"Journalists in North Korea sentenced to 12 years hard labor – now negotiations begin" (Free Speech Radio News):
Two American journalists who were convicted in North Korea of an unidentified “grave crime” against the North Korean nation were sentenced to 12 years of “reform through labor.” Euna Lee and Laura Ling were arrested in March near the Chinese border while on assignment for Current TV. The State Department says it is ready to use all diplomatic channels to negotiate their release.
So that's two US journalists who were working for Al Gore's Current TV and the issue was addressed in the US State Department press briefing today as well:
QUESTION: Ian, North Korea with the Ling and Lee trial, they’ve sentenced both girls to 12 years of hard labor. I saw Secretary Clinton on This Week yesterday alluding to it. Do you have anything further?
MR. KELLY: Well, we’re very, very concerned about this sentence. And I know that Secretary Clinton is very engaged, and we plan to explore all possible channels. As we have all along, we call on the North Korean authorities to release the two young ladies, allow them to be reunited with their families, and we’re very, very focused on that right now. But yeah, the news was – concerned us very much.
QUESTION: Can we go back to Lebanon for just one quick second?
MR. KELLY: Yeah, sure.
QUESTION: Can we go back with that? Sorry, guys.
MR. KELLY: We will come back to North Korea.
QUESTION: Just one thing. You said in the prepared statement that you read at the top that the United States will support an independent and sovereign Lebanon. Can we take that to mean that you would expect the U.S. Government, should Congress agree to go along with it as it has in the past, to continue financially supporting, in the rather generous way it has in recent years, the Lebanese Armed Forces? Is that – does that signal that when you’re saying we’re going to support a sovereign and independent Lebanon, that you’re going to keep doing the kind of funding that you have done in the last couple years?
MR. KELLY: Well, yeah. I mean, it signals what it is. It signals that we support an independent and sovereign Lebanon. I don’t want to prejudge how we’re going to come out one way or another working with this government. We’ve got to see what government is formed. But we feel very strongly that Lebanon should remain a strong, independent, sovereign nation. But I’m not going to prejudge where we go because we want to – the government has to be formed first. So let’s take it one step at a time.
QUESTION: On the journalists in North Korea --
MR. KELLY: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- you said you wanted to explore or would continue to explore all avenues. Can you be more specific on that and also answer the sort of speculation that people have that maybe a high-profile figure, maybe outside of the Obama Administration, might go there to intercede?
MR. KELLY: Well, I don’t want to go too much into detail on what exactly we’re pursuing, I think for reasons that you can understand. This is obviously a sensitive subject, and we want – the outcome that we want is we want these young women returned to their families. We think that the Government of North Korea should release them on humanitarian grounds. The whole judicial process has played out now, and we think it’s time for them to be released just on pure humanitarian grounds.
But Secretary Clinton is – she’s going to have a press availability later on this afternoon, and I expect her to have more to say on this.
QUESTION: Ian, why is it so important for you to emphasize humanitarian grounds and separate it from the political issue, the nuclear issue? Secretary Clinton made a point of doing that yesterday and has in the past.
MR. KELLY: Well, we do want to separate them. We think this should be examined on a – on humanitarian background. These are two young ladies that we think should be released and allowed to go home. That’s totally separate from what we’re trying to do up in New York and what Deputy Steinberg was doing in his – with his delegation in the region last week, where we need to also respond to North Korea’s defiance of the international community. But I think you’re going to see me be very scrupulous in not trying to make a connection between the two.
QUESTION: Do you believe that the North Koreans are keeping it separate?
MR. KELLY: Well, I’m not going to try and get into what the North Koreans think or what – how they’ve made their decisions. But I think that the right thing to do here is very clear. They need to be set free.
QUESTION: Sir, what – North Korea again. Does the United States have any intention to list North Korea as terrorist nation again?
MR. KELLY: Well, I think Secretary Clinton addressed this in an interview yesterday, if you’ll just hold on one second.
QUESTION: Maybe we can finish with the journalists first before you get into that?
MR. KELLY: You want to finish with the journalists? Okay, while I try and find – okay.
QUESTION: Ian, can I ask – and I apologize for being dense here, but what – on what humanitarian grounds should they be released on?
MR. KELLY: They are --
QUESTION: Do you have a quarrel with the conviction? Are they innocent of these charges?
