Saturday, June 30, 2007


Photo: British police including an armed officer, center right, stand guard at the door of the new London home of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, during an anti Tony Blair Iraq war demonstration Wednesday June 27, 2007. Tony Blair had resigned from his post only a few hours earlier. The demonstrators left peacefully. (AP Photo/Max Nash)

More resistance, this time in the USA:

Marines Drop Charges Against Vet Who Claimed Iraq War is Illegal

Liam Madden, the Iraq War veteran who claimed the military attack on Iraq was “an illegal war of aggression under Nuremberg principles” and that “war crimes were being committed in Iraq,” received word today that the Marines have dropped the charges against him rather than provide a forum for these issues to be debated. The Marines had claimed his comments were “disloyal” and threatened to reduce his discharge from honorable to less than honorable. “I planned to argue that my comments were accurate and therefore not disloyal. In fact, it is the duty of veterans and active duty members of the military to stand up and tell their leaders when war crimes are being committed,” said Madden. “Now that the military has chickened out and dropped these charges I hope others will join me in speaking out against this illegal war.”

I was very impressed by the speech this young man gave. It is full of wisdom, and as he says: YOU CANNOT WIN A WAR CRIME.

Madden’s Speech: You Can’t Win a War Crime

Future events:

Iraq Moratorium Day – September 21 and every third Friday thereafter ~ "I hereby make a commitment that on Friday, September 21, 2007, and the third Friday of every subsequent month I will break my daily routine and take some action, by myself or with others, to end the War in Iraq."

And United for Peace and Justice is planning regional mass protests on October 27, 2007. More information to follow on that one.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Will some one please look at them as humans?

This is a heart-wrenching plea, written by someone at the McClatchy Baghdad Bureau, about the conditions in the city of Falluja. It has some specific “asks” that the writer would like the US authorities and US military to fulfill. Falluja was once known as “the city of mosques” and was known for it’s good food. It was also known for it’s resistance to the former government of Saddam. Today, it is known for it’s resistance to the presence of US troops in their city and county. In 2003, they were among the first to hold a protest against the presence of US troops in a local school. They were particularly upset about the fact that the troops were looking out at the people in the city from the roof of the school, which they felt was invading the privacy of the local women. But all that changed. Those early protests were met with shooting from US troops, which started the whole city on the path to violent retaliation. Here’s a clip from a recent story that mentions that incident:

Fallujah, the second biggest city in the province after capital Ramadi, ignited fierce resistance to U.S. forces after they killed 17 unarmed demonstrators protesting in front of a school occupied by the military in May 2003.

With the two US military attacks on the city in 2004, (the attack in November 2004 was very brutal) conditions have deteriorated significantly. About two-thirds of the homes in the city were damaged or destroyed, thousands of Iraqis killed, and local football (soccer) fields turned into new mass graves. Many of the deceased were women and children, who either could not or would not leave the city. Many who did leave ended up living in tents in the desert. Many who returned found their homes, schools, and businesses in ruins. It only stands to reason that a bombardment like that, in an old city, would destroy the water pipes and sewer pipes. And in the two and a half years since then, they have not been replaced.

As to health care in the city of Fallujah, I found this clip recently on the web:

Video: Violence Simmers in Iraq

At least 12 people are killed and 40 wounded in three separate car bomb attacks in Iraq. Hospital sources say three people were killed and 15 others were wounded when a car bomb blew up in a popular market in Iraq's western city of Falluja. The blast turned market stalls into mangled wreckage and demolished a number of shops and buildings in the market. In the Iraqi capital Baghdad, police confirmed at least a further nine people were killed and 25 wounded when two car bombs exploded in quick succession as motorists queued for petrol in the southern district of Saidiyah.

One of the many things I found deeply disturbing in this short video is an Iraqi child, crying in pain, face covered with blood and bandages, while someone is putting pressure on a bandage on his chest. The person holding the bandage on his chest has bare hands. They don’t have gloves, they run out of gaze, and they don’t have the medicine that they need either. They don’t have electricity to run electrical equipment for most of the day, and they cannot store blood, so they run out of that too.

There has more recently been a crackdown on the city by the US troops. That led to this report from Electronic Iraq:

A month-long security crackdown is preventing aid workers from getting to displaced families in the central Iraqi city of Fallujah and its outskirts, while a curfew imposed by US forces is restricting residents' ability to go out and buy much-needed supplies. "We are living like prisoners, lacking assistance at all levels. Aid support, which last year was always here, can't be seen any more. We depend solely on ourselves, drinking dirty water to survive, even knowing that our children are getting sick from it," said Muhammad Aydan, 42, a resident of Fallujah, some 70km west of the capital, Baghdad. "Power supply is less than two hours a day in some areas of Fallujah and sometimes we have to go three days without taking a shower to save water," Aydan added. Local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) said they had been denied entry to Fallujah by the Iraqi and US military as a security crackdown in the area, which started on 21 May, could put their lives at risk. The NGOs have called upon security forces to help in the delivery of aid to families who are in dire need of assistance. "We have supplies but it is impossible to reach the families. They are afraid to leave their homes to look for food and children are getting sick with diarrhoea caused by the dirty water they are drinking. We have information that pregnant women are delivering their babies at home as the curfew is preventing them from reaching hospital," Fatah Ahmed, spokesman for the Iraq Aid Association (IAA), said. "[What is happening in Fallujah] is a crime against the right to live. Such behavior is seen by locals as a punishment for recent attacks on US troops, but innocent civilians are the only ones who are paying," Ahmed added.

Today, the city of Falluja is under siege, with check points that require a badge for entry or exit. This author claims that Falluja is allied with the American troops now – which they prefer over al Qaeda. The first thing this author asks for is to move a checkpoint, so that the former amusement park will not become the next cemetery.

Instead of being the city of mosques it will be the city of cemeteries and this will be another achievement of the invasion that residents of Fallujah will remember through generations. Please don’t let that happen. Don’t give extremists more arguments and evidences to fuel anger and to deceive and recruit young men with them.

It can be avoided by allowing the residents to burry their beloved in the northern east cemetery through Al Sichir checkpoint (as locals call it). Just move that check point 300 meters away and then it is solved.

So, that is their first request: to move a checkpoint to accommodate a cemetery.

