Wednesday, May 30, 2007
America may be number one on the COST of health care but we are number 37 (ahead of Slovenia) in QUALITY of health care. There are four health care lobbyists for every congressman. That should give you a clue as to why we need to take the profit out of health care. Universal health care for EVERY American should have occurred long ago. Are the corporations going to succeed in diverting the Democratic party from doing what is right for America? How many more Americans must suffer and die before Universal health care becomes a reality in the United States?
Get the facts....go see SICKO when it opens June 29th....and watch the propaganda hit the airwaves trumpeting our health care as number one and omitting that we are number one in the COST NOT QUALITY of health care. You have no excuse to be fooled once again!!
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Loyalty to party and loyalty to the status quo is wasting
We have lost a great activist with a heart filled spirit. Cindy Sheehan has gone home to tend the wickedest wounding of all….wounds inflicted from people who were once allies. On top of that is the painful experience of knowing the majority of Americans show more interest in American Idol than on the senseless, murderous carnage our country is inflicting on the world. How many children will die before enough of us will cut off the boob tube and stand up with raised voices?
The Democrats continue to act spineless and amoral. Power and money has the potential to corrupt the Democratic party in the same way it corrupted the Republican party. The corporations are throwing money into the next election to buy off the party in power.... so America will continue to waste her wealth and resources on war machines, war munitions, and providing benefits to the wealthy.
Meanwhile more troops die and make continued sacrifices, American infrastructure grows weaker, our jobs are exported, millions of Americans die under the current profit motivated health industry....We voted for change and then we hear that Nancy Pelosi and Charlie Rangel have made a Deal with George Bush and the Neocons to push a secret, immoral Free Trade Agreement through Congress that will result in more lost American jobs.
What if anyone speaks out and protest the Democrats who sell us out? It looks like the party is trying the Republican strategy of attacking those speaking out with conscience instead of allowing the debate to occur. They've already attacked Cindy Sheehan and MoveOn.org. We don’t need Democrats to emulate the worst of the Republicans do we?
I’m an independent. I’ve volunteered and supported Democratic candidates but I am no longer willing to settle for the lesser of the two evils. I will support those who appear worthy of my support but if you sell me out don’t count on my continued support
This independent wants campaign finance reform, public airwaves that provide candidates the airtime for debates, dialogue and questions from the audience so the best (not the wealthiest and corrupt) candidates can come forth. I want instant run off voting so that I will have real choices when I vote in elections….and I demand electronic voting be abolished and the Justice Dept. enforce the voting rights laws so stealing the White House (2x) and Congressional seats will stop with Bush and Rove.
I still have hope and faith in a few Democrats…..Russ Feingold and Dennis Kucinich top my list. I retain hope that Jim Webb cannot be bought and that other newly elected Democrats will continue to represent their constituents as promised. (We should know by September where the Democrats in Congress stand.) I see that there are still a few good folks left in the Republican party….Ron Paul is talking sense…so the Republican party is trying to ban him from their debates. Olympia Snowe of Maine has fought against the telecommunications money to support web neutrality. I will continue to give credit where credit is due.
Blind allegiance to either party is not democratic. The party is here to serve the people NOT vice versa. It seems that too many Americans have lost sight of standing up for themselves, their families, and their friends.
I hope enough Democrats and Independents will stand firm and Publicly Demonstrate their Attitude--PDA--against the latest Democratic atrocity so that they will alter their course and not sell us out with that corrupt Fair Trade Agreement, or the COPE act, nor allow any more money to be wasted on the murderous illegal rampage that Bush started in
Let’s demand they start independent investigations and put impeach back on the table asap. The Democrats need to show us that they are not going to continue the corrupt status quo that the Republicans have brought to a fine art in the last decades…..
But the Democrats will have to prove themselves if they hope to sway independents…and if they don’t want to lose large numbers of Democrats…There are too many of us who are no longer willing to settle. If the Democratic party proves corrupt and not reformable we will create a new party and/or an alternative system. The corrupt system that is in place is taxation without representation. I won't allow my taxes to continue to be wasted on the military industrial complex and perks for the wealthy corporate elitists.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Today from 2:30-3:30 PM a wonderful PDA will occur thanks to Chris Jaramillo and the Drinking Liberally folks. I won't be at the Beach during this time but hopefully others will be....Please share your experience of the event with us.
