Archive for the ‘Iraq’ Category


From the Miami Herald:

Pastor Terry Jones said this afternoon that he will cancel the Quran burning event “this has been a very very difficult, trying time” and if the New York Imam will move the mosque from the Ground Zero location ‘we would consider that a sign from God.”

Jones met with the FBI for 35 minutes today, received an appeal from President Barack Obama and the state department issued a travel warning.

There is conflicting information about claims that an “agreement” was made to move the so called “Mosque.”


According to Reuters, the Pastor of Dove World Outreach Center, Terry Jones, says he is calling off the Quran burning.

President Obama has now weighed in on the planned Quran burning at the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville planned for Saturday, saying it would be “a destructive act.” He said “what he’s going to do is completely contrary to American values. This country has been built on the notions of religious freedom and religious tolerance. He referred to the Quran burning a “stunt” that will endanger the lives of men and women in in Iraq and Afghanistan, citing protests against Americans that have already occurred at merely the threat of the burning. The President also stated that this “would be a recruitment bonanza” for terrorists, and that he would hope that Pastor Terry Jones “listens to those better angels” “while he prays on it.”

Despite warnings Pastor Jones still plans to go ahead and burn the Qurans on Sept. 11. On Wed. he held a private meeting with the imam of the Islamic Society Of Central Florida.

“As you can imagine, we have received very much pressure in the direction of cancelling this event,” Jones, 58, told a gathering of reporters from all over the world, whose numbers were greater than the congregation of his church, which totals about 50. “As of this time, we have no intention of cancelling.”

Muhammad Musri, imam of the Islamic Society of Central Florida in Orlando, drove to Gainesville Wednesday morning to attend an interfaith service at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. Musri then drove to Dove World and waited through Jones’ announcement to speak with him. After the pastor, who did not answer reporters’ questions, went back into the building, Musri was let inside and the two met in Jones’ office for about 40 minutes. Musri’s assistant, Bassem Chaaban waited outside, talking with reporters and holding his copy of the Quran.

“I told him the world would admire your courage if you come out and say, ‘Because of my devotion to Christ and the Bible, I’m going to do the right thing.'” Musri said. “I strongly believe at the end of the day that he is going to make the right step and call off this event.”

The Gainesville Sun received an e-mail plea from Florida National Guard Sgt. Terrance Long of Ocala. Long, who is stationed with the Army in Iraq begged the Pastor to “halt what he is planning”

“Mr. Jones, I am begging you…PLEASE halt what you are planning,” Long wrote. “I fear that what you are planning will have a devastating outcome for those of us serving abroad in harm’s way to keep our families and fellow Americans, including yourself, safe and secure. I pray that you will search your heart and ask yourself if this act is truly worth what it will cost all of us Americans in possible bloodshed, bloodshed that will come directly because of your personal actions.”

Meanwhile Stetson Kennedy, a civil rights pioneer is planning to try to make a citizen’s arrest on Jones on Saturday.

“Any citizen in the presence of a crime in progress may make a citizen’s arrest,” Kennedy said.

“In this case, I would intend to take the Reverend Jones to the nearest U.S. Attorney.”

Kennedy also says he thinks Jones would be committing sedition by motivating America’s enemies overseas, although there’s no legal precedent for any of Kennedy’s claims.


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Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Church in Gainesville, Florida plans to go ahead with plans to host his “International Burn A Quran Day” on September 11, and has encouraged a worldwide Quran burning as well.

Yesterday Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander in Afghanistan stated that the Quran burning could put the lives of American troops in danger and damage the war effort. Confirming those fears, a rally in the capital yesterday had hundreds of Afghans denouncing the book burning and called for Barack Obama’s death, in spite of a statement put out by the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, saying it was “deeply concerned about deliberate attempts to offend members of religious or ethnic groups.”