As I am sure you know, there is limited electrical supply in Iraq. Many areas get only an hour or two a day for electricity. The US forces seem totally unable to correct this situation. Many people in Iraq have gone to using cell phones, due to their portability and due to the fact that the former telephone lines are gone. This author has a request about the cell phones:

Restore cell phones. Take a bold action and bring cell towers to the American camps or provide security to the existent ones so Al Qaeda won’t attack em. Prove to the people that you can do things right. People can not understand how great armed forces, like the U.S. army and marines, can not help restoring electricity, water not even cell phones so people can cooperate with the authorities at least.

So, they don’t have land line phones anymore, they have a horrible security situation, and they are very dependent on cell phones…. But the cell phone towers are not secure. This seems like it would be quite possible to fix this situation, if the US military put their minds to it. The author goes on to describe the driving ban in Falluja:

The city, for the last three weeks and still, is under vehicles curfew. Students walk for long distances to do their final exams. Can you imagine the heat over here in Fallujah? It is about 130 F. patients, pregnant women and old men who can not walk. Add to that those who have to earn some money for their families.

He further comments on the way everyone looks at the people from Fallujah:

People are afraid and oppressed by every one; Al Qaeda is killing them, the Shiite led government look to them as Sunnis not Iraqis, the Americans look to them as Saddam loyalists and their bitter enemy.

No one, it seems, sees them as human beings. He then goes on to comment on the “badges” issued by the US military in Fallujah and the checkpoints that they run there. Even people in need of a hospital or health care have to walk to their destination, and if they are leaving Fallujah, make sure to carry their badge.

Why the military can not allow people to enter the city freely like any other place in the world? In a prison you can enter but you can not leave. In Fallujah you can not enter and you can not leave. Let them leave the checkpoints in place if they think it must but make it easier. Don’t issue that racist badge? When the southern Iraqi provinces raised against Saddam in 1991 he didn’t issue them badges that say they are residents of that certain city and can not enter to that city unless they carry it not even for Kurds not even for Ramadi residents after 1994 incidents. This badge is bad to the limit that even Saddam was shy to make it.

I would encourage you to click the link to the original article, because this author is asking that we forward this on to every politician, congressman, congresswomen, or anyone who can help the people of Fallujah.

Please help these people for the sake of any thing that you believe in whether it was God, a tree, oil or above all humanity sake. Please send this to any politician, congressman and any one who can help these people. They are suffering more than the most of others. Help giving these people some hope.

And here are some security incidents in Falluja for last week:


Suicide bomber attacks police recruitment center, kills 6, injured 15. This center opened last week, after attacks on several others.


On Monday, four civilians were killed and 13 injured when a parked car bomb ripped through a busy vegetable market in Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad, police said.
Two people were killed and 10 wounded by a truck bomb in central Falluja, 50 km (32 miles) west of Baghdad, the U.S. military said.


Al Anbar Prv: Two Marines assigned to Multi National Force-West were killed June 20 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province.


A suicide bomber killed two people and wounded four when he blew himself up in a telecommunications office in Falluja, 50 km (32 miles) west of Baghdad, police said.
Four people were killed and 48 wounded in an explosion on Thursday evening in a shop in Falluja, police said.


Gunmen killed Ahmed Jasim, deputy chairman of the sports committee in the local council of Falluja, on Friday
A U.S. air strike killed five gunmen who had opened fire on a patrol seeking al Qaeda insurgents near Falluja, 50 km (32 miles) west of Baghdad, the U.S. military said.


Iraq Moratorium Day – September 21 and every third Friday thereafter

"I hereby make a commitment that on Friday, September 21, 2007, and the third Friday of every subsequent month I will break my daily routine and take some action, by myself or with others, to end the War in Iraq."

May Mercy Come and Wash Away – What We’ve Done…….

More information on Iraq and Afghanistan on the links at the side, along with pictures of Iraqis today, under Faces of Grief. This will be posted on Daily Kos also.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

More Code Pink


Rae Abileah, from the CodePink Women for Peace group, center, shouts to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., not pictured, to bring home U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq during Pelosi's address at the 'Take Back America' political conference in Washington, Wednesday, June 20, 2007.

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

I just wanted to post this picture because I appreciate what these women are trying to do - get our Democratic leadership to take some action to get us out of Iraq. Rae has a wonderful smiling face, which you can see at the Code Pink website.

One of my best memories of the Code Pink house was waking up in the morning to hear the friendly conversation going on. The women were always talking, and always sounded happy, except for the morning that Lieberman's office canceled their visit. They sounded definitely unhappy that morning. There is a report below on the visit to Lieberman's office.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Action at Lieberman’s office on 6-14-07

Photo was taken outside of Senator Lieberman's office by one of the Code Pink women.

Earlier in the week, Lieberman had called for a bombing of the country of Iran. This inspired Leslie, who was staying at Code Pink House, to go on a fast until she could talk to Lieberman herself about these threats he made. Leslie had just returned from a trip to Iran with Fellowship of Reconciliation. Here is what the foreign press reported on Lieberman’s comments:

From Asia Times: Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran

US Senator Joseph Lieberman's call for cross-border bombing raids into Iran appears to be the culmination of a two-week campaign by proponents of war to put the military option center-stage in the US debate over Iran once more. The immediate effect of reigniting the let's-bomb-Iran discussions is the undercutting of the recently initiated US-Iran talks over Iraq, which in turn will cause the military confrontation with Iran to be viewed in a new light. Lieberman out-hawked the administration of President George W Bush on the television news show Face the Nation this past Sunday by calling for "aggressive military action against the Iranians", including "a strike over the border into Iran". Repeating accusations - by now all but abandoned by the Bush administration - of Iranian complicity in the killing of US soldiers in Iraq, the Connecticut senator's comments caused a storm on Monday. Suddenly, the military option against Iran was once more at the center of the United States' Iran debate.

Yes, the world has noticed that Lieberman is calling for the bombing of Iran. Didn’t we learn in kindergarten not to threaten other people with harm?

Leslie and some other Code Pink women went to Lieberman’s office on Monday, June 11, to hold a fast and sit in until Lieberman agreed to meet with them directly. The office staff arranged a meeting for 4:30 PM on Thursday for Leslie and two others. This meeting was arranged directly with Lieberman.

