|15/02/04||GI Special #2.27: Armed Marches Against U.S.|
Resistance Raids Fallujah In Force Kills Police & Frees Prisoners; Residents Knew Attack Coming, Protected Fighters
FALLUJA, Iraq (Reuters) & THE ASSOCIATED PRESS – Dozens of anti-American insurgents stormed Iraqi security compounds in the volatile town of Falluja on Saturday in a bold attack meeting little resistance as they went room to room shooting police in a bold, well-organized assault that killed 23 people and freed dozens of prisoners, officials said.
Before the attack, the gunmen set up checkpoints and blocked the road leading to the police station, but residents did not notify police, Deputy Interior Minister Ahmed Kadhum Ibrahim said in Baghdad. Nearby storeowners were warned not to open Saturday morning, one shopkeeper in Fallujah said.
The fierce, well-coordinated daylight attack on Saturday in Fallujah — unprecedented in its scale — raised questions whether Iraqi police and defense forces are ready to battle insurgents as the U.S. military pulls back from the fight in advance of the November U.S. presidential election. It also underscored the tenacity of a resistance that continues despite the Dec. 13 arrest of Saddam Hussein.
Falluja police chief Aboud al-Dulaimi said about 70 guerrillas firing rockets, mortars and machineguns launched the closely coordinated attack on a police headquarters as well as on a compound for the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps (ICDC) and the mayor’s office.
The battle left 17 policemen, two civilians and four attackers dead. At least 37 people — nearly all policemen — were wounded. Two wounded attackers were captured, but the rest escaped left after the attack, the latest in a series of assaults on Iraqi security forces seen by the insurgents as supporting the U.S. occupation.
An Iraqi police officer said the guerrillas outgunned the policemen at the station. A government building situated several hundred meters (yards) away was assaulted at the same time.
Police in the Fallujah station complained they had only small arms — nothing larger than an automatic rifle — in the face of dozens of fighters armed with heavy machine guns, hand grenades and rocket-propelled grenades.
No American forces could be seen in Saturday’s battle. The U.S. command has said American troops could be quickly dispatched to trouble spots to help Iraqi forces as America hands over security to the Iraqis. U.S. planes circled overhead and dropped heat balloons to divert heat-seeking anti-aircraft missiles, witnesses said.
“Unknown men fired mortars, explosives and light machineguns from four directions. Their weapons were more powerful than our Kalashnikovs,” said police officer Earazan Abu Issa, who was outside the police station when it was attacked.
The daylight attack signaled a growing boldness on the part of insurgents fighting U.S.-led forces and Iraqis they regard as supporting the occupiers.
In Saturday’s attack, about 25 resistance soldiers, some masked and shouting the Islamic slogan, ``There is no god but Allah’’ and “God Is Great,” stormed the police station, witnesses said. At the same time, two dozen more attackers pinned down forces at a nearby compound of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps with a barrage of RPGs and gunfire to keep them from coming to the aid of the police, according to the witnesses.
At the police station, attackers broke into the jail, gunned down the guards and shot open the cell doors while others threw grenades in other rooms, said police Lt. Col. Jalal Sabri. Eighty-seven prisoners escaped.
Only two days earlier resistance forces opened fire from rooftops with RPGs and automatic weapons as Gen. John Abizaid, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East, was visiting. Abizaid was unharmed in the attack.
At the nearby, heavily barricaded compound of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps that Abizaid visited Thursday, Iraqi security forces battled with the attackers for a half hour in the streets, taking cover behind concrete blocks amid a hail of gunfire.
The brazen, bloody battle — on the heels of the Abizaid attack — raised questions about the preparedness of Iraqi police and defense units to take on security duties as the U.S. administration wants. After the Thursday attack, Abizaid said of the Iraqi civil defense unit in Fallujah: “Obviously they are not fully trained. They’re not ready.”
“If the situation continues this way, I might leave the police force” said Ahmad Saad, who was unhurt in the attack
In early February, pamphlets signed by insurgent groups were posted in Fallujah warning Iraqis not to cooperate with U.S. forces and threatening “harsh consequences.” Among the groups that signed the leaflets was Muhammad’s Army.
IRAQ WAR REPORTS: One U.S. Soldier Killed, Two Wounded In Baghdad
By Fiona O’Brien, Reuters, 13 February 2004
BAGHDAD, Feb 13 – An explosive device has killed a U.S. soldier and wounded two others while they were patrolling a Baghdad suburb, the U.S. military said on Friday. A military spokesman said the soldier, a military policeman, was on a patrol in the Iraqi capital’s western Abu Ghraib district when the blast occurred at 10:40 p.m. on Thursday. It was not clear what sort of device was used. Military patrols and convoys are regularly hit by roadside bombs, placed by insurgents resisting the U.S.-led occupation. The death brought to 375 the number of U.S. soldiers killed in combat since the start of the U.S.-led war on Iraq.