Isn't it amazing how the media will highlight the latest kidnapping ad nauseum for weeks on end but they don't dare highlight public displays of attidude--PDA....If they did it would make it more difficult for the White House criminals to leave their yard....
Hopefully enough blogs will highlight national, regional, and local public displays of attitude--PDA. This will free the public to be more vocal and visible....PDA is a great antedote to counteract the corporate propaganda....
KUDOS to Chris J. and the Drinking Liberally group....
To the left is a segment of Picasso's famous painting, Guernica, which is every bit as applicable to Fallujah today as an eternal testimony to the evils of war. This April has marked the third anniversay of the first of two American-led military assaults culminating in the massive destruction of most of the ancient Iraqi city of Fallujah. Consequently, I am republishing my account of this event here on Mosquito Blog, lest we forget. It was first published by the Southern I in print form, and later at OpEdNews.com, the web-link to which site you can access by clicking on this article's title above. Here is Part 4, which details the end of the first siege in May of 2004, and also marks the suspension of this series until the Fall, to then commemorate the final destruction of Fallujah by the Americans in the November assault:
Part 4: An Uneasy Truce
By Mac McKinney
Around noon on April 9, the Marines, at the direction of Paul Bremer, the top American official in Iraq, unilaterally suspended combat in Fallujah. The rationale was not only to relieve the hospitals in Fallujah, but also to facilitate meetings between the Iraqi Governing Council and both the local Sunni and insurgent leadership in Fallujah, as well as permit the delivery of crucial humanitarian supplies to its citizens, and to allow them to treat their wounded and bury their dead.
The Marines also allowed thousands of frightened women, children and elderly residents to now leave Fallujah for safer ground, as well as allowing, apparently, males of military age to leave, something they would not permit in later hostilities. Meanwhile, the bulk of Coalition forces pulled back to the outskirts of the city while local Fallujan leaders reciprocated the ceasefire to a degree, but fighting did not end completely. A sort of low-intensity, tit-for-tat combat routine developed, with guerrillas conducting hit-and-run raids on Marine positions and supply convoys, and the Marines counterattacking, patrolling and conducting smaller scale operations without the continuous air support. And Marine snipers were still actively engaged.
A large influx of aid from throughout Iraq now began flowing into the city, after passing through hastily setup Marine checkpoints. To quote form the Associated Press:
"Up to 100 vehicles have been ferrying aid into Fallujah every day since Friday, when U.S. forces halted major attacks on Sunni Muslim insurgents after five days of fierce fighting, (Marine 1st Lt. David) Denial said. U.S. forces have set up checkpoints on all roads leading to the city, 35 miles west of Baghdad.
"Iraqis, many outraged by the bloody Marine siege of the city, have been sending donations of food, fuel, medical supplies and other aid in convoys organized by relief organizations, religious groups and private individuals.
"But rebels have been exploiting the relative calm to smuggle in the supplies they will need if fighting resumes, Marines say. Inside the city, insurgents have been using ambulances to transport weapons between neighborhoods, Marine Lt. Col. Brennan Byrne said.......'We have to be careful because ambulances are being used for legitimate purposes, but we are also treating them with suspicion,' Byrne said.
"Troops at the roadblocks barred many military-aged men from entering, fearing they were coming to join the battle against Marines as the fight for Fallujah becomes an anti-American rallying cry......Most people waiting at the roadblocks to get into the city were there to bring much-needed supplies to Fallujah's residents.
"Jamah Abdullah, 42, an ambulance driver for the Red Crescent Society, said he had been into the city several times in the past few days delivering aid.
"'There are many people dead. Many wounded. Houses destroyed, damaged. I am doing this to help,' he said.
"More than 600 Iraqis, mostly civilians, have been killed in the past week of fighting in Fallujah and scores more wounded, according to Rafie al-Issawi, the head of the city's hospital. At least five Marines have been killed, the military says."
