight committee was highly critical of the company’s performance in a 2004 case in which four Blackwater contractors were killed in the restive Anbar Province city of Falluja. The committee concluded that witness accounts and investigative reports conflicted with Blackwater’s assertion that its contractors had been sent to Falluja “with sufficient preparation and equipment.”
In a statement, Blackwater said that the committee’s report was “a one-sided version of this tragic incident.”
“What the report fails to acknowledge is that the terrorists determined what happened that fateful day in 2004,” Blackwater said. ”The terrorists were intent on killing Americans and desecrating their bodies.”
Eric Schmitt contributed reporting.
I just want to know, who is guarding the Iraqi people? Not Blackwater...not the US Military. It is the Iraqis and other Arabs in the Middle East. I think those are the ones we call "insurgents". I believe I would also become an insurgent if a foreign power had invaded my country and refused to leave or help. With estimates of well over 4 million Iraqi refugees, the US has taken in maybe a few hundred. That is just a drop in the bucket. The American people need to take on the task to aid the Iraqis because the government will not do it. Our president doesn't even want to help children in his own country, he's not going to extend a hand to aid Iraqi children.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
We have a new court date: November 2nd. If we do have to take this thing to trial, we will still need an additional $225. We will continue taking donations until we have all that may be needed. In the event we do not have to pay the additional $250, we will donate the extra money to the Veterans for Peace Chapter 099's Afghan Orphanage Fund. We want to thank all of you that have made a donation:
Kim B., Clare H., Ronald, Ron K., Oakley, Leslie, Jeff Z.
From the bottom of our hearts...thank you.
Just imagine what goes on over there that is not covered by the media.September 27, 2007
Blackwater Tops All Firms in Iraq in Shooting Rate
WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 — The American security contractor Blackwater USA has been involved in a far higher rate of shootings while guarding American diplomats in Iraq than other security firms providing similar services to the State Department, according to Bush administration officials and industry officials.
Blackwater is now the focus of investigations in both Baghdad and Washington over a Sept. 16 shooting in which at least 11 Iraqis were killed. Beyond that episode, the company has been involved in cases in which its personnel fired weapons while guarding State Department officials in Iraq at least twice as often per convoy mission as security guards working for other American security firms, the officials said.
The disclosure came as the Pentagon said Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates had sent a team of officials to Iraq to get answers to questions about the use of American security contractors there.
The State Department keeps reports on each case in which weapons were fired by security personnel guarding American diplomats in Iraq. Officials familiar with the internal State Department reports would not provide the actual statistics, but they indicated that the records showed that Blackwater personnel were involved in dozens of episodes in which they had resorted to force.
The officials said that Blackwater’s incident rate was at least twice that recorded by employees of DynCorp International and Triple Canopy, the two other United States-based security firms that have been contracted by the State Department to provide security for diplomats and other senior civilians in Iraq.
The State Department would not comment on most matters relating to Blackwater, citing the current investigation. But Sean McCormack, the department’s spokesman, said that of 1,800 escort missions by Blackwater this year, there had been “only a very small fraction, very small fraction, that have involved any sort of use of force.”
In 2005, DynCorp reported 32 shootings during about 3,200 convoy missions, and in 2006 that company reported 10 episodes during about 1,500 convoy missions. While comparable Blackwater statistics were not available, government officials said the firm’s rate per convoy mission was about twice DynCorp’s.
The State Department’s incident reports have not been made public, and Blackwater refused to provide its own data on cases in which its personnel used their weapons while guarding American diplomats. The State Department is in the process of providing at least some of the data to Congress. The administration and industry officials who agreed to discuss the broad rate of Blackwater’s involvement in violent events would not disclose the specific numbers.
“The incident rate for Blackwater is higher, there is a distinction,” said a senior American government official who insisted on anonymity in order to discuss a delicate, continuing investigation. “The real question that is open for discussion is why.”
A Blackwater spokeswoman declined to comment.
Blackwater, based in North Carolina, has gained a reputation among Iraqis and even among American military personnel serving in Iraq as a company that flaunts an aggressive, quick-draw image that leads its security personnel to take excessively violent actions to protect the people they are paid to guard. After the latest shooting, the Iraqi government demanded that the company be banned from operating in the country.
“You can find any number of people, particularly in uniform, who will tell you that they do see Blackwater as a company that promotes a much more aggressive response to things than other main contractors do,” a senior American official said.
Today, Blackwater operates in the most violent parts of Iraq and guards the most prominent American diplomats, which some American government officials say explains why it is involved in more shootings than its competitors. The shootings included in the reports include all cases in which weapons are fired, including those meant as warning shots. Others add that Blackwater’s aggressive posture in guarding diplomats reflects the wishes of its client, the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security.
Still, other government officials say that Blackwater’s corporate culture seems to encourage excessive behavior. “Is it the operating environment or something specific about Blackwater?” asked one government official. “My best guess is that it is both.”