MR. KELLY: I’m just going to say that I think that --
QUESTION: Are they sick?
MR. KELLY: Not that I’m aware of. I think that they should be released.
QUESTION: They should be released because you think that they should be released?
MR. KELLY: I think they should be released.
QUESTION: Okay. Why?
MR. KELLY: Well, I’m not going to get into the details of the case. I just have – what I have seen does not justify what they’re – what they’ve been subjected to in terms of --
QUESTION: Can you explain what it is you have seen?
MR. KELLY: Well, all I’ve seen is that they’ve committed an unspecified grave crime against North Korea and that they didn’t follow border procedures.
QUESTION: But you don’t have a position on whether they are innocent or guilty of the charge that – however harsh it may be, do you have any indication that they were not guilty of doing what they were accused of?
MR. KELLY: Well, again, I’m just – I’m not going to get into the legal aspects of the charges. I mean, I haven’t even seen the charges, so – it’s been such an opaque process that it’s difficult for me to say and it probably is not my place standing up here at this podium to say anyway.
QUESTION: Okay. Have the Swedes had any further contact that you’re aware of with the --
MR. KELLY: Well, you know, I’m glad you asked that. The Swedish Ambassador, Ambassador Foyer, has been absolutely extraordinary, and he’s been in very close contact not only with us, but also with the families. He acted very quickly. When the charges came down, he asked for immediate meetings to try and get clarification on the whole process. So he has done just a fantastic job – Mats Foyer.
QUESTION: But has he had any – has he had any contact since the conviction?
MR. KELLY: With the two young ladies?
MR. KELLY: I don’t believe so. Not since – last Monday, I think, was the last time.
QUESTION: Apparently, the Secretary wrote a letter to the North Koreans, could you – or an aide memoire or whatever it is. Could you please provide details on that and what was in that note to the North Koreans? Did she say, we’re sorry if the girls did something – the journalists did something that they should not have done? Could you put that in context, please?
MR. KELLY: Well, you know, the Secretary said that we’re – what we’re focused on is getting an outcome. We’re exploring all kinds of channels to try and get the two young ladies released. But what exactly we’ve done in our diplomatic correspondence, I just am going to keep that private.
QUESTION: Well, but can you confirm that the Secretary did indeed send a written --
MR. KELLY: I am just going to keep all of our diplomatic communications private.
QUESTION: But are you – are you sorry that – would you like to apologize to the North Koreans if these journalists did happen to stray over --
MR. KELLY: We just want to see them released.
QUESTION: Well, but, Ian, I mean, when Secretary Clinton in the Netherlands at the Afghan conference kind of went on the record telling the whole world when we were talking about the journalists in Iran that she wrote an aide memoire or some kind of letter to the Iranians asking their release, so why could she tell the world about this letter but you can’t tell us about this particular letter on the North Korean grounds?
MR. KELLY: We have two American citizens, two young women, who are facing the prospect of 12 years in a North Korean prison. And there are times when I’m just not going to get into a blow-by-blow of exactly what we’ve done or the Secretary has done, and this is one of these instances.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) up to now, you’ve pretty much left everything up to the Swedish ambassador to do your negotiating. Have you – I know it just happened yesterday, but since the verdict, have you reached out to the New York channel to try to talk directly to the North Koreans, or do you plan on using the New York channel on this issue?
MR. KELLY: I’m not aware that we’ve --
QUESTION: And just secondly --
MR. KELLY: Yeah. I’m not aware that we have. Doesn't mean we haven’t, but I’m not aware that we have.
QUESTION: And just secondly then, the journalists were staying in a hotel in Pyongyang. Do you know if they have been moved from that hotel?
MR. KELLY: I’m not sure their – where they are after the verdict.
QUESTION: Ian, does the United States consider these two individuals hostages?
MR. KELLY: Hostages?
QUESTION: I.e., people being detained against their will and for no reason?
MR. KELLY: Yeah, well, I think that there’s a whole kind of legalist definition of hostages. I just – I’m not going to pronounce one way or the other on that. But we just feel they should be released and released immediately.
QUESTION: I don’t think it’s legalistic at all. When you’re a hostage, you pretty well know it, whether you have a law degree or not. So --
MR. KELLY: Well, normally, when you have a hostage, there’s some kind of – I mean, there’s a demand, right? I mean a political demand. It would seem to me that we’re missing that part of a hostage situation.
