Winter Soldier Continues
Iraq & Afghanistan
MARCH 13-16, 2008 (Thursday-Sunday) in Silver Spring, Maryland: Winter Soldier
Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW)'s Winter Soldier Testimony
Winter Soldier will be held at the National Labor College, 10000 New Hampshire Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20903
Audio and video of panels will be available live online on satelite TV and on Pacifica radio: HOW TO WATCH.
"Over time, as the absurdity of war set in, individuals from my unit indiscriminately opened fire..."
Soldier to Soldier
What have you done in our name?
*** Watch Online (VIDEO) ***
...until Sunday March 16th:
Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan
Find a Viewing Location or Host an Event at Your Place | How to Tune In | Support the Troops!
"Just what do you think the purchase price is for that damage?" (VIDEO | VIDEO | VIDEO)
March 14th, 2008
"It was almost a free-fire area. And so when one of the snipers on top the roof sees a guy crossing the street with a grocery bag in his hand, he's considered free game. ... What I remember being told was that everybody should know better than to leave their house in the next three to five days. If they have left their house, you should consider them a combatant."
-- Army Sgt. Logan Laituri
'We Are the Revolution' (VIDEOS); College students, veterans, old folks shut down Capitol Hill
March 13th, 2008
Americans Keep an Eye on George's Motorcade (VIDEO); "Most here belong to some sort of peace group." -- Reporter
March 13th, 2008
'The Cold, Cold Steel of Handcuffs' ...by Cindy Sheehan
March 18 at 6 p.m.: The Hip Hop Caucus announces the WE CARE CONCERT
We will highlight the plight of Internally Displaced Persons in the U.S. because of Hurricane Katrina and displaced Iraqis because of the war in Iraq. Featuring: Saigon, Mia X, Mambo Sauce, Wise Intelligent, Uncalled 4 Experience, GRIME, Rebel Diaz, Sess 4-5, Akir, Emoni Fela, Head-Roc and more.
Pre-Concert Party in front of the 9:30 Club starting at 6:00 pm
Doors at 7:30 pm
Where: The 9:30 Club
815 V St. NW, Washington DC
Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.930.com (highly recommended) or at the box office
The TrueMajority.org "IranMobile", a Dr. Strangelovian thermonuclear missle/bomb that rises for launch 20 feet in the air with George W. Bush astride, is coming to Washington, DC. It will be at Busboys and Poets on March 16th, 7:00 pm with CodePink; again at Busboys and Poets on March 17th at 6:00 pm with PDA and Jim Hightower for their launch of the Health Care Not Warfare campaign; at the CodePink House for breakfast on March 18th at 9:00 am; Union Station on March 18th at 5:00 pm and at McPherson Square on March 19th at 7:00 am, staging ground for the UFPJ actions taking place all day.
Find an Action in your area.
Post a Web Button on Your Site!
Help spread the word about this critical mobilization by posting a 5 Years Too Many web button on your blog or website!
To post the web button above on your site, copy and paste the code below into the HTML for your website:
Here is a bigger version (200 pixels wide):
To post the 200 px web button on your site, copy and paste the code below into the HTML for your website:
There are also nearly 600 local events in all 50 states on the 5 Years Too Many calendar, and more are being posted hourly. Join us -- these actions are growing every day, but we still need YOU!
The Winter Soldier hearings have begun with powerful testimony about the "Rules of Engagement" and "The Crisis in Veterans' Healthcare" -- live video streaming is available online. Friday and Saturday's testimonies will also be broadcast live on Free Speech TV. Organize or promote a gathering in your community where people can witness them!
There are some who want to push Iraq off the table until after the elections this fall. We can't let that happen -- there's too much at stake. We must be as active, creative, visible and vocal as possible in order to keep Iraq and our demands prominent in the national discourse throughout the electoral season and beyond. Now is the time to stop funding the war and to bring all the troops home! Join us!