Attack In Force On U.S. Base Muqdadiyah
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS February 14, 2004
U.S. soldiers fended off an attack by gunmen Saturday against their base in Muqdadiyah, 80 kilometers (50 miles) northeast of Baghdad. Ten attackers were killed, witnesses said.
Troops Be Advised: Bush Official Says Iraq No More Dangerous Than “Riding Motorcycle”
“The risks are akin to sky diving or riding a motorcycle, which are, to many, very acceptable risks.”
Tom Foley, Director of Private Sector Development, Iraq Occupation Government, urges a group of American executives to invest in Iraq. (Wall St. Journal 2.13.04)
81st Going To War Unready And Unequipped
I have to respond to the articles that have been written about the 81st in WA State. It’s about time! I’ve been in this BDE for 7 years now and I have had more worth while training in the last 22 days than in the last 7 years. The guard is a joke and the command finds ways of getting their weekly work load done on the drill weekends, what does that mean for the average soldier……..more card play.
I am a medic and have been for the last 11 years. Served with third BDE when it was still heavy. We have been training on and the training has been very solid for most. The medics on the other hand have been left out of the training sched and instead have been sent to a 21 day 91b-91w conversion course that isn’t due until 2008!. Don’t get me wrong the training has been very beneficial and I am more confident in my medical skills than ever before, But this does me no good when I don’t have any M.O.U.T. training at all. 1 day of IMT doesn’t cut it for this soldier.
This is a common complaint in all wars since the beginning of time. Some people are saying suck it up and drink water, but in an age when war is our business and we make good livings at it, shouldn’t our resources be available? Some soldier’s helmets don’t even fit! Mixed matched D.C.U. tops and bottoms, all winter uniforms instead of summers. I just think that the days of “making your boots fit” days are over……or are they.
I have just read Inside The Army National Guard. It concerns me because My Son is with the 81st right now training. He is from 1st Battalion 185th Armor. He has been saying that the 185th is not getting all the things they need to protect them self, for there mission. That the 81st is getting what they need first. Can this be true?
Wouldn’t we want to protect all of our soldiers no matter where they are from? I believe as a mother I need to know that he will have the right gear and weapons to allow him to do his job and protect him self.
Thank you & God Bless.
GET SOME TRUTH: CHECK OUT TRAVELING SOLDIER
Telling the truth – about the occupation, the cuts to veterans benefits, or the dangers of depleted uranium – is the first reason Traveling Soldier is necessary. But we want to do more than tell the truth; we want to report on the resistance – whether it’s in the streets of Baghdad, New York, or inside the armed forces. Our goal is for Traveling Soldier to become the thread that ties working-class people inside the armed services together. We want this newsletter to be a weapon to help you organize resistance within the armed forces. If you like what you’ve read, we hope that you’ll join with us in building a network of active duty organizers. www.traveling-soldier.org/
By Keith Garvin, ABC News, 2.7.04
Washington, Feb. 7 — Pene Palifka, a proud and protective mother, worries about her son, Billy, a specialist with the National Guard deployed in Iraq. She reads his letters home almost daily.
“I just can’t wait for him to come home,” she said. “We’ll celebrate that day.” Concerned about her son’s safety, Palifka recently spent $1,100 of her own money on armored chest plates to protect him and others from enemy fire.
“[By] purchasing something for my son, then that means hopefully somewhere down the line somebody else that’s overseas will have adequate equipment,” Pene Palifka said.
It’s become an almost routine practice for deploying troops and their families. The Pentagon says there still aren’t enough, especially among guardsmen and reservists. All troops rotating out of Iraq are now being required to leave their vests behind so incoming troops can use them.
An unidentified soldier considers buying extra military equipment. Several soldiers or their families are buying such supplies for use in Iraq. (ABCNEWS.com)
Many active-duty troops also are spending money on other equipment.
One group of Marines due to leave for Iraq bought goggles, backpacks, magazine pouches and gloves.
“They gave us the stuff that we need, but we need more as well,” Marine Sgt. Nick Medina told ABC NEWS last month. “So we go ahead and buy it ourselves.”
Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., a member of the House Armed Services Committee, has introduced a bill calling for the government to repay the families of troops who buy their own gear.
“It’s time to step up and do the right thing and reimburse all those individuals, who because of the care and concern that they have for our men and women overseas, their loved ones have gone into their pocket to assist them,” Larson said.
Whether she gets reimbursed or not, Pene Palifka says the price she paid for her peace of mind was worth it.
Do you have a friend or relative in the service? Forward this E-MAIL along, or send us the address if you wish and we’ll send it regularly. Whether in Iraq or stuck on a base in the USA, this is extra important for your service friend, too often cut off from access to encouraging news of growing resistance to the war, at home and in Iraq, and information about other social protest movements here in the USA. Send requests to address up top. For copies on web site see: www.notinourname.net/gi-special/
Warrant Officer Says “I Am Gay;” Writers Hit Stupid Army Policy
Army Times 12.1.03
I am a retired chief warrant officer 2, Regular Army. I served from March 9, 1961, to May 31, 1983.
I am gay.