While it is appalling enough that the church would do this, I think there is plenty of blame to be directed elsewhere as well. Let’s don’t forget how all this started in the first place. It began with the pseudo controversy over the “not a Mosque” which is “not at Ground Zero”, but rather nearby. It was merely another distraction manufactured by the GOP,  and encouraged by its 24-7 propaganda machine that has invested so heavily in the Republican party: FOX. The GOP has done almost nothing since the 2008 election of Obama beyond obstructing everything he and Democrats in Congress have tried to do to pull the country out of the eight year disaster of the Bush Administration. They also saw the “not a Mosque” as a great opportunity to score votes in the next election, since they have no plans of their own beyond tax cuts for the rich, repealing health care for Americans and shutting down the government. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time.

This is the party that jumped at the chance to take full advantage of the 9-11 attacks in the first place. This is the party that rolled out their little “color me terrified” threat level color chart every time an election was near, claiming there was “chatter” of upcoming terrorist attacks. Unconfirmed of course.

Politicizing terror has become a GOP policy. By the 2008 elections they even admitted it. In June of that year, in an article about John McCain, his strategist Charlie Black talked about the fact that a “good scare” probably helped save McCain in New Hampshire. From the Fortune article:

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December was an “unfortunate event,” says Black. “But his knowledge and ability to talk about it reemphasized that this is the guy who’s ready to be Commander-in-Chief. And it helped us.” As would, Black concedes with startling candor after we raise the issue, another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. “Certainly it would be a big advantage to him,” says Black.

Nice. So here we are again on the verge of an election. Since the GOP have absolutely nothing to offer voters except robbing them of health care and, yes, “transferring the wealth” into the pockets and bank accounts of the top 2% of Americans, while the rest fend for themselves when they shut down the Government. What to do? Why, play the terror card of course!

This from the party that perpetuates the myth that they, and ONLY they can keep the country safe. This from the party who adorn themselves with flag lapel pins, repeat the phrase “support the troops” and then do exactly the opposite. Pretending to find the “not a Mosque” so outrageous, while at the same time voting against health benefits for the very soldiers who fought their war of choice. They wring their hands while saying how dare anyone build such a thing “at Ground Zero?” (Except it isn’t “at Ground Zero” and again, it’s “not a Mosque.”) They’re absolutely indignant over a building nearby, but they also voted against health benefits for first responders to the terrorist attack itself. People who probably didn’t stop to think what religion the victims practiced before risking their lives to save them. No, health benefits for those first responders is a “socialist handout.” Outrageous! Who do they think they are?

No, we won’t hear anything about the GOP’s role in this controversy, but they will gladly line up to condemn the church and those who would burn the Quran, and the media will enable the charade as always.

In Florida candidates were asked early on what they thought of the “not a Mosque” controversy, and Republicans were more than happy to whip out their trusty, worn out script.

Marco Rubio, the GOP candidate for a U.S. Senate seat said:

“It is divisive and disrespectful to build a mosque next to the site where 3,000 innocent people were murdered at the hands of Islamic extremism.”

And he wasn’t finished there. He went on to say this, according to TPM:

Marco Rubio says that Muslims in other nations should look fondly on the United States as a bastion of religious tolerance following the Cordoba House flap.

That sounds familiar, doesn’t it? After all, the GOP also thinks that the people of Iraq should be thanking us for storming their country, killing their citizens and leaving behind a country in shambles. No, they didn’t attack us on 9-11, but no matter. The war was a gift, and to that end, the GOP says “you’re welcome.”

But back to Marco Rubio:

“I would point out to Muslims all over the world that America is one of the few countries on earth where every faith is represented,” Rubio said. “We have a long and cherished tradition of religious liberties and freedom, and none of that is being questioned in my mind.”

“The question” about the Cordoba House, Rubio added, “is whether it’s the right thing to do, not the legal thing to do. Building a mosque there has opened wounds, and it’s been hurtful. And that’s why I think it’s not the right place at the right time.”