Blackwater was founded in 1997 by Erik Prince, a former member of the Navy Seals, and is privately owned. Most of its nearly 1,000 people in Iraq are independent contractors, rather than employees of the company, according to a spokeswoman, Anne Tyrrell. Blackwater has a total of about 550 full-time employees, the she said.
Its diplomatic security contract with the State Department is now the company’s largest, Ms. Tyrrell said, while declining to provide the dollar amount. The company also provides security for the State Department in Afghanistan, where it also has counternarcotics-related contracts.
In addition to the Sept. 16 shooting in the Nisour area of Baghdad, Iraqi officials said Blackwater employees had been involved in six other episodes under investigation. Those episodes left a total of 10 Iraqis dead and 15 wounded, they said.
Many American officials now share the view that Blackwater’s behavior is increasingly stoking resentment among Iraqis and is proving counterproductive to American efforts to gain support for its military efforts in Iraq.
“They’re repeat offenders, and yet they continue to prosper in Iraq,” said Representative Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat who has been broadly critical of the role of contractors in Iraq. “It’s really affecting attitudes toward the United States when you have these cowboy guys out there. These guys represent the U.S. to them and there are no rules of the game for them.”
Despite the growing criticism of Blackwater and its tactics, the company still enjoys an unusually close relationship with the Bush administration, and with the State Department and Pentagon in particular. It has received government contracts worth more than $1 billion since 2002, with most coming under the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, according to the independent budget monitoring group OMB Watch.
Last year, the State Department gave Blackwater the lead role in diplomatic security in Iraq, reducing the roles of DynCorp and Triple Canopy.
The company employs about 850 workers in Iraq under its diplomatic security contract, about three-quarters of them Americans, according to the State Department and the Congressional Research Service. DynCorp has 157 security guards in Iraq; Triple Canopy has about 250. The figures compiled by the State Department track the number of shootings per convoy mission, rather than measuring against the number of employees.
Just in recent weeks, Blackwater has also been awarded another large State Department contract to provide helicopter services in Iraq.
The company’s close ties to the Bush administration have raised questions about the political clout of Mr. Prince, Blackwater’s founder and owner. He is the scion of a wealthy Michigan family that is active in Republican politics. He and the family have given more than $325,000 in political donations over the past 10 years, the vast majority to Republican candidates and party committees, according to federal campaign finance reports.
Mr. Prince has helped cement his ties to the government by hiring prominent officials. J. Cofer Black, the former counterterrorism chief at the C.I.A. and State Department, is a vice chairman at Blackwater. Mr. Black is also now a senior adviser on counterterrorism and national security issues to the Republican presidential campaign of Mitt Romney.
Joseph E. Schmitz, the former inspector general at the Pentagon, now is chief operating officer and general counsel for Blackwater’s parent company, the Prince Group. Officials at other firms in the contracting industry said that Mr. Prince sometimes met with government contracting officers, which they say is an unusual step for the chief executive of a corporation.
No Blackwater employees, or any other contractors, have been charged with crimes related to the shootings in Iraq, although there are a number of American laws governing actions overseas and in wartime that could be applied, according to experts in international law. In addition, a measure enacted last year calls for the Pentagon to bring contractors in Iraq under the jurisdiction of American military law, but the Defense Department has not yet put into effect the rules needed to do so.
Separately, American officials specifically exempted all United States personnel from Iraqi law under an order signed in 2004 by L.Paul Bremer III, then the top official of the American occupation authority. The Sept. 16 shootings have so angered Iraqis, however, that the Iraqi government is proposing a measure that would overturn the American rule and subject Western private security companies to Iraqi law. The proposal requires the approval of the Iraqi Parliament.
In a sign of the Pentagon’s concern over private security contractors, Mr. Gates last Sunday sent a five-person team to Iraq to discuss with Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, the rules governing contractors. “He has some real concerns about oversight of contractors in Iraq and he is looking for ways to sort of make sure we do a better job on that front,” Geoff Morrell, Mr. Gates’s spokesman, told reporters at the Pentagon on Wednesday.
On Tuesday night, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England sent a three-page memorandum to senior Defense Department officials and top commanders around the world ordering them to ensure that contractors in the field were operating under rules of engagement consistent with the military’s.
Democracy Now!'s recent covereage of Blackwater.
Some facts about Bahgdad:
The Baghdad Zoo was the biggest zoo in the Middle East; however, by 8 days after the 2003 invasion, out of 650 to 700 animals in the Baghdad Zoo only 35 survived owing to bombing of the zoo, looting of the animals for food, and starvation of the caged animals without food and water.
Most of Iraq's manufacturing, finance, and commerce is concentrated in and around Baghdad. At least half of the country's large-scale manufacturing and much of its smaller manufacturing is located in the Baghdad governorate.