The “don’t ask don’t tell, don’t pursue” policy’ foisted on President Clinton and the U.S. military in 1993 is one of the worst policies and pieces of legislation ever to have come out of Washington.
It is routinely ignored by the military and it has resulted in the ousting of many soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.
It causes loss of expertise and wastes the money spent on training.
Retention of gay service members in other nations has been shown not to have adversely affected their preparedness, readiness, unit cohesion, morale or effectiveness. During my military career, there were many gay and lesbian soldiers who were out to their contemporaries and superiors; no one cared, so long as they did their jobs and kept out of trouble —just as with straight soldiers.
Homosexuality in the military should not be an issue; and the sooner the “brass” and the politicians realize this, the better off the military and our nation will be.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michelle Steiner
I am a retired Army JAG officer who also served in the infantry, military police corps and transportation corps. In retirement I have had an opportunity to deal with the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy as a counselor to soldiers affected by it, and have examined the lifting of similar policies in other countries’ militaries.
In each of the other military systems, the lifting of similar bans essentially has been a “non- event.” Canada, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand — virtually all of NATO except Turkey---as well as Israel, all have successfully lifted their bans. It makes me wonder why we are so different.
In a number of countries, those favoring the previous policy, predicted mass resignations and retirements. That didn’t happen and I have failed to find any major problems. As a company commander, I expected that some people would not get along with others, but good commanders and NCOs can solve such problems. I also have found that younger soldiers are better at dealing with this issue than are their elders, for they are accustomed to knowing and working with gay and lesbian students and co-workers.
Our present solution — one which tells a large group of loyal, tax-paying, American citizens that we do not want their service, is shameful.
Lt. Col. Michael Allan Haas (ret.)
What do you think? Comments from service men and women, and veterans, are especially welcome. Send to the E-mail address up top. Name, I.D., withheld on request. Replies confidential.
Wounded U.S. Veterans Get Raw Deal At Home
Sunday, February 08, 2004 post-gazette.com
There’s no emotional sting like the one inflicted by that 500 number. It’s larger now, the total of Americans dead from an Iraq war launched on false pretenses, but 500 is getting a lot of usage as the ultimate cost of this mess. It’s a cost 500 can’t begin to illuminate. How about at least 9,000 servicemen and women wounded, sickened or injured? How about 6,891 troops medically evacuated for non-combat conditions between March 19 and Oct. 30, 2003?
All of this could be categorized as the inevitably horrible cost of post-modern war in the desert, but the scandal is what is happening to these survivors once their government brings them home. Tom Keller, the immediate past commander of the DAV in Ohio, wrote to me last month about the secretive nature of the process.
“I can’t speak for the DAV’s national organization,” Tom said, “but I have my own feelings about why the Bush administration is bringing the casualties back to the States in the middle of the night and wants to keep organizations like the DAV away from them. I believe the administration wants to keep the American people in the dark about the number of troops being wounded, the severity of the injuries they are receiving and the types of illnesses that may be surfacing.”
There are reasons potentially too disturbing even to ponder as to why the Defense Department, for example, would want to do what Keller is suggesting, but the evident reason appears to be depressingly common: money. It appears that the government does not want these veterans even to be aware of, let alone receive, the benefits due them for donating their limbs and their souls and their innocence to America.
The DAV’s executive director, David Gorman, who left both his legs in a stinking Southeast Asian jungle more than 30 years ago, took up the subject early last month in a letter to Secretary of Offense Donald Rumsfeld.
“For more than six decades,” Gorman wrote, “the DAV has always been granted access to military hospitals so our professionally trained and fully accredited representatives could provide such crucial information and counseling to service members to help smooth their transition from military to civilian life. Sadly, that is no longer the case. The current policies of the Department of Defense citing the Privacy Act and security are preventing our skilled representatives from carrying out our congressionally chartered mission.
“At one facility in particular — Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. — our efforts to visit with wounded patients have been severely restricted. For example, all requests to visit patients must now be made through headquarters, which then selects the patients we may visit and strictly limits information about the patients. Even the patient’s name and the nature of the injury are withheld without express permission.”
All contact with patients is closely monitored, he adds. “This is particularly unnerving and inappropriate, as all conversations between a representative and client are confidential in nature.
The shame hasn’t yet even begun to spread. It’s one thing to make a major misstep in Iraq; it’s quite another to try to stiff the young people whose lives will never be the same because of it.
As Gorman told CBS in December, “I think that the military wants to get them off their hands.”
Still, the greatest shame is that America has the full capability to care for all its veterans, but the White House is too busy cutting taxes for people making more than $200,000 a year.
Rumsfeld Publicly Confesses His Ignorance Of Real Life
Letter To The Editor
Army Times 12.1.03
Having spent an active duty tour in Vietnam and 23 years in the National Guard as an aviator, I wonder what our force level will be in the future after reading the following statements.
1) Doesn’t think “anyone is hurt by the requirement to wait until age 60 to collect reserve retirement pay.” — Sen. Ted Stevens, 11- Alaska.