QUESTION: Ian, with respect to the two journalists, is it the North Koreans – they want, obviously, direct American contact. Now, Current Television which was founded by former Vice President Al Gore – is it the North Koreans – are they looking to specifically get a high-profile personality such as former Vice President Gore to go to North Korea to talk with them? And would you advise, through Secretary Clinton and President Obama, that that shouldn’t occur?
MR. KELLY: Well, you’re asking me what North Korea wants, and I just wish I knew. In terms of what – what we’re prepared to do, I’m also not going to prejudge that, too. So that’s really all I have to say.
QUESTION: I wanted to follow up. You said that you wanted to keep the issues – all these issues separate.
MR. KELLY: Yeah.
QUESTION: But do you get any indication from the North Koreans that they’re trying to use these two as pawns?
MR. KELLY: I have seen no indications that they’re – no overt indications that they’re using these two young ladies as pawns.
QUESTION: Ian, (inaudible) is saying that North Korea is playing games and playing with fire and also international community can no longer trust the North Koreans and because they are doing all this, including hostages or whatever these terms of holding the journalists and nuclear tests and missile tests is because China is behind them. So as long as China is there threatening the area, including Japan and Korea will continue until (inaudible) international community.
So where do we go from here? As far as sanctions are concerned, they’re on and off for many, many years. Sometimes you take them off. Sometimes you put them back again. So what do you (inaudible) now? The sanctions will never work as long as you have no China on your side.
MR. KELLY: Well, I’m not going to say that China is not on our side. Well, look, for one thing, Deputy Secretary Steinberg has been out in the region. I think today, if you’re kind of looking for a play-by-play, I think a lot of the action is going to be in New York at the UN. They’re involved in very close consultations on a response to the – to North Korea’s defiance of the international community. I think there’s going to be a meeting of permanent representatives of the permanent members of the Security Council plus Japan and South Korea. So let’s not prejudge who’s going to be supportive and who’s not going to be supportive. Let’s see what comes out in New York.
QUESTION: Ian, could you say whether this instance with the two journalists affects your push for sanctions at all? Are you trying to --
MR. KELLY: No.
QUESTION: -- hold off until this is resolved?
MR. KELLY: No. No, they’re – as I said before, they’re completely separate.
QUESTION: Ian, you made it clear that it’s not clear why the North Koreans detained the two reporters. You’ve suggested that – and correct me if I’m wrong, but you’ve suggested that there’s no reason to hold them, that they should be let go.
MR. KELLY: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Some would argue there’s a parallel situation involving the U.S. military with a Reuters photographer who’s being held at Camp Bucca. He was rousted out of his bed in the middle of the night. He’s been deemed an unspecified high-security threat. And even though an Iraqi court has ordered his release because he hasn’t been tried, much less convicted, he’s still being held at Camp Bucca. Isn’t there, you know, some – isn’t there something odd about all this?
MR. KELLY: Well, I’m afraid I don’t know the details of it. It sounds to me like this is something you should probably address with my colleagues over at the Pentagon. But I’m just not aware of that situation, I’m afraid.
QUESTION: Ian, over the weekend, as you were just alluding, Secretary Clinton told an interviewer that, quote, “We’re just beginning to look at the process for potentially relisting North Korea on the State Department’s list of nations that sponsor terrorism.” How is she going about that when she says we’re just beginning to look at that process? Has she tasked people with looking at it? Tell us a little more about the --
MR. KELLY: Yeah. What she was referring to was a letter from Congress that wanted the State Department to look at this possibility. And what she said was, of course, we’re beginning to look at this. But there’s a process that has to be followed, and then we would have to see recent evidence of North Korean support for international terrorism to be able to designate them. And then as a legal matter, in order to be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism, the Secretary must determine that the Government of North Korea has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism. And so we – there is a very specific process that we have to follow.
QUESTION: Now, when the interviewer followed up and asked the Secretary if she had any such evidence, she said I don’t have an answer for you right now because we’re just beginning to look at this.
MR. KELLY: Right.
Would it be wrong to call them hostages? I need to think about that. I think political prisoner is apt. Hostages may be as well. I'm going to toss that one around. So from that topic, I'll move over to Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Lowering the Brand."