Baghdad was heavily bombed during the First Persian Gulf War (1990–91), which destroyed much of its infrastructure. Efforts to rebuild the city and its economy were greatly hindered by an ongoing series of economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations to force Iraq, inter alia, to dismantle its programs to build weapons of mass destruction. Although by the late 1990s many of Baghdad's buildings, bridges, and other structures had been rebuilt, the city's essential infrastructure remained in disarray. The UN sanctions restricted petroleum sales (long the main source of Iraq's revenue) and severely limited imports, and the country lacked the ability to produce or purchase essential spare parts to rebuild or maintain Baghdad's power, water, and sanitation facilities. The city's educational and medical institutions also deteriorated, and levels of disease, malnutrition, and illiteracy rose dramatically.
Continuing tension between the U.S. and Iraqi governments led to the Second Persian Gulf War in 2003. American troops entered the city in April and, despite criticism from other Arab states, met with little resistance from city residents. The main task of the U.S. administrators was to reestablish law and order and begin the rehabilitation of the city's infrastructure and vital services.
What would Genie think of her Baghdad now?
There is a call from the First Strike Emergency Response Group to meet at Vance Monument at 5pm downtown in the event that we attach Iran and at 5pm the day after.
Please spread the word.
We have traitors on both side of the isle in Washington. They voted yesterday "to support the prudent and calibrated use of all instruments of United States national power in Iraq, including diplomatic, economic, intelligence, and military instruments, in support of the policy described in paragraph (3) with respect to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its proxies". Additionally, they officially called the Islamic Revolutionary Guards as "TERRORISTS". Those signing on were Clinton, Feinstein, Reed, Reid, Levin, and Durbin among the many Democrats and all the Republicans with the exception of Hagel and Lugar. McCain, although he was a cosponser, did not vote. Neither did Obama. Some of the text follows:
SA 2948. Mr. KYL (for himself, Mr. LIEBERMAN, Mr. COLEMAN, and Mr. GRAHAM) submitted an amendment intended to be proposed to amendment SA 2011 proposed by Mr. NELSON of Nebraska (for Mr. LEVIN) to the bill H.R. 1585, to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2008 for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction, and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for other purposes; which was ordered to lie on the table; as follows:
At the end of subtitle C of title XV, add the following:
SEC. 1535. SENSE OF SENATE ON IRAN.
(a) Findings.--The Senate makes the following findings:
(1) General David Petraeus, commander of the Multi-National Force Iraq, stated in testimony before a joint session of the Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives on September 10, 2007, that ``[i]t is increasingly apparent to both coalition and Iraqi leaders that Iran, through the use of the Iranian Republican Guard Corps Qods Force, seeks to turn the Shi'a militia extremists into a Hezbollah-like force to serve its interests and fight a proxy war against the Iraqi state and coalition forces in Iraq''.
(2) Ambassador Ryan Crocker, United States Ambassador to Iraq, stated in testimony before a joint session of the Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives on September 10, 2007, that ``Iran plays a harmful role in Iraq. While claiming to support Iraq in its transition, Iran has actively undermined it by providing lethal capabilities to the enemies of the Iraqi state''.
(3) The most recent National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, published in August 2007, states that ``Iran has been intensifying aspects of its lethal support for select groups of Iraqi Shia militants, particularly the JAM [Jaysh al-Mahdi], since at least the beginning of 2006. Explosively formed penetrator (EFP) attacks have risen dramatically''.
(4) The Report of the Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq, released on September 6, 2007, states that ``[t]he Commission concludes that the evidence of Iran's increasing activism in the southeastern part of the country, including Basra and Diyala provinces, is compelling ..... It is an accepted fact that most of the sophisticated weapons being used to `defeat' our armor protection comes across the border from Iran with relative impunity''.
(5) General (Ret.) James Jones, chairman of the Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq, stated in testimony before the Committee on Armed Services of the Senate on September 6, 2007, that ``[w]e judge that the goings-on across the Iranian border in particular are of extreme severity and have the potential of at least delaying our efforts inside the country. Many of the arms and weapons that kill and maim our soldiers are coming from across the Iranian border''.
(6) General Petraeus said of Iranian support for extremist activity in Iraq on April 26, 2007, that ``[w]e know that it goes as high as [Brig. Gen. Qassem] Suleimani, who is the head of the Qods Force ..... We believe that he works directly for the supreme leader of the country''.
(7) Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, the president of Iran, stated on August 28, 2007, with respect to the United States presence in Iraq, that ``[t]he political power of the occupiers is collapsing rapidly. Soon we will see a huge power vacuum in the region. Of course we are prepared to fill the gap''.
(8) Ambassador Crocker testified to Congress, with respect to President Ahmedinejad's statement, on September 11, 2007, that ``[t]he Iranian involvement in Iraq--its support for extremist militias, training, connections to Lebanese Hezbollah, provision of munitions that are used against our force as well as the Iraqis--are all, in my view, a pretty clear demonstration that Ahmedinejad means what he says, and is already trying to implement it to the best of his ability''.