2) “I don’t know why anyone would want to retire at 55.”— Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
It is apparent our politicians don’t realize the dedication a reservist must have in order to spend so much of his days, nights and weekends meeting basically the same training requirements expected of his full- time counterpart, all the while maintaining regular fulltime employment.
I am sure Stevens didn’t wait until 60 to start drawing his lifetime retirement. I’m also sure Rumsfeld doesn’t understand that retirement from the Guard or reserves means you have one job instead of two and will see more of your now-grown kids and your wife, if she has endured that long. Who knows, we may all, just for spite, live long enough to collect for what all of our family members have sacrificed over the years.
Chief Warrant Officer 4
James M. King (ret)
JCS Publicly Confess Own Stupidity
February 11, 2004, By Pauline Jelinek, Associated Press
The generals who head U.S. military services said Tuesday they were convinced before the invasion of Iraq that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
Abizaid Turning Over Baghdad Command; Has Other Priorities
(Tampa Tribune, February 10. 2004) U.S. Central Command is setting up an operations center in Baghdad under a general who will help Iraqis develop a security infrastructure, allowing the command’s top general, John Abizaid, to focus on other priorities.
Rapists Rule Texas Air Base
(Denver Post, February 11, 2004, Pg. 1)
A wave of sexual assaults has gone largely unnoticed at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas because victims are too scared to go public, victim advocates say. In a year’s span, more than two dozen women stationed at the base have sought help for sexual assaults allegedly committed by 40 fellow soldiers, according to First Step Inc. Five cases involved gang rapes.
Protest Works: U.S. Officials Drop Activist Subpoenas
Judge Lifts Drake Gag Order In Probe Of “Bring Troops Home” Protest
February 11, 2004 by Jeff Eckhoff and Mark Siebert, Des Moines Register
Federal authorities retreated Tuesday in their investigation of an Iowa anti-war demonstration, withdrawing grand jury subpoenas delivered last week to four peace activists and Drake University.
The shift came as the investigation drew nationwide condemnation from civil liberties advocates, politicians and peace activists.
Also Tuesday, a federal judge lifted a gag order on Drake, where employees had been ordered not to discuss an inquiry into a meeting the anti-war activists held there Nov. 15. Federal authorities had asked for records of the campus chapter of the National Lawyers Guild – which hosted the anti-war conference – and for the impressions campus police had of the gathering.
“Whatever one’s views of the political positions articulated at that meeting,” Drake President David Maxwell said in court papers unsealed Tuesday, “the university cherishes and protects the right to express those views without fear of reprisal or recrimination.”
Drake President David Maxwell said in a statement that university officials had resisted the orders.
“The university in America is, by definition, a free speech zone in which dissent, disagreement and multiplicity of views are not only tolerated, but encouraged,” Maxwell said. “Rather than stifling the voices of those who disagree, we passionately believe that it is only possible to arrive at the truth through the rigorous examination of all options and all views.”
Brian Terrell, one of the four activists originally ordered to appear before the grand jury, announced the government switch at a noontime rally Tuesday in front of the federal building in Des Moines.
“Friends, the piece of news that I have is historic. The subpoenas against the four of us were dropped today,” Terrell said to the cheers of about 150 people.
Al Overbaugh, spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Des Moines, declined to comment Tuesday, other than to say the moves didn’t necessarily signal that the investigation had ended.
The federal investigation became public last week when a Polk County sheriff’s deputy – identifying himself as a member of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force – delivered several subpoenas.
Facing growing concern, the U.S. attorney in Des Moines, Stephen Patrick O’Meara, took the unusual step Monday of acknowledging the secret grand jury investigation. He denied the investigation was in any way related to terrorism.
The investigation, he said in his statement, involved an alleged attempt to enter the fenced, secure perimeter at Camp Dodge, the home of the Iowa National Guard. Federal authorities said Monday that part of their investigation was focused on whether a “prior agreement to violate federal law” was hatched at the Nov. 15 conference.
The peace activists’ conference and nonviolence training session – held at Drake after police and the media were notified – was called “Stop the Occupation! Bring the Iowa Guard Home!” The next day, activists went to the Iowa National Guard headquarters at Camp Dodge, where 12 people were arrested for trespassing.
Polk County authorities agree with demonstrators’ assertions that no one tried to scale a fence. The only arrest that appeared to come close to fitting O’Meara’s description was that of Elton Davis, one of the subpoenaed activists who was charged with trespass at a Camp Dodge gate roughly one-quarter mile south of the main demonstration.
Davis on Tuesday denied he crossed an official boundary. Instead, he said, he simply walked up to a gate and asked to speak to a commanding officer.
“I told him I was there to establish an ongoing presence at the base,” Davis said. “I would like to occupy the base. I would like his help with accommodations, would like an office . . . to work with the command authority to bring home people who were trapped in Iraq by a failure of foreign policy. “At which point he almost fell down laughing.” Court papers say Davis was arrested after he “entered onto federal property and remained there after being ordered to leave” by federal officials. Documents say he pleaded no contest and served three days in jail.