And that's got to my favorite comic of Isaiah's for the entire spring. Very well done.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Monday, June 8, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, Nora Barrows Friedman proves Pacifica can address the Iraq War, the US tax dollars are wasted on propaganda aimed at Iraqis which the Iraqis do not read, contractors increase in the war that is allegedly ending, and more.
On KPFA yesterday, Flashpoints Nora Barrows Friedman filled in for Andrea Lewis on Sunday Sedition and her guests included Iraqi journalist Ahmed Habib
Nora Barrows Friedman: . . . Ahmed, you know just about 20 minutes ago we got a call from someone who was pointing out the fact that there has been all this redirecting of Iraq's natural resources of gas and oil out into the western markets. Talk about this ongoing theft of natural resources in your country, in Iraq, and across the region -- how that kind of fits into this neocolonialism and of course neoliberalism standpoint of what's going on right now to your country in particular.
Ahmed Habib: In our country of course we are all one people that are bound together by our struggle. and I mean wasn't that the idea in the first place the systematic theft of Iraq, the creation of a new colony there where cheap labor and cheap products can compliment the global economic system. Of course since the occupation in 2003 there has yet to be a safe and steady monitoring system that's put into place and also out of the southern most point of Iraq that is of course where most of the oil exports come out of through the gulf. Only recently we saw that the Kurdish government has been allowed to sell oil through the pipeline leading through Turkey in a perverse sort of selling out of their national struggle as the Turkish army continues to try to oppress Kurdish liberation fighters [PKK] in the mountains through waging a sort of war on terror again. There the Kurdish government, rife with corruption, in conjunction with the Iraqi central government in the Green Zone has found a way to funnel off Iraqi oil. The sad part about all of this, Norah, is that the despite the fact that Iraq has the potential to be producing 7 million barrels a day which is an astounding number, none of the resource profits are being seen on the streets of Baghdad. We still see deplorable conditions in health care very much similar to how they were during the sanctions. Electricity and water are still a scarce resource. But it's interesting to see how the economic restructuring and engineering of post-occupation Iraq has really been indicative of how America envisions the rest of the world and Obama really hasn't made any effort to change that. We see that in Iraq. There's been a major selling off of the major industries in the country or rather the most major sectors turned into industries -- such as energy, such as health care, such as anything related with the most fundamental elements of the infrastructure of the country. We also see some sort of perverse manipulation of economic activity in Iraq. I know that I've shared this before but it's a really excellent metaphor that really encapsulates what's happening in Iraq is that Iraqi farmers who in fact were some of the first in history to implement systems of modern irrigation and were some of the first to make scientific advancements in farming are now being told that they should farm wheat only using grains, self-terminating grains, that are being sold by American corporations. And those grains are in fact best used for the [. . . 95?] string of pasta and for anybody who's had the opportunity to dive into the beauty of Arabic food they'll now that pasta isn't a main staple in our diet. So it's clear that Iraq is being set up as a place for exports. We see countries that have had happen to them throughout history. We see the Philippines -- another country that has been destroyed economically. There's tremendous poverty, there's a lack of infrastructure, there's a corrupt government. We see this in Mexico. I know that coming up next you have a guest who's going to be talking about the murder of indigenous activists in Peru and of course in that country things are very similar as well with many of the natural resources being -- minerals and what not -- being extracted at the cost of the indigenous people there. So what's happening in Iraq unfortunately despite the magnanimous scale of the calamity that's facing people we know that there's more than 700,000 people that have been confirmed dead as a result of the violence of the occupation, as many as five million people have been forced to flee their country. What's happening in Iraq isn't really unique to the country and within the microcosm of the Arab world it's very much tied to the continuing apartheid regime in Israel and throughout the rest of the world. It's very much tied to the neoliberal extraction and exploitation that indigenous people are facing everywhere.