(From a report by Lourdes Navarro, Associated Press Writer, 4/12/2004)
The embedded, corporate media did not focus much on the suffering inside Fallujah during the siege other than via film footage shot by Al Jazeera, the independent Arab broadcasting organization the White House demonizes daily for presenting less than flattering news about the American occupation of Iraq. The rest of the reporting was under the umbrella of the American military and was somewhat limited, to say the least, reflecting the military's main talking-point that civilians were being respected and only "bad guys" being slain. Only embedded reporters were officially permitted in Fallujah at all and they were certainly not allowed to wonder around unattended in off-limits areas.
Embedded reporters are basically on a leash, figuratively speaking. To become embedded in the first place, they all have to sign a Pentagon form agreeing to have their reporting censored, "if necessary", by the military, which already plants subtle inhibitions in reporters' minds before they even pick up a mike or pen. So whether or not a command officially censors anything, reporters already basically know there are limits. Then there is the innate self-censorship many corporate reporters have to practice to meet the expectations of their editors and publishers as well, who may or may not want to confront or embarrass the official Cheney/Bush/Rumsfeld cartoon versions of reality. If you work for Fox News, which has an obvious pro-Administration bias, you are not going to be interviewing many Iraqis who condemn the American occupation. This will usually not get through Fox's top-down censorship.
So how do we know anything about the other side of the story in Fallujah? Because it is, first of all, pretty hard to censor several hundred thousand people who want and need to tell their stories, for the truth will always out eventually, and secondly, because a few independent, unembedded reporters actually managed to sneak into the city either just before or during the siege. Two of these were Al Jazeera correspondent, Ahmed Mansur, and his cameraman, Laith Mushtaq, who both stole into the city on April 3, 2004. It was Mushtaq's shocking images that were being broadcast to the world during the first week of the siege. Predictably, this brought down the wrath of both Gen. Mark Kimmitt, official military spokesman in Iraq, who excoriated Mansur by name, and Secretary Rumsfeld, who waxed indignant at Al Jazeera's purported villainy as propagandists. One of the first conditions of the ceasefire, believe it or not, was that Mansur and Mushtaq leave the city, so antithetical were their images to the sanitized Pentagon version of events.
Just what did this team see? I quote Mansur from an interview with Amy Goodman of democracynow.org on February 22, 2006 regarding the situation within Fallujah on April 9, 2004, in the hours before any ceasefire was called:
"It was really a disastrous day for us. When we reached the heart of the city at the hospital, I almost lost my mind from the terror that I saw, people going in each and every direction. Laith was with me and also another colleague, and I felt like we need 1000 cameras to grab those disastrous pictures: fear, terror, planes bombing, ambulances taking the people dead. And I was shouting and yelling for Laith and my other colleague, and I was shouting, 'Camera! Camera!' so that we can take pictures here and there.....We were trying to move this picture to the whole world, and we felt that we were responsible for all these civilians being bombed from planes and who are threatened with death...."
Laith Mushtaq, in the same interview, recounted his very first camera shot during the siege:
"And the first shot I took with my camera...., it was for a human being....burned completely. He was a wounded person. His family was transferring him to a hospital, which was close to the U.S. forces position, and it had the Red Crescent symbol and the Red Cross, because they put him in a pickup... and that was under fire. And I saw this person, the wounded person is torched, fired, burned. Even smoke was coming out of him. I was unable to go and see that scenery.
"I left him to go alone, and I stood far, and my sight was really bad and terrible because on that day, when we went to the hospital, there was a lot of children in the hospital that were wounded. Some children were brought and their families were dead already....That day made a terrible shock to me and shocked me extremely. I covered many wars, but every time you cover a war and you see corpses and dead people and children, believe me, every child I looked at, I remember my younger daughter."