Ben Stone, executive director of the Iowa Civil Liberties Union, also voiced skepticism of O’Meara’s explanation.
“If this was just a trespassing investigation, then why seek the records of the National Lawyers Guild?” he asked those at the rally.
Drake law professor Sally Frank, the university’s local contact for the guild, told those at the rally that “what we’ve had here for the last week in Des Moines is an intense effort to stifle dissent.”
Frank and others in the crowd symbolically placed tape or cloth over their mouths, while two Des Moines police detectives videotaped the event from a hotel room across from the federal building. The detectives said they were told to monitor the event “in case someone caused problems.”
Several in the crowd carried signs critical of U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft. U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin went a step further, asking Ashcroft in a letter to make sure civil liberties were not trampled on in this case. “Prosecutors should be especially vigilant about using extraordinary steps in cases when such a treasured American value as free speech is at stake,” Harkin wrote. U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley also expressed concern about the impression left on peace activists that they had been subpoenaed by the antiterrorism task force.
“I will be following this case closely to help make sure that the Department of Justice protects and defends people’s constitutional rights,’’ Grassley said.
An Antiwar Forum in Iowa Brings Federal Subpoenas
By MONICA DAVEY, New York Times, February 10, 2004
DES MOINES, Feb. 9 — To hear the antiwar protesters describe it, their forum at a local university last fall was like so many others they had held over the years. They talked about the nonviolent philosophies of Mahatma Gandhi and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., they said, and how best to convey their feelings about Iraq into acts of civil disobedience.
But last week, subpoenas began arriving seeking details about the forum’s sponsor — its leadership list, its annual reports, its office location — and the event itself.
Those who attended the forum, at least four of whom said they had received subpoenas to appear before a federal grand jury on Tuesday, said that they did not know what to make of the inquiry and that they feared it was intended to quash protest. Late on Monday, prosecutors in the United States attorney’s office for the southern district of Iowa took the unusual step of issuing a confirmation of the investigation. Prosecutors also delayed the grand jury appearances by a month, a move local civil liberties officials interpreted as a sign that the government might be backing away from the investigation.
“I’d say the prosecutors are recognizing the groundswell of reaction that has happened in the face of this extraordinary thing they’ve done,” said R. Ben Stone, executive director of the Iowa Civil Liberties Union.
Still, the protesters, their lawyers and some national civil liberties advocates described the investigation into the attendance rolls and leadership lists of the lawyers’ group as highly unusual in recent years. Some said it could send a chilling message far beyond Iowa, leaving those who consider voicing disapproval of the administration’s policy in Iraq, or anywhere else, wondering whether they too might receive added scrutiny.
“I’ve heard of such a thing, but not since the 1950's, the McCarthy era,” said David D. Cole, a Georgetown law professor. “It sends a very troubling message about government officials’ attitudes toward basic liberties.”
Brian Terrell, the executive director of the Catholic Peace Ministry here, received a grand jury subpoena last week, he said. Mr. Terrell said he had helped conduct “nonviolence training” at the Nov. 15 forum on the Drake campus, which was titled “Stop the Occupation! Bring the Iowa Guard Home!” and attended by 21 people.
Mr. Terrell, 47, said he had been involved in and sometimes arrested for protests of United States actions related to Honduras; Vieques, Puerto Rico; and elsewhere over many years. He said he offered advice for people who chose to be arrested about how best to carry out their protests, like how to deal with police, how to deal with hecklers and how to react to jail.
At the forum, Mr. Terrell said, at least one local television station filmed the events, which were open to the public. Organizers had also mailed a leaflet about the events to a sergeant in the Des Moines police in case he wanted to come. “Everything we did was completely in the open,” Mr. Terrell said. “We’ve been doing this sort of thing a long time. The police know the routine. We know them. Usually things here in Iowa are very friendly.”
The day after the forum, some in the group traveled to an Iowa National Guard base in Johnston, north of Des Moines, where they staged a demonstration, which Mr. Terrell described as routine. A dozen people were arrested there, mainly on state charges of trespass. At least one woman was also charged with assault.
Officials at Drake University, a private institution of 5,100 students, declined to comment on Monday. Lisa Lacher, a spokeswoman for the school, said the court had made Drake, which received a broad subpoena in the case, subject “to a nondisclosure order” about the matter. “I’m afraid then that there’s not much we can say,” Ms. Lacher said.
The school’s subpoena called for detailed information on the lawyers guild and its members, including the names of those who are officers, and guild meeting agendas and annual reports since 2002.
The subpoena also focused on the Nov. 15 antiwar forum, asking for “all requests for use of a room, all documents indicating the purpose and intended participants in the meeting, and all documents or recordings which would identify persons that actually attended the meeting.”
Wendy Vasquez, 52, a clerical worker in Des Moines, also received a subpoena last week. Ms. Vasquez was one of those arrested outside the National Guard base the day after the forum at Drake. She said that in the past, she had been arrested for protesting the war in El Salvador and advocating for homeless people.