Winter Soldier: Hundreds of Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan Gather to Testify in Echo of 1971 Vietnam Hearings
Hundreds of veterans and active-duty soldiers of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are gathering today for the Winter Soldier hearings. The soldiers plan to give eyewitness accounts of the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Organized by Iraq Veterans Against the War, the gathering is modeled after the 1971 Winter Solider hearings organized by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. [includes rush transcript]
"Winter Soldier", –excerpt from film about the 1971 Winter Soldier hearings by Milliarium Zero and the WinterFilm Collective. More information at Wintersoldierfilm.com
David Cortright, Vietnam war veteran and author of the Soldiers in Revolt: GI Resistance During the Vietnam War. He is a professor of peace studies at the University of Notre Dame.
Phil Aliff, up until last week he was an active-duty soldier with the 10th Mountain Division stationed at Fort Drum in New York, the most deployed base in the country. He served nearly one year in Iraq from August 2005 to July 2006, in Fallujah and the city of Abu Ghraib. In 2007, he refused to return to Iraq with his unit. He is president of the Ft. Drum chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War and has focused on organizing GI resistance within the active-duty military.
Bill Perry, member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War who testified at the original Winter Soldier hearings in 1971.
Tanya Austin, active-duty soldier who is an organizer with Iraq Veterans Against the War. She is an Arab linguist specializing in military intelligence.
Camilo Mejia, the first soldier to refuse to return to fight in Iraq and the chair of Iraq Veterans Against the War. He is author of The Road from ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejia.
Related Democracy Now! Stories
Hundreds of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are gathering in Maryland this weekend to testify about their experiences in the wars. The testimony begins at 9 a.m. on Friday.
Listen on KPFA or online at KPFA.org
Winter Soldier: America Must Hear These Vets' Stories
If America listens to what they say, the war will end.
I missed the Winter Soldier Investigation in 1971. At the time I was married to a vet who desperately wanted to put his war behind him -- and he wanted me to help him do it. We were supposed to pretend it had never happened. It didn't work.
Daniel refused to talk about Vietnam. "Talk to your old lady? No fucking way," his friend Bobby Lanz shot back when I said I thought that maybe Daniel wouldn't have killed himself if I had been able to get him to talk about whatever it was that was causing him such pain. "With other vets, you can say, 'shit man, I did all this horrible stuff. You're not going to believe the stuff I did', and someone who has been there will say, 'Yeah, so did I, so did we all.' But with your woman? You start to talk about having fucked some folks up bad, doing awful things, killing people, maybe, and she starts to cry and you don't go there again. You think, Fuck me, man, I don't need to hurt her. This is psychological abuse, so I am going to shut up."
Maybe I wouldn't have understood. Completely. But not knowing was far worse. For decades, I took responsibility for his death. I thought it was my fault. And even if I hadn't been able to understand exactly what he was talking about, I would have understood that he was in a kind of lethal pain. Whether it was that he thought he deserved to die or that he deserved to be put out of his misery, either way, execution or euthanasia, I would have understood that he had been injured in the war. And I would have known where to focus my grief and my rage.
What I kept thinking today, listening to all those who testified at this new Winter Soldier investigation sponsored by Iraq Veterans Against the War at the National Labor College in Washington, DC, is that so much grief and pain for the past 30 years has been mis-directed, so much energy wasted, blaming ourselves and the soldiers we loved for the injuries that we couldn't see. Joyce Lucey, the mother of a soldier who took his own life after returning from Iraq, said that when he left he gave her a coin and told her to hold it like an amulet to keep him safe. She did, but she now understands that even though her son had been returned to her, his soul had been destroyed. "I should have been holding that coin after he came home."
But, she continued, "His voice is silenced. Ours is not." And she quoted Edmund Burke: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil in America is for good men to do nothing."
Everything I heard today spoke to that challenge, to the challenge of channeling our combined grief and rage into a focused fight that will really, finally make a difference. Clifton Hicks began his testimony by saying that all of the men he served with in Iraq were there for love: love of country, of ideals, of comrades, and "for that they are beyond judgment. I am here," he added, "to judge the war itself."
One after another, veterans told conflicted stories, some with tears, some with rigid control, some with visible shakes, but all with hard-won moral courage and deep sorrow. John Michael Turner began his testimony by telling the audience that as far as he was concerned, "Once a Marine, Always a Marine" was history. For him it is now "Eat the apple and fuck the corps." Then he tossed his dog tags into the audience saying, "Fuck you, I don't work for you no more." Turner's first confirmed kill was on April 18, 2006. He shot an Iraqi boy in front of his father. It took a second shot to kill him. He had a photograph of the boy's open skull. Turner was personally congratulated by his commanding officer, who proceeded to offer a four day pass to anyone who got a kill by stabbing one of the enemy. Turner ended with, "I am sorry for the hate and destruction that I have inflicted on innocent people. I am sorry for the things I did. I am no longer the monster that I once was."
