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FORT BRAGG, N.C., Dec. 5, 2008(AP) A soldier was acquitted of murder Thursday in the 2005 bombing deaths of two superiors in Iraq, triggering loud outbursts and gasps from the slain officers' families.
A military jury found National Guard Staff Sgt. Alberto Martinez not guilty of two counts of premeditated murder in the deaths of Capt. Phillip Esposito and 1st Lt. Louis Allen. Both officers were killed when an anti-personnel mine detonated in a window of their room at a U.S. military base in Iraq in June 2005.
"He slaughtered our husbands and that's it?" yelled Allen's widow, Barbara Allen, moments after the verdict was read. Someone else shouted out that Martinez was a "murdering son of a bitch" before the judge quickly ordered the courtroom cleared.
Those were among the topics on December 3rd when I (David Swanson) joined a panel of guests on PressTV's "American Dream". Also on the panel was Edward Peck, a former ambassador who has opposed militarism and who inspired a now well-known sermon by Jeremiah Wright. I interviewed Peck in October on The People Speak Radio. Joining us was David Pollock, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy where Dennis Ross is a consultant (whom Pollock told me off the air he's certain will end up with a key foreign policy position in the Obama administration). Skillfully moderating this rather divided panel was Elliott Francis, whose job was made harder by on air phone calls from guests with passionate opinions and in some cases truly crazy hateful anti-semitism. Nonetheless we managed a rich and civil discussion, even on the topic of Israel. Here's the video. (It's the December 3rd show, which I'm hoping they'll post soon.)
For the past two years, Congress has pretended that ending a war requires passing a bill and blamed its failure to pass a bill on Republican filibusters and presidential vetoes. The veto excuse is gone. But the pretense that a bill is needed is firmly entrenched, and the filibuster excuse lives. The Democrats will have, at best, 59 senate seats in their caucus, unless Obama appoints a Republican senator to a plum position or Congress provides the people of Washington, D.C., with representation in their government. The need for a strong peace movement is greater than ever. The crowd that launched an aggressive war based on transparent lies is riding happily off into the sunset. And the new crowd (which has a lot of the same faces in it) has before it the task of holding absolute power in its hands without being corrupted. They can't do that without our help.
United for Peace and Justice 4th National Assembly
December 12-14, 2008, Chicago, IL
Sixteen Indiana National Guard soldiers have sued the Houston-based defense contractor KBR, saying the company knowingly allowed them to be exposed to a toxic chemical in Iraq in 2003. The soldiers were providing security for KBR during repairs of a water treatment plant in southern Iraq shortly after the US invasion. The suit claims the site was contaminated for six months by hexavalent chromium, "one of the most potent carcinogens" known to man. It alleges that KBR knew the plant was contaminated but concealed the danger from civilian workers and soldiers. We speak with one of the soldiers and with the lead attorney in the case.
By Dave Lindorff
One impact of this deepening recession which is largely hidden because it is spread out and distributed across the land is a wave of budget crises swamping nearly every state government and every municipal government in the country.
State governments, according to the Center for Budget Priorities, are facing a $77-billion revenue shortfall for the 2009 fiscal year. Municipal governments are probably facing a total revenue shortfall of even more than that—perhaps closer to $100 billion. New York City, for example, is reportedly facing a budget shortfall of $1.5 billion over the next two years and Philadelphia, the nation’s fifth largest city, a shortfall of $1 billion over the next five years.
By Michael Munk
US military occupation forces in Iraq suffered 14 combat casualties casualties in the six days ending Dec. 3 as the official casualty total rose to at least 69,679. The total includes 34,247 dead and wounded from what the Pentagon classifies as "hostile" causes and more than 35,432 dead and medically evacuated (as of Nov. 1) from "non-hostile" causes.*
The actual total is over 89,000 because the Pentagon chooses not to count as "Iraq casualties" the more than 20,000 veterans whose injuries-mainly brain trauma from explosions--were diagnosed only after they had left Iraq..**
George Bush says the failure to find WMD in Iraq is his biggest regret. He should regret trusting his gut over the intelligence
By Scott Ritter, guardian.co.uk
George Bush's candid interview with ABC News' Charles Gibson has one moment of awful truth – when the president, asked if he'd have gone to war had he known there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, stated: "That's a do-over that I can't do." If only he could.