But this investigation, she said, appeared to be different.
“It was just another very mellow Iowa protest, so it’s hard to know what this is all about,” Ms. Vasquez said. “I guess it’s meant to terrify the peace movement. I don’t see what else they could be doing.”
Comment From An Iowan Involved:
Confession Of An Antiwar Protester
By Tom Lewis, 10 Feb 2004 (From: “Michael Rack” firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom Lewis is Professor of Spanish at the University of Iowa. He is also a member of the International Socialist Organization, which is based in Chicago.
“I AM proud to have participated in the antiwar event held at Drake University and STARC Armory last November. Entitled “Stop the Occupation! Bring the Iowa Guard Home!” the two-day event included educational workshops, a rally, and an act of civil disobedience by a smaller group among those in attendance.
My role consisted of presenting a talk and leading a discussion on the “Pax Americana” – the idea proclaimed by President George Bush I that the collapse of the USSR and its satellites in Eastern Europe would inaugurate a new era of peace presided over by the United States. Bush I also claimed that the new “American Peace” would create a “peace dividend” that could rebuild our schools and solve the health care crisis.
I argued at the Drake event that the Clinton and Bush II administrations had turned the promise of a “peace dividend” into a fairy tale. Growing militarism under President Clinton-which included the invasion of Haiti, the almost daily bombing of Iraq, the lethal Iraq sanctions, the Kosovo War, and the launching of cruise missiles against civilian targets in the Sudan and Afghanistan – culminated in President George Bush II’s invasion and military occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. I also claimed, based on ample historical evidence, that these last invasions and occupations had been planned well before Bush II took office in January 2001.
My other role at the Des Moines antiwar protest took the form of an impromptu speech at the rally in front of STARC Armory. No doubt I came across as an angry middle-aged man to the scores of police in riot gear who stood between the 70 of us protesters and the armory. I felt anger for the Iowa military families who had lost loved ones in the service of oil interests and a government that, in my opinion, knowingly misled the American people about alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and alleged ties between Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden.
I was angry for my kids, and everybody’s kids, who are seeing their futures thrown away on whopping increases in military spending. Schools desperately need new funding. Yearly college tuition hikes price out more and more academically qualified students. Rising health care costs will never come under control until the profit motive is removed from the industry and the government gets involved directly. And the pensions that corporations reduce or eliminate now simply add burdens on today’s kids to provide care for their parents tomorrow.
I was still angry for my friends who died in Vietnam fighting an unjust war for an unjust government. The current crusade by the FBI to harass those who participated in the Des Moines antiwar events last November is nothing more than a bald attempt to terrorize into silence the 50 percent of Americans who now disagree with the Bush administration’s policies on the Iraq war and occupation.
The use of riot police to protect STARC Armory, for example, had only one purpose: to intimidate protesters-among whom figured Des Moines’s famous “Raging Grannies”-and anyone else who might consider protesting in the future.
Similarly, the current grand jury investigation has but one purpose: to fire the first salvo in Iowa of a new Nixon-style wave of grotesque violations of the constitutional rights of citizens or groups who somehow make it on to John Ashcroft’s and George Bush’s personal “enemies list.”
The educational events and the methods of protest employed at Drake and STARC fall well within the bounds of protest accepted by America’s historical civil rights movements. The Bush administration and the FBI are intentionally aiming to criminalize protest and weaken American democracy. This is the consequence – intentional or not – of every Republican and Democratic vote in Congress for the USA Patriot Act.
We must find ways to express our solidarity with those in Des Moines who are being persecuted by the FBI for exercising their right to protest. Even if we don’t approve of the methods of civil disobedience, we must still defend the right to publicly disagree, not only in print but also through marches and rallies, with the policies of those who hold power.
As the great Black abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass reminds us, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are people who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightening.”
IRAQ RESISTANCE ROUNDUP
Resistance Winning War To Undermine Collaborators’ Authority
Wall St. Journal 2.12.04, By Yochi Dreazen
Beyond the deaths and injuries [see summary of one event below] the violence may be doing lasting damage to the security institutions themselves by sapping public confidence in their ability to restore order.
On the streets of Baghdad, many residents said attacks like the week’s bombings have convinced them that the security forces aren’t up to the challenge of confronting and destroying the insurgency that shows no signs of losing strength.
“I don’t trust the police because they can’t even protect themselves,” said Waleed Rashid.
Silly Bremer Can’t Face Reality
“The dynamics are favorable to us now,” Bremer said. (February 11, 2004 By John Hill, The (Shreveport, La.) Times) (Could the Wall St. Journal, which says the resistance “shows no signs of losing strength” be nothing but a nest of those famous, non-existent “Saddam Hussein loyalists”?)