Hart Viges told of having an insurgent, armed with a rocket-propelled grenade, in his sights during a firefight and not being able to pull the trigger. He was frozen by awareness that the fear and confusion he saw on the Iraqi kid's face was exactly what he imagined was on his own.
Adam Kokesh enlisted in the Marines not because he agreed with the war, but because he "wanted to help clean up the mess." Instead of the schools and water facilities his President had promised he would be helping to build, he found himself policing a wanton project of human and social destruction. He manned "snap" check points where Marines in camouflage at dusk shot unsuspecting drivers who had failed to see them. He described feeling "funny" when he had to decide whether or not to pose with the trophy remains. "I wasn't the one who killed this guy." Kokesh was ordered to shoot at Iraqi police and firemen who were out after curfew putting out a fire that had been started by American rounds. That one he managed to stop with his "little bit of Arabic," but Kokesh wasn't optimistic about our prospects in Iraq. "We care so the American people don't have to. As soon as you choose looking good over doing right, you lose."
Clifton Hicks talked about free fire orders in city neighborhoods and the indiscriminate, often vengeful, targeting of cars and civilians, and about riding through the gates of their compound one night, aware that the humvee in front of his had run over a civilian. No one said anything because it had been a long hard day. They had all been in country long enough to feel that the bigger deal was "being separated from your cot" for the hours it would have taken to fill out the paperwork.
Jason Hurt, a medic from East Tennessee, said, "I am a peaceful person, and I drew down on an 80 year old woman. I hate guns. They should all be melted down into jewelry." And he added, if this were happening where he lives, if some foreign occupying force came into his part of the world, "every self-respecting citizen would come out of the hills with a shotgun to defend their country."
Vincent Emanuelli was appalled by the way American soldiers treated Iraqi dead. "Standard operating procedure was to run over them or take pictures."
Sergio Corrigan said that all an Iraqi needed was a heavy bag and a shovel to become a target. And looking back, with a "clear mind and not so much anger," he wanted to "apologize to the people of Iraq."
James Gilligan struggled to tell about the night he saw a flash on a mountainside and tried to call in for fire. But he took his compass reading too close to a machine gun and the heavy metal threw he reading off. An Afghani village was decimated and he will never be the same.
As Adam Kokesh put it, they were all struggling all the time because their morals were at odds with their survival instincts.
These new Winter Soldiers look so young to me. They are my son's age. My daughter's age as well. The last time young soldiers like these tried to get Americans to listen they were ignored. And that can't be allowed to happen again. The message of Iraq Veterans Against the War came through clearly in every tortured testimony. This is an illegal war. It has cost us our peace of mind. The longer we are there, the more of us will be injured. Bring our troops home now.
It is tempting to despair, but as Logan Laituri reminded the audience, Logan who had testified that his unit unknowingly used white phosphorous for training rounds and that it had "a significant impact on the surrounding communities, what Dr. King said in 1967 is equally true for us now. He said that he opposed the War, then in Vietnam, "because I love America. I speak out against this war not in anger but with anxiety and sorrow in my heart and above all with a passionate desire to see our beloved country stand as the moral example of the world."
The Winter Soldier Hearings can be viewed on satellite TV, streamed live over the internet or can be heard on select Pacifica Radio stations. For more information, visit http://ivaw.org/wintersoldier/howtowatch">Iraq Veterans Against the War>.
See more stories tagged with: winter soldier
Penny Coleman is the widow of a Vietnam Veteran who took his own life after coming home. Her latest book, Flashback: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Suicide and the Lessons of War, was released on Memorial Day, 2006. Her website is Flashback.
American voices on the war
In a presidential year and around the fifth anniversary of the country's invasion of Iraq, Al Jazeera's War in America documentary looks at the current mood in the US surrounding American involvement in Iraq.