By Nick Mottern and Bill Rau, t r u t h o u t
When Barack Obama becomes president, he will inherit a human rights debacle in Iraq, now entering a phase in which the US appears ready to bulldoze thousands of its Iraqi prisoners over a legal cliff into Iraqi government prisons where they face the possibility of torture and execution.
The darkening future for the detainees comes with the approval on November 27, 2008, of the US-drafted Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) by the Iraqi Parliament. The agreement requires that on January 1, 2009, the US:
By David Swanson
I know, I know, Bush liberated the Iraqis. But when will we liberate them from Bush's liberation? Well, ideally, the American people will rise up tomorrow and force Congress to cease funding the occupation and to vote an immediate and complete withdrawal with a veto-overriding supermajority, not to mention impeaching Bush and Cheney. I raise that possibility not so much because I've been drinking as because long-term movements for systemic reform require awareness of what we're missing. If we ever replace a Congress dominated by money, media, and parties with one loyal to us the people, it will be because we tragically realize what so very easily could have been.
By JAMES RISEN, New York Times
WASHINGTON — The thousands of American contractors in Iraq who have been above Iraqi law since the war began are suddenly facing a new era in which their United States passports will no longer protect them from arrest and imprisonment.
When the Iraqi government ratified an agreement last week setting new terms for a continued American presence in Iraq, private contractors working for the Pentagon faced the inevitability that they would be stripped of their immunity from Iraqi law. That immunity had been granted by the Coalition Provisional Authority before a postwar Iraqi government was established.
By John Anderson
This email is being sent to you because I believe that the Peace and Justice organization to which you belong may well be going to the UfPJ National Assembly, Dec 12-14. If not, then you may ignore this email and I apologize for the distraction.
This Assembly is likely to be pivotal in determining whether or not UfPJ can be an effective agent for Peace and Justice. Our member organization, Silicon Valley Impeachment Coalition, believes that in order to be effective, UfPJ must wholeheartedly embrace the concept and practice of Accountability. Many of its member organizations, such as The Center for Constitutional Rights, Progressive Democrats of America, and After Downing St, have already done so. The best way for UfPJ to begin to follow suit is to place a strong paragraph on Accountability in its Unity Statement. We propose inserting the following paragraph in the Unity Statement as the first bullet point after the heading To Move Toward this World:
Members of Military Families Speak Out greeted the announcement of the composition of President-Elect Barack Obama's national security team with concern, and reiterated their call for the Obama administration to bring an immediate end to the war in . The announcement that Robert Gates will continue to serve as Secretary of Defense raised particular concern among members of the organization.
Keri Wheelwright, a member of Military Families Speak Out from Fountain Hills, AZ
By Elsa Rassbach
Here in Germany there has just been an important new development for the international peace movement. Iraq war veteran André Shepherd announced on Thanksgiving Day that he will seek asylum via a court proceeding in Germany.
Over the past several years, peace activists in Europe have been raising the issue of asylum rights for U.S. soldiers in accordance with European law. For example, in March 2006, American Voices Abroad (AVA) Military Project (a U.S. peace group in Europe) initiated a hearing in the European Parliament regarding asylum. Hart Viges of IVAW a witness at the hearing along with German and UK military resisters, and Cindy Sheehan sent a video with her testimony. The Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild and the GI Rights Hotline have participated in seminars with German attorneys to explore representation of resisting GIs, including those that might seek asylum here.
By Dave Lindorff
Before the odor of burned gunpowder has left the air of the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai, the US is lecturing India not to go off half-cocked and attack Pakistan, simply because all of the attackers in the terrorist assaults in that city arrived by boat, apparently from neighboring Pakistan. US officials, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, are calling on India to engage in a “transparent” and “thorough” investigation into the attacks to establish who was responsible.
How different this is from the American government’s response to the 9-11 attacks in the US!
From the aftermath of the 2003 "shock and awe" bombing campaign all the way through Thanksgiving Day 2008, major US news outlets have nearly uniformly blacked out or downplayed reports of the Iraqi death toll. But a recent Associated Press article reveals the depths to which these outlets are still willing to delve to censor this information. READ THE REST.