Wounded girl in pain. Photo Source: (http://dahrjamailiraq.com/gallery/view_photo.php?set_albumName=siege_of_falluja&id=falluja_wounded_girl)
An independent journalist, author, blogger and sometimes educator at New York University, Rahul Mahajan, who runs the website, Empire Notes (www.empirenotes.org) as well, also made it into Fallujah with several compatriots during the tenuous ceasefire. He describes, in his April 12 Report from Fallujah - Destroying a Town in Order to "Save" it, dreadful scenes of carnage, of a bombed out power plant, an ambulance shot at while his friends delivered the wounded in it, of bleeding and dying civilians. To quote Rahul:
"During the course of the roughly four hours we were at that small clinic, we saw perhaps a dozen wounded brought in. Among them was a young woman, 18 years old, shot in the head. She was seizing and foaming at the mouth when they brought her in; doctors did not expect her to survive the night. Another likely terminal case was a young boy with massive internal bleeding. I also saw a man with extensive burns on his upper body and shredded thighs, with wounds that could have been made from a cluster bomb....."
Regarding George Bush's depiction of the insurgents, Rahul states:
"Among the more laughable assertions of the Bush administration is that the mujaheddin (an Iraqi term for resistance fighters) are a small group of isolated 'extremists' repudiated by the majority of Fallujah's population. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Of course, the mujaheddin don't include women or very young children, old men, and are not necessarily even a majority of fighting-age men. But they are of the community and fully supported by it. Many of the wounded were brought in by the muj and they stood around openly conversing with doctors and others."
Rahul also estimated that over 600 Iraqis had been killed, roughly 200 of them women, over 100 of them children, with many more wounded. According to the manager of Fallujah General Hospital's latest figures, 736 Iraqis died in the April siege, some 60% of those being women, children, and the elderly. Marine Corps casualties overall were around 40 slain during Operation Vigilant Resolve.
The intense political pressure to end the bloodshed finally led the Marine Corps to announce a formal ceasefire in early May. By now the Marines had tacit control over roughly half of the city, but General Conway of the Corps decided to take a risk and agreed to a brokered deal to hand over authority to an acceptable former Iraqi general, Major General Muhammed Latif, who was to lead the Fallujah Brigade, a new formed force of some 1000 or so Iraqis tasked with securing Fallujah for the Coalition forces, disarming the insurgents, and preventing attacks on nearby American bases. A Traffic Control Point would also be established on the eastern side of the city, to be jointly manned by Marines and Iraqi National Guardsmen. So the Marines, in essence, stepped back from the city, to watch and wait. Operation Vigilant Response had drawn to an end.
Inside Fallujah, emotions now ran high as the ominous threat of daily death and destruction abated. Mosques began proclaiming victory over the occupiers. "Allahu Akbar", "God is great!" rang out. Celebratory banners were unfurled, the mujaheddin parading around in trucks. Politically, a new dynamic had emerged in the city. The tribal elders' Civil Management Council and Mayor's office were a thing of the past. A militant, Islamist atmosphere openly defiant of the Americans now vibrated throughout Fallujah, born of the harsh conditions of the siege. The new Fallujah Brigade faced a tremendous challenge in trying to bring this new dynamic under control. And yet the future of the city depended upon it.
Cruel November Approaches
The mainstream media is NOT covering how hard it is for the Bushite's to make a public appearance these days with 70% of Americans being disgusted with the Bush/Cheney cabal. It would verify the message that Cheney and Bush need to be impeached and ousted due to their illegal and immoral actions and policies.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
photo source: http://us.st11.yimg.com/us.st.yimg.com/I/burdas_1951_7638941
The sacred Budhha, the Enlightened One, who saw into the heart of Cosmic Truth, had this to say in the Dhammapada, one of the sacred Buddhist texts:
verse 5: For hatred can never put an end to hatred; love alone can. This is an unalterable law..."
verse 126: "Some are born again; those caught in evil ways go to a state of intense suffering, those who have done good go to a state of intense joy. But the pure in heart enter Nirvana."
verse 127: "Not in the sky, not in the ocean, not in the mountain canyons, is there a place anywhere in the world where a person can hide from his evil deeds."
verse 137 thru 140: If one harms the innocent, suffering will come in these ten ways. He may suffer grief, infirmity, painful accident, serious illness, loss of mind, legal prosecution, fearful accusation, family bereavement, or financial loss; or his house may burn down, and after death he may be thrown into the fire of suffering."