Five years on, the conflict has been longer and bloodier than many people expected and some polls show a majority of Americans now oppose the war in Iraq.
More than 3,900 US soldiers have been killed in Iraq since March 2003 and an estimated 29,000 wounded.
It is estimated the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost U.S. taxpayers about $610 billion since September 11, 2001.
Al Jazeera spoke to anti-war protestors; grieving mothers who have lost their sons; and the architect of the term "axis of evil" who still supports the war in Iraq.
"The officer from the military came here to this house and told me very calmly and coldly 'Maam, I have to regret to tell you that your son was killed at 1145, July 22 2004, shot multiple times by insurgents'.
And basically that was all I was told.
Patrick did not agree with being Iraq and did not agree with the war. He did not know why we were in Iraq in the first place.
Immediately after his body was returned from Iraq he was sent to Dover first and an autopsy was performed.
And his coffin arrived here in Sacramento airport and at the time there was a ban forbidding flag-laden coffins to be photographed. I did not agree, with this.
The day Patrick was deployed against his will, he waved at us and tried to cheer us up.
Why in the world was I going to hide him - coming home in a coffin especially?
I was not going to hide him and from that moment I became the mother who defied the Bush administration.
There was one other soldier that actually found Patrick lying after he was shot, because two soldiers were killed and one was wounded in the attack.
The soldier who was wounded was picked up by an ambulance and taken away.
Patrick was left in the dirt and his artery was severed by a bullet from an AK-47 and he basically bled to death, but he still had a pulse and he still was breathing.
Now why did they not pick him up in the ambulance - I am talking about the Americans here - I still want answers for that.
I think the whole thing was planned, I don't think it was an accident. No, I think Patrick was definitely taken out of the way.
He had become an advocate for the soldiers and he also reported quite a few incidents and things that he had witnessed that nobody wanted to hear and were never reported.
I do not have proof of it but I would not be surprised if he would have been silenced.
We are the most hated country in the world and there are reasons for that. How could it be changed? We have a long way to go.
I think it is a game, a political game, and the rules of that game are basically power and money.
You know one thing I am afraid of is that now that we have created such hatred in the world that our children and grandchildren are going to pay dearly for that."
The special documentary the War In America shows on Al Jazeera on March 15. Click here for more information.
Note: The views expressed are not necessarily those of Al Jazeera.
The speeches were great and I must say it was a very exciting day in the House. I love C-span.
Republicans tried every trick in the book for the last 4 weeks to stop this vote. From trying to adjourn the House to walking out.
It was great not to see the Democrats roll over for Bush, the Republicans and the Corporations for once.
House votes 213-197 to reject retroactive telecom immunity
Posted by Declan McCullagh
The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday narrowly approved an electronic surveillance expansion without immunization for any telecommunications companies that illegally opened their networks to intelligence agencies.
The 213-197 split, with most Democrats voting in favor of the bill (PDF) and most Republicans opposing it, hardly means that the political tussle over retroactive immunity is over. It now shifts to the Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, said he was "encouraged" to see the House vote.
But the primary obstacle remains President Bush, who has threatened a veto. The White House circulated a statement after the vote calling it a "a significant step backward in defending our country against terrorism" that was "not a serious effort to move the legislative process forward."
Another section that the Republicans dislike is this, which I'll excerpt:
ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMISSION.--There is established in the legislative branch a commission to be known as the "Commission on Warrantless Electronic Surveillance Activities"
The Commission shall ascertain, evaluate, and report upon the facts and circumstances relating to electronic surveillance activities conducted without a warrant between September 11, 2001 and January 17, 2007 (and shall) evaluate the lawfulness of such activities
Especially because the commission would be organized under the legislative branch, and would have subpoena power with the authority to enforce its subpoenas in court, it could result in some embarrassing disclosures about the National Security Agency's surveillance program.
Friday's vote also signals that the political climate has changed since last August, when Republicans outmaneuvered their opponents into voting for surveillance legislation with scant debate or hearings. Democrats acquiesced for fear of being perceived as soft on terror, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying the bill did violence to the U.S. Constitution.