That’s right Marco, nothing says “religious tolerance” like a good Quran burning. No one is questioning their right to build the “not a Mosque.”  It’s just a good old fashioned book burning, right?

What about that other “Independent” (wink, wink) candidate, Charlie Crist? Well, a month ago he said he supported the “not a Mosque” along with President Obama. Of course, at the time the GOP were also mocking him for it. But they were probably wearing flag pins while they mocked him, so….

Then we have the Republican candidate for Governor, Rick Scott. What are his views on the “not a Mosque not at Ground Zero?” Why, it’s “Obama’s Mosque!” “It’s being built just yards away from Ground Zero!” And that’s not all. The leader building the “not a Mosque” “refuses to admit that Muslim fanatics used terror tactics!” Scott says “the issue here is truth!” Well, he’s half right. It is an issue of truth. He’s merely distorting the truth for political purposes. In fact he’s so enjoying himself that he seems to think he’s running against Obama in his campaign ad about “Obama’s Mosque” rather than Governor of Florida. Some “outsider.” He fits right into the GOP mold like a suit of armor. Armor, incidentally, that Republicans were too cheap to spend money on to protect American soldiers in Iraq.

The GOP supports the troops, if by “support” you mean sending them off to a war based on a lie, while chanting the mantra “fight the terrorists over there, so we don’t have to fight them over here.” That, in itself is a whopper of a distortion of truth. They’re fighting them over there so the GOP can pillage here at home, and should you question them they will drape themselves in the flag and yell “fanatic Muslim!” until you surrender your civil rights, your wallet, your sons and daughters, and your vote. Whatever it takes. And the media will play right along. Dropping bombs aren’t the only way terrorists operate. They also take advantage of fear and propaganda. Sound familiar?

So while Gen. Petraeus states that this Quran burning in Gainesville endangers the lives of American troops as well as people all over the world, and perhaps here at home, Republicans can’t now hold themselves out on the sidelines and claim shock at the actions of a pastor who writes a book called “Islam Is Of The Devil.” They wanted fear and controversy, and they got it. And then some.

Let’s place blame everywhere that blame is due.

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Last night watching as the last of the U.S. Combat Troops pulled out of Iraq and crossed into Kuwait brought about mixed feelings. While it was good news that this phase of the war was ending, it gave way to another: those who will remain in Iraq, as well as those who will join them there. Private Contractors.

In order to protect civilians in Iraq, the State Department plans to more than double the amount of private contractors or security guards to as many as 7,000. That may come as a surprise to some, given all we’ve read and heard about the actions of Blackwater, or Xe Services as it’s been renamed, on our behalf over the course of the war.

Jeremy Scahill Netroots Nation 2010

We owe a lot about what we know about Blackwater to Jeremy Scahill, the award-winning journalist and correspondent for The Nation and Democracy Now! and the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. If you’re not familiar with his work, you may want to be.  It’s an eye opener to put it mildly. I began following his work on Blackwater after seeing him on shows like Rachel Maddow and Real Time With Bill Maher over the last few years and had I not seen them I probably wouldn’t have known anywhere near as much about this issue as I do now. But it’s one we all should be aware of.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky Netroots Nation 2010

I also was lucky enough to get the chance to attend a panel at Netroots Nation which featured not only Scahill, but Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-ILL) who has worked with Scahill on the issue of private contractors in Iraq, and serves on the House Select Committee on Intelligence. Schakowsky opposed the Iraq war resolution and was a founding member of the Out-of-Iraq Caucus.

As I said, if you’re not familiar with the extent of the involvement of private security contractors, both presently in Iraq as well as other countries, and what their future involvement may entail, you can watch the panel presentation from Netroots Nation: Pay More, Get Less: The Perils Of Privatization. (Along with panelists Scahill and Schakowsky were Jen Nessel, and Kerry Korpi.) You might be surprised to know how we’re represented by these companies, and how much of our money goes towards the privatization of wars on our behalf.

It’s a true eye opener in every sense of the word.

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