During the week, there was lots of research done on Iran (like: Iran has not invaded or attacked another country in 200 years, they have only responded to another country’s aggression.) They researched comments made about Iran by Lieberman and other presidential candidates for 2008. There were pictures printed up, some laminated, one framed for this office visit. There were cloth signs made, saying things like “Iranians are my sisters” and “Don’t Iraq Iran” that people could pin to their shirts. They did press work, and they did outreach to local activists. Code Pink told their email contacts about what was going to happen. On the morning of June 14, we got word that the meeting was canceled.

After some discussion, the Code Pink women decided to go ahead with going to Lieberman’s office at the original appointment time. There were between 50 to 60 people there, and I counted eleven cops at one point that were just around me. Karendc did some live blogging on the event on Daily Kos from the hallway.

Just before 5 PM, staff at Lieberman’s office agreed to meet with three people (Leslie, Robert Naimen of Just Foreign Policy, and another guy whose name I do not have). Out in the hallway, the rest of us started a discussion on Iran and Iraq. One Iranian-American said he was embarrassed when he went to Tehran because of America’s actions. Someone spoke of their trip to Iran with Fellowship of Reconciliation. Code Pink encouraged people to sign their list and include contact information. An Iranian-American woman spoke of her love for both countries. She also commented on how our country is becoming despised around the world and how Iraq shows that war does not work. Medea read what Lieberman had said – Medea pointed out that Lieberman claims he has irrefutable evidence that Iran is making nuclear bombs, and she asked “where have we heard that before?” An activist from Portland was there and spoke about sanctuary movement for US soldiers who are going into the Iraq war.

A man named Ri’ed commented on WMDs in the USA. He said as a Muslim, he does not see a future for his children in this country, mainly due to financial reasons. He had gone to India and learned about Gandhi, and he says he will not pay taxes for war. Rae spoke as an Israeli-American and said that war on Iran will not make Israel safer, and as a Jew she found Lieberman’s statements outrageous. An Iranian said that Lieberman claimed that governments in the Middle East are concerned about Iran, and that these governments would be puppet governments. Robert Naiman (Just Foreign Policy) said that it was very unfortunate timing in Lieberman’s comments, since we are just starting dialogue with Iran in Iraq recently. This was very counter-productive. He said that Lieberman is attempting to sabotage these efforts. He reported that Lieberman’s staff said this was not the intention, but this could be the consequence.

Leslie reported that in the meeting, she asked Lieberman to go to Iran, and she further asked that Lieberman prove that Iran is killing US soldiers. She stressed PROVING IT because she said that much of what has been told us about Iran is just a lie. She also stressed that the people of Iran were warm and welcoming to her without exception. She shared photographs that she took in Iran and said that we need diplomacy, not warmongering. She was very emotional. Leslie had done five days of fasting at this point.

Medea said that she felt we had brought a warm heart to the cold halls of congress and that she felt we were heard, thanks to all the people that were there. At the end, there were still 35 people in the hallway, but some had already left. The photo above is taken outside Lieberman’s office of some of the participants.

UPDATE: The US House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution that asks the UN Security Council to charge Ahmadinejad with violating the 1948 Genocide Convention, because he reported said that Israel should be wiped off the map. From an explanation by Prof. Juan Cole, this meant that Ahmadinejad felt that the country of Israel (not the citizens) did not have a right to exist and the “map” of the area should be restored to its former name, meaning that Israel would again be called Palestine. I do not agree with Ahmadinejad about the status of Israel or what it should be “restored” to – or to calling for the end of the Israel government. However, this is not calling for the killing of the people that live there. It is calling for the end of the government of Israel, which reminds me A LOT of the calling of certain states an “Axis of Evil” and calling for the end of the Saddam regime. What is really rich in this article is that it claims this is a step to use the instruments of international law against Teheran!! Like anyone in the US Congress ever cared about INTERNATIONAL LAW! Why, our press does not even know that such a thing exists! And what about Lieberman and McCain calling for the bombing of Iran – isn’t that a violation of international law? Isn’t that worse than calling for the end of the Israeli government? When did Ahmadinejad call for the invasion or bombing of Israel in public? Never, as far as I know.

Hypocrisy lives.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Meetings with aides of NC elected officials

June 11, 2007 - These legislative visits were arranged through END THE OCCUPATION website.

Senator Burr’s office

This was listed on the contact website as a meeting at 8:30, but the actual meeting was due to start at 9 AM. I did this so that the group would have a chance to meet ahead of time to discuss issues and strategies. Unfortunately, I got a little lost on the way to the meeting and got there at 8:45. I contacted Bob at 8:30 to say I was running late, and he said Mary was still parking the car. There were five other people there for the meeting, so Kevin Hernandez, the aide to Senator Burr went ahead and started meeting with the other people, since they thought the meeting started at 8:30. Bob, Mary and I were there at 9 AM and when we found out that Mr. Hernandez was already in a meeting, we asked to join them, since I was pretty sure that it was the meeting that I had scheduled.

This was unfortunate that it worked out this way, and I will not list a prior meeting time without instructions again. I apologize to the whole group for this miscommunication.

So, I was considerably late for the meeting and Cheri will be providing the group with talking points and will be writing a letter to Mr. Hernandez. I will follow up also, but she has a more complete report than I do. This is my notes from the part of the meeting I attended. (I have not received a report from her, but if I do, I will update this blog post.)

There were a total of eight people there: Cheri, Bob, Mary, Miriam, Dick, myself and two others whose names I do not have at this time. I told Mr. Hernandez that I would get some documentation to him on the US funding and arms going to Fatah in Palestine. I spoke about the Israeli Committee Against House Demolition, and how four local church groups in the Asheville area are raising funds to rebuild one house each. I covered how the media was not an honest and fair broker in the Israel and Palestinian issues, and I offered to get him a copy of the DVD put out by “If Americans Knew”.

The group told me that they had covered the cluster bomb issues and discussed legislation around this. They also told me that they covered the appointment of a special envoy to the Middle East proposal. They had also covered Iraq and related issues. Cheri will be doing a fuller report on the meeting. I pointed out to Mr. Hernandez that you make peace with your enemies, not your friends, and that we needed to remember that many of those who support checkpoints and walls are very, very fearful people, and that needs to be addressed. The Israelis have a right to live without fear and violent actions directed at them. I also discussed how the US government was shutting out Hamas, in spite of their professed belief in “democracy”. The Hamas government was democratically elected in free and fair elections.

The meeting at Senator Dole’s office was with her aide Mr. Arjun Mody. Present were Bob, Mary, Mariam, Dick, Cheri, myself and Beth. Beth had gone to the training that morning provided by United for Peace and Justice on lobbying. Beth had also just returned from a visit to the West Bank, organized by Fellowship of Reconciliation. Beth lives near me, and I already knew her. She has been interested, as her husband has been, for a long time in Palestinian issues.

We started by listening to Mr. Mody tell us what Senator Dole’s positions on Israel and Palestine are. She supports a two state solution with Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. She supports maintaining the territorial integrity of Israel, and that she feels terrorists have taken over the Hamas government.

We had some discussion around Senator Feinstein’s bill (S. 594) which is the Cluster Munitions Civilians Protection Act of 2007. The group felt that US aid to Israel should be contingent on the stopping the use of cluster bombs, and we talked about how the cluster bombs used in Lebanon were marked “made in the USA” and how that just increases hatred towards America without any benefit to us at all. The issue of cluster bombs related to the Arms Export Control Act and the Foreign Assistance Act. We discussed how we feel that the US government has not held Israel accountable for their actions, and this increases the world’s perception that of our favoritism of Israel. We need to be a fair and honest broker, and felt the appointment of an envoy for Middle East peace might help us in this direction, even though under the Bush administration this would not be likely. However, as many Middle East experts have stated, we have to start working for peace now, not after an election in 2008.

We felt the money we give to Israel should be contingent on abiding by UN resolutions, stopping building settlements in the West Bank, stop withholding tax payments to the Palestinians and to stop building the wall inside the 1967 Green line. We also felt that citizens of Israel are much better informed on these issues than people in the USA, due to the poor coverage of our media.

We discussed Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions (ICHAD) and how they have their USA base in North Carolina. I told him about local church groups are working on raising funds for rebuilding some homes this 40th year of occupation. The ICHAD intends to rebuild all homes demolished by the Israeli government this year.

I discussed the website “Remember These Children” and expressed the opinion that all the adults who participated in killing of either Israeli or Palestinian children should be in prison. This is a horror that must be stopped. I also discussed how desperate people will do desperate things, and presented the examples of Iraqi children building bombs to support their families and an Afghan father who said that he would join the Taliban because his children are starving.

I said that the US government was arming and funding Fatah, and I said I would bring him some documentation on this by the end of the week.

Beth told about the checkpoints that cut off Palestinians off from healthcare and their olive groves. They are building settlements over the aquifer, and often the wall cuts in to keep access to water on the Israeli side. Often times the 30 foot high wall completely surrounds a Palestinian town that is completely inside of the West Bank.

Miriam went on to say that we have to change the politics in the area to make the future possible for Palestinian and Israeli children. We need to dialogue to achieve peace.

The final meeting was with Mr. Sean O’Brien, the aide from Rep. Shuler’s office. Beth and I attended this meeting, and it was the most positive meeting of the day. We voiced our support for HR 143, the appointment of an envoy for Middle East peace. We voiced our support for HR 1755, which limits the sale, use and transfer of cluster munitions. Mr. O’Brien said that the main reason the US does not support the limitations of cluster bombs is that South Korea is defended by landmines, which is another form of cluster bombs. We also discussed Iraq and that we do not support further funding for the occupation of Iraq. I want the US troops to come home NOW.

I said I would get him information on the US funding of Fatah in Palestine later this week, and I gave him a copy of the DVD from “If Americans Knew”. Beth told him about her travels in the West Bank, especially Bethlehem and the effects of the wall on life and the livelihood of Palestinians. I gave Mr. O’Brien a small wooden pin of a peace dove, which was made in Bethlehem out of olive trees that had been bulldozed by Israeli authorities by US-made bulldozers. We discussed Rachel Corrie and left information on her stands. (We actually did this at all three offices.) Beth said she will get him an updated map on the Israeli settlements and the building of the Israeli wall in the West Bank. She will mail this to him.

At all three of the offices I visited today, I left a pile of postcards about the Iraq occupation. There were over 150 postcards in the stack and they all asked that the occupation of Iraq be ended. These were printed by the WNC Peace Coalition and gathered in the last couple of months from locals.

AFTERWARDS, Beth and I went to the FCNL building and took a short tour. It is a beautiful building. It is located just across from the Senate office buildings.

More information on the website End The Occupation. Also, I have reports on this blog about their rally and march on June 10, 2007.


Follow-up letter to Dole (similar letters to Burr and Shuler):

June 14, 2007

Dear Mr. Mody,

Thank you for meeting with our group on Monday concerning Israeli and Palestinian issues. I know that Cheri will be writing a more formal letter that will cover the talking points we presented and actions that we would like Senator Dole to take, but I wanted to take a minute to say thank you also.

I do hope we can make positive, concrete steps to secure the stability of the area in non-violent means. This is why I think sending more arms to Fatah is an extremely poor idea, since this will lead to more bloodshed and violence in the area, and that will make any settlement between Israel and Palestine much more difficult. It does, however, produce more profits for arms manufacturers in the USA, which I think is the real point of sending more arms over there. This is shameful.

I have enclosed a few articles on the sending of arms to Fatah. There is more information on the web. There was one incident where Hamas intercepted a shipment to Fatah from the US authorities, but this was not an arms shipment. It was other material support.

A presenter at the US Senate Committee on Intelligence meeting on June 12, 2007 told the Senators that the Hamas government has denounced al Qaeda and it’s terrorists tactics. The Hamas government does not want to be associated with bin Laden or al Qaeda at all, per her research and report.

Thank you again for meeting with us. I have included a pin of a peace dove made in Bethlehem from an olive tree. This tree was bulldozed by the Israeli authorities by US-made bulldozers that we sent to Israel. I found it very touching that the Palestinians took this act of violence and destruction and turned it into a symbol of peace.

Sincerely, Susan


FOLLOW UP: I did deliver information on the fact that US authorities are arming and funding Fatah in Palestine. This was on June 14, and done when I dropped off the thank you letters. By the time I delivered this information, it was pretty well known in the corporate media. I have ordered more copies of “If Americans Knew” and will be sharing these with Beth and others in the community.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Flags for Iraqi Civilians

Several years ago, I decided I wanted to make some kind of memorial for all the Iraqi civilians killed in this war and occupation of Iraq. At that time, it was estimated that there were 80,000 to 100,000 civilians killed in the war. I made up a ‘flag’ of white paper that had a peace dove printed on it and I put on the bottom of the paper:


I called these the “Iraqi Civilian Peace Flags”. (At this point, every flag represents more than 100 civilians casualties, unfortunately.) This design and saying was approved by the WNC Peace Coalition, and they felt that we should add ‘flags’ for US and coalition deaths. At that time, there were under 2,000 deaths. We decided to make up blue ‘flags’ for the US and coalition deaths. Originally, we had one flag per one hundred deaths from the war and occupation of Iraq. Today, however, we are not able to keep up with that number. There are many more than a hundred deaths per ‘flag’. We have about 28 flags for US and coalition troops and about 1600 for Iraqi civilian casualties. It is estimated that between 500,000 and 1,000,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed since the US/UK invasion.

The stakes the flags are on is three feet high and is actually a survey’s stake. Those were donated by a friend of mine.

These flags have been displayed at Unitarian Universalist church in Asheville in March of 2005, 2006 and 2007. The picture above is from the display this year. I have written blog posts from prior years. They were shown at Unitarian Universalist church in Black Mountain in May of 2006. This year, they went down to the Unitarian Universalist church in Clemson, South Carolina for a display.

The women who picked up the Iraqi Civilian Peace Flags to take to South Carolina told me that her son served in Gulf War I. He had traveled from Kuwait to Basra and saw the shooting gallery – and notice that the ammo boxes that the Iraqis had said MADE IN THE USA. Rather does underline the real motivation for wars, doesn’t it?

Anyway, they had the flags up for over two weeks down there and had this report in the press:

Dozens of tiny flags on metal stems were stuck into the grass, in a random pattern. A few flags, in front, were baby blue but all the others were white.

In front of them was a sign affixed to a wooden stake, also stuck in the grass.

“Each flag represents more than 100 deaths,” the sign stated in capital letters, stark black.

Another, smaller sign stood next to it. That one announced that the blue flags represented United States troops, the white ones Iraqi civilian casualties.

Farther back was one last sign, much taller than the others, standing stiffly like a general amid his troops.

“With these flags we sadly commemorate Iraqi war deaths,” it said.

I squatted to look at one of the blue flags near my feet. It had a black outline of a dove, with an olive branch in its mouth. In the corner was a tiny stars-and-stripes emblem.

Small letters whispered the message:

“This is a remembrance of US military casualties in Iraq. May they rest in Peace. May their country find Peace.”

….Then I looked out over the sea of white flags. There were so many, I couldn’t count them. They stretched across the grass to the other side of the church parking lot. Each one was encased in a plastic sleeve, still dotted with water droplets from an overnight rain.

They carried the same dove, the same “Rest in Peace” message.

A chilly wind stirred the flags, making them flutter slightly, like origami paper cranes about to take flight.

I hope there are more places to display the flags and I hope that someday other groups join me in doing the same thing. I could make more flags for them – I even have more stakes to put the flags on – but it is too much for me to store and care for and move from one place to another. It would be awesome to have a display that has one flag for every 100 civilian deaths – and 37 flags for the US and coalition deaths. Both these numbers will rise.


This war is illegal, immoral and very, very stupid. More information on Iraq Today, and a picture memorial of WHAT WE’VE DONE.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Iraq Refugee Crisis

The World’s Fastest Growing Refugee Crisis

“Iraqis who are unable to flee the country are now in a queue, waiting their turn to die,” is how one Iraqi journalist summarizes conditions in Iraq today. While the US debates whether a civil war is raging in Iraq, thousands of Iraqis face the possibility of death every day all over the country. Refugees International has met with dozens of Iraqis who have fled the violence and sought refuge in neighboring countries. All of them, whether Sunni, Shi’a, Christian or Palestinian, had been directly victimized by armed actors. People are targeted because of religious affiliation, economic status, and profession – many, such as doctors, teachers, and even hairdressers, are viewed as being “anti-Islamic.” All of them fled Iraq because they had genuine and credible fear for their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

National Call-In Day: Tell President Bush to Increase Funding for Iraqi Refugees

We were wondering if you might possibly want to promote our National Call-In Day for Iraqi Refugees on June 19th. We're hoping that Americans can call attention to the 4 million Iraqis who have been forced out of their homes. We would really appreciate it if you could support us in any way you can. Here's the link to our National Call-In page.

Our homepage ( is a good source of information for everything we're working on. Currently, we have a mission out to Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria assessing the refugee situation, interviewing refugees, and speaking to NGO's to get a better idea of how the situation is going. Here's a link to our Iraqi mission page.

Collateral Genocide in Iraq

This was posted on Daily Kos last week:

I follow the news on Iraq closely, and I blog about it regularly on the blog Iraq Today, which is a follow up to the blog Today in Iraq. This blog has been around since June 2003, and I have been either a daily reader since then, and started blogging at these blogs in 2005. Doing a blog on Iraq means I read lots of sources of information on Iraq, and I have developed a reasonable idea of what sources are good, which ones are bogus, and which ones are questionable.

I know, beyond doubt, what is happening today in Iraq is genocide.

Today, there are at least a half-million excessive deaths in Iraq since the US invasion in March 2003. The actual death toll maybe between one million and two million. And, it continues to go up. There are about two million refuges outside the country of Iraq, and another two million internally displaced. Their homes are still being invaded.

Their children are still being killed by US forces.

Their homes are still being destroyed by airstrikes.

They often live in tents with no water, electricity, jobs, health care or education for the children.


And today I read a report called “Collateral Genocide” written by Mike Ferner at Online Journal.

He starts his report by discussing what constitutes a genocide:

Two elements are necessary to commit the crime of genocide: 1) the mental element, meaning intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, and 2) the physical element, which includes any of the following: killing or causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about the group’s physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births; or forcibly transferring children to another group.

Considering that such clear language comes from a UN treaty which is legally binding on our country, things could start getting a little worrisome -- especially when you realize that since our government declared economic and military warfare on Iraq we’ve killed well over one million people, fast approaching two.

He does a short review of what the US-inspired UN sanctions did to Iraq, and that alone would probably qualify for a genocide. But the purpose of this diary is to present some of the facts of what is happening now in Iraq. The water is not drinkable. The unemployment rate is sky-high (this article claims it is three times higher than the great depression). Electricity is available for an hour a day, or maybe on a good day three or four hours a day. Sometimes, there is no electricity for days at a time. The summer temperature is over 110 degrees on a regular basis. The hospitals are not functioning very well. There is often no medicines, no gaze, no sheets for the beds, and sometimes no beds. Patient lie on the floor, the dirty bloody floor. The entire population is overwhelmed with grief and has PTSD.

Mr. Ferner has translated the data for Iraq into US population figures:

Reflect for a minute on the grief brought by a single loved one’s death. Then open your heart to the reality of life if we suffered casualties comparable to those endured by the people of Iraq.

  • In the former cities of Atlanta, Denver, Boston, Seattle, Milwaukee, Fort Worth, Baltimore, San Francisco, Dallas and Philadelphia every single person is dead.
  • In Vermont, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Nebraska, Nevada, Kansas, Mississippi, Iowa, Oregon, South Carolina and Colorado every single person is wounded.
  • The entire populations of Ohio and New Jersey are homeless, surviving with friends, relatives or under bridges as they can.
  • The entire populations of Michigan, Indiana and Kentucky have fled to Canada or Mexico.
  • Over the past three years, one in four U.S. doctors has left the country.
  • Last year alone 3,000 doctors were kidnapped and 800 killed.

In short, nobody “out there” is coming to save us. We are in hell.

He finishes by saying this:

Of course our government didn’t intend to commit genocide, it just sort of happened. The Iraqis kept getting in the way while we were trying to complete the mission. Mistakes were made as we were building democracy, but surely no genocide was intended. After all, we are the international deciders of what is and what isn’t genocide, and we know full well that intent is a requirement.

It was only “collateral genocide” and lord knows we did our very best to avoid it.

Did they really do their best to avoid it? I am not that charitable to the bush/cheney administration and the democrats that enable them. It seems to me that they do not care one bit about the suffering of the Iraqi people, to the point that our military is trying to start up a jobs program for Iraqis (by re-opening government run factories) and our State Department insists should remain closed – because they have a different idea of what path Iraq’s economic development should follow. I frankly see NO concern from any of our elected officials about the health care crisis that is engulfing Iraq – with the latest being that the cholera infections have started early this year. Iraqi children are dying by the truck-load – from diarrhea, pneumonia, and birth defects. I have lost track of where I first read this information, but it is without a doubt sickening that our country is letting children CONTINUE to die from easily treated diseases in Iraq.

There is one Representative who is working on Iraq Refugee problems, and that has been written about here at Daily Kos. The vast majority of our elected officials, and the vast majority of Americans, do not know or care about the genocide that they have caused in Iraq.

On the Iraq Today blog, you can find reliable information and comments, and a link to helping Iraqi refugees, who are in dire need of your help.


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Picture of Iraqi child

An Iraqi child, dressed in a costume as a white dove symbolizing peace, perform during the fourth anniversary of Iraq's most powerful militia, the Mahdi Army, in the Shiite enclave of Sadr City in Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, June 11, 2007.

Writing on the fingers on the poster in the back read, from the top, Terrorism, Sectarianism, Occupation.

(AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

Another picture of an Iraqi child

Iraqi boys dressed as angels distribute candies during a Sh'ite celebration in Baghdad's Sadr City June 11, 2007.

Residents took part in a parade marking the third anniversary of the founding of the Shi'ite Mehdi Army.

REUTERS/Kareem Raheem (IRAQ)

I thought these pictures were so sweet. They look like little pixies.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

US Senate Committe Meeting

US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Meeting

June 12, 2007

This was an open meeting on Intelligence and Terrorism Ideology Report, with three outside experts giving their opinion and answering questions from the Senators. This hearing did not cover intelligence sources inside our own government (is there any? I wonder.) It was an open hearing. There were five Code Pinkers there when it started, and I think nine by the ending. The chairman was Senator Rockefeller and the vice-chair was Senator Bond. The focus was on Islamic terrorists, with no mention of Christian terrorists or any other kind. Timothy McVeigh just does not rate. The opening comments from Senator Rockefeller said that he is concerned that the progress in capturing and killing terrorists has been undermined and that the rate of terrorism has metastasized since Afghanistan. He would be correct in his perceptions.

Rockefeller commented on two recent studies. The first one reported that we are not “winning” this war on terrorism, indeed terrorism is spreading. This report was from the State Department Annual Country Reports on Terrorism, done in conjunction with the National Counterterrorism Center. There has been a 25% increase in attacks and a 40% increase in deaths from terrorism just from 2005. (They obviously define terrorism as violence by non-state actors, and do not include violence by establish militaries or even militias or private security contractors that they happen to like. For example, the shootings by Blackwater personnel in Iraq of unarmed civilians would not be considered terrorism.)

The second report said that Muslim Americans are diverse in their attitudes and mostly assimilated into our society. They reject Islamic extremism for the most part, but there is a minority (13%) that agrees that suicide bombings of civilians to protect Islam can be justified, at least sometimes. And about 53% agree that it has been harder to be a Muslim since 9/11. Only 25% believe that the US war on terror is a sincere effort to reduce terrorism.

Then Senator Rockefeller went on to explain that he felt we needed to understand as much as we could about what causes an individual to get involved in violent terrorism.

This meeting DID NOT cover what behaviors and actions and the amazing amount of violence that the US authorities are taking to inspire people to respond with more violence. It was all about what cultural or social factors might inspire other people to become violent. It was rather like “we” had NOTHING TO DO with the growing amount of suicide bombings around the world, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rockefeller commented that it is hard to understand why they would want to kill innocent civilians without a hint of irony.