But now, with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both opposing retroactive immunity, with a new Justice Department report critical of FBI surveillance abuses, and with a stronger public perception of the Bush administration as having gone too far, the Democrats are more willing to fight back. Nineteen Democrats released a statement this week saying that they've seen classified documents and no immunity was necessary; an unusual closed session on Thursday was intended to make the same point.
Before the vote, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Sylvestre Reyes (D-Texas), said the measure gives telephone companies the ability to present otherwise-classified evidence, one-on-one with a judge, that could show they deserve such immunity. "If they did nothing wrong, as they have said, then they will be immune from any lawsuit," he said before the vote.
The debate before the vote was contentious, with more hoots and catcalls than usual. The lack of retroactive legal immunity for telephone companies also drew accusations from several Republicans that Democrats were handing out favors to lawyers who would ostensibly profit from the court proceedings moving forward. The bill is "nothing more than an earmark for the trial bar," charged Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)
Republicans also assailed the Democratic leadership for failing to permit an up-or-down vote on the Senate version. They attempted, but failed to push through, a procedural move that would have allowed the House to consider the Senate version of the bill automatically if the House version didn't pass.
Republican leader John Boehner accused Democrats of failing to bring up the Senate bill "because it would pass."
Democrats repeatedly accused the Republicans and the Bush administration of engaging in a smear campaign designed to undermine their bill's passage. "The president has said our legislation will not make Americans safe," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. "The president is wrong, and I think he knows it."
Some pointed out that telephone companies and other corporations who open their networks lawfully to the government already have "immunity" under law. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) read from that passage of existing law and then proclaimed, "I think the administration is more concerned about their liability than the phone companies."
News.com's Anne Broache contributed to this report
Bush dials back Watergate-era reforms on spying safeguards
Published: Friday March 14, 2008
Executive order weakens intelligence oversight board
A little-noticed executive order President Bush signed last month dials back checks on the Intelligence Community that have been in place since revelations that spy agencies abused their power in the 1960s and 70s.
The Boston Globe's Charlie Savage, who is among the top reporters uncovering Bush administration secrecy, shines some light on the new order and its implications in an article Friday.
Almost 32 years to the day after President Ford created an independent Intelligence Oversight Board made up of private citizens with top-level clearances to ferret out illegal spying activities, President Bush issued an executive order that stripped the board of much of its authority.
The board's investigations and reports have been mostly kept secret. But the Clinton administration provided a rare window into the panel's capabilities in 1996 by publishing a board report faulting the CIA for not adequately informing Congress about putting known torturers and killers in Guatemala on its payroll.
But Bush downsized the board's mandate to be an aggressive watchdog against such problems in an executive order issued on Feb. 29, the eve of the anniversary of the day Ford's order took effect. The White House said the timing of the new order was "purely coincidental."
Under the old rules, whenever the oversight board learned of intelligence activity that it believed might be "unlawful or contrary to executive order," it had a duty to notify both the president and the attorney general. But Bush's order deleted the board's authority to refer matters to the Justice Department for a criminal investigation, and the new order said the board should notify the president only if other officials are not already "adequately" addressing the problem.
Bush's order also terminated the board's authority to oversee each intelligence agency's general counsel and inspector general, and it erased a requirement that each inspector general file a report with the board every three months. Now only the agency directors will decide whether to report any potential lawbreaking to the panel, and they have no schedule for checking in.
President Ford created the independent board in 1976 to blunt Congressional calls for additional legislative checks on the Intelligence Community. A White House spokesman denied Bush's order reduced the board's authority.
FISA was passed in 1978 to rein in freewheeling surveillance of Americans by US spy agencies; debate over how to update the law has been fierce since revelations that the president authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans without warrants. The House is set to vote today on a FISA update that does not include Bush's key demand -- retroactive immunity for telecommunications programs that participated in what critics say was an illegal program. Such immunity would scuttle ongoing judicial oversight by dismissing dozens of lawsuits aiming to determine what the president authorized and whether laws were broken.
Before effectively rendering toothless the three-decade-old intelligence oversight board, Bush last month also gutted a Privacy & Civil Liberties Oversight Board that was created in 2004 based on recommendations from the 9/11 commission.
China it is time for the people of Tibet to be set free. If China is to be accepted into the world community then it must restore Tibet.
And China dares to call on the US about our human rights violation.