Sadrists Announce a Three-Day "Mourning" after the Passing of SOFA
By Amer Mohsen, Iraq Slogger
The Iraqi Parliament ended up voting in favor of the SOFA agreement, with a
majority of 144 MPs - out of 198 present and 275 MPs in total (the treaty
required 138 votes to pass.) The last-minute deal with the Sunni parties
guaranteed the plurality, but also made the ratification conditional to a
popular referendum by next July. A political reform package was also passed
along with the security agreement, another perk for the Sunni blocs; but the
Shi'a and Kurdish parties refused to include the abolishing of the
de-Ba'thification measures and the ex-regime criminal court in the package,
as certain Sunni leaders had wanted.
The Shi'a Fadhila party and the Arab bloc preferred not to attend the
session, few IAF MPs dissented and voted against the treaty, but the
In a personal and wide-ranging interview conducted by his sister about his legacy, his faith and the influence of his father, President George W. Bush said he hopes to be remembered as a liberator of the Iraqi people.
"I'd like to be a president [known] as somebody who liberated 50 million people and helped achieve peace," Bush told his sister, Dorothy Bush Koch, in a conversation recorded for the oral-history organization StoryCorps for the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
Maya Schenwar at t r u t h o u t provides a good report.
By Raed Jarrar
This is a rough translation of what the Iraqi parliament has passed today. This will make the law valid for the next six months until the Iraqi people vote on it in a national referendum:
Act Ratifying the agreement between Iraq and the United States on the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and organizing activities through its presence and the interim
Thursday, November 27, 2008
The name of the people
based on what the council of representatives has passes and has been ratified by the council's Presidency, and based of the provisions of paragraph (first) of Article (61) and paragraph (third) of Article (73) of the Constitution:
the following law has been passed: --
the law of Ratifying the agreement between Iraq and the United States on the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and organizing activities through its temporary presence
By Gareth Porter, IPS
WASHINGTON, 27 Nov (IPS) - The decision by President-elect Barack Obama to keep Robert M. Gates on as defence secretary has touched off a debate over whether Obama can pursue his commitment to rapid withdrawal from Iraq even though Gates has defended George W. Bush's surge policy and opposed Obama's 16-month timetable for withdrawal.
Obama did not explicitly address Iraq at a press conference Wednesday, saying only that he would 'provide a vision' on foreign policy and 'make sure that my team is implementing' it. The appointments, which will be formally announced Monday, are expected to include Gates and Gen. James Jones as national security advisor, who has also been critical of Obama's withdrawal timetable.
By David Swanson
The Iraqi Parliament has approved a treaty with the United States or rather its government or rather its lameduck president, although its lameduck president has already made clear his intention to "interpret" it to mean whatever the heck he wants, meaning that the new president will be free to do that or not as he and his progressive supporters or he and his neocon advisors see fit.
The vote came after a flurry of last-minute negotiations in which the main Sunni parties secured a package of political reforms from the government and a commitment to hold a referendum on the pact in the middle of next year. Should the Iraqi government decide to cancel the pact after the referendum it would have to give Washington one year's notice, meaning that troops would be allowed to remain in the country only until the middle of 2010.
Iraq Veterans Against the War to Occupy Union Square
Street Theater Showing the Brutal and Unjust Consequences of Occupying a Foreign Country
What: Operation First Casualty (OFC), San Francisco
When: FRIDAY, November 28, 11am-2pm
By Peter Dyer, Consortium News
One of Barack Obama's most compelling and popular campaign promises was his pledge to end the war in Iraq “responsibly.” But what does “responsibly” mean in this context?
Does it mean the United States will be assuming full responsibility for all that has gone wrong in this unnecessary war?
That would be appropriate. Certainly there can be no question that President George W. Bush and the U.S. government are responsible for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. But that is clearly not what President-elect Obama had in mind regarding the Iraq War.
In his campaign, Obama galvanized unprecedented support across a wide spectrum of voters by making responsibility a central tenet of his campaign.
By Dave Lindorff
I was listening to Robert Reich, once the left end of the spectrum in the Clinton cabinet, talking with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer a few days ago, and Reich, who has in the past sometimes made sense, was talking about how Americans’ incomes had fallen over the last eight years of the Bush/Cheney administration and that it was necessary to get their incomes back on an upward trend, so that they could “start shopping again.”
Now I understand Reich was trying to make the case that the bailout so far has been focused on the banks and the insurance industry, and that none of this will help unless ordinary people start getting some relief, but still, there’s something completely twisted and out of whack when the best we can come up with is that we need to get Americans back into the malls.
In fact, that is a good part of what’s wrong with the US economy: Fully 75 percent of GDP in America is consumer spending.