Vice-chair Senator Bond started out by blaming the media. He felt that they were encouraging more terrorism by not reporting what the US military says was happening in Iraq. He said we have to focus on ideology front and convince them we have good intentions (like hell we do) and to back it up with specifics which he said we are not doing enough of. Well, he’s right on the last one. However, if we stop bombing and invading their countries, THAT may go a long way towards fighting the ideology front, in my opinion.

The first speaker was Stephen Ulph from the Jamestown Foundation. He said his purpose was to research and map out the ideology from inception to acting out and that the ideology struggle is the heart of jihadist culture. He said on our side, those who are fighting jihadists think they are fighting individuals when they are actually fighting an ideology. He said his research showed that the majority of materials on jihadist chat forums and sites are under “doctrinal” or “cultural” sections. They are not under news commentary or audio-visual propaganda. He did not define what constitutes “propaganda” in his views, nor did he comment on what may be driving people to look at these doctrinal or cultural sections.

From his hand out about the jihadists organize and train recruits into being radicals:

They show how the mujahideen attract the uncommitted broad armchair sympathizer, detach him from his social and intellectual environment, undermine his self-image hitherto as an observant Muslim, introduce what the ideologues claims is “real Islam”, re-script history in terms of a perennial conflict, centralize jihad as his Islamic identity, train him not only militarily but also socially and psychologically for jihad and doctrinally defend the behavior of the mujahideen against criticism.

Sound awfully close to me to “basic training” in our military. This speaker says that this ideology and its propagation have been going on for decades, and all of this is open source information. He said that this is being fought for the minds of the Muslim youths.

He did not speak to what motives or causes might be behind this behavior at all. I personally feel that violence is always wrong. I also feel there is no excuse for violence, but there are explanations. His presentation focused on how the jihadists were promoting violence, not on why they might be inspired to do so. But in his handouts, he did advocate for taking sides and fighting the jihadists teachings and attempts to recruit Muslim youths. He feels we need to tackle the production process that goes into making jihadists. He said in his handout that we need “to protect ourselves from the slow erosion of our commonly held values which alone can safeguard our peace and our freedom”. He is referring to the erosion by the jihadists, not by Homeland Security and the Military Commissions Act, which came from our own Congress, not from Islamic jihadists.

The second speaker was Kim Cragin from the Rand Corporation. Her topic was “understanding terrorist ideology”. Her area of research is to look at what motivates individuals to become terrorists as well as what influences communities to sympathize with terrorist groups. Her handout states that there is variation in what motivates individuals and groups across countries and communities. She attempted to answer two questions – how have al Qaeda reached out, and how has communities responded?

The current al Qaeda had its founding in the war in Afghanistan, where Arab fighters were recruited to fight Soviet forces there. (No mention was made of US support and arms for those fighters.) One aspect of this was publication of al Jihad magazine, and other publications, that said it was a religious duty to support the Afghan jihad. The same people who were behind this effort also tried to indoctrinate them in what some refer to as the violent Salafi jihadi movement, which formed the core of the development of Islamic terrorism in the later 1980’s. Most Salafi leaders are not violent – but all feel that a lack of Islamic law is the basis of society’s problems like poverty and corruption.

One component of their philosophy is that they believe only God can make laws, and that any humans or governments who do so are “infidels” and therefore true Muslims should wage jihad against them. However, these same groups do not have the solutions to today’s problems faced by today’s governments. (I would add – neither do the current governments, although I suppose it is possible they could do a worse job than they are currently doing.) The developing terrorists were also concerned with the significance of regional factors, such as the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia, which seems to be the basis of the anti-Americanism that developed in the 1990’s from this group.

This speaker pointed out that Hamas has come out strongly against al Qaeda, because of their attacks on Hamas for participating in an election and because al Qaeda has harmed many civilians. Hamas, no doubt, feels the same way towards Israel and the USA for harming so many civilians. I have NOT found any concern on their part about the Israeli civilians that they have harmed. And I have NOT found any REAL concern on the part of Israel or the USA for the civilians that they have harmed. Each group is extremely concerned about the harm inflicted by someone else, particularly when it is harming someone of their own group. As to concern for the harm they are inflicting – well, that mainly seems to be absent.

This speaker said that al Qaeda has tried to keep the various fractions together across the Muslim world in the Middle East and in northern Africa, with various degrees of success. The main points for cohesion to al Qaeda are anti-Americanism and corruption in local governments.

This speaker claimed that ideology, politics and poverty all serve as motivators to terrorism to varying degrees. She also mentions in her handout that the process of radicalization of Islamic terrorists is similar to the process of recruitment of students into cults here in the USA. She based this on the research of Phillip Zimbardo who did the Stanford prison experiment. The Stanford prison experiment demonstrated what happens to human behavior under certain conditions, and how the “system” can produce abusive and cruel behavior in otherwise normal people.

This speaker also states in her handouts that political and economic grievances are what justifies the use of violence to resolve problems for these groups. That is also true for our country.

The third and final speaker was Daniel Kimmage of Radio Free Europe. He spoke about Sunni insurgents in Iraq, and they will have a full report published later this month. He spoke about the terrorist ideology, and the several factors they have identified. This includes the legitimacy of violence; license to target opponents (Muslim or non-Muslim); a global struggle between faith and unbelief; a backwards looking utopia; license to target Muslims who have strayed; and the need to target the USA, Israel, and “apostate” rulers in the Muslim world. The bush/cheney administration and many of our elected officials also share many of these values. Unfortunately.

This speaker says the number of al Qaeda is small, but their violence against civilians and their exploitation of media has made them more of an international prominence. He also stated that terrorism springs from “social and economic problems, misgovernment, and an ideology that presents itself as a panacea”. And that the US became a target because of “the perception that it supports and uses corrupt Arab regimes”. This would be a perception rooted in reality, in my opinion.

This speaker talks about the man fissures within the overall jihadist ideology. He also points out that many Iraqi insurgents are not al Qaeda, but conflict in Iraq is a boost to al Qaeda globally. (And the longer we stay, the more this will increase, in my opinion.) Iraq’s fighting is attracting foreigners to join in, but Iraq is viewed by al Qaeda as only part of the global struggle.

This ended the presentation from the speakers, and I have no links to their works, but if I had more time, I am sure that goggling their names or corporations would yield more information. Next, we had statements and questions from our Senators. Some were good, but many of the questions reflected a shallow world view, in my opinion.