(9) General Petraeus stated on September 12, 2007, with respect to evidence of the complicity of Iran in the murder of members of the Armed Forces of the United States in Iraq, that ``[t]e evidence is very, very clear. We captured it when we captured Qais Khazali, the Lebanese Hezbollah deputy commander, and others, and it's in black and white ..... We interrogated these individuals. We have on tape ..... Qais Khazali himself. When asked, could you have done what you have done without Iranian support, he literally throws up his hands and laughs and says, of course not ..... So they told us about the amounts of money that they have received. They told us about the training that they received. They told us about the ammunition and sophisticated weaponry and all of that that they received''.
(10) General Petraeus further stated on September 14, 2007, that ``[w]hat we have got is evidence. This is not intelligence. This is evidence, off computers that we captured, documents and so forth ..... In one case, a 22-page document that lays out the planning, reconnaissance, rehearsal, conduct, and aftermath of the operation conducted that resulted in the death of five of our soldiers in Karbala back in January''.
(11) The Department of Defense report to Congress entitled ``Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq'' and released on September 18, 2007, consistent with section 9010 of Public Law 109-289, states that ``[t]here has been no decrease in Iranian training and funding of illegal Shi'a militias in Iraq that attack Iraqi and Coalition forces and civilians ..... Tehran's support for these groups is one of the greatest impediments to progress on reconciliation''.
(12) The Department of Defense report further states, with respect to Iranian support for Shi'a extremist groups in Iraq, that ``[m]ost of the explosives and ammunition used by these groups are provided by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force ..... For the period of June through the end of August, [explosively formed penetrator] events are projected to rise by 39 percent over the period of March through May''.
(13) Since May 2007, Ambassador Crocker has held three rounds of talks in Baghdad on Iraq security with representatives of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
(14) Ambassador Crocker testified before Congress on September 10, 2007, with respect to these talks, stating that ``I laid out the concerns we had over Iranian activity that was damaging to Iraq's security, but found no readiness on Iranians' side at all to engage seriously on these issues. The impression I came with after a couple rounds is that the Iranians were interested simply in the appearance of discussions, of being seen to be at the table with the U.S. as an arbiter of Iraq's present and future, rather than actually doing serious business ..... Right now, I haven't seen any sign of earnest or seriousness on the Iranian side''.
(15) Ambassador Crocker testified before Congress on September 11, 2007, stating that ``[w]e have seen nothing on the ground that would suggest that the Iranians are altering what they're doing in support of extremist elements that are going after our forces as well as the Iraqis''.
(b) Sense of Senate.--It is the sense of the Senate--
(1) that the manner in which the United States transitions and structures its military presence in Iraq will have critical long-term consequences for the future of the Persian Gulf and the Middle East, in particular with regard to the capability of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to pose a threat to the security of the region, the prospects for democracy for the people of the region, and the health of the global economy;
(2) that it is a vital national interest of the United States to prevent the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran from turning Shi'a militia extremists in Iraq into a Hezbollah-like force that could serve its interests inside Iraq, including by overwhelming, subverting, or co-opting institutions of the legitimate Government of Iraq;
(3) that it should be the policy of the United States to combat, contain, and roll back the violent activities and destabilizing influence inside Iraq of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, its foreign facilitators such as Lebanese Hezbollah, and its indigenous Iraqi proxies;
(4) to support the prudent and calibrated use of all instruments of United States national power in Iraq, including diplomatic, economic, intelligence, and military instruments, in support of the policy described in
[Page: S11866] GPO's PDF
paragraph (3) with respect to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its proxies;
(5) that the United States should designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a foreign terrorist organization under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act and place the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps on the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists, as established under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and initiated under Executive Order 13224; and
(6) that the Department of the Treasury should act with all possible expediency to complete the listing of those entities targeted under United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1737 and 1747 adopted unanimously on December 23, 2006 and March 24, 2007, respectively.
Additionally, they slipped this in too:
SA 2951. Mrs. DOLE submitted an amendment intended to be proposed to amendment SA 2011 proposed by Mr. NELSON of Nebraska (for Mr. LEVIN) to the bill H.R. 1585, to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2008 for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction, and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for other purposes; which was ordered to lie on the table; as follows:Apparently, while condemning Iran and voting to use whatever means necessary to bend them to our will, they wanted to mention, "Oh, by the way, the water at Camp Lejune is contaminated and sometime in the next year we will find out who was living there thirty years ago and let them know that they might want to go see a doctor if they are still alive".
At the end of title X, add the following:
SEC. 1070. NOTIFICATION OF CERTAIN RESIDENTS AND CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES AT CAMP LEJEUNE, NORTH CAROLINA, OF EXPOSURE TO DRINKING WATER CONTAMINATION.
(a) Notification of Individuals Served by Tarawa Terrace Water Distribution System, Including Knox Trailer Park.--Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the Navy shall make reasonable efforts to identify and notify directly individuals who were served by the Tarawa Terrace Water Distribution System, including Knox Trailer Park, at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, during the years 1958 through 1987 that they may have been exposed to drinking water contaminated with tetrachloroethylene (PCE).
Who are these crazy people in Washington representing? They do NOT represent me. Do they represent you?
My family and I were planning to go to Washington this weekend to attend the march on Saturday. We have changed our plans at the last minute. Although we would love to be a part of the activities, we will wait and go to Washington when we can visit Congress. But we have to catch them before they leave on vacation. I wish I could have that many vacation days. I will end this post with a bumper sticker quote:
"If progress means to move forward, what does Congress mean?"
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Over one million Iraqis dead...millions displaced...over 4000 coalition forces dead...thousands of American soldiers injured and suffering PTSD. The antiwar movement is growing. Will it take a draft for more people to wake up and care?
Concerning the presidential election, I am leaning towards Kucinich. Mike Gravel is the most experienced but the corporate monster has shut him out totally. Most of the debates favor the "front runners" Clinton, Obama and Edwards, very blatantly. There is a terrific website that lists the hot issues and lets you pick a side and choose whether the issue is important to you or is a key issue. Then it compares them to the Republican and Democratic candidates and their issues. It was designed by 2decide.net and can be accessed here. According to this quiz, I did not disagree with Gravel on a single issue. Kucinich made the top of my list, point wise, but I disagree with him on the 'No Child Left Behind Act'. This is 'Leave many children out and feed the rest to the military industrial complex Act' is not worth the paper it was written on. Schools actually lose funding if they do bad on the mandatory tests. Wouldn't they require more teachers and help if they have kids struggling? Just one more thing this administration has done to screw up this country.
Getting back to the election, I want to address this Ron Paul phenomenon. Why is every Paul supporter fanatical about it? They are like Jehovah's Witnesses...'let me tell you about Ron Paul'. Does his voting record not speak for itself? NO on a woman's right to choose, NO on stem cell research, NO on background checks for guns, NO on assault weapons ban, NO on universal health care, NO on Kyoto, YES on drilling in ANWR. What is there to like about this guy? He is for pulling out the troops and dislikes big government and wants to leave issues in the hands of the states. If he wins (that will be a cold day in Darfur) I guess I will have to move to a blue state like Vermont.
Gravel's recent Q&A session.
Gravel in 1971 - Not a flip-flopper.
Kucinich speaking recently at a Lebanese/American festival.
Ron Paul speaking on Google
With our rights being stripped from us on a daily basis, this forum is very important. If you would like more information, contact Alex Cury at 253-5088 or email her at email@example.com.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
The US 'Holy War' against the Muslims is in full swing. A new reprogramming facility opened last month at Camp Victory near the Baghdad airport. It is called the House of Wisdom and it specializes in "religious enlightenment". Of the over 25,000 Iraqis in detention camps, over 820 are juveniles. They consider these youths to be easy targets for reprogramming. Here is the article from the Washington Post:
U.S. Working to Reshape Iraqi Detainees
The U.S. military has introduced "religious enlightenment" and other education programs for Iraqi detainees, some of whom are as young as 11, Marine Maj. Gen. Douglas M. Stone, the commander of U.S. detention facilities in Iraq, said yesterday.
Stone said such efforts, aimed mainly at Iraqis who have been held for more than a year, are intended to "bend them back to our will" and are part of waging war in what he called "the battlefield of the mind." Most of the younger detainees are held in a facility that the military calls the "House of Wisdom."
The religious courses are led by Muslim clerics who "teach out of a moderate doctrine," Stone said, according to the transcript of a conference call he held from Baghdad with a group of defense bloggers. Such schooling "tears apart" the arguments of al-Qaeda, such as "Let's kill innocents," and helps to "bring some of the edge off" the detainees, he said.
As a result of the increased U.S. troop presence in Iraq this year, the number of Iraqis in U.S. detention has swelled from about 10,000 last year to more than 25,000. The effort to reshape attitudes among the growing detainee population is aimed at addressing a problem that has vexed U.S. troops in Iraq for the past four years: Military detention facilities have served as breeding grounds for extremist views, transforming some prisoners into hard-core insurgents, according to military analysts.
Stone said he wants to identify "irreconcilables" -- those detainees whose views cannot be moderated -- and "put them away" in permanent detention facilities. Psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors and interrogators help distinguish the extremists from others, he said.
After reassessments and interrogations, Stone said, some detainees are recommended for release. "If a detainee is an imperative security risk . . . then I'm going to reduce that risk and I'm going to replace that destructive ideology," he said. "And then when he's assessed to no longer be a threat, I'm going to release the detainee being less likely to be a recidivist."
Since May, Stone said, he has released about 2,000 detainees "and we've not had any coming back." He said his goal is to keep those who are released from harming U.S. troops or anyone else. "They're not going out of here unless I can feel comfortable about that," Stone added. "I'm not doing mass releases."
