Archive for the ‘Iraq’ category

Is Riverbend OK?

July 12, 2008

Riverbend has not posted on her blog since October 22, 2007.  Writing from Syria she detailed life as a refugee in a foreign country.

Since then her Baghdad Burning blog has gone silent.  No more insightful commentary about the day-to-day struggles of an Iraqi family after the American invasion and occupation. (more…)


Parallels between UK and US big-brotherism

June 15, 2008

As we celebrate the 793rd anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta today there are two news items that relate to to habeas corpus, the basic guarantee against arbitrary unlawful imprisonment– one in the UK and the other in the US.

In the UK we see Tory MP David Davis resigning over the Counter-Terrorism Bill that Labor PM Brown rammed through Parliament. This law allows detention for up to 42 days (six weeks) of British citizens without charges being brought and without any habeas corpus hearing being required. Davis noted that this is just the latest step in what he calls the “Big Brother” state and that it went a step too far infringing on the historical freedoms of British citizens. These liberties, he pointed out, can be traced back almost eight hundred years to the Magna Carta, which guaranteed the right of habeas corpus.

What most Americans don’t realize is that David Davis was not just an ordinary backbencher but the Shadow Home Secretary and in a new Tory government would be charged with enforcing the Counter-Terrorism Bill. With the latest polls showing a likely Tory victory at the next electoral opportunity, Davis was faced not only with a law with which he profoundly disagreed but also the looming task of administering that law as the government Minister in charge. (more…)

A SOFA that’s not so comfy

June 4, 2008

As the media frenzy focuses on the windup of the Democratic presidential primary and the beginning of the GE contest between McCain and Obama, an important issue is flying under the radar. It is called a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and many supporters of Obama will be dismayed by the limitations that it might place on a new president’s ability to end the war in Iraq. Why, you might ask? What has this SOFA got to do with bringing the troops home in 16 months, as Obama has promised? The answer, unfortunately, is everything.

The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) that has been negotiated between the Bush Administration and the Iraqi government led by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is a blueprint for continued American military presence in Iraq. Not a comfortable SOFA for those Americans hoping that a swift resolution of the Iraq occupation once a new American President is inaugurated on January 20, 2009. (more…)

$1 million a minute!

December 4, 2007

I’m talking about the national debt here …

Like a ticking time bomb, the national debt is an explosion waiting to happen. It’s expanding by about $1.4 billion a day — or nearly $1 million a minute.

And just what are we getting for this out of control spending?

It’s not going to fund Homeland Security for one thing. We’re seeing a key component of the Homeland Security budget being sliced by more than 50 per cent in 2009. Said one usual supporter of the Bush administration:

After learning of Bush administration plans to slash counterterrorism funding for police, firefighters and rescue departments across the country by more than half next year, Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said the president should not expect his support on major votes in the future. (more…)

Message to veteran groups from parade organizers: STFU

November 11, 2007

Conventional wisdom is that the men and women in uniform who put their lives on the line in combat are fighting for “our freedom” and the “American way of life”. That means that they are fighting for constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech, assembly, religion and the rest of the Bill of Rights — at least in theory.

One would think that veterans, of all people, would be entitled to have their right to freedom of speech respected. But that is not the case in Long Beach,CA, for veterans who want to express their views about the Iraq war in a Veterans’ Day parade.

According to an article by Kelly Puente in the Press-Telegram three veterans groups will not be permitted to march in the 11th Annual Long Beach Veterans’ Parade this year because they are “too political” because of their opposition to the Iraq war. Many members of these groups are combat veterans and family members of those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The three groups denied a place in the parade are Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War. (more…)

Riverbend is posting again

November 1, 2007

Riverbend and her family are OK. They are safe in Syria. She hadn’t posted since Sept. 6 and that was cause for concern. But now she is blogging again and I am feeling relieved.

Since the beginning of the Iraq invasion I have kept up with events from the perspective of ordinary Iraqis through the eyes of Riverbend, the girl blogger from Baghdad. When there has been a long period between posts I have worried for her safety and that of her family.

Her Oct. 22 post is about her new situation in Syria, living in an apartment in Damascus, amidst an ocean of Iraqi refugees who have fled their war-torn country in search of a safe haven. She muses about her status as a refugee, someone without permanent status and writes poignantly:

By the time we had reentered the Syrian border and were headed back to the cab ready to take us into Kameshli, I had resigned myself to the fact that we were refugees. I read about refugees on the Internet daily… in the newspapers… hear about them on TV. I hear about the estimated 1.5 million plus Iraqi refugees in Syria and shake my head, never really considering myself or my family as one of them. After all, refugees are people who sleep in tents and have no potable water or plumbing, right? Refugees carry their belongings in bags instead of suitcases and they don’t have cell phones or Internet access, right? Grasping my passport in my hand like my life depended on it, with two extra months in Syria stamped inside, it hit me how wrong I was. We were all refugees. I was suddenly a number. No matter how wealthy or educated or comfortable, a refugee is a refugee. A refugee is someone who isn’t really welcome in any country- including their own… especially their own.

As she says, there is are at least 1.5 million Iraqis displaced within Iraq or outside the country, usually in neighboring countries like Syria or Jordan. This is one of the stories that the U.S. media does not cover — the disrupted lives of ordinary Iraqis who literally can’t go home again. And there is no end in sight to this refugee status. The U.S. State Department is not helping the situation, issuing a tightly limited number of visas to Iraqis who apply.

But even as she adjusts to her new status as a refugee, Riverbend finds bittersweet comfort in the company of other Iraqis:

I cried that night because for the first time in a long time, so far away from home, I felt the unity that had been stolen from us in 2003.

More about Riverbend can be found at the Baghdad Burning blog: