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US Iraq Casualties Rise to 71,598

US Iraq Casualties Rise to 71,598
Compiled by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com

US military occupation forces in Iraq under Commander-in-Chief Obama suffered 23 combat casualties in the week ending April 21 as the official total rose to at least 71,598. The total includes 34,648 dead and wounded from what the Pentagon classifies as "hostile" causes and more than 36,950 dead and medically evacuated (not updated since Feb. 28) from "non-hostile" causes.*

The actual total is over 100,000 because the Pentagon chooses not to count as "Iraq casualties" the more than 30,000 veterans whose injuries-mainly brain trauma from explosions and PTSD - diagnosed only after they had left Iraq.**

Senior Bush figures Could Be Prosecuted For Torture, Says Obama

Senior Bush figures could be prosecuted for torture, says Obama
President says use of waterboarding showed US had 'lost moral bearings' as Dick Cheney says CIA memos showed torture delivered 'good' intelligence
By Ewan MacAskill and Robert Booth | Guardian UK

Senior members of the Bush administration who approved the use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation measures could face prosecution, President Obama disclosed today.

He said the use of torture reflected America "losing our moral bearings".

He said his attorney general, Eric Holder, was conducting an investigation and the decision rested with him. Obama last week ruled out prosecution of CIA agents who carried out the interrogation of suspected al-Qaida members at Guantánamo and secret prisons around the world.

U.S. Lacks Capacity to Win Over Afghans

U.S. Lacks Capacity to Win Over Afghans
By Gareth Porter | IPS

President Barack Obama and other top officials in his administration have made it clear that there can be no military solution in Afghanistan, and that the non-military efforts to win over the Afghan population will be central to its chances of success.

The reality, however, is that U.S. military and civilian agencies lack the skills and training as well as the institutional framework necessary to carry out culturally and politically sensitive socio-economic programmes at the local level in Afghanistan, or even to avoid further alienation of the population.

The Story of Mitchell Jessen & Associates: How Psychologists in Spokane, WA, Helped Develop the CIA’s Torture Techniques

The Story of Mitchell Jessen & Associates: How a Team of Psychologists in Spokane, WA, Helped Develop the CIA’s Torture Techniques
By Amy Goodman | Democracy Now! | Watch video

We broadcast from Spokane, Washington, less than three miles from the headquarters of a secretive CIA contractor that played a key role in developing the Bush administration’s interrogation methods. The firm, Mitchell Jessen & Associates, is named after the two military psychologists who founded the company, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen. Beginning in 2002, the CIA hired the psychologists to train interrogators in brutal techniques, including waterboarding, sleep deprivation and pain. We speak with three journalists who have closely followed the story. [includes rush transcript]

Guests:

Mark Benjamin, National correspondent for Salon.com.

Katherine Eban, Investigative reporter and writer for several national publications. Her July 2007 article for Vanity Fair, “Rorschach and Awe.”

Karen Dorn Steele, a local investigative reporter who covered Mitchell and Jessen for The Spokesman-Review. She won a George Polk Award for a 1994 newspaper series on squandered money in the $50 billion Hanford Nuclear Reservation cleanup, the nation’s most polluted nuclear weapons production site.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re on the road in Spokane, Washington, less than three miles from the headquarters of a secretive CIA contractor that played a key role in developing the Bush administration’s interrogation methods. The firm, Mitchell Jessen & Associates, is named after the two military psychologists who founded the company, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen.

Beginning in 2002, the CIA hired the psychologists to train interrogators in brutal techniques, including waterboarding, sleep deprivation and pain. Both of the men had years of military training in a secretive program known as SERE—Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape—which teaches soldiers to endure captivity in enemy hands. Mitchell and Jessen reverse-engineered the tactics taught in SERE training for use on prisoners held in the CIA’s secret prisons.

The declassified torture memos released last week relied heavily on the advice of Mitchell and Jessen. In one memo, Justice Department attorney Jay Bybee wrote, quote, “Based on your research into the use of these methods at the SERE school and consultation with others with expertise in the field of psychology and interrogation, you do not anticipate that any prolonged harm would result from the use of the waterboard.”