Other initiatives at the facilities include vocational training and basic education programs for about 7,000 detainees. Stone said he believes his approach is "compelling because it's how you win this war, not only the one in Iraq, but the one on a greater basis." He quoted Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi as saying that "America could win the war if they just applied the exact process that you're putting in detention to the rest of the entire nation," in Stone's words.
The 25,000 detainees now being held in U.S. facilities in Iraq include more than 820 juveniles, Stone said, most of whom are held in the House of Wisdom, which opened last month and is located at the Camp Victory military base near Baghdad's airport. He said that six additional young people had been sent to him just yesterday, and that "the trend is towards the youth," including 11-, 12- and 13-year-olds. He described older juveniles -- the 15-, 16- and 17-year-olds -- as "harder nuts" and said that 50 to 60 of them have been removed from U.S. detention facilities and turned over to Iraqi authorities for trial.
Stone said that youths grow up to become insurgents by starting out as messengers, guards and even planters of makeshift bombs. He said his staff members include a specialist in Islamic youth programs and he has also put together "a positive program that has been proven in Islam to actually turn the kids around to sort of reject some of these other things." Stone, who speaks Arabic and said he reads the Koran daily, noted that his facilities have 30 classrooms staffed with teachers and counselors. He has also started "four very large soccer programs" aimed at young detainees.
The new religious training, Stone said, helps U.S. forces pinpoint the hard-core extremists. "I want to know who they are," he said. "They're like rotten eggs, you know, hiding in the Easter basket."
Stone said his staff conducts polygraph tests for detainees who promise to change after undergoing the religious training program. "We were trying to figure out if they're messing with us. . . . You're not talking about radicals going to choirboys." But he also added that they're succeeding in countering extremists in the facilities. "We're busting them down, we're making whole moderate compounds that didn't exist before."
Stone described a sort of religious insurgency that occurred at one detention facility on Sept. 2. "We had a compound of moderates for the first time overtake . . . extremists. It's never happened before. Found them, identified them, threw them up against the fence and shaved their frickin' beards off of them. . . . I mean, that is historic."
Jack Holt, the spokesman for the Pentagon's new media operations, said that 60 people were invited to join the Stone interview yesterday but that only four bloggers did so. Of those four, at least two appear to be active-duty military, but as of yesterday evening none so had discussed Stone's presentation online.
Other elements of Stone's program are being developed. He said he has created a "transition-out barracks" where detainees being released discuss civics and human rights. He has also begun a "huge, expensive" Rand Corp. research study on detainee motivation and morale and has plans for a major communication campaign.
He said he also wants to provide jobs for released detainees. "I'm not naive," Stone said. "If they don't have any income, they're going to go back" to the insurgency.
Apparently King George's Holy Crusade is in full swing. Why are we detaining children as young as 11?
The picture above is of Major General Douglas Stone, lifted from the Washington Post.
This is Some Unholy War sung by Amy Winehouse.
Monday, September 24, 2007
We've been very busy the past few days...
The Women in Black stood out in their usual spot last Friday, but there was something special about this Friday. It was the International Day of Peace. Councilwoman, Robin Cape, stood with the women. At the end of the hour of silence, by official proclamation, it was declared that September 21st would officially be the International Day of Peace in Asheville. I will post a video of the reading of the proclamation soon.
Another event in Johnson City, TN was on Saturday. It was an 'End the War March and Rally'. About 250 people attended. According to reports, it was the biggest such event since the Vietnam War. It was sponsored by Democracy Now! Tri-Cities. The speakers were eloquent and invigorating. Among the speakers was Jason Hurd, a local Iraq war vet and outspoken opponent of the war. An opposition group rode their motorcycles back and forth while we marched our mile to the East Tennessee State University.
Check out the giant Bush puppet. It was GREAT! All these pictures were either taken by me or my husband. One picture paints a beautiful and political picture: "Join us on the left to end the war". It is kind of a call out for people to join the peace movement.
This video shows the beginning of the march.
I have heard it said that the anti-war movement is in it's infancy. I hope it grows up soon...
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Now we are hearing reports of Blackwater smuggling weapons into Iraq!
Time for another investigation.
Also check out Jeremy Scahill and his book,
Blackwater: The rise of the worlds most powerful mercenary army.
Blackwater USA compound in eastern North Carolina.
Blackwater's "offensive" driving course.
"Alleged" Blackwater turkey shoot in Iraq.
"Alleged" Blackwater shooting unarmed civilians.
Reuter's report on the recent Blackwater incident.
Friday, September 21, 2007
I never mean to start crying, but when I start to speak about the war in Iraq, I get emotional. I have always been overly sensitive. I have joined groups on two different occasions speaking to Mr. Peterson in Rep. Shuler's office in Asheville. The second time, I cried also. The other people spoke so eloquently and I just blubbered.
My daughter has my sensitivity. We went to meet Salee, the Iraqi girl who lost both legs in a US missile attack last year. They showed a video of other children that No More Victims has helped and my daughter, who is 7, had to leave the room because the images made her cry. I sincerely hope she grows up to make big changes in our country.
I called our Senators to express my disgust at the time and taxpayer money they wasted condemning the Move On ad. Is free speech only OK when Congress approves? Or have we lost that right when I wasn't looking? They have sit on their hands and let our civil rights be stripped from us, one by one. They continue to fund this illegal occupation. They ignore our cries for health care. I am one of the million of uninsured Americans. My doctor sent me a letter saying that he will no longer be able to provide care for me. You see, I owe him money and have no health insurance. We can barely pay our basic bills. We cannot afford an extra $500 for health insurance. I guess we could, if we stopped eating. But I like keeping my daughter's belly full. We are a family teetering on the poverty line. We make too much to qualify for any government assistance but not enough to afford the luxury of seeing a doctor. So we ignore our pains or take a pain reliever and suck it up. Since we cannot get preventative care, we run to the emergency room when our illnesses have gotten the best of us.
What about universal health care does Bush find so awful? He has obviously never been in our shoes and been turned away from a doctor's office. I could wax on and on about the ills of our government. But I will end with a few quotes from Thomas Jefferson:
Thomas Jefferson is probably rolling in his grave.
"Time indeed changes manners and notions, and so far we must expect institutions to bend to them. But time produces also corruption of principles, and against this it is the duty of good citizens to be ever on the watch, and if the gangrene is to prevail at last, let the day be kept off as long as possible." --Thomas Jefferson to Spencer Roane, 1821. ME 15:325
"More attention should be paid to the general opinion." --Thomas Jefferson to George Mason, 1791.
"The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then. It is like a storm in the atmosphere." --Thomas Jefferson to Abigail Adams, 1787.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Here is a video of him speaking to a group of children. It is kind of long and may make you cry.
At the ANSWER rally and march, he was attacked by a group of Chickenhawks from the Gathering of Eagles. You can read the story at AfterDowningStreet.org.
Were were these "peace officers" when the pro war guy jumped on stage during the ANSWER rally? They were, of course, arresting antiwar protesters. The people who want PEACE!
Some say that the internet is the platform of protest now and that the time for standing in the streets with signs is over. I don't think so. I think now is the time to rebel. To get up off our asses and do something. Shut off American Idol and all those "reality" shows and pay attention to REALITY. The questions that remains now is 'How to unplug the sheeple?'.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Monday, September 17, 2007
Friday, September 14, 2007
I was on my own on this one. I could not rely on the public school system to teach me. Early on, in elementary school, I was labeled as "gifted". The problem came when I entered high school and got involved in too many extracurricular activities; band, drama, chorus, part time job, bowling league and boyfriends. Looking back, I am not surprised that my grades slipped. I even failed AP English. My failure became a blessing.
I was placed in a normal level English class taught by a very inspirational teacher we called Bev. I was leary about being in a regular level class filled with the "popular" kids; cheerleaders and jocks. After all, all my friends were in the AP classes. Ok, Ok, I admit it, I was a geek...band fag.......a nerd. But once I got over my own insecurities, this became my favorite class.
It was taught in a trailer beside the main school building as our school had outgrown itself. It was the only high school in the county back then and we were busting out at the seems with students. There were over 400 in my graduating class.
Bev taught us that there were people who dedicated their lives to peace and nonviolence. She taught us to use our voice and speak out about injustices. At this time I had already attended my first protest, a pro-choice rally about an hour away from my town. I had already visited DC twice and seen the protesters camped out on the lawn of the national mall. I knew I had Democratic leanings and disliked Capitalistic Republicans. In the late 80s though, things seemed peaceful, but I would be at the ready, should things change.
Things have changed, war is the norm. I am now ready to be the change, to teach peace. I am ready to stand up and be heard. I am ready to stand arm and arm with my fellow peacemakers. But we have to be VERY loud for anyone in Washington to hear our message. We all have to speak in unison. But are we united in the same cause? Can we narrow all the ills into one message? Change! Peace! Change to Peace! But can they hear us way over here in our "free speech zones"?
Thursday, September 13, 2007
If tortured, you can get almost anyone to say anything you want. Torture is wrong and I am ashamed of our country for it.
And now for something you'll really like.
How old is their key expert, 25? Come on History Channel! Does Rupert own your soul too?
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Comments on the web say that Rev. Yearwood has a broken leg! You can read more on Daily Kos and here.
Goddess HELP US!!!!
Here is the third in a series of quotes by our War Criminal In Chief, George W. Bush:
"The same folks that are bombing innocent people in Iraq were the ones who attacked us in America on September the 11th." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., July 12, 2007
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Getting back to what 9/11 means. It is an approval stamp for illegal invasion and the erosion of our civil liberties. It is a mating call for the "compassionate conservative". It is a time for Bush to try to increase his approval ratings. Oh, it is a time to remember the tragedy of 2001.