The Iraq War continues, it has not ended. Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert grasps it, even if others don't. Campbell Robertson (New York Times) writes about Colbert taping his show in Iraq and how "soldiers there" feel "that Americans have largely tuned the war out, that the economy had vacuumed up all the attention even though there are around 135,000 troops still here and still doing dangerous work. . . . Soldiers here are all too aware of America's attention span about this war, several of them at the taping said." Jon Kreig (Des Moines Register) knows the war hasn't ended: "The United States is digging in for more warfare, rather than planning to get out. Indeed, the deadline for U.S. troops to leave Iraqi cities has passed. Gen. George W. Casey Jr., Army chief of staff, said the Pentagon must plan for extended U.S. combat and stability operations in two wars -- up to 10 more years in Iraq. Meanwhile, a new report from the Pentagon indicated that there were now 250,000 private security contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is fair to call these people mercenaries since they do the jobs that service members did in Vietnam and other wars." Lez Get Real notes a report by Russia Today (text and vido):
Alice Hibbert: It's been revealed that the number of private security contractors working for the US war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan has greatly increased. While troops are being pulled out a Pentagon report says that the number of contractors working for the US Defense Department has increased by up to 30% since President Obama came to office. This figure has now swelled to some 250,000 working for companies such as Blackwater and Triple Canopy.
In related news, today the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute announced:Worldwide military expenditure in 2008 totalled an estimatedUS$1464 billion, according to new figures released today by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). This represents an increase of 4 per cent in real terms compared to 2007, and an increase of 45 per cent since 1999. SIPRI today launched the 2009 edition of its Yearbook on Armaments, Disarmament and International Security.The Yearbook shows that the USA accounted for the majority (58%) of the global increase between 1999 and 2008, with its military spending growing by $219 billion in constant 2005 prices over the period. Even so, it was far from the only country to pursue such a course. China and Russia, with absolute increases of $42 billion and $24 billion respectively, both nearly tripled their military expenditure over the decade. Other regional powers -- particularly India, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Israel, Brazil, South Korea, Algeria and the UK -- also made substantial contributions to the total increase.'The idea of the "war on terror" has encouraged many countries to see their problems through a highly militarized lens, using this to justify high military spending,' comments Dr Sam Perlo-Freeman, Head of the Military Expenditure Project at SIPRI. 'Meanwhile, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost $903 billion in additional military spending by the USA alone.'
The illegal war's not ending. Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) reported yesterday on a sinkhole for millions of US tax payer dollars to fund and operate Baghdad Now -- a piece of propaganda put together: "That the paper has no publicly known editor, no bylines and no ads is no mistake. It is part of America's huge psychological warfare campaign to influence Iraqis' behavior and attitudes." Iraqis do not take Baghdad Now seriously but it's a US military 'news' outlet "produced by an Army psychological operation unit and distributed for free by soldiers. Piles of it are left at entrances to the Green Zone for passerbys to pick up." Since these operations don't appall or get coverage from US media, let's grasp that the military is always testing. They've used every battlefield to test new weapons and to test new techniques. Don't be surprised if at some point Baghdad Now becomes DC Now or if we find out that the military is embedded again at CNN. The military does not go to other fields to fight for freedom. Troops are sent to battlefields to test new forms of war fare. That's the reality.
On the diplomated front the Tehran Times reported Jalal Talabani, Iraq's president, met with Hassan Kazemi Quomi, Iranian Ambassador to Iraq, about increasing the ties between the two countries. In addition, Nouri al-Maliki made his pilgrimage to meet up with Sayyed Abdul Aziz al-Hakim -- Dick Cheney's friend, Iraqi exile who returned after the invasion and presumed to be deathly ill -- in Iran. UPI reports Jalal Talabani went to Iran Sunday to visit al-Hakim. Meanwhile Alsumaria is reporting whispers of what would be a significant change in governing in the Kurdistan Regional Government and have implications throughout Iraq: Barham Saleh, the current deputy prime minister, will reportedly resign his post to take over as Prime Minister of the KRG while Hurriyet reports that Turkey sent four to six airplanes to bomb northern Iraq Saturday in assaults on the PKK.