(Summary: Attack On Collaborator Army)
BAGHDAD, Iraq — By Mariam Fam. Associated Press, February 11, 2004
A suicide attacker blew up a car packed with explosives in a crowd of hundreds of Iraqis waiting outside an army recruiting center here Wednesday, killing up to 46 people. The 7:25 a.m. blast tore into would-be army volunteers waiting outside the recruitment center less than two kilometers (a mile) from the heavily fortified green zone, where the U.S. administration has its headquarters.
FBI agents looked for evidence at the blast scene.
The recruitment center was surrounded by barbed wire and had sandbagged posts in front of it. But around 300 Iraqis were gathered outside the center’s locked gates, waiting for it to open, and were completely exposed. Some of them were lined up to join the military and others waiting to depart for a training camp in Jordan. Gunmen firing Wednesday from a car attacked an office of the Democratic Assyrian Party in Mosul, injuring one security guard, according to party member Napoleon Fatou. The party has a seat on the Iraqi Governing Council.
Angry Demonstrators Demand Release Of Prisoners
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS February 14, 2004 Saturday demonstrations broke out in the northern city of Sulaimaniyah and the Baghdad suburb of Abu Ghraib, where hundreds of angry Iraqis demanded an end to U.S. military raids and searches of their homes.
Carrying placards reading, ``Today Demonstrations, Tomorrow Explosions,’’ protesters gathered near a giant American-run prison — built by Saddam — and demanded the release of thousands of Iraqi prisoners.
“This demonstration is a reaction against the behavior of the coalition forces against our citizens and against the attacks against our houses and the capture of our men and our children,” one man shouted during an interview with Associated Press Television News. “They are attacking in the middle of the night against innocent people.”
In the northern Kurdish-majority city of Sulaimaniyah, thousands of protesters clamored for an independent Kurdish state that includes the three autonomous Kurdish provinces as well as disputed parts of northern Iraq containing a large Arab population.
OCCUPATION ISN’T LIBERATION BRING ALL THE TROOPS HOME NOW!
Iraqi Collaborator Troops, Police, Incompetent; Require U.S. Control
Bing West (New York Times, February 11, 2004)
A co-author of “The March Up: Taking Baghdad With the First Marine Division” writes that although most political control is to pass into Iraqi hands by July, it would be a grave mistake to remove the fledgling Iraqi military and police from the control of the American military. They are simply not ready to stand on their own.
DANGER: POLITICIANS AT WORK
Bush Dead Meat (Con’t) Conservatives Republicans Defy White House; “We’d Rather Fight A Trade War”
Wall St. Journal 2.13.04, Shailagh Murray
Conservatives have grown livid about spending increases under Mr. Bush’s watch, guaranteeing problems for any bill with a price tag.
Conservatives are so riled about the budget deficit that they have threatened to cut defense spending, even as military leaders insist they need more money for Iraq.
[Concerning a bill that must be passed by March 1 to avoid heavy duties by foreign countries on American exports] [Because Congress gave huge tax breaks to corporate exporters, other countries have promised to retaliate against U.S. export products on March 1 unless the tax breaks are repealed. Bush asked Congress to do it. This is the Conservative answer]:
“We’ll try, but we’re not going to spend a lot of time on it,” says a senior Republican leadership aide. “Frankly, we’d rather fight a trade war.”
Service Chiefs Snark White House On The Budget; War Money Running Out
(New York Times, February 11, 2004)
In an unusual public display of differences with the White House, the top officers of the Army, Marine Corps and Air Force all raised questions about how the Bush administration plans to pay for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan after the current financing runs out at the end of September.
(Los Angeles Times, February 11, 2004)
American military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan will run out of money in September, leaving the Pentagon scrambling to cover as much as $19 billion in costs until the White House seeks additional funding through an emergency measure expected in January, top defense officials said.
BUSH SAYS SADDAM PLANNED TO DESTROY U.S. WITH ATKINS DIET;
Plotted ‘Axis of Obesity’
The Borowitz Report 2.11.04
Saddam Hussein planned to destroy America by luring every man, woman and child onto the Atkins Diet, President Bush revealed today.
U.S. forces searching Saddam’s hideout in Tikrit uncovered the evildoer’s plans to destroy the U.S. with the fat-laden diet, the President said.
“We now have conclusive proof that Saddam Hussein and his agents intended to turn us into a nation of artery-clogged, cellulite-jiggling fatsos,” Mr. Bush said. “His evil knows no bounds.”
Mr. Bush said that the discovery of Saddam’s deadly diet plot justified the war with Iraq, calling the Atkins Diet “a weapon of mass consumption.”
The Defense Department later made available a copy of a seventeen-page memo, apparently authored by Saddam, detailing his plot to make the U.S. part of an “Axis of Obesity” including Britain and Spain, two key U.S. allies in the invasion of Iraq.
According to the deadly document, the Iraqi madman’s three-point plan was as follows: “1) Promote Atkins Diet 2) Market Atkins milkshakes, food bars, etc. 3) Watch them get fat and die.”
The White House later confirmed that the first apparent target of Saddam’s lethal Atkins plot was none other than Vice President Dick Cheney, who confirmed that he was going off the diet “immediately.”