China sets surrender deadline for Tibet rioters
Exile group says about 100 protesters killed, quoting unconfirmed sources
MSNBC News BEIJING -
updated 2:52 a.m. CT, Sat., March. 15, 2008
China set a "surrender deadline", listed deaths and showed the first extensive television footage of rioting in Lhasa on Saturday, signaling a crackdown after the worst unrest in Tibet for two decades.
Meanwhile, the main Tibetan exile group said Chinese police killed about 100 demonstrators and injured many more during the protests. The Tibetan government in exile, based in the north Indian town of Dharmsala, offered no details in their statement, and quoted only "unconfirmed sources."
Official news agency Xinhua earlier said that 10 "innocent civilians" died in fires that accompanied bitter clashes in the remote, mountain capital on Friday. It said no foreigners died but gave few other details, and the report could not be verified.
"Law enforcement authorities in China's Tibet Autonomous Region issued a notice on Saturday ... demanding the lawbreakers to give themselves in by Monday midnight, and promised that mitigation and leniency would be given to those who surrender," Xinhua said.
China has accused followers of Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, of masterminding the rioting, which has scarred its image of national harmony in the build-up to the Beijing Olympics and already sparked talk of a boycott.
Olympic torch to arrive
The Olympic torch is to arrive in Lhasa in a matter of weeks.
Tibetan crowds in the remote mountain city attacked government offices, burnt vehicles and shops and threw stones at police on Friday in bloody confrontations that left many injured.
A Reuters picture showed a protester setting fire to bicycles and a Chinese national flag. Another depicted security personnel shielding themselves against rocks hurled by protesters.
Television footage showed plumes of smoke rising over Lhasa and individual buildings ablaze.
Qiangba Puncog, chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Regional Government, told reporters in Beijing that Tibetan authorities had not fired any shots to quell the violence in Lhasa, which Xinhua said had "reverted to calm".
John Ackerly, of the International Campaign for Tibet, a group that supports demands for Tibetan autonomy, said in an e-mailed statement he feared "hundreds of Tibetans have been arrested and are being interrogated and tortured".
Residents of Lhasa waited anxiously in homes and closed shops on Saturday, wondering if the day would bring fresh confrontation.
"It's quite tense still," said one hostel manager who requested anonymity, as did other residents spoken to.
"We don't dare go outside, so I can't tell you what's happening," said one.
Xinhua said its reporters in Lhasa on Friday saw many rioters "carrying backpacks filled with stones and bottles of inflammable liquids, some holding iron bars, wooden sticks and long knives, a sign that the crowd came fully prepared and meant harm".
No change in policy
The riots have emerged from a volatile mix of pre-Olympics protests, diplomatic friction over Tibet and local discontent with the harsh ways of the region's Party leadership which has heated up in past months.
China has said the Dalai Lama engineered what were the biggest protests in the predominantly Buddhist Himalayan region since 1989, a claim he quickly denied.
Continued to page2 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23629811/page/2/
Europe sanctions on U.S., China over climate?
European industry at competitive disadvantage due to emission caps
BRUSSELS - European Union leaders threatened the United States and China with trade sanctions Friday if the world's two biggest polluters don't commit to ambitious cuts in greenhouse gases by next year.
The warning came as the economic downturn focused European leaders on the impact on industry of their groundbreaking agreement last year to cut carbon emissions by 20 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.
Captives' fingers sent to U.S. army in Iraq
Gruesome delivery gives hope that 5 kidnapped contractors may be alive
Mar 14, 2008 04:30 AM Rasha Madkour
Severed fingers of five Western workers were sent to the U.S. military in Iraq, giving the men's relatives hope they're still alive.
The men were abducted in late 2006 and early 2007, a U.S. official said yesterday in Washington.
The Austrian weekly magazine News first reported the delivery of the five fingers in Wednesday's edition, citing unidentified authorities working on the case.
Patrick Reuben, whose twin brother, Paul Reuben, is among the missing, said Wednesday the FBI told his family members that "the fingers were confirmed to be those of the hostages.''
Patrick Reuben said the news of the severed fingers was "shocking," but that the initial word the family got was "much more serious than that.''