Does this give you any clue as to why thousands of American GIs and recently discharged ex-GIs are sick, neurotic to psychotic with PTSD, alcoholic, drug-addicted or prone to commit crimes back in the States? And does it give you a clue as to why the country is experiencing more and more murder sprees, scandals, catastrophes and misfortunes in general? Not only is the military harming countless innocent beings, but we as a nation are collectively financing the suffering of others. So do not expect things to get better from such poison fruit. They will only get worse until the nation atones and changes its ways.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
The Nation reports that the Democrats have put into motion a bill that will give Bush a blank check for the remainder of his term. It is NOT a compromise it is a blank check.
Hopefully, Democrats, Independents, and moderate Republicans will contact their Senators before the final bill is approved.
ANY war funding giving Bush a blank check and not insisting on accountability is a sell out of the majority of Americans. Heck even the majority of Iraqi's AND the Iraqi parliament want the United States to leave Iraq asap.
Straight talking Keith Olberman has also called the Democratic party leaders out for their "shameful betrayal."
David Sirota over at the Huffington Post has written an interesting piece comparing the current Democratic leadership tactics to Dick Cheney's methodology.
I find it interesting that Democrats in Virginia often criticize Virginian Republicans for "blindly" following the Republican leadership....I'm finding hard to see any difference between either party in Virginia today.
Hopefully, the democratic grassroots in other states will shake their representatives out of this shameful "betrayal" and get things back on course before it is too late....and maybe impeachment will go back on the table??
Community and Country first I say....
Representative Bobby Scott has stated in countless town hall meetings among his constituents that he is opposed to the Iraq War. IF he votes to approve giving President Bush a blank check to continue on his disastrous path then Representative Scott is going to have many uncomfortable town hall meetings in his future.....
There is no excuse for the Democratic party to take their constituents for granted. If they want 2008 to remain promising they had better not sell us out on the Iraq War....and they had better not sell us out with their secret NAFTA plan either. If they decide to continue their support for either of these bills....they they are as complicit as Joe Lieberman, George Bush, and Dick Cheney.
I have long admired Rep. Scott and I pray he does the right thing today. I'd hate to be betrayed by a Representative I have trusted for so long.
If we never do another political action in our lives….please take the time today to call and let your Senators know that we don’t want them to give Bush and Cheney a blank check to continue their disastrous course in
Many of us thought we would be able to take back our country via the Democratic party. If the Democratic leadership REFUSES to listen to their constituents then the party is as contaminated as the Republican party and beyond hope. Then we will need to desert BOTH parties and draw up another strategy….Independents AND Democrats need to let the Democratic party know that they cannot sell us out and expect us to continue to support anyone who sells us out so easily.
Today, we need to call ALL our elected officials (Republican and Democratic) and ask that they not allow Bush and Cheney to continue to conduct their imperial wars with no accountability and responsibility. Democratic party members should take the extra step and contact the democratic leaders—Reid and Pelosi—let them know how angry you are that they are choosing to sell us out after only five months. I plan to call them as an independent and let them know I won't vote or offer any future monetary or volunteer support for a party that refuses to honestly represent their constituents.
Instead of following the wishes of 70 percent of Americans who went to the polls and clearly stated that Bush and Cheney’s approach to the Iraq War needed to be changed and made accountable….Reid and Pelosi are choosing to throw in the towel and surrender. Why? Bush simply had another one of his childish, rich frat boy temper tantrums...what backroom deal are these two democratic leaders making? The same one that Joe Lieberman made?
The Democrats need to continue to pass RESPONSIBLE war funding legislation that has strong accountability measures. Otherwise, there should be no more blank check war funding for Bush and Cheney. Don't the Democrats understand this is precisely why 70 percent of us wanted the "Republican rubber stamps" out of congress?