Senator Rockefeller started by saying there are multiple groups attacking in Iraq (over 30) but US forces say 90% of the attacks are from al Qaeda. One speaker on the panel said that al Qaeda in Iraq has really good media. Rockefeller wanted to know why we did not understand Iraq better……. I am not sure what there is to understand in ruining a culture and all its infrastructure and letting chaos and violence reign. I don’t know what there is to understand about kicking in doors in the middle of the night or killing people randomly out on the street because they get too close to the US military. I think any sane person would feel inclined to resist this, and unfortunately, a lot of people would choose violent resistance. I am not sure what there is to understand about the fact that the US military is there to control the area and the resources, and this is not a good idea for the Iraqi people. I gather that Senator Rockefeller will never understand these things unless he experiences them directly.

Senator Bond made the observation that there has been hostility since Israel was created (gee, I wonder why?) and he asked if we did not have a presence in Iraq, would they still hate us? One panel member answered that the Salafis feel that the US is the spear heading the drive to squelch Muslim identity and pillage their resources, and they use this as a basis for fighting us. He added that al Qaeda feels that attacks on US troops were a great recruiting tool. There was no indication from anyone that bombing their babies to death would impact on the feelings of Muslims. And also no indication that the reason behind the videos of attacks on US troops are popular is because the Muslims have felt impotent and humiliated, and seeing these videos give them reason to cheer. Now, I think it is horrible that humans celebrate the harming of other humans, but I certainly remember the hoopla on our TVs during the start of the bombing of Iraq. It was like all the pundits and military analysts thought our country was so clever to bomb some country that had never attacked us. There was precious little coverage of the civilians killed and injured or the feelings of grief and rage that we engendered.

Another panel member feel that Iraq is being used as an example by the al Qaeda terrorists of the US turning Muslim against Muslim (and this was true in Lebanon also). This, he claimed, is being used as a recruiting tool. The way he said it implied that the poor Muslims over there are just mis-interpreting reality, rather than seeing things as they actually are.

Senator Bayh asked if our actions in Iraq are an intelligent move (my answer: NO) and are we creating more terrorists (my answer: YES)? I nearly shouted out my answers, because these folks (our US Senators) are really in need of help. One of the panelists answered that our presence there is a magnet and recruiting tool --- BUT, WHO KNOWS – maybe if we leave it will get worse. (Hey, if we stay it is SURE TO GET WORSE!! SO LET’S STAY!! Oh dear God, this is stupidity run amuck!!)

They discussed what percentage of the Muslim world is extremist, with no solid answers from the panel, but one person said it was a fraction of a percent.

Senator Werner made the comment that he did not understand Muslims killing Muslims in Iraq. I suppose that Werner does not understand why British citizens fought other British citizens in the American Revolutionary War – nor does he understand the American Civil War – I could go on – but several of us felt that Werner took the prize for stupid statements.

They discussed if calling it a GWOT was a good idea – decided it was not – and then discussed why suicide bombings are used. One panelists explained to them that they don’t have an Air Force or other weapons, and the suicide bombings are effective.

Senator Nelson (FL) asked about the Israel Palestine conflict and the answer he got from a panelist was that the underlying assumption is that Israel and the US pretty much act the same. He then asked if foreign language literacy is a significant factor, and the response was it did not help. He then asked what causes them to become jihadists? And Stephen Ulph said that the jihadists are focused on themselves and their own ideology, which seemed to imply that we westerners had nothing to do with it. A follow up question should have been then – why are they attacking us more than other people? Of course, that question was never asked. The underlying assumptions from all of our Senators are that our actions, all of them, are good and benign, always. So there is no reason to look at what we might be doing, or notice or count the dead civilians along the way.

Senator Hatch raised the question about the possibility of Christians being targeted in Lebanon. One panelist answered that the real targets of the Islamic jihadis was Shi’a Muslims rather than Christians. I decided to get up and follow Senator Hatch out of the room to tell him that Christians in Palestine and Iraq are either being killed or leaving their countries as refugees. He agreed with that, but when I said that was due to Israeli and American policies, he disagreed. I then mentioned how the committee meeting did not look at all at what the US was doing to inspire terrorism, and that bombing babies had a large part to do with why we are so hated around the world. I could have added that kicking in doors and terrorizing people also had a large part to do with this – and that our actions are certainly terrorist actions in their own right.

Senator Feingold spoke and he asked if the extended presence of Ethiopian troops in Samolia would encourage al Qaeda there? There was no clear answer from the panel on this. He also questioned how can US policy or strategic influence address the problem of al Qaeda? Maybe the Senator could talk to Rep. Ron Paul.

Senator Whitehouse asked about the word “crusade” and if that was helpful (the panel said it was not) and then said that we should call them “criminals” not “warriors”. He felt we had given them too much credit and too much publicity.

Senator Bond said that the Philippines are doing well and the people there want more educational and cultural exchanges. He asked “what are the things we can do to appeal to broad Muslim groups to show we are not ogres?” The answer from the panel was to do research, fund and promote moderate to do work for us and to focus on groups that are sympathetic to al Qaeda and make political, social and economic progress with them.

Senator Bayh said that anti-Americanism sentiment is Muslim lands is so high that moderates are not able to speak up in support of the USA and to counter the argument that the USA is trying to divide Muslim against Muslim.

There was no discussion on how this anti-American sentiment is routed in reality, and that we would need to seriously change our behaviors to achieve a different reality. There was no discussion on the fact that we need to stop acting like ogres before we will be released from being looked on as ogres. There was no discussion on how what the USA considers “moderates” in the Muslim world are corrupt governments who do not allow personal freedom, free elections, and who regularly engage in human rights abuses. The ones they call “moderates” really means that they are compliant with US elites and the bush/cheney administration goals and agendas. There was no discussion on the fact that the US and Israel have been arming Fatah and thereby increasing the fighting between Palestinians – and furthering the reality that the US is trying to turn Muslim against Muslim.

As one of the Code Pink women was leaving, she stated loudly that we need to get out of Iraq because that is making terrorism worse. We also need to get out of Iraq because our troops are in a position were they are forced to act like terrorists themselves. This awareness has not reached our Senator’s consciousness, with the possible exception of Senator Feingold.