Jackie Stewart learned from a reporter that her son's finger had been cut off, and the FBI later confirmed it to her, she said.
"The fact that my son lost a finger is very disturbing," said Stewart, the mother of Joshua Munns.
"But if they haven't killed him now, I seriously doubt they will, unless something tragic happens, something devastating.''
In a statement, the FBI declined to confirm the men had been identified by fingers.
"The FBI has received DNA evidence and is conducting an examination," said spokesperson Richard Kolko. "We understand this is a very difficult time for the families and discussing this matter further in the media is not appropriate.''
Four of the men were guards for a convoy ambushed near the Kuwaiti border on Nov. 16, 2006. The fifth, Ronald Withrow, 40, of Lubbock, Texas, was a contractor and was abducted on Jan. 5, 2007 near Basra.
In addition to Reuben, those abducted in 2006 were Jonathon Cote, 25, of Getzville, N.Y.; Munns, 25, of Redding, Calif.; and Bert Nussbaumer, 26, of Austria.
They were working for a Kuwait-based private security company.
A fifth hostage taken in the Nov. 16, 2006, ambush was John Young, 45, of Lee's Summit, Mo. None of his fingers was sent to U.S. officials.
Meanwhile, the body of a Chaldean Catholic archbishop was found in a shallow grave in northern Iraq yesterday, two weeks after he was kidnapped by gunmen.
Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, 65, was seized on Feb. 29, after he delivered a mass in Mosul. Three of Rahho's companions were killed.
No one has claimed responsibility for Rahho's kidnapping or death.
It was not immediately clear if Rahho was killed or if he died of an illness.
A Mosul morgue official said the body had no bullet holes.
Also yesterday, a parked car bomb exploded in a commercial district of central Baghdad, killing 18 people and wounding dozens more. Gunmen also killed five members of an anti-Al Qaeda group near Tikrit, and a correspondent for a newspaper in Baghdad.
Bush to speak on Iraq anniversary
21 hours ago
WASHINGTON (AFP) — US President George W. Bush will make a speech at the Pentagon next week, five years to the day after the US-led invasion of Iraq, White House spokesman Tony Fratto said Friday.
Fratto did not explicitly mention the vastly unpopular conflict by name, telling reporters that the Wednesday speech would focus on "the global war on terror" launched after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The remarks will be the second in a series of three speeches leading up to a key early-April progress report from the US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, and the US ambassador to Baghdad, Ryan Crocker.
The White House has said that their April 8-9 testimony to the US Congress will shape possible future reductions of US forces in Iraq.
Public opinion polls show that most Americans want to withdraw swiftly from Iraq, which clouds prospects for Bush's fellow Republicans in the November 2008 elections that will decide control of the White House and US Congress.
Other Links of Interest.
Didn’t I say yesterday that my House rep Roy Blunt was LYING about having secret information! So secret that the House just had to meet in secret.
Now maybe Howard Dean and the DNC will help us to throw this bum out of Missouri’s 7th district. I begged the DNC for help in finding a challenger and financial help in 2004 and 2006.
YO Howard think we could get some help now that Blunt has made a total ass of himself?
The Secret Is Out: There Was No Big Secret
By Dana Milbank Friday, March 14, 2008; Page A02
Psst. Congress has a secret.
At 6 p.m. yesterday, the House of Representatives -- the People's House, as lawmakers like to call it -- turned itself into a private club, determined to shield its deliberations from the prying eyes of the American public.
"I ask unanimous consent," said Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.), that "the House resolve itself into secret session."
"I will bring information . . . to the secret session that some members are aware of but others are not," promised a coy Minority Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.), declaring it his solemn "obligation to bring information and communicate information that is confidential and that I believe ought to be kept secret."
Rep. Dan Lundgren (R-Calif.) was giddy at the prospect. "That which is discussed in the secret session cannot be revealed even if it is of a non-classified nature," he announced on the House floor.
Speak of this to no one!
I think someone is a bit paranoid.
McCain says al Qaeda might try to tip U.S. election
Reuters US Online Report Top News
Mar 14, 2008 11:22 EST
SPRINGFIELD, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate John McCain said on Friday he fears that al Qaeda or another extremist group might attempt spectacular attacks in Iraq to try to tilt the U.S. election against him.