Please call your representatives AND REID AND PELOSI and let them know they are not only selling us out but the party will lose each and every one of us if it insists on carrying through with this madness. Bi-partisanship does NOT mean giving Bush and Cheney blank check to continue this war through the rest of his presidency on his terms. They are simply selling out the troops and us.I will be adding another message to my Senators, Reid, Pelosi (and my house representative) tomorrow....in my phone calls and emails. ….STOP USING THE TROOPS TO EXCUSE FUNDING THIS WAR AND SENDING THEM TO THEIR DEATHS. I have no problem with funding the troops....which means money for their full 3.5% pay raise, first rate body armor (dragonskin), and funding for health care and education. Unlike Congress, the American people understand the difference between funding the troops and funding the war. (The Bush/Cheney administration should be ashamed; they use the message to “fund the troops” message to get money for their war while they cut real funds that actually do benefit the troops such as health benefits or the upcoming pay raise. The Democrats need to call Bush/Cheney out and be truthful about what is troop funding and what is war funding. I am sick and tired of politicians USING our troops in their political spin to get things that don't directly benefit our troops!!!)
Monday, May 21, 2007
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Jimmy Carter stated another widely held "truth"...that President Bush is the worst President ever....and now the neocons are attacking him.... Interesting enough they are calling Jimmy Carter "irrelevant" a former president who has continued to inspire many Americans with his work with charities such as Habitat for Humanity. Funny that the white house should call Carter "irrelevant" since that is the term that is often used to refer to Bush whenever he tries to offer an opinion on something these days. Bush's lies have made anything he has to say "irrelevant." Only a few hard core neocon supporters will support anything that Bush or Cheney propose.
Dick Cheney and Rove believe (as evidenced by their defense in the Plamegate trial)..."They aren't liable for anything they say that is false or damages another person's life...."They" are held to a lesser standard than the average citizen in their mindset....this sort of insane logic is what is responsible for turning our sane world upside down. It is up to us to right it and get back to dialogue that is truthful and meaningful.
We all need to insist on truth telling and ACCOUNTABILITY. If the Democratic Congress does not get busy with some serious investigation and hearings with some muscle they are going to make themselves irrelevant.
We the people want the Democratic Congress to stop talking nice and get down to some serious business. Maybe we need to start driving around the capital blasting the Dixie Chicks "Not Ready to Be Nice" out our car windows so that our representatives might get the message....maybe we ought to send this song to them via email? Hmmm....
If Comyn's recent testimony will not rouse the Moderate and Sane Republicans and Democrats in Congress to some serious action then THEY ALL NEED TO BE REPLACED in 2008. If they don't get busy soon I foresee a third party arising. The people are tired of politics as usual.....I know I am. It's time we got our country back on a sane track.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Part II -- Interesting correlation with "A Few Good Men" and how the perpetrator of voter fraud becomes the prosecutor of voter fraud...
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
A segment of Picasso's famous work, Guernica, expressing the horrors of war
This April marks the third anniversay of the first of two American-led military assaults culminating in the massive destruction of most of the ancient Iraqi city of Fallujah. Consequently, I am republishing my account of this event here on Mosquito Blog, lest we forget. It was first published by the Southern I in print form, and later at OpEdNews.com, the web-link to which site you can access by clicking on this article's title above. Here is Part 3:
Part 3: Protests Amid the Onslaught
By Mac McKinney
As the Marine Corps siege of Fallujah intensified, guerrilla assaults and general combat were already erupting not only in Anbar Province, but throughout Iraq, in an eerie historical parallel to the bloody British assault on Fallujah in 1920, which also fanned revolt throughout the country, worsening the overall British position. Fox News reported how on Tuesday, April 6, 12 Marines, their post overrun by an apparently large force, were slain in Ramadi, some 24 miles to the west of Fallujah. (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,116262,00.html)
From the previous weekend on, violence had flared from Kirkuk and Mosul in the north, on into Baghdad and its suburbs in central Iraq, to Kut, Nasiriyah, Karbala and Amarah in the south. Most alarming to the American-led Coalition forces was the armed resistance of the young fire-brand Shiite cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, whose father was a famous martyr against Saddam Hussein, and whom the Americans had just declared an outlaw, issuing a murder warrant for his arrest, a warrant, with apologies to the movie Apocalypse Now, about as meaningless as issuing a traffic ticket in this carnage-filled land.