Obama "Love Letter" to CIA Distorts Historical Truth

OBAMA "LOVE LETTER" TO CIA DISTORTS HISTORICAL TRUTH
By Sherwood Ross

One can only wonder what prompted the incredible absurdities written by President Obama in his April 16th love letter to the employees of the Central Intelligence Agency(CIA). It not only absolves CIA torturers from prosecution on the grounds that they were only following orders, (the same defense employed by Nazi hoodlums at the Nuremburg war crimes trials after World War Two,) but his laudatory statements about The Agency fly in the face of the historical record. Obama’s letter surely will go down in history as one of the most disingenuous documents ever to appear under the presidential seal. Worse, it strongly hints the American public has elected another in that long line of imperial presidents stretching back to William McKinley.

If Nixon Had Been Tried for War Crimes

IF NIXON HAD BEEN TRIED FOR WAR CRIMES
By Nick Mottern

The following is an excerpt from a talk by Nick Mottern on April 19, 2009 delivered after receiving a Peace and Justice Award from the WESPAC Foundation in White Plains, NY.

I asked (several friends) what they would like me to speak about today, and the consensus was: Tell people why you do peace and justice work. I will get to that in the course of my remarks.

I want to address a fundamental issue facing us right now: President Obama has said that people who have committed torture

during the Bush/Cheney years will not be prosecuted. He said: “nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past...we must resist the forces that divide us, and instead come together on behalf of our common future.”

I would like to make two points.

Gates Tailors Defense Plan to Win Battles With Congress

Gates Tailors Defense Plan to Win Battles With Congress
By David Lightman and William Douglas | McClatchy Newspapers

Defense Secretary Robert Gates' plan to overhaul military spending practices and strategy signals a new Pentagon willingness to play hardball politics with lawmakers in Congress.

Gates presented his changes April 6 as though they were another piece of President Barack Obama's economic stimulus package.

"I am concerned for the possibility that these decisions will have an impact on individual companies and workers around the country," Gates said at a media briefing. He proceeded to describe job losses resulting from the proposed end of the F-22 fighter jet program — and noted that they'd be offset by likely gains from expanded production of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

US Marine Arrested at Logan

US Marine arrested at Logan
By John C. Drake | Globe Staff

A US Marine was arrested today at Logan International Airport after federal airport screeners discovered a gun, bomb-making materials, and ammunition in his checked baggage, State Police and Transportation Security Administration officials said.

Corporal Justin Reed, 22, of Jacksonville, N.C., was booked on US Airways Flight 877 to Charlotte, N.C., said TSA spokeswoman Ann Davis. She said Reed had arrived on a flight from Las Vegas this morning.

TSA screeners in Terminal B called State Police at 7:10 a.m. after a screen discovered the following items in his checked baggage: a locked handgun box containing a semi-automatic handgun, a fully loaded gun magazine, several boxes of 9 mm and 7.62 mm ammunition, three model rocket engines containing an explosive mixture, military pull-type fuses, switches, electronics kit boxes with various components, and a hand grenade fuse assembly with detonator.

Afghan IED Threat

Rethink Afghanistan - Cost of War

In the video...

AIG Stands to Lose Lots More Money If the Wars End

We, you and I, are paying AIG insurance premiums to insure the pretended reconstruction of Iraq and the health and lives of the "contractors" over there and in Afghanistan. If the wars stop, the premiums stop, but the claims continue. Check out this story. HT Robert Corsini.

Human Body Parts

Human Body Parts
Dahr Jamail | Truthout

In Iraq, time leaves bloody marks upon each day of the ongoing US occupation. The policies of the Obama administration, adopted from the Bush administration, continue to wreak their havoc on the Iraqi people.

The US-created al-Sahwa (Sons of Iraq), a Sunni militia comprised mostly of former resistance fighters and even some members of al-Qaeda, that grew to 100,000 in number, now threatens to fade back into the shadows in order to resume anti-occupation resistance operations against the US military and Iraqi government security forces. The Sahwa, which were to be incorporated into the government security apparatus, have instead been suffering attacks by that same apparatus for several months - attacks that are now occurring daily. And they are reacting in kind.

Blind Amputee Has to Fight AIG for New Plastic Leg, Wheelchair

Blind Amputee Has to Fight AIG for New Plastic Leg, Wheelchair
While Executives Get Bonuses, John Woodson Gets "Cheapest They Could Get Away With"
By Avni Patel and Brian Ross | ABCNEWs

An Oklahoma man who lost an eye and a leg in Iraq says the giant insurance company AIG refused to provide him a new plastic leg and fought to keep from paying for a wheelchair or glasses for the eye in which he has 30 percent vision.

They bought the cheapest thing that they could get away with," said 51-year old John Woodson, a truck driver for the KBR contracting firm who lost his leg when his truck hit a roadside bomb in Iraq.

"Everything's been a struggle, a constant fight," said Woodson, injured in Oct. 2004. "It's been hell since."

Rep Sanchez Tells Italians They Must Accept New US Military Base, and That Convenience for Attacking Africa Is Key

Here's an update on Vicenza, Italy, from Stephanie Westbrook:
More here: http://afterdowningstreet.org/vicenza

See below an informal trip report on a recent lobbying trip from Vicenza to DC as well as a rough translation of an interview with Rep. Loretta Sanchez appearing yesterday on the Vicenza newspaper. She was apparently in Venice on holiday and met with Dal Molin Special Commissioner Paolo Costa. She talks about the importance of Vicenza for Africom.

The original is at:
http://www.ilgiornaledivicenza.it/stories/Home/199501/

Vicenza and the base at Dal Molin "Here's why Obama wants it"

Vice-President of the "National Security" Committee visits Commissioner Costa in Venice. Loretta Sanchez: "These are options that have been voted by U.S. Congress, and it's not a coincidence that Defense Secretary Gates was reconfirmed. There will be no second thoughts"

Venice. "The military policy of the United States is passed by Congress.

Tomgram: William Astore, Déjà Vu All Over Again in Afghanistan

Tomgram: William Astore, Déjà Vu All Over Again in Afghanistan | TomDispatch.com

It didn't take long. Only 11 days after Barack Obama entered the Oval Office, a Newsweek cover story proclaimed the Afghan War "Obama's Vietnam." And there wasn't even a question mark. As John Barry and Evan Thomas wrote grimly in that January piece, "[T]here is this stark similarity: in Afghanistan, as in Vietnam, we may now be facing a situation where we can win every battle and still not win the war -- at least not within a time frame and at a cost that is acceptable to the American people." In the two and a half months since that piece appeared, the President and his advisors have, in fact, doubled-down on what is increasingly the Af-Pak War -- with the expanding fighting in Pakistan's tribal borderlands helping to destabilize that regional nuclear power. As a result, it would hardly be surprising if "Obama's Vietnam" became an ever more common refrain in the year ahead.

In a number of ways, however, the Af-Pak War couldn't bear less of a relationship to the Vietnam one. After all, this time around there is no superpower enemy like the Soviet Union or regional power like China supporting and arming the Taliban (or, for that matter, like the United States, which supported and armed the mujahideen to give the Soviets their own "Vietnam" in Afghanistan in the 1980s). In Vietnam, the U.S. faced a North Vietnamese professional army, well-trained, superbly disciplined, and supplied with the best the Soviets and Chinese could produce, including heavy weapons; while the guerrilla organization we fought in South Vietnam, which Americans knew as "the Vietcong," had widespread popular support, was unified, dedicated, well structured, and highly regimented.

Man Who Says He Is Former AIPAC Member Puts Up Billboards Decrying Gaza as Monstrous Inhumanity

Man who says he is former AIPAC member puts up billboards decrying Gaza as monstrous inhumanity | Mondoweiss

I keep braying that Gaza is a watershed moment in American political life and American Jewish life.

The billboard is one of ten being put up in New Mexico by an Albuquerque-based grassroots org (the Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel).

The group looks to be multicultural, and led by two Jews, Lori Rudolph and Rich Forer. Forer says that he is a former member of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) who has been shaken from ideological slumbers in the last couple of years by the Israeli New Historians.

He has learned that Jewish schoolchildren are "grossly misinformed" about the conflict and are taught to demonize Palestinians. Gaza was a "monstrous act of inhumanity," he continues, and Israel must act sincerely to restore the dignity to both peoples.

Monstrous act of inhumanity, that is the takeaway phrase. I believe anyone can be a member of AIPAC; but Forer's epiphany is evidently sincere, and symptomatic of a change in the American Jewish relationship to Israel that AIPAC will have to reckon with.

Donald Duck and Taxes You Pay to International Bankers

Donald Duck and Taxes You Pay to International Bankers
By Kurt Nimmo | InfoWars

It’s that time again, time to pay the bankers what is owed at gunpoint. Back in the day, when fear of the IRS was not as prevalent as it is today, the government employed Hollywood propaganda to make the plebs feel good about forking over their hard-won earnings.

In the cartoon here, produced in 1943 during the Second World War, Donald Duck is pressed into service to make Americans feel good about paying taxes. Donald’s cartoon was rolled out the same year Milton Friedman, a Treasury Department economist at the time, came up with the idea of imposing a withholding tax.

US Iraq Casualties Rise to 71,575

US Iraq Casualties Rise to 71,575
Compiled by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com

US military occupation forces in Iraq under Commander-in-Chief Obama suffered 31 combat casualties in the week ending April 14, 2009 as the official total rose to at least 71,575. The total includes 34,625 dead and wounded from what the Pentagon classifies as "hostile" causes and more than 36,950 dead and medically evacuated (as of Feb. 28, 2009) from "non-hostile" causes.*

The actual total is over 100,000 because the Pentagon chooses not to count as "Iraq casualties" the more than 30,000 veterans whose injuries-mainly brain trauma from explosions and PTSD - diagnosed only after they had left Iraq.**

The "Granny 7" Score One for the First Amendment

THE "GRANNY 7" SCORE ONE FOR THE FIRST AMENDMENT
by Joan Wile, member of the Granny Peace Brigade

The "Granny 7," the seven intrepid women of the Granny Peace Brigade who were arrested and jailed on March 18, 2009, when they protested at the Times Square recruiting station against the Afghanistan war escalation and the retention of 50,000 troops in Iraq after the official withdrawal date, achieved a victory April 14 for the First Amendment principle protecting peaceful protest.

At a court appearance at Manhattan Community Court, it was declared that the City of New York "declined to prosecute." It would seem that the decision was influenced by the arrest of 18 Granny Peace Brigade members on Oct. 17, 2005, when they tried to enlist at the Times Square recruiting center to replace America's grandchildren in harm's way in Iraq. Those grannies were put on trial for six days in criminal court at the end of which they were acquitted. The resultant world-wide publicity did nothing to polish the image of the Big Apple -- photographs and television footage of old women being handcuffed and poured into paddy wagons for non-violent protest tended to make New York's Finest look more like New York's Meanest.

It's April 15: Time to Pay for War, Killing and Oppression Once Again

By Dave Lindorff

As you’re mailing out that tax return again this year, it’s time to remember once again how much of your hard-earned bucks are being devoted to destruction, imperialist domination, slaughter and war, to funding ridiculous programs like the failed anti-missile system, and also to supporting a massively bureaucratic and overstaffed military.

Even with the current US budget predicted to hit a record $3.5 trillion, thanks to a whopping $800 billion, two-year economic stimulus package, and with several hundred billion being poured into a group of banks and the bottomless pit called AIG, the $800 billion budgeted for the military to date (a figure that includes an $85 billion “supplemental” request for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan) represents 22% of total US spending.

Obama Asked a Serious Question: Of Course It Wasn't at a Press Conference

Obama's Economy Speech at Georgetown
April 14, 2009
CODEPINK DC
Washington, DC

From Liz out the outside:
CODEPINKers went to Georgetown University with a huge banner, "Stop Funding Wars & Wall Street" as President Barack Obama was speaking on campus about the state of the economy. It was rainy and cold but if not us who will be there with banners to say stop these wars and re-direct funding toward the human needs programs, starved in the name of continuing failed wars and occupations that provide little long term stability?!

Medea, Eric and Liz arrived just after 10 AM with our prop suitcase and 2 megaphones. We walked into the campus together and separated moments later to cover as much ground as possible. Medea magically slipped inside the event immediately as Eric and I set up a space for the peace team to be very visible with our banners on the exterior.