McCain, at a town hall meeting in this Philadelphia suburb, was asked if he had concerns that anti-American militants in Iraq might ratchet up their activities in Iraq to try to increase casualties in September or October and tip the November election against him.
"Yes, I worry about it," McCain said. "And I know they pay attention because of the intercepts we have of their communications ... The hardest thing in warfare is to counter someone or a group of individuals who are willing to take their own lives in order to take others."
At his campaign event and subsequent news conference, McCain also criticized U.S. Senate Republicans for not joining him and 28 other senators in a one-year moratorium on controversial spending projects, known as earmarks that benefit specific cities or towns and that McCain considers wasteful.
Suddenly, a Dangerous Turn
By Robert Parry
March 14, 2008
Two seemingly disconnected events have created a suddenly dangerous turn regarding the future of U.S. wars in the Middle East.
One was the abrupt resignation of the person who has been the biggest obstacle to a U.S. military strike against Iran, Admiral William Fallon, the chief of Central Command which oversees U.S. military operations in the volatile region.
The second is the ugly direction that the Democratic presidential competition has taken, with Hillary Clinton’s campaign intensifying its harsh rhetoric against Barack Obama, reducing the likelihood that he can win the presidency – and thus raising the odds that the next president will be either John McCain or Sen. Clinton, both hawks on Iran.
Throughout the campaign, Clinton has mocked Obama as inexperienced for his desire to engage in presidential-level diplomacy with Iran and other adversarial states. And she recently judged him as unqualified to serve as Commander in Chief, while declaring that both she and Sen. McCain have crossed that “threshold.”
The cumulative effect of Clinton’s attacks on Obama’s qualifications – combined with her campaign’s efforts to turn many white voters against him as the “black candidate” – has buoyed Republican hopes for November.
By simultaneously marginalizing and dirtying up Obama, the Clinton campaign also has tamped down the excitement of many Democrats, especially the young, for a candidate that they see as offering a refreshing message of hope and change.
Replacing Obama’s message of reform and reconciliation is a Clinton message of resentment and victimization, as voiced by former Rep. Geraldine Ferraro who claimed that Clinton confronts “sexist media” bias as a woman while Obama gets an easy ride because he’s black.
“If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position,” Ferraro, the former Democratic vice presidential candidate, told The Daily Breeze of California. “And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is.”
Sudan: Sultan Appeals to Islamic Leaders to Save Darfur
14 March 2008
Posted to the web 14 March 2008
Darfur gets its name from its largest ethnic group in the region the Fur, who dominated the area for hundreds of years. Some 2.5 million people have been displaced in Darfur and hundreds of thousands of have died, many of them Fur.
Two human rights groups, the US-based Save Darfur Coalition and the Senegalese group RADDHO (Recontre Africaine pour La Défense des Droits d l'Hommes), have sponsored the Sultan of the Fur, Salah Eldine Mahamat Fadoul, and one of his Islamic advisors to come to the Organization of Islamic Conference heads-of-state summit in Dakar this week to try to persuade Islamic leaders to work more actively to stop the violence in Darfur.
On 13 March the leaders of Chad and Darfur met at the OIC and signed an agreement to stop supporting rebels in their respective countries. IRIN spoke to Sultan Fadoul about this new agreement and the search for peace in Darfur. The following are excerpts:
Do you think this new agreement will make a difference?
It is good. I am hopeful that Sudan and Chad will stop supporting each other's rebels and this will reduce tensions. I think Chad and Sudan really need to calm down the situation. The [proxy] war between them has cost them both a lot.
Libya has negotiated many peace agreements between Chad and Sudan in the recent past and they have not worked. Why will this one be any different?
This agreement was signed in front of [UN Secretary General] Ban Ki-moon and many world leaders. It is possible that this agreement will fail also, but the chances of success I think are greater. [Libyan leader Muammar] Gaddafi likes to invite us to his country to talk and give money but he doesn't try to understand the problems in Darfur. He likes to say that in the end the fighting is just over one camel, but it is a lot more complicated than that.
Blog Roll Today
What is happening in America’s forgotten war Afghanistan.
Speaking of Faith
Einstein and the Mind of God.
The Campaign for Love and Forgiveness