Over the weekend, arrests were announced. Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reported that five US contractors were arrested by Iraqi forces in the death of a US citizen Jim Kitterman murdered in the Green Zone last month and has the name of two of them -- Donald Feeney Jr., Donald Feeney II -- from the son of Feeney Jr., John Feeney, who states his father and brother are innocent and were friends with Kitterman. John Feeney tells CNN, "We're pretty sure they will be questioned there in the next couple of days and released with no charges." BBC adds that "the US embassy in Iraq has not confirmed who they are and says no charges have yet been laid." Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) speaks with an unnamed US embassy spokesperson who states, "Embassy consular officials have visited the five and ensured they are being afforded their rights under Iraqi law. The men appeared well." Alissa J. Rubin and Marc Santora (New York Times) cover the arrest and note, "Under Iraqi law, charges are not made until a court appearance. For a person to be detained there must be sufficient evidence for a judge to issue an arrest warrant." Alsumaria adds, "Cabinet spokesman Ali Al Dabbagh told the AFP that five US security contractors were arrested on Friday in a joint Iraqi-US crackdown in the green zone as part of investigations in the murder of an American. Al Dabbagh noted that Americans are investigating detainees who if convicted will be transferred to Iraq judiciary for trial." But Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) reports the same spokesperson, Ali al-Dabbagh, is now insisting 4 Americans, not 5, were arrested. In other contracting news, AP reports they have an unreleased report from the Wartime Contracting Commission that has found more corruption including problems "with a $30 million dining facility at a U.S. base in Iraq".
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Aseel Kami (Reuters) reports a Baghdad minibus bombing has claimed 7 lives and left 24 injured. BBC pins down the location in Baghdad, "Abu Dshir, a Shia Muslim enclave in the mainly Sunni neighbourhood of Dora." Ahmed Habib notes that it took place "in the ethnically cleansed district of Dora. Iraq is dying." Reuters adds a Mosul suicide bomber took his/her own life and injured two people and, dropping back to Sunday, a Falljua roadside bombing which claimed the lives of three police officers and a Mosul "ambush" which resulted in the deaths of two police officers. Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) notes a Mosul roadside bombing which injured four people.
Turning to England where, over the weekend, Patrick Hennessy (Telegraph of London) reported that with Gordon Brown, UK Prime Minister, under attack and his cabinet revolting, he's finally decided to make a move on the inquiry into the Iraq War but any investigation determination "-- which coulld be potentially politically damaging for Tony Blair, Mr Brown and other senior Labour figures -- would still almost certainlly not be known until after the next general election, which must be held by early June 2010." Rebecca's been covering Brown's problem, see her "gordon brown's troubles, debra sweet," "stinky gordon brown part ii" and "stinky gordon brown stands alone." The UK Daily Mail reported yesterday that Brown "last night campaigners warned him not to hold it in secret by appointing a group of Privy Councillors to sift through sensitive papers behind closed doors - as ministers suggested. They said it must examine the legality of the war, the timing of Tony Blair's decision to back an American invasion, the use of flawed intelligence to justify war, and the coalition's poor planning for the aftermath of the invasion."
"We'll stop doing this when the war ends," Melida Arredondo tells Jennifer Lebovich (Miami Herald). "It's very profound. You want to be strong. You don't want this to control your life. It hurts that it's still going on. Out of mercy, we'd like our pain to stop." Melida and Carlos Arredondo are the parents of Lance Cpl Alexander Scott Arredondo who was killed by sniper fire in Najaf August 25, 2005. August 25th is Carlos birthday and he went from celebrating that event to learning the news of his son's death. Since then, the couple has worked to end the illegal war. Carlos travels with the coffin around the country. In February 2007, Trymaine Lee (New York Times) noted he was in New York and reported, "In a whisper,he vowed never to let his son's death be forgotten. He closed his eyes and slid his right hand across the American flag stretched over the coffin, his fingertips tumbling over each of its faded red stripes." In March of 2007, Carlos told Amy Goodman (Democracy Now! -- watch, read, listen), "Well this is my pain. This is my loss, my son honored to protect us. I'm protecting my son's honor. As you know what happened in Walter Reed recently in Building 18, myself and many people are not too happy about the way they're treating their soldiers who come back from the battlefield right now. But the way I start doing that is for my own personal healing process, making this very public, since the government don't want we to see caskets during the funerals. And it's a way for me to share this grieving with the public, because many people live in their own bubbles, and they don't care really about what's going on outside their own bubbles, and I want them to feel what they see, what really happens every day, not only in this country, but this happens all over the country." Lebovich explains today that Carlos has visted 26 states with the truck and coffin and he tells Lebovich, "I think it's important for people to see how families grieve. I share my grieving very publicly." Carlos and Melida Arredondo are members of Military Families Speak Out and MFSO will have a members assembly at the University of Maryland, Colle Park Campus on August 8th as part of Veterans for Peace's August fifth through ninth conference.