Al-Sadr, with his own large, very loyal and well-armed Shiite militia, was already declaring solidarity with the citizens of Fallujah, and began engaging not only US troops, but the less visible British, Italians, and Ukrainians as well throughout the south on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. A number of these troops were wounded, one Ukrainian slain. As usual, the Iraqis had far higher casualties, and a very rough estimate of the death toll throughout these three days was 30 Americans and over 130 Iraqi fighters slain, with, typically, no official attempt to count purely civilian casualties. Moreover, who was a civilian and who was a guerrilla were often indistinguishable, so body counts of "insurgents" have always to be taken with a grain of salt. Whatever the count, the American command now realized that they had underestimated the Iraqi response to Operation Vigilant Response. Undermanned commanders were finding themselves so hard-pressed that they began jerking rear-guard troops out of offices and messes right into combat. "This is not like any other firefight we've seen so far," an unnamed military source is quoted as saying by Fox. "There are bullets flying all over the place."
Al-Sadr was not the only one declaring solidarity with Fallujah. The eyes of the world had been turned on Fallujah ever since the slaying of the Blackwater military contractors on March 31, and what many observers had warned against and now saw actually transpiring was an outright siege of a civilian population as a retaliatory measure, a clear flaunting of the modern Geneva Conventions. The newest Conventions were drafted, after the tremendous slaughter of civilian populations as well as awful abuse of prisoners of war in World War II, to reign in and criminalize such cruelties.
So now the Bush Administration and military commanders in Iraq were walking a legal and ethical tightrope, disclaiming that a campaign that obviously contained elements of vengeance and collective punishment against Fallujah was not what it appeared to be. So the assault on the city was phrased in terms of freeing Fallujah from Baathist and foreign insurgents, as if the insurgents were themselves an oppressive, occupying force, rather then largely indigenous defenders of their city. Thus we could have an unnamed squad leader with 1st Platoon, Company E, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, quoted as saying rather disjointedly, "We will win the hearts and minds of Fallujah by ridding the city of insurgents. We're doing that by patrolling the streets and killing the enemy". (http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/iraq/fallujah.htm)
So the military mindset proffered that the insurgents were somehow an alien force to the city's population, and not really their husbands, sons, uncles and brothers. But this was the same skewed rhetorical ideology employed in Vietnam decades ago, as we patronizingly told the nodding rice farmer by day that the Viet Cong were his mortal enemy, while as night fell, that same rice farmer recovered his hidden weapons and became the Viet Cong.
This linguistic artifice, however, did not alter the fact that the Marines were going to have to knock down half of the city to achieve their goals, given that they estimated the number of insurgents in Fallujah might be as high as 20,000 fighters. (http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/oif-vigilant-resolve.htm)
Did the Bush Administration really want to go in that direction, one fraught with ghastly historical parallels of armies besieging civilian populations to root out guerrilla resistance, such as the infamous destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto in WW II? Almost exactly 61 years earlier than Operation Vigilant Resolve, commencing in April of 1943, German Nazi forces all but razed the entire Jewish Ghetto as they hunted down and killed or captured several thousand Jewish resistance fighters intermingled with hapless and equally doomed noncombatants, methodically reducing block after block to rubble with artillery, tank fire and the outright torching of buildings.
Another, more recent example of besieging a city to destroy the resistance is the extremely brutal Russian assault on Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, Russia's breakaway republic, in 1995, an assault that saw almost the entire city destroyed and over 20,000 people slain. How eager were Marine Corps commanders to now follow in the infamous footsteps of the Russians and Germans? And did they have much choice anyway, given that the Bush Administration was calling the political and strategic shots?
Vociferous critics, however, both within Iraq and internationally, did not want to give the Marine Corps such a gruesome opportunity. As the Marines renewed their assault on Wednesday, April 7th, slowly subduing the city one block at time with ongoing combinations of aircraft, helicopters, artillery and tank support for the grunts on the ground, such groups as the International Occupation Watch Center, Baghdad, were issuing international appeals for protests and initiatives against the siege, as disquieting reports of attacks on civilians flooded in. At the same time Marines had been taking command of the rooftops of secured buildings, building them up with sandbags to create sniper and mortar nests, and putting their snipers to work. Snipers soon became the mainstay of battle wherever the Marines fell into a static situation, the typical sniper averaging 31 kills during the siege. (http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/oif-vigilant-resolve.htm)
Recalling that it is often not easy to distinguish civilians from insurgents other then by an insurgent's hands wrapped around a weapon, we must poignantly ask, how many mistakes were made by young Marines peering at a moving body several hundred yards away through a rifle scope, Marines perhaps seething with anger because a buddy had just been shot?