Recruitment and Torture

DOJ: No Evidence Anyone 'Affected' By Widespread Proselytizing in Military

By Jason Leopold, The Public Record

A U.S. Army soldier who was allegedly forced to attend fundamentalist Christian themed events and sued Secretary of Defense Robert Gates claiming his First Amendment rights were violated should not be permitted to seek relief in federal court because he failed to take his grievances to his superiors, the Justice Department said in court documents filed last week in response to the Army’s soldier’s federal lawsuit.

Female Vets Struggling To Get Treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Female vets struggling to get treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder | WBIR

The war in Iraq has been now been raging for six years.

It's the first war where women in the U.S. military are in combat roles.

Even years after serving in Iraq, female veterans are still adjusting to civilian life.

Thousands Flee Bomb Attacks by US Drones

Thousands flee bomb attacks by US drones
Daud Khattakin and Christina Lamb | UK Times | April 5, 2009

As many as 1m people have fled their homes in the Tribal Areas to escape attacks by the unmanned spy planes as well as bombings by the Pakistani army. In Bajaur agency entire villages have been flattened by Pakistani troops under growing American pressure to act against Al-Qaeda militants, who have made the area their base....Jamil Amjad, the commissioner in charge of the refugees, says the government is running short of resources to feed and shelter such large numbers....Pakistani officials say drone attacks have been stepped up since President Barack Obama took office in Washington, killing at least 81 people.

American drone attacks on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan are causing a massive humanitarian emergency, Pakistani officials claimed after a new attack yesterday killed 13 people.

Most Hawaii Army Sex Aassaults Go Unreported, But Military Better in Raising Awareness of Problem

Most Hawaii Army sex assaults go unreported, but military better in raising awareness of problem
By William Cole | Honolulu Advertiser

A female sailor reported being raped aboard the Pearl Harbor-based cruiser USS Port Royal while it was docked in the United Arab Emirates. A male enlisted sailor accused of the crime was found not guilty at a court-martial.

An Air Force lieutenant colonel was accused of making wrongful sexual contact with a male staff sergeant in Afghanistan. The officer received punishment of forfeiture of $3,704 pay a month for two months, and a reprimand.

A female enlisted Marine said she was fondled by a male service member while sleeping on the floor at another Marine's house. Civilian authorities declined to prosecute, and the accused was acquitted at court-martial.

Tomgram: Roane Carey, Will Israel Attack Iran?

Tomgram: Roane Carey, Will Israel Attack Iran? | TomDispatch.com

Sometimes, reading about the Middle East, or at least about Israel, Iran, and nuclear weapons, feels like your most basic broken-record phenomenon. As New York Times op-ed columnist Roger Cohen reminded readers recently, there's nothing new about Israeli predictions that Iranian "madmen" -- or rather, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the head of a rather extreme new government, put it recently, "a messianic apocalyptic cult" -- would soon have nuclear weapons in their hands. The charges and predictions of the imminent arrival of the Iranian bomb go back well into the 1990s and yet, despite Iran's growing nuclear enrichment program, we still don't know what the true predilections of its leaders are on the basic issue of weaponization. (They might, for instance, be planning to opt for the Japan "solution," not weaponizing, but simply being capable of doing so relatively quickly.)

The other part of that broken-record phenomenon concerns Israel's nuclear arsenal, which I wrote about at TomDispatch back in 2003, since which time remarkably little has changed. One of the genuinely strange aspects of just about anything you can read here in the U.S. on nuclear weapons and the Middle East is this: all fear and much print (and TV time) is focused on whether the Iranians may someday, in the near or far future, get a nuclear weapon; that is, we're focused on a weapon that doesn't yet exist and, for all we know, may never exist.

Missile "Defense" Ships Would Protect Against China, Gates Says

By Global Security Newswire

The increasing number of U.S. warships equipped with ballistic missile defense technology would provide greater protection in case of conflict with China, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday (see GSN, April 7).

"We're converting more ships to have ballistic missile defense that would help against China," he told a PBS interviewer in regard to his budget plan for fiscal 2010.

The budget would reduce funding at the Missile Defense Agency by $1.4 billion but seeks $200 million to install missile shield technology on six ships, Gates said Monday.

Critics have argued that the plan would hamper the U.S. ability to fight conventional wars with nations such as China and Russia as Washington attempts to strengthen defenses against looming threats including insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Press Trust of India reported.

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