Wednesday's "Iraq snapshot" covered a hearing which Kat covers in "The House Committee on Veterans Affairs" and Thursday's "Iraq snapshot" covers a hearing that Kat covers in "House Committe on Veterans' Affairs' Subcommitte on Health." Most days when a Congressional hearing is covered here, you can go to Kat's site that night and find her reporting details which stood out to her. Kat was noted in Friday's snapshot before it became way too long. And now we'll hand off to Ty for the topic of IVAW.
Ty: At Third on Sunday we published "Who's duping who?" which has received positive feedback from friends with IVAW and from others. It's received a repeated rant from one person and I feel sorry for her -- having been filled on her by people who work with her -- so I'll just ignore her despite plans to let it rip here. I will note Rick Duncan because he came up in the exchange with the ill person and we debated at Third whether or not to include Rick Duncan in the article but decided not to. He's the subject of a lengthy article by Dan Frosch and James Dao in today's New York Times. This ain't Hell, but you can see it from here is a right wing website and, if you click here, you will be taken to their post on Rick Duncan and see him at the top of the post wearing his Winter Soldier IVAW t-shirt. Scroll down and you will see his bio at the Iraq Veterans Against the War website. Scroll down just a bit further and you will see how they disappeared it after it turned out Rick Duncan was Rick Strandlof and not a veteran or ever a member of the military. Only members would have the ability to post to IVAW's website. There's your answer. He posted there and he posted that he was a member. So he's a member. Kevin Simpson (Denver Post via Colarado Springs Gazette) has the man not joining offiicially. Note the way he words it. Officially. Rick Duncan was a member of IVAW. When his name was raised while we were writing the piece C.I. advocated for leaving it out (paraphrase), "It's not central to the story. We could mention it but it's an old story and I think we can leave it out." And we took a vote and agreed. It is an issue now because (a) it's a lengthy article in today's New York Times and (b) and someone wants to call us liars and bad reporters. I'm done with that person but we will note the Duncan story as we close the chapter.
Thanks to Ty for the above. The feedback I've had (from IVAW friends) was favorable because they were already pointed out that the right wing has been promoting an attack on IVAW repeatedly for weeks now and they point to Jim Branum's post as the only non-right wing one on the issue but which they feel advances the idea that there are two equal sides and they do not feel that there are two equal sides. They feel they are under attack from some former members. And that's what the point of view of the article at Third was about. Regarding Rick Duncan, that's the first time his name appears here. We avoided him. We were introduced to him by a member of IVAW (who introduced him to Ava and I stating Rick was a member of IVAW) some time ago. We never mentioned him here because he was an obvious liar to us. When he was exposed as a liar last month, we were focused on other things (probably the War Crimes trial). His being a fake doesn't translate as"IVAW is a fake!" There's nothing fake about IVAW. But denying that someone was a member makes the organization look bad. He had the ability to post at the website, he was introduced by other IVAW members as a member and he presented himself publicly -- for months and months and months -- as a member of IVAW. It was IVAW's responsibility to correct the record back then if he wasn't a member. They didn't. They can't now erase the record. That looks worse than admitting you accepted someone into your midst that was a fake. The alternative to the risk of allowing a fake in is the risk of closing out potential members who need help. They should be open and if a mistake comes along, "Oh well, we were attempting to help." And that is why he was able to meet so many IVAW members. They were trying to help him. They rightly sensed someone struggling. What they didn't sense was that he was a fraud. There's no crime in being trusting and trying to assist others. And there's no shame in it either. People who never get fooled by frauds tend to be people who stopped feeling and sealed themselves off. Ava and I knew he was a liar because we weren't focusing on Iraq or combat. In a less than five minute exchange with him, we exchanged multiple looks as his story obviously changed on details we were paying attention to. On the topic of people I consider friends, Richard Brown. Brown was Cindy Sheehan's guest yesterday on Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox. The topic is torture and I doubt we'll be able to excerpt anything from the broadcast (no Iraq) but you can also read Cindy Sheehan's "Drop charges in 38-year-old murder case" (San Francisco Chronicle).
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