“Fortunately, the Vice President only gained seventy-five pounds while on the diet,” White House spokesman Scott McClellan said. “But that next Atkins shake could have been his last.”
AFGHANISTAN WAR REPORTS
Afghan Rebels Will Soon Kill Many U.S. Troops
(Dallas Morning News, February 11, 2004)
Resistance to U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan is “running out of energy,” according to NATO’s top military commander, Marine Gen. James Jones, who said the number of hard-core Islamic insurgents may have fallen below 1,000. (So far, every time some empty suit like Jones proclaims victory is just around the corner, the Afghan resistance has launched a new offensive, killing more U.S. troops.)
CLASS WAR NEWS
Bankrupt Empire On The Edge; Greenspan Warns Of Coming Financial/Currency Crisis
(Comment: Yes, it’s hard to get a grip on, but the information below has more to do with events in the U.S.A. for the next five years, minimum, than Kerry, Bush, Congress, the elections, or anything else that makes the front pages and the TV news shows. Unfortunately, much of the left is not merely clueless, but utterly uninterested, including many who like to call themselves “Marxists.” “They took the ashes, and left the fire behind.”)
Mr. Greenspan’s warnings on the budget deficit were more urgent than in previous remarks. He said the huge current- account deficit—the shortfall on trade and Investment income between the U.S. and the rest of the world—makes it even more imperative to cut the budget deficit. He said – that would minimize the harm if foreign Investors cut back on their purchases of U.S. stocks and bonds which finance the current-account deficit. (Greg Ip, Wall St. Journal 2.12.04)
David Wessel, Wall St. Journal 2.12.04
THE U.S. IS behaving like a family with a well-worn, low-interest-rate MasterCard. For years, the U.S. has been consuming more than it produces. That’s what it means to import more from the rest of the world than one exports. That’s why it depends on foreigners sending another $1.5 billion of their savings every day.
The U.S. buys lots from the rest of the world, and the rest of the world lends the U.S. the money to make the purchases—more every year—at today’s very low interest rates. For a considerable period now, economists—think of them as national credit counselors—have been warning that this can’t go on forever. Foreigners won’t keep devoting larger shares of their savings to U.S. stocks, bonds and companies, just as there is a limit to how much MasterCard allows any one family to borrow. Sure, this could continue for years. But the dollar’s recent slide is a sign that countries are skittish about putting much more money into the U.S.
There is a painful way to right the world economy: a financial-market crisis.
The dollar takes a sharp plunge. Stock and bond markets follow. With deficit angst running high and finally pushing up interest rates, the president—either President Bush or a successor—rallies Congress to an emergency deficitreduction package.
That’s likely to mean the U.S. economy falters. But it will import less (because the U.S. buys less from abroad in a recession) and save more (that’s what reducing the deficit does).
The N.Y. Times Also Sounds The Alarm
New York Times 2.14.04, By Elizabeth Becker
WASHINGTON, Feb. 13 — The United States trade deficit soared to a record of $489.4 billion last year, according to a federal report released on Friday, raising concerns about the problems such a large gap could create.
The deficit, which is the difference between the value of foreign goods and services purchased in this country and the amount of American goods and services sold overseas, is now the largest in history. (This means the largest in the history of the world.)
As a percent of gross domestic product, the goods and services deficit increased to 4.5 percent from 4 percent in 2002.
Despite a variety of reactions to some of the underlying patterns in the trade report, concern about the size of the deficit was almost uniform.
‘This is not only a record, it is a record by a great deal,” said Richard S. DeKaser, an economist at National City Corporation.
“We are developing a great reliance on foreign capital to pay for our debt,” Mr. DeKaser said, “and it is clear that foreigners are losing confidence, that there is a greater reluctance to finance our trade deficit.”
To finance its trade deficits, the United States has been borrowing record amounts from foreign investors and banks. The risk is that foreign investors could balk at continuing to lend the money needed just to finance that deficit. That has not been a problem so far amid very low interest rates.
The International Monetary Fund warned in a report last month that, given the ballooning trade deficit, the United States risked a loss In foreign confidence and that a quick, uncontrolled drop in the dollar could upset World markets. Alan Greenspan, the Federal Reserve chairman, added his voice to these concerns, telling the House Committee on Financial Services earlier this month that “given the already substantial accumulation of dollar-denominated debt, foreign investors, both private and official, may become less willing to absorb ever-growing claims on U.S. residents”
“The easy answers of slower growth or letting the dollar decline aren’t working, so the crisis is much deeper,” said Robert L. Borosage, director of the Campaign for America’s Future, a liberal public policy group. “You can’t sustain a deficit of 5 percent of your GDP indefinitely.”
Robert E. Scott, director for trade studies at the Economic Policy Institute, said the human consequences of the rising trade deficit could be seen in the reconfiguration of the job market.
“As a consequence of the trade deficit,” Mr. Scott said, “people are being pushed out of well-paying jobs with benefits in manufacturing and into the poor-paying service jobs, often with no benefits.”
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