Recall also that the city had not been evacuated to any extent, and that panicked residents by the hundreds, if not thousands, with entire neighborhoods now being caught in crossfires, strafings and explosions, were running and hiding for their lives. One resident, Abu Muher, who escaped to Baghdad, recounts that American warplanes were bombing the city heavily before he left and that, "There were so many snipers, anyone leaving their house was killed". (Vigilant Resolve by Dahr Jamail and Omar Khan - http://www.williambowles.info/media/2005/media_iraq.html)
There were also continuing reports that ambulances were being shot at by snipers, although the Marines, while not exactly denying this, claimed vociferously that ambulances were delivering weapons and ammo to the insurgents. Regarding ambulances, one eyewitness recounted:
"Three of my friends agreed to ride out on the one functioning ambulance for the clinic to retrieve the wounded. Although the ambulance already had three bullet holes from a U.S. sniper through the front windshield on the driver's side, the fact that two of them are westerners was the only hope that soldiers would allow them to retrieve more wounded Iraqis. The previous driver was wounded when one of the sniper's shots grazed his head.
"What I can report from Falluja is that there is no ceasefire, and apparently never was. Iraqi women and children are being shot by American snipers. Over 600 Iraqis have been killed by American aggression, and the residents have turned two football fields into graveyards. Ambulances are being shot by the Americans. And now they are preparing to launch a full scale invasion of the city". (Vigilant Resolve by Dahr Jamail and Omar Khan - http://www.williambowles.info/media/2005/media_iraq.html)
An Al Jazeera shot of child slain during the seige
(photo source: http://bitterfact.tripod.com/iraq/images/falluja/children_4.jpg)
What the above witness is referring to regarding a ceasefire is what eventually developed by April 9, for as the scope of combat, destruction and casualties steadily mounted, the hospitals in Fallujah continued to report all this to Baghdad and the outside world. Doctors at Fallujah General Hospital and the Jordanian Hospital were incensed with the awful bloodshed of men, women and children and the growing lack of medical resources to cope with the wounded and dying. They found even greater cause for alarm when Marines took up positions on the roads to the hospitals. To quote one doctor, "The Americans shot out the lights in the front of our hospital, they prevented doctors from reaching the emergency unit at the hospital, and we quickly began to run out of supplies and much needed medications". (Vigilant Resolve by Dahr Jamail and Omar Khan - http://www.williambowles.info/media/2005/media_iraq.html)
The Marines had effectively shut down these hospitals, allegedly because insurgents were firing on them from there, as Brigadier General Kimmit would later state, but this claim has been hotly disputed. Be that as it may, the International Occupation Watch Center now released a statement on April 8 which read in part:
"Falluja and Adaamiya are currently under siege, surrounded by Occupation Forces, in contravention of the Geneva Convention that prohibits holding civilian communities under siege. Hospitals do not have access to sufficient medical aid, essential medicine and equipment or blood supplies. In Falluja, the hospitals have been surrounded by soldiers forcing doctors to establish field hospitals in private homes. Blood donors are not allowed to enter; consequently, mosques in both Baghdad and Falluja are collecting blood for the injured. Water and electricity have been cut off for the past several days". (http://www.notinourname.net/war/solidarity-call-8apr04.htm)
Such statements, coupled with the stark civilian casualty reports, were now beginning to strongly impact members of the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, who began to openly criticize the siege, condemning it as disproportionate and indiscriminate. This, coupled with mounting international pressure, finally led Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, to declare a unilateral ceasefire on April 9, in part to allow the reopening of the hospitals. The mauled and bleeding city had won a temporary respite.
Next Chapter, Part 4:
An Uneasy Truce
Thursday, May 03, 2007
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Source is Palestine Media Watch