We have a new tragedy in the world, the murder of over one million Iraqis. The current estimate on Iraqi deaths is 1,035,964. Each Iraqi blog I have read talks about over one million dead and over four million displaced either inside Iraq or forced out. Some blogs talk about politics, most talk about the occupation and some read like the Diary of Ann Frank.
One blog in particular, I will discus today. She is a 15 year old Iraqi girl nicknamed "Sunshine".
This week my friend Marwa visited me, she lives in my neighborhood, and I find her really nice person, they were forced to leave their home in Baghdad and come to Mosul, she felt like a stranger but not for long time, because we made a party in school for the girls who came from Baghdad and allocated money, and bought new clothes and stuff they need (I participated in that and wrote a post about that event).Once you start looking at Iraqi blogs, it is hard to stop. The horrors they face every day makes me cry. This next quote is from her mother's blog:
Marwa's house was in my aunt Rose's neighborhood, the situation there is not good and Marwa saw many dead people thrown in front of her house, she talked to me about that, she even witnessed murders in front of her eyes. It is really hard to see a person murder and you can't do anything to stop that. It is not strange here, many teenagers witnessed murders and saw horrible views, even the kids.
What are we REALLY doing over there?
I can't bear more anxiety, fear, and sadness. Counting our losses every day. Yesterday we lost our dear family senior; he is my father's uncle. He was shot to death by the American soldiers in his parent's in-law neighborhood. He is 78 years old. He was such a great man, educated, warm, and faithful to his wife who died with cancer, he raised his three children by himself to up bring a doctor, an engineer and an accountant. He remained without marriage for twenty years. Then he got married again. He was an ex-officer in the army….We all loved and honored him…we used to gather in his house every Eid; I will miss his kiss over my forehead as he used to, when we kiss him.My uncles and of course my dad considered him their best friend. They had very nice memories together; he was definitely their model…He will be missed by his friends and family, he is that kind of person that leaves emptiness.I couldn't sleep last night, neither my parent's, my husband nor my father in law. I wonder if the soldier who shot him and left him in his car ,asked himself about that old man , did he wondered if he was alive or died immediately?.. Did he sleep as a lamb?! Probably he forgot all about it, and had nice dreams….….The soldiers left him dead in his car after they shot him BY MISTAKE , then Iraqi policemen found him , used his cell phone to call one of the his family members.........
more details about the accident ......
We need help to stop the violence, and the disrespect of the humanity. I am giving some of the details about my relative's accident to seek for help, and investigation. On Wednesday afternoon about 5 pm. My dear grand uncle was shot by many American bullets from the right side while he was driving his car (Dark brown" Opel\vectra", model 1991.), in a residential neighborhood, "Al Tairan ". The report of the forensic doctor mentioned that the victim was turning his head toward the left, when he got the first bullet on his neck (that one caused immediate death), the other was in his upper right side of his chest, and the third bullet was on his upper part of his right arm.Such accidents, I mean shooting innocent people, had been repeated to a large extent that turned the appreciation of the Iraqis toward the American liberation from Saddams' regimen to hate or violence or at least suspicious about the intentions of the Americans' coexistence in Iraq …I doubt, there is any Iraqi still trust the Americans' being in their homeland, even the most peaceful optimistic……..
more about my daily life events....l
on the second day after the accident,I left my bed in the morning to find a sandy storm; I asked Sunshine to stay home to avoid asthma attack. But she refused (self-willed girl)…After an hour, she phoned; as soon as I heard her voice I expected she had asthma attack. But I was wrong; she phoned to tell me that she was in najma's house because a rocket or a bomb exploded to leave some damages in her school, with two injured girls, and 900 terrified girls….
I will end this post with a quote by our Liar in Chief:
Monday, September 10, 2007
I will look for other similar stories. I wonder what they will say at out local recruitment office?
"A little about the Delayed Enlistment Program. I have a friend named Michael, from Columbus, Ohio, who just turned 18 on Sept 2. Michael's dad, a police officer in Columbus, signed Michael up for the Army National Reserves this past summer. His grandmother was a friend of a friend of mine and Tim and we were able to get Michael out of the DEP. Michael started getting harassed by the recruiter and so JE McNeil, of CC&W, was able to advise Michael. Michael's family got a hold of the recruiters boss' boss who stopped the harassment, which went on for a few days. At one point Michael's grandmother was threatened with jail for aiding and abetting, and Michael threatened with jail for going "AWOL" though Michael never even went into the military. We now found out that Michael's dad, a police officer in Columbus, Ohio, was given $3000.00 to have his son join the military while was still 17 years old. Now Michael's dad has to pay the money back. I'm glad too because his dad is a jerk, in REALLY nice words, because who would send their son against his own will into the military during wartime when the enlistment rate is at an all time low? Anyone wanting to cover this story, let me know. Michael's grandmother Annie is compiling all of the harassing calls and writing them out by hand. She has agreed to speak to anyone who wants to call her. Please help this family get this message out that the military is giving away taxpayers money (our money) to parents who are willing